A Q&A with @Ray_Britain – Author of ‘The Last Thread’

Hello, bloggers!

Welcome to another beautiful day at Life As I Know It. I am so pleased to welcome Author Ray Britain to my site. We have the pleasure of enjoying a lovely and entertaining Q&A with this fabulous author…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Ray. You were a detective I understand?

Thank you, Marlena. Yes. I had a successful and interesting career in both uniform and detective roles. This was in the UK. I completed my career in a high rank but the investigation of crime and the camaraderie amongst detectives was my preference. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led complex crime investigations and I was also a police Negotiator too, on top of ‘the day job’.

Why have you adopted a pen name?

For privacy mainly, but also for family security. I locked up many criminals during my career, some of whom were unpleasant characters.

You were a police negotiator as well? That must have been interesting work.

Yes, for about fifteen years and very challenging on occasions. The full title is Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role in addition to one’s day to day responsibilities. And for no financial reward, either, which often meant being ‘called out’ of a warm bed in the middle of the night to drive many miles to support police colleagues facing a variety of difficult situations.

Why did you want to be a negotiator?

To help people and because it’s endlessly fascinating. You never knew what you would be facing next. Often it was within a firearms incident where negotiators try to achieve a peaceful resolution such as a controlled surrender to armed officers. More usually, it was spending time, sometimes many hours and often in precarious situations, persuading someone to step back to a place of safety and to get them help. Less often, fortunately, it was negotiating the release of frightened hostages being held at gunpoint or other weapons.

Why did you write ‘The Last Thread’?

Like many people I’ve always wanted to write a book and the common advice is “stick with what you know”. There were other reasons too. I’m often frustrated by the inaccurate and improbable representation of crime investigation in television dramas on TV. Whatever the complexity of the crime, they’re always solved within impossible time frames and, seemingly, with the most sophisticated technology immediately available.

How did you approach the structure of ‘The Last Thread’?

I’ve worked hard to create a story that’s interesting, immersing the reader in the welter of information which can easily overwhelm an investigation whilst keeping them guessing, hopefully, right up to the end. It’s authentically grisly in describing the murder, the crime scene and the post mortem. And there’s also a complicated love interest too, so it has something to offer all crime fiction lovers.

So where in the UK is the story located?

It’s located in and around the beautiful city of Worcester, England, and its surrounding countryside. Anyone with a little knowledge of the area will recognise many of the landmarks referenced in the story.

The story is marketed as having adult content. How adult are we talking?

That’s more to do with Amazon’s guidance, which I’m happy to observe. People in relationships have sex, so why would my protagonist, Detective Chief Inspector Stirling be any different? Also, a significant element of the plot has an adult theme but nothing too offensive, I hope, and reflects what happens within some relationships. In short, it reflects real life and how complex relationships can have devastating effects on people’s lives. To say more would spoil the story.

You mentioned your principle character, DCI Douglas Stirling. What’s he like?

DCI Doug Stirling is a thoughtful, reflective character who is notoriously private and has an intriguing, untold back story. He is a consummate professional who expects his people to work hard, but works harder still. Stirling’s drawn to intelligent, interesting women and if they’re attractive, then even more so, which causes complications when his private life collides with the demands of his professional responsibilities. For their part, women find Stirling attractive and interesting but are frustrated by his reserve and his avoidance of an emotional commitment.

So, he’s not one of the dysfunctional, socially ill-at-ease characters we often read about?

No. Stirling’s a good-looking, powerfully built man with a certain reputation for the ladies. He takes pride in his appearance, but is impatient of vanity, in either sex!

And are your female characters simply ‘bit players’?

No, not at all. The story has four prominent female characters, each of whom has a strong personality.

How accurate is your story to real investigations?

The day to reality of investigations is quite different from how they’re portrayed on TV with Senior Investigating Officers juggling scarce resources, with limited investigators and making tough choices about how they spend the budgets they’re allocated.

Without spoiling it for our readers, what’s it about?

Well, perhaps the easiest thing to do is to give you the synopsis:

“Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must watch as the incompetent CI Ballard who is intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location where they discover a burnt-out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. With a shortage of experienced senior investigators available, ACC Steph Tanner risks her own career and appoints Stirling as the SIO, throwing him the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation.

But, with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation? Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Doug Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things were already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow?”

So where can I buy ‘The Last Thread’?

It’s available at www.amazon.com  – see the link below – and on all good e-readers such as KOBO, Apple iBook etc. or simply visit my website and you can buy it through there.

Sounds great, Ray. Have you started your next book?

I certainly have. I use mind-mapping software to capture my thoughts, ideas and whatever research is needed all in one place. It keeps me organised and helps avoid inconsistencies in the storylines. I particularly enjoy plotting the various twists and turns so that the reader will want to stay with the story to the end. I’ve got about 20,000 words down so far.

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About the Author:

Ray Britain’s debut novel ‘The Last Thread’ was published 17th September 2017. Following a highly successful career in policing it should be no surprise that it is a complex crime investigation story.

As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led many investigations, some of which engaged specialist, national capabilities. For fifteen years he was also a Hostage & Suicide Intervention Negotiator responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily.

