All About the Number Seven

I’ve been tagged by Jane Isaac. Like many others I don’t usually go in for chain letters, emails etc. but this one seemed like fun. Here are the instructions:

  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines as they are (no cheating)
  4. Tag 7 other authors

Excerpt from Stairway to Heaven, page 7.

“That’s why I say it might be time to trade the ol’ girl in for a newer model. Something with a little more fire under the hood, if you know what I mean.” He glanced at me and winked before turning back to the road.

Chapter 2

“Is that Jackie?” Brian asked as he pulled to the curb in front of my cottage.

“That’s him.”

My little neighbor was sitting on my front steps with his dog, Dazy, beside him. Since Brian last saw him, Jackie had started wearing his hair cut short, bleached blond, and spiked. He was dressed in jeans and a red plaid hoodie. A teenager in the making.

I racked my brains on who to tag with and couldn’t resist on coming up with some of the loveliest people on Twitter:

  1. Gail Baugniet
  2. Philip Catshill
  3. Rachelle Ayala
  4. John Betcher
  5. Jerry Last
  6. Melissa Foster
  7. Toby Neal

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!


This Monday, Jane Isaac talks about An Unfamiliar Murder

It’s a beautiful Hawaiian morning, and it’s Monday. As you know, Mondays are murder. Today I’m talking with Jane Isaac, British author of An Unfamiliar Murder.

Laurie: Good morning, Jane. It’s so good to have you with me, virtually, all the way from the other side of the world. Your debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder was released last month. Please tell use a little about it.

Jane: Although a murder mystery, An Unfamiliar Murder is essentially the story of two women:

Anna comes home from work to find the dead body of a stranger in her flat, becomes the main suspect in a murder enquiry and, just as she believes she has convinced police of her innocence, new evidence comes to light that links her directly to the victim – evidence that changes her life irrevocably.

DCI Helen Lavery manages her first murder enquiry whilst juggling the responsibilities of single parenting teenage sons. She is trying to make her mark amongst the senior echelons in the police force; an organization dominated by strong personalities, and faces many obstacles along the way. The case initially seems straightforward but, as people close to Anna start to disappear, it increasingly becomes complex, plunging her into a race against time – can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?

Laurie: For my American friends, DCI is Detective Chief Inspector. What makes Helen unique? What makes her stand out from all the other protagonists in similar positions?

Jane: Helen is passionate about leading a murder investigation, catching the bad guy, and making a real difference to public safety in the town of Hampton.

She isn’t an alcoholic, divorcee, who lives on her own – this has all been done brilliantly over the years by other authors. Helen is a regular person, like you or I, so we feel her journey, and quite representative of modern day policing in this respect. What gives her the edge is that she has little interest in the statistics, politics and resourcing issues that dominate the senior ranks – she raced through the ranks to follow in her late father’s footsteps into this ‘hands on’ role. Leading the murder squad is her ultimate ambition, forcing her to occasionally adopt unorthodox methods in pursuit of the killer.

Laurie: Your book opens in the point of view of Anna Cottrell, and some reviews have described her as the heroine of the story. Do you have two protagonists?

Jane: Absolutely! An avid reader of crime fiction for many years, I decided right from the beginning that I wanted to tell the story through two points of view: the police investigation through the eyes of Helen; and the other part of the story through Anna’s eyes. Switching perspective allows the opportunity to layer the story and adds to the excitement and ‘page turning’ element. Both women face their own challenges and crises as the story unfolds.

Laurie: Tell us something about Anna—her personality, what makes her respond to the situation the way she does?

Jane: Anna is a strong, independent woman that has never felt like she fitted in. She has always known that something in her life was awry, but was never able to put her finger on it; until now. The revelations in An Unfamiliar Murder highlight this angst and force her to deal with its consequences.

Laurie: Did you imbue either of your main characters with a lot of your own personality?

Jane: My main characters are made up of fragments of lots of different people, along with a little of my own imagination. There may be elements of me in there, but they are well hidden 😉

I admire them both immensely and am very fond of them too. It’s difficult to let go of characters that have lived with you for years, kind of like losing an old friend, LOL.

