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Diane Capri 700Once upon a time in a galaxy far away, I lived in the land of the frozen tundra. Which is to say Detroit. Where the weak are killed and eaten. Where a twenty-six mile commute can take three hours to get to work and another three to get home. Where the entire month of February can pass without a single ray of sunshine. Where no palm tree has gone before or since.

On a particular day in April, 1992, my car was parked in the southbound expressway’s fast travel lane as I was two hours late for work. Again. A snowstorm had dumped twelve inches of snow overnight. Traffic moved not at all. Indeed, a co-worker who traveled the same commute actually turned off his car two lanes over and joined me to chat a while. Mostly we talked about how our plans for the afternoon were, well, snowed under.

What plans? Did I not mention this was opening day of baseball season?

I’d been offered a great new job in the Sunshine State a few weeks before. The decision making process was somewhat agonizing. Leave Michigan? Leave my job? My friends? My neighbors? These questions plagued me. Until.

Until my friend returned to his vehicle and I remained in the car alone and a song came on the radio and answered everything. You know the song. The Beach Boys. Places in the lyrics. Starts out, “Aruba, Jamaica, oooooh I wanna take ya…” Right?

There were places in the world where the sun shines almost every day. Where a lanky boat bum named Travis McGee hangs out with Meyer . Where gin martinis flow like water and mysteries are settled with humor and dispatch. Where sand warmed beaches flow into warm salt water. Perpetual summer in the land of flowers was looking pretty good to me right about then.

 So I decided. Right that second. To live in perpetual summer, write mysteries set in Florida, and if I wanted snow, why from that April onward, I could fly to it.

Of course, I took the job. Practicing law was something I loved then and still do. But I wrote Florida mysteries, too. I wrote about justice primarily. I was following that time-honored advice to write what I knew. And also because our justice system was more about the system and less about the justice, it seemed to me.  I wanted more justice, less system back then — and still do.

What followed, so far, including Cold Justice, the newest novella featured in the terrific Unlucky 7 boxed set with six terrific writing friends, are fifteen books including five novels in my Hunt for Justice Series , featuring Florida lawyers and judges working inside and outside the system for justice. Solving mysteries, providing a few thrills and quite a bit of suspense and humor along the way. 

Oh – and the Florida Fantasy, too.

What is the Florida Fantasy? You know it, don’t you?

Judge Willa Carson lives not on a houseboat at Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar Marina, but her own island nonetheless. She drinks red wine, not gin, and eats gourmet food every day and never gets fat. She’s married to her prince, George Carson, who is every bit as agreeable and intelligent as Meyer. George never gets in the way but is always there when Willa needs him, complete with great coffee, love, and understanding (mostly). Beach bunnies are ever so much more trouble for Travis than Willa’s two adorable Labradors. Harry and Bess are boon companions who don’t chew the furniture or mess up the house. Willa hits a straight, long drive off the tee every time instead of winning at poker. And of course, she drives a vehicle much more attractive than Miss Agnes. Like Travis, Willa goes her own way and helps others find justice in an unjust world. She’s tall, too.

Willa Carson never succumbs to The Long Blue Goodbye or The Lonely Silver Rain or any colors between. No, tropical drinks and steel drum bands in the Sunshine State are more our speed. Until she dares to return to Northern Michigan where Cold Justice hits her head on.




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22518115Typically I don’t start reading Christmas themed books until mid-November at the earliest. I believe in letting my seasons be seasons and not rushing any holiday enjoyment. Just because Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday doesn’t mean I don’t believe it shouldn’t get its due. Note to retailers: I want the Halloween M&Ms well gone before you start putting out the Christmas ones. Unfortunately when presented with a new Melissa Cutler book I couldn’t wait. The promise of a great story with fun characters was just too much to resist, even in early October.

It’ll be a Christmas to remember when hotel heiress Carina Briscoe falls for cowboy James Decker, the bad boy stable manager of her family’s Texas resort, after they’re roped into pretending marriage. The marriage might be a sham but the sparks between them are anything but. Still, with a little help from the heroine’s interfering family, they might end up with the greatest Christmas gift of all: true love.

