Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Free Excerpt - The Disappearance of Billy Moore by Aaron Lazar

Hi, folks!

I thought I'd share an excerpt from book 1 in the Green Marble Mysteries today. (It's on sale for 99 cents through Sept. 4th, so if you enjoy the read, grab the deal at 75% off. ;o))

The Disappearance of Billy Moore

Here's the set up: 

Fifty years ago, Sam Moore’s little brother Billy vanished without a trace—leaving Sam with guilt that haunts him to this day.

Fifty years with no body, no leads, and no answers. Until now.

When Sam unearths a mysterious green marble buried in his garden, he’s shocked to find himself transported back in time—to Billy. Whisked between past and present with no warning, and receiving only glimpses of their childhood, he struggles to unlock the secret of his brother’s fate.

But the marble isn’t the only secret the ground holds. Further digging uncovers human remains—the legacy of a serial killer who’s been targeting one boy every five years since Billy vanished. The next five-year mark is coming up fast. And now, Sam’s grandson may be in the killer’s sights.

Can Sam tie the past with the present and unravel the mystery of his brother’s disappearance—before the killer strikes again?

an excerpt from
by Aaron Paul Lazar
Copyright © 2017 by Aaron Paul Lazar and published here with his permission

Chapter 1

Sam Moore was free. Free from the tether of the alarm clock, pushy pharmaceutical reps, runny noses, and waiting rooms packed with patients. On the first day of retirement, at the age of sixty-two, he was ready for a change.
He stood behind the barn and looked toward the garden. It lured him with a peculiar intensity he’d never been able to explain to Rachel. The pull was visceral, infused with a strong lust for the land. Cirrus clouds skated across the sky, racing eastward and the cool May breeze ruffled his hair, caressing him.
He should be happy. But a familiar sense of melancholy washed through him. It was always there, ever present. It retreated occasionally, when he was busy caring for patients. But as soon as he stopped—to take a breath, to look out the window, or to eat his lunch—that undercurrent of sadness, born of loss, returned.
It had been this way for fifty years. Fifty years of longing for the truth, of missing his little brother.
Where are you, buddy?
A flurry of starlings swooped past him. Their trickling waterfall calls resonated, frightening the goldfinches feasting at the thistle feeder. He watched the birds settle on the branches of the black walnut tree. Their blue-black plumage glistened in the sunlight.
The breeze rose, stirring the leaves in the cottonwoods.
Is it a sign?
Sam shot a glance toward the house, embarrassed to have such thoughts. He was glad Rachel couldn’t hear the foolish ideas that ran through his mind.
Was Billy dead or alive? Snuffed out on his eleventh birthday, or whisked away by a kidnapper? Was he living somewhere? In Alaska? Canada? Forced to change his name as a child, brainwashed to forget his life as a Moore? Did he have grandchildren, like Sam? Or…
Sam’s heart blackened. He hated this part.
If Billy were kidnapped, he would’ve tried to come home once he gained access to a car. He had been old enough when he disappeared to remember what town he grew up in. So…if he hadn’t returned, he must be gone. Gone for good.
Sam sighed and ran a hand through his thick gray hair. Two starlings lit on the birdfeeder and pecked at the seeds. The wooden feeder had suet holders on each end, and his hands were still greasy from the peanut-flavored cakes he’d refilled earlier. A woodpecker hung upside down on one end, tapping at the treat.
He realized it would be harder now to ignore the persistent questions about Billy’s fate. He’d have time on his hands. Lots of time. Besides tending to Rachel and babysitting his grandsons, he’d have hours to imagine the best and the worst.
He slid a hand into his pocket and jingled his keys.
I’ll just have to keep busy.
Squaring his shoulders, he walked into the barn and yanked on the starter cord of the rototiller. It coughed, belched black smoke, and stalled. He nudged the choke back and tried again. The engine roared to life. Sliding the choke all the way down, he shifted the tiller into reverse and backed out of the barn.
Sam guided the tiller over the wet grass toward the garden. Its knobby tires dug into the ground, drawing him past the bearded iris bed. His mind drifted to patients and the young doctor who’d taken over his practice.
I wonder how Garcia’s doing?
He'd dreamed about retirement for the past forty years. And here he was, on his first day of freedom, about to embark on a full day of gardening until he dropped into the lovely sleep born of physical exhaustion—and his first thought was about Garcia.
Doctor Andrea Garcia had worked by his side since she graduated from the University of Rochester Medical School. She was good. Very good. And she’d take excellent care of his patients.
But would she remember to retest Jenny Boyd for strep?
An annoying voice hissed inside his head.
Forget about it. It’s not your job. Not anymore.
