Friday, March 16, 2018

Straight Browsing from the Library: Nadia's Heart, Part Two by Wendy Altshuler

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Wendy will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


In Nadia's Heart, Part One, amnesiac Nadia knew that something was wrong, so she went in search of her missing heart. What she encountered has only brought more questions: about her origins and her ties to the people of the Land of Silence. She learned that her heart was indeed removed, and that her memory was erased by an evil Voice. But why? Now Nadia and her glowing-eyed companion, Georgeonus, must help recover the stolen hearts of the children of the Land of Silence. In Part Two, they will do battle against the evil Voice and travel to frightening places. They receive help from a powerful Witch and Wizard, and Nadia gets her heart back—but it's not at all what she expected. Can they rescue the stolen children's hearts in time?


From Chapter IV: The Silver Witch:

They remembered that her visit had been preceded by a magick dust.

The dust came from above, the air tingled, and miniscule, silver particles glistened as they fell. It was musical, and as they breathed, they smelled fresh air like new spring, and they felt an excitement of imminent magick. She appeared suddenly, and at first no one knew where she had come from or how; she was just there on the road. She came as naturally as if she had approached them from the road. But as the magick dust settled, they realized—remembered—that the Silver Witch had dropped out of the sky.

As she stood there smiling at them, they remembered that they had looked up at the sky at a circling dot which descended. As it approached, it formed the shape of a square, floating quilt. The Witch was soon revealed to be sitting on top in black garb and hat, her silvery skin thick and rubbery. With both hands placed on diagonal corners of the quilt, she jumped off and shook the fabric out like clean laundry and parachuted down to them, the tennis sneakers on her feet ready for the road. Softly she landed, snapping the quilt upward and folding it once, twice, three times, and again and again until it was a small square deposited into one of her pockets.


Wendy Altshuler is a writer-producer who explores myth in new media. She writes fantasy novels and creates works in stop motion animation. Her credits include award-winning screenwriting and WGA-accredited representation. With a degree in psychology and a Master of Arts from Columbia University, Altshuler documented the work of international choreographers and wrote and produced regional programming. Her short plays have been performed at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, at regional schools and most recently, Puppet Showplace Theatre. Altshuler's young adult book series has been hailed as "emotionally moving, uplifting and wholesome," and "spirited and haunting. . .with much symbolism and beauty."


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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Straight Chatting from the Library: Erin A. Jensen

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


My Hometown’s Reaction to my Debut Novel

I still live in the same small town in Upstate New York that I grew up in. I’m a pharmacist at Wegmans Food and Pharmacy in my hometown—the same store where I worked as a cashier when I was a teenager. On any given day, I’ll see at least one relative, former teacher or old classmate during a shift. None of those people (including most of my family) had any idea that I was writing a book during the three years I spent working on my debut novel, Dream Waters.

Releasing your first book is a terrifying process. You worry that people won’t like it, or that they’ll dole out harsh criticism of the work that’s so near and dear to your heart—or even worse, that no one will even read the book. That fear of rejection and criticism was the reason I kept quiet about the fact that I was writing a novel. If my husband hadn’t believed in me enough to send my unpublished book to the Manhattan Book Review, Dream Waters might never have seen the light of day. It was their glowing five star review that gave me the courage to take the plunge and share my book with the world.

If I’d had any idea how much support my book and I would receive from my co-workers, family and friends, I might have told them about the book years earlier. When they did find out, they became my first fans. They generously helped me spread the word about Dream Waters by sharing my social media posts, telling their friends and family about the book, even choosing it as their pick to read with their book clubs. After word of my new book spread from my pharmacy co-workers to the manager of our store, he approached me about selling the book in the store and doing a book signing there. The book signing turned out to be one of the most successful Wegmans had done, even topping celebrity book signings that larger stores in the chain had hosted. My first two books are now the number one and number two best sellers in the store, and the books are sold in multiple stores in the chain, all of which have hosted book signings that exceeded my sales goals. I honestly can’t thank my local fan base enough for the love and support they’ve shown me.