In ‘The Last Thread’ Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader in the driving seat of a complex investigation with all the uncertainties and realities of modern crime investigation which will keep the reader guessing to the end.

Ray’s interests include: mountain walking, rugby, skiing, Dad dancing, reading and sailing.

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Book details:

Word count: 170,000
Genre: Thriller, Detective, Adult, Mystery.
Available: http://www.amazon.com
ISBN: 978-1-9998122-0-1

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Contact details:

Email:  info@raybritain.co.uk
Website:  http://www.raybritain.com/
Facebook:  raybritain@raybritain.author
Twitter:  @ray_britain

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threadThe Last Thread
by Ray Britain

A teenage boy is dead. DCI Doug Stirling is accused of pushing him to his death. Weeks later, a man is found savagely murdered in an isolated spot. Stirling must investigate. Two events seemingly unconnected, or are they?

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Accused of pushing a boy to his death, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, a man is found savagely murdered. Taking a professional risk, ACC Steph Tanner throws Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation and appoints him to lead the investigation. But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, somehow connected to the murder?

THE LAST THREAD is a complex crime investigation written with real life experience that will keep you guessing to the end!

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Review extracts:

5* – “The Last Thread is an outstanding debut novel with an exceptional plot …”

“A crime novel with integrity and intelligence which rattles along nicely …”

“Gritty realism drawn from real investigative experience. Well crafted!”

Thank you so much for stopping by and visiting with us today. Please help me support today’s guest author with likes, shares, and comments.

Until next time……………………………… Stay Creative!!


Get to know #Author Sarah Linx – @SarahCatsCats

Hello, bloggers!

Welcome to another beautiful week, as we get closer and closer to all the wonderful holiday festivities.

Today, I am so pleased to welcome this lovely lady to my site. She has been such a joy and an inspiration, in just the little time I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her. Please help me welcome Author, Sarah Linx

Hello, everyone,

My name is Sarah. First off, I wanted to say thank you to Marlena for bestowing this wonderful honor upon me! It certainly is a pleasure to be featured here today. This is my first time being a guest blogger and I have to admit I am excited and nervous at the same time!

Ever since I could remember, I have always loved working with children and relish any chance I get to make a young kid happy. I can’t go to a supermarket without accidentally passing by a kid in a shopping cart, not having a great time. All I do is walk by them with a smile on my face maybe I will also wave at them, while picking up the items I needed from the aisles. The kid sees me and instantly quiets themselves, and they even smile back! The parents get these strange looks on their faces as if it was a miracle that their child was finally and suddenly quiet. All it took was a smile! Is the thought of doing such a thing so hard or preposterous that their parents don’t try this idea first?

For kids, a simple wave, a smile, a high five, could make their day. One little thing to show that you noticed them. These unhappy kids did not have to know me, but something inside them knew that my gesture was genuine.

This is a big reason why I love working with kids. Turning something that is negative into a positive thing has great potential to be a learning experience, and even life changing for them. I am learning with the kids and they love it when you admit you learned something from them! The concept that adults can learn from kids is completely mind-blowing to them!

Reading is such an important part of a child’s development. Not only does it open doors for social situations, writing, and success in school, but imagination too! Who knows? Maybe your child or student wants to be a writer themselves, someday, and they had no idea until they read that first book!

Reading is more than something you have to do in school. Reading should be fun. Learning to read for the first time is quite a challenge for young children and their families. It is challenging for teachers to teach, too. I believe that children should not only learn to read, but learn to love reading!

Have you ever had that task that has taken you years to accomplish, and suddenly you meet this goal? How does this make you feel? Good, right? I know I feel good after accomplishing something that is hard!

Now imagine you are a little kid, and you suddenly read your first few pages! Keep going and you just feel like you are on the moon. Pretty soon, you will have a whole new set of opportunities right in front of you!

For my debut children’s picture book, “Counting Kitties,” I combined my passion for writing, helping children, and, animals! Learning to read is hard, but learning mathematical concepts for the first time  might even be trickier. Do you have pets at home? I sure do! Why not have your pets help you learn how to read and count? Suddenly the idea of learning has become a lot more interesting.

The original concept and inspiration for,”Counting Kitties,” came from a project I did for my eighth grade English class. Each student was asked to write and illustrate a book that we would read to our school’s younger students, such as preschool and kindergarten. The first graders even joined in, too. We were asked to create a story that taught an educational lesson.

As the students counted, rhymed, and, “meowed,” along with me as I read my story, I knew that I had done my job. The students were not only learning, they were enjoying learning! Ever since then, I knew I wanted to share my tales with as many children as I could. If only my future-self could tell my teenager-self that I would eventually accomplish this goal!

Starting with my first book paved the way for my second book that came out earlier this spring, “Kitty’s First Day of School.” School can be a lot of fun: meeting your teachers, making your friends, exploring new ideas… But, going to school for the first time when you may not know anyone or what kinds of things to expect can be really scary. Not just for parents sending their kids out on their own (without you being there all of the time), but for kids!

