Tag Archives: mystery

The Solace of Denim by Kathy Otten in the Featured New Book Spotlight


Book cover for The Solace of Denim, written by Kathy OttenLet’s welcome my fellow Pennwriter, Kathy Otten, to West of Mars!

Kathy has a new book out that she’d like to tell us about, so let’s get to it. Kathy, what song makes you think of The Solace of Denim?

Music has a power to heal and guide us when we are at our most troubled. The father of the murdered boy in this story is a former band member and follows his rock idols when he is his most despondent at the loss of his son. The denim jacket his son wore–the one that comes to young Joey, our hero–is bedecked with patches from the great bands of that era.

The song that makes me think of this story is Bob Seger’s TURN THE PAGE, a song about the ups and downs of life on the road. (In fact, it’s also the title of the musician’s biography, written by Edward Sarkis Balian.) Lines like “You pretend it doesn’t bother you/but you just want to explode” define the journey Joey is going through to a T. He is coming from one of the worst experiences a child can have–nearly murdered by his own father–to being accused of the murder of the only friend he has in his lonely foster child existence. But he finds help in the most unlikely place he can imagine.

Now, longtime readers and fans of West of Mars will recognize that I am a total Rock Fiction junkie. Which means that no matter how heavy this sounds, I’m there. (Also? “Turn the Page” was the song for Trevor’s Song, my first novel.)

What’s the book description, though? In case this wasn’t enough to hook you?

The victim of a horrific crime, fifteen-year-old Joey Kowalski has bounced around in the foster care system for six years. When his only friend Luke is murdered, suspicion falls on Joey.

As evidence mounts against him, Luke’s denim jacket appears in Joey’s closet. When he puts on the jacket, he gets visions of Luke’s murder and hears Luke’s voice in his head. Can Joey convince Luke’s father, Detective Marek, to look past his grief and help him find the real killer?

Whoa… mystery clothing! I’m there. Are you?

Pick up your copy of The Solace of Denim:
eBook at Apple
eBook at Kobo
eBook at Smashwords — on sale for 99 cents in July!

And connect with Kathy!
Amazon Author Page
Book trailer

Remember that the best way to show thanks to an author is to buy copies of their books for your friends! Next to that is telling people about a great book, and then we have the old “leave an online review” option. All are great, and when you can do all three, authors benefit. We want authors to benefit — if they don’t, they won’t keep publishing their writing for us to read! (Yes, it really IS that simple.)

And, as always, be sure to send your friends and your colleagues over for their turn in the spotlight. I’m glad to host them!


Cruising Danger by Stevie Turner in the Featured New Book Spotlight


book coverLet’s welcome Stevie Turner to West of Mars! I’ve known Stevie for a long time now, via Triberr, and so I’m very excited to finally host a spotlight for one of her books. This one is called Cruising Danger, and that title alone is awesome, is it not? And before you ask, this is an older title, but that’s fine! It’s new to me, so that’s what counts.

Stevie Turner, what song makes you think of your book, Cruising Danger?

Sailing, by Rod Stewart.

My book is ‘Cruising Danger’, a mystery/suspense story.

Whoa! That’s an old one! And a good one; musically, it’s held up. Takes me right on back, although I’d say it’s more soothing than suspense and mystery, but yeah, I can see it.

So what’s Cruising Danger about?

When Pauline Edmunds agrees to accompany her workmate Shirley on a Caribbean cruise, she is disappointed to be left alone almost at the start when Shirley starts a holiday romance with Joe Collins, a guitarist in a band working on board the ship. However, Pauline does not like the look of Joe, and tries to dissuade Shirley from continuing the affair. When Shirley cannot be found one morning, Pauline begins to investigate her friend’s disappearance, opening up a whole can of worms amidst a background of Caribbean scenery and sunshine.

Oh, my! Did the guitarist do it? Or… well, I mean, it’s a mystery, so I guess we’ve got to read it because you know it’s not going to be that easy.

Be sure to grab your copy. It’s an Amazon exclusive, but that does not mean you can read and return it! (That’s super-duper tacky. Don’t be tacky, let alone super-duper tacky.)

And, of course, be sure to leave a review online somewhere once you’ve read it, okay? That helps more readers find a book, and that’s always a good thing! So is buying a copy for a friend, or simply telling others about a good book, too. Do all three! It’s easy!

If you’d like to connect with Stevie Turner — and why wouldn’t you? You can find out more about books like Cruising Danger–here’s how!
Amazon Author Page
About Me

Remember, if you’re an author or you have friends who have written books, I’m glad to host them for a day and let them take their turn in the spotlight. There’s even a handy-dandy form for them to fill out.


Witches and Fairies and Tacos… Oh My by Carol Kilgore in the Featured New Book Spotlight


We are back after a few weeks off with the new release (TODAY new!) from our friend Carol Kilgore. And when I say “Our friend Carol Kilgore,” I mean that. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Carol over the past few years and not only are her books a LOT of fun, but she’s become one of my favorite people. And okay, I have a lot of favorite people, but Carol’s up there among the fierce competition.

And so I’m super excited to host Carol Kilgore for the first time ever today! Why hasn’t she been here before? Good question! I’ll let you ask her that, since the one and only question I promised to ask wasn’t that one. It was… I mean, hello, if you’ve hung out here for any length of time, you know what it is: Carol Kilgore, what song makes you think of your book, Witches and Fairies and Tacos… Oh My ?

Well of course there’s “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles, even though both my witches are blondes. But I couldn’t stop there, not when the tagline for this book is PRACTICAL MAGIC meets BEWITCHED.

