Friday, September 19, 2014

Glenn Nilson - Easy Rider

When Okeechobee writer Glenn Nilson was growing up on a small farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills, he got hooked on books.  “I was pretty isolated, so I learned to read at a young age and really took to it,” he explains. His mother read him the classics, and the local postmistress, who also served as the town’s unofficial librarian, got him children’s books from the county library. He soon found himself longing to be a part of the enchanting world of stories he had come to love. Fifty years later, he realized that dream when he published his first novel.

Nilson took a giant step on his road to becoming a writer when he was a freshman at California Polytechnic College. He enrolled in an English course which required him to write a story in class every week. He would stay up the night before and practice writing, and soon the professor noticed his efforts. “He told me I had a good imagination and suggested I get some training for it,” Nilson recalls. “I was really happy to have someone encourage me to do something I loved.” He went on to earn a Ph.D. in sociology, a subject that appealed to his inner writer because it helped him understand what motivates people.  He spent 25 years as a professor of sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University before retiring and finally having time to do the things he enjoyed most – riding his motorcycle and writing. He wrote two unpublished novels and joined a writer’s group to hone his skills. Then his wife, writer Lesley Diehl, suggested he base a book on his passion for motorcycles. “I toyed around with the idea until it morphed into a sustainable story,” he says. The result was his first published novel – Murder on Route 66. According to Nilson, “The old Route 66 TV show had an appealing hook – guys on the road who get involved in other people’s problems. I thought this would be a good situation for an amateur sleuth.”

Murder on Route 66 is the story of biker Bobby Navarro, a character Nilson describes as “a solo rider looking for the home and family he never had; a marginal person who cares about people and wants to help them; a biker who’s not a gang member or middle-class wannabe, but more an insider-outsider.” Bobby is taking a working vacation along Route 66 in New Mexico when his employer is murdered. Bobby promises the victim’s young son that he will find the killer – no easy task for an outsider in a small town.  “As a sociologist, I look at things through a sociological lens,” Nilson says. “I’ve always been attracted to character-driven stories, not so much whodunit as how lives are impacted by what’s been done. The human drama of how people change and grow is the real guts of the story.” 

With this in mind, Nilson has been working on a sequel, tentatively titled Murder on the Mother Road. In this story, also set in the Southwest, Bobby, a high-explosive expert, has just finished a blasting job for a friend when he attempts a stopover at the Grand Canyon. However, instead of viewing one of the great natural wonders of the world, he finds himself staring down at the lifeless body of a young woman who’s been murdered and stuffed in the trunk of a car left parked on the street.

Naturally the police must consider Bobby a suspect—an awkward situation made worse when he recognizes one of the officers as a woman he knew in high school. When the police arrest someone else for the crime, Bobby is told by the town eccentric that they have the wrong person in jail and that he knows who the right person is. The police officer/former friend recruits Bobby to help determine how much the disturbed acquaintance actually knows about the murder, and how much the eccentric may have been involved himself.

Nilson hopes his tales will help readers realize that even outsiders like Bobby can have something valuable and interesting to offer.  “Life’s a journey,” he says. “I want readers to enjoy the journey and feel that my stories relate to something important in their lives.”

For more about Glenn Nilson, visit his website at

Friday, September 5, 2014

William Eleazer - Legal Eagle

William Eleazer is a man who knows his way around a courtroom. This St. Petersburg writer has spent most of his career serving in some aspect of the legal profession. A Georgia native, Eleazer earned law degrees from George Washington and Emory University Law Schools. During his 25 years in the Marine Corps, he took on the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge. Upon returning to Florida and to civilian life, he served as a prosecutor for a few years and then spent 20 years as a law professor at Stetson University.In recognition of his contributions, he was honored with Stetson's Lifetime Achievement Award for Teaching Advocacy.
While at Stetson, Eleazer founded Elex Publishers, Inc., a company that specializes in reference guides for lawyers and law students. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and an emeritus member of both the Georgia and District of Columbia Bars. With his extensive background in criminal law and trial work, he decided to weave his experiences into a novel: Savannah Law, a story of the suspense and intrigue surrounding a high-profile criminal trial.