I may have daydreamed about that sort of success before I released Dream Waters, but there were a few things I didn’t anticipate while writing my first book. My books are intended for adult readers and when I began writing them, my husband urged me to include “adult scenes” because people appreciate a little sizzle in their fiction. He backed up his argument with examples like, Game of Thrones and True Blood. Unable to argue with success like that, I added a bit of erotica to my reading list in order to learn from the experts. Then I added a fair bit of sizzle to my first book. Don’t get me wrong. The sexual content isn’t the central theme of the story. I use those scenes to illustrate the dynamic between characters—employing the old “show, don’t tell” technique. What I didn’t stop to consider was that all of those supportive people in my life would be reading those no-holds-barred intimate scenes. When writing a scene like that, it never crosses your mind that your child’s elementary school librarian, your own kindergarten teacher, aunts and uncles, in-laws and co-workers might one day be reading it. Let me tell you, a sure-fire way to shock those people is to show them a side of you that they never imagined existed. (I do have two children, so it really shouldn’t have been that big of a shock, but it was.) I can only imagine what it must be like for actors when relatives watch their on-screen sex scenes.

Would I have done things differently if I’d considered the reactions of all those people in my life? Absolutely not. At its heart, adult fantasy is an escape from the dullness of day-to-day life into an adrenaline-fueled adventure ripe with magical creatures and unbridled passion. The reader doesn’t want the characters to hold anything back. Delving into the thrill of each heart-racing detail of their journey is what makes a story worth reading, and crafting a no-holds-barred adventure is what makes it worth writing. I’m all in when I write a story. I don’t hold back, and I won’t apologize for that because I’d be doing my readers a disservice if I did. Incidentally, once the initial shock wore off, many of the people I shocked became die-hard fans of my series. They just had to forget who’d written those scenes and lose themselves in the narrative, which—I’ve been told many times—isn’t difficult to do.

Then there’s my grandfather’s reaction to my novel. He didn’t get farther than the first few pages because the four-letter-words shocked the hell out of him. Surely his granddaughter didn’t talk like that. My aunt explained that “Erin doesn’t talk like that, her characters do.” Although, in all honesty, I’m glad he never made it past the curse words because I can’t imagine what he would have thought of the sex scenes. Some bridges are best left uncrossed.


All his life, Charlie Oliver has watched the people around him morph into creatures that no one else sees. Unlike the rest of the world, Charlie remembers the Waters that transport him to the Dream World each night. And he sees glimpses of people’s Dream forms in the waking world. Condemned to spend his waking hours in a psychiatric facility because of his Dream Sight, Charlie doesn’t expect anything to change. But everything starts changing the day Emma Talbot walks through the door in the middle of a group therapy session.

Haunted by memories of the events that led to her admission, Emma plans to end her life the first chance she gets. But something about Charlie stops her. From the moment they shake hands, his friendship feels safe and familiar. As Emma begins to let down her guard, Charlie catches a glimpse of the fiery-eyed dragon that lurks behind her Dream form. Each night, as Emma dreams of the man who’s been banned from visiting, Charlie searches the Dream World for the monster that shadows her. But when Emma’s suppressed memories begin to surface, Charlie finds more monsters than he bargained for.


“Where were you afraid I’d land when I fell in and why did you say finding the dragon wouldn’t be easy?”

She started drawing waves in the sand with her finger and I got the distinct impression she was doing it to avoid looking at me. “Honestly Charlie, I wasn’t sure where you’d land. It’s unpredictable when you don’t jump on purpose. You could end up anywhere the people you’ve met have been. You’re a mental patient. Can you imagine the sections of Dream some patients might inhabit?” Her finger stopped drawing mid-wave. “Trust me boy. There are Dark places in the Dream World, places you should never go. Venture too far into them and you risk losing a part of yourself to the Darkness.”

I was really getting tired of the cryptic shit. “Great. Thanks for the vague ominous warning. I was afraid you might give me an actual answer for a second there.”

“I’ve already said too much.” Even at a whisper there was a waver to her voice. “Just thank me for keeping you safe and jump back into the Water.”

