Guest Blogger: N. M. Cedeño

Bad Vibes Removal Services: A Genre-Confused Mystery Series

Many of my stories are genre-confused. As the author, obviously this is my fault. If I would stay in one category, then I could easily describe my work by genre: Mystery or Science Fiction or Fantasy. But my brain doesn’t work that way, which is why my first published murder mystery was in a hard science fiction magazine. When I write, my brain sometimes jumps into the future, or throws in ghosts, or creates impossible technological inventions. Doing all of those things at once resulted in the Bad Vibes Removal Services series.

The Bad Vibes series began with a short story set in the near-future, featuring Montgomery, a genius inventor, entrepreneur, lawyer, and private detective. He’d invented scanners to find sound wave patterns left in walls at the atomic level. His invention could detect and identify a record of conversations and noises left in walls. While he was working on this, Montgomery found another set of patterns, absorbed emotional imprints from pain, anger, depression, joy, and a host of other emotions.

Montgomery can uncover conversations between criminals and detect deceit where things are hidden. But, he can’t sell his equipment to law enforcement if courts won’t accept his findings as evidence. Since he could both read and obliterate the patterns left in walls, Montgomery created a side business to make his inventions a household name and speed acceptance by law enforcement. Bad Vibes Removal Services was born.

Who needs Bad Vibes Removal Service? Everyone who ever moved into a pre-owned house or apartment. Does your new-to-you home feel creepy? Sad? Anxious? Maybe the previous occupant was going through a divorce or serious illness.

One of Montgomery’s employees at Bad Vibes Removal Services is a history graduate student named Lea who grew up seeing ghosts. She could always sense the history of buildings as a lingering emotional imprint or via sudden visions, echoes from the past. So, she enjoys making homes more livable for people who are sensitive to emotional atmosphere. By infusing static into the walls, Lea can reset the atmosphere in a room, erasing the lingering history, making the space comfortable again… most of the time.

Resets fail when a ghost, the source of the emotions, is present. Then, Lea communicates with the ghost while she and her coworker Kamika help Montgomery investigate. Crimes are uncovered and villains are revealed. Sometimes spirits are helpful. Sometimes, they’re malevolent.

From one short story, this genre-confused series bloomed to include (so far) eight short stories and two novels. The first novel, The Walls Can Talk, is set in an Irish castle that’s been moved to central Texas, resident ghost included. The second novel, Degrees of Deceit, was just released and is set mainly in a haunted dorm on a University of Texas campus.

When people ask me what I write, I tell them ‘mysteries’ to keep it simple. If they ask for more, I get to explain my genre-mashing tendencies. Generally, I call the Bad Vibes series ‘paranormal mysteries’ and I enjoy writing them. If you like a spooky chill along with a mystery, maybe you’ll enjoy reading them too.

Degrees of Deceit

The Bad Vibes Removal Services crew is back in a sequel to The Walls Can Talk!

A college prankster is making life hellish for the freshmen residents of Dellonmarsh Dorm on a University of Texas campus. The sleep-deprived students are spooked by the time Montgomery Investigations arrives on the scene to track down the prank-playing vandal who comes and goes like a ghost. Rumors say a benevolent ghost haunts the residence hall, but these treacherous tricks are anything but benevolent. As the pranks escalate from obnoxious noises in the night to poisons and more dangerous threats, investigators Lea, Kamika, and their boss, Montgomery, work to identify a perpetrator who lurks in the shadows.

Buy Links:

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.

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N. M. Cedeño currently lives near Austin, Texas. She writes mystery short stories and novels that vary from traditional to romantic suspense, and from paranormal to science fiction. She is active in Sisters in Crime, Heart of Texas Chapter, having served as chapter vice president and president. Ms. Cedeño has written several standalone short stories and novels as well as the Bad Vibes Removal Services paranormal mystery series.

Author Central:   amazon.com/author/nmcedeno

Website: nmcedeno.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/N-M-Cedeno-1303414606459806/

Landing page for the book: http://nmcedeno.com/degrees-of-deceit/

Publisher’s announcement: https://www.luckybatbooks.com/2019/08/lucky-bat-releases-n-m-cedenos-newest-paranormal-mystery/

Guest Blogger: Greta Boris

In answer to the question: How did you come up with the idea to write about the seven deadly sins?

I love suspense, especially psychological suspense that revolves around regular people, the kind who live next door, or work in the next cubicle. I can’t get enough of Lisa Scottoline’s, Harlan Coben’s, Ruth Ware’s, or Shari Lapena’s suburban noir novels.

I also love book series. If I’m drawn into a fictional world, I want to return to it over and over. I’m a big fan of C.J. Box, Lincoln and Child, and Linda Castillo. But if you notice, the three authors I just named all write about a detective. Box’s protagonist is a park ranger, Lincoln and Child’s an FBI agent, and Castillo’s is a sheriff.

