Wednesday, May 9, 2018

An Unexpected Antagonist - The Character We Love to Hate #amwriting #amreading

A reader recently asked me which of the baddies in my books has been my favorite - which did I have the most fun writing about and making readers love to hate.

That made me pause, because I don't view my characters in terms of good or bad. My characters just are. They each develop the role they play, and each has their own personality. But with a little prodding, I realized that the character I get the most feedback about as detestable is a police officer named Hugo Petchard. He showed up completely unexpectedly as I wrote THE DEVIL OF LIGHT, but as with all of my characters, he popped up at just the right time. I thought he would be a minor character and perhaps come and go quickly, but without fail he has turned up in all three Cass Elliot novels. Although he does play a minor role most of the time, he and his love interest ended up dramatically impacting the plot in AVENGERS OF BLOOD.

Let me tell you a little about him, and then you can tell us what you think about his detest-ability:

Officer Hugo Petchard is an absolute snot, a big fish in a small pond. (In his own mind, he pronounces his name PetCHARD, with a kind of French flair. But when readers speak about him, they call him PETcherd, with a bit of a redneck twang - he really hates that.) Despite having been given the grand name of Hugo, he’s small in stature, which bothers him mightily. Petchard has his job because his daddy has money and the Forney County Sheriff, Bill Hoffner, owes Daddy for making significant campaign contributions. Deep down, Petchard suspects that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a real police officer. That unacknowledged insecurity makes him show off in ways that inevitably lead to embarrassment for himself, his fellow officers, and occasionally the entire sheriff’s department.

Petchard is the kind of person we’ve all worked with who thinks he’s important / intelligent / gorgeous / witty / and dead sexy - why wouldn't everyone adore him and why isn't he already in charge around here? In reality, he's a bumbling buffoon and totally incapable of self examination. Petchard is the guy who raises your blood pressure with a single superior snort. He’s that co-worker: the one the boss tolerates despite his incompetence, the one the boss refuses to fire. It’s a blast to put Petchard in positions where he has the potential to succeed, but because he can’t contain his ego, he ends up falling on his face. It’s also fun to put Sheriff Hoffner in the position of having to defend Petchard’s stupidity to keep the campaign dollars flowing.

Writing scenes where Petchard appears makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. I love and hate him in equal measure. My other characters seem to simply despise him.

What do you think? Is Hugo Petchard the kind of character you could love to hate?

Friday, March 16, 2018

New #Mystery from @ScottTheWriter - WILDFIRE: A Wine Country Mystery #excerpt

I’m delighted to introduce a new mystery by my friend and bestselling author, Scott Bury! Scott's talent and creativity spans genres and generations - from books for kids to a memoir in novel form about his father-in-law's experiences in World World II.

His latest novel is WILDFIRE: A Wine Country Mystery.

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Check out the excerpt below to whet your appetite!


WILDFIRE: Harassment

Mid-afternoon is typically a lull in a restaurant’s daily activities. The lunchtime crowd has left, and everything that can be prepared ahead of time for the supper crowd is complete.

Greg and Miguel stepped outside to smoke. Alex carried her book out to read in the foyer. From the kitchen window, Tara saw Antonio’s car driving out of the parking lot.

She jumped when a hand reached around her to place a tall stem glass on the counter. She turned to see Chef Donald almost nose-to-nose. She leaned back, and he lunged closer, picking up the glass before she knocked it over. He smiled and put the glass in her hand. He held another in his other hand. “Take it easy, there. It would be a shame to spill wine this good.”

“You startled me.”

“I didn’t mean to. I just thought you deserved a little glass of wine for your hard work today.”

What is this about? The chef who berates and belittles the rest of the staff is praising me?

“The sauce is especially good—almost as though I made it, myself,” he continued. He smiled even more. “Talented, and gorgeous, to boot. This is a trend that I hope Alan continues. Drink up.” He drank half his wine.

“Uh, is it ... I mean, are staff allowed to—”

“I run this kitchen. Staff do whatever I say.”

“Oh. Oooh—kay.”

Donald put his hand on the counter, bringing his face even closer to Tara’s. “Whatever I say.” His hand came up to her face then, to move a stray lock of hair away from her eyes. His touch was light and so gentle.

Now I know what this is about. She squirmed away from the trap between Donald and the counter. “Good to know. I have to do something on my break. Thanks for the wine.” She strode out the back door and forced herself not to walk too quickly to the guest house.


WILDFIRE releases on March 22, and is available for pre-order on on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers) and Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers). You can read the first two chapters for free on Wattpad now!

Be sure to check out all of Scott's work on Amazon.



After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury turned to writing fiction with a children’s story, SAM, THE STRAWB PART, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller: DARK CLOUDS. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller THE BONES OF THE EARTH. His next book, ONE SHADE OF RED, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War: ARMY OF WORN SOLES, UNDER THE NAZI HEEL and WALKING OUT OF WAR.

Scott was invited to write for three Kindle Worlds, where authors base novellas on the fictional worlds of bestselling series. For Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World, he wrote TORN ROOTS, PALM TREES & SNOWFLAKES, DEAD MAN LYING and ECHOES.

For Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, he contributed JET: STEALTH, featuring the explosive duo of Van and LeBrun.

And for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World, he brought Van and LeBrun back for THE WIFE LINE and THE THREE-WAY.

Now, he is beginning a new mystery series with WILDFIRE, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck. Learn more about Scott and his writing on his website,