2014 Thriller Award Winners


The Crime Fiction Writer's Blog

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Another wonderful CraftFest/ThrillerFest has ended. A very busy and exhausting week but can’t wait until next year.

I want to congratulate all of this year’s Thriller Award winners as well as our new Grand Master Scott Turow and Silver Bullet Award winner Brenda Novak. All well deserved.


Andrew Pyper – THE DEMONOLOGIST (Simon & Schuster)


Jennifer McMahon – THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND (William Morrow Paperbacks)


Jason Matthews – RED SPARROW (Scribner)


Rebecca Cantrell – THE WORLD BENEATH (Rebecca Cantrell)


Cristin Terrill – ALL OUR YESTERDAYS (Disney-Hyperion)


Twist Phelan – “Footprints in the Water” (Ellery Queen)

Scott Turow, ThrillerMaster

Brenda Novak, Literary Silver Bullet Award


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Happy New Year!

And what a year it’s been! I’m still very new to being a published author, and it seems like I find every day there’s something else I didn’t realize I should be thinking about. But I know this – I want to thank those of you who’ve been so incredibly encouraging as I’ve seen my first book published and then the second and so on! I seriously would never have done it without you and your support! It’s truly a dream come true to see Shari Markham and Jesse Morgan come alive for readers who say they enjoy them as much as I do. I can’t wait to see what the new year holds for them both.

I hope to be more active here on the blog and to keep my website updated more frequently. Time management is critical of course, and I am determined to be more effective in that arena. I’m still totally committed to my “day job” with BreakThrough Promotions and love what I do there, but am looking at being an author as “moonlighting” a second job with which I’m equally enthralled.

I hesitate to draft a list of New Year’s Resolutions because I don’t seem to follow through very well, but I do believe in planning and setting goals for the coming year. In looking back, I’m terribly thankful for so many things, most importantly my health and that of my family. Some of you may remember that my oldest son, Dave, has had major health issues over the last few years, and was in a long term care facility last Christmas. The doctors didn’t think he’d ever come home. And yet here he is and we spent a wonderful, quiet Christmas Day together with my other two sons and daughter-in-law. My husband, who suffered a mild stroke last fall, has had no more major incidents and although he can no longer work full time, enjoys his time helping me with BTP and taking care of Dave as he’s able.

Although Lupus seems near impossible to diagnose or fully understand, since my diagnosis in 2011, my health has continued to improve and with the help of some Christmas gifts in the form of fitness equipment, I intend to continue to improve until I’m as fit as I ever was! Hold me to that =). I also plan to give more time and energy to cultivating close friendships. I’ve allowed myself to become a bit of a hermit with all the health issues these last few years and while I have hundreds of acquaintances I hold dear, I miss the closeness of true friends and want to enjoy that again. We started the year off right enjoying lunch and conversation with Mike and Shelly Witzgall, two of our oldest and dearest friends and I trust that was just the first of many times to come.

Here’s a song from another friend of mine, a fairly new one: Larry Whitler of WOCA in Ocala Florida. I met him through work and Robin MacBlane, but like to think of them as friends over the years. I hope you enjoy this rendition:

I also plan to read many good, new books, and to re-read a few old favorites. I plan to write another book or two, as well. How about you? As you look into the New Year to come, what captures your attention these days?

Baby it’s cold outside!

It’s probably not that cold to a lot of you out there, but for us here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, it doesn’t get cold like it’s been this week. I’ve lived in North and Central Texas for almost 40 years now, and I don’t remember ever hearing them predict 12 degrees in my area and yet this week, they did. We haven’t been that cold yet, and may not get that cold, but just the thought is crazy! It’s 33 now and plenty cold enough for me. I was born in southern California and went to high school in Phoenix AZ where it’s nice and warm year round. I’m not prepared for this!

One thing it’s done for me, though, is keep me inside and close to my computer with a little more time to write than I usually have this time of year. That’s a good thing. I’ve got deadlines looming after the new year and some serious revision time ahead. I have to admit, I’ve been slow on the uptake on promoting my own books, much to my chagrin (and my publisher’s dismay I suspect). I’m on the lookout to form a posse who’ll help me get the word out and keep me on task, and a few committed souls who’ll volunteer as beta readers. Let me know if you want to lend a hand!

AngelKillerfrontWhat’s next for me? In Angel Killer, Shari Markham had a bit of a cold, hard winter. The case was solved, but her emotions were wrecked in the process. Did she bite off more than she could chew when she took the position as psychologist and profiler with the Dallas Police? It’s one thing to want a job where you can make a difference, but what if it works better in theory than practice? What if the consequences of your decisions are life or death and you make the wrong choice? The team might’ve solved the question of whodunit on their last case, but what about who you should trust? That answer isn’t as clear and as another horrific case unfolds in the hot, Dallas summer, Shari’s self-confidence has taken a beating. She’s not sure she can trust herself, much less anyone else. Fortunately, Shari’s as stubborn as she is smart, and then there’s that sign on her office wall that her sons gave her that says: Never Give Up; Never Surrender

Till next time!


Never Give Up Your Dream by PJ Nunn

PJNThere’s nothing I love more than a stack of good books just waiting for me. Ten years ago, I’d given up on the idea of having my work published, and just got busy building my business which is acting as a publicist for authors who are promoting their books.

I love what I do. I work for the best people in the world and get introduced to great new books almost every day. And I get paid for it – can’t beat that! But every once in a while, I’d get a little sad that it seemed no one else would have the opportunity to meet my characters and enjoy them like I enjoy so many others.

I didn’t sit around having pity parties – there’s no time for that. But every once in a while, I’d get hold of a book that really wasn’t that great and I’d think, “My book is this good. Better than this. Maybe I should try again.” Usually I’d shake it off and just go on. I’d already tried the get-an-agent, submit-your-manuscript dance so many times. It almost worked. I actually had an editor at a large publisher who wanted to work with me. She requested one rewrite, then another, then a third. About the time we started to talk about a contract, she resigned her job and went to another publisher who didn’t want a series like mine. I was devastated.

I tried again. I heard Harlequin was looking for romantic suspense so I cranked out another one and submitted it. They liked it! But, they wanted a rewrite. Then another one, then a third (I’m not making this up). This time the response was, “I really like your writing but your book is just too much suspense and not enough romance.” Sigh.

That’s when I gave up and moved on. But here I am, fifteen years later and celebrating the release of Angel Killer: A Shari Markham Mystery, AngelKillerfrontpublished in July by Dark Oak Mysteries. How cool is that? I can’t tell you how great it feels when readers send me notes or reviews and tell me how they like a certain character, or how they can’t wait for the next book in the series. It’s a completely foreign and incredible feeling.

So let me encourage you. Whatever your dream is, even when it seems like it’s just not possible, or maybe not worth the effort, don’t give up. Sometimes we might need to put it down and walk away for a while, but don’t hesitate to go back and pick it up again if the time seems right. It might be your turn next!

When is your book coming out?

Angel Killer

Private Spies

Shadow in the Pines

Dr. Shari Markham on getting in over her head

Here’s a post that’s written in the character of Dr. Shari Markham, protagonist of Angel Killer:AngelKillerfront

I can’t be sure if it’s more like jumping off a high cliff or drowning in the middle of the ocean, but I was definitely in over my head.

It all seemed so simple. I was tired of my job at CPS. Of seeing so many cases never closed and so many kids with so many needs never met. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer out of the blue, everything seemed to happen so fast. Four months later, he was gone. My oldest son was married and my youngest just started medical school. Ken had enough life insurance that I was taken care of. Our house was paid for. But life as I knew it was over.

