Romance teaser: Kado notices Cass

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This week’s Teaser for Romance Month on BestSelling Reads features a sparking, smoking scene from

The Devil of Light

By Gae-Lynn Woods

Tom Kado drank in Detective Cass Elliot’s fluid movements as she wove between the desks to get to the squad room’s door, and wondered what was wrong with him. He crossed the empty room to the coffee bar and poured himself a cup.

She was gorgeous. Stunning, actually. And a bright intelligence brought light to those strangely colored eyes. They were such a deep blue they looked purple. When Cass had stood from her desk, he’d realized that they were almost the same height.

Kado shook his head and scolded himself as he strode toward the evidence room. God knew he was in no shape to handle a relationship and in reality, he didn’t even want one. Caroline had only been dead a year. Barely a year. Kado’s nostrils still flared at the phantom scent of death that had oozed from her pores as cancer had eaten her alive. He still saw her in crowds and had to stop himself from calling out to her, had to endure the rush of hope every time he spotted a petite woman with shiny, straight black hair. She was slowly leaving him, occupying his dreams less frequently these days. But he couldn’t stand the thought of losing her completely, of not loving her. Of violating her memory by noticing other women.

Unlocking the evidence room door, Kado tried to push Cass from his mind. Cass Elliot is a colleague, somebody you work with, pure and simple, he told himself as he settled behind his computer and typed in a password. Besides, a woman with those looks probably has men waiting in line. She’s out of your league and, he reminded himself, you’re not in the game anyway.

About The Devil of Light

A BIZARRE MURDER

When young Detective Cass Elliot responds to a 911 call at the home of a prominent businessman, she finds him violently murdered in the barnyard with his battered wife unconscious near the tool that killed him. Still raw from her own unsolved attack six years ago, Cass is stunned when confronted with graphic photographs scattered across their kitchen floor that lead to a shadowy sect called The Church of the True Believer.

A COVERT WEB OF LIES AND EXPLOITATION

Cass and her partner Mitch Stone delve into a cunning world of blackmail and violence – and find a cult concealed for nearly a century beneath the genteel, small town façade of Arcadia in East Texas. Their investigation triggers a brutal response from powerful men who will protect their identities at any cost. They unleash a ruthless killer whose actions create a media frenzy and destroy the fabric of trust within the police department.

A PERVASIVE EVIL

Cass and Mitch circle closer to the cult’s few members, following a slim lead into a night lit by fire. A night that begins with a blood ritual and ends with Cass holding a man’s life – or death – in her hands and struggling to walk the fine line between vengeance and justice.

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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Monday musings: Readers provide awesome inspiration

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By Gae-Lynn Woods

Writers find inspiration everywhere, and often, readers inspire us the most. I’ve had the pleasure of attending several book signings and writer talks, and have even hosted a book launch party at a local winery. Every event and every reader has been a blast.

Most readers ask similar questions – where story ideas come from, whether my character Cass Elliot is named after the famous singer, or how long it takes to write a book. Some share story ideas – like the time a urologist was literally pulled out of bed to perform kidney surgery on a mafia boss while gowned armed guards stood watch in the operating room.

Occasionally someone comes to an event with a gleam in their eye and a detailed list of questions:

How could you end THE DEVIL OF LIGHT without bringing the old man to justice? I want him dead. Or at least in prison. (All I can say is, I’m writing a series. I know, I know. THE DEVIL OF LIGHT leaves the reader hanging, and maybe I could’ve ended that book better. All I know for sure is that the old man isn’t done with Forney County, and Cass isn’t done with him.)

Please don’t let anything bad happen to Hitch. I know he’s a horrible multiple murderer, but I kind of like him. (I kind of like him, too. Which worries me a bit. I’d like for him to hang around Forney County for a while, but we’ll see where the stories go.)

I really loved your writing style in A CASE OF SOUR GRAPES, but I don’t like Maxine. She’s too into her handbags and shoes. Couldn’t you write like that but use Cass as your main character? (It wouldn’t work. Maxine and her foibles are as key to the plot as is the search for the missing husband. Cass is too intense to bring that same level of impulsiveness and misadventure to a story.)

But my favorite reader interaction to date occurred at church, which is a little weird given that I write crime novels with a certain level of violence. A lady with the sweetest disposition pulled me aside one Sunday and said, “I thought about you yesterday.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes. My son killed two deer and was processing them, getting ready to put them in the freezer. While I watched, I realized how hard it must be to actually dismember a human body.” Slight frown. “Or at least to do a neat job. It’s not easy to take a leg off at the hip without making a mess. It’s got to be even harder to saw through bone like Hitch did. What do you think?”

We spent the next several minutes, this gentle lady and I, discussing how one would go about cutting up a human body. Where would you do it? What about evidence? What do you do with all the parts? Dig a hole? Use a wood chipper? Where does one find a wood chipper in a rush? How much bleach would it take to clean up?