Kitty the Calico, a curious and intelligent kitten, is tackling her big questions when she goes to school for the first time. Will I like my teachers? Will I make friends? Will I learn something that interests me? These might be questions that young children ask when going off to school for the first time. Through this book, I hope to help children realize that starting school is a change that can be seen as an important part of their lives. Like everything, school takes some getting used to!

Someone recently wrote to me on Twitter, and asked if I had any advice for people going into publishing. I have to admit I was both deeply honored and surprised. A part of me wasn’t sure if my advice was good enough since I am still learning myself. The first piece of advice I would offer, is to know your genre. Is it poetry? Is it fiction? Are you starting with work you have previously written but want to publish? Answering these questions have really helped me when I got started. Start small and work your way up. You will be amazed at your progress. It’s not always obvious what direction a project will take. One day, it hits me, and I can’t stop talking about it. Don’t be afraid to learn, do your research, and ask questions. Sometimes it requires a ton of experimentation. Another piece of advice would be not to forget that last part! Advice from research is good, but you need to find what works for you. What worked for someone else might not work for you! Last but not least, never give up on your aspirations, whether it’s writing or something else. You only lose hope, when you stop trying!

Going independent with my books was the best thing that I could have done for myself, and for my books. I’ve heard that people frowned upon independent authors because these people claimed that this is the only publishing option people have if they are rejected by mainstream publishers. I beg to differ! There are so many amazing authors and books out there. We may have to look online instead of your local bookstore, but these tales are no less valuable than books you can find anywhere. In fact, I’ve seen independent works that are way better in content quality than many mass-produced books. Just because a book, or even musical album or movie is “independent,” doesn’t mean it can’t add value to the world.

When I say value, I am not talking about money, but ideas, concepts, and inspirations that offer encouragement or things to think about. In a world full of darkness, stories are more powerful than ever!

I could never have imagined just how profound the sense of “community” is among independent authors. Independent authors try to support one another in any way they can. Whether it’s encouragement, advice, or anything in between, these authors are there for one another. I’ve met so many amazing people in this community, and I know that this is just the beginning. Words cannot express my gratitude for everyone who has offered me encouragement or support in some way through my writing journey.

Whether a person is an adult or child, I hope that I can inspire others to look for the best in themselves and in others. It is too easy to say what we have done wrong. Try to focus on what you have accomplished during the day.

Give yourself a pat on the back, and follow your dreams!

– Sarah Linx

Find Sarah online:





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Thank you so much for joining us!! I hope you were as inspired as I was reading Sarah’s guest post. Now, let’s show her what our community is really like!! Help me shower her with support through likes, shares, and comments!

Until next time………………………… Stay Creative!!

Welcome to the World of Suzanne Burke – @pursoot

Hello, bloggers!

Welcome to another wonderful week! I hope your weekend was exactly what you planned on it being, whether that be busy or relaxing or somewhere in between.  :)

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Author Suzanne Burke to my site. This lovely lady is quite versatile with her writing and I couldn’t be happier to share her story with my awesome readers.



Hello, everyone! Welcome to the World of Suzanne Burke, coming to you from the Land of Oz.

Suzanne Burke moved from the beautiful harbor city of Sydney Australia and took the journey hundreds of miles west of the Blue Mountains to the small University Town of Bathurst, earlier this year.


Suzanne lives with her daughter and small grandson enjoying life in the serenity of this small country community.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.
Although Suzanne now needs a wheelchair to go beyond her own home, her imagination still runs wild and free.




An Anthology of Paranormal short stories. An eclectic and exciting mix of Thriller, Romance, Supernatural, Horror and terrifying Suspense.

Sisterly LoveParanormal Horror. After the tragic murder/suicide of her parents, Pippa, at just Nineteen-years of age, finds herself taking on the full responsibility for raising her fifteen-year-old sister, Emma. Emma is … more than just a little different. The body count is increasing. Nothing and no one is as they seem.

Halloween Homecoming … Paranormal Supernatural. A Halloween party is the perfect venue for serving justice on the menu. Leighton Caulfield and his Lawyer are about to get their just desserts. In a way that nobody is prepared for.

A Place So ColdParanormal Suspense. Children are missing! Time is running out. Can the stranger from Australia lead the rescuers to them in time?

SpinParanormal Thriller. Doctor Cameron Christopher is concerned that his patient Holly Daniels is caught in a downward spiral into complex Dissociative Disorder. Using Hypnotherapy he takes her back to explore when the nightmares began. Nothing in his experience as a Psychiatrist prepared him for what lay dormant … and waiting.

The Director’s CutParanormal Romance beyond time. Award-winning Director, Christopher Manning is searching for far more than a location for his next blockbuster. The emptiness that has permeated his entire life is crying out for resolution. Join him as he seeks the answers.

Mind-ShaftParanormal Supernatural. Victoria Denton served revenge swiftly and without mercy. Her future happiness seems assured. If only the past would remain where it should.

Here for your enjoyment is a brief excerpt from “Sisterly Love” Story 1.

