Powerful Lyrics—and a Giveaway!

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He has also worked on scripts for motion pictures and domestic television in his home country.

He’s a member of The Crime Writers Association, the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor for their official e-zine The Big Thrill.

POISONED TEARS is his third novel in English and has already garnered positive reviews and recommendations. Jon Land calls it “a splendid piece of crime noir,” while Douglas Preston says it’s a first class roller-coaster ride.

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Music is an essential part of my life. At one point, I blogged about how my life is so much like a movie I even have the soundtrack! I guess it must be because of my passion for stories—which would also explain why I write—but I find some of the messages delivered by lyrics as fascinating and quite powerful. As writers, I truly believe there’s much to be learned from powerful lyrics that are able to encapsulate an idea, a thought, or a feeling in very few words. Please allow me to share some of my favorites with you.

“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette

Does she know how you told me you’d hold me | Until you died, till you died |But you’re still alive.

This complaint to a former lover about a broken promise is exceptionally powerful. To me, it speaks of how easy we make promises we can’t keep and how the spurned lover feels when realizing the deception.

Along the same lines, you can also feel the unrequited love in Adele’s hit “Rolling in the Deep” when she claims:

Think of me in the depths of your despair.

Or take a moment to thing about “Numb” by Linkin Park

Every step that I take is another mistake to you.

Here’s another complaint to a lover. This time includes a feeling of self-defeat that is both disturbing and sad.

But not all songs are about lovers current or old, some are just plain stories that even include a moral. Look for instance at Kenny Roger’s song “Coward of the County” where a father imparts the following advice to his son:

Promise me, son, | Not to do the things I’ve done | Walk away from trouble if you can |

Now it don’t mean you’re weak | If you turn the other cheek |

And I hope you’re old enough to understand | Son, you don’t have to fight to be a man

After a lifetime of being obedient to his father’s last wishes, the man comes to find his loved-one raped by three other men. What choice does he have?

“Papa, I should hope you understand |Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man”

Almost every time I get to check the news I see nothing but trouble in all parts of the world. Invariably, this line from the tune “The Miracle” by Queen comes to mind with a little bit of hope as it reminds me these news are not so new anyway but also, that there’s hope in some of the other things that are permanent:

Super powers always fighting, |But Mona Lisa just keeps on smiling.


To enter the drawing for an
copy of Poisoned Tears,
leave a comment
below. The
winning name will be drawn
sday evening, April 25th.

Designing Dogs and Cozies

Before she let her writing go to the dogs, Susan J. Kroupa won awards for her fiction from such places as the Utah Arts Council Contest, Writers of the Future and the Deep South Writing Competition. Her stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy and in a variety of anthologies, including Bruce Coville’s Shapeshifters. Her non-fiction publications include features about environmental issues and Hopi Indian culture for The Arizona Republic, High Country News, American Forests, and the Bristol Herald-Courier.

Now, she is best known for her Doodlebugged Mysteries, a gentle cozy series featuring the irrepressible but obedience-impaired sniffer-dog, Doodle.

Susan lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwestern Virginia with her husband and a trouble-prone labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums. You can learn more about her on her webpage http://www.susankroupa.com or by subscribing to her newsletter (where you can sometimes get free stories and other cool stuff) at http://eepurl.com/3PUR1.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I didn’t invent Doodle, the wise-cracking, bed-bug-detecting narrator of the Doodlebugged mysteries, out of whole cloth—or, um fur. It happens that many of Doodle’s more eccentric traits came from observation of Shadow, a labradoodle we adopted as a filthy, flea-bitten puppy on a frigid November afternoon in 2008. Abandoning all the wise advice in “how-to-get-a dog” books, we impulsively came home with a pup we knew little about because we had a chance to get him for free.

I had wanted a labradoodle ever since I first began reading about Australian labradoodles a few years earlier, but knew I could never afford one. Back then, when I first started gazing adoringly at photos of labradoodle puppies, the breed, or rather hybrid, wasn’t as easy to find as it is today, where often unscrupulous or at least sketchy practices by amateur breeders hoping to make a quick buck on the breed-mix du jour—aussiedoodles, goldendoodles, schnauserdoodle (schnoodles), etc.—have flooded the market and sometimes the animal shelters with “designer dogs” of unproven health histories and personality traits.