The fact that we were in the church foyer with congregants streaming around us didn’t bother either of us in the least.

“Well,” she said, patting my arm. “I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you.” And off she went to refill the coffee urn, leaving me to wonder if she would ever have thought about dismembering a human body before reading my books.

I certainly hope so.

I can’t afford that kind of therapy for my readers.

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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Mystery Thursday: A Case of Sour Grapes

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Win a copy of this week’s mystery and Cass Elliot companion novel

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

THE SEEDIER SIDE OF LIFE

BEING WOMEN OF SOUND mind, Cass and I did what any solid sleuths would do before diving into the skank that is Whiskey Bend: we cruised the strip checking for Bret Ivey’s Corvette. I’ve driven this stretch of road just over the state line and into Louisiana numerous times. It’s the kind of crammed together place that always makes me slow down and check for drivers who can’t stay between the lines. During the day, it’s dirty and downright sad. At night, however, it sparkles with twinkling neon signs that distract from the grime and despair.

We drove the half mile stretch of Whiskey Bend at a sedate pace, glancing in the crowded parking lots as we went, searching for a bright yellow Corvette with the license plate WINE-O. We didn’t see it, so we agreed to take a closer look at the seedier side of life.

Have you ever been in a bar for bikers? This was my first time, and despite my show of bravado with Cass, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Dim lights, sticky floors, inebriated rednecks, scantily clad women with vacant stares. You, too? Well, The Golden O was a surprise. I’d talked it over with Cass, and we decided to work methodically down one side of Whiskey Bend to the last bar, then turn around and work our way along the other side.

Back to The Golden O. It wasn’t the kind of place you’d take your mother, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The parking lot was packed with motorcycles and muscle cars. A flashing neon sign featured the outline of a curvy blonde, lips pursed in a sexy ‘O’. A bouncer greeted us with a glance up and down, then motioned us inside. I discreetly flipped on my hidden camera. The lights were low, but the floor wasn’t sticky. The foyer had a diner-like counter along one wall, fronting a grill where a big man flipped burgers and steaks for five guys perched on chrome stools. The food smelled surprisingly good. Music flowed from deeper inside the establishment and we stepped through a velvet curtain into a wide room with a stage at its center. A busty blonde with mounds of frothy curls who could’ve been the model for the neon sign stalked along a runway. She was wearing a beautiful black mask and a full-length gown exposing a strip of magnificent cleavage. She peeled off long gloves, one finger at a time, bumping and grinding all the while. The bikers alongside the stage were utterly entranced.

Cass watched the men as they watched the woman. “What gives, Maxine? I thought the whole reason men came to these places was for the skin.”

“It’s burlesque,” I answered quietly. “It’s as much about the tease as the nudity.” The stripper unrolled a glove and draped it across one patron’s shoulder before whipping it away and slapping him in the face with it. A charged growl went up from the crowd.

“How do you know that?” Cass asked.

“My ex-husband Neil took me to see burlesque shows.”

“That didn’t bother you?”

“Not until I realized they were men in drag.”

Cass cocked an eyebrow.

I focused on the faces around the stage. “It was the beginning of the end for us. If they’d been women, maybe I could’ve coped.”

I felt her gaze and wondered if she would ask more. My best friend and I lost contact while I was married, and other than having been maid of honor in my wedding, she knew very little about my married life. In true Cass style, she knew when to hold her questions. She turned back to the men. “I don’t see Bret, do you?”

The dancer tossed her second glove our way and a scrum erupted over the strip of cloth. Amid the chaos, I caught the stripper’s glare. I recognized the smoky green eyes behind the mask and blood drained from my face.

“Oh no,” I whispered to Cass. “We’re so busted.”

“Why?”

“The woman on stage? The dancer?”

Cass glanced up. “What about her?”

“That’s Aunt Babby.”

What is the mystery about A Case of Sour Grapes?

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong?

Meet Maxine Leverman, lover of expensive shoes, beautiful handbags, and her lingerie wearing ex-husband’s hush money. When she pleads her way into a job at family run Lost and Found Investigations, Maxine’s only goal is to gain the concealed carry license and PI skills she needs to find the man who attacked her, and then kill him. (Or maybe just put him in jail, that decision can wait.)

But when she secretly takes a missing husband case on her first day at the agency, she stumbles into a high-stakes game of blackmail and murder. Maxine must unravel the links between a forgotten folk punk band, an international drug cartel, and the tangled history of the missing husband to keep the women in his life alive.

Fans of the early Stephanie Plum novels and Stuart Woods’ Holly Barker series will love Maxine’s tenacity, grit, and lust for life.

Find this bestselling mystery on Amazon in the Mystery, Thriller and Suspense and Private Investigators categories.

