Saturday, November 26, 2016


Looky what popped up yesterday on Amazon!

Fair Chance, the third and final book in the All's Fair Trilogy, is now available for preorder (it comes out next March.)


Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Chance from bestselling author Josh Lanyon

One final game of cat and mouse...

Ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot's hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn't acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again--from a madman determined to finish his partner's gruesome mission. 

When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it's the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him. 

The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor--but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer’s twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.


The less time he had to think, the better, Elliot told himself on the drive over to Laurelhurst. He should welcome this distraction. Any distraction.

Until Tucker arrived home—or didn’t—that evening, he was merely speculating, and that was a waste of energy. Tucker would either have a reasonable explanation or he wouldn’t. And if he didn’t, Elliot would kill him. That was all.

And if Tucker didn’t arrive home…

That was where Elliot’s thoughts broke off each time. Beyond that point was barren wasteland, for now the forbidden zone.

He parked in the curving drive in front of MacAuley’s place. There was a red Cadillac SRX in front of the garage, but no other cars around.

He got out, pressed the key fob to lock the Nissan, and started up the walk. Despite the patchy sunlight, it was still raining. No longer a full-on rain, but scattered drops, spangling the grass and splattering against the shrubbery. The air smelled wet and clean and earthy.

The flat, hard bang of a gunshot echoing from inside the house stopped him in his tracks—and then he raced the rest of the way up the slick path.

Reaching the boxed overhang of the front entrance without harm, he ducked down behind a short brick planter. Though he didn’t recall pulling his weapon, he was holding his Glock as he watched the front door, waiting.

The door was half-open, but no one stepped outside.

There was no further sound from inside the house.

A couple of very long seconds passed.

What was this? Not an accident, or the front door would not be standing open. Not a firefight, or there would be shots in return.

Suicide? Not with the front door standing wide-open. Or at least…unlikely.


Attempted homicide at least. MacAuley might be fighting for his life, might be injured, might be in a hostage situation. This could be anything. A burglary gone bad, home invasion, attempted kidnapping. But unless that single shot had been a warning shot, things were not looking good for somebody in that house.

Elliot found his phone, thumbed in 911, still observing the front door.

Emergency dispatch came on the line and Elliot gave him the details for a Code 2. No lights or sirens. Urgent. The address, the number of shots, a possible active shooter, his name and the name of the likely victim.

Dispatch was still requesting additional information when Elliot clicked off, put his phone on vibrate, and started for the front door.

Active shooter situations were always unpredictable. They evolved—and ended—quickly, generally with the arrival of law enforcement. Ten to fifteen minutes. Which was fine—except, depending on where you were hit, you could bleed out in a lot less than ten minutes.

He got to the exterior wall, staying beneath the window. The stucco picked at the wool fibers of his blazer as he leaned back, listening hard, pistol at high ready.

There was no sound from inside. No moans, no footsteps, no nothing. Dead silence.

A dog barked down the street.

Elliot craned his head around the corner for a quick look. He could see a slice of the entry hall. Empty.

His pulse was racing, but he felt weirdly calm. He was conscious of his elevated blood pressure, his accelerated heart rate, all the signs of the inevitable fight-or-flight response, but at the same time he felt almost detached. The whole day was unreal and this was just one more dream-like stop on the way.

Using his free hand to steady himself, he rose and stepped across to the opposite wall in the entry.

He listened intently.


He glanced down at the threshold. No shadow. His own was fortunately blocked by the overhang.

Are you doing this?

He didn’t have to. He could—should—wait for backup. Backup? For LEO. Which he was not. Not anymore.

But it was a rhetorical question. Of course he was doing it.

He used his free hand to soundlessly push the door wide and cross the threshold to buttonhook into the room, weapon at ready as he made sure no one was hiding behind the door.


He was past the point of entry and now in what was known in tactical training as the “fatal funnel.” If he was careless enough to get shot, Tucker would— No. Christ, don’t think of Tucker.

For the next ten minutes he could not afford to think of anyone or anything but getting through this. It was not the time to start second-guessing himself.

He swept the empty hall with his weapon, then traveled swiftly along the left wall toward the living room, safely reaching the opposite corner.


It did not feel clear though. The house did not feel empty. Elliot’s scalp prickled with tension, and his shirt felt damp beneath the arms. He took a couple of deep breaths. Sticking close to the wall, he moved to the living room doorway and risked a quick glance around the frame. The blinds were partially open, but the rainy light was muted and liquid, creating shadows and the illusion of movement.

Trying to do this on his own was a tactical nightmare.

He made himself focus on the room in front of him while trying to stay alert to his peripheral fields. He could make out indistinct, stationary shapes. Furniture. Potted plants. Blinds.

So far so good. Nobody and nobody.

But his instincts were screaming at him to stay alert, stay sharp. It felt like he had been in the building an hour already. In fact, it was probably no more than a couple of minutes.

His nostrils twitched at the scent of gunpowder…something burning…and blood. Yes, there was no missing that sharp, coppery tang. A lot of blood.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

We all have our fears about what the coming months may bring. But I hope that -- like me -- you have much more in your life to be Thankful for than not. And that -- unlike me (sometimes) -- you're good at keeping that fact in mind. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Author! Author! GINN HALE

I'm very excited to have one of my favorite writers and online friends back on the blog today. The much beloved and highly esteemed Ginn Hale is here to be teased and tormented. Er...interviewed.

Ginn has a new book out this week--Maze-Born Trouble--which is killing me because it's sitting on my Kindle right this second (I'm afraid to start it until I've hit this next deadline or bye-bye deadline).

Here's the blurb:

A dead girl, a cop he can’t forget, and a price on his head. All on a space station at the edge of a black hole. Just another day’s work for P.I. Lake Harmaa.

P.I. Lake Harmaa escaped the darkness and intense gravity of Sisu Space Station’s Maze Sector by turning traitor and spying for the Feds during the war. He has no intention of risking his neck by going back down into those depths, where there’s a price on his head and more than a few souls who wouldn’t mind him turning up dead.

But when he’s framed for a brutal murder, Lake realizes he must return to the Maze and settle old scores.

And here's the interview!

JL - I'm so excited to read your latest! Here you are right on my own mean streets--only with space stations. Where did you come up with the idea for Maze-Born Trouble? Is this a standalone or the start of a new series?

GH: You’re too kind! Thank you for having me. I’m obviously not a native to noir detective fiction, but I love reading it. (And I have to say tell you Snowball in Hell is a perfect noir detective story in my opinion.) But to answer your question: Maze-Born Trouble shares technology with an other novella of mine, Feral Machines, but the two are both stand-alone publications.

The inspiration for Maze-Born Trouble came from listening to a podcast on disabilities and LGBT romance. The discussion covered a lot of ground; from giving disabled characters conflicts and stories that go beyond their disabilities to subverting tropes and cliches of depicting being disabled as being somehow worse than dying or introducing a disabled character simply to inspire or motivate a non-disabled protagonist. And then one of the commenters—-the wonderful Tracy Timmons-Gray—-started tossing out elements for the sort of story that she wanted. A blind gay detective, who isn’t sweet, chipper or inspiring and who gets into gun fights! On a space station!


GH: I have to admit that my first thought was, good luck to the author who tries to pull all of that and a romance off in one story. 

The idea of gun play on a space station particularly worried me from a practical perspective. The station would have to be engineered in a way that allowed bullets to fly around without breaching the hull or destroying the life support systems.

And then there was the question of how to describe a completely fictional and alien environment clearly enough for gun fights to take place, while still conveying an awareness of the detective’s visual impairment. How to express that the character was disabled without allowing the plot or conflict to hinge on that alone.

I kept thinking about the story all that day and the next. I didn’t believe that I could write it, but I felt that some one—a better author than me—should write it. I thought that this ‘better author’ would probably  use a noir tone and story structure to ensure that the detective wouldn’t stray into ‘sweet, chipper or inspiring’ but still retained a core decency that readers could relate to.

