A to Z Blog 2019 U is for Unpublished

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Good morning. Raining here and cold, but maybe things will green up afterwards.

AtoZ2019UToday is Day 21 of the A to Z Challenge Blog for 2019, and as things wind down, we’ve come to some of the most difficult letters of the alphabet. Today belongs to U. I’ve chosen to talk about unpublished books.

There are two kinds of unpublished books on my computer–those that aren’t finished, and those that have been taken down and are no longer available. In the first category, I have 3 books, one of which is finished and will be published in time for Christmas. Another is a sci-fi novel, the last my current wip, a historical/romance/suspense called The Price Of Courage, Book Two of my Canadiana Series.

In the second category, I currently have 4 novels. Just for the Weekend, Forever and Always, There’s Always Tomorrow, and No Good Deed. These books are unpublished because I severed my ties with the publishers. Circumstances change, and when a publishing contract ends, the author can choose to republish with the publisher or on their own. I’ve given up on traditional publishers for the most part and am now self-publishing my books, but only after I do a very thorough revision. Some books were originally novellas or short stories and need work to become novels. Others need polishing. To do that, I go back to the comments from reviewers and strive to satisfy them.

Take Just for the Weekend for example. In this story, two people meet under unusual circumstances in Las Vegas and hide their true identities.  Have you ever been to a Sci-fi or Comic Convention where people dress in costumes and take it very seriously? Behind a mask, you can be anyone you want to be–sometimes that’s good; at others it’s bad. Cleo James has what she sees as a good reason to keep her real identity secret. She’s a school teacher with a strict moral clause in her contract. The wrong kind of publicity and pictures can get her fired from a job she loves–most of the time. At her best friend’s urging she agrees to attend a Sci-fi convention where she’ll let down her hair for the first time ever.

Sam Mason, a multimillionaire, is persuaded to attend the same convention, and like Cleo, opts to keep his true identity secret. He’s tired of gold diggers and wants to be liked for himself, not his wallet, but when Cleo mistakenly believes he’s one of the hotel’s famous male strippers, he goes along with it.

Their first meeting is a memorable one.

Here’s a clip from the story which will be released again later this year. The cover is the original one, but a new cover will be designed for it.

Just for the Weekend cover.Cleo followed Mitch into the convention hall packed with hundreds of people in various alien costumes, and allowed some of the excitement in the air to calm her fears. She recognized outfits from various sci-fi movies and television shows, as well as others straight out of the video game world.  There were several Orion slave girls in a variety of  shapes, shades, and sizes, and Cleo saw the not-so-friendly glares she got from them—especially when one of their male friends stared admiringly at her. She nodded in return and chuckled when one girl gave the guy she was with a jab in the ribs.

She tried to keep up with Mitch who barreled across the room as if she were in a speedwalking race. Barefoot as she was, conscious of the icky, sticky carpet, Cleo moved slowly to  avoid stomping boots and heels. She’d almost made it to the promised land of booth security when a giant, in snake-like make-up and the dark gray leather and chainmail associated with the Cardassians, grabbed her arm. He spun her around quickly.

“Hey, let go of my…” Her angry words died on her lips. “What have we here?” He

eyed her hungrily. “Are you lost, my pretty little slave girl?”

Familiar chocolate eyes pierced hers, and she couldn’t think straight. His whiskey-smooth voice caressed her; his touch ignited a fire along her spine. Realizing what he’d said, she searched for an answer.

“Lost? No, I got separated from my Klingon friend. She’s over there.” She pointed to the publishers’ autograph area where Mitch stood.

“Then allow me to escort you safely to her.”

Holding her close to him, he ushered her across the congested convention floor. He bowed to Mitch and gave the Cardassian salute.

“I believe she’s yours, but I’m entitled to a reward for coming to her assistance.” He smiled wickedly before pulling Cleo into his arms and capturing her mouth with his.

Cleo held herself rigid, but the kiss poured liquid fire through her. Of their own volition, her arms wrapped around his neck both to hold her upright and to encourage the incredible sensations to continue. His mouth devoured hers as if she was his last meal. She’d been kissed before, but never like this. When he slowly pulled away, she was breathless. She read desire in his eyes.

“Later, my Orion beauty.” He turned and walked away, disappearing into the crowd.

“Who the hell is that?” Mitch asked, staring after the gray-garbed character.

