What’s In A Big Mac?

If you’re about my age, I bet you know the answer to this question.

I can’t remember if it was the 80’s or 90’s when McDonald’s ran a series of commercials with the song listing the items in a Big Mac.

Sing along with me:

Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun.

Did you hear the music?

Are you wondering why I care about Big Macs?

I used to love them but haven’t eaten one in a while. My daughter and I were talking about fast food this week and as soon as she asked about the Big Mac, the song came to mind and I instantly remembered every item they put into that sandwich.

What a testament to the food giant’s ability to educate me. And the pile of money they spent doing it.

How many other nonsensical factoids do we have crammed in our heads from television commercials, radio ads, and cartoons?

I’m wondering how to feel about this. Should I be annoyed that a bunch of companies filled my head with information about their products? Or is that the price of living in our consumer culture?

Sound off. Tell me how you feel.


My Father Made Me Do It

My father and I are very different. He’s loud and confrontational and I tend to get lost in any group larger than four people. Make him mad and you’ll know. I’m the opposite. It is really hard to offend me and you would have to try really hard to make me yell.

Recently I did two things that really surprised me.

First, I was in a restaurant/bar with my daughter. She was singing karaoke and a really drunk guy kept hitting on her. He was about 40 and she was 17. When he started touching her I tapped him on the shoulder and shared a few words with him.  Two minutes later he left the restaurant and didn’t come back. I didn’t threaten him per se, but I think he saw in my eyes that he was on dangerous ground.

Today I was in my allergist’s office. They have a policy about staying there 30 minutes after an injection because you could have an allergic reaction and die if they don’t attend to you right away. It’s a bit of CYA, but I have always complied with the policy.

Right after my injection I got an important phone call that was critical to one of my girls. I can’t say what the call was about, but imagine a highly confidential call that has to be taken in that second or else.

I got up and headed for the outside door.

The nurse told me I couldn’t go outside. I told her I needed to take the call.

She told me to stay inside.

I asked, “Do you have a gun?”

She said she didn’t and I walked outside. I didn’t see her again, but the doc came out with a concerned look on his face in about 45 seconds.

Driving home I chuckled to myself about the gun comment even though I felt bad about upsetting the nurse. The words just blurted out of me and I wondered where they came from.

It didn’t take long to realize I was acting like my father in both situations. While I almost never model his aggressive behavior, when my kids are threatened, my reaction is completely instinctive. I rarely confront anyone, but my father taught me how. I should thank him for that someday.

Fiction is similar. While most of us never have a chance to be heroic, books and movies give us a recipe for good decision making in a crisis. (And you thought they were just for fun.)

If an earthquake hit or if terrorists attacked your neighborhood,  who would be your guide?

Who’s Rowing Your Boat?

Last week I took my oldest daughter, her friend, and my girlfriend’s young daughter out on the river to do some crabbing.

If you have never caught blue crabs before, you should try. It’s a lot of fun and you don’t need a license in most places. All you need is some fishing line or string, some uncooked chicken (legs or wings) and a net. It’s a good idea to bring a bucket and a ruler if you plan on keeping crabs. They need to be 5″ from point to point to be legal here in Massachusetts.

We caught a few crabs, not very many, and as the day went on, the wind picked up. We weren’t far from the mouth of the river, so with the wind blowing and the tide coming in, our little boat was getting blown around pretty good.

I have been around the water all my life and maybe sometimes I don’t realize my age. I didn’t bother hauling a motor and rowed us out instead because I like the exercise.

The wind blew us about two hundred yards up river, our anchor dragging in the mud. About that time my daughter decided she wanted to go, so we hauled anchor and I started rowing.

A funny thing happened.

I rowed harder and harder, but we didn’t move. The wind and the tide were so strong that my rowing could only keep us in place. It was then I noticed the girls laughing, singing, and telling jokes. They had no idea that I couldn’t move the boat. I was getting nervous, thinking I might have to get to shore and pull the boat downriver.

I realized then that for many things they rely on me without giving it a second thought. They aren’t concerned at all about me getting them back safely because they trust that I will. Sometimes I guess we fail to realize how hard others are working to help us. I thought of all the friends I have out there recommending my books to friends, helping me  make a go of writing for a living.