It was hard to sever himself from a practice that flourished for forty years. Forty years of growing this “limb” that became such a part of him, and everyone expected him to simply chop it off. Just like that! It wasn’t going to be easy.
He stopped and looked at the cloudless sky. The strong sun shone through pure azure, although it was just eight in the morning. Leaves rustled in the whispery willows and sugar maples that dotted the grounds. He smiled, drank in the scent of honeysuckle, and propelled the tiller forward.
The jungle grew to his left. He’d hacked away at the bamboo-like shoots for weeks after tending to patients all day in his family practice in Conaroga, New York. The official name of the weed was Japanese knotweed, a rapid-spreading invader that killed everything in its wake. Last year's stalks were dry and crisp. They towered twelve feet high, crackling in the breeze. He imagined them taunting him, calling to him.
You can’t stop us. We’re taking over.
Sam had worked hard to clear half the knotweed spreading behind the barn near the woods, but a lot remained standing. His bonfires had been impressive. Fueled with dried knotweed, dead apple tree limbs, and bundles of crispy weeds, they roared into infernos, inciting stares from passersby. The coals were usually warm the next morning, when Sam added more branches to the pile each day.
He reached the vegetable garden near the above ground pool and set the tiller in motion between the wide rows of sugar snap peas and asparagus. Rachel and he had feasted on purple-tipped asparagus for the past few weeks.
His stomach growled. He’d skipped breakfast and bolted outdoors before the sun had crested over the hill. The idea of a brunch of asparagus on buttered toast nearly drove him inside, but he resisted and kept working.
Sam muscled the machine around the row of peas and started on the other side. The soil churned like butter. Baby beets grew thick within the row. He smiled again, pleased with the result. He’d defied upstate New York conventions and had boldly planted the beets at the same time as the peas. He’d marked it in his garden journal: March 27th, a rare, eighty-degree day, perfect for the first till.
Lila trotted toward him from the woods, hopping over felled logs and skirting piles of knotweed stalks. Her sleek, white body moved with feline fluidity. She meowed twice, raising her tail in greeting.
Sam switched off the tiller and leaned down to pat her. She pushed her head against his hand and turned in small circles beside him.
“What’s the matter, Lila? You hungry? You missed your supper last night. What have you been up to?”
She purred and placed her delicate paws on his knees as he crouched beside her. He stroked the smooth fur on her neck and scrubbed his fingers behind her ears.
“That's a good girl. Good kitty.”
When Lila was satisfied, she abruptly trotted toward the house, probably to claim her missed meals. Sam restarted the tiller, finished working the soil between the corn and potatoes, and headed to the knotweed patch.
He was ready to dig today. Although the job of clearing wasn’t yet complete, he ached to set tine to soil and stir it up. It would allow him to smooth out the area, rake it, and eventually mow the knotweed to death.
He maneuvered the tiller over the lawn to the knotweed jungle and slowly worked the soil. The weed colony was founded when he and Rachel owned horses, years ago. When her multiple sclerosis worsened and she needed the wheelchair, the animals were sold, and the knotweed multiplied, infesting the edge of the woods. By the time Sam retired, it had grown expansively, creating “the jungle.” Sam was obsessed with ridding the landscape of the infectious weeds. Listed first on his retirement list, he planned to turn the area into a lush lawn, opening it to a line of heirloom apple trees that edged the woods.
Something sparkled from the earth. Sam poked at the soil and uncovered a clear glass bottle. He brushed off the dirt. “Bayer Aspirin” ran down the side of the tiny vessel in raised letters. He pocketed it. Rachel would want to clean it and add it to her collection. Such treasures frequently popped out of the earth around the house and barn. Long ago, it was common practice to bury trash, before the emergence of the town dump. Since the house was built in 1815, Sam anticipated an abundance of finds.
He continued tilling until he connected with the woody root of a knotweed plant. The tiller bounced up and down, trying to unearth the root. Eventually, after coming at it from several directions, it popped out of the ground. The offender was ten inches long, knobby, and misshapen. It resembled a piece of wood. Pink shoots of baby knotweed sprouted from the chunk. He threw it into the wheelbarrow. After letting it dry in the sun for a few days, he'd burn it.
Another object flashed from the dirt. Sam backed up the tiller and dug until his fingers closed around a small marble. He picked it up, rubbed it on his jeans, and held it to the light.
The sphere was small and partially opaque. A cat’s eye. He turned it in his fingers. Light sparkled through glass the color of lichen; muted, pale green overlaid swirls of deeper green within. He smiled, put it in his pocket, and continued until hunger drove him in for lunch with Rachel.

Chapter 2

“Want some more, Sam?”
Sam wiped the napkin across his lips and pushed back from the kitchen table.
“Thanks, but I'm stuffed. How ‘bout you? There's a little asparagus left. I could make you another piece of toast.”
He walked past her wheelchair with his dirty dishes.
Rachel smiled and patted his hand when he passed. “No, I'm fine.” She paused, watching him. “Stop that, now.”
He reached the sink and looked over his shoulder. “Huh?”
She motioned toward the sink. “I'll do the dishes. I'm not helpless, you know.”
He kept working and smiled. “I know, but now that I'm retired, I want to pitch in more.”
A look of surprise crossed her face, followed by a frown. Sam returned to the table to collect the glasses and pan of asparagus.
“What? What’s wrong?”
She brushed aside her graying bangs.
“Much as I love you, Sammy, I have to admit I've been dreading this day.”

His eyes widened and he dropped into the chair. “What? Dreading it? Dreading my retirement?”
She covered a smile. “Don't sound so hurt, honey. It's just that I don't want you to mess up my system. You know, I've got everything organized and if you start helping out, I'll have nothing to keep me busy all day.”
Her voice fell at the end of the sentence. Sam reached for her hand.
“Really? I thought you could use the help.”
She shook her head. Tears welled in her rich brown eyes. “Since my legs got bad, I've needed things to keep me busy. To keep my mind off this rotten illness. The way you fixed the house is perfect. I can reach almost everything, now. I keep to my schedule every day. It makes me feel useful, Sam. I need that.”
He digested her words as memories of their past flashed unbidden across his mind. The diagnosis came when their children were born, over thirty years ago. Sam took Rachel to the best neurologists in the country, but as the symptoms worsened he knew before they did. Multiple sclerosis. It progressed slowly over the decades, relapsing and remitting as it ran its curious and elusive course. The exacerbations were periods of unusual exhaustion, facial and limb numbness, and weakness in the legs accompanied by frequent bouts of depression and anxiety. Six months ago, Rachel's legs gave out. She'd tried a cane for a while, but fell three times. Finally, and with much angst, she accepted the small scooter Sam purchased for her. She swapped between a lightweight wheel chair and the electric scooter, depending on the circumstance.
Sam looked into her eyes. They were still beautiful, after all these years. He leaned over and ran his rough fingertips along the soft down of her cheek.
“Okay, honey. Don't worry. I've got plenty to keep me busy outside, anyway.”
She brushed at her eyes and squeezed his hand, flashing a familiar look of affection.
“Thank you.” Her voice shook, husky with emotion. Changing the subject, she put her dishes in her lap and wheeled to the sink. “Are you working on those nasty weeds today?”
He nodded. “Uh huh. It’s slow going. And I have to mow again.”
The thought of the cool blue air called to him. He felt the pull of the garden as he fidgeted in his chair. His hands ached to be in the soil again. There was weeding, mowing, planting, mulching, and clearing to be done.
“Well, then, you'd better get out there. That lawn won't mow itself. And don’t forget, the boys are coming later.”
He had forgotten about his grandsons’ visit, but didn’t want to admit it. “I won’t.” He kissed her forehead and walked back into the sunlight, refastening the Velcro on his back brace. A simple arrangement, the stretchy straps worked like suspenders, and the wide, nylon brace rode low on his back. He repositioned it, took a deep breath, and started toward the knotweed colony.
As he headed out, a memory flashed through him—brief, but palpable. Billy and he, aged twelve and eleven, had walked barefoot on the hot pavement after a spring rain. Soft tar warmed their feet. Rain puddles sizzled and misted on the road. The boys laughed, then raced home to dinner. Steak, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and salad. Billy's favorite.
Sam checked the date on his watch. May twenty-fourth. Billy turns sixty-one today.
The little boy who slept in the bottom bunk, who breathed hot, sweet breath on his face when they hid in the closet beneath the stairs, who offered his sticky hand during scary movies, and who mysteriously disappeared on his eleventh birthday—would be sixty-one today.
He closed his eyes and let the wind blow across his face. The breeze lifted his hair. Sam felt the cool soft touch brush his skin. He pictured his brother communicating with him from Heaven. He'd often imagined it, and was comforted by the thought.
Happy birthday, buddy.
He opened his eyes, sighed, and ambled toward the stone fire pit behind the barn. He dropped onto the old iron bench and wondered for the millionth time what had happened to his brother.
Sam reached into his pocket and fingered the green marble. It reminded him of the marbles they played with as children.
Could it have been Billy’s?
He closed his eyes again and rolled it in his hand. The smooth glass slid between his fingers, warming his hand, then grew almost too hot to touch. Surprised, Sam plucked it from his pocket and inspected it. Strong sunlight glinted on its surface, but it seemed to glow from within. He cupped his hands around it, puzzled by the intensity of the heat.
Instantly, a green flash blinded him, forcing his eyes closed. Shimmering, ghostly images danced before his mind's eye. The sound of children playing reverberated in the air. In seconds, he was transported to another realm, wrapped in a rolling cloud of green effervescent swirls.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments, below!

Remember to take pleasure in the little things, and if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Nostalgia in Novels by Aaron Lazar

Hi, folks!
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It can be as simple as remembering the sound of the lapping waves near your summer cabin, to the way you used to run free with your dog along a woodland path, to a favorite game you played with your friends, like Red Rover, Red Rover. Remember that one?

Many of the scenes in my novels are set in the 1950s or 1960s, which just happens to be the era of my own childhood. ;o)

Tremolo: cry of the loon, Don’t Let the Wind Catch You, and Voodoo Summer the “young Gus” prequels to Double Forté, take Gus LeGarde back to his childhood in 1964-1966. Spirit Me Away is a flower child/hippie mystery set in 1969. And Upstaged features a musical based on what happened in Spirit Me Away.

The Disappearance of Billy Moore, Terror Comes Knocking, and For Keeps, all contain flashbacks to Sam Moore’s youth (via time travel from a mysterious talisman—a green marble—that he found in his garden.)

I also wrote flashback scenes to those eras in The Seacrest (book 1 in Paines Creek Beach Love Stories) and For the Birds (book 1 in Tall Pines Mysteries).

It seems I spend a great deal of time in those eras, doesn’t it? I always say I'm still "eleven" when people ask my age, so I guess maybe that's why. LOL.

Or maybe it’s just natural to want to "go back," because in truth I had a wonderful childhood and remember the times with great nostalgia and joy.

But alas, I can’t remember everything. And sometimes I need a little help.

https://www.amazon.com/Young-Gus-LeGarde-Mysteries-suspense-ebook/dp/B0747NSPN4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503516205&sr=8-1&keywords=young+gus+legardeThe other day, while writing to a friend, I suddenly wrote, “jeepers creepers!” in my email. I have no idea why it popped up that day, but it was a part of my childhood.

“Jeepers, creepers, where’d you get those peepers” was a line from a song from 1938 (way before I was born!), and it made its way into our generation's slang.

I use the phrases I remember the best when my characters are excited. “Neat!” and “Keen” come first to my mind. Young Gus and his friends use them a lot. But maybe I’m forgetting some more of the fun terms we used in that era. Would you like to help me add to the list? (Note: these young Gus books are for adults who might like a trip back to their childhood, not for children.)
What slang do you remember?

If you remember the fifties or sixties, Post in the comments, below. Here are some of the terms I remembered and used in my books. Let me know what you remember!

Golly gee
By golly
By Jingles
Hey, Baby
It’s a blast
Pedal pushers

The Flower Child Era
Cool, man
Heavy (pronounced in a long, drawn-out fashion!)
Peace, man
What’s your bag?
Chicks (for girls)
Cats (for guys)
Old lady or old man (girlfriend or boyfriend)
Bread (money)
Far out
Outta Sight
Let’s split
Threads (clothes)
Remember to take pleasure in the little things, and if you love to write, write like the wind!
Aaron Paul Lazar

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why I Love Audiobooks (a “series writer’s” point of view, by Aaron Lazar)

Hi, folks!

I love audiobooks as a reader and book lover. Since the day I discovered how easy it is to listen to a book in my car or on my phone, I have been hooked. I belong to Audible and my library is always loaded up with two to three audiobooks ready to go. If I don’t have a book to listen to—while driving to work, walking, doing laundry, weeding, or winding down at night—I panic. It’s really the only “reading” time I have left in my life, and I cherish it. No, I'm obsessed with it. (If you haven’t discovered this joy in your life yet, see this article to guide you through it.)

