Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Last Day of my Blog Tour

This is the last day of my blog tour and I wrote about the changes in publishing and the choices I've made.

I can't tell you who won my contest just yet, though I have a pretty good idea who it is going to be.

Thirty people made comments on various posts. Some visited nearly every blog and posted. A few only posted on one blog. I supposed it was a topic he or she was interested in.

If you've been following, you know I've had some challenges.

People forget--though, since it's possible to set up a post with the day and time that it's supposed to appear, I'm not sure why that happens.

Has the tour helped with sales? Not sure, of course, but my numbers on Amazon have gone down--but my publisher also sells all formats directly from the site. I really won't know until I receive my next royalty statement.

Doing a blog tour is a lot of work. Will I do another one? Probably because despite problems, I love doing them.

If you've read Not as it Seems, consider writing a review.


Monday, September 28, 2015

This is What I've Been Up To

This last weekend we were all in Barstow CA--and this is some of the people who came. The patriarchs are in the middle front row (not those with feet in the water), hubby in black, me in white, my cousin Barbara in red and white. It was really hot--and it felt like we were meling while the photo was taken.

We had a great time, as usual We were missing some important folks who usually come, but hopefully they'll be able to make it next year.

Of course my blog tour suffered a bit. I was using my iPad and I'm just not as well versed on it as my home computer. I did the best I could.

I loved being with family. Had so much fun catching up. We laughed a lot. My cousin and I shared stories and remembrances about when we were kids growing up in L.A. one short block from each other. We walked to grammar school which was a long way, and we walked to junior high, much longer and to high school many times. Sometimes we took the bus, transferred to the street car and then walked which was still a long way.

We also walked over the hill which didn't have any houses back then, but were forbidden to do it when one of our classmates discovered a dead body while horseback riding there. (The area is now where the Glendale freeway passes through.)

We played several games of Estimation.

We ate nachos and my chili beans and lots of other goodies.

It was a great weekend.

Here's one of a few of us with the addition of my eldest grandson, Patrick and his son Ethan who stopped by for a short time.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

HEALTH AND THE WRITER by JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

Writing stresses the mind and the body. Whether first draft or final edits, our brain is exercised by constant choices and decisions. We must sort through thousands of words each day and make decisions about each. Which ones will stay on the page? How will this word affect the story in its past, its present and its future? Is the pacing spot on or is the pacing lacking? Are my characters acting logically, given their personalities?

The myriad of judgment calls boggles the mind.

Then there’s marketing and administrative and work and family.

Marketing (including social media and a personal website) can gobble up time and energy if we’re not careful. Today’s writer is under tremendous stress. Lack of energy, a harried feeling can tear at one’s health. Responsibilities can drain energy and leave none for the fun part—writing a novel. Good health can break down if we’re not diligent.

What to do?

Over the years, I’ve learned that the basis for good health is a positive mindset. You have to like yourself and be happy with your life as it is.

Being happy at where you’ve arrived on your life’s journey doesn’t mean you no longer have goals for the future. To the contrary, those desires/goals are a positive stimulus for good health, as well as essential to your ambitions as an author. These yearnings for new achievements and recognition are what get us up in the morning. They keep us excited to start our writing. Keep us focused.

What else?

Having established a base line of happiness for my unfolding life, I then look to intersperse happy thoughts and fun activities throughout my day. One such activity could be playing favorite music in the background while writing. Another could be getting up every couple of hours to walk outside and get a breath of fresh air. Another fun activity could be taking a few minutes to watch the antics of a squirrel walking the telephone line outside the office window. Our spirits need a moment of relief and an influx of the positive to lift the burden of stress we put on our bodies.

For me, being healthy and staying as happy as possible throughout the day are not won by leaps and bounds. Baby steps are called for—any little thing that will brighten my day—small distractions to make me smile. If something big and wonderful unexpectedly drops into my day, I certainly don’t turn my back on this gift because it doesn’t fit into my baby-steps philosophy. I embrace the joy of it.

What if nothing goes right?

If I wake up to one of those days when everything falls apart, I make a point to look for the silver lining on whatever cloud shadows my day. If I can find something to make me feel a little better, I take it. If I can’t, I keep as positive a mindset as possible until the shadows leave. Patience is necessary. “This, too, shall pass” becomes my mantra.

Eventually, life changes and the clouds and shadows lose their grip. For me, if I allow myself to drop into despondency because of setbacks, it takes me a very long time to work my way back. The justification I might feel to be miserable because of a setback is not worth the extra work I’ll give myself to again become a productive writer. Negativity wears at my health. To keep me well and working on a manuscript, I need the most positive thoughts I can find. I make every effort to get happy as quickly as I can—even if “quickly” means baby steps.

What about you?

Do you agree that whatever you want to do with your life is best accomplished when built on a foundation of happiness?

  JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Bio

When JoAnn Smith Ainsworth carried wood as a pre-teen so her Great Aunt Martha could stoke up the iron stove to prepare dinner, she wasn’t thinking, “I could use this in a novel someday.” Yet, the skills she learned from her horse-and-buggy ancestors translate into backdrops for her historical romance and paranormal suspense novels.

JoAnn’s debut medieval romantic suspense novels received 4 stars from RT Book Reviews. Of her historical western romances released fall 2013, one reader said, “seamlessly, flawless writing” and “If you love westerns, this is the book for you. Great characters, great plot, and a story that will make you smile.” ……. Lauren Calder, Reviewer, Affaire de Coeur Magazine. JoAnn’s paranormal thriller, EXPECT TROUBLE, released July 2014. One reviewer said:  "If you like the British series The Bletchley Circle, you will enjoy this book!"   .............. Patricia Simpson, Author.

Expect Trouble was a semi-finalist in the East Texas Writers Guild first chapter contest 2015.

Twitter @JoAnnAinsworth or @JoAnnParanormal or Facebook’s JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Fan Page 

Goodreads blog: 

Contact her at or (Delphi series email).

Amazon -
Barnes & Noble -

and at an independent bookstore near you -

AddressBlog #1Blog:  Goodreads Blog: 

Twitter #1:  @JoAnnAinsworth (Author Life)
Twitter #2:  @JoAnnParanormal (Delphi Series WWII and 1940’s tweets)
Facebook #1:  Profile page (Author Life) (
Facebook #2:    Facebook’s JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Fan Page (for Delphi Series) (


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tidbits About Not as it Seems

Just for fun, here are some things you'll encounter while reading Not as it Seems:

Ethiopian food and I bet your mouth will water.

Descriptions of seafood dishes, guaranteed to make you want to visit the restaurants in the book.

Beautiful places to go hiking.

The Indians who lived in and around Morro Bay: the Chumash and the Salinans.

Morro Rock

Some of the places to see around Morro Bay.

Great places to go hiking.



Arroyo Grande

Los Osos

San Luis Obispo

The Mission at SLO

ARF facilities for the mentally ill

Montana de Oro

The legend of the missing hitchhiker


Indian Spirits

A character named after Linda Thorne.

Once you've read Not as it Seems, if you've never been to Morro Bay, I bet you'll want to visit.


Not As It Seems PDF (978-1-60659-447-6)

Not As It Seems Kindle (978-1-60659-447-6)

Not As It Seems Mobipocket (978-1-60659-447-6)

Not As It Seems HTML (978-1-60659-447-6)

Not As It Seems EPUB (978-1-60659-447-6)

 (or go directly to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ABOUT THE BALEFUL OWL by Virgil Alexander

In my other life I am an Arizona Historian, an avocation I’ve enjoyed from childhood. I have researched the history and explored the site of the Stoneman Grade, a military trail built into the heartland of the Apache homeland in 1870.

So when I read that the Arizona Highway Department was proposing modifying US-60 through the Pinal Mountains between Superior and Miami by separating the east and westbound lanes with the new part following the old Stoneman Grade, the seed of The Baleful Owl was planted.

The story begins with a murder at an archeological site in the proposed new US-60 corridor. As part of the impact study for the new route, excavation of a Salado Culture pueblo was begun.

As crews report for the second day of the dig, the body of an archeologist and a second wounded archeologist is found. 

