Tag Archives: suspense

When Your World Falls Apart – Cause and Effect by LV Gaudet

What do you do when your world falls apart?



Photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash

This is the sort of question that is so open ended that there is no right or wrong way to identify with it.

There is the major falling apart, dealing with loss and grief.  The kind that you cannot do anything but mourn for as long as it takes to learn to live with it.  Debilitating emotional turmoil.  Depression.  That is only to name a few.

A middling falling apart of your world might involve being fired from your job, that guy or girl you have dated for the past six months breaking up with you, or perhaps a car accident where the only casualty is that automobile you loved.  It hurts.  You want to wallow in your feelings of self-pity and loss, but even you know somewhere inside that it is not such a big loss as it feels like at that very moment.

And then there are those momentary mind-numbing mini tragedies.  Flash pan moments that bring on sudden extreme emotions that can die heartbeats later.  The kind that bring you into a heat-of-the-moment panic.  The flash of anger.  The moment where tears suddenly burn your eyes and you feel how foolish you must be because it’s not worth crying over and you must be tired.  You make more excuses for yourself.

Finally, there are the truly trivial. These are perhaps most often experienced by one in the midst of a severe emotional mood swing, including toddlers.  You dropped your ice cream.  Your mascara glopped on your eyelashes, sticking them together and it is truly the end of the world because that boy you like is going to think you look like some kind of moronic goon who doesn’t know how to use mascara (note the run on sentence thought of the teenager in the throws of a hot mood swing).  You truly are over-tired and you spilled your coffee.  These moments of your life falling apart are no less severe in your feelings at the moment they are happening.  Later, you might think, “Wow.  I really got upset about that?”



The question to dig deep and ask yourself is, “What would I do?”


Imagine a situation.  Imagine how you would feel.  What you would do.  What if you were in a different mood?  Experiencing something else, good or bad, at that moment.  How you imaging other people you know or observed would handle the situation.



Now place your character in that spot.


Ok, so your character is coming to a red light.  Just as they are approaching, the light turns green.  The cross traffic has the red.  With an internal sigh of relief, your character moves the foot hovering over the brake to the gas, accelerating through the now green light.

Just as they are beginning to sail through the intersection, a car cuts them off.  Your character is shocked.  Indignant.  Panicked.  They react too late.  Time has slowed to a crawl as they bear witness to the coming accident they feel powerless to avoid.  By an almost impossible chance, between lamely groping for the brake too late with that foot, fighting the urge to swerve onto the sidewalk where people wait to cross the street, and the offending driver gunning the gas, your character barely avoids the collision.

Weak with the after effects of the momentary surge of adrenaline, your character has a hot flash pan moment.  Anger.  Your character swears at the other driver.  Looks at the steering wheel and silently swears at themselves for not blaring the horn.  Your character drives home angrily, stomping into the house to be greeted by….


A toddler?  Your character, still hot and angry, snaps at the toddler, regretting it even as the words are coming out of their mouth.

Hurt, the toddler wanders off, looks at that sparkling pretty round diamond ring, the one your character lost last month, and woefully decides you don’t want to see it.  Hurt, angry, the toddler wanders to the bathroom and flushes it down the toilet.  Cause and effect.

Maybe it is a teenager.  Hurt and angry and in the midst of her own flashpoint of emotions, the teenager stomps off to her room.  There, she grabs up her phone and texts her boyfriend.  Hurt and angry over some very minor thing he perhaps doesn’t even know he did wrong, she breaks up with him.  Breaks his heart.  Cruelly, lashing out with the hurt and anger she is feeling against your character.  What kind of person is her boyfriend?  Do they both wallow in self-pity and pain until they get over it?  Maybe he takes drastic action to vent his grief and anger.  Cause and effect.

Or, perhaps in that flash of hot anger, your character does something extreme they will regret.


Writing is constantly putting your characters into these positions.

You need drama.  You need adversity.  Your readers need to be pulled in, desperate to know what is going to happen, what is your character going to do.  Can they fix this?  Can they at least survive it?

Always think about how you or others might handle the situation you put your characters in.  How their actions affect the other characters, how the cause and effect might play out rippling through the story line and the other characters.

Think about how that very cause and effect ripple will come back to hit your character, because, let’s face it, in real life it does tend to.


When you are stuck on where to go next, follow the ripple of cause and effect.

You may end up with word clutter that you will cut from the book.  But it can help pull you along to find the key that will push the story’s momentum further.


Like real people, characters need depth.

Depth is making your characters feel real to the reader. By messing with them.  Give your character a reaction to some minor thing in a pivotal moment that leads them in a new direction that makes sense for the story.  It may not affect the story at that moment, but it can be a foreshadowing of something to come.  Cause and effect.



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The Intangible World of the Literary Mind

This blog is about writing, being an author, and life.


LV Gaudet, author

This blog is for the fans of dark fiction, those stories that slither softly into your dreams in the night to turn them dark and foul.



Published with Indigo Sea Press:
where the bodies are


He can’t stop killing.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

Learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are.

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Blue Belles in May – What Can I Say? by Sherrie Hansen

In Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota, where I’ve lived the bulk of my life, the bluebells bloom around the first week of May and are usually at their peak on Mother’s Day. this year, we’ve had a long, hard winter, and it’s seemed like spring would never get here. But the bluebells in my yard are right on target, with clusters of tiny blue, pink, and purple buds ready to pop open on the next warm day.

Sporing - bluebells

It seems appropriate that my new release, Blue Belle, the second of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, should be released just in time for the first week of May. I received my proof copy about a week ago, and should have copies for sale at my B&B, the Blue Belle Inn, by May 1st.

Blue Belle, a contemporary romance by Sherrie Hansen

Yes, that’s a lot of Blue Belles – and bluebells. I’ve already started to think about what I’m going to say about Blue Belle, the book, to my customers at the Blue Belle B&B.


Some authors sell their books almost exclusively online. Since I have a steady stream of people coming to the tea house at the Blue Belle Inn, I sell a lot of print books the old-fashioned way.

BBI DR High Res

Over the years, I’ve found that what you write about a book on the back cover, to be read by prospective buyers who might pick it up at a store or look at it on a website, is quite different than what I feel comfortable saying to people face to face. I even wrote a poem for the back blurb of Blue Belle, which expresses many elements of the book very well. But I would feel quite silly quoting poetry table-side to my luncheon guests. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

When I tell people about Thistle Down (a novella) and Wild Rose, my first Wildflowers of Scotland novel, I simply say, “In Thistle Down, Pastor Ian MacCraig has two sisters who are going to be married. Emily has found the perfect man to marry. There’s only one problem – she’s not in love with him. Chelsea is wildly, passionately, madly in love with her fiance – he’s a total jerk.  Pastor Ian has some unscrambling to do, especially when the church ladies get involved.”

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

And – “When Wild Rose opens, someone has been stealing architectural relics from the church yard, so Pastor Ian installs a security camera to try to catch the thief in action. What he captures is Rose Wilson engaged in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.  My tag line is – Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig – a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?”

Scotland Bashful RoseThe blurb on the back of Blue Belle reads:

Isabelle doesn’t want to be found. Michael doesn’t want to be found out. When Damon starts searching for the centuries-old gold he thinks is buried in Tobermory Bay, it won’t matter what walls they’re hiding behind. Rocks will fall. Castles will crumble. No secret will be safe.

Age-old castles and blue-watered bays,
White sandy beaches and quaint cottage stays.
A rainbow of colors, and chocolates, hand-dipped,
A valley of bluebells, and sheep, freshly clipped.
Legends galore, buried treasure, and more…
In Tobermory, Scotland, that’s what’s in store.

Blue Belle Promo PoemWhat I’ll probably say about Blue Belle is:

“Isabelle is a reporter from Virgina who’s been burned. Now, all she wants is the truth – and one big story to help get her confidence back.  Michael is a psychologist from Wisconsin who’s not only lying about who he is, but why he’s in Scotland pretending to be a contractor.  What neither of them knows is that Isabelle’s story is buried in Tobermory Bay, practically writing itself, and that Michael’s finely crafted tale – and the castle he’s restoring – are about to come crumbling down around them.”

Blue Belle - promo jump

As time goes by, I hope to get my verbal pitch trimmed in half, or to think of the perfect one-sentence tagline that says it all.  In the meantime, I hope that one or the other of my blurbs inspires you to give Blue Belle a look. Romance, suspense and mysteries aside, it’s about learning to trust – as I hope you will trust me to deliver another good story.


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Our Mysterious Fascination with the Morbid by Sherrie Hansen

When I first began to write books, I remember saying that I would never write about murder and mayhem – that it just wasn’t in me to dwell on the grisly, gruesome details of such occurrences. These kinds of things were so foreign to my own life, that I couldn’t imagine the characters I concocted even remotely being in a situation where they’d encounter such experiences.  True to my intentions, the most traumatic things my characters in Night and Day, Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round have to deal with are squabbling siblings, backstabbing friends, insensitive parents, nosy neighbors, troublesome children, minor medical problems, the rare encounter with a wild animal , the occasional disruptive weather emergency, and of course, broken hearts.  Not that lions and tigers and bears – oh, my – tornadoes, and bats in the house can’t  be unnerving, or that unplanned pregnancies, nasty exes, finding out your husband is gay or being betrayed by someone you trust  can’t be demoralizing, but you get my point. Nothing really bad or evil came close to touching my characters.  No one died. No one was hurt so badly that they couldn’t be fixed. Nothing unbearable happened.

With the release of Love Notes and Wild Rose, my readers saw a slight shift to a more suspenseful mode – bad guys that were truly bad, a kidnapping, gunshots, murder.  I’d crossed a line. I think that part of it was that my own reading tastes changed. Several of my favorite authors changed over from romance to suspense / thrillers and I went along for the ride. I read new authors, like Second Wind’s Christine Husom, who writes about comfortable, folksy Midwesterners like me who suddenly find themselves dealing with murdered parents and dismembered bodies in cornfields and cults in their backyards, and does it with dignity and aplomb.  Sadly, I think some of it is that the world has turned into such a crazy place that I can now clearly envision my characters having run-ins with evil, despite their best efforts to steer clear of it. As awful occurrences get more and more prevalent, it’s easier and easier for my imagination to “go there”.

Storm sun beams Sunset - 8-24 close

So what are your thoughts? How do you account for our fascination with the morbid? I hear over and over again from readers that they’re not “into” romance, but that they love to read gritty mysteries and thriller or suspense novels. If you’re one of my readers, are you glad I’m inching towards the unthinkable? (Not to worry – there are still plenty of sweet, romantic moments in my books for those of you with tender hearts. ) Any of you who have read all of my books probably also noticed a shift from steamy to not so much. When I made this switch, I expected accolades, and have instead heard from many who are disappointed that I stopped crossing that squiggly line.  It’s interesting to me that while some readers find my steamy scenes offensive, they seem to have no trouble with reading about violent, evil people and the situations that ensue because of their hatefulness. Personally, if I’m going to “clutter” my mind with one thing or another, I’d rather it be with something I think of as beautiful and natural rather than deeds and actions that are ugly and perverse.

What do you think? Have we opened a can of worms with our mysterious fascination with the morbid? Does the art of writing and reading about it quell our fears or feed them? Does it give you a sense of triumphing over evil, or give you pause for fear we are planting the seeds of further evil? Do you feel anxious and terrified after reading a book where horrible things happen to good people, or do you feel inspired by people who get life’s worst thrown at them and live to tell the story?

I always illustrate my blogs with appropriate photos, so here is the most dark, foreboding photo I could find with it’s cheery, upbeat counterpart. Which would you rather read about?

Photo80Scotland - sheep


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Interview with Deborah J Ledford, Author of Crescendo

cres_137x212What is your book about?

CRESCENDO is book three of my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. Inola carries this book as the only female Native American cop of a small western North Carolina town, searching for a little boy no one but her believes is missing.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’m a former screenwriter so ideas and snippets of stories come to me visually. One of the most compelling scenes in CRESCENDO presented itself one morning, that of Inola, gun pointed at a woman standing next to a vehicle stopped at the shoulder of a highway, duffle bag tucked under her arm, the other hand clutching a handful of money, bills swirling in the air.

I pay attention when such a strong visual is presented and this scene became instrumental in piecing together the entire novel.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I don’t use an outline, but I do implement a chapter breakdown as I work. Essentially a one-paragraph wrap up of what happens in each chapter after it is written. For the chapters I don’t quite have figured out, I leave those chapters on the breakdown blank and move down to the elements I know I want to implement. This may be merely a line of dialogue, or a climatic element I will flesh out later. The point is to keep going until I reach the end of the first draft. I also keep track of my word count output each day. I keep a yearly Planner that is only for my writing and publishing accomplishments. I find that when I keep track of how many words I’ve written this keeps me focused and helps me meet my goal. I do a word count after I’ve finished for the day and jot that accomplishment on the calendar.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

CRESCENDO puts Inola in the spotlight more than Hawk—although he is still a major player and Inola would be nothing without him in her life. During the course of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series the lead and even secondary characters have evolved to true members of my family. And while researching for the books I’ve had the opportunity to meet people I never would have had the opportunity to know. Like Inola, writing the series has given me a purpose and goal to present my very best work as a writer.

What are you working on right now?

I’m in pre-production mode to record and distribute the audiobook version of CRESCENDO and SNARE which will also benefit a Native American language and culture foundation.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

What every other published author recommends: butt in the chair, don’t give up, polish, submit. Most of all, once you’ve submitted your manuscript to agents/publishers start another novel or short story. Rejections don’t hurt as much when you’re in love with another project.

*  *  *

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford is the author of the Steven Hawk / Inola Walela suspense series, including: CRESCENDO, SNARE—The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Finalist in the Mystery / Suspense category. The classical music-themed STACCATO is book one. She is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, Deborah spent her summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, the setting for her psychological suspense thriller novels and many of her short stories.

Click here to buy: Crescendo

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A Death in Lionel’s Woods excerpt by Christine Husom

This is an excerpt from the fifth book in the Winnebago County Mystery Series.

Chapter One

“You killed my friend.” I hit the 2 on the phone to replay the message. “You killed my friend.” I’m sorry. So very sorry, I mouthed. It was the fourth time that morning I had been drawn back to the muffled voice that accused me, held me guilty, with four short words. You. Killed. My. Friend. The caller–I couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female–didn’t name me specifically, or say who he or she was. But the message was sent to my voicemail and was personal nonetheless. I felt compelled to keep it to myself for a while. More correctly, between the caller and me. You killed my friend. Did he or she somehow share in the same grief I couldn’t shake?

My sadness was persistent, and at times I was afraid it would consume me, swallow me whole. It had been months since I had blindly led the man I was dating to his death, but that tragic moment in time was never far from my conscious, subconscious, or unconscious thoughts. I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t know how to live with the burden.

Many people assured me, some over and over, that time was the great healer. And I had to believe the weight of guilt would lessen, but I knew my life would never be the same. The other thing people tried to drum into my brain was that it wasn’t my fault. I almost believed that on one level, but on another level, which caused persistent gnawing at my heart and gut, I was convinced my police training and innate skills should have alerted me of the danger ahead. By the time I sensed something was hinky, it was too late to stop the rapid chain of events that resulted in the death of two men. Eric Stueman’s was at the hands of an evil man. The evil man died by mine.

It was like watching the videos of Twin Towers going down on 9-11. I knew it would be exactly the same no matter how many times I viewed it. Yet the part of me that didn’t want to believe it had really happened hoped if I watched it one more time the ending would be somehow different. That’s the way it was every time my mind’s eye watched Langley Parker shoot Eric. No matter how much I willed for a different ending, it never varied one iota. The images in my brain had become my nearly constant companion, along with the smell of fresh salty blood mixed in with sweet blossoms in the warm late Spring evening air.

Winnebago County Sheriff Dennis Twardy had pulled me off the road as a supervising sergeant, and assigned me the special duties of helping in the evidence room, checking outstanding warrants on offenders, and any number of other details the department was backlogged on. When I was at work, I forced myself to be focused. When I was with family and friends, I was coaxed from my grief for short periods of time. When I was alone, I fell apart as often as not.

I had added Doctor Kearns, my psychologist and new best friend as number 8 on my speed dial. The only professional–or his voicemail, at least–I had access to by hitting two buttons. Since I hadn’t slept through the night for months, he’d talked me into getting a prescription for a sleeping aid from a medical doctor. I’d done as he suggested and had the unopened bottle sitting in my bathroom cabinet, in case. I chose to self-medicate with wine in the evenings instead. A glass or two or three dulled the pain, but didn’t allow me slip into a dreamless, guilt-free night which I didn’t feel I deserved anyway. I had no idea what I had to do, or how long it would take to pay the penance that would get me out of my personal prison. I hoped one day Doctor Kearns would pull a rabbit out of a hat, something brand new, and he’d say something that would magically help me forgive myself.

My cell phone rang midmorning. It was Detective Elton Dawes, my mentor and dear friend. I forced myself to sound mildly cheerful so he wouldn’t pry into what was wrong. “Hey Smoke.”

“Got a lot going on in Warrants?”

“You know it never ends around here.”

“Tell me about it. You heard Weber call me out to his suspicious circumstances call?”

“I did. How suspicious are the circumstances?”

“I’d go with quite suspicious at this point. We’re don’t really know the extent of what we got. I’d be obliged if you’d come out here. We’re up to our eyeballs and it seems that half the guys I usually count on are off deer hunting.”

A wave of panic rolled through me. “Smoke, I . . .”

“Sheriff says you’d be putting your talents to better use on this case than in the office. If you’re ready to get back out here, that is.”

“What have you got?”

“A woman. Dead a couple of days, it looks like. Skin and bones. Waiting on Melberg and the crime lab team which is only Zubinski, with Mason out today. The chief deputy hasn’t found anyone to reassign yet, but he’s still working on it. Weber will fill in as long as he can.”

I sucked in a breath and blew it out, mentally ordering the feelings of fear and anxiety to leave with the expelled air.

“All right.”

“The closest address is twenty-two-nineteen Quinton Avenue, in Swedesburg Township. We’re in a private woods next to in the Jeremiah Madison County Park off County Two, a quarter mile in. A guy found her after the morning deer hunt.”

“Man. Okay. I’ll be out there in about twenty.” I disconnected and glanced at the clock on the office wall, hoping reading the time would give me a sense of urgency that would propel me into action. Ten-fifteen, Friday morning. The start of a long, sad weekend for the victim’s family. That thought spurred me and got me moving.


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March 29th is Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day

Celebrate Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day!

Grab a book from Second Wind Publishing


A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram

The Red Death has quarantined the state of Colorado and the dead start to outnumber the living. Reporter Greg Pullman investigates and against the backdrop of chaos, he falls in love with Kate Cummings. Will he discover the source of the disease before it’s too late for the woman he loves?
Also by Pat Bertram: Daughter Am I , Grief: The Great Yearning , Light Bringer and More Deaths Than One


The Magic Fault by Paul Mohrbacher

The theft of the Shroud of Turin turns the Catholic Church upside down. Only one clue is left and its obscurity baffles all: the relic will head off a disaster of epic proportion.


False Positive by J J Dare

It all started when Joe Daniels’ wife is involved in a terrible automobile crash. Nothing is as it seems as Joe battles faceless enemies in an effort to discover the truth behind his wife’s “accident.”
Also from J J Dare: False World


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The Importance of Secondary Characters by Deborah J Ledford

Have you ever read a book and found the secondary characters more fascinating than the leading men or women? I must admit, the only reason I pick up a Patricia Cornwell book is to read about Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy, and to see if Pete Marino is still kicking. And let me tell you, when two of my favorite mystery authors, Louise Penny and Craig Johnson don’t feature their fantastic cast of secondary’s, I get beyond angry and frustrated.

I’ve had a blast creating a supporting cast for CRESCENDO. Tried and true, rock and Hawk’s right-hand man Deputy Kenneth Stiles can be found in book three of the series, as well as Mama and Annie, but I’m most excited about introducing Inola Walela’s grandmother, Elisi to readers.

Elisi is full-blood Cherokee, lives on the North Carolina reservation, is a weaver, and knows her hard-headed but warm-hearted granddaughter even better than Hawk.

After a routine traffic stop involves a shooting, Inola is forced to watch from the sidelines as her colleagues investigate the case she’s stuck in the middle of. As the only female Native American Bryson City, NC cop, she must always play her A game, but now her best efforts, training and capabilities are shunned.

On official leave from the force while her case is being investigated, Inola reluctantly allows Elisi to join her in the hunt for a young boy no one—not even Hawk—believes is missing. Their exploits include amusing banter, contentious friction about their past relationship, and conflict that ultimately brings them closer as Inola travels a journey where she vows: Redemption with a bullet.

I hope you enjoy the ride!Crescendo F. Cover -w blurb 7 HR-Final

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.



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Excerpt From “Crescendo” – by Deborah J Ledford

cres_137x212One murdered woman.
A missing child.
The diabolic father who will do anything to get his son back.
The female cop who risks everything to keep the boy safe.

CRESCENDO– Redemption with a bullet

As the only female Native American officer on the Bryson City, North Carolina police force, Inola Walela, must always play her A game. All bets are off when during a routine traffic stop the passenger insists her son has been kidnapped but is struck by a car before Inola can glean any hard facts. An altercation ensues and Inola’s partner is felled by a bullet—possibly from her gun. On administrative leave, fraught with guilt for allegedly killing her partner, and obsessed with the possibility of a missing child out there somewhere, she defies the force and her fiancé, Sheriff Steven Hawk. Inola sets off on her own journey to find the missing boy.


Breath catching in her throat, Inola rose to her knees. She winced as more tires screeched. Metal scraping metal added to the cacophony of noise and confusion. “Jesus,” she muttered, taking in the scene: the woman face down on the highway, arms and legs splayed, blonde hair covering her face.

“Inola!” Cody screamed.

She whirled to see her partner struggling with the driver. One handcuff was secured to the offender’s wrist, but the other swayed loose. The two men battled for Cody’s weapon.

A single gunshot split the air.

Inola jumped to her feet, drew her pistol, took a Weaver’s stance and fired. The driver’s mouth opened and closed as he uttered a deep guttural moan.

Inola ran, feeling as though she glided above the roadway. She kept her Glock trained on the driver. He shuddered. Gasped. His body went limp and dropped to a sitting position against the cruiser’s bumper. She kicked Cody’s gun from the driver’s hand and holstered her weapon.

Hand to his neck, Cody grinned shakily and croaked, “Nice shot, partner.” A trail of blood fell downward. Crimson puddled on the white line of the road. Cody emitted an odd gurgle and slid down the cruiser’s grille to plop beside the driver.

It took a moment for Inola to realize the blood wasn’t coming from the prisoner. Thick claret seeped through Cody’s fingers, staining the neck of his uniform and T-shirt, dropping to his hands in his lap.

Fingers shaking, Inola fumbled for the mic on her shoulder. “Officer down! Officer down! This is unit five-one-eleven. Three down. I need three busses.” She strangled a sob. Fury and terror took over all capacity of reasoning. “My partner’s been shot! Officer eleven-seven-four is down. Please…please help me!”

She dropped to her knees and reached out to stanch the flow streaming from Cody’s neck. “Hold on, partner. Medics are on the way.”

“Gave…up,” Cody stuttered. His eyes locked on Inola’s and then he lowered his head.

She followed his gaze to something clenched in his hand. Cody waved a credit card-sized piece of plastic between his fingers.


Inola’s stomach lurched as she took the slick, sticky card. Cody coughed and frothy blood bubbled from his lips. She gathered her partner in her arms and rocked him. “No, Cody. Dammit, don’t give up. Please! Please. Don’t give up.”

Hot wetness soaked the front of her uniform. She clamped a hand over his pulsating wound. His blood oozed between her fingers. Praying for the ambulance and backup to arrive, she glanced around. Her body convulsed as she took in the accident scene that resembled a disaster movie more than a real-life scenario. Cars were parked in a line along the exit ramp to her right. Gridlocked vehicles clogged each lane of traffic, stunned citizens stood a safe distance away. The ashen atmosphere muted every color as fat snowflakes fluttered from the sky.

The sound of footfalls alerted her that danger still loomed. She eased Cody to the ground, slid her Glock from its holster, pivoted toward shuffling steps.

A man approached, a woman’s limp body draped in his arms, blonde hair streaming downward, the hem of her flowered dress skimming the pavement.

Inola assessed the situation—Cody, the lifeless driver, the woman, the stranger. She was about to yell out to put the woman down. Didn’t he realize he had just tainted the scene by moving her? But the look of horror on his face stopped her protest.

“I didn’t mean to hit her.” He lowered to his knees and laid the woman at Inola’s feet. “Please, can you help her? I think she’s dying.”

Inola eased her hand out and carefully swept aside the veil of hair. Her stomach lurched at the sight of the right side of the victim’s head, flatter than it should be. She placed a shaking hand to the white as porcelain neck. No beat pulsated under her fingertips. “I’m sorry,” she told the man.

His shoulders slumped as he mumbled a few words Inola could not decipher.

She wrenched away and hurried back to Cody, pulled him to her lap and resumed clutching his neck. Although the blood had slowed, it continued a thick path and she worried he would bleed out right there in her arms.

“Cody, open your eyes, partner. I need you to stay awake until the medics get here.”

He didn’t stir. Sirens wailed, growing louder with each beat of Inola’s racing heart. Feeling every bystander’s eyes on her, she settled her gaze on the only person who could possibly understand the magnitude of what had occurred—who, too, would suffer the consequences of this unforeseen catastrophe—the man who had also killed someone that day.

*  *  *

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO, is book three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. Other novels include SNARE, Finalist for The Hillerman Sky Award and the NM-AZ Book Awards, and the classical-music themed STACCATO. 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. 

Click here to buy: Crescendo

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Introducing a New Leading Lady by Deborah J Ledford

Crescendo-DJLedford- Front Cover HRFebruary 19, 2013 Inola Walela takes center stage as the leading lady of my latest novel of suspense, CRESCENDO from Second Wind Publishing. Inola is no stranger to readers of my thriller series, but this is the first time Inola has carried an entire book.

For those of you new to the mystery series, Inola is Steven Hawk’s love interest. We jump ahead one year from the previous book, SNARE. Hawk is now the sheriff of SwainCounty and Inola continues on as the only female Native American officer on the Bryson City, North Carolina police force, Inola Walela, must always play her A game. All bets are off when during a routine traffic stop the passenger insists her son has been kidnapped but is struck by a car before Inola can glean any hard facts. An altercation ensues and Inola’s partner is felled by a bullet—possibly from her gun. On administrative leave, fraught with guilt for allegedly killing her partner, and obsessed with the possibility of a missing child out there somewhere, she defies the force and her fiancé, Sheriff Steven Hawk. Inola sets off on her own journey to find the missing boy.

The tagline for CRESCENDO is: Redemption with a Bullet

I knew from day one that Inola would be the lead character for this novel. Like me, she’s part Eastern Band Cherokee and the entire location takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina where I spent my summers growing up.

No, Inola is nothing like me…but I am very proud to have her in my life, and to present her to you in my latest novel of suspense.

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.

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Pre-Release Jitters by Deborah J Ledford

Okay, so the final steps for my next suspense novel, CRESCENDO, are at last being taken. All looks great for the February 19, 2013 release date. The cover turned better than I could ever have hoped, two very talented authors provided glowing blurbs for the back cover, the interior look is professional and pleasing to the eye. And after numerous read throughs of various versions my first readers, have given me their blessing…so why am I so nervous?

After all, this is Book Three of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela suspense series which takes place in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. I should be over the jitters by now, right?

Well, two full years have passed since SNARE was released and the release phase feels a little new to me. There have been a lot of changes since December 21, 2010 yet I anticipate that nothing much truly changes. I’ll still be doing my best to promote CRESCENDO at my personal page on Facebook, my STACCATO book page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads.

In March I’ll unveil the release at the Tucson Festival of Books and the Left Coast Crime conference, as well as numerous appearances around Arizona.

The CRESCENDO Pre-Order Page is now available on the Second Wind Publishing website. Stay tuned for Amazon, Nook and Smashwords details.

Lots of excitement going on over here as I type this. As well as butterflies, worry that I’ve forgotten something crucial, nervous nights without sleep as I anticipate the birth of my next baby.

I mentioned the cover earlier. This is a visual I’ve had in mind ever since I knew we would be continuing on with the hand theme for the front covers of the entire series. The fantastic photographer, Ted Stratton from Moving Pictures LLC, took the great photograph and the fantastic writer and former art director, Martin Roselius, did the layout.

Crescendo-DJLedford- Front Cover HR

The blurbs come from Jeffrey Siger and Darrell James, both I am honored to say are not only fantastic, talented authors, but also very good friends:

“I love Deborah Ledford. Every time I tried putting CRESCENDO down Ledford hooked me into reading ‘just a few more chapters.’ The action in this book is dangerous to sleep cycles.” ~ Jeffrey Siger, author of The New York Times Book Review Pick for the Summer,Target: Tinos

“Deborah Ledford directs suspense like a highly skilled maestro, taking us on a thrill-ride that builds to a powerful, climactic conclusion.” ~Darrell James, author of the award winning novel, Nazareth Child

Soon all of the hard work over many, many months will soon be over. I can’t wait to receive my box of books from publisher Mike Simpson and his hard working Second Wind Publishing team.

I invite you to join me on the CRESCENDO journey which continues the 5th of every month here at the Second Wind blog.

Deborah J Ledford’s most recent suspense novel SNARE, The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist the New Mexico-Arizona Book 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 homepage at the Second Wind Publishing website and her personal website.


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