The ExPat Returneth

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chocolate Fix: Scotch Cake and #bookgiveaway

Chocolate, just about everyone loves it. And, as Cande says in Dark Descent, “There’s no such thing as too much chocolate.” Here’s one of her favorite ways to get a chocolate fix. 

Scotch Cake

2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Flour  

Sift together in bowl.

In pan add:
1 stick Butter, 
½ Cup shortening
4 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 Cup Water

Bring to boil, then pour over flour/sugar mixture and mix well.


½ Cup Buttermilk
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

Mix well.

Pour into 9x13 pan and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


1 Stick Butter
4 Tablespoons Cocoa
6 Tablespoons Milk

Bring to boil and pour over 1 Box Powered Sugar. Add 1 Teaspoon Vanilla. Mix and pour over hot cake.

This recipe has been handed down for several generations now and while it’s a bit of work, the end result is well worth the effort, especially with a cold glass of milk.

Thanks for having me on you blog today.  

Jean Lauzier has always been a writer though life just recently settled enough so she can spend the time needed at the keyboard with her characters. Jean writes mystery and fantasy for the most part but enjoys playing with romance and western genres ever so often. When not writing, Jean spends her time trying to keep her Bonsai alive, learning Spanish and training the cat.

Her short story collection, Six Pack of Murder is available on Amazon.  She is president of the East Texas Writer’s Association. Learn more at Jean is also on Twitter @JeanLauzier and Facebook jeanlauzier2319. You can email her at jeanlauzier @ gmail. com (no spaces).

During the tour, Jean will be giving away at least three copies of Six Pack of Murder and three copies of the soon to be released Dark Descent. Be sure to leave a comment along with your email address to be entered in the drawing.  Check on December 11 to see if you won.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Graveyard of the Atlantic: Outer Banks, NC #bookgiveaway

My Missing Pieces Mysteries are set at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The area developed the name, Graveyard of the Atlantic, because of the many shipwrecks that happened in the coastal waters. Many wealthy captains, with ships burdened by gold and other precious materials, lost their lives here through the years.

The area is rich in folklore dating back to its past as the original English settlement in America in the 1500s. 

It’s the place where the first colony, created by Sir Walter Raleigh, became the Lost Colony when he returned several years later to find all of its occupants missing. No one has ever solved the mystery of what happened to those people.

The islands were cut off from the state’s mainland for years before the first bridge was built. Bankers, as the inhabitants of the island were known, had to fend for themselves. They were scavengers, in many cases, living by their wits to survive. 

The islands were virtually lawless, becoming the home waters for many pirates, Blackbeard being the most famous. Bankers also had their own share in tricking some ships to their doom in order to seize their cargo. 

Hurricanes, and wild horses left behind by the Spanish, left their mark on the island. The place is still filled with ghost stories and legends. 

It would be impossible as a writer not to feel your imagination touched by this remote spot. The Missing Pieces Mysteries, with protagonist Dae O’Donnell, makes use of this hauntingly beautiful area. 

Dae is the mayor of Duck, a real town of 500 people. She is a finder of lost things. Her gift was handed down by her grandmother. She can find lost keys, missing watches, and in A Haunting Vision, she must find a small girl who has been kidnapped.

The mayor of Duck, North Carolina, Dae O’Donnell, is a woman with a gift for finding lost things. When her boyfriend Kevin’s ex-fiancée Ann arrives in Duck looking for a second chance, Dae suddenly finds herself facing certain heartache. And while her romantic life is in shambles, she’s even more concerned by the sudden change in her gift. After touching a medallion owned by a local named Chuck Sparks, Dae is shocked when her vision reveals his murder—and a cry for help. Dae doesn’t know what to make of the dead man’s plea to “Help her,” until she has another vision about a kidnapped girl—Chuck’s daughter, Betsy. With a child missing, the FBI steps in to take over the case. But Dae can’t ignore her visions of Betsy, or the fact that Kevin’s psychic ex-fiancé might be the only person who can help find her.

Joyce Lavene writes bestselling mystery with her husband/partner Jim. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. She lives in rural North Carolina with her family, her cat, Quincy, and her rescue dog, Rudi. Visit her at, Facebook/ Twitter: @authorjlavene,

Win a copy of A Haunting Dream, the fourth book in the Missing Pieces Mysteries, by leaving your name at my blog:  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mountain Mysteries with Retirees #bookgiveaway

Unusual Novel Settings with Jean Henry Mead

A novel setting is important because it not only adds color to the plot; it serves as a secondary character. People against nature themes have created countless adventures, from ”Into the Wild” to “The Old Man and the Sea.” Stranding someone in the middle of the Sahara Desert is far more challenging than having a car stolen from a city street, so novel settings should be given considerable thought. 

