Tuesday, April 30, 2013

With Malice For All

It’s almost that time of the year again.

Malice Time!

Every year, somewhere north of 500 traditional mystery fans gather at the Hyatt in Bethesda, MD to celebrate the genre at the Malice Domestic convention. Readers get to meet writers, writers get to meet readers, readers get to meet other readers, and writers get to meet other writers (I think you get the picture—there’s a whole lot of meeting going on!).

The convention runs Friday through Sunday, full of panels and interviews and receptions and banquets and an auction and lots of other fun—and mysterious—stuff.

My panel, “If Miss Marple Were A Man: Male Cozy Sleuths,” with Miranda James, Stephen Kaminski, me, and Neil Plakcy (moderated by Terry Shames), is on Saturday, from 2:00 – 2:50.

Otherwise, I’ll be buzzing around—if you see me, come up and say hi!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Judge, Jury, and Executioner

How did you decide writing crime fiction was right for you? Was there a specific event that made you realize “hey, I can make crime pay for me”?

Like Vicki, most of my reading consists of mysteries, suspense, and thriller novels. So when I decided to take up my own pen laptop, it made the most sense to write what I knew best.

But why, exactly, do I gravitate toward reading about crime in the first place?bosox logo

I like to think I’m a good person at heart. I like to see people flourish, be happy, enjoy life. So when I read about some poor old lady losing her life savings to some con man or a mother and son getting murdered or some terrorist setting bombs meant to kill hundreds (or thousands) of innocent people competing in a marathon, I get pretty pissed off.

Okay, tremendously pissed off.

Unfortunately, I can’t do much to stop evil in this world. Not in real life. As long as people have existed, people have wronged others, and maybe it’s one of the curses of a human society, but I don’t see evil abating any time soon.

But fiction is another, uh, story altogether. There, I can create my own world and populate it with my own characters. For instance, I can paint a picture of an evil villain, bent on destroying people’s lives. I can portray the vilest creature doing unspeakable things. I can concoct the Devil himself, if I wanted to.

Then I can rain justice down on his head, with extreme prejudice.

You see, in my books, good always vanquishes evil. Sometimes there’s a hefty price to pay, but believe me, evildoers get punished in my worlds.

That’s why I like to write about crime.

(This entry is “simul-posted” on Criminal Minds.)


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


My ebook thriller, FIRST TIME KILLER, is FREE for your Kindle (or Kindle App on PC, smartphone, tablet, etc.).

It’s FREE today, Wednesday, April 10.

It’s FREE tomorrow, Thursday, April 11.

It’s FREE the day after tomorrow, Friday, April 12.

After that, it will be available at the very affordable price of $3.99.

Tell your friends, your family, your co-workers, your friends’ families, your family’s co-workers, your friends’ co-workers, your co-workers’ friends, your co-workers’ families…you get the picture!


First-Time-Killer 2 iBooks 600x860

In shock radio, nothing is too far over-the-top in the pursuit of ratings.

Not even murder.

During his twenty-six-year career, D.C. radio talk show host Rick Jennings steered clear of outrageous radio. Wasn’t his thing. So when WTLK execs tap him for the Afternoon Circus to land a lucrative satellite deal, Rick struggles to maintain his standards—and his dignity.

A chilling call (“I’m a long-time listener, first time KILLER.”) leads to the discovery of an intern’s arm in a trashcan. Rick spars with the “First Time” killer over the airwaves. The police are stymied. Ratings skyrocket. And First Time continues to knock off members of the Circus, phoning in to gloat afterward.

In a world of psychics and poseurs, crazy deejays and crazier callers, it’s up to Rick to bring First Time down before more people perish.


If you toss the movies Network, Play Misty for Me, and Talk Radio into a blender and add a liberal serving of Howard Stern, you’ll get the flavor of FIRST TIME KILLER (a full length suspense/thriller – 86K words, the equivalent of approximately 350 printed pages).





Thursday, April 4, 2013

Excitement and Fear – Two Treats in One!

When writing crime/detective novels, do you ever interview actual police officers or detectives to get their comments on practices, procedures, methods, equipment, etc? If not, how do you attain the accuracy you desire?

Writers, if you want to make sure you get your facts straight when writing about police business, I have a recommendation: Attend a Citizen’s Police Academy.

I did, and it was a fantastic way to see what police departments really do (the only better way might be to enroll in the real police academy and become an honest-to-goodness cop).

hpdMany local law enforcement jurisdictions hold their own Citizen Academies (or some version of one—make a few calls, you’ll be surprised). Mine was put on by the Herndon Police Department (in VA), where everyone involved was absolutely great—friendly, informative, generous. We met every Wednesday night for 12 weeks, and the sessions encompassed a wide range of police activities.

Undercover narc cops spoke to us about the seamy underbelly of the drug world, regaling us with some amazing stories and showing us what different drugs looked like, up close and personal. Gang specialists told us about dealing with different gangs and how to spot gang activity. We watched a K9 unit demonstrate “take-down” techniques, and we hit the streets to work the LIDAR gun (sorry Mrs. Peterson, but I clocked you going 48 mph in a 35 mph zone).

We went to the evidence lab and learned how to expose fingerprints with superglue fumes; we observed the lie detector in use (excuse me, the polygraph); and we got to fire live weapons on the firing range. A word of warning: Don’t mess with me—I put all five rounds in the inner circle, and it was the first time I’d ever even touched a real gun. Okay, I think it was from five yards away, but still...

Another highlight was our visit to the County Detention Center (aka, the jail). Talk about an eye-popping experience! We toured the whole thing—intake, processing, fingerprinting, breathalyzers, the holding cells, regular cells (pods, I think they were called), as well as the “special” cells. Fascinating and mighty depressing. Talk about getting scared straight!

While all those experiences were terrific, the topper was my ride-along with a police officer.

I’ll take you back to that Saturday night on the mean streets of Herndon...

We’d been cruising for about two hours or so, checking out the normal trouble spots, and we’d gotten the usual calls. Excessive noise at a sketchy apartment complex, some possible gang activity near the 7-Eleven, a D-and-D (that’s drunk and disorderly, for all you, uh, rookies) at a local bar. Just your typical shift. Then the radio crackled to life again (notice how police radios always “crackle to life.”).

There was a report of people—several people—running through the Community Center’s parking lot with rifles. “Hold on,” the officer beside me said. “This could get hairy.” She flipped on the siren and we went roaring through town, cars parting to let us through. Screeching into the Community Center parking lot, we pulled up alongside a couple other cruisers, both empty, one with a door still flung open. Someone had left in a hurry.

The officer barked at me, “Stay here. Don’t get out of the car.”

I forced a nod, mouth too dry to talk. Of course, she didn’t have to worry. I had no intention of following her into the night with a bunch of armed goons on the loose.

She grabbed her shotgun out of the lockdown and raced off, leaving me all alone.

All alone.

My heart raced. What if the guys with guns doubled back and found me, by myself, a sitting duck in a patrol car? Would I become the unfortunate reason future ride-alongs had to be eliminated? I sank in my seat and peered out over the dashboard, hoping for reinforcements. Nope, just me and the empty police cars. I’d realized it before, but it hit home a lot harder in that moment. We don’t pay law enforcement personnel nearly enough.

Luckily, the situation had a non-violent resolution. It turned out that the people running through the parking lot were teenagers wielding air rifles. No one got hurt. But man, how easily could something have gone terribly, irrevocably wrong? In the dark, those air rifles were indistinguishable from real rifles. Some poor teenager’s head easily could have been blown off.

I’ll say it again; I heartily recommend attending a Citizen’s Police Academy. Just make sure to wear two pairs of underwear on ride-along night.

Ride Along 450x720And what did I do with this experience? I used it for the basis of the opening sequence of my new ebook original, titled (appropriately enough) RIDE-ALONG!






(This entry is “simul-posted” on Criminal Minds.)


Tuesday, April 2, 2013


What pad?


For those of you not in the know, keep reading.

Here’s what Wattpad is, in their own words, from their home page:

Wattpad is the world's largest community for discovering and sharing stories. It's a new form of entertainment connecting readers and writers through storytelling, and best of all, it's entirely free. With thousands of new stories added every day, an incredibly active community of readers, and the ability to read on your computer, phone, or tablet, Wattpad is the only place that offers a truly social, and entirely mobile reading experience.

This month is Whodunit Month at Wattpad, and they’re featuring about sixty curated mystery, suspense, and thiller works.

I’m happy to say that I’m participating with a brand new, never-before-seen novel called RUNNING FROM THE PAST.


Here’s the “flap-copy” description:

Some might call it kidnapping. Colby Walker views it as salvation.

When Colby Walker gets to know his teenage son’s friend Jess, he spots the signs in short order: downcast eyes, passivity, angry red welts marching across the boy’s back. He understands what they mean because he’d been that boy, many years ago.

He’d suffered in silence, too.

Can Walker stand by and let Jess’s torment continue, leaving the boy’s future in the hands of the so-called authorities, the ones who had done nothing to help him during his own tortured childhood?

Hell no.

If you’re not currently on Wattpad, what are you waiting for? If you are a Wattpad reader/writer, I hope you’ll check out my new novel and let me know what you think about it. That’s one of the great things about Wattpad—the ability to make comments and interact with a vibrant community of readers and writers!