Murder and Apple Pie

Perhaps writers do have more quirks in their imagination than others. When asked where my ideas come from, I am hard pressed to give a cogent reason why I look at a gorgeous Fall day and a murder plot comes to mind.

Fall is a season of robust. The skies are bluer, the air is crisper and the leaves turn from ordinary green to riots of color in everything from pink to yellow to flaming red. The lawn is covered with vibrant gold that resembles a melted sun spreading across the green grass. In early October, the air is fragrant, spicy, sometimes filled with a hint of burning leaves, rotting apples, or a hamburger roasting on the grill, celebrating the last of the cookouts. It’s football weather.

A group of kids walk home from school whooping and jumping in the piles of leaves, a lady walks her little dog, a smiling priest stands outside his church resting his hands on his ample middle, a mailman struggles with a bag full of magazines and two women gossip on their front steps. You stand there in that peaceful atmosphere and think, “What if?” The idea for my new story is born and with it an entire cast of characters that live in this peaceful scene in typical, small-town America.

I hope you enjoy my new cozy, romantic mystery Murder in the Neighborhood

Detective Kevin Fowler deeply resents the chaos caused by a madman who invades this peaceful scene, and we follow him as he struggles to return this town to the idyllic place it has always been…

A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to loose the most sleep – a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small town community. Together the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission. 

Click here for an excerpt from Murder in the Neighborhood.

Buy Link – Amazon

Welcome guest blogger Susan C. Muller

Dear Janis, thanks for having me on your blog today! I’d like to talk about book openings.

Interviewers always ask an author, “How do you write the perfect opening sentence?”

You don’t. If you thought that first sentence had to be perfect, you’d never write the second sentence, or the third. You sit down and start writing and do the best you can.

Often, after you’ve gotten well into the book, you look back and realize the first paragraph, or first page, or first chapter are backstory and unnecessary. You might sprinkle it in later, but you don’t need to start with it.

Sometimes, it takes a friend or critique partner to point to the third page and say, “This is where your story starts, right here.”

Many experts teach that you should start with dialogue, or action. That’s fine, if it’s right for your story or your voice. Conventional wisdom says not to start with a dream, but I’m sure someone has done it successfully somewhere.

I’ve seen lists of famous first lines and some are excellent, but some have left me cold. No two people can agree on constitutes the “best.”

Another so called “rule” is not to start with someone waking up or answering the phone.

In The Witch on Twisted Oak, I wrote the first scene and realized I had done just that. But I liked the scene and didn’t want to get rid of it. Okay, I decided, so what if I made that the second scene and had the first scene the discovery of the body?

Then I was left with the problem of who would make the discovery?

My choice was a bit unconventional and not totally within the accepted norm, but read this excerpt and let me know; do you think I made the right decision?

Excerpt from The Witch on Twisted Oak:witchontwistedoak

The full moon called her name with increasing urgency, but she didn’t move until the sounds of sleep-laden breathing filled the house. She padded silently across threadbare carpet. When she reached the kitchen, her steps echoed—click, click, click—against worn linoleum and she paused, but the rhythm of the house didn’t change.

She pushed through the small opening and the flap closed behind her with a soft swish.


Smells assaulted her from every direction and she quivered with excitement. Which way to go first?

The boxer next door had peed against the big pine tree, again, and she released a few drops of her own to let him know she’d been by. The breeze wafted a new scent her direction and she stopped in mid-stream.

What was that?

Light spilled from the small building behind the house where the old people lived. Scents poured out that were both foreign and familiar. Smells weren’t good or bad to her, only something to be investigated, but that house reeked of sickness and she usually avoided it on her nightly romps.

Inside the building was a playground filled with sights and smells and objects she’d never encountered before.

She danced in circles and jumped from one piece of furniture to another with abandon. She rolled and squirmed and wallowed in every new scent. And they were all new and different and intriguing.

An object caught her eye and she batted it with her paw. It skittered a few feet and stopped. She tried again, but it refused to roll any distance. Maybe if she tossed it.

The taste was as new and fascinating as the smell. She shook her head and it flew in the air, landing with a solid thunk.

This was fun, but how much more exciting if she had someone to play with. The boy was always grumpy since he started changing into a man.

The girl. She’d play any time of night or day.

She flew across the street and through her opening, toenails first clacking on the linoleum, then falling silent on the carpet. The door to the girl’s room was closed, but she nudged it open, then bounded onto the bed, dropping her treasure at the girl’s side and nuzzling her face. The girl might not be willing to play, but was always ready to cuddle.

When the first scream pierced the night air, she leapt to the floor and cowered under the bed.


If you enjoyed this excerpt, you can find The Witch on Twisted Oak on Amazon at:

Check out my website at

Twitter: @SusanCMuller

Facebook: Susan C Muller, Author

Thursday Threads – C.D. Hersh

The Promised One

By C.D. Hersh
Genre: Paranormal romance suspense

Heat Level: Sensual

When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.


The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

Buy our book at Amazon:

Learn more about C.D. Hersh at:


Soul Mate Publishing:

Facebook site:



Thursday Threads – Brenda Stinnett

The King’s Vampire, first in an Abyss series

Written by Brenda Stinnett

Historical Paranormal set in London, England, after the Restoration of Charles II.

Heat Scale : Sizzling

Darius Einhard, demon slayer, will stop at nothing to help Elizabeth Curran, immortal vampire, break the bonds of brendastinnettvampirism, even while helping her protect Charles Stuart II, who’s in danger of being entrapped into becoming an immortal vampire and leading his people into the abyss of hell by the psychic vampire demons. 


The ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England, November, 1675

First to reach the top of the ladder, Elizabeth said, “I see a dim light outside the archways of the church. Follow me.”

They’d almost reached the entrance when a hooded figure came rapidly gliding toward them. In silence, the shadowy figure stepped in front of them, blocking the exit while tossing back its hood. Elizabeth recognized Julian, his horrible eyes blazing blood-red, and his mummified face transformed into a skull whose hinged jaws tantalizingly opened and closed, while his wings beat back and forth.

Fear-frozen, Elizabeth watched the skull increase in size, the jaws continuing to rise and fall. The creature grew until it filled the archway.

With a shout, Darius shoved his three companions away from him and toward the archway. “Run! John, take the women to safety.”

John grabbed both women by the arm and started running with them, dodging the skull and slipping beneath Julian’s enormous wings. Elizabeth pulled back and turned around in time to see the huge jaws closing over Darius. She screamed, but John yanked her back and dragged her and Amelia out of the church forcibly, before she could protest further. He gave a shrill whistle. Darius’s coach appeared in front of the ruins. John shoved the women into the coach, and shouted to the driver, “To the Boar’s Head Inn. Hurry up, my good man.”

In the coach, Elizabeth glared at him with such ferocity that he drew away from her in surprise. “How dare you, John!”

His eyes widened. “What’s wrong? Darius told me to get you and Amelia to safety, and that’s what I’ve done.”

His wife touched his shoulder and gave a shake of her head.

Elizabeth sat up on her knees, pressing her face to the back window of the carriage. Even with her superior vision, she saw neither Darius, nor the huge skull from her vantage point.

“We’ve abandoned him to those horrible demons. We should have stayed and fought.”

When she let out an enormous sob, Amelia gently pulled her back onto the seat. “John was doing what Darius asked him to do. Darius is a great warrior and he can take care of himself.”

Elizabeth hardly noticed Amelia stroking her arm in a comforting manner. She felt a pain in the pit of her stomach grow until it reached up and clutched her heart. How could she live with herself if anything happened to him?

Buy links



Web Page:


Thursday Threads – Becky Lower

Blame It On The Brontes

Written by Becky Lower

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: Sensual

beckylowerThree separate love stories intertwine around a central theme, as fractious sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronson, each in her forties, are in Puffin Bay, ME for their mother’s funeral. Each is ready to sink their claws into the fortune their mother left behind. But their mother has other plans. Her substantial fortune won’t be divided until the trio return to their childhood home and live together for a year. It’s a request that pits sister against sister but could unite them in a common goal to find the friendship they shared as children, to create a family jewelry business and to win over the men of Puffin Bay. They have a year to figure it all out.


Anne Bronson pressed her foot on the gas pedal, trying to ignore the little red light on the dashboard—the one highlighting the E on her gas gauge. She willed the rental moving truck to make it up the next hill, hunching over the steering wheel to help with the climb. No good gas-guzzling piece of crap. Anne directed the truck to the side of the road. There should have been plenty of fuel to get to the house.

If she hadn’t already maxed out her credit card, she would have gladly paid professionals to move her from New York to Maine. But here she was, driving her own belongings north, and out of gas. Her stomach knotted even tighter. She had an inheritance at stake. Eighteen minutes till midnight. Damn.

Hauling her purse behind her, she climbed out of the truck. She kicked a tire and let out a half-hearted scream at the damage her instinctive motion caused her black leather Manolo Blahniks. Tapping her fingernails against her teeth, she peered up and down the dark road. No headlights. No life. No sound.

She fished into her purse for her cell phone and stared at it. No signal, of course. With a deep sigh, she wrestled with her old suitcase with its wonky wheel and strapped her oversized purse across her body as she began to climb the rest of the way up the incline. Two miles to the house. She had eighteen minutes to get there. In six-inch heels.







Buy Links:


Soul Mate: