Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cheese it! It's the Cops! by Jamie Hill write about cops. I love to write about detectives, uniformed officers, even US Marshals, who are not cops, specifically, but they carry guns and badges so close enough. I enjoy putting myself in their heads to do their jobs and solve cases. It's like I'm right there in the squad room with them, figuring out the details alongside Danny and Jackie in true 'Blue Bloods' fashion. We talk about bad cop shop coffee and joke about the cop-eating-donuts stereotype. I'm comfortable writing about, and dare I say, thinking like a cop.

So why, then, does a jolt of fear zing through me when I'm driving down the road and a patrol car pulls up behind me? Feelings of guilt flood through my mind. Did I do something? Is he after me? Does he have any possible reason to pull me over?

It rarely happens, and I always breathe a sigh of relief when the officers pass me by. (They usually pass me because by that time I've slowed down to a crawl, way slower than the speed limit.)

I had a couple of speeding tickets in my teens, and paid minor fines. By the time I got married at nineteen, I was informed that I probably ought to lighten up that lead foot because further tickets wouldn't be cool. Being a new bride, I took the comment more seriously than I probably would today. (Sorry, dear.) 

I've been pulled over twice in recent years. Once for using my cell phone while driving, which is illegal in my town. I was actually sitting at a red light and I checked messages on my phone, multi-tasker that I am. He spotted me and could tell what I was doing. The nice young officer gave me a warning, which I appreciated. I totally understand about no texting and driving and while I thought I was being innocent by just doing it at a red light, I was wrong, and I learned my lesson.

The other traffic stop occurred as I was heading to a drugstore, just ready to pull into the parking lot. A cop I hadn't even noticed whipped in behind me and flipped on his lights. I pulled into a stall and he came in at an angle behind me, as if trying to keep me from fleeing. (Very Blue Blood-ish!)

He sat in his car for a moment while I attempted to recall how fast I'd been driving. When he finally approached me he said, "I'm sorry, Ma'am. We'd been advised to keep an eye out for a white Explorer. I see you're driving an Expedition. My bad."

I simply looked at him. My bad. Seriously? He looked about twelve, and his language confirmed it. I really wanted to say something goofy back to him but I was so relieved that he wasn't after me that all I could do was nod and thank him profusely. I went into the store on shaky legs as he drove away. Sheesh!

I've given this some thought, and have decided a couple of things. One, because I write romantic suspense, I'm constantly plotting original ways to kill people or steal things, and cast suspicion on someone else. Maybe the guilt from these thoughts is showing on my face. All I can say is the same thing I tell my husband, "I'd never really do it, sweetheart. I just want to know how it might be done."

Second, while the odds are super great that none of these cops will ever read my work, in the deepest recesses of my mind I think one day someone might call me out on something that I had a cop do which he might not actually do that way. But how cool would that be, honestly, to have a cop pull me over and when he reaches my window say, "Hey Mrs. Hill. I pulled you over today because in your last book your detective carried a Glock handgun. I wanted to let you know that Magnums are now the choice of more police departments in the United States. Just thought you should know. Have a nice day."  LOL!

Find my 'A Cop in the Family' Series as well as my 'Witness Security' books at most online booksellers and in bookstores by request. And find all my titles here:

Stay safe out there!

~ Jamie Hill


Friday, September 4, 2015

The Differences of Research data: Mata Hari by Katherine Pym

Mata Hari Performing
As an author of historical fiction, I spend a lot of time researching. Usually, my research centers on London in the 1660’s. Once and awhile, though, I run across some information that doesn’t center around my time of expertise, but find it too interesting not to share.

NOTE: The source I am using differs from most, especially Margaretha’s early life but I cannot ignore this, which gives more dimension to her character. I will let you decide which to take home to your family by making clear the variances in the below text.

Mata Hari was born in Holland on August 7, 1876 as Margaretha Geetruida Zelle. Her parents were religious; she grew up Roman Catholic and was sent to a convent at the early age of 14. Other sources say: “Her mother dead and her adored father bankrupt, teenage Margaretha was sent to train as a kindergarten teacher, only to be seduced by the headmaster.” And another source: “Following her mother's death, Mata Hari and her three brothers were split up and sent to live with various relatives.

