Back when my first novel was coming out, I set out to write a series of short stories with the idea of building up buzz for the novel. It didn't work, in part, because too many magazines that published short stories were closing down and ezines had not yet found readers. So, even though many of my stories were published, they didn't enjoy much readership. This summer, I decided to republish those stories as ebooks with the hope of reaching a new audience. The eight stories in the Val Lyon series are being released singly. A collection of all eight will follow, probably by the end of this month. I have already promised copies of the collection to some of you and I assure you it is coming. In the meantime, here are the stories that have been released so far through Smashwords and Kindle.
The Big Dance With Death appeared in 2001 in FUTURES. It's my longest short story to date. The big dance, of course, is the NCAA basketball tournament. In this story, Val Lyon takes a job as assistant coach of her alma mater's basketball team in order to find out who is threatening two of the players and why. Along the way she discovers that the death of her predecessor as assistant coach was not an accident as originally thought, but was a murder.
Drop Dead Zone was my first published mystery story. It features Val Lyon on her first skydive. Drop Dead Zone appeared in Mystery Buff Magazine in 1998 and was nominated for a Derringer Award by the Short Mystery Fiction Society. The title of this story came about before the story. A group of us were drinking beer following my first skydive when one of the jumpers, now my daughter-in-law, said I needed to write a story about it. We came up with the title immediately. Drop Zone from where skydivers jump; Dead Zone from the Stephen King story; and Drop Dead from what we all wish for people who annoy us. It took a lot longer to write the story because I wanted the murder to happen in the air, or at least result from something that happened in the air. I also had the idea that I did not want the murder to result from tampering with the parachute as I thought that was probably a cliche'd method. As a result, I spent a lot time trying to figure out the murder. Note: Tampering with equipment would not have been a cliche' because Drop Dead Zone, to the best of my knowledge, was only the second skydiving murder mystery. Two more have been published since. Mystery Buff Magazine debuted in January 1998. Drop Dead Zone appeared in the February issue. The March issue was printed but never got into the mail and no more issues were printed. See what I mean about markets shutting down?
Kill Leader is a story about beach volleyball. Paula Evangelista—Vengelista—is at the top of her game on the beach volleyball circuit. Knocking down kill after kill, she is trying to regain her title of kill leader. But someone wants to put an end to her streak and maybe an end to her life. It is up to Val Lyon to find out who wants to kill the kill leader and prevent it from happening or end up as another kill herself. The title for this story came first. I was at a Texas A&M volleyball game with my wife and, while reading the program, saw that one of the players led the conference in kills. I thought, "She's the kill leader." How could a mystery writer NOT write a story with that title? Kill Leader appeared in the inaugural issue of Plots With Guns, a great hard-boiled ezine, which continues to this day. The inaugural issue didn't have many readers, but Kill Leader has had some pretty good success with Sniplits as an audio book and as part of an anthology, Killer Fiction.
The cover art for these stories were drawn by David Shackelford of Austin, Texas. My favorite so far is the Kill Leader cover. Next up is Horns and after that will be Teed Off. Wait until you see those covers.
Hawaiian Eye Blog
Hawaiian Eye Blog