Tag Archives: Deborah Ledford

The Importance of Locations by Deborah J Ledford

Crescendo F. Cover -w blurb 7 HR-FinalOkay, so keeping with the “Importance of” theme, let’s discuss locations. How important are they to you as a reader? How about as a writer? For me, the main location for my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela has definitely become a main character.

I grew up spending my summers in a small town nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. This is a place that remains close to my heart and senses. There are times when I awake in the middle of the night, replaying events long passed, the scent of “green” still nestled in my brain.

The summertime nights were humid during those cherished weeks every year, but that never bothered me as I chased fireflies, capturing them in the Mason jar my grandmother would provide from her stash under the sink.


The drives with my grandfather are gems I unfortunately only remember snippets of—sitting in the back seat of his huge Buick as he backed up the long drive to the two-lane, twisting highway that would lead us to the gas station/country store where he would buy me a paper sack full of Atomic FireBall jawbreakers. Even decades ago Kudzu vines hugged the trees and power poles, massive hulking monsters, disturbing yet fascinating.


The fog that would rarely completely lift hovered over the expanse and deep in the valleys when we reached a rise high enough to look down at the most enchanting, wondrous Great Smokies I will never release from my memories.


I go back from time to time to the real city of Bryson City, where Inola Walela, Steven Hawk and his family live in my books. My imaginary characters visit locations I still remember; essentially playing out the life I could only dream of. I suppose that’s one of the best parts about being a novelist…the “what if” and “why not” of every story one can create.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Other novels include, STACCATO, and SNARE, Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award and the NM-AZ Book Awards. Deborah is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning short stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, she spent her summers growing up in western North Carolina where her novels are set. Deborah invites you to visit her website.

Photograph Credits: Smoky Mountains Sunrise ©Dave Allen. Kudzu ©Felicity Green.


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Rockin’ Bouchercon by Christine Husom

I attended my first time ever mystery conference/convention–Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland, OH–earlier this month. Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum, and birthplace of DJ Alan Freed who coined the phrase “rock and roll” in the 1950s. Two of the reasons the committee chose “Crime Fiction Rocks,” as the convention slogan.

Named after author Anthony Boucher, the first Bouchercon was held in Santa Monica, CA in 1970. All but four were held in the United States. Two were in Canada and two in England. People travel from around the world to attend this event for many reasons: to take in the panel discussions by a wide range of guests; to be witness to the award presentations; to socialize with authors, agents, publishers, editors, and others who love the mystery genre. Special guests this year included Doris Ann Norris, John Connolly, Les Roberts, Robin Cook, Elizabeth George, and Mary Higgins Clark.

Panel discussions began on Thursday morning, but my schedule didn’t allow me to arrive until that afternoon. Then it was a challenge to pick from the four panels that were running at any given time. I popped into “WHAT AN AUTHOR WILL DO FOR A STORY, Stories of dangerous research for their books” , which made me wonder how brave I really was. In the last time slot I chose, “50 SHADES OF COZY, Pushing the limits: Not your mama’s cozy anymore.” Very entertaining.

Chris Husom and Deb Ledford

I had really looked forward to meeting fellow Second Wind author Deborah Ledford, so it was a treat when we connected before the opening ceremonies that evening. We took the trolley to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum for the festivities. The museum is awesome, in architecture and in all the treasured exhibits it holds.  Deb and I posed by one of the giant guitars in front of the museum.

I was honored to be selected as a panel guest, particularly because of the others on the panel. The title was “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT, Murder and Criminal Justice Systems,” moderated by Jim Doherty. Other panelists were Michelle Gagnon, bestselling thriller author;  Connie Dial, twenty-seven year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department; Vicki Delany, acclaimed Canadian author; and Amanda Kyle Williams, Shamus Award nominee.

Mary Higgins Clark and Chris Husom

And then after the panel ended, we went into book signing room, and I got to sit next to Mary Higgins Clark! She had lived in Minnesota for a while, about 12 miles from my home, and we chatted for a minute about that. I’ve read most of her books over the years. She’s a natural storyteller and an all around delightful person, and deserved to be recognized as the Lifetime Achievement Guest.

I attended too many informative and entertaining panels to mention, met countless people, and made valuable connections. But rather than writing a chapter length synopsis, I’ll touch on a few of my convention highlights.

~Serving as a table host at a breakfast Friday morning honoring Mary Higgins Clark. Mary is a joy to listen to, and I met many wonderful librarians there.

~Spending time with Deb Ledford and her friend, Roni Olson. It was wonderful sharing meals and conversation, getting to know them better, and exploring the Rock and Roll Museum together.

~Sitting elbow to elbow with famous authors on our panel, and meeting so many others.

