Meet author Ian Wingrove

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Ian began writing a few years ago and self-published his debut novel, Dead Pool in 2015. The mystery, thriller series is set in a dystopian England in the near future and features private detective Tom Barlow.

The second in the series, Feel.it, came out in March and Ian is looking forward to the prospect of editing and publishing the next two novels in the series.

Born in London, he currently resides in Norwich and enjoys life with an extensive family.

Let’s get to know Ian. 

What’s the first book that made you cry?

 I didn’t learn to read until I was nine, but by age eleven, I was onto Lord of the Rings. It was the moment I realised I was a sucker for tragic romance; when the immortal, Elrond, tells his daughter Arwen about the terrible fate that awaits her if she marries the heroic, but mortal, Aragon. She will have glorious days of love, children and great grand children, but ultimately she will outlast them all and they will become a distant memory as she fades into the shadows. His bleak description of her long years of loneliness and despair is incredibly powerful. She knows he is right and it will be a horrible eternity, but she goes ahead regardless because the love and the joy of children are worth it – however brief it seems to her father.

My favourite film is Cyrano de Bergerac (with Depardieu), which is the greatest tragic romance I’ve come across.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’ve been around writers my entire adult life because of my brother, David Wingrove, who is a science fiction author. A lot of my early reading material was influenced by him. When I hit fifty and decided to start writing, he gave me invaluable feedback on the early drafts of my first two books.

I have my own local writers group in Norwich and we are always reading out chapters of our work and giving each other feedback. I think that kind of direct communication with a group of writers is essential, but you have to work at building the trust and being prepared to engage in a positive way. What I haven’t yet established is a large network of beta readers who will look at the whole book and whether it works. I think my books could have benefited a lot from that kind of feedback.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There is a huge back story that I have planned for my main character, Tom Barlow, and the first two books are littered with clues, but no one has picked up on it yet. The third book will start to open up Tom’s story a lot more and in the fourth book, his personal history emerges, which is expansive and strange. That is what worries me. I have written a couple of thrillers which are set in the near future, but the people are relatively straightforward. Do I want to take the reader into a very different world, which has been going on silently behind the scenes in the first two books? It’s a risk.

What was your hardest scene to write?

All the sex scenes. Thankfully, there are none in Dead Poor, but Feel.it is a ‘will they, won’t they’ love story.

I could have skipped over the sex, but one of the main characters, Roxanne, is on a journey of discovery. She can’t feel pain because of a teenage trauma involving her mother’s suicide. That makes her the mega star ‘Queen of Pain’ in the futuristic game show called The Tournament. However, she wants to leave both the game and the stardom behind her, so that she can be herself again – so she can feel again. It is the central theme of her story. A big part of that emotional and physical reconnection is with her own body and for a young woman, sex is inevitably wrapped up with that kind of journey.

I won’t be writing sex scenes again if I can help it. Everyone assures me that they turned out okay and they won’t be winning any bad sex awards, but they took weeks of editing to make them raunchy and intimate, without them being pornographic. I suspect that some readers will find them too much, others will simply enjoy.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Nothing, because the characters are more than imitations by the time they find their place in the story. Some of the characters are based on people I haven’t seen for thirty years and I doubt that anyone would recognise themselves in the story. Except one I used to play football with, postie Paul from Donnie (Doncaster), but I told him.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

It is a detective series and I have drafted four of them. The first two actually cover the same 18 day period, with both books including several of the same main characters. Tom Barlow will walk out of a door in one book and walk into a room in the other book. As with the sex scenes, I won’t write anything like that again.

There are even a couple more thrillers that I have sketched out, ready to be written. What worries me is that I can’t think of anything different to write at the moment. I did a short story for an anthology my writers group are pulling together and it ended up being about the crazy 13th birthday party of the sociopathic Alexandria, one of the other main character in my books. I’ve realised that for me the characters come first and then the story happens. I would have to ‘invent’ a new central character, in order to write a different kind of book.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

This is going to sound silly because this book has a Goodreads rating from over 53,500 people and nearly 3,000 actual reviews, but it deserves more. Ursula LeGuin’s “The Dispossessed” is one of the greatest books of the 20th Century. The reason it isn’t rated as highly as some mainstream literature is simply because it is labeled science fiction. People pre-judge and turn away. The Dispossessed has many layers, it’s a great love story and the pages are packed with humanity. I read it eight times before I was thirty. Even the structure of the book reflects the theme of the book, which is about the nature of time and space. It is brilliant. Please give it a go.

How long to write a book?

My problem is finding the time to write (and to promote the finished product) while earning a living, looking after the kids and sharing good times with family and friends. The first two books were mostly written between 5am and 6am, over a three year period. I would think about plot, sections of dialogue and settings, while I cycled to and from work. I would then spend five minutes writing notes on my phone when I arrived and those hastily mis-typed lines would be my starting point (along with coffee) the following morning at 5am.

If you read Feel.it, you will notice that Roxanne, the heroine of the book, also cycles a lot, as it represents freedom and her own head space. This is not a coincidence.

 Catch up with Ian on social media:

Ian Wingrove’s blog

Get the books: Amazon

FeelIt (Medium)

Dead Poor 110915 (Medium)

Looking for a great beach read?

Today, I interview Lauren, the popular authority on what makes a great beach read or in her words–a sexy little romance.

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I don’t know how much weight readers put into book reviews when it comes to choosing the next great read. For me, I look at a book jacket first—an eye-catching cover, an intriguing blurb and finally, a first-page-hook that will prompt me into giving it a whirl. I do consider reviews when I’m on the fence. But I’m also one of those people who believe that if the opinions are fifty-fifty, it still may be worth my time. After all, opinions are subjective.

For authors, reviews can be a bit more important. They can make or break them—if not in sales, in confidence. A smart writer will learn to read them, extract useful feedback, and then put those opinions behind them. Well, maybe not the shiny 5-star ones with the gushing compliments. Those are for framing—if not on a wall, then in the author’s mind.

As much as we writers crave an honest opinion, the sad truth is, not many readers will take the time to rank a book, let alone pen a review. So, we turn to those who are only too happy to provide such services. We lay our necks on the chopping block and let a stranger decide if it will be thumbs-up or down. giphy (4)I ran across just such a reviewer when I was looking for feedback on my first book. She gives an honest opinion on the work of well-known authors and newbies alike. Her name is Lauren and her award-winning blog is Romance Novels for the Beach. She is known for her razor-sharp honesty, comedic wit, and seemingly superhuman book consumption. Lauren devours books like a restaurant critic tending her last meal, savoring each morsel and then summarizing it with glaring candor.

She is my hero. (I’m a slow reader and even slower reviewer.)

 

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Lauren, every time she finishes a book!

Let’s get to know Lauren. 

Generally speaking, how far into a book do you get before you know if you’re going to like it or not?

I would say I have a pretty good feel for a book within the first 10% or so. I’m all about first impressions! By that time, we’ve usually been introduced to most of the main players, and are somewhat familiar with the writing style of the author. I’m not a huge fan of slow builds in novels or waiting until the very last minute for things to come together. Gotta get me hooked from the get go!

What is your read and review process? Do you take notes as you go, or read and then write your impressions when done?  Tell us, please!

 I feel like if I took notes as I went along I’d have a book of my own by the time I was done! It would also probably feel more like work, or a book report. I always wait until I’ve finished the book before I pull out my blogging notebook, and jot down some general first impressions. That way I can actually sit back, relax, and enjoy the reading process. I find it can take me a while before I actually have the time to sit down and format my reviews at the computer, so taking notes right when I finish is a good way to capture all of my initial thoughts. I also limit myself to only taking up one page in my blogging notebook for notes on any one particular book. Again, I have the tendency to ramble, so I’ve got to limit myself somehow!

On any given day, how many books do you have in your TBR pile? 

Oh, my goodness. The infamous TBR pile. As of right now, I have about 210 books waiting for me on my Kindle which I could start immediately. However, I have a pretty nasty 14257494_1584329135203632_498635534368553472_ohabit when it comes to series. If I read the first book in a series, and absolutely love it, I’ll immediately go online and get all of the other books in the series right away. So, technically if you add in all the sequels and prequels which I’ve purchased for books I haven’t even read yet, that TBR list jumps to about 700. I know, I know, I have a problem.

You clearly spell out your submission policy on your blog. However, I’m betting some people choose to ignore that page or simply believe that you’ll love their book no matter what. Reading is subjective and not everyone is going to love the same thing. Receiving a bad review comes with being a writer and most of us put on our big girl/boy pants and deal. Have you ever had an author unleash on you because of the review you gave their book?

Yes, I have, and it was one of the worst experiences ever. My review policy is actually a fairly recent addition to my blog, and it’s solely because of the negative reaction one author had to my review of her work. It seems she took a lot of the problems I had with the protagonist as a direct attack against herself. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be for authors to put themselves out there, and ask others to review their work, but they must keep in mind that we reviewers are just stating our opinion. If you don’t like what we have to say, just move on and eat some ice cream, or maybe keep some of our critiques in mind for future work. After that one nightmarish experience, I reached out to a few authors I’ve worked with previously, and asked them what they would have liked me to do as a reviewer if I didn’t like their work. They said that as an author they have to realize that negative reviews are part of the business, and that as a reviewer I shouldn’t sugar coat whether or not I liked a book. Each author I contacted also suggested I create a review policy, which clearly states what kinds of books I enjoy, and that at the end of the day I’m going to give my honest opinion, whether it be good or bad. Since then, I haven’t had any other author outbursts!

Good or bad, your reviews are succinct, informative, and funny as hell, which tells me you enjoy doing it. Has there ever been a time when you thought about quitting your blog?

Believe it or not, I once considered shutting down my blog, and it ties back to the previous question. I’ll never forget what it was like to be sitting at work one day, and suddenly get a bunch of dings on my phone indicating that people were commenting on one of my reviews, only to see that they were writing some of the most hurtful things about me that don’t really need repeating here. It was like I couldn’t breathe. I’ve never had so much hatred directed at me for simply sharing my opinion, and it went on for several days. I thought to myself, this blog was supposed to be for fun. I didn’t sign up for people to attack my intelligence, and tell me to get a real job. I’m all for debating different opinions when it comes to books, but at that point they weren’t even talking about the book anymore. They were just calling me names. Funnily enough, when I went to block all of these commenters and I found out they were all coming from the same IP address as the author, I felt a little better that it was just one person out there who had a problem with me instead of 50. The support of friends and authors really helped me move on. So, I’m still blogging, but it’s hard to explain how much that one experience has altered my entire blogging experience. I used to jump at my phone in excitement whenever I found out someone new commented on one of my reviews, but now there’s always a moment of hesitation and anxiety. I’m hoping that after just a bit more time I’ll experience that exciting rush again, but for now I just have to keep on reading!

Your blog is all about the romance genre with some cross over into suspense, paranormal, and such. Will there come a time when you’re interested in reading and reviewing other genres? Will there ever be a Horror in the House blog or Post-apocalyptic Trip blog?

Never horror!! Sorry, I just can’t do scary. giphy (6)I’m sure at some point I’ll review a couple of books from other genres that don’t feature romance, but for now I’m sticking close to my sexy romance roots.

Describe your ideal novel, the perfect blend to satisfy your reading needs.

Oh my, this is a tough one! I guess, for me an ideal novel is one that seems real. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional romance that features billionaires and rock stars, but I’ve found that my favorite novels are the ones where the story feels like it could happen to someone you know. A little drama mixed in is always welcome, but I prefer when it’s an issue that requires our couple to come together to overcome those obstacles. Misunderstandings about former significant others aren’t exactly my thing. And, as always, a sexy roll in the sheets before the halfway point is always welcome.