Cutler does not disappoint with this book. Featuring a marriage of convenience, with a bit of The Gift of the Magi thrown in, this book works on all levels. It is hard to write a good marriage of convenience story set in modern day and Cutler pulls it off. Carina and Decker are hot, sexy, and definitely meant to be together. The marriage push is simply fate stepping in to move things along

What starts out as an agreement to support a family tradition – the mistletoe effect ensures every bride to get married in December at the Briscoe ranch stays married – quickly turns into a real relationship. Decker wants Carina to become the woman he sees hiding behind her need to please her family. He does everything he can to further her own goals.

The overarching conflict isn’t dramatic, but there is enough tension to move the narrative forward efficiently. As a reader I was not disappointed by the direction the story took. There was just the right amount of heart to tie everything together.

The supporting cast helps move the story along. I wanted to see more of Granny June, mostly just to see what she was going to say next. I wanted to see more of Carina’s friends and hope that we will revisit them in future novels. Emily is just waiting for a book and definitely deserves a happily ever after of her own. This would also give us a chance to see how Carina and Decker are doing.

Even if you wait until the holiday season is in full swing, make time for this little gem. It will be well-worth it. If you are lucky, you might just time it for a snowy afternoon.



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Yowza! We are extremely excited to bring you the Release Day Launch for Cora Carmack’s ALL BROKE DOWN!! ALL BROKE DOWN is a New Adult Contemporary Romance novel being published by HarperCollins, and it is the 2nd book in The Rusk University Series.

All Broke Down

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In this second book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack’s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with All Lined Up, a young woman discovers that you can’t only fight for what you believe in . . . sometimes you have to fight for what you love.

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians—you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before—fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about, his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.

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I think I get it then. That decision I saw in her eyes back in the kitchen. That’s what this, what I’m about for her, too. I’m just another part of whatever rebellion she started earlier today. About doing what she wants, not what’s expected of her.

“We’re not talking about me, though,” she says. “So you went to meet your friend, and then what happened?”

She keeps her eyes down as she picks up the gauze and begins winding it snugly around the knuckles of one hand, and then the other.

“He said the wrong thing.”

“Which was?”

“Dylan.” Now it’s her that’s pushing too hard. I didn’t want to talk about things with my friends, and I won’t talk about them with her, either, no matter how gorgeous she is.

“I’ll guess. You were mad about what he did, and he wasn’t sorry.”

“This isn’t middle school, Pickle. He didn’t hurt my feelings. He said some shit he had no business saying, and it pissed me off. The end.”

“But you don’t think some of that anger stems from what you feel is a betrayal of your friendship?”

She finishes taping down the last of the gauze, but doesn’t let go of my hand.

“I think you’re analyzing me again. Making things more complicated than they are.”

“And I think you’re just a guy who doesn’t like to admit he has feelings.” She drags out the word, teasing me with some goofy smile on her face. I turn my hand over so I can clutch her wrist. I curlmy other bandaged hand around her waist and pull her closer.

“I feel plenty of things.”

The teasing stops. She swallows.

“I wasn’t talking about that kind of feeling.”

With her standing and me sitting, I’m eye level with her chest. I see the sharp rise and fall as she sucks in a breath. I want her in my lap again, straddling me this time.

“Doesn’t mean we can’t talk about that kind of feeling. Or experiment with it.”

“Is that Stella girl an ex?”

I cough, surprised. My throat twists uncomfortably, and it takes me a couple of solid breaths to get a hold on myself.

“Ah, no. Stella and I have never dated.”

“Have you—”

“Do you ever run out of questions?”

“Not ever.” She turns playful again, and I’m done doing this the careful way. If she wants a rebellion, I’ll be the one to give it to her. I want her against me, and I’m tired of waiting.

I pull her forward, insinuating my knees between hers, and her body naturally follows, settling across my thighs. Her lips part, but she catches herself before she gasps this time. I keep her steady with my hands at her waist and say, “I’ll make you a deal. A question for a kiss.”

Tentatively, she lays her palms against my shoulders. They rest there, her grip light and casual. She ponders my offer for a moment, and it drives me mad that she can do that while our hips are inches away from alignment.

“Okay then. Are you—”

I cut her off. “Not so fast, Dylan Brenner. I’ve already answered one question. We’ve got to settle up first.”

I wrap her braid around my hand like I’ve been waiting to do all night, and I use it to pull her head back just enough that I can crush my mouth against hers.

And don’t forget to grab your copy of ALL LINED UP Today!

All Lined Up

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HeadshotAbout Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.




Website ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Author Goodreads ** ALL BROKE DOWN Goodreads


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JamieBWHow Lucky Am I? by Jamie Lee Scott

The best thing about being a writer is the people I’ve met. Attending RT (Romantic Times) in New Orleans this year just added to the list of incredible people who have come into my life because of writing. That’s sort of how my great luck turned into Unlucky 7.

One of my greatest treasures from writing is becoming friends with Tawny Stokes. We actually met through screenwriting, and have become fast friends. That has spilled over into novels too, even though we have vastly different writing styles, we are great friends, and love working together. I wanted to put together an anthology, and together we came up with the idea for small town murder mysteries. Pulling from our friends in the writing community, we united the seven authors that make up the Unlucky 7.

I knew I had to have Scott Silverii, who I met and had dinner with in New Orleans, because I liked him from the minute I met him, and enjoyed meeting his officers. Did I mention he’s the chief of police for Thibodaux, Louisiana? Scott had already written a mean series of short stories that grabbed my attention, so I knew he was right for the novella length of the anthology. I wasn’t sure if he thought he was. When he said yes, I knew we’d have a depth to our stories the readers would love.

And Scott suggested Fiona Quinn, who I got to meet at the Writers’ Police Academy in North Carolina in September. She writes a wonderful blog for thriller writers, that I love, and once I met her I knew we’d be life long friends. I was thrilled (pun intended) to have her aboard. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Back to RT. Standing in the line for the shuttle bus to the hotel, I met this chick. She looked cool enough, so I started talking to her, sat with her on the bus, and found out she really was cool. Hildie McQueen and I became good friends by the end of the conference, and I knew I had to have her as a part of this collaboration. When she agreed, I was excited to have her on board.

And of course, I’d never have pulled any of this together without my editor, Teresa Watson, and I knew she had the perfect story for this collection. So, as soon as I knew we had a chance to make it happen, I told her to get on it. Of course she was at once thrilled and mad at me, because she knew I’d give her my work to edit at the same time. Teresa makes me laugh, and her stories will make the readers laugh as they’re trying to figure out who done it.

Tawny brought on the esteemed Diane Capri. If you haven’t read her books, you’re missing out. Diane writes fast paced suspense that won’t let you put the book down, and you can’t turn the pages fast enough.

There is something for everyone in this collection, and the best part is that it isn’t a boxed set in the sense that we gathered previously written novellas and put them together to sell. These are all previously unpublished novellas, written for this collection, that will only be available as a collection until January 4, 2015. After that date, they will only be available individually. The collection will be dissolved. So, this is an anthology in the true sense of the word, and the stories take you from the swamps of Louisiana, to the fictitious town of Uncertain, California, and places beyond and between.

I hope you enjoy the posts from the authors over the next few days.


Uncertain Beginnings, Excerpt


Chapter 1


They say shit rolls down hill. Well, police sergeants must be at the bottom of the hill, because I always seem to be rolling in everyone else’s shit. And they say that after a while, you can’t smell the stuff because you’re around all the time. I know that ain’t true, because I can smell when shit’s going to hit the fan. I can smell it from a mile away.

Uncertain, California is halfway between nowhere and the state capital. It’s that place everyone says they want to raise their kids, even though those people don’t really know what it’s like, because they’ve never lived in a place like Uncertain. But I was born and raised here, this was my town, and I’d been “protecting and serving” for going on twelve years.

Not small enough to be called a town, but not big enough to be a city, Uncertain sure lived up to its name. We had the tourism from the lake, influx during the off-season from the college kids, and a transient population from the constant road construction along the highways and interstates. It was the transient population brought the most trouble.

I’d crossed Newcastle Canal, over the railroad tracks to the tourist side of town, and was making my pass around Fiddler’s Lake. The days were getting shorter, and the population around the lake had dwindled, but I could still see a few bonfires with circles of people enjoying the mild night. The sun had long disappeared, but the coolers still had beer, so the campfires still burned. I was on the north side of the lake when I heard Dispatch come over the radio.

“HQ to 303, please respond,” followed by “HQ to 67, have you been in contact with 303?”

Badge number 303 belonged to a patrol officer, Chad Sousa. Badge number 67 was me, Sergeant Wyatt Burke. Sousa apparently hadn’t been responding to her transmissions.

“10-4, he radioed in his Code 7… stand by…” I took my thumb off the mic and checked my laptop for the log. I thumbed the mic again, “He never logged 10-8?”

“He still shows Code 7. That was 97 minutes ago,” her voice cracked.

Sousa was that guy, the one other departments might call “The Shadow.” He was the last to show up at a crime scene, and the first to go off his shift. He pushed the limits on everything. But when he did actually do the work, he was thorough and professional. The man wrote reports like a pro, but he’d only been a cop for a short time, according to his personnel records. We weren’t his first rodeo, either. If I remembered correctly, he came from a bigger city before joining the ranks of the UPD.

I radioed back, “Got a 10-20 on his vehicle?”

All police vehicles are equipped with GPS, for the safety of the police force, and the safety of the officers. I waited for Erin Dixon, our dispatcher on call for the night, to return with an answer.

“HQ to 67.”

“67, go ahead.”

“1215 M Street.”

“10-4, in route.” I put the mic back on its hook and flipped a U-turn in the middle of the intersection at Highway 122 and Sandpiper Road.

Then I did the thing many citizens like to bitch about cops doing: I ignored the speed limit and raced across town, rolled through a couple of stop signs, and skirted a yellow light. I did not, however, run any red lights. Kicking Sousa’s ass for taking an extended lunch wasn’t worth endangering someone’s life, or getting my cruiser number turned in.

When I came up on M Street, I slowed a bit, but it was well after midnight. Traffic was light, and I wasn’t worried about small children playing in the streets.

As I pulled up to Sousa’s townhouse, I thought about the time we were working a home invasion. My guys secured the scene, and when I got there, I said, “Who’s doing the report?” and everyone looked around, scouting for the lowest ranking officer.

Finally, I got pissed and asked, “Whose zone is it?” They all said it was Sousa’s. I called him on the radio, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t hear his car start and see the lights turn on. The lazy piece of crap was watching us work the scene from the parking lot across the street. Unbelievable.

So, having to take the time from patrolling my zone to come check on him didn’t surprise me. But it sure had my blood boiling by the time I got out of my Charger and headed toward his front door.

I walked past his Explorer parked in the driveway. I didn’t even bother to use the cement path, and cut across the brown, dead lawn to the front door. I used the side of my fist and pounded at shoulder level, hard. I waited. I pounded again. Waited.

Through a four by five stained glass window in the front door, I could see the television was on in the living room. He was home. I knocked again, so hard the glass in the living room window rattled.

No response. My chest tightened. I didn’t hear loud music that would have drowned out my knock, or the rattling of the windows. I tried the doorknob. Unlocked.

The cop in me knew better than to walk into a home unannounced and unarmed, so I pulled my Glock and held it at the ready as I stood to the side of the door and turned the knob. Twisting, I shoved the door away from me and waited a second before coming around into the opening and entering the house.

The living room was to my right, and the TV played an infomercial for some sort of wrinkle cream or beauty product. I recognized the former supermodel pushing the merchandise. Cindy something or other. I looked to my left and saw the lights were on in the kitchen.

As I walked past the stairs leading to the second floor, something caught my eye, but I thought it was best to make sure the first floor was secure. A quick check of the kitchen revealed nothing, and I took the stairs two at a time, making sure to stay to the right of center. I didn’t want screw up any possible shoe prints, should this become more than a welfare check on an officer. I led the way with my Glock, my hip against the stair railing.

At the top of the stairs, it became evident why Sousa didn’t hear me knocking.