How could I do both? Write a “what would you do if you ran into a dead body?” kind of story that was also a series? It’s hard to sell the idea that a real estate agent, or a chef, or a Pilates instructor would bump into more than one murderer in a lifetime. Hence the reason most domestic thrillers are standalones.

My Oprah Moment:

One day I was talking to a friend about besetting sins, or what I refer to as “our personal BS.” You know, those negative thought patterns, those special lies, that trip us up when we run into turbulent waters. We all have one we struggle with more than the others.

A light bulb went on. “What if,” I said, “I wrote a suspense series that explored each of the seven deadly sins and set it in the world I know best—Orange County, California. The hero of the next book in series could be introduced in the previous. Characters could make appearances in novels other than their story of origin as needed.

My friend loved the idea, so I went with it. I knew I’d have at least one reader.

Thank goodness she wasn’t the only one who loved it. I was picked up by Fawkes Press in Texas with a two book deal and first right of refusal on the rest. The Color of Envy, the book on preorder as I write this (August, 2019) is book 4.

The thing my readers comment on most is the relatability of my characters. My protagonists are all ordinary women with normal lives trying to make it in careers you and I know something about. A Margin of Lust features a real estate agent. The Scent of Wrath is about a single mom running the gift shop inside a Pilates studio. The protagonist in The Sanctity of Sloth is a school librarian who has publishing aspirations. The new book, The Color of Envy, revolves around an interior designer. Each of them is challenged by murder.

If, according to Lisa Cron, we read to help us vicariously tackle dilemma’s and dangers before they come, my stories solve a common problem. No one wants to meet a corpse or a killer unprepared.

All the fortress’s inhabitants have been rich, reclusive, and mysterious.

It has tantalized Rosie Ring for years. When horror writer Jacob Rinehart purchases the large stone house on the cliffs and hires her to redecorate, it seems like a dream come true. But Rinehart is living a nightmare. A woman has been killed in the same manner as the victims in his latest book.

Gruesome deaths, disturbing artwork, and red-soled shoes litter the opulent landscape of Laguna Beach, California. Everyone close to Rosie is hiding something, and one of those secrets leads to death.

If you loved Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, or Shari Lapena’s An Unwanted Guest, Greta Boris’s The Color of Envy should be right up your dark alley. Get a copy and enter the world of The Seven Deadly Sins—Standalone Novels of Psychological Suspense.

A tale of suburban suspense that will keep you turning pages. – Matt Coyle, author of the Anthony Award-winning Rick Cahill series

Buy Link for The Color of Envy: https://www.amazon.com/Color-Envy-Seven-Deadly-Sins-ebook/dp/B07SXR1HZW

Greta Boris is the author of A Margin of Lust, The Scent of Wrath, The Sanctity of Sloth, and The Color of Envy, the first four books in The 7 Deadly Sins. Ordinary women. Unexpected Evil. Taut psychological thrillers that expose the dark side of sunny Southern California.

She’s a popular conference speaker and the Amazon Kindle bestselling nonfiction author of The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Sip, Savor, and Strengthen for a Healthier Life. 

You can visit her at http://gretaboris.com. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno. 

A Bee in my Bonnet by Paty Jager

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While figuring out the means of death in my latest Shandra Higheagle mystery, Toxic Trigger-point, I had to come up with something quiet, easy, and could be done while a woman was face down on a massage table.

I wanted the scene when the body is found to look as if the woman is on the table waiting for a massage, but then they realize she is dead.

The scene had to look serene-normal.

I came up with an allergy to bees. After reading up on it, I discovered people who are deathly allergic to bees can die within minutes of contact with bee venom. Further research, I discovered there are some facial creams that have bee venom in them. Enough to cause anaphylaxis shock and death.

To tell you any more about how it all happened would give the story away. ;)_

However, each time I tried to come up with a way for Shandra and Ryan to get a confirmation it was from a bee sting or venom from forensics, I was shot down by Judy Melinek, MD and forensic pathologist.

Each time I’d come up with something, like, how about finding the enzymes for bee venom in stomach contents, she’d shut me down. Bee venom can not be tested for because of it’s chemical break down. Hmmm….

She told me the discovery would have to come from the investigation. Discovering the woman’s allergy and working from there. So that’s what I did. With the help of information from the victim’s family and, of course, Shandra’s dreams, she and Ryan solve the murder.

This is what I enjoy about writing mysteries. While I might have a great idea in mind for a murder, I have to dig and research to discover the best, and sometimes the only way, to disclose or discover how the victim was killed.

Have you read any mystery books with an unusual way the victim was killed?

