Tag Archives: Second Wind Publishing

Scorpion Bay – Michael Murphy


scorpion bayParker Knight is a television news man. His wife, Erica, works for the District Attorney’s office and is investigating an important businessman, Harrison Bradley. In the course of the investigation, the car with her informant blows up, killing him, the driver and mortally wounding Erica.

Driven by grief, Parker embarks on a mission to bring the guilty parties to justice. What he finds in the course of his investigation, shocks him. With the help of his friends, Justin Kendall and Tina Banks, he brings the villains to justice.

“Scorpion Bay” is a fast paced adventure novel. It’s appropriate for adult readers who like a mystery packed with action, adventure and surprising plot twists. I found it extremely hard to put down.

Parker Knight and his friend Justin, are wonderful characters. They’re brave and heroic, though they aren’t infallible. They do make mistakes, showing their humanity. Somehow, by skill or plain dumb luck, they live to fight another day.

My favorite character is Tina Banks, Justin’s girlfriend. At first meeting, she comes off as kind of a bimbo, but as the book continues, she reveals more of her skills. She’s funny, intelligent and capable, keeping the men in line and kicking bad guy butt.

“Scorpion Bay” by Michael Murphy is a great read. I highly recommend it.

Five Golden Acorns

© Dellani Oakes

Below is an interview with Michael Murphy

Hi Michael, how long have you been writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing most of my life. I started my first novel 12 years ago.

What is your first novel and what is it about?

The first novel I wrote was called The Class of ’68, best one the most formative year of my life and perhaps America’s most traumatic year of the twentieth century.

What is your favorite genre? Would you consider writing anything else?

I write mostly mystery/suspense, but my first is historical fiction and my last, and best yet, is a general fiction novel about Woodstock called Good-bye, Emily.

Is writing more of a hobby for you?

I’m fortunate enough to be a full time writer, so staying focused on my writing is what I do.

How do you go about writing and editing your novel?

I try to finish a first draft of a novel in four to six month and then I polish, polish, polish. 

Describe your author’s voice.

I’ve gradually found my voice, which is a touch of humor throughout. None of my novels are comedic in nature, with the possible exception of Ramblin’ Man, which is a romantic comedy. Each of my novels have been increasing funny to where my readers expect to laugh out loud from time to time. 

What novels have you written?

After The Class of ’68, I began my Casey Bannister series about a retired NYPD homicide detective who just can’t stay retired. The first was Try and Catch the Wind, followed by Secrets of Sheridan Manor and Cuts Like Knife. Ramblin’ Man is a spinoff of that series. Casey Bannister appears toward the end. The main character was a supporting character in the series. I also wrote an Arizona mystery/suspense novel, Cold File. I also have Scorpion Bay and Goodbye, Emily.

My books are available through Amazon and are available in most e-book formats.

One Hot January – J. Conrad Guest


J. Conrad Guest 039Cynical, sarcastic, wary and somewhat paranoid, one might even say Joe January’s jaded. He’s very much a man’s man and enjoys being single and playing the field. So, it’s a bit of a puzzler why, when he meets Melissa MacIntyre, he doesn’t jump at the chance to bed her. Instead, he does his best to rid himself of both Melissa and her brother whose story of their missing father fails to elicit any sympathy from the hard bitten January.

Imagine Joe’s surprise when six years later, he meets up with Melissa once again. Not only has her father never been found, but her brother, Benjamin Junior, has gone missing as well. Mysterious notes and a strange package found their way to Miss MacIntyre’s possession and she’s come to Joe January once again for help.

Set in the 1940’s, the backdrop of WW II infiltrates the story of “One Hot January”. Pursued by Nazi spies, Joe, Melissa and his friend Lance must find why her father disappeared and what happened to Benjamin Junior before it’s too late.

“One Hot January” is a cleverly written sci-fi detective story for all mystery lovers.

© Dellani Oakes


More Deaths Than One – Pat Bertram


more deaths“More Deaths Than One” will leave you breathless—first with anticipation, finally with a contented sigh of a job well done. Set in 1988, this well crafted, fast paced novel of love and intrigue spans the globe from Denver, Colorado to Bangkok, Thailand.

Bob Stark is a quiet man. A Vietnam vet, he’s returned to the states after nearly 18 years in Thailand. He came back to his childhood home of Denver because his life in Thailand couldn’t continue. His friend and mentor, Hsiang-li, left on a personal quest to find a golden Buddha in the jungle—the place where he had to bury his wife and child after they were murdered.

Kerry Casillas works nights in the diner Bob frequents. One night, she introduces herself and they get to know one another. Soon after meeting Kerry, strange things start to happen. Bob and Kerry find themselves embroiled in a mystery far beyond their understanding.

“More Deaths Than One” is an interesting tale of one man’s journey to find the truth. The character of Bob Stark is deep and many faceted. He’s quiet, kind and resourceful, showing abilities even he didn’t know he possessed.

Kerry is a fun loving character and the opposite of Bob in many ways. She’s talkative, outgoing and imaginative. She is the perfect partner and counterpart to Bob. She, too, has hidden talents that surprise and please Bob.

The well paced plot of “More Deaths Than One”, keeps the reader riveted, waiting to discover the many mysteries in Bob’s past. I enjoyed the fact that though I guessed at all of these secrets, I was right about only a few. Bertram truly kept me hopping as I made my way through the book. I like when a novel isn’t so predictable that I know the end before it arrives.

I highly recommend “More Deaths Than One” – a must read for all mystery and suspense lovers.

5 golden acorns

© Dellani Oakes


Amazing Authors Stirrin’ It Up!


I feel very fortunate that I was chosen to be among the amazing writers with Second Wind Publishing. We have some fantastic authors and I am still working through my “to read’ list. Below are some reviews from these fabulous folks!

Images of BetrayalImages of Betrayal by Claire Collins initially seems like a romance novel. Tysan meets Walker, a handsome photographer, who shows her an alarming secret. His pictures show the future! Dubious, until events start coming true, Ty clings to Walker for help and support. But can those pictures hold something else more sinister?

This book is amazing. The plot has more twists and turns than a corkscrew. I thought I had it figured out, but every time I thought I knew the outcome, Collins gave me another twist. Fast paced an exciting, this story seems like it’s going one direction. In an unexpected twist, the story goes 360, then about another 180 degrees, spinning nearly out of control. An amazing thrill ride from start to finish. An amazingly thrilling mystery/ love story. A must read for anyone.Fate and Destiny

Fate and Destiny Like Collins’ other book, Images of Betrayal, Fate and Destiny blends a little romance with a whole lot of crime! Someone dropped Destiny out of a truck and into the snow. If Andrew hadn’t found her, she would have frozen to death. Who dumped her and why? Was it Fate that brought them together? If so, what else does Fate have in mind?

A wonderfully well crafted book that’s a delight to read. It charms and thrills from start to finish. An excellent choice for anyone who likes love and crime mixed together.



Carpet Ride coverCarpet Ride – Norm Brown

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.

Murder in Winnebago County – Christine Husom is a great mystery story. MurderWinnebago_thSgt. Corky Aleckson takes a routine call for a missing person that turns out to be not so routine. The death of Judge Fenneman is only the beginning of the bizarre sudden deaths around the county. Can Corky figure out “who done it” before the killer strikes again?

This is an excellent murder mystery with a twist. It gives us a poignant insight into the mind of a disturbed and grieving woman and her attempts to ease her pain. A must read for all murder mystery lovers.



ALOT_bookcover-148x223A Love Out of Time – Mairead Walpole — Little does Olivia Vernon know that evening that she’s about to step into a whole new world. Or, more accurately, have an old one come calling. Alden Scott hardly can believe that he’s come from the distant past into the future. Compelled by forces greater than they are, the couple finds one another.