 My amateur sleuths travel in a motorhome about the West and settings change with each book. Although Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty began solving murders in their California retirement village,  Dana inherited her sister’s mansion in Wyoming, a dramatic change of scenery. Both 60-year-old widows are feisty and determined to get to the bottom of each murder they encounter. They usually accept help from Dana’s journalist daughter and Sheriff Walter Grayson, who’s in love with Dana and pursues her throughout the Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series, no matter in which setting he finds her.

In my fourth and most recent novel, Gray Wolf Mountain, the setting is Wyoming’s Laramie Mountains, an area I know well because I live there on a small ranch with my husband and Australian Shepherd. I’ve also set a children’s mystery, Ghost of Crimson Dawn, on our ranch for the Hamilton Kids’ series. The possibilities are endless in the mountains and have provided me with the backdrop for a mystery which includes the unwarranted killings of wolves by trigger-happy hunters. I researched the problem here in Wyoming, and was shocked to learn that the situation exists in other states as well as Canada. Wolves are shot en masse from helicopters in the Yukon to increase the Caribou herds to 100,000, solely for the benefit of big game hunters. The Yukon is an unusual setting that few writers have ventured to write about.

I don’t go into graphic detail about the killings in the book, and because I live in sheep and cattle country, I briefly wondered why we should care about the wolves’ demise. Further research informed  me that by killing keystone predators—wolves and grizzly bears—big game animals increase in number and subsequently consume most of the vegetation that smaller animals and birds need to survive. In other words, massive wolf and bear kills unbalance nature. So wilderness settings affect every living creature on the planet.

My themes usually encompass social problems and I incorporate humor and light romance to prevent the storyline from becoming dreary. By setting each plot in an unusual area, it hopefully enhances reader awareness and interest by educating as well as entertaining them.
Gray Wolf Mountain is available in print and on Kindle.

I'll be giving away a copy of my recent release, Gray Wolf Mountain, fourth novel in the Logan & Cafferty series, to a visitor who leaves a comment during the blog tour. The winner will be announced at my blog site: December 11.

Jean Henry Mead is the author of 18 books and is a national award-winning photojournalist, published domestically as well as abroad. Her Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series consists of A Village Shattered, Diary of Murder, Murder on the Interstate and Gray Wolf Mountain. Her Hamilton Kids’ mysteries include Mystery of Spider Mountain and Ghost of Crimson Dawn. She also writes western historicals. Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel, has been her bestselling book to date, and will soon be followed by No Escape, The Sweetwater Tragedy. Her nonfiction books include interviews with celebrities and bestselling authors as well as history books, one of which served as a college textbook.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Murder in the Sierra Mountains #Bookgiveaway

Bear Creek in the Southern Sierra

Though my setting is not in a foreign country, I have a hunch it’s a place that most of your readers have never been—and maybe never heard about.

My Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series is set in the mountains—the Southern Sierra to be exact. The small town itself is called Bear Creek, named after the river that runs through it. Tempe is the resident deputy of the entire area. This is a fictional community, but it is similar to where I live.  Higher in the mountains is a stand of old growth Sequoias—huge trees that have been here for hundreds of years.

The Yokut Indians once hunted and fished all over this land. Now many live on a reservation tucked away in a beautiful valley surrounded my huge mountains. A casino has changed their way of life, lifting them out of poverty and given them the opportunity to open many other businesses. In my book, the reservation is the Bear Creek Reservation and the Indians, the Yanduchi. The tribe has many wonderful legends and stories and I’ve used some in different books in the series.

Tempe has left Bear Creek at times to investigate other murders. Once she traveled to the beach community of Oxnard and Eagle Rock (in Los Angeles) while trying to find out information about a widow and possible murderer. 

Another time, she was sent to the town of Crescent City on coast next to the Oregon border to speak with relative and friends of a murdered artist. There she met and heard about the Tolowa people and had a near encounter with Big Foot.

In another book she learned that the Indians close to home had their own version of Big Foot called the Hairy Man—and had more than a near encounter with him.

Tempe also has Indian roots though her education into Native American ways was lacking until she met Nick Two John, the owner of the local Inn. With each book, Tempe has learned more and more about her heritage including the spiritual side.