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Guest Blogger: Jeri Westerson

History and the Religious Thriller

By Jeri Westerson

When you write about the medieval period, religion looms large. Of course, I’m talking the Catholic Church when it truly was a universal (catholic) church, where everyone who was Christian was Catholic and any reformists were to be condemned. In the time period that I write—late fourteenth England—being a reformist was dangerous but not necessarily life-threatening. That was later, in the fifteenth century (after all, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition).

I’m always looking for something interesting for my disgraced-knight-turned-detective Crispin Guest to deal with, besides murder. And I remembered reading about the Judas Gospel a few years ago. It’s only one of several “apocryphal” gospels, meaning “hidden”, or those that weren’t accepted at the time when the early Church fathers were deciding what to include in the New Testament, like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. But the Gospel of Judas would be sufficiently intriguing and dangerous enough for my detective to discover and try to fend off forces beyond his control. Judas is the “traitor” in TRAITOR’S CODEX, but the “traitor” is also Crispin, whose treason got him disgraced and banished from court in the first place.

By delving into its strange history, the religious reformers of the day (called Lollards), and getting him mixed up in murders and a mysterious agent of the Church out to get this book to destroy it, Crispin has his hands full doing his detecting.

The Judas Gospel, as did many of the apocryphal gospels, had a different voice from the four chosen gospels we know of today. It follows a very spiritually eastern path with its emphasis on one’s inner divinity, and that Judas was the favored Apostle not John, the one to whom Jesus entrusted this distinctly different philosophy. It’s presence certainly made Crispin think about what it means to be a faithful Christian, when the most auspicious decision one could make in the day was whether to follow the orthodoxy of the Church, or follow Lollard tenets. Lollards did not believe, for instance, that baptism and confession were necessary for salvation. They believed in the laity reading scripture in their own language and they considered asking intercession of saints and statues a form of idolatry—essentially, the beliefs that would eventually come to fruition in Henry VIII’s reformation in the sixteenth century.

When I started writing my series, I was interested in the medieval setting, with its mores and society so very different from our own. The challenge was to world-build just enough so that readers not wholly familiar with the fourteenth century and the court of Richard II, would be able to relate to my characters. Authenticity sometimes wars with accuracy (I give you the taste of the language, for instance, instead of writing it in Middle English), but history is never sacrificed for plot. Sometimes it’s tight-rope walking that fine line, but it’s never dull.

Disgraced knight turned detective Crispin Guest is caught in a deadly conspiracy within the Church to suppress what they consider a dangerous relic from falling into the hands of the reformist Lollards. But murder and betrayal are the coin of the realm amid the turmoil stirred up by a mysterious nemesis. Crispin struggles to find a killer and might have to bring a painful truth to light while avoiding falling into the lethal hands of a shadow organization within the Church.
Buy links: Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Traitors-Codex-Crispin-Guest-Mystery/dp/0727888757/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2BH7SKBABH45&keywords=traitors+codex&qid=1561419959&s=gateway&sprefix=traitors+codex%2Caps%2C248&sr=8-1Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-traitors-codex-jeri-westerson/1130151313?ean=9780727888754#/Indiebound  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780727888754Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jeri_Westerson_Traitor_s_Codex?id=7MeDDwAAQBAJKobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/traitor-s-codex

Los Angeles native JERI WESTERSON is the author of twelve Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Mystery novels, a series nominated for thirteen national awards from the Agatha to the Shamus. Jeri also writes the urban fantasy series, BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN. She has served two terms as president of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, twice president of the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and as vice president and California Crime Writers Conference co-chair for the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime. See more about Jeri at JeriWesterson.com or visit BOOKEoftheHIDDEN.com

Social Media:Facebook https://www.facebook.com/author.westerson Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/jeriwestersonauthor/
Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/jeriwesterson/

Decisions, Decisions by Paty Jager

I’ve been contemplating whether or not to write books out of sequence since my trip to Iceland.

The trip started out as fun way to see Iceland with other authors, but the more I thought about it, I decided to set a Gabriel Hawke book there. However, the next book in the series has already been mentioned in the last Hawke book, so I have to make sure it comes next….

But…I believe I need to write the Iceland book while it is all still fresh in my mind. One day while the tour group was having lunch, I sat with our guide, Ragnor, and asked him questions about the best way to bring my Fish and Wildlife State Trooper with Master Tracker credentials to Iceland, other than a vacation. He would never travel that far for a vacation. He would stay close to home and perhaps even stay with his mother on the reservation.

Ragnor didn’t see him coming to any conference or event that would be put on by the Icelandic police. He did say that they had a very active Search and Rescue program. *boom* That is how I will have Hawke be in Iceland. He will be doing a training on tracking for the search and rescue. I even brainstormed his superior’s sister is married to an Icelander and they are living in Reykjavik.

I still have to do the research on their Search and Rescue program and put together the who and why of the murder he’ll get involved in. But the pieces are slowly coming together and I’m getting excited to write the book.