“I don’t know which world I find you more annoying in.” It wasn’t the nicest thing to say to the one person who understood me but I said it out of frustration and maybe a little out of fear.

Nellie was about to snarl something back, but the leaves of some bushes just off the beach started rustling and I hopped to my feet to get a better look. “Something’s over there.”

Nellie stood up with a weary sigh and as she turned toward the bushes I saw the scars. Large deep identical scars marring the flesh on both of her shoulder blades.

I took a step closer to her. “What happened to your back?”

She turned and gave me a hard shove toward the Water’s edge. “It’s time for you to go now Charlie.” It caught me by surprise and knocked me off balance, back into the surf and the icy Water pulled me back in.


Erin Jensen is a part-time pharmacist and a fulltime creator of imaginary worlds. She lives in upstate NY with her incredibly supportive husband, two sons (who are both taller than her) and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. In the early days of her writing career, Erin vowed to get a dragon tattoo—once her books received a milestone number of reviews—but she won’t disclose that number any longer, for fear of actually reaching her goal and having to go through with it.

Dream Waters: Book One of The Dream Waters Series (The first book is on sale for $0.99) by Erin A. Jensen

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Dream World: Book Two of The Dream Waters Series by Erin A. Jensen

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Straight Browsing from the Library: Reading His Submissive by Brandi Evans

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Brandi Evans will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.



I’ve spent my life depending on one person: myself. I’ve learned the hard way other people will only let me down. I’ve worked for everything I have, but thanks to my drug-addicted mother, I’m about to lose the one thing I’ve craved for years. Needing to make some extra cash, I ask my boss at Restrained Fantasies, a Dallas BDSM club, for some extra shifts. Much to my chagrin, Master Carter Burkes is with him, and Carter leaps to my rescue, bound and determined to save me—only I’m not the kind of girl who needs to be saved.


I can’t sit by while Raven, a recurring figure in my fantasies, is in trouble. My job as a detective keeps me busy, but I’m not looking for a relationship, just a sub to assist with a class I’m teaching: Reading Your Submissive. Raven always claimed she wasn’t a member of the lifestyle, so imagine my surprise when I discover a budding submissive inside her. She gets under my skin in ways I can’t fight, but emotions are dangerous. I learned that the hard way. Is getting close to Raven a mistake? Will I destroy her life like I destroyed the life of the only woman I’ve ever loved?

This is book two in the Restrained Fantasies series but can be read as a standalone.

Publisher’s Note: This romance is intended for adults only. It contains elements of danger, suspense, mystery, BDSM, sensual scenes, romance and adult language. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase.


Raven punched the elevator button and waited for the doors to open. Damn her fucking mother. Damn her, damn her, damn her. Ten thousand dollars. How the hell was Raven supposed to come up with that kind of money by the end of the month?

Who fucking screwed over their own child this way?

She fisted her hands at her side and fought the urge to punch more than the elevator button. Taking out another loan or getting new credit cards with credit limits large enough to help was out of the question. She was over-extended as it was; served her right for trying to help the bitch in the first place. After helping her mom out with attorney fees and bail after her last arrest, Raven had been left holding the bag. She still couldn’t believe her mom had skipped on bail. Again. And crazier still, Raven didn’t know why she’d bothered helping in the first place. That had been her first—twentieth?—mistake.

Meth was slowly destroying Raven’s life, and she’d never touched the stuff.

The elevator doors slid open, and Viv Michaels strutted through. Viv was the boss’ sub and the love of his life. She was a sweet, vivacious woman Raven had come to like a lot.

Viv was dressed in her usual club fare. Black fuck-me boots, red miniskirt, and a matching leather corset which barely contained her ample breasts. She was the boss’ perfect match in every way—and it made Raven a whole lot envious. She’d never trusted anyone enough to let them in, let alone have what Viv and the boss had.

Viv’s lips curved into a friendly smile. “Hey, Raven. How’re you?”

Raven forced herself to return the other woman’s smile. “I’m good.”

Viv’s gaze sharpened. “You sure? You look… upset.”

“Just having a bit of a tough time today, but everything will work itself out. It always does.” More likely it won’t. It never did.

