Monthly Archives: January 2012

Toxic Reality – Katherine Tomlinson


Mi Corazon

You’re with Raimundo on K-ESE Los Angeles and it’s time for the news.

A clash between Montagues and Capulets left five dead as gang violence spilled over in Verona this afternoon. Responding to pressure from residents of the small suburb of East Los Angeles, the Verona police chief announced a new zero tolerance policy that would implement the death penalty for any gang member caught breaking the law.

The first time Romeo Montague saw Julieta Capulet he forgot all about Rosa, the Capulet cousin he’d been boning in order to get intel on the Capulet gang. Rosa had invited Romeo to her cousin’s quinceanera on a dare and to her surprise, Romeo and his compadre Mer-Q had shown up.

Romeo was chowing down on home-made tamales when Julieta appeared on the dance floor wearing a turquoise dress he wanted to rip off like wrapping paper. Some little nerd of a Capulet cousin was dancing with Julieta when Romeo stepped up to claim her, right there in front of her father and everyone else. “I don’t know you,” Julieta had said as he danced her backwards around the room.

“You have always known me,” Romeo said in Spanish so that it wouldn’t sound cheesy. “My name is Romeo Montague.”

She’d gasped at his boldness and pressed herself closer to him, thrilled by the danger. Then Julieta’s cousin Pablo, the one they called Count P, had security throw him out. As he was hauled away by the rent-a-cops, Romeo saw Rosa staring balefully at him. Chica wasn’t happy at all.

Neither was Julieta’s mother, who intended for Julieta to marry Pablo, who was destined to take over the family business. “You’ll marry the Count,” she told her daughter harshly. Julieta, who privately thought of Pablo as “the cunt,” didn’t answer.

That night Romeo sneaked into the Capulet compound and climbed up to Julieta’s window. Warmed by lust and sips of stolen tequila, the two pledged their love and made plans to sneak away the next morning to be married.

Only problem was, the church was in Capulet territory and a banger called T-ball peeped Romeo coming out of the side door. He followed him back to a Montague chop shop and called him out. When Mer-Q realized Romeo was just going to stand there like a fucking maricon and let the guy talk trash, he stepped in front of his hermano to deal with T-ball himself.

You’re with Raimundo at K-ESE in Los Angeles and it’s time for the news.

Despite a crackdown on gang activity in Verona, an encounter between rival sets turned deadly this afternoon. Witnesses say a Capulet known as T-ball fatally stabbed Montague gang member Mercer Quinero, known as Mer-Q, before being shot by Quinero’s companion, Romeo Montague. Verona’s Chief of Police responded quickly, issuing a warrant for Montague’s arrest. Montague is believed to have fled to Mexico where he has family.

Furious over the death of T-ball, Julieta’s mother laid down the law. Marry the Count, she told her, or face life alone on the streets. Julieta took option C, sending Rosa to a street dealer to procure a drug she’d looked up on the Internet. When her mother came to dress her for her second wedding, she found her daughter dead.
Romeo heard the news from Rosa, who, trying to make amends, texted him with directions to the mortuary. Slipping back across the border into California, Romeo broke into the place, knocked out a guard and found Julieta lying on a slab waiting to be embalmed.

Filled with despair, Romeo kissed her lips and injected himself with a hot shot he’d purchased on the way home.

Julieta awoke to find Romeo’s corpse on the floor. It was just as she and her father had planned. Romeo was handsome, but he wasn’t very bright. He thought he was playing Rosa when all the time, she was just setting him up for her cousin.

Julieta was her father’s daughter and her father’s motto was “Death to all Montagues.”

Bio: Katherine Tomlinson is a former reporter who prefers making things up. This story is from her collection Toxic Reality, available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her chapter in Paul D. Brazill’s Drunk on the Moon series comes out in March, the same month as her short story collection L.A. Nocturne II: More Tales of the Misbegotten. You can find more of her fiction on her blog, Kattomic Energy.
Mi Corazon was originally written for Christopher Grant’s A Twist of Noir.

