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Author Laurie Stevens and her chilling psychological thriller series!

September 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as ,

Laurie Stevens is the author of the Gabriel McRay psychological suspense novels. The series has been critically-acclaimed and won twelve awards, among them Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 and a Random House Editors’ Book of the Month. All four books have reached the Top 10 in the thriller genre of Amazon best-sellers.

In regards to writing thrillers, Suspense Magazine says she’s “the leader of the pack,” while International Thriller Writers claims Laurie has “cracked the code” of penning psychological suspense. Laurie is active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a former board member of Sisters in Crime. Recently, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed Laurie as a director on the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains – the parkland setting of her books.

Laurie lives in the mountains with her husband, two snakes, and a cat.

We’re talking today with author Laurie Stevens about her award winning Gabriel McRay novels.

Jann: The books in your Gabriel McRay psychological suspense series, The Mask of Midnight, Deep into Dark, The Dark Before Dawn, and In Twlight’s Hush have received great reviews. When developing this series, did you start with character or plot?

Laurie: I developed the series around two characters: Gabriel McRay and Dr. Ming Li. Psychology and forensics interest me, and both characters epitomize my interests. Not only that, but given the traits of the two characters, I could have fun playing with the stereotypical roles of men and women. Gabriel must explore his inner mind, while Ming is the more brazen and the steadier of the two.

Jann: Gabriel McRay is such a rich and brilliantly flawed main character. What can you tell us about him?

Laurie: Gabriel suffered a trauma as a child and brought his issues into adulthood. Men, historically, have been taught to cover their weaknesses, which Gabriel did for many years. But his symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder influence his behavior, his relationships with women (in particular Dr. Ming), and his general outlook on life, which in the first book is pretty dismal. Through  Gabriel, I wanted to highlight a journey to recovery. What makes Gabriel unique is his desire to become a more content man. He wants his relationship with Ming to work, he wants to feel accepted and have friends. He’s honest with himself in that regard and it spurs him on to find different ways to heal. In fact, the murder cases he solves in each book trigger a pivotal point in his healing process.

Jann: Book 4 in the series, In Twlight’s Hush, recently debuted. What is the premise of this story? What challenges did you set for Gabriel?

Laurie: Very good question. In book 4, Gabriel achieves a sense of enlightenment. I’ve been told (and I’m glad for it) that the entire feel of the book is “lighter.” Gabriel has done a lot of work on himself; he’s heeded his life lessons, and now it shows. He is able to solve a cold case involving a teenage girl who went missing over thirty years ago because he has developed a more open mind. That is the premise of the book.

Jann: Villains!! You create great villains. How do you do it? What’s your process?

Laurie: Mark Twain said, “Everyone is like the moon and has a dark side, which he never shows anybody.” Scary as that sounds, it’s probably true. While I’m not sure how much of myself is reflected in those “bad characters,” I can say that I have put a lot of research into the faulty human psyche.

My process begins with deciding what psychological issues the character has. With one female villain (no spoilers here), she’s mostly a space cadet. But what makes her act so spaced-out? Her issue, of course. She lives in a fantasy world, and has some good reasons to be there.

I will read lots of articles or even a book that highlights the particular issue. The research gives me the bones of the character. All I have to do is flesh her out. I’m not going to say the research can take you to a very dark place.

While researching the character of Victor Archwood, I spoke with one of the top forensic profilers in the nation. He determines if a criminal is competent to stand trial. This doctor has interviewed infamous and dangerous people. I asked him, “As a psychiatrist, do you see the human in the monster?” His reply surprised me. He said, “No. Some people are truly evil.” That confounded me. As an author, I had to decide, do I make Victor simply a demon? Evil for evil’s sake? That didn’t sit well. I’ve always heard that if you’re going to create an adversary, make him or her a worthy adversary. I decided to create a character that, bad as he is, has issues that someone, somewhere will identify with and have sympathy for. To garner sympathy can make a villain more interesting and possibly scarier than a monster.

Jann: I understand that the series is currently be shopped for adaptation to episodic television. Can you share anything about this venture?