Win a free e-copy of this compelling mystery

The author will give away a free e-copy to anyone who correctly answers this question:

What’s the name of the most famous cabaret in Paris?”

This you know the answer? Leave it in the Comments.

Meet the author

mystery author Gae-Lynn WoodsGae-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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Crime fiction teaser: Avengers of Blood

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Read on to find out how you could win a copy of this week’s crime fiction teaser series

By Gae-Lynn Woods

Avengers of Blood A Cass Elliot Crime fiction novelHE’D BEEN A LIGHT sleeper since his days in the military, drifting in that hazy world between the conscious and unconscious and able to snap from one to the other in an instant. Emmet Hedder rolled over and felt a searing heat in his upper right arm. The disturbing sensation of being watched had interrupted his dreams moments earlier, and the fire in his arm brought him to full wakefulness. He reacted instantly, shoving his left hand under the pillow, grabbing his Glock, and rolling out of the covers to the floor in a smooth movement. Ducking his head under the bed, he looked for feet and legs, saw none, and fired high through the window, the bullet piercing a top pane.

A scrambling sounded from outside. Emmet tightened his stomach muscles to raise his upper body and peek over the window sill. No one was visible in the moon-drenched backyard. Adrenaline screamed through his body and his left hand trembled as he reached up and ripped two extra magazines from the bottom of the bedside table drawer, then found his wallet on the table itself. His tennis shoes were near the bed and he slipped his bare feet into them, then pulled the small duffel from beneath the bed with his uninjured arm.

Again, he looked over the window sill and saw no movement. He breathed deeply and then rolled onto all fours, hissing against the pain, and crawled to the bedroom door, standing only when he was away from the windows.

The hall seemed to bend out and away when Emmet gained his feet, but he rested against the cool wall to let his vision clear before hurrying toward the kitchen. He crouched as he passed the open bathroom door so as not to be seen through the small window. Emmet stopped at the end of the hallway and poked his head into the kitchen for a quick look through the windows above the sink. Nothing.

Squatting, he duck-walked across the linoleum floor, wincing as his tennis shoes squeaked against the clean surface. A cool sweat bathed his face and he took a steadying breath, then grabbed his keys from their hook, yanked open the outside door, and dove for his truck.

____________

THE SHOOTER DROPPED WHEN the shot exploded from the bedroom and crab-walked along the house to a shadowy cluster of trees, a startled smile on his face. As quietly as possible, he ejected the spent casing into his homemade brass catcher and slipped a new round home. This was an unexpected turn of events, but a strangely exhilarating one.

He heard a door bang open and the pickup’s engine roar to life. Running through the carport, he lifted the rifle to his shoulder and aimed, following the little truck’s tail lights as it careened out of the drive, bounced over the curb, and sped down the road. Slowly, he lowered his weapon and watched to see if lights went on in any of the nearby houses. All was still and dark.

He trod quietly to his truck, placed the rifle in its special compartment, and drove away. The smile was still on his lips, for the hunt was on.

“You want to play, Emmet? Let’s play. Run, little rabbit,” he whispered, “run.”

About Avengers of Blood (crime fiction, mystery, thriller and suspense)

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.

Crime fiction, mystery, thriller and suspense

Find it on Amazon.

Win a free e-copy

The author will give away an e-copy to one of the people who correctly answers this question:

What’s the title of the first Cass Elliot crime novel?

Leave your answer in the Comments below.

About the author

Crime fiction author Gae-Lynn WoodsGae-Lynn Woods is a crime fiction-writing 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.

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

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

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Thanksgiving giveaway: A Case of Sour Grapes #excerpt

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This week’s excerpt comes from

Gae-Lynn Woods

Keep reading to see how you could win a free copy this Thanksgiving.

THE SHADOWS

IT’S A HELPLESS FEELING knowing it’s nearly midnight and your best friend is roaming the streets in pursuit of someone who might want to hurt you both, and you can do nothing to help her.

Except exactly what she tells you to do.

So I did. As I snatched up the phone on Aunt Kay’s desk and dialed, the conference room window exploded. A chorus of screams sounded and my heart jumped into overdrive. Despite the fear, I surprised myself by dropping the phone and squatting to duck walk into the conference room.

Kay and Babby hissed behind me like a pair of spitting cobras, but I stayed low and ignored them. If our intruder was throwing things, he might be armed. That was bad for Cass. I crunched across the conference room floor, bits of glass glittering in the sparse light filtering through the blinds. As had been the case for months now, there was absolutely no breeze, but the humid air rushed to invade our cool offices. The wooden slat blinds were ajar and through the slit I could see into the street. Lights were on around the square and I realized why Cass had reacted so quickly. From the conference room, she would’ve seen the glow of street lights even against the closed blinds. There was no logical reason for our power to go out.