Over the years, she’d gotten damn good at lying about her emotions or redirecting the conversation, so with luck, Viv would take the near-lie at face value and move on. Because this problem wouldn’t work itself out. She might as well face reality and get used to it.

She’d be homeless by the end of the month. Viv placed her hand on Raven’s arm and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“Okay. Just know I’m here if you need to talk.”

The offer warmed Raven. Part of her acknowledged the impulse to accept Viv’s offer, hug her close, and let the tears come. The other part, however, the stronger part, reminded her trusting another person only ended in disaster. She’d had enough tragedies in her life already. The only person she could depend on was herself.

“I’ll keep your offer in mind,” Raven lied.

“Good.” Viv flashed another smile and then headed toward the boss’ office. She seemed so sweet and sincere. Maybe, if Raven was very lucky, she could trust Viv.

Yeah, and maybe someday, Raven would have more than two fond memories of her mother.

Raven stepped onto the elevator and pressed the button for the ground floor. She still needed to go home before her regular shift. She’d come straight from the bank, and she wasn’t exactly dressed for—

“Hey, Raven, wait up!” Someone forced their arm through the sliding doors and kept them from closing. When they opened again, she found herself staring at the handsome face of Carter Burkes. And her libido jumped to immediate attention; it usually did when he was around.

The sexy cop might be close to ten years her senior, but he wore his age like a badge of honor. Defined biceps and triceps bulged from the sleeves of his black T-shirt. The cotton stretched over his trim torso in all the right places, and his leather pants did little to cover the contour of muscular legs she’d admired more than once in the club.

A few strands of gray decorated the hair at his temples; otherwise, the perfectly messy brown locks appeared thick and lush. More than once, she’d had to squash the temptation to bury her fingers into the strands just to see if they were as soft as she’d imagined.

A day’s worth of growth covered his cheeks and square jawline. And damn those dimples. Why’d they have to amp his fuckability to stupid levels? Didn’t she have enough shit to worry about?


Brandi Evans was raised by a caravan of traveling Gypsies. She spent her days learning the ways of her people and her nights lost in legends as old as time. Okay, not really, but that's way more interesting than the truth!

In reality, Brandi grew up the oldest child of an ordinary family. Grade school, middle school, high school. Nothing extraordinary happened until she left the nest. She joined the military, went to college, got married, and became a mom. And somewhere along the way, she discovered she liked to read—and write!—stories hot enough to melt eReaders.

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Pinterest: Want to visit the author’s Reading His Submissive Pinterest board? See the images that inspired the book.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Rake and the Bishop's Daughter by Julia Donner

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Julia will be awarding a $30 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Society’s beloved wastrel, Sir Harry Collyns, pushes his popularity past the point of acceptability when he poses for a statue that creates a social uproar. People line up for blocks to see Handsome Harry in the nude, sculpted by a female artist! Bored with the fuss and scandal, Harry hitches up his fastest team, heads for the country, and a near fatal curricle accident. When the bandages are removed from his head days later, he discovers the angel-voiced widow who’d cared for him is neither elderly nor as mild as her tone, but a straight-laced do-gooder unimpressed with his flamboyant past and dashing good looks. Head-battered and heading for a broken heart, he falls into love with Widow Olivia St. Clair, who might be the one woman in England that Harry can’t charm into loving him back.


Olivia grabbed a shirt spilled from the gentleman’s portmanteau to fold into a compress and focused on maintaining pressure on the wound. It wasn’t long before she heard the distant sound of the mail coach. She exhaled a sigh of relief when the approaching rattle slowed. The clop and jangle of horses and harness became louder. She ignored the gaping passengers as the heavy vehicle approached at a slow trot instead of a thunderous canter. Fortunately, the curricle had been backed up enough that the coach could pass by.

She used the back of her wrist to quickly swipe back the damp curls from her brow and placed her hand on the man’s chest. His heartbeat felt strong and steady but he remained unconscious. Gently feeling his blood-soaked head, she discovered a smooth lump but the skin of his scalp felt intact. The shirt compress was soaked through. Stretching, she grabbed the edge of the portmanteau and pulled it closer. A folded stack of neck cloths would work perfectly. The idea was to swiftly replace the saturated cloth with fresh, but when she lifted the compress away, she stilled from the sight of the man’s face, no longer veiled in blood.

