Saturday, December 28, 2019

Three Highlights from 2019

After surviving the Spring floods (that's the start of my favorite local bike trail near the Missouri River in the picture), 2019 turned out to be a good year for writing. Here are three highlights.

1. Lots of People Dropped by the Blog

The blog received over 16,000 hits in 2019. February was the busiest month (2265) - too cold to do anything except reading online, I guess. August was the worst, which makes sense because I was on vacation and wasn't posting. The Book Reviews page continues to be a big draw, with 41 reviews covering over 11,000 pages.

It's great to have so many drop by, but on the other hand, that's a lot of people watching every time I fat-fingered a post or my auto-correct function had some fun with me.

2. Killer Proves to Be A Killer

Killer in the Retroscape ( proved to be a killer in the awards, with recognition as:

  • A Montaigne Medal Finalist;
  • A BRAG Medallion Honoree; and
  • A third-place finish in the Eric Hoffer Awards, eBook Fiction.

It was also selected by Indie Missouri as one of the best independently published books in the state. It's available with your library card throughout much of the state's public library system, but it's still tough to find (use this link: Indie authors are making progress in the public library system, thanks to groups like IngramSpark, Biblioboard, and Library Journal, but it's a slow process.

3. Off to A Good Start

Mind in Chains was released on November 4 and early sales pushed its rank as high as 45 in the Medical Thrillers category ( It continues to do well, but not like that early spike. Guess I need to publish a new book every couple of months - as if I could.

Now, enough looking backward. On to the next 20s. May they also roar!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

December Book Reviews and Previews

A little early this month, but things have a way of getting busy later.

Happy Holidays!

For your consideration:
  • A horror story (Wake of the Sadico);
  • A fantasy (Elon: Journey to Truth);
  • A horror novella (The Haunted Bridge); and
  • A crime thriller (Deadly Enterprise).
Hope you find something for your library,

Wake of the Sadico by Jo Sparkes

A Scary Read; Just Watch Out for the Sudden Changes in Point of View

Wake of the Sadico is the story of five friends sharing a vacation scuba diving in the Caribbean. There is Melanie, the adult version of a kid in a candy store—she always wants the man she doesn’t have and has the physical beauty to make it happen. Jill is the coming of age tomboy who is as anxious to prove herself as she is confused about men’s attraction to her. Through most of the book, I would have said these two are our main characters, as we spend much of our time inside their heads. But Wall, the gangly, always polite and proper Brit comes to play a larger role by the end. Initially, our cast of five has some troubling experiences—fleeting images, bad dreams—but nothing most of us haven’t had. Then, the author turns up the tension with them seeing people who are here one moment, gone the next. Or they recall a past life of pain and brutality that feels too real to ignore (reincarnation is a central theme of the novel). By the end, our protagonists are facing off against a paranormal evil come to claim, as the author puts it, “a karmic debt past due.” You’ll want to keep the lights on for this one.

For the complete review, see

Elon: Journey to Truth by Isabella Adams

Issues of Genetics and Prejudice Are Just Below the Surface of this Compelling Fantasy

Elon must discover and learn to harness her powers if she is to save her planet from destruction. At that level, Elon: Journey to Truth is a fairly typical fantasy. But author Isabella Adams introduces an interesting twist. She links Elon’s emerging powers to her genetics, something that our protagonist worries about as well. “I reflected on my mixed genetics, wrestling with familiar confusion about my place in the universe.” In Adams’ fantasy world, being vamphyre means you can control minds, being Sidar means you can use telepathy, and being troll means you’ll be strong. And Elon has all three in her blood. Her best friend, Qidira, on the other hand, is initially identified as dwarf and human, but later in the story she is told she has “… the rare genetic gift of a fairy somewhere in your (her) bloodline.” As you might guess, with all this mixing of gene pools, there is great diversity in our characters and with it, considerable prejudice. More than once, Elon has to defend vamphyres against the closed-mindedness of her peers, reminding them that they are not all bad. Genetics may set the bounds, but few, Elon included, believe they define what one will be.

For the complete review, see

The Haunted Bridge: Part One (The Haunting of Bob and Brandy Book 1) by Lennie Grace

A Fast-Paced, Scary Novella … and Then It Just Ends

Brandy is a red-haired, high-school skeptic in this horror novella. "There’s no such thing as ghosts …. I only believe in science and logic.” Bob is Brandy’s guy-pal. He’s mature for his age, being described in Brandy’s thoughts as “… an eighty-year-old man trapped in a teen’s body.” But he’s the one who wants to test a local urban legend that one of the bridges in town is haunted by a ghost who kills everyone who dares cross it at midnight. Of course, Bob talks Brandy into joining him. From there, The Haunted Bridge unfolds at a good pace, never leaving the reader a dull moment. The bite-sized chapters—twenty of them in sixty-seven pages—seem to make it go even faster. I always wanted to read just one more. The only thing that slows the story are the typos, and there are quite a few. Some are easy to ignore, as the meaning is apparent, e.g., “She did feel beautiful with tonight.” But others, in the context of strange and eerie happenings, caused me to break from my train of thought, e.g., “… a book fell off of her dress” or “She nodded, leaning over the pant and catch her breath.”

For the complete review, see

Deadly Enterprise by Kevin Chapman

Sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness

When a twenty-year-old woman with a record for drugs and solicitation is found floating in the East River, everyone is ready to attribute her death to an accidental overdose. Everyone, that is, except Medical Examiner Michelle McNeill. She conveys her suspicions to her romantic interest, Detective Mike Stoneman. Since he’s rehabbing from injuries sustained in his last case and is not on active duty, Stoneman launches an investigation that’s part official, but mostly not. It’s driven by his and McNeill’s strong sense of right and wrong, with Stoneman’s partner, Jason Dickson, joining the cause. In addition to the overdose case, Dickson is working with a new, temporary partner, Ray McMillian, on a high-profile murder connected with a drugs and money laundering scheme. That case, too, erupts in violence, leaving Dickson juggling competing demands on his time and fighting office politics.

For the complete review, see

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

December's Limited-Time Kindle Deals

A few books from the nice list (the cozies), and several from the naughty. 

(Prices change constantly. Be sure to verify all prices before purchase.)

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 16
Mind in Chains
By Bruce M. Perrin
Medical Thriller
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

After an attempt was made on the life of a medical researcher at my fiancé’s home, Nicole Veles and I were plunged into a war on US soil that could have no winners. The Crusader’s for Common Sense would impose their sense of morality on medical policy or more would die. Replaced as the lead of the investigation when the violence escalated, rookie FBI agent Rebecca Marte was willing to listen to my thoughts—however bizarre they might seem. But when they proved true, Nicole and I were brought face to face with the killers in a final, deadly gambit. As it unfolded, however, I wondered if its cost would be more than I could pay.

“… a multifaceted, absorbing read that lingers in the mind long after the final revelation which examines issues of justice and humanity, as it crafts a growing story of horror,” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

Mind in Chains is perfect for fans of Michael Crichton, Douglas Richards, and Matthew Mather.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 14
Blood Silence: A compelling crime thriller (McRyan Mystery Thriller and Suspense Series Book)
By Roger Stelljes
Financial Thriller
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

Two bodies are discovered in a lake house in a suburb west of Minneapolis. The grim discovery of two more bodies found behind a bar in Washington DC leads to more questions than answers. The two cases are separated by 1,000 miles but can two cases so different be connected?

Can McRyan unveil the dangerous truth before someone else pays the ultimate price? This complex and twisted mystery will challenge Mac McRyan to confront his tumultuous past... a past he thought he had put to rest.

Blood Silence is a web of unsettling twists, startling turns and unforeseen redemption with each chapter adding a layer of intrigue that will pull you in further.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 14
Never Split The Party (Middang3ard Book 1)
By Ramy Vance
Science Fiction TV, Movie & Game Tie-In
Usual Price: 4.99  Sale: 0.99

There are nine known realms, a world for each race, including dwarves, gnomes, and elves. In the middle rests Middang3ard. Each world knows the others. Each, except Earth.

