Guest Post: Mally Becker – THE TURNCOAT’S WIDOW

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Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope everyone of you is safe and warm. Can you believe we’ve almost made it to the end of the second month of 2021?! I know most of you are avid readers like myself. And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably curious about what author’s do when they aren’t writing. Is writing their only career? Do they have other work responsibilities and write on a part-time basis? Did they wait until retirement to begin writing? Did they wait until their children had graduated from high school (or its equivalent) before writing or are their children still at home and in school? Inquiring minds want to know…okay, my inquiring mind wants to know. Thankfully, today’s guest author will reveal a few answers to these questions. Please help me welcome freelance journalist turned attorney turned children’s advocate, Mally Becker. Ms. Becker’s historical suspense novel, The Turncoat’s Widow was recently released. I hope you’ll enjoy Ms. Becker’s words of wisdom and that you’ll follow the blog tour to read some enlightening reviews of this book. Thank you, Ms. Becker, for visiting with us today. The blog is now yours.

Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams

by Mally Becker

My 18th century heroine, Rebecca Parcell, is a young widow and an outsider in her hometown. The War for Independence is literally on her doorstep, there’s a growing whisper campaign that she’s a Loyalist sympathizer. Becca is angry, defensive, and scared. Who wouldn’t be? But she manages by the end of the book to reinvent herself as she faces each challenge.

I still don’t have my heroine’s hard-won confidence. But I’ve reinvented myself, too, as I wrote my historical mystery, The Turncoat’s Widow, and here’s the lesson I want to share: Don’t give up on a dream, whether or not it has anything to do with writing, even if it seems – or is – out of reach today.

Writing isn’t my first career. It’s isn’t even my second. Like so many others, I’ve always imagined writing a novel one day. I nibbled around the edge of that wish for a long time, crafting a few freelance pieces for my local newspaper, starting then shelving the beginnings of other stories.

But I finished The Turncoat’s Widow, and my story was published about a week ago. So what changed? How did I change? In retrospect, I can point to three things, and I think they apply to more than writing.

Enjoy the ride. I was 30 pages into my first draft when a mystery writer said to me at a writers conference, “If you’re not having fun writing, just don’t do it.” I had let myself become too judgmental about my own beginner efforts. I’d almost forgotten that I loved to write, forgotten how remarkable it is when a character veers off in a direction I hadn’t considered until my fingers hit the keyboard. That writer’s message came at the right time.

I stopped stressing over whether what I wrote was any good or whether I’d be published. I focused on my story and having fun figuring out what would happen next. I would think about the rest later, I told myself, or maybe I wouldn’t. I was just at the keyboard to have fun and keep writing.

Focusing on the process and not the outcome sounds simple, right? It was, and it wasn’t. But it was liberating to think only about the next sentence, the next scene, the next chapter. I couldn’t control whether a publisher would eventually want to pick up my book or what readers will think now that it’s launched. But I could control whether I sat down in front of my laptop to write each day.

Studies show that feeling in control is a major component of happiness. Writing regularly–focusing on what I could control–made me happy.

Find your people. Writing is a lonely business, or so the cliché goes. Except it is a cliché and not always true. Talking to people whose goals were similar to mine kept me motivated. I still sit in on virtual weekly workshops at The Writers Circle in New Jersey, where I found my tribe. I also searched online for free and low-cost options for writers. Maybe the only upside of Covid is that so many writing conferences and authors’ readings are available online for free now.

Be kind to yourself. Some people carve out writing time while they’re working full time, raising a family, and volunteering a favorite charity. Nope. Not me. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t beat myself up for “failing” to write more when I was doing all of the above. I didn’t find the energy to focus on The Turncoat’s Widow until our son had graduated from high school.

“Trust the process,” another writer told me. It sounds like something Yoda would say in a Star Wars films, right? But life has its seasons, and is there anyone who gets to do everything they’ve ever wanted to do all at the same time? I didn’t realize back in the day that the low-cost writers conferences I attended, the short articles I wrote and the journals I filled were like a pianist’s finger exercises. They were just enough to keep my writing muscles limber until the right idea and time presented themselves.

Are you moving closer to a goal you’ve had for a long time? What keeps you going?

 

The Turncoat’s Widow

by Mally Becker

February 22 – March 19, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Turncoat's Widow

 

Recently widowed, Rebecca Parcell is too busy struggling to maintain her farm in Morristown to care who wins the War for Independence. But rumors are spreading in 1780 that she’s a Loyalist sympathizer who betrayed her husband to the British—quite a tidy way to end her disastrous marriage, the village gossips whisper.

