Interview with Linda Ballou

What genre do you write and why?
That is a conundrum. My proudest achievement is my historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i. However, it was a great pleasure to travel the world collecting stories for my travel memoir Lost Angel Walkabout-One Travelers Tales. I have a host of non-fiction travel articles to my credit that are viewable on my site.  Right now, I have a young adult novel titled Cow Girl Jumped over the Moon in the works. I do not fit into a traditional publishing slot or in that pigeon hole. That is why I am thrilled to have viable, independent publishing options available.

Tell us about your latest book.
Most recently I did a second edition of Wai-nani: fabled history couched in magical realism set in pre-contact Hawai’i. I have received wonderful reviews from Hawaiians and mainland readers as well, but there was a nagging complaint that the cover image of Wai-nani did not look Hawaiian. My new cover is graced by “Celebration of Life,” a photo by Randy Jay Bruan who is recognized internationally for his authentic native images. It captures the spirituality and mysteriousness of ancient Hawai’i. I fixed a few technical problems, added a map of old Hawai’i by artist Paul Strickland, and included a list of Book Club Questions at the back of the book.

What marketing are you using to promote your book?
The internet is the light for independent authors, but I don’t rely on it alone to market my books. Naturally, I have a platform website and a blog to share relevant messages, but I also do events locally. Having two books in different genres is like having two children and giving them equal time. I have created a power-point presentation called “Whet Your Wanderlust” for Lost Angel Walkabout that takes people to destinations in the book. For Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i I created a “Night in Old Hawai’i” in which I take people to sacred historical sites throughout the Islands. Since I travel as much as possible, I am not available to Skype with book clubs, so I created brief video clips to answer the questions listed in the back of the book. The answers are on YouTube. Just search my name and go to the playlist “Book Club Answers.” I love this idea and hope that readers will find the videos so entertaining that they will share them with friends.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
Being a writer makes me a part of the long conversation, i.e. culture layered upon itself built from the emotions and thoughts of other minds over the millennium. I love having a voice. It is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I research my topics heavily and am very aware of reader sensibilities. I am careful to be accurate and true to myself in my writing. Writing gives me purpose and continuity. It also allows me to meet lots of wonderful people on an intellectual plane that I enjoy.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Somewhere between researching the life of Ka’ahumanu and creating the fictionalized Wai-nani, I fell in love with my heroine. So smitten was I with the fiery, brave personage of Ka’ahumanu (Wai-nani) that I determined to tell Hawai’i’s story through her eyes. Even though born into the rank and privilege of the royal class, she railed against harsh punishments meted out by priests and ruling chiefs vested with the power of gods. She questioned the status quo and confronted authority. She was clever and moved like water around her enemies, solving her problems with intellect rather than force. She faced her fears and pushed through them becoming stronger in adversity. And finally, she lifted the dragon tail from her path and rose to become the most respected and powerful woman in all of old Hawai’i. To me she was the ultimate empowered female and a forerunner to the modern independent woman. I saw myself in her and grew stronger in telling her story.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
Absolutely! In my talk “Lessons Learned from the People of Old” I share the spiritual practices and beliefs of the ancient Hawaiians. I have incorporated many of these concepts and practices into my daily life. For instance, in my meditations I actively cast from my bowl all stones of anger, jealousy, regret, and other low emotions that are blocking life-giving light. I have become a practitioner, not just an objective observer of the Polynesian culture.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your books?
Wai-nani casts a hypnotic spell that transports readers to ancient Hawai’i. Whether you are reading for escapism or to learn more about a seductive and mysterious culture filled with magic, Wai-nani takes you with her on an epic journey.
My arm-chair travel collection takes readers on adventures they would not likely undertake. They don’t have to worry about getting altitude sickness, straining a muscle, or flipping their raft. The travel articles on my site are full of nuts-and-bolts information for guided trips they might enjoy duplicating.

Who Inspires you?
People who are fulfilling their potential and living life to the fullest.