So I have to add The Bewitched theme song and the theme from Practical Magic as well. Sometimes I would wake up in the night with the Practical Magic song in my head because many days I listened to it over and over as I wrote.

I haven’t heard Witchy Woman in years and WOW, not only is this such a blast from the past, it’s a song that’s really held up and oh, the memories. BUT it’s absolutely perfect for the book. Yes.

The Bewitched theme song just made me laugh. I used to love that show, but I think Carol’s witches are way cooler. And much, much better dressed. And as for the Practical Magic theme? What a lovely, uplifting piece of music.

Yes. I approve, Carol. I approve. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

Need to know what more this all adds up to? Yes, you do. This is FUN STUFF, folks.

Practical Magic meets Bewitched

First Book in the House Witches Mystery Series

Charli Quinn and her sister Brielle own House Witches Cleaning and promise to clean like magic. They may not be your everyday, run-of-the-mill witches, but they are… something.

When Charli finds the husband of one of their clients dead, the wind warns her to beware the man with eyes of green. As the sisters search for the ominous man, they find themselves in danger and rely on their real magic to outsmart the killer.

Along the way, Charli and Brielle have help from a group of fairies, and even a talking cow. And Charli falls head over broomstick for a tall, sexy deputy with dreamy blue eyes who saves her from being hijacked by a water sprite.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Texas without tacos.

They are:
+ Best friends
+ Work partners
+ Sisters
+ Witches… wicked good witches

Yes, right? A talking cow? A group of fairies? A bit of romance and a water sprite?? Only here, folks, and it is So. Much. Fun.

Get your copy now! It’s Amazon exclusive, but we love Carol anyway. Actually, I think it was her who explained to me why, and it was a very very wise reason. Like I said, Carol is one of my favorite people for a reason!

Come see why and connect with author Carol Kilgore:
Amazon Author Page

As always, if you’re an author or have a friend who is, the Featured New Book Spotlight would love to highlight you and your book. Or your friend and their book. We aren’t picky; we just want to highlight books and music and have some fun. What’s stopping you from joining us?

And, of course, the best way to say thanks to an author for taking the time to do promo, for writing a great book, for… anything! Is to write a review and post it online. It doesn’t matter where; the idea is to get people talking about a book you like (or hate; yes I’m a fan of a well-written review that isn’t gushing praise of a book) in order to help others discover it.


Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking by Linda Griffin in the Featured New Book Spotlight


Let’s welcome Linda Griffin back to West of Mars! She was just here last March, which means she’s either really prolific or likes us. Or both!

Her new book is called Love, Death, and the Art of Cooking, and how can you NOT love that title? Not only does it flow really well off the tongue, but it’s intriguing as all get out. Let’s learn more about it, shall we?

Linda Griffin, what song makes you think of your book?

“Friends and Lovers” by Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson, because Alyssa wants to be just friends, even though they keep ending up in bed, and Reid wants so much more.

Wow, that’s an oldie.

So what’s the book about? How do Alyssa and Reid handle this familiar (and beloved; it really is one of my faves) trope? Let’s see…

Software engineer Reid Lucas loves to cook and has a history of falling in love with married women. When he leaves his complicated past in Chicago for a job in California, he runs into trouble and must call a virtual stranger to bail him out of jail. Alyssa Knight, a tough street cop waiting for a church annulment from her passive-aggressive husband, is the roommate of the woman Reid calls for help, and she reluctantly provides bail for Reid. He falls for her immediately, and cooking for her is an act of love. She just wants to be friends, but they keep ending up in bed together. When his boss is murdered, Reid is a suspect—or is he the intended target?

YES. Cross-genre stuff happening here, it looks like. Some mystery with your romance, some romance with your mystery. Maybe some romantic suspense entirely?

Gonna have to read it to see… Grab your copy today!

Remember, the best way to say thanks for a good book is to recommend it to others. And one way of doing that is to leave a review. Leave reviews, friends!

And connect with Linda Griffin. Authors are fun people to chat with.


Featured New Book Spotlight: Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lyndi Alexander


Featured New Book Spotlight

Let’s welcome Lyndi Alexander to West of Mars! Lyndi and I have known each other for years now and I think she’s pretty darn cool. I bet you will, too — and that you’re going to love her song!

Her book is called Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, and it’s been around awhile. We’re good with that because it’s new to me! It’s got to be new to some of you guys, too.

So what’s the song that makes you think of your book, Lyndi?

Anything from Phantom of the Opera. LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME is the story of Sara Woods, who is innocently drawn into a mystery of deadly proportion, just as Christine was in the musical. I listened extensively to the soundtrack while writing the story, and can still suddenly be in the middle of one scene or another if I hear the music. Life is never what it seems, and trusting too soon can be dangerous.

The haunting quality of the Andrew Lloyd Webber creation inspires me–Sara’s journey will do the same for the reader.

But… but… there’s no one song I can link to! Here’s the theme song, such as it is, performed — by all people! — by Nicole Scherzinger. Who knew she had such pipes? She’s also lucky enough to sing with FOUR different men who played the Phantom (although damn, this one dude belongs in Les Miz and I wish I knew all their names ’cause I’d like to hear more of them). So enjoy this and check out the rest of the soundtrack.

(It has been so long since I’ve heard this, I’ve forgotten how powerful the music is. This is going to be a hell of a book Lyndi’s written.)

Ready for the description:

A bad divorce, a broken heart, a need to begin again.

These three things propel reporter Sara Woods to leave her comfortable position working for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and take the first news job that comes along, working as the new reporter for small-town Ohio’s Ralston Courier. Ralston is a sleepy little town that doesn’t seem to have much to offer this big-city girl, but her very first assignment is to investigate a dead body, a young woman found half-frozen on the side of a country road.