Amazon link
Smashwords link
Kattomic energy link

A Hint of Murder – The Anthology by Lia Fairchild


A Hint of Murder: The Anthology compiles all three A Hint of Murder stories in one book:

A Hint of Murder: The Writer

Alicia Fairfield didn’t plan on being famous. Now a bestselling author with millions of fans, Alicia also has the attention of a killer. Someone has been recreating the murders from her books and the suspects are piling up; her mentally ill son, a disgruntled associate, and possibly even her loyal literary agent. The pressure of public recognition along with the guilt over these senseless killings could be enough to drive Alicia over the edge. Can she hold it together long enough to uncover a killer? (Story length 9,000 words)

A Hint of Murder: The Doctor

Russell Morgan had it all; good looks, the perfect woman and a rewarding career as a well-respected physician. When the doctor’s patients start turning up dead, his world comes crashing down. Second in the “A Hint of Murder” series, this short story brings Detective John Lewis back in action to track down the killer. (Story length: 12,000 words)

A Hint of Murder: The Bouncer

Bobby Crane was tired of being a bouncer and a glorified errand boy. He longed to be a professional singer and was just about to get his big break. Then Allen Schaffer is found murdered and Bobby’s car was spotted at the victim’s home. Third in the A Hint of Murder series, this story has detective John Lewis returning with a new partner to uncover a murderer. (Story length: 10,400 words)

Excerpt from A Hint of Murder: The Writer

Since the first body was discovered, she’d had nothing but heartache, worry and guilt. Alicia Fairfield prayed it was a coincidence; that the murdered young woman had nothing to do with the story she had created. A story that was played out on the big screen just last week. Perhaps making Vegas Vendetta, her tenth bestseller, into a movie had been a mistake. The Las Vegas Showgirl was fatally stabbed the night of the premiere. Alicia and her agent Edward spoke to the police the next day before Alicia returned to her million-dollar home snuggly perched in the rolling hills of Marin County.

Alicia clutched the bottle tightly, closed the medicine cabinet and stared at herself in the mirror. A pair of icy blue eyes gazed back at her as she smoothed down her straight blonde hair. At forty five, she was just beginning to show the signs of aging. For a moment, the stranger in the reflection hypnotized her but she tore herself away from the image and left for the kitchen. She passed through her dining room, decorated to perfection, and her hallway adorned with gorgeous paintings, some of them her own creations. When she reached the sink, she filled a glass with water and took it along with the pill bottle to the other side of the counter. Then she set them down next to her laptop and took a seat at the end barstool.

Alicia glanced down at the morning paper, and reread the headline. “Copy Cat Killer Strikes Again.” The article detailed the killing of the showgirl and linked it to the recent murder of a nurse found dead behind a free clinic in Novato. A source told the paper that a page from A.J. Field’s novel From the Shadows had been left with the nurse’s body. The pen name was Alicia’s attempt to have a private life and keep her family—mainly her mentally ill son—away from public scrutiny.

Alicia set the paper down and turned to her laptop. Mesmerized by the blinking curser, she contemplated what she would write. For the first time, these would be her words. It was possible two lives had been taken because of the words she’d written in her novels. Should these be the last words anyone would ever read from A.J. Field?

The white page grew blurry as tears welled in her eyes. She rested her hands on the keyboard, sighed and began to type the incoherent thoughts that scattered in her mind:

To my dearest David, a beloved son that never found happiness, I am truly sorry. And, my agent Edward, thank you for years of support and friendship. I would never have made it this far without you. To all my faithful fans out there, I’m so grateful I enriched and heightened your love of reading. As I truly believe that our decisions—

A loud pounding at the door startled Alicia and made her jump. She sat frozen wondering what to do. The pounding came again accompanied by a loud grumbling voice. “Alicia! Alicia, open the door! It’s me Edward!”

Fearing the dreadful tone in his voice, Alicia grabbed the pills and stashed the bottle in her purse. She raced to the door and opened it.

My God, Alicia!” her agent said out of breath and leaning on the door jam. At sixty, he wasn’t in the best of shape. “Why haven’t you answered my calls?” He didn’t wait for an answer and stepped into the foyer. “Are you all right?” He glanced around the area, cast a concerned look upon her, and waited for answers.

Edward, I’m fine. I just needed some time to think.” Her voice was calm; believable. Alicia grabbed him by the arm and led him to the kitchen. “Let’s get you something to drink, have you rest a bit.” Even though she saw him as a big brother—he was more than ten years her senior—she often felt the need to take care of him.

Alicia went to the refrigerator and pulled out a pitcher. “Tea?” she asked as Edward took a seat at the bar.

