Monday, July 28, 2014

Paradise, with Books and Dogs

My guest today is Mac Wheeler, the author of an astounding number of novels and an awesome photographer. So I'm just going to let him tell you about himself and show you some of his photos.

Cool Stuff First
To celebrate publication of the third book in my New Order Apocalypse series I'm giving away a mobi/epub copy of NOA 1. You can read about it here...if it sounds interesting, drop me a note  (I won't keep your email address, I promise). 

My Photography
I blog my pitcher-taking experiences. As an immodest exhibitionist, I especially love to show off my beautiful pups. A sampling of some of my favorite shots line this post on the right. I hope you'll visit my blog and experience my Florida via my Sunday Safari posts. (Lately with the gorgeous spring we've had, I've spent more time in the park with my pups, so I've been posting more photos.)

My Pups
If you visit my blog you'll see a lot of pictures of my three girls. Molly is slowing down, but she's my dynamo. A 12 year-old Labrador with a failing transmission, she can no longer ride with me on my Goldwing. I miss that I won't see any new photos of her on my bike wearing her red Doggles. Lucy is the Rottweiler. If you know the breed, enough said. She is the most loving, goofiest friend I've ever had. Gracie is a mix. I'd guess mostly Golden, with some combination of Collie, Border Collie, Sheltie, and/or GSD. Talking about Velcro-Dog. I hope you'll visit them.

About Me
I live in beautiful Tampa, Florida, AKA paradise, with my dearest of a whole bunch of years. I'm an active guy, though slowing down since passing the double-nickel. Rotten knees preclude basketball which I dearly miss, but I'm out every day with my pups, jog, hike, and bicycle every opportunity.

The Writer
I'm a full time writer of speculative fiction, fantasy, SF, suspense, and paranormal with a twist. The Wheeler library entails eight series from YA with ogres and trolls, grittier vampire and werewolf noir, and a traditional family saga. Two stand-alone novels are screaming for their own series, with outlines waiting to be fleshed out. If you're a reader, consider dropping by my web page and perusing my titles. Click a cover to read a 30-page excerpt. I hope you'll find something you like.

Carol, thanks again for letting me visit. Be seeing you on Bloglovin. Cheers.

HomeContact …KindleNook

I owe Mac two apologies. One for totally blanking on the date this post was supposed to appear originally. And the second for not being as technically proficient as he is with Blogger and photos. I was unable to make his photo arrays larger without them taking over the entirety of the posting area and running into the sidebar.

So go to his blog and take a peek at the real things - you'll be happy :)

Thank you, Mac, for giving me a second chance.

Thursday is the last day to enter the July contest on my website - - for a chance to win a Kindle copy of SOLOMON'S COMPASS.

When Coast Guard Commander Taylor Campbell returns to Rock Harbor, Texas, to tend to her uncle's estate, she meets a mysterious former Navy SEAL, Jake Solomon, and learns her uncle didn't drown accidentally. His murder was one in a string of murders of a group of Vietnam veterans who called themselves the Compass Points.

Before her uncle died, he sent Taylor a message with the location of his buried treasure. Unearthing it will place her squarely in the killer's crosshairs, but she's determined to fulfill her uncle's last wish.

Jake, sent to protect her and find the killer, has other plans. His mission would be much easier to accomplish if he could forget how good she'd tasted when he kissed her.

Good luck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cajun Secrets

This week I'm blogging with my friend Jan Rider Newman at Beyond Acadia. Jan is an authority on Cajun everything.

I tell you that because one of the characters in Secrets of Honor is a Cajun by the name of Remy Girouard. During the editing, Remy caused a little stink, so I asked Jan to step in and referee.

I hope you'll pop over and say hi.

In the meantime, I looked through my old photos and picked a few to share with you.

Bridge - Coast Guard Cutter Taney - Baltimore, Maryland

Historic South Central Texas House - 1800s - Castroville, Texas

Contemporary Texas Island House - Port Aransas, Texas

Our Fur Babies - Backyard, USA

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Electrician's Code

I owe Clarissa Draper a huge apology. My mind has been so totally elsewhere while working on the Secrets of Honor edits that it's affecting other things I do. Like the title of this post.

In both the title and in referring to Clarissa's new book in the second paragraph below, I called the book The Engineer's Code. Clarissa is so gracious that she didn't correct me. I only learned of it today (Wednesday) from a commenter, who I've thanked.

The correct title of Clarissa Draper's new book is The Electrician's Code.


I spent the weekend sprucing up the joint because today we have a special guest taking refuge Under the Tiki Hut from the hot summer sun. She writes awesome and smart code-based mysteries featuring London detectives Theo Blackwell and Sophia Evans. Her first novel, The Sholes Key, was so good - even though I couldn't figure out any of the codes :)

Now Theo and Sophia are back now in the newly released The Electrician's Code.

Are you wondering who this fantastic and brilliant author is? Her name is Clarissa Draper. And here she is.

Carol, thank you for having me. It's such a pleasure to be here. I have enjoyed reading your thrilling mysteries over the past few years. 

Today I want to talk about codes and ciphers.

If you have read my books, you know I love to add a challenge to each one in the form of a code or cipher to solve. Some of my readers like to play along, hoping to solve the messages before the detectives. But, I'm not the first to do this. 

There have been many codes placed in famous stories. Let's look at just five:

(1) Edgar Allen Poe's "The Gold-Bug" - The story involves cryptography with a detailed description of a method for solving a simple substitution cipher using letter frequencies. The cryptogram is:

(2) Sherlock Holmes "The Dancing Men" - Sherlock homes sets to solve a series of notes. The code looks a lot like the photo above.

(3) Agatha Christie's "The Four Suspects" - In this short story, the killer receives instructions by coded message. This story uses a flower code.

(4) Robert Harris's "Enigma" - This story is about a mathematician trying to break the famous German "Enigma" codes. 

(5) Dan Browns' "The Da Vinci Code" - This is one of the most famous code books written. In the book, the main character tries to de-crypt a message found beside a dead body. There is also a note containing a Fibonacci sequence left out of order, as a code.

Based on the code in the story "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" I have created a message. If you can decipher it, I will give you a free E-copy of my book. 

What codes did you find interesting in a novel you've read?

Clarissa Draper lives in Mexico with her family, and can be reached via her blog, or on Twitter at

The Electrician's Code

**Please visit the book's website to view photos of the codes and lots of story extras.**

An elderly man with only one leg is murdered and left in a pool of his own blood outside his house. To add to the mystery, a note found in his pocket says, 'Why Run Backwards You’ll Vomit.' London Detective Chief Inspector Theo Blackwell can’t understand the motive for killing the old man, or the meaning of the cryptic message.

Later, a woman is stabbed on her doorstep. The two seemingly unrelated cases have two things in common: apparently random victims and suspects with alibis.

As DCI Blackwell works on solving the cases, he requests the help of code-breaker Sophia Evans, who is battling a personal and tricky case of her own.

Find her latest book here: 

I just want to say that I can't solve any of these codes either :)
But I already have Clarissa's book on my Kindle
and am really looking forward to reading it.
Get your copy today!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cover Me ... I'm Going In

This week, I'm guest blogging with Mark Noce at Mark Noce Stories. I hope you'll come visit. I'm chatting about why I have a hard time being serious :)

In the meantime, I'm sharing in Stina Lindblatt's cover reveal for her upcoming novel, LET ME KNOW.

This shouldn't be happening again…
Amber Scott thought her screaming nightmares would end now that her stalker is locked up and awaiting trial. But they return when her slam-dunk case starts to fall apart. Explicit letters she allegedly wrote surface, suggesting she was the mastermind behind her assault, a willing victim.
Amber only feels safe in the arms of her boyfriend Marcus, the one person she can lean on. Until damning evidence from Marcus's past collides with the case and the media circus drags them both down. To protect Amber's reputation, Marcus has only one option: end their relationship. He won't risk further damage to her case, even if it means breaking her heart.
Amber has to find the strength to step into the spotlight and bring awareness to victims' rights before she's convicted in the court of public opinion. And she's really not sure what's worse—that her kidnapper could walk free, or that the seemingly endless attention and speculation will drive Marcus away permanently

See how it all began for Amber and Marcus in Tell Me When.


Born in England, Stina loves to travel, and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She spent a semester in graduate school living in central Finland, and a summer during her undergrad degree working in Helsinki. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiology and has worked with elite athletes. In her free time, Stina is a photographer, mother of three adorable kids, and devoted wife. She currently lives in Calgary, Canada.

And we're back to me again. You can win a free Kindle copy of SOLOMON'S COMPASS at my website. All you have to do is take a couple of minutes to enter the fun contest over there. Here's a quick blurb, so you know what you're getting into :)

When Coast Guard Commander Taylor Campbell returns to Rock Harbor, Texas, to tend to her uncle’s estate, she meets a mysterious former Navy SEAL, Jake Solomon, and learns her uncle didn’t drown accidentally. His murder was one in a string of murders of a group of Vietnam veterans who called themselves the Compass Points.

Before her uncle died, he sent Taylor a message with the location of his buried treasure. Unearthing it will place her squarely in the killer’s crosshairs, but she’s determined to fulfill her uncle’s last wish.

Jake, sent to protect her and find the killer, has other plans. His mission would be much easier to accomplish if he could forget how good she’d tasted when he kissed her.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tiki Top Ten: What if . . .

July 1 (Tuesday) is Canada Day in Canada, eh?
July 4 (Friday) is Independence Day for those of us in the U.S.
As the U.S. and Canada share long borders, I wondered:

What if we shared the holiday
and held a weeklong celebration?

10. Hot dogs and poutine

  9. Baseball and hockey

  8. We could call it Canmerica

  7. Or Amerada

  6. Would we drizzle maple syrup on our nachos?

  5. Schmoo cake and apple pie

  4. Moosehead and Shiner Bock

  3. Parades every day

  2. Fireworks every night


  1. A greater understanding of our neighbors.

Happy Canada Day!
Happy Fourth of July!

Just a reminder:
MONDAY is the last day to enter the contest for a Kindle book of IN NAME ONLY .
TUESDAY a new monthly contest begins for a new prize.

Check it all out here:

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Tiki Fairy Tale

I was a little at a loss as to what to write about this week. Then one of my dogs came over, whispered a topic in my ear, and we agreed.

What actually happened was he alerted me that he needed to go outside to take care of an urgent matter.

Be that as it may, we came up with a story. It's up to you to decide what it is.

Once upon a time, there was a:
A. beach bum
B. surfer girl
C. lonely pelican
D. mermaid
E. All of the above

A. Angelina
B. Benjamin
C. Cameron
D. Dylan
E. None of the above

One day [your choice from above]:
A. went for a walk
B. went shopping
C. stopped in a bar
D. went to the beach
E. wandered into a beautiful cathedral

A. eating lunch
B. playing volleyball
C. buying a birthday present
D. feeding pigeons
E. pumping iron

Along came:
A. a dragon
B. a mob of zombies
C. a swarm of bees
D. a wicked witch
E. an army of aliens

A. demanded beer
B. called for reinforcements
C. laughed
D. flew at [the character you chose]
E. fired a cannon

When [the character you chose]:
A. ran away
B. searched for a weapon
C. fainted
D. called for Iron Man
E. pulled out a machete

The [adversary of your choice]:
A. fought valiantly
B. turned you to a toad
C. fled the scene
D. cried
E. ate your brains

But in the end, [the character you chose] persevered and lived happily ever after with:
A. the handsome prince
B. the beautiful princess
C. the wicked witch
D. the loyal dog
E. the treacherous cat

***The End***

Monday, June 16, 2014

Live, Laugh, Love

Life isn't always easy, right?