As my three rural cops investigate the scene they conclude that the attacks resulted from theft of artifacts. One artifact, a beautifully crafted and unique effigy ceramic, called the Baleful Owl becomes a key to solving the murder.

A second murder, a seemingly impenetrable theft ring, a highly skilled gunman, a world renowned legal dealer, and a deputy who becomes a target, all contribute to the mystery. The unlikely romance between two deputies and the wedding of a third, as well as day to day police work not related to the case provide side stories.

The natural and cultural history of the southwest and the contemporary mix of ranchers, farmers, small towns, Hispanic, Native American, Mormon, and Catholic cultures are prominently featured in the story.


The murder of an archeology student and attempted murder of a second, both involving the unique Baleful Owl effigy, pulls Apache Tribal Officer Al Victor into what seems to him a senseless killing. The Arizona Antiquities Task Force brings Deputies Bren Allred and Manny Sanchez into the case. They find themselves investigating a sophisticated high dollar artifact theft ring. The investigation takes them from the murder scene on upper Queen Creek to Ft. McDowell, Tucson, Safford, and Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Before the case is solved, one of the officers will be the unwitting target of a skilled assassin.
Oak Tree Press Print SRP:  $16.95    Kindle e-book SRP: $2.99


Virgil Alexander was born at home in a rural area of Gila County between Globe and Miami, Arizona. His family was highly involved in law enforcement, so he grew up surrounded by “cop talk.” His friends and coworkers came from the diverse population and western, mining, and small town culture that he writes about.

He studied engineering, data processing, and business and worked for forty-two years with an international mining company. A good deal of his career involved technical writing and development of training material.

A few years before his retirement he began working on the non-fiction Ranching in the Heart of Arizona; a project he is still working on. He published his first novel, The Wham Curse in 2012, Saints & Sinners in 2014, and The Baleful Owl in July of 2015. He is a Public Safety Writers Association award winner.

He also contributes to on-line history sites and provides consulting to museums.

FaceBook: Virgil Alexander, Author
Barnes & Noble:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Changing the Setting for Not as it Seems

When someone writes a murder mystery series that centers around one location, and especially one that is a small town, there is always the fear that the place will have the Cabot Cove Syndrome (where Jessica Fletcher's neighbors and friends died one after another.)

Deputy Tempe Crabtree is the resident deputy for the small town of Bear Creek and its outlying areas, including the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, which has given me some other places for murder victims to be found. I've also brought in out-of-towners for some of the murder victims.

Once in a while Tempe travels while working an investigation. But in the case of Not as it Seems she and her husband Hutch go on vacation. The vacation includes the wedding of their son Blair who lives in Morro Bay.

Morro Bay is one of my husband's and my favorite places to visit so it was fun to include some of the places we like to go from restaurants to beautiful places of interest. 

Because Bear Creek is fictional with merely similar attributes and businesses like the the area where I live, I've not had to worry about being accurate. 

Writing about a real place is different. I hope I've done it right. Most of the places mentioned in the book are real, though I made up the houses in real neighborhoods. I've written about restaurants where we've had great meals and also a motel where we stayed once and loved--though I gave it a new name. The wedding venue is a also fictional though there are similar places in Morro Bay.

If I've made any mistakes, please forgive me, and remember, it's only a story written to entertain the reader..

I do hope you'll read it and enjoy visiting all the places Tempe and Hutch go.


Morro Rock as seen through the window of one of the restaurants mentioned in Not as it Seems.

Friday, September 18, 2015

James Garcia explains his Christian Horror

Can a vampire – a creature that must drink the blood of others to live – become a Christian? And perhaps more importantly, can a Christian read and write such dark subject matter?

Hello. Thanks for taking the time to meet me. I’m James, and I read and write dark fiction. Let me first tell you that although I do enjoy this genre of fiction, I have no love at all for torture, mutilation or the darkest of the dark. Trust me when I tell you that I am more Silence of the Lambs than Saw 4. In addition, you are more likely to find me curled up on the couch, watching films like An Affair to Remember, Lawrence of Arabia and Casablanca than The Exorcist. I do own all of those films, and I do watch them periodically; however, I really am more romantic than fiend. Trust me. *winks*

Okay, what?