At 18 while on holiday in The Hague, Margaretha met a Scotsman named MacLeod and married him. He was a drunk and a wife abuser. He didwell you knowthe typical things brutal men do to women so I won’t bore you with them. Other sources say: “Disgraced and bored, the girl answered a newspaper ad to meet and marry a career colonial officer twenty years her senior who would be soon returning to the Dutch East Indies.” My source continues: He took her to Java where he continued his savagery plus he was a bounder and unfaithful.

Margaretha in Java
No longer a wide-eyed, postulant schoolgirl, her experiences caused Margaretha to deviate from her chaste background. She studied books in the art of sensual love performed in Buddhist temples. She was also introduced to the evocative ritual dances that eventually made her so popular. (Some sources don’t mention this at all.)

Usually, life takes strange turns we never expect. Margaretha endured the savagery of MacLeod, studied sensual love—it’s not recorded if she used this on him or anyone else for that matter while in Java—as her husband gadded about with other women. Some were jealous he was married. One was their nurse who took care of Margaretha & MacLeod’s young son. MacLeod rejected her and in revenge the nurse poisoned their son. Another source: “The marriage dissolved in a nightmare of drinking, gambling, and vicious hatred following the death of their son...”

From now on, I will continue with my source.

Margaretha emerged from this a changed woman. She never showed outward emotion but went forth in life with a face etched in steel. She hated men and she hated MacLeod whom she blamed for the death of their son. Without remorse she reportedly strangled the nurse.

Back in Europe, Margaretha lead a life of the narcissistic.

In France, Margaretha became Mata Hari, a woman born in “...India within the sacred caste of Brahma”. After the birth of two children, her body wasn’t the svelte one of her youth, but that did not stop her from performing naked on stage in Paris. She spoke in a soft, seductive voice and danced erotic dances, some graceful, others lewd, only before seen in Buddhist temples.

She was a sensation throughout Europe. Men begged to have her in their beds. She would oblige them for no less than $7,500 a night. Her lovers listed in the Who’s Who of the times; prime ministers, princes, high up men in their governments.  She demanded luxurious apartments in Paris, had milk baths to keep her skin young and supple. When her influential lovers lost their money, she would kick them to the curb and take another.

She enjoyed sex and would visit brothels (probably not for $7,500) even as she hated the men who bedded her, using them for her gain. She was vain, self-indulgent, cruel and ripe to be approached by the Germans. They sent her to spy-school in Lorrach and gave her what is now known as a pre-war code number.

Mata Hari was relentless. She slept with men then betrayed them. She learned of their plans and sent those plans to the Germans. The figures speak for themselves. It was declared by the judge at her trial she was considered responsible for the deaths of 50,000 allied troops but this number seems trivialized. Other sources say the number is closer to 100,000.

In the end, the Germans betrayed Mata Hari, but she did not think she would die. Too many of her lovers told her of their plans for her escape. When those failed, it was suggested she plea pregnancy, but by now realizing her doom was fixed, Mata Hari refused to see the doctor.  

Vincennes: At the age of 41, Mata Hari was tied with "crimson ropes" to a young tree stripped naked of leaves and branches. She refused the blindfold, did not wince or show emotion when the firing squad cocked their rifles. Several of her lovers watched from the sidelines, some perhaps part of the squad.

She did not utter a sound, but smiled when the major barked the final command to fire. Mata Hari, once a postulant in a convent, her name Margaretha Geetruida Zelle died at 5:47 AM on October 15, 1917, a hated and loved legend of her time.

Many thanks to:
Main source: The People’s Almanac by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace, Doubleday & Co., Inc., Garden City, NY, 1975.

All pictures come from WikiCommons Public Domain: his media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923. See this page for further explanation.

For more reading, please see Books We Love website: 

Or, for a good read set in London 1664:

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

(Also available at any of your online retailers)


Because I love Australian history, in fact all history, plots abound in my fertile imagination, but I do seem to get my best plot ideas in the middle of the night. I write them down, (pen and paper by my bed), so I won’t forget them. I usually take a historical event to use as my main background and then manufacture some catastrophic, life changing event for the main characters. What could they do to stop it? How will it change them and those around them?

I develop my characters to fit in with the era I am writing about. I normally don’t write character profiles, except for the briefest of outlines, but I try to walk in their shoes so to speak, and to get inside their head.

