I didn’t think my agent would like my latest book, and I was right. She passed on it. It’s a thriller, but it doesn’t follow the rules. It has “nice” moments in it, too. It’s not relentlessly building tension. It doesn’t fit the mold.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, I like a well-written thriller, but I like cozies more. Sneaking some cozy into a thriller muddled the mix, but it’s what I wanted to do. So I did. And I was pretty sure that was going to mean I’d have to self-publish it. And I was right.

I respect the need for rules in writing. When a reader picks up a thriller, that’s what they want to read. To sell, the writer has to deliver whatever he labeled his manuscript and make it his own AND write it as well or better than the writers who are already selling in that genre. It surprised me when an editor told me that. Until then, I thought I was competing with new writers in the field, but when I thought about it, I was competing for a space in that genre against everyone who was writing it. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that my work had to be as good as theirs without mimicking it.

For Posed In Death, I knew I wanted to write a mystery/thriller. Sometimes, in an expanding market, a writer can bend the rules and still sell. In a tight market, it’s trickier. That means editors will probably turn down your work, but that doesn’t mean that readers won’t like it. Readers are more willing to blend genres. They don’t have to stick a title in a category to market it and make it sell. Anyway, I wanted to write something darker than a cozy, and I can now share POSED IN DEATH. If you try it, I hope you like it.

Some Writers Have a Little Bit Too Much Fun

I already told you about my good blog friend, C. S. Boyack’s new book, VIRAL BLUES.  But today, Craig has come to tell you about it himself, and I’m so glad to have him!  When Craig lets his imagination go, watch out, world!  Here’s Craig:

Hi, everyone. Craig here to talk about my latest book, Viral Blues. This one is just in time for your Halloween reading, but it isn’t horror. It’s more a light-hearted romp. (Some gore, so think of it like dark humor.)

I always intended this to be a sequel for The Hat, the book I pushed for last Halloween. This series is without an overarching plot, so you ought to be able to pick up any of them and fare just fine. No prerequisite books required.

Then I went a little bit crazy, but crazy is good sometimes. It dawned on me that many of my previous characters could dwell in the same world. Some of them were pretty popular, and readers requested sequels from them, too.

It’s with this thought that Viral Blues earned a storyboard. All the pieces were in place for a great team-up, which seems to be all the rage at the movies lately, too.

Dr. Gina Greybill, and her assistant, Mohan Gupta, used their Host Program to gather a special group of individuals to face a pestilence of massive proportions. You may remember them from The Playground.

They invited Lizzie and The Hat, Lisa Burton, Jason Fogg, and – by accident – Clovis from some of my previous books. Together they work to uncover whoever is tampering with the world’s vaccine supply.

This posed my first quandary, because I have a mix of science fiction, paranormal, and regular people here. Ultimately, it had to be a paranormal story, with Sci-fi sprinkles on top.

I also had to decide who to focus on for the story. Since this was always going to be the sequel for The Hat, Lizzie and The Hat walk us in, and close it out. That part was easy. It also built a much needed fence for me. I would follow the format of The Hat, and keep everything in third person. (The Jason Fogg stories were in first person, so I toyed with the idea of keeping his sections that way, but it didn’t work well.)

Character popularity established that Lisa Burton and Clovis would get about equal time with Lizzie and The Hat.

This isn’t to say that Gina, Gupta, and Jason didn’t have their fans, they did. Readers won’t be disappointed either, but these characters help bind the story together with their special skills. Even Marvel had to do some of this. Iron Man gets more time than, say, Hawkeye.

One benefit is that some of my characters are a little over the top. It might just be me, but I think they’re lovable in small doses. By spreading the spotlight around, readers get a nice mix of their personalities and skills, without it being too much.

Then I went a little more crazy, and included even more characters. Clovis got there, because Gina invited Justine, the voodoo practitioner who is his girlfriend. I have cameos from other stories, but they’re more like Easter Eggs than any main focus. There is no requirement to read these tales first, but if you have, you might recognize a bit here and there.

To keep the crazy train rolling, I even included a secret chapter. It’s after the back-of-book material in a nod to pop-culture and some of the superhero films.

I don’t mind telling you, this story was a challenge. It came out great, and in my opinion, people who try it are going to have a good time.

Mobsters, devils, zombies, the CDC, what’s not to love. Hopefully, your fans will check it out for their Halloween reading, and thanks for having me over.




Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.


viral-blues by c.s. boyack cover

This is the purchase link: Viral Blues:

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Spicing Things Up comes out March 21!

