Friday, October 7, 2016

Jamie and I are very excited to share our new book trailer for the Kelly McWinter PI series of  books.  The latest, New Directions, features the first of the McWinter Confidential series of books written by Jamie Hill and Jude Pittman.  I hope you enjoy this excellent book trailer done by Gary Val Tenuta. 

If you like it, please let us know.  Jude and Jamie

Thursday, October 6, 2016

If the Wand Works, Wave It! A Halloween Short Story by Gail Roughton

"I can't believe you talked me into this!" Jessica grabbed a wine glass off a passing tray and glared at her friend Ann. 

"Oh, get over your bad self! You've been with the firm for five years and you've never come to a single social function. And the Halloween Party is the best party of the year!"

"Oh yeah, and the food's to die for." Jessica pointed to the refreshment table. "Especially the Bloody Hand Punch and Frankenfingers. I have to deal with that jerk enough in the day time." She pointed across the room to a swashbuckling pirate whose swash protruded well over his buckle. "And we're all going to be out of a job within a year after he takes over the company. Bill Junior's so not half the man his father is. Oh, wait, scratch that! He's about twice the man his father is. In weight."

Ann laughed. "I know, I know. But look on the bright side!  You know as well as I do Bill Senior's not going to hand over the company he built unless he's on his deathbed."

"He's 81, Ann! A remarkable 81 but still--sooner or later..."

"Well, it'll be later. A lot later. Lighten up and enjoy yourself. You look great, by the way. Which Fairy Princess are you?"

"Who knows? It was the last costume Party City had that fit. You're a great Cat Woman, too."

"Thanks, I thought it fit my purrfect personality."

Jessica's laugh cut off when the meaty hand dropped on her shoulder.

"I hate to break up such a good time, but I need some help. Jessica, can you find a file for me?"

"A file? Bill, this is a party!" She stopped herself just short of adding and you're sloshed. He was, after all, the Big Man's son.

"I know, Jessica, I know, and I wouldn't ask, but I've got a meeting first thing in the morning on the Sanderson account and I couldn't find the file before the caterer starting setting up. C'mon, it won't take a minute and it'll save me coming into the office before the meeting." 

"Okay, okay. Follow me. Your Dad's got it." Jessica led the way out of the crowd and down the hall to Bill Senior's office. She flicked the lights on and leaned over to open the bottom drawer of the file cabinet. The smack on her rear landed only seconds after the lights went dark and the door clicked shut.

"Hey!" Jessica turned,both hands flailing at the body pressed against hers. "Stop that right now! What do you think your father would say?" 

"Ah, baby, don't be like that! I've seen the way you look at me when you don't think I notice--"

"Get your hands off me, you fat pig!" She pushed away and the wand in her left hand made contact with Bill Junior's chest.  

"Oink!" Oh, so he thought that was funny, did he? She stalked over to the light switch. Or she would have, if the low, heavy moving object on the floor hadn't made her fall flat on her face. And what was that squealing sound?


"Ann!  Thank heavens! Get the lights on!"

"What's going on in--Aiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Under ordinary circumstances, Ann's shriek would have been loud enough to bring the entire personnel staff into the room, but since the live band had just swung into You Put a Spell on Me, nobody outside the room raised an eyebrow.

Jessica scrambled to her feet. She looked down and her eyes widened.

Wewewewewewewe! Weweweweweweweweeeeeeeeee! 

"Stop squealing like a pig! Even if you are one! Which I always knew you were! Serves you right!"

"Jessica, what happened? We've got to do something!"

"And what exactly do you suggest we do? 'Cause first, I have no idea what happened and second, I kind of like him like this."

"Jessica! Get a grip! The boss's son is a pig! You don't think we'll get fired for something like this?!"

"Personally, I think we deserve a raise."

"Be serious!  How'd you do it?"

"Well, he started mauling me and I pushed away from him and--where's my wand?"


"I'm a fairy princess, remember?  The wand was in my hand. It was between us when I called him a fat pig."

