Tag Archives | mystery

INDIE-giving – Thankful for the small things. (And a giveaway)



When we were first planning this INDIEgiving blogfest, I said to myself easy peasy – I can do this. I’m thankful for so much. But it was really hard to narrow down.

I’m thankful for the option to self publish, for readers, for the Indelibles and the wealth of knowledge within the group. I’m thankful for all my blogging friends, critique partners and beta readers.

But that feels so insignificant when compared to the fact that I have a friend with 3-6 months left to live. Yet, he and his family are finding ways to glorify God through this tough time.

So I’m thankful for life. I’m thankful for health and a place to live and the food on our table. I’m thankful that I believe in a God who is all about grace and mercy, even when our prayers don’t get answered in the way we’d like.

But I’m especially thankful for the little things.

My son’s smile and the hug I get every day. My daughter’s teachers at school, who totally impressed me. My sister, who called yesterday.

The fact that my husband is pushing me completely out of my comfort zone with this huge Thanksgiving party. Gulp. **breathes into paper bag**

For the friends in my life who show me grace and still invest in my friendship even when I’m not the perfect friend.

Small things.

But small things add up, and together, they bring a smile to my face every day.

And for the giveaway!

This is really simple. The sequel to A SPY LIKE ME will be out in the next couple weeks. Yay!

If you haven’t read A SPY LIKE ME yet, use my contact form or leave a note in the comments with your name, email, and preferred file (epub or mobi) and I’ll email it to you!

Here’s the sequel. 🙂

Offer is good until my next blog post.

Make sure to visit everyone posting in the INDIE-giving blogfest. Click here for the links.

For all my friends in the States, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 



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What makes a great detective?

Or more aptly titled, the series I’ve wanted to talk about for over a year.

A few years ago, I started in on a series of books. It had everything, I mean everything I love in a story. Mystery. Humor. A detective duo. Red herrings. Secret identities.

Maybe you’ve heard of this fantastic and hilarious team of detectives?

Minnie and Moo.

Two cows who continue to solve mysteries in their fashionable clueless way while the farmer suspects something’s up.

And yes, this is an early reader series by Denys Cazet. I love them!

One of my favorite’s was this next one: Minnie and Moo: Wanted Dead or Alive.

Minnie and Moo want to help the farmer so they dress up in his old clothes and go to the bank to ask for money. I mean, how else would a cow get money? Unfortunately, they look exactly like two wanted bank robbers. You can imagine the hilarity. A bank heist and a high-speed chase through a cornfield! Minnie and Moo get away on the farmer’s tractor. So much fun.

You’d think there would be no lesson to be learned from a book for this age group; and frankly, that’s why I was so impressed with these. Using simple sentences and words, this author caught an adult’s attention.

Here are some of the elements I found:

  • Inciting incident
  • Three-dimensional characters
  • Plot points and complications
  • Climax
  • The end-of-story twist
  • Fun language
  • Humor through hyperbole.

I realized that all of these elements are found in the books I write and the books I read. I can remember all the times I fell asleep reading to my kids. I mean some books were loooong. Yes, I was one of those parents that chose the picture books with fewer words per page. Sorry. (Unless the story was good!)

I never fell asleep on this fantastic crime fighting team though.

Who are some of your favorite and memorable detectives?


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Mont Sainte-Odile, secret tunnels and stolen books.

I was in the middle of writing the sequel to A Spy Like Me and did a little research on monasteries and secret tunnels. I just needed a spark, a possibility, something I could use in my story, and I found it.

Ancient books were found missing from a locked library in a Mont Sainte-Odile, a monastery in the Vosges Mountains in France. For two years, the monks could not solve the mystery. Not until the police were called in, windows locked, and cameras set-up was the answer found.

Not even the monks knew that a section of a bookcase could swing open to reveal the room. (I guess they didn’t read enough Nancy Drew.)


picture credit

I can’t really blame the thief.

I mean, he was a teacher and loved books. I used to be a teacher, I’m a writer, and I love books. I love finding old books. In fact, when I walk through historic houses and see the off-limits bookshelves, lined with century-old books, my fingers itch. If no one were looking, I’d probably pick one up – delicately and with the utmost care, of course – run my hand across the bound cover and flip through the old pages.

I can picture Stanislas Gosse, at home, grading papers and nibbling on leftover meatloaf, while the map he’d found lay hidden in his desk. Eventually, he studied it and the spark of curiosity slowly turned into a burning obsession he couldn’t ignore. And then he put his plan into action.

Okay, so he had to climb the walls and hidden stairways, creep through medieval tunnels, enter the locked library, make it out with pounds of books and then escape on his bike! (Kind of like his own personal BEA, except he made it out with books more valuable than advanced reader copies. And there wasn’t a post office so he could ship them home.)

Can you imagine the thrill?

When the police arrested Gosse he still had the rope and three suitcases full of books. Talk about being caught red-handed. They found 1,000 books in his apartment.

What a great heist story.

Read the article here. And this one here. Pretty incredible.

Stanislav did receive fines, a prison sentence and community service helping the monks catalogue their books.

I love that an ordinary man turned into a daring thief. What would it take to send you over the edge to commit a crime? Or your characters?

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Story structure of a heist movie in 15 sentences.

I walked up to Redbox simultaneously rubbing my hands with glee but also doubtful because we haven’t had much luck in the movie department. One of the first movies I noticed was Man on A Ledge. At first, I thought it sounded really dumb but…as soon as I saw the words diamond heist I didn’t need to read anymore.

Of course I won’t mention that I left the movie in the shopping cart in the parking lot and had to return and then pay for it again. Nope, not going to mention that at all!

So, if you couldn’t tell, I love, love, love heist movies and I love studying them. #plotnerd #savethecat. So here goes.


Opening Image:

Nick Cassidy eats his last meal in a hotel (alone), wipes down all his fingerprints, writes the suicide note, and then climbs out the window and onto the ledge.


For me, it’s hard to pick out the moment they reveal the theme because I’m watching the movie and taking notes, but the strong theme of looking beyond the facts to find the truth is very apparent.


During a flashback, we learn Nick might have been unfairly imprisoned, he’s an ex-cop, and he escaped while attending his father’s funeral.


During the flashback we learn Nick’s appeal had been overturned and he’d be in jail for 25 years.


Tricky in a heist movie because there is usually not a huge character arc but I’d say his debate occurred when he was denied the appeal. Obviously, he chose to do something about it and escape!

Break into Two:

Nick Cassidy says he won’t talk to anyone but Detective Mercer, so Act II starts for me when she shows up at the window to talk Nick out of jumping.

B Story:

The subtle romance between Nick and Mercer as she tries to do her job and he plays her and stalls for time.

Fun and Games:

Joey Cassidy, Nick’s brother, and his girlfriend break into a nearby building to steal a diamond while Nick draws all the media attention.


Due to a news helicopter, Nick is recognized, and we learn he was previously in jail for already stealing the diamond.

Bad Guys Close In:

We see David Englander, the owner of the diamond, talk with dirty cops to “take care” of Nick.

All is Lost:

Nick reveals to Mercer that he’s been communicating with his brother through an earpiece, and Joey states that the diamond is not in the vault. (They were counting on it to prove Nick’s innocence.)

Dark Night of the Soul:

Per the usual heist movie or book there is not a huge character arc, nor a dark night of the soul.

Break into Three:

The tactical team arrives from helicopter and the chase begins when Nick breaks back into the building.


Nick resteals the diamond and proves his innocence. This simple sentence doesn’t begin to show the amazing climax. (We learn the man who owned the diamond had previously framed Nick to recover financially from the insurance money from the supposed theft of the same diamond.)

Final Image:

At the start he was eating alone and now he’s in a bar with Mercer, his brother and girlfriend, and his Dad. Yes, a nice twist at the end and it’s confirmed that this elaborate heist was planned and a success!

Overall, I really enjoyed this heist movie especially because the motivations behind it were personal with Nick’s freedom on the line. And I learned that Man on a Ledge is a cop term for a potential suicide.

And I loved seeing the similarities between this break down and the break down of Heist Society by Ally Carter.

Do you like heist movies? Any good ones? If not, what do you like to watch?




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Winners from the Spies, Murder and Mystery – week 3!

Wow! Those three weeks flew by. I hope you’ve found new authors and new books to read!

And here are the winners from last week!

Signed copy of Uncommon Criminals goes to Kelly Polark!

An ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus goes to Sherrie Petersen!

A print copy of The Spy Who Left Me goes to Mart Ramirez!

An ebook of Untraceable goes to Laura Marcella!

An ebook of Suffocate goes to Laura Diamond!

Congrats to all the winners! Please use the contact form up on my menu bar to give your mailing address if you won a print copy. If you won an ebook, leave me your email and which version – Kindle or Nook – you prefer.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day if you live in the United States! I’ll be back on Thursday!

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