Guest Post – 30 Things About My Sleuth by Heather Weidner – MTW

30 Things about My Sleuth – Delanie Fitzgerald of Falcon Investigations

Thank you for letting be visit your blog! Secret Lives and Private Eyes is the first in my Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series. She is a private investigator who lives in Central Virginia. And I’m often asked about what my protagonist is really like. Here’s my top-thirty list about my spunky sleuth.

  1. Delanie is a redhead like 1-2% of the human population (and me). She has determination, grit, and a spunky spirit.
  2. She drives a Mustang, and she calls it “Black Beauty.”
  3. My private investigator graduated from VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) with a degree in business.
  4. She lives in a Sears catalog home from 1939. Back then, people ordered kits from the catalog, and all of the pieces arrived by rail, ready to assemble.
  5. Delanie’s Sears catalog home is the Yates model. Many of the boards in her bungalow still have the Sears catalog number stamped on them. There are Sears catalog homes still standing in Central Virginia, but I took the liberty of moving one to western Chesterfield for Delanie’s home.
  6. Delanie’s bungalow has an upstairs. Her bedroom and living space are on the first floor. She may have a remodeling project in her future.
  7. Her partner is computer guru (and hacker), Duncan Reynolds.
  8. She shares her office space with Duncan and his English bulldog Margaret.
  9. Margaret follows her guy Duncan everywhere. And she thinks she’s queen of Delanie’s office. Margaret also rides in the front seat of Duncan’s canary yellow Camaro.
  10. One of Delanie’s guilty pleasures is her junk food habit. She also orders a lot of take-out from the nearby restaurants.
  11. When she’s not sleuthing or trailing a suspect, she likes to stay home in her comfy jammies and watch reality TV.
  12. Growing up, Delanie had a major crush on ‘80s rock star, Johnny Velvet from The Vibes.
  13. Her middle name is Lynn.
  14. Delanie has two older brothers. Steve, the eldest, is a Chesterfield County police lieutenant, and Robbie is a bouncer at a club in downtown Richmond. Robbie used to play minor league baseball until he destroyed his knee.
  15. She used her share of the money from her father’s estate to open Falcon Investigations.
  16. Delanie chose the name for her company in honor of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.
  17. Her client, Chaz Wellington Smith, owns a strip club in the downtown area near where Edgar Allan Poe worked in Richmond.
  18. Delanie had never seen an alpaca up close until she encountered Myrtle on John Bailey’s farm in Amelia County.
  19. Delanie’s best friend from school is hair stylist, Paisley Ford.
  20. Though she prefers the comfort of jeans and T-shirts, Delanie has a wardrobe full of outfits and shoes to create just the right look when she’s sleuthing.
  21. Her favorite drink is iced coffee, and her go-to treat is always chocolate.
  22. Delanie and Duncan usually investigate cheating spouses. She is thrilled when she lands an assignment from tell-all author, Tish Taylor, to track down leads on rocker Johnny Velvet, who purportedly died in a fiery car crash in the ‘80s.
  23. While the story is fiction, many of the locales that Delanie visits are real. Some of these include: Amelia County, Belle Island, Byrd Park, Church Hill, The Diamond (Home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels), Kanawha Canal, Library of Virginia, Main Street Station, Shockoe Slip, Tredegar Iron Works, and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Readers who have been to Central Virginia will recognize some of the street and place names.
  24. Delanie got her first name from my niece’s friend, and her last name is in honor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of my favorite writers.
  25. Delanie’s home and office are in Chesterfield County, Virginia. I liked the location because it’s close to the city and rural parts of the state. It’s also within driving distance to the beach, mountains, and Washington, D.C.
  26. She loves a variety of music, but rock ‘n’ roll is her favorite. A great escape is to blast the radio with the windows down.
  27. While she has enough culinary skills to survive, cooking is not her forte, and she often forgets to keep the pantry and fridge stocked.
  28. Delanie is a “cop’s kid.” Her father was a Chesterfield County police officer, and her brother Steve now serves the county as a lieutenant.
  29. While sleuthing, Delanie often creates aliases or cover stories. I often name the aliases after friends.
  30. Many of the waiters, police, and other minor characters that Delanie encounters are named after family and friends. If you look carefully, you’ll see homage to pop culture icons and my favorite authors.