Linda Ballou
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
In a piece I wrote called “Jack London and Me” I share how Jack’s paths and my own crossed at more than one intersection. His most famous works were written about the Gold Rush that took place near my home town—Haines, Alaska. He was born in Oakland, California and so was I. He loved the Islands and recorded many of legends handed down by kanaka that I used in the telling Wai-nani’s story. Jack’s daring approach to life inspired me to become a travel writer.
“I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. . . The proper function of man is to live not to exist.” Jack London

When you are not writing, how do you spend your time?
My mission is to get to as many beautiful places on our planet as I can before they are gone! It’s a tough job, but I’ve hired myself to do it!

What formats are your books available in?
Both of my books are in the Kindle Store and are available in print on Amazon and all major online distribution sites. I like to sell off of my site so I offer free shipping for both books. If you buy Wai-nani on my site, I include Wai-nani’s Wayfinder which is a map I created of sacred sites on the Big Island for free. I have a narrator working on the audio format for Wai-nani that I hope to have completed by the end of this year. I believe you have to offer your work in as many formats as possible. I am grateful for all the opportunities to present my work that are available to me today that I couldn’t have dreamed of ten years ago.

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Excerpt: The Good Know Nothing by Ken Kuhlken



Title: The Good Know Nothing
Author: Ken Kuhlken

Genre: Mystery

Book description:

DURING THE SUMMER OF 1936, destitute farmers from the Dust Bowl swarm into California, and an old friend brings police detective Tom Hickey a manuscript, a clue to the mystery of his father Charlie’s longago disappearance. Tom chooses to risk losing his job and family to follow this lead. Even his oldest friend and mentor, retired cop Leo Weiss, opposes Tom’s decision. Why so passionately? Tom lures the novelist B. Traven to a meeting on Catalina and accuses him of manuscript theft and homicide. Traven replies that the Sundance Kid, having escaped from his reputed death in Bolivia, killed Charlie. Tom crosses the desert to Tucson, tracking the person or ghost of the legendary outlaw. He meets a young Dust Bowl refugee intent on avenging the enslavement of his sister by an L.A. cop on temporary border duty in Yuma. Tom frees the sister, delivers the boy’s revenge, and becomes a fugitive, wanted for felony assault by the L.A.P.D., his now-former employer. What he learns in Tucson sends Tom up against powerful newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. He hopes to enlist Leo, but instead Leo offers evidence that Tom’s father was a criminal. For Tom and his sister, both victims of Charlie’s wife, their crazy mother, what now? This is the final chapter in the Hickey saga that ranges across the 1900s.

Purchasing link:


Excerpt:

When the police chief ordered Detective Tom Hickey to kill a guy, Tom didn’t bother to argue.
Chief James “Two Gun” Davis had only last month publically renewed his familiar promise that the LAPD would hold court on outlaws in the city streets. “I want them brought in dead, not alive,” he informed a crowd of newshounds, “and I will reprimand any officer who shows the least mercy to a criminal.”
From the Davis perspective, a criminal was anybody who broke the rules. Donny Katoulis, the subject of Tom’s assignment, broke more than one. The chief alleged that Al Capone had sent the gunman to hit bookie Buster Sykes. Capone had paid L.A. a visit, assessed the risks and benefits of establishing a subsidiary of his Chicago enterprise, and rewarded Sykes in advance for assistance. The bookie stiffed him.
On a blustery spring Friday around twilight, Donny Katoulis tailed Buster Sykes to a parking lot off Sunset Boulevard. Sykes was the lover of Mayor Frank Shaw’s favorite niece.
The mayor was an ambitious fellow, who had spent the months since his inauguration earnestly collaborating with crime boss Charlie Crawford. Their efforts had raised corruption in the city to new depths.
Four .32 caliber slugs eliminated the bookie and cost the mayor a generous associate.
The way Tom figured, Mayor Shaw was out for more than revenge. Cops, crooks, tycoons,  publishers, and politicos worked “the system” to such profitable effect, they roused the envy of
smart guys out east. So, Tom surmised, the mayor suggested to Davis that Capone ought to get sent a message.
Davis advised Tom that Katoulis would board the Union Pacific Los Angeles Limited for a departure at 6:20 p.m. He assigned Tom to assure the gunman didn’t reach Chicago.
Tom imagined Davis called on him because the chief figured whoever got done in, the cop or the gunman, good riddance.

