“Bloody Creek Murder” by Susan Clayton-Goldner #Mystery #NewRelease #BookReview

Bloody Creek Murder

Bloody Creek Murder

I’ve been following along the Winston Radhauser series since the beginning, and have been enjoying it more and more. In this, its sixth installment, the author does a particularly excellent job of combining mystery with family drama. The mixture both brings out the pathos of the interpersonal situation the characters find themselves in, and raising the tension surrounding the mystery.

In “Bloody Creek Murder,” Detective Radhauser is called in to investigate the death of prominent local actress Blair Bradshaw. The investigation seems to be going nowhere–except into a cold case that Radhauser has been trying to solve for the past ten years. I don’t want to say more in case of spoilers, but there are multiple crimes and tragedies in the story, all of which come together, one way or another, in the figure of Blair.

As in the previous books in the series, “Bloody Creek Murder” is a murder mystery, but one with a lot of heart. It will appeal to many fans of detective stories, although it is neither gritty nor cozy, so readers who demand a strict adherence to those genre tropes may not enjoy it. Because it’s also a family story, it will likely appeal to many fans of family dramas, as well as contemporary literary fiction. Recommended for readers who are looking for a well-written mystery story with a bit of a difference.

My thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Pick up a copy on Amazon here.

“Weathered Bird: A Jazz Age Novelette” by Danielle Yvette

Weathered Bird

Weathered Bird

“Weathered Bird” follows Bertha Mae “Birdy” Whitaker, a teenage African-American girl in 1920s Philadelphia. She falls madly in love with Sidney, a “high yellow” bootlegger who lives on the threshold between different societies: black and white, law-abiding and criminal. Birdy’s passion for him causes her to disregard common sense and become unhealthily attached to him. As the story progresses, she has to decide what she wants, and how she can grow up to become her own woman.

The atmosphere of the 1920s is beautifully invoked here, so readers who enjoy stories set in that time period are likely to appreciate it for that. It was an exciting, dangerous time, when social constructs and societal constraints were coming into question, and race relations were undergoing a significant shift–with, sometimes, dangerous consequences, especially for those who were most vulnerable.

The real heart of the story, though, is Birdy and her transformation from needy girl to independent woman. Both she and Sidney come across as living, breathing, flawed but sympathetic characters. It’s a short work, but it packs plenty of emotional punch in a few pages.

I got this book in a giveaway and my copy of the story had several typos. Although they did not materially damage the overall reading experience, I think this story deserves a bit more editing polish. That, however, is a minor issue, and I’d definitely recommend this story to anyone interested in reading about the Jazz Age or a woman’s coming-of-age story.

Buy it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Happy Midsummer! Plus Podcasting and Other Fun

Hi All! Hope you’re having a fabulous Midsummer.

I’m hoping I’m having a fabulous Midsummer too, especially since it’s my birthday, but I’m now starting to worry that I might have picked up a cold during my visit to the doctor yesterday. That could be either really bad news (because it could plunge me into a major crash), or really good news (there’s a school of thought that says that getting a cold is a sign of your immune system returning to normal after the ravages of Lyme disease). Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I’ve been pressing on with the podcast. In fact, I’ve finished podcasting Campus Confidential, and started Permanent PositionSo if you want to listen to me narrating my own books (with accompanying bird tweets–they make a tremendous racket around my house, and I’m not always successful at editing them out), you can do so on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Permanent Position Front Cover

And if you haven’t downloaded an ARC of Permanent Position yet, you can do so in the Fabulous, Feisty & Female Book Giveaway, going on now on StoryOrigin.

More Giveaways!

Mystery Shorts

It’s the last weekend to check out the Mystery Shorts Giveaway!

Psychological Thrillers

The Psychological Thriller Summer Book Bonanza is still going strong.

Summer Session Cover Small

And last but not least, you can pick up an ARC of my novella “Summer Session,” plus lots of other family-themed stories, in the It’s a Family Affair Giveaway.

Musings on the Alternative South: The Latest Installment in the Doctor Rowena Halley Series

Hello All!

Welcome to June, and what a damp June it is so far! At least here.

So, I have been a very busy girl recently. As a result, I am pleased to announce that, ready or not, here come free ARCs of “Summer Session,” the next installment in the Doctor Rowena Halley series. It’s a 30,000-word novella that takes place over the course of the first weekend in June, so now seems like the perfect time to start distributing it to advance readers.

Summer Session Cover Small

You can a free ARC of “Summer Session,” Book 2.5 in the series, here.

If the breathless pace of my releases is leaving you gasping, never fear: it will probably be many months before Trigger Warning, Book 3 in the series, is ready to come out. I think I currently have about 4,000 words of the first draft, which is better than no words, but a long way from done.