Laurie: I’d like to share something I think will be interesting to book authors. The producer and agent asked my help in creating the sales pitch. First, I was asked to condense each book into a one page synopsis. If you’ve ever done this, you’ll know it’s not easy. Still, I did it and thought, whew! Finished.

Then, they asked if I could forget the idea of 4 separate books and revise the synopses into one long overview of the plot. So, I revised each synopsis and created “one long overview” — again, in about four pages. I thought, whew! Finished. Then, they asked, “Where do you think you would place cliff-hanging breaks in your “overview?” So, I quit thinking of what I’d written as a book plot and instead viewed it as the plot of a screenplay. That’s when I had fun. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, and I broke the “overview” down into 5 episodes. Would I prefer 30? Of course, but that might be a harder sell. Now, you authors should get to work with these 3 steps and create screen episodes out of your opus!

Jann: What’s next? Another book for Gabriel? Are you working on something new? 

Laurie: I have been asked to create another Gabriel book, one that brings back the villain Victor Archwood. I did leave an open door in “In Twilight’s Hush” that allows me to do this. In the meantime, I switched genres. I’m working on a literary fiction novel, which challenges me to ramp up my game as a writer.

I also co-wrote (and just completed) a rom-com/thriller screenplay.

Jann: On a personal note, I hear you found a rattlesnake coiled in your closet. I have a fear of snakes of any type. What did you do?

Laurie: I heard what sounded like a sprinkler running or a punctured soda can about to explode. I could not figure out where the darn sound was coming from. I looked around, and there it was: coiled and shaking its rattle. I called to my husband, “Steven! We’ve got a rattler in our closet.” He produced this pole with a pincher on the end and carefully gripped the snake. I opened a big plastic container. My husband placed the snake inside, let it go, and I closed the lid. We then hiked up our hill and let the critter loose. When my cat came into our room, I could tell he’d been after that snake because he went around the room sniffing then jumping back. Sniffing, then jumping back. Yes, this could have gone wrong in many ways. Thankfully, no one was hurt, including the snake.

Jann: What’s the best thing about being an author?

Laurie: We can, and are encouraged to, live in our own little worlds.

Jann: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Laurie: Music, reading a book or watching a show I admire. Oftentimes, I get frustrated with politics or a societal issue, and that will drive me right to my writing.

Jann: Where can we get your books?

Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Amazon

Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?

Laurie: Would love to connect:

Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

 Laurie: Write as if your words make a difference. They do.

Jann: Thank you so much for talking with us today Laurie. This has been so much fun. All four novels in your Gabriel McRay thriller series are terrific and take the reader on a great ride. For more information on each book in the series, click on the covers below.

The Gabriel McRay Thrillers


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Vicki Crum–Author of Love, Laughter and Werewolves!!

August 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , ,

Vicki Crum writes contemporary and paranormal romance, creating tales full of love and laughter and discovering one’s soul mate in the most unlikely places. Her published works include Loving Luc, Once in a Blue Moon, Moonspell, and Blood Moon (Eternal Moon Series). Vicki resides with her husband in a charming seaside community in Southern California. She has two grown daughters and two adorable grandchildren who light up her world.

Connect with Vicki at, or visit her at and

We’re spending time today with contemporary and paranormal romance author Vicki Crum. Vicki’s third book in her paranormal romance Eternal Moon series has just been released.

Jann: Your Eternal Moon series is about werewolves. What drew you to this genre? 

Vicki: A few years ago, my friend and critique partner, Mandy Baker, urged me to try my hand at writing a paranormal romance. I had only written contemporary romances prior to that, and one contemporary romance with futuristic elements. I tried to think what I could write exploring the paranormal world that would hold my interest. I wasn’t really a “vampire” kind of girl, so I settled on a werewolf. I’ve always been fascinated by wolves, and so I figured, why not? I could still create characters that were sexy and mysterious, and they could be awake during the day and eat whatever they wanted!

Jann: You received great reviews for Once in a Blue Moon and Moonspell. For this series, did you start with plot idea, a character or a theme?