I wrote up a quick outline of how I thought this ‘better author’ might structure the scenes. I sketched out a space station and pondered the effects of darkness and gravity on the development of eyesight. I did some quick reading on synthetic suns and black holes. I looked into terraforming and termites.

I got as far as creating the entire back-story of the space station and my detective character, Lake Harmaa, before I allowed myself to admit that I was going to be writing the story. I’d just been so nervous about the challenges as well as the possibility of disappointing readers like Tracy Timmons-Gray that I’d had to trick myself to commit to the story. :)

Now I’m glad that I did because I’m pretty proud of all the work and weirdness that went into it.  

JL - I honestly can't wait to read it. BUT YOU KNEW THAT. So... Do you listen to music while you write?

GH: Yes, but not the way I listen to music for enjoyment or to feel inspired.

When writing I’ll play one or two songs non-stop on a continuous loop. I won’t listen to anything else while I’m writing for the entire time that I’m working on a particular project. It becomes a kind of self-conditioning Pavlovian device: This music plays when I’m writing therefore if the music is playing I must keep writing. (It just occurred to me that I play a lot of mind games with myself. :) )

JL - Now see, that's the way I listen to music for enjoyment. ;-D  You are one of my absolute favorite writers. And yet I have a confession. I'm not sure I have all your books! How big is your backlist now?

GH: Hang on, let me get a ruler… Only 12 inches but it’s a thick 12 inches. ;) (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Wicked Gentlemen
Lord of the White Hell book 1
Lord of the White Hell book 2
Champion of the Scarlet Wolf book 1
Champion of the Scarlet Wolf book 2
The Shattered Gates (Rifter series book1)
The Holy Road (Rifter series book 2)
His Sacred Bones (Rifter series book 3)
(In digital formats the Rifter series was published in ten novella length volumes.)

JL - Jumping in to say if you haven't read the Rifter series, it's shatteringly good. AND it turns out I don't have all your backlist. Which will soon be remedied.

Maze-Born Trouble
Swift & the Black Dog
Get Lucky (Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology)
The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus (Magic & Mayhem anthology)
Things Deadly and Unseen (Irregulars anthology)
Such Heights (Hell Cop 2 anthology)
Touching Sparks (Hell Cop anthology)
Feral Machines

Short stories:
"Shy Hunter"
"Blood Beneath the Throne"

On my website,, there are also a number of free holiday & anniversary stories featuring characters from my novels.

JL - Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? How about goblins?

GH: Nope. I’m pretty much a dull atheist. That said, I love fantastical and supernatural fiction no end.

JL - Uh huh. Do you prefer writing series to standalones? Support your answer.

GH: I’m going to go with standalones for the following reasons:

1-I like how the term sounds, evoking both “last man standing” and “lone wolf.” It makes the books seem like tough underdogs with troubled pasts.

2-When writing a standalone story, I only have to remember the complicated history, weird habits, physical traits and various pets of a cast of characters for the duration of a single book. Penning a series I inevitably end up flipping back through hundreds of pages(often written years ago) in an attempt to recall if I actually gave one of the side characters a pet parrot, named Sgt. Squawky or if that never made it into the final version of the book.

3-By the third book the weight of exposition—all the information about EVERYTHING that happened back in the previous books- can become enormous. It’s particularly cumbersome in fantasy or alternate-reality worlds because the story already requires so much exposition to just set up the reality of the place as well as who the characters are.

Now having said that,I just noticed that 13 of the 18 publications I listed in the previous answer are either part of a series or share a world and timeline. (Maze-Born Trouble is set in the universe of Feral Machines, while Get Lucky and The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus share the same weird west, steampunk world.) That comes out to something like 72.22% of my work… So either I’m a masochist or I can’t hate working on a series all that much.:)

JL - ME TOO. For all the reasons you've listed. Even the ones I didn't understand. Next! What do you love most about writing? What do you like least?

GH: What I love—or at least strive for— is to create worlds and characters that are so fascinating or fun that all the clockwork and machinery underlying the plot just disappears. The book ceases to be a collection of letters, strung out into sentences and actually comes alive in a reader’s imagination. That’s when reading becomes almost magical and why writing is worth all the effort, as far as I’m concerned.