I could hear another TV playing in the bedroom, but didn’t bother to check it. I pulled my turtleneck over my nose and mouth to smother the smell, said, “Damn,” and pulled the mic from my shoulder clip.

“67 to HQ, over,” I said, my voice muffled by the fabric of my shirt.

“HQ, go ahead.”

“HQ, contact PD1 and CID and have them 10-19 this location. Possible 187.”

{ 1 comment }

Dear Bitchy Bertha,

We live in a small community in rural New England. The children at our K-12 school grow up with the same 20 to 30 children from preschool to graduation. There sometimes is a small influx of new students in ninth grade and sometimes a family moves away, but mostly they spend their whole lives with the same friends. They become like family. A group of unrelated, or in some cases loosely related cousins!

My oldest daughter recently set off for college in a city. She’s finding it very hard to settle in. She is homesick for the stars and the mountains and her friends. She’s very shy and has a hard time meeting new people. I don’t want her to be miserable the entire time she’s at college. What can I do to help?


Concerned Mom


Dear Mom,

The very first thing I must say is that I do not have any sort of degree of any kind relating to this problem. What I write here is my opinion, plain and simple. This not the advice of a person educated in psychology. Okay? Without spell check I couldn’t even spell psychology. If you want sound advice seated in education and experience find a psychiatrist – another word I could not spell without spellcheck.

While normally I don’t believe in coddling children at any stage, for example the way Kate George babies her children genuinely makes me ill, there are a couple of things in this situation that are making me rethink. So instead of my gut response of cut off all but the most necessary communications, make her stay there and sink or swim, I’m going to offer something different.

But don’t anyone else write me expecting gentle advice, you won’t get it.

Concerned Mom, I want you to realize that your daughter probably isn’t getting on the phone and calling you when she’s feeling good. When she’s out having fun she isn’t feeling the need to get comfort from her family, so she’s probably not as sad as she seems. But in case she is here’s what to do:

First, this is a young woman who has grown up in a small and isolated part of the country. She’s known the same small group of people her whole life. Her friends have been there for her entire life. She’s never had the experience of making new friends in a place where she isn’t already surrounded by people she knows. Up to now, she’s been living in a comfortable cocoon, and while that’s not a bad thing in and of itself, this young woman has little experience with being out of her comfort zone.

She has no skills to battle her homesickness and loneliness.

While I still say not to let her come home for anything except the most important family occasions or dire illness, there are things you can do that might help.

  • Call and tell her what’s happening at home every so often. Tell her about her siblings, the weather, animals – anything that she holds dear.
  • Send her little bits of home every so often. A favorite cookie. Her favorite stuffed animal. (My daughter took several stuffed animals to college with her.) A pressed flower from around your house. A clipping from a pony’s mane or something similar. The local newspaper. Photos of her siblings. Local non- perishable foodstuffs.
  • Ask her to little errands and tasks for you. Can you go to a local restaurant and try the food for when we come to visit? (You may have to research restaurants ahead of time so you know where to ask her to go.) Can you ask your schoolmates if they’ve found (a good coffee house, child friendly park, croissants – my favorite, crepes, muffins) near the campus. Can you ask your dorm-mates if their families are bringing young brothers and sisters who might play with your brother and sisters? In case it isn’t obvious these conversation starters have the potential of leading into a larger conversation or a friendship.
  • Ask her about what’s happening at college. What’s the weather like? What’s your favorite view? Have you explored… the waterfront, old town, China town, museums, zoo? Help her to see what is beautiful in her surroundings even though they are not the surroundings she is used to.
  • Most first college students have some degree of homesickness – even those who come from more diverse areas than your daughter. See if you can convey that to her. Ask her if she is strong enough to approach someone else who seems lonely. If she’s too shy to talk to that person she could just go sit at the same table to begin with. She may not realize that she has the ability to help other students and that it would be a kindness. If she could see that other students may be even worse off than she is she may find the strength to reach out, and in helping the other student she would also be helping herself.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. And I’m not 100% sure that best advice isn’t “make her sink or swim,” they do call me Bitchy Bertha after all.