Vicki: Oddly enough, I had started a contemporary romance that wasn’t really going anywhere, so I revamped it into what would eventually become Once in a Blue Moon by making the hero a werewolf. Only Jake was meant to be a werewolf in the beginning. I didn’t even know his love interest, Casey, was a werewolf until Jake did! A rare breed of werewolf with a case of latent genes, even Casey doesn’t know about her true heritage until Jake comes along. I can tell you I had some fun with this one!

In Moonspell, I give Casey’s handsome older brother, Reed, his own love story. Due to their odd family genetics, Reed is not a werewolf, but Marin, the woman he ultimately falls for, is. Each book in the series is connected by siblings. In Blood Moon, Austin is Marin’s brother.

Jann: Blood Moon, book three made its debut recently. What can you tell us about your characters Austin and Kat and their journey?

Vicki: Of all the characters I’ve ever written, I think Kat and Austin are my favorites. They completely captured my imagination and took over my life for a while. I love the way they relate to each other, their good-natured sparring, the immense and uncharted chemistry between them that sweeps them along, almost against their will, on an ultra-passionate adventure. The story takes place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Austin serves as Kat’s outdoor adventure guide. Lots of beautiful scenery, wild animal encounters, and plenty of passion-filled nights. And did I mention Kat’s stalker ex-husband, who refuses to take no for an answer? A showdown at the end exposes Austin’s werewolf heritage in a sudden and violent way, causing Kat to reexamine her feelings for him, and what a future with him might look like.

Jann: What do you want the readers to take away from this series? 

Vicki: I want them to have fun, to be entertained above all, to be carried along on a fantasy, passion-filled adventure as the characters meet and fall desperately in love, then struggle with how, despite the odds against them, to forge a future together. 

Jann: Will there be a fourth book? If so, can you tell us a little about it? 

Vicki: The next book (as yet untitled) takes us to Nashville, and yet another sibling of Marin and Austin’s. Ethan Sawyer is a popular country music star who falls for an extremely independent woman, one whose father was a famous, and very troubled, rock star. Due to Skyler’s scarred past, getting involved with a musician is a non-starter for her. She is also half Shawnee, which according to her full-blood grandmother, makes any kind of union with a shapeshifter forbidden.

Jann: Your first book, Loving Luc, is a contemporary romance. Do you have any plans to write another contemporary romance?

Vicki: Loving Luc is a contemporary romance with futuristic elements, as Luc hails from a planet in another solar system that just happens to be very similar in size and scope to Earth. But yes, I’m thinking to finish my Eternal Moon series with Ethan and Skyler’s story, and then I have several straight contemporary ideas I’d like to work on. Also, my daughter has expressed an interest in us writing a book together, so we’ll see where that idea leads.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories?

Vicki: I would have to say the main theme in most of my books has been the tried and true “love conquers all”. I’ve paired lovers from two distant solar systems and given them their happy ending, and three of the Eternal Moon novels feature couples with incongruent genetic lines, human and werewolf. You can imagine what kinds of difficulties they might face trying to create a life together! I love the idea of discovering one’s soulmate in the most unlikely and unexpected places, wherever that may be.  

Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?

Vicki: Honestly, the quote that has always inspired me the most, and I’m sorry I can’t remember who said it, goes like this, “It makes me sad to think of all the truly talented writers who eventually gave up and went away.” When I’m feeling down and discouraged, this quote gives me heart. Never give up your dreams!

Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?

Vicki: You can find my website at:, and catch me on Facebook at

Congratulation Vicki on the debut of Blood Moon!! It’s been fun getting a peek into your world of werewolves here on A Slice of Orange.

Books by Vicki Crum


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Author Larry L. Deibert – a Time Traveling man!

July 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . ., Writing tagged as , , ,

Larry Deibert has written fourteen books: Combat Boots dainty feet-Finding Love In Vietnam, The Christmas City Vampire, The Other Side Of The Ridge-Gettysburg, June 27th, 2013 to July 2nd, 1863, Family, Fathoms, From Darkness To Light, The Life Of Riley, Santa’s Day Jobs, Werewolves In The Christmas City, The Christmas City Angel, Witches Werewolves And Walter, The Other Side Of The Ridge, New York 1930, The Other Side Of The Ridge, New York City, September 10th and 11th, 2001,  and A Christmas City Christmas, all published by Kindle Direct Publishing

He is a Vietnam veteran and is the past president of the Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Macungie, Pa. Larry retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 after working as a letter carrier for over 21 years. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Hellertown, Pa., where he enjoys reading and writing.

