Saturday, November 29, 2014

3 Free Kindle Short Stories


On Sunday, November 30 and Monday December 1, these short stories from my Twins Mystery Series will be FREE on Kindle. Click on the titles to link to the page.

Mirror, Mirror - A man sees premonitions of serial murders but no one believes him, until psychologist Sara Ziegler is sure that her twin sister Gen is the next victim.

Ring of Truth - Sara and Gen Ziegler suspect a neighbor of domestic violence, but what does that have to do with the ring Gen finds in her vegetable garden or the bunny that's eating the lettuce?

Rapid-Eye Murder - During a week of dream research, psychologists Gen and Sara Ziegler uncover evil hidden deep in the realm of Morpheus.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cactus For Christmas?

DOUBLE CROSS was just released in paperback. This is the third novel in my Twins Mystery Series and the second one where both Gen and Sara play equal parts in the solution. It's one of those novels I drafted ages ago, but only finally figured out how it should work a few years back.

I was traveling a lot back then, and most of my vacation destinations were in the U.S. desert Southwest. I fell in love with the Southwest when I first visited there 30 years ago, before I even considered a career as a writer. Even before I read my first Tony Hillerman novel. The sky is almost always a deep, deep blue and the scenery is breathtaking. The nights are usually crowded with stars. The play of light and shadows on the canyons changes hourly. Rainbows seem to be a weekly occurrence. You can experience nearly absolute silence. Wildflowers pop up in the most uninhabitable places. Likewise wildlife. And ancient petroglyphs.

I traveled mostly in spring and fall, so the days were warm, though on more than one trip, we encountered unexpected snow, too. I remember a snowball fight I had with my dad in Cedar Breaks, Utah. The temperature was 70F, but there was 4 feet of snow on either side of the road. The nights are cold at that time of year. You start out in the morning with in jeans, 4 layers up top, and your hands in your pockets. By mid-afternoon, you're in shorts and a t-shirt, and drinking at least a quart of water for every 3 miles hiked.

Still, a big attraction for me was that the Southwest felt more dangerous than home. I never saw a rattlesnake on the trails, but I heard them plenty of times, behind rocks or inside hollow logs. I got the worst sunburns of my life in Arches National Park, even though I was wearing a 30 sunblock. I learned to hike in long sleeves even on hot days. I discovered that higher altitude is something to reckon with if you've ever had lung problems (mine was a case of pneumonia way back in 9th grade). I discovered just how bad my vertigo could get on some of those cliff trails. When I see photos of Delicate Arch, the main thing I remember is getting dizzy in a very precarious place.

If you see a car broken down along the side of the road, here in the East most people would just speed by. Out there everyone stops to make sure the people involved have water to drink while they wait for help. You could die from not carrying enough water.

Yet another big pull was the local culture, especially the folklore and legends of the indigenous tribes. I'm always a sucker for a great story.

So after I finished TWO-FACED, and at the end of that novel had the need to move Gen Ziegler from Arizona to Pennsylvania, I knew the twins' next adventure together would take place out in the desert. Since her move needed to happen during the winter semester break, a novel set at the Yuletide was a foregone conclusion.

A Christmas mystery set in the desert? This is where the time lag helped. At first, as I was able to travel less and less, I thought I wouldn't be able to do the research. But in the last decade, Mexican immigrants have settled in my hometown. I learned about Our Lady of Guadalupe and Las Posadas and other traditions. I've been able to taste the foods. I even learned to sing in Spanish with Mexican pronunciation.

So I hope you'll read and enjoy DOUBLE CROSS. If you do and want an extra puzzle, I've hidden the names of some of my favorite classic mystery novel characters throughout the novel. See if you can find them.

Link for Paperback.
Link for Kindle version. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I KNOW a lot of people who won't read short stories. They seem to believe that if a tale takes less than 70,000 words to tell, it somehow isn't worthy. Me? I love shorts stories. I can devour one in a quick sitting when I don't have much time. Like a lovely bite of chocolate between meals.

I've been reading shorts as long as I can remember. My love for the form was especially cemented in place by the short mysteries and supernatural tales of Agatha Christie. I branched out from there to read other classic mystery authors' anthologies, like Dorothy L. Sayers and, of course, all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Then modern authors who excel in this form, like Lawrence Block, Margaret Maron, Robin Hathaway and others.

As an author, I found that I loved writing short mysteries and ghost tales. 19 of mine were published individually in periodicals, though most without a wide distribution. That was the last I thought the world would see of my stories. However, the advent of electronic books allowed me to make the tales available to Kindle users.

Still, not everyone has a Kindle. Non-Kindle readers were seeing that these stories existed and started asking me for print versions of them. So I decided to put together an anthology of my own. I'm happy to announce that SHORT CUTS TO MAYHEM was released this week, which includes these 16 titles:

Mrs. Fanaglio and The Body On The Beach
Mirror, Mirror
REM Murder
Ring of Truth
Kill...with Personality
Ginseng Tea
True To His Country
Showdown At Sundae Gulch
Favorite Haunt
Who Tempt The Dangerous Way
Swan Song
Ultimate Layoff
Rocky Road To Murder
Who Ate Billy Penn?
Here's Blood In Your Rye

4 of the stories feature Gen and Sara Ziegler, from my Twins Mystery series. The Mrs. Fanaglio tale came out in Death Knell V last year and so it's NOT available on Kindle. Plus I've added an introduction to each story, for those of you who like to know where authors get their ideas.

You can find SHORT CUTS TO MAYHEM on Amazon right now. It should be available to other distribution channels within the next week or two. The ISBN is 978-1500662240 if you want to order it though your favorite bookstore.

If you want to whet your appetite for short stories, there's a free one on my website: "Job Interview."  Enjoy. And thanks for reading.


Member, Delaware Valley Mystery Authors