Iain Parke – Author of the Day

cc710a65iainparkeIain Parke is my author of today and he has an amazing tale. One I envy him for and maybe even one day hope to follow.

How did you get off grid? And what was the most difficult thing to get right?

We bought a remote farmhouse high up in the hills and about a quarter of a mile down a track across a field from the road, where the only link to civilization was the telephone line (which it turned out after we moved in was too far away from the exchange to get broadband so we went back to dial-up for 2 years until the telephone company put a new piece of string up the valley).

So water comes from a spring up the hill which is fine until the pipe freezes in winter and leaves us cut off until it thaws. We can tell when something has died in the tank as the water develops a distinctly metallic taste and then the toilet ball valves stop working as small bones get stuck in them.

wind turbineHeating and cooking are from oil and electricity comes from a generator and a wind turbine, supplying the biggest set of batteries you have ever seen.

Before we had to do it, we didn’t really think about what running our own power station was actually going to involve such as servicing a diesel engine every month or so.

And when winter comes, the key thing is to make sure we have the tanks filled up to the max before the snow arrives. Spending a few weeks lugging five or six 25 litre jerrycans of fuel at a time down across a field that’s waist deep in snow to be able to keep the lights and cooker on, just because we’ve managed to let them run out, is quite a good reminder not to let it happen again.

What made you decide to want to be off grid?

Complete, unadulterated, insanity.

Are you completely self-suffucient?

As far as utilities go, yes. It’s quite fun seeing the look on salespeople’s faces in shopping malls when they try to sell us on switching suppliers. They can just about cope when we say no we don’t have gas, but saying we don’t have an electricity supplier just freaks them out.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?

Err…well, whether it was amongst the ex-pat crowd in my first book set in Africa or amongst the bikers of my more recent series, beer, and lots of it, seems to crop up quite a bit for some reason that I can’t quite fathom!

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

tarte tatinMy other half is an excellent cook who does some great things with chocolate and makes a tarte tatin to die for.

I quite enjoy cooking but I tend towards a fairly blokeish approach to cusine involving either some old standby favourites like a good chilli, or a fairly experimental and decidedly non-menu driven approach based on ‘what have we got in the fridge and let’s see if it goes with those herbs, veg or whatever?’

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s usually interesting.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

Heavy_Duty_People_Cover_for_Kindle

It’s Heavy Duty People which is the first in my series of ‘biker lit’ books. It is a hard-nosed crime thriller set in the world of outlaw bikers. His club and his brothers have been Damage’s life, but when the gang starts to become gangsters and brother starts killing brother, Damage has to choose which side he’s on and what he’s prepared to do.

To quote one of my reviewers: “Damage is the show-stealing superstar of the book and he really is a fantastic anti-hero. A rule-breaker, a loyal servant and a pragmatic murderer; he’s positively Shakespearian in his moral complexity.”

But to let him speak for himself as he does at one point

“Just think, next time one of your mates has a snort at a party or your bird drops a tab at a club, someone’s had to source it for you, someone like me. This coke and shit doesn’t smuggle itself in y’know? It takes a bit of good old entrepreneurial risk-taking and effort on somebody’s part so’s you can get off your face. There’s demand, we take the risk and supply, and we get the rewards. Ain’t that how it’s supposed to work? Anyway, big tobacco sells stuff that kills you and if you’ve got a pension I bet you own some of it.”

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

I’m a bit like a magpie with words and phrases in that things I hear seem to get picked up and hidden away somewhere, for years, decades even, until it’s time to bring them back out and use them.

This was actually a phrase I overheard once about twenty five years or so ago being used as a sort of code. Someone I knew was in the early stages of being sounded out about hanging around the local outlaw club and was told that he (and not me I have to say), really ought to go to a party that was coming up the next weekend because ‘some heavy duty people’, referring to the club, would be there.

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

Undoubtedly the thing that sells books is people I don’t know talking to other people I don’t know about them, that’s to say, good old word of mouth. The tricky thing is, what can you do as an author to help generate that? I’m active on social media, both on my own and as part of the great ASMSG group and the thing that I think is most important is engagement with the people who respond to anything I put out there.