While Eleazer had written several non-fiction books, he had always been a fiction fan— particularly legal thrillers by writers like Scott Turow, John Grisham, and Steve Martini. Since his busy schedule left little time for recreational reading, he enjoyed listening to audiobooks while commuting and traveling. “Some writers say they always had a book in them, but I didn’t,” he explains. “While listening to the audiobooks, I started to wonder if I could write books like those.” He found himself thinking about plot lines and characters, and before long, a story began to form. But he soon realized that there was “a steep learning curve” between writing fiction and non-fiction. “I sometimes found it hard to keep the reader in mind rather than writing what I wanted,” he says. “I found myself putting in too much detail, and it’s hard to cut after you’ve devoted so much time and effort to the writing. I believe most writers face that problem.” He also realized that a novel required lots of research. According to Eleazer, “Everything in my book is based on fact. The weather on a particular day, the furniture in the Savannah courthouse, the monuments in the cemetery, even the placement of streetlights all had to be researched. I spent a lot of time in Savannah, but it was something I enjoyed. I was born and raised in Springfield, Georgia, just 27 miles from Savannah, and it was fun going back and seeing the changes.”

Savannah Law is the story of an ambitious law professor's obsession with a female student and the politically-charged, media-frenzy criminal trial that pits the nation’s most successful trial lawyer against a prosecution clinic intern. Set in fictional Savannah College of Law, the book gives readers an intimate glimpse into the workings of the legal system. “Everything that happens in the book can and does happen in the courtroom,” Eleazer says. “I thought about the things I’d experienced and tried to put myself into each scenario. I also wanted to put to the test actual legal and ethical dilemmas that lawyers find themselves in and how to handle those challenges professionally and responsibly.” Eleazer’s efforts have been rewarded. Savannah Law was awarded the 2010 Gold Medal  for Adult Fiction by the Florida Publishers Association and was a Finalist for Best New Fiction in the 2010 International Book Awards.

While researching federal and state legislation for his legal publishing company kept him busy, he found time in 2012 to pen and publish a sequel to Savannah Law titled The Indictments. A brazen robbery by a masked man at one of Savannah’s finest restaurants results in the murder of a teenage girl and murder indictments against two defendants. The assistant DA assigned to the case believes one indictment is without merit, and his attempt to have it dismissed threatens both his career and his life. Characters from Savannah Law return to the Chatham County Courthouse to battle once again as prosecutors and defense counsel in the two criminal trials featured in the novel.

Eleazer is now at work on a third novel, tentatively titled The Two Witness Rule. Of course, all the action occurs in his favorite city, Savannah. The trials will take place once more in the Chatham County Courthouse, and readers of his previous novels will have the opportunity to again meet and cheer on their favorite characters as well as jeer the villains. The publication date is slated for early 2015.

For Eleazer, the fun in writing legal thrillers is “taking cases, putting myself into the situation, and thinking about what the characters would really do.”  He hopes his stories will make readers think about how they would handle similar dilemmas in their own lives.  But ultimately, he wants readers to close his books and say, “That was a good journey with a satisfying ending and a lot of fun along the way.”

For more information, go to

Friday, August 15, 2014

H. Terrell Griffin: Murder and Mystery on Longboat Key

When H. Terrell Griffin graduated from Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, he never dreamed that his life would take him from soldier to lawyer to award-winning author. The first in his family to earn a high school diploma, Griffin could not afford college, so he decided to sign up for a stint in the army. This turned out to be a wise choice because his tour of duty would later become a key element in his stories.

After his discharge from the military, Griffin set to work putting himself through college, then law school. He earned degrees in history and law from Mercer University before embarking on a 38-year career as a successful trial lawyer. His career choice turned out to be another step along the road to becoming a writer. “Good trial lawyers seem to have an intellectual bent and spend a lot of time writing,” he explains. “We’re also very logical beings. We have to have logical consistency to synthesize complex information into a tight story based on the evidence presented by witnesses. That kind of logic applies to mystery writing too.”  

Writing had been a lifelong dream for Griffin. An avid reader, he took a creative writing course at the University of Central Florida in 1971, but the professional demands of his law practice didn’t afford him  the time or energy to write. As he approached retirement, he decided to stop taking new cases and start writing. 

