Thursday teaser: Torino Dreams

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By DelSheree Gladden

“What are you doing?”

“What do you think I’m doing? I’m calling the police to report this,” he said. His fingers started dialing and Kate panicked. Lunging for his hand nearly pitched her into the snow when she tripped over a piece of the wreckage, but Kate grabbed his hand and stopped him from making the call. He ripped his hands away from her, glaring once again. “What is wrong with you?”

“Please don’t call the cops,” Kate begged him. “I only have two points left on my license. If they give me a ticket I might lose it.” There were other reasons she didn’t want the police involved, but Kate was not about to bring those up.

He smirked. “That’s your problem, not mine.” His finger moved to complete the call.

“I’ll fix your car!” Kate blurted out without thinking.

It was enough to make him pause. The way he scoffed at her offer made Kate want to smack him. “You? You are going to fix my car?”

“Yes. Please, just don’t call the police.”

He laughed outright, and not hitting him got even harder. “Why would I let you fix my car when I could just file a claim and have an actual professional fix my car?”

“I am a professional!” Kate snapped at him. Was he always so irritating?

“A professional what?” he asked, ignoring her attitude completely.

Oh, that was it. Kate’s freezing hands balled into fists. “A professional mechanic,” she said through her teeth.

Maybe he realized that Kate was about to add to his reason to call the police by punching him in the face, because he tamped down his obvious disbelief and mellowed his tone considerably when he spoke. “Why would I risk you taking off without fixing my car rather than just getting it fixed through your insurance?”

“I’ll fix it for free,” Kate said. Her stomach dropped out at the very idea of it, but she had to say it.

He lowered his phone, but he didn’t look like he was planning on giving in. “How are you going to fix my car for free if you can’t afford to pay a ticket? Do you have any idea how much parts cost for a BMW?”

“Of course I do. The 7 series is an expensive line to work on. Your Beamer isn’t the first one I’ve ever fixed up.” Not that Kate got the chance to work on luxury cars very often any more, but she definitely remembered back when she did. That used to be the only kind of cars she worked on.

“And what am I supposed to do for a car while you’re fixing this one? Are you going to get me a rental?”

Kate swallowed every last bit of bitter pride and made him an offer.

“I’ll loan you my car until I get yours fixed. I have a Ford Torino GT fastback at home. You can borrow that.”

His eyes lit up at the offer. Kate suddenly felt like she was going to throw up.

Torino Dreams

Kate hates hiding, but the risk of her past sneaking up on her is too great to risk getting involved in anyone else’s problems. At least, until getting involved is the only way to avoid a run-in with the police.The snow was to blame for the car wreck, but desperation forces Kate to make Sam an offer she’s sure she’ll regret. If she can fix Sam’s car and send him on his way without the getting the cops involved, she can get back to her normal, safe life.

It should be easy enough. Kate knows cars better than almost anything else. She can repair the damage to the car, but can she protect herself from falling for Sam and putting everything she’s worked for in danger?

“Begins with  a romantic swoony vibe, but then the suspense kicks in.”—Anima Giraldez, Amazon reviewer

This is a standalone book, so no waiting for part 2!

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read.

Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by.

When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at

And find her on social media

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Monday musing: Chasing my hero in the dark

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By Caleb Pirtle III

Photo by Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

Writers work alone.

Writers write alone.

Writers walk alone.

Writers are happiest alone.

I was in that state when the Muse came wandering in.

He didn’t knock.

He never does.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Where you been?” he asked.

“Don’t remember.”

“You running away?”

“Probably.”

“Who’s chasing you?” he asked.

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?”

“Haven’t looked back.”

“Why not?”

“Might be gaining on me.”

The Muse sat down and opened the blinds beside my desk.

It was dark outside.

He shouldn’t have been surprised.

It was dark inside.

“Who are you today?” the Muse asked.

“Ambrose Lincoln.”

“I thought you killed him off?”

“He didn’t die.”