Her mouth fell open. “Oh! It’s Harry.”

A shout from the lane took her attention. Mr. Hoskins and his daughter, Fanny, came up the lane at a run.


Julia Donner (aka M.L.Rigdon) grew up in historic Galena, IL, USA, and spent most of her time in the museum of her aunt, who encouraged her interest in history and understood the need to cherish a dream. She started writing in secret in her teens and never stopped, merging it with her mother's encouragement to study theater and music, which led to performing in the Midwest, California and as far away as Austria.

Donner never forgot what it was like to write alone as a girl and is a happy member of Summit City Scribes. Concern for the failing educational system led her to develop Your Futures in Ink, a panel of local and regional authors, who go into to schools to encourage students and answer questions about writing.

THE TIGRESSE AND THE RAVEN, first book in the regency Friendship Series, is an RWA contest finalist. The ninth book in the series, A ROGUE FOR MISS PRIM and the tenth, AN AMERICAN FOR AGNES, are available now. A LAIRD’S PROMISE will be released by Spring 2018.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Straight from the Library: Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Vikki Walton will award a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter a $25 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Moving to Colorado seemed like a great way to start over. In Carolan Springs, Anne plans to spend her days living the simpler life.

But when her neighbor is found dead in his compost pile, trouble comes knocking on Anne's door.

All the evidence points to Anne's other neighbor, Kandi Jenkins. As the young woman begs Anne for help, Anne finds herself thrust into a world of deceit and secrets.

Who had the most to gain from Ralph's death? As the suspect list grows, Anne finds her desire for the simple life may have led her to something sinister.


Anne pointed at a woman wearing a baby snuggly in her Tula wrap.

“I’d only seen white and brown eggs at my grocery store. But earlier today I saw some blue ones, some pink, and even some green eggs. How do you get those kinds of eggs and do they taste different than a white egg?”

Anne moved to the side of the stage where a dozen eggs were in a clear container. “Each of these eggs is a different color. Some”—she held up one—“even have spots on them. This is determined by the type of hens you have. For instance, if you want a brown egg, then your best choices would be something like a Rhode Island Red, a Wyandotte, an Astralorp, or Orpington. Ameraucana or Aracaunas, or what some refer to as Easter-eggers, lay blue or green eggs.’’

A small hand shot up.

“Yes? You in the back.” She motioned to the small boy.

“Um, uh, how do you know if the eggs are good for you? I mean, you know, like, okay to eat? I mean, when you go to the store, you can trust they’re okay.”

“Good question. Thanks for asking.” The boy beamed at the praise.

“First, let’s start with the timing. When you go outside and retrieve eggs on a daily basis, those eggs are fresh. Eggs in the store can have taken up to five weeks just to get on your refrigerator shelf.”

Some people in the crowd gasped, and Anne heard, “Is that true?”

“It’s true. Look it up.” She smiled at the crowd.


Vikki is a well-liked speaker and knowledgeable instructor on myriad topics such as fundraising, work quilting, creative writing, design, homesteading, travel, and getting what you really want out of life. Her diverse background and passions enables Vikki to speak and write about many subjects. She’s the author of Work Quilting, a top ten book on vocational guidance. She’s also a global house and petsitter, founder and travel blogger at and upcoming book on women’s travel.

If Vikki isn’t off exploring the globe, you’ll find her at her home in Colorado digging in the garden, watching her chicken’s antics, reading a mystery or working on her newest project.

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Truth Inside by Trish Edmisten

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Trish Edmisten will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


For as long as he can remember, Nate’s dreamed of being an MMA fighter. Nothing is going to stand in his way and no one is going to distract him. Everything is going according to plan when Natalie comes along. Even though he wasn’t looking for love, Nate can’t help falling fast and hard. Smart, sweet and supportive, she seems too good to be true, but it’s actually the other way around. Nate isn’t good enough for her, and he’s keeping a secret that will change everything between them. One day, she’ll see the truth inside of him. Until then, Nate’s determined to keep Natalie in his life for as long as he can.


