The Shoeless Kid and the Lonely Highway

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So, you’re driving along on the Alaska Highway in that long twilight that is the summer “night” in the Yukon, and you see a shoe on the side of the road. Just one. It’s a sneaker. And as you drive past, you find yourself wondering, “How the heck do you lose just one shoe? Wouldn’t you notice?”

Then, with the shoe rapidly shrinking in your rearview mirror, you find yourself coming up with scenarios. Maybe the driver stopped to get something in the back seat and the shoe fell out of the over-packed car, unnoticed. Maybe a hitchhiker tied his spare sneakers to the outside of his backpack and one fell off when he ran to catch a ride. Maybe a panel truck with a load of stolen shoes hit a bump and a box fell out…

Anyway. That was the germ for The Shoeless Kid, my latest mystery with Carina Press. Idle speculation on a long summer evening in the Yukon. From there I came up with Josh, the kid, and Kate, the new Chief of Police in Mendenhall, a small town in Manitoba. I had a blast writing about Kate trying to make a detachment of resentful police officers work for her and not against her. I’ve grown fond of her and of Marco, the very young, very good looking rookie who ends up being her only back up in that oh-so-tense police detachment.

~CONTEST~ Now I find myself wondering what other scenarios I could have come up with for that lonely shoe abandoned on the highway. What do you think? Any ideas how shoes end up on roadways, alone and pathetic? Share your ideas in the comments section for a chance to win a copy of The Shoeless Kid. I’ll draw a name on Friday, May 20, so you have until then!

Come visit Kate Williams, my tough-and-none-too-patient heroine in The Shoeless Kid, as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding a missing child. And don’t forget to check out my Carina colleagues who are also releasing books this week: Jennifer Greene’s Sweets to the Sweet and Maureen Miller’s Endless Night.

Marcelle

www.marcelledube.com

THE SHOELESS KID

The shoe appeared on her desk, gently deposited on top of the pile of occurrence reports from the last week.

It was a kid’s high-top—left foot—and it was red and grubby, but not worn.

Kate automatically picked it up, more to keep it from dirtying her paperwork than out of curiosity. It was damp. On the inside of the tongue, in red marker, was written “Josh H.” She flipped the shoe over to look at the underside. A size four. It would fit a…what? A four- or five-year-old?

Bobby MacAllister’s age.

She slowly looked up. Marco Trepalli, youngest and newest member of the Mendenhall police force—and too handsome for his own good—smiled down at her. The morning sun gilded his tanned cheek and added a twinkle to his eye. Kate stifled a sigh. Marco had the makings of a good cop, if he ever learned to get over himself.

Buy THE SHOELESS KID here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marcelle Dubé grew up near Montreal but now lives in the Yukon, where people outnumber the carnivores, but not by much. She writes science fiction, fantasy and mainstream short stories and novels, and has been featured in magazines and an award-winning anthology. The Shoeless Kid is her second novel with Carina Press. Her first, On Her Trail, was published in 2010.

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Not Your Usual Suspects blog

Romantic Suspense Go-To Girl

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Can you spot a killer a mile away? I can. Well, in romantic suspense books, that is. Much to my surprise (and delight!), I am becoming quite the romantic suspense connoisseur. I honestly never thought the white-knuckle tension and hot sex combo would appeal to me quite as much as it does, but somehow it just turned out that way.

In my head I like to call myself the Romantic Suspense Go-To Girl of the Carina Press acquisitions team. I knew my new role had become official (even if just subconsciously) when we had a meeting recently and a bunch of heads swiveled in my direction when Angela asked who wanted to read the romantic suspense manuscript on offer that week. Guess it’s me!

Even though my exposure to what Susan Andersen affectionately calls the “awkward, bastard step-child genre” has been limited at best, I guess what it boils down to is that I crave the action, thrill and intrigue that unfolds in romantic suspense alongside the relationship. I also enjoy the deeper character development. Since the plot doesn’t completely hinge on when/where/how the protagonists will get it on, there’s more room to explore character motivations and inner thoughts.

