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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why CIA Operatives are Fish Breeders

In the Black Swamp Mysteries Series, CIA psychic spy Vicki Boyd and CIA operative Dylan Maguire have a front as tropical angelfish breeders. But why are they pretending to be fish breeders? Why not be office staff, financial advisors, website designers, book editors, or a host of other career options?

The idea came to me because I breed freshwater angelfish as a hobby. If you haven't checked out my other blog, Vicki's Angelfish, you'll find videos, pictures and information including some adorable pics of baby angels swimming with their parents - or hanging by their wee heads on leaves.

But whenever I began talking about my angelfish - or any fish for that matter - people's eyes glazed over. (At left: Lindsay Buckingfish, who is a flamboyant ten inches tall.) I discovered that I could actually bore a person in ten seconds flat. That's when I realized it was the perfect front for a CIA operative.

Neighbors would think they were the most boring couple in the world, and they'd likely leave Vicki and Dylan alone.

They could work out of their home, so no one from an office setting would miss them when they disappeared for a few hours - or a few days.

They would have no storefront and no one would ever have a reason to meet with them. They would sell their baby angels wholesale to pet stores - all done online.

There are a few challenges, however.

They have to feed the angels and keep those tanks clean. Fish don't breed in dirty water, and angels are particularly finicky. They want the conditions perfect for their fry.

They also need to feed the fish on a regular basis. I feed mine daily; however, breeders will often stop feeding the fish three days prior to shipping them so their water will remain clear during transit. Luckily, Sam (their CIA boss) has filled in for them when they've been out of town on assignment.

If you were an undercover CIA operative, what business would you choose as your front?

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The White Devil of Dublin now in Audio Book!

The White Devil of Dublin is now in audio book, narrated by the same brilliant actor who narrated the first book in the series, The Tempest Murders. Jack Nolan makes Ryan O'Clery and The White Devil come alive. If you'd like to listen to the first chapter, follow this link to amazon, where a sample is available. The audio book is available for purchase on amazon, Audible, iTunes, and at other retailers.

If you enjoy the hit television series Vikings as much as I have, you'll enjoy The White Devil of Dublin. The action moves between present-day North Carolina and 800 years in the past, on the eve of the Norman invasion of Dublin. Detective Ryan O'Clery agrees to meet a noted historian claiming to have discovered information about his ancestors, but when he arrives he
finds her murdered and her computer stolen. His investigation will lead him back to 12th century Ireland, to a time of Viking invaders and conquests, to an albino known as The White Devil, and to a secret his family kept hidden for more than eight hundred years. It will also bring him face to face with a serial killer intent on finishing the job he started.

I unexpectedly fell in love with The White Devil while writing this book. And from the fan mail I've received, many of my readers did as well. They laughed, they cried, they fell in love and they suffered alongside The White Devil and the woman he loves... And they were brought forward into the present day to an albino Ryan thought was dead but who is not only alive but is plotting his revenge.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Moving to Ireland? Not So Fast

If you've read my Black Swamp Mysteries or Ryan O'Clery Mysteries series, you know I have a fascination and love of all things Irish. And if you're a follower of this blog, you'll know that I journeyed to Ireland more than once to reconnect with where my ancestors came from (Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland) and what they experienced. Standing on the land they once owned, looking over the hills and valleys that were once theirs, was an experience I won't soon forget.

I, like countless others, fell in love with the mystical, magical Emerald Isle and her people. I have long had a vision of writing novels in a cottage beside the water, walking the shoreline as Mrs. Muir did in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (although she was in England), and becoming immersed in the Irish culture and history.

So I was disappointed to learn that rules changed in 2015 that prevented me from living there.

As of March 2015, Americans wishing to "retire" in Ireland (more on exactly what "retire" means in a moment) must have a government guaranteed pension of 50,000 Euro (currently about $57,000 USD) per person. Being a writer, my income is derived from royalties but under the new rules, book royalties do not count; the premise being that royalties are not a guaranteed source of income. Neither, apparently, is having money in the bank. I suppose with banks failing and nest eggs disappearing with economic fluctuations, they decided not to count savings, either. Internet-based businesses are also ineligible.

In America, immigrants come here to look for employment. In Ireland, you obtain employment before you move there. This is generally done through an American company with a presence in Ireland; someone working for Apple, Google or Pfizer, for example, could be transferred there. The company completes the necessary paperwork and the employee is granted permission to remain for one year at a time, renewable each year. If their employment ceases, they are sometimes given as little as seven days to leave the country.

But if you are not already employed by a company willing and able to relocate you to Ireland, you can not search for employment there. Jobs are for the Irish, not for Americans.

That means if you wish to live there as I did, the only option is to "retire" there, even though I would have continued to earn income through my book royalties. And because I am not retired from the U.S. Government and receiving a guaranteed government pension of at least $57,000 USD per year, I do not qualify to live there.

I am fortunate that I discovered this before making the move. Some moved there prior to the change in policy (see the links below) and were forced to move - often with short notice. I anticipated volatility in a country in Central or South America, where governments can be less stable, but never in a Western European country such as Ireland - especially since the United States has more citizens of Irish descent than the Irish do in Ireland.

Discovering this made me realize that wherever an American goes, they will never be afforded the same rights elsewhere; a home, an automobile, furnishings and belongings left behind in Ireland because one has to leave the country on short notice often leads to all those possessions being forfeited. The Irish Government now owns them.

So my dream of writing my novels in a small cottage by the sea has been dashed. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I can only believe something better is in store for me.

[Pictures are from Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. As of this writing, I've been unable to locate a UK solicitor (equivalent of an attorney) who would assist with immigration and I have decided there's a message there.]

Links for more information:

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Emotional Impact

I read recently that most consumers will purchase a book based on its emotional impact. I began to consider my own purchases: what attracted me to a book, what compelled me to buy it, and what causes me to read through to the end versus setting it down halfway through.

A favorite book is Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. I am not a mountain climber and I am not particularly athletic. But the idea of average people placing themselves into extraordinary circumstances has always appealed to my sense of adventure and imagination. This is a true story about people who climbed Mount Everest in May 1996 and of their fight for survival when a storm caught them unawares at or near the summit.

The cover wouldn't have necessarily captured my attention. To be honest, I don't remember why I picked it up in the book store and began to thumb through it. But I do know that when I glimpsed the photographs of some of the people--people I didn't know at that point whether they lived or died--I was hooked. I had to read of their ordeal.

At that point, unbeknownst to me, I was emotionally invested in that book. The investment grew as I read it. I felt as if I knew the people--where they came from, the families they left behind as they followed their dreams, what drove them to do what they do. I turned the pages well into the night, knowing I wouldn't rest until they were off that mountain safely.

And when some died on the mountain--and twenty years later, their bodies are still there, frozen in place--the images couldn't escape. I still, to this day, recall Beck Weathers' superhuman effort to descend that mountain even though he was blind; I still think of the oldest Japanese woman to summit the peak, only to die on her way down; I still think of the postman who saved his hard-earned money to do something extraordinary--and lost his life in the process.

The movie based on the book brought these people to life once more, and of course I had to see it. I went with someone who hadn't read the book and hated the movie, though I could have watched it repeatedly. Another friend actually signed up to travel to Base Camp. So obviously what captured my imagination captured someone else's but repulsed another.

What was the last book you read? Did it make an emotional impact on you in the store or as you heard about it? Did it continue to make an emotional impact on you as you read it?

The Tempest Murders is now available as an audio book. Irish Detective Ryan O'Clery comes to life through the voice of actor Jack Nolan. Listen to a free sample on amazon.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Moving to Audio Books

I have some very exciting news to share. This summer, two of my books have been made into audio books - The Tempest Murders and The White Devil of Dublin. This is particularly exciting for me because both books are written from the point of view of Detective Ryan O'Clery, an Irishman who has moved to North Carolina and works for the Lumberton Police Department.

The audio books are narrated by actor Jack Nolan. An Irish descendant himself, he truly brings Ryan O'Clery to life.

In The Tempest Murders, Detective Ryan O'Clery is working a series of homicides when he discovers a journal kept by an uncle five generations earlier. The journal details the same type of murders - only these took place nearly two hundred years earlier, as the Night of the Big Wind swept the Atlantic Ocean across all of Ireland.

As Hurricane Irene barrels toward the North Carolina coastline, Ryan discovers even the killer's description matches exactly. And as he falls in love with television reporter Cathleen Reilly, he begins to wonder if she is the reincarnation of Caitlin O'Conor, the woman lost to the killer as the storm raged in Ireland - and if he is the reincarnation of Constable Rian Kelly. Now he's in a race to rescue Cathleen before the killer finds her - or is history destined to repeat itself?

Visit to listen to the first chapter. The audio book is unabridged, so you get all the excitement of the printed and eBook editions. It is also available on iTunes and at ACX (Audible).

To celebrate this new phase of my career, my website has also been completely redesigned. I hope you'll check it out, as more than 3,000 pages and images were painstakingly upgraded to the new look and interface. Let me know what you think of it! The URL is You'll find all of my books (except my computer books), my background information, links to all my social media, and links to my blogs and Book 'Em North Carolina.

And I'm curious: how do you like your books? As audio books, printed books or eBooks?