Whenever I get an email, tweet or whatever from anyone who’s contacted me about one of my books I make a real effort to build up a relationship with them, partly because it’s really great to hear from them and that they’ve taken the time to make contact, but also because I find they are the people who then become real ambassadors for my books.

Okay, now tell me something none has ever heard before from you, maybe something about class A drugs in industrial quantities, and killing? Hehehe, I just love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂 

Well, I can tell you that the TV development process is as slow as hell and seems to require all the planets coming into alignment at the same time but that’s my problem really.

I can tell you that when the NSA look at my google search history I’m going to be in real trouble and might want to know why I’m looking into how to use washing powder to get rid of a body.

I can tell you I’ve worked out a way to win the lottery and I’m working that into a plot.

And I can tell you that successfully laundering money involves there stages, insertion, getting the dirty money into the banking system in ways that mean it isn’t questioned, layering, which is the moving of money around inside the system so that it’s origins are disguised, and then extraction which is how you then get the money back out again in a way that enables you to make use of it as clean money. And come to think of it, there’s probably an ebook in there…

Thank you Iain, let me finish with telling the readers they can get their copy of Heavy Duty People from AmazonSmashwords, and from Bad-press.co.uk.

Featured Author – Maria Grazia Swan

gemini aToday Maria Grazia Swan is my guest and she’s most entertaining.

Hi Maria Thank You (you’ll understand later why this is a joke) for being here and answering a few of my questions.

Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life? I know about the Prosecco, but do you ever dump a splash of Limoncello in it?

You must know two things about me,

1 I don’t drink hard liquor, period. Even if it’s called Limoncello.

2. I consider myself sort of a purist when it comes to taste. If I’m going to drink coffee, well, I drink coffee. Not flavored coffee or coffee mocha or whatever else you call it. I may have a favorite brand of coffee beans, but it’s always plain coffee. And that rule applies to all that I eat or drink. No Ketchup, no steak sauce, no garlic potatoes. If I want potatoes that’s what I eat, same for steak, I’ll eat the steak, no sauce. The rest is all about changing the natural flavor or covering up the cook’s shortcomings. All that to let you know that I like Prosecco, as is, from the bottle to my stem glass and beyond.

What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?

I don’t have a favorite dish.

I eat according to my moods. My comfort food is pasta. I make up my own recipes using what I have available and always cook from scratch no cans or pre cooked. Because I’ve learned to cook in Italy, I’m still doing a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Drives my kids crazy, I tell them if they want to learn to cook some of my so-called recipes they need to come and watch me do it otherwise, when I’m gone, so are the dishes they like so much.

Ah, the wing it method, a good one which I use too. 🙂

Do you ever miss being the fashionista? Or finding that one great house for a client?

I’m still selling real estate, don’t advertise, but work with my loyal clients and by referral. As for fashionista, well…I’m not a size 0 anymore and I get pretty depressed when I try clothes on.

However, while in my youth I would agonize for days over what to wear for a party or a date, now I don’t. Self confidence and experience let me know I can walk into my closet and get the perfect outfit together in thirty minutes or less. Small reward, but I’ll take what I can get.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?

BB 400x238

Available on Amazon

Bosom Bodies is #2 in the Mina’s adventures series. OMG!! March 25th is the birthday of the real Mina, the Italian Pop star who inspired my choice for the name of the main protagonist. She will be … 74.

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

Yes, and here is why. The book opens in a restaurant where Mina is working pretending to be someone else. Pretending to be Ginger, her yoga instructor who eloped to Las Vegas to get hitched.  This is not your typical Southern California restaurant, it’s more of a … gentleman’s club. Think … Hooters?  I couldn’t find any appropriate name, they were all taken by legit businesses. Bosom Bodies was the one I could use without risking a law suit.

I picked the book Bosom Bodies as an acknowledgment to you, the yoga gal.

Aw! That is sooo sweet! Too bad I don’t have a bosom body, rather bony if you ask me. 🙂 Must be all the yoga. Anyway, let’s get on with the interview. Is there anything you don’t like about being an author?