The page-turning aspect of romantic suspense is another definite plus. There’s nothing worse than being excited to start a new book and then feeling like you’d rather clean the floor than flip the page. (Yes, this has happened to me, although usually when I’m PMS-ing.) The nature of romantic suspense books means that I devour these stories much quicker than I expect to. Is this because I’m impatient to find out whether I’ve pegged the right perp or not? Yes, partly. Gloating is good, even if only in my own mind.

Romantic suspense is becoming more and more popular because it has a rather distinct and obvious advantage: it appeals to both romance and mystery fans. For me, the trick for any author attempting this genre is to find the right balance between the two – so that the love story doesn’t distract from the suspense, and the suspense doesn’t overpower the budding relationship.

The recipe is easy, actually: a strong, meaty plot with a bit of mystery I can sink my teeth into, topped off with some smokin’ sex and a heroine who’s feisty and independent as all get-out. Love doesn’t have to completely save the day, either, but there should be a sense of good winning out over evil (or something less fire-and-brimstone sounding).

Several of our fabulous Carina Press books fit this bill, including some I read early on, like Overnight and On Her Trail. It should come as no surprise that my to-be-read pile includes several more: Criminal Instinct, Sea of Suspicion and Desperate Choices. What do you enjoy most about romantic suspense? The marvelous meshing of mystery and love, or something else entirely?

What’s in a name?

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Hi again. Just in case you’re wondering, I’ve never been a reporter but I have worked for newspapers and with reporters. In fact, I worked for one of the local newspapers in Whitehorse, the Yukon city featured in On Her Trail. I took liberties with physical location of the office, along with its name and oh, just about everything else, but one thing I didn’t take liberties with: my belief that reporters can be dogged and fearless, and willing to risk almost anything to get the truth out.

People always seem curious about by name: Marcelle Dubé. Yes, I am French-Canadian. (I used to say I was half-French, until a boyfriend-du-jour said, “Yeah, the bottom half.” ::sigh:: ) It might interest you to know that there is a famous Québec playwright by the name of Marcel Dubé (male) and a well-known Québec painter also named Marcelle Dubé (female). What can I say? It’s all in the name!

All for now. I’ve enjoyed blogging (my first experience!) and hope you’ve enjoyed it, too. Come visit me at www.marcelledube.com, or on Facebook and Twitter. It’s been nice getting to know you!

Giveaways:

1 digital copy of the author’s book will be given away to a blog commenter, a twitter commenter and a Facebook commenter (for a total of 3 copies). Nothing is required of you for this, though you are welcome to mention it in your blog posts.

Excerpt from On Her Trail

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Welcome back! In my earlier blog, I talked about the road to publication. Now I figure you might like to get a sense of what On Her Trail is about.

Laura, whose adventures as a fearless reporter have led her all over Eastern Europe, covering the seamier side of politics, has moved back to Canada and settled in Montreal. That’s when trouble finds her in the form of a crime boss who can’t allow her to publish a story unmasking him.

What’s a girl to do? Run home, of course. Home to the Yukon, to the house on the cliff overlooking the Yukon River, to her estranged mother and their difficult relationship.

Please visit my web site at www.marcelledube.com to read the first chapter, but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt of On Her Trail:

They walked in a crouch to the alley side of the building, then lay down flat to peer over the edge of the roof. From that vantage point they could clearly see the length of the alley between Tutshi Street and Duke. Laura noted the red dumpster with its open lid, the back of the white brick building on the other side of the alley, even the potholes that could swallow a small car. What she didn’t see was the truck. She stuck a hand in her pocket and felt the hard outline of the truck keys.

“Where is it?” asked Jason.

Laura scooted back from the edge and sat up. Sharp stones dug through the tough fabric of her jeans to bite her tender flesh. She shivered as the wind found the gap between sweatshirt and jeans.

“It’s gone,” she replied. “Jason, I’m so sorry I got you into this!”

He inched his way back and sat up too. Then he slapped her shoulder playfully. “Don’t start with me, Thorsen. You couldn’t keep me away from a story this good. Come on, we have to get off this roof.”

The neighboring building was three feet higher than the roof on which they stood, but since it abutted theirs, they were able to scramble onto it easily. There was still no sign of life from the newspaper office.

The door to the darkroom stayed shut, and as there were no windows on that side of the building, they couldn’t even tell if someone was wandering around with a flashlight.

It occurred to Laura that a short circuit might have caused the power outage. What if they were skulking around the roofs of Whitehorse because a mouse had nibbled through the wrong wire?

“Now what?” said Laura, having inched her way to the far side of the building.

The next building over was too far and too low for them to jump. Besides, they would soon run out of buildings. If someone was looking for them in the newspaper office, it was only a matter of time before they found the darkroom door. She wanted to get down.

Jason had been examining the roof’s edge. “Over here,” he called softly. Laura ran over, shivering. A narrow metal ladder was latched to the brick wall on the alley side, leading to within six feet of the ground.
She closed her eyes, trying to decide if she could jump six feet without breaking a bone.

“Come on,” said Jason, nudging her. “You go first.”

With a muffled curse, she turned around and set foot gingerly on the first rung. When it didn’t collapse, she tried the second one. By the time she was midway, Jason had stepped on the first rung. As he swung his foot down again, something pinged on the cement ledge next to the ladder. Jason started and looked around the roof.

“Get down, you idiot!” shouted Laura when she realized what was happening. Jason ducked below the roofline just as another bullet pinged past where he’d been standing.

“Jesus!” he cried, practically sliding down the ladder, “they’re shooting at us!”

Laura reached the final rung and flung herself into empty air. She landed in a crouch with a jarring thud, lost her balance and rocked onto her hams just as Jason landed next to her. He lost his balance, too, and fell on top of her. After a mad scramble of limbs, they disentangled themselves and rose to their feet.

“Let’s go!” cried Jason. They ran down the alley, heading for Tutshi Street as fast as they could.

A shout behind them warned them they’d been seen. Something kicked up asphalt at their feet. The gunman was using a silencer.

“Don’t stop!” called Laura. They emerged onto the street and turned right, toward the more populated restaurant and movie district. The sound of feet pounding in the alley behind them spurred them on.

The envelope in her waistband worked its way free and Laura clutched it against her body as she ran. Her feet hit the asphalt like a hand slapping a cheek. Jason kept pace with her, although he was breathing hard. Something whizzed above her head and she automatically hunched her shoulders, expecting a bullet in her back.

“We have to split up,” she gasped as they turned yet another corner in an effort to elude their pursuers.

“Go…police!” Jason’s words came out staccato.

“No!” She grabbed his hand, ducked into an alley and pulled him into a recessed doorway about halfway down. “No police,” she whispered, trying to get her breathing under control. Next to her, Jason breathed like a bellows, and she wished he could be quieter.

Then she placed her hand over his mouth and he nodded. Running footsteps came nearer as their pursuer approached the alley. He paused at the mouth of the alley, and Laura controlled an impulse to peek and see who it was. Apparently satisfied that the alley was empty, the pursuer began running again.

Jason relaxed and would have spoken, but Laura kept her hand on his mouth. A soft scrape at the other end of the alley told them someone else was listening. After a long time they heard the regular thud of someone in soft shoes running away from them.

Only then did Laura remove her hand.

“Why not the cops?” demanded Jason in a barely audible whisper.

“Could be on the take.” At his skeptical snort she elaborated. “Tucker’s got informants everywhere.”

It was dark in the alley. The light from street lamps on the streets at either end didn’t reach this far in. Laura couldn’t see his face, but she could well imagine it. “I’m so sorry, Jase.”

After a moment he shook his head. “Don’t sweat it, Laura. But you’re right—we have to split up. I don’t think we should meet again until we’re sure the story is out. Can I keep the flash drive?”

“Why?”

“Internet.”

“How? You can’t just walk into an internet café…”

“If you don’t know where I’m going, you can’t tell anyone else.”

Laura shut her mouth and nodded. She had a hard copy of the article hidden in Fay’s house. “Go for it, tiger.”

“Where are you going to go?” he asked.

“If you don’t know…” she began, and grinned when he poked her in the ribs.