Larry’s website is,

You can contact Larry at Signed copies may be purchased directly from the author.

We’re here today with Author Larry L. Deibert to talk about his Time Travel Trilogy, so let’s get started.

Jann: What is the premise of your Time Travel Trilogy, The Other Side Of The Ridge?

Larry: Initially I was only going to write one novella with the premise of a black man being captured by Confederates in 1863, but when I finished the book, I thought I had to have him move on and hopefully someday return to 2013.

Jann: Did you encounter any unique challenges when writing this Trilogy?

 Larry: Yes, a writer friend of mine told me that I could not use two methods of time travel in the same story because it was against the rules. Time travel offers a great many challenges, and I had to do more research than usual to make sure I had things right.

Jann: Your main character, Dan Rodin, has some great adventures throughout this Series. What challenges does he have to overcome? Who is Dan Rodin?

Larry: Dan Rodin is a black retired Brigadier General in the United States Army and he is a Vietnam veteran. He has to adapt to the time periods he is sent to and in the first novella, he has to endure the taunts, physically and verbally about the color of his skin. He has to do his best to not make any changes to the historical time-line.

Jann: What has been the most rewarding part of having written this Trilogy?

 Larry: I think being able to guide characters from 2013 to 1863 and then 1930 and 2001, and finally back to 2013 was extremely rewarding. I learned a lot about these times in the past and how 21st century characters could live and work in different eras.

Jann: Is Time Travel your favorite genre?

Larry: One of my favorites, along with horror and paranormal. Those genres just open up so many ideas and ways to scare my readers.

Jann:. What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

 Larry: I’m getting ready to publish my third book in the trilogy, The Other Side Of The Ridge, New York City, September 10th and 11th, 2001. I finally got a copy of Requiem For A Vampire from my daughter, not having been able to find the manuscript disc. Now I have the challenge of looking at the book as I retype the novel. I wrote it 21 years ago and I was never completely happy with the characters and the story. I also am working on many short stories, both old and new and I want to put them all in a book someday.

Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?

Larry: In every book I always try to include a Vietnam veteran and my late dog, Riley. I served in Vietnam and I loved my dog to death, and obviously beyond.

Jann: Do you have any writing rituals? Schedule?

 Larry: No, since I don’t earn a living writing, I just write when the mood strikes me.

Jann: What Kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?

 Larry: I would have to say I am a burst writer.

Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?

 Larry: Not really. When I was writing Requiem For A Vampire, my family and I were in old town Williamsburg, Va. I happened to see a young woman who resembled my vampire. I took her picture and hung it on the wall above my computer.

Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received.? What’s the worst?

 Larry: Keep writing; Quit writing.

Jann: Have you ever suffered writer’s block? If so, how did/do you get past it?

 Larry: Yes, I think many writers go through that from time to time. When I get it really bad, like I did with writing my novel, Family, I just go to something else, but I still think about where I am stuck until I get an idea. It took almost 5 years to finish Family. I have been working on a murder mystery for over two years, having been stuck for at least a year. I think I need to reread what I have written so far and maybe something will come to me.

Jann: How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?

 Larry: Sometimes I don’t think I’m really motivated, but my drive is when I get a story idea, I need to see it through to conclusion.

Jann: What are you dying to try next?

 Larry: I’m very excited about working on my short stories and rewriting Requiem. I have submitted a story to my writer’s group for the annual anthology and I am hoping to see it published. I have never been in an anthology before. I also want to write book 2 of Combat Boots dainty feet-Finding Love in Vietnam. Originally it was titled 95 Bravo and it is a story about the Military Police. Book 2 will focus on the 716th MP Battalion and how they helped save Saigon during the Tet Offensive in 1968. I’ve been working on it on and off for about five or six years.

Jann: What’s the best thing about being an author?

 Larry: Taking an idea and creating characters and settings in which to have that idea grow into a believable story. Greeting readers at various book signings and having them share their thoughts about my books. Selling books to virtual strangers is also pretty cool.

Jann: Thank you so much Larry for spending this time with us and sharing your life as a writer.

Books by Larry L. Deibert

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Author Greta Boris and her 7 Deadly Sins!!

June 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . ., Writing tagged as ,

Greta Boris is the author of The 7 Deadly Sins, standalone novels of psychological suspense. Ordinary women. Unexpected Evil. Taut psychological thrillers that expose the dark side of sunny Southern California. Her stories have been called atmospheric, twisty, and un-put-downable.
She’s also the Co-Creator of The Author Wheel, a site for writers on writing, and a popular conference speaker and workshop instructor. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno. You can visit her at

We are talking today with Greta Boris about her intriguing series about the 7 Deadly Sins. Let’s get started.

Jann: Where did you get the idea to write about the seven deadly sins?

Greta: I took a course on writing a series and learned that there are many different kinds. I knew I wasn’t ready to write the typical mystery series with the same sleuth appearing in every book, and I really enjoyed suspense stories that revolved around an “every-woman” kind of character. I needed a theme that could tie those kinds of stories together while allowing them to also stand alone. Since all crime and most stupid mistakes–which my characters always make–stem from one or more of the seven deadlies, it seemed a good fit.

Jann: You have a theme for each book—what comes next? Do you work on your characters or the plot first?

Greta: Since the character for the next in series is always introduced in the book before and often characters show up in many stories, I guess you could say I work on the characters first. However, I also think some characters lend themselves to certain kinds of stories so the two—plot and character—evolve together.

Jann: You have written and published four of the deadly sins. The Scent of Wrath, A Margin of Lust, The Sanctity of Sloth, The Color of Envy. Did you know in advance the order of the sins you wanted to write for this series? Why did you start with wrath?

Greta: Actually, the first book is A Margin of Lust. I wish I had started with Wrath because my book got confused with erotica and romance novels in the beginning! The order comes from the order in which the sins are punished in Dante’s Inferno. The more severe the sin, the farther down in the circles you find it. Lust is at the top, not considered too bad by Dante. Pride is punished in the lower circles of hell. It’s not necessary to read them in order, however. Readers can start with the plot that sounds most interesting, or start at the beginning.

Jann: Your main characters so far are all women. Will this be the case in the remaining books? Why?

Greta: Yes. Selfishly, I wanted to explore new careers vicariously through my characters. Gwen is a Realtor for high-end beach real estate. Olivia works in a Pilates studio and spends a bunch of time experimenting with essential oils. Abby is a writer and Rosie an interior designer. I’m interested in all these things and or have dabbled in them. It’s easier for me to mind-meld with a woman since I am one.

Jann: A Pinch of Gluttony, book five in the series, debuts today. Congratulations!! Honey Wells is your main character. Who is Honey and what challenges does she have to overcome?

Greta: Honey is a chef, shop owner, and cooking instructor. When the story opens, she’s hiking with her very fit fireman husband, because she’s had a bad doctor’s report. She’s overweight, high-cholesterol, insulin resistant, etc. Her problems are exacerbated by the fact that her brother-in-law has disappeared with most of their savings, so she’s working around the clock to make up the difference. When she and hubby find a dead body everything gets much worse. Dead bodies tend to have that effect on things.

Jann: Do you have a sin you like the best? The least? Why?

Greta: I’ve really enjoyed writing them all. I think The Color of Envy was the most difficult because it’s my besetting sin. I’m more apt to struggle with envy than the others. Maybe because of that, I also think it might be the best of the bunch so far. However, my publisher loves The Sanctity of Sloth most, and my editor thinks A Pinch of Gluttony is best.

Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?

Greta: I hope they will be both entertained and challenged. We all have blind spots and sometimes it’s easiest to recognize our own through watching someone else screw up. A book reviewer who featured The Sanctity of Sloth on her website said the book made her cry in some sections because she related to Abby. She loved watching Abby’s struggle to act even when the consequences of not acting were dire then, ultimately, overcoming her reticence. Others were very irritated by Abby, but understood Gwen’s lust for success.

Jann: Are you working on book six? Can you tell us which sin you have selected and when it will be available?

Greta: Yes! I’m working on The Key of Greed, and saving pride for last. It’s a fun take on a locked room mystery. Willow, my main character, is younger than most of the others. She’s Honey’s (A Pinch of Gluttony) daughter. She’s a violinist, pregnant, and engaged to be married. I believe it’s scheduled for release February, 2021.

Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?

Greta: As I said, I’m writing Greed now, but I’m also planning a new series—The Mortician Murder Mystery series. It’s about a young, Rock-a-billy hairstylist to the aged who gets a request to do the hair and makeup for one of her client’s funerals. When she gets to the mortuary, she discovers the woman’s death, just like her hair color, wasn’t as natural as everybody thought. It’s so much fun to write something with a bit of humor for a change. The Seven Deadly Sins have moments here and there, but they’re not funny books. The other series is much more light-hearted despite the name!

Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?

Greta: I just received a review for Gluttony that said my writing was a cross between Kathy Reichs’ and Karin Slaughter’s. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?

Greta: I have a website,,where readers can read my occasional ponderings, find out more about my books, and pick up a free novella, The Escape Room. I wrote a novella prequel to the Sins series called The Origin of Sin, which is available on Kindle Unlimited at the moment. The Escape Room takes those same characters and sends them into an escape room game that goes horribly wrong. It’s lots of fun. I’m also on Facebook and occasionally Twitter.

Thank you Greta for joining us here on A Slice of Orange. You have a very fascinating series with wonderful characters. Good luck with A Pinch of Gluttony!  

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Justine Davis—a Storyteller

May 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , ,

“Some people call me a writer, some an author, some a novelist. I just say I’m a storyteller.” –Justine Davis

USA Today best-selling author of over 80 novels, and five-time winner of the coveted RITA Award including for being inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame, Justine Davis has been featured on CNN, in several local newspapers and nationwide by Associated Press. She has spoken at several national and international conferences, at the UCLA writer’s program, and is featured in North American Romance Writers, an academic reference. Along with many other awards, she is a fifteen time nominee for RT Book Review awards, has won four times, received three of their lifetime achievement awards, and had four titles on the magazine’s 200 Best of all Time list.

After years of working in law enforcement, and more years doing both, Justine now writes full time. She lives near beautiful Puget Sound in Washington State, peacefully coexisting with deer, bears, a pair of bald eagles, a tailless raccoon, and driving her prized ’67 Corvette roadster with her beloved dog as passenger. 

The amazing author, Justine Davis, is here with us on A Slice of Orange. Sit back and enjoy!!

Jann: Published in 1991, an award-winning author of over eighty books—what has been the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Justine: Reader response and having fans who await every book is probably the most rewarding. More personally, I’m stunned that it’s still going! I’ve survived in this crazy business for almost three decades. A long way from that twenty-something with a dream. Or the kid who wrote her first story at about age six! Perhaps even more amazing, I’m busier now than ever, writing for three publishers and getting ready to put out some Indie projects I’ve been working on.

Jann: Your books are filled with amazing characters that pull the reader into your stories. In just three days, May 5th, your romantic suspense, Operation Second Chance, will be available for readers. What is the premise of this story? 

Justine: Thank you! This is the 11th book in the Cutter’s Code series. I never planned on it going this long, because in other series I would be ready to wind it up after about 6-8 books, maybe 10. But darn, I love that dog and how he leads his humans around! Operation Second Chance is what I call a “loose end” story. Back in the beginning, I’d set up the Foxworth Foundation and its founder, Quinn Foxworth, with a backstory. Part of it involved a convenience store robbery where a police officer was killed and Quinn and another officer wounded. But I’d never actually told that backstory, or explained what happened to the other people involved. But it was always in the back of my mind, the curiosity about them. And so this book was born. 

Jann: What challenges did you set for your main characters, Adam Kirk and Amanda Bonner to overcome?

