Thursday, June 6, 2024

10 Things You Might Not Know About The First Girl by Jennifer Chase


Detective Katie Scott stares in horror at what she and her K9 Cisco have discovered: seven shallow graves, the bodies of young women each wrapped carefully in a blanket and buried in makeshift coffins in a rural area.

Title: The First Girl: Detective Katie Scott Book 11

Author: Jennifer Chase

Publication Date: December 19, 2023

Pages: 354

Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller

The cold night breeze slams the barn door shut with a sickening crash. The girl curled in the corner wakes with a start. Her gold butterfly necklace catches the pale moonlight as she clutches it tight, thinking of her family. Will she ever escape? Or is this the last face she’ll ever see?

Detective Katie Scott stares in horror at what she and her service dog Cisco have discovered: seven shallow graves, the bodies of young women each wrapped carefully in a blanket and buried in makeshift coffins. Miles of abandoned farmland stretch out from the treeline behind her. Has Katie uncovered the horrifying graveyard of a monster who has been stealing Pine Valley’s daughters for years?

Katie quickly identifies one of the victims as Abigail Andrews, a beautiful young woman who disappeared fifteen years ago. Katie is heartbroken that she’ll have to tell Abigail’s mother her darling girl is gone.

When Katie is ambushed working late at the scene, fired upon by an unknown assailant, she knows she must be close to finding the killer. But the shooter vanishes into thin air. And when a new young woman is taken, dark haired and dark eyed like the others, Katie realizes her time is running out. Can she stay alive long enough to track down this twisted murderer before another young life is stolen too soon?

“Fast paced, characters intelligent and had each others back. The plot was a bit harrowing, but from what plot entailed I was confident one of the main protagonists, Katie had the situation under control. At least the best of her capabilities as the situation warranted. This ebook was fresh, tasteful and powerful. It was a boon to read about a female with military experience who maintained a level head and who put her knowledge to practice.” ~Amazon 

“AMAZING characters (including Cisco of coarse) & suspense in a twisty plot that sucks you in & never lets you go. Highly RECOMMEND the entire series for some great reading.”  ~NetGalley

AMAZING characters (including Cisco of coarse) & suspense in a twisty plot that sucks you in & never lets you go. Highly RECOMMEND the entire series for some great reading.” ~Goodreads

The First Girl is available at Amazon & Other Retailers.

Book Excerpt:

The soft breeze blew through the open bedroom window, ruffling the sheer curtain. The evening was still warm from the sizzling day and was now gently cooling into the July night. The crickets played a harmony of music that filtered around the farm and across the acreage.

Lara Fontaine suddenly awoke, a loud sound interrupting her sleep. She sat up in bed and looked around the small bedroom but wasn’t sure what she had heard. In the other twin bed, her best friend Desi was still asleep and breathing evenly. What had disturbed Lara? Her first thought was to wake her friend because it was Desi’s house and she might have some idea what the sound had been, but she decided against it. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, where they dangled, not quite reaching the floor. Still contemplating if she should go investigate, she stared at the closed bedroom door. Even though she was twelve, almost thirteen, she had developed a curious mind and wanted to know the answers to so many things. Everything she saw in her world made her more inquisitive.

Lara stood up, feeling the wood floor against the soles of her feet—it too was warm, like the evening air. Wearing only a white cotton nightgown, she decided to explore. Glancing back at Desi, who was still sound asleep, she went to the door and slowly turned the knob. To her relief, the door hinges were well-oiled and didn’t emit any sound.

A breeze hit her as she stepped into the hallway, which seemed strange. It was as if someone had left a door or a window open. She didn’t slow her pace as she moved forward. For the first time since she woke, she heard a noise, as if a chair was sliding across the floor. It was high-pitched and had an eerie quality about it.

As if being pulled by an unknown force, Lara crept toward the sound. She headed down the hallway, passing closed doors, to the kitchen. The farmhouse plank floors creaked beneath her slight weight. She stopped and listened. Leaning her body toward the sound, stretching on her tiptoes, she assumed she would hear more, but it remained quiet. As Lara let out a breath, her previous curiosity had now diminished, she decided she would return to the bedroom and try to go back to sleep.