But why do I love audiobooks as an author?

Frankly, there are a million reasons why, and here are just some of them.

Fixing Typos and Other Embarrassing Errors
Normally, my Beta readers (God bless all fifteen of them!) find my typos and inconsistencies and just plain dumb mistakes. They're amazing! But even with all the times we go over my manuscripts, there are mistakes we collectively miss.

First of all, if your narrators are as good as mine, you'll “hear” your story in a whole new light as you go through the production phase together.

You’ll find “repeat” words that you can quickly and easily fix in the eBook version. (I hate when I use a word like "slip" or "tree" or "house" more than once in a paragraph or even on a page - except for the obvious little connecting words, etc.)

You’ll find missing spaces or extra punctuation marks. Again, easily fixed. Your narrator will comment on a sentence that might not feel natural, giving you a chance to tweak it on the spot. And you can also discover sneaky little inconsistencies that might have crept into the novel, such as one of your characters having brown eyes in the beginning and gray eyes in the middle of the book! Believe me, it happens. When I think about how many characters I’ve created over the years (primary and secondary), it's a little bit scary. (another article for another day…) Therefore, I use the creation of the audiobook to completely scour out any little niggling errors that might have escaped my notice in the eBook.

Assuring your Print Book is as Good as it Can Be

I usually wait to release the print book until I’ve approved the final audiobook. I hate the idea of print books being out there with even the tiniest error. So my usual release order is:

  •         eBook 
  •         audiobook
  •         print book
Note: I use Create Space to get my print books out there. So, even if you post the print book file with errors, you can of course, fix them at any time. It’s just that if people have already ordered them and have them on their bookshelves, there isn’t an easy way to “correct” these already printed books.

Preparing to Write the Next Book in a Series

I have to keep a lot of series straight. So far, here they are:

·       LeGarde Mysteries (11)
·       Tall Pines Mysteries (4)
The funny thing is, most of these series just started out as standalone books, but my readers begged me for more, so I turned them into series. It’s pretty cool, but that is a LOT of characters and a gazillion plots to remember. It’s especially hard if you’ve been working on one series and then want to switch over to the next.

So, what I do to prepare is I listen to my series again. Sometimes I just listen to the last book to get me in the groove and to “remember” what the heck I wrote about! Sometimes I’ll go through the whole series to be fully grounded again. After all, it might have been two or three or more years since I “visited” with these characters. I’ve got a pretty good memory, but it sure isn’t perfect and I often forget what I’ve written about after a while. It’s funny – sometimes I’m horrified and sometimes I’m thrilled at what I “discover” I wrote, especially from years ago.

Reclaiming Older Titles

I loved my first publisher (Lida Quillen from Twilight Times Books) and I will always be grateful to her for supporting me throughout the early years. But as time went on, I decided to take more control over my books’ release dates, cover designs, and promotion. Little by little, I’ve been asking for rights back on my older titles. I polish them up to match my current skill level (after all, some were written over ten years ago!) and re-release them under my own name, usually through Kindle Select Publishing. This is more lucrative for me and I really like having the control over pricing, sales, cover art, etc. Also, as mentioned above, I can edit or make small changes on a whim without having to bother my publisher about it. I love that.

So, let’s take an example. I’m going to be redesigning covers for and taking back the rights on the last two books in the Green Marble Mysteries, Terror Comes Knocking and For Keeps. 

Right now I’m listening to Terror Comes Knocking again, and finding out how much I’d forgotten from this story. I’m mentally noting where I wrote, “shrugged his shoulders,” instead of the much simpler “shrugged,” (what else is he going to shrug, anyway?). I’m also reliving some scenes from my own life that I incorporated into this story.

When Sam’s wife, Rachel, who has MS, falls and breaks both her shoulders, I am painfully reminded of when this happened to my wife, how she suffered, and how I took two weeks off work to care for her every need. So, I’ve decided to write an “afterword” for this book to explain some of these things. Honest to God, folks, I didn’t make it up, and you don’t have to employ the “suspension of disbelief” because some of these ridiculously improbable things really happened to us!

Redesigning Covers

When I reclaim a book from my original publisher, I also recover it. Let’s face it. Book cover design has improved a thousand fold since even five years ago, and the brighter, bolder, sassier covers stand out among the crowd. It’s more important than ever now to have a cover that is vibrant and also clearly visible in thumbnail format on websites or phones.