Marketing, tooting my own horn. (Love American clichés)

I can relate to that and must say there’s too much of it going on already without us joining in. 🙂

What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?

I don’t do much, I’m technically challenged to the point that I bribe my grandkids when I’m stuck (home cooked meals for technical help)

What sets my books apart is the Italian factor. I’m really Italian, born and raised in Italy so when I write, that comes through and I have a large number of readers who have roots or connections to Italy

That is great, I love Italy and must put the book on my TBR list. (makes a note to do so after this interview)

Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!

I’m writing right now, you think these answers are easy? What are you talking about? Writing is writing. Even if is only the grocery list.

Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

I’m the first girl born in my family, had 3 sisters. Traditionally I should have been named after my two grandmothers. Anna and Domenica. Instead that went to my sister, born five years after me, we call her Annica. So I asked my mother why am I Maria Grazia, it’s not a family name, there has to be a reason. She said something had happened to my father before I was born and she made a vow to the Virgin Mary that if he would come home all one piece I would be named Maria Grazia, Maria, for the Virgin Mary and Grazia for the Grace received. I have never told this to anyone for many reasons, I’m not very religious and this feels wrong to me on so many levels; my name being a pawn in the game of life for one, and then the way Americans call me Mary Thank you  makes the all holy intent behind the name sort of—devilish.

Okay my friend, ball is in your court. Play nice.

Hahaha, play nice she says. Okay, I will and won’t make that joke. If any of the readers want to find you and say a Hail Mary to you they can do so at:

Her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter

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For those that haven’t had enough and want to read a bit of the book before they run off and get their copy at Amazon, here’s an excerpt.