The Muse opened a copy of Night Side of Dark and read aloud the last paragraph of the novel:

It had become as dark as a night that had no ending and no beginning, and Lincoln was like the night. If morning came, it would be a miracle.

“I thought he was a goner for sure,” the Muse said.

“I didn’t expect him to live either,” I said.

“What happened?”

I shrugged.

“It’s a miracle,” I said.

The Muse laughed.

“You couldn’t pull the trigger,” he said.

“I’ve kind of grown attached to him.”

“So where is Lincoln going now.”

“Don’t know.”

“Why not?

“He hasn’t told me.”

“Do you think Lincoln knows?” asked the Muse.

“He never knows.”

“But he’s in trouble?”

“If I’m writing the book,” I said, “Lincoln’s in trouble.”

“Has he been shot at?”

“Twice.”

“Has he been hit?”

“Once.”

“Has he fallen in love?”

“Twice.”

“Are both ladies still alive?”

“One is for sure.”

“What happened to the other one?”

“I’m trying to find out.”

The Muse leaned back, raised an eyebrow and folded his arms.

“How could Lincoln misplace beautiful woman?” he asked.

I stared out the window.

I stared into the darkness.

“That’s why I’m writing the novel,” I said.

The Muse blinked.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“I want to find out if somebody killed her,” I said.

“Why don’t you ask him?

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“He’s on a midnight train to Munich.”

“So?”

I shrugged.

“I’m not,” I said.

I heard the whistle.

The sound was low and far away.

If I didn’t keep writing, I would never catch Lincoln.

I might not anyway.

Caleb Pirtle III

began his career writing about history and travel. He learned quickly, however, that what happens is never as important as those who make it happen. Many of those people have made their way into his novels.

He is the author of more than 65 published books, including the new noir suspense thrillers, Golgotha ConnectionSecrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies and Night Side of Dark. His other novels include Back Side of a Blue Moon and Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

He has written such award winners as “XIT: The American Cowboy,” “Callaway Gardens: the Unending Season,” “The Grandest Day,” “Echoes from Forgotten Streets,” and “Spirit of a Winner.” His nonfiction works include Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk and No Experience Required.

Caleb earned a journalism degree from The University of Texas and became the first student at the university to win the national William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. As a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he received both the Texas Headliner’s and Associated Press Awards.

He served as travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, and his travel writing was given the National Discover America Award three times. For more than two decades, Pirtle was editorial director for a custom publishing company in Dallas.

He has also written teleplays for network television.

Find more about Caleb at his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

You can find Night Side of Dark  on Amazon.

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Our favorite secondary characters

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Part 2

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

Characters are what make readers read stories. If we don’t find characters we can love, hate, despise, fear, identify with and cheer for, the story just won’t hold our attention for long. 

Readers love great characters, and writers love to create memorable characters, too. But it’s not just the hero or protagonist. Every hero needs a villain, every lonely lover needs a love interest. 

Sometimes, readers are more interested in the secondary character than the protagonist. Think of Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, Boxer in Animal Farm

And writers love their secondary characters, too. This week, more of your favorite bestselling authors share their favorites among the characters in their own books.

Seb Kirby 

With Matteo Lando in Take No More, I wanted to create a villain who was bad but potentially redeemable.

As the son of crime boss Alfieri, he’s been raised in the expectation of taking over the family business when the time is right. But he’s trapped by the weight of this expectation and never able to justify himself in the eyes of his father or those lower down in the hierarchy who see him as a favoured son. This gives him a vulnerability that underscores the heartlessness of his deeds.

Dawn Torrens

My favourite secondary character is Tristan from Tears of Endurance.

Tristan plays a big role in the novel as he is the brother of the protagonist. He is a good guy with a guilty secret that he must conceal from his brother.

Tristan battles with his feelings a great deal and through loyalty to his brother, he ends up suffering inner pain.

DelSheree Gladden

My favorite secondary character to writer was Oscar Roth from my Someone Wicked This Way Comes series: Wicked Hunger, Wicked Power, Wicked Glory and Wicked Revenge.

I enjoyed writing Oscar because he was out of his mind most of the time and I got to do things with him that I couldn’t with a sane character.

Scott Bury

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my own favorite secondary character, Rowan Fields from Torn Roots.

Then I asked a reader who his favorite secondary character of mine was. After a moment’s thought, he said “The amulet in The Bones of the Earth.”

This both surprised and delighted me. The amulet is an important element of the book, and I revealed is personality gradually over hundreds of pages. To have readers not only recognize that but also love the character just made my day.

Who is your favorite secondary character?

Share with authors and readers: tell us who your favorite secondary character is in any book. What about that person appeals to you? Do you identify with them? Do you love them or hate them? Would you like to read a book where they move from secondary to main character?

Let us know!

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Thursday teaser: Avengers of Blood

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This week’s mystery excerpt comes from the bestselling novel

By Gae-Lynn Woods

CASS WORKED STEADILY, PAUSING only to haul broken sections of cabinet to the backyard and toss them on a growing burn pile. The air conditioner had been off since she and Bruce started work early this morning, and the summer heat built as the day wore on, bringing a sticky humidity that caused the dust and grit from their demolition project to hang nearly motionless in the air. Cass stopped to wipe the sweat from her face and take a swig of cold water. It had taken the better part of the day to remove most of the wall and base cabinets from the kitchen, leaving only one cabinet squatting in the corner.

She had no complaint; sweat was her salvation. The physical work cleared her mind and her fears about the future wept out through her pores. She could forget about Mitch Stone and the pain she’d endured since that devastating night in the spring. Her dreams were still riddled with the image of his face as she’d seen it through the small window in the ICU door — pale, motionless, devoid of life. The phantom scent of a burning building caught her at the most improbable of times and alternate outcomes to that night played continuously through her mind. It had been over six weeks since she’d been suspended — the banishment, she called it — from the police department, and even though she’d found solace in hard labor and power tools, doubt over the outcome of the Firearm Discharge Board review had taken a toll.

Cass finished her water and slid the crowbar between the countertop and cabinet, jammed it home, and levered the top up. It sprang free with a shriek. Cass turned at a giggle to find a tiny ballerina watching.

“Hey, Auntie Cass.”

Cass put the crowbar inside the cabinet and smiled at her niece. Phoebe was swathed in pink, from her ballet slippers and seashell pale tights and tutu, to her fuchsia leotard. Cass wiped the dust from a seat at the scuffed kitchen table and lifted the five-year-old to the chair. “You look gorgeous. What are you up to?”

“Going to jazz class.”

“Why are you wearing your ballet outfit?”

“I’m a princess, Auntie Cass, and this is my gown.”

“Oh,” Cass said, as Harry entered, guilt on his face.

“Can you take her?”

“Sure. What’s up?”

Harry pulled gingerly on the refrigerator’s duct-taped handle. He removed a pitcher of orange juice and poured glasses for them. “Do you remember the Martins?”

“Of course.”

“We’re working for them and they’re not happy with what the interior designer is planning.” He glanced down at Phoebe, but the little girl was bobbing her head to an internal rhythm, oblivious to the fact that the interior designer was her mother.

“Why don’t they talk to her?”

“Drama.”

“Ah.” Harry and his estranged wife Carly shared an architectural and design business and were known for their innovation. Carly also had a well-deserved reputation as a diva, and the firm had lost several clients over her refusal to change her designs to suit the client’s wishes.

“I need to smooth things over and knock the designer off her high horse. Can you take Feebs to town?”

“Sure,” Cass said, glancing down at her filthy clothes. “When?”

“Class starts at seven-thirty.” Harry leaned down to kiss his daughter’s head. “I’ll pick her up. Thanks, Cass.”

She looked at the dusty kitchen clock as the screen door slammed shut. An hour and a half to go. “Okay Feebs, what’s next?”

“Supper.”

“Right.” Cass ran a finger along the stove top and looked at the grit it gathered. “I’m not cooking tonight.”

“Uncle Bruce always cooks.”

“Good point. How about a burger from Chubby’s?”

“And a chocolate shake?”

Cass considered the fallout that would arise from the inevitable spatter on Phoebe’s pink ballet outfit, and decided that Carly’s wrath was well worth the price of retaining favorite aunt status. Even if it cost Cass a new leotard and tutu. “It’s not Chubby’s without a shake.” She touched her tangled hair. “I need a shower. Want to come upstairs and watch TV while I get ready?”

The little girl nodded and pulled a sparkling tiara from behind her back. “Mommy won’t let me wear it outside ’cause I might lose it. But it’s okay if I’m with you, right Auntie Cass?”

Cass recognized the crown Carly had received when she was named Fire Ant Queen years ago. It was a tacky thing made of paste jewels that formed hearts and something meant to resemble a fire ant. Her heart warmed at Phoebe’s transcendent grin as she settled the shiny crescent on her niece’s head, and she wondered only briefly how much a new tiara would cost.

About Avengers of Blood

A deadly game of cat and mouse is playing out in Forney County…

Detective Cass Elliot is still on suspension after killing a fellow officer and Sheriff Hoffner refuses to sign her release papers. But when four people are murdered in one night, one with the exceptional brutality of a lynching, the Medical Examiner side-steps Hoffner to hire Cass and loan her to Forney County’s overstretched police department.

As Cass and her partner investigate, they realize that three of the murders were committed by the same person but find no connection between the victims. Their frustration intensifies when another victim survives and disappears instead of coming to the police.

Sheriff Hoffner is frantic about anonymous letters claiming one of his star officers is dirty, and Cass suspects a link to the current crimes. The pieces fall together when she uncovers the true identity of the man who was lynched, revealing connections between the victims, the killer, and an unpunished crime committed nearly fifty years ago.

Meet the author

mystery author Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lynn Woods is a Texan mystery writer who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

BestSelling Reads page   |   Amazon author page   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog

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Goober: One of My Favorite Secondary Characters

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By Gae-Lynn Woods

Roseohioresident (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Secondary characters. Rarely do we talk about them, but they’re an important part of the seasoning that livens up any story. Asking me to choose which character I love most is a bit like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. So I’ll just say that for this moment, a sweet secondary character named Goober is my favorite.

He made his debut in The Devil of Light, the first Cass Elliot Crime Novel, and has appeared in each book since. In The Devil of Light and Avengers of Blood, Goober ended up playing important roles by stumbling across dead bodies (in one case a body so very freshly dead that Goober thought it was still moving, zombie-style). In A Case of Sour Grapes, he’s spared from finding bodies and plays a true secondary role, adding color and texture to the story.

Goober’s character is based very loosely on a real-life character who lived in our neck of the East Texas woods. The little town nearest to my grandparents was home to a woman with mild mental challenges who rode a lawn mower as a means of transportation. Although I vividly remember seeing her scooting around town on her red mower, I never learned her name or anything about her past. But her image, and the freedom she found on that mower, never left me.

A Case of Sour Grapes - mystery by Gae-Lynn Woods

As do all my characters, Goober appeared in a story at the exact moment he was needed. He wasn’t fully formed, but a general sketch of who he was – based on the woman from my childhood – arrived with him. In The Devil of Light, we learned that he was abandoned on Forney County’s courthouse lawn when he was a toddler, and was adopted by an elderly widow. Although Goober was a little slow when it came to formal education, he is a talented gardener and handyman, but the intricacies of maintaining his red riding mower escape him. In Avengers of Blood, we find out he possesses a wisdom about people and their capabilities belied by his gentle nature.

I love Goober because there is absolutely no guile about him. My other characters live life on multiple levels, as we all do, but Goober is one of those rare ‘what you see is what you get’ people. He continues to grow through the stories and we’ll learn more about who Goober is, but I don’t think he’ll lose that simple sweetness that makes him so unique.

I do kind of hope he’ll stop finding bodies because it’s a tad traumatic for a soul as gentle as Goober, but on the other hand, he is prone to stumble into the most unusual situations…

Gae-Lynn Woods

is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Gae-Lynn writes the Cass Elliot Crime Series. When she’s not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fences, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the next Cass Elliot novel and the next Companion Novel featuring Maxine Leverman, Cass’ best friend, who makes her debut in Avengers of Blood.

Gae-Lynn can be found:

Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog

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Fight to Survive

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Thursday teaser

This week’s #excerpt comes from the upcoming third Eva Driscoll action thriller

By Alan McDermott

Pre-order the third Eva Driscoll thriller on Amazon.

As Eva Driscoll arrived home from the restaurant, violence was the last thing on her mind.

She could still taste the buttery lobster and fruity wine she’d had for dinner, and all she wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a box set and a cup of hot cocoa.

The screams coming from the house next door put paid to those plans.

Eva had lived next to Sally and Jake for three months, ever since arriving in Melbourne, Australia. Raised voices had become a regular occurrence. Based on what she’d observed, they seemed like a normal couple most of the time, but when the sun went down it was a different story. Eva didn’t know if it was alcohol-related, or the stress of Jake’s job as a cop, but most evenings she had to turn up the television to drown out the shouting.

But the sounds currently coming from the neighboring house were on a whole new level.

As Eva locked her car and got her key ready to open the front door, a female scream made her pause.

Eva had had coffee with Sally a few times, but the state of the marriage had never come up in conversation. She’d delicately probed, but Sally had dodged the issue like a pro. That in itself told Eva that something wasn’t right within the Holman residence.

Jake was a big man, at least six-two and 230 pounds, with a physique that told of an athletic youth. Sally was built like Eva, a few inches shorter than Jake with a lean body. Hardly a fair match if things got physical.

Leave it, Eva told herself as she put her key in the door. It wasn’t her fight, and she didn’t need the aggravation. She was lying low, staying off the radar, and that meant she had to avoid confrontations that could quickly escalate. She would visit Sally tomorrow when Jake was at work and give her some friendly advice.

She almost jumped at the sound of something heavy hitting a wall in Sally’s house, followed by a burst of shouting and another high-pitched scream.

Eva sighed. She really didn’t want to get involved, but she also hated the idea of leaving the diminutive Sally at the mercy of her much larger husband.

Eva had met Jake on just one occasion, at a barbecue the couple had hosted. He’d come across as a real man’s man, full of confidence and aware of his good looks. He’d flirted with Eva a couple of times that day, though she’d been careful not to reciprocate. Her appearance attracted unwanted attention wherever she went, and being married hadn’t seemed a barrier to Jake. He also didn’t seem the type to put up with anyone questioning his actions—male or female.

Another cry came from their house, and Eva recognized the sound of a woman in pain.

She had to act, but she couldn’t simply rush in. This needed to be handled delicately, without any chance of blowback. She would try to defuse the situation, but if Jake pushed it, she’d need a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Eva went back to her car and locked her purse inside, then walked across the lawn to the Holman residence. She opened the camera on her phone, set it on top of the mailbox by the sidewalk, and zoomed in so that the front door filled the center of the screen. She pressed the Record button, then walked up the path and rang the doorbell.

Fight to Survive

is the third Eva Driscoll thriller following Run and Hide and Seek and Destroy.

She’s working for her enemies. Or so they think…

Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.

But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?

When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final installment really be her last?

Alan McDermott

is a husband, father to beautiful twin girls, and a full-time author. Alan lives in the south of England, and in 2014 he swapped writing critical application for the NHS to penning thrillers that have gone on to sell close to a million copies. His debut novel, Gray Justice, was well received and earned him membership of Independent Authors International. That book launched in July 2011, and by the time he’d written the follow-ups, Gray Resurrection and Gray Redemption, it had attracted the attention of a major publisher. Alan signed with Thomas & Mercer in 2013 and has now written six novels in the Tom Gray series and a spinoff called Trojan. Alan’s eighth novel introduced a new female lead, Eva Driscoll, and a new thriller series.

Alan can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page   |   Amazon Author page   |   Website   |   blog   |    Facebook    |   Twitter

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