That positive energy was what I needed to dig a little deeper and beat the wind. We got to shore fine of course and the kids never guessed how nervous I was about getting there.

So who is rowing for you?

Please Welcome Jenny Hilborne

Charles Dean owns a prestigious advertising company in Oxfordshire. A recent scandal has threatened to ruin him, and Dean is determined to deal with it on his own. Someone else has other ideas, and their own reasons for bringing him down. Author, Jenny Hilborne, gives us a peek into her new psychological thriller, STONE COLD.


With its thatched cottages, historic houses, white gravel driveways, charming pubs, and beautiful countryside, the English Cotswolds are idyllic, a gloriously peaceful place in the heart of the England.




A murder in such a tranquil place is unexpected, and all the more shocking. Three murders stun the entire the Oxfordshire community, especially when the deceased are all senior level corporate executives.

As the murder team working the case remind us, murder in England is uncommon, it’s still a rare crime. When two of the murders occur on the same date, it’s extraordinary, and enough to set off a nagging gut reaction that Dean knows more than he is saying.

What connects the dead? What secret is ruthless boss, Charles Dean, desperate to keep concealed?

Charles Dean rejects the detective’s doubts. After all, successful people are enviable targets and someone is always out to bring them down. True? As I wrote this part, I decided that it’s a plausible argument, which raised another question: What makes someone enormously successful in the corporate world? Why is this kind of success often accompanied by arrogance, dirty deals, and ruthless management styles?

In some of the more competitive industries, senior level executives often abuse their power and buried crimes appear to be disturbingly common. You only have to read the papers or watch the news to see it for yourself.

Who wouldn’t enjoy witnessing the destruction of a corrupt person in power? I know I would, and I wanted to explore this angle and use it. I wanted to get behind the smooth exterior of a cultured senior level exec, expose the unscrupulous side that might exist, and examine the psychological distress it might cause the victims. The story has nagged me at me for several years.



While psychological thriller STONE COLD is a work of fiction, elements of the story are grounded in truth and parts of the plot are loosely based on real life tragedy. I set the story in my home country and chose a setting where crimes of this nature would be least expected in order to highlight the contrast between the powerful and the vulnerable, both physically and mentally. As I wrote, I discovered the true power might lie with those who have less to lose – a prospect I found more chilling as my plot developed.

STONE COLD was written as a standalone, but after I added the last words and read over the story, I wondered if there might be a sequel. When one corrupt businessman is brought down, there’ll another along to replace him.

I hope you enjoy STONE COLD and I look forward to your feedback.

Jenny Hilborne is the author of four suspense novels including Madness and Murder, No Alibi, and Hide and Seek.

You can find Jenny at: http://www.jfhilborne.com or at http://jfhilborne.wordpress.com

Welcome Marilyn Meredith!


First you might ask, what does RBPD stand for? It’s Rocky Bluff Police Department.

Rocky Bluff is a small, fictional beach community located on the California coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara.  The police department is also small and inadequately staffed. They lack the latest technology and anything requiring lab or forensic work must be sent to the Ventura Police Department. Because of this, most of the RBPD work is done the old fashioned way, collecting clues, questioning by-standers, suspects and anyone connected to the victim(s).


My goal when I began this series was to show how what’s happening on the job affects the family, and how what is happening with the family affects the job.

The series has a large cast of characters, some of whom are featured in one book and not the next, but will probably make an appearance.

In the latest, Dangerous Impulses, you’ll find the following ongoing characters:

Detective Doug Milligan, his new wife, Stacey, and her little boy, Davey.

Detective Frank Marshall, Doug’s partner and nearing retirement.

Officer Gordon Butler, a “by the book” policeman who doesn’t have it easy.

Officer Felix Zachary, his wife Wendy, and their newborn, Ruby.

Sergeant Abel Navarro, his wife, Maria, a nurse at the local hospital, and their daughter, Lupe.

Ryan Strickland, RBPD’s Public Relations Officer, who also fills in when needed. His wife, Barbara, and her three sons.

Officer Vince Aragon who is on limited duty.

And making her debut in this book, the new hire, Lizette Gibbs.

Though this is a police procedural and the solving of the crimes is important, what is going on with the characters in their private lives is equally as important.

When I wrote the first book, Final Respects, I had no idea it would be a series. However, once I finished I knew I wanted to know what happened to all these people and the only way for that to happen was write another book.  And I’ve kept on, right up to Dangerous Impulses which is #9. And yes, I’ve started another one.

Now a bit about Dangerous Impulses:

An attractive new-hire captivates Officer Gordon Butler, Officer Felix Zachary’s wife Wendy is befuddled by her new baby, Ryan and Barbara Strickland receive unsettling news about her pregnancy, while the bloody murder of a mother and her son and an unidentified drug that sickens teenaged partiers jolts the Rocky Bluff P.D.



The person who comments on the most blog posts on this tour may have a character named after him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel or choose a book from the previous titles in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series in either paper or for Kindle.

Rocky Bluff P.D. Series:

Though each book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is written as a stand-alone, I know there are people who like to read a series in order. From the beginning to the end:

Final Respects

Bad Tidings

Fringe Benefits

Smell of Death

No Sanctuary

An Axe to Grind

Angel Lost

No Bells

Dangerous Impulses



F. M. Meredith’s Bio:

F.M. is also known as Marilyn Meredith, the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. She first became interested in writing about law enforcement when she lived in a neighborhood filled with police officers and their families. The interest was fanned when her daughter married a police officer and the tradition has continued with a grandson and grandson-in-law who are deputies. She’s also serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and has many friends in different law enforcement fields. For twenty plus years, she and her husband lived in a small beach community located in Southern California much like the fictional Rocky Bluff. She is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Epic, and Mystery Writers of America.


Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/

Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

And I’m on Facebook and Twitter as MarilynMeredith

Tomorrow you can find me here: http://bloggingwebbb.blogspot.com/


Criminal Cupid: A Thriller Threesome

What woman wouldn’t want a threesome for Valentine’s Day?

Guys don’t get too excited. Put your clothes back on and put your little black book away, because we’re talking books.

My friends August McLaughlin, Kristine Cayne, and I have a sweet treat for the ladies.  For two days only, February 13th and 14th, we’re offering three thrillers for 99 cents each. Purchase three books for a chance to win an I Survived A Thriller Threesome t-shirt (a $20 value).

How to play:

Purchase the following for yourself and/or others via Amazon. You must purchase three e-books for a chance to win a threesome tee. Though it’d tickle our frisky fancies if you purchased all three, any combination works. In other words, if you’ve read August’s book and loved it, you’re welcome to gift it to three friends. Or you could gift two of Kristine’s book to friends and nab mine for yourself. You get the idea. Then in the comments below, let me know that you’ve made three purchases. (How often do you get to say things like, “I ordered my thriller threesome!” ???) If your name is drawn, I’ll request proof of purchase. We’re giving away six shirts, so your chances are good!

The playmates:


Addicted to Love, by CJ West:

Wes Holiday sells his landscaping business and retreats to a quaint mountain town to heal after ending a ten year relationship with a woman he couldn’t bring himself to marry. In three weeks he is so captivated by a hair stylist that he deprives himself of food and sleep to be near her. When the local sheriff is murdered, Wes is recruited to keep the peace in the town his parents built, but he knows nothing about law enforcement and he’s struggling to understand how a woman he just met can dominate his every waking thought. Soon the idyllic town with a penchant for romance is rocked by a bizarre series of murders that defy explanation and it is up to Wes to stop a raging epidemic of violence. Purchase via Amazon

Deadly Addiction, by Kristine Cayne:

When beautiful police sergeant Alyssa Morgan enters his life, Rémi Whitedeer never expects her to upend it. Not only does she have his hormones in an uproar, she’s also threatening to take the position he wants–Chief of Police for the Iroquois Blackriver Reservation. But Alyssa is more than a Barbie cop. Her ends-justifies-the-means philosophy, so different from his own, challenges Rémi on every level. With her sharp investigative skills and her fearlessness, she leads Rémi to confront bitter truths about his family and his standing as a man of mixed race within his tribe.

Tall hunky Rémi Whitedeer, of the panty-melting grin and the smoldering green eyes, flips Alyssa’s world ass over teakettle. She’s always had a laser-like focus on the job, but Rémi proves a constant distraction. His inner strength and sense of purpose strip away the winner-take-all attitude Alyssa wears like armor. Soon she’s longing for more–a more that terrifies and intrigues her. If he finds out the fine line she’d walked while undercover, will he still want her? And will she ever find the courage to let him–or anyone–that far in?

When Alyssa and Rémi uncover a drug-fueled scheme involving a biker gang from Alyssa’s past and a militant sovereigntist group led by Rémi’s cousin, they are forced to choose between their growing love for each other and the lives they’ve worked so hard to build. Will Rémi and Alyssa have to leave everything behind–even their identities–for the chance of a future together? Purchase via Amazon

In Her Shadow, by August McLaughlin:

One woman locked in a basement, nearing death and longing for escape. Another baffled by the inexplicable symptoms wreaking havoc on her life. Both are lost and alone, yet somehow connected. And time is running out…

Near the tenth anniversary of her parents’ unexpected death, Claire Fiksen, a lovely young Harvard-grad and gifted psychologist in Minnesota, develops bizarre symptoms of an eating disorder that threaten her fledgling career, her relationship with a handsome young medical student, her grasp on reality and, soon, her life.

When her beloved grandfather reveals that there may be more to her parents’ death than she’s realized, Claire’s pursuit of healing becomes a desperate search for answers as she delves into her family’s sordid past. Meanwhile, someone is watching her every move, plotting to draw her into her own twisted web of misery. Claire has something he needs, and he’ll stop at nothing to obtain it. Every step Claire takes brings her closer to the truth and danger. And her life, she discovers, isn’t the only one at stake. Purchase via Amazon

For more threesome fun and more chances to win, visit Blogging with Kristine Cayne and Savor the Storm with August McLaughlin

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day and, if you choose to play, a very thrilling threesome. 🙂

August, Kristine and C.J.

Have you ordered your Thriller Threesome? Do tell! Spicy details and creativity welcome!

Dinner At Deadman’s Is Free!

DAD free2

Dinner At Deadman’s is free today and tomorrow. In that spirit, I thought I’d share a guest post from my recent blog tour to get you in the mood. Enjoy!

Would You Eat A Dead Lady’s Food?

Lorado Martin, star of my new novel Dinner At Deadman’s, loves to rummage around estates of the newly-deceased and prepare them for sale. He’s attracted to all sorts of collectibles, antiques, about anything lying around someone’s house that proves interesting.

The title Dinner At Deadman’s comes from a night Lorado is working in a woman’s home and decides to eat some cereal from her kitchen. I have been surprised by how revolting people find the idea of eating something from a dead lady’s home, so I thought I’d explore that idea with you a bit today.

One of my most surprising food finds was a can of peaches at the bottom of a set of cellar stairs. The can had rusted through. The peaches had seeped out and all that remained of them was a dark-colored spot on the wooden shelf underneath the can. The can must have been sitting there for several years and I wonder if anyone considered eating those peaches in the few years before I found them.

I think we can all agree we wouldn’t eat peaches from a rusty old can, but what about a can of soup in the pantry that was shiny and new? Could there really be anything wrong with soup that’s been lying around a while? If it was free, would you take it home? Would you check the expiration date first?

For me it would be an easy call. If it was canned food that I would buy anyway, I’d take any can that was in good condition. I’m not sure exactly what makes eating food from a dead person’s house weird. Is it the idea that whatever killed them might be infectious? Or is it a superstition that the food could be haunted? Or maybe the ghost of the previous owner would torment you for taking it home?

Let’s go to the kitchen next.

I remember eating cereal at my grandmother’s house. It was always stale. And she always filled bowls by hand, reaching in, grabbing a handful, and dropping it in a bowl like an excavator. That always seemed a little gross to me as a kid. The idea of a strange old lady’s hand on my cereal is enough for me to forgo an open box.

How about you? If you found an unopened box of your favorite cereal would you take it?

It’s a slippery slope once you get started. You open the freezer and see frozen steaks. The food starts to have value and in these tough economic times I think a lot of us would be tempted to take some of that free food home, especially if it was in a sealed container.

Whether this sounds like a great idea or a crazy one, I hope you’ll check out Dinner At Deadman’s and explore a sweet little old lady’s kitchen alongside Lorado.

Getting Over The Hump – J. Carson Black

Please welcome J. Carson Black to Getting Over The Hump Day. J. is the author of 13 novels and has lived in the traditional publishing and indie publishing worlds.





 by J. Carson Black

As I come to the end of my fourteenth novel, it has become clear to me that all my books have something in common.

They are exactly like recalcitrant racehorses.

I think they’re fillies. Fillies are known for making their own rules.

Every one of my books has been hard to load in the gate. They break slow and loaf along far behind the field, no matter how much I scrub on them, kiss at them, or shake the reins. No matter what I do, I’m just the jockey, and I can’t exactly pick the damn thing up and carry it on my shoulders to the wire.

They put on occasional capricious spurts of speed just to confound me, before dropping back to take in the view.

Finally, though, when it’s almost too late–the pace quickens.  We start to pick up horses, but the wire is coming up fast.  There’s a deadline looming. Still, after thirteen previous books, I’m pretty sure we’ll get there.

Although it’s never pretty.

A few things that have helped me:

Writing every day. (Or trying to.)

Writing a certain number of words every day.

Getting up early and starting while still sleepy.

Going for a walk.

Not thinking about the book while going for the walk.

Jigsaw puzzles.

Not thinking about the book while I’m doing jigsaw puzzles.

“Written? Kitten!”

“Written? Kitten!” has become my best ally. The little online app shows me a picture of a kitten for every hundred words I write. Best of all, when I’m in Written? Kitten! I’m not writing in Word.

When I’m writing in Word, I goof off.  I change font colors or go back to look at Page 2, or Chapter Seven, or I write down my word count and calculate how much further I have to go today–constantly.

I understand there’s a mean-spirited dominatrix-type app called “Write or Die” which is popular with masochists. You can choose a strict punishment for not writing, or a lenient one. I think somebody wears a hood, although I’m not sure. Maybe you end up with a rubber ball in your mouth.  If you don’t write enough, your precious words disappear.

I don’t respond to that kind of encouragement. I would just roll up in a little ball and cry like a baby.


 You can find J. at her website or on Facebook.


Cruising in your Eighties!

Please welcome Mike Befeler. Mike was a tennis prodigy in his teens, but that was a very long time ago. Now Mike writes Geezer-lit, books about old folks with a touch of mystery and humor. He’s a riot in person. The last time we were on a panel he made a joke about geezer sex and I offered to meet everyone in the bar afterward so we could rinse the idea out of our minds.

Here is Mike talking about his latest book, Cruising in Your Eighties is Murder.




The best part of writing my most recent Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, was doing the research. Since the novel takes place on an Alaskan cruise, I forced myself to take a cruise in preparation for writing the book. Reluctantly, my wife and daughter agreed to accompany me so I wouldn’t be lonely.

Our cruise started in Seattle with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria before returning to Seattle. We also spent most of a day sailing through Glacier Bay.

And what a coincidence—my protagonist, Paul Jacobson, happens to take the same route. The main difference is that I didn’t encounter any murders along the way. But because Paul is a dead body magnet, he comes across several as well as becoming enmeshed in international intrigue.

Paul is in his mid-eighties and has short-term memory loss. I’m younger and can remember things most of the time.



The morning before I got on the cruise ship, I walked around Seattle. Nothing happened. The morning before Paul embarks, he takes a walk around Seattle, gets into an argument with a street person and later finds the same man dead in a garden. Go figure.

In Juneau, we visited a fish hatchery and saw the Mendenhall Glacier. A calm tour. Paul accidently knocks a woman into the fish hatchery and is chased by a bear near Mendenhall Glacier. He leads a more exciting life than I do.

The rest of my cruise was enjoyable and calm. Paul’s cruise goes downhill from there, ending with an encounter in Victoria’s Butchart Gardens with a Latvia mob boss and a cast of supporting characters who decimate a section of the gardens. I enjoyed my cruise more than Paul does, but his trip is certainly more entertaining.


Mike Befeler writes the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series including CRUISING IN YOUR EIGHTIES IS MURDER, SENIOR MOMENTS ARE MURDER, RETIREMENT HOMES ARE MURDER and LIVING WITH YOUR KIDS IS MURDER, which was nominated for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2009. Mike is vice-president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. http://www.mikebefeler.com


99 Authors 99 Books 99 Cents


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