The last time Mina waited tables was fourteen months earlier in October 1989. Before Paola’s death, before Mina met Brian. She wasn’t going to think about Brian now.
Her high heels clicked on the concrete floors of the smoke-filled restaurant. The loud music and the chattering noise could cover up cannon fire, never mind the annoying shoes. Round tables, higher than regular dining tables, with stools to match, occupied most of the large room. The rest of the space was taken by a well stocked bar. Men of all ages, shapes and means warmed most of the seats. They must all come for the food, Mina thought as she stretched on her toes to be able to hear the orders. Even in high heels, she was the shortest waitress there, and the least busty, the least giggly and, at twenty-four, probably the least young. Then again, she wasn’t depending on the generosity of these men to make rent.
“Ginger, psst,” Angelina beckoned from the other side of the glass separating the kitchen from the main room, “I put your plates here to keep them warm. Take them.”
Angelina’s English was marginal, but her intention to help Mina/Ginger was clear enough. She was the only ally in this whole place. Mina suspected it had to do with the accent, sort of a bonding factor. Angelina sounded Latina and probably had cultural similarities to Mina’s Italian background. She looked so young to Mina. How did she end up here? In this…restaurant? Mina could see past Angelina’s sweet smile. She could read the sadness and uncertainty in the young woman’s eyes. They reminded her of her own eyes, her own feelings those many years ago when she first stepped off that plane at Los Angeles International.
She grabbed the warm plates and tried to make sense of the orders. She couldn’t read her own handwriting. That’s what using computers will do to you! Eyes watching her? She turned around. The kitchen helper, a short dark-haired man, was looking at her. His name was Diego. The girls talked about him, calling him the silent type. Mina wasn’t even sure he understood English. Something about his piercing eyes made her uncomfortable. She gave Angelina a smile of thanks and scooted to her assigned tables.
It was nearly midnight by the time she walked out of Bosom Bodies.
Only Diego, a cashier named Lisa, and Mina remained. Angelina and another waitress left a few minutes earlier. Due to corporate policy, Mina had to change clothes before leaving, so she looked even more silly with the idiotic wig and fake lashes wearing her jeans and the Ultrasuede coat, which was Paola’s last gift. She was thankful she didn’t know a soul on this side of town and aimed to keep it that way.
Her ragtop Bug was parked at the back of the building inside the fenced area reserved for the employees. There was that funny word again.
Enough rain drizzled from the night sky to allow December to be taken seriously even in Southern California.
Mina noticed something peculiar about her car. Maybe it was the reflection from the streetlight, but the car looked lopsided.
“Hurry up,” Lisa the cashier said. “I need to lock the gate, I’m already late. The sitter will charge me overtime.”
“Hey, I’m sorry. I think I have a flat tire.” Mina walked around her car and, sure enough, it was the front tire, passenger sideas flat as her chest beneath the padding.
She could call Triple A. Her membership was current, wasn’t it? It would take time, and Lisa wanted her out of there. She opened the hood and remembered the spare tire was sitting in the warehouse of West Coast Software where Mina left it to make room for moving boxes. That was last week. She had forgotten about the tire.
“Maledizione!” She slammed the hood close.
The male voice came from behind her. “So you’re Italian.”
Mina turned. Diego stood looking down at the flat tire. She was surprised at his perfect English, no accent, yet he understood Italian? Italian swear words. How about that?
“Lisa, go ahead, go home. I’ll lock the gate as soon as we take care of Ginger’s car.” Mina stopped herself short of explaining her name wasn’t Ginger. She bit her lip and avoided his eyes. The man made her feel self-conscious. How old was he? And what did she care? Lisa started the engine of her small, beat-up truck, waved to Diego, ignoring Mina and drove off in a blast of unmuffled engine and Michael Bolton’s falsetto.
“Do you have a spare tire?” Diego asked.
“If I did, I would have already taken care of this.”
“Oh, you change your own tires? In the dark, while it rains?”
She hated him. Smart-ass. That was one American expression she found fascinating and mostly to the point, especially on this occasion. How would that translate into Italian? Not very well. Smart furbo. Ass.
“Do you want a ride home?” Was he talking to her?
She looked around. The only vehicle left in the fenced space was her Volkswagen with the flat tire. “A ride? On your shoulders?”
“Suit yourself. Your car will be safe until tomorrow, but there aren’t any cabs around here.” He glanced at her heels. The streetlights played hide and seek with his expression. Even so, she knew he smirked. “See you tomorrow,” he said.
Mina watched him walk to the side of the building. She didn’t know what to do. The damp wig itched. Her leaden feet ached. She wasn’t used to being on her feet for so many hours. All her prickliness left her. She wanted to sit in her car and wait for the sun to come up or this restaurant from hell to open, so she could use a phone. Who would she call? Brian was on a flight to Europe with his loony mother, and Mina hadn’t dared tell Paco about moonlighting as a waitress in this place. Maledizione.
The rhythmic, engine growl preceded him as Diego cruised around the corner on a shiny monster Harley.
“Last chance.” He looked even smaller on that huge thing. He revved up the engine and waited. Mina approached him, still unsure. He steadied the bike by firmly planting both feet on the pavement. He wore fancy black boots. Who was this Diego, really? A substitute for a honeymooning cook?
“I don’t have an extra helmet.” He strapped his under his chin. “How far do you live? I don’t want to get a ticket because you aren’t wearing one.”
“I’m wearing a wig. It’ll soften the blow if I fall.”
He didn’t smile.
She moved up beside the motorcycle and sent a mental thanks to the corporate policy that made her change clothes. She could never straddle that metal horse wearing a short skirt. Even with her jeans, she had trouble. Her legs were too short and she had to lean on Diego’s back to get on.
“Do you need anything from your car? Is it locked?”
“No and no.”
“What do you mean? You didn’t lock the car?”
“I never lock the car. Just go. Let’s get it over with it. I’ll have someone come over in the morning and fix the tire. Go.”
He turned and clicked the padlock on the gate without getting off the bike. “Yes, ma’am, but tomorrow is Sunday. Most places will be closed.”
She shrugged in the dark as he steered through the front parking lot. The instant they reached the road they gained speed. The bike glided under a canopy of twinkling holiday lights decorating the streets. A whiff of wind lifted her wig. Damn! She held on to Diego’s waist with one arm while trying to keep the wig from flying off her head with the other. Diego patted her hand. Mina sensed he did it just to annoy her. He must have picked up on her discomfort. Soon they crossed the bridge and were in Newport Beach.
“Okay, you can drop me off just up the hill.” She yelled into his back. She had no idea if he could hear her with that helmet.
“What hill?” He heard her. Good.
“Bayside Condominiums.”
He whistled. “You live there?”
“Your Harley would look right at home in the garage.” She remembered a magazine article about Elizabeth Taylor having a Harley-Davison. She felt pretty sure Ms. Taylor didn’t play with cheap toys. “You can let me off at the gate, thanks.”
He removed his hand from hers, made a sharp turn to the left and stopped the bike with the motor running. “Buona notte,” he said without turning his head.
Jerk. She struggled but got off the shiny machine without too much huffing and puffing. She knew her wig was askew. She pulled it off, tucked it in her pocket, and hurried to the gate. She waved to the old man minding the gate when she walked by. Her hair felt glued to her scalp after all the time spent wearing that wig. One set of the fake eyelashes were stuck shut. She tried to open her eye, but it only fluttered. The guard winked back.

