Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Author JoAnne Myers and Wicked Intentions

Today please welcome guest author JoAnne Myers to tell us about her latest book.


When it comes to fiction writing, almost anything goes. That is why I love writing paranormal and fantasy stories. The author can go completely over the edge and make something unbelievable seem believable. When it comes to ghost stories, I get a lot of my inspiration from real life experiences. Not necessarily my own either. I watch television programs that partake of the supernatural and paranormal flare. Programs from ordinary people who claim they experienced either an afterlife experience, or a haunting.
Some of my stories from my upcoming release “Wicked Intentions” is based on actual hauntings. Some stories I read about in the newspaper, and others I watched on true life experience programs. So the next time you get “writer’s block” try switching on the television. You might find something to jolt your inspiration.
Blurbs for Wicked Intentions:

BLOOD TIES- word count 15, 902

After the mysterious disappearance of twenty-six year old wife and mother Lisa Smalley, her twin, Audra Roper, begins having dark and disturbing visions of Lisa’s disappearance. Trying to survive while looking for Lisa, Audra’s life becomes a roller coaster of risks, heartbreak, and intrigue.
THE HAUNTING OF BARB MARIE- word count 9,845

Even as a child, Barb Marie saw dead people. This took an unhealthy toil on her throughout her childhood and young adulthood.

SUMMER WIND-word count 13,039
When twenty-nine year old Ginger discovers the old mansion Summer Wind, she is mysteriously drawn to it. . Immediately, the haunting’s have a negative and profound effect on the family.

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LIES-laying the Norfolk ghost to rest-23,497
Solving the brutal murder of American born Ruthie Geil becomes a gauntlet of attacks and more murders for Federal Police Inspector Ian Christian. Between the victims family, ex-lovers, and ghostly occurrences on Norfolk Island, the killer is closer than anyone realizes.

THE LEGEND OF LAKE MANOR-word count 8,297

For the young psychic Cassandra Lopez, coming to the infamous and haunted mansion Lake Manor, was more like a mission.

THE APARTMENT-word count 5,188
When young newlyweds Bill and Gayle move into their new apartment, their lives are plagued with sightings of evil ghosts that threaten their marriage and lives.

DARK VISIONS-word count 5,170
When Carrie Reynold’s starts having nightmares on her twenty-sixth birthday, she believes her “dark visions” can solve the twenty year disappearance of her father.

Wicked Intentions: A paranormal/mystery anthology is available at: Melange Books, Lulu, and Amazon.

JoAnne Myers is the Melange Author of Murder Most Foul, Wicked Intentions, Loves', Myths', and Monsters', The Crime of the Century, Twisted Love, Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between, and Flagitious.

You can find her online at:



Buy Link to Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Murder On Ice with Guest Alina Adams

Writers are often told "write what you know" but we don't always take it seriously. However, today's guest, Alina Adams, has a unique background to write a mystery series set in the world of competitive figure skating. I'm so envious! I never had a really cool job like that.

I've started reading the first book in the series, Murder On Ice, and I can tell she knows what she's writing. I'm enjoying the insider view of the skating world as well as the sense of humor she brings to her books. But I'll let her tell you all about it in her own words.

Please join me in welcoming Alina Adams! (on the left with announcer Terry Gannon and skating legends Peggy Fleming and Dick Button)

Once upon a time (before I had children), I was a figure-skating researcher for ABC, ESPN, NBC and TNT. I traveled the world, from skating competition to skating competition, interviewing athletes, writing up their life stories for the announcers to talk about during the broadcast, and helping producers with those tear-jerking, up-close and personal pieces that air in between the actual skating.

It was awesome. I loved every minute of it. (Even the 18 hour flights and the jet lag and the sleepless nights… in retrospect.) However, the jet-setting lifestyle isn’t particularly conducive with parenting (my oldest made that point subtly clear when he was 18 months old and, after I returned from yet another trip, he refused to acknowledge my existence).