Laurie: I understand you are writing a sequel, and possibly a series. Will your future novels follow the career or Helen Lavery?

Jane: Both. I think that intertwining Helen’s personal and professional life makes her much more rounded and interesting. That way we get to enjoy a good murder mystery with all the twists and turns it demands, alongside the reality of juggling a personal life – something that we can all relate to.

And there are some very interesting revelations in Helen’s personal life in book two!

Laurie: That sounds very exciting. I can’t wait to read it. Do you have a title yet for your next book? When can we look forward to seeing it?

Jane: The title of my second book has changed many times and is proving a tricky customer! It should be finished by the summer and, hopefully, will be released by the end of the year. But the title remains a mystery, LOL 🙂

Laurie: Ah, another mystery. Then we’ll have to just wait and see.

You are a wife, mother, career woman, and dog owner, as well as a novelist. How do you manage to keep so many balls in the air and still find time to write?

Jane: Good question! Like many new writers, I don’t have the luxury of writing full time and it is difficult finding time to fit everything in. I try to be as organized as possible and devote at least two mornings a week to novel writing, but can often be found penning lines beside the pool whilst my daughter has swim class, jotting down notes in a supermarket queue, or churning ideas over in my mind whilst I trudge over the fields with the dog. My characters are never far from my mind.

Laurie: Spoken like a true writer. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Jane: I’ve been very fortunate in having two short stories entitled ‘Duplicity’ and ‘Perilous Truths’ accepted for crime anthologies, due to be released this year by UK based, Bridge House Publishing, and US based, Rainstorm Press.

Visit Jane Isaac’s website:

Check out her multi-faceted blog at where she covers a number of topics including:


Thursdays can be murder, too! With author Jerry Last.

Aloha kakahiaka. Yes, I do realize today is not Monday. In fact, it’s Thursday. I look a four-day break from social media, got on an airplane, and explored the beautiful island of Kauai with my husband and kids. Traveling with a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old was no cup of tea, but returning home to the daily grind is worse. So this week, instead of Mondays are Murder, Thursday is Murder.

This morning I have with me Jerry Last, author and co-author of three murder mysteries, all set in South America.

Laurie: Good morning, Jerry. I’m so happy to have this chance to chat with you. You chose to base all of your mysteries in South America. Does this part of the world hold a special meaning for you?

Jerry: Yes, it does.  My wife and I lived in Montevideo, Uruguay and Salta, Argentina for 7 months of a sabbatical leave I took from the University of California several years ago.  Thanks to research and training grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Fulbright Commission, I’ve been back to both places, as well as shorter visits to Chile, Peru, and Brazil, to collaborate on teaching and research at least half a dozen times since.  So I know the region’s places, people, foods, and wines very well.  One of my goals in writing these books is to share my vision of this part of the world, which is a long way from home for people in this hemisphere, with my readers.  Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, and Northern Chile’s Atacama Desert have been characters in the books I’ve published thus far. These novels will have succeeded for me if some of you say that you’d like to visit these places because they seem so vivid and real.

Laurie:   Reading about a place sure can make me want to visit it.

In The Empanada Affair, your protagonists, Roger Bowman and Suzanne Foster, first meet. They go on to solve two more mysteries together. Tell me a bit about their personalities.

Jerry: Suzanne fits several of the stereotypes of the scientist: an introvert, driven professionally, very intense, very independent, and pretty impatient with a lot of social conventions.  She inherited a lot of money about the same time she met Roger, and both of them are earning pretty good salaries, so they are well off financially, which makes traveling and detecting in exotic places on short notice feasible. I think of them as an updated version of Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) from the Thin Man movies, perhaps crossed with characters from TV’s “Welcome Back, Kotter”, but living and working in a much darker and more evil world than was portrayed in the movies.  This darker world is probably a world that is much closer to Hammett’s view of The Thin Man than Hollywood’s.  Roger is more outgoing than Suzanne, but shares some of the other character traits I noted with her.  He is a lot less driven professionally than she is, and in fact has changed careers a lot of times for a man of his age.  But he seems to be happy now as a PI.