For years I’d said if I could, I’d go back to school and get my PhD in psychology and go to work for a law enforcement agency where maybe I could actually make a difference. The more I thought about it, and talked to the boys, the better it sounded and soon I was enrolled in Sam Houston State. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The study of abnormal and criminal psychology was fascinating. After graduation, one of my professors was kind enough to put in a good word for me when I applied for a newly created position with the Dallas Police Department in their Crimes against Persons division.

Everything seemed like it was going exactly the way I wanted it to. Then came the wakeup call. Sergeant Brian Grant seemed none too pleased to have to clean out the storage room to make an office for me, and the rest of the officers in the division followed his lead. Oh, they were polite, most of the time, but I was definitely the outsider. I pretty much stayed in my office unless I absolutely had to leave, and I did the requisite evaluations and paperwork, but it was hard. There was a sinking feeling in my stomach that followed me home in the evening and I started wondering how it could be so different than I thought it would be.

I guess I seemed pretty down. Gradually, Sgt. Grant started asking me to go with him more often when he went into the field. I found that I really liked being able to visit the crime scenes and be present when they interviewed witnesses. Sometimes I even noticed things in the witness’s body language or facial expressions that the officers didn’t notice and was able to help them interpret information that was important to solving the case. Finally, a reason to be there!

There’s still so much that I don’t know, but over the last year, I’ve become acquainted with most of the guys and we’re friendly. Each new case is eye-opening and I still get that butterfly feeling in my stomach when the tension rises. I know that each decision can be life-threatening or life-saving. That’s a lot of pressure. But I’m up for it. I’ll be the best criminal psychologist I can be.

“Listen up! We’ve got a DB out on I-20. Shari, you coming?”

Would you like to know more about Shari and her new job? Angel Killer is just the beginning…


So, since I’ve heard so much from friends and clients about making good use of KDP Select and free days, I thought I’d step out and try it and see what happened. Wow!

I offered Shadow in the Pines free October 3 – 4 and posted it on about 20 sites that let you advertise free books, then I did the same for Private Spies on October 10 – 11. Shadow in the Pines had a total of 254 free downloads and sold 1 copy the day they went back to the original $2.99 price. Not a huge response and seemed in keeping with so much of what I’ve heard indicating the KDP free ride is pretty much over.

But hold on. I didn’t check the numbers of Private Spies the first day, but checked the morning of October 11 and was stunned to find that more than 2500 people had downloaded a free copy. Shocking! I checked in the afternoon to find that the number was now over 6000! The morning of October 12 after the price had gone back to $2.99, I found a total of over 9500 free books were downloaded and 52 had been purchased at regular price. Of course 52 is a long way from my target of selling 1000 or more copies a month, but hey, it’s nothing to sneeze at!

We’ll see how things go over the next few days. Meanwhile I’m busy writing a few guest blog articles I’ve promised to folks for November, doing first edits for the next Shari Markham mystery (any beta readers out there?) and about half way through with Jesse Morgan’s next adventure. I love what I do and am almost giddy with the idea that there are readers out there who love these characters like I do! Let me hear from you!

And then it was fall…

I cannot believe we’re rushing into October already. I apologize for being absent so much – it’s been a hectic summer for a variety of reasons and you know, I’m a publicist by day and so easily get caught up in promoting client books via BreakThrough Promotions with little time left to promote my own (I know, bad author!) I must learn to heed my own advice!

But thankfully, many of you have been buying my books, for which I’m incredibly grateful! For those of you who don’t know, I have three books out now – two new this year and one from long ago. I also have two books scheduled for release next year so I’d better have some “me” time over the winter! Here’s what’s out there:

AngelKillerfrontAngel Killer: A Shari Markham Mystery 

Private Spies: A Jesse Morgan Mystery Private Spies front

nunnpines4Shadow in the Pines

I’d love more reviews so if you’re interested in any of them, just ask!

I’ll try to be more informative in coming weeks and thank you all for stopping in! What have you been up to?