Mairead Walpole has crafted a wonderful paranormal, love through time novel that truly unites two kindred souls. Walpole weaves a tale of romance and intrigue in this imaginative novel. I’ve read it twice, and will read it again for years to come.



Night & Day by Sherrie Hansen is a lovely romance about two stubborn, set inNIght_and_day_cover-148x223 their ways people who meet quite by accident on the Internet. Though one lives in America and the other in Denmark, they find they have a connection that transcends location. Knowing they are right for each other isn’t enough, though, when neither is willing to compromise. Can the two find love, or are they destined to be apart?

I greatly enjoyed this book. Hansen captures the unique qualities of the characters, making them come alive. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a true romance.



Badeaux Knights – Suzette Vaughn


badeaux knightsSonja Mitchell is running from an abusive boyfriend. She returns to the one place she feels really safe, the home of Nick and Kaleb Badeaux. She hopes to escape, only to have her ex redouble his efforts, threatening her and the two men she loves.

Vaughn’s story immediately draws the reader into a world that’s a mixture of modern and arcane. The Badeaux brothers are two of the sexiest romantic heroes of all time. This novel leaves the reader breathless, wanting more.

This story is an atypical love triangle between Sonja Mitchell, a young woman in an abusive relationship, and two brothers, Kaleb and Nicholas Badeaux. Running away from her abusive boyfriend, Sonja seeks refuge with the Badeaux brothers, embroiling them all in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with her sadistic ex. Badeaux Knights is exciting, seductive, terrifying! I couldn’t put it down!

5 Golden Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes


Backstop – A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings by J. Conrad Guest


Backstopfront-148x223Backstop – A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings by J. Conrad Guest, is a unique novel. Told in first person by the catcher, or backstop, of the Detroit Tigers, it chronicles his career from rookie to career’s end.

Backstop, as everyone calls him, is an interesting man who breaks the jock mold. Hardly dumb, he continually surprises the reader with his intuitive insights and literary interests.

Darlene, the woman who wins Backstop’s heart, is also an interesting character. Hurt by a bad relationship, she’s loathe to commit, but finds herself drawn to this far from ordinary man. It’s up to Backstop to win her heart, but can he keep her love and trust?

Backstop’s reflections on his relationship with Darlene are interspersed with with play by play account of baseball games. Though I know very little about baseball, I enjoyed the descriptions. J. Conrad Guest makes the game come alive with his words. The reader can visualize the events as they unfold.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a great baseball game and a good romance.

Five gold acorns!

© Dellani Oakes 2011

A Spark of Heavenly Fire – Pat Bertram


spark of heavenly fire cover Kate Cummings works in a medical clinic as a patient advocate. Since the death of her husband, she’s led a quiet, uneventful life. All that changes when a jogger in the park falls on her, hemorrhages and dies. This event is strange enough, but when the same symptoms appear in a woman at the clinic, Kate realizes that something more is going on.

 At the park, Kate meets Greg Pullman, a reporter for the newspaper. He’s somewhat younger than she, but they click on many different levels. When his fiancee, Pippi O’Brian, dumps him, he finds friendship and solace with Kate.

Together, Kate and Greg begin investigating the odd circumstances surrounding the deaths of the jogger and the woman at her office. As more and more people get ill, the city of Denver finds itself under military quarantine.

“A Spark of Heavenly Fire” is a well paced thriller. Kate and Greg race against time, trying to find the cause of the outbreak as well as survive in the aftermath. The characters are 3 dimensional and believable. The reader feels a link them them, and hope that they will somehow survive.

I highly recommend “A Spark of Heavenly Fire” for anyone who likes a good mystery with a dash of romance. It’s an excellent book and I look forward to reading Pat Bertram’s other novels – “More Deaths Than One”, “Daughter Am I”, “Lightbringer” and “Grief: The Great Yearning” (non-fiction).