I noticed that you post many Ryan Gosling photos. Be honest, do you have a fangirl crush?giphy (5)Um, who doesn’t?! There’s just something about that smirk he does that makes me go weak in the knees! Although, I must say I’m starting to feature another crush of mine more prominently, and that would be Mr. Henry Cavill. Mmm, it’s like he’s staring into your soul!

What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

Does TV count? Because I must say the Starz adaptation of Outlander is on point! I mean, the actors who play Claire and Black Jack Randall are just phenomenal. I think Sam Heughan, the actor who plays Jamie, still has some room to grow with his portrayal of the hunky Highlander, but damn if that man doesn’t look amazing in a kilt.

I totally agree with you on Outlander!    giphy (2)Fans of Romance for the Beach already know you like reading and reviewing for fun, but what else do you do in your free time?

I’d like to think that happy hour counts as an extracurricular activity, but for those of you who think that’s a cop out I also play the piano. Mainly classical, but in December it is all Christmas Carols. I took lessons for about 10 years when I was younger, and I must say it can be very relaxing to sit and play for an hour or two. Pachelbel’s Canon in D is my jam!

It’s not surprising that Pachelbel’s Canon in D is a fave, consider it’s a major player in many weddings and you love romance!

Other than the computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

Some people are all about their phones, but I think I would go through legitimate withdrawals if I didn’t have my Kindle. It’s my window into other worlds, and thoughts of other people. Which sounds slightly stalkerish now that I think about it, but you know what I mean! Books can take you anywhere, and introduce you to a multitude of lovable and quirky characters. I take my Kindle with me everywhere.

I get it. It took me ages to give up paper books and embrace a Kindle. Now, I can’t live without mine.

Thank you so much for sharing a little bit of yourself with us, Lauren.  Best of luck on the TBR pile!  

 

I highly recommend Lauren’s blog romance4thebeach     It is sheer entertainment!  

Here is Lauren’s review of my debut novel, STILL LIFE from back in October 2015.   Enjoy!                      Lauren’s review of STILL LIFE

Additionally, here are a few of my favorite non-review posts from Lauren’s blog:

Romance Isn’t Regular

That Looks Familiar     (Until I read this, I had no idea!)

In Memoriam: My Notebook

 

 

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I ran across this post today and aside from the author’s introspection of his own personal growth, he explains, in the most eloquent manner, what is in my own heart and mind.
Thank you, Chris

The Renegade Press

Milk and honey have different colours, but they share the same house peacefully.

  • African proverb

One of the most defining moments of my admittedly short writing career came on December 20th, 2014 when I received my first death threat from a reader. The threat, received via email, was in response to an article I had written which drew comparisons between religious intolerance and a criminological model known as the Broken Windows Theory. Throughout the post, I suggested that the constant defamation of an ideology through misrepresentation and bigotry damages an individual’s perception of a subculture, and creates a rift in our society.

To illustrate my point, I spoke of the Islamic faith and the unjust insinuation that it is a religion defined by violence. I compared acts perpetuated by extremists as stones hurled through the windows of a beautiful monument in an attempt to damage its image and cheapen…

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Meet D.H. Gibbs

Today, we’re getting to know a bit more about the multi-genre talent, D.H. Gibbs. 

She hails from Trinidad and Tobago, is an author, illustrator, and lifelong bibliophile. She has found a wonderful way to blend her love of the written word with her artistic abilities by creating books for children and adults.
When not writing, she can be found dreaming up new, fantastical stories for her fans or indulging her love of art, reading, or planning her next great adventure.

Let’s talk to D.H. Gibbs

What is the first book that made you cry?

Full Circle By Danielle Steel

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I believe it’s both. I feel energized while I’m doing it but once I stop I’m exhausted.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes, I have and then I feel like a junky looking for my next fix. Stalking my fav authors to see if they have anything.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

As a multi genre author, I think about that regularly. LOL. But I have not made a final decision.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

No, I don’t. I myself sometimes write sad scenes and cry like a fool. If you don’t have strong emotions you can’t always identify with the realness of your characters.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

My social media has blown up with a lot of indie authors this past year and I think the entire movement is so helpful and supportive that they make you want to work at your craft and be better at it.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Hire an editor!!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Scrivener, Buffer and Fiction Atlas Services.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I would choose a fox. It’s smart and a survivor.  