Everyone knows that her husband was a Patriot, a hero who died aboard a British prison ship moored in New York Harbor. But “everyone” is wrong. Parcell was a British spy, and General Washington – who spent two winters in Morristown – can prove it. He swears he’ll safeguard Becca’s farm if she unravels her husband’s secrets. With a mob ready to exile her or worse in the winter of 1780, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.

Escaped British prisoner of war Daniel Alloway was the last person to see Becca’s husband alive, and Washington throws this unlikely couple together on an espionage mission to British-occupied New York City. Moving from glittering balls to an underworld of brothels and prisons, Becca and Daniel uncover a plot that threatens the new country’s future. But will they move quickly enough to warn General Washington? And can Becca, who’s lost almost everyone she loves, fight her growing attraction to Daniel, a man who always moves on?

Praise for The Turncoat’s Widow

The Turncoat’s Widow has it all. A sizzling romance, meticulous research, and an exhilarating adventure. Becca Parcell is too independent for both 18th-century Morristown and her feckless English husband. Her individual plight when she is pressed into service as an unwilling spy after her husband’s death reflects the larger situation of colonists during the American Revolution, whose lives were upended by a political fight they cared nothing about. Becker balances the ruthlessness of George Washington and the underhanded charm of Alexander Hamilton with the excesses of the British, as part of a detailed picture of how the colonies were governed during a war that was far from a simple fight between two opposing nations. But historical exactitude is balanced by dashing romance between Becca and Daniel Alloway, the escaped prisoner charged with protecting her, and plot full of bold escapes and twists. A great series debut. I can’t wait for the next installment.
– Erica Obey, author, Dazzle Paint (coming 02/2021), The Curse of the Braddock Brides, and The Horseman’s Word.

An exciting Revolutionary-era thriller with a twisty mystery, great characters, and historical accuracy to boot.
– Eleanor Kuhns,author of the Will Rees mysteries

The Turncoat’s Widow reminds readers that treachery from within and without to our republic were real, and those early days for American independence from the British were fragile, the patriot cause, unpopular. This is a rousing debut novel with insights into the hardships of colonial life, the precarious place of women in society, while giving fans of historical fiction a tale with suspense, surprises, and anoutspoken and admirable heroine in Becca Parcell. Mally Becker is an author to watch.
– Gabriel Valjan, Agatha and Anthony-nominated author of The Naming Game

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Suspense / Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-953789-27-3
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Author - Mally Becker

Mally Becker is a writer whose historical suspense novel, The Turncoat’s Widow, was published in February 2021 by Level Best Books. She was born in Brooklyn and began her professional career in New York City as a publicist and freelance magazine writer, then moved on, becoming an attorney and, later, an advocate for children in foster care.

As a volunteer, she used her legal background to create a digest of letters from US Supreme Court Justices owned by the Morristown National Park. That’s where she found a copy of an indictment for the Revolutionary War crime of traveling from New Jersey to New York City “without permission or passport.” It led her to the idea for her story.

​A winner of the Leon B. Burstein/MWA-NY Scholarship for Mystery Writing, Mally lives with her husband in the wilds of New Jersey where they hike, kayak, look forward to visits from their son, and poke around the region’s historical sites.

Catch Up With Mally Becker On:
www.MallyBecker.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @mallybeckerwrites
Twitter – @mally_becker
Facebook – Mally Baumel Becker

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Enter To Win!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Mally Becker. There will be Five (5) winners for this tour. One winner will receive a $20. Amazon.com Gift Card, Two (2) winners will each win a physical copy of The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker (U.S. addresses only), and Two (2) winners will each win an eBook copy of The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker. The giveaway begins on February 22, 2021 and runs through March 21, 2021.

Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: SYMPHONY ROAD by Gabriel Valjan

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Symphony Road

by Gabriel Valjan

February 1-28, 2021 Tour

 

Synopsis:

Symphony Road by Gabriel Valjan

Trouble comes in threes for Shane Cleary, a former police officer and now, a PI.

Arson. A Missing Person. A cold case.

Two of his clients whom he shouldn’t trust, he does, and the third, whom he should, he can’t.

Shane is up against crooked cops, a notorious slumlord and a mafia boss who want what they want, and then there’s the good guys who may or may not be what they seem.

Praise for Symphony Road:

“The second installment in this noir series takes us on a gritty journey through mid-seventies Boston, warts and all, and presents Shane Cleary with a complex arson case that proves to be much more than our PI expected. Peppered with the right mix of period detail and sharp, spare prose, Valjan proves he’s the real deal.” – Edwin Hill, Edgar finalist and author of Watch Her

“Ostracized former cop turned PI Shane Cleary navigates the mean streets of Boston’s seedy underbelly in Symphony Road. A brilliant follow up to Dirty Old Town, Valjan’s literary flair and dark humor are on full display.” – Bruce Robert Coffin, award-winning author of the Detective Byron Mysteries

“A private eye mystery steeped in atmosphere and attitude.” – Richie Narvaez, author of Noiryorican

Book Details:

Genre: Crime fiction, Procedural, Noir, Historical Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2021
Number of Pages: 232
ISBN: 978-1-953789-07-5
Series: Shane Cleary Mystery, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

I went to cross the street when the wheels of a black Cadillac sped up and bristled over tempered glass from a recent smash-and-grab. The brake lights pulsed red, and a thick door opened. A big hulk stepped out, and the car wobbled. The man reached into his pocket. I thought this was it. My obituary was in tomorrow’s paper, written in past tense and in the smallest and dullest typeface, Helvetica, because nothing else said boring better.

Click. Click. “I can never get this fucking thing to light.”

It was Tony Two-Times, Mr. B’s no-neck side man. His nickname came from his habit of clicking his lighter twice. “Mr. B wants a word.”

“Allow me.” I grabbed the Bic. The orange flame jumped on my first try and roasted the end of his Marlboro Red. “You really oughta quit.”

“Thanks for the health advice. Get in.”

Tony nudged me into the backseat. I became the meat in the sandwich between him and Mr. B. There was no need for introductions. The chauffeur was nothing more than a back of a head and a pair of hands on the wheel. The car moved and Mr. B contemplated the night life outside the window.

“I heard you’re on your way to the police station to help your friend.”

“News travels fast on Thursday night. Did Bill tell you before or after he called me?”

“I’m here on another matter.”

The cloud of smoke made me cough. Tony Two-Times was halfway to the filter. The chauffeur cracked the window a smidge for ventilation. As I expected, the radio played Sinatra and there were plans for a detour. A string of red and green lights stared back at us through a clean windshield.

“A kid I know is missing,” Mr. B said.

“Kids go missing all the time.”

“This kid is special.”

“Has a Missing Persons Report been filed?”

The look from Mr. B prompted regret. “We do things my way. Understood?”

We stopped at a light. A long-legged working girl with a chinchilla wrap crossed the street. She approached the car to recite the menu and her prices, but one look at us and she kept walking.

“Is this kid one of your own?”

The old man’s hand strummed leather. The missing pinky unnerved me. I’ve seen my share of trauma in Vietnam: shattered bones, intestines hanging out of a man, but missing parts made me queasy. The car moved and Mr. B continued the narrative.

“Kid’s a real pain in my ass, which is what you’d expect from a teenager, but he’s not in the rackets, if that’s what you’re wondering. This should be easy money for you.”

Money never came easy. As soon as it was in my hand, it went to the landlady, or the vet, or the utilities, or inside the refrigerator. I’d allow Mr. B his slow revelation of facts. Mr. B mentioned the kid’s gender when he said “he’s not in the rackets.” This detail had already made the case easier for me. A boy was stupider, easier to find and catch. Finding a teenage girl, that took something special, like pulling the wings off of an angel.

“He’s a good kid. No troubles with the law, good in school, excellent grades and all, but his mother seems to think he needed to work off some of that rebellious energy kids get. You know how it is.”

I didn’t. The last of my teen years were spent in rice paddies, in a hundred-seventeen-degree weather—and that was before summer—trying to distinguish friendlies from enemies in a jungle on the other side of the planet. And then there were the firefights, screams, and all the dead bodies.

“Does this kid have a girlfriend?” I asked.

Mr. B said nothing.

“A boyfriend then?” That question made Mr. B twist his head and Tony Two-Times elbowed me hard. “I’ve got to ask. Kids these days. You know, drugs, sex, and rock’ n roll.”

“The kid isn’t like your friend Bill, Mr. Cleary.”

The mister before Cleary was a first. The ribs ached. I caught a flash of the driver’s eyes in the rearview mirror. Mr. B conveyed specifics such as height and weight, build, the last known place the kid was seen, the usual hangouts and habits. This kid was All-American, too vanilla, and Mr. B had to know it. Still, this kid was vestal purity compared to Mr. B, who had run gin during Prohibition, killed his first man during the Depression, and became a made-man before Leave It to Beaver aired its first episode on television.

The car came to a stop. The driver put an emphasis on the brakes. We sat in silence. The locks shot up. Not quite the sound of a bolt-action rifle, but close. Mr. B extended his hand for a handshake. I took it. No choice there. This was B’s way of saying his word was his bond and whatever I discovered during the course of my investigation stayed between us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

“I’ve got to ask,” I said.