What I like least is the struggle to build complex environments and nuanced characters out of those long strings of letters. The structural limitations of words and sentences can frustrate me and make me feel like I’m trying to build a palace out of spare parts from an abandoned car dealership. All headlights and hood ornaments but nothing else.

JL - What are the elements that make a Ginn Hale book unique? What do you consider your strengths as a writer?

GH: I’m not sure what elements make my books unique. I hope that it’s my affection for my fellow human beings somehow permitting the text… but I worry that it might just be my fascination with the more odd corners of our natural world. I might put more insects and snails in my books than most right-thinking authors would. :)

As far as strengths go I suppose mine is just not giving up. I write the way rust chews through a lock—slowly and relentlessly.

JL - What's next for you? What can readers look forward to?

My novella "Get Lucky" will appear in the Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology this December. The Long Past, a complete collection of my newest steam-punk novellas will be released in January 2018. Right now I’m working on the third set of books in the ‘Hellions’ series.

JL - How ruthless are you as a writer? What makes you decide to kill a character off?

GH: I’m as ruthless or merciful as my outline requires me to be. :) I don’t kill characters wantonly or without their deaths serving a purpose, but sometimes the ax has just got to fall for the greater good of the story. And no matter how bleak one of my books may seem, things will work out in the end. I will not write LGBTQ tragedies. That isn’t what any of us need.

JL - How did you and the Missus meet?

GH: My wife and I first met in middle school, believe it or not. Her family left town a year later but we kept in touch, writing, calling and visiting each other. By the time we officially became a couple in college we’d already known each other and been best friends for five years. This January we’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary.

JL - Aww! That's so lovely! And on the topic of romance, do you think poison is a woman's weapon? What's your weapon of choice?

GH: This is a tricky question. In one sense, I have to say yes, since women can take credit for only about 10-14% of all annual homicides in the USA, but are we are still 5 times more likely than men to use poison. That said, men do kill with poisons and because they murder at such a prolific rate the number of male poisoners still outnumbers women: approximately 641 men to 164 women. So, no matter what method was used to commit a murder the likelihood that a man is responsible is statistically overwhelming. (At least that’s in the real world; in crime fiction the sexes seem nearly equally as fat as lethal intent goes.)

I suspect that the association of women with poison has more to do with how women’s roles have been historically constrained. Traditionally women have been in positions where they prepare meals and administer medications—as wives, mothers, cooks, nannies, and nurses- so the opportunity to exploit poisons is almost intrinsic. Once a woman has a motive for murder then poison may simply present her with a ready means and the most opportunities.

My own weapon of choice is way more data than anyone wants to hear.

JL - Fashion magazines always ask this question: What is the one cosmetic or grooming tool you cannot live without? And do you have any idea why all these fashion models are always pretending the one tool they can't live without is their EYEBROW GROOMER?

GH: Hmmm. Can’t live without…? Does oxygen count? It is pretty vital to looking fresh and not dead. I’m going with oxygen.

I’m not sure what fashion models know about eyebrow grooming that you and I clearly don’t. But I now worry that we’ll both be killed in the night by our wildly unkempt eyebrows.

JL - IS revenge best served cold or do you prefer room temperature?

GH: Depends on what drink it’s being paired with. :)

Actually, while writing Maze-Born Trouble I felt particularly aware of how damaging it can be when someone is deeply wronged and unable to escape their own rage or it. Living with anger and remaining raw, so that you never forget but you also never heal or move on can almost destroy a person, I think. (I come from a family of amazing grudge-holders, including a great-aunt who would fly into a fury over the wrongs done by William of Orange, despite the fact that the man has been dead since 1702.)

So I guess a long, cold revenge can be fantastic for fiction, where it can only hurt fictional characters, but in real life, I’d pass on revenge no matter what the temperature. :)

JL - Very wise. (And I mean that sincerely, also coming from a family of long grudge-holders.) Are you a full-time writer?