~Attending the panel discussions of fellow Twin Cities Sisters in Crime bestselling authors, Erin Hart, Julie Kramer, Jessie Chandler, and Stanley Trollip (the Stanley half of Michael Stanley) whose book, Death of a Mantis, was short listed for the Edgar, Anthony, and Barry Awards.

~Signing books next to Mary Higgins Clark, and two away from legendary Elizabeth George. I wonder why their lines were so much longer than mine?

~Attending a mutual interview between Michael Connelly and Michael Koryta. Honest and compelling.

~Bringing home a large stack of books to read. I don’t have room on any of my bookshelves, so they are temporarily resting on top of a cabinet.

I’d love to be able to attend more mystery conventions, as time, and mostly money, allows. Tell me about your favorite ones. And if you attended, Bouchercon, what were your experiences?

Christine Husom is the author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, An Altar by the River, and The Noding Field Mystery.


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Virtual Book Tour – by Deborah J Ledford

Last month I had the opportunity to make an online appearance that may very well be the next new advancement in book tours. Shindig is a site which allows up to 500 people to join you for a live, virtual discussion online. Think Blog Talk Radio, but with the ability to see and interact with the attendees.

Questions can be asked, and you can opt out of appearing onscreen, but it’s very cool to see your friends and followers as you present your discussion.

This is a Beta site, a bit glitchy, and a dozen people were unable to access the appearance, but I’m sure Shindig will be able to work out all of the kinks before too long. I was thrilled to have had this opportunity to talk about my books, SNARE and STACCATO and to discuss my road to publication.

If you are an author with a new release, or want to promote your currently published books, I encourage you to jump on this opportunity. You can reach Eric Yohay at: eric@shindigevents.com.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her website.

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Left Coast Crime 2012 Experience – by Deborah J Ledford

I returned from the Left Coast Crime conference in Sacramento earlier this week and thought I’d give you a little wrap-up.

The highlight of my experience was the “Cultures & Communities” panel. My latest thriller, SNARE (last year’s Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award at LCC 2011), features a Native American rock star and takes place on the Taos Pueblo Indian reservation so it was an honor acting as monitor for this fascinating subject.

Joining me on the panel: bestselling authors Cara Black who writes the Paris-based Aimée Leduc series, and Naomi Hirahara author of the Mas Arai series. Also on the panel, Edmonton, Canada novelist and journalist Wayne Arthurson, and Heidi Naroozy who writes Persian-American stories. I had a blast hearing of the different cultures and characters these fascinating writers present in their work.

The photo below is provided by Clark Lohr who took loads of excellent pictures at LCC.

I also appeared on the short story panel with Gigi Pandian, Jack Erickson, Richard Lupoff and Tim Wohlforth. The gentlemen on the panel have published hundreds of short stories and I learned a lot about their process.

Fellow Sisters in Crime (SinC) members were well represented at LCC. It was great to finally meet Second Wind Publishing author Mickey Hoffman and her SinC Chapter hosted an excellent hospitality room, constantly stocked with tea, coffee and snacks. Way to go Sacramento Sisters!

There was much excitement at the Awards ceremony where Darrell James won the Eureka! award for his debut mystery Nazareth Child (Midnight Ink). And one of my all-time favorite Sister in Crime, Kelli Stanley, was presented the Golden Nugget prize for her latest California-based PI noir historical City of Secrets (Minotaur Books).

Kudos to Co-Chairs Robin Burcell and Cindy Sample, as well as their extraordinary and hardworking crew. You all did an incredible job. Well done, indeed!

If you’ve never attended a mystery conference, I urge you to register for Left Coast Crime 2013 to be held in Colorado Springs, March 21-24, 2013.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her website.


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Book ’Em NC – by Deborah J Ledford

My first novel, STACCATO, takes place entirely in the western region of North Carolina, in the Great Smoky Mountains of Swain County, and much of that location is the setting for my latest release, SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist  so when I was approached to appear at Book ’Em NC I didn’t hesitate to accept their invitation.

As quoted on their website “The purpose of The Book ’Em Foundation and this event is to raise public awareness of the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. Proceeds from the Book ’Em North Carolina book fair will go directly to increasing literacy in Robeson County, North Carolina and to reducing crime in the area.”

This year’s book fair featured 85 authors who reside in North Carolina, or feature the state in their writing. Special guests were Michael Palmer and Carla Neggers for this one-day book fair, February 25th.

I’ve been involved in quite a few book fairs and have attended many top notch writers conference and found Book ’Em NC to be one of the best organized events I’ve had the pleasure of being part of. Award-winning author p.m. (Trish) terrell and youth services librarian Katie Huneycutt, along with their huge team of volunteers kept chaos at bay beginning months before the event until the final load out.

Trish kept all of the authors in the loop with her weekly countdown newsletter and everyone knew exactly what was expected of them at the time of their arrival. I learned a lot from her leadership abilities and organization skills.

Second Wind Publishing was well represented by Mike Simpson who appeared on two publishing industry panels. I’m sure he was inundated by people wishing to have their words published by his indie press and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he signs one or more of these talented writers in attendance.

I had the honor of appearing on the “Southern Literature” panel along with Susan Whitfield (her books, Genesis Beach and Just North of Luck, are next on my reading list), Man Martin and Bill Thompson. This turned out to be a well-attended and lively discussion about why and how we authors write about the South. Although I don’t live in North Carolina, I spent all of my summers growing up there as a child and NC holds a special place in my heart—which is why I feature the Great Smoky Mountain area in my novels and many of my award-winning short stories.

This is my SNARE and STACCATO display at Book’ Em NC

A large percentage of every book sold was donated and due to Book ’Em NC’s efforts, over $14,000 were raised to fight illiteracy and crime in Lumberton County.

I hope to attend Book ’Em NC next year and encourage any author with a book available set in the south to contact Trish so they can be involved in the next spectacular celebration of books.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her website.


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Tornado in Cullman

The title of this article would make for a good TV movie, but this is real life in a small Alabama town. I’ve been somewhat trapped here for going on five days now. Founded by John G. Cullman in 1873, an EF4 tornado slammed the area April 27th. Two souls were lost.

As of this morning, 655 homes and 87 businesses are completely destroyed. According to the May 5th edition of The Cullman Times, 30 additional buildings have been red tagged to be razed. Work crews have removed more than 1,272 loads of foliage and debris form the city due to this early summer storm.

I’m accustomed to making up my own dialogue—occasionally “stealing” an overheard line from time to time, but the words that have been uttered to me in my short time here is not conjured from my imagination. Words such as:

Amusing: “The cable is out! No TV ’till don’t know when.”

Overheard sadness at Cracker Barrel: “It got our house,” an older man said, wounds dotting his entire face, eyeglasses askew on his nose. The cashier asked if he and his wife were okay. The man replied, “She’s out now.” (of the hospital I can only assume.) When the woman told him to take care, he said, “You should have seen me yesterday.” He gave her a little smile, took up his to-go order bag and limped away.

Heartbreaking: “My house is gone. Everything. Gone.”

A little scary: “I’m sorry, y’all but we’re closed, ’cause of the curfew and all.” I thought, Curfew! Huh? Is this a war zone? Nearly. As we made a slow crawl into downtown two Chinook helicopters flew overhead. Platoons of National Guard were stationed at every intersection in town, Humvies blocking the edge of ground zero where the tornado hit the Historical District featuring buildings over 100 years old.

Above and below is what’s left of the Little Bit of Everything building, 100 years old this year, initially the Fuller Brothers Ford Motor dealership. You can see the original wood where the brick façade literally dropped from the outside walls, steel I-beams bent from the force of destruction.

Here’s a link to more photographs of the tornado’s destruction.

I don’t believe there’s ever been a tornado where I live in the Phoenix, Arizonaarea and I didn’t know what to expect. When we arrived in Cullman we were fortunate to find a hotel room, but could only book lodging on a night by night basis as they needed to free up space for workers making the town safe and getting services back up and running.

Personnel have temporarily relocated in order to get the town up and running again. I spoke with a Verizon worker in town from Atlanta, Georgia, and an AT&T electrician from Miami who said his company sent workers from all over Florida to raise new poles and string fresh power lines.

Two ladies showed me last Sunday’s paper which featured aerial, wide angle photographs. “See that big old pile of bricks. That’s our church.” Then she pointed a shaking finger at another picture, nothing discernable but the street and sidewalks lining an intersection—nothing but bricks, wood and twisted metal, as if the business had imploded where they once stood. “And that picture there . . . right there on the corner is where I had lunch not more than fifteen minutes before the tornado came through.”

Although worries now include looting and price gouging, the residents and business owners of Cullman are focusing on lending neighbors a hand. They will rebuild their homes, cafés and places of worship, fill their shops with new goods to trade.

I won’t forget the devastation witnessed first hand; the unidentifiable smells hanging in the downtown air; the stunned people walking aimlessly, heads shaking to and fro, pointing at what was once there.

Residents of Cullman won’t soon forget the April 2011 tornado, the unfortunate reason that brought folks from all over southeastern states to lend a hand.

As with every small southern town I’ve ever had the privilege to visit, these strong willed people are filled with kindness, merely grateful to have survived—all ready to move forward, their relationships and faith stronger, resilience intact.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing.


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SNARE – Award Update

Well, SNARE didn’t win The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime (LCC) 2011 in Santa Fe. I’m not disappointed though—still thrilled to have been nominated along with multi-published authors Sandi Ault, Margaret Coel and Christine Barber.

Margaret Coel received the Best Mystery That Epitomizes the Southwest honor, well deserved due to her longtime friendship of Tony Hillerman and popular author to New Mexico attendees. Margaret is a great storyteller and her keynote interview with the absolutely incredible writer Craig Johnson was a highlight of the convention.

The entire journey has been a wild ride and one I’ll never forget. Not only was this honor the pinnacle of my writing career to date, I had the opportunity to spend time with nominees in other categories. My friends Kris Neri (finalist in the Humorous Mystery category The Lefty), Rebecca Cantrell and Kelli Stanley (both up for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award) were there to help calm my nerves and convince me I wouldn’t disappear (or faint) due to all the attention.

Fellow Sisters in Crime members from chapters all around the nation were also there to support me. Without the gracious votes and support from the Sisters and Misters SNARE would never have received the nomination.

Book two of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina where I spent my summers growing up, and the Taos Pueblo Indian reservation. Both locations are dear to me and I am fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to present to readers the incredible places that have sculpted me into the person I currently am.

Second Wind Publishing has been very kind to this author and SNARE as well. When Santa Fe, New Mexico’s location for this year’s LCC was announced I pushed hard to get the book released in time to receive a late December 2010 copyright so it would qualify for the one-time opportunity for Hillerman Sky Award consideration. Somehow they pulled this off and I couldn’t be more grateful to publisher Mike Simpson and his staff.

And big thanks to Pat Bertram who always does a fabulous job promoting Second Wind authors and their books. Pat’s newest release Light Bringer is now available and I know you will all love her words.

Even bigger thanks to those of you who have read SNARE and/or STACCATO. For those of you who have an interest to do so, the first pages of both novels are available as free downloads on my website.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, is book two of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. STACCATO, book one of the serial, is also available. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing.


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SNARE – New Release Appearances

Well, it’s official. SNARE did indeed receive the nomination for The Hillerman Sky Award. I’ll know its fate at the Left Coast Crime Convention in Santa Fe, NM March 24-27.

I received my box of books from the publisher last week, therefore that makes everything real for me. So now the urgency to spread the word about SNARE has become my number one priority. Here’s where I am with promotion so far:

Due to the dedicated and hard working staff at Second Wind, SNARE is now available on Amazon, for the Kindle, and other e-reader formats via Smashwords.

Personally, I was successful in getting Book Two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series into the Poisoned Pen which is the finest mystery bookstore in the Phoenix area. The Well Red Coyote Bookstore in Sedona, AZ will also carry the book.

I’m featured in the Suspense Magazine article “Femme Fatales of Phoenix” along with Leslie Kohler and Robin Cain. Pretty wild to go to their website and see my name on the cover of an international print magazine. A review of SNARE also appears in this February issue. I’m still anxiously awaiting my copy but the article’s writer, Mark Sadler, assures me the review is glowing.

The most beautiful North Carolina print magazine Our State has requested a copy of SNARE to review. I spent my summers growing up in NC and one of the main locations of this novel takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains. The other main location is New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo Indian reservation so I’ve been hitting NM publications as well. I’ve had requests from the Albuquerque Journal newspaper and Taos News, and am awaiting approval to send review copies to other pubs in NM.

February 26th I’ll be appearing with Eric Beetner, another Second Wind author, at The Well Red Coyote where we will present what is sure to be the very cool workshop “The criminally complex relationship of Editor and Writer—an insider’s look at the editing process.”

A guest appearance is scheduled for the Romancing-the-Book blog Q&A (also Feb. 26th—that’ll be a very busy day), and I’ve promised an article to the great mystery writers site Murder By 4 Blog.

March will be even busier. 12-13 I’ll be at the Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. I’ve never attended this event so don’t know what to expect, but it’s touted to be the fourth largest book fair in the nation.

Then comes the Left Coast Crime 2011 convention in Santa Fe, March 24-27. I’ve been anxiously waiting for this ever since the location was announced. I’ll be appearing on the panel “Writing Diversity” with the fabulous Gar Anthony Haywood and a few other big time authors who write multi-cultural characters.

The past couple of weeks have been a wild ride—surreal, exciting and quite unbelievable at times. I’m holding on and enjoying every minute.

Do you readers out there attend personal signings and authors’ events? And for the writers, do you make a push to schedule appearances and other promotion for your new releases?

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE is a nominee for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011. STACCATO is book one of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about her and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit: www.DeborahJLedford.com.


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