How in the world does a guy who watches those kinds of films write about things that go bump in the night? Well, you see it began by accident when I first stumbled upon horror novels while a teenager. It probably had something to do with dark subject matter and newfound personal freedoms. I began watching the slasher films of the 70’s and 80’s, but with maturity eventually my tastes became a bit more refined from those early days.

I didn’t set out to pen a vampire novel as my debut. That was another happy accident. Originally I thought the book was to be a crime thriller. It wasn’t until the villain stepped out of the shadows of one scene that I realized he was undead and the plot would be forever changed. That was in my early twenties and it took another twenty years before that novel would ever be finished (a long story for another post perhaps).

During that time I went through a period of self-discovery. I followed the pretty girl to her church and became baptized there. I then distanced myself from horror only to return when I found I missed those thrills – much like riding a roller-coaster. Not that I do that very much of that anymore! *laughs*

So Christian horror, you say? You know: no sex, no foul language and no gore.

Well, not so fast...

I believe the Good Book says that there is a time for everything under the sun. With that in mind you will find each and every one of those big three in my writing; however, when I do it is used very sparingly. Running for one’s life down a dark alley, one is not going to use words like “shoot” and darn-it”. Yet, I don’t think we need to see every other word being ugly either. Profanity is very powerful when used only when utterly necessary in fiction. 

With regard to sex, I don’t believe we always need to enter the bedroom with our characters to know what goes on there. Again, only when it becomes necessary. Lastly, I have found that dark material is not at all frightening when you don’t see the blood. And although I have made you comfortable with this post, please don’t misunderstand. I fully intend to scare you. I never want you seated in your chair with your back comfortably against it. I want you on the edge. So close that you may fall off at any moment. To do that, things might get messy.

You see, in my experience Christian fiction wasn’t thrilling, and certainly not scary. I want to spice it up. I label my fiction crossover horror or crossover paranormal. I slant my fiction with a Christian perspective, but don’t intend to bludgeon folks over the head with the Bible. Equally, I don’t want to turn the other folks off with too much gore.

I have just released the latest chapter in my Dance on Fire series. In Dance on Fire, the vampire Nathaniel saves a woman and her children from the vampire that made him what he is. She is not convinced that he cannot be used for good because she has seen it with her own eyes that he can be. This starts him on a journey of self-discovery. In Flash Point (Dance on Fire 2), a vampire from book one is back, and she’s not alone. She has brought four other vampires with her, and she wants revenge on Nathaniel and his extended family. At the end of that book, the Devil himself steps out of the shadows and it is revealed that it is he that has been against Nathaniel all along. In my just released Infernal (Dance on Fire 3), the Devil returns with a well orchestrated plot and well over one hundred vampires to destroy the God-seeking vampire once and for all. And all who stand with him. 

This book is a darker read. You can’t have Satan running around and expect the book to remain PG-13. Once again, I have tried to take the reader only as far as they need to go to understand. There were some scenes that were uncomfortable even for me. I tried to pare those down to the absolute minimum, but sometimes we need to see the darkness to embrace the light.

Thank you so much for taking the time to hear me out. I really appreciate it. Happy reading!

--James Garcia Jr.

James Garcia Jr. was born in the Central California town of Hanford. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College where he met his wife. The family still makes its home in Kingsburg which is also the setting of James’ vampire series.

He was the 1994 winner of the Writer’s International Network/Writers’ Inter-Age Network writing contest in the horror category. Dance on Fire was originally published in 2010 and its sequel Dance on Fire: Flash Point was published Halloween 2012. A third book, Seeing Ghosts, is a stand-alone paranormal romance released in June 2013.

During the day, James is a Cold Storage Manager for Sun-Maid Growers of California.

To buyInfernal Dance:  

 A note from Marilyn:

If you like scary fiction or tales about vampires, Infernal is an outstanding read. James has done a great job with this combination. I've read all his books and it would be worth your time to try them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Conjuring the puzzle-mystery is a magic trick. The impossibility of a solution is merely an illusion and, when the reveal is made known—if the piece is well-written—the solution seems obvious, a perfect fit. It is up to the author, i.e., the magician, to provide the misdirection and the entertainment along the way.

This is most apparent in "locked room" mystery plots. Here, the crime seems to violate the laws of nature. For example, take one of the murders in the classic, The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr. It has just begun snowing. A man in a heavy overcoat walks out of his living quarters and into an alley. Several passersby hear a gunshot and within seconds they arrive at the entrance to the alleyway where they see the victim collapse face first.

The puzzling part is that the victim was shot from up-close as evidenced by powder burns on the back of his coat where the bullet entered. And yet, there is no perpetrator nearby and the only footprints in the snow are those of the victim. Furthermore, with the rapid appearance of the witnesses, there was no time for the killer to have fled. So how did the murder take place?

I'll provide the answer below, but first let me delve into how I go about creating a puzzle-mystery. First, I invent a dramatic scene. Then I add a layer of what seems impossible. Then it is my task to work out a solution that is possible, sensible and, above-all, satisfying.

In my novel, Never Kill A Friend, I present a variation on the locked-room mystery. In this case, the police arrest a young man who woke up to find his brother butchered alongside him in his one room apartment. The police report that the locks to the one entrance were solid and were bolted. This is not a case where no one could have done it, instead the evidence points to exactly one person. Later, that night, the lead detective wakes to find someone similarly butchered in her home.

So, using this as an example, how do I make the impossible, possible? First of all, I do not write paranormal mysteries, so I focus on the fact that what happened obeyed the laws of nature. If these laws seem to break, then the assumptions were wrong. I tweeze apart what is solid fact and what is assumption. This leads to an essential element to attacking this type of mystery, formally called epistemology: How do we know what we know? and, the more crucial question, Do we truly know what we know?

A magic trick seems impossible because a solid object disappears from a magician's hand. But, was that truly a solid object? Was it even in his hand or could it have been switched between hands before the moment of the illusion? Next time you read a whodunit, look at the author as a master of misdirection. Avoid the distractions.
For the murder in Never Kill A Friend. (No spoilers)

Statement: The police arrest a young man who woke up to find his brother butchered in his locked, one-room apartment. The locks are said to have been solid and secured.

But: Since the police arrested the man, obviously the apartment is no longer sealed. Could someone else have been there? Could that someone have snuck out? If the police burst in, then the locks would be broken. How do they know they were they solid before that? If the young man opened the door for the police, then how do they know they were adequately bolted before that? Attack the assumption and the impossible becomes possible.

To reiterate: #1. Make the situation dramatic. #2. Make it seem impossible. #3. Take apart the assumptions and, most importantly, #4 make the solution satisfying.

The solution to the murder from The Three Coffins, for those who don't mind spoilers.

Statement: The victim was shot from up-close, there are powder burns on the back of his coat where the bullet entered.

Evaluation: It is possible that the powder burns around the entry were from a previous incident and he had now been shot and that he put on his coat afterwards. . . only no. Unsatisfying solution. The previous bullet-hole aligns with a later, death dealing wound? Still, it's always good to question the assumptions.

Conclusion: Here, the forensics stand. He was shot up-close. This is the premise on which the mystery is built.

Statement: Several passersby hear a gunshot and within seconds they arrive at the entrance to the alleyway where they see the victim collapse face first. There is no perpetrator nearby and the only footprints in the snow are those of the victim. With the rapid appearance of the witnesses, there was no time for the killer to have fled.

Evaluation: The law of physics apply: the perpetrator was not standing behind the victim when he was shot in the alley. Therefore, the victim was shot elsewhere. But, what about the gunshot? This is the faulty assumption: the gunshot which the witnesses heard was the same as the one which killed him. This is impossible.

Conclusion: The victim was shot before he left his living quarters. He walked into the alleyway, his thick winter dressing prevented blood from dripping. The second shot, which was the one the witnesses heard, was fired out of the window of the living quarters and missed.

Bio: Martin Hill Ortiz has also published under the name of Martin Hill. He lives in Puerto Rico where the mother's maiden name becomes a second surname. Never Kill A Friend, his third novel, was recently published by Ransom Note Press.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


The tour for Not as It Seems is shorter than usual and should be easier to follow.