But suddenly a strong arm grabbed her around the waist and clamped a hand over her mouth. She instantly struggled, but the man’s strength easily overpowered her as he carried Lara to the back door. She could smell stale cigarette smoke on him and some kind of whiskey. The more she struggled against him, the more she weakened. Her whimpers were the only thing she could express.

The outside air hit her. She kept struggling, hearing her attacker’s rattled breathing next to her ear. Realizing they were heading toward the large barn, she tried to put her legs out in front of her to stop their progress, but it was no use.

“Stop fighting,” hissed the man directly into Lara’s ear. “It’ll be over soon.”

Those words resonated in her mind.

What did he mean?

The crickets abruptly stopped.


Holding Lara with one arm, the man pulled open the barn door. The hinges made a terrible squeak, interrupting the quiet.

“Stop!” Lara managed to say. “Please, don’t…” Her arm felt as if it would break.

They moved deeper into the barn.

Lara could smell the hay and the alfalfa. But there was a low murmuring sound that she didn’t recognize. She was forcibly put into an old metal chair and immediately her hands and ankles were secured, and a piece of duct tape covered her mouth.

It was difficult for Lara to focus through her tears, but she forced herself to look around. There were wooden crates filled with metal items, tools, and miscellaneous parts from various pieces of farm equipment. Then she saw her.

In a corner, there was a dark-haired young woman. She too was tied to a high-backed chair, unable to free herself. Her arms, legs, torso, and neck were secured. Her eyes were wide in terror, swollen from crying, and blood ran down her arms and neck from struggling against the restraints.

Lara locked eyes with the woman. So many emotions gripped her. Panic. Desperation. Fear.

The man moved around the area, he was dressed in jeans and a white, stained T-shirt. He appeared to be conflicted, confused, and even a bit panic-stricken as he ran his hands through his hair. Moving back and forth, he went from one box to a table, and then back to another box until he decided what he wanted. He carefully plucked out a long instrument that appeared to be some type of sharp, thin knife and stared at it with curiosity and wonder as if seeing it for the first time.

To Lara’s horror, he turned and approached the woman. With his back to Lara, he attacked the woman with vicious intent. She heard muffled screams as the woman writhed in her seat.

Lara could barely breathe. She thought she would pass out, but her unrelenting terror kept her awake as she shook violently in her chair, watching the horrifying ordeal until it finally came to an end.

The man turned slowly, his shirt soaked in crimson. He looked at Lara as if he wondered why she was there. Still with the bloody tool in his hand, he slowly moved toward her. The weapon was still drenched with the woman’s blood.

“No…” Lara tried to say.

He stood in front of her like a monster, reaching out.

Lara took a short breath. It was the last thing she remembered before passing out.

 10 Things You Might Not Know About The First Girl

  1. The series takes place in a town called Pine Valley located in Sequoia County California, along with several nearby towns that are made up and entirely from my imagination.
  2. The commands and search techniques used in the story are some of what I've learned firsthand training my own German shepherd for cadaver/forensic search.
  3. This has been a series that I've wanted to write for some time—more than five years before I pitched to my publisher.
  4. Detective Katie Scott's partner Detective Sean McGaven's character is based on someone I once worked with. 
  5. I've studied nearly one hundred homicide crime scenes, which contributed to the body count and creativity in The First Girl.
  6. Inspiration for the large rural areas in the story was based on my own observations in visiting similar places.
  7. I sketched on paper the crime scenes and farmhouses, areas of escape, and where bodies would be located before writing those particular chapters.
  8. In The First Girl, I loosely outlined the story before beginning to write, but I love to create the guessing game of who the killer is and how the ended is going to be crafted. I had fun with this story.
  9. On my walks or when I'm doing errands, I sometimes take photos of places, locations, and buildings that helped to inspire this story's locations.
  10. I always balance out how many times Detective Katie Scott uses Cisco, her retired military working dog, in area searches surrounding the cases.

About the Author

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today Best Selling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. Her latest book is The First Girl.

Website & Social Media:

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Book Review: Mastering the ABCs of Excellent Writing by Randy C Dockens and Robert Irvin


The authors of this book explain what they wished they had known when they began their writing journeys: rules are made to be broken, but with purposeful intent, and you, not the rules, are what makes your stories unique from all others. 