“I started writing for my own enjoyment, but I never thought to publish anything,” he recalls. “Then I decided to get serious and give writing a real shot. After that, I finished a book in about six months.” Griffin self-published his first novel, Longboat Blues, in 2005. The legal thriller introduced reluctant hero Matt Royal, a former soldier and burnt-out attorney who comes to Longboat Key to live the rest of his life fishing, eating, and drinking cold beer.  His idyllic life is shattered when an old army buddy is indicted for murder and asks Matt to represent him. “Matt is who I’d like to be if I were younger, quicker, smarter, and not such a chicken,’ Griffin says. Longboat Blues was followed by a sequel, Murder Key. But it was the third book in the series, Blood Island, that made Griffin’s dream come true when it was picked up by Oceanview Publishing.  According to Griffin, “Holding that first hardback book published by a national publisher was the biggest moment of my life – even bigger than being sworn into the bar.”

Since then, Griffin has penned five more Matt Royal mysteries, all set in Longboat Key. “Longboat Key is a wonderful, funky place,” Griffin says, “and the books are sprinkled with stories I hear in the bars.” Wyatt’s Revenge (2009) has Matt hunting for the murderer of his best friend. In Bitter Legacy (2010), Matt finds himself in the sites of a sniper.  Collateral Damage (2011), which climbed to the top of Amazon Kindle’s Best Seller list, has Matt searching for the killer of an old army buddy’s son. This plunges him into a web of deceit, revenge and murder that stretches from Longboat Key to Southeast Asia. Matt is aided by his detective friend, J.D. Duncan, a character suggested by Griffin’s wife, Jean. “Jean thought I should write a strong female character,” Griffin says, “so I gave J.D. a lot of my wife’s attributes.” Fatal Decree (2012), has Matt and J.D. facing a serial killer who is murdering women on Longboat Key. Add to the mix Guatemalan gang members and Mexican drug cartels, and Matt and J.D. are in for the fight of their lives.

In Griffin’s latest release, Found (2013), Matt and J.D. investigate the mysterious murder of one elderly man and the disappearance of another. Joined by Matt’s friend, Jock Algren, a member of a shadowy government agency, they find their work complicated by a group of dangerous characters who threaten the peace and security of Longboat Key. Like Griffin’s other books, Found delves into the concepts of honor, friendship, and the obligations they entail. And it gives readers a fascinating story they’ll find hard to put down.

For more information, visit the author’s website at

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Loren Buckner: Parenting 101

Parenting is a subject of almost universal interest, and countless books have been written about it. But Tampa writer and psychotherapist Loren Buckner has approached the subject from a different point of view. ParentWise – The Emotional Challenges of Family Life and How to Deal With Them is a very readable self-help book that will help parents navigate the often stormy seas of child rearing. “Generally, parenting books focus on what parents can do to take better care of their children. The parent’s own internal struggles aren’t as well addressed,” Buckner says. “I wanted to examine parenting from the parent’s perspective.” Buckner, the mother of two, shares personal anecdotes with readers in the hope that her experiences will give readers insight into themselves as parents. She also includes stories from her psychotherapy practice so parents can realize that they are not alone in how they feel.

Buckner grew up in White Plains, New York and received her undergraduate degree from American University. She went on to earn a Master’s degree in social work from Tulane, then took a position as a substance abuse counselor in Vermont. When her husband was offered a job in Spain, she had the opportunity to spend two years living abroad before moving to Tampa and starting a private practice.
As someone who speaks publicly to large and small groups, Buckner has spoken nationally and internationally, with teenage parents, mature parents, and to parents of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. She discovered that all parents sometimes grapple with worry, disappointment, sadness, loss, and anger – but most feel too ashamed to talk about. 
Buckner, a self-described “reluctant writer,” never planned to write a book. “I was going through some parenting turmoil myself and decided to do a professional paper on the emotional strain of being a mother,” she says. “After I presented the paper, someone suggested I write a book. I thought about it for a while. Then I sat down and started writing. I wanted to show parents that if they understand their own emotions, they’ll be better able to understand their children’s.  But I didn’t want it to be a ‘Five Easy Steps’ book because there are no easy steps to parenting.” Before she knew it, she had written 50 pages and soon found herself enjoying the process. “The more invested I became in the message, the easier the writing became,” Buckner explains. “I never even got writer’s block. I spent hours riveted to the computer. I loved being able to speak to parents from my heart. As a therapist, I mostly listen. As a writer, I could speak about my own experiences and those of the clients I work with.”

