Friday, November 15, 2019

Tis the season for suspense! And a giveaway!

It’s almost that time. The holidays are right around the corner, filled with time with family and friends. Parties and gift shopping. Baking and…well, you get the picture. A busy yet joyous time for us all.

While I love the holidays and can’t wait to start decorating, one of my favorite ways to sneak in some quiet time is by reading.

There are so many wonderful Christian suspense stories out there that my Kindle is overflowing with them, but when it gets near the holidays, I love to read books that have a festive thread to them. 

Today, I’ll be sharing my reading list for the upcoming holidays and I'll be giving away a copy of one of these books to a commenter.  

Ready? Here we go!

First up - Laura Scott's Soldier's Christmas Secrets (Justice Seekers) 

He’ll do whatever it takes

To protect his family

When a plane crash leaves special ops soldier Hawk Jacobson with amnesia, all he knows is that the plane was sabotaged and he has a target on his back. His survival depends on letting everyone—including his wife, Jillian Wade—believe he’s dead. Until gunmen come after Jillian and the daughter he never knew existed. Can Jillian help him regain his memory in time to expose a killer?
And how about a little Amish mystery for Christmas in Laura Bradford's A Killer Carol (An Amish Mystery Book 7)
Heavenly, PA has been transformed into a Christmas wonderland and Claire is delighted to celebrate the season...but a fiendish killer has other plans in this all-new installment in the national bestselling series.

As the owner of Heavenly Treasures, the local gift shop, Claire is busier than ever helping her English customers (and even a few of her Amish friends, like Esther and Ben) find the perfect gift for the special people on their shopping list.

Claire makes sure she has time for her boyfriend, Detective Jakob Fisher. But the man, who was raised and then shunned by the Amish over his choice of career, has been unusually secretive lately. She tries not to worry, to trust their relationship, but trying and doing aren't exactly matching up.

Before she can figure out what's going on with Jakob, word comes that Ruth and Samuel Yoder are being questioned in the death of an elderly Amish couple, found murdered not long after the newlyweds were seen leaving the victims' farm. Ruth, in turn, seeks Claire's help in convincing the police that she and Samuel had nothing to do with what happened. But when Claire comes across a cryptic note tucked inside the wedding gift the victims had given the newlyweds no more than an hour before their murder, she finds herself in dire need of a little convincing as well.

Can Claire get to the bottom of things in time to ensure a merry Christmas for all?

I'm a huge Lisa Harris fan. I love the stories she writes for Revell and can't wait to read Christmas tale.
Lisa Harris - Christmas Witness Pursuit (Love Inspired Suspense)

Running for their lives at Christmastime…

Can a lawman keep a key witness safe?

Deputy Griffin O’Callaghan has a situation on his hands—two dead FBI agents, criminals on the loose and Tory Faraday, a witness with no memory. With a blizzard moving in and killers hunting them down, Griffin must keep Tory safe. But even his family’s ranch can’t provide a haven when a dangerous criminal escapes from custody with one goal: finding Tory.

CC Warrens is a new author for me, but this one looked interesting.

CC Warrens - Holly Jolly Christmas: ChristianSuspense (A Seeking Justice Christmas Story)

Beneath the twinkling lights and neatly wrapped packages lay bitter memories and carefully-kept secrets . . .
Three decades have passed since Marx last set foot in his family's Georgia home. The house has faded over the years, but the haunting memories contained within its walls remain crisp and unforgettable.
If not for the girl asleep in the passenger's seat of his car, Marx would turn his car around and head back to his life in New York City. But it's time to face his demons.

This novella is a Seeking Justice Christmas novella that falls between "Injustice for All" and "Imperfect Justice."

And Christy Barritt is one of my favorites!

Christy Barritt - Home to Chestnut Grove

A heartwarming, small-town Christmas story about restoring broken hearts and remembering those you love.

When Faith Winters returns to Chestnut Grove, Virginia, for the community’s annual Christmas celebration, she’s determined to make amends. She’s failed at making it on Broadway and is certain everyone hates her for decisions she had no control over.