He nodded with a smile and watched as she poured the tea. Then suddenly, Alicia gasped as she realized she hadn’t closed the keyboard before running to the door. Her hand shook uncontrollably and her calm cover had been blown. Tea splashed over the glass onto the counter causing Edward to go to her.

Let me help,” Edward said. He removed the pitcher from her hand with care and set it on the counter. Instinctively he took her in his arms and held her close. “You’ve heard the news I take it,” he said in a gentle tone. “It’s okay, Alicia. You don’t have to be afraid. I’m here.”

She barely made a sound, yet Edward’s shirt dampened beneath her cheek. Surprisingly she had never let him see her like that and wasn’t sure how he would react. His gentle voice and strong arms were comforting and different from his routine business demeanor.

Edward walked Alicia into the next room, rubbing her back. “Here…let’s sit and talk.” He had grown expert in dealing with Alicia during difficult writing times. Whenever she had a notion to quit it all and concentrate on her painting, or was conflicted over a storyline or character, he always skillfully talked her down. But this was different. How could he tell her everything would be all right when there were two innocent girls that had been murdered? Killed in almost the exact circumstances of her last two novels.

Did the police contact you?” he asked.

Yes, they were here a couple hours ago,” she answered without looking up. She rested her head on his shoulder and explained her visit with the police.

When the two investigators arrived earlier that day, Alicia tried to be as helpful as possible. She offered them both a drink and asked if they’d like to sit. Detective John Lewis declined for both and seemed anxious to get down to business. His partner didn’t provide his name and spoke as little as possible.

I’m sure you’ve read the paper by now, Ms. Fairfield.”

Yes, I’ve seen it,” Alicia said nodding.

Detective Lewis pulled a small pad of paper from his back pocket. He was a tall, solidly built man. His voice was deep and scratchy but was camouflaged by a friendly smile. “We just have a few questions to ask.”

I understand Detective. I’ll do whatever I can to help. Obviously I’m very concerned,” Alicia said.

You and your agent were in Las Vegas for the premiere of Vegas Vendetta, correct?”

Yes, we already spoke to the police there.”

Yes…and both of you reported that you were in your hotel rooms at the time of the murder.”

That’s correct,” Alicia answered. She couldn’t help worry where he was going with the questioning.

And last night, could you tell us where you were?”

I was here, painting.”

Oh.” The detective looked up. “I thought you were a writer,” he questioned with a smile.

I paint for my own pleasure. Writing is my profession.”

Was anyone here with you?”

No. I live alone,” Alicia stated defensively. “Detective, I’m assuming you are trying to see if I have an alibi, which I don’t. But let me tell you something, I do feel responsible. Those were my words on the pages left by the killer. Don’t you understand how horrible that makes me feel?” Alicia’s face grew flush and her eyes glazed over as she wrapped her arms around herself.

At that point the silent detective came to Alicia’s side and put a hand on her shoulder. “Ma’am, try not to blame yourself. These crazies are going to kill if they want to kill. We’re just trying to get all the information here.”

Alicia stepped away to gain her composure. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Detectives? I’ve got a conference call in a few moments.”


I’m a native Californian who loves reading, writing, movies, and anything else related to the arts. Writing is something I’ve thought about all my life, so the completion of my first novel, In Search of Lucy, is truly satisfying. I hold a B.A. degree in Journalism and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. My most enjoyable moments are spent with my family, traveling, spending time outdoors, or simply laughing and being together. Look for more on me and my books at and or follow me on Twitter at!/liafairchild

The Anthology is available on
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Over Her Dead Body by Karen Vaughan


Karen Vaughan is a wonderful mystery writer. Her stories are interspersed with humor. Over Her Dead Body is Vaughan’s third mystery novel.  Dead On Arrival and Dead Comic Standing are number 1 & 2.  I’ve read & reviewed Dead Comic Standing (review below) and can’t wait to read the other two!

For your enjoyment, here is an excerpt from Over Her Dead Body.


Two voices were in conversation in the back of a seedy bar.

“I want this done, like yesterday!” a female whiskey infused voice spoke up.

The other voice, male replied “It’ll get done, but let me do it my way, time and day. I may need help working this job.”

“Help? For Pete’s sake man, you’re just taking out an old broad. How hard can that be? Just get it done.”