Featured Author – Les MacDonald

Music Died 4Hi Les, thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. 
Hi Lucy, it’s my pleasure.
I know you’re a Canadian. What do you think is the difference between Canadian, Americans and Brits?
Putting me on the spot right off the bat I see. Ok, us Canucks are supposed to be known for being ultra polite. The Brits are a tad more reserved. The Americans, what can I say about the Americans. I love my buddies from the south.
A very diplomatic answer, Les. 🙂 With which I agree whole heartedly.
When you read for fun, does that ever include baths?
I love to read in the bath…with bubbles and wine. Does that sound weird?
Not at all, throw in some great music and the occasional top up with hot water and I’ll just might join you. 🙂
Can you tell me what book you’d like to see made into a movie?
Replay by Ken Grimwood. It was a bit of a fantasy/time travel/science fiction thing. Next 11/22/63 by Stephen King.
What is the worst movie adaptation of a great book you’ve ever come across? And what is the best?
The worst for me would be The Bonfire of the Vanities. Tom Wolfe’s book was a beauty but it just didn’t translate well to the big screen.The best is easy. For me, it’s the Godfather. Great cast headed by Brando, Coppola’s direction, and a great story by Mario Puzo. A winner in every way.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
Coke in a glass bottle. I am a Coca-Cola addict.
What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?
I love Chinese food but I am completely useless in the kitchen. It’s either my wife Terri doing the cooking or it’s dine out/take out.
What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?
They Walk Among Us: Serial Killers. 1aa-1It has been a bit of a journey as my son Tristan and I started it off back in 2011. It was going to be an all encompassing true crime book and now we have turned it into a series. The first book features chapters on 25 of the worst serial killers in history starting with Jack the Ripper. All the usual suspects are represented plus some that are not so well known. We hope to make it a six or seven book series.
Is there anything you don’t like about being an author?
At times, I am impatient to get to the end of one book as I always have two or three projects on the go. I do love the writing and the promoting.
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
I try to make use of the social media (facebook, twitter etc.) when I can. I also try to take advantage of promotional tools offered by Amazon such as Shelfari and their message boards.
Can you tell me something none has ever heard before from you? Hehehe, I love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
Haha aren’t you just…ok, here we go. I dated a woman named Cheryl who later told me that her name used to be Craig. When something like that happens you learn a lot about yourself. I learned that I wasn’t quite as open minded as I thought I was.
Hahahaha, I would have wanted to see your face when you discovered it. 🙂 Readers, have you ever had a surprise so shocking it rocked your vision of what you are really about?
Thank you, Les. It has been a pleasure having you around.
Thanks Lucy. It has been a blast.
Now tell us where readers can stalk you. Erm, I mean follow! Yes, follow! 🙂
My son and I are on Facebook, I’m on it alone, I have a music page on Facebook, my site, and on Amazon
 

DI Lyle Mystery Series Box Set by Juliet B Madison

Juliet asked me if she could have some room on the blog to tell us more about DI Lyle. So, I won’t take up any more of your time with my blabbing but let her have her say. Take it away, Juliet.