Sept. 15  How do Real People Figure into my Books? 

Sept. 16 The Inspiration for the Book and an Excerpt 
Sept. 17  The Character Who Borrowed Linda Thorne's Name

Sept 18  How I Started Writing, and More On this blog you can't leave comments.

 Sept. 19 About Tempe's Indian Background

Sept. 20 The Setting 

Sept. 21 Researching Ethiopia
Sept. 22 Eating Your Way Through a Mystery

Sept. 23 My Fascination with Law Enforcement

Sept. 24 The Frustrations That Get in the Way of Writing 

Sept. 25 Keeping a Mystery Series Fresh

Sept. 26 How Important is it that Tempe Crabtree is an Indian?

Sept. 27 Promo Planning, A Necessary Evil, Or Is It?

Sept. 28 Why I Write Mysteries and in Particular, the Deputy Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series

Sept. 29 My Opinion About Blogs and Blog Tours, Do they Work with All the Other Ways to Promote?

Sept.30 Taking What the Publishing Industry Throws at You

Not as It Seems Blurb:
Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.

Character Naming Contest:
Once again, I’ll name a character after the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs.


Marilyn Meredith now lives in the foothills of the Southern Sierra, about 1000 feet lower than Tempe’s Bear Creek, but much resembles the fictional town and surroundings. She has nearly 40 books published, mostly mysteries. Besides writing, she loves to give presentations to writers’ groups. She’s on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and three chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Creating Quirky Characters by Robert and Darrin McGraw

            Quirky characters add spice to a story and can also be used as a source of tension.             

In Animal Future, Darrin and I began with the premise that in the near future, an unexplained phenomenon has caused some species to become intellectually elevated to the point that they are classified “provisional humans” and can hold down human jobs. Although our book is a humorous action-thriller, there is an important sub-text that asks: if the “Elevation” actually occurred, how could two very different populations learn to get along with each other?

            We start with a chimpanzee character.  But there immediately we have a problem: chimpanzees wearing clothes are a cliché. We counter that by taking it a step farther and making our chimp, Mr. Brian, even more “clothed” than a human would be. He’s a “bespoke” (custom) gentleman’s tailor with a deep knowledge of the fashion industry. Naturally, a high-end clothier like Brian wears high-quality suits, French cuff shirts , and silver cuff links.  He speaks impeccable English  and is unfailingly polite. We then put pressure on those traits when Brian and two humans, Autumn and Mack, go on the run from terrorists trying to kill them. Having to sleep in a zoo, go without showering, and sweat profusely while battling to stay alive will strain anybody’s fastidiousness and courtesy. Sometimes it’s Autumn and Brian in conflict with Mack; at other times it’s Brian and Mack in conflict with Autumn.

            Brian also has to learn to appreciate the quirkiness of humans. Mack, a rough-edged but pragmatic spy with a wisecrack for every situation, thinks in divergent ways that don’t match Brian’s honest and conservative nature. Brian begins to learn to solve problems, though, by changing his thinking.

            Autumn, the Vietnamese-American policewoman who is fleeing with them, has her own quirks, among them an interest bordering on reverence for the cultural history of Vietnam (unlike the rest of her Westernized family, ironically). Brian, however, is an entrepreneur who looks very much to the future. As an “elevated” Provie, he has little sense of the history of his species, and therefore can’t understand or appreciate Autumn’s dedication to the past. We put pressure on this trait by having him switch identities with a chimp employee at the zoo, where Brian begins to see that it can be helpful to know how things worked in the past. 

            Brian has stupendous latent physical strength and aggression, but ironically, he has to be encouraged by humans to get in touch with his ape side in order to eventually become a hero.

            In short, in this example we build up the quirkiness of the character by:

-          Making traits more extreme
-          Giving them conflicting traits
-          Giving them traits that go against expectation
-          Placing them in situations and with characters who test or strain those traits

         The next time you deal with someone whose quirkiness is irritating or downright maddening, just remind yourself, “Hey, I can use this in my next book!”
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Animal Future
(Book 1)

In this quirky, thoughtful, action-filled novel, a female cop, a well-dressed chimpanzee, and a spy are on the run from shadowy assassins armed with machine guns, drones, missiles, and two-inch fangs.