Here’s the scenario … Paranormal Horror. After the tragic murder/suicide of her parents, Pippa, at just Nineteen-years of age, finds herself taking on the full responsibility for raising her fifteen-year-old sister, Emma. Emma is … more than just a little different. The body count is increasing. Nothing and no one is as they seem.

We enter the story midway as FBI Special Agent Frank Revello speaks to nineteen-year-old Pippa Freeman, regarding 5 Missing children …

The phone rang, startling both of us.


“Hello, Pippa Freeman, please?”


“Miss Freeman, its Special Agent Frank Revello, FBI. Do you remember, I’m the …?”

“Yes, yes I remember who you are. What is it you want?”

“I’d like to stop by and ask you and your sister a few more questions. Is that convenient for you at the moment?”

“Well—no, I mean, well …yes, you can see me, but Emma is too distressed. I don’t think it’s wise to disturb her at the moment.”

“Ah, so you have heard the news?”

“I only caught some of it, and I have told Emma, of course.”

“Yes, of course. I would still appreciate you talking with me. Can we do that?”

“Very well, um—sure come on over.”

Celia was clearly intrigued, “Who was that, honey?”

“Um, that was the guy that the FBI had here when the kids started to go missing, he wants to talk to me.”

“Why on earth, why, would he want to talk to you?”

“I’m not sure, Celia, but he’s on his way over, I think I’ll have another drink.”

“Whoa, honey, do you think that’s such a good idea?”

“Why not?”

“Well, you might like to keep your wits about you if this FBI person is gonna be askin’ you questions.”

“I’ve got nothing to hide, Celia.”

“Fine—if you’re certain. I’m gonna head into town, pick up a few things we need at the store. Anything’ you want me to get, honey?”

“No. No, thanks.”

Celia grabbed her purse and car keys, and I fixed myself another drink, much smaller this time.

I hurried into my parent’s bedroom. I removed what I needed and wrapped it carefully in my handkerchief. I needed to be prepared.

I wandered out to the front porch and sat on the swing-seat. I didn’t have to wait very long. A black SUV pulled up in front, agent Revello climbed out and walked up the drive.

“Good evening, Ms. Freeman.”

“Call me Pippa, please.”

“Um—is there someplace we can sit, and talk in private—Pippa?”

“Sure, I’m sorry; my manners aren’t exactly perfect these days. Please come in, we can talk in the study. Can I get you a coffee or something cool to drink?”

“No thanks, I’m good.”

We walked through the living room and out to the study, I had not spent much time in this room since my parents’ deaths, this is where they had died. Even though it had been completely re-done, it still felt somehow wrong to be in here.

“This is where your sister found them, isn’t it?”

“How do you know, about my folks I mean?”

“We had to look at anything out of the ordinary, anything that occurred in this town, around the same time as the disappearances, began. I am very sorry for your loss.”

“Oh, oh yes. Thank you. I guess that makes sense. But, why do you need to talk now?”

“I’ll be straight with you; this investigation is fast becoming a one-way track. Nothing we have makes any sense, so, I’m clutching at straws here. We still have three missing teenagers, and the chance of finding any of them alive is diminishing fast.”

“Look, I understand that … I just don’t know how you think either Emma or I can help.”

“Like I said, I’m reaching, I’m going to tell you things that have been kept out of the newspapers; I believe strongly that your younger sister may have some knowledge that could help us. At least I hope so.”

My gut clenched and I felt sick, I didn’t want to hear what he had to say. I didn’t want my own fears confirmed. Yet I remained silent and nodded at him to proceed. It was time.

“All the kids vanished, without exception, from their own homes. Best guess is between midnight and 4.00 am. Two of those homes had expensive alarm systems, they were turned off, from inside the home.

“These young people weren’t taken unwillingly. They all appeared to be on their way to somewhere. Somewhere important enough for them to steal money from their parents, pack clothing, and leave without a word.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. I know these kids; they wouldn’t do something like that. Especially not stealing from their folks, I can’t believe that!”

“I know it’s totally out of character, for each of them. But, these are not suppositions, Ms. Freeman. These are facts.”

“Does anyone but their folks know this stuff?”

“Not until now, we kept it out of the papers and their folks won’t say a word if it means we can find these kids.

“When I say it’s out of character, I mean exactly that. These teenagers weren’t rebellious. They were all low achievers scholastically. They all were considered outsiders at school, none of them were popular, or sports-oriented.”

“Why the hell are you telling me all this stuff? Just how do you think I can help in any way?”

“I’m not sure you can, but let me tell you a little more of what we’ve discovered. Okay?.

What else could I do? I nodded my consent.

“As I mentioned, these kids were not popular, but it was the one thing they all dreamed of being. Without exception, they all used the internet, and they had rich fantasy lives online. So, we, of course, can’t be certain how much of what we have recovered is purely their fantasy. A fabricated persona they have invented online to achieve popularity.

“However, no one’s fantasy can be expected to be exactly like any other. Not in detail. There is a link; it may be nothing. But, God help me … it’s all we have.”

“Go on.”

“What we are certain of now, is, that around two weeks or so before each disappearance, people noticed a change in each of them; not earth-shattering stuff, small changes, but noticeable ones. They were happier, laughed more, went out more, and didn’t lock themselves away with the internet as much as they had been doing.