“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. Then you’d know I’m so glad you’re mine. That I love you just the way you are.”

“How can you still want to be with me? I lied to you.”

“I know, but I understand why you did.”

“And you’re not mad?”

“I wish you would have trusted me enough to tell me the truth, but I’m not mad,” Natalie assured him. “I can’t really blame you for being afraid to tell me when your own parents rejected you.”

Nate frowned. “How do you know that?”

“Until tonight, the only thing you’ve ever said about them is you don’t really talk to them.”

“Yeah, they didn’t understand. When I left, they told me not to come back until I could be the daughter they deserved.”

“If they can’t see how great you are, they don’t deserve you. Lucky for me, I can see it.”

“Are you sure about this, Natalie? Sure about being with me?”

“Nate, you are the sweetest man I know. You’re smart and funny and easy to talk to and we have so much fun together. You treat me like a person and not an accessory. Why would I give all of that up just because you weren’t born in the right body?”

“You can’t be real,” Nate whispered.

“Does this feel real?” Leaning forward, she pressed her lips to his.

Nate’s mind may have been conflicted, but his body was quick to respond. There wasn’t any hesitation or doubt in his kiss.


Trish Edmisten is the author of several novels, including Extraordinary Will, a Reader Views Literary Award Winner. Her work has appeared in Writer’s Journal, Creative With Words and A Long Story Short. Besides being an author, she holds a degree in criminology. Trish lives in Fresno, California with her husband and their teenage daughter.



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Straight Chatting from the Library: Ice on the Bay by Dale E. Lehman

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dale E. Lehman will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

When I was in early elementary school, we went to the library as a class once per week. We had to check out books from an age-appropriate section of the library and had a borrowing limit of 2. I always checked out one dinosaur book and one Dr. Seuss book. The one Dr. Seuss book I best remember from those days was "On Beyond Zebra." I was also quite fond of "Bartholomew and the Oobleck." As a father and grandfather, I've read both of those books, and many others, to my young descendants. Once upon a time, my Kathleen and I, working as a team, could recite the whole of "I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew" from memory.

What is your favorite book today?

That's a toughie. My all-time favorite author is Ray Bradbury. I think my favorite of his works is "The Martian Chronicles." I re-read it a few years ago on its 50th anniversary, and I was amazed at how well it held up in spite of being so completely off-base in terms of science. Because, you see, he wasn't writing about Mars or Martians or even rocket ships. He was writing about human beings. And he did it brilliantly.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

The forecast: record cold. The crimes: colder still. (That's only eight words. Does that count??)

E-Reader or print? and why?

Print. I grew up reading print books, and for me reading is as much a tactile experience as an intellectual one. In my day job, I'm a software developer. I spend my days on a computer, and in researching technical subjects I use the web, so you might think I'd naturally gravitate to e-books. But not really. I find that I don't always read electronic documents as carefully as I would a print document. (Research has shown that's true of people generally.) I've also suffered some eyestrain when reading from a screen for long periods of time, although my new glasses have mostly resolved that. That said, I have been reading novels by indie authors in ebook form lately in order to review them. It's cheaper that way, for the author if giving away review copies and for the reviewer if payment is required.

One book at a time or multiples?

I used to one-at-at-a-time it, but these days I sometimes have two books in progress. I'm not an incredibly fast reader, though, so that doesn't mean I finish anything more quickly. If anything, it slows me down a bit.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Judith, meet Kathleen, my wife, editor, co-author for "Ice on the Bay," and former circulation and reference librarian. Do you really think I dare even ponder the remotest possibility of dog-earing a book page? Anyway, we have a fun collection of bookmarks, mostly cheap old things that are somewhat tattered, but fun anyway. I have to admit to one terrible transgression, though: long ago, I inadvertently mangled one of Kathleen's favorite bookmarks. It featured a long-nosed witch flying on her broom with a book hanging across her nose. The caption read, "So who needs a bookmark?"

Favorite book you've read this year?

I haven't had the chance to read many books this year, since it's only the beginning of February as I answer this. But let me plug one that I finished just last week: "The Key of All Unknown" by K. A. Hitchens. This book blew me away. It's a first-person narrative told from the perspective of a brilliant British stem cell researcher who finds herself in a persistent vegetative state, unable to communicate with doctors, nurses, and family members but aware of her surroundings and able to reflect upon her life and recent events. Did she try to kill herself? Did someone try to murder her? If it was a murder attempt, will her would-be killer appear at her bedside and finish the job? Underneath the plot runs social commentary on a number of hot-button issues, all capped by an ending that (I predict) will either move you deeply or anger you, depending on your point of view. Either way, I highly recommend this book.

Re-reader or not?

It depends. Usually not, but I have made exceptions, principally Ray Bradbury, a fun series of science fiction/humor stories by Keith Laumer about career diplomat James Retief, and "The Lord of the Rings."

What would make you not finish a book?

It takes a lot to make me put down a book. But incompetent writing will do it. So will boredom. If the story doesn't go anywhere, that's usually it. I will make an exception for works I'm reviewing. In that case, I'll slog through anything so I can give an honest review or provide the author with constructive criticism. I do not stop reading simply because I encounter a viewpoint with which I don't agree. I think we need to at least try to understand different points of view and the people who hold them.

Keep books or give them away?

We tend to keep books for a long time, then weed our collection, then acquire more, then weed, etc. We're hoping to downsize our home in the coming year, so right now we're in a weeding phase. We usually take our discards to a used book store. And then pick up some more books using the store credit. So I'm not sure we actually downsize all that much, after all. Hmm.


The forecast: Record cold. The crimes: Colder still.

A saintly young veterinary technician disappears on Christmas Eve, leaving behind only a broken window and smears of blood on his clinic's back steps. Two years later, his disappearance remains a mystery. A home in an exclusive area burns to the ground, mirroring fires ignited the previous year by an arsonist who now sits in prison. Is the new fire a copycat, or has the wrong man been convicted? A criminal with a long list of enemies is shot dead, and not even his friends are sorry. While temperatures plummet, cold cases collide with new crimes, and somewhere a killer with blood as icy as the waters of the Chesapeake Bay watches and waits.


Without bothering to thank Peller, Dibble ate half of his sandwich before asking, "What do you want?"

"Same as you. To know why your house was torched."

"Seems obvious to me. Sergeant Montufar said arsonists get their kicks from setting fires."

"Sometimes. Not always."

Dibble maintained focus on his food. Peller took a long pull on his soda and waited patiently for him to answer, but no answer was forthcoming, so he decided to shake things up a little. "You don't think it was random, Mr. Dibble."

Dibble looked up sharply.

"Tell me I'm wrong.”

"I . . . I don't know."

Peller settled his drink in the cup holder and gazed at the trees, stark in their winter slumber. "Sergeant Montufar told me a story. Last year, an arsonist torched three houses. We caught him and sent him to prison. A set of fingerprints lifted from a mailbox near the street gave him away. The investigator might not have thought to check for prints there, except one of the victims remembered receiving a juvenile sort of warning in her mailbox. At the time, she took it for a stupid teenage prank. Fortunately she remembered it, and told the investigator about it.”

Dibble, his mouth drawn into a tight line, looked out the windshield as though studying the woods, but Peller knew he was seeing a ghost from his past. "What's your point, Lieutenant?"

"Anything, even something that seems unconnected, even something that seems stupid, could be important. And to be perfectly frank, I think you know what it is. Why don't you tell me about it?"


Dale E. Lehman is a veteran software developer, amateur astronomer, and bonsai artist in training. He is the author of the Howard County Mysteries series (The Fibonacci Murders, True Death, and Ice on the Bay ). His writing has also appeared in Sky & Telescope and a couple of software development journals. With his wife Kathleen he owns and operates One Voice Press and Serpent Cliff. They have five children, five grandchildren, and two feisty cats.

Author website and blog:

The Fibonacci Murders:
rue Death:
Ice on the Bay:
Amazon buy link:


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