Do enter my giveaway contest for a copy of the previous Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, BEARS WITH US. Leave a comment and you're automatically entered. Include your email addy so I can get in touch with you should your name be selected at random. The winner will be announced on my blog ( on December 12, 2012. Good luck!

Raging Water  Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation of the murder of two close friends is complicated when relentless rain turns Bear Creek into a raging river. Homes are inundated and a mud slide blocks the only road out of Bear Creek stranding many—including the murderer.

Other books in the series: Deadly Trail, Deadly Omen, Unequally Yoked, Intervention, Wing Beat, Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire, Kindred Spirits, Dispel the Mist, Invisible Path, Bears With Us, Raging Water.

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Raging Water from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel us No Bells, the forth from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and follow her blog at
Marilyn borrows a lot from where she lives in the Southern Sierra for the town of Bear Creek and the surrounding area.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cotton Candy and Murder @RionnaMorgan #bookgiveaway

*** Giveaway Alert***
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Joining us today is Rionna Morgan. Growing up out West, Rionna Morgan followed her love of horses to the rodeo arena and her love of English to the classroom and to writing. She has been looking forward to sharing her stories with you her whole life. Rionna is a founding member of Montana Romance Writers; she reads as much as she can possibly hold, and she loves most of all combining the chilling edge of a knife with the sweet surrender of romance. Rionna shares her home in Missoula, Montana with her husband, her four children and the mountains outside her window.

In her just released romantic suspense Love’s Justice, the characters Sarah and Justin attend a street fair in Eugene, Oregon where cotton candy is a treat they enjoy. Rionna wants to share a video of a cotton candy pro…didn’t know there was such a thing!
  Look for Love’s Justice anywhere online books are sold!
Buy on Amazon
Sarah Johnson is a profiler in Portland, Oregon. She thinks she has successfully moved beyond the pain of her mother’s death 15 years ago. Her mother, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, died in an Alabama women’s prison while on an undercover assignment. However, when Justin Breslow shows up at her office claiming to be an investigative reporter from Dallas wanting to do a feature on her mother, Sarah realizes the pain has just been dormant. She agrees to work with Justin; she’s always wanted to retrace her mother’s final days, but she has no intention of sharing family secrets with a perfect stranger. Sarah and Justin unravel a plot more complex and sinister than they expected. They pursue a trail of  deceit and corruption to a women’s prison in Alabama, a centuries old hotel in Georgia and a family ranch in Texas. Nothing is simple or as it seems. Along the way, Sarah tries not to fall for Justin’s Southern charm, and Justin fights to resist Sarah’s beauty and sharp intellect. This unlikely duo will find more than they ever hoped to—in the prison, in their own backyards, and in each other’s arms. Whether they survive to enjoy their discoveries is the final mystery. 

Excerpt from Love's Justice “What if I didn’t go as a snoopy reporter?” Justin closed the small space, successfully trapping Sarah between the refrigerator and the counter. “And just went as a man?” With a smooth shift of his body, he slid into an amazing fit against her. Sarah drew in a quick breath. The air-cooled kitchen suddenly became a furnace. His hands gripped the counter on either side of her. His face was so close she could see her reflection in his eyes. “That is exactly what I don’t need.” “Don’t need, but maybe want?” Justin moved closer. Their lips were just a breath apart. “Don’t,” Sarah breathed. Her heart rapped hard in her chest. Justin smiled, enjoying watching her eyes cloud to darkness. This was going to be easy. “Don’t what.” His lips brushed hers. “Tell me. Don’t what?” Sarah fisted her hands in his shirt. To pull him closer or push him away, she wasn’t exactly sure. Panic and need and she didn’t know what all, tumbled around in her stomach. Instead of taking the time to decipher what to do, she just acted and tugged him to her. He caught her bottom lip, soft and warm, between his teeth. He felt her body give against his. He savored the taste of her, the warmth. “I’m going with you,” he whispered against her lips. She nodded her head, but his words never registered. My plan is working perfectly, he thought as he pulled her deeper into the kiss. 

Below are ways to catch up with Rionna. Drop on by…she loves the company!
Please be invited to visit my blog to Enter to Win a Piece of Montana! Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads What is your favorite treat from a fair or downtown gathering.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Mystery We Write Blog Tour Begins November 26. You'll find me at the following blogs chatting about writing, books, and Cherry Tucker related bits on these days. I'm offering a e-book giveaway of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY for some lucky commenter who follows my tour and leaves a comment at the blog sites. The more  blogs you comment on, the greater your chance of winning! I'll announce the winner here on December 11.

Here's the schedule below. While I'm away, I'll be hosting various mystery authors on the Expat Returneth. Many will share their international and local adventures with you.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Neither Shaken nor Stirred: Sullivan #CharacterInterview from DINERS, DIVES & DEADENDS

Today we welcome Sullivan, a good-looking gangster from DINERS, DIVES & DEADENDS, the first of the Rose Strickland mysteries. The second mystery, LAST DINER STANDING, is out December 3! I've got 5 seemingly random questions for Sullivan and a fun excerpt for you!

1. If I had to write up a singles ad for you, what would it say?

Hello, Ms. Reinhart. May I call you Larissa? Um, you can call me whatever you want. Can you tell your bodyguard to stop cracking his knuckles?

Tell me, Larissa, do I look like a man who needs to rely on a singles ad? But I’ll play. Hmm, how about: Self-made man with interests in various businesses looking for an attractive, confident woman who can keep up with him. In every way. 

Wow. Is it getting warm in here? Moving on...

2. You’re invited to a party. When you arrive, the house is dark, the driveway deserted. You know the address and time are correct and when you try to call the host, you realize you're in a wireless pocket. No bars. What do you do?

First of all, I rarely go to parties unless I’m hosting. This scenario wouldn’t happen at one of my parties. Frankly, the whole thing looks like a setup to me. 

And if I were a paranoid man, and this is all hypothetical you understand, I’d check out the surrounding area, remove my weapon, and cautiously check the back door while my business associate tried the front. If the back door was locked, and again, I personally would never do something like this, but if it was locked, I’d break in and search the house. If anything untoward had occurred, I’d retrace my footsteps and leave the place exactly as I’d found it. No one would ever know I’d been there.    

And now I'm scared again...

3. Shark tank or Grizzly bear hand to hand combat?

I’m a numbers man and I think I’d have better odds with the Grizzly. I might be able to take him under the right circumstances. 

 Good choice, I think.

4. What does the “ideal date” mean to you?

It wouldn’t be an event, it’d be a person. A person who can hold a conversation, has an interesting perspective on things. A person who may not like what I do, but understands it and accepts it. She’d be ideal to me.
That's actually kind of sweet! Ok, sorry I said that.

5. Who’s the flyest chick around and what makes her so fly?

The flyest chick? Well, Rose Strickland is certainly the most interesting woman I know. She can handle herself. She’s stupidly loyal, fiercely independent. And she has these blue-green eyes that look more green than blue when she’s angry. She’s…like I said before, she’s interesting.

Let’s play Madlibs, (but keep it fairly clean for the kiddos):

day of the week: Friday
name: Bertha

place: Idaho
verb: swim
noun: dog
noun: ocean

Fridays were known for two things at Bertha’s Idaho: we swim lots of extra dog and the ocean sucked. 

Good one! Haven't laughed that hard since 5th grade when I did Madlibs for real. The real sentence? From the first line of DINERS, DIVES & DEADENDS. 

Mondays were known for two things at Ma’s Diner: we poured lots of extra coffee and the tips sucked.

What a great opening line! Want to know more about DINERS, DIVES & DEADENDS, the first in the Rose Strickland Mysteries that features the scary Sullivan? 
As a struggling waitress and part-time college student, Rose Strickland’s life is stalled in the slow lane. But when her close friend, Axton, disappears, Rose suddenly finds herself serving up more than hot coffee and flapjacks. Now she’s hashing it out with sexy bad guys and scrambling to find clues in a race to save Axton before his time runs out. 
With her anime-loving bestie, her septuagenarian boss, and pair of IT wise men along for the ride, Rose discovers political corruption, illegal gambling, and shady corporations. She’s gone from zero to sixty and quickly learns when you’re speeding down the fast lane, it’s easy to crash and burn.  

You'll be happy to know the 2nd in the series, LAST DINER STANDING, is out December 3, 2012 from Henery Press!

Terri L. Austin lives in Missouri with her funny, handsome husband and a high maintenance peekapoo.  She’s the author of Diners, Dives and Dead Ends—a Rose Strickland Mystery. She loves to hear from readers. Find her on Twitter, FB,, Goodreads and Henery Press. She and her writer friends have a book chat every Wednesday on Little Read Hens. Check it out and join in the conversation!

And here's the excerpt from DINERS, DIVES & DEADENDS featuring the delicious Sullivan. Have I told you how much I love this book (& Sullivan)? 

It was the voice.  The one belonging to the mystery man from the woods.    

I gulped and stood there, too scared to move forward, too shocked to turn around and run.  The man at the door snatched my arm and pulled me into the apartment, slamming the door behind me.  He plucked the keys from my hand and tossed them on the bistro table.  

I sidled to the left, with my back against the wall.  I kept him in my peripheral view while I studied the man standing in the middle of my apartment.  He was the exact opposite of Scarface.  His blue-black hair was combed away from his perfect face.  His gold eyes—not golden-brown, just gold—glittered in the faint glow of my yard sale flamingo lamp.  With light honeyed skin stretched over strong cheekbones, he was beautiful—like fallen angel beautiful.  He wore a dark suit and overcoat.  He scared me a lot more than the other guy.  It was obvious he was in charge and Scarface was just there for back up.

I didn’t know what he wanted or if he planned on hurting me, but I made up my mind then and there that I wouldn’t go down without a fight.  And I wouldn’t let him see how afraid I was either.  But between you and me, I think I wet my pants just a little. 

“Hello, Rosalyn.  Oh wait, you like to be called Rose.  Please, have a seat.”  He gestured to the futon.

 “Thanks, but I think I’ll stand, you know, since it’s my apartment and all.”  
I felt a massive paw on my shoulder.  “Sit,” Scarface said.  His voice sounded like crunching gravel.

I twisted out of his grasp and my backpack slid to the floor.  I side-stepped away from him, bumping my hip into the closet doorknob.  Since I was scared shitless, the pain barely registered. 
The boss waved two fingers and shook his head.  “Let’s be civil, Henry.  Why don’t you wait in the car?”  

As soon as Scarface Henry left, the mystery man began prowling around my apartment.  He slid his fingertips across the bistro table and snagged my keys, twirling them around one finger.  Then he paused and looked at the red rose keychain Axton had given me as a joke.  “Original.”  He dropped them back on the table. 

Crossing my arms to hide my shaking hands, I glared at him.  “What do you want?”  I kept hold of my bravado, but my knees were knocking so hard I thought I might topple over.   

He walked to the kitchenette and looked at the paper hanging on my refrigerator.  Scotty had colored a picture of me—my head was ten times the size of my stick body.  The mystery man tapped the drawing.  “I can see the resemblance.”  Then he strolled to the cluster of cheap frames arranged on top of my dresser.  He picked up the picture of Roxy and me.  We had our arms thrown around each other and were making smootchie faces at the camera.  He put it down and moved to the next photo.  The one of Scotty when he was about ten minutes old.  I rushed toward him and tried to grab it, but he held it just out of reach.

“Put it down.”  I grabbed the soft woolen sleeve of his overcoat and pulled, but he didn’t move.  I peered up at his face, and he stared back at me.  Our gazes locked and held for a moment.    

He leaned toward me.  He smelled citrusy and spicy at the same time, like oranges and sandalwood.  “I want my property.”  His voice was silky steel.      

I let go of his arm and stepped back.  “I…,” my voice cracked.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play games, Rose.”  He set the photo down and walked to the futon, gracefully folding himself onto it, his arm spread along the back.  “You’ll lose.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Expat Author Shares Life in the Panama Canal Zone

Today we welcome writer and returned expat Myrna Erickson and her story of growing up in the Panama Canal Zone.

I was raised in a multi-cultural environment in an American colony overseas, the Panama Canal Zone, for my first 17 years. This gave me the background for my first book, “Onward Peregrinos.”  It began with my mother’s love story with my father and ended with a 320 page novel that took place in Central and South America and the U.S.
Following the Boynton family through adventures in the jungles of Panama and Ecuador, and watching them build their lives in these unique settings, gives the reader an insight into the culture of these countries.

I am one of a unique breed of American citizens, born in the Panama Canal Zone of an American parent working for the Panama Canal Company. The government of Panama recognizes us as citizens of Panama and we therefore have dual citizenship, as Americans and Panamanians. This has many advantages in traveling freely back and forth regarding Visas, etc. It also comes with many incentives to lure us former residents back to the land where many of us were born. Some of these being in the form of discounts throughout the country and medical benefits.

Panama city, itself, in the twenty first century is far removed from Panama city of the twentieth century. In just twelve years it has gone from a country of two or three story buildings to skyscrapers that compete with those of San Francisco or Chicago. The first of these amazing and unique steel buildings were Bank buildings built along the ocean front, followed by the Trump Towers and other tall apartment buildings. Their setting overlooking the Bay of Panama is much like the skyscrapers surrounding Lake Michigan in Chicago. These skyscrapers are called Rasca Cielo (scratch the sky) by Panamanians, but this same skyline has become unrecognizable to ex-patriots like myself, or ex-pats as we are called.

What once was a country of native huts outside of the city limits and in the interior, has become a crowded urban city of taxis, buses and reconstruction. It is also the number one tourist country in the world, according to some sources.  Most of the major cruise ships stop there for a day allowing passengers to transit the canal and shop for a few hours. Of course, this isn’t enough time to understand the culture of it’s citizens and just enough time to feel the heat of the tropics. Consequently, to understand Panama, one should plan at least a week in this small country.  During this time a few days in the interior is a must to see the native culture and enjoy the coolness of it’s mountain areas of flowers and streams.

In order to understand a land with jungles, plains and volcanic mountains, one needs to think of the lowlands as being tropical, with it’s accompanying heat and bugs, the plains as cattle land, and the mountains as restful vacation spots. What I have failed to mention thus far are all the beach resorts in between where hotels and amenities are found. I purposely did not mention them as beaches are everywhere in the world, but learning about the fun loving people of the cities and the simple lives of the natives of the interior is a much better use of one’s time.

Grave Dangers is a suspenseful murder mystery set in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  David witnesses the murder of his mother, and from that shocking moment is forced to hide in the woods near his former home. Plotting his revenge until he is old enough to carry out his plan, he survives for five years alone, avoiding the suspicions of the nearby villagers. When he saves Andrew's life, he struggles with his continuing quest for revenge. Andrew's family is drawn into a plot to bring the murderer to justice.

Lost in the Andes--New Release *
Not Again, Lyle--Biography, Humor *
Nalani of Hawaii-Novel *
Sense and Sentiments-Poetry
Grave Dangers--Mystery/Suspense* 
Onward Peregrinos--Biography/Romance/Adventure*  

Myrna Ericksen
As a mother of six, three boys and three girls, my life was an open book, so I decided why not write one.  I am currently writing two books which, when finished, will be my 9th and 10th books.  My favorite genres are historical/romance and mystery/suspense. I draw on my numerous trips across the country, and travels in Central, South America, Italy and Spain to make my settings true to life. I moved outside of writing novels to write “Not Again, Lyle,” a comedy about a real life unforgettable character I had watched grow up.

While raising my six children I taught Great Books at their schools, religious education at their church, I was a den mother, teen club and 4-H leader, museum docent for the Historical Museum in San Jose, volunteered in food kitchens, and performed for the elderly as a clown.  When not writing books, I enjoy being with family and friends, gardening, playing my guitar and piano, singing at rest homes and hanging out with my husband.

Besides writing books and poetry, I collect American History memorabilia which I have been gathering for many years. My vision is to honor those leaders and citizens who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of our great country, the United States of America.  To this end my collection was displayed in our new city library for all to enjoy during the year 2011.  I also collect unique Vintage clothing, with plans to have a Vintage fashion show towards raising funds for the poor. That’s all folks!

Friday, November 9, 2012

LOWCOUNTRY BOIL Character Interview: Boats, Crazy Debs, and Madlibs

Today we're welcoming Blake, brother to PI Liz Talbot and chief of police on the low country island of Stella Marris. Blake took a job as a patrol officer in Stella Maris right out of college because it was one of only two openings in town, and he wasn’t qualified to teach Jazzercise. Five years later, Charlie Jacobs retired and the town council offered Blake the chief’s job. He was flabbergasted. He may be an accidental police chief, but he's a good one. You take care of what you love.

Let's see how Blake does under a little boil of our own.

1. You live on a boat. What's up with that?

I like to keep things simple. If you have a lot of space, you accumulate
stuff. Boats are small, less room for stuff. Women tend to want to help you
decorate if you have a house. They come to visit once or twice and start
leaving things "by accident." I spot that kind of thing real quick and can
nip it in the bud on a boat. And I like living on the water. Anytime I want,
I can motor out to my favorite fishing spot.

2. If I had to write a singles ad for you, what would it say?

It would say, "Forget this one ladies. He lives on a boat." I got nothing
against women, you understand. I just don’t want another one trying to
polish me like some damn-fool diamond in the rough. I've got a mother, two
sisters, and an administrative assistant all working on that. I figure
that's about all the polishing I can handle. Tell you what, you could put
this: If you like fishing, would be okay with a man who works all hours and
plays in a band if he gets a few spare minutes, and you would be interested
in living on a houseboat, give Blake a call. Oh, and "must have high
tolerance for crazy family." Be sure you put that in there.

3. Pirate or drunk debutante having a bad hair day?

Say what? Are you asking which one I'd rather hang out with? That would
definitely be the pirate. Debs are high maintenance to begin with, but one
with a snoot-full and cranky to begin with on account of she doesn't like
her hair? That'd be any man's nightmare right there.

4. You’re invited to a party. When you arrive, the house is dark, the
driveway deserted. You know the address and time are correct and when you try to call the host, you realize you’re in a wireless pocket. No bars. What do you do?

Well, if it's within a few weeks of my birthday, I ring the bell and act
surprised. Otherwise, I'd do a perimeter search--look around the yard, in
the windows. If there's still no sign of anyone, I'd approach the front
door, stand at one side and ring the bell. If no one answered, I'd try the
door. If it was locked, most likely I'd drive back a mile or so until I had
signal and try calling. If no one answered, and I couldn't reach anyone else
who was supposed to be there, I'd call for backup and a warrant and we'd
have a look inside the house. My suspicions would be sufficiently raised to
believe someone was hurt inside.

5. If your home island of Stella Maris voted to become a "dry town," you would...

That's about as likely as folks from Jupiter relocating to Stella Maris and
parking their spaceships at the marina next to my boat. In the unlikely
event such a thing happened, my biggest worry would be protecting the folks
that voted that in, and keeping the peace during the recall elections.

Ha! I guess you'd be forewarned enough to hide your stock of Guinness anyway. Although on a boat, you're options for storage are probably pretty limited. 

Let's play Mad Libs! Give me the following words (keeping it clean for the kiddos):
pet’s name:    Rastus
verb:           pick (as in, pick guitar strings)
holiday:         Memorial Day
gerund verb:  grilling
architectural term:   beam
location: beach
favorite alcohol: tequila

And your Mad Lib sentence is:

I found Rastus that Tuesday morning right where he picks every Memorial Day at eight:
grilling through the beam of the beach, the island’s tequila.

Ok that was really silly! I stole that sentence from Susan's first line in this excerpt from LOWCOUNTRY BOIL. Learn a little more about Blake in his natural surroundings in the excerpt below. First a little about LOWCOUNTRY BOIL and her author, Susan M. Boyer.

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her. 

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Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, Relief Journal, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient and an RWA Golden Heart® finalist.

I found Blake that Tuesday morning right where he is every morning at
eight: walking through the front door of The Cracked Pot, the island’s 
diner. I slipped behind him and followed him inside.

Moon Unit Glendawn owns the place. She greeted him as the door 
closed behind us. “Well, good morning, Blake. How are you this bright
sunny day?”

If she had been any more bright and sunny herself, she would have 
spontaneously combusted on the spot, leaving us to pour our own coffee.
“Doing great, Moony. Could use some coffee.” Blake hung his cap on 
the coat tree.

Moon Unit caught sight of me behind him. “Well, Liz Talbot, as I 
live and breathe. Welcome home.” She rushed out from behind the 
counter to hug my neck. Moon and I graduated from Stella Maris High the
same year.

Blake turned and stared at me as if he’d been hoping my presence in 
town was just a bad dream and was now dismayed by the contrary.
Moon swooped back to the other side of the counter and went about 
the business of getting us fed. “Coffee. Coming right up. Hash browns or

“Grits,” Blake said. “With red-eye gravy.”

My mouth watered. “Me, too, please. And could I have my eggs 
scrambled with cheese?”

“Sure thing.” Moon tore off the ticket and spun it back to the kitchen.

This was the first time I’d been inside since Moon Unit bought the 
former Stella Maris Diner and transformed it into something that was 
part small-town diner and part tropical café. She’d kept the white 
and pink ceramic-tiled floor but added skylights and live plants. 
The most striking feature was the far wall. It was paneled in white 
beaded-board and cov-ered in photographs.

Blake slid onto a stool and I took the one to his right.

I leaned in to him and spoke in an almost whisper. “When’s the last 
time you spoke to Merry?” I reached into my purse for my hand 
sanitizer and squeezed a generous dollop onto my hand. I offered it to
Blake, but he waved it off.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Day before yesterday? Why?”

Before I could launch into how our sister lost her mind, Moon walked 
over and poured our coffee. “I hear you got trouble brewing.” She 
replaced the pot on the warmer and slid onto the stool behind the 
counter. Her inquisitive hazel eyes jumped from me to Blake and back 
as she slid the cream and sugar within reach.

“What?” Blake measured precise amounts of cream and sugar into his

She leaned closer and lowered her voice, “A little bird told me 
Merry’s gonna build an orphanage over on Devlin’s Point.”

Blake stirred his coffee. I gulped mine.

“If you ask me,” she said, “there are way better places for an

First hurricane blows through here, all the orphans will have to go 
stay at a shelter.”

Moon leaned closer, in imminent danger of sliding off her stool. 
“That is, if you could get permission to put one up there in the 
first place, which everybody knows is never gon-na fly.”

“Camp.” Blake took a long sip of coffee.

“What?” Moon Unit and I both drew back and squinted at him.

He set down his cup. “It’s not an orphanage. It’s a camp for 
inner-city kids. Not a bad idea, you ask me.”

Moon looked horrified, and for possibly the first time in her life, 
was absolutely speechless.

I wasn’t. “Is there an outbreak of crazy here?”

“Relax,” he said. “It’s not what you think.”

Moon crossed her arms. “I’m just tellin’ you, that’s not what Tammy 
Sue Lyerly was tellin’ over at Phoebe’s Day Spa.”

“Yeah, well, more than hair gets twisted over there,” Blake said.

Coffee sloshed out of my cup as I sat it down. “I got the story 
straight from Merry, and—”

Blake put his hand on my leg and squeezed and I shut up.

No one squeezed Moon Unit’s leg. “Everyone is still in shock over 
poor Emma’s untimely departure for the hereafter, and she must be 
spinning in her grave already.”

Blake pinched the bridge of his nose. “Look, some kids’ll camp on 
the beach for a couple of weeks each sum-mer.”

Clearly Blake had missed the part about the kids being felons from 
rival gangs. And the high-rise, state-of-the-art facility. Merry 
gave Blake, Mamma, and me each a different story. What the hell was she
up to?

Moon Unit grabbed our breakfast from the ledge and handed us hot 
plates. I let the first smoky bite of biscuit soaked in red-eye 
gravy melt on my tongue.

“Eh law.” Moon shook her head slowly, switching sub-jects. “I don’t 
think my mamma will ever get over finding Emma Rae like that.”

“I need a little more red-eye,” Blake said.

We had less than a minute of peace while Moon went around to the 
kitchen and came back with a bowl of gravy. She chattered on, and we 
both ate way faster than usual. Half a dozen bites later, I realized 
I’d missed a chapter in Moon Unit’s monologue.

At least she was carrying on about her family and giving ours a rest.

“Speaking of Little Elvis, I’m surprised he’s not following you 
around already this morning, Blake. Isn’t he late?”

Blake drained his coffee cup. “Since Elvis doesn’t work for me, he 
can hardly be late.”

“Well, he sure thinks he does,” Moon said. “Whizzing around with a 
walkie-talkie in one hand, steering his bike with the other. 
Patrolling, he calls it. All day long. Some of these smart-assed 
teenagers around here have been making fun of him again.”

Little Elvis Presley Glendawn was two years younger than me, but was 
developmentally challenged.

Blake looked at her and nodded once. “I’ll handle it.”

“He’s smarter than those punks in every way that matters. He just 
won’t grow up much more inside, is all.” She softened and gave Blake a
grateful smile.

“Probably gets on your nerves a lot, following you around, reporting 
in and all that. It’s real good of you to put up with it like you do.”

“Sometimes he tells me things I need to know.” He grinned. “Kinda 
like you do.”

He ducked as she swatted at him with the morning pa-per.
“Heck, Moony,” he said, “with you and Elvis around, I could cut a 
position from the patrol force.”

“I don’t know why I put up with you, I declare I don’t,” Moon said.
Blake looked at me. I drained my coffee cup as I stood. He laid a 
ten on the counter. “Breakfast was great, as always.”

“It was fabulous,” I added as we moved towards the door.
Outside, underneath the pink and white striped awning, I inhaled a 
therapeutic lungful of salt air. I looked at my brother. “What 
exactly do you mean, ‘It’s not what you think?’”

Blake took his time settling his cap on his head. He massaged his 
neck with one hand and gestured at me with the other. “I’m not 
getting in the middle of this.”

“You already are.”

“Just talk to Merry, okay?”

“I already have.”

“Try again. Tell her I said she’d better tell you the truth or I 
will. And remember, she means well. That’s all I’m saying. Except 
this: stock up on Guinness—Extra Stout.”


“For years, this family has done everything short of dragging you 
home by your hair. Now, when you should have stayed in Greenville, here
you are.”

His eyes locked on mine. “You’ll be seeing a lot of me. And I drink 
Guinness now.”