GH: Yes. I often put in overtime and work holidays, but thankfully I’m not burdened with any benefits packages or insurance policies! :)

JL - Yeah, she travels lightest who knows she can't afford to get sick. Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!

GH: I’m not sure what can surprise people just now…. Except maybe tardigrades! They’re micro animals, also called water bears and moss piglets, that can survive nearly anything, including being exposed to the radiation, near zero-temperatures, and total lack of atmosphere of space! Seriously, they’re just clinging to the outside of rocket, kicking back and chilling while hurling through space.

They shrug off boiling temperatures and pressures that will crush a tank. They can go ten years without water or food, can be dedicated to a mere 3% of their body moisture and then simply rehydrate. That’s like you or me turning to dust and then coming back as soon as it rains—like cup noodles! And on top of all that, even though they are animals, their genomes include large portions swiped from plants, bacteria and fungi.

And if that doesn’t amaze and surprise anyone there’s also the fact that I don’t like chocolate.

JL - HA. You used the chocolate one the last time you were on the blog. I refuse to let that continue to hurt me as you so obviously intend. The micro-animals clinging to the spaceship? I think you just scored Lifetime Most Surprising Comment on JL's Blog Award. :-)

Friday, November 11, 2016

'Neighbor, How Stands the Union?'

T-t-they did WHAT?!
I can't deny that --along with the majority of the country-- I'm still struggling post-election.

At the same time I appreciate the fact that I'm a writer of genre fiction not a political pundit and my activism needs to be saved for my own time and my own dime. I cannot be raining my despair all over everybody looking to see what I've got next in the way of an entertaining mystery or a heart-warming romance.

That's not why people follow me and it's not why they buy my books. Although, yes, I do think my generally optimistic vision of the world is part of the charm of my stories -- given that my vision is based on a lifetime of real-life practical experience.

So I'm just going to get a couple of things off my chest and then leave it.

Mostly I have faith in my fellow Americans, and I am encouraged that Trump did not win the popular vote--most people did NOT vote for him--although the fact that pretty much half the country did is not encouraging. One hell of a lot of people DID vote for him, despite the fact that much of what he said appalled them. My conservative friends assure me he didn't really mean all that stuff about the wall and reversing equal marriage and banning Muslims and Mexicans being rapists and and and and and...he just said that stuff to get elected. To which I have to reply, WHAT THE HELL DOES *THAT* MEAN? HOW IS THAT BETTER?

The electoral college has outlived its usefulness and is now a tool for gerrymandering and manipulation, yes. (And if you want to actually understand the electoral college and why it's time to for reform, you can start here.) The problem is, the electoral college has nothing to do with reinstating the most ineffective, unproductive and self-serving congress in the history of our nation. You can't blame the electoral college for that one. And that utterly partisan and do-nothing congress has been matched with the most inexperienced and unqualified president in the history of the country.


I get that half the country feels that the government has failed them. That we are on the wrong track. That they aren't getting their piece of the pie, the American Dream, the whatever. They have a right to demand change and it's surely positive that the demands are being made through our Democratic processes. Maybe there is a grievance culture at work here, but a lot of the grievance is real and legitimate. Hell, these people have grievances they don't even know about: their lack of education, for one. The misinformation that is fed them on a daily basis regarding everything from their diet to how their government works. They have a right to be angry and depressed and afraid.

And who knows. Who the hell knows? Maybe Trump will surprise the rest of us. The majority of us. Maybe he will rise to the challenge. He does, frankly, look scared to death. He's got every possible tool at his disposable, including the tools in both houses of congress, so there will be no excuse if he doesn't achieve all he promised. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not because I think he'll succeed, but because this is how Democracy works. He won, fair and square, given the creaky limitations of our antiquated representational democracy.

There are just two things I feel I have to say. Please don't talk about your success in "taking back OUR country" when half -- the bigger half -- of the population voted against this.

 The difference between the fear and despair and anger you felt over Obama being elected is that your emotion was based on things he never said--were the antithesis of what he believed--and never did. Never. Said. Never. Did. Our fear, despair and anger is based on what Trump actually said. Repeatedly. And is now honor-bound to try his best to do.