“I’ll pay you whatever you want.”

“It’s not that,” I said, feeling Tony Two-Times’ breath on the back of my neck. “Did you hire Jimmy C to do a job lately?”

“I did not.”

“And Bill called me, just like that?” I knew better than to snap my fingers. Tony would grab my hand and crush my knuckles like a bag of peanuts. A massive paw on the shoulder told me it was time to vacate the premises, but then Mr. B did the tailor’s touch, a light hand to my elbow. “Jimmy is queer like your friend, right?”

“What has that got to do with anything?”

“When it comes to friends, you forgive certain habits, like I allow this idiot over here to smoke those stupid cigarettes. Capisci?”

“Yeah, I understand.”

“Good. Now, screw off.”

I climbed over Tony Two-Times to leave the car. Door handle in my grip, I leaned forward to ask one last thing, “You know about Jimmy’s predicament?”

“Ironic, isn’t it?” Mr. B said.

“What is?”

“I know everything in this town, except where my grandnephew is. Now, shut the door.”

The door clapped shut. I heard bolts hammer down and lock. There was a brief sight of silhouettes behind glass before the car left the curb. I had two cases before breakfast, one in front of me, and the other one, behind me in the precinct house. There was no need for me to turn around. No need either, to read the sign overhead.

The limestone building loomed large in my memory. Two lanterns glowed and the entrance, double doors of polished brass, were as tall and heavy as I remembered them. It was late March and I wasn’t Caesar but it sure as hell felt like the Ides of March as I walked up those marble steps.

***

Excerpt from Symphony Road by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2021 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan

Gabriel Valjan lives in Boston’s South End. He is the author of the Roma Series and Company Files (Winter Goose Publishing) and the Shane Cleary series (Level Best Books). His second Company File novel, The Naming Game, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery and the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original in 2020. Gabriel is a member of the Historical Novel Society, International Thriller Writer (ITW), and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Gabriel Valjan:
www.GabrielValjan.com
GabrielsWharf.wordpress.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @gvaljan
Instagram – @gabrielvaljan
Twitter – @GValjan
Facebook

 

 

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Peter W.J. Hayes – THE THINGS THAT LAST FOREVER

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Happy Thursday, my bookish peeps! Before I started this blog, I dabbled in nonfiction writing. Yes, I’ve done some writing, but it was primarily for religious journals, religious short stories, and other religious writings. Since starting this blog and with the increasing rise of social media outlets, I’ve been pushed to promote the blog on various outlets with weekly, if not daily posts (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the now-defunct Google+). I know from personal experience how difficult it is to keep things fresh and write something new and different each time I sit down (and yes, I know I often fail at this goal). Writing is hard work and the best writers, in my not so humble opinion, make it seem effortless when it is anything but that. Today’s guest, Peter W.J. Hayes, author of the recently released The Things That Last Forever, will be sharing with us his philosophy on the stages of writing a story. If you’ve ever wondered about the emotional investment of the author in the story, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to see what Mr. Hayes has to say and perhaps follow the blog tour to learn more about this author and book. Please help me welcome Mr. Peter W.J. Hayes to the blog. Thank you, Mr. Hayes for stopping by and sharing with us.

The Five Stages of Writing a Story

I’ve published three novels and almost twenty short stories over the last five years, including my most recent novel, The Things That Last Forever. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that writing is a process, not unlike the Siege of Stalingrad or raising a teenager.

For me—whether a novel or short story— the writing process is the same. The only way I can complete a story is to navigate five clearly defined stages, one at a time, in order. That might sound like a lot, but remember they are stages. You can rest in any of the stages—well, ‘wallow’ might be the correct term—but trust me on this, every spouse or partner knows through an innate and unholy instinct when to gleefully kick you in the rear to get moving.

The stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Good grief, why would anyone want to be a writer?

DENIAL: Human beings, as a species, mastered the art of denial about the time we learned to walk upright. Writers are the final evolution and ultimate triumph of denial. I learned that early in my career, when I used to deny I was a writer simply because I had no published works to prove it (despite three unsold book manuscripts and enough rejection letters to wallpaper the Lincoln Memorial). And as I start each new story, I must always battle denial’s evil twins. I am at once in complete denial the story can actually work, while denying that it could fail. Yes, things are that complicated. I then spend several days (or longer) deconstructing both opinions until that moment when I realize the story—despite some flaws I might be able to work around—is writeable.