During the re-listen of Terror Comes Knocking, I decided on the new cover approach. I found a stock photography model who looks exactly as I pictured my character Zaffina Azziz, the sultry, saucy Egyptian “princess” who falls into Sam and Rachel’s life when their daughter disappears. Is she a sincere med student who just wants to help them? Or is there something much darker and more nefarious about her? The image displays all that I imagined, years ago. With my designer, we’ll decide what kind of a background to choose. It could be rolling hills and tree lines (just like where Sam lives), a small-town parade, or something to do with the President, since he is in grave danger in this book. (stay tuned for the new cover art!)


I hope this helps you series writers who might not have time to go back and re-read your older titles. Time is such a precious commodity these days, and this tactic can really help. 

Have fun, and if you need guidance on how to get started with producing audiobooks for NO cost or investment, check out these articles I wrote a long time ago to do just that!  ;o)

Remember to take pleasure in the little things and write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar

If you’d like to listen to any of my books, here’s a link to my Audible page:

Monday, August 14, 2017

When Characters Take Charge, by Marta Stephens


When Characters Take Charge

© Marta Stephens, 2017 all rights reserved

The art critic Robert Hughes once wrote, “There is no tyranny like the tyranny of the unseen masterpiece.”  Yes, striving to create the masterpiece may be all the inspiration a writer needs, but what fascinates me about the process is the moment a character becomes bigger than life.

I was working on the next book of my Sam Harper Crime Mystery series when I developed the private investigator’s character, Rhonie Lude. I thought it would add an interesting twist to the plot for Harper to have to deal with this strong, independent woman PI, but it quickly became obvious that Lude wasn’t content to play second fiddle. No, she was screaming for a book of her own and I was more than willing to oblige. I had such a blast getting to know her that I couldn’t wait to get started. This type of thing has happened so often that I shouldn’t be surprised when it does. Still, I’m always amazed when characters jump off the page and start writing their book. I kept and adapted the original chapter I wrote and included it in SHROUD OF LIES.

My 94-year old father, who at the time was in a nursing home with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, was extremely instrumental in helping me to create the novel’s next key character, Evy. Watching his mind deteriorate was one of the most painful experiences I had at the time. Yet, through it I found a spark. 

After her father’s death, Lude is given charge of Evy's care, her aged stepmother and dementia patient in a nursing home. Like my father, Evy gradually lost her short-term memory until all she had were fleeting moments of clarity. Evy’s mind is nearly lost when Lude discovers her stepmother may know critical facts that could help her crack the case.

SHROUD OF LIES takes place in Hollywood, California in 1962 and introduces private investigator, Rhonie Lude. She knows the pecking order and that to survive in a man’s world, she has to be tougher than a him and twice as smart. “I’m a woman doing a man’s job and that’s threat enough.”

Down on her luck, Lude agrees to find the estranged daughter of retired FBI agent, Oliver Kurtz. Despite his eccentricities, the job seems simple enough—tail and report. Protect, if necessary, but Kurtz’s continuous refusal to provide Lude critical information gives rise to suspicion.

When a mob-related cold case surfaces in Lude’s investigation, the truth rears its ugly head in the direction of the person she is hired to protect. Lude’s missing person’s case soon becomes a homicide and every lead pulls her deeper into a web of deception. Each exposed lie edges her closer to becoming the killer’s next victim and cuts a straight path to the only man she trusts—a man Lude now suspects has ties to the mob and police corruption.

Risks aside, Lude is determined to expose the sinister killer who will stop at nothing to keep a deadly secret buried.  

After an unavoidable hiatus from writing, SHROUD OF LIES is my "come back novel" which was released on August 5, 2017.  The release of the second editions of SILENCED CRY and THE DEVIL CAN WAIT will be available by the end of August 2017. I'm currently working on the third book in the Sam Harper Mystery series, started drafting the next Rhonie Lude novel, and am considering publishing a book of shorts.

If you are interested in reviewing a copy of SHROUD OF LIES, please contact me through my website.


Marta Stephens is the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery Series and Rhonie Lude Mysteries. SILENCED CRY the first book in her Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, (2nd edition, 2017), received honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Fair. Book two in the series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, (2nd edition 2017), received the Bronze Medal in the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY).

Stephens, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, lived in Los Angeles in the late 1970’s but has called Indiana home since the age of four.