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Of course, I read my book reviews. I’m ecstatic about the good ones and use the bad ones as a learning experience. Sometimes constructive criticism can help.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

For my first nook Nika, I planted easter eggs for the next two books. I’m hoping the readers would eventually link them all.

Do you Google yourself?

Not if I can help it.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Anything Nancy Drew or Enid Blyton

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

I would have taken more literary courses or become a librarian. That way I can inhale the smell of books all day.


 

Look for her latest book, A Touch of Kindness, to release in 2 short days–on August 19th! 

You can catch up with D.H. Gibbs here:  D.H. Gibbs

Cover Reveal

Today, I’m thrilled to reveal D.H.Gibbs’ new sweet romance cover!

I can’t wait for the release of this book!

Trinidad and Tobago native, D.H. Gibbs, writes in several genres–children’s, young adult, and now, romance. She is an illustrator and lifelong bibliophile who has found a way to blend her creative abilities with her love of the written word.

When not writing, she can be found dreaming up new, fantastical stories for her fans or indulging her love of art, reading, or planning her next great adventure.

Catch up with D.H. Gibbs on her website/blog where she’ll keep us up to date on the latest news of her upcoming release:  https://dhgibbs.com/

Book Recommendation: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate

I love this review of Susanna Calkins’ debut novel! Definitely adding it to my lengthy reading list.

Reade and Write

I picked up A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate at the library–on a whim, which is how I pick out a lot of my library books. And I wasn’t disappointed. Susanna Calkins’ debut mystery had me guessing right up to the big reveal at the end. I had picked practically every character in the book as a suspect before the end, and I was still surprised to learn who the killer was. This is a book I highly recommend for anyone who loves a good mystery, Restoration England, and above-stairs/below-stairs intrigue.

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate is the story of Lucy Campion, a chambermaid in the London home of Magistrate Hargrave. The tale is set in the seventeenth century and the amount of research that went into the book is astounding. The author’s vast knowledge of this time period  (she has a doctorate in British history) is obvious and imbues the…

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Meet Author Connie Cockrell

A 20-year Air Force career, time as a manager at a computer operations company, wife, mother, sister, and volunteer, provides a rich background for Connie Cockrell’s story-telling.

Cockrell grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Gloversville, NY before she joined the military at age 18. Having lived in Europe, Great Britain, and several places around the United States, she now lives in Payson, AZ with her husband: hiking, gardening, and playing Bunko. She writes about whatever comes into her head so her books could be in any genre.

She’s published sixteen books so far, has been included in five different anthologies and been published on EveryDayStories.com and FrontierTales.com.

Connie’s always on the lookout for a good story idea. Beware, you may be the next one.

Let’s get to know Connie. 

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Only one and that was accidental. My husband and I were driving across country from visiting my family in New York. We came through New Mexico and stopped in Santa Rosa for the night. I set my western hero’s hometown there so I thought, this is great. I can actually see the place instead of googling it. I chose the town because it has the Santa Rosa river running through it. It turns out it’s nothing like I imagined. And it has this Big Blue Hole, which never came up in my searches. And the river is about thirty inches wide, though a lot of water does run through it. So, the descriptions in my story aren’t blown out of the water, pun intended. But if I do reference the town in future stories, I’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Gone with the Wind. I was 12 when I first read it and the description of Scarlett going hungry every night was just more than my pre-teen brain could handle.

Did you every consider writing under a pseudonym?

