Friday, April 18, 2014

Ta da! Cover Reveal for VENGEANCE IS MINE by Reavis Wortham

Coming in July from Poisoned Pen Press!

In October of 1967, The Summer of Love is history, rock and roll is dark and revolutionary, and people in the small east Texas community of Center Springs simply want to live their lives as quietly as possible. But a handsome darkness in the form of Las Vegas gangster Anthony Agrioli has left the business to hide out in the tiny backwater settlement with his blond bombshell girlfriend.

Two years earlier, Agrioli met newlyweds Cody and Norma Faye Parker in a Vegas casino and heard their enthusiastic descriptions of the perfect place to settle down and raise a family. At least it was perfect, before their peaceful world found itself directly in the crosshairs of a coming confrontation.

Back in Center Springs, thirteen-year-old Top Parker has what his grandmother, Miss Becky, calls a Poisoned Gift. His dreams, though random and disconnected, always seem to come true. This time Top dreams he’s a wagon hub with spokes converging from all directions. To him, the spokes symbolize that something is coming, but he doesn’t know their quiet community will soon be a combat zone when the gangsters arrive, but they’re after something else and not Agrioli…yet.

A sheriff crooked as a dog’s hind leg, an unsolved murder in the river bottoms, counterfeit money and a bank robbery all wrapped in a country Shakespearian comedy once again brings together Constable Ned Parker, Constable Cody Parker, Deputy John Washington, Judge O.C. Rains, and the rest of Wortham’s real and sometimes wacky cast of characters.

*          *          *         *         *

About the Author:
As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for the fictional setting for The Rock Hole and The Red River Mystery Series. He was born in Paris, Texas, but lived in Dallas. His first novel, The Rock Hole, is described by Kirkus Reviews as "an unpretentious gem written to the hilt and harrowing in its unpredictability." Kirkus also listed it as one of the "Top 12 Mysteries of 2011." He lives with his wife, Shana, in Frisco, Texas.

You can learn more about VENGEANCE IS MINE and Reavis at the author's website:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Follow the Clues! Win a Book!

Curious about what crime Tai and Trey will be solving next? Maybe you'd like a shot at putting the clues together yourself?

If so, then head over to Pinterest and peruse my Deeper Than the Grave board, which you can find HERE. It's chock full of research links that I've been consulting during the writing of Book Four, all the clues that I used to create the plot for the this, the fourth book in the Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series.

When you think you've figured out a plausible scenario for the mystery using some (or all!) of the images on the board, jot your idea down in a sentence or two and post it as a comment below.

The prize? A pre-release, signed first edition copy of  Deeper Than the Grave (or the e-book version, if that's your cup of sweet tea). Two winners will be announced one for the most accurate guess, and one for the most creative. 

The context ends June 1st, so that gives you plenty of time to play Armchair Mystery Writer. Good luck! I can't wait to see what the most creative mystery readers in the world can come up with!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Free Short Story Podcast

Inspiration is a mysterious process. It's the reason one of the most common questions authors get asked is, "Where do you get your ideas?"

Dr. Seuss said he got his from a little town in Switzerland. Mystery author Tamar Myers says that she subscribes to a catalog, where one can get good plots for less than five dollars sometimes. Both these answers were delivered with tongue firmly in cheek.

I love this question because I can answer it so specifically most of the time. Even my character origins remain clear in my mind (although some details, like how I got their names, remain fuzzy).

I'll write Trey Seaver's origin story another day. But very recently I got a chance to explore Tai's yet again. My rough-around-the-edges, smart-mouthed, Southern by the grace of God protagonist got her start in a mystery writing class lead by crime fiction author and scholar Mary Hadley. Our assignment -- create a hard-boiled protagonist. I created a character named Roxanne Jones (I had to use that name for some reason, I don't remember why) but the voice . . . ah, the voice. It's so obviously Tai, only an alternate universe version of her.

The story I created -- "Lost Causes and Other Reasons to Live" -- went on to win Gulfstream Magazine's Mystery Short Story award. And now the audio crime fiction magazine Crime City Central is featuring this story on their podcast, with Josie Babin as the narrator.