ANGER: Unfortunately, at that moment my reaction is always anger because now I must write it. It’s a bit like a wartime military draft. I’m in it now, I can’t get out, and ghastly things will happen before I reach home. But, as I rage at my conscription, the first third of the story takes shape, leading me directly into the next stage.

BARGAINING: This is the ugly, dark-of-night, desperate stage. Every day, facing a blank screen and that relentless, blinking cursor (it’s called a cursor for a reason), I make deals. If I can write just four more pages, I’ll treat myself to a beer. No, an IPA. I’ll do more charity work. Just let me write something, anything, and I’ll live with it. For one good analogy, the devil can have my soul. And so it goes, day after day, until the draft is finished and I stagger into the next stage.

DEPRESSION: In fairness, the day I finish the first draft of any story, I have a few moments of euphoria. That is, of course, an evil trick. As I reread the manuscript, tendrils of doubt creep in. The characters are flat. The plot is hackneyed, worse, boring. Do I even know how to write a sentence? Every insecurity I have (and a few new ones) weighs on me like a millstone. By the time I complete the final draft I’m a work-zombie, and I barely notice as I move into the final stage.

ACCEPTANCE: Sending any manuscript to an editor is a ritual similar to placing flowers on a grave. Yet (and this is a minor miracle) despite the fact that rejection may come, so can acceptance. I rarely feel much excitement or joy at that moment. Perhaps I’m too far into the stages of Bargaining or Depression with another story to think about it. But later, when I see the story in print, I always have a thought along the lines of ‘good grief, it’s risen from the dead.’ I take satisfaction from that. My story has found a home of its own and a place in the world.

Just as we hope for our teenagers.

 

 

 

The Things That Last Forever

by Peter W. J. Hayes

On Tour: January 1 – February 28, 2021

 

Synopsis:THE THINGS THAT LAST FOREVER - PWJHayes

 

After a house fire hospitalizes his partner and forces him onto medical leave, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police detective Vic Lenoski starts a desperate search for the woman who set the blaze. She is the one person who knows what happened to his missing teenage daughter, but as a fugitive, she’s disappeared so thoroughly no one can find her.

Risking his job and the wrath of the district attorney, Vic resorts to bargaining with criminal suspects for new leads, many of which point to North Dakota. He flies there, only to discover he is far from everything he knows, and his long-cherished definitions of good and bad are fading as quickly as his leads. His only chance is one last audacious roll of the dice. Can he stay alive long enough to discover the whereabouts of his daughter and rebuild his life? Or is everything from his past lost forever?

“The mystery plot itself is riveting…a captivating and emotionally intelligent crime drama.” — Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery: Police Procedural
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 294
ISBN: 978-1-947915-56-5
Series: A Vic Lenoski Mystery; Pittsburgh Trilogy #3 || Each is a Stand Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Author - Peter WJ Hayes

Peter W. J. Hayes worked as a journalist, advertising copywriter, and marketing executive before turning to mystery and crime writing. He is the author of the Silver Falchion-nominated Pittsburgh trilogy, a police procedural series, and is a Derringer-nominated author of more than a dozen short stories. His work has appeared in Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, Pulp Modern and various anthologies, including two Malice Domestic collections and The Best New England Crime Stories. He is also a past nominee for the Crime Writers Association (CWA) Debut Dagger Award.

Peter can be found at:
www.peterwjhayes.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


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Giveaway!!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Peter W.J. Hayes. There will be 4 winners for this giveaway. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and two (2) winners will each receive one (1) physical copy of The Things That Last Forever by Peter W.J. Hayes (US Only). The giveaway begins on January 1, 2021 and runs through March 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Book Showcase: SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT by Lida Sideris


Slightly Murderous Intent
A Southern California Mystery
by Lida Sideris
December 7 – 18, 2020 Tour



Synopsis:

There’s a shooter on the loose who keeps missing his target. But that doesn’t stop him from trying again…and again. It’s up to Corrie Locke, rookie lawyer and spunky sleuth, to find the gunman before he hits his mark, Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary, Corrie’s hunky and complicated frenemy.


When Corrie is stuck with more questions than answers, she enlists a team with various strengths, from weapons to cooking skills, to help her find the shooter. Her computer whiz boyfriend Michael is onboard. So is former security guard Veera. Toss in an over-the-hill informant and a couple of feuding celebrity chefs and Corrie’s got her very own A-Team. Okay, maybe it’s more like a B-Team.


Can Team Corrie hunt down the shooter before he scores a bulls-eye?



Book Details:
Genre: Traditional Mystery with some Humor
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: October 20th, 2020
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 9781947915930
Series: A Southern California Mystery, #4 | Each can be read as a Stand-Alone book


Purchase Links:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads



Read an excerpt:


The last of my patience dripped onto the concrete floor beneath my feet. My fists clenched, my jaw tightened and my stomach rumbled like the start of an avalanche. I’d officially reached the cracking point.