But soon the story on this body ties in with others, and she finds herself scrambling to come up with a common link among the dead other than the fact that they’re all young women Sara’s age.

Still recovering from a previous auto accident and struggling with chronic pain, she becomes a patient at the Goldstone Clinic, a local mecca of healing.

But all is not as it seems at the Goldstone, its doctors and nurses are all the picture of perfect beauty and health. Patients at the clinic first seem to get better, then they deteriorate. Sara enlists the help of Dr. Rick Paulsen, a doctor at the city hospital who shares her concern about the deaths of the young women, one of whom was his own patient. He teaches her through Eastern techniques how to access her internal power, skills she never knew she had, revealing secrets from her past.

Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, but he stalks her, watching her every move, and he won’t leave her alone. He always turns up at the most suspicious times, especially where the dead bodies are found. What’s his interest in Sara?

As she digs deeper into the story, and more young women die without explanation, she tries to choose allies wisely, but not till the last confrontation does she discover the identity of her true enemy.

By then, it’s too late.

Yeah. I need this book. Do you need this book?

Get it at

And connect with Lyndi!
Her website


Featured New Book Spotlight: Bolt Action Remedy by JJ Hensley


Let’s welcome my dear friend JJ Hensley to the Featured New Book Spotlight today!

JJ’s cool. If you don’t follow him on Facebook or Twitter, you should. He’s got a very dry, acerbic sense of humor that slays me, time after time.

And… he’s got a new book out. It’s called Bolt Action Remedy, and let’s sit back and see what JJ’s got to say about it. I bet it’s funny.

First off, what song makes you think of Bolt Action Remedy, JJ?

My first novel, RESOLVE, was set against that backdrop of a marathon. Ever since writing that book, I’d been looking for a way to integrate another endurance sport into a story but with more intensity. I incorporated biathlon (skiing and shooting) into the setting because if you are going to write a murder mystery then why not give EVERYONE a gun. As I researched biathlon, I came to truly appreciate the intensity and speed of the sport. So whenever I hear the song Joyride (Omen) by Chevelle, I feel the intensity I tried to capture on the pages.

The song itself captures some of the internal struggles of the protagonist, Trevor Galloway. Joyride is about the difficulty of letting go of the past (or, in Galloway’s case, the past refusing to let him go) and the fast tempo gives the song the feel of a race.

The music I listen to is so important to my writing process. I visualize my stories as movies and each of them has a soundtrack. The songs I hear in my mind (shut up, I’m not crazy) really assist me in developing the tone I’m looking for in particular scenes. Sometimes I’ll be listening to a song and think, That’s the mood I want the readers to feel when they read chapter two! It’s not surprising that most of the music I listen to is fast-paced rock, since I do everything I can to keep my stories moving along at a good clip. Fortunately, I’ve been able to construct my books in a way that readers don’t have to particularly care about marathons or biathlon, or like rock music, and they can still get caught up in the mystery. I THINK Bolt Action Remedy and my next book, Record Scratch (Spring 2018) are my best work thus far. If not, I guess I better shake up my playlist!

JJ and I often have similiar tastes in music, but I’m just not there with the Chevelle. Are you? Not familiar with them? Check it out and see if JJ’s right, that it works with his book!

Here’s the official description:

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

Mmmmm. I love people who write about Western Pennsylvania. And, like I said, JJ is great people.

Join me in the love. While the book won’t be released until October, you can (and should!) preorder it now. Here are the links:
Smashwords *Affiliate link
Barnes and Noble

Connect with JJ and enjoy the wit! (Seriously. You’ll be glad you did.)
Blog- Steel City Intrigue


Featured New Book: Measure Twice by JJ Hensley


Ahh, the beauty of writers’ groups. If you’re a writer, find yourself one. Find a good group of folk who don’t merely lift you up when you need it, but who always always always lift your writing up.

Author JJ Hensley is in one of my writer’s groups. He’s also one of the few people who knows what I look like, so be extra nice to him and maybe he’ll spill the goods. Of course, we’ve only seen each other face to face once, and that was at a table in a restaurant, so who knows how much of me he actually saw.

Measure Twice 750 x 1200 jpeg

Anyway, JJ’s got a new book out, Measure Twice. He’s garnering some good reviews, so be sure to check them out, as well as the book.

Let’s get down to business. JJ, what song makes you think of your book?

Man of Constant Sorrow


This is a traditional folk song that has been covered by multiple artists since 1913.  Many people are familiar with the tune from the George Clooney movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?  However, I’m not really into folk music, so the version I like is by a hard rock band called Charm City Devils. 


My new novel, Measure Twice, is a story about addiction, recovery, and the search for redemption. An addict, Lester Mayton, is methodically killing Pittsburgh city officials and Homicide Detective Jackson Channing is on the case. However, Channing has his own addiction and a dark secret that is tearing him apart.


Like true men of constant sorrow, both of these characters struggle to be free of their addictions in very different ways. Mayton’s addiction to religion has to be broken if he is to complete his terrifying plan, while Channing’s alcoholism is threatening his career and his sanity.


The novel is divided into 12 chapters, or “steps”, mirroring the 12 steps of recovery as defined by Narcotics Anonymous. This literary 12 step program propels the reader through a plot unlike any other.


While the lyrics of Man of Constant Sorrow do not exactly reflect the content of Measure Twice, the underlying theme of the song makes me think of the novel.  In fact, this song pops into my head whenever I think about the climax of the story and envision the scene. 


And I certainly do not see George Clooney.