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With the crap weather most of us the world over are NOT enjoying nothing could be better to cuddle up with than a long book.

If you like UK based police procedural thrillers than quite frankly (no pun intended) you could do much worse than settle down with DI Frank Lyle’s Mystery Box Set. This book gives you three great novels in one place with an excerpt from a forthcoming one. Chilling murders, inspired detection and a gorgeous six feet plus blonde blue eyed detective what more could you ladies want?

Mel Box Set

For the first time all three DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series novels are in one place. All have been revised and this collection also contains a taster excerpt from the forthcoming DI Frank Lyle Mystery Murder in the Wings.

SECOND CHANCES

1982 – The rape and murder of a teenage girl obsesses DI Frank Lyle. He struggles to balance work with the demands of his embittered ex wife, Sarah, but does not solve the case. A wrongful arrest leads to a murder in custody and DI Lyle pays a heavy price; both personally and professionally.

1987 – The victim’s father asks DI Lyle to reinvestigate his daughter’s murder. Working reluctantly with newly promoted DI Simon Ward, Lyle and his team move forward. Then a second murder occurs, but when the killer is unmasked can Lyle deal with the shocking truth of his identity?

HEIR TO MISFORTUNE

Warning: this novel contains references to indecency against minors.

Why was Alex Carnegie – heir to a corporate fortune – living rough on the streets of Ashbeck when he was murdered?

Enquiries lead DI Lyle and his team to uncover blackmail and local authority corruption.

Two more murders occur, and DI Lyle is forced to stare into the abyss where he uncovers the sordid secret that one man is forced to kill to keep hidden. And who is the traitor in the ranks at Ashbeck CID?

UNHOLY ALLIANCE

The murder of a curate at an ecumenical conference leads DI Lyle and his team to discover the shocking and somewhat tragic past of the victim, whom no one appears to have known very well.

Assisted by Canon Thomas Rice, a former police officer, DI Lyle works his way through a tangled web which leads to a recently released prisoner with a deep-seated hatred of the church. Can Lyle penetrate the unholy alliance formed between the ex con and a corrupt police officer? And will a little knowledge prove a dangerous thing?

This DI Lyle collection also includes a foreword written by much respected Indie author Gerry McCullough who I am privileged to count as a fan of the series and the man himself.

You can get your copy from your local Amazon Kindle store with just one click.

 

Opening Day by Joe Perrone Jr.

AMAZON

While out fly-fishing for trout on his favorite stream, Roscoe police chief Matt Davis stumbles across the remains of a body, barely recognizable as human, killed approximately six months earlier. With no physical evidence, no I.D. and no suspects, it’s up to Chief Davis to not only find the murderer, but to also discover the identity of the victim, a young girl.
Follow three potential victims prior to the murder – any one of whom could be destined for death – as they make there way toward Roscoe.  Only two will survive, but which two?
Opening Day is the second in the Matt Davis Mystery Series, and picks up where As the Twig is Bent left off and is a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree.
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Joe Fishing 2012 squareABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joe Perrone Jr is an author whose diverse background includes time spent as a sportswriter for a prominent New Jersey newspaper, the Passaic-Clifton Herald News, and also as a freelance advertising copywriter. In addition, he has had numerous short stories published in the Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide. From 1989-1999, Joe was a professional fly fishing guide on the historic Beaverkill River in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York State. The nearby town of Roscoe, dubbed Trout Town USA, serves as the setting for Joe’s latest novel, Opening Day, which is the second in the Matt Davis Mystery Series (the first was As the Twig is Bent, published in early 2009). The third Matt Davis Mystery, entitled Twice Bitten, was published in January of 2012. A fourth Matt Davis Mystery, Broken Promises, will be released in 2013. Presently, Joe lives with his wife of nearly 30 years, Becky, and the couple’s two cats, Cassie and Callie, in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Readers can visit his website