My heroines are resourceful, not afraid to fight for her family and the man she loves. I want my readers to be cheering for her, willing her to obtain her goals, to overcome the obstacles put in her way by rugged frontier men. For my heroes, I like them to be dark and tortured. They might be seeking revenge, trying to consolidate their fortunes, but all of them will have something in their backgrounds, some dark deed that has tainted their lives. As for my villains, I like them to be evil with no redeeming features. I want the reader to dislike them like I do.
If a reader contacts me to say how she despises some villainous beast of a man in one of my stories, it pleases me. I don't know why, but the villains in my stories are mostly men. Perhaps it is because men in the eras in which I set my books, had total control over their daughters, sisters and wives, and many of these men used their power to dominate the women in their lives. Sad but true. But, never fear, in my stories the hero always comes to the rescue of the damsel in distress.

1820’s England. Robbed of his birthright and falsely accused of murder, American Jake Smith, is exiled to the penal colony of Australia.

Margaret Tanner’s Website:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

LIFE ON THE FRONTIER by Shirley Martin


Frontier can mean many things. As I use the word here, it refers to the settling of western Pennsylvania after 1760.

The early settlers who came to western Pennsylvania were tough, resilient people. They had trudged from the eastern part of the colony through the gaps in the Allegheny Mountains with all of their belongings and perhaps a cow. They came to unsettled country where there was nothing and no one to greet them.

We have a tendency to romanticize historical periods, but so many challenges and hardships faced the early settlers that a man and his wife were worn out and exhausted by age thirty-five. Wolves might devour their cows and pigs. Squirrels and raccoons ate their corn crop.

In a historical novel I read years ago and whose title I've forgotten, there is a scene where the male protagonist plans on taking his new wife to the recently-opened Ohio country. His mother instructs him on delivering a baby. This must have happened many times on the frontier, whee pople lived in isolated cabins, and a man had to deliver the babies.

Life was indeed primitive for the early settlers. Until their log cabin was built, they lived in the open. Their log cabin was usually twenty feet by thirty feet and two and a half stories high. The interior of the cabin was dim, relieved only by the gray light through the one greased paper pane, and in summer, by the sunlight that came through the open door. Rats and snakes were frequent visitors.

In the better equipped cabin there were gridirons, skillets, broilers for rabbits and small game, braziers and waffle irons. Pots and pans and all other utensils that didn't hang from hooks were very long-handled to protect the hand from the heat.  Until 1834, the only means of making fire was by flint and steel struck together.

For the most part, the men of the frontier adopted the dress of the Indians. They wore hunting shirts made of jean or linsey or deerskin. In cold weather, he wore linsey in preference to deerskin since deerskin was cold and clammy in winter weather. All through fine weather people went barefoot. In the winter they wore shoepacks.

Any finery was impractical for women. They wore dresses made of homespun linsey-woolsey. Clothing was so scarce that old dresses were re-dyed again and again and often willed to another generation. Every pioneer woman could spin, knit, weave and sew.

Indian corn was a staple crop for the settler. The men hunted deer for venison and fished for pike, perch, and trout in the rivers. They also hunted wild turkey, grouse, and quail. Everyone, adults and children alike, drank whiskey.  Bread was a rare commodity.

Housewives began their day early, around four in the morning.  They built the fire in the fireplace, hauled water, gathered ingredients from the kitchen garden and slaughtered and cleaned food.  There was little leisure time for the frontier housewife. Unless she had a candle mold, making candles was an arduous all day affaie.

Indian attacks were an everpresent danger. The primary tribes of western Pennsylvania were the Shawnee and the Lenni Lenape.(Delaware.)  The Shawnee was especially fierce. When a brave returned to his village with a captured white man, one of the women greeted him by saying, "You have brought me good stew."

We are naturally sympathetic with the Indians.  The land was theirs; they had lived on it for centuries. On the other hand, the settlers had originally come from Europe--mostly the British Isles and Germany--where only the aristocracy owned land.  In times past, a man could lose his oculos et testiculos for poaching on the lord's land to feed his starving family. Here in western Pennsylvania, a man could acquire land for virtually nothing.

As the settlements grew and people came to know their neighbors, often a frolic would relieve the monotony of their days. The frolics usually occurred in the fall, after the crops were in. In my time travel romance, "Dream Weaver," which takes place in 1763, I took a bit of literary license and placed the frolic in early summer. The fiddle and flute would play the music, and young people danced to lyrics such as this:

     If I had as many lives
     As Soloman had wives
     I'd be as old as Adam
     So rise to your feet
     And kiss the first that you meet
     Your humble servant, madam

In time, the settlements of western Pennsylvania grew, creating the major industrial center of Pittsburgh.

Born near Pittsburgh, Shirley Martin began writing historical novels centered around that area. Later, she blossomed out to paranormal and fantasy novels. Her books are sold online and at Barnes and Noble.

Please check out my website here:
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Monday, August 31, 2015

Early Civilizations by Eleanor Stem

Artificially Elongated Head (Painting by Hollar)

While in the throes of a new novel, I’m making an attempt to write a different story of early earth. As a result, I’ve been reviewing ancient civilizations, folklore, and religion. What I’ve learned is through archeological technological advances, old digs become new; little known peoples with shallow histories become complex.

Take for instance the Paracas Skulls. They come from Peru where so many unexplained structures still stand; where strange peoples resided then disappeared. Scientists have found evidence of man not linked to our species buried in the Pisco Province of the old Inca realm.

Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals of meeting along the route to the Pacific Northwest native groups who pressed boards against the heads of young children. They left the boards there until their heads were elongated. This deformity was apparently appealing to the eye. They were called Flat Heads.

Other civilizations around the world decorated their bodies with ink, or extended their lips with flat insertions. I should think this distortion would make it difficult to eat or drink. Some cultures allowed their aristocrats to grow long fingernails, forming them into spirals and decorated with jewels. Once their nails were in this position, they were incapable of doing the slightest task and had to be helped by another. In other places, female necks were stretched from clavicle to chin with metal rings. Once their growing stopped, if the rings were removed, their necks would not support their heads.

How did cultures come about with these ideas? What caused them to think these deformities had worth?

Well, let us look at the Paracas find...

Skeletons have been discovered in South America whose heads were elongated, but not purposefully done. Their heads were this way by natural design. Does this mean somewhere along our ancient, shadowed history, our ancestors came upon people with naturally elongated skulls? Here's some pics.

The large Paracas burial site was discovered in 1928 and filled with approximately 300 skeletons, all with deformed skulls. Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello, believes these remains have been buried about 3,000 years. The craniums excavated are 25-60% heavier than the ones you and I possess. They also contain one parietal plate as opposed to our two, another reason that suggests these skulls come from an unknown source.

Mr Juan Navarro is the owner and director of Paracas History Museum that houses several of these remains. Recently, he allowed samples of the skeletons to be DNA tested. “...samples consisted of hair, including roots, a tooth, skull bone and skin... documented via photos and video.”

The geneticist who received these samples had no idea what he had prior to his testing. Brien Foerster who authored several books on people of South America revealed the data from this DNA testing.

Unless data comes forth from other sources as a comparison, these tests show the specimens are completely separate from any evolutionary species on our earth. If there is an association with humanoids, then it happened in the far distant past.

The initial results are impressive even as scientists are not done testing. What will happen when more of our world is exposed due to the melting ice sheets? What else will we learn of our earth and its “far far away” distant past?

Of course, you’ll find a plethora of nay-sayers. They are all over the internet, like this one. But what if they are wrong? I contend over the centuries we have lost valuable information that would explain so many mysteries. What about the Library of Alexandria that was purposefully destroyed over a period of years, the first attempt by the Julius Caesar. They say the loss of ancient information is incalculable.  

We think none of the above will happen now, that all our collected data is safe. Wars couldn’t obliterate it, fires or earthquakes. More and more information is being electronically accumulated and stored.

Who reads paper books these days? Who goes to a bank? We can retrieve reading material, money and data from outside sources that go directly to our smartphones, our computers.  We have backups, and backups on top of that. Somewhere there would be a record.

But what if our earth was struck by a strong electromagnetic pulse that wiped out our electronic data? This sort of energy could destroy all our stored records, the information that shows who we are. If anything of us remained, later peoples would consider our culture primitive.  

Many thanks to:
The website Ancient Origins:

All pictures are from Wikicommons, Public Domain (This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.)

For further good reading on so many subjects, please go to:

And there's this one:

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Titillating preview by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, The Twisted Climb I've been prepping for Autumn book signings and excited to meet new and...