But the first designer dogs came out of a practical desire to create non-shedding and mostly hypoallergenic service dogs.  Developed by Wally Cochran (beginning in 1989) Australian Labrador retrievers (generally calmer and smaller than American Labrador retrievers) were crossed with standard poodles. These dogs were designed to be service dogs for people who are allergic to golden retrievers, German shepherds and other typical service breeds. The goal was to pair a non-shedding, more hypoallergenic coat (i.e., a poodle’s coat) with a service-dog personality (i.e. a  Labrador retriever’s.)

At this point, you might say, “Hey, poodles already have hypoallergenic, non-shedding coat. Why go to all the trouble to create a hybrid?”

Because poodles, with their quick intelligence and their sense of what I can only call entitlement are not always the most biddable dogs. Biddable, in dog training terms, means compliant, tractable, easily led or taught. While some poodles can be biddable, many are more independent than the breeds most often used as service dogs.

So the Labrador part of the labradoodle equation was to make the breed more user-friendly. The Mac version rather than the PC. Or the PC version rather than the Linux, depending upon your software biases. That’s what Wally Cochran was looking for in 1989 when he began crossing the two breeds in search of a hypoallergenic service dog. (Cochran has stated in recent years that he now regrets starting the whole designer-dog trend. “There are a lot of unhealthy and abandoned dogs out there,” he said in 2014, referring to all puppy mills spawned by the designer dog craze.)

Labradoodles were supposed to be calm, clever, biddable, and—an added bonus thrown in for free—cute. Really cute.

I got the clever and cute part in my labradoodle bundle. Calm? Let’s just say that during the first two years of his life our nicknames for Shadow included “the barkster,” “boing-boing,” “hyper-drive,” “motor-mouth” and, well, you get the idea. And as for biddable? Excuse me while I wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes. I think if he could have talked during our training sessions, his most-spoken phrases would have been, “Why should I do that?” Or, “Make it worth my while.” Or “Are you crazy?” Certainly his eyes often seemed to say such things.

As one of Doodle’s trainers complains in the first book, Doodle, (and certainly his inspiration, Shadow) is “too much doodle and not enough labra.”

It was during those first few years, which were interesting in the Chinese curse sort of sense, that the idea of creating a mystery series narrated by an obedience-impaired, service-dog flunkee was born. Doodle was the obvious name for such a dog, and he needed what service-dog trainers often euphemistically call a “career change.” But to what? The short answer is that I decided to make him a bed-bug detecting dog. (Why I picked bed bugs, which have a deservedly high “ew” factor, is a tale for another blog.)

The result turned out to be the Doodlebugged mysteries, aimed at fans of gentle mysteries and dog lovers of all ages. Best-selling author Virginia Smith (The Goose Creek Series) has called the books “the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and laugh-out-loud doggy observations.”

You can learn more about Doodle and Shadow by subscribing to my newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/3PUR1 or visiting my webpage at https://www.susankroupa.com. No spam, I promise, just occasional updates, and all newsletter subscribers can get a free copy of my story about a fiercely loyal black & tan hound, “Gabriel & Mr. Death.”

Want to meet Doodle? Bed-Bugged is currently free at most ebook retail sites: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Kobo iTunes

Or, see what he’s up to in Ruff-Housed, where stolen dogs, animal rights activists, and a big demonstration by the White House make Doodle wonder if he’s bitten off more than he can chew. On Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ iTunes ◊ Kobo


For the Love of a Tree

Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series published by the Alibi digital imprint of Penguin Random House. A Maggie Dove story will be published in an upcoming issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. She teaches for Gotham Writers in Manhattan and lives in a small village on the Hudson River. You can find out more about her at http://www.susanjbreen.com

I teach fiction writing in New York City and one of my favorite writing exercises is to ask my students to make a list of their obsessions. You can only imagine some of the responses I get! But it’s a fun exercise because everyone is obsessed with something. There are those who are concerned about world peace, and those who are concerned about collecting sculptures made out of macaroni. (That student might have been teasing me.) But the fact is that all of us, writers or otherwise, are obsessed with something and this is what makes us unique. When writing a novel, I think it’s important to tap into those obsessions. It gives your writing energy.