“I have no idea.” Cleo reached for Mitch’s blue-tinted Romulan ale and drained the glass.

That’s it. Come back tomorrow for the letter V!

All of my books currently available can be found on Amazon and many are available on KU. Check them out for yourselves. https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/

Looking for other posts to read? Follow the link.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nZ7UupzB78MvJnraN9khkLJT3jM6uOP1LTDc8gaQluY/edit#gid=1456286340

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Have a great day!

 

A to Z Blog 2019 T is for Twins

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Hello again. Eventually, yesterday was a gorgeous spring day with warmth and sunshine. I even managed to open the windows and let in some fresh air. The day promises to be similar but the cool rains return tomorrow.

AtoZ2019TToday is Day 20 and belongs to the letter T, which I’ve decided should be for twins. My novels, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice are about a set of twins, Georgia and Eleni, named after my granddaughters. At the moment, Eleni is 12 and Georgia is 11, but I love the names and decided they would be prefect for my heroines. The two novels are set in concurrent times, but one tells the story from Georgia’s point of view while the other is written from Eleni’s. While each book has several scenes unique to it, there are also a few where you see the same event through different eyes. Imagine a phone conversation for example, or an argument. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the other is thinking and not only saying?

Have a look at these scene clips.

From Holiday Magic

Holiday Magic NewGeorgia entered the brownstone and cursed. Who the hell is calling at this hour? They’d probably tried to call her cell number, first, but she’d dropped the damn thing and it hadn’t worked properly since. Hurrying as fast as she could in her four inch heels, she raced up the stairs, and quickly unlocked the door.

“I’m coming, damn it, I’m coming,” she yelled at the phone, fully aware of the fact whoever was on the end of the line wouldn’t hear her. She tossed her beret and purse on the table in the foyer and hurried into the living room and over to the end table where the phone sat. She checked the call display and picked up the receiver.

“Hello, Eleni, what’s wrong?”

Her twin never called on Monday nights. She usually knew when something was wrong, so this was probably one of  Eleni’s other emergencies.

“Finally!” Georgia heard the relief and excitement in her voice. “Your cell phone kept going to message, and then wouldn’t let me leave one. I must have called a dozen times. Why are you out of breath?”

Georgia shook her head before plopping down on the leather sofa and kicking off her Christian Louboutin shoes.

“Because I heard the phone ringing and ran up the stairs to answer it,” she said reigning in her impatience. “I dropped my damn cell phone Saturday, and I haven’t had time to get another one. I’ll do it in the morning. So, what’s the emergency?” As much as she loved her sister, Eleni was impulsive and had a habit of exaggerating. She could turn a molehill into a mountain in no time.

Eleni harrumphed loudly. “Yes, you’d better, and get with the times. You need a Smartphone. I can’t imagine how you manage without one. Texting is the way to go.”

While Georgia used Facebook and her Internet website to conduct business, she rarely did so with her personal life—not that she had much of one.

“Yes, boss,” she answered and laughed. Eleni had embraced recent technology with a vengeance. She was constantly texting both friends and suppliers. It was amazing she got any work done. “I’ll consider it, but even if I get one, I doubt I’ll be as comfortable with it as you are.”

“I was worried when I couldn’t reach you,” Eleni accused, and Georgia felt a twinge of guilt.

“I’m sorry. I know you’re concerned about me, Len, just as I worry about you, but I’m fine, really I am.”

“So you say, but if you were fine, you’d come home. You’d come back where you belong.” She stopped talking and Georgia sighed heavily.

 

From The Perfect Choice:

The perfect choice NewEleni was eager to tell her sister the good news. Georgia would understand how much this meant to her, a chance to be recognized on a grand scale.

Reaching once more for the portable phone beside the bed, she pressed speed dial one. The phone rang once, twice, three times. Disappointed, she got ready to leave a message on Georgia’s voice mail when someone picked up.

“Hello?” She heard Georgia’s breathy answer.

“Hey you! I was going to hang up. It’s late. I was worried. You didn’t answer your cell,” she scolded.

“Eleni, I’m fine. I dropped the damn thing on the weekend and need to replace it.”

“Well, you should get something modern, with a decent texting package. I don’t know how you manage without one.”

“I don’t have as many callers as you do,” Georgia laughed, and blew out a breath.

“Why are you breathing heavy? Are you sick?”

“I’m breathing heavy because I just got in and had to run up the stairs to answer the phone. You’ve seen me twice in the last six weeks. Relax. I’m getting better.”

“Well, I hope you weren’t walking the streets of New York alone at night again.”

That’s it. Come back tomorrow for the letter U!

All of my books currently available can be found on Amazon and many are available on KU. Check them out for yourselves. https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/

Looking for other posts to read? Follow the link.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nZ7UupzB78MvJnraN9khkLJT3jM6uOP1LTDc8gaQluY/edit#gid=1456286340

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Have a great day!

 

Tuesday Tales: From the Word CHEST

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s edition of  Tuesday tales, the blog that lets you watch as novels are created, scene by scene. I hope you had a wonderful Easter.  This week’s prompt is CHEST, and the scene is 400 words long.

I’m continuing from where I left off last week.  This is from The Price of Courage, my historical romance suspense novel, that is the second book in my Canadiana series.

Enjoy!

Guy finished the wine in his goblet and set the glass on his desk.

“No, I didn’t. I realize this may not be the best time, but I have questions that must be answered. As Roger’s secretary, I assume you were privy to everything.”

The cadet licked his lips. “It was my responsibility, my lord.”

Guy read the fear in the boy’s eyes and saw the way the goblet trembled in his hand.

“What’s your first name, cadet?” he asked, hoping to set the boy at ease.

“Francis, sir.”

“That’s an English name, is it not?”

The boy nodded. “My mother’s grandmother came to France from England. It was her father’s name, and it was passed on to me.”

“It’s a good strong name. Please, sit by the fire where we can talk more comfortably, and I’ll feel like less of a giant towering over you.”

The boy, small for his age with a slight stature, nodded and took the chair Guy offered, while he reached for the wine and refilled both goblets.

The cadet’s breathing was rapid. Guy could see the way his tight-fitting jacket rose and fell against the boy’s chest. The young man was terrified, the look on his face that of a trapped animal. Why? What did he know that could get him into trouble?

“Why was the lieutenant working alone last night?” Guy asked, watching as what little color in the boy’s face slipped away.

Eyes wide, the man-child stared at him but didn’t speak.

“I asked you a question, Francis. I’m your commander. Nothing you tell me will go beyond this room, but Roger’s murder makes no sense.”

“He wasn’t supposed to be alone,” the boy whispered. “Sergeant Raymond and one of the coureur de bois were supposed to be there. I wanted to stay, but Roger sent me home. Items were missing from the inventory.” Now that he’d begun talking, the words tumbled out faster and faster. “Roger was examining the inventory records when he found the discrepancies. Money, pelts, beaded goods, and weapons were missing. He asked the sergeant about it and he said you’d ordered the items given to the scout before he left last month. They were going to go over the list together.”

Guy swallowed his surprise. Did everyone know of Lucien’s mission?

“Where is Sergeant Raymond now?” Guy asked, holding onto to his anger by a thread.

“He’s vanished.”

That’s it. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

A to Z Blog 2019 S is for Secrets

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Good morning. I hope you all had a lovely Easter if you celebrated, and to my friends who will celebrate Eastern Orthodox Christmas, may you have a great time, too, as well as a less eventful Holy Week than we did.

AtoZ2019SToday is Day 19 of the A to Z Challenge Blog for 2019 and it belongs to the letter S. There are many words that I’ve used in my books that start with S, but today I chose to focus on Secrets. We all have secrets, private personal things we keep to ourselves, things we know about others we keep to ourselves. Most secrets aren’t the life and death kind, but sometimes, if the secret is revealed, it can complicate our lives. In several of my books, my characters have secrets that they would prefer others not know. In Just For the Weekend, a book that is temporarily unavailable but will be revised and release later  both of my characters have reasons for concealing their identities, and in Desert Deception, the hero does as well. The main plot of Desert Deception originated in Coming Home, by Misty Matthews, a book I co-wrote with another author. When Misty and I dissolved our partnership, she signed over to rights to Coming Home which I revised and changed into Desert Deception. Cole’s secret was part of the original plot. The mystery and suspense that comes after is all new.

Like Superman and Bruce Wayne, my hero has another life, one he would prefer the people of his home town not know about.

Enjoy!

desertdeception-600x960“What’s wrong?” Cole hurried to her side, worried that she’d somehow hurt herself. While it was true, the worse injury you could get from a book was a paper cut, this close to the desert, unwanted insects and reptiles sometimes managed to sneak in. Last week, he’d returned a tarantula to the great outdoors. The big, hairy spiders might be harmless, but they scared the daylights out of the tourists.

“Nothing’s wrong, but you have all of CJ Coleson’s books shoved back here where no one can see them. They should be out front.”

The look of disgust on her face made him laugh.

“I take it you’re a fan.”

“Well, duh! Of course I’m a fan, isn’t everyone? He’s a great author even though he’s the Howard Hughes of writers—a total recluse. How come you have his latest book? It isn’t due out in paperback for another two weeks.”

Cole ran his fingers through his hair, a nervous gesture he made when he was caught off guard. “I know the author.” The white lie slid off his tongue before he could stop it.

“Get out of here! You know CJ Coleson?” she asked, excitement lighting up her face. “How?”

“We went to school together.” Another half-truth.

“In Texas?”

He nodded, hoping she would change the topic soon.

“Well, he’s Arizona born and bred, I’m sure of it. He’s either from around here, or he’s spent time here. Reading those books is like coming home—better even. Is that his real name?”

Turning away from her, he tried to think of an answer that would help him out of the quicksand in which he’d inadvertently stepped. The truth always came out, and usually at the worst possible moment. Sharing his secret with a virtual stranger wasn’t an option, but he was pretty sure she wasn’t going to let it go.

“He’s from Arizona and has spent considerable time in the area, but he uses a pen name. CJ and I are very close. I get advance copies of his books when his publisher releases them. Technically I’m not supposed to display them yet, so don’t go broadcasting it,” he answered, more sharply than he’d intended, hoping that would end her snooping.

“Who would I tell?” The look on her face told him she thought he was being ridiculous.

“I don’t know. Maybe some of your friends in New Mexico.” He’d put a little more heat into his voice than he’d needed, but he was dying here, sinking deeper and deeper by the minute.

She rolled her eyes and snorted. “Let me get right on that. I’ll tell them to drop everything, and drive almost seven hours to Fortune, Arizona, to buy a book they’ll be able to pick up at home in a matter of days.”

Sarcasm dripped from her voice again. He would hate to be on the stand if she was questioning him. She would rip a liar to shreds in seconds.

“I get it. My comment was a little over the top, but if you’re a fan, you know he doesn’t like the spotlight. I’m a little protective of our friendship.”

“A little protective? There are she-bears who could take lessons from you,” she scolded. “I know how close some of you frat buddies can be. Knowing you know my favorite author, and won’t tell me who he is, will probably drive me crazy, but I’ll let you off the hook—this time.”

He exhaled and relaxed, grateful for the temporary reprieve, knowing damn well she wouldn’t let the matter drop and would try to ferret out the secret sooner rather than later. His gaze still fixed on her, he watched as she picked up two books, including the CJ Coleson one not yet released.

That’s it. Come back tomorrow for the letter T!

All of my books currently available can be found on Amazon and many are available on KU. Check them out for yourselves. https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/

Looking for other posts to read? Follow the link.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nZ7UupzB78MvJnraN9khkLJT3jM6uOP1LTDc8gaQluY/edit#gid=1456286340

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Last Day! The White Carnation is available along with several other books from over 35 -international authors at the It’s All About Romance Easter Book Fair.

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Check out the link below to find it and many other great romance novels. http://irisblobel.com/bookfair042019/

Have a great day!

Happy Easter!

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Wishing all of you who celebrate the holiday  a great day! I’ll e going to church this morning and then we”l join my daughter and her family for Easter dinner.  If you’re spending the day quietly, why not take a moment to check out the It’s All About Romance Easter Book Fair?

This weekend, The White Carnation, The Harvester Files, Book One,  is available along with several other books from over 35 -international authors. This is your chance to jump start your spring or fall reading list.

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Check out the link below to find it and many other great romance novels. http://irisblobel.com/bookfair042019/

Best wishes for good food, good friends, and sunshine today!

A to Z Blog 2019 R is for Roots

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Good morning. Hope your holiday season is drier than mine. Would be nice to see the sun, but I’ll settle for rain instead of snow.

AtoZ2019RToday is Day 18 of the A to Z Challenge Blog for 2018. I’ve posted late twice, but I’ve posted an entry for every letter to date. Today’s letter is R and I’ve chosen to post about Roots–not the kind that anchor trees and plants in pace, but the kind that relate to us and our ancestry.

You’ve all seen the commercials for Ancestry.com or other companies that offer to examine your saliva and tell you everything you didn’t know about yourself and your past–where you came from, what races and nationalities combined to make you the person you are.

Curious, I did the spit thing. The first results that came back were the broad one. I’d expected to learn I had some Native North American blood in me, but I don’t. When the specific results came back, I discovered I was 97% French, with 2% England and 1% Basque. Nothing particularly exotic about me.  But what was interesting was while I knew both sides of my family had come to Canada in the seventeenth century, I did not know some of them had settled in what is now Nova Scotia and had been deported in the eighteenth century, sent by the British to Louisiana, and according to the ancestry map, I have many relatives living in Southern Louisiana today–Cajuns, which is a shortened form of Acadians, those deported from Acadia.

That got me thinking about what could happen to separate family and I decided to write Murder and Mistletoe, using family members fighting on opposite sides in the American Civil War as my reason for the split, and to make things interesting, I gave my leading lady an exotic DNA profile.  Meet my heroine, Candace Kayne, better known as Candy  Kayne who doesn’t want to have anything to do with her Georgia relatives.

Enjoy and don’t forget to visit the Book Fair, too. The link is at the end of the post!

Murder&Mistletoe.jpgCandy glared at the phone. If she just hung up, would they get the idea?

“You’re a mighty hard young lady to reach,” the man said.

“Maybe that’s the way I want it,” she bit back.

“Now, now. I’m Richard Lamont, of Lamont, Jordan, and Wilkes. We’ve been trying to get in touch with you for months now—”

The firm’s senior partner calling on a Sunday afternoon. What in hell could make them this desperate?

“I answered your first letter,” she said, cutting him off. “What more do you need from me? My father’s dead, and I don’t want anything from the Georgia Kaynes. I’ve already told you that. They can keep their money and moldy old mansions. They didn’t want to have anything to do with Grandpa Zeke in 1865, and I don’t want to have anything to do with them today.”

“Now, Ms. Amelia, it’s not that simple. Won’t you listen to me for just a minute?” he asked, trying to placate her and doing exactly the opposite since she despised that name. It had belonged to Grandpa Zeke’s mother and, despite the way the woman had spurned her only living son, had been passed down to the oldest female child from one generation to the next. Sometimes traditions needed to end, and since she was the last of the line, it ended with her. Sadly, most Amelias had died young and childless—the damn name was cursed. It had to be.

“There was bad blood between your ancestor and the rest of the family,” he admitted, “but that was a long time ago, way before you were born. Your uncle has gone to great lengths to find you. Don’t you think he deserves a chance to plead his case? Make amends? Your hatred for the South can’t be so entrenched that you would deny an old man a chance to see his niece, the only surviving member of his Uncle Ezekiel’s line.”

“I don’t hate the South, Mr. Lamont. I don’t even hate the Georgia Kaynes. I simply don’t want to have anything to do with a family that could turn its back on one of their own that way. If there’s something I need to sign, have it sent to my attorney,” she rattled off Eddy’s information. “I’ll take care of it there, and we need not bother each other again.”

The man was silent for a few seconds. “I wouldn’t be so hasty if I were you,” he said at last. “Mr. Kayne’s determined to see you get what’s yours, and that includes Amelia’s Tears. Aren’t you in the least bit curious? Stephen will be in your neck of the woods later this week. If you would be willing to sit down with him, I’m sure we could get this all sorted out.”

The cajoling in his tone, even if it could be loosely interpreted as a threat, ate at her resistance. Amelia’s Tears. She’d shed enough of her own to last a lifetime. Did she really need anyone else’s?

She harrumphed.

Dad would’ve been curious enough to know why the family had changed its tune after all these years, even if she wasn’t. Mr. Lamont said the family had something for her, but she was inclined to believe they wanted something from her; and she had nothing to give them—not even a tissue to mop up a mother’s tears.

“I’ll talk to him if you agree to stop bothering me after I do,” she said, unable to keep the anger and frustration out of her voice.

“Yes, ma’am. Once you understand what’s at stake, I’m sure we can work it all out to our mutual satisfaction.”

“I doubt that very much,” she snapped. “What time on Friday?”

“How does eleven suit you?”

“It doesn’t, but it’ll do. Thank you. Goodbye.” She hung up before he could say anything else, her hand shaking so badly that she missed the cradle on her first attempt.

Trembling, she unplugged the phone. If it didn’t ring, she wouldn’t feel obligated to answer it. Grabbing a red felt-tip marker, she wrote down the appointment on the magnetic calendar on her fridge: 11:00 with Stephen, giggled, and drew a horned happy face with a scowl. She’d forgotten to ask his last name. He must be a Lamont, Jordan, or Wilkes, another lawyer with a mouth full of honey. The way it looked now, it seemed like some kind of date.

But it wasn’t a date—far from it. Grandpa Zeke’s dream had been to see the family reunited someday, a dream passed down from generation to generation, but after the fiasco with Judson, once they got a look at her and her DNA results, they would rescind whatever offer they’d made, the same way he’d ended their engagement. Three percent seemed insignificant, but racial purity would matter to them just as it had to her white supremacist fiancé.

That’s it. Come back Monday for the letter S!

All of my books currently available can be found on Amazon and many are available on KU. Check them out for yourselves. https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/

Looking for other posts to read? Follow the link.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nZ7UupzB78MvJnraN9khkLJT3jM6uOP1LTDc8gaQluY/edit#gid=1456286340

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This weekend, The White Carnation is available along with several other books from over 35 -international authors at the It’s All About Romance Easter Book Fair.

with link

Check out the link below to find it and many other great romance novels. http://irisblobel.com/bookfair042019/

Have a great day!

A to Z Blog 2019 Q is for Questions

 

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Good morning. Today is a serious religious holiday for Jews and Christians. While those of the Jewish faith celebrate Passover, we Christians mourn the death of Christ. After a week in which we’ve been reminded how quickly things can change, we need to sit back and examine our lives. Are we the people we are meant to be? The ones we want to be?

AtoZ2019QDay 17 of the A to Z Challenge blog for 2019 brings us to Q. I’ve decided to focus on questions. Back when I was teaching English and we were ripping apart stories, novels, and poetry to analyze then, we focused on 6 questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? I have made a point of using those six questions to guide my writing, especially when it comes to any of my thriller/romance/suspense novels. For The Harvester Files novels, this has been crucial to keeping the main plot flowing from Book One to Book Two, and then to Book Three. I’ve made subtle changes as I prepare to write Book Four, mindful that continuity must be maintained. I can’t just pull a new plot out of the air.

Let me break down The White Carnation, Book One of the Harvester Files to show you what I mean.

Who? Rob and Faye–main characters, Tom, Pierce, Jimmy, and Trevor primary secondary characters.

What? There is a serial killer on the loose. Faye finds a body and calls Rob.

Where? In Boston

When? Late spring, current day

Why? The big question: What is the motive? (Can’t answer this for you here without giving the story away) Rob and the police need to discover the real purpose behind the crimes.

How? The killer kidnaps pregnant women. Once they’ve given birth, he leaves their bodies, wrapped in pink or blur blankets, in public areas, but the babies have vanished.  So, the big question is how is he getting in and out of apartments and the body dump sites without being seen or leaving a trace of himself?

Have a look at a brainstorming session between Rob and his partner, Tom.

temp cover for The White carnation

The Harvester Files, Bk 1

“Are you sending NYPD what we have?”

Tom shrugged. “Send them what? We don’t have anything. Mary’s disappearance isn’t our case. Before we jump the gun and send out information related to the Harvester, we should run this by Pierce. Even if I can’t stand the son of a bitch, he is the FBI liaison on the case. Let’s see if the bleach concentration and the rest of it fits. If it does, we’ll know our killer has a live one, and we can go from there.”

Rob ran his hand through his hair, unable to keep what he’d learned tonight to himself any longer. “Let’s assume we’re right, and the bleach matches. Fifteen months without a lead and now, bam! Within four hours we have another victim, a second murder, Lucy Green, and a missing woman who’s vanished under the same circumstances as the Harvester’s victims.” Excitement filled him as he voiced his thoughts, and his heart hammered. “Someone screwed up, Tom. That’s the only thing that makes sense. Whoever killed Lucy Green just handed us the brass ring.”

And I’ll make damn sure he doesn’t get it back.

Tom scratched his head and looked at him. “What brass ring? What are you talking about?”

“Faye. I’m talking about Faye. I learned something from her that’s given me a whole new perspective on the case.” Rob pulled the forensic photographs of the three Harvester victims out of the folder and spread them on his desk. “Look at them. What do you see?”

Tom stared at the pictures. “Young, white women, slender, good skin tone, attractive … Throw me a bone here. What am I looking for?”

“Something’s been bothering me for weeks now every time I look at that file. They look alike, Tom, not just in death because of the nightgowns, the poses, and the hairstyle. Look at the before pictures.” He took them out of the folder and placed them on the desk next to the others. “Even with dissimilar hair color, dressed differently, smiling or serious, they still bear an amazing resemblance to one another.”

“Hell, Rob, we saw that. It’s part of the profile the B A U gave us, but it only means he’s particular about the type of woman he chooses. And don’t forget, she has to be pregnant, too. There are thousands of women living in the United States who bear a superficial resemblance to one another.” He indicated the photographs. “These women are all average—average height, weight, you name it. There is nothing spectacular about any of them. Hell, we’re all supposed to have a twin somewhere. I’ve often mistaken a stranger for someone I know.”

“There’s more to it than that, and I think Mary’s the key. All of these women were single and lived alone. All three of them were self-employed—an artist, a novelist, and a medical transcriber. They all worked out of their homes. None of them had regular boyfriends. According to her family, Tracy Volt had planned to enter a convent, and yet she and the others all got pregnant. How? They didn’t do the club scene, didn’t go to the gym, didn’t even live in the same damn city or town. Once we found the bodies, we realized all the apartments had been sanitized—cleaned with bleach, fridge emptied so nothing would spoil, everything turned off to conserve energy. We couldn’t find a single commonality among them. Now look at Mary’s picture.”

Tom chewed his lower lips. “I’ll concede that she looks a lot like the others, but she’s not his type. Her hair’s short, and she’s heavier. If the apartment’s been cleaned the same way, you might be onto something—what exactly, I’m not sure. Where are you going with this?”

“What if I told you Mary’s gay?”

Tom let out a low whistle. “But remember, this is all speculation. We’ve got nothing linking Mary to the Harvester’s victims.”

“We will as soon as we get that report from NYPD. I feel it here.” Rob pointed to his gut. Every police officer learned to trust his instincts.

“Assuming you’re right, maybe we’ve been going about this all wrong. I’d say we need to start looking at insemination clinics. I don’t know if the other women are gay, but we can look into it. This could be nothing more than an elaborate effort to cover up a hate crime. On the other hand, we could have a self-righteous looney on our hands. These women chose to have babies on their own, and some Neanderthal found out about it and decided they wouldn’t make good parents. That could be why he keeps the kids, ostensibly providing them with a better life. Maybe he’s some kind of religious fanatic.”

“Makes sense considering the way they’re posed like angels. As far as deciding to have a baby on her own, Faye insists the last thing Mary would want is a kid.”

Tom frowned. “So, she changed her mind. It happens.”

Rob stood and paced behind his desk. “Apparently, not to Mary. I have another idea, but I really don’t like it. There’s something else you need to see. What if we can connect the cases?” He stopped, opened his bottom desk drawer, and slapped a photograph of Faye on the desk. He’d meant to get rid of it, like the caterer’s file, but somehow he’d never gotten around to it.

Tom picked up the photo, and his face paled as he realized the implications of what Rob had said.

“Jesus H. Christ, you’re serious about this, aren’t you? Get a grip. I knew seeing her would be hard on you, but have you lost your ever-loving mind? You can’t connect two cases without anything to link them together. How the hell can you spin this so that your ex fits the equation? Think about it.”

“I’ve done nothing but think about it since I left the last victim. You didn’t see her, Tom. I did, and just after I’d left Faye. I almost lost it. Faye resembles all the victims. Don’t deny it. She’s also a single woman with a career who lives alone. And if that isn’t enough, she and Mary Green could be sisters, the same Mary Green who’s missing and pregnant and whose mother is dead. Mrs. Green called Faye to tell her something important. What did she know? Before she could spill her guts, someone shut her up permanently and made it look like a home invasion gone bad. Why? And who discovered her? Faye. It’s gone full circle.”

That’s it. Come back tomorrow for the letter R!

All of my books currently available can be found on Amazon and many are available on KU. Check them out for yourselves. https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/

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This weekend, The White Carnation is available along with several other books from over 35 -international authors at the It’s All About Romance Easter Book Fair.

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Check out the link below to find it and many other great romance novels. http://irisblobel.com/bookfair042019/

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