"You don't seriously believe that turned him into a pig!"

"You got any other ideas?"

"Okay, okay! I'm looking, I'm looking!  Oh!  Here! Under the desk."

Ann handed the wand back to Jessica.

Wewewewewewewewewe!!! Weeweeweeeweeeeee!!!

Jessica glared down at the frantic pig. "Don't act like such a wuss! Just because you're a pig, doesn't mean you shouldn't at least try to act like a man! Okay, here goes nothing." She tapped his head with the wand. Nothing. 

"It didn't work."

"Really? You think?"

"So say something! You said something when he turned, didn't you?"

"Okay. Let's try this again." She tapped the pig's head again. "You're still a pig but you're a human pig."

Bill Junior scrambled to stand. "Why you little--you're fired!!!"

Jessica smiled and waved the wand in front him.  "Un-uh-uh! 'Cause look what I still have. Now, here's the thing, Junior. This wand--it's gonna be with me all the time from now until eternity. So you need to ask yourself--what exactly just happened here? Was it me? Was it this wand? Was it Halloween Magic? And if it's either of the first two, then you'd be so out of luck. But of course, if it's the last possibility--then you'd be fine. So the next time you're tempted to act like the pig you are, with me or anybody else in this company, you need to ask yourself. Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk? Or should I say pi--"

"No! Don't say it!" Junior glared and backed slowly away from the women toward the door. He backed clear out into the hall and then turned and ran.

"Who are you and what did you do with my friend Jessica?  And when exactly did you turn into Dirty Harry?"

"You were right, Ann. The company's Halloween party rocks! And next year--next year I'm coming as Clint Eastwood!"

The End.

I hope y'all enjoyed this little light-hearted Halloween adventure. Should you be in the mood for more light-hearted magical fun, you might check out the War-N-Wit, Inc. series.

The Boxed Set
Of course, if you like your Halloween Magic a bit darker, I've got you covered there, too.

Because evil never dies. It just--waits.

Come visit me anytime on Amazon, at Books We Love, Ltd.
or message me on Facebook! I'd love to hear from you!
And always remember--
There's a little bit of magic in all of us!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

You Know Nothing, Jon Jamie Hill

The popular TV show Game of Thrones has a fan favorite character (just look at his face and you'll understand why!) named Jon Snow. Jon had a love interest for a while, and when they verbally sparred she would often tell him, "You know nothing, Jon Snow." Without posting spoilers I will say that Jon knew more than Ygritte gave him credit for, but perhaps his vision was clouded by love.

Their exchange often reminds me of the old adage, "Write what you know." I'm guilty of breaking this rule, and perhaps my vision is clouded as well. I'm going to lay out my defense and see if you agree or disagree with my methods.

When I write romantic suspense I include police, FBI Agents and US Marshals in my work. Now, I can count on one hand the number of policemen I know in real life and make that a big Zero for FBI and US Marshals. Therefore, I do a lot of research, sifting through what's out there on the internet and choosing the best tidbits to include. What guns they use, types of body armor, typical schedules, ranks, and the like can usually be found online. For me personally, that's good enough to write a realistic character.

Setting is another area where I rely on the internet. I've lived a fairly sheltered life, born and raised in the same small, Midwestern community, married to one man for almost thirty-five years, my extended family all nearby. I've traveled to about half of the fifty states but mostly to the ones closest to me, and one memorable journey into southern Canada. I don't set most of my stories in my town for a couple of reasons. Yes, it's what I know, but my friends all know it, too. If there's one sporting goods store in town, and I want to have a scene in that store, I don't want people thinking I'm writing about them or their establishment. Likewise, if the criminal works at the store, that could be very messy if someone thinks I'm writing about a real person. So for smaller towns I invent fictional places, then I have the liberty of creating whatever I want in that town.

In bigger cities it's easier to fudge. I've written about Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita, throwing in a street or neighborhood name, but never giving a real address or using an actual business. Yes, I might mention something in passing, but none of the real action will ever take place in an actual place in a real town. I'll create my own businesses so I can do what I want with them.