So I traded in the glamorous TV life for the (equally glamorous?) writing life. I wrote five figure skating murder mysteries, “Murder on Ice,” “On Thin Ice,” “Axel of Evil,” “Death Drop” and “Skate Crime” for Berkley Prime Crime.

Now, just in time for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, I’m excited to announce that they’ve finally been released as one, electronic volume.  The Figure Skating Mystery series not only has all the text of the original, paperback releases, but also video by The Ice Theatre of NY to compliment the story!  It’s something that’s never been done before in skating fiction (or any kind of skating book, for that matter), and I can’t wait to hear what readers think of it!

Thank you so much to Linda, my fellow skating fan, for the opportunity to introduce my series to her readers.  Below is an excerpt from the first book, Murder on Ice.

At the World Championships, the gold medal in Ladies’ Figure Skating is awarded to Russia’s dour Ice Queen, Xenia Trubin, over America’s perky, teen-age sweetheart, Erin Simpson.  The fans are outraged.  Gil Cahill, the broadcast producer, is delighted.  And our intrepid researcher, Bex Levy (they say write what you know…) is stuck in the middle…..


Erin Simpson's defeat, plus a fetching photo of her tearstained yet bravely smiling face, made the front page of every major American newspaper the next morning.

Her quotes, "I skated my very best. I'm happy with my performance. My job is to skate, and the judge's job is to judge. This silver medal is the silver lining on my cloud," made her seem simultaneously modest and plucky. Erin did five satellite interviews, seven cable talk shows (both news and sports), and called in to every national morning show to express her utter satisfaction with the decision.

Meanwhile, as Erin insisted how content she was and how she wouldn't trade her hard-won silver for a trunk of gold, her official Web site, "Erin Excitement!" launched a petition to strip Xenia of her gold medal and award it to Erin instead. By nine a.m. the morning after the long program, it had seven thousand signatures, including one poster who listed their address as Sierra Leone, Africa. Gee, and here Bex had assumed the people of Sierra Leone had bigger things to worry about—what with the machetes chopping off limbs and all—than the outcome of the World Figure Skating Championships.

Obviously, not all was sunshine and lollipops in the Simpson camp. Because, for every brave-trooper smile Erin offered the media, five minutes later there was her coach/mother, Patty, snarling. "Anyone with eyes could see that Erin won last night. She and Xenia landed the same number of jumps, but Erin had a triple-triple combination. And if you want to talk about the artistic mark, well, just listen to what Francis and Diana Howarth said on the air! And their judgment is beyond reproach. They were Olympic champions, for Pete's sake. They truly understand artistry. I'd like to know what the Italian judge was looking at. Actually, no. I'd rather know whom she was listening to!"

Xenia, for her part, was also besieged with interview requests. Her quotes, though, were less pithy. "I win gold medal. I am best."

Her coach, Sergei Alemazov, elaborated, "The judges decided that Xenia is the winner. Yes, the vote was very close. But, very often in the past, the vote was very close. Erin Simpson is a nice skater. But Xenia won on the artistic mark. Xenia is terribly artistic. Xenia is a grown woman. Erin Simpson is a child. And Erin Simpson skates like a child."

In fact, the only person not getting airtime was Silvana Potenza, the Italian judge.

Though that wasn't due to the media's lack of trying.

They'd practically camped outside the poor woman's hotel room door, screaming questions and flashing lights in her face whenever she stepped outside. But Silvana Potenza, a fifty-something woman who either was rather round or simply looked it due to perpetually being wrapped in a russet floor-length fox coat, refused to say a word.

Gil Cahill was in heaven.

"Is this terrific or what?" he raved at the production meeting Friday morning. This was a daily event when they were in the middle of a show. The entire cast, staff, and crew got together so Gil could explain to them why they were the most useless people on earth and how he "could pull a dozen, non-English speakers in off the street and they would do a better job in each and every position." The only lucky sons of guns exempt from the daily enlightenment were a rotating series of cameramen, who had to miss the fun because one cameraman was on duty at all times, shooting all the skaters' practices, lest something exciting happen while the rest of them were absent.