This week has been a mixed bag.  My grandson came home on a 10-day leave from marine basic training.  Our family was all excited about seeing him.  The poor kid came home with “recruit crud.” He said it’s common.  Luckily, his first night home, I had a family welcome home supper for him, including steaks, macaroni ‘n cheese, and chocolate chip bar cookies–his favorites.  We all thought he had a bad cold until two days later, his temperature spiked to 104, and his mom took him to the health clinic.  He had “community pneumonia.”  Also common, I guess.  After a super shot and antibiotics, he started to feel better–and that’s when his mom, my husband, and I all started coughing and feeling crappy.

We’re taking meds now, and we’ve watched lots of movies together.  Nate’s feeling almost up to par, so his brother drove from Indy on Friday to drink green beer with him on St. Pat’s day, but it hasn’t been the warm homecoming we expected.  Still, we got to see him.  He leaves tomorrow to go back to Indy to catch his airplane early Monday morning.  He’s going to be gone a while this time.  He says he’s going to try to come home healthy next time.

I had page proofs to finish while he was here, but did those around his schedule. Everything got done on time.  Nate leaves on Monday, and then my book comes out on Tuesday.  I hope that lifts my spirits.  Anyway, I thought I’d include a snippet from the book.  I hope you like it:


Autumn rain didn’t have the joy of its spring counterpoint.  It served as a foreboding for worse weather to come.  When they walked inside the bar, warmth greeted them.  There were more empty tables than usual, and Daphne saw Paula sitting at a table by herself.  She waved them over.

Mom tried to hide a grimace.  She didn’t approve of Paula’s small eyebrow ring and the stud in her cheek.  She glanced away from her tattoos.

But Paula was all smiles and cheerfulness.  “Hi!  I hear there’s a trip in your near future.”

Mom’s eyebrows shot up, surprised.  “Where did you hear that?”

“Tyne told us.  He said you’re going to Carolina.”

The eyebrows furrowed into a frown.  “Really?”  She shot a dirty look at Daphne.

Daphne hung her raincoat on a nearby peg and held up her hands in surrender.  “He asked me about meeting him for supper next week, and I said I could, because you’d be out of town.”

Her mother didn’t look happy.  Her dad looked downright nervous.

Daphne shrugged.  “I didn’t know your trip was a secret.”

“It’s not.”  Mom left it at that.

Paula looked back and forth between them, confused.  “What’s wrong with having Tyne feed your daughter?  He’s one hell of a cook.”

“We’ve heard.”  Mom’s tone could form glaciers.

Louise Draper came to take their orders.  Paula already had a hamburger, and they each ordered one, too.  Of course, Mom and Dad ordered theirs plain, no bun.

When Louise left, Daphne decided it was a good time to change the subject.  She turned to Paula.  “Tyne’s brother is a chef, too, isn’t he?”

Paula’s lips twitched.  She recognized a dodge tactic when she heard one, but Daphne had to give her credit.  She answered quickly, “Holden’s won lots of awards.  Of course, that’s what his parents expected.  They always thought Holden would do well.  He was a straight-A student and excelled at culinary school.  They never expected much out of Tyne.”

Daphne could feel heat rush through her veins.  “Why not?  It’s hard to miss his talent.”  Her voice held more of an edge than she expected.  Her mother narrowed her eyes.

Paula glanced at the bar where Chase was taking someone’s order.  “Tyne does things his own way, like Chase.  Neither of them care if they impress anyone or not, and that didn’t impress Tyne’s parents.  They’re big into status.”

Daphne fiddled with the paper napkin on her lap.  What was wrong with Tyne’s parents?  How could they miss how wonderful he was?  She’d have never guessed Tyne had any challenges in his life.  He seemed so sure of himself, so successful.  She’d assumed everyone encouraged him, like her parents encouraged her.

When no one said anything, Paula went on.  “Tyne came to Mill Pond to get experience, so that he can open his own restaurant someday.”

Mom breathed a sigh of relief.  “So he doesn’t plan on staying here?”

Louise returned with their drinks—water with lemon for Mom and Dad, wine for Daphne.

Daphne gulped down disappointment.  Most people moved to Mill Pond and never left.  They fell in love with the area.  But Tyne wasn’t like most people.  Her heart lurched, surprising her.  She didn’t want Tyne to leave.  She realized she’d liked him from the moment they met, when he wanted to rent the apartment above her shop.  It was an instant click.  She often found herself watching for him on the nature trail that wound behind her cabin.  Not because she had a crush on him or anything.  He was just fun to be around.  He was a good person.  A friend.