Just when I thought the contest on my website was up and running seamlessly, guess who shows up? A spammer. Twice.

My website person says I can enable moderation or add a Captcha box. So I've chosen to moderate the entries. At least for now. I'm hoping this nips the problem in the bud.

The entries feed directly to the email I use all the time, so there'll be no long wait for approval. All entries that aren't spam or XXX rated (I don't have an Over 18 notice) will be approved just as you send them in.

If you haven't entered yet, what are you waiting for?

In other exciting news, I had to call the police about Live-In Handyman the other night.

Are you going WHAAAAT???

He left here a little before six the other evening to go to a man's house who was selling some items the Handyman was interested in. It was a referral through an acquaintance, not a Craigslist kind of thing. The man lives 15-20 minutes away.

I was editing and didn't know what time it was until I came out of the cave about eight. Handyman is blessed with the gift of gab, so I wasn't really worried. But about 8:30, when the sun was going down, I knew he would notice that. When I didn't get a phone call by the time it was full-on dark, a little worry crept in.

To back up a little. Besides being blessed with the gift of gab, Handyman is also blessed with being an excellent communicator. He calls if he's stuck in traffic and will be even five minutes late. If he's out-and-about, he calls and tells me where he is. He calls a lot. I kinda like that :)

So by now he's been gone about three hours - and no phone call. It's dark - always a phone call - and no phone call. And I forgot to say he had to drive through a not-so-great area to reach this man's house. I call his phone, and it goes straight to voicemail. It never does that because he never turns it off.

I look up the guy he went to see and call his number, thinking they're inside having such a great time Handyman hasn't even looked out a window. The guy's phone rings then goes to voicemail. I leave a message.

By now, I'm wondering if Handyman ever made it to the guy's house or if he had a problem on the way home or if the guy he went to see was a killer lying in wait. I don't write crime fiction for nothing, you know :)

During all this, I call him every ten minutes or so. Each time, I leave a message.

By 9:30, I'm certain he's lying in a ditch someplace, either from an accident or from a hijack. I gathered up all the information I had and placed THE call. I tell the police operator I'm calling about my husband.

I tell him Handyman's been gone only a little over three hours, but it is so out of the norm that I'm worried. So I explained what happened. Then I gave him Handyman's name, his license number, his phone number, the make and model of his car, half his license number - you already know I have a tiny problem with numbers.

I then give the operator the name of the man he went to see, his address, and his phone number. I tried not to sound like a crazy writer woman or a raving lunatic.

The operator said he would send it out to a patrol unit. I asked him to please tell the officer to keep in touch with me and let me know whether he finds him. I again said I feared he may have been in an accident.

When I hung up, I decided I better pull together a list of the local hospitals so I could call if the officer didn't locate him. I was in the process of doing this when my phone rang. It was a local number, but not one I recognized. I thought it was someone from an ER.


Live-In Handyman answered back. All smiling and laughing. Seems his phone died. He was calling from the officer's phone. He and the other man were outside putting the things he bought in the back of his car when the officer arrived and said he was looking for Handyman - which injected a little panic into him because he thought something had happened to me.

A Friday night in the seventh largest city in our country, and the officer got there in under ten minutes on a non-emergency. I call that pretty darn good.

Now I tell Handyman if he doesn't behave, I'll call the cops on him. We laugh. But I'm happy all the crime was only in my head.

DISCLAIMER 1: This incident may appear in a future novel in a form you may or may not recognize.

DISCLAIMER 2: I think I may have switched back and forth from present to past tense more than once. Please ignore. I'm still editing and all that juice is going into my manuscript instead of this blog post. I wrote it as if I were telling it to you face to face.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Love is a Flower

This week I'm over at Robin Richards' blog, Your Daily Dose, talking about . . . well, you'll have to click over there to find out :)

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few blooming photos.

Oops! That's not a bloomer :)

Don't forget to enter the contest on my website!

See you next Monday!