Saturday, July 5, 2014

My Own Action Hero by Jamie Hill

Family movie night recently and I chose White House Down featuring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. I'd been wanting to see it since last summer (my how the time does fly!) and it finally came on HBO so I remembered (a key issue!) and we watched it. I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

One of my favorite movies is Air Force One starring Harrison Ford and a cast of thousands, and this newer presidential flick was very similar in nature. Sure, you have to suspend belief a few times, but it was fun and the dialog between Tatum and Foxx made me laugh out loud. (Kind of like the dialog between Steve MaGarrett and Dano on the new Hawaii 5-0. Love it!)

Afterwards I was thinking that Channing Tatum would make a good Jack Dunlevy, the lead in my romantic suspense book Family Secrets. Sexy, tough yet tender when it comes to children, and when people are down on him and thinking the worst, he comes through in the end with flying colors. Channing's character in White House Down is the perfect Jack. *sigh*

(I understand Channing played a stripper in Magic Mike. That is definitely not Jack, but just for research purposes I might have to check the movie out...)

I've got plenty more to say on my own action heroes, so stop back next month and I'll expand--with photos!

Family Secrets
by Jamie Hill if stumbling over a dead body isn't enough, Crystal Cartwright finds herself playing surrogate mother to two small boys when their father--her neighbor--doesn't come home. The kids aren't much trouble, but the thieves, drug dealers and kidnappers they're about to encounter are.

Detective Jack Dunlevy, a cop down on his luck, draws the cases no one else wants. A simple investigation involving a dead homeless man quickly changes as Crystal enlists Jack's help with the children. Drawn into a mystery that none of them could have anticipated, they're faced with a situation that will change their lives forever.

"Ms. Hill is a genius! The plot line was AMAZING. It was action packed and kept me on the edge of my seat almost the entire time. Ms. Hill has become a favorite author of mine and I consider her to be an automatic add to my "to be read list". If you are a serious suspense loving reader who loves to form bonds with the characters, this is definitely the book for you! I loved it and can't wait to read more of Ms. Hill's books, she has the gift of knowing what the reader wants and then hitting you with an ending you certainly don't expect. Two thumbs up!" ~ Val, You Gotta Read Reviews, 5 Stars
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- now you can get my entire 'A Cop in the Family' series in one Triple Threat volume for only 99 cents (or $1.99, depending on when you read this.)
Check it out here, and see if you don't agree. Channing would make a great Jack!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wild Blue Mysteries

It's hard to believe it's been an entire year since The Bookstore Lady was first released. Even more amazing my second book The Mystery Lady was released earlier this year and yet a third book awaits in the wings.

The Wild Blue Detective Agency began with Danny Walker, a police officer, and Leo Blue, retired soldier, who began the agency in order to go undercover and stop a ruthless criminal named Maddox. In trying to take Maddox down, Danny Walker needs to track Paulina Chourney, Maddox's mistress. 

Lovely, blonde Paulina escapes Maddox and arrives in the fictional small town of Packham, praying the men she worked for would never think to look for her in a small town. She gives herself a total makeover, changes her name to Katie Mullins, then makes a deal on a little bookstore she renovates and breathes new life into. Fate (and her real estate agent) brings her to rent a room in an elderly lady's home and Katie is thrust into a local writing group, successfully fading into anonymity. 

That is, until Danny Walker wanders into town to visit family and figures out who she is. 
And now for a taste of The Bookstore Lady. Enjoy!

Dunnsforth’s body lay on the beach. His legs bobbed on the waves of Lake Erie entwined in the blue and silver scarf clutched in his left hand. The late afternoon sun cast strange shadows over his ashen face. Shoe prints dented the mud where Dunnsforth and his shooter had stepped off the rocks.
Danny held his breath while the forensics guys pulled the corpse higher onto the rocks. He knew that scarf. Paulina wore it to Maddox’s party the night before. Did she have it when they drove back into the city? Whoever shot him wore high-heeled shoes, which eliminated the males at the party. Although, Al Duvall had potential. If he wore a disguise and shaved his moustache, he would make a passable woman.
“Shit.” Bobby Holland was tall and tanned. Both he and Danny joined the Newville Police ten years earlier, but were only paired up two years ago to investigate DMR. “You’d think a classy guy like this could get shot somewhere nice and sunny. I could really use a tropical vacation about now.”
“Same here.” Danny grimaced. The day was a blur of paperwork, evidence gathering and now body collection. “Looks like he took a souvenir from whoever shot him. It looks like the scarf Paulina wore last night.”
“Shot in the right temple. You sure this isn’t a suicide?”
“With Maddox involved? No way.” Danny glanced toward the glass, brick and steel building, Maddox’s summer cottage, the site of the festivities less than twenty-four hours earlier.
He ran a hand through his hair, grateful he didn’t have to wear his disguise for much longer. The shaggy blond wig and beard itched and gave him a rash. He loved undercover work, but hated the makeup.
“Did someone pick up Paulina this morning? We’ll need her statement to make things stick against Maddox and the others. Keep her away from the others.”
Bobby hesitated. “That’s a problem. Oswald got into a fender bender. By the time he got to the motel, Paulina was gone. He went to her apartment but—”
“Let me guess. She skipped town, which means we can’t eliminate her as a suspect since she might have caught up to our vic.” Danny frowned. “Unless you think there’s another body out there.”
“I think it’s worth a look. DMR’s offices are secured, Maddox’s house locked up and some of the people we arrested last night are already out on bail. There are a lot of loose cannons running around.”
One of the forensics investigators picked something off the scarf with tweezers. “Any of your suspects have long blonde hair?”
Bobby chuckled. “Five or six.”
Danny sighed. “Paulina was the only one wearing a scarf like that though.”
“Shit.” Bobby’s smile faded. “You really think she’s the shooter?”
“Anything’s possible. We need to find her.”

Hope you enjoy reading The Bookstore Lady!  

Diane Bator


Stay tuned for The Mystery Lady!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014



How many of us have secrets?

I doubt if there would be many people who don’t have at least one secret. I don’t mean of the dark, dangerous variety, but some of us may well have a secret that could place us in danger. Fortunately, I am not one of those.

My secret – I am a chocoholic. How many times have I told my hubby that I no longer eat chocolates, then I sneak off to my several hiding places (not to be divulged on pain of death), where my secret stash is hidden. You should always have more than one hideout for your illicit goodies just in case one of them is discovered. I don’t want to be like Old Mother Hubbard – who went to the cupboard to get her dog a bone, and when she got there the cupboard was bare and the poor doggie had none. Change that to and when Margaret got to her secret stash, the chokkies were gone and she had none. A disaster of that proportion could not be allowed to happen, hence a few hiding places. I call it my insurance policy.

In many families there are secrets that will never see the light of day, except if someone in the family is into Geneology. My sister has unearthed some shocking scandals as she undertook research into our family tree. I swear, I could write a book about it. One of the most shocking secrets was the fact that my grandmother had a baby when she was unmarried and only eighteen years old. The baby died when he was only 6 days old. A couple of years later she married my grandfather. No-one knew that, it remained hidden for 120 years, until my sister unearthed the information during her research.

Another relative spent time in jail in the 1880’s for aiding and abetting Ned Kelly, a famous Australian bushranger (outlaw). Then there were all the “premature” babies that were born to aunts and great aunts. Not to mention one great uncle who had two wives. Then there was a cousin who ran off with a man who was older than her father. That caused a stir. Especially as the man had a wife and 4 children. Still, can’t be all bad, thirty years later, and the couple are still together.

In my experience, and I do have to quantify this by saying I mainly read historical romance because that is what I write, there are often dark secrets lurking in the background. Some of these could be life threatening, in any case at the very least they threaten the hero and heroine’s chance of getting their happily ever after ending.

In my novel, Allison’s War, the heroine’s secret is that the baby she is expecting does not belong to her husband.


In Daring Masquerade, my heroine pretends she is a boy so she can gain employment with the hero. Then, of course, she falls in love with the hero. I mean, what can she do about it?

In my novel, Haunted Hearts, (the only contemporary I have published), the heroine discovers that her father-in-law has been going through her cupboard drawers and stealing her panties.
So, you can see that secrets abound in my novels, and I am sure I am not alone in this regard. A secret can drive our stories along, add passion and drama, and keep the reader wondering what is this secret? How can it be resolved? Will the hero and heroine get their HEA?

 Margaret Tanner writes historical romance for Books We Love.




Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Coming Soon! Temptation by Shirley Martin (excerpt)

                                                                     by Shirley Martin
    Jennifer stepped outside onto the brick patio, needing to escape the continual bragging of the stockbroker whose only subject was himself.  Closing the French doors behind her, she shut out most of the noise and laughter from the party inside, a welcome relief. Surprised she had the patio to herself, she rested her hand on the iron railing and inhaled the cool November air, her gaze absorbing the magnificent houses and lush foliage of this elegant Coral Gables neighborhood. Some day, she hoped to have a home of her own, but she knew she could never afford a spacious mansion such as this. Yet that was fine with her; a more modest home would suit her nicely, like the one she lived in now. 
    Alone with her thoughts, she considered how well things were going for her now. An only child, she'd been spoiled all her life. Things had gone so easily for her. Pretty and popular, she'd been a cheerleader in high school, dating the football players. Her grades in high school and college had been good. She wondered what would happen if she ever met a real challenge. How would she handle adversity, if it ever came to that?  And then she wondered what had prompted this introspection.
    The fragrance of night-blooming jasmine drifted her way, carried by a light easterly breeze.  She stared upward at the clear sky, where a sprinkling of stars and a couple of planets overcame the competition of bright city lights. She'd return to the party in a few minutes, but for now, she wanted time to herself. She'd had a rough week and wanted just a few moments alone.
    "A beautiful night, isn't it?"
    "Oh!"  She swung around to stare at the stranger.  "You scared me!  You shouldn't sneak up on a person like that. I didn't hear the doors close."  Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie, he stood a few feet away, next to the doors. Tall, dark, and handsome.  The cliche slipped easily from her mind, yet it was true.  At least his hair was dark, but his skin was the palest she'd ever seen, as if he never got enough sunlight. On him, the combination was fascinating.  If Helen of Troy had a face that could launch a thousand ships, this man had the good looks to send a rocket to Mars.
    He smiled. "Sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you."  He nodded toward the party inside.  "It was getting much too noisy there." 
    She tilted her  head at him.  "I didn't see you there."
    "But I saw you across the room, and I wanted to meet you. I hope you don't mind."
    His dark eyes focused on her. Those eyes!  She could gladly sink into them and never come up for air. 
    Even here, she caught a faint trace of laughter form inside. "Normally, I like parties, but sometimes--"  She shrugged. "--sometimes I like to be by myself." 
    "I, also.  Present company excepted." He smiled and moved closer.
    Frowning, she backed away a few steps. 
    "I won't hurt you," he said, as if he could read her mind.
    "Well, I didn't think that for one minute."  She fussed with the buttons of her white silk blouse and shifted from one foot to another. She gave him a closer look in the darkness, his devilish gaze meeting hers. Devilish. Why did that word spring to her mind?  She admired his dark looks, but she'd learned long ago that looks meant nothing if a person was empty inside, or worse, harmful to others. Just look at Bruce, the scumbag. 
    "Do I meet with your approval?"
    Her face warmed, and she opened her mouth to say something, then thought better of it. 
    He inclined his head.  'Permit me to introduce myself.  My name is Varik Kruger."
    "Varik?  Never heard that name before."
    "I fear it's a long story."  He raised his eyebrows.  "And you are?"
    "Jennifer."  No point in telling him her last name. After tonight, she'd never see him again.  For some inexplicable reason, a rush of disappointment clutched at her stomach.
    'Jennifer, tell me about yourself."
    She shook her head.  "Not much to tell."
    "I want to hear it, anyway."
    She hesitated, licking her lips.
    She took a deep breath. "To begin with, I teach English at a local high school."
    "Literature and grammar, mostly."
    "Ah, yes.  And you're from Miami?"
    "Originally from Pittsburgh, a town called Fox Hollow."  She smiled.  "You find a lot of funny place names in Pennsylvania."
    He waved his hand. "Same all over the world."  A pause.  "Your family still lives in Pennsylvania?"
    "Yes, and I miss them very much."  Why was she telling him all of this?  There was something about him that made her want to tell him everything, to bare all her secrets, reveal all her hopes and dreams. And she'd only just met him." 
    "But you--"
    "Just wanted a change," she said, gripping the railing.  Never mind telling him the real reason, that she'd come to Miami to get away from an abusive boyfriend.  Jealous because she'd dated another man, he'd slapped her face so hard she'd suffered a bruise for days. That night, he'd said he'd never let her go.  Bruce was such a charmer at first. He'd sure charmed her mother, who saw no fault in him. 
    What if her mother gave Bruce her address?  Hell, no!  Jennifer knew too well she had to be more discriminating, not fall for every sweet talker who came her way.
    Trying to dismiss her dismal thoughts, she brought her mind back to Varik and smiled in his direction. "You're from this country?"
    "Why, yes," he said after a slight pause. "Why do you ask?"
    "Your speech sounds a bit different, kind of formal."
    "I spend a good deal of time in Europe," he said as if that explained everything.  Which it didn't.
    A period of silence followed. As if by mutual agreement, they both looked up at the night sky with its sprinkling of stars and a cloud that slid in front of the moon. A cool breeze picked up, fluttering her silk skirt around her knees and blowing a lock of hair across her face.  Hibiscus bushes on the spacious grounds rustled in the breeze. For the first time that evening, she felt at peace, and why, she couldn't say. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, thinking she really should go back inside. 
    His low voice snatched her attention. "Did you come by yourself?"
    She turned to look at him.  "Why, yes, I drove."
    He pressed his hand to his heart in mock sorrow. "You have deprived me of the opportunity to drive you home. But seriously, it would have been my pleasure to do just that, had you needed a ride."  He leaned her way, his voice cascading over her like a warm shower.  "I should like very much to see you again."
    "Thanks.  I appreciate your sentiments.  But I don't ride with strangers. And I'm real busy right now."  Aware of how abrupt she must seem, she smiled to take the sting from her words. "What's that expression about ships that pass in the night?"
    "Ah, yes, Shakespeare.  And very true, I'm afraid, except that this is a lovely moonlit patio."
    "Besides, I don't know a thing about you."
    He smiled lazily. "What if I told you I'm a vampire?"
    She laughed. "You're too late for Halloween and too early for April Fools Day."
    He laughed, too, a husky chuckle, as if they'd shared a huge joke.
    A wicked sense of danger stirred inside her. She knew she should leave, but something kept her glued to the spot, as if by her departure the world would stop spinning, the sun would turn to ashes.
    Sighing inwardly, she turned toward the door. "It's been nice meeting you, but I should get back inside."  She fluttered her fingers at him.  "See you."  How empty the night seemed now, all pleasure gone from the evening. And she'd never see him again. She wondered why that outcome should bother her so,and besides, she should know better. After Bruce, it would be just as well if she stayed away from all men.
    She turned away from him, a faint scent of floral perfume wafting in the air. 
    "Goodnight, Jennifer."  Varik admired her supple walk, her high heels clicking on the bricks, her dark skirt rippling around her knees. He liked the way her light brown hair bounced across her shoulders as she moved. Her fresh, clean looks captivated him, absolutely the most enchanting he'd ever seen. Was she aware of what a lovely image she presented, one that made him want to hold her and kiss her to drive them both breathless? 
    He wanted to see her again. He would see her again. By the time the party broke up, he'd approach the host, use his mesmerizing charm to discover Jennifer's address.  And see her again, this woman he couldn't drive from his mind.     

This is as yet unpublished. Any comments or crits are welcome.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Several years ago I decided to begin to write a story centered around a creature. By doing that, I knew I was entering a crowded, expert field that had been successfully creating vampires and werewolves, witches, and all the rest of the occult cousinage for many, many years.

Wiki Commons Source
Still, why not? I had had a notion to write a sequel to Red Magic. Unlike the other novels I’ve written which are full-on historical fiction, Red Magic  was cross-genre in at least four ways, because there are elements of fantasy, history and adventure as well as the old-fashioned romance at the core. Moreover, if you end a story with the birth of fraternal twins-- in this case, a girl and a boy--there is an obligation to write a follow-up around them. It’s an ancient story-teller's convention, probably well-established by the time the Greeks dreamed up Apollo and Diana.   

Okay, so all well and good, but almost immediately I was stuck again. The tall, dark hero and his red-headed sister I already knew something about—their loves, loyalties and a few of their day-to-day human problems. The question remained: into exactly what sort of creature would my hero morph?

Personally, vampires alarm me. It seems to me there are enough scary people in the real world who fit into this category without making up fictional ones who are going to (somehow) become the love interest. On the other hand, I’ve always had a soft spot for werewolves, but there sure are a lot of them howling at the moon already.

I decided to step back a pace. Why not try something less limiting? Going after the all-encompassing “shape-shifter” idea seemed a way to make an unusual hero who wasn’t boxed into a particular set of conventions, such as drinking blood or only being active after dark. If the hero/creature could become different animals, his metamorphosis could be different every time, which would definitely give my imagination a work-out. Like the boy Wart in The Sword in the Stone, my hero could sometimes be a carnivore and sometimes a herbivore, sometimes four-legged, sometimes winged, as the need and/or inclination arose.

I'm nearing the completion of Black Magic now. If I can just keep my "fanny in the chair," it should be done within the next month and ready for a stern edit. For me, it's been quite an experience, a crazy road trip out of my usual historical writer's comfort zone. 

More about all my books at:


Stillwaters Run Deep, Book One: Raven's Lament

Stillwater's Run Deep  Book One Raven's Lament Frank Talaber, The Writer: Mad muse inside keeps my pencil writing...