Look for all Ms. Bertram’s books at www.secondwindpublishing.com as well as Amazon.com, BN.com and Smashwords.com

© Dellani Oakes

School of Lies – Mickey Hoffman


A few days ago, I featured a review of Mickey’s second book, Deadly Traffic. Today, I’m posting a review of her first book, School of Lies. Both novels are available on Amazon, B&N, or through Second Wind Publishing.

Kendra DeSola teaches special education at an inner city school, Standard High School. Short of money for her program, Kendra does the best she can for her students. If there’s one thing the kids know, Miss DeSola is there for them. So it’s a shock when an apparent blackmail picture shows up, implicating Kendra in a scandal.

Terrified her boss, Vice-Principal Zant, will find out and use it against her, Kendra begins to investigate. Her search for the truth turns deadly when one of her colleagues is killed. Was it an accident or murder? Kendra is determined to find out, because she is a suspect.

Vice-Principal Zant is an ambitious, connected and not very bright administrator. Confident he will be chosen to replace the current principal, Mr. Favor, he wields his power mercilessly.

As Kendra investigates, she discovers that her colleagues aren’t the people she thought they were. Everyone has secrets that can end their careers and it’s possible that she’s not the only one who had a really good motive for murder.

School of Lies is a riveting mystery centered around the shy, mousy teacher, Kendra DeSola. She overcomes her timidity as she pursues a puzzling mystery. I highly recommend this book for all mystery/ suspense lovers.

Five Golden Acorns!

© 2011 Dellani Oakes

Deadly Traffic by Mickey Hoffman


It’s been awhile since I featured one of my favorite authors on my site. I’ve loved Mickey Hoffman’s books for years. She may not be as well known as some other authors, but her work is fantastic. 

Her first book, School of Lies, kept me on the edge of my seat. Her second book, Deadly Traffic, made me glance over my shoulder for a week!

If you haven’t read Mickey’s books, now’s the time to start. Below is a review of her second book, Deadly Traffic. There is also an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

In a few days, I will post a review of her first book, School of Lies. Meanwhile, enjoy the review & excerpt of Deadly Traffic.

Deadly Traffic by Mickey Hoffman – excerpt from Chapter 2

Sandi found Win leaning on the bar counter, waiting for her when she came out of the Ladies’ room. A greenish glow from the wine bottles above the bar accented the planes of his handsome face. The young bartender smiled as she returned his change. A hostess led a party of three toward a table along the wall. He frowned at the receipt in his hand and stored it in his wallet. She couldn’t see him turning it in to his boss; since when did petty criminals ask for meal allowances? More likely, it would be kept to demonstrate how well he treated her, right after he told her she didn’t deserve dinner at such an expensive restaurant.

He plucked a toothpick from a shot glass near the cash register and used it like a wand to direct her toward the door. Sandi winced as a punishing blast of hot air struck her face, giving a longing look back at the cool interior of the restaurant. Win slid a stiffened palm to the small of her back to make sure they stayed hip to hip as he chose a pace that suited his long legs.

As they walked, Sandi kept her eyes fixed straight ahead, on a distant point that existed only in her mind, so she could pretend not to see the shock on people’s faces when their eyes landed on her, the ungainly girl at his side. He, as usual, basked in the attention he drew from passersby. Impervious to the heat, he wore all black, chosen, she knew, to complement his hair and highlight the three diamond studs that sparkled in his left ear. A manicurist, outside for a smoke, paused mid-puff and stared in admiration, as if Sandi’s companion had stepped straight off the glossy cover of one of the People magazines in her salon. Sandi wished she could hold that fantasy cover in her hands and shred him to bits, starting with his complacent smile. Why didn’t anyone ever see him for what he really was?

Of course, Win got a kick out of seeing her humiliation. The way he played up his resemblance to Bruce Lee only served to accentuate her inadequacies—skinny legs with thick ankles, a sway back, and pudgy cheeks that refused to go away no matter how much weight she lost. The only thing that marred his perfection was a gold tooth that showed when he smiled. But women didn’t consider it a flaw, they liked it, said it gave him character.