Charm City Devils. Good choice, JJ! And killing Pittsburgh officials… why do I think this was written near the end of the Ravenstahl administration?

Ready for what the book is about? I sure am.

Lester Mayton is struggling to break free from his addiction. In his particular case, the drug of choice is religion. Now with his wife dead and city officials to blame, Mayton is out for revenge. In order to commit the atrocities necessary to spread his message of justice, he must change his ways and become the evil he has always abhorred.

Pittsburgh Homicide Detective Jackson Channing is struggling to break free from his own addiction. His alcoholism may have already cost him his marriage and now threatens to sweep away his sanity. Ever since he and his partner were brutally tortured by a sadistic murderer, his life has spun out of control. Following a failed suicide attempt, Channing decides his life must have some meaning and the only way he can put the pieces back together is to break free of his addiction and commit acts of redemption.
When the body of a city official is discovered in a public location, the entire city of Pittsburgh bears witness to a form of evil that is difficult to comprehend. Channing learns the killer is patient, methodical, and precise. In order to stop the killing, Channing will have to pull his life together and come to terms with a secret that is tearing him apart.

With each chapter of this thriller representing one of the 12 steps of addiction recovery, Measure Twice is a story of personal struggle, revenge, and the search for redemption. Pay attention throughout this heart-pounding pursuit. The details are important because every cut is lethal.


Now, I don’t usually delve into author bios, but here, I feel like I need to. That’s ’cause, you see, JJ? He’s the real deal. Former cop and Special Agent with the US Secret Service. Cool, huh?

I know neat people. Love it.

So. Ready to pick up your copy?

Smashwords (affiliate link, so be sure to use it. Those three cents add up!)


And before I’m out of here for the day, let me make one more comment about why you should pick this up: a portion of the sales for Measure Twice go toward breast cancer research through the non-profit group Par for The Cure. Anyone who’s read my Trevor’s Song knows this is an issue near and dear to my heart. 


Featured New Book: The Blackest Night by Jenny Hilborne


Author Jenny Hilborne has been a favorite around these parts for awhile now. If you like things a little dark, a little creepy, a little bit hold-your-breathy, Jenny’s the author for you. And yet, at the same time, her fiction makes you think. It’s smart.  I really like it, and I hope you will, too.

The Blackest Night FINAL FRONT EBOOK 04132014 copy

Jenny’s got a new book out now, called The Blackest Night. And while I might be a bit biased toward it and its success, I am confident you’ll agree it’s a great read.

Jenny, what song makes you think of your book?

The song that makes me think of my book is George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone.” Someone in The Blackest Night is exactly that, and it’s Detective Jackson’s job to find out who.


Short and sweet … and when you read it (note: WHEN you read it), you’ll see why this one needed no extra explanation.

Here’s what the book is about:

Thirteen years ago, a wrongful conviction sent an innocent man to prison. Still mentally and physically scarred six years after his release, William Law believed the darkest days of his life were behind him, until the night he is attacked in a dark alleyway. As Law tries to deal with the outcome and struggles to understand the reasons behind the encounter, a more troubling presence begins to make itself known. 

Meanwhile, a missing teenager’s disappearance is being treated as a murder investigation. Homicide inspector Mac Jackson is leading the inquiries. With no contact, no ransom demand, and all the leads exhausted, his case soon grows cold. Then Jackson receives an anonymous phone call from a tipster with some startling information. As Jackson follows up on the new lead, he unearths clues connecting one crime to another, and learns that the most unconventional path might be the only one that leads to the truth.

Nice, huh?  William Law is one cool character. Jenny’s done a great job creating him.

Pick up your copy:

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Not good enough? Need another way? Try a Goodreads give! *Open until June 5

Be sure to connect with Jenny, too:


Featured New Book: An Idyllic Place for Murder by Liz Milliron


If you’ve looked around the site since the redesign, you’ll know Liz Milliron’s name. Or, you’ll recognize her real name: Mary Sutton, the head of our non-fiction department and one of our e-book formatters. Mary’s one busy woman! On top of writing and being a West of Mars subcontractor, she also has a day job and a family with needs. And I think there are some pets in there, too, but I’m not 100% certain.

Idyllic Place

She’s here with the first short story in her Laurel Highlands Mystery series. I was thrilled to find a fellow soul sister in Mary, in that on top of everything else, we share a love for Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. I’m not sure where her love of the area came from, but what’s important here is that Mary shares it.

The story was originally published at Mysterical-E, and she’s got the rights back, so … it was time to let a wider audience know about Jim and Sally. Once you’ve met them, you’ll be glad you did.

So, Mary/Liz… what song reminds you of your book?

I don’t have a particular song in mind for this story. However, thinking of my protagonist, Jim Duncan, always puts me in mind of Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen is classic rock, simple lyrics, just a hard-working every day guy. No punk, no death metal. Just a guy singing about life, usually in a small, working class town. And that’s Duncan, just a guy trying to do a job. He lives in a rural county and likes it. He likes being a cop, being a hard-working guy, doing a job he loves because he wants to do it. And he’s a little working class. But he’s, um, really not lucky in the relationship department. He had a wife he loved and lost her. So if I have to pick a song that represents Jim at this point, it’d be The Boss’s “I’m Going Down.” The song is about a guy who sees a relationship that used to be perfect going down in flames. And that’s pretty much where Jim is in the relationship department – down in flames.

Ahh, Springsteen… I’ve seen him live twice. He truly holds a special place in my heart, and that’s before we get into the really good stories (and the fact that he inspired my own short piece, Keys, which is in Demo Tapes 4).
See? I told you Mary is cool.
Ready for the story’s description?