An envelope and an address slid across the table. The man checked out the contents of the envelope. “There’s only half here. I asked for half a mill!”

“You’ll get the rest when the bitch is dead, quit complaining or you get squat.”

“Try it and the porn videos hit YouTube, and hubby gets the tape delivered by express mail;then, I dare say your divorce settlement won’t be worth a frickin’ penny.”

Knowing he had her in a awkward position, she agreed the balance would be forthcoming when he could prove the job was done.

“I really hate you, but I need this woman out of my way once and for all.”

“I’m not crazy about you either, but your dad scares the shit out of me, and I value my life. I can guarantee that the job will be done. I’ll call you when it’s finished.”

“Good, and remember we never had this conversation, the woman got up and left.

Chapter 1

I lay in bed, hopelessly trying to peel my eyelids from my eyeballs. I gazed at the clock, barely seven. Rolling to my back, I nearly choked on my own spit as a blood curdling shriek split the morning air, forcing me bolt upright in the bed. I nudged my fiancé Gerry, who hogged the blankets next to me.

The shriek sounded from the apartment directly above in Ethel Peterson’s place Poor old soul probably found a mouse and got scared to death.

I turned to my significant other. “Can you go up stairs and see if you can grab the poor rodent before Mrs. Peterson slaughters it, or hurts herself trying?”

We had just celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with my family the night before and once again; it was Monday morning; Thanksgiving Day to be exact. The October air was crisp and the trees were changing. However before the day was through there would be very little to be thankful for.

Gerry grumbled and got out of bed, swearing under his breath that I owed him huge sexual favors later on and a cup of coffee. He was thankfully clothed so no one would be offended. My part in coming to Mrs. Peterson’s aid over with, I lay back down and tried to get some sleep.

However, it wasn’t long before I heard Gerry’s exclamation of holy shit through the floor.

Beside the bed, the phone rang. I answered it.

“Call the meat wagon!, This was Gerry speak for “something is dead.”

“What?” I said, still sleepy, “that must have been some mouse.”

“Laura, sweetie you’re a bit dim in the morning, it was more than a mouse. Just 9-1-1 and come up here”. He clicked off.

I did as he instructed, summoning help, and got my cute little ass dressed and up the stairs A-SAP. What could have happened now? I wondered. I decided I really didn’t want to know as I took the stairs. Like it or not there I was, rushing into another emergency.

The source of the entire frazzle was in Mrs. Peterson’s apartment directly above us. It seems Mrs. Flannery, one of Ethel’s neighbors, had wandered past her unit on the way back from taking the garbage to the Shute down the hall. Mrs. Peterson’s door was open a crack and when Mrs. Flannery peeped through the door to check on her neighbor she found Mrs. Peterson was facedown in her Shreddies. I could see by the looks of things that no rodents had been involved.

“Holy sheep shit, what the hell happened?” I was standing beside Mrs. Flannery, who was trembling in her slippers. “Is- she dead dear?” Mrs.Flannery inquired of Gerry.

Gerry had felt for a pulse. Finding none, he nodded. “Oh I would have to say she is truly beyond this realm Mrs. F.,” he told her.

With that, Mrs. Flannery fainted. I managed to catch her, before she hit the hardwood. At the same time, I was trying to compose myself and keep calm. That is, I squelched the urge to hurl before I took care of the woman in question. It was the second time in six months that I’d seen a dead body in the building. There was a lot more blood at this scene though. Last May somebody had been kind enough to deliver the remains of a former co-worker to my apartment. What I saw now was different though, and somewhat more heinous. Someone had taken violent liberties and left an innocent octogenarian with the back of her head bashed in and swimming in cereal. I was becoming a seasoned witness to death whether I liked it or not.

I stayed with Mrs. Flannery, who was coming around. Once she was capable, I escorted her from Mrs. Peterson’s unit; Mrs. Peterson was still soaking in her milk. I would have done something to remedy that but I knew from watching the multitude of police shows I enjoyed, disturbing the scene was a major no-no. Let the Crime scene unit handle it. I had to get the older woman away from the scene.

Flora Flannery lived two doors down and across the hall from Ethel Peterson. She was a creature of habit who took out the trash everyday at the same time. After the brief walk down the hall, she usually knocked on Ethel’s door for a tea and a good ole fashioned chinwag. More like a hen cluck party as Mr. Scanlon would say. Mr. Scanlon had come out of his unit to see what the excitement was about. There was not much in that gone on in the building that Harry Scanlon didn’t know. “Go back to your apartment Harry.” I said with my arm around Flora’s shoulder.