Sandi tracked away, pretending she wanted to avoid a bike rack, but he steered her back to his side as they joined a group waiting for a traffic light at a busy intersection. On the far corner, a steady stream of customers went in and out of the Arbor City Gourmet Deli. A wiry blond man stepped toward the curb, sipping at a large coffee. He barely caught her attention until she saw him retrieve a dog from where he’d tied it to a street sign. In a flash of recognition, she quickly sidestepped into the recessed doorway of a clothes boutique.

Where do you think you’re going?” barked Win in Burmese, catching up to her in two strides.

Hah! Not really ‘all American’ yet, are you?” she replied in English. She pressed her nose to the glass, feigning interest in the merchandise. She needed to do something to gain more time. Playing to his vanity, she said, “Look here, these leather jeans would look good on you.” As he checked out the jeans, she chanced a look down the block, starting to breathe again when she saw that her “uncle” hadn’t seen her. He was leading his dog in the opposite direction.

Win opened the shop door, but stepped away as a red-haired woman came out. She brazenly brushed against him, the filmy cloth of her skirt teasing at his leg, then looked over her shoulder to throw him a suggestive look before proceeding into the adjacent shoe store. Sandi hoped he’d follow the woman, but he didn’t respond to the lure. Instead, he was staring at the wall clock inside the boutique.

Let’s go in and you can try the pants on,” Sandi suggested.

She had a moment of hope while he appeared to consider it, but he frowned and said, “Not now, I have to get you back.”

He took her arm in a firm grip and set a fast pace back toward where they’d parked. She saw with dismay that in spite of her dawdling, they were in danger of catching up to the demon now only a block ahead and paused in front of an art gallery, sipping his coffee while his dog sniffed around an outdoor sculpture.

Sandi prayed for a distraction and for once the gods listened. From across the street, at a table set under the awning of an outdoor café, a triad of raucous coeds noticed Win and began to wave. How she loathed those women. They embodied everything she hoped to be when she reached their age, but would never become. She envied their carefree laughter, hated them for their self-assurance, but silently thanked them for being flirty. She felt the grip on her arm relax.

Hey there!” Win called out to the women, moving slowly toward them while framing them in the camera of his cell phone.

Sandi dropped back a few paces and eyed the alley up ahead, on the near side of the parking lot where they were headed. It had to be now or she’d lose her chance. The alley was a dimly lit canyon where she felt she could lose him, especially if he didn’t immediately figure out where she’d gone.

A few more steps to increase the distance between them…good, now he would lose sight of her as soon as she ran between the tall buildings. She curled her toes so her sandals wouldn’t flop off and darted to the right. Suddenly, a bicyclist rounded the corner and swerved in front of her. She shrieked reflexively, losing the advantage of surprise, but she kept going. She heard his boots hit the pavement as he ran hard after her, shouting her name. She pushed down her fear and kept moving, into the alley and toward her goal, the little park beyond where she planned to disappear among the throngs of people gathered for a 10K charity run. She ran not for charity, only for her life.

She lost one shoe, heard him closing the distance. She spotted a line of dumpsters and flung herself into the darkness behind, landing hard. She inched backward, feeling the way with her hands. Then the ground beneath her tilted and she slid backwards until she hit a wall. Upended wooden pallets ringed her like a three-sided cage. Her pursuer let out a yelp of pain and his footsteps halted. Was he hurt? If she ran again, would he be able to chase her? Her answer came quickly.

Don’t move! You’ve got two choices, you can let me get you out of there before the rest of those things fall and crush you, or you can wait and leave in a body bag.”

She froze, sprawled on the broken planks, skirt rucked up, legs askew. She felt a sharp, hot wetness on the palm of her hand and she licked at the blood. There wasn’t enough to really taste, not like when she cut herself. Her ankle was twisted, the sole of her remaining sandal caught in a crevice between two pallets. She slid a hand down to free her foot and found her wristband; it must have unsnapped during the slide.