The Laurel Highlands seem idyllic, but for Trooper First Class Jim Duncan, they’re anything but.

When a young woman from Pittsburgh ends up dead inside a rental cabin Confluence, it’s up to Duncan to find the killer before the event brings unwanted publicity to one of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s most scenic regions. There seems to be a built-in suspect in the local character known as The Creeper, but if Fayette County public defender Sally Castle has anything to say, The Creeper won’t end up in prison without a fight.

Previously published at Mystericale.com, “An Idyllic Place for Murder” is the first story in THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS MYSTERIES series.

This makes me want to read it, and I already have. Don’t be left out.

Get your copy:




And Apple, too!


Author website



Rock Fiction Coveting: Frisky Business by Jill Edmondson


Count on my friend Deena at e-Book Builders to bring me word that I’m falling further behind than ever when it comes to author Jill Edmondson’s rocking series, the Sasha Jackson Mysteries.

And that she got to format it? The only thing that would make me less jealous would be if I got to edit it. (If that happened, though, Jett couldn’t borrow my copy like she usually does.)

I still need to get started on this series, and I’d better get to that sooner rather than later because this is now the fourth.

Ahh, for more time to read…

And remember… even if your book has been published, if it needs a proofread by an eagle-eyed expert, I’m here. Not that I’m pointing fingers at Jill or anything. Nope. Not me.


Rock Fiction Coveting: Rubber Soul by Greg Kihn


Yes, your love’s in jeopardy, baby!

I’ve either induced a huge groan, given you an earworm, or caused some confused looks. I’m not sure which it is.

Rocker Greg Kihn turned author some years ago, and he’s got a new-ish release that’s called a Rock Thriller by his publisher. (In other places on their website, they call it a “rock murder mystery.” Well, which is it? Thriller or murder mystery? A publisher who doesn’t know the difference isn’t much of a publisher!)

We know better, though, right? It’s a Rock Fiction thriller or Rock Fiction Murder Mystery. Sheesh.

This one is called Rubber Soul, which is a nod to the late, great Beatles, of course. There are other nods to the Fab Four as well — a shop on Penny Lane, and a few other surprises.

The one thing this description fails to do, though, is tell me much about the mystery. It’s too in love with the Beatles thing. Which makes me wonder if this is really a mystery or if it’s a tribute novel thinly disguised?

Jett’s too young to know much about the Beatles. Heck, I’m barely old enough to know a lot about the Beatles. So we’ll see what happens when this one hits our hands.

If you’ve read it, send us a link to your review!


Featured New Book: Naked Came the Sharks by Devorah Fox


Let’s all welcome Devorah Fox to West of Mars! Devorah found me because I’d tweeted a link to her books and said thanks. And now she’s here to tell us what song makes her think of her book, Naked Came the Sharks.


I love that title. This is one of those titles that is so great, I’d pick up the book, no matter what it’s about.

Before we get to what it’s about, though, let’s get to the really important stuff. (No, not buy links. Those are at the bottom, like usual).

Devorah, what song makes you think of your book?

That’s got to be “Song of the Ocean” by Kelly Brown of the Bad Monkeys. Kelly graciously gave me permission to use the song in the trailer for “Naked Came the Sharks” and it’s just perfect. Trop rock with an obvious affection for life near and on the water and a hint of regret that things aren’t the way they should be…just like the story of “Naked Came the Sharks.” Here’s the link to the trailer.

Trop rock? Like Jimmy Buffett? Go listen and tell me what YOU think.

So. The book, if the trailer wasn’t enough, you’re at work and can’t click through, or are just a lazy sod (and if you are, welcome to the club. Although I DID click through!), here’s the book description:

Chasing her dream of becoming an investigative reporter in San Francisco, Holly Rivera Berry has to return to her hometown of Bonafides on the Texas Coastal Bend to settle her recently deceased father’s estate. She discovers that just before he died her father researched the possibility that via an old Mexican land grant the Rivera family owns The Gap, a natural channel to the Gulf of Mexico. Land speculators plan to erect luxury homes, resorts, hotels, and a casino along The Gap and Holly comes to doubt that her father died of natural causes. The more she investigates, the more things don’t add up. One by one her allies fall victim to fatal accidents and it looks like Holly might be next.

This is becoming a familiar plot device, but one I don’t often get tired of. The best ending is when the little guy wins and the development can’t happen. Does that happen here? Read it and see!

Get your copy:
diesel e-books
inktera ebooks (pagefoundry)

I love it when books are widely available. I bet there are more, so be sure to ask at your favorite independent retailer.

And don’t forget to connect with Devorah!
amazon author page
smashwords series page
Facebook author page


Featured New Story: Celtic Knot by Gail Oare


More from my friends in the Lucky Charms anthology! Today, it’s Gail Oare, who is a super lady you all need to know. LuckyCharms_eBook_082113

Her story, Celtic Knot, has what must be the funniest song I’ve come across in all the years I’ve been doing this Featured New Book Spotlight. Ready?

My story in Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales is “Celtic Knot.” When I wrote it, I was concentrating on the symbolism of Celtic knot variations and what one(s) would be chosen as a charm bracelet keepsake associated with a family secret. I had no music in mind at all when I wrote this story. This is odd for me since I love Celtic music, having done my thesis on Welsh mythology, taught myself to play the English concertina and am now learning the bagpipes. So when asked by West of Mars for the song that inspired the story, I went on a search for one, a Google search.

And failed. There doesn’t seem to be any tune titled Celtic Knot despite the many possibilities it holds!

