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Zither! Book Tour

September 23, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , ,
 

 

Metafiction/Humor/Mystery

 

Date Published: April 20th, 2021

Publisher: Zither Studios

 

 

 

A nutty religious cult abducts a herd of prime gazebos (huh?) and it’s up to bumbling P.I. Mars Candiotti to rescue them. Mars, aspiring author, chronicles his quest in Jeffrey Hanlon’s comic mystery Zither

 

 Guided by his magically prescient IHOP waitress, Mars strives to mitigate the shocking global consequences of the gazebo heist, even though he has no idea what the word mitigate means. Mars has five Important clues with which to solve his confounding mystery: Butterscotch, John Travolta, Trombones Venetian Blinds, and Wind Chimes. 

 

 As Zither swallows its own tale, Mars finds it increasingly tricky to distinguish between real people and his rambunctious fictional characters. Zither becomes the romper room where his reality meets fantasy – and get frisky with each other. 

 

Using his (odd) clues, Mars’ international odyssey leads to an explosive conclusion in Panama. TVs around the world tune in to watch live coverage of “Carnage in the Canal”. 

 

Amid the lunatic havoc that is Zither there is (of course!) an epic love story as Mars meets Marian, the brainy librarian he had dreamed of. Marian says his books are “slapstick existentialism with subjective reality couched in parable”. (This is news to Mars). But is Marian real? 

 Is any of it real?

 

 

 

 
 
 

“Hanlon’s humor shines bright and will leave fans of such madness wanting more.” Publishers Weekly 

 “This zany, rollicking mystery adventure is as compelling as it is hilarious.” Independent Book Review 

 Nominated for the prestigious Audie Award, Best Fiction 2021

 

About the Author

 

I was born in a Southern California beach town. 

 
My family moved to Northwest Oregon when I was 7. Or maybe when I was 8. 
 
Had we stayed in the Beach Boys town, and knowing myself as I do now, I suspect I would have grown long hair, started a rock band, and been heavily into drugs. The rock band would probably have been pretty good. The rest of it, not so much. I’d likely have joined the ranks of those like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. 
 
We moved to a mountaintop. The last five miles to get there were gravel. The final two miles were steep and to the end of the road. 
 
That’s where we lived: the end of the road, 22 miles to the nearest town. 
 
Our closest neighbor, about a mile down the road, was a hermit who lived in a shack. He had a goat. About once a month the goat would visit us. Then the hermit would show up to retrieve his goat. I think the goat liked us better than the hermit, which is why the goat kept showing up. Goats are funny animals. I think they aspire to be house pets. 
 
And speaking of animals, we had cats. Lots and lots of cats. Because we were remote and at the end of the road, unkind people – and ‘unkind’ is the kindest description I can use here – would dump their unwanted cats on or near our property. The cats would find our house. We gave them Fancy Feast and our love, and in turn they loved us. 
 
My childhood friends didn’t visit too often. That was at least partly because when they did show up my father would say something like this: “Great! We have a job that could use an extra hand. Won’t take more than five minutes.” Well, that five minutes usually turned into an hour or two – volunteer labor! – and that friend would seldom visit again. 
 
So my favorite childhood playmate was a 2000 pound Hereford bull, a big boy with horns spanning three feet. I’d go out in the pasture and the bull would strike a pose not unlike what you’ve seen in the movies where the bull was ready to charge, head down, eyeing me. But he wasn’t going to charge me. He just wanted his forehead scratched. And so I would scratch his forehead. He liked that, shaking his head every so often to show his approval. Then we’d elevate to a game that the bull might have called ‘Let’s see how far we can toss this little kid!’ and I’d place my right hip against his massive head and he’d toss me into the air like a sack of flour. Over and over, farther and farther, higher and higher. I could have done that for hours – I can fly! – but after a few tosses the bull would grow bored with the game and wander off. Probably to chase some cute heifers. 
 
The nearest library was 30 miles away, and we ventured there often. It was a majestic old building, and the Grand Room had books on all four walls with reading chairs in the center. But that was not where I wanted to be. I figured all those books were popular books or books I was supposed to read. I wanted something different, so I would enter the room with a small sign that said ‘Stacks’. It was row after narrow row after row of books, floor to ceiling, dimly lit, dusty. It was like entering a cave. Filled with treasures! 
 
It was in those Stacks that I discovered the likes of Kerouac and Heller and Huxley and Fowles and Steinbeck and Ellison and Bradbury and Hemingway and many many others. 
 
As Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
 
And those, each in their own way, was the inspiration for the first book I wrote at the age of eight or nine: ‘Pond Scum’. 
 
It was illustrated.

 

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Zither!

Jeffrey Hanlon

Excerpt

As nightfall approached, we prepared.

Pete disguised himself as management, putting on a nice Men’s Wearhouse suit with a bleeding turnip lapel pin.

I disguised myself as Britney Spears.

At the stroke of midnight, Pete and I left his house and headed for the St. Francis Yacht Club.

As contrived luck would have it, Benny Tisdale had left the cabin on his dumb boat unlocked.

In stealthy fashion, Pete and I went below.

“I’ll shine the flashlight and listen for footprints. You find the varnish,” Pete said.

It took no time at all to find Benny’s Man O’ War. Actually, it took a bit of time, but you know what I mean.

As Pete held the light, I donned my surgical gloves and placed Benny’s Man O’ War in my black op bag.

“Easy as taking candy from a drowning man,” Pete whispered.

I nodded.

Pete said, “It’s dark in here, Mars. If you’re going to nod, warn me so I can shine the flashlight on your head.”

“Okay, Pete. We’ll make that a new rule.”

As we prepared to exit in stealthy fashion, Pete shined his flashlight around the cabin, then said, “Mars, look at this big wooden crate.”

I looked at the wooden crate. It was big enough to hold a Barcalounger.

“I’ll bet it’s filled with ill-gotten booties,” Pete said. “Or a Barcalounger.”

He handed me the flashlight and pried open the crate’s lid with a crowbar.

It was not until some time after dark that we took courage to get up and throw the body overboard. It was then loathsome beyond expression, and so far decayed that, as Peters attempted to lift it, an entire leg came off in his grasp . . .

“Peters?” Pete said. “Do you mean Pete? Me? What body? What leg?”

“Sorry. That’s Edgar Allen Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

“What’s Poe doing in this chapter?”

I shined the flashlight on my shoulder and shrugged.

He snatched the light back, looked in the crate, and said, aghast, “We’ve gotta get outta here quick, Mars! This boat could blow any minute!”

I looked inside the big wooden crate.

Here is what was in there: hundreds, probably thousands, of Steven Seagal movies.

We’d be lucky to get out of there alive. Seagal movies have a tendency to bomb.

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Third Time’s the Harm Release Blitz and Giveaway

August 24, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,
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Deco Desk Mystery, Book 1

Paranormal Mystery

Date Published: August 24, 2021

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Jamie Whitehall Olivian has received a mysterious letter from her Uncle James. She is named after him, but she has never seen, met, or heard him mentioned in any way.

Until now.

And he has died and left her his entire estate. But it seems Uncle James wants her to investigate a murder.

His, that is.

It also seems the estate is contingent upon her acceptance of this commission. Jamie wants no part of the investigation or of the estate. She gets along perfectly well, thank you very much, a fact she emphasizes to his lawyer, who just happens to be gorgeous, making it a little harder to say no.

Things take a strange turn when the victim himself asks her to reconsider. For reasons unknown, Uncle James has been unable to depart for the afterlife and is stuck in his Art Deco desk.

Jamie decides to take on the job of niece and sleuth, with no experience at either, and she and Uncle James set out to find the killer. They are aided by the lawyer and a not-as-gorgeous and slightly rumpled homicide detective whose interest seems to be more than just finding a murderer.

About The Author

If you live in Southern California, you’re either a writer or an actor, right? As Professor Emerita from California State University, Long Beach, Loran Holt chose the writing path. Third Times the Harm is one of the results of her efforts, the first book of a series featuring reluctant sleuth, Jamie Whitehall Olivian. Holt is also the author of Nightmasters: Doubles Talk, a sword-and-sorcery epic, published by Acorn, as well. You will find her non-fiction, film-and-fashion books under the name Lora Ann Sigler.

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The Mystery of the Solway Firth Spaceman

July 3, 2021 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger, Starting a Novel Series with a Partner by E. J. Williams tagged as , , , , ,

“We went on a normal outing and picked our spot,” Jim Templeton recalled of his May 23, 1964 outing. They sat down to take a picture of his 5-year-old daughter. He never expected anything out of the ordinary.


When they developed the pictures they found a figure of someone…or something.


Templeton contacted the Kodak Company. They found nothing out of the ordinary and offered a reward to anyone who could prove the photo was faked. Interestingly enough, the reward was never claimed.

The photograph eventually came to the attention of the local paper, the Cumberland News. A media frenzy followed. It was picked up by the Daily Mail and Express. Mr. Templeton began receiving letters from all over the world.


He then received a visit from two “Men in Black” who wanted to be taken to the location where the image was taken. They referred to each other only as Number 9 and Number 11.


Just days after Templeton had taken his photograph, the planned launch of a Blue Streak missile in Woomera, South Australia on the other side of the world was aborted by technicians who reported seeing two men in the firing range. Upon later seeing the Solway Spaceman picture on the front page of an Australian newspaper, they were stunned as the figure looked the same as the figures they saw close to the missile.


Templeton’s picture spiked public interest due to the space race between the United States and Soviet Union, and because the image behind his daughter looked like a NASA Astronaut.


More than four decades later, an explanation was finally found. Another photo taken that same day showed Elizabeth and her mother  Annie. Annie was wearing a sleeveless dress of a very light blue color. They deducted that the “spaceman” was just  Annie, with her hair tied giving the impression of an astronaut visor, walking away from her daughter. Templeton, however, remembers his wife was standing behind him when the photo was taken.

The eerie photograph can still send a chill

Janet Elizabeth Lynn
Author of mysteries, checkout my website

Check out our latest Skylar Drake Mystery.

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DESERT ICE

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DESERT ICE

GAME TOWN

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GAME TOWN

SLICK DEAL

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SLICK DEAL

SLIVERS OF GLASS

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SLIVERS OF GLASS

STRANGE MARKINGS

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STRANGE MARKINGS

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Death Opens a Window Book Tour & Guest Post

June 16, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Guest Posts, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , , ,

Mourning Dove Mysteries, Book 2

Mystery, Crime Fiction, LGBTQ

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Date Published: Oct 19, 2019

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BEST eBOOK SUSPENSE/THRILLER – New Apple Book Awards

BEST COVER OVERALL – New Apple Book Awards

The Mourning Dove Mysteries series includes:

1. MURDER ON THE LAKE OF FIRE

2. DEATH OPENS A WINDOW

3. A LIGHT TO KILL BY (coming August 3–preorder available)

Emory Rome is back in DEATH OPENS A WINDOW, Book 2 of the Mourning Dove Mysteries and the follow-up to the international bestseller MURDER ON THE LAKE OF FIRE.

As he struggles with the consequences of his last case, Emory must unravel the inexplicable death of a federal employee in a Knoxville high-rise. But while the reticent investigator is mired in a deep pool of suspects – from an old mountain witch to the powerful Tennessee Valley Authority – he misses a greater danger creeping from the shadows. The man in the ski mask returns to reveal himself, and the shocking crime of someone close is unearthed.

About the Author

Award-winning mystery author Mikel J. Wilson draws on his Southern roots for the international bestselling Mourning Dove Mysteries, a series of novels featuring bizarre murders in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. Wilson adheres to a “no guns or knives” policy for the instigating murders in the series.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mikel J. Wilson

  1. I was a licensed skydiver. I went to skydiving school in California City and would jump out of an Otter or Cessna over the Mojave Desert, which was especially stunning from 12,000 feet. I stopped jumping when I moved to San Diego.
  2. I insert subtle cameos into my books of characters from other, unrelated books I’ve written. For example, I have August Briar from Sedona: The Lost Vortex talking on the phone to Jeff Woodard from my Mourning Dove Mysteries series, and I have the other end of the conversation in Murder on the Lake of Fire, which came out six years later.
  3. I appeared as an extra on Will & Grace during the first season – in the “Alley Cats” episode, bowling beside the two leads.
  4. I’m a Southerner who has never drank even a sip of tea – sweet or unsweetened. I gave this same quirk to Emory Rome in my Mourning Dove Mysteries series.
  5. I spent two weeks alone camping and hiking in Sedona, seeking redirection for my life, and I came back with the inspiration for my first published book, Sedona: The Lost Vortex, which reinvigorated my passion for writing.
  6. When I was 19, I hopped on a Greyhound bus from Nashville to Los Angeles with $100 in my pocket and without knowing anyone there. I ended up homeless on the streets of Hollywood for a couple of months, but I persevered and have lived in Southern California ever since.
  7. In my 20s, I was a bartender at Studio One, which, at the time, was the largest LGBTQ+ nightclub in Los Angeles.
  8. I took Latin in high school and was president of the Latin Club, so I was especially thrilled to have a book-signing event in Rome for the launch of Murder on the Lake of Fire’s Italian version, Omicidio sul Lago di Fuoco.
  9. I proposed to my husband at Machu Picchu, finding out afterwards the particular spot is called the Palace of the Princess.
  10. I’m a UFO buff, and I was a huge fan of Chariots of the Gods when I was a kid. I finally met author Erich von Däniken at a “Contact in the Desert” event in 2019 and got a picture with him, which was majorly exciting for me.

Excerpt

Death Opens a Window

Mikel J. Wilson

At thirty-two stories, the Godfrey Tower jutted from the Knoxville skyline like a shark fin in the Tennessee River. Unseen through the frameless exterior walls of silvery, reflective glass, a young woman on the twenty-ninth floor sat with a phone held to her ear, pretending to be on a business call as she stared out the floor-to-ceiling window behind her desk. While her colleagues busied themselves on phones or computers at the dozens of cubicles throughout the large, open office space, Angie was not contributing to the organization’s productivity.

If she had looked down and across the street, the attractive brunette would’ve seen the unremarkable roof of the area’s next-tallest building fourteen floors below her. Instead she focused on the unobstructed view of downtown and the hazy, snow-peaked mountains beyond. She imagined herself hiking below the snowline with her new lumbersexual boyfriend and lying with him on a blanket before a tantric campfire. Angie could almost hear the crackling wood, until she realized the sound was coming from behind her.

She turned her chair around to see her boss tapping her desk with his pen. The hoary goat of a man stared her down, his pinched eyes straining to scold her through spotted glasses. “You’re having a rather one-sided conversation.”

Angie held up a silencing finger to her boss and made up something to say to her imaginary caller. “Thank you so much for your feedback, Mr. Watkins. We always appreciate hearing about good customer service, and I’ll be sure to pass along your kudos. Okay. Take care now.” She hung up the phone and greeted her boss with a smile. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t hear what you said.” She mimed a talking mouth with her hand. “He was talking my ear off.”

Mr. Ramsey, however, did not return her smile. In fact, a look of horror sprinted across his face as something behind her snatched his attention. Before Angie could turn around to see what it was, she heard a great shattering, followed by the pelting of glass on her back and right cheek.

A dark-haired man in a brown suit flew through the window headfirst and thudded faceup onto the floor beside her. The impact against the man’s back shoved the air from his lungs. He gurgled as he struggled to regain his breath – although no one could hear it over the screams of Angie and several of her co-workers. Shards of glass protruded from his head and neck, one at the base of an erratic fountain of blood that sprang from his carotid artery.

Angie, now shocked into silence, tore her eyes from the dying man and toward the broken window through which she had daydreamed just a moment earlier. Oblivious to the blood trickling from the small cuts on her own face, she took a step toward the large hole the man’s body had punched into the glass wall. She poked her head outside and looked all around.

Her boss grabbed her and pulled her away from the precarious opening. “Angie, what are you doing? It’s not safe!”

The young woman turned a confused face to him. “Where did he come from?”

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What If You Planned a Party and Nobody Came?

May 13, 2021 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , , ,

What if you spent a year planning a party, sent out the invitations, and nobody came? For the past year, that has been the scenario for writers and readers. Each writer’s plan was simple: write the book and go on tour launching it. Readers looked forward to the party aspect of interacting with authors at bookstores, libraries, and conferences. Then, on March 14, 2020, the world shut down.

That weekend, I was in Washington, D.C. at a family function, not knowing it would be a year or more until I saw those loved ones again. Before arriving in Washington, I had been on a whirlwind tour for newly released Three Treats Too Many, the third book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series. The tour had taken me to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Memphis, Fairhope, New York, and Atlanta in two months. More stops were planned for April through August, but they were canceled.

I, like many authors, had to pivot. We spoke to groups or participated in panels virtually. Authors learned to sit up straight, use microphones or earphones, adjust lighting and backgrounds, and provide bookplates instead of only bookmarks. Using Zoom, Crowdcast, or other platforms was a good substitute, but not the same as live interaction with readers and bookstore owners. Reaction times were different, especially for webinar platforms where readers could only communicate by leaving a chat message.

Although readers still establish links between themselves and the characters in books they choose to read, experimentation with new authors dropped. Why? Housebound, people found comfort spending time with familiar characters and scenes that brought back good memories.

Four Cuts Too Many, the fourth Sarah Blair book releases May 25. In it, Sarah, who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder, has no desire to learn knife skills from her friend, sous chef and adjunct college instructor, Grace Winston. But, when Grace’s department chair is found dead with one of Grace’s knives in his neck, Sarah is forced to sharpen her own skills to uncover the elusive killer. The premise and the book are fun, especially for a summer beach, airplane, or bath read, but how to launch it to the most people is a dilemma.

It is a problem that is not mine alone (although it sometimes feels like it). Most authors with release dates that would offer readers the perfect summer book are finding that stores are still not having large in person book parties nor are the usual conferences taking place. Consequently, we’re planning individual virtual store appearances or panels, we’re increasing our number of Facebook parties and group take-overs, more blogs are being written, and we’re hoping for word-of-mouth help.

Whether it is Four Cuts Too Many or any other book you read, review it, and tell your friends about it. Publishers look at sales and numbers, so it is important that readers and writers work together if favorite series and characters are to be survive the pandemic.

I know I can’t wait to see you in person again, but in the meantime, do you have any ideas how you’d like authors to connect with you? I’ve got my pen and paper ready to take notes.




Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which debuted with One Taste Too Many on December 18, 2018. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Find out more about Debra at any of the following links:

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Debra’s Newest Sarah Blair Mystery

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The Sarah Blair Mysteries

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

TWO BITES TOO MANY

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TWO BITES TOO MANY

THREE TREATS TOO MANY

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THREE TREATS TOO MANY

FOUR CUTS TOO MANY

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FOUR CUTS TOO MANY

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