We got into her apartment and I escorted her to the sofa. Flora sat down; I got her some juice, and sat beside her. I asked her what she had seen. Was there anything strange about Mrs. Peterson’s door being open at that time? – I knew the police would ask her the same questions because I had been through a similar situation last May.

I heard the sirens and soon, bedlam was in full swing with firefighters, EMTs and the police all over the building noting that there was no fire, the engines left first followed by the EMTs. The Coroner’s wagon was called in to collect Mrs. Peterson.

Gerry peeked inside Flora’s apartment, and motioned me out in the hall. I followed.
“What’s going on?” I asked him.

“Well,” said Gerry, “from what I heard in the room, Mrs. Peterson had a little help checking out.”

“Apparently so, seems someone took liberties with a bat. The weapon of choice is missing but the crime scene crew did find a sliver in her hair. They are assuming it’s a bat but it could be a two by four.”

“It’s amazing what I can hear from the hall while doing traffic control in the hallway”, he said, “I was trying to hold back the rubberneckers. Gibbons has been called”

Inspector Gibbons had been the Chief Homicide officer on the Hodges case and we had become friends; chiefly because he brought Timmy’s and we had built up a good rapport over many a takeout coffee. Seriously, Gibbons was a good person. He treated people fairly and was not common to profile according to certain factors. If there was enough evidence to nail a perp, Gibbons would do the right thing.

With that, Gibbons showed up. He greeted us. “I should have known it was chaos central, given the address,” he said coolly. Gibbons had developed a black sense of humor when it came to our ‘domicile of death’. Given that, he had spent quite a few hours here investigating Hodge’s death, and fishing our butts out of the fire. The inspector was prepared for anything when visiting.

Gibbons began taking down the particulars about Ethel, next of kin and all that. I asked Flora if Mrs. Peterson had any family. Flora was able to recall a niece from her late sister; Adriana was her name. No children though, Ethel and Howard had never been blessed with kids of their own. Flora also remarked that Howard had been gone for ten years or so. I went in to the office to retrieve Ethel’s rental information to find any telephone numbers for Adriana.

There was one, and I gave it to Gibbons. He hated having to contact family about a death, especially where homicide was concerned. I offered to make the call, but Gibbons said under the circumstances, he had to do the deed. Gibbons also needed to ask Flora some questions and wondered if she was up to it.

“I suppose I can” Said Flora, “though I don’t know much accept the fact that I found her with her face in her breakfast. I thought she had just passed out. I had no clue she was a goner ‘til I got close up. When I saw the blood that’s when I screamed. Who would do that? She was so nice; she’d never hurt a flea.

“When you were taking your trash out you didn’t notice anything odd, like a stranger in the hall?” Gibbons was taking notes.
Flora shook her head, and replied that Harry Scanlon was standing in his doorway when she was leaving her apartment. He didn’t say much about seeing anyone weird. Gibbons added this to his notes and said he would ask Harry himself. Gibbons also added that he could supply the services of a grief counselor if people needed closure around Ethel’s passing.

I said I thought folks might appreciate that. Gibbons went back into Ethel’s apartment to talk to the forensic team and his partner Matt Rush. Ethel Peterson was well liked, and would be missed. The coroner had taken her away, and quite a few of the tenants seemed distraught over her sudden and violent demise. One particular resident was ready to have the sorry S.O.B. castrated for killing such a kind soul. Gerry assured him that the Police would seek the appropriate justice.

“Police my ass! Look what Laura had to go through last spring when that midget held her and the woman cop hostage… She had to have the little feller hog-tied before the coppers got here. I have no faith in the police.”

“Sam,” I told him, “I took a big risk in doing what I did, and besides Janice was very good in that situation.”

I took the time to go door to door to explain that a grief counselor was at our services to help deal with that morning’s tragedy. After that like, it or not I had to return to my regular duties within the complex. Gerry and I added the cleaning of Mrs. Peterson’s unit to our list, as soon as the police gave permission to proceed. Gibbons had called Adriana regarding her great aunt’s death. He informed her that the crime scene unit was almost done with the apartment and she and her spouse Michael would have to come to see what needed to be moved out

Adriana and Michael showed up. They quickly perused the contents and matter-of-factly assessed what needed to be dispensed with. She appeared very cold and distant and I found it a bit discomfiting to see a relative be so detached about her aunts’ death and her belongings. Adriana didn’t seem to want anything of Ethel’s and stated that a truck would be by to move the stuff as soon as could be arranged and would call us about the time and day,

As noon approached in what was turning out to be a very long day, Gerry and I were cleaning one of the empty units. I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing though. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure how to mention what was on my mind. Gerry decided the issue for me.

“Okay Laura, speak up.”

I looked at Gerry. He always seemed to know when something was bothering me. “Okay you got me,” I admitted.

“Ethel’s death bugging you?” he asked me.

“Well duh, yeah,” I said, “it’s bugging me the way it’s bugging everyone. However, it’s more than that. When Adriana was here, she was so cold, not the way a bereaved relative should act. If she was my aunt I would have been a little more sorrowful.”

“So, your point is what?”

I stopped what I was doing and looked over at Gerry. “I got the impression from Adriana’s demeanor that the two weren’t close. I remember her referring to Ethel as the “old lady” and her things as “this junk”.”

“Yeah,” Gerry chewed his lip. “That is cold.”
“What takes the cake is she immediately went routing through Ethel’s stuff looking for a Will, and asked me if I knew who her lawyer was. Then she got on her cell phone to a moving company to get a truck here to get the junk out post-haste.”

The mere thought of a relative going through my things so coldly and dispassionately made me so sad that I started to cry. Finally, the events of the day had gotten to me.

Gerry came over and hugged me. “It’s been a long day Hon,” he said gently brushing my tears, “why don’t you go downstairs and take a break”. I knew I needed to keep busy but Gerry was right, I needed a break.

“I’m going to go to the store and get some groceries,” I decided. “Are you okay?” I asked him. I wanted him to know I hadn’t forgotten I wasn’t the only person having a rough day.

Gerry nodded tiredly. “I will be,”

I kissed him and said I’d be back in awhile.

Dead Comic Standing – by Karen Vaughan

Someone’s lost his sense of humor and it’s gonna be murder! A serial killer is stalking the comedians of Edmonton, seeming to choose his victims based on the fact he doesn’t share their sense of humor.

Dave Feener, the first comic to die, is at the top of his game, but when he’s stabbed, the killer tells him, “You just ain’t funny!” Nothing like a little constructive criticism!

Comedienne Shelly has a comeback for everything. When a customer heckles her, she gives back as good as she gets. She’s got a great routine, her comic star is rising. As the death count mounts, she begins to wonder what’s wrong with the guy. Nervous, but not terrified, she continues working on her routines for Comic F/X. Soon, she finds herself falling for her boss, Jeff.

Jeff used to be a standup comic, but gave it up in lieu of starting his own club. He and his counterpart at the other comedy club, Laff Attack, have a friendly rivalry to see who can get the biggest crowd and the best comics.

Unfortunately, both of them are losing their people as the serial killer continues.

Constables Lissa Cassway and Mike Borneo are investigating the murders. Despite their best efforts, the comic killer manages to kill again and again, making them wonder how he’s managing to stay ahead of them. Will the tide turn in their favor? Or will the killer continue his deadly spree?

Karen Vaughan’s novel, “Dead Comic Standing”, is a wonderful look into the world of stand-up comedy. She mixes in funny comedic routines with the serious business of police work. Her characters sparkle, the story moves at a good pace as she builds to the climax of her tale.

I highly recommend “Dead Comic Standing” for anyone who likes a good mystery—or even a good joke.

Five Golden Acorns

Norm Brown – Master of Mystery!


Norm Brown is a quiet man who seems rather shy — until you get to know him. Norm has a wonderfully clever sense of humor. I was lucky enough to meet Norm and several other members of the Second Wind family a couple years ago when we ventured to North Carolina for a book signing.

Norm and I were traveling buddies. Probably not the best combination, because even with a GPS, we managed to get lost. Ah well, it made for a great time and we enjoyed the ride! At least he doesn’t get lost when he’s writing.

Dellani: What is your book about?

Norm: Near the end of their honeymoon trip across Oregon, Sam Stanley, his new wife Lynn, and her one-year-old son Andy, traverse a steep mountain road in a rented RV. In the middle of a blind curve they run over a long roll of carpeting angled across the road. Sam barely manages to avoid crashing down the mountainside. When he walks back up the road to move the obstacle—it’s gone. Upon returning home to Austin, Sam learns that the crushed body of a business executive from Boulder, Colorado has been found at the site of their reported accident. The Oregon police suspect Sam in the obvious hit and run death; there is no roll of carpet. When deadly “accidents” continue in Texas, Sam realizes they were all supposed to die on that mountain.

Dellani: How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Norm: It rattled around in my head for over six months before I actually sat down and began to outline the plot.

Dellani: What inspired you to write this particular story?

Norm: The opening scene occurred to me when my son and I were traveling on vacation in a rented RV through the Coastal Wilderness of Oregon. While negotiating a frighteningly narrow curve on a high, lonely mountain road, I couldn’t help but imagine what would happen if something suddenly blocked the way of the big, clunky vehicle. Like most book ideas, it started with that simple question: What if?

Dellani: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Norm: The novel actually has two protagonists, but if I had to choose my favorite it would be Sam Stanley. At the beginning of the story, newly-wed Sam feels almost literally on top of the world. When targeted by an unknown enemy, he discovers courage and strength he never knew he possessed. Carpet Ride is the story of Sam’s evolution from vulnerable victim to desperate defender of his little family.

Dellani: Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Norm: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed writing about the one-and-a-half year old boy, Andy. The growing bond between him and his new step dad Sam added a level of vulnerability that I think helped ratchet up the intensity of the story. The little guy is barely starting to form words, but he actually helps to solve the mystery.

Dellani: How long did it take you to write your book?

Norm: I’m not a speedy writer at all. I wrote and rewrote for over a year before even considering trying to find a publisher.

Dellani: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Norm: I know a lot of authors like to let the story unfold as they write, but I’m definitely an outliner. The basic story was laid out in my notes before I started. The details of the plot changed a lot however by the time I finished the first draft.

Dellani: Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it?

Norm: The action of the story takes place at locations I was already somewhat familiar with in Oregon, Texas, and Colorado. I think that reduced the amount of research required. I do remember however nervously wandering around a local hospital intensive care unit to get a feel for the layout of a scene. I always feel like an intruder in hospital hallways, and in this case I probably was.

Dellani: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

Norm: Although I start writing with a very detailed plot, I find that my characters evolve and more or less define themselves through their actions and words as the story unfolds. One main character, Sam’s best friend John Canton, didn’t even exist when I started the first draft. I soon discovered that I needed him to help Sam solve the murder mystery and he went on to become a second protagonist. Starting out as a rather reckless young man, his development throughout the story is more or less the opposite of Sam Stanley’s. By the last chapter he has noticeably matured and puts his life on the line to defend his friends.

Dellani: Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Norm: I worked most of my life as a computer programmer-analyst. Just as when creating a software program, I need a fairly detailed timeline of how my novel is going to proceed before I start typing. While writing Carpet Ride I kept the timeline updated until very near the end. Once the editing and rewriting phase started, the timeline was still useful as a reference for details.

Dellani: What do you like to read?

Norm: I read mostly mystery and suspense novels. I particularly like stories that put ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances.

Carpet Ride

Someone left a roll of carpet in the road. Did it fall off a truck unnoticed? Or was it on purpose. Whatever happened, Sam and his new wife, Lynn nearly crash their rented RV as a result of running over it. This accident triggers a series of events that nearly cost them their lives. If not for the help of Sam’s good friend, John, the story would have had quite a different ending.

Each step of John’s investigation gives him more questions and fewer answers. Finally, between the two of them, he and Sam discover the truth, but is it too late for Sam and his family?

The story takes Sam and his family from a narrow mountain road in Oregon, back to their home in Texas. Meanwhile, clues lead to Colorado making Sam and John wonder what exactly was in that rolled up carpet and why is someone now trying to kill Sam, Lynn and their son?

Carpet Ride is a wonderfully intricate plot with more twists and turns than a narrow mountain road. Every time I thought I had it figured out, Norm Brown threw me a curve ball and I realized I didn’t have it figured out until he told me! It’s an excellent book and a Must Read for all mystery lovers.

Five Golden Acorns

Norm’s books are available from the publisher: