Excerpts from JJ McBride Wildcatter



Buck Buchanan entered the office of JJ McBride on the eighteenth floor of Kingsley, Foley and Smart Oil Producers in downtown Dallas, Texas. He stood imposingly in the door frame all six-foot-eight of his strong body. He was well dressed, wearing a beautiful brown summer silk sport coat and khaki pants. JJ looked up and got a shock seeing this big beautiful man taking up the entire door. She could hardly finish her phone conversation as she was so flustered.

When she hung up she said, “Buck Buchanan, what are you doing here?”

She came from around her desk to greet him. She was five-foot-eight, and he towered over her. He grabbed her up in his arms, giving her a kiss. It had been so long, but he seemed too irresistible and she kissed him back.  They were in the throes of passion when a man appeared at the door.

He said, “What do you think you’re doing with my future wife?”

Buck turned, looked at him while still kissing JJ, and slammed the door shut with his foot. He had waited over two long years for her and wasn’t going to wait a second longer.

JJ came to her senses shortly and said, “Put me down, Buck.”

He did so, he wasn’t a brute and then the door was forced open. The small man next to Buck seemed rather nondescript said again, “What are you doing with my wife?”

Buck rubbed his shiny bald head and said, “JJ, is not your wife, she is mine. Isn’t that right, JJ, honey?”

By Marlette Bess

Excerpt from Caddo Girl

Location: Louisiana – the land of bayous, alligators, and the mysterious loup-garou (the French werewolf).


A small ray of light slipped through the sliding glass doors and onto the patio.  He hugged the house wall as he inched toward the beam of light, stopping at the edge of darkness. He couldn’t step into the light. That would be too dangerous for him. If either the man or woman happened to wake up and glance outside, they might see him, they might even recognize him. Then they both would have to die. He didn’t want anyone else to die, especially the woman, especially this woman whom he’d known all her life.

Why had she come back? Why must she ask so many damn questions? Why does she go traipsing through the Caddo searching for answers that could bring her a fate similar to the redheaded woman in Texas? The pictures of her handless body besieged his mind and roiled his stomach more than the memories of the other dead. He hated dealing with the bodies, hated the killing, but what choice did he have now? It was no longer a question of feeding the demon inside him. Now, it was a matter of his survival.

He reached for the handle of the patio door, but stopped. In all probability, he’d find this door locked just like the others. Besides, there was still time for her to escape, to leave the Caddo and go back to Chicago. She’d be safe there; she’d be out of his reach.

“Go home, girl,” he whispered to himself. “Go home before I have to bury you too.” He crept back along the side of the house, making sure to stay in the shadows. An owl watching from the cover of a Magnolia tree screeched and a howl cut the night air as he ran back into the inky mist rising out of the bowels of  Caddo Lake.

Deborah Epperson

Deborah Epperson

Thanks for stopping by.

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG


Author Nan McKenzie
DSCF8096The full moon in March is not quite as spectacular as April’s, but it has its moments. Like when the goofy Canadian geese Vee across it, honking like hounds, saying, “I’m here, where are you?” “I’m here, are you there?” When the wind is whipping horsetail clouds over the face of it, when it’s raining and the full moon light is still bright behind the heavy clouds, when there is one fat planet pretending to be a star, trying to rival the moon for its brightness, hanging over the lunar shoulder.
March in Montana, popularly known as “Suicide Month”, when winter is still beating us up with cold, snow, ice, rain on the ice, flooding in the streets, the basements, garages. Even through closed windows sometimes you can hear crabby people arguing over nothing, or something too important to ignore.

Grass on the lawns is flattened, not even daring to peel their green heads off the ground. I become so starved for a glimpse of color, for flowers that don’t come from the florists, that I stay inside and watch TV, disappearing from the nasty reality of outside.

And yet, there can be a couple days of spectacular sunshine, melted snow races down the streets, a wholeRobins passel of early robins gather in a few big trees, scoping out nest sites, checking to see if that cute female is old enough to mate this year. Ravens coo to their wives, chuckling, flipping high on thermals, in love with life.

Another silly made-up holiday blitz fills the stores, the bars, green everywhere, everyone wanting to claim kinship with the Irish, when one hundred years ago, signs were posted all along the Eastern seaboard to greet the starving folks arriving in steerage from Ireland. “NINA”, the signs said, “No Irish need apply.” My grandmother, Nora Kelleher, was one of those, sent away by her family at sixteen because they couldn’t feed her, arriving in Boston in cold March with twenty-five cents in her shabby pocket. Nora found work in a shirtwaist factory for six bits a week, just enough to keep her alive. How quickly we all forget, how easily things change.

It feels like we are all waiting on tiptoe, wishing winter to be completely gone and for April to bring us fresh breaths, new hope, a clear love. And color, finally.

Mad on Deadline

March is my birthday month. The whole month. Yep, I claim all 31 days, not just the one! And thanks for all the good wishes — I’m feelin’ ’em!

Leslie's desk


I’m also feeling a little mad. Not angry. But, well, crazed. The next book in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries is due to my editor April 15. It doesn’t have a name yet, but she assures me that’s not a problem. Feel free to take a crack: Murder at the First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival. Must involve a bad food-related pun.



In fact, I’m calling 2014 “deadline year.” Spiced to Death, first in my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries, went in January 5 — for publication March 3, 2015. (And yes, extra reason to celebrate the next birthday month!)

In early May, I’ll be going to Malice Domestic, the mystery convention celebrating the traditional mystery. Death al Dente is nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Cross your fingers and rub your lucky stars, as my sleuth, Erin Murphy, would do.

Speaking of Erin, her second appearance, Crime Rib, launches July 1.  When a chef is killed at the annual Steak Grill-Off, Erin must investigate — to keep the village of Jewel Bay from going up in smoke.

Meanwhile, my second Seattle Spice Shop Mystery, tentatively titled Thyme to Kill, is due September 15.

It’s a fun kind of madness.  Worth celebrating. I hope you’ll join me.


Leslie Budewitz is the author of the national best-selling Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the award-winning reference for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors.


More Writer Madness

If you watched the Oscars this year, you probably saw Robert De Niro’s introduction to the best screenplay nominees. It was kind of humorous, and if you’re a writer, perhaps struck very close to home: “The mind of a writer can be truly a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy.”

My son couldn’t help but smile and nod at me when he heard this. At the time, I was amidst the first round of edits from my editor, and as I began the process of yet another revision, I found myself smack-dab in the middle of those neurotic whispering voices saying I was ruining my story by over-editing, under-editing, over-writing, under-writing, using too much repetition, not enough, too much backstory, not enough and on and on. All of this was going on while I had the flu for several weeks and was still trying to run my Pilates studio after not enough adequate rest.

I found myself sitting at my desk filled with self-doubt, confusion and frustration, but as I plugged along and addressed my editor’s suggestions one by one, I realized that even though the mind of the writer can be truly terrifying, we don’t have to get lost in the madness of it.

Pilates has taught me the balancing act of persistent practice. In other words, when you do something over and over again with energy and care, not only does it become routine, it becomes personal growth. It becomes the present tense of striving, not just the attachment to the outcome. So, with renewed calmness and a deep knowing that the practice, the writing, is what I want – that this is what I choose – I completed my edits with a renewed calmness.

I accept the madness and the frustrations that accompany the creative act because these things comprise the writer’s life. And, because, as Langston Hughes asks in his famous poem, “Harlem”:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore –
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over –
like syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags?
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

For me, it does all those things, and surely, also explodes. And the only way to stop its explosion, is to accept the madness, even honor it and eventually create a routine that works, all the while realizing that the dream and the desire to create is a true gift, not a torture chamber.

As Albert Camus stated: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

It’s worth some thought: what do you do routinely that has a deep payoff and brings you madness, but true happiness?