Phyllis Entis

Award-winning mystery writer and food safety microbiologist


Presenting Kim McMahill

Today’s Gone Writing guest is Kim McMahill, whose new novel, A FOUNDATION OF FEAR, was released just a few days ago.


Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. She started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. Along with writing novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel story anthology. Kim currently resides in Colorado, and when not writing, she enjoys gardening, traveling, hiking, and spending time with family.

Please join me in getting to know a bit more about Kim and the latest entry in her Risky Research Series.

GW: What inspired you to write A FOUNDATION OF FEAR?

Kim: A FOUNDATION OF FEAR is the third novel in the Risky Research Series. The series explores the diet, nutrition, research and pharmaceutical worlds. The book topics range from a miracle weight loss pill, to a deadly sweetener, to the political influence exerted in order to maximize profits from an industry worth roughly 40 to 100 billion dollars annually. Health and nutrition are such complex topics and impact nearly everyone, and the money involved is definitely worth killing for.

GW: How is your main character completely different than you?

Kim: Devyn is a fearless FBI agent who definitely leads a much more adventurous life than I do. Well, she has no fear of drug dealers, crime bosses, or back-alley thugs, but she does have a fear of relationships and having her heart broken.

GW: Tell us something about yourself we might not expect.

Kim: Hold on to your hats! I don’t own a Smart Phone. I don’t have anything against the device and suspect I’ll get one in the not so distant future, but for now I haven’t felt the need for one and fear it may consume time I don’t have to spare.

GW: If you were not a writer, what vocation would you pursue?

Kim: I always dreamed of being an archeologist, but when looking into college majors I thought I should pursue something more practical. Writing action, adventure, and suspense allows me to explore and solve mysteries. My goal in the next phase of my life is to find and take advantage of volunteer opportunities to participate on digs.

GW: Do you prefer to read in the same genre you write in, or do you avoid reading that genre?Why?

Kim: I love to read suspense and action adventure. I can’t imagine writing in any other genre. Action adventure and romantic suspense can take the reader on journeys to places they can only dream of and put them in situations that make their hearts race, something very far from most of our daily lives. 

GW: When you’re brainstorming for a new story, what usually comes first for you, the plot or the characters?

Kim: Usually the plot comes first. Once I know how the story will unfold it is easier to determine the types of characters that I need in order to accomplish the mission in an interesting and entertaining way.

Kim was kind enough to share a sample of A FOUNDATION OF FEAR with us.


AFoundationOfFear_prw5435_680Kidnapping. Extortion. Antiquities smuggling. Add one light-fingered, bad-tempered monkey, and it’s all in a day’s work for novice bodyguard Casey Callahan when she’s hired to protect the five-year-old niece of a handsome archaeology professor.

Alec Bainbridge has been balancing excavation and teaching duties with single parenthood since the death of his sister. When a stranger attempts to kidnap his niece, he hires a bodyguard to pose as the little girl’s nanny. However, the young woman who shows up is a far cry from the matronly type he was expecting. 

Amid break-ins, anonymous threats, and arson, Casey and Alec race to identify the villains before they harm the child or make off with a priceless Egyptian artifact. All the while, their mutual attraction complicates an already volatile situation. With an innocent child’s life at stake, Casey and Alec risk everything to solve the mystery before their growing feelings become the final casualty.


Devyn stowed her gun, unable to discharge a round with Morgan so close. She leapt up and brought her elbow down near the back of the man’s neck with all the force she could muster. The impact was enough to make him release his grip on Morgan’s throat.

Morgan stumbled back and fell to the ground, gasping for breath. She crawled away.

The big man went down but grabbed Devyn’s ankle as he fell, taking her with him to the ground.  Before she could react, he pounced on her and pinned her arms under his knees. 

Devyn bucked and squirmed, trying to dislodge the massive bulk. She was clearly out-matched, and helpless in her current position. 

The man backhanded Deyvn across her cheek. She struggled to keep from blacking out as she braced herself for another blow.

The heel of Morgan’s remaining shoe came down hard on the man’s head.

He fell to the side, allowing Devyn to scramble to her feet and out of his reach.

He grabbed his head with one hand, cursing violently, while his other hand shot out towards Morgan. 

Morgan leapt back, narrowly missing being ensnared. 

“Go! I mean it. Go now!” Devyn screamed at Morgan.

Morgan hesitated, then ran.  

The man struggled to gain his footing, but Devyn kick out, connecting with his stomach, sending him toppling to the ground, gasping for breath. He staggered to his feet, his back toward Devyn. With his hand low on his stomach he slowly turned around until he faced her. Pulling his gun from his waistband, he raised his arm and took aim at Morgan.


You can purchase A FOUNDATION OF FEAR from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.


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Presenting Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia Chapter

An Anthology of Authors

What better collective noun is there to describe the Sisters in Crime?

This talented group of writers from Central Virginia has produced a collection of cozy crime stories that will have lovers of the genre begging for more.

DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM is a mystery anthology. The stories all have a female sleuth and are set in a locale in the southern United States.

The anthology was editied by Mary Burton and Mary Miley.

Frances Aylor, Mollie Cox Bryan, Lynn Cahoon, J.A. Chalkley, Stacie Giles, Barb Goffman, Libby Hall, Bradley Harper, Sherry Harris, Maggie King, Kristin Kisska, Samantha McGraw, K.L. Murphy, Genilee Swope Parente, Deb Rolfe, Rod Sterling, S.E. Warwick, and Heather Weidner wrote the stories.

Because of the number of authors involved, I have invited just a few of them to introduce themselves and their contribution to the anthology.

Heather Weidner: I write both short stories and a novel series, the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries. I enjoy writing both. I get to experiment more with techniques in the short stories. By nature, the short story has a limited number of characters and not too many story lines. I think it’s hard to write a short story. My story is called “Art Attack,” and it’s set in Richmond, Virginia. In the story, an art gallery owner’s flirtation with a mythical goblet and its promise of power turns deadly when he succumbs to its charm.

Lynn Cahoon: I rarely write short stories now, but I love writing novellas around my three cozy mystery series (The Tourist Trap Mysteries, The Cat Latimer Mysteries, and The Farm to Fork Mysteries.) I love the pacing of the novella since there’s usually one main story line. And I’m able to pick smaller mysteries that might not be enough for a full book to tell. “Cayce’s Treasures” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Cayce receives money from an inheritance and moves home to purchase an antique business including the building. She finds the body of the former owner in his office her first day. Finding his killer will be her next project.

Maggie King: I love writing both [short stories and novels], but prefer short stories. They are simple, yet not easy, as it’s challenging to concisely tell a compelling story. Short stories give writers more freedom to be creative and explore different styles and techniques. I love writing stories with vigilante justice and morally ambiguous endings. “Keep Your Friends Close” is set in the Fan, a historical district of Richmond, Virginia. When Vicki Berenger is murdered by horrific means in her shower, the Richmond, Virginia police laser-focus on her husband, Kenny. But Kat Berenger knows her brother didn’t kill his wife—Kenny just isn’t the killing kind. So whodunnit? Kat teams up with Vicki’s best friend Meryl to find the real killer.

Kristin Kisska: I prefer writing short stories purely for the satisfaction of seeing a finished work in a matter of months versus years (at least for me) for a finished novel. “Unbridled” is set in an equestrian center in Low Country, South Carolina. When an equestrian rider goes missing, her bestie searches for her only to discover that old secrets may fade away, but never die.

Frances Aylor: My goal is to write a series of mystery novels, so that’s where I’m focusing most of my creative energy. However, short stories are much easier and faster to write. I’d like to use them as prequels for my novels, to give more background on the earlier lives of my characters. “The Girl in the Airport,” which is set in the Atlanta airport, is a prequel to my financial thriller Money Grab. In the short story, Robbie is a college student running off to England for the summer to escape an unfaithful boyfriend. She meets a woman with deadly ways of dealing with an unfaithful husband. In Money Grab Robbie is a wife, mother and career woman, still involved with some of the same characters she knew in college.

Genilee Swope Parente: Nothing compares to holding a book in your hands that you’ve helped create and realizing that people will be immersed for hours in the words and story you birthed. No one can figure out “Who Killed Billy Joe” because he’s an extremely popular figure in the small town of New Iberia, Louisiana. Police Chief Clareese Guidry must figure out why someone would shoot, stab and bludgeon the town coach and head of the fund to build a children’s medical clinic.

J.A. Chalkley: Short stories are more challenging. You can’t ramble in a short story. Just the facts, ma’am. Yet, at the same time the characters have to be interesting. Novels are more like movies where you can explore the characters and their world. Short stories are snapshots. A quick moment caught in an instant. Lynn Weber is a college student majoring in journalism. She has been researching a murder that occurred forty years ago on the banks of Lake Chesdin in Dinwiddie County Virginia. Her research leads her to the home of a wealth woman with an ‘interesting’ past. Will she find answers, more questions or something she never bargained on? 



This delightful anthology has garnered praise from several best-selling authors and award-winners. Here is what a few of them have to say.

DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM is a keep-you-up-at-night collection loaded with well-crafted characters and perfect plotting by some of today’s best mystery writers. Brava!

USA Today and NYT Best-selling author, Ellery Adams

Deliciously devious and absolutely delightful, these marvelous stories will keep you captivated! Sweeter than sweet tea on the surface, but with smartly sinister secrets only a true southern writer can provide.  What a joy to read!

Hank Phillippi Ryan best-selling Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark Awards winner

This collection of short crime fiction charms even as the stories immerse you in murder, revenge, and deadly deeds. Set all over the south, from Virginia to North and South Carolina, in Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans, the stories by eighteen authors engage and entertain with rich imagery and dialog from the region – and nefarious plots, too. Pour a glass of sweet tea and settle in on the porch swing for a fabulous read.

Edith Maxwell, Agatha and Macavity Awards nominee

This can’t-put-it-down collection of mystery short stories is flavored with the oft-eerie ambiance of the South, where the most genteel manners may hide a dark and murderous intent. Enjoy DEADLY SOUTHERN CHARM with a Mint Julep in hand – a strong one.  

Ellen Byron, USA Today best-selling author, Agatha and Daphne Awards nominee and Lefty winner




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Celebrating Amy Reade’s new release – The Worst Noel

I am pleased to welcome Amy Reade for a return visit to Gone Writing.

amy-m-reade.jpgAmy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, community volunteer, and recovering attorney. 

She’s also a writer. She is the author of The Worst Noel, The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross), and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.

Amy is celebrating the release today of her new cozy mystery, and she was kind enough to share an excerpt with us.



Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love, and joy, but for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.

As a single mom, small business owner, and president of the local Chamber of Commerce, the last thing she needs is to find a dead body on the floor of her jewelry shop on the busiest shopping day of the year. And as if that isn’t enough, Lilly has to deal with a deadbeat ex-husband, a mother with declining mental health, and two teenagers.

But when a second body turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. Can she figure out who killed the victims before she becomes one herself? And will her family’s Christmas be merry…or scary?


Lilly awoke hours before dawn to the sound of her alarm clock going off. She flung her hand in the general direction of the nightstand to find the snooze button and stop the incessant ringing, but only succeeded in knocking the clock to the floor.

“Ugh,” she groaned. She leaned over the side of the bed and clawed the floor, trying to reach the clock. When she found it, she turned it off and sat up groggily, wiping sleep from her eyes and yawning. Barney, the family’s Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, lifted his shaggy, brindle-hued head and stretched across the foot of the bed.

“I hate Black Friday,” she said to Barney. The biggest shopping day of the year brought a level of anxiety that gave her nightmares the other three hundred sixty-four days. She peered into the bathroom mirror before heading downstairs. Her brown hair was tangled from sleep and her eyes, normally bright hazel, were hooded and sported bags.

She needed coffee and lots of it. She went downstairs to find that the kids had left the kitchen light on all night again.”Good,” she muttered to herself. “I was hoping to give the electric company a nice fat check for Christmas.” She switched off all the lights but one and started the coffeemaker. Before long the kitchen was filled with the aroma of ground Arabica beans and Lilly’s senses started coming alive.

After showering, dressing, and grabbing a quick breakfast, Lilly poured herself a travel mug of coffee and slipped out the side door without making a sound. Normally Barney followed her downstairs for breakfast, but it was too early for him.

The car didn’t even have time to warm up during the short drive to Juniper Junction Jewels. Lilly drove along Main Street, smiling at the Christmas lights that hung from the shop fronts and the street lamps. She loved this festive time of year. And since this was Colorado, there were several inches of freshly-fallen snow on the ground to make the lights seem even prettier. At the end of the block, she swung her car around the back of the row of shops and pulled into one of the parking spots allocated for her jewelry store. Each store got two parking spots so employees wouldn’t have to go searching for spots when Main Street got really busy, as was often the case in the upscale Rocky Mountain resort town.

It was so early the plows hadn’t even been out yet, so Lilly stepped carefully when she got out of the car. Shifting her shoulder bag from one arm to the other and holding her coffee, she reached for the doorknob at the back of the shop.

It was unlocked.

Lilly’s stomach lurched; her body stiffened. This was a shop owner’s worst nightmare, made even more horrible when the shop sold precious stones, expensive gems, and custom jewelry. Lilly turned the knob slowly and pushed the door open, peering around it to make sure there was no one waiting for her in the back room.

She didn’t see anyone, so she closed the door softly behind her and set her bag and coffee down on her desk. She had been the last one to leave Wednesday afternoon and the shop had been closed for Thanksgiving Day; she shuddered to think that the shop had been unlocked for thirty-six hours. She wracked her brain trying to remember locking the door behind her on Wednesday, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t remember setting the alarm, either, but that obviously hadn’t gone off because the alarm company had her home number and her cell number.

Quickly walking over to the vault where she kept her inventory when the store was closed, she stopped short when she saw that the door to the vault was slightly ajar. She put out one finger to push the door open a bit farther; wave after wave of nausea swept over her when she saw that one of the sliding shelves that held the jewelry had been moved. She stepped into the vault and pulled the shelf out a bit further–there was a necklace missing.

A pearl necklace. She frantically pulled out all the other shelves in turn, not daring to breathe until she satisfied herself that nothing else had been taken. She backed out of the vault and strode to her desk, where she leafed quickly through the papers littering the top. Nothing else seemed to be missing.

She pushed open the sliding barn door that led to the interior of the shop.

Lilly prided herself on making Juniper Junction Jewels a homey, rustic place that looked like someone’s living room. As such, the lighting inside the store was provided mostly by lamps set strategically around the shop rather than cold, sterile fluorescent lights.

She turned on the lamp closest to the office. She didn’t notice the body lying on the floor behind one of the glass cases until she tripped over it.


You can connect with Author Amy M. Reade on her website, by following her Amazon Author Page and on the following social media sites:






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Presenting Alison Henderson

I am shining my Gone Writing spotlight today on my friend and local author buddy, Alison Henderson, whose new book, UNDERCOVER NANNY, has just been released.

Alison wasn’t always a writer, but she has always embraced creativity and relished new experiences. Seeking to expand her horizons beyond Kansas City, she chose a college in upstate New York. By the time Alison was twenty-one, she had traveled the world from Tunisia to Japan. Little did she suspect she was collecting material for future characters and stories along the way.

Alison began writing when her daughter entered preschool (she’s now a full-fledged adult), and she became addicted to the challenge of translating the living, breathing images in her mind into words. She writes romance because that’s what she like to read. The world provides more than enough drama and tragedy, Alison believes, and she prefers to give her readers the happily-ever-after we all crave.

She has been married to her personal hero for more than thirty years. After decades of living in the Midwest, Alison and her husband heeded the siren call of sun and sea and moved to the most breathtakingly beautiful place imaginable – the gorgeous central coast of California. She looks forward to the new stories this place inspires

Alison and I get together for a weekly C&C (that’s caffeine and conversation), and she has told me a lot about how UNDERCOVER NANNY came together. I was especially interested in the origins of Balthazar, the Capuchin monkey, who is featured on the cover of the new book.

GW: What is a monkey doing on the cover of UNDERCOVER NANNY?

Alison: The inspiration for Balthazar came from a most unexpected source. My husband is a big fan of early rock ‘n roll, and one of his favorite songs is a number by the Coasters called “Run Red Run.”  After hearing him sing this for years, I knew I had to add a monkey to one of my books.

GW: What role does Balthazar play in the story?

Alison: Balthazar, a white-faced Capuchin, likes to play dress-up and steal every shiny object he can lay his hands on. He thwarts a would-be kidnapper in UNDERCOVER NANNY.

GW: You’ve told me that you like to insert humor into your novels to break the suspense. Can you give us some examples?

Alison: Yes, I love to add humor to my stories, even the most action-packed suspense or mystery. An unexpected laugh can give the reader the perfect release from relentless tension. Each book in my Phoenix, Ltd. female bodyguard series features a specific humorous element. In UNWRITTEN RULES, a pair of meddling grandmothers stirred things up for my hero and heroine. BOILING POINT included a cooking robot named GRAMPA who attacked the villain with a kitchen torch at the opportune moment.

GW: And Balthazar fills that role in UNDERCOVER NANNY?

Alison: That’s correct. Given the lyrics of “Run Red Run,” Balthazar has a lot to live up to, but I think he rises to the occasion admirably.

GW: Having been privileged to read an early draft of UNDERCOVER NANNY, I have to agree that Balthazar is a very special character.

For those readers who are unfamiliar with “Run Red Run,” here are the lyrics to the first couple of verses:

“Oh, Red went and bought himself a monkey
Got him from a pawn shop broker
Taught that monkey how to guzzle beer
And he taught him out to play stud poker
Last night when they were gambling in the kitchen
The monkey he was taking a beating
The monkey said Red, “I’m going to shoot you dead
Because I know that well, you been a cheating.”

Well, run Red run, because he’s got your gun
And he’s aiming it at your head
Run Red run, because he’s got your gun
And he’s aiming it at your head
You better get up and wail
You better move your tail before he fills it full of lead.”


Alison was kind enough to share a sample of UNDERCOVER NANNY with us.


Kidnapping. Extortion. Antiquities smuggling. Add one light-fingered, bad-tempered monkey, and it’s all in a day’s work for novice bodyguard Casey Callahan when she’s hired to protect the five-year-old niece of a handsome archaeology professor.

Alec Bainbridge has been balancing excavation and teaching duties with single parenthood since the death of his sister. When a stranger attempts to kidnap his niece, he hires a bodyguard to pose as the little girl’s nanny. However, the young woman who shows up is a far cry from the matronly type he was expecting. 

Amid break-ins, anonymous threats, and arson, Casey and Alec race to identify the villains before they harm the child or make off with a priceless Egyptian artifact. All the while, their mutual attraction complicates an already volatile situation. With an innocent child’s life at stake, Casey and Alec risk everything to solve the mystery before their growing feelings become the final casualty.



Alec climbed the two flights of stairs to the playroom, where he found Grace and Balthazar playing her current favorite make-believe—Jungle Adventurer. Grace was wearing her pith helmet, while the monkey sported his veiled pink princess hat.

“He’s a giant gorilla who’s rescuing the hippo from the flooded river.” She pointed at her stuffed hippo, who was wrapped in an old blue bath towel.

Alec gave a mental shrug. After the kind of day he’d had, he could see no reason why a heroic giant gorilla shouldn’t wear a conical pink princess hat.



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Introducing Author C. A. Asbrey

The Gone Writing spotlight is shining full-force today on C. A. Asbrey, author of the newly released novel, The Innocents.

C. A. Asbrey has traveled all over the world – a fine background for a writer. A voracious reader who graduated to the Adult section of her local library at the age of ten, Asbrey always dreamed of writing.

She has produced magazine and newspaper articles based on consumer law and written guides for the Consumer Direct Website, was Media Trained by The Rank Organization, and acted as a consultant to the BBC’s One Show and Watchdog. Asbrey also has been interviewed on BBC radio answering questions on consumer law to the public. The Innocents is her first foray into fiction.

For the moment, C. A. Asbrey lives with her husband and (her words) two daft cats in Northamptonshire, England. Another move is on the cards in 2108 to the beautiful city of York.

I asked C. A. how the concept for The Innocents came to her:

C. A.: I first became interested in the female pioneers in law enforcement when I joined the police in Scotland. History has always held a draw and the colorful stories of the older officers piqued my interest, making me look even further back.

The very first women in law enforcement had been in France, working for the Sûreté in the early 19th century. They were, however, no more than a network of spies and prostitutes, the most infamous being the notorious ‘Violette’. Now there’s another story which needs to be told!

GW: I hope that someday you will tell it. What else can you share about the early days of women in law enforcement?

C. A.: The first truly professional women in law enforcement worked for the Pinkerton Agency, and they were trained by the first female agent Kate Warne, an ex-actress and an expert in working undercover. Kate Warne was an expert at disguise, adopting roles, and accents. She was said to be daring and able to pass her characters off, even in close quarters. In the only known photograph of her she is dressed as a man. This was a skill set my childhood had prepared me to understand.

These women were fully-fledged agents, with their skills being held in high regard by Alan Pinkerton who once said, “In my service you will serve your country better than on the field. I have several female operatives. If you agree to come aboard you will go in training with the head of my female detectives, Kate Warne. She has never let me down.”

GW: I can understand this piquing your interest, but researching and writing a novel set in a different era is a demanding – some would say, daunting – task. What was it about the story that compelled you to take it on?

C. A.: I started to wonder why one of the female agents couldn’t be a Scottish Immigrant. After all, Alan Pinkerton was one. He came from Glasgow. Being a Scot in another land is something I know well. They do say you should write what you know.

My work has taken me all over the world, but working in the USA and visiting the places where these women worked deepened my passion for finding out more about how they lived. I also researched the tools and equipment available to them at the time. Connections to police and Home Office experts allowed me to research the birth of forensics with people who knew their subject intimately.

GW: I’m always fascinated by the stories behind the stories. Did the first draft leap from your pen immediately you began the project, or was it a drawn out affair?

C. A.: The topic for The Innocents Mystery Series simmered in the background for years, and all the time I was researching more and more deeply into the period. I love the rapid pace of innovation and invention in the 19th century. Nothing pleases me more than finding spy gadgets available at the time which were invented far earlier than most people would think possible.

Work and life got in the way of the books being anything more than an idea until I was suddenly grounded by a serious accident. The enforced leisure time of recuperation focused my mind and the old dream of writing resurfaced. It started as a short story which took on a life of its own when it grew and grew—then grew some more.

Eventually, The Innocents Mysteries evolved and I found the perfect home for it at Prairie Rose.

GW: I’m very glad you persevered, and am looking forward to reading your first novel. Thank you for taking the time to share your story.


The Innocents

Pinkerton Detective Abigail MacKay is a master of disguises—and of new crime-solving technology! But she’ll have to move fast to stay a step ahead of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy.

Nat and Jake are the ringleaders of The Innocents, a western gang that specializes in holding up trains carrying payrolls—and Nat is pretty savvy when it comes to using the new sciences of 1868 in committing his crimes.

Charismatic Nat and handsome Jake are on the run, and they’ve always gotten away before—before Abi. But when Abi is caught by another band of outlaws during the chase, there’s no other choice for Nat and Jake but to save her life. Abi owes them, and she agrees to help them bring in the murderer of a family friend.

The web of criminal activity grows more entangled with each passing day, but Nat, Jake, and Abi are united in their efforts to find the murderer. Once that happens, all bets are off, and Abi will be turning Nat and Jake over to the law. But can she do it? She finds herself falling for Nat, but is that growing attraction real? Or is he just using her to learn more about the Pinkertons’ methods? Abi always gets her man—but she may have met her match in her “best enemies”—THE INNOCENTS.


C. A. was kind enough to share this excerpt from The Innocents

“Out of bed?” Nat appeared at the door, the light highlighting his tawny hair. “Looking for something?”

She paused, guilty eyes dropping along with the hand trailing along the shelf. “Yes. Something to read.”

“A book?” his eyes scanned the room, checking to see if anything which could be used as a weapon had gone missing. “You should’ve said.”

“All I can find are a few science books. Whose cabin is this? A doctor’s?”

“The owner was a prospector. Those books are mine.”

Her brows arched in surprise, and she turned and picked one up. “‘Carl Friederich Peschel’s Textbook of Physics.’” She continued along the spines. “‘Ganot’s Elementary Treatise on Experimental And Applied Physics’, ‘Balfour Stewart, An Elementary Treatise On Heat.’”

“So?” Nat’s jaw firmed in challenge. “Have you got anything against a man who wants to improve his mind?”

“Physics? You?”

His brow furrowed. “I’m supposed to believe you’re a Pinkerton and you can’t believe I’m interested in science? I like to learn all kinds of things. Something wrong with that?”

“But you?” She stared at him incredulously. “You’re a common criminal.”

His brows met. “Really, Miss MacKay? There’s nothing common about me. I’m particular about being about as uncommon a criminal as you’ll ever meet. I’ve got a Dickens if you want something simpler, but no women’s stuff. I prefer my heaving bosoms to be tangible.”


“Of course. Who wants imaginary bosoms?”

She huffed in exasperation. “Can we forget about the bosoms?”

His dark eyes twinkled with devilment. “I wish I could, but men are kinda made that way.”

“Science books?” Abigail changed the subject. “Are you trying to give up crime?”

“Nope, just trying to be more efficient at it. I’m a modern man. You have to move with the times, you know.” Nat’s cheeks dimpled. “But look who I’m talking to. You’re a veritable pioneer for females. You know how it is. I bet you’ve got all kinds of modern detective tricks. I’m looking forward to seeing those. When do they start? Are you doing it now?”

Abigail sighed. “I’m sorry I asked. Never mind. You have a Dickens? Which one?”

“Charles.” Nat’s eyes warmed as he relented at her exasperated glare. “Sorry, just having a bit of fun, but you’re too tired for it. You’re getting bored. I understand. I’ll dig out the book for you. Oh, and I found you a brush. It’s Jake’s, but I’ve cleaned it real well. I even soaked it in carbolic.”

Her eyes lit up surprised by his thoughtfulness, only to be quickly dampened by suspicion. “Thank you. My hair is getting knotted.”

He walked in, holding it behind his back. “I’ll help. You’ve got an arm injury and your hair’s real tangled.” His cheeks dimpled and his beguiling eyes danced with charm to ward off the objections about to tumble from her mouth. “Come on. Let me sort that out for you.” She paused and the dimple deepened. “You’re not fit to travel yet, but there’s no need for us to be enemies. Truce?”

She sighed. “Fine. A truce.” She sat, gathering her limited clothing about her. “It is a mess. You won’t tug at it, will you?”

“I have brushed hair before. I’m not a savage.”

She sat. “Women’s hair?”

He pulled over a chair to sit behind her, running his long ingers through the mad dark curls. “Do I look like I go around offering to brush men’s hair? Jees, your hair is thick.”

“Yes, it’s like my mother’s, but hers is red.”

She relaxed, enjoying the pleasurable sensation of his hands in her tresses, loosening the strands and identifying knots and tangles before working on them.“You were a mess when we found you.” He finished attending to an obstinate knot. “There.”

He ran the brush through her hair from root to tip marveling at the length as the ringlets unraveled and stretched. “Beautiful, just beautiful. As long as you are tall.”

She sat, luxuriating in the hypnotic strokes and the gentle caress of the brush as it travelled through her hair over and over again, reminding her of her childhood, and how much she missed her late husband’s soothing, sensual touch. Her heart broke yet again, just as it had a million times before. She was used to piecing it back together. Nobody touched her anymore. Nobody cherished her. Nobody cared.

Nat worked through the shock of hair with a soothing, reviving pressure. Somehow, his relaxing light-hearted chatter made this abnormal situation seem less stressful. She dropped her guard and allowed herself to unwind, settling into a luscious melting frame of mind, sinking further and further into indolent compliance. The long fingers swept her neck with a feather-like touch as he gathered her hair and her lips parted at the exhilaration which rushed through her. Did he know the nape was one of her most sensitive areas? She arched against the deep strokes of the brush and the delicate touch across her neck and shoulders. Stresses and strains melted away, and she lived in the delicious, delectable moment. The growing warmth deep below reminded her of her forgotten primal need for intimacy, growing until she suppressed the growing moan.

“There, that should do it,” he murmured in her ear as though under the same yielding spell of surrender. He pulled his chair alongside hers and brushed a few wisps from her face. “You are exquisite.” Crooked fingers pulled her around to face him with a gentle tug. He leaned in, touching her lips with his own, a velvet caress which released an exhilarating rush. The hand slipped into her newly-brushed hair, gathering a handful in a gesture which promised power but delivered tender restraint. His teeth caught on her lip, tasting her, before pushing on into a full hungry kiss.

He pulled back, looking into her eyes. “This is so difficult. I don’t even know who you really are. You might have a husband or lover.”

“I told you who I am.”

“No lovers? No men?”

Her eyes narrowed and she shook herself back to reality.

“What was I thinking? This is just another ploy isn’t it? You worm your way in and try to seduce information from me when I’m at my weakest?”

“I’d never—”

“No?” she snorted. “You don’t want to know about me, just men I’m connected to?” She stood. “Well, I’ll tell you once more. I am a Pinkerton Detective, and the only man I’m connected to is Alan Pinkerton. You can question me as much as you want. It’s all you’re going to get. Sooner or later, you’ll have to accept it and let me go.” 

“I wasn’t—”

“Oh, save it. You were dismissive earlier, now this?”

Her eyes widened as they fell on the brush on the table behind him. “Is that a horse brush? You used an animal brush on me.”

He fought the smile tugging at his lips. “I washed it.”

“A horse brush! You were so desperate to soften me up with this tactic you used a horse brush? You’re unbelievable.” She scratched at her scalp like a mad thing. “I’ve probably got fleas.”

“Hey! We look after our horses.”

“Look after?” Nat ran for the door as she grabbed the brush.

“I’ll show you looked after.”

Jake sat on the porch, his eyes lighting with amusement as the door opened. His nephew ran out. Nat turned, pointing a finger and opened his mouth to say something in the face of the tirade of impenetrable gibberish filling the air behind him. He ducked. A missile flew, right where his head had just been, and the brush clattered to the ground. Nat squared his shoulders, his voice hardening. “That’s enough. Put that down—” His eyes widened and he slammed the door, just in time for Jake to hear the metallic clatter of something against the other side.

“So, your seduction technique didn’t work, huh?” Jake swung back on his chair. “It’s good to know her throwin’ arm’s good and healthy, though.”

“What the hell language is that?”

Jake shrugged. “She’s Scottish, so it’s probably Gaelic. It ain’t quite the same as the Irish my grandpa taught me, but I think she just doubted your parentage.”

Nat propped his hands on his hips and scowled. “She insulted my mother?”

Jake’s smile stretched into a full grin. “Your ma was my sister. If anyone had used an animal brush on her hair you’d have heard all about it. I think you got off real light.”

“So what now?”

Jake shook his head. “Keep me out of it. You’re the criminal genius. I’m only the muscle. You’ll just have to try somethin’ else.”


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Presenting Lynne Fellows

The Gone Writing spotlight went dark for a couple of months, but it’s shining once again. And the writer standing center stage is Lynne Fellows, one of the charter members of Mystery Authors International.

Fate determined the path for Lynne who, despite proud roots, bade Britain a fond farewell to follow her heart to Iberia, convinced she had been born in the wrong country.

After starting her writing adventure with NaNoWriMo back in 2012, she now pens her favourite mysteries with a sunnier, European flavour.

A translator and fur-mum to two adorable mutts, she might be spotted with her nose in a book, armed with just the teeniest chunk of chocolate and a zillion pomegranates!

I asked Lynne about her new book, Casualty of Court, and how it came to be.

Lynne: Casualty of Court releases on March 21st and follows on from where The Fifth Wheel ended, taking the characters back to Portugal for the trial of Stefan Pereira.

GW: What made you choose to base your plot around a trial?

Lynne: As a frustrated, would-have-loved-to-be lawyer myself, I couldn’t let him get away with it, could I? That doesn’t happen in my world. I’m a sucker for legal thrillers and courtroom dramas, always rooting for the underdog – assuming he/she is in the right, of course.

GW: How did you decide on the backdrop to the novel?

Lynne: The trial story was inevitable, and placing it in my favourite part of the world a foregone conclusion. So, against a backdrop of sunshine and holiday fun, the court case rolls on.

GW: How would you describe the genre?

Lynne (with a twinkle in her eye): It’s a cosy-style saga with a hint of psychopath, a whiff of Chick-lit, a dalliance with drama, and an air of mystery. In short, I’m an ‘all-or-nothing’ writer with a healthy aversion to sitting in any one box or genre 🙂 Mind games come into play, ratcheting up the tension. But, of course, not everyone is playing fair.

GW: I’m guessing that, with several main characters, you chose to tell the story from multiple points of view.

Lynne: Go to the head of the class. The story is told from the viewpoint of four principal characters, each with a stake in the outcome. It mixes the suspense of a court case with their personal stories, showing how they have been influenced by life events such as abandonment, disability, and family responsibilities.

GW: Did you find it hard to let go of your characters once you completed work on the novel, or are they still with you?

Lynne: Little did I expect these characters to become as much a part of my life as they have done. I can visualise each of them, I know them so well (cue Elaine Paige & Barbara Dixon). But, it doesn’t end here. I’m already several chapters into a third book and have plans for more. Writing a series is definitely addictive! They’ve got under my skin – I hope readers feel the same way too.

GW: Reading a good series is equally addictive. Thank you for sharing your story. Do you have any final word for readers of Gone Writing?

Lynne: Thanks for asking. Those who would like to read the prequel – The Fifth Wheel – before the release of Casualty of Court, can get a copy here.  It’s a short read, only 50 pages, and it sets the scene for the main book. Although it’s not necessary to read this first, it sure does help.

I hope this has piqued your interest, and I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks for reading – and I hope to make your acquaintance soon 🙂


Four lives – Three friends – Two sides – One verdict

CofC ecoverFern Mortimer wants her life back. After five years recovering from a hit-and-run accident, the last thing she needed was a maniac trying to kill her. Now, eight months after that attempt on her life, she returns to Portugal to face her nemesis in court.

Raven – Fern’s closest ally – offers support throughout. In return she wants a business partner.

Stefan Pereira has no intention of languishing in prison any longer. He’ll do whatever it takes to secure his freedom and complete his mission. He wants Fern dead.

Nessa – Stefan’s girlfriend – is at his side. She risks losing her best friends for the family she always wanted.

The trial pits them against each other.

Can Fern hold her nerve? She has a strong case, after all … and a witness. Does that even matter, when Stefan has his father’s money, the face of an angel and an ability to lie convincingly in three languages?

Inevitably, someone will be the Casualty of Court.

Casualty of Court picks up where The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel ended, and introduces The Blackleaf Agency Series.

Rather than a snippet of Casualty of Court, Lynne invited us to peek at Meet the Cast. This shorty links the prequel to the bigger story and offers an insight into what each character wants from the upcoming trial.


He will not break me.

It’s been eight months, eight long months since Jorge—or as he is really known, Stefan Pereira—tried to drown me.

At last, it’s time to see him get what he deserves.  But, it also means I have to go back to Portugal too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the country I dislike, just that one particular man.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand why he tried to kill me.

Something to do with his mother apparently. She was the hit-and-run driver whose carelessness put me in this wheelchair. It’s as though he wants to finish what she started.

But why? What did I ever do to him?


Is it all worth it?

It’s not Fern’s fault, I know that, but her timing stinks. Or rather the timing of this damn court case. Just as my professional life was getting back on track, we’re off to Portugal again to see that scum-bag get his just desserts.

I was working—not in a cocktail bar, although that would have been so much cooler—in a supermarket, stacking shelves. just before that holiday eight months ago. Not exactly my dream job. No, scrap that—definitely not my dream job! But, it was local and I needed to be more available to help Mum. Her MS meant she was in a wheelchair most of the time, and sheer bad luck saw her get one infection after the other. I gave up my preferred career, with the police force, to be nearer to her. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


My past will not define me.

This court case can’t come soon enough. I haven’t seen Stefan in almost eight months, and I’ve so much to tell him. But what if he’s forgotten about me? What if he’s doesn’t want to see me? Or, even worse, what if he’s found guilty and given a long sentence?

I can’t think about that now. He has to go free. He has to.

I’m dreading seeing Fern again, but even more so Raven. She’s my best friend, for Pete’s sake, and she dropped me like stone for Blondie.


It was all her own fault.

I can’t wait to get out of here. That stuck-up bitch has caused me enough hassle. Of course I’m going to get her. Wouldn’t you want revenge too?

It wasn’t meant to turn out like this. Damn fisherman saw her flailing about in the sea and called the coastguard. I probably should have dumped her overboard during the hours of darkness, but at least the ‘accident’ in broad daylight affords me a get-out-of-jail-card. She won’t know what’s hit her when she hears my version of events. That’ll teach her to go all high-and-mighty and press charges. If she’d just gone home quietly then I could have put an end to her misery months ago. Now we all have to go through this charade. See what I mean? She is such a selfish little princess, always putting herself first.

To read Meet the Cast in full, simply complete this form.

(It’s a freebie, not available on Amazon or any other e-retailer. You won’t be added to any mailing list without giving your express permission first, and you can also win an advanced, signed copy of Casualty of Court when the paperback is released later in the year.)



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Introducing Patricia Gligor

It’s that time again!

I am shining my Gone Writing light this month on Patricia Gligor, author and fellow-member of Mystery Authors International.

PEG resizedPatricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. The first three books in her Malone mystery series, Mixed Messages, Unfinished Business, and Desperate Deeds take place on the west side of Cincinnati. In Mistaken Identity, the fourth book, her characters are vacationing on Fripp Island in South Carolina. Marnie Malone, the fifth book in her series, is set in Mt. Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina.

I asked Patricia what inspired her to write her first book.

Patricia: One day, shortly after I’d moved into a new apartment on the west side of Cincinnati, I went for a walk in the neighborhood and spotted an old Victorian. I remember standing there, gazing up at the house, captivated. I’ve always loved old houses; they have so much character. Every old house has a history; people have lived there and, in many cases, died there. As I looked up at the Victorian, I found myself wondering what those walls would say if they could talk.

GW: Many people ask themselves that kind of question, but let the moment pass without acting on the thought. What did you do to satisfy your curiosity?

Patricia: I wanted to find out more about the house and the area so I went to the Cincinnati Historical Society and immersed myself in research.

GW: You’re a woman after my own heart. I love that aspect of writing. Tell me more.

Patricia: Little by little, I began to come up with plot ideas and possible scenarios. The people who would live in the house and in the neighborhood, the characters for my book, came to me gradually. I drew upon my own life experiences and I took bits and pieces of the lives of people I knew or had read or heard about. A physical characteristic here, a personality trait there.

GW: Did you accumulate all of this inside your head, or did you start to write things down at some point?

Patricia: I jotted down my ideas on scraps of paper and it wasn’t long before I had a huge pile, which eventually became a chapter-by-chapter outline. I fictionalized the house in my mind and on paper to fit the story I wanted to tell, which had slowly evolved. I constantly asked myself questions. What if, in the midst of my main character’s personal struggles, a serial killer is on the loose? What if she has reason to believe he’s after her?


It’s estimated that there are at least twenty to thirty active serial killers in the United States at any given time. There’s one on the loose on the west side of Cincinnati.

Mixed MessagesIt’s the week of Halloween and Ann Kern struggles with several issues. Her primary concern is her marriage which, like her west side neighborhood, is in jeopardy. Her husband is drinking heavily and his behavior toward her is erratic. One minute, he’s the kind, loving man she married and, the next minute, he’s cold and cruel.

Ann dismisses a psychic’s warning that she is in danger. But, when she receives a series of ominous biblical quotes, she grows nervous and suspicious of everyone, including her own husband.

As the bizarre and frightening events unfold, Ann discovers a handmade tombstone marked with her name, pushing her close to the edge. Will she be the Westwood Strangler’s next victim?


Patricia was kind enough to share with us the following short excerpt from Mixed Messages.

Ann tried to shut the door in his face but he pushed hard against it and sent her tumbling backwards. She regained her balance and ran toward her apartment door. The man pounced at her and grabbed her wrist, twisting it. “Stop it!” she yelled. “You’re hurting me!” 

He shoved her into her apartment and slammed the door behind them.

She stifled a scream. Please God, she prayed, don’t let the kids wake up. Please help me. Is this him? Is he the Westwood Strangler? Am I his next victim? What can I do? I don’t want to die!