“In short, something had changed, school teachers noticed it, but as it didn’t affect their levels of ability nothing was thought of it at the time.

“Their parents seemed to feel that is was young love, or they had grown out of a stage and were just growing up a little. In every case, their folks were relieved at the change.

“We could find no connection. No common interests, no shared meetings. Nothing, until now.”

“Why—what’s happened? What have you found?”

“Two things. Firstly, they each used the same name for someone that they had either recently met, or someone that they had limited contact with prior to this time.

“They all called this…person, ‘Angel-eyes.’” He began ticking points off on his long fingers.

“Secondly, one of the kids kept an old-fashioned diary, pen, and paper, not online. The parents found it by accident, in a box at the bottom of the closet. Real names are not used. Please understand that. However, for the first time, we have a physical description of our person of interest.

“We have a couple of entries that don’t make sense, but I’ll read them to you, all I’m asking is that you listen—okay?”

I wanted to scream. No! I wanted to beg him to leave, but I couldn’t. It was past time for me to be certain.

I whispered, “Okay.”

“Thank you, here is the first entry.

January 26th. My Angel-eyes, spoke to me today, I can’t fuckin’ believe it. She spoke to me, and smiled … at me! Me … the geek! Man, it was great! I didn’t know what to say. What if this was some sort of joke? Like, you know, the popular kids can be cruel sometimes. I’m not sure, ‘cause she didn’t say much. She looked right inside me, into me, you know, and she said, “Why, Jimmy, I do believe you have grown. When did you get to be so cute?”

Or at least, I think she said it … Don’t matter any, I’m gonna dream about her smile and those eyes. I ain’t never seen eyes the color of a hot summer sky before, they are like palest, pale blue … and hair black as night, long and wavy, man she’s good on the eyes, and she noticed … me! Angel-eyes, spoke to old geeky me!

January 27th. She did it again; I wish somebody had been close by, so I can be sure I didn’t dream it. Because I ain’t sure, maybe I wanted it too much. I heard her voice. But it was like inside my head … no, that’s dumb! I mean she said the words, ‘ceptin’ her lips didn’t move, but I heard her clear. She said, ‘I’ll come for you. We need to be together. Soon—Jimmy—soon’. My Angel-eyes is so beautiful. She barely reaches my shoulder; she’s just so tiny and perfect.

February 3rd. Man, it’s so bad … Molly Franklin is missin’. Oh, man! Poor kid, she’s a little thing, quiet, like a mouse; she just disappeared like the others, nobody’s sayin’ how! She was just gone … that’s number five. What’s happenin’ in this town? FBI dudes are all over this place lookin’ and askin’ questions, man, it’s bad. My Angel-eyes says don’t worry, cause they are safe. Just like, she knows for sure, and she smiles, funny like. She visits with me every night now in her secret way. I love her so much; she says we’ll be together soon now. I have to get me some money, slowly like, so nobody knows it’s gone. This is so excitin’, and she wants me to be the first one, you know, her first man! I can hardly breathe I love her so much, my Angel-eyes!

February 14th Valentine’s day. “Angel-eyes says it has gotta be tonight, she can’t wait no more for me to be her man.

“The damn clock is so slow, I gotta meet her when everyone is sleepin’, and bring the money I been stealin’ so we can be together. I can’t wait, she came last night—in her secret way; and we just were together in that place.

“But tonight she is gonna be just mine. All mine.”

“Who, who wrote this? Which of the children?” Pippa asked.

“It was young Jimmy Dillon,

“Jimmy Dillon disappeared on the night of February 14th. He left his home after turning off the burglar alarm. His folks estimated there was about $1000.00 missing from the safe. He had no car, no license, and some of his clothes were gone as well. We haven’t found any trace of him. Until yesterday.”

“No!—Not Jimmy—it was him, that you found?”

“What was left of him. The only way we can positively identify the remains is with DNA. His folks have identified a birthmark on the torso. Please understand whoever is responsible for this is sick, and dangerously so. I will tell you just how sick—the body was mutilated. He was decapitated. Both arms and legs had been hacked off. The torso had in excess of 120 stab wounds. Preliminary workup indicates that four different types of knives were used.”

I sensed Emma’s presence before she walked into the room.

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I know! I’m mean aren’t I? Here’s where to go, if you’d like to read more:

Mind-Shaft on AMAZON.COM
Twitter for Suzanne Burke @pursoot
Suzanne Burke on FACEBOOK

Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into Suzanne’s world as much as I did! Please help me support this fabulous author with likes, shares, and comments.

Until next time……………………………… Stay Creative!!

Introducing #Author, Mike Crowl – @mcrowl

Hello, bloggers!

Welcome to November!! I hope your month has started out in the best of ways. Let’s kick things off with a fantastic guest!

I’m pleased to introduce you to Author Mike Crowl

In 2014, I published three e-books. That sounds impressive until you realise that the first of those books, Grimhilda!, had started out life as a musical produced in the theatre, back in 2012. In spite of having a script to work from, it took another two years for the book version to get off the ground. Procrastination took its toll, along with many rewrites. Turning a playscript into a novel wasn’t as straightforward as I’d anticipated.

I finally published it in January 2014, by which time I was viewing it as the first of a series of children’s fantasies.

However, the second book, Diary of a Prostate Wimp, was non-fiction. I’d had this book in mind for some time, planning to use a set of blog posts from 2009 as its basis. It wasn’t just a matter of publishing the posts: they had to be edited, an introduction had to be written, and more material added from other sources to complement and give additional breadth to my own experiences.

Nevertheless, all that was done in a short time, and that book was finished and published in April 2014.

The draft of the third book, The Mumbersons and the Blood Secret, took a little longer, but was still written at a fair pace. It became the second in the fantasy series under the collective title of Grimhilderness. The Blood Secret still had to go through a rigorous process with my editor-cum-beta reader, a person who’s like a dog with a bone; she won’t let anything go that she’s not satisfied with, or that reeks of inconsistency.

Still, that book was produced far more speedily than Grimhilda! – it was published in early November, 2014. I was beginning to think I was a bit of a whiz at producing books.

The third in the Grimhilderness series, The Disenchanted Wizard, turned my idea of being able to churn out books at a rate of knots on its head. I started it in late 2014, as soon as The Blood Secret was finished, writing the first (very disorganised) draft as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge. I had a good idea in mind, some thoughts about how it would end, and some well-defined characters.

Yet another two and a quarter years passed before it was ready for publication. Did I do something wrong?

Not really. Though procrastination and music work got in the way (I play the piano, mostly accompanying singers), the book’s original plan was sidetracked again and again. My co-author/editor/plot-consistency-overseer/script consultant and I discussed the intricacies of the plot endlessly, and again and again discovered loopholes that readers would see right through, or brick walls in the story that were apparently unassailable. Sometimes we’d sit in my house staring into space, wondering if all the effort was worth it, or if we’d ever find a way out of the maze.

The first half of the book took long enough to get worked out, but once the writing process was begun in earnest the structure didn’t really change. The second half was a nightmare: much of it was rewritten several times over after going off in wrong directions. Whole scenes were abandoned, characters annihilated. I even wrote a piece of flash fiction at one point in which the lost characters railed against their fate.

The grand climax I’d envisaged got chucked, leaving a great gap, and then later was brought back in. It too was rewritten over and over as various improbable things were removed. The biggest difficulty was that the main character, a girl with no defensive magical powers of her own, had to confront the villain – a wizard – and somehow lay him low. She’d already failed to do this earlier in the book, so it was a challenge to figure out she could deal with him in the climax.

Sometimes solutions turn out to be so simple that you think they’ll be seen as too easy by the readers. In fact, readers accept them. We spent ages figuring out how the girl’s father would be found after he’d been whisked away by the villain. I’ll let you read the book and see for yourself whether you think the solution worked.

There were things I wanted to keep in, and fought tooth and nail over. In the end I had to let them go because they complicated the plot unnecessarily. Being willing to give up seemingly great ideas for the betterment of the whole book isn’t easy. It was another reason things took longer than anticipated.

So, two and a quarter years of slog. Were there downsides to this slow process? Yes, of course. The frustration of feeling that it would never get finished, for one. The sense that I wasn’t really a very good writer because I couldn’t produce another book at speed.

But the upsides were that the book was immensely better for its long gestation. Weak and unnecessary characters were left by the wayside, as were weak scenes. Scenes that did survive were continually strengthened, and, because I had time to think about details, the book was improved in a myriad of small ways.

A number of authors promote the idea that writing at speed and producing two or three or more books a year is the ideal. Yes, there are authors who can work at this kind of pace and produce quality. I think they’re few and far between. I’ve read books by some of these prolific authors, and I wish they’d given more time to their work instead of to trying to add more titles to their bibliography.

I’ve mentioned the word procrastination a few times here. There are an endless number of authors online who want to advise you on how to deal with procrastination. I’ve read endless advice on the subject. In spite of that, I’m currently procrastinating on a fourth children’s fantasy. Some of my reasons are valid, and more important than the completion of a book. Some of the reasons are pathetic and need to be dealt with severely. Either way, real life does get in the way of writing, and often takes priority, as a local author, a Mom with two small children, frequently notes on Twitter.

But if we want to write, we need to try and find a balance between procrastination for good reasons and procrastination for bad reasons. Take every day as it comes. Take time to write (rather than make time to write), even if the creative brain feels at its lowest ebb. A piece of draft writing may seem like rubbish, but I find that it usually gets creativity moving again. That’s always a plus, and it moves us one more step on the road to publication day.

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mike backstage at Grimhidla - close up

Mumbersons and the Blood Secret – http://tinyurl.com/ljh9buf
Diary of a Prostate Wimp – http://tinyurl.com/mz4hvnf
Disenchanted Wizard Final Book Cover Full Res SMALL
Disenchanted Wizard – http://tinyurl.com/jnrt9cx

Thanks so much for visiting with us today! Please help in supporting this fabulous guest with likes, shares, and comments.

Until next time…………………………… Stay Creative!!

Paradise Creates a Writer, with Patrick Adams – @patadamsbooks

Hello, bloggers!

I have a special treat for you today…

We’re talking paradise, travels, and writing today with Guest Patrick Adams. I’m so excited for you to hear about his inspiration. Maybe you can share a little of your own inspiration in the comments section.  ;)

The thought of being a writer had not seemed feasible for most of my life.  Whether it was time, focus or just a lack of inspiration, it just wasn’t something I thought I could pull off.  All of that changed in 2012 on a solo trip to the South Pacific.  Inspired by a paradise-like setting, an idea for a novel came to me in waves as I was sitting on a beach on an island in French Polynesia called Motu Mahana. As I laid baking in the sun, drinking coconut water out of an actual coconut, a story formed in my mind.  It was so powerful a story, that I had to go get a piece of paper and a pen from a bar and start writing the ideas down.  I outlined the story at a high level, and over the next two days on that trip while in Bora Bora, I added elements to the outline.  I stored that sheet of paper away for the next two and a half years, but thought about it often.

Motu Mahana (12)

In August 2014, as I was undergoing some challenges in both my work and personal life, I decided to take an overseas sabbatical for the remainder of the year to commit to writing the book.  The places I traveled on that sabbatical, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Zurich, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia, all ended up being part of the scene structure of the book.  I finally brought my story to life on that sabbatical and drafted the novel, called “The Vacationer”, which has been edited and is slated for release in 2018.

On that same sabbatical, an idea hit me for a children’s book series, centered around travel, that would star my kids.  My daughter loves stuffed animals, and she has a favorite which she named Lisa.  She played with her stuffed animals as if they were living creatures, so I started to formulate a core story of my kids traveling the world, but with an added touch of having a magical stuffed animal that could bring a unique element to their visits.  While on this visit, I drafted the stories for Lisa Goes to England and Lisa Goes to France.

It was on that beach in paradise and on this three month sabbatical around the world that I found my muse as a writer and the ideas for my books that would drive me to this day.  Follow your muse, and it can lead you to wonderful places!

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Motu Mahana (16)

Author Bio:

Author of the Fantastic Lisa and The World of Rhythm children’s book series, Patrick Adams fell in love with travel when he was four days old, on his first flight. His later journeys around the world and his children inspired him to become a writer.

Through his blog and The World of Rhythm book series, Patrick Adams is a strong supporter of families dealing with a rare form of epilepsy called Infantile Spasms.

As a book architect, Patrick Adams is dedicated not only to publishing his own books but also helping other independent authors achieve their dream of seeing their children’s books come to life, and getting published.

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Author website: http://www.patrickadamsbooks.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/patrickadamsbooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/patadamsbooks

Instagram): www.Instagram.com/Patrick_adams_books

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/patrickadams2275

Thank you so much for visiting with us today. Please help in supporting today’s guest with shares, likes, and comments. Don’t forget to share about your own inspiration below.

Until next time……………………… Stay Creative!!

Walk like an Outlander, with Mindy McIntosh-Shetter – @outlanderbotanist

Hello, bloggers!

Welcome to another beautiful, fall day in Alabama. I am absolutely in LOVE with this weather. I sincerely hope it’s just as beautiful wherever you find yourself today.

As per usual routine, I have a fabulous guest for you today. I am so happy to introduce  you to Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Walk like an Outlander

Ok, I know if you are old enough you are hearing that song from the Bangles. You know the one – Walk like an Egyptian, which was playing today while I was out for my run. Oh, how the world works and serendipity pokes its head through the curtain of life.

As a child of reason, which we all are of that era today, I have never really found much use in neither love stories nor simply hoping for something to happen. I was raised to believe that hard work was the solution to everything-including dreams but some dreams are harder to achieve as I would learn later on in life.

Serendipity’s head would poke out again one evening at my dad’s. After a long day working on the farm, we settled down in front of the brain cell sucking machine called a television to watch a new series produced by STARZ called Outlander. As my great Scot-Irish luck would have it, one of the most scandalous episodes would be on. Please keep in mind that this is not an Outlander spoiler free zone if you have never seen the show or read the books. Now that you know that let’s move on. Well, it was the prison, Jamie, and Black Jack Randall episode that was quite graphic. Well, in just, I was embarrassed to watch this with my dad. I mean, it covered topics that I really did not want to explore nor talk about with my father but here we were, sharing time together so go with it. In the mist of hiding behind pillows and a blanket, I heard lavender oil. Lavender oil I said. Really, I do not think they used it for this purpose I said to myself. I mean I had written about lavender and knew the scientific reason why it works. See this is what I do for a living, I teach people gardening skills, horticulture, botany, and science through blogs and videos. So making a mental note about the plant, I decided I would do my own research into the topic. I mean, I could be making a mountain out of a mole hill. The author of the Outlander book series could have simply just put that in without researching if the plant was used for this purpose.

The next day, I started doing my own research and yes lavender was used for this purpose among other things in the 1740s. This is where my journey began.

Diane Gabaldon’s journey with this story started off when she asked God to help her write something that affected peoples’ lives, which she has. The series of books continued to grow and are labeled historical fiction. The popularity of the books was a reason why STARZ adapted the books into a television series, which is one of the most successful to date. While I could go on and on with accolades for the book series and STARZ show, you may be wondering what this has to do with lavender.

Well, the more I did research on the plants mentioned in the books and television adaptation the more I became intrigued. There were plants I had heard of and others I had not. I researched their use in the story and in real-life. I gathered information on how to grow the ones I was not familiar with. All the while just for me, just to have that information but……..a nagging idea kept popping into my head. You know the one, the one idea that hovers around your brain never really leaving but you can push it away to get work done and then it reappears when your mind is quite. That idea, the one that you feel a calling to do either from God or Spirit guides leading you to where you need to be.

Before going on let me say this, one of the things on my bucket list was not to write a book. I have done a lot of writing as a blogger for over ten years but I never thought of writing a book. What gave me the courage to just looking into it was the female main character in the Outlander series Claire. She was a “thinking outside the box,” non-conforming woman like me. The type that society tends to define with an unlady like term used in dog breeding. Yes, my aggie background is coming through. I really wish society would define a woman like that as a female cat, which is a queen. Anyway, I could see myself in Claire and have been in many situations just like her, except the time traveling. When in college, I was frowned down upon by my male classmates solely based on the fact that I was the only woman in the class. I have also been in the classroom when race and sex became an issue. I have learned the lessons of conformity, which never end well and for Claire forced her to change who she truly was in both the 1940s and 1740s. While the conformity in the 1740s was for survival, the poker face she kept on in the 1940s was for her child. But even the best makeup cracks, this is what happened to Claire. Whether society or her husband of the 1940s was ready or not, Claire was going to live her life being true to herself regardless of the cost.

As so many times, nonfiction ends up mimicking life so was my journey with Claire. We seemed to be one in the same. Forget the love story, the Scottish history, and sexy men in tartan, I was interested in courage, which can be defined as having the belief in oneself to the point that you can leap over that comfort zone and never look back. For Claire that meant hiding who she really was in the 1740s to marrying a man she, at the time, did not love. It also meant leaving her cosmic lover for her child and going back to a man that she no longer knew for her child in the 1940s. Once there in the 1940s trying to conform to society’s standard of what women were supposed to do. As you can image and as the name applies, she was an Outlander defined as an outsider, which was not a compliment.

This was a mirror image of me-female aggie in a male dominated world who thought “outside the box.” In the past, this character trait, as with Claire, was not something I treasured but as I explored the idea of writing a book on herbs, it became clear to me I needed to follow this path regardless of where it lead. I did my homework as Claire did when she was planning her journey out. I placed all the facts on the table and then scattered them to the wind. I have never approached anything with caution and I was not going to start now. At that point, I frankly ran over that comfort zone. I kept going until it felt right. At that point I started writing The Unofficial Book of Herbs. Once again I was an Outlander-a nobody in the book and publishing world, but I really did not care. It was a path that I was meant to take. Just as Claire was destined to be a doctor, I was cosmically and/or spiritually moved into this direction as an author.


Today, I straddle the past, present, and future very much like Claire. I dress in 1740s clothes to do videos on modern equipment for the future. My journey has lead me to create my own YouTube channel the Outlander Botanist by which I teach people dressed in 1740s clothing basic gardening skills along with how to grow the plants mentioned in the Outlander books and STARZ show. While the underlining message is not one from Outlander it is one of caution. If you do not learn about these plants today, they can be gone in the blink of an eye and to taking a saying that has been tossed around lately; yes “plant lives matter.”

Yes, my story is different and some may say unique. I have learned a lot of Outlander life lessons. Yes there are life lessons in historical nonfiction if you take the time to look. Just like me, Claire was and continues to be an outlander. Yes I said continues since the story is continuously being written with no end in sight, which is great. The most valuable part of Claire’s character is the fact that she can be a role model for all those girls out there dying to be true to themselves but really not knowing how. In response to Claire getting into medical school and graduating, several people posted pictures of women in their families who “walked like an Outlander” and became doctors. One favorite example was a photo of a woman in her graduating attire representing the first female doctor to graduate from this particular medical school. Yes, this is a prime example of what it means to be an Outlander-an outsider. But not every walk needs to be as drastic or defined as the first of whatever. “Walk like an Outlander” can simply mean stepping outside your comfort zone, taking a chance, and not worrying that it will work out as serendipity pokes his/her head through the dark clouds of self doubt. I have learned that I may not understand why at the time but later on the pieces of the puzzle come together to create that moment. That moment when everything is right in the universe and I have again figured out that this is where I am supposed to be regardless of what my family or society thinks.

So in just, take a chance in life. Hold your head up tall and take that first step toward “walking like an outlander.” Yes, it is scary but believe it or not it will be a journey of unforgettable experiences that will span a lifetime.





Thank you so much for joining us today. Please help in supporting today’s guest with likes, shares, and comments!

Until next time……………………………… Stay Creative!!