Since the mysterious Elevation of animal intelligence, San Diego has been flooded with immigrant animals and society has changed. Officer Autumn Winn wants to leave the Tactical Assault squad and become an expert on her Vietnamese heritage. But first she has to prove she’s not guilty of murdering her partner. To do that, she has to rescue the kidnapped wife of the chimpanzee tailor Mr. Brian.

In the process she is forced to cooperate with Mack Davis, a good-looking but smart-mouthed operative trying to stay alive long enough to retrieve his digital wristband with its vital data, and also discover the secret of a jade figurine he just transported from Singapore.

As they race to find Brian's wife, the trio must navigate a colorful landscape of characters including a comical pair of ferrets; a wealthy human socialite; a chimpanzee paramilitary commander; and Urizen, the deranged king of underground intelligence in Southern California.

(Watch for Animal Future  (Book 2) to be published in November.)

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Author BIOs:  Robert McGraw and Darrin McGraw

Robert McGraw has had several professions, but his most difficult job is convincing his wife he's actually working even when he's just staring out the window. He is the author of numerous magazine and newspaper articles, as well as three books. Two of his television scripts won awards from the International Television Association.

A former professional symphony musician who spent several years playing for the Cape Town Symphony in South Africa, Robert has a Master's degree in Education and completed the work (all but dissertation) for a Ph.D. in music. He also studied art at The Ruth Prowse School of Art in Cape Town and creates visual art in a variety of styles. His works are represented in the collection of the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage and Construction in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Darrin McGraw grew up more or less in a succession of libraries. He is pleased to note that the New York Public Library has a McGraw Rotunda, though he cannot actually take credit for this. He graduated from Stanford University and earned a Ph.D. in English from UCLA. After working in online software development he served for eight years as the writing director of the Culture, Art and Technology program at UC San Diego.

Besides writing and reading he has many other interests including early music, alternative architecture, and woodworking. When scientists have finished cloning the woolly mammoth he has a few other extinct species to suggest, including Cleopatra and Dr. Samuel Johnson.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015


More than half of “history” is “story.” If you’re a writer of fiction who incorporates history into your story, you better get the parts you make up right.

No one is likely to shoot you if you have Washington crossing the Ohio instead of the Delaware. But you better believe some astute reader will inform you of your error. And, worse, they probably won’t buy another of your novels.

Knowing your facts is important. How you introduce them into the story is equally important. You don’t want a laundry list of facts. Description needs to be blended in as a bridge and not a barrier between dialogue and action.

The majority of my books have been set in places I’m familiar with and I’m also fortunate as librarian of my county historical society to have access to period newspapers, diaries and other documents related to the periods I write about. Don’t neglect research. It requires time and dedication, but can be fun—as well as distracting. Though that’s another story.

My latest novel, Something So Divine, was inspired by an actual murder, though imagination led me far from the facts of that case. Employing “what if” often creates  wholly new and surprising outlooks on the most mundane of facts.

When a young girl is found murdered in a Pennsylvania rye field in the autumn of 1897, Ned Gebhardt, a feeble-minded youth known to have stalked the victim, is the prime suspect. Incidents involving another girl and gossip stir emotions to a frenzy, nearly leading to a lynching.
Evidence against Ned is circumstantial and there are other suspects. Influenced by the opinions of Ned’s stepsister and Ellen, a woman who has perked his interest, Simon Roth, the investigator, is inclined to give Ned benefit of the doubt. Then he discovers damaging evidence.
Still unwilling to view Ned as a cold-blooded killer, Roth puts his job and reputation in jeopardy as he seeks to assure a fair trial for the accused.

J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 15 novels, including six in the Sticks Hetrick mystery series set in a fictional rural community near Harrisburg PA. A retired newspaper editor/writer, he is now librarian of his county's historical society where he assists patrons with research and genealogy. He has published stories and articles in a variety of magazines, both print and on line. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is currently vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Additional information on his books and writing is available at