Five years later, Buckner had completed ParentWise. The book combines true stories of parents struggling with the demands of parenthood, “Food for Thought” questions to help readers examine their own thoughts and feelings, 20 “Intentions,” or goals for readers to strive toward, and honest accounts of Buckner’s experiences raising her two (sometimes difficult) children to be happy, successful adults. She hopes her book will help parents better understand themselves and their emotions and see the link between what happened to them in the past and who they are today. “I want mothers and fathers to learn that they don’t have to be afraid of the memories, thoughts, and feelings that are inside them. The more comfortable parents are with their own emotional lives, the easier it will be for them to understand and take care of their children.” And that, when all is said and done, is the real goal of every wise parent.

For more information, visit the author’s two websites at and

Monday, July 14, 2014

She's Back! - A Guest Blog by Lesley Diehl

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Lesley Diehl.  Lesley is the author of a number of mystery series, mysteries, and short stories. Dead in the Water, her latest novel, follows "A Secondhand Murder" as the second book in the Eve Appel Mystery series. She was our featured writer on January 6, 2014.

Here she comes again.  Eve Appel is back in another story of murder in the swamps of rural Florida.  Dead in the Water is the second book in the Eve Appel mystery series.  Readers of her first adventure, A Secondhand Murder, know that the wilds of Florida can’t outdo the impulsiveness and sheer stick-your-nose-into-everything-that’s-not-your-business nature of our Eve. She stands out in any crowd, and not only because she’s taller than most women (and men) and has a mop of heavily gelled blonde hair (complete with dark roots), but she’s the go-to gal when you want someone to take action, even if the action is ill-advised.  And Eve’s often is.

All of Eve’s quirky friends, relatives and used-to-be relations like Jerry her ex-husband are back to tell her what not to do.  And I’ve added a few that will get your heart racing: a hunky Miccosukee Indian, Sammy Egret, and his charming and perhaps clairvoyant grandfather.  Others are not so friendly. Readers know that Eve has a mob boss as a friend, Nappi Napolitani who is less mobster and more advisor to Eve.  Dead in the Water adds to Eve’s mob connections.  This time it’s the Russian mob that seems to have killed her favorite uncle on an airboat ride Eve arranged to show her uncle the charms of the swamp.  Little does Eve know that her uncle is also mob connected, or mobs connected because he’s worked for one “family” most of his life and is fighting another at his death.  He visits Eve intending to end his mob career, but instead ends up dead trying to deliver a last cash payment to his bosses.  At least that’s what everyone thinks. But her uncle had another agenda - to save the life of his stepdaughter kidnapped by the Russian mob.  Mobsters of every variety, foreign and domestic, now abound in the swamps, and money goes missing.

Eve makes friends with Sammy Egret, a Miccosukee Indian who is willing to help her unweave the puzzle of her uncle’s death and the missing money.  Sammy likes Eve, perhaps too much, and Eve finds Sammy’s knowledge of the swamp a comfort especially when she and Sammy find themselves dumped in the swamp by a smarmy pair of crooks.  If there’s sizzle between them, it’s dampened by a tropical storm and the knowledge that Eve already has one man that makes her toes tingle, her current squeeze PI Alex Montgomery. 

And what does Alex think about Eve’s determination to find her uncle’s killer?  He advises caution as always as does her friend and business partner, tiny, red-headed Madeleine, the county’s sweetest, kindest and clumsiest woman.  Madeleine’s propensity for stumbling over things or into things could get her in trouble without Eve’s impulsiveness, but Eve’s schemes always put her and her friends in harm’s way, unintentionally, of course.  Outwitting mobsters is no less dangerous than trying to talk to alligators, but Eve insists she knows how to do it.  Eve arranges a final confrontation with the killers where the story began - in the swamp - but this time her usual back-up is not available.  Instead of going it alone, Eve finds she must count on the cleverness of an old man and his version of swamp back-up.