Smart cookie.

Arcadia has a beautiful old courthouse in the middle of a grass lawn wrapped by the one way street that goes around the square. Seconds had passed since the window shattered, but nothing moved. I stayed low and waited, watching. Cass rounded the corner of the block at a full sprint. A sliver of shadow separated from the base of a giant oak on the courthouse lawn and scurried east.

I shouted through the empty window frame, “That way, Cass. He’s on foot.” I pointed and watched as she ran after him. Moments later sirens filled the night air, still heavy with a heat that would keep us in the eighties through the night.

My knees were protesting and I was ready to stand when a second shadow moved. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first, but a dark mass peeled away from the tall war memorial and morphed into the blackness beneath another live oak. I couldn’t decide what to do. Cass was out of earshot and I couldn’t see clearly where this figure was headed. I kept my eyes on the lawn and whispered for cousin Cindy to join me.

“There’s glass everywhere, Maxine. I’m not coming in there.”

I resisted the urge to snap at her. “Call 911 again. There’s a second man on the courthouse lawn. He was hiding — wait. There he goes again. South. Call now, Cindy.”

She backed away and I heard a phone being uncradled and a voice murmuring. More sirens wailed into the night but they were too late. I’d lose this second man if I didn’t hit street level.

I think that’s when I realized just how badly I wanted to be a detective. Maybe even needed it. I was utterly helpless while my best friend was out risking her life for a case I’d stumbled into. In those minutes when Cass was out of my sight, before I heard the gunshots, a tiny piece of me grew up.

But the rest of me was still impulsively immature.

Then a gunshot cracked and an image of Cass unconscious in a hospital bed those few weeks ago hit my brain. Icy fear flooded my body.

A second gunshot sounded.

I ran for the agency’s front door.

About A Case of Sour Grapes

Wine, women, and song. What could possibly go wrong?

Meet Maxine Leverman, lover of expensive shoes, beautiful handbags, and her lingerie wearing ex-husband’s hush money. When she pleads her way into a job at family run Lost and Found Investigations, Maxine’s only goal is to gain the concealed carry license and PI skills she needs to find the man who attacked her, and then kill him. (Or maybe just put him in jail, that decision can wait.)

But when she secretly takes a missing husband case on her first day at the agency, she stumbles into a high-stakes game of blackmail and murder. Maxine must unravel the links between a forgotten folk punk band, an international drug cartel, and the tangled history of the missing husband to keep the women in his life alive.

Fans of the early Stephanie Plum novels and Stuart Woods’ Holly Barker series will love Maxine’s tenacity, grit, and lust for life.

Get it on Amazon.

How to win a free copy

For a free book, answer: If you were Maxine’s best friend Cass, would Maxine’s bravery/impulsiveness inspire you or drive you crazy?

Leave your answers in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving!

About the author

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.

Visit Gae-Lynn’s

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

 

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Monday musings: When characters surprise authors, part 2

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Gae-Lynn Woods continues the discussion about how characters in books sometimes seem to take over the direction of the story. 

It’s funny for me when authors talk about creating their characters, because only a few of mine are created by me; the rest simply appear when I need them. Most of the time I have no idea where they come from, but without fail, when I need a bad guy (or a good guy), one shows up with just the right attitudes and behaviors. Perhaps because I don’t plan most of my characters, they’re always surprising me by what I learn about them.

For example, one of the relatively minor characters in The Devil of Light, Ernie Munk, started off as just a regular police officer type, and I really didn’t expect much from him. In my second novel, Avangers of Blood, I found out that he physically lost his young daughter when he released her hand for only a moment in the middle of a crowded beach. That bit of his story, along with the depth of his grief and guilt and how they drive him, completely surprised me.

Surprises in a series

The character whose personal growth has surprised me most is Maxine Leverman. She turned up out of the blue in the middle of Avengers of Blood as Cass Elliot’s best friend through school. She’s flighty and moody and impetuous—the exact opposite of my main character, Cass—and I thought she might show up occasionally through the series as a minor character. Instead, I finished Avengers of Blood and ended up having to write a book featuring Maxine, just to get her to leave me alone!

Maxine grows a lot in A Case of Sour Grapes, learning to temper her impulsiveness (a little bit) and realizing that she might not know as much as she thinks she does. I really like her and hope she’ll grow into her own series.

Characters teach their author

The fact that my characters do show up when I need them and act of their own accord in ways that drive the story forward has given me confidence in the fact that I don’t (and in fact can’t) outline. It’s always worried me that I am so incapable of outlining, but I’m learning to trust that I’m writing stories that want to be told, set in a world inhabited by characters who actively want to participate. It’s a fabulous experience.

About Gae-Lynn Woods

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.

Get to know Gae-Lynn better:

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

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