“Okay, smart ass. You ready?”

She wasn’t. The last thing she wanted to do was step out of the alley and expose herself to two hired killers. But Jason seemed to think she was braver than she actually was, and she’d be damned if she’d disappoint him. Especially now that she’d dragged him into this mess.

“Let’s go,” she whispered.

They left the protection of the doorway and stepped into the alley. Without a word, Jason turned left and walked away. She watched him for a moment, wishing safety on him. Then she turned right and headed for the street.

She was only a few blocks from the movie theater. Even on a Thursday night there’d be people on Main Street, going in and out of bars and restaurants, heading for the bookstore, coming out of the movies. She’d be safer there.

Where the hell was Mack’s truck?

As she approached the well-lit street, her steps became more hesitant. She didn’t want to leave the alley. But she couldn’t stay here all night—she had to get home to Fay. Besides, the alley wasn’t safe. When they didn’t find her and Jason, the killers would double back.

Flattening herself against the wall of the building, Laura listened. All she could hear was the distant sound of a truck a couple of streets over. Taking a deep breath, she stepped onto the sidewalk.

“Got you!” growled a man, and a heavy hand grabbed her arm.

Talk to you later!

Giveaways:

1 digital copy of the author’s book will be given away to a blog commenter, a twitter commenter and a Facebook commenter (for a total of 3 copies). Nothing is required of you for this, though you are welcome to mention it in your blog posts.

Confessions of a non-romantic

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Hi everyone! Marcelle here. So nice of you to drop by.

First, a confession: I don’t have a romantic bone in my body. Honest. Ask anybody. Well, don’t ask my friend Karen. She thinks I’m a closet romantic.

Romance always seems to creep into my stories. I don’t know why. Maybe Karen’s right. While I like a lot of adventure and suspense in my stories, you will almost always find two people attracted to each other and planning to do something about it – once they survive the current crisis.

My Carina Press story is On Her Trail (don’t you just love the cover? It’s by Frauke of Croco Designs) and it’s a suspense with ghosts and a budding romance thrown into the mix. It’ll be released on June 21st and I can’t wait! On Her Trail is my first novel sale and I’m thrilled to bits that my first sale is a story set in the Yukon, in northern Canada, where I live.

If you’ve ever come North, you know what a magical land this is. Emerald lakes set in a tapestry of green, white-capped mountains soaring over the world, frigid winters and glorious 24-hour-daylight summers…

A place where bears outnumber people? What’s not to love?

For those of you who are still unclear about the Yukon, think Alaska, but where everyone says, “Eh?”

I was thrilled that Carina picked up Laura’s story. I’ll talk more about On Her Trail in my next post, and I’ll include an excerpt, but I thought you might be interested in finding out a bit about how I got here.

A friend sent me the announcement of a brand-new e-press starting up and I submitted On Her Trail. Then Angela James called me at work to tell me Carina Press was interested in publishing the novel. She must have thought I was pretty dense because I kept trying to figure out who the heck she was and what project I had with her. You see, in my day job, I work with a lot of printing companies and at first I thought she was calling to say there was a problem with one of my work projects!

I finally caught on and she must then have thought I’d lost my senses because I did a lot of insane giggling… Thank goodness she’s used to giddy authors. She pressed on gracefully and assigned me a wonderful editor, Liz Bass, a successful writer in her own right. I feel so lucky to have landed with Carina, and with Liz. These folks are professional, friendly and amazingly supportive. I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Working with Liz was an enlightening experience. She is respectful and has a light touch and an amazing eye for what would improve the story. However, I began to have doubts about her when she referred to the story’s title as On Her TAIL

I’m looking forward to reading many of the books being launched in June. Everything from historical to SF romance – something for everyone!

I’ll post again later on today and tell you more about On Her Trail. In the meantime, you can find me at www.marcelledube.com, or find me on Twitter and Facebook.

Giveaways:

1 digital copy of the author’s book will be given away to a blog commenter, a twitter commenter and a Facebook commenter (for a total of 3 copies). Nothing is required of you for this, though you are welcome to mention it in your blog posts.