I did. My first book was drafted as a challenge from my daughter in 2011 for the National Novel Writing Month. During the challenge, I made contact with the Arizona Elsewhere monitor and she invited me to her on-line writing group, Forward Motion. One of the topics on the years old feed was whether or not to have a pen name. After reading all the pros and cons, I decided, no. Not unless I start writing erotica, LOL! I figure if James Patterson can write everything under one pen name, so can I.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

Each of my books can stand alone but my series stories do link to each other in a sequence. (Hint! Hint! Start with book one in each series.) It seems a natural way to write, for me, so that’s the way I roll.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I’m old enough to remember the televised speech by John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961 where he asked of American citizens, “…ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” I still get chills when I hear or read that speech. You can find the whole address at http://www.ushistory.org/documents/ask-not.htm.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

A debt of gratitude. Not that I’ve fashioned a character from a whole person. A character is generally based, for me at least, on bits and pieces of many others. Except myself. I put a lot of myself in my female protagonists. After all, we’re supposed to write what we know, right?

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Oh my! Like many authors, I’ve started works that have petered out in the middle. Two, in particular, come to mind because I’ve made the protagonists too perfect. That’s never a good thing and they both need to be re-written to correct that defect. LOL! Others are half plotted or no more than story ideas jotted down that I haven’t had time to start yet. There have to be at least six or seven of those, including a noir series set in WWII. I have a whole series planned with the first book drafted (a coming of age/YA series I call All About Bob, with mainly male protagonists) but I don’t want to start a new series right now because I have three already in progress (two SciFi and one cozy mystery). It’s a writer’s burden I fear.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Good question. It depends on the series or book. For example, that story I mentioned earlier with the protagonist from Santa Rosa, I didn’t research until I began the story. It’s a western set in central Arizona. So once I decided the location, there was some work to do to discover what was going on in that area at the end of the Civil War. Then research into firearms men would carry, even how to curry a horse, because I didn’t grow up with horses. My SciFi series Gulliver’s Station, I chatted with an aerospace engineer on how big to make a space station that could provide for 10,000 full-time residents, taking into consideration crop growth on the station, air production of various kinds and even what to do with the deceased! The noir I’m planning is going to take a lot of research before I start. Fashions for men and women, what men were exempt from serving and for what reasons, social mores of the time in both rural areas and in New York City, all kinds of things. The research is the fun stuff for sure.

What was your hardest scene to write?

In my very first book, I killed off the grand-daughter of my female protagonist. It had to be done but I cried all the way through the first and subsequent drafts. When my mom read it, she yelled at me for killing off the girl. I’ve had other hard scenes to write since then, but that was my first.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

Generally, a month. A couple of thousand words per day will get the job done, especially if I’ve taken some time to write out some scene cards. What do I mean? A scene card for me is a sentence describing what I want to have happened in the scene. Sometimes I use 4X6 index cards, sometimes I just write or type them out on a page. The sentence will cover who’s the protagonist, antagonist, location, conflict and what the twist is at the end that will lead me to the next scene. If I have enough of these done for the book, say 60+ I can rock on through the book in no time. If, because of what I’ve already written a scene is no longer valid, I toss it out as irrelevant. Fun times. I don’t like to micro-plan, so the scene sentence gives me a direction, keeping me pointed at the ending I want, without cutting into my creativity. There have been books where I didn’t know what the ending was. Those are a wild ride!

What about my newest book?

Mystery at the Book Festival is the third book in my Jean Hays series, my only cozy mystery set so far. Jean is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant Project Manager, divorced after she and her AF husband, also a project manager, retired. She has an adult son with his own family who live in California. It turns out that Jean is a magnet for dead bodies in her little town of Greyson, AZ. She’s in constant conflict with the Chief of Police, Nick White and is best friends with her fellow amateur sleuth, Karen Carver. Karen is a native resident of Greyson and knows just about everything about everyone in town. They are friends with Liz Toscano, hard-bitten reported for the twice weekly town paper. In Mystery at the Book Festival, Karen and Jean find a body in the local community college store room still dripping blood. As the third body in a year and a half, the mayor wants Nick to put Jean behind bars or lose his job! So it’s up to Jean to find the real killer fast for both her sake and Nick’s.

Read an excerpt: Mystery at the Book Festival

She can be found at www.conniesrandomthoughts.com

Facebook:  ConniesRandomThoughts

Twitter: @ConnieCockrell or

Amazon Author:  Connie Cockrell