“Summer Session” was something I’d had in mind for a long time, and was a ton of fun to write. It’s set in Bloomington, Indiana, at the Summer Language Workshop, where I, like Rowena, used to teach. So as with all of the works in the series, it’s full of real-life experiences. The housing that the characters live in is mashups of places I have lived, and all the restaurants and cafes are places I used to go out to eat. And while the actual mystery in the story is fictional, the other cases of disappearing or murdered students that are mentioned in the story are real.

Another piece of personal backstory is the connection to what Rowena calls “the alternative South” in the story. I, like her, grew up in this other South, the one populated by both liberal hippies (like my and Rowena’s family), Mennonites and the Amish, and hardcore evangelicals. It’s a side of the South that a lot of people don’t seem to know about, or don’t really know or understand. Or at least, the part they perhaps don’t understand about it is how it’s a very heterogenous group, composed of people with wildly varying political and religious beliefs, who are united only by their desire to step out of the mainstream. Which means that the hardcore liberals (like me) are coexisting cheek-by-jowl with the hardcore conservative Christians, like many of my childhood friends.

While there’s not a lot we can agree on in many spheres, and I have never come over to their way of thinking, this does mean that we’ve had to learn to see each other as people. Furthermore, since we were all outside of the mainstream, we all saw alternatives to the regular American culture that most Americans take for granted. We were in a certain way foreigners in our native land.

Maybe that doesn’t sound attractive to many people, but the benefits of seeing things from the outside, of being a foreigner, are tremendous. Once you do that, you will appreciate the good things of your own culture all the more–and be all the more committed to improving the bad.

 

Sid Stark Podcast Image

In other news, I’m still going strong with my podcast! I’m recording audio versions of my stories as free podcast episodes, and I’ve done “Foreign Exchange” and am most of the way through Campus Confidential. You can take a listen on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

And here is this week’s selection of giveaways!

Psychological Thrillers

Get shivers up your spine with the Psychological Thriller Summer Book Bonanza!

June Crime Fighters

Fight the bad guys with the June Crime Fighters Promo!

Grab a free ARC of “Permanent Position”!

Hi Everyone!

Well, first of all, I have to thank everyone who participated by downloading, reading, reviewing, and everything else you did for the launch of Campus Confidential. It hit #21 in the overall Kindle Free Store, which is incredibly exciting!

Campus Confidential 21

Campus Confidential’s success is particularly gratifying given that Facebook banned my ad account over it. Apparently they think I’m a Russian troll. Other Russian friends have been having similar problems. Which, since we’re all oppositionists, just goes to show how much Facebook knows…

Second of all, I’m thrilled to announce that very early ARCs are available of Permanent Position, the next book in the series. The plot thickens with Rowena’s relationships with both Dima and Alex, and her brother John comes home and causes trouble. Plus a student wants her help getting his son back from Minsk–or maybe he just wants to stalk Rowena. And then there’s the job search. As usual, there’s a fair amount of real life mixed in with the fiction, including good times with high-stakes interviews. And what’s up with Fevronia the cat’s bad attitude?

Permanent Position Front Cover

You can grab a free Advance Review Copy of Permanent Position here.

I probably better stop here, since I’m in a state of near-collapse after walking 2 (TWO!) whole blocks this morning! For the first time in nearly three years! Take that, late-stage Lyme disease and toxic mold poisoning! But then I had to crawl up the stairs on my hands and knees when I got home. Hopefully I won’t crash too badly, but you never know. Good thing I’m stocked up on reading material.

Speaking of reading material, here’s this week’s selection of giveaways:

Mystery Shorts Banner

Dip into some mystery & suspense with this giveaway for short reads.

Mysteries & Thrillers in Exotic Locales

Last chance to check out the Mysteries & Thrillers in Exotic Locales Giveaway!

Get “Campus Confidential” FREE This Weekend! And Swing By and Say Hi at OWS CyCon!

Oh boy! It’s here! The official launch of Campus Confidential is here! Which means it’s free on Kindle May 17-21. Grab your free copy here. Oh, and a HUGE thank you to those of you who have already left reviews. You rock!

But wait, that’s not all! I’m also participating in OWS CyCon 2019, which is running May 17-19.

What, you ask, is OWS CyCon? Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like: a cyber con, where we all have virtual booths and mingle online. You can check out the Mystery/Suspense section here and my personal booth here. Do stop by and say hi!

Gosh, that’s so much excitement that I think I’ll have to stop there for now. Here are those links again:

To get Campus Confidential free on Kindle click here.

To visit the OWS CyCon site click here.

Mystery Shorts Banner

And here’s this week’s giveaway! Almost 150 short stories, novellas, and previews for fans of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense stories. Check it out here.

 

 

Check Out My Podcast! And This Week’s Selection of Giveaways

Greetings All!

I write to you in a somewhat tired and foggy state. As I may or may not have mentioned earlier, I’m seriously ill and have been for several years. A charming combination of late-stage Lyme disease, a nasty case of toxic mold poisoning, and various other problems. Did you know you can get a whole-body yeast infection? Now you do! It’s rather like being covered in nettle rash and sunburn while being sick with the flu while suffering from severe mental health issues. FYI: turns out our brains are largely controlled by our guts, and if the latter get overgrown with bad stuff like candida, you might, I don’t know, start having panic attacks every time you brush your teeth.

Anyway, the good news is that after several months of medical leave and scrupulously avoiding my mold-infested classroom building, I have gone from having to crawl up my stairs on my hands and knees, to being able to walk up them on two feet. Like Joni Mitchell said, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, and that is especially true for things like the ability to walk.

The bad news is that I’m currently going through a phase where I don’t feel like eating during the day (hurray, weight loss!), but wake up in the middle of the night feeling sick, sweaty, and ravenously hungry. Hopefully this is all part of the healing process. Although sleep deprivation is rarely good for health.

BUT on the other hand, I have the launch of Campus Confidential to look forward to! The official launch date is next week, to coincide with OWS CyCon 2019, when I will be doing a big blowout free giveaway, but the book is already up on Amazon so that advance copy readers can start posting their reviews. And so that I can have the several weeks it takes to wrestle a book page into something resembling decent shape, but mainly in order to gather reviews before the launch announcements start going out into the big wide world. A HUGE thank you to those of you who have already left reviews! And if you haven’t left one yet but would like to, and I sincerely hope that you would, the universal link to the book’s Amazon page is here. Helping a debut indie author on a small budget by dropping a couple of lines on her Amazon page is one of those little things that–who knows?–may make the world just that tiny bit better.

AND, in other news, I have still forged boldly ahead with a long-held desire of mine to turn my books into audiobooks. I’ve decided to start by making them freely available as podcasts, both because I like the audio of making my content as widely available as possible, and because I’m still in the very steep section of the learning curve when it comes to recording and editing sound files. So I’m sending my rather rough-and-ready podcasts out into the world for free right now. So far I’ve finished podcasting “Foreign Exchange,” and have started on Campus Confidential.

Foreign Exchange Podcast Image

The podcast is currently freely available on SoundCloud and iTunes.

“Foreign Exchange” was a lot of fun to write and narrate, although there may have been a few moments when I felt like chucking that my brand-new Blue Yeti microphone through the window. And there was some serious doubt and struggle over voiced/voiceless assimilation in compound words in Russian, which instigated a spirited Facebook debate. Like the other stories in the series, it’s fiction, but it’s heavily based on real-life stuff going on now, and strives above all for authenticity and verisimilitude, along with some action and romance 🙂

It’s set during the Euromaidan protests, and references a number of things that happened during the period in which it is set. (For an excellent overview of the situation in Ukraine and just how fucked-up it is, I strongly recommend Charap & Colton’s Everyone Loses). In the first chapter Dima, Rowena’s fiance, mentions Dmytro and Tetiana getting attacked; he’s talking about Kharkhiv protest organizier Dmytro Pylypets, who was stabbed 12 times on December 24, 2013, and Tetiana Chornovol, a journalist who was severely beaten on December 25. Later his editor asks him to write a story about Ukrainian nationalists getting assaulted; that’s a reference to the January 3, 2014 assault on Andriy Illenko and Sydir Kizin, representatives of the far-right Svoboda Party.

But it’s Chechnya that casts the longest shadow over the story. That and corruption, that eternal problem in Russia (and most other places, too). I can and no doubt will go into much greater detail about the Chechen conflict, since that’s my current area of research, but for the moment I’ll just say that a lot of that was drawn from eye-witness accounts of the conflict and the atrocities perpetrated on both sides. I strongly recommend Anna Politkovskaya‘s writings on the subject, particularly A Dirty War and A Small Corner of Hell, as well as Asne Seierstad’s The Angel of Grozny, for a journalist’s take on the topic. For stories by combatants, the best (and pretty much only) English-language books are Arkady Babchenko‘s One Soldier’s War for the Russian side, and Mikail Eldin’s The Sky Wept Fire: My Life as a Chechen Freedom Fighter for the Chechen side. Mikail has very graciously granted me and my students a number of interviews to discuss his book and his experiences as a prisoner of war who was detained and tortured by Russian forces, and I highly recommend his book for those wanting to read something authentically Chechen–and/or the authentic account of a guerrilla combatant and torture victim.

If all that has whetted your appetite, or you just want to hear me try to switch between English and Russian while getting into a fight to the death with GarageBand, here are those links again: SoundCloud and iTunes.

And, of course, it’s time for this week’s roundup of book giveaways! Check out the selection below:

Mysteries & Thrillers in Exotic Locales

The Mysteries & Thrillers in Exotic Locales Giveaway does exactly what it says on the box.

International Action Thrillers

The International Action Thrillers Giveaway has been extended to May 14!

May-Day's Murder and Mystery Tour

Get set up for some summer reading with the May-Day’s Murder and Mystery Tour!