I like to set stories in places I've visited. After a trip to Seattle, I gained just enough information that I could reasonably set a story there. I knew what it felt like to ride an elevator to the top of the Space Needle. I saw the souvenir shops surrounding the Needle. I got lost trying to get to the Needle due to the way the streets are marked and barricaded to prevent people from turning around just anywhere.

It's fun to add a new locale to my repertoire. This fall I visited Chicago with a friend and we did all the touristy stuff. We rode to the top of the John Hancock building and the Sears Tower. Yes, it's technically called the Willis Tower now, for one more year. Then it will most likely change names again. And everyone who lives in Chicago still calls it the Sears Tower. (See what good info I picked up?) I rode in an Uber down the confusing, multi-level Wacker Drive and floated on a couple of different boats, an architectural river cruise through the town, and a lake shore cruise around the Navy Pier. And, we ran into a group of Chicago PD bike cops who were so nice and let us take their picture. I feel like I have lots of fodder to set a novel in Chicago, now. I'll continue to make up businesses, but also throw in some real place names just for fun.

That's how I get around writing what I know. Some things I do know are about people and relationships, and what causes their problems and how it makes them feel. That stuff I can confidently say I know, and try to weave the tension and conflict through my stories before everyone gets their happily-ever-after ending. Because I also know, that's what readers want. I do, too.

So what do you think? Are my reasons for breaking the rule justified, or, like my man Jon Snow, do I really just know nothing? Leave a comment with your email address and you'll be entered in Books We Love's October Blog Comment Giveaway. One winner will receive a festive holiday basket like the one pictured on the sidebar, plus the BWL title of their choice. my latest novel, co-written with Books We Love's Jude Pittman, here.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

People Are Dirty by Katherine Pym

Bathing (unlikely 17th century London)

I grew up in an engineering family and worked many years at Boeing. There, great flying machines are built to stay in the air for literally hours and hours and jet halfway around the world without refueling. This is well engineered stuff.

With that in mind, I’ve always considered the human body a high maintenance machine. It is fragile and can’t take much without breaking down. It must regenerate (sleep) for a huge amount of its shelf-life. It requires hours of upkeep, always needs wiping down or, over the years, completely submersed in water with gallons of soap. The human body must be constantly refueled which produces prodigious amounts of venting waste. This turns out to be an expensive, never ending maintenance slog.

Who would have thunk this a good design? Not me. I’d really like a conversation with the designer and tell him my thoughts on how the human body could be improved. But with that conversation unlikely, I’ll have to stew over poor engineering.

Let’s take one of the above items for discussion. Bathing. Keeping clean. It’s a constant thing, but until fairly recently, not much was done about it. You see historical portraits of men and women who don’t smile. They are dressed in their finest ‘Let-us-go-to-sabbath-meeting-outfits.’ They look clean, but in reality, were they?

I’d call myself a historian, mainly London during the 1660’s, but through research, I’ve ventured beyond and prior to those years. During my reading, I only once came across the process of bathing. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary of his wife’s thoughts on the subject, who considered it might be a good thing.

Once born, no one was ever truly naked, again. When you see paintings of naked men and women, it is fantasy. Men and women were considered naked when they wore only a thin muslin dressing gown or shift. Men’s shirts were long and covered their sensitive parts. Drawers were coming into favor but mostly women did not wear any type of undies. Their sleeping, going about the day shift was a multi-task garment. 

Bathing back in the day
 If one immersed in water, he or she wore the shift. No soap touched that part of the body. When one began a new day, he or she might splash water on their faces and again at night, but little else. Bowls of water were on the table for greasy hands. When they went to the bathroom, there was no toilet paper. People used their hands, clumps of moss, damp rags, etc. Household refuse and old water were cast out the window or door to molder in the street.

Soap was available but in potash liquid form. Common bar soap wasn’t invented until somewhere in the 19th century. Clothes that resided against the skin, i.e., shirts, chemises, shifts, stockings, bed linens were washed and hung to dry on rails or on hedgerows. One text I read said women would dump up to a pound of soap in a caldron to wash clothes. Even after rinsing, surely the fabric would be stiff with soap residue.

Silks, brocades, or woolen clothing would be brushed and worn until they were stiff with dirt. If they were still usable, they’d be handed down to servants, sold to a seconds clothing merchant or given to the rag boy.

Not the water works but bathing in a river
There were waterworks on the north side of London Bridge that pumped water into a few of the wealthier houses (obnoxiously loud and bulky, especially during the tidal flows). There were two conduits for water (On great occasions they ran with wine.), one small and the other much larger, along Cheapside Street where you could dip your buckets, but most of the time water-boys dragged water up the London hills to homes from the Thames River, a waterway fouled with human waste and rubbish, sometimes a dead body that floated for days or other animals.

So, even if you tried to remain clean, it was pretty much an impossibility next to what we expect in today’s hygiene. It would be like smearing a wet dirty cloth over a smudged and sweaty arm.

Large Periwig. Nits anyone?
Men and women wore their hair long. During the 1660’s King Charles II (whose hair was thinning and started to go grey) emulated his rival, Louis XIV and began to wear periwigs. Everyone who was anyone followed suit. Since there was no shampoo, hair and periwigs rarely got washed, and if any sort of soap was used, it made hair sticky. Instead, hair and periwigs filled with nits that turned into lice. Body wrinkles, folds, filled with dirt and body lice. Sores developed amongst this dirt and became infected. If they went septic, the person died.

People stank. They covered this stink not with soap and water but perfumes. They shook pomanders filled with spices (expensive). They chewed mint for bad breath. They walked down streets riddled with piles of stinking rubbish. Contents from chamber pots would be cast into the streets crowded with pedestrians.

I say, if an extraterrestrial species drifted close in their spaceship, they would smell earth before ever seeing our planet. That’s probably why they only monitor our radio frequencies and don’t make actual contact.

And that is why I consider our bodies a poorly constructed machine where we should get our money back from the manufacturer.

The End.


Many thanks to Wikicommons Public Domain, and my memory from multi-sources. 

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Monday, October 3, 2016

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Sunday, October 2, 2016



Collaboration. – The dictionary defines this as

Working together or working with another.

To co-operate with an enemy of one’s country.

I have collaborated.

I have worked with other authors on a Western anthology (Rawhide ‘N Roses), where there were fourteen of us who each supplied a short story. The proceeds all go to a horse rescue charity.

I also joined with nineteen other Western Romance authors to produce a book of short stories as a Christmas fund raising venture for a Texas charity. Then there was the American Mail Order Brides series (fifty brides from fifty states), so it can be seen that I have collaborated a few times.

Thankfully, I have never been put in the position of having to co-operate with an enemy of my country.

Now, forgetting the dictionary version, there are variations on collaboration. I have found that many of the characters in my novels collaborate with others, sometimes for good, sometimes for evil.

Two female workers may collaborate to try and have something done about a fellow worker who may have sexually harassed them. We all know the type, the guy who accidentally brushes our breast, stands too close to us in the elevator and is always making smutty jokes when no-one else is around.

Then there are the criminals who plan a bank robbery together, working for weeks on the layout of the bank, the personnel required, which bank to hit, getaway cars, somewhere to stash the cash until the heat is off etc. This planning might take weeks before the deed is done. Surely that is collaboration.

In my award winning novel, Falsely Accused, the hero, Jake Smith, is convicted of a crime he did not commit. His aristocratic father wants to get rid of him, so with the help of paid criminals, the father has Jake framed for a murder he did not commit. In my mind, the father collaborated with these men by planning his son’s demise with their help.

So, in my opinion, there are many shades of Collaboration.


On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson and Jake Smith meet and fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.

On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home

in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?

Margaret Tanner writes historical romance.

Stillwaters Run Deep, Book One: Raven's Lament

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