Secret Lives and Private Eyes –  Heather Weidner

Secret Lives and Private Eyes is a fast-paced mystery that will appeal to readers who like a strong, female private investigator who has a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations. Business has been slow for PI, Delanie Fitzgerald, but her luck seems to change when a tell-all author hires her to find rock star, Johnny Velvet. Could the singer whose life was purportedly cut short in a fiery car crash still be alive? And as if sifting through dead ends in a cold case isn’t bad enough, Chaz Wellington Smith, III, a loud-mouthed strip club owner, hires Delanie to uncover information on the mayor’s secret life. When the mayor is murdered, Chaz is the key suspect. Now Delanie must clear his name and figure out the connection between the two cases before another murder – probably her own – takes place.


Author Biography:

Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, and James River Writers, and Lethal Ladies Write. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is her debut novel.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Visit Heather at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


Author Links:

Website and Blog:





Book Link:


Guest Post – Small Press Publishing: What to Expect by Laura Wolfe

Small Press Publishing:  What to Expect

Small presses can open doors for authors who may not otherwise find a home for their books. For anyone considering publication by a small press, here are a few things I’ve learned from working with Fire and Ice YA, the Minnesota-based press that published my young adult mystery, Trail of Secrets:

* Expect to receive personal attention from a small press

Editors at small presses will likely consult with their authors every step of the way. Prior to the publication of Trail of Secrets, I worked with a cover designer to create a cover that matched my vision and I retained the power to veto edits with which I disagreed. Even months later, all of my questions and concerns are answered directly by the owners of the company. With a small press, I feel like an important member of the team, rather than just another number.

* Expect to become a part of the small press “family”

One of the best things about working with a small press is getting to know other authors published by the same press. The authors I’ve met through Fire and Ice are now some of my biggest supporters. Small presses can make it easy for authors to connect through Facebook groups, twitter lists, and blog opportunities. Additionally, small presses are loyal to their authors. They want to see authors succeed and grow. Once an author is published by a small press, that press is much more likely to publish other manuscripts the author submits to them in the future.

* Don’t expect books published by a small press to be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble

…Or any other bookstore for that matter. The same goes for libraries. This was one fact I wish I had known before signing with a small press. Many small presses publish print books only “on-demand”, meaning the books cannot be ordered in bulk and held in a distribution warehouse. While small press authors should contact independent bookstores and libraries to try to get their books on the shelves, they should also be realistic about the limited shelf space for print-on-demand books and the amount of time it takes to sell books to individual stores and libraries.

* Don’t expect a small press to do any marketing

Any marketing a small press does for their authors should be considered a gift. Other than Fire and Ice posting the cover of Trail of Secrets on their website and sending out a few tweets, I’ve done all of the marketing for my book. On the positive side, I’ve learned a TON in the last two years about how to promote my book. I now know how to create a book trailer. I’m confident approaching bookstores and libraries. I’m becoming a #twitter expert. This is knowledge I’ll be able to utilize for future book releases.

I urge aspiring authors to consider the benefits and drawbacks before publishing with a small press.  For me, working with a small press has, overall, been a positive experience!  In fact, Fire and Ice YA will be publishing my second novel, Barn Shadows (Dark Horse, Book Two) on March 14, 2017!



Trail of Secrets Amazon link:

Trail of Secrets Barnes & link:

Author website:





Back Cover Blurb: Spending three weeks of her summer at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen year-old Brynlei’s life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched. Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl—or her ghost—may be lurking in the shadows.


Brynlei’s quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode’s coveted “Top Rider” award. To make things worse, someone discovers her search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl’s disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?