What to do? Back to my mental blackboard. I reflected on the underlying sadness of the “Celtic Knot” family tragedy that hung over the family for years until the final resolution. The heavy sound a hammer pounding a piece of metal on an anvil came to mind. Bomp bomp bomp. Regular, relentless pounding. Oddly enough, this sound and rhythm brought to mind an episode of the sitcom “Cheers.” It was almost St. Patrick’s Day and Sam and his competitor Gary were both vying for the most revelers for the holiday at their respective taverns. Sam found out that Gary was planning to hire an Irish band at his bar, so Sam sought one out as well. St. Patrick’s Day arrives. Gary’s bar is packed with patrons reveling to the lively jigs and drinking songs. Then the camera moves to Sam’s empty bar, where a solemn Irish band was singing a slow dirge of “And everywhere I looked was death, death, death.” Like the labored sound of metal on the anvil, like the tragedy that haunted the family in “Celtic Knot.”
So the music I will claim for my story is this heavy, heavy “death, death, death” from Sam’s Irish band. I’m not sure that is even a real song, just a musical prop for a sitcom, but regardless, I’m commandeering it as the soundtrack for my crime story. Who knew?

eBook versions of LUCKY CHARMS are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. Print versions are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CreateSpace although we encourage you to send your sales through Mystery Lovers Bookshop, our local independent bookstore. Support your independents!


Featured New Story: Sweet Deadly Lies by Annette Dashofy


Yep, we’re going three for three with the Lucky Charms anthology. I don’t know about you, but I sure hope the other nine contributors weigh in.

Today’s author has been a friend of mine for probably going on ten years now (wow). Annette Dashofy is one of the coolest, most persistent women I know. A true pro author, through and through. No one’s celebrating her recent string of success more than me.

Well, other than Annette, herself.


She’s not the music lover I am, but stay tuned for the song. It is indeed an earworm!

I firmly believe in the importance of a good title. I’ve had stories rejected over and over until I changed the title. Then they were picked up immediately. After a few of those, I make a greater effort these days to get it right the first time.

For me, titles either come very easy, often before the story completely forms in my mind—or they fight me tooth-and-nail. Nothing fits. Nothing sounds right. Such was the case with the short story I wrote for my local Sisters in Crime chapter’s anthology, Lucky Charms:12 Crime Stories.

My story involved the homicide of a woman who was thought of as sweet…at least to those who didn’t really know her. My protagonist, Officer Abby Baronick, knew otherwise. The deceased loved to stir up trouble by telling lies. Lies that eventually got her killed.

I had a blast writing the story, which included Detective Wayne Baronick, Abby’s brother, who also has a part in my upcoming novel Circle of Influence (Henery Press, March 2014). But when it came time to give this story a name, I was stuck. Thankfully, I have a great bunch of critique buddies who had read it and could brainstorm ideas with me.

Keywords from that brainstorming session triggered a musical memory. An earworm. The exact song title didn’t work, but with a slight modification, “Sweet Deadly Lies” was born. Now I can’t listen to the song without changing the words in my head. “Tell me lies, tell me sweet deadly lies…”

You know you need a copy… here’s the links:
Amazon digital

Amazon print


Mystery Lovers

Barnes & Noble digital: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-charms-pittsburgh-sisters-in-crime/1117388201?ean=9780991051311

Barnes & Noble print


Apple iBooks

Get to know Annette.


Featured New Story: Batter Down by Liz Milliron


As promised, there’s more fun from the Sisters in Crime chapter who are proudly appearing in the Lucky Charms anthology.


This week, I bring you my good friend Liz Milliron, who is known in other circles as Mary Sutton. Split personality? Nah. Just a different name for each genre she writes in. It actually makes sense, even if it makes it hard to find all of her writings in one spot. She’s worth tracking down, no matter her name. I promise (and not just because she handles a lot of the non-fiction editing for West of Mars!).

Now that the introduction’s done, let’s get down to business, shall we? Liz, what song makes you think of your book?

My anthology story, Batter Down (written as Liz Milliron) centers around the death of a player for a fictional independent-league baseball team. And nothing puts me in the mindset, musically, of baseball like John Fogerty’s Centerfield. This is a rocking rendition with Fogerty and Keith Urban. Now, obviously, Fogerty’s classic has nothing to do with murder, but I can’t think about baseball without this song running through my head. In fact, I’m humming the chorus right now, just typing this, and baseball season is only a glimmer on the horizon. The song just seems to capture the magic of baseball for me, hearing the crack of that bat on a warm summer night. And my protagonist, Jim Duncan, has in fact tuned in to the game for that reason – to listen to a little baseball on a summer afternoon, hanging on his boat with his canine buddy, Rizzo. Unfortunately, that’s not really to be. But, because of the baseball connection, it still makes me think of this song.

I have to confess: baseball isn’t one of my favorite sports, but I, too, think of Fogerty’s classic when the subject comes up. Which, since the Pirates did so well last season, has been fairly often.

Want more about the story and the anthology as a whole?

A record-breaking baseball streak takes a deadly twist when star player Johnny Pierce is found dead on the day he was set to break the team’s consecutive-game hitting record. Jim Duncan and Sally Castle team up to figure out if this was a random act of violence – or if Johnny’s streak meant bad news for someone determined to keep him from continuing.

Inside LUCKY CHARMS you’ll find twelve crime tales from the members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc. You’ll dig into gritty police procedurals; enjoy a spangle of suspense; tuck into a cozy or two; and thrill to a cool touch of noir. Each story tells a tale of surprising good luck or of good luck gone sour. We invite you to brace yourself for an entertaining read.

You know you need a copy… here’s the links:
Amazon digital

Amazon print


Mystery Lovers

Barnes & Noble digital: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-charms-pittsburgh-sisters-in-crime/1117388201?ean=9780991051311

Barnes & Noble print


Apple iBooks

And connect with Liz/Mary, too! You’ll be glad you did.


Featured New Story: Sweet Murder by Paula A. Smith


I’m tickled pink about a series of Featured New Stories I’ll be running here at the Meet and Greet at West of Mars. The stories all appear in the new Lucky Charms anthology edited by my friend Ramona DeFelice Long, and put together by a bunch of my local ladies: the Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Yep, I’m a member. And yes, I offered advice as the anthology took shape.


I offered the Featured New Book spotlight to the ladies lucky enough to make the editorial cut, and Paula A. Smith is the first to take me up on it.

So, Paula! What song makes you think of your story?

If life’s like a card game and not a gooey box of chocolates as others say, we have to play the hand that we’ve been dealt and remember, “Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser” as Kenny Rogers sings in “The Gambler” (1978).

In my short story, Sweet Murder, appearing in the newly released Lucky Charms Anthology that contains 12 crime stories by members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter of Sisters in Crime, you could say the main character is a pretty good gambler. She looked at her cards and seemed to “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”

When she snaps her cards face-up on the table, how did she know what cards to give up and which ones to keep? You won’t know that until the end. But you will get inside her head as she figures out what to do while playing the game. It’s a high-stakes card game and the deck is stacked against her. But by the end of the story she finds that “the secret to survivin’ is learning what to throw away and what to keep.”

You’re probably wondering about the murder victim? How does the ace of spades get shuffled into the deck and who gets it? Ah-hah, if I told you, I’d be showing you my hand, wouldn’t I? And don’t try to peek. Wait and see how it all plays out and how your own gambling strategies reveal what I’m holding. After all, “they’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.” Just to be nice, I’ll up the ante for your curiosity with words from the song, “The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

Gamble and get the book.

I didn’t get to read any of the stories until the anthology came out, so I’m as intrigued as you are. And I am intrigued!

Want to know more about the project as a whole?

Inside LUCKY CHARMS you’ll find twelve crime tales from the members of the Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime, Inc. You’ll dig into gritty police procedurals; enjoy a spangle of suspense; tuck into a cozy or two; and thrill to a cool touch of noir. Each story tells a tale of surprising good luck or of good luck gone sour. We invite you to brace yourself for an entertaining read.
Buy a signed copy by 12 authors from:
Mystery Lovers Bookshop (Oakmont, PA)

Link to the SinC website page for the book where the full list of stories and author bios are shown.

Link to and “like” the new SinC Facebook page where updates will also continue to appear

The book is available in paperback and electronic forms:
Electronic purchases are available through: Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo and Apple (iBooks). Print are available through Amazon and CreateSpace.


Featured New Book: Murder Most Foul by JoAnne Myers


It was a quiet day a few weeks back. Until JoAnne Myers popped into my inbox with a hello, nice to meet you, and here’s the song that makes me think of my book.

I love that sort of introduction to a new friend!

Here’s JoAnne, with a truly fun song.


The song that reminds me of Murder Most Foul, is the theme to the James Bond movies. Just like the James Bond movies, Murder Most Foul is filled with action, adventure, murder, mystery, intrigue and unsuspecting romance.

LOVE it! How’s that for an awesome song??? Heck, I’m inspired by that one and I don’t write mysteries.

So what’s Murder Most Foul about?

When two dismembered torsos wash up on the banks of the local river in the small industrial town of Pleasant Valley, residents are horrified. Between contradicting statements, police ineptitude, lust, lies, manipulation, incest, the motorcycle gang The Devil’s Disciples, crooked cops, and a botched crime scene, everyone becomes a suspect.

The young beautiful Jackie Reeves, a registered nurse, believes the killer is a man from her past. She contacts the dangerously handsome FBI Agent Walker Harmon. An arrest is made, but Harmon and Jackie believe an innocent man is being railroaded by local cops. Determined to find the truth, before anymore killings, Agent Harmon and Jackie are forced to run a gauntlet of deep trouble and turmoil, which marks them for death.

Pick up a copy! Or two!

Buy link to Murder Most Foul

website: Books and Paintings by JoAnne


Featured New Book: Collateral Damage by Frederick Brooke


It looks like word of the Featured New Book spotlight is spreading. I’ve got a bunch of posts to bring you guys — keep it up! I love the deluge.

Today’s author is Frederick Brooke, who I’d never met before he dropped into my inbox. Good to know you, sir! After reading this post, I hope you’ll all join me in hoping Frederick isn’t a stranger in West of Mars-ville.

collateral damage hi res cover

His new book is called Collateral Damage, and here’s Frederick himself to tell you more:

The whole time I was writing COLLATERAL DAMAGE, I had Eminem’s song “I’m Not Afraid” going through my head. I finally realized why when I was working on a scene with Michael Garcia. Michael has had some of the same troubles with drugs and anger and abandonment that Eminem riffs about.

I guess I had to
Go to that place to get to this one
Now some of you
Might still be in that place
Just lettin you know that you’re not alone
If you’re tryin to get out
Holla if you feel like you’ve been down the same road
Just follow me, I’ll get you there

If he could, Michael would follow. Eminem captures the desperation and helplessness of an addict, and the rage and complete lack of self-esteem that so often go with it. Michael would follow if he had someone to follow – but isn’t that how it is with anthems like “I’m Not Afraid”? They inspire us. The singer can also be the leader we follow, if only virtually.

The language of the song is beautiful, arresting, a vision:

Okay, quit playing with the scissors and shit and cut the crap
I shouldn’t have to rhyme these words in a rhythm for you to know it’s a rap
You said you was the king, you lied through your teeth
For that fuck your fillings, instead of getting crowned you’re getting capped

Lord Byron himself would have admired Eminem’s wordplay, weaving a jumble of images involving the creative dentistry of rappers, their visions of royalty, and the rituals of kings and crowns. Through his own art, Eminem finds his own way out of the deadly maze of drug addiction.

My character, Michael Garcia, is also a poet. I don’t want to spoil the story by quoting the whole poem here. But the question of whether Michael will find his way out of the maze through art or any other means is one essential element in the book COLLATERAL DAMAGE.

Michael and his friend Husker put on a big reunion of Iraq War veterans in the book, and they call the party “Collateral Damage.” When Annie, his old lover, asks him how they came up with that name, Michael doesn’t have to think long about the answer. “It’s who we are. What we are. They had their war, they got what they were after. Think about how we’re damaged.” To which Annie Ogden says: “I’m not damaged. Speak for yourself.”

Ooh, love it — and I’m not much of an Eminem fan, as catchy as his music is.

Ready for the blurb?

Annie Ogden is back. Like it or not, she’s about to learn about Collateral Damage.

A love story.

When Annie Ogden’s ex-boyfriend Michael Garcia reappears, she has to confront a lie dating back to her time in Iraq. Will she go back to hot, passionate Michael, who has developed a disturbing interest in meth, or stick with her pudgy PI partner and fiancé, Salvatore?

A murder.

The calculus changes when Michael is arrested for murder. When Salvatore refuses to help investigate, Annie is forced to try to find the killer herself. Meanwhile her sister’s creepy husband, Todd, is making more of an ass of himself than usual.

An obsession.

Annie’s problems with three obsessive men suddenly pale in significance when she realizes the killer has set his sights on her. Having changed his mind about helping her, Salvatore finds himself in a desperate race against time, the only man capable of finding the killer before it’s too late.

And some links for you, too!

First off, the all-important buy link. It’s a Kindle-only book, so us without Kindles are out of luck (bummer).

Now, on to the social fun!
Amazon page
my blog
Google +


Featured New Book: Mocha, Midnight, and Murder by MaryAnn Kempher


Sometimes, you guys find me and I never find out how. I see this all the time on the editing side, but I’m even more thrilled when you guys spread the Featured New Book word and new authors find me. Today’s author, MaryAnn Kempher, falls into that category.

So let’s get busy.


What song makes you think of your book?

It’s an older song, called Friends and Lovers by Gloria Loring. It’s perfect for my book. It’s about two best friends fighting the romantic love that’s growing between them, and finally realizing they can be both–friends and lovers.

Why do I think I remember this song? Wow. Making me feel my age here!

Book blurb:

Instead of feeding her late-night appetite, a midnight food run nearly gets 28-
year-old Katherine O’Brian killed. She’s the only person to see the man who
brutally murdered a local woman, and the killer is hell-bent on making sure she
doesn’t talk.

Scott Mitchell left a broken engagement behind when he moved to Reno, and the
last thing he needs is more melodrama. But when he and Katherine are paired
for a college project, that’s what he gets. It can be very distracting when
someone is out to kill your lab partner. Together, they try to figure out what the
police haven’t been able to—the identity of the murderer. Passion flares, but with
Katherine’s life in danger, romance seems like more than a bad idea.

Scott and Katherine will face jealousy, misunderstandings, lust, and rivals, not to
mention attempted murder—and all before their first real date.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.

Connect with MaryAnn:


Featured New Book: Murder Most Foul by JoAnne Tucker


It’s Monday, so you know what that means… Time for a Featured New Book spotlight!

Today it’s author JoAnne Tucker with her poetry book and her mystery, Murder Most Foul. Two books, but only one song. What’s with that?

Poetry Cover

Murder Most Foul book cover

The song that reminds me of my poetry book is “I want to know what love is.” This is a song about a man searching for true love, and that is what my poetry book is about. It is true love in various forms-love of family, of god, of nature, of personal triumphs and heartbreak. My poetry collection is about my life and all the stages I went through over the years, but it was wonderful even in times of sorrow. I had my future and my family beside me and that is what got me through the bad times. I hope you can use this.

Now, JoAnne didn’t tell me if she was referencing Mariah Carey’s version of Foreigner’s classic, or if she had the rockin’ version in mind, so I’m making the call (sort of!).

Blurb for Murder Most Foul

When two dismembered torsos wash up on the banks of the local river in the small industrial town of Pleasant Valley, residents are horrified. Between contradicting statements, police ineptitude, lust, lies, manipulation, incest, the motorcycle gang The Devil’s Disciples, crooked cops, and a botched crime scene, everyone becomes a suspect.
The young beautiful Jackie Reeves, a registered nurse, believes the killer is a man from her past. She contacts the dangerously handsome FBI Agent Walker Harmon. An arrest is made, but Harmon and Jackie believe an innocent man is being railroaded by local cops. Determined to find the truth, before anymore killings, Agent Harmon and Jackie are forced to run a gauntlet of deep trouble and turmoil, which marks them for death.

Buy link for Murder Most Foul
Murder Most Foul is a four story anthology. And we know how much Susan likes anthologies!

Buy link for Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between

Blurb for Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between

Poems About Live, Love, and Everything in Between, is a collection that provides a glimpse into the heart, mind, and soul, of its author. It is a heartwarming read, written with love and respect for others. It was inspired by the authors love of nature, inspiration, spiritualism, personal triumphs and heartbreak, and life in general. Some poems were written in times of sorrow, others in joyous celebration. Life is like that.

My website is Books and Paintings by JoAnne

I can also be found at

next page »