So if you enjoy listening to your murder and mayhem, here's a a link you'll find most rewarding. (PS: There's a new story every week, from writers like Lawrence Block and Steve Hockensmith . . . so if you like what you hear, subscribe and enjoy! And it's all free!): 

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

For all the Pantsers Out There

*This is a re-post from 2011, but I got several questions at Murder Goes South about my very pantsy outlining process, so I'm sharing again.

Are you an Outliner or a Pantser? My guess is you know.

As a former English teacher, I'm supposed to be a fan of outlines. But here's my dirty little secret -- I hate the things. I taught my students how to create them, use them, revise them, but deep inside I was all bletch.

And then I wrote a mystery novel without an outline, flying -- as it were -- by the seat of my pants. I went Pantser all the way, baby. It took me seven years to get the thing in somewhat novel-shaped form, and I swore I'd never do another mystery novel that way ever again. Outlines started looking pretty sexy.

But they're not. Outlines are mean snippy things, the schoolmarms of pre-writing. My Muse went on vacation. I was alone with the blank page, and the Outline was just sitting there, mocking me.

But then I got a visit from that other Muse -- Desperation -- and she suggested something radical. And so we have this thing now (see right).

This is my version of a timeline -- the eight-day span of my novel with descending business card-sized chunks of the scenes that happen each day. I can see the WHOLE book this way, plus move bits and pieces around as I see fit (or even take them out). I still get to write like a Pantser -- just diving right in, scribbling scene after scene, letting the story go where it will -- but when I'm done, I have a very tactile, spacially-coherent way to give those scenes some order.

I stole this idea from Trey, one of my main characters. He likes things organized and linear (he loooves outlines) and this is one of his ways of making sense of a whole lot of information. And surprisingly enough, it worked for non-linear me. I could never create a book this way, but it sure helped while revising it. And I'll take all the help I can get (thanks, Trey. You're a mensch).

PS: For you word mavens out there, here is an interesting explanation of where the phrase "flying by the seat of your pants" actually originates.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Smart, sexy fun -- if you love characters with wit, charm, and a certain predilection for trouble, then hie thee to the bookstore and grab  this novel. Dashiell is a rake of the highest order, but he's got a heart of gold in that fantastic chest of his, and while it beats with a hunter's zeal for all things archaeological, his truest and most unrequited passion is for Vivienne. Clever, desperate and most sweetly conniving, Vivienne tries to crush her own passions in order to be a Victorian good girl -- the only way she can see out of her particular predicament being to land a solid husband -- but her spirit proves uncrushable, especially her own feelings for her rakehell neighbor Dashiell. A ripping good plot -- blackmail! murder! brothels! -- and two irresistible leads make this one well deserving of its place on the Best of 2013 lists, including Barnes and Noble's Romance list (which you can read here).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013



(or better yet, leave a comment telling us your favorite funny fictional character and we'll enter you in a drawing for YOUR VERY OWN FREE COPY! Thanks to Susanna Ives for the giveaway!) 

"With Wicked Little Secrets' intriguing plot, quirky characters, witty escapades and heartfelt dialogue, Ives has created a read that's as thought-provoking as it is romantic. 4 1/2 Stars" -- 2013 RT Reviewer's Choice Best Book Awards - First Historical Romance Nominee

"Vivienne and Dashiell are joyfully silly, but deft sensuality and love turn the novel -- crooning, cross-dressed hero and all -- into a love story that is a pleasure to read." -- Eloisa James' Best of 2013 list in the Barnes and Noble Review - Reading Romance column.

The Twelve Days of WICKED LITTLE SECRETS: The Twelfth Day

On the twelfth day of Wicked Little Secrets, my true love gave to me . . .

Twelve Tastefully Erotic Masterpieces!

On the wall above them was a massive painting of a lady with moonlit skin and honey-colored hair reposing on the gentle waves of a blue silk sheet. One hand rested behind her head, while the dainty fingers of her other hand entwined the fine curls of her most feminine area. Her breasts were round and more than a little generous. Yet to Vivienne, the most scandalous detail of this painting wasn’t the tantalizing breasts or the slight parting of the lady’s limbs, but the enticing smile on her lips as she gazed boldly at the viewer.