While we were out driving around on the tour, I took tons of photos (that are a bit blurry) of businesses and things that I will mention to give the feeling of the country to the book. And good photos of the place I think will work for Hawke to take his workshop outside to do some tracking. That will be when they discover a body.

Once Hawke starts on a trail, he can’t quit. Upping the stakes, the main suspect will be the nephew of his boss back in the states. Hawke is loyal. He’ll do everything in his power to make sure they find the real killer.

So my decision? Even though it will put the next Hawke book further out on a publish date, I’m leaning toward writing the Iceland book now.

What do you think? Good plan or could it backfire in my face since there hasn’t been a Hawke book out since March and the next one may not be until the end of the year?

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Guest Blogger- Susan Cory

How I come up with the plots for my amateur sleuth mystery series.

Have you ever wondered what could happen if you didn’t totally wipe your hard drive before getting rid of your old computer? Or what could happen if any of the blank checks sent by credit cards fell into the wrong hands?

I live in a close-knit community in Cambridge, Ma. Most of us know Joe, our long-time mail deliverer, and he knows us. So when Joe was instructed to forward a certain household’s mail to an address in a neighboring town, he knew that the family hadn’t moved. He alerted the police who discovered a ring of con artists who were diverting people’s mail in order to steal their identities and checks.

While this scam was coming to light, I was busy trying to figure out how to get rid of my old computer.  Some computer stores and charities advertise that they’ll remove your personal information before recycling your old equipment, but what if one of their employees is less than honest?

These two ideas came together to suggest a plot for my third book in the Iris Reid mystery series, DOPPELGANGER. A family of grifters uses Iris Reid’s stolen identity to commit a crime. While stripping Iris’ data off of her old computer, Rosica Bakalov, notices her own striking resemblance to this new “mark”. She becomes fascinated with Iris and starts to stalk her. Meanwhile, Iris, out on bail, is desperate to pick up her doppellgänger’s trail before her case goes to trial.

Kirkus reviews says: “The plot becomes more unnerving as it progresses, and an impressive twist leads to a lengthy final act featuring Rosica (the Doppelgänger) at her most ferocious…Cory’s concise prose establishes a consistent pace that never wavers, and even her descriptions of architecture are exhilarating. An engagingly nerve-wracking tale with gradually escalating suspense.”

I’d love to know how YOU get rid of your old computers, and also, what you think of DOPPELGANGER.

By the way, my husband smashed my hard drive with a hammer before I took my last computer to be recycled. I wasn’t taking any chances…

Let me know on my author’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/authorsusancory

or check out my author’s website: http://www.susancory.com/

CONUNDRUM, FACADE and DOPPELGANGER are all available here:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075V2LWNX/

Susan Cory is the author of the Iris Reid mystery series of Conundrum, Façade and Doppelgänger. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, a local member of Sisters in Crime New England, and a regular attendee at Crime Bake. Like her sleuth, she is a residential architect practicing out of her turreted office in Cambridge. Also, like Iris Reid, she has a brown belt in karate. She lives in Cambridge with her architect husband and a bossy mutt.

It’s Audio Book Month by Paty Jager

Do you like to listen to audio books? I have become a fan of them both as a writer and a listener.

I just finished the second book in Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s , Thora Gudmundsdottir series. They are classified as suspense, but I really enjoyed the humor that makes the suspense/ supernatural undertones not so real. LOL I know, I’m a wimp when it comes to scary. But I have to say the first two books in the series were really good.

I think what made them so good was the narrator. I loved her pauses and attitude when narrating. She had the right amount of “drama” for lack of a better word to make the books really come to life.

That’s what I’m hoping to find on my quest for a narrator for my Gabriel Hawke books. 

I have been making audio books with the talented Ann M. Thompson. You can find the first 9 books in the Shandra Higheagle Mysteries in audio book.

I’ve requested auditions from two male narrators to begin putting the Gabriel Hawke novels into audio. This will probably be harder to find a narrator than the Shandra books were.

Ann had the warm tone I envisioned as Shandra’s, but of all the men who were suggested from my description of what I wanted for Hawke’s voice, there were only two who seemed close to what I was looking for. I’m interested in hearing their auditions of the first chapter of Murder of Ravens to see if they capture how I see him and the tone of the books.

Making an audio book isn’t hard, but it is stressful and time consuming. Stressful in hoping you pick the best representative of your book to narrate it and at a price you can afford.

Time consuming is going through the book to make sure it will read well, then picking out words that the narrator may need guidance with pronunciation. Then it’s listening to the chapters as the narrator sends them to you and making sure your book is well represented without you driving the narrator nuts with changes. But you are paying them and they should be willing to work with you to make your book its best.

Do you enjoy listening to books on tape? What makes a good audio book for you? Narrator or how well the characters are portrayed?

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