Laurie: What makes them work so well together?

Jerry: They start off their relationship in the first book based upon a strong sexual attraction. They end the book by becoming each other’s best friend, which means they know and respect each other intimately. That forms the basis for a long-term relationship and their continuing collaboration through the series.  They communicate well on several levels: verbal, emotional, and intuitive.  They were meant to be together, and somehow they were lucky enough to connect.  I have a lot of limitations describing this aspect of their relationship in print, and still have to learn how to do it most effectively.

I tried to explore the sexuality of their early relationship in The Empanada Affair, but Elaine feels that I got too clinical in the sex scenes to capture the romanticism I was trying to portray.  I’ve backed off from deliberate sex scenes in the subsequent books, and I think the books and the characters are the better for this change in style.  Now they’ve settled into a more mature relationship where holding hands is romantic, and I think that is yet another way they communicate.  They need to feel safe when they disagree, or even when they are not fully in accord, as I began to let them do in The Surreal Killer.  I’m trying to expand that aspect of their interaction in the next book.  Roger has elements of Sherlock Holmes in his deductive abilities, and he’s usually ahead of everyone else in figuring out whodunit, which often requires figuring out motive—why they did it.  Suzanne, who is probably more intelligent than Roger, is usually close behind him in solving the murder.  However, she is much more intuitive than Roger, which can be either an asset or a liability in solving puzzles like whodunit. Her intuition, which sometimes competes with and often precedes her deductive logic, combines with Roger’s totally logical approach to make them a great team.

Laurie: Are Bowman and Foster anything like you and your wife, or are they completely different personalities?

Jerry: If we ignore the boy-girl thing, I share a good deal in common with Suzanne Foster.  Suzanne is the professional me, and I try to take some pains to make her science plausible if not actual. We’re both scientists with degrees in biochemistry, our research areas overlap, we’re both professors at University of California medical schools, and we’re both pretty much focused on our jobs and work.  Roger Bowman is the me of my imagination—a lot better athlete, more physical, free to come and go as he wishes, no financial concerns—and very much the real me when it comes to puns, bad jokes, and his analytical mind.  Elaine, my wife, inspires Suzanne’s romantic side and will be the model for Suzanne as a mother in upcoming books in the series.  I think either Suzanne or Roger is also destined to acquire Elaine’s love for dogs in one of these books, and may even start breeding and showing dogs as a hobby they will share with Elaine.

Laurie: Is there conflict between Bowman and Foster, or are they a perfectly matched pair?

Jerry: There’s always conflict between people living closely with each other. I’ve not featured it much yet, but Suzanne verbalizes her discomfort with some of the decisions Roger and his friend Eduardo make in Book 3, and her expected participation in extralegal justice. I think we’re going to have some additional conflict in this area in books to come, as well as some discussions about responsibility to a growing family as opposed to just taking off to solve another case.  The model for the second issue is my first Fulbright Professorship in Montevideo in 1982, when I left the rest of the family at home.  Our boys were very young, too young in my opinion to travel to the antipodes, and we couldn’t afford the expense, I thought then. I think Suzanne will channel Elaine’s feelings on this particular issue in retrospect.

Laurie: You enjoy reading mystery novels. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have inspired your own writing?

Jerry: My lifelong (at least since I was a teenager) hobby has been reading mystery novels, especially the California mystery novels of my favorite authors, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Michael Connelly, Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series, and Robert Crais, and, wandering out of California, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series and James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux stories.  If I had to pick a most inspirational author for me from this list, it would have to be my first love, Ross MacDonald/Kenneth Millar.

Laurie: Robert B. Parker is a favorite of mine.

Are you still employed full time?

Jerry: Yes.  And I work in a pretty demanding job. I’m a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California.  I have a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and do research in asthma and health effects of air pollution on the lungs.  I also do ongoing collaborative research in Environmental Toxicology with colleagues in Uruguay and Argentina.

Laurie: With all that going on, how do you find time to write?

Jerry: I honestly don’t know.  There’s no system to it.  Something strikes me as a centerpiece for a story, as was the case for The Ambivalent Corpse.  I actually got the idea for this book’s title and basic premise when my wife and I took a walk in Montevideo in 1999 and I saw that strange juxtaposition of the two monuments.  It took a while (about 12 years) for me to find the time to sit down and start writing the book, but the ideas were percolating around in my brain off and on while all of that time was passing.  I do a lot of the initial premise of the story and how I’ll organize it in my head before I begin.  So, when I find time to sit down and write I can just start writing and let the plot and the characters lead me wherever we’re going in a story.  I can stay focused well enough, and I’m well enough organized, to actually write the first draft of a book over a few weekends and the weeknights in between.  Most of the time is spent after that editing the dialogue and trying to differentiate the characters into individuals, especially the villains.  I’m still experimenting with writing styles to improve this part of what I do.

Laurie: That’s impressive, considering it can take some people years to complete a first draft. What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Jerry: Well, I write books and try to sell them on social networking sites, of course.  And, as I said, Elaine breeds show dogs.  Her current dogs we’ve kept are three generations of German Shorthaired Pointers, who love people and love to hunt birds.  So, I finally got dragged into hunting pheasant and chukar with our three dogs and a sister (Sarah) of our youngest dog, Schöne.  Sarah and Schöne have learned a lot from their mother, Jolie, and their grandmother, Vinia, this year so all four are pretty well trained hunters by now.  So is Sarah’s owner John, and so am I. When we’re not hunting, the pointers love to get out and run, so we spend a good deal of time at our local dog park or out in the country where the dogs can get a chance to exercise and work off some energy.  We also have three grandchildren between 0 and 5 who fortunately live in Sacramento, so there’s plenty of time spent playing with them, too.

Laurie: That sounds like an ideal lifestyle. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Jerry: I’d like to thank you for the chance to talk, albeit virtually, with some readers and some potential readers through your blog.  I hope I’ve been able to answer your questions and that some of the folks reading this interview get a chance to visit the Mercosur region, as that part of southern South America is known locally, either as tourists or as book readers.

Here are the links to my books:


The Ambivalent Corpse:

The Empanada Affair ebook/dp/B005BFCVYW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312339722&sr=1-1.

Meet crime novel and screenplay writer Jennifer Chase

Laurie: I’m very happy to have author Jennifer Chase with me this morning for Mondays Are Murder. Jennifer, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat.

Three of your novels follow the same protagonist, Emily Stone. Please tell us about her. What is her occupation? What makes her stand out from other female crime solvers?

Jennifer: Emily Stone is an unusual character and a different kind of crime solver.  She has been aptly described as a vigilante or phantom detective because of how she approaches her work, or I should say life calling.  She has made it her mission in life to track down serial killers and child abductors – alone and anonymously.  As an ex-police officer and daughter of murdered parents, her own compulsions, fears, and desires drive her to shadow and solve police investigations through careful forensic and profiling techniques, which she then sends a single, covert, untraceable email to the detective in charge.

Laurie: She sounds both unusual and intriguing. Will you be writing more of the Emily Stone series?

Jennifer: Most definitely.  I’ve been having a great time creating more adventures and serial killers for her to solve.  I’m working on a new book right now that entails a pyro serial killer.

Laurie: I’m glad to know we’ll be seeing more of Emily Stone. Your latest novel, Dark Mind, takes place in my home state, Hawaii. How did you do your research for a story set on Kauai?

Jennifer: I love Kauai and I have visited the island several times.  One my visits a few years ago, I was sitting on a beautiful, deserted beach and I thought to myself “what if?”.  Basically, I thought about what would happen if there were a serial killer on the loose and what it would mean to a small, tropical island.  My imagination took over.  Crazy I know!  Even though I’ve been to Kauai, I still had to research some of the history, folklore, and fantastic rural settings.  I learned some fun and interesting tidbits that I incorporated into Dark Mind.

Laurie: I recall a serial killer who terrorized Oahu some years back, in fact in my own neighborhood. He killed a friend of mine. I don’t think I’ve ever been more frightened.

In Silent Partner, your protagonist is a man. How hard is it, as a woman, to get into a man’s head and write from his viewpoint?

Jennifer: It was a little bit awkward at first, but I’m very comfortable with all of the characters in my books.  I had already been getting into the mind of male serial killers so the transition was smooth.  The main character in Silent Partner, K9 Deputy Jack Davis, was a combination of imagination and my research experiences.  I had spent time with the local K9 units during training exercises with my own dog.  I got to know them well and was able to observe them during both training and patrol activities.

Laurie: Are there authors who inspire your writing? Who are they?

Jennifer: There are so many!  Nevertheless, the authors who stand out to me for writing inspiration are Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Deaver, and David Baldacci.

Laurie: Your non-fiction book is entitled How to Write a Screenplay. Tell us about your experience with writing screenplays.

Jennifer: I’ve written more than ten screenplays and critiqued dozens more.  My love for movies, especially crime and cop thrillers, has been a constant throughout my life.  Years back, I wanted to learn how to write a screenplay.  I noticed that there are many books out there and classes, but nothing just laid it out cut and dry so I decided to create and teach my process.  I’ve taught beginning screenwriting online for more than two years and have given screenwriting workshops at various venues in California.

Laurie: It sounds as though your writing and teaching keep you busy. Do they comprise a full  time career, or do you have a day job?

Jennifer: Writing is my full time job, but I’m also a criminology consultant.  My plate is very full on some days!

Laurie: What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Jennifer: I love photography and being outdoors whenever I can.  Living near the coast of California, I spend my off time hiking, beach combing with my two Labradors, and visiting small towns and places of interest for a photo opportunity.

Laurie: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Jennifer: Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with you today! All of my books are available in paperback and ebook formats.  I love questions and comments.  Please visit me at:




Press release

Honolulu, HI, March 11, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — Following on her successful mystery, Almost Paradise,  author Laurie Hanan returns with another thriller,  How Far Is Heaven? In her new novel, Hanan offers the same blend of Hawaiian flavor, tradition, and lore that propelled Almost Paradise into the limelight. Her writing is loved by locals, those who have moved to the Hawai’i from elsewhere, as well as anyone who has visited—or dreams of visiting—the islands. The five-star reviews her books continue to receive have placed Hanan in the top echelon of Hawaii’s thriller writers.

Like Hanan’s previous novel, How Far Is Heaven? follows the adventures of the unorthodox heroine, mail carrier Louise Golden. Louise makes a conscious effort to live a low-key, no-commitment lifestyle. But when a when a ghostlike figure appears in front of Louise’s headlights on a dark, rainy night, Louise can’t avoid hitting the young woman. After the woman wakes from a coma with amnesia, Louise feels obligated to help her. She finds herself pulled into another mystery with car chases, kidnappings, and—of course—murder.

Hanan’s clean, fast-paced prose has been compared to Sue Grafton, and her humor to Janet Evanovitch. Bestselling author William Bernhardt says, “The mystery is intriguing … there’s more going on in this book than the mere working out of the whodunit … because Hanan is a writer with depth, perception, and insight. This book is a pleasure to read.”

“I grew up on Nancy Drew,” Hanan says. “During my career as a Honolulu postal worker, I noticed how mail carriers move about the neighborhood unobserved, almost as part of the landscape. I thought it would be fun to write a mystery series with a mail carrier as the protagonist. When I retired from the postal service in 2006, I started writing the Louise Golden mystery series.”

Hanan is available for book signings and media interviews. She can be reached by email at  More information is available at her website All Hanan’s works, including  Almost Paradise, are available at Amazon.

Louise Golden is back in a new adventure! HOW FAR IS HEAVEN?

     Have you been wondering what Louise and all her friends have been up to? Find out in the new thriller, How Far Is Heaven? 

Christmas is never easy for mail carriers. But for Louise Golden, the season of good cheer is about to become a nightmare. Exhausted after a long day of  delivering mail in nasty weather, Louise is heading back to the station when, through the heavy rain, a ghostlike figure appears in her headlights. Louise hits her brakes, but it’s too late.

The girl is taken to the hospital, unconscious. Who is she? What was she doing in the middle of the road on a rainy night, dressed only in an oversized tee-shirt? Why hasn’t anyone reported her missing? When Jane Doe regains consciousness, she remembers nothing—not even her own name. Louise befriends the frightened girl, who then disappears.

Louise is suspended from work during the accident investigation, and uses her time to search for the missing girl. Meanwhile, with the holiday in full swing around her, Louise is confronted with religious traditions she feels no connection to. And how in the world is she supposed to sort out her relationships with the four men in her life? Each of them seems almost right, and yet so completely wrong.

Sexier and grittier than Almost Paradise, The second Louise Golden mystery takes the reader on a true Hawaiian roller coaster ride.

Author Dani Amore talks about weaving in humor to temper violence.

Even in Paradise, there are delays due to unforeseen circumstances like electrical storms, flash floods, and power and cable outages. So on this stormy Tuesday morning, while the power is on, I am pleased to welcome author Dani Amore today for my MONDAYS ARE MURDER interview.

Laurie: You are a very prolific writer, with four novels and three short stories available on Kindle. How do you find time to write?

Dani: For me, it’s all about confidence.  Because let’s face it, no matter how much you try not to think about it, every writer on some level believes that what they’re writing will be read. It’s quite a thing, really.  A lot of hubris to think something you’re going to put down on paper, possibly someone will buy. So I need to write when I feel my most confident, which is always, without question, first thing in the morning after a good night’s sleep and a couple of big cups of dark coffee.   It’s pretty tough to come up with excuses for a two-hour time period from, say, 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.  What were you going to do?  Cut the grass? Go to the opera?

Laurie:  Well said. You’ve made a very good point about writing before the sun comes up. I think most authors will relate to this. Is writing your only occupation, or are you also employed outside the home?

Dani: I spent quite a few years in advertising, as both a copywriter and a creative director.  I’m freelancing now, which sometimes includes stints at agencies. It just works out the best for me—there’s time to write fiction. And I’m not stuck in those three-hour meetings where I used to picture what a .357 Magnum  hollowpoint could do to some gasbag. 

Laurie:   That’s pretty funny. Approximately how long does it take you to write a full length novel?

Dani:  No easy answer for this one. I’m notorious for writing 100 pages of a first draft and stopping. Then working on something else. Then going back and throwing out those 100 pages and starting over. It’s a painful process. If I had to give a number, I’d say a year, from start to finish.

Laurie:  Are your books and short stories also available as “real” books? What about other forms of e-books, such as Nook?

Dani:  My Italian novel, To Find a Mountain, is going into print very soon.  The rest of my work is available only in ebook form, but on a variety of platforms including Nook and iBooks.

Laurie:  I understand your short story Take the Koi is the prequel to a new novel. Can you tell us a bit about this upcoming work?

Dani: Yes, the hero of that story is kind of a mysterious character called The Taker.  He takes all kinds of things back:  stolen objects, people, and quite often, he takes revenge.  In his first full-length novel he’ll be asked to take a girl who’s been abducted by a drug dealer.  It will be very, very messy.

Laurie: Are any of your works a series that feature the same protagonist?

Dani: Mary Cooper is the hero of my book Death by Sarcasm.  She will star in the next installment of that series, Murder with Sarcastic Intent.

John Rockne is the protagonist in my novel Dead Wood.  He will be back in Book Two, which is still unnamed.  But he’s got some business to finish with an assassin called The Spook.

Laurie:  Your stories have been described as both humorous and violent. How do you combine humor and violence into the same story and make it work?

Dani: Because I write crime fiction that can get pretty intense, my characters tend to fall back on dark humor as a self-preservation mechanism.  For instance, Mary Cooper’s love affair with sarcasm is very much a way for her to deal with some things she’s not really ready to face just yet.  I personally know a couple of homicide detectives, and they are constantly kidding around, even at the “worst” moments – if you know what I mean.  You laugh or you lose your mind.  I try to capture that dynamic.

Laurie:  That makes sense. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Dani: Just to say thank you for having me on your site!

Laurie: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your work with us. I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming novels.