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Review: Princess Nevaeh by Paulette Harper

Title: Princess Neveah
Author: Paulette Harper
ASIN: B00NC5ODX0



Reviewed by Jo Linsdell


Six year old Nevaeh wants to be something she already is. She will soon learn that her wish to be a princess takes a little more than just asking. Lessons on self-discovery are taught by her Mimi who makes her understand that being a princess takes work.

Nevaeh is a little girl who wants to be a Princess. Her Grandmother "Mimi" tells her the things she needs to do and the things she shouldn't in order to be a Princess. Over all the story gives a positive message about being nice to others, and that beauty is something that comes from the inside and not just something seen on outside. This book would therefore be a good tool for talking about bullying.


There was a part of the story that I didn't like though, which is where it says to do what adults tell you. Whilst I liked the message of obeying rules set by parents and teachers the general "adults" part would have been best avoided. Unfortunately not ALL adults can be trusted. Other than that though, it gave good pointers for being nice and respectful towards others.

I liked that the Grandmother tells Nevaeh she has been, and always will be, her little Princess at the end. 


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5 Must Have Features on An Author Website


We all know it's important to have our piece of internet real-estate. A website is a must have item for all writers and authors. We want our names showing up in search engine results. We want to have a hub where we can direct readers. Unfortunately I see a lot of author websites that are missing important features and so in today's post I'll be taking a look at some of the must have elements you should have on your author site.

1) A way for people to contact you. You'd be surprised at how many people overlook this on their websites. By not putting a way for people to contact you on your website you are missing out on mail from readers, possible invitations for appearances and book signings, and a whole bunch of other opportunities. 

Whether you; add contact buttons like in the example below, put up an email link, or add a contact form, make sure you give visitors to your site a way to contact you.

Example of contact buttons on my author wesbite www.JoLinsdell.com
2) Show your name. I know this seems obvious but you'd be surprised at how many sites don't have their author name in a prominent place. As an author your brand is you. In fact, when people do a search for books on the internet they tend to search by author name. 

3) Have an "About" page. Statistically the "About page" is one of the first pages a visitor will click on when visiting your website. They want to know more about you and whether or not you're the person they are looking for (whether directly or indirectly based on interests).

4) Make sure you have your buy links. Again, I know this seems obvious but you'd be surprised at how many author sites don't link to where people can buy the book. If you've gone to the trouble to let people know about your book make sure you make it easy for them to buy a copy too. If they have to search for it themselves on Google, Amazon, or other sites, you may have just lost a sale. 

5) Testimonials. Show review comments from readers, and praise you've received from people who have worked with you. Let others do the talking for you. 

What must have features do you think need to be on an author website? Join the conversation and leave your feedback below.


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Keep On Keeping On: A Common and Daily Hurdle Writers Encounter

When that spark of inspiration ignites within you so does that elusive feeling of euphoria.  Your pen just can't seem to keep up with the whirling thoughts and images that run rampant in your mind.  It's pure bliss and is one of the main reasons I love to write.  That feeling is addictive just as as any drug and I constantly crave and pursue it.  But how do you keep that inspirational fire from fizzling out?  How can a writer keep those motivational juices flowing?  Damned if I know!  I struggle with this problem especially when it comes to re-drafting and editing.  I find myself either procrastinating, diverting my attention, and even dreading working on my manuscript.  Why would I dread something I love to do?  In my quest for an answer I found my problem is quite common and also came across some useful tips that actually work.

1.  Recognize your own signature.  (No, I'm not talking about your actual signature even though practicing your actual signature and imagining your are signing books will keep that exciting dream of becoming an established author alive.) Where and when do you find you are at your best?  This would be the time and location when your ideas, thoughts, and inspirations are at their peek.  Take note of your pattern when you seem most productive.  

2.  Exercise.  It does really work even if you just jog in place for five minutes.  Motivations isn't just experienced mentally. In fact, it's actually rare.  The idea goes back to Newton's basic principles of physics.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

3.  Set a schedule.  Since writing isn't your typical 9-5 job it becomes harder to stay committed to a set timeline.  I find it useful to set an egg timer or you can set a daily appointment reminder on your phone. 
 
4.  Deadlines.  Since we don't have external forces imposing guidelines on our work we need to set them ourselves.  Example:  Give yourself two weeks to complete one chapter.  Then break that down into a daily schedule to accomplish that task.  This can be done for re-drafting and editing also.  A mountain is never climbed in a single leap.  It takes many small victories to reach the top.

5.  Take a step back.  We all need to get out of our own little worlds so we can see that we are only a minuscule piece of the grand scheme of things.  Doing so recharges your batteries and you come back with a fresh perspective.  So back away from your computer slowly and no one gets hurt.  Open your door and go outside.  Get away from all the electronics and experience life.  Live in the here and now.  

The common misconception is that when you are doing something you love it never feels like a job.  It does!  Not all the time but there are definite periods when it does feel like a chore.  It's a natural reaction to anything you place a goal upon but just don't forget why you decided to write in the first place. 
Hold on to that!

Lisa A Baeringer
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Join the Writers and Authors Pin Party!


Welcome to the Writers and Authors Pin Party!

Visual content is big news and Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media sites on the web. It's not just about pinning pictures you like though. There is much more to it than that. It's also a great place for book marketing and author branding, for connecting with your audience, and for growing your network.

Today were going to be cross promoting each others books on Pinterest. To join in the Pin Party just post the direct url to the pin you want shared, e.g. your pin to your books sales page, in the linky below. 

Everyone taking part will then go through the linky and pin each others links to one of their boards on Pinterest.

Not sure how to pin your sales page? Amazon makes it super easy. On the right side of your screen you'll find social share buttons just below the info about the free reading apps.

How to Pin your Amazon Sales page
A pop window will come up where you can then select the board you want to pin to.

Select a board and pin.

How do you find the direct url for your pin? Again, super easy. Just go to your Pinterest board and click on the pin you want to add to the linky. The url at the top of the page is the direct url to that pin. 

How to find the direct url for your pin
Now let the fun begin!



get the InLinkz code

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Interview with Michael Allan Scott

What genre do you write and why?
The Lance Underphal mysteries don’t fit comfortably into any one genre. Not noir, but owing a bit to noir, not horror, but owing a bit to the horror genre, they are sometimes police procedurals, other times precog fantasies. Like good jazz, they are a melding of styles, a melding of genres.

With each new novel, I work to expand boundaries, break new ground, establish my work as a viable alternative to the formulaic pabulum currently prevalent in the mystery/thriller/suspense genres.

What formats is the book available in?
All my books are available as both eBooks and paperbacks.

Who are your favourite authors?
There are a ton of great authors I enjoy and admire. When it comes to mystery, James Lee Burke and Michael Connelly come to mind. The two that most influence my writing are Edgar Allan Poe and L. Frank Baum – they showed me adventure, tragedy, beauty, mystery, horror and wonder.

What advice do you have for other writers?
If you can do anything else, do that. If you can’t, learn the craft of writing, and learn the business of publishing and marketing. Then write and keep writing, no matter what.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
The website is a good place to start – http://michaelallanscott.com

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
If the Goodreads reviews of Flight of the Tarantula Hawk can be believed, here’s what’s store for readers:

“The author has an amazing ability to describe each scene so it feels like you're watching a movie. The story itself is a page-turner and just when you think you have it figured out, here comes a twist.”

“The writing is mesmerizing and the execution of each separate theme is good enough to keep you thinking about the story long after you have finished.”

“I was captivated from page one.”

“This was a killer book! The action was constant . . .”

Where can a reader purchase your book?
The second of the Lance Underphal mysteries is available through Amazon.com – Flight of the Tarantula Hawk.

How do you research your books? 
I draw from real-life experiences. If I require details beyond the scope of my experience, I use everything—personal interviews, news stories, websites. And for detailed location info, I’ll use Google Earth if it isn’t convenient to go in person.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
Two books, actually. The third in the series, Grey Daze, is with my editor now, and I’m nearly twenty thousand words into Operation: Cut-Throat, which will be the fourth Lance Underphal Mystery.

Operation: Cut-Throat adds elements of black-hat hacking, terrorism and international intrigue to the core elements of my paranormal murder mysteries. I can’t wait to see the ending.

What are you currently reading?
Most of my reading these days is confined to non-fiction for research. That said, there are a couple guilty pleasures: Creole Belle, by James Lee Burke; and The Automatic Detective, by A. Lee Martinez.

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The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

People often ask me what is the best piece of writing advice I have ever received.  As every aspiring writer who is not on the New York Times Bestseller list can tell you, there is a lot of writing advice out there.    Given the sheer volume of advice, the question isn’t what is the best writing advice, but rather determining what is the best advice for you.  There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to the question.
 
For me, the best writing advice I ever received came in three separate installments from three separate sources.  The first piece of writing advice that I found most useful was the strong suggestion to read Stephen King’s On Writing.   As an aspiring writer with virtually no writing background, On Writing, probably saved me from several hundred hours of misguided writing adventures.   While it may be less useful for those writers out there with MFA degrees and long careers, for those with less academic exposure, or experience with the professional editing process, the book is should be considered a mandatory read.
 
The second best piece of writing advice that I received was “write when you can.”  While attending a writer’s conference several years ago, one of the panel discussions turned to the effective use of time and location for writing.   There were various schools of thought in the room, however, the majority of the room agreed with idea that a writer should do their best to adhere to a strict writing schedule in a set location.  The pros and cons of writing with structure were further debated, and after much back and forth, the most seasoned writer on the panel (whose name I cannot recall) finally spoke.   His advice was simple:  “write when you can.”   The seasoned writer then compared writing to fishing and summed it up with an analogy that basically said, “if you wait for perfect weather to go fishing, you are going to waste a lot of days in between that would have been good enough.”     While I wrote virtually my entire first novel in the same chair, in the same location, listening to the same CD, I can now write anywhere as long as I have a computer and a pair of earphones.
 
The final piece of writing advice that I received was also via a writer’s conference several years ago.    There was a guest author speaking at the writer conference who concluded a rather lengthy talk on the publishing industry with the following: Looking out at the audience the writer (whose name once again I cannot recall) asked how many people in the room were either writing their first book or trying to get it published.   A majority of the room raised their hand.   Then the writer said that most of the people in the room were probably better writers than he was despite the fact that he had several bestselling books.    The speaker waited for the crowd to digest what he said and then continued with, “But I am probably better at one thing than anyone else in this room…getting to The End.”
 
And that piece of writing advice, more than any other, keeps me looking forward.  
 
Mark Gilleo has a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University.  He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking.  He speaks Japanese.  A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the DC area. 

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Excerpt: Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz



Title: Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction
Author: Amy Metz
Genre: Mystery

Book Description

Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction is a humorous southern mystery set in a unique town full of quirky residents. Grab a glass of sweet tea and settle in. You'll be laughing and guessing until the very end of this thoroughly entertaining novel.

When Tess Tremaine starts a new life in the colorful town of Goose Pimple Junction, she thinks she's moved to a quiet little burg. Curiosity leads her to look into a seventy-five-year-old murder, and suddenly she's learning the foreign language of southern speak, resisting her attraction to local celebrity Jackson Wright, and dealing with more mayhem than she can handle. 

If brains were dynamite, Willy couldn't blow his nose. Could a murderer be that stupid? Jack can charm the dew right off the honeysuckle. Surely a fine southern gentleman isn't a murderer. But Tess is determined to find out, and Goose Pimple Junction will never be the same.

A bank robbery, murder, and family tragedy from the 1930s are pieces of the mystery, which Tess attempts to solve in this cozy mystery. As she gets close to the truth, she encounters danger, mystery, a lot of southern charm, and a new temptation for which she's not sure she's ready.

Purchasing link:




Excerpt:

From Chapter 7: A Hissy Fit With a Tail On It

(Upon waking up one morning, Tess has discovered shoe prints on her hardwood floors and she calls the police.)

Present day
Ten minutes later, John Ed was standing in her den. “You mean that’s all the evidence you have? Shoe prints? What do you want me to do? Put out an APB for everybody in town who wears a size ten?”
“Chief, someone’s been in my house. I can assure you I’m not making this up.”
“That ain’t something I can hang my hat on, missy.”
“Why don’t you quit patronizing the lady and start trying to figure out why somebody keeps breaking into her house, John Ed?” Jack’s voice came through the front screen door. He opened it and let himself in.
“You ain’t got no dog in this fight.” John Ed glared at Jack. “Or do you?” He looked from Tess to Jack with a suggestive expression.
“One … ” Jack ticked off points on his fingers, “ … it’s my business because this lady’s a friend of mine. And two,” Jack kicked up his accent a notch, “I don’t ‘preshade your innuendos.”
“Aw, Jack, don’t go getting your knickers all in a bunch. She had a hissy fit with a tail on it. I was only trying to calm her down, that’s all.”
“Wouldn’t you have a hissy fit if someone kept breaking into your house?”
“And just how did you know that’s what the call was for this morning?” Chief Price folded his arms and looked at Jack suspiciously.
“You know you can’t keep anything quiet in this town, John Ed. Now quit arguing and take the woman seriously. What are you gonna do about this?”
“Well, one thing I’m gonna do is tell the little lady to get herself some better locks. Looka here.” John Ed went to the door and pointed to the metal latch in the door jamb, “All’s a person has to do is slip a putty knife in here and he’s in.”
Jack exhaled in impatience. “Besides your expert advice on home safety, what are you going to do?” He stood with his hands on his hips, glaring at John Ed.
“Jackson, I don’t know of a dadblamed thing I can do … ”
Too nervous to just stand around listening to the men bicker and wanting something to do, she went into the kitchen to make some tea, and John Ed’s voice grew softer until she could no longer hear his or Jack’s words, only the faint sound of conversation coming from the next room. The thought of someone in her house while she was sleeping sent shivers down her spine, made her sick to her stomach, and she could feel the hair on her arms standing on end. The men continued to argue, but she no longer cared what was said. It was obvious the chief thought she was just a hysterical female.
She filled the teakettle with water and put it on the stove. She wasn’t hungry but thought maybe eating something would calm her roiling stomach. While waiting for the kettle to boil, she absentmindedly grabbed a box of Banana Nut Cheerios out of the cabinet and stood over the sink, eating from the box.
“Are you okay?” Jack stood with his hands in his pockets, leaning against the kitchen doorway.
Tess jumped and whirled around at the sound of his voice, spraying Cheerios across the room.
“No thanks, I’ve had breakfast.” He pushed away from the door. “You a little bit on edge?”
She let out a heavy sigh and sat the box on the counter with a thud. He bent down to help her pick up the cereal.
“John Ed left?” She began sweeping the cheerios into a pile with her hand.
“Yeah, before I could throw him out.”
She mumbled under her breath about the gall of some men.
“Tess, I think it’s safe to say that for whatever reason they keep coming back, their intent is not to hurt you. If they’d wanted to do that, they’d have done it last night.”
Tess nodded. Kneeling on the floor, she scooped up the Cheerios and deposited them in the garbage. “You’re probably right.” She wondered if he noticed how shaky she was. Her silent question was answered when he reached out to gently squeeze her hand. The reassuring gesture did manage to calm her a bit.
He stood, putting his hands on his hips. “Tess, don’t be offended by this question, but … do you … ”
“Do I what?” Her brow furrowed.
“Do you have any drugs in the house?”
What? Jack, no, of course I don’t have any drugs in this house. How could you even think such a thing?”
“I don’t. I just had to ask. Drugs, firearms, and high-end loot. That’s usually what people are after when they break into a place. Since your high-end loot is still here and I don’t peg you for the gun-toting type,” his eyes wandered to the Louisville Slugger baseball bat in the corner of the kitchen, “drugs are all that’s left.”
Tess plopped down on the floor and put her head in her hands. “I think back to a little over a year ago, when I had a quiet, ordinary, mundane life. Then my world exploded. I thought moving here would let me get back on an even keel. Now I’m having to learn a new language, I have ugly wallpaper stuck to the walls, and I have a stalker. So much for my good luck charm.”


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