Justine: Sheer hatred? Kidding, but Amanda is the daughter of the officer who died, and she blames his rookie partner for what happened. Who is, of course, Adam Kirk. Who blames himself as well. They have a long journey to make to get to the truth about what happened that night and their feelings about each other.

Jann: Lone Star Reunion, Texas Justice Book 4, debuted this past March. What would you like readers to know about this story?

Justine: The idea for the book—specifically the hero’s backstory—came out of a real life situation I encountered, back in my law enforcement days. It broke my heart then that there was so little I could do back then, so I decided to at least give my fictional character a happy ending. Many of my stories are born that way, out of the desire to give happy endings that I couldn’t give in real life. It’s probably why I write what I write.

Jann: Are you working on something now that you can share with us?

Justine: Absolutely! At the moment it’s a long list. I just finished the 5th and final book in the Texas Justice series, Lone Star Homecoming, the story of the long missing Highwater brother, Kane. That will be out on June 11th. Also just finished final proofing on another Coltons continuity, Colton Storm Warning, to be released in October. I’m midway into the next Cutter’s Code, lucky number 13 (as yet untitled but scheduled for December), and just agreed to a new contract for another series set in Last Stand, Texas. I’m also readying a five-book series set in the fictional northern California town of Wild Oak, to be released soon. Plus, I’m about to release one of those “books of the heart,” entitled Dark Roads, a story I’ve been writing for over a dozen years. It’s a different story from my usual, and I hope readers will give it a shot.

Other than that, I’ve been goofing off…

Jann: What Kind of writer are you? A page a day or a burst writer?

Justine: Fairly disciplined. Minimum pages per day. A lot less than in the beginning, though! Back then when I had all those stories bottled up I thought anything less than 25 pages a day (6250 words, for those who have been able to shift to word count calculations!) was dogging it. And that was when I was still working full time. Now it depends on deadlines, of course, but it’s also divided up between projects, depending on how many books I’m writing at once. (which was a transition in itself, from writing one book at a time and linearly to writing up to three at once, and not always in story order—all these years, and I’m still learning and changing!) Right now, for example, I’m working on both the next Cutter and the Indie series, and my schedule is 5 pages on Cutter and 3 on the other. Plus brainstorming my next Last Stand, Texas series, and edits on two other books. Let’s just say I stay busy!

Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?

Justine: Oh, this is a good one. Yes, I have things up all over. Besides my deadline schedule, visual boards and pub dates, I have an excerpt from a reader letter that was particularly inspiring. A boyhood picture of my late husband, with the most mischievous grin I’ve ever seen, to remind me of the heart all my heroes have. A phrase I borrowed for my hero Shane Highwater in Lone Star Lawman, which I turn to when the day’s work seems overwhelming: Start where you stand. And an old Andy Capp comic strip I’ve had for years which ends with the wisdom: “Marriages might be made in heaven, but you have to do your own maintenance.”

Jann: What are you dying to try next?

Justine: I’m dying to—and am about to—dive into the Indie pool, as I’ve mentioned. I’m starting with a 5-book series that’s almost ready. The entire series was inspired by a wood sculpture I saw in a hotel lobby, of horses swirling up out of a solid base. I was entranced by it, and knew that someday I would simply have to write it into a story. And when that beautiful hotel was sadly lost in the horrific wildfires that hit the California wine country, I became even more determined. My fictional sculptor is the hero of the first book, and it turned out he had some fascinating relatives and friends…

Jann: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? 

Justine: Jump out of a perfectly good airplane? Hang glide off a cliff? Barrel race an unruly horse? Ride a motorcycle for years? Truth be told, it probably wasn’t any of those, but rather quitting my day job (which was really a night job most of the time) to try to be a full-time writer. That was scary, and crazy. But I was seriously tired of doing both on six hours sleep if I was lucky. Taking off the badge was hard, but I love what I do, so I have to say it’s been worth it. And as I always say, I know how lucky I am to have had two careers I love; many people don’t even get one.

Jann: Thanks for sharing with us today Justine. I really enjoyed hearing about what you have been doing these past years. I so glad you still have your red Corvette Roadster. Good luck with the debut of Operation Second Chance. It’s in my cart to purchase!!

A Few Books by Justine Davis


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