Author Bio:  Laura Wolfe is a lover of animals and nature. When she is not writing, she can be found playing games with her highly-energetic kids, riding horses, growing vegetables in her garden, or spoiling her rescue dog. She lives in Michigan with her husband, son, and daughter. Laura’s YA mystery, Trail of Secrets (Dark Horse, Book 1), was named as a Finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards—First Novel category. Laura holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and a JD from DePaul University. She is an active member of multiple writing groups, including Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the SCBWI. For more information on her upcoming books, please visit:




Guest Post – Out of Thin Air: The Creation of Your Creatures by K. Brooks


Every author that tackles a genre with outside-the-norm characters wants to make the best ‘bump-in-the-night’.

Let’s note that I originally wrote that line, using only ‘horror’ and ‘fantasy’ as genre examples. But fortunately for readers and writers, so many of the stories that we bring into the light lately are almost impossible to categorize. Though it makes it difficult to slot ourselves into the tiny boxes that many retailers and publishers require, it can be incredibly freeing in the craft to bend the rules of the strange and unknown into the worlds and creatures we require.

I have found that the clearest way to build a monster (or hero!) from nothing, is to avoid the sway of existing myths and legends. This may seem counterproductive, as for how can you craft something new and unique if you don’t know everything that already exists so that you don’t accidentally copy it?

The truth is, you will never know every urban legend, mystical creature, legendary figure. You will never know all the folklore and secret stories whispered to children before bed. You will never be able to speak every language, read every book, or follow the village elders to their camp fires amongst thousands of years of experiences to make sure that you, and you alone, have created the perfect beast.

It’s an impossible and infinite undertaking. Every moment, new books are being written, movies are being released, and parents are inventing reasons for that sound that clawed your child up from sleep and sent them screaming from their room. I myself, early in my experience of writing, found myself a couple hundred pages into a novel that I believed was a concept and a monster that had never been created before.

A mere six months later, a movie was released with an almost carbon-copy monster to my initial concept. I allowed this fact to collapse my dream of finishing that novel.

But that was a number of years ago, and I realize now that the only uniqueness you can bring to your creatures or villains now, is the perspective you build around them.  In “The Spark That Left Us” I toy with the concept of Hell and of souls. I’d always been intrigued by the concept of selling your soul. Not as something to do, but as a common assumption across many cultures that it is done. Obviously, there are those desperate enough to sell them, whether for life or love or liberty, but I had always questioned the “why” surrounding “why would the person buying, want the souls?” What could they possibly be used for? In much of the lore, the seller of the soul simply has a predetermined amount of time left in this world in exchange for their soul, and then off they go, dead or otherwise. I wanted to shift this concept into something grander, and more life changing than merely a timer set for the end. Selling their souls enslaves them to the Collectors and the Tenders, a combo team of paranormal people and creatures that are in the business of altering reality and controlling minds. When a soul is sold, there is a shift, in reality, a cover-up of a sort, fragile and as simple as possible that both satisfies the deal, but also strips the memory of the deal from the victim – and leaves them profoundly changed. How are they changed?

They can now be fully controlled by psychics, who rally into their brains and force them to carry out serial killer-like crime sprees until the Collector has decided their soul is tarnished and rancid enough to carry them off to Hell. Sold souls, but with a twist.

Even the psychics themselves, the Tenders, are blackmailed, bullied, and enslaved by the Collectors to carry out these crimes.

Though some of them like it.

Victims into monsters, the powers of individuality and autonomy removed. The ones who sold their souls, doomed to an existence that they have no idea how they fell into. Their eyes liquid silver, and their skin sparking and electric if they go too long without killing – a side effect of their souls trying to free themselves.

In an ironic twist, that it’s the constant killing that prevents them from turning into an uncontrollable and violent monster, manic and destructive in their murderous force.

It only takes one element. One fact that is widely acknowledged, and then you skew its perspective. You give it a why, and an answer to that question that echoes farther than anything you’ve ever seen.

My latest work, “When Shadows Creep” plays on a one line concept that I read online, and spun my imagination into overdrive.

There’s the idea of liminal spaces. That there are places that only exist in brief snatches of time, which you can cross into, experience, and cross out of, but only for minutes or moments. There are stories of people finding rest stops on the side of the highway they can never seem to find again, because it only exists on that month, on that day, at that minute, and you just happened to catch it. Abandoned spaces, rooms in schools that for forty seconds on July 31st between noon and two, suddenly flicker back into the existence of the day the school opened.

I took this idea, once again, and spun it into a different perspective. I wondered what would happen if these moments, or places where these moments happen, were actually thin spaces between realities. And then I wondered who would protect them. And then, of course, I wondered what would happen if something decided it wanted to use it for its own nefarious scheme.

Crafting bad guys, and creatures, and worlds, and powers doesn’t need to be strenuous. You don’t need an in-depth rule book and pages upon pages of translations from your mind to the page. Tolkien did it but look at the depth and the breadth of that world. He created everything from nothing.

But if your monsters live in the world that you engage in every day, why not take what you know, and take what you believe best, hold on tight, and give it a twist.


K.Brooks is an author out of Ontario, Canada. She’s written three novels, one currently available and two others are in the editing process. She works in advertising and is always influenced by the weather when it comes to finding inspiration for her work. She often embarks on aimless road trips and alone time with the wilderness.

More blog posts and behind-the-scenes can be found at



Guest Post – Getting Reviews for Self-Published Books by Patrick Greene

Getting Reviews for Self-Published Books

A few decades ago, self-publishing was a drag. Aside from the strife that comes with financing your book, you also have to impress the publisher with your transcript.

Think about it. There used to be a time when the only people who could read were the ones who went to school. Why? Well, let’s just say buying one book was just as expensive as buying your own house. Well, what can you expect? Back then, people had to manually write every word to form one book. And don’t even think about committing just one error, or else you’re bound to start from scratch all over again.

It was only when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press that the production of books began to evolve. But even so, self-publishing remained to be pricey.

But with the coming of the internet age, publishing your own book is just about as easy as writing the first word in your story. Tons of publishing platforms lets you publish your own book online for free.

There hasn’t been a better time to be a published author. With that, there haven’t been more book reviewers available for indie authors than it is today.

Online publishing is one way to get your book out to the world. But getting people to read your work is another story. Book reviews is a great way to promote and advertise your work. But if you’re a newbie to self-publishing you need to know your way to getting to book reviews that’ll get you more readers.



Getting started

Writers who opt to get their books published in the paper have to go directly to the publisher and provide a transcript of their work, placed in a brown envelope, where it will be queued for proofreading and approval.

Just the same, you’re going to have to prepare a few essentials before you go hunting book reviewers. Here are as follows:

  • A complete copy of your book in PDF format.

Book reviewers can only review your book right after they get to read it. With that, you’ll have to provide them a PDF of your book, together with its cover pages.

  • Cover letter

Before anyone decides to review your work, they’d first want to know a little bit more about you. Write a brief description about yourself and what you think makes your book special.

  • Author bio

There are some book reviewers who’ll only entertain authors who they think are worthy. An author bio is a great avenue to show off what makes you an awesome author.

How to find reviewers

There are a bunch of bloggers online who review books even if they aren’t paid. Even so, you can bet that they’re introspective, and have a good number of followers.

On the other hand, there are also those who write book reviews for a price. I’m not discouraging you from taking on these kinds of services, but there isn’t really a good reason to pay for them. Some people provide free book review services, and an even greater service if you pay them. In my opinion, there are even better ways to spend your money, and a good bunch of free book reviews. So, you better explore those first. Here is a bunch of websites where you can find free book reviews:

  • Midwest Book Reviews
  • Indie Reader
  • Self-Publishing Review
  • Absolute Write
  • Book Blogs

How to get your book reviewed

What do you do next now that you’ve knitted all the essentials together? You get out there and hunt down reviewers. Here are some tips to getting reviewed:

  • Pick the right book reviewer

Think of this as picking the man or woman who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. There billions of people on the planet. But you’ll only pick one whom you think is the best among the rest. You don’t just choose one for the sake of getting married. As a matter of fact, you’d rather not marry at all if you’re just going to have to marry someone you don’t like.


It’s somewhat the same when you’re looking for book reviewers. Surely, there are tons of book reviewers online, but you have to pick one that’ll be best for promoting your book.


This is the single most important thing to do when you’re out looking for reviewers. If you make a mistake in picking a reviewer, then there’s a big chance that your book won’t make it much in the market.


Think about it. Nobody on the internet knows who you are. With that, nobody is going to spend their time reading something that doesn’t seem to be worth it. Figure what kind of books the reviewer usually writes about, and select the appropriate reviewer for your book.

  • Do a background check about the reviewer

There’s only one way to know which reviewer is perfect for your book. And that’s by conducting enough research.


Know the qualifications of your reviewer candidate. Apart from that you also need to query them. There are reviewers who’ll only have you send the book, but there are few who have certain requirements when reviewing books.

  • Send the book

After you’ve conducted enough research, you may send the book to the reviewer.

  • Follow-up

Book reviewers are also busy people. That being said, you can’t expect them to be ones to keep track of your request. You have to follow up once in a while. But do so in a fashion that won’t harass the reviewer.

  • Thank the reviewer

Your book reviewer is one of the factors that can help make your name in the publishing industry. And you can bet that he can also be one of the aspects that can ruin your reputation. With that, be courteous when dealing with your reviewer. You can do that by showing that you appreciate the time he spent writing a review about your book.

Self-publishing has never become as easy as it is today. But having to promote your book to an audience is a different story. Book reviews is an effective way to advertise your book. That being said, it’s vital that you pick the right reviewer for your readership needs.


Author Bio

Patrick works as a contributor at type my essay. He is a former editor of a small town newspaper publishing. He is an avid fan of social media, and runs his own page for writing enthusiasts for his college. With the rising clamor for healthy living, Patrick immersed himself with water sports.

Guest Post – Breathing Life into Words – The Use of Mood Boards by K. Brooks


The mind’s eye can be a wonderful thing. Through it, thousands of words become glorious landscapes and sweeping vistas and the darkest caves. We witness through our imagination the rise of kings and the fall of dictators, honorable battles, and mischievous deeds. We can see the glow of first love, the tears of new loss, and the grief of repeated failures. It’s a wonderful thing being able to take the words you read and be able to craft together the images that an author has lovingly formed for you to see.

But what does the author do when they are having a difficult time seeing what they are trying to build out of thin air? What does the author do when they’ve crafted a persona, a character, his hopes and dreams, and yet haven’t instilled the beating heart that would bring their vision to life?

There are many authors who base their characters on flesh and blood, people they’ve crossed in the street and the coffee shops, people who’ve fulfilled their lives and crowded at their minds. Maybe a lover, the scent of them when they hold them in their arms, the way their eyes sparkle when they laugh. Some authors turn the negative influences in their lives into villains and crooks and cruel mistresses. Sometimes you can feel the venom that flowed through the words as they acknowledged the hatred they felt.

And there are those writers who meticulous travel from place to place, seeking the visual space that will cause the words to flow from pens and keys. They seek the open road and the highest peaks. They enclose themselves in that cabin in the woods, to breathe the mountain air and to witness the absolute darkness that accompanies the night time.

And all of this is an inspiration.

It’s inspiration sometimes to even speak with an author or attend a conference or lecture where they reveal where exactly they pulled the elements they needed to persevere in their work.

But we live now in a digital age, and rather than closing us in and leaving us in the blue glow of our screens, it has opened up valuable opportunities for authors. At a click of a mouse and the touch of a button, we have thousands of images of temples in China, of rainforests in the Amazon, and the frigid wastelands of Antarctica. Authors can study maps, aerial views, and roadside views. They can follow the escape route of their hero, they can see where they’d like them to live. Real estate listings, images of staircases, detailed descriptions of the effects of various injuries and poisons are there, everything you could ever need. At the touch of the button.

Lately, there’s been a cross section of authors that have been using this access to an endless arrangement of visual stimuli in order to help themselves write and to help their fans to see what inspiration forced them to put to paper. These authors have been generating “mood boards”, a collection of images, scraps of elements and colours and scenes that alone would only earn a passing glance, but when built together, give an overall taste of a character or book.

Mood boards can breathe life and scents and sounds into a work that may have been there before, but hadn’t quite sprung into focus. The number of times when I’ve been following an author’s project, read along with their hopes and dreams and blog posts, absorbed their snippets and excerpts with a voracious passion, to find that a mood board when posted, rises above all else.

I’ve yet to see one that hasn’t blown me away, that hasn’t drawn me deeper into the project and wanting so badly to see the finished result. And I believe that there’s one very important truth that guides mood boards into being as influential as they are.

Each and every image involved in a mood board, which at the very least I’ve seen, is nine, (odd numbers, odd numbers always!)  Has been individually plucked from the obscurity of billions of images, weighed, measured, cropped, polished, and placed, because it speaks to the author. They have compared it to hundreds or thousands of others, they’ve analyzed how it made them feel, if the lighting and colours are the answer to the words they’ve written. They’ve discarded hundreds of others. Then they pulled all these precious jewels together and laid them out for the readers to see, the casual passersby, as we scroll endlessly through the internet and social media accounts.

Beautifully eye-catching, they immediately draw in the viewer the way words can’t always do. The most beautifully captured prose can be buried amongst the rest of the avalanche of words that bombard us every day. And not only do they draw a person in, they present them with a puzzle. An assortment of images that to the stranger of the project, have no relation. But they stir the questions within their mind. How are they related? That stranger’s neck graced with pearls, those rocky cliffs, that glint of the dagger. Is it hers? Is it the tool of her demise? Does she live above those cliffs? Does she perish in those waves? What if? How? And that is when you have that moment, those few precious seconds, and you absolutely need to know.

Maybe the reader subscribes to your blog or your feed, maybe they follow your account.

Maybe they share with their friends.

The possibilities are endless when you have captured their imagination with the ‘what ifs’.

Personally, in addition to all of this, I find the crafting of mood boards to be vaguely hypnotic. I like to create them when I am nearing completion of a project. I try to feature the smallest details of a character and their behavior or psyche so that anyone coming upon them will wonder just why an image was included. It can take quite a bit of time to find the exact piece of clothing you know that they treasure, a close up of their hands on something that they love. It’s a force to be reckoned with, this vision, so specific that it sometimes feels as if you forced a photo into existence by sheer will.

My most recent project, When Shadows Creep, has inspired a number of mood boards in that I’ve wanted to create one for each character. I want to be able to push together all of the little things that make the greater whole of them, and hopefully generate an interest in the words behind the pictures. I haven’t created mood boards for all of the characters yet. Some of them speak louder to me than others, too lively and colourful to be contained. I even crafted one for the book itself, a series of images that got me through editing and kept me in the mind space I needed to remain in in order to keep the tone throughout the novel.

Authors and readers alike can benefit from mood boards. It helps those who are creating in their hearts and minds the worlds that you’ve strung together with only words. It can inspire a browser to pick up your book, it can inspire an author to finally finish theirs.

It brings a cohesion to your vision, and it can cast spells over the stranger.

And if anyone were to ever build their own mood board based on something I had written?

I’d be eternally grateful, because then I would have a lens with which to see how they see my work through their own eyes.


K.Brooks is an author out of Ontario, Canada. She’s written three novels, one currently available and two others are in the editing process. She works in advertising and is always influenced by the weather when it comes to finding inspiration for her work. She often embarks on aimless road trips and alone time with the wilderness.

More blog posts and behind-the-scenes can be found at