Gil went on, "You know, I thought we might get a little ratings bump with Worlds being in America this year, hometown crowd and all, people love that shit. And then, when we had two girls in the top three, I thought, yeah, that should pick up a couple of extra households. But, this! This is freaking, friggin', fucking fantastic. We're raking in free publicity from every newspaper, radio station, and TV station in the country. Everyone's talking about Erin Simpson. I've got a source telling me she's on the next cover of Time and friggin' Newsweek. Can you bums imagine what kind of numbers our exhibition show is going to get on Sunday? Everyone wants to see this kid and the Russian who stole her medal. We're going to go through the roof!"

"Uhm ..." Bex wanted to raise her hand, but Gil Cahill had a problem seeing anything outside his own ego. She settled for shouting. Or, as they called it at 24/7 production meetings, business as usual. "Gil! Gil! Gil, you know, I was thinking. Maybe during the Sunday show, we could do an element-by-element comparison of Xenia's and Erin's program, and show how they broke down and why some judges may have valued technical merit over artistic, and vice versa. I think it could be really informative."

Gil looked at Bex for a moment. Then he faked falling down on his chair and snoring.

"I take it that's a no?" Bex asked politely.

"You're new, Bex, so I'm going to share with you a little 24/7 rule, kiddo. We don't bite gift horses on the ass around here."

"I'll keep it mind."

"Good kid."

Bex changed tacks, addressing Francis and Diana. "So let me get this straight. Just so I can put it down in the research notes for Sunday. You two claim that Erin lost last night because the panel was stacked against her."

"Well, actually the panel wasn't stacked against her. It was five to four, pro-West. She should have won, if only the Russians hadn't gotten to the Italian judge and made her change her vote," Diana patiently explained.

"So you're saying that if the Italian judge voted with the West like she was supposed to, Erin Simpson would have won, no matter how she skated?"

"Erin Simpson skated beautifully last night. No mistakes. No falls."

"But you're saying that it doesn't matter. That how the two women skated is irrelevant. You make it sound like all victory is dependent on the panel. That it's preordained."

"The results were certainly preordained last night. The Soviet bloc wanted Xenia to win, and win she did, even with that mediocre performance."

"But, doesn't that mean that all the times Erin beat Xenia at the Grand Prix this season, she only won because the panel was stacked in her favor?"

Diana and Francis looked at each other.

"Hmm," Francis said, "I never thought of it that way."

"And does that mean that when you two won your Olympic gold medal, it was only because the panel was stacked in your favor?"

"What an interesting point you've made, Bex," Diana said.

And stood up to leave.

With Francis by her side, she was barely to the door, when Mark, the lucky cameramen assigned to shoot the ladies' practice for the exhibition, burst into the room, breathing heavily. He'd run all the way from the arena to the hotel, lugging his heavy camera on his back, and now he could barely get the words out between his gasps.

"Did you hear?" he demanded. "Silvana Potenza! She's dead! Murdered!"


You can find Alina online at

Feel free to ask questions of Alina in the comments section or let us know who you think is going to win medals at Sochi.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Time Management and the Olympics

On Monday, I start an online class on Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer with Kitty Bucholtz. I'm hoping the class will give me some strategies to get myself organized and on some kind of schedule. Time management is something I've struggled with for years, and the situation isn't getting any better. In our electronic world, it's harder and harder to stay on task. Television and the Internet provide us with so many bright shiny things to watch and click on and investigate, from Facebook and YouTube to the high drama of reality TV. 

The next six weeks will be esp challenging for me because I'm a big figure skating fan, and the Winter Olympics start in February. There is rarely enough skating on TV for my taste, except in an Olympic year. My husband has already been warned that I will be glued to the TV throughout much of February.

The US National Championships are being held now and will be televised by NBC over the weekend. I'm so jazzed to see that the Ladies Event will be shown on Saturday night and there will be three hours of Pairs Skating and Ice Dancing on Saturday afternoon. (The Mens competition will be aired on Sunday.)


Pairs and Dance get short shrift when television time is scarce in favor of the higher profile Mens and Ladies events. I know some people think it cool to laugh at Ice Dancing, but it's one of my favorite events. Because jumps and lifts are limited, the ice dancers have to find other ways to be creative and put more emphasis on the artistry. The video above is Meryl Davis and Charley White performing their Indian-themed Original Dance from the 2010 Olympic season. I defy anyone to watch that and not be entertained. It's so much fun and so cleverly done. And skated to perfection.

Meryl and Charley are Team USA's best chance of winning a gold medal in figure skating. They won silver in Vancouver after Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada who took the gold.

So, why do I love figure skating? Well, there's the beauty of watching an athlete in a colorful costume whirl and jump to music. It appeals to the artist inside me at the same time I marvel at how someone can jump in the air and twirl around 3-4 times before landing on one foot on a narrow blade. I'm still amazed that anyone can do that at all, much less make it look so incredibly easy. I only tried ice skating once, and it was more than my uncoordinated body could handle. As Gracie Gold puts it in the commercial, "You're on ice alone with knives strapped to tennis shoes."

A lot of the winter sports leave me in awe. Luge, ski jumping, snowboarding. Don't you have to be just a little bit crazy to do that? Well, not if you're athletic, but it boggles my mind. What's your favorite Olympic Sport, the one that keeps you glued to the TV set when you know you should be doing something else.
Like writing.

Wish me luck with the class. Maybe I can learn to be more organized and self-disciplined, like the amazing Olympic athletes.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review Club: Steampunk and Mysteries

Barrie Summy's Book Review Club is coming to you a week late this month, thanks to New Year's Day falling on a Wednesday. Hope you had a good holiday and are now ready for the serious work of book reviewing. (Who am I kidding, this is fun!)

I read a lot this last month, so I opted for quantity over depth of review. Here are three books that I enjoyed. 

A Lady of Resources (Magnificent Devices, #5)A Lady of Resources
by Shelley Adina

The fifth in the Magnificent Devices series focuses on Lizzie de Maupassant, one of the sisters formerly known as The Mopsies. Lizzie and her sister Maggie were found wandering the streets of London at the age of five and taken in by a street gang where they learned to pick pockets and engage in other acts of crime/survival. In Lady of Devices, Lady Claire Trevelyan teamed up with the gang to form a new "flock" as she put it. Claire became Lizzie and Maggie's guardian and de facto big sister.

Now 16, Lizzie has finished her studies at the Lycee des Jeune Filles in Munich. She has learned to behave like a lady, but the guttersnipe in her surfaces from time to time, as when, at a party, she picks the pocket of a gentleman on a dare, and finds more than she bargained for. In this book, Lizzie meets her real father and finds out what happened to her and Maggie eleven years ago. In the process of uncovering the truth, she must use all the resources at her disposal to survive.

In the earlier books, Lizzie and Maggie were as close as two sisters can be, all but inseparable and often seeming two parts of one whole. Now grown up, they are beginning to emerge as fully fleshed out characters. It will be fun to watch them mature. This is an adventurous, funny and delightful story. I recommend reading the entire series. The first four books are now available as an e-book bundle.

Great opening line: "Of all the infernal instruments man ever made, the corset is the worst."

Two to Mango (A Tiki Goddess Mystery, #2)Two to Mango
by Jill Marie Landis

TWO TO MANGO takes us into the world of competitive hula dancing, with hilarious and disastrous results. Em Johnson, who manages her Uncle Louis bar, the Tiki Goddess, gets drawn back into detecting after two members of the same Kauai dance troop end up dead. Both deaths appear to be from natural causes, but local detective Roland Sharpe thinks otherwise. Could they have been poisoned? He asks Em to take the bar's resident dance troop, the Hula Maidens undercover by entering the the Kukui Nut Festival's hula competition. Problem is, the Maidens came in dead last the last time they entered, so they're not eager to compete again, esp. after Lillian's recent wardrobe malfunction.

The insider look at competitive hula (no, Jill did not make that up) has the ring of authenticity. (I happen to know the author has danced the hula for many years now.) I often get a little melancholy during the holidays, so a good time to read more Tiki Goddess books to lighten the mood.

Opening line: "Thanks to you and your nipple, Lillian, we'll never dance in this town again."

Very enjoyable and funny mystery.

Three to Get Lei'd (A Tiki Goddess Mystery, #3)Three to Get Lei'd
by Jill Marie Landis

In this episode, the Tiki Goddess has been taken over by a camera crew from the reality TV show, Trouble in Paradise. Thanks to the popularity of the pilot, the Hula Maidens are more rambunctious than ever, obsessed with accumulating fans and Facebook likes. They are practicing less and their dancing is worse than ever. Em is at her wit's end, though the money from the show has come in handy. Then one of the cameramen is murdered in the kitchen, and everything changes.

This installment opens up with big, big laughs, then takes a turn to the more serious in the middle, but ends with more hilarity. I thought the mystery was somewhat transparent, but still enjoyed the book because of the characters. If you're looking for an amusing cozy mystery series with a lot of local color, you can't do much better than this one.

Opening line: "Life is full of ups and downs, honey. We have to celebrate every minute before we drain our last tiki mug." - Uncle Louie

View all my Goodreads reviews

Disclaimer: I am a personal friend of the author of Jill Marie Landis, but would not be reviewing her books if I hadn't truly enjoyed them. All books were purchased from Amazon and read on my Kindle.

As always, click on the graphic below to read more reviews from Barrie Summy's Book Review Club. Happy reading!

Linda McLaughlin

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@Barrie Summy

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Best Present #SPeekSunday

Sneak Peek Sunday is starting up again after a two-month hiatus and seemed like a good way to start the New Year here at Flights of Fancy. If you're not familiar with this weekly blog theme, it's simple. Authors post a six paragraph excerpt from a published story or a work in progress.

Today's excerpt is from my short story, The Best Present, part of Sweetwater Springs Christmas: A Montana Sky Short Story Anthology (Montana Sky Series) by Debra Holland and Friends.


Ten-year-old Allison Harcourt's life has been turned upside down since her father lost his job and her beloved grandmother died. She's not looking forward to Christmas, especially since she can't figure out how to finish the scarf she's making for her mother. An unexpected stop in Sweetwater Springs brings her and her parents to the boarding house of the widow Murphy.

Sometimes sweet things can be found in the most unexpected places.

In this excerpt, Allison's mother gets sick while traveling by train, causing Allison to worry.

Allison pulled her knitting out of her bag. Mama thought it was just practice, but in fact, she was knitting a blue scarf to give Mama for Christmas. Only problem was Grandma got real sick before showing Allison how to finish the scarf. So she just kept knitting. The scarf was plenty long now, but she still didn’t know how to finish it off. It wouldn’t be much of a gift if she handed it to Mama with the knitting needles still in it, but she didn’t know what to do. Was it better to wait and see if Aunt Anna could help her when they got to Spokane?

Suddenly Mama groaned and stood, holding her stomach.

Papa leaped to his feet to steady her. “Are you going to be sick again?”

Mama just nodded and headed toward the necessary room in the back of the car.

Allison jumped up, but Papa’s gently raised palm stopped her.

“Stay here and watch our things.”

She craned her neck, but couldn’t see much from her seat by the window, so she moved to the opposite bench by the aisle and knelt, staring anxiously after her parents over the seat back. Mama hadn’t felt well for days and the swaying motion of the train made her stomach worse. Grandma had stomach problems, too. Problems that kept getting worse and worse until she died. What if Mama had the same illness? Allison’s stomach clenched with fear. She couldn’t lose Mama, too.

Sweetwater Springs Christmas is available for only 99 cents through Jan. 6 at for 99 cents on a Kindle Countdown deal.

I hope everyone had a good holiday! Click for more excerpts at Sneak Peek Sunday.

Linda McLaughlin