Humans long ago turned their backs on magic, throwing their stock into science and technology, their governments shielding the people from the reality of what was going on elsewhere. So be it. Humans were never very good at getting along with other races anyway.

Then the Dark One appeared, threatening to overrun the nine worlds, starting with Middang3ard and ending with the humans’ planet.

The second planet just went dark, Earth can't stay out of the fight, but can it do anything to save its own future? Now, humans must send elite warriors to Middang3ard to fight, else humans will fight on the shores of their own lands when the Dark One invades Earth. Too bad their elite starts and ends with Robert ‘Suzuki’ Fletcher and his team of Mundanes.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 15
The Man With Two Names: A Novel of Ancient Rome (The Sertorius Scrolls Series Book 1)
By Vincent B. Davis II
Ancient Historical Fiction
Usual Price: 2.99  Sale: 0.99

To preserve his village, a man of peace must survive the cutthroat city of Rome.

Rome, 107 BC. Quintus Sertorius just lost his father and he may lose his home. When his rural village is stripped of its political status, he must leave his family to secure their food and protection from inside Rome's bloodthirsty government. As he transitions from countryman to politician, he's thrust into the middle of a bitter political war… 

As Quintus struggles to gain the aid his village so desperately needs, he approaches Gaius Marius, the uncle of Julius Caesar himself. But with each passing day in the unforgiving landscape of the Eternal City, he puts his family and his own life in even greater danger.

In a ruthless battle of conscience, will Quintus lose both himself and the ones he loves?

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 15
Gold Dragon (Heritage of Power Book 5)
By Lindsay Buroker
Usual Price: 4.99  Sale: 0.99

Now that Trip’s siblings are safely back in the capital, he would like it if life got back to normal. As normal as possible for a half-dragon army officer learning to use his magical powers when he isn’t busy piloting with Wolf Squadron.

But trouble keeps popping up, and the capital isn’t the safe haven Trip had hoped. More and more dragons are working together, with attacks growing frequent as they scheme to claim the country for themselves. Equally daunting, Rysha wants to introduce Trip to her parents, parents who want a proper nobleman for their daughter, not some odd commoner sired by a dragon.

If Trip is to have any chance of bringing peace to the country—and impressing Rysha’s parents—he’ll have to finally and fully embrace what he is and what he can do. Before time runs out.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 15
Murder at the Alamo: A Cottonwood Springs Cozy Mystery
By Dianne Harman
Cozy Mystery
Usual Price: 4.99  Sale: 0.99

A honeymoon.
A murdered body.
Unfortunately, the victim didn’t survive the Alamo.

While visiting San Antonio, Texas on their honeymoon, Brigid and Linc discover the body of an Alamo tour guide.

Brigid can’t resist solving a crime and with a little help from the owner of a B&B and his faithful German shepherd, she and Linc set out to figure out which of the quirky cast of characters committed the murder.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 15
This Darkness Light
By Michaelbrent Collings
Horror Suspense
Usual Price: 4.99  Sale: 0.99

No one at the hospital knows who he is. Just a John Doe who arrived after being shot four times, and who should have died on the operating table.

When John wakes up, he can’t supply any answers, either: he has total amnesia, with no memory of what happened to him, anything of his past, or even his own name. But when the man who shot him returns to finish the job, John does discover one thing: he is a highly-trained killer.

Now on the run, John must discover who he is, why the government wants him dead, and how to elude — or kill — the assassins trying to take him down. Worst of all, humanity itself teeters on the brink of extinction. An unknown bioweapon is killing millions of people worldwide... and it looks more and more like John was the one behind the outbreak.

Only one thing is certain: he is John Doe, and nothing will stop him from finishing what he started.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 14
Three of Swords (Empire Asunder Book 1)
By Michael Jason Brandt
Dark Fantasy
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

A Game of Thrones meets The Wheel of Time in this epic fantasy about a tranquil empire suddenly ravaged by war, corrupted by demons, and reliant on salvation from a few unexpected heroes.

As the forgotten second son of an overambitious king, all Prince Nicolas ever wanted was to join the elite Order of Swordthanes and lead a life of skill and honor. But the whims of fate—and his own family's betrayal—thrust him into the heart of battle and the clutches of his kingdom's enemies.

An illiterate servant, Housethrall Jak's life is forever transformed when curiosity and happenstance combine to awaken a lurking evil in his sleepy forest village. Loyalty, wit, and courage are his only weapons in a fight to save his friends and fragile community from a fate far worse than mere death.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: December 13
Reboot: An Epic LitRPG Adventure (Afterlife Online Book 1)
By Domino Finn
Science Fiction TV, Movie & Game Tie-In
Usual Price: 4.99  Sale: 0.99

Tad Lonnerman is having a crappy day stuck in crappy traffic late to a crappy meeting. On the bright side, his game development career is the only non-crappy thing he has going for him, so life isn't all bad.

At least until he dies.

Now Tad finds himself uploaded to a beta test of Haven, an unannounced hyper-immersive MMO where the dead have a second chance at life. It's not virtual reality, it's digital reality. A true afterlife online.

Except Haven isn't exactly blissful paradise. Tad bumbles into a pagan blood feud, crosses paths with fallen angels, and gets lied to by saints. His only allies? A frat boy with a penchant for dying and a pixie who won't give him the time of day.

Second chances be damned. All Tad wants is to return to his old life, and he'll do anything for the opportunity. Even make a deal with the devil.

You'll need to wait until December 14 for this one.

By Laurel Heidtman
Usual Price: 2.99  Sale: 0.99

Freak winter storm, isolated cabin, no power, two killers on the loose. Happy spring break!

Mark Fuller’s world is falling apart. His marriage is on the rocks and his insurance business is on life support. To top it off, he’s agreed to spend Easter weekend in a remote lake house with his overbearing business partner and his partner’s alcoholic wife.

Mark thinks his life can’t get any worse, but when a freak spring storm brings nearly two feet of snow, the power goes, and two escaped federal prisoners show up on their doorstep, he realizes it's not only the weather that can kill!

Prices change constantly. Be sure to verify all prices before purchase.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Three Headlines for December

Happy Holidays!

1. Mind in Chains Release Day Winner

The winner of the $25 Amazon Gift Card and a copy of Mind in Chains was Jennifer A. Congratulations, Jennifer, and thanks to everyone who entered.

And if you didn't win, check out headline #2. 

2. Fantasy/Sci-Fi Book Fair and Giveaway!

Browse over 100 free and discounted books in genre ranging from paranormal romance to dystopian Sci-fi. You’ll find my Eric Hoffer award-winning novel, Killer in the Retroscape, in that last category.

Then, enter for your chance to win a Kindle Fire, one Wizard's Holiday deluxe candle from highland Bluff Studios, and a hardback copy of Star Wars: Thrawn Treason!

Maybe you lean more toward crime thrillers and horror in your holiday reads? Then check out headline #3.

3. The Holiday Chills and Thrills Book Fair

If you think your holiday should have some red besides the jolly fat man -🎅

Check out the murder and mayhem in the Holiday Chills and Thrills Book Fair! You'll find Mind in Chains is one of the blood-curdling lineup.

And one footnote

I'll have my usual 'Limited-Time Deals' post later, but this deal will be over by then. And since I enjoyed two other books in this series and have this new release on my TBR list, I figured it was worth passing this information along.

Only 99 cents beginning December 7

How about a shot of Poison?

Ricki and the Top Shelf crew have worked for weeks preparing for Logan Parker’s book launch, but nothing ruins a party like a dead body! Name Your Poison is now available on Amazon and through Kindle Unlimited.

*The Top Shelf books do not have to be read in order.

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.)