“Today was V-day for us. Victory with a big fat V.”

Los Angeles Senior Deputy District Attorney Bruce Beckman stood at the head of our table, arms raised high. The first two fingers of each hand formed a “V”. Meanwhile, everyone’s dinner sat in front of them. Everyone’s, that is, but mine. All I had was an empty plate and an empty stomach.

“Where’s our server?” I whispered. The beachside diner was packed. “Did they run out of food?”

Beckman dropped his pose and glared at me so fiercely, my cheeks glowed from the heat.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. What did he expect? His mac n’ cheese was half-eaten. I licked my lips.

“The case came close to swinging in the opposite direction,” Beckman continued. “We couldn’t have won today’s trial without this guy.” Beckman gestured toward the deputy D.A. sitting next to him.

I half stood and peered past the other diners.  No sign of our server. “Slacker,” I mumbled. I slammed my napkin down beside my plate.

“Have some of mine,” Michael whispered. “Please, Corrie.”

If anyone else had offered, I would’ve cleaned his plate in thirty seconds. But Michael was my oldest friend slash newest boyfriend, and I loved him dearly from his dark floppy hair to the Chuck Taylors on his feet. We sat in a crowded hipster restaurant in Santa Monica, a hop, skip, and a jump from the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Michael had barely touched his burger, waiting on my dinner with me. His stomach growled right alongside mine.

“Obviously, I picked the right man for the job,” Beckman said. “And gave him a few tips. Quite a few, actually.” He chuckled.

Weak laughter trickled around the table, followed by a groan. Did that come from me? Beckman shot me his signature scowl. I managed a shadow of an apology, and his attention returned to the man on his left.  My hunger pangs took a brief hike while I assessed the object of Beckman’s praise. Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary flashed a grin. He was a sight for sore eyes. Or any eyes, for that matter.

“Thanks to James,” Beckman continued, “defense counsel didn’t stand a chance.”

Cheers erupted. I clapped and wriggled around in my seat. My stomach rumblings grew even louder. That’s what happened when my last meal was breakfast.

“I’ll be back,” I whispered to Michael and shoved away my chair. We sat around a table of five. Three of us were members of the world’s oldest profession. The oldest after toolmakers, farmers, the military, and doctors. We were lawyers. I was the only lawyer unaffiliated with the D.A.’s office.

“Wait.” Michael took my hand.

Michael Parris wasn’t a lawyer, but he was the associate dean of the computer science department of a private tech college near downtown L.A.  Michael’s lips were moving but shouting voices, clanging dinner plates and background music swallowed up his next words.

“What?” I leaned in closer, sniffing a sweet combo of sandalwood and fresh laundry that made my empty insides tingle.

He wiped his mouth on a napkin and said, “Stay here. I’ll go to the kitchen. Help yourself to my burger while you wait. I promise I won’t return empty-handed.”

“No, you stay. I want to make sure they get my order right.” I touched his shoulder. “Be back soon.”

We locked stares and his hazel eyes softened. “Two minutes. If you’re not back, I’m coming after you.”

I’d insisted my table mates eat without me, figuring my meal was on its way…fifteen minutes ago. I aimed for the kitchen, wading sideways between packed tables when I bumped into our server. She tried to push past, but I blocked the way.

“I’m still waiting,” I told her.

“No, you’re not,” she said. “You got served.”

“Crispy chicken sandwich with spicy slaw and chili cheese fries, hold the onions. It’s not on our table.” I pointed my thumb over my shoulder.

“I brought all the orders out personally.”

“Not mine.”

“You wanna talk to the manager?”

“I demand to talk to the manager.”

She tipped her head and pitched it to one side. “Big Sam’s up front by the cashier.”

I moved out of her path, and she hustled past. I continued my sideways trek, filing between chairs and dodging scurrying servers. Nearly closing time and the place was still hopping. I slowed and looked back at the kitchen. Maybe I’d get somewhere if I talked to the cook. I was about to swivel around when I spotted a manager-type; a stocky guy with a shaved head and goatee, chatting up a group of wannabe diners near the bar.

I headed for him and waited behind the blonde hostess. The cash register drawer popped open with a ping. She plucked wads of bills from beneath the drawer and shoved them into a vinyl bank bag.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She jumped and turned to me, zipping up the bag and pushing it behind her. “Yeah?” Long bangs stabbed at her eyes.

I pitched my chin toward the stocky guy. “That the manager?”

“He owns the place. Big Sam Neely.” Her attention went back to the bag. She unzipped it and continued stuffing bills inside.

I navigated closer to Big Sam and leaned against a pillar, waiting for a chance to butt into the conversation. Meanwhile, a lanky dude in a dark gray hoodie and faded jeans edged his way inside. His clothes were baggy; his hood was up and over his head. Only his nose, mouth, and tinted shades were visible. Sunglasses at night weren’t unusual in L.A. I stared out at the room. A couple of diners wore shades. The guy in the hoodie flitted past me. He threw out his anchor near the hostess. My heartbeat quickened. The cash drawer still gaped open. I elbowed my way back toward him, half-expecting the guy’s hand to dart out and grab the bank bag, but he ignored the money. Instead, he eased forward and stared out toward the back of the diner. My gaze dropped to the lower left side of his jacket. The bottom edge had latched onto the large violin-shaped leaf of an ornamental ficus, exposing the top of his jeans. My heart hammered against my chest. The grip of a revolver stuck out of his pocket.

***

Excerpt from Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris. 

Copyright © 2020 by Lida Sideris. 
Reproduced with permission from Lida Sideris. All rights reserved.




Author Bio:

Lida Sideris’ first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio…kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award for her first book. She lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs, and a flock of uppity chickens. 




To learn more about Lida, please visit her at:
www.LidaSideris.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!





Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and giveaways!

Click here to view Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris Tour Participants.

Giveaway!!:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lida Sideris. There will be three (3) winners. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and One (1) winner will receive a copy of Slightly Murderous Intent by Lida Sideris (US only ~ choice of print or eBook). The giveaway begins on December 7, 2020, and runs through December 20, 2020. Void where prohibited.


Click here to enter.




Guest Post: Gabriel Valjan – DIRTY OLD TOWN

Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan Banner



Hello, book people. If you’re anything like me, then the first thing you do when you wake up is to check your phone to see what day it is. I no longer care about the time, but I need to know what day it is and I still seem to forget. I’m reading more but sleeping less. I’m not necessarily stressed, anxious, or depressed, although I do worry about all of my family and friends that are deemed “essential” and are out working every day during this pandemic. My prayers go out to all that have been touched by COVID-19. 

Sorry, went off on a tangent there…that’s the other thing, my brain seems to be going off in multiple directions all at once. I can’t imagine how authors, musicians, and artists are maintaining their creativity during these trying times. And today’s guest, Gabriel Valjan, author of the recently released Dirty Old Town, will be discussing just that. Thank you, Mr. Valjan for stopping by today.


Creativity in the Time of COVID-19

We’re living in difficult times. Anxiety, uncertainty, and fear have become real demons in our lives. All of us are experiencing an uncomfortable vulnerability and yet compassion and kindness abound. Thousands are making personal protective equipment for the courageous doctors and nurses in hospitals and nursing homes. Millions of Americans are learning anew how to spend time alone, together and rethink how we relate to each other, as Nature has created an unnatural pause to our daily rhythms of school, work, and other stressors.

We’ve learned simplicity is not so simple. We’ve learned the interdependency we have with each other and the poignancy of what we have forgotten but should remember. Teachers are important. We may thank them, if at all. Cashiers at the local market are important. We thank them, as we take the receipt, if at all. The delivery person, whom we’ve thought as a provider of convenience because we didn’t want to cook tonight, is now yet another person our lives depend upon to bring us food and supplies. And our elders, who have been mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, veterans and workers, who had laid down the metaphorical pavement for the next generation, are now our most vulnerable. We learn, we forget, we learn what we’ve forgotten. Everyone matters. Common decency matters. Contact matters.

All of us have been asked to sacrifice our routines and our daily freedoms. Some of us are not responding to it well. Most of us are experiencing and living all those questions posed and pondered by philosophers, whom we dismissed. What matters? What is important? How am I living my life, and how will I live my life after this?

I’m a writer. Most of my writer friends have had to cancel appearances, readings at other venues. Most of the conferences where I meet readers and get to raise the glass and congratulate my friends on their successes in the past year have been canceled. Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and Thriller Fest have all yielded to the times. I fear other writer conferences will succumb. These literary occasions are not just about awards, just another opportunity to sell books and sign them, or just an excuse to party. Writers value readers. We love meeting them. A kind word of appreciation validates and makes up for the hours of the anguish of self-doubt, and the despair of feeling like a cork bobbing on the relentless sea of anonymity.

Writing matters. 

Creativity matters.

Writers too numerous to name here have written, under the threat of death, imprisonment, and torture. We have read them. The reality of their creative efforts was artificial. Conquest. Politics. War.

Writers have also crafted masterpieces during times of contagion. Boccaccio. Defoe. Porter. Far more writers have looked to the past or to the future to convey the human condition under duress. Camus. P.D. James. le Carré. London. Mandel. Manzoni. Mary Shelley. Saramago.

Technology avails us of means unheard of in the past. Crowd. Zoom. Writers around the world have done readings online, often to aid the very bookstores that have hosted them for readings. Libraries have made available virtual books, and streaming movies and music. Musicians have given concerts or performed solo. 

Contact matters. Art matters because it is not an escape from life, but a means to confront the most difficult moments in all our lives, and a way to document all our emotions for posterity, near and far. In these troubled times, as we are reminded of our mortality, we must remember what defines us is how we respond to adversity, conflict, and other difficulties. 

We exist. We endure. We recover. We remember. 

We create. 




Dirty Old Town

by Gabriel Valjan

on Tour March 1 – April 30, 2020



Synopsis:

Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan


“Robert B. Parker would stand and cheer, and George V. Higgins would join the ovation. This is a terrific book—tough, smart, spare, and authentic. Gabriel Valjan is a true talentimpressive and skilledproviding knock-out prose, a fine-tuned sense of place and sleekly wry style.” Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of The Murder List



Shane Cleary, a PI in a city where the cops want him dead, is tough, honest and broke. When he’s asked to look into a case of blackmail, the money is too good for him to refuse, even though the client is a snake and his wife is the woman who stomped on Shane’s heart years before. When a fellow vet and Boston cop with a secret asks Shane to find a missing person, the paying gig and the favor for a friend lead Shane to an arsonist, mobsters, a shady sports agent, and Boston’s deadliest hitman, the Barbarian. With both criminals and cops out to get him, the pressure is on for Shane to put all the pieces together before time runs out.




Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Procedural, Historical Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: January 14th 2020
Number of Pages: 162
ISBN: 1087857325 (ISBN13: 9781087857329)
Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads



Author Bio:


Gabriel Valjan
Gabriel is the author of two series, Roma and Company Files, with Winter Goose Publishing. Dirty Old Town is the first in the Shane Cleary series for Level Best Books. His short stories have appeared online, in journals, and in several anthologies. He has been a finalist for the Fish Prize, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and received an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest in 2018. You can find him on Twitter (@GValjan) and Instagram (gabrielvaljan). He lurks the hallways at crime fiction conferences, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and New England Crime Bake. Gabriel is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Gabriel Valjan On:




Tour Participants:


Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!





Enter To Win!!:


This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gabriel Valjan. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on March 1, 2020, and runs through May 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.



Book Showcase: MURDER GONE MISSING by Lida Sideris

Murder Gone Missing: A Southern California Mystery

by Lida Sideris

About the Book


Murder Gone Missing: A Southern California Mystery

Cozy Mystery/Soft Boiled Mystery
2nd in Series
Level Best Books (April 10, 2018)
Paperback: 262 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1947915046
Digital ASIN: B07BHCBX51



Newly minted lawyer Corrie Locke has taken a vow of abstinence. From PI work, that is. Until her best friend Michael finds his bully of a boss stabbed in the back after confronting him earlier that day. Michael panics, accidentally tampering with the crime scene…which could lead the cops to Michael instead of the real culprit. He turns to Corrie to track down the killer. She doesn’t need much coaxing. Her late great PI dad taught her the ropes…and left her his cache of illegal weaponry.

They return to the scene of the crime, but the body’s missing. Racing against time, Corrie dredges a prestigious Los Angeles college in pursuit of clues. All she finds are false leads. Armed with attitude and romantic feelings toward Michael, Corrie dives into a school of suspects to find the slippery fugitive. Will she clear Michael’s name before he’s arrested for murder?




About the Author



Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer and all around book enthusiast. She was one of two national recipients of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship for her first novel, MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS. MURDER GONE MISSING is the second book in the Corrie Locke series. Like her heroine, Lida worked as an entertainment attorney in a movie studio. Unlike her heroine, she keeps her distance from homicides. To learn more about Lida, please visit her website: www.LidaSideris.com


Author Links

WEBSITE:   http://www.lidasideris.com/

BLOG:     http://www.lidasideris.com/blog/

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/lidasideris

TWITTER: @lidasideris

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14227684.Lida_Sideris


Purchase Links

AMAZON             B&N


TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

June 11 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

June 12 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 12 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 13 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 13 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

June 14 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST

June 14 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

June 14 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 15 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

June 15 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

June 16 – My Fiction Obsession – SPOTLIGHT 

June 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

June 17 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

June 18 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

June 18 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW




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