Why…are you…running from me?” Win labored to catch his breath.

You brought me to downtown to hand me over to him, didn’t you!”

Who’s him? What’s wrong with you?”

Sandi wanted to scream back, “What’s wrong with you?” but she already knew the answer. She sat there in despair, relishing the pain of the wooden splinters in her skin as penance for her own stupidity.

He leaned in, stretching a hand toward her. She recoiled and, in spite of the shadows, pulled down her skirt to conceal the pattern of partially healed bruises on her thighs. When she felt the touch of his fingers on her foot, she threw her wristband at him. He swore at her as it bounced against his head, but managed to grab on to her ankle and reeled her in. She made a last attempt to shake loose, but his arms clamped around her so tightly she could hardly breathe. She’d lost.

You won’t run off again?” he asked, but it really wasn’t a question.

Not so you’ll catch me,” she said under her breath.

From a near distance came a muffled cry.

Someone’s coming,” said Win. “Keep quiet or I’ll make sure you can’t scream.” With a new urgency, he half-carried her through the alley emerging a mere block from the park that no longer was her refuge. Somewhere along the way she lost her other shoe. Eyes cast to the pavement, she numbly let him walk her back to the parking lot.

You’re bleeding. I think there’s tissue in the car.”

Sandi wanted to believe the concern in his voice but she no longer trusted anyone. For that, maybe she should blame herself. She was angry, but also ashamed, and she couldn’t tell him or ask for help. Not anymore.

When they reached the car, he pushed her into the passenger seat, then got in the driver’s side and reached over to fasten her seat belt. Sure, she thought, don’t damage the valuable cargo. Why doesn’t he just throw me into the trunk like he does with the others and be done with it? Or do the other girls just go along with him?

Win found a package of Kleenex under the seat, took one out and put it in her lap. She picked it up and bunched it in her fist, wondering what he’d do if she rubbed the blood from her wound all over his handsome face.

We’ll talk when you calm down. I don’t have to tie you up, do I?” he asked in a tone indicating it was an option.

You’d like that, wouldn’t you,” she spat. “Then you can charge extra for delivering me.”

You’re sick. I’m taking you home. I don’t even know who you are anymore.” He turned the key in the ignition.

She gave him a look of scorn. “You never did, brother.”

Deadly Traffic – Mickey Hoffman

Kendra DeSola is back and ready for action! Sort of. After the previous year’s debacle at Standard High (School of Lies) she’s taken time off from her teaching job. Complications with eye surgery have isolated her even more. Needing an income, she starts a dog walking business.

Enter Roger Rhus. Slick, handsome, charming and rich, Roger seems like the perfect client. Impressed with Kendra, he hires her to walk his Labrador, Jackson.

Kendra has gone so far as to move and change her number to get away from her stalking ex-boyfriend, Brian. Her new house isn’t in the best neighborhood, but she likes it well enough until someone puts a rock through her backdoor. Rushing out to investigate, she literally runs into her new neighbor, Win Ni. Also handsome and charming, Kendra finds herself attracted to a much younger man.

These two chance meetings lure Kendra into another mystery. The accidental discovery of a dead body once more puts her at odds with her police detective adversaries, Detectives Howard and Tapia. And as before, Standard High plays a role in the complex action.

Kendra DeSola is curious to a fault. Scrupulous and trustworthy, she always seems to be getting herself into dangerous situations. Her distrust of the police keeps her from going to the authorities with what she’s learned.

Maretta Edwards, Kendra’s closest friend, joins her for some of her investigative jaunts. Though she says she hates to be involved, she’s right there in the thick of things.

Deadly Traffic is an exciting sequel to School of Lies. Hoffman’s characters are engaging, their actions skillfully pulling the reader into the suspenseful plot. I highly recommend Deadly Traffic to anyone who loves a great mystery.

Five Golden Acorns.

© 2011 Dellani Oakes

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: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com