Jake Whitmire is the sheriff in Chestnut Grove, but keeping the area free of crime is the least of his worries. Most days are filled with trying to keep the community’s spirits up as jobs have disappeared. He never expected to see the woman who broke his heart return home to lead up the town’s Christmas concert, nor is he sure he can ever forgive her.

As someone in town begins sabotaging the community’s celebration, Faith and Jake work together to find the person responsible and ensure their friend Jenny’s last request is fulfilled. Can holiday hope heal the broken spirit afflicting Chestnut Grove residents? Or is it time for everyone—including Faith and Jake—to treasure the memories of the past but to move on?

Well, these should keep me busy until the new year. What about you?

What’s your favorite way to grab some quiet time and relax around the holiday season?

Leave me a comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of your choice of one of these books mentioned above. Please include your email address. I’ll announce the winner on Friday, November 22nd.

Blessings always!

Mary Alford

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

It's Good to be Back

As Nancy said in my introduction about me posting today, I was a suspense sister years ago but had to give it up for a while due to the death of my husband. April will mark six years since his death. We were married for almost 27 years. The long road back to normal...well, actually I'm still on the road back to normal and will probably never arrive there. You see, grief and loss changes a person. And you just don't go back to the way it used to be. Losing my husband to cancer is and will be the defining event of my life. It has changed me.

What mattered to me before his death, achieving and striving, doesn't seem as valuable as sitting by river or watching a rainstorm move in across a lake. I'm learning to walk in gratitude for every gift I'm given from relishing the first sip of coffee in the morning, to the way my dog cocks his head when I talk to him (he's such a good listener) to how warm and comforting it feels to pull the clothes from the dryer on a winter's day. My relationships with my kids and with my family of origin matter in a much deeper way. Now when if I am thinking that I love a person, I don't just think that, I say it to them.

Though I could not write for almost nine months after he died, I would say that the experience has changed my writing as well. I write from a deeper place. I understand loss and trauma not just in theory but in practice. I can relate that to what my characters go through. I will say that the trauma of losing my hubby after taking care of him for four years caused what I can only call brain damage. I used to say nothing would keep me from writing. I wrote when I had a hectic schedule. I wrote when I had little kids. I wrote when I only had an hour to write. But after he died, I could not make my mind put ideas together. It was scary. So I journaled and I did word puzzles. The first word puzzle I did took me a week to complete. I knew my brain was getting better when I could complete a puzzle in a single setting.

The grief that followed the loss was like nothing I have ever experienced before.  I lost the ability to make a decision or a plan. I was freefalling. I was like a leaf being carried down a river or a balloon floating in the air. In the future when time permits I want to write and study trauma and grief in depth. In the mean time, I find over and over that bits of what I have been through sneak into my fiction writing through my characters.

All of this is just to say, it is good to be back. Everyone has a watershed moments in their lives, not just with loss but other events as well. The amazing thing is that my watershed moment happened later in life at age 49. How about you? What events in your life define and shape you?

I am giving away a copy of my newest release Courage Under Fire which recently hit the USA Today bestseller list. It is part of the K9 True Blue series. So leave a comment down below. I would love to hear from you

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What's Hot in Inspirational Suspense by Patricia Bradley

Wondering what's hot in inspirational suspense and mystery this week?

Check out Terri Blackstock's latest.

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. 

Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. The events of that night set Brenna’s life on a bad course. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. 

Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

You can purchase Smoke Screen at:

Monday, November 11, 2019


We’re planning another great week on the Suspense Sisters. Check out our posts, our interviews, and our awesome giveaways!


On Tuesday Mary Ellis will tell us What’s Hot in Inspirational Suspense and Mystery. 

Wednesday we’ll hear from Sharon Dunn. She was a Suspense Sister in the past but had to leave due to changes in her personal life. Now she’s back with us. Welcome, Sharon!

Here’s a little about her newest book, COURAGE UNDER FIRE:

A killer in the shadows watches…and waits

The thrilling True Blue K-9 Unit continues

A deadly stalker has rookie K-9 officer Lani Branson in his crosshairs, and he won’t stop until she’s dead. Her boss, K-9 police chief Noah Jameson, won’t let that happen on his watch, especially since there’s a chance this is the same person who killed his brother. Can they unmask the murderer who’s been terrorizing the unit before he strikes again?

Friday, Mary Alford will be talking about how to add some suspense to the holidays. I love this idea! She’ll be sharing several great novels. Someone will win their pick of one of these suspense-filled books! Mary’s newest release is HALLOWED GROUND.


Who can you trust when the enemy is all around?

CIA Agent Erin Sandoval is determined to find the terrorist who killed her partner. On the hunt behind enemy lines, Erin’s entire unit is attacked and killed, leaving Erin and Agent Jax Murphy on the run and trying to stay alive long enough to find the killer’s true identity.

Cutting through the wealth of lies surrounding the mission proves nearly impossible. The biggest threat to their survival might just be their growing feelings for each other.

USA Today Bestselling author Mary Alford returns with a new Christian Romantic Suspense series that will take you from the hallowed halls of Langley to the rugged and desolate mountains of Afghanistan in a tale to keep you guessing until the very end.

The Suspense Sisters

We love books!

Friday, November 8, 2019


Award winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child
Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.


If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?

I love the Lord, my family, books, and being outdoors when allergens are low.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?

When I’m not writing I enjoy walking, music, reading, watching movies and TV and my most favorite thing to do is meet up with friends for coffee or tea depending on where we go.

Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers. 

When I was a kid I watched Scarecrow and Mrs. King which I believe fostered my desire to be a spy lol. Instead I write mystery and suspense novels.

I love a quiet house--there is something about being able to hear things like watter bubbling from the fountain in the yard or the birds singing that makes me very happy.

I enjoy reality shows that deal with the music world. For example Songland, The Masked Singer, and The Voice. These kind of shows put a smile on my face.

What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Is there another genre you’d like to try someday? What is it?

Pre-published I wrote romantic suspense, however my first traditionally published novel was contemporary romance—it was also the first contemporary romance I had ever written. I gradually shifted into romantic mystery and then romantic suspense. Now I mostly write romantic mystery and romantic suspense, but I still write the occasional contemporary romance.

As far as trying something new, the answer is no lol. Three genres are plenty for me. J I have dabbled with screenwriting though. It’s fun to challenge myself with something new.

If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change the course I took because it got me to where I am today, but I would tell my younger self to relax and not stress so much.

Do you have any writing goals you haven’t met yet? What are they?
I would love to sell one of my screenplays. As far as novel writing goes, I would love when someone sees the name Kimberly Rose Johnson they immediately think romantic suspense and romantic mystery.

What are you working on now?

I am currently writing the forth book in The Librarian Sleuth Mystery series. This book focuses on Nancy’s mom, the Tipton County Sheriff.

What is the most important thing you’d like readers to take away from your books?

Most importantly I want to entertain my readers. I want them to feel happy and satisfied when they finish one of my books. As far as a specific spiritual take away goes, I don’t have one. The spiritual thread in my books forms naturally and every person seems to find a different nugget of truth that speaks to them. I’m happy with that.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love books and the escape they provide. I prefer to read books that make me feel good so those are the kind of books I write.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog. Readers can learn more about my books on my website.


Adam and Tara are sucked into a police investigation that might get Tara killed. Can Adam keep her safe or will he lose her forever?

Tara James, the local librarian assistant, is afraid her past will catch up to her when an infant is abandoned outside the Tipton County Library. Will news of the abandoned baby stir up publicity and force her to go on the run again?

Librarian Nancy Daley’s world has become complicated. Carter is pushing to set a wedding date, a woman was left for dead on the side of the road, and Tara, her assistant, is acting strange. Nancy is working every angle she can think of, but the case goes from bad to bizarre. Can she find the baby’s mother, help Tara, and plan her
wedding without upsetting her life’s delicate balance?

Slow news days become a thing of the past for local reporter Adam Stacy when a dead body is discovered on the side of the road. Was the woman murdered or was it an accident? Adam’s feelings are growing for Tara, but she appears to have secrets she’s hiding. Is she somehow connected to the abandoned infant?

When things go from bad to worse Adam does everything in his power to protect Tara, but will it be enough?


Leave a comment, along with your contact information, and you could win an eBook copy of The Sleuth's Conundrum! 



Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Hazards of Dead Bodies

We are in the midst of a series of posts on crime scenes.
Today we will look a bit at the biohazards involved.
Get your Dead Write Blend shirt HERE!

On the most recent episode of the FightWrite Podcast we looked at the stages of decomposition chronologically. We also looked at the health hazards of having a corpse around. According to the World Health Organization, the health risk of a corpse is not as bad as you might think. If a person died without an infectious disease, their body isn't so much of a biohazard. If that is the case, then why are human bodily fluids labeled a health hazard? Well, let's see...


Bodily fluids are fluids produced by the body from the cerebrospinal fluid around your brain to the sweat on your feet and everything in between. In and of themselves they are not hazardous. It is the pathogens they could carry that are. 

Bodily fluids, even from the deceased can transmit pathogens. Here are some of those pathogens as well as  how long they can survive outside the body.

Cholera - feces - 50 days, glass - a month, a coin - week, soil and dust - 16 days, fingertips - 1- 2 hours
Ebola - 6 days.
E coli -  1-4 hours
Hepatitis B - a week
Hepatitis C - four days
HIV - 5-6 days in dried blood, longer in air tight container such as a syringe
Lassa Fever (Hemorrhagic Fever) - 1 hour
Mycobacterium Tuberculosis - 6 months
Rotavirus - dry surface - 10 days, wet surface - several weeks
Salmonella - four hours
Staphylococcus Aureus (causes MRSA) - weeks
Shigella - on food for up to 10 days (think hand to food transmission)
Typhoid/Paratyphoid Fever - months 

(All that just makes me want to wash my hands.)


In the podcast on decomposition, we learned that microorganisms inside the body break it down to basically a liquid state. But, those microorganisms aren't dangerous. And, the liquid state of the human body isn't either assuming that the person does not have an infectious disease such as listed above. 

Basically, a decomposing body is more of a stink problem than health problem. And, technically, that stink could kill you, but you'd have to have a lot of it. According to the Washington City Paper:

A dead body gives of a variety of gases as it decays. Two of them, aptly named cadaverine and putrescine, are primarily responsible for "dead body smell," and are produced mainly during the bloat and putrefaction stage of decomposition. The two chemicals are toxic, but only in large amounts; a 200-pound individual could ingest more than a quarter pound of either without getting a lethal dose. 


The view of dead bodies is, like a whole lot of things, a matter of culture. In some cultures, they just aren't that big of a deal. Here is a National Geographic video of an Indonesian culture that lives with dead bodies for weeks - emphasis on GRAPHIC there. You will see very dead bodies as well as an animal sacrifice (1:57 - 2:07). You've been warned. (I'm so sorry about that thumbnail. 😆 )

All right then, that's it for this post. Comment below to be entered into a drawing to win my book Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes out with Writer's Digest. If there's no fighting in your work, don't worry, there's all kinds of psychology stuff as well as a section on injuries. There's something for everyone!

Here's a little factoid about me. I used to do Christian missions work in Honduras. Beautiful country, beautiful people. I stayed at El Rancho Paraíso near San Pedro Sula. A woman in a nearby village died and our ranch made a wooden casket for her. Supplies were not in abundance so they didn't want to use more than needed. The deceased was about my size so I was the model for that casket. They drew it around me and I hopped in an out as needed until its assigned inhabitant took her place.