My own list of obsessions would be topped by faith, family, friends and dogs (cockapoos), but hovering around number 8, would be trees. Since I was a girl I’ve been enthralled by trees. Possibly because I grew up in a very flat section of Long Island which was barren of trees except for some mimosas. Then one year my parents sent me to camp in upstate New York and I was floored to discover forests. The very first thing I ever wrote was a poem about a birch tree.

I’m partial to all trees, but am especially fond of oaks. There’s something very democratic about an oak tree. I like the way its branches always seem to be open in welcome. I love the shade they provide in summer, and the way they loom over me when I wander around the oak forest near where I live. (Though you do have to watch those acorns in the fall!)  This time of year, my oak trees are an almost neon green with their little leaf clusters. All in all, a very agreeable tree.

When I started working on the first of my Maggie Dove mysteries, I needed to think of a reason for the murder to take place. This to me is the hardest part of writing a mystery because I’m not an especially vicious person and you have to dig deep within yourself to figure out what would make you want to take someone’s life. Of course, if someone was threatening my family I would respond. But I wanted a motive that was a little different, and so my mind automatically went to my list of obsessions.


My protagonist, Maggie Dove, is passionate about the oak tree on her front lawn. Her father planted it, her daughter played on it. She loves that tree. But her new neighbor, Marcus Bender, is a grasping sort of person and is annoyed that that tree blocks his view of the Hudson River. He offers her money to cut the tree down. She says no. Soon after she notices the dirt under the tree bubbling with poison. Marcus Bender is trying to kill her tree. Soon after that she finds Bender himself lying under the tree. Murdered. And when her dear young friend is accused of the crime, she must figure out who did it.

How about you? Are there issues that obsess you? I’d love to hear!

Holidays and Dogs

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about how dogs and holidays have wormed their way into her Mary McGill series.

Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue will be out in July 2017.


When I decided to start a new series I didn’t plan to write one that contained a specific holiday for each book. I didn’t plan to write one about dogs, either. But, somehow, it turned out that way.

I wanted to write about a woman in her seventies, but one who wasn’t ready to sit down and be old. Mary McGill has a lot to offer, and she knows what to do with it. She’s smart, she knows everyone in town, she’s organized and can keep others on track (as a retired school teacher she’s had plenty of practice) and she has time on her hands. She’s a widow with a willingness to help wherever needed and she doesn’t let a little thing like age get in her way. Santa Louisa, Ca has come to rely on her when they have a fundraiser or community event they want to go smoothly. None of them had counted on murder.

What I hadn’t counted on, or in the beginning even realized, was all three of the Mary McGill mysteries features a holiday. Purebred Dead takes place over Christmas. It opens during the Santa Louisa Victorian Extravaganza, where many of the houses in the old downtown have pageants of some sort on their front lawns and people from miles around come to see the show. This year is the first to have a Posada, the Mexican celebration of Mary and Joseph looking for a room in the Inn and ending with Mary giving birth in a barn. Only this church manger is filled not with baby Jesus but a very dead old veterinarian, a puppy cowering beside him. I know why I invented the Victorian Extravaganza. The town I used to live in had a Christmas event much like it and I’d thought for years it would make a great murder scene, but where the puppy came from I don’t know. It just appeared and I had the dickens of a time trying to figure out why it was there and how it fit into the story, which much to my surprise centered not only on Christmas but dog breeding.

So, now I had a Christmas book filled with dogs. Besides the puppy, Mary finds a cocker spaniel, Millie, whose owner has been murdered. Feeling sorry for the little thing, she offers to take care of her for a few days. The few days extends into forever much to Mary, Millie’s and my delight. The puppy and Millie aren’t the only dogs that show up in this story and I never planned any of them.

In Curtains for Miss Plym, Millie discovers the body of little old Miss Plym behind the makeshift dressing room curtain at the spring rummage sale, the one held right before Easter week starts. I hadn’t thought about Easter when I set the rummage sale in the spring but of course it had to be postponed and I needed a new date.  It turned out I had to fit it into the Easter church schedule. However, the new date worked out fine. Neither Mary nor I minded working around the smaller children having their own Easter egg hunt on the church lawn and absolutely loved the three legged hound dog that didn’t get a home when the dog and cat adoption event was canceled along with the rummage sale. I gave him to Santa Louisa’s chief of police. I hadn’t planned any of this, don’t know how it happened, but Mary finally figured who the murderer was, although she and Millie almost didn’t live to tell about it, and Morgan loves living with the police chief.

I’d always planned to set the 3rd book, Blood Red, White and Blue, during the 4th of July. I thought shooting someone while the fireworks were going off worked really well. It wasn’t until I was half way through the book I realized I had created a series where every book was set during holidays. By now I was fully aware the dogs had taken over.  So, poor Mr. Miller got shot in the back during the 4th of July fireworks display and his German Shepherd, Ranger, became homeless. Mary couldn’t let that condition continue, after all Ranger was a friend of Millie’s. Besides, she’s found out Mr. Miller was a state policeman and she’s afraid his murder might be somehow connected to the bizarre jewelry store robberies going on up and down the state. Could that mean someone in her town… she has to find out. With the help of the dogs, she gets her answer but it creates more fireworks then she and the dogs ever thought possible.

In case you didn’t know, writers of novels fall into two categories. There are those who outline, plan meticulously, and know what’s going to happen before they put fingers to computer keys. Then there are the rest of us. We start out with an idea, usually vague, and some characters. Sometimes they’re vague as well but if you develop a series you have the advantage of already knowing your key character and some of her/his friends. Then you start writing and odd things happen.  Like books about holidays, dogs and murder. Writing this way is nerve wracking, it means waking up at three in the morning, trying to figure out what happens next, it  means going back and rewriting because things haven’t turned out the way you thought, but it’s also an adventure. You never know where your pen, or computer key board, will take you, or your characters, but it’s always interesting and often quite a surprise. Come visit Mary and Millie and their friends in Santa Louisa. I hope you have as much fun reading about them as I have had writing their story.

My Ukuleles…I May Have a Problem…and a Giveaway!

Leslie Langtry is the USA Today Bestselling author of three cozy comedy series. She lives in the Midwest with her family and a few cats who do not appreciate her. And she hoards ukuleles (she might need an intervention).

Leslie Langtry’s first book in her Ukulele Mystery Series, Ukulele Murder, is on sale for 99c from April 10-16! You can check it out with the other books in the Aloha Lagoon Mysteries here:


After a long day of writing, I decompress by messing around with the ukulele. The results aren’t pretty, but I enjoy it. I can play a few songs (for some strange reason they’re all Beatles songs and Edelweiss), and I’m just now taking lessons like from a real professional musician and everything. So now, I can read tabs and notes and fingerpick (albeit very, very slowly) a few more songs, including the Theme from Batman (I’m nothing if not eclectic), Fur Elise and Haele – a Hawaiian song.

My Grandpa Smiley played ukulele. Fun little songs like Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey & Harvest Moon. That’s his instrument above on the far left. I can’t really play it because the tuning pegs are shot. It’s a sweet little uke.

The green instrument next to Grandpa’s is a Waterman by KALA. It’s waterproof, made of a tough plastic that still resonates well. I’m taking it with me to Florida for the Novelists Inc conference in October. My husband thinks I bought it just for that one event. He may not be wrong…

The middle uke is a Kahuna ukulele. I bought that one because I liked the hula girl and tiki on it. AND it has pink strings! It was a completely frivolous buy but I couldn’t resist. Who doesn’t want a uke with pictures and pink strings? It seems like a no-brainer to me.

Which may be why my first uke was the KALA Pineapple uke, second from the right. Several years ago, on a whim, my friend Michele and I decided to buy ukes and take a group class at West Music. This is us:

Michelle, rocking her sweet Hawaiian Punch hat

Anyway, my friend bought a normal, hourglass shaped blue uke. And I bought one that looked like a pineapple. Literally.  I guess I can’t do things like everyone else. Anyway – it’s a nice instrument with a little more of a mellow sound, probably because of its shape. It’s my go-to uke for my private lessons.

The last instrument is a KALA Travel Soprano. It’s a smidge smaller and half the width of the other ukes. When I was paying for it, my daughter asked why I needed it.

“Because it’s smaller,” I said, assuming this made sense to everyone.

She rolled her eyes, “Oh, right. Like an instrument like the ukulele needs a smaller version…”

I suspect she was being sarcastic.

Oh well. I love the ukulele and the calluses on my fingertips from playing. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to play more than a few songs. I doubt I’ll ever be a virtuoso, but that doesn’t matter. Playing around with this instrument relaxes me. And that’s all that matters.


Leslie Langtry’s first book in her Ukulele Mystery Series, Ukulele Murder, is on sale for 99c from April 10-16! You can check it out with the other books in the Aloha Lagoon Mysteries here:


Ukulele Murder (A Nani Johnson Mystery)
Aloha Lagoon Mysteries book #1

Nani Johnson thought she had it made when she moved from Kansas to the resort town of Aloha Lagoon, Kauai. In spite of her certifiably crazy mom, Nani is determined that nothing will stop her from becoming a ukulele virtuoso! Unfortunately her Julliard training doesn’t help her break into the local music scene due to some heavy competition from the Terrible Trio—three hostile, local musicians. The only work she finds is a few bar mitzvahs and gigs at the kitschy Blue Hawaii Wedding Chapel.

But when one of Nani’s competitors drops dead right after a public feud, Nani becomes the police’s main suspect. A missing murder weapon, mysterious threats, and a heck of a frame-up job all have Nani worrying she’ll be trading in her flowery muumuus for prison orange. Enter hunky local botanist Nick Woodfield, who just might be able to help her clear her name…that is if he doesn’t have secrets of his own. With the bodies stacking up, the danger closing in, and the authorities circling, Nani must track down a killer…before she ends up the latest victim of the Ukulele Murderer!


Amazon // B&N // iBooks // Google Play

Kobo // Smashwords // Print


In addition to the 99c sale of
Ukulele Murder, Leslie is giving
away a signed, print copy of
the book to one lucky US
commenter on today’s post!
The winning name will be drawn
on Wednesday evening, April 19th.


Searching for Golden Words

Terry Shames writes the best-selling Samuel Craddock series, set in small-town Texas. The series has received multiple award nominations. A Killing at Cotton Hill won the 2013 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery.  In 2015, MysteryPeople named Shames one of the top five Texas mystery writers. An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock, a prequel, out January 3, 2017, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, which dubbed the novel, “Superior….a prequel with resonance in the era of Black Lives Matter.” She is published by Seventh Street Books. Find out more at www.Terryshames.com.

Terry Shames
An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock, out January 3, 2017 
“A favorite of fans who like their police procedurals with a strong ethical center…”  Kirkus Reviews, Fall, 2016

Newsletter sign-up: http://terryshames. com/contact.php

I got a new desk! The old desk was one I hauled into my office when my son went off to college twelve years ago. It was actually only part of a desk—in fact, all it really provided was a surface. Not only that, it was ugly. I spend hours in my office every day, churning out words. So I finally decided it was time for me to have an actual desk. I knew exactly what I wanted, an old-fashioned desk with small drawers and one big file drawer. I wanted wood, preferably painted a nice color that would go with my office. I thought the chance of actually finding “my” desk would take forever, if I found it at all.

To my utter amazement I found it immediately on Craigslist. A young woman in the area refinishes furniture for fun and to make a little money on the side. It was well-priced and I loved it immediately. Not only that but she delivered it. In the rain.

Getting a new desk should not have been a big deal except that with a new desk, I decided it was time to clean out all the detritus in my office. In particular, I resolved to tackle my old manuscripts. When I moved into the office years ago, I carefully saved them, thinking that one day I may go back and find Golden Words among the hundreds of thousands I had written.  Time to take a look. I had kept multiple versions of some of them. The least I could do was toss all but one version.

Maybe it was a result of gifting myself with the new desk, but I looked at the manuscripts with a steely eye. And that eye told me that I had been kidding myself. Detritus is a kind word for what most of those manuscripts contained. They were my first efforts at becoming a novelist and they showed it. The prose was just okay, the characters were flat and the plots predictable at best. So out they went!

The more I dumped, the freer I felt. There was one manuscript in particular that I had for years imagined could be revised. All I could think as I read it was, “Who was I kidding?” I actually laughed when I put it in the recycling bin.

A couple of them had sentimental value—like my first full manuscript, a science fiction story that I still like. And there were a couple that had pretty good story lines that I might one day revive. But other than that—GONE!

As I read I realized how I had grown as a writer. Those pages represented many, many hours of learning how to write. If you had asked me at the time, I would have said these books were perfectly good and that publishers who turned me down were wrong. These days, I might have even made the mistake of thinking they were ready to publish and published them myself. But they weren’t ready. There were no Golden Words—just okay ones. And as I’ve learned, “okay” is not good enough.

I haven’t regretted for one minute tossing all that paper. In fact, sometimes I peek over at the few that are left and think, “When I need that space, you’re out of here!”

Sneaky Flashbacks

Betty Webb is the author of the nationally best-selling Lena Jones mysteries (Desert Vengeance, Desert Wives, etc.) and the humorous Gunn Zoo mysteries (The Puffin of Death, The Koala of Death, etc.). Before beginning to write full time, Betty worked as a journalist, interviewing everyone from U.S. presidents, astronauts who walked on the moon, Nobel Prize-winners, and polygamy runaways. She has taught creative writing at Arizona State University and Phoenix College, and has been a nationally-syndicated literary critic for 30 years. In addition to other organizations, Betty is a member of the National Federation of Press Women, the Authors Guild, and Mystery Writers of America. 


We series writers face a problem stand-alone writers don’t: how much should we tell our readers about what happened in our character’s earlier books?

Any writer who has been around long enough to learn a few things knows that too much backstory will derail an otherwise good plot. But sometimes new readers need to know the lead character’s history.

How to do that? Won’t new readers who inadvertently pick up Desert Vengeance, my ninth Lena Jones mystery, need to know what happened in books one (Desert Noir) through eight (Desert Rage)?

Sure, experienced Lena Jones fans already knew that Lena Jones was raised in a dozen foster homes, was shot three times (once when she was four years old), saw her office and apartment destroyed in an arson fire, was court-ordered into anger-management therapy because of her PTSD, and discarded at least two cheating boyfriends.

That’s a lot of angst for one woman, but Lena’s long-time fans have always stood solidly behind her. Those new readers, though…

So when I began writing Desert Vengeance, I knew I faced a big problem. What could I do to help readers new to the series learn enough about Lena’s battle-scarred past to understand her strange behavior? For instance, how could a new reader enjoy the ninth series book if he doesn’t even understand why Lena gets the shakes whenever she opens a closet?

Fortunately, I discovered that I had already solved that problem in book two (Desert Wives: Polygamy Can Be Murder), and that I had used the same solution in books three through eight. To catch new readers up on what had gone on in earlier books, I always utilized what I call the Sneaky Flashback.

Writers know full well that long flashbacks pull the reader out of the action, and therefore they needed to be handled with care and economy – emphasis on economy. I’m talking one-sentence flashbacks, flashbacks that are slipped in so stealthily the reader isn’t even aware they’re there.

Let’s take the “closet” scene, for example. To explain Lena’s lifetime fear of closets, I wrote something like this…

Lena wasn’t looking forward to her lunch with Carlton Brooks IV; the man was an irritant. But he was a powerful irritant and had the juice to make or break her client, so she knew she needed to dress well for the four-star restaurant he had chosen. Holding her breath, she approached the bedroom closet to fetch her one black dress, a Chanel bought at a Scottsdale resale shop. As her hand made contact with the closet door, she noticed it was trembling. No surprise there. After all, the foster father who had raped her when she was nine years old had hidden in a closet. Some day she’d get over it, but not today.

And that was it. A two-sentence flashback anchored in present-day action. In other scenes in other books, I was able to cut my Sneaky Flashback to one sentence. One Sneaky Flashback sentence for a childhood rape. One Sneaky Flashback sentence about being shot in the head at the age of four. One Sneaky Flashback sentence for the arson fire. On Sneaky Flashback sentence describing her PTSD. One Sneaky Flashback sentence for each of her cheating boyfriends.

These Sneaky Flashbacks – always sneaked into present-day action — helped my new readers understand Lena’s background, and also helped them sympathize with her determination to terrorize her childhood rapist the day he’s released from prison. The Sneaky Flashback kept my long-time readers from getting bored by the same old explanations again and again and again.

And most importantly, the Sneaky Flashback kept the action moving forward, right up to the page where Lena Jones takes her revenge.