 Is all that money that her uncle carried into the swamp gone?  Grandfather Egret says that the swamp takes things away and sometimes returns them.  Will it return mob money?  Grandfather isn’t saying.  Can the swamp remain silent with half a million dollars floating in its water?

I hope you love this tale as much as I loved writing it.  The joy of being a writer for me is two-fold: laughing as I write and making my readers laugh, too.  Of course, there is a mystery to be solved, but why not have fun solving it?

For more about the Eve Appel Mysteries, visit Lesley's website at

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Adventures Shape the Tale and the Tale Shapes Me - A Guest Blog by Christine Kling

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Christine Kling. Christine, the author of the Seychelle Sullivan novels, has begun a new suspense series. The second book in the series, "Devil's Triangle," debuted this month. Christine was our featured author on August 4, 2011.
I never imagined I would find myself the author of two different series of books, but life has an odd way of taking you down paths you never foresaw. Many Florida readers know me as the author of the very Florida-based suspense novels about Seychelle Sullivan, the tug and salvage captain who works Fort Lauderdale’s New River salvaging boats and lives. I loved writing those books, and I hope to write at least one more before long.

However, after Ballantine had published four books in that series, and I didn’t become the next big bestseller, I’d learned enough about the business to know they wouldn’t want to publish another book about Seychelle. I met with my editor and we began to talk about what I might do next. Thrillers had become very hot, and so I proposed writing an adventure/historical thriller similar to those I loved to read by authors like Steve Berry, Clive Cussler, James Rollins or Florida’s own Chris Kuzneski. We chatted and I kept throwing out ideas. He said the main character should be stronger than Seychelle with a background that gave her more skills. I knew I didn’t want to write about cops or private eyes, and because I had just been introduced to a retired Marine Embassy Security Guard at a party in a marina a few days before, I suggested that as the job for my new main character. He agreed and for the next several minutes, I sketched a rough outline of what would eventually become my character Maggie Riley and the rough circumstances of Circle of Bones.

I’m a slow writer, and I absolutely love to do the research for my books. There are a couple of ways that I like to differentiate myself from the rest of the pack, though. I actually like to LIVE the adventurous lifestyle. So, after deciding to write about a singlehanded sailor in the Caribbean, I sailed my own boat alone up to the Chesapeake, and I flew down to visit Guadeloupe and Dominica, the main setting for the book. I also went to Yale to see the real home of Skull and Bones and traipsed around Washington, DC finding the locations for my story. When I start this sort of research,I usually have no idea what direction the plot will take, but I go off and I have adventures and that eventually shapes the story. In fact, sometimes I’m not sure which shapes which. Just as I was finishing Circle of Bones, I took a paid crewing job on a boat sailing in the Caribbean 1500 rally. We were to sail the 1500 miles of open ocean from Hampton, Virginia to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Weather diverted us into Bermuda which was the only location in Circle of Bones I had never actually visited. I’ve never been sure if my adventures shaped the story or if my story took me there.

I submitted Circle of Bones to my editor at Ballantine and when, after four months, I hadn’t heard back from him, I withdrew the book from consideration and chose to self publish it. At the time I thought, This is it. I’ll never have a traditional publisher again.

As it turned out, my self-published book that I was able to promote myself sold very well. About 7 months after self-publishing, I got an email from Thomas & Mercer, the mystery/thriller imprint that is a part of Amazon publishing, and the editor there offered to republish Circle of Bones under their imprint. Then he went on to ask what else I was working on and after some quick thinking, I stated, “I’ve been thinking of making it a trilogy!” Next thing I knew, I had a three book contract with T & M and I was starting the research for the new book.

To be honest, I first heard the term ‘Dragon’s Triangle’ before finishing Circle of Bones, and I’d thought what a great title it would be. I bought the non-fiction book Dragon’s Triangle by Charles Berlitz and learned all about how it was this region in the Pacific Ocean where planes and boats often disappeared and it was exactly on the opposite side of the world from the Bermuda Triangle. I was fascinated and soon I was on a plane to Thailand and the Philippines and having many grand adventures that eventually formed the plot for the next book about Riley.

So, the second novel in this series featuring Maggie Riley, Dragon’s Triangle, just had its official publication date on the first day of June. This is my sixth novel and the sequel to Circle of Bones, but the thrill of seeing your book let out into the wild never goes away. Dragon’s Triangle actually had already been available to members of Amazon’s Kindle First program since May 1. This is a great promotion that Amazon Publishing does. It’s great for both readers and authors as it offers a selection of four Editor’s Picks from various Amazon Publishing imprints one month before they are offered to everyone else. Amazon Prime members get to download one of the books for free while non-Prime members who join Kindle First can get one book for the discounted price of $1.99. The great thing about the program for me was that it gave me HUGE visibility. Both books in this series now have over 300 reviews on Amazon. Bones has made it to  #1 on Amazon, and DT has made it to #2. Leaving Ballantine and going with Amazon has turned out to be the best career move ever for me, since their marketing has introduced my books to tens of thousands of new readers who might never have found this little Florida writer otherwise.

So, in Dragon’s Triangle, I have Riley sail her boat 1800 miles through the South China Sea. She travels from Thailand to the Philippines and goes for several rides in kalesas, or horse drawn carts like the one I am pictured sitting in. At the end of her voyage, Riley discovers true love. And once again, my life seems to mirror the adventures of my main character.

Last November, a gentleman commented on my blog and asked a question about some software I had used. I responded and we started to correspond. One month later, I flew to Fiji to meet him and for our “first date” we sailed 2200 miles through the Pacific on his 52-foot sailboat. Now, six months later, we have traveled together through Europe doing research for book #3 in the series, and in a field of flowers overlooking a little fishing village in Malta, he proposed - and I said yes. Like Riley, I have found true love.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be certain whether it’s my adventures that shape the tale or the tale that shapes me. But I do know this: I’m going to make Riley have the best adventures ever in book #3 and we’ll see what in new directions my life heads!

Fair winds!



Saturday, May 24, 2014

April Star - On the Road to Mystery

It seemed written in the stars that April Star would become a writer. When she was nine months old, she fell out of bed and landed on a metal typewriter. According to the Sebring author, “Writing was embedded in me from an early age.” In elementary school, her love of writing sometimes got her into trouble. In math or geography class, she’d sit in the back writing plays and stories. The teachers would confiscate her notebooks and call her mother. They didn’t have to go far to find Star’s mother – she taught second grade in the same school.

After graduation, Star followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a teacher. But two years later, fate intervened - she married Jerry, a man she met on a blind date. Jerry’s construction job required them to hit the roads of America.  For sixteen years, they traveled in their RV to what Star calls “every where-the-hell-is place on the map.” To pass the time, Star would write about her experiences in journals. Later, she wrote a non-fiction account of her travels based on her journals. Titled Life Through a Rearview Mirror, the book was only distributed to family and friends. These stories would later form the basis for her Wanderlust Mysteries.

Star’s first novel, Tropical Warnings, was two years in the making. At first, she found it difficult to transition from short stories to a novel. “I wound up with more of a mini-novel,” she says. “Then I thought of each chapter as a little short story, and that worked for me.” Tropical Warnings, a romantic mystery set in the Florida Keys, tells the story of Laura Madison, a campground manager facing off against an anonymous stalker while falling in love with David Jennings, the private investigator trying to help her.  Star calls her main characters “composites of my husband and myself, back in our romantic younger days.”

Her next novel, The Last Resort, takes Laura and David to St. Augustine where a bottle washed up on the beach leads them to investigate the mysterious death of a campground owner.  Star enjoyed writing this book because it gave her a chance to delve into forensics, an area she finds particularly interesting.
Star’s third novel, The Dolphin Triangle, is a stand-alone mystery introducing Detective Krista Becker. Inspired by the tragic murder of Adam Walsh, the story has Detective Becker investigating the murders of a ten-year-old boy and a young wife and mother. Her investigation puts her in the croisshairs of a psychotic murderer. The Dolphin Triangle was released as a Kindle e-book.

Star’s biggest challenge is finding the time to write. A self-described “morning person,” she usually gets up between four and five AM and does her writing before leaving for her day job as an RV resort office coordinator.  But busy as she is, she never tires of creating stories that will take readers on the road to mystery.
For more information about April Star, visit her author page at