Title: Mastering the ABCs of Excellent Writing

Author: Randy C. Dockens & Robert Irving

Publication Date: April 4, 2024

Pages: 250

Genre: Fiction Writing Reference/Authorship/Writing Skill Reference

The authors of this book (one a writer/author; one an editor) explain what they wished they had known when they began their writing journeys. This book will speed up your writing proficiency and aid your goal of being published with excellent material your readers will enjoy.

Why this book on writing? There are two things we learned the hard way and want you to gather the easy way. One, rules are made to be broken—but you want to break them only with intentional purpose. And two, you, not the rules, are what make your stories, your writing, unique from all others.

We cover various writing techniques and how to make your writing something readers will keep enjoying, but we also help you with the artistic side of writing, meaning what’s inside you, your writing technique, and your brand.

This easy-to-enjoy manual is written in a unique alphabetical style, filled with tips and extra-information boxes at the end of each chapter, and has a number of helpful additions following the final chapter.

Buy Links:

Amazon | Randy Dockens Bookstore

Book Excerpt:

There are many books on writing, so why another one?

What I (Randy) discovered as I began my writing journey was that knowing the rules and applying the rules are not necessarily the same thing. You’ve heard the expression: rules were made to be broken. Well, that is certainly true when writing a book. I wish someone had told me this truth in the beginning. In this book, we aim to tell you some important rules, but just as importantly, we aim to tell you when they can be (gently) broken.

The other thing missing from so many books on writing is you. You are what makes your stories, your writing, unique from all others. We want you to include you in your writing. So we’re giving you what we (Randy as an author, and Bob as an editor) wished we had known and understood when we started our writing journeys. Much of what we say in this book will benefit fiction writers, but almost all aspects can benefit nonfiction writers as well. 

If you master everything in this book, will you have a best-seller and start grossing a six-figure income from your books? Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that, and in truth, the answer is likely no. (Books of material have been written on this topic, and a common theory is that it takes seven published books before you begin to make some solid money. That, though, is just a rule of thumb, and maybe that rule also is meant to be broken—or at least bent some—by you.)

If you want to be classified as a good writer and want those who read your work to enjoy your books, then we think this book can help. While there are a lot of science and writing techniques that go into a good piece of literature, there is an art element that is also an integral part of its creation. That’s why no two authors produce identical works. You can give two authors the same story outline and come away with two pieces of literature that have a different twist and may even go in entirely different directions.

The science of the writing, like most of what is in this book, is a key part of that output, but so is the individual creativity of the mind of the author as well. This book will help you with the first part—and hopefully spur you a bit onward in the second. Your imagination is truly the only thing that can help or limit you with that second aspect, however. We aim to assist you with that second part with the lessons in this book. We want this book to help inspire your creativity. These two aspects of writing—given care, diligence, and passion—together will make you an unstoppable force. We hope this book can be an integral part of your journey.

Also, this book cannot contain everything you need to know or will need to learn. Yet it will get you started on the right foot and, we think, save you a great deal of time and effort in what you need to know to produce a quality piece of literature from the outset.

In the end, nothing meaningful from your wonderful mind gets on anyone’s reading stand or nightstand unless you the writer write it. So it starts with writing. And that’s what this book is about. 

My Review: Mastering the ABCs of Excellent Writing is the result of a collaboration between Randy C. Dockens, an author, and Robert Irvin, an editor, writer, and author. Their aim is to help authors create ‘vivid and colorful stories readers want to read.’ They do not promise that reading their book and implementing the advice will result in a bestseller and a six-figure income, but they can promise you will be all the better for absorbing and implementing their sound advice. I am an established author in different genres, and I can assure readers this is true. I was very impressed by this book and here is why. The authors are honest and do not make false claims or promises. As they point out, each writer is unique and should play to their own strengths. However, doing this in conjunction with established industry high standards will make for a better book and hence better results. Any author/writer must do their own heavy lifting, but it is much easier if one has excellent tools/techniques to help. Here is where Dockens and Irvin come in.

Writing tips and advice is a vast subject to cover and this could end up with the reader floundering between the Abyss of Adverbs and the Tempest of Tenses. Dockens and Irvin have come up with a cute trick: the topics are arranged alphabetically which makes it fun to read (no, really, it does) and easy to locate the area where one is weakest. Info boxes at the end of each chapter give tips from both authors. The wealth of information is shared in a down-to-earth, conversational, and positive tone with both authors participating and this format works very well. The reader feels the issues facing them as a potential author are not insurmountable, and they feel in safe hands. Dockens and Irvin also give several appendices with refences/end notes to other books and sites readers can visit. This book is a real treasure trove of vital information for both the seasoned author and the novice writer. I highly recommend it and will most certainly be using it to brush up on my own writing skills! Five stars!

About the Authors

Dr. Randy C. Dockens has a fascination with science and with the Bible, holds Ph.D. degrees in both areas, and is a man not only of faith and science, but also of creativity. He believes that faith and science go hand in hand without being enemies of each other.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Auburn University he went on to graduate school at Auburn and completed his first doctorate degree in Pharmaceutics. He began his scientific career as a pharmacokinetic reviewer for the Food and Drug Administration and later joined a leading pharmaceutical company as a pharmacokineticist, which is a scientist who analyzes how the human body affects drugs after they have been administered (i.e, absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted).

Through the years, he has worked on potential medicines within several disease areas, including cardiovascular, fibrosis, and immunoscience to seek and develop new and novel medicines in these therapy areas.

He has also had his attention on the academic study of the Bible. He earned a second doctorate in Biblical Prophecy from Louisiana Baptist University after receiving a master’s degree in Jewish Studies from the Internet Bible Institute under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Congdon.

Randy has recently retired from his pharmaceutical career and is spending even more time on his writing efforts. He has written several books that span dystopian, end-time prophecy, science fiction, and uniquely told Bible stories. All his books, while fun to read, are futuristic, filled with science to give them an authentic feel, have a science fiction feel to them, and allows one to learn some aspect of Biblical truth one may not have thought about before. This is all done in a fast-paced action format that is both entertaining and provides a fun read for his readers.

He has also written some nonfiction books as well. One is to show how all humans are connected from God’s viewpoint by looking at biblical prophecy. This book shows how all scripture is connected and inclusive of everyone. In addition, he and his editor have written a book about writing. This book not only addresses the techniques of writing, but what makes writing unique to each author. It conveys not only how to better hone one’s craft of writing but also the brand an author wants to portray. This helps an author make their writing unique as well as captivating for his/her audience. A companion book to this one regarding self-editing techniques will also soon be available.

You can visit Randy’s website at Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram.

Robert Irvin has been a professional writer and editor for his entire adult life. He started in journalism and worked in all levels of newspaper reporting and editing, from the proverbial cub reporter to bureau chief, night city desk editor, and newsroom editor. Under his leadership, the Middletown (Ohio) Journal won several top state newspaper placements in 2003-2004. He has written award-winning pieces for several magazines.

In 2005 he chose publishing and went to Standard Publishing (Cincinnati) where he worked with authors from across the nation and internationally on youth ministry materials for the former Christian-based publisher, which had a rich history serving American and Canadian churches dating to 1869. In 2011, Robert went independent. He helped develop a homeschool curriculum site for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine during a two-year period in which he worked for this trailblazing homeschool organization. He does the majority of his work with Christian Book Services. He has ghostwritten long portions of books for authors and entire books for a World War II veteran’s memoirs (written 2013-2015 at age 89-91!) and a former NFL quarterback’s story of mentoring his high school football star son.

Robert has edited virtually every type of book, from business to novels to theology to sports to memoirs to abuse survival stories, and much more. His credits include scores of books. He has spoken at or served as faculty at various writing conferences.

He enjoys family, running, the outdoors, bad golf (like many, he has the bug, which just won’t go away), a heated game of Scrabble, virtually any sport, and reading any book that even remotely interests him.

Robert has a BA from Ohio State University in Journalism. He and wife Joan have four children. Reach Bob at

Visit him on Facebook at and LinkedIn at

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Monday, May 27, 2024

Book Spotlight: Better Safe Than Sorry by Mike Martin


Better Safe Than Sorry is a light, cozy-like mystery that deals with serious issues facing a small community but also finds ways to celebrate family, food and good friends...

Title: Better Safe Than Sorry

Author: Mike Martin

Publication Date: May 10, 2024

Pages: 251

Genre: Mystery

Winston Windflower is (sort of) enjoying his retirement from the RCMP in Grand Bank, Newfoundland, happily spending time with his young family, but feeling a little restless. Corporal Eddie Tizzard is running the Marystown detachment and struggling with the demands of the role while his own family grows. When a new kind of drug threatens the community, a body (the wrong body) is found dead in a hearse, and then another drug-connected mysterious death occurs, Tizzard knows he’s dealing with a deadly menace in their quiet, close-knit community.

Windflower finds himself inexorably (and not unhappily) drawn back into the action, first in an unofficial role to help snare the dealers and then back to active duty in a community that desperately needs his steady hand and good judgement. 

Our favorite Mountie, Sgt. Windflower and his fellow courageous cops in small-town Grand Bank, Newfoundland are back to fight a new threat in this compelling page-turner. Award-winning author, Mike Martin once again brings us a stirring story, blending down-home Newfoundland charm with the warmth of family life. 

You can pick up your copy at Amazon.

Book Excerpt:

Some say that April is the cruelest month, but Winston Windflower was pretty convinced that it was March. At least in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. They’d had a relatively mild winter up to this point but now they were getting slammed. Not once but twice. By winter storms that started the day before St. Patrick’s Day and were just ending now on March 19. The locals called the second storm “Sheila’s Brush” as a nickname given to a storm that seemed to occur right after Paddy’s Day. It came from an old Irish legend that claimed Sheila was the wife or sister or mother of St. Patrick and that this dumping of snow is a result of her sweeping away the old season of winter.

Supposedly, that was to prepare everyone for Spring, which the calendar said was about to begin in a week or so. But judging by the current weather and Windflower’s years of experience in Grand Bank, that new season was quite a way off. As he surveyed the banks of snow and checked the weather on his phone, there was more of the white stuff coming. He didn’t mind really. He actually liked the snow and living in this small town on the easternmost tip of Canada.

Until recently Windflower had been an RCMP Officer, a Mountie, but now was the Community Safety Officer for Grand Bank and a number of other surrounding communities. When the local RCMP detachment closed because of budgetary concerns, they needed someone to look after their local policing. The Mounties would look after the big stuff from nearby Marystown, about 40 minutes away, while they hoped Windflower would serve as a deterrent to local criminals who wanted to take advantage of the situation.

So far, so good on the crime front, thought Windflower who had actually spent most of his time doing outreach and crime prevention. In Marystown, however, things were not going so well. 


About the Author

Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the award-winning author of the best-selling Sgt. Windflower Mystery series, set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 14 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Better Safe Than Sorry

Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild and Capital Crime Writers.

His latest book is the mystery, Better Late Than Never.

Author Links  

Website | Facebook | X (Twitter)


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Friday, May 24, 2024

Book Spotlight: Finding Fran by Nancy Christie


Once a best-selling romance novelist, 55-year-old Fran Carter is now dealing with a slow but steady drop in book sales and a major case of writer’s block, complicated by the knowledge that her lover, a professional photographer, has been on the wrong side of the camera (so to speak) with his models. (So much for her author brand, built on the premise that women in their fifties and beyond can still find love and happiness.) Her solution is to spend a week in isolation at a northern California bed-and-breakfast. There she hopes to resolve her professional and personal conflicts, and ultimately create a new and better future for herself by writing a new “story” for the Fran she wants to be!

Purchase a copy of Finding Fran on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


About the Author, Nancy Christie

Nancy Christie is the award-winning author of eight books—two novels: Reinventing Rita and Finding Fran; three short story collections: Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and Peripheral Visions and Other Stories; two books for writers: Rut-Busting Book for Authors and Rut-Busting Book for Writers; and the inspirational book, The Gifts Of Change. Her short stories and essays have appeared in print and online publications, with several earning contest placement. The host of the Living the Writing Life podcast and the founder of the annual “Midlife Moxie” Day and “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, Christie teaches writing workshops at conferences, libraries, and schools. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the Florida Writers Association (FWA) and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).

You can find her online:










Midlife Moxie Novel Series on YouTube:

Books by Nancy Christie on YouTube:

Living the Writing Life podcast: