The Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton

Hey everyone,

Well, my two weeks between blog posts has turned into a month…go figure! I was so certain I could stick to a regular blogging schedule, but as we all know, life gets in the way.

Over a year ago, maybe almost two (seeing as how the time goes), I decided to listen to the complete Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton, starting with “A” is for Alibi. I’ve read all of them before, more than once, and listened to them too, also more than once, but I wanted to listen to the entire series in order. It does make a difference. Not only for the character’s development, but also to observe the growth and mastery of a gifted writer. It didn’t disappoint.

Kinsey is a great character. She’s flawed and perfect at the same time. She’s fiercely independent. She’s brave and loyal. She manages to survive betrayals and deceptions, assaults and gunshot wounds. She’s falls in and out of love, but has a constant, unwavering devotion to her 80-something landlord, Henry Pitts. She’s a fashion and food mess, always sticking to her favorites, no matter how much guff she gets. Jeans, turtleneck and boots are her uniform; with peanut butter and pickle sandwiches and a glass of Chardonnay, along with frequent visits to McDonald’s, her definition of  Michelin 5-star delights. As for family; well, about half-way through the series, she discovers long-lost relatives, and it’s unclear if she’s better for that or not. And she solves everything that comes her way, along with many cases that just, somehow, land in her lap.

I first read “A” is for Alibi around 1992, about 10 years after it was first published. I could not put it down; I found it at the library, and sat, transfixed, as I read it. I devoured each subsequent book in the series as they were released, and then picked them up again when I decided to try my hand at creating a female sleuth and writing a series. I studied them, or tried to, inexpertly dissecting character and storylines and themes.

The first half or so of the series, books “A” through “N”, were narrated by Mary Pfeiffer, with the remaining ones narrated by Judy Kaye. I found both narrators solid, but Judy Kaye injected such personality into Kinsey and her voice that I often felt that I was a fly on the wall as a conversation or event was underway.

Sadly, Sue Grafton died in 2017. She completed the series through “Y”, with “Y” is for Yesterday, and was under contract for “Z” is for Zero when she died. Apparently, she had not yet started it at the time of her death. Even through Sue Grafton wrote twenty-five books with the same character living in the same town, each book was fresh and new, revealing aspects of Kinsey’s character, along with startling new themes, that hadn’t surfaced before. Genius, that’s all I can say — Sue Grafton’s writing was pure genius.

Check this out, 25 books, can you imagine?!

Banner on Sue Grafton’s website

When Ms. Grafton was alive, she swore that she’d come back from the dead to prevent her heirs from selling her series to TV. But, times have changed. Her family sold the rights to A+E in 2021, saying that writing for television now is far more sophisticated than when Ms. Grafton was writing for TV in the 80s (Sue Grafton’s alphabet novels headed to television). I, for one, can’t wait and look forward to finding out who will bring Kinsey to life.

Until next time,


The Stork is available!

Hey everyone,

I’m happy to say that The Stork, book 2 in the Shelby McDougall mystery series, is now officially available from Paper Angel Press. I’m very happy with this edition of the book, and so excited to see it in print.

My books arrived last week, and in all the excitement, I forgot to post a few photos of unpacking the boxes, so here you go:


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There is something incredibly satisfying about opening a box and seeing a pile of books with my name on it. All those hours at the computer finally coalesced into a story. Wow. It’s surprising and humbling.

I am so grateful to Paper Angel Press for picking up the series and doing such an amazing job on all fronts: editing, cover design, book design, book promotion. I’m so pleased.

If you want to learn more about the book, check it out on the Paper Angel Press website. You can download a sample there, as well as download my free short story, Treasure Hunt, that features Shelby and her brother, Dexter.

Here’s the book blurb:

Shelby McDougall’s past is behind her. Almost.

It’s been five and a half years since Shelby put her infant twins up for adoption, and she’s finally on track. Back in Santa Cruz, California, she’s sharing an apartment with her brother, Dexter, and in her second year of criminal justice studies. She’s landed her dream job as an intern to local P.I. Kathleen Bennett. And her stone-cold love life is heating up.

Then a late-night phone call puts Shelby’s perfectly ordered life into a tailspin.

One of the twins has been kidnapped, snatched from home in the middle of the night. There are no witnesses — no clues, no trails to follow. After meeting the family, Shelby knows something is off. The adoptive parents tell her the children don’t sleep, they eat constantly, and their IQs are off the charts. Against her better judgment, Shelby agrees to help.

By the time she realizes she’s up against something powerful, something evil, it’s almost too late. As Shelby fights for her life, and that of the kidnapped child, she discovers shocking truths about herself and the children.



Meet Laurel Heidtman

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Today, I interview Laurel Heidtman. I met her through an author Facebook group I’m a member of. I’m really looking foward to reading her books. Laurel is originally from southwestern Ohio and is a three-time graduate of Miami University of Ohio. For the past 28 years, she and her husband  have lived on private land inside Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky with an assortment of dogs and cats (3 dogs, 2 cats at the current time).

Over the years, she’s worked in many different professions. Laurel has been a dancer, a police officer, a registered nurse, and a technical writer to name the ones she did the longest. When she retired from the 9-to-5 life, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She now writes mysteries and thrillers as Laurel Heidtman. She also write cozy mysteries, contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Lolli Powell.

Here’s a list of Laurel’s books. It’s impressive!


Catch A Falling Star (An Eden Mystery), 247 pages, May 2014 – Laurel Heidtman


The Boy Next Door, contemporary romance, 226 pages, November 2014 – Lolli Powell 



The Wrong Kind of Man, romantic suspense, 353 pages, January 2015 –Lolli Powell


Bad Girls (An Eden Mystery), 344 pages, August 2015 – Laurel Heidtman



Whiteout, thriller, 284 pages, March 2016 – Laurel Heidtman


The Body on the Barstool (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 314 pages, November 2016 – Lolli Powell

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Whiskey Kills (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 369 pages, September 2017 – Lolli Powell


The Gift: A Novella, 99 pages, November 2017 – Lolli Powell



Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery), 260 pages, January 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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Murder in Eden, bundle of three Eden mysteries, 757 pages, April 2018 – Laurel Heidtman


On to the interview!

What genre are your books?

As Laurel Heidtman, I write mysteries (crime novels) and thrillers. As Lolli Powell, I write cozy mysteries and romance.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I think all of my books are a pretty even mixture of both. I write genre fiction, and the primary purpose of genre fiction is to entertain, so obviously plot is important to that. But unless the reader also believes in and likes/hates/fears the characters, he or she isn’t likely to be entertained. In 2017, Whiskey Kills, the second book in my Top Shelf cozy mystery series won a Bronze in The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards contest. The contest is judged by reader groups in London and Stockholm, and the readers provide feedback to the authors. One of the things they give an opinion on is whether they think the book is plot- or character-driven. Out of twenty-three readers, ten thought my book was plot-driven and thirteen thought it was character-driven. Since they all read the same book, I think that confirms I’m correct in thinking mine are a pretty even mixture.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I know where the story starts and where it ends, but how I get from one to the other usually emerges as I write. It’s like a road trip—you start at point A and you know you’re going to point B, but there are a lot of roads you can take to get there.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I name characters the same way I name my dogs and cats—I play around with different names until the dog/cat/character tells me that’s the one. Seriously, some names just don’t seem to fit, and then all of a sudden, one does.

How do you decide on the setting?

That is dictated by the story or the situation or event that triggered the idea for the story. For example, I got the idea for my thriller Whiteout from the experience of being trapped in our home in the woods in the freak March 1993 blizzard that hit Kentucky. We had 22 inches of snow and the high winds piled that into hip-high drifts. We lost power, of course, and had no hope of getting out for days. So I imagined what would happen to two couples with issues stranded like that and then two escaped killers show up on their doorstep.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not really. But I am thankful for the support and encouragement of the many indie authors I’ve befriended both locally and through the Internet.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the summer! I really want to get more disciplined about that, and it’s my goal for not only the New Year but the rest of this year. I’ve written and self-published eight full-length novels and one novella (plus published a bundle of three of my mysteries) in the last five years. That’s not bad, but if I had treated this more as a full-time job, I could have done a lot more.

I don’t have any favorite or interesting place to write. I just write at my desk, or occasionally I might take my laptop to a comfortable chair.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to remind people that all writers, but especially indie authors, depend on reader reviews. Potential readers also depend on reviews to help them find a book that would appeal to them. We writers appreciate any and all reviews. Of course, we appreciate ones that detail what the reader liked and didn’t like about the book (the latter helps us improve), but even a simple one- or two-liner is appreciated.

Where can readers find you?

I have two websites, one for each of my author names. They are: and

My blog link is:

Amazon author pages: and

Facebook links:

Laurel Heidtman Facebook link:

Lolli Powell Facebook link:

Twitter link:

Google+ link:


Free Days!

Hey everyone,

Free! Click here for Book 1, Due Date, and here for Book 2, The Stork.

Just want to let you know that on April 30 (that’s today, Monday) and May 1 (tomorrow, Tuesday), both Due Date and The Stork will be free on Amazon. Give them a try if you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller with the benefit of being set in beautiful Santa Cruz, California.


Happy reading, always,


Meet Frederick Crook

AuthorPicMickMeyerFrederick H. Crook was born in Chicago in 1970 and lives in Villa Park with his wife, Rae and their three dachshunds. He began by writing fictional works all through high school and began self-publishing his dystopian sci-fi works in 2010. Other works are available through Solstice Publishing. His latest, Wraithworks, was just released.

About the book:

WraithworksMINIGary Wraithworth is a websleuth who covers missing persons cases, cold murder cases, stories of the paranormal, and everything in between on his YouTube channel, Wraithworks. At a convention Gary and his wife Tera meet fellow YouTubers, and the Wraithworths agree to feature a series of murders and abductions all perpetrated by the same man. When the elusive assassin’s face is exposed all over the Internet, he makes the Wraithworths his next targets. Gary and Tera must run for their lives in this thrilling tale of a bloodthirsty political assassin out to silence them.

Wraithworks is available on Amazon as an ebook.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I had been watching YouTube for years, mostly for background sound or music while I wrote or edited. One day, I discovered a channel run by a man named John Lordan, called LordanArts. He covers missing persons cases, murders, myths, legends, etc. After some time of this, the idea of Wraithworks came to me and I just had to write it.

What genre is your book?

Most of my works are dystopian science fiction, though one is a ghost story. Wraithworks is a contemporary thriller.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

The main character is based on John Lordan himself, but the plot is the natural progression of my imagination. My writing process is entirely mental, so given time, I’m bound to take a routine, menial thing and blow it completely out of proportion.

What makes your book unique?

I’m not sure there’s a lot of YouTube fans out there writing novels. If there are, I don’t know about them. As for me, it’s my only thriller set in modern day, so it’s unique to me.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Everything I’ve ever written is derived from countless hours of thought. I have a mind that won’t stop until I’m completely exhausted and sleeping, and even then, not so much. I tend to think of a storyline, ponder it for an indefinite time, and when I’ve come up with characters, a beginning, a middle, and an end, I’m ready to start typing it out. This can take months, but in two cases, it was nearly instantaneous. For example, the ghost story The Summer of ‘47 came to me while watching the 1958 Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin film, Some Came Running. I began writing the book the following week. The second time this occurred, strangely, was for the yet-unwritten sequel, The Fall of ’52. The entire story came to me in an instant, as if it had always, always been in mind. I had been watching the 1959 film, Suddenly, Last Summer, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn. I’ll be writing that book when the current work-in-progress is finished.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

If I have trouble, I decide what nationality the character is, and I look up baby names on the Internet. There’s countless websites dedicated to just that sort of thing, which is weird but true. After that, I put the name I’ve conjured through the Google test, which is, I search for it and see if the name is a character from somebody else’s work, or of a famous person, or if it turns out to be extremely common. If it’s any of those things, I think of another.

How do you decide on the setting?

The settings of my works follow along with my deep contemplations. Sometimes it matters, and it becomes glaringly obvious where a story needs to take place, and other times it doesn’t matter a damn. For instance, the setting for my dystopian story, Minuteman Merlin came naturally. In that story, Merlin is a man that lives in a missile silo converted into a home. One type of nuclear missile (ICBM) was called a Minuteman III, and I chose a former launch site in Nebraska for the setting. As for The Summer of ’47, I invented a town near Mt. Vernon, Illinois and called it Whittaker. In that story’s case, the location just needed to be somewhere in the U.S., so I made one up.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No. I find writing to be a completely personal and solo endeavor. I tend to do things my way and have never needed a mentor, or at least, I’ve never considered trying to find one. In fact, when I discovered the existence of writer’s groups, where authors share their works with each other, I found the idea appalling. While I do understand there are authors that find such groups helpful, and I have no problem with those that do, for we all do things differently, I don’t. I can’t stand the thought of other cooks in my kitchen.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write Monday through Friday, beginning in the morning and ending when my mind is exhausted. I write on my laptop in my living room.

Anything else you’d like to add?

For any writers just starting out or have been doing it for a while and are getting discouraged by low sales or rejections from publishers, I have to say to them to let that go. Those disappointments are holding you back and changing your thought processes when it comes to the creation of new works. If you stop writing what you love to write because of these perceived failures, you will become miserable writing the product of compromise.

How can we find you?


The Tweety: @FrederickHCrook

Fb Author Page:

Amazon Author Page:

Other books by Frederick Crook:









Author Interviews

Hey everyone,

I’ve been reflecting on the previous incarnation of my blog and website. From 2012 to  2015, I had an active blog. Every week, I hosted a mystery author, asking everyone the same questions. I really enjoyed reaching out to authors and learning about their books and their writing process.

This time, I’ve decided to mix it up a bit and broaden the scope. I’ll interview indie authors writing in the following genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, historical fiction, literary.  I’ll include a bio, author photo, book cover photo, and links to books and social media platforms. I’ll be running these interviews every other Friday.

Some sample questions:

  • Why did you decide to write this book?
  • What genre does your book fall into?
  • Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?
  • What makes your book unique?
  • Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
  • How did you develop the names for your characters?
  • How did you decide on the setting?
  • Do you have a writing mentor?
  • What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
  • Anything else you’d like to add?

Are you interested? I’d love to connect!





The Stork

Hey everyone,

Wow, the big day is here. The Stork is available! I submitted the manuscript at the end of August, and it was accepted in September by the wonderful folks at Solstice Publishing. I was immediately put in touch with K.C. Sprayberry, Editor in Chief extraordinaire. She sent me lots of paperwork to complete, and soon after, handed the manuscript over to my editor, April Erwin. April did a fantastic job discovering inconsistencies, wrong words, spelling errors, and the places where things just didn’t add up. After a few back-and-forths, I ended up with a much stronger book.

I’ve set up a promo that will run through the weekend of 3/11. You can get your own ebook copy for just 99 cents, a steal!

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Let me know!