Monday, November 14, 2011

Author Splash - with Carolyn Arnold

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This week is another Author Splash. Carolyn Arnold is rippling the waters of authors with her latest release "Eleven." She actually did a great thing and released it on 11-11-11! So grab a cup of cocoa or coffee, sit back, and enjoy Carolyn Arnold.

Introduction Video for Carolyn Arnold
including some JLB Creatives News!

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Carolyn Arnold is the author of several novels in the mystery, thriller and suspense genres.  TIES THAT BIND, the first in a police procedural mystery series surrounding Detective Madison Knight, was her debut novel and published May 2011.
Carolyn was born in 1976 in the rural town of Picton, Ontario.  While her passion for writing dates back to her teen years, it wasn’t until 2008 that she completed her first novel.  She lives with her husband and her two beagles in Southwestern Ontario.
For more information on her books and upcoming releases, please visit her official website

Where to connect online:  
Amazon Author Page
Twitter Facebook page  Goodreads

Where to buy her books:

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For Carolyn’s author splash, she is sharing the following:
A Blog Post – The Modern Woman
An Interview Lorna Suzuki had with her
Overview of Eleven, a FBI thriller, recently released!  Read an excerpt and watch the book trailer.
Overview of Ties that Bind, A Madison Knight novel with excerpt
Ties that Bind, the reviews are coming in!
Overview of Justified, A Madison Knight novel, coming December 2011 with excerpt

The following was a blog post I had shared on August 20, 2011.  It shares a little about me, as well as gives some insight into the lead detective in my mystery series, Madison Knight.
The Modern Woman
Most mothers want to see their daughters grow up, get married and raise a family.  At least mine did, but I didn’t necessary have it all planned out that way.  Sure I wanted to fall in love and have a man who worshipped me – what girl doesn’t.  But then I grew up.

I got my heart broken a few times along the way and at one point even decided I didn’t care if I ever found a husband.  That was until I met “the one”.

He was handsome, but more importantly he made me laugh.  He listened to me when I spoke.  He was crazy about me.  So when he asked me to marry him, I said yes.

It rained on our wedding day.  They say it does when a marriage will last forever, and so far the old wives’ tale has held true.   

For the first few years our mothers asked when they’d be seeing a grandchild – a question we laughed off.  You see hubby and I didn’t really want to have kids, and it’s not because we’re selfish or irresponsible, it’s just our personal choice.

Fifteen years later, and two beagles as pets, I smile because I did things my way.  I may not have followed a preset mold of “get married and have children” but I’m happy.   My mother-in-law laughs at us when she sees the antics of our dogs.  She says, and you said you didn’t want children?

Of course this is my story, yours might be completely different.  Maybe you’re married with children, and that’s awesome, but the modern woman has independent dreams and desires regardless.  The modern woman doesn’t hide behind a man who takes the lead.  And you know what?  I find that most men like a strong woman.

This is why I wrote Madison Knight.  I wanted a modern woman in the lead who was strong, determined and intelligent, and despite being in a career dominated by men, she would hold her own.

You say you don’t normally like a female as the lead detective?   I hope to change your mind.  You see, I’ve written a series with her as the lead, and by doing so have shown my respect for the modern woman.

If you’re a strong woman yourself, or a man who loves a woman who speaks her mind, why not give Madison Knight a try?

Which brings me to why I’m telling you this, I want you to download my mystery for only 99 cents.

Did I mention it’s been given a 5-star rating, and the writing style compared to JD Robb?  But don’t take other people’s word for it, find out for yourself.

Here’s the link.  Click it now, before the day gets you distracted: Ties That Bind


Back in September I was honored to be interviewed by Lorna Suzuki, author of the Imago Chronicles.  Here are some of the questions she asked me.
I know you live in Southwestern Ontario, but what else would you like to share about yourself with our readers? What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

CA:   I rediscovered my passion for writing just over four years ago, and have since completed seven novels while working full-time.  My first novel, a romantic suspense, came to fruition at the encouragement of a co-worker.  She said to me one day, “tell me a story”.  Well, I did and suffice it to say she insisted that finish what I had started.

Since then, I branched out to mysteries, suspense and thrillers.

What do I do when I’m not writing?  Good question.  Besides working secularly 40 hours a week, I rather enjoy sipping a nice drink, hanging out with my husband and/or friends and watching movies.  And of course, I love it when I have the opportunity to settle down with a good book to read. 

Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?

CA:   I wouldn’t say a lifetime dream but it’s definitely been a goal that dates back to my teenage years.  I started with novellas and poems, and even contacted Harlequin for their submission guidelines as a sixteen year old.

Yet things in life change, and despite getting married and moving three hours from my hometown, I always thought it would be amazing to finish a novel.

I understand your debut novel ‘Ties That Bind’ has been receiving great reviews. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Madison Knight?

CA:   I have a profound appreciation for the ‘brotherhood of blue’.  Just the fact that they risk their lives every day is something I am so thankful for.  Without them, we’d have anarchy.  They all deserve our utmost respect and cooperation.

Spring-boarding off that, the inspiration came what I love to watch and read.  I like to have intrigue and mystery, something to figure out.  

Madison Knight, at the age of thirty-four, is married to her job.  Working as a Major Crimes Detective, there is nothing more important to her than finding justice for the victims.  And despite being in a field dominated by men, her strong-willed nature doesn’t allow her to back down.  She confidently takes action for what she believes to be the truth.   

Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open ‘Ties That Bind’?

CA:   Readers can expect a well-thought out mystery which will hopefully have them turning the pages.  TIES THAT BIND follows Madison Knight and her partner Terry Grant, as they try and stop a potential serial killer.  It also pulls you into the forensic lab.

Similar in the investigative style to that of the acclaimed television show “Law & Order”, you follow through as if were watching the story unfold in front of you.  There is limited swearing and graphic violence, and reviews have compared the writing style to JD Robb’s “In Death” series.  As well, mention has been made of Sue Grafton, the Prime Suspect books by Lynda La Plante and the Sara Paretsky mysteries.

What made you decide to go indie and what advice would you share to an aspiring author considering this route to publication?

CA:   Honestly, there were a lot of things that factored into my decision to self-publish.  Primarily, the publishing industry is changing.  Not as many new authors are not getting the publishing contracts, and if they do they’re still left to do the marketing and publicity.   By way of example, I have friends that have prestigious NY agents, and have for over a year, but I still can’t buy their book.  

I wanted to get my work into the hands of readers.

And as you may be aware it can take up to/over 18 months to see your book in print once you have a publishing contract.  I finished my novel ELEVEN earlier this year and saw the release date of 11.11.11 to be ideal – that was the final nudge I needed.

My advice is:  plan ahead.  Have a marketing plan going in.  Start by building up a platform online – Twitter, Facebook.  Start a blog and a website.  Don’t just talk about your upcoming book either – connect.  Remember online profiles are real people like yourself.

Also don’t just jump into it because you feel you’re going to miss out on the “revolution”.  Take time to weigh your decision carefully. I was considering self-publishing for a couple months before I released TIES THAT BIND.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?

CA:   Don’t take things personally.  Not everyone is going to love your book, and not everyone that reads your book is going to take the time to review it. 

I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?

CA:   When I’m writing, I do so every day.  I don’t necessarily have a target number of words I aim for, but the mornings during the week and Saturdays work out good.

On a good morning before the day job, I can usually write anywhere from 900-2500 words.

Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.

CA:   A definite panster.  When I start a book, I have an idea where it’s going, but it doesn’t always go in that direction.  I love the journey of exploring the world with my characters, following them along as if I were watching a movie.

Before I start, however, I conduct character interviews to get to know them, their backgrounds, their likes, and dislikes for example.  I find this process helps immensely in making my characters ones ‘you can pinch’.   Of course, as the story goes along I learn that much more about them and that discovery is fascinating, and makes for a richer second draft and so on.

Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?

CA:   I grab a fresh cup of coffee and my laptop, and I’m good to go.

At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?

CA:   I can’t say I’ve ever had writer’s block.  There’s a lot of talk about this among writers but I don’t even think it really exists.  I believe some people allow things to get in the way of their writing, or they have a lot going on in their lives where creativity gets squashed from stress, but as far as sitting down and staring at a blinking cursor – I’ve never had that.

The closest I came to “writer’s block” was brainstorming about my thriller novel ASSASSINATION OF A DIGNITARY.  I had an idea on the direction of the book, but it wasn’t working.  The guy I knew was the main character refused to ‘talk’ to me.  As it turned out, I had him pegged as an innocent when he really wasn’t.  After that revelation, everything went quickly.  In fact, I completed the first draft in two months and the word count came in at the highest to date, 109k.

Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?

CA:   My two favorite authors are without doubt David Baldacci and Sandra Brown.

Baldacci has a way of connecting you with the powerful and misguided, while Brown goes for ‘shock factor’ in her books.  Both of these writers have helped push me outside what normally would be my ‘comfort zone’.

What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?

CA:   The fact that people tell me they pick up my books and can’t put them down is such an amazing compliment.  I’ve had readers mention experiencing fear while reading a scene, and I’ve even witnessed some tear with heartache and reach for tissues during other scenes.  To be able to reach out through my words and touch people’s emotions, that truly is priceless.

What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from thriller/suspense into other genres? When can your fans get their next fix of Madison Knight in the way of a sequel?

CA:  My heart is in the thriller and suspense genres, but I have a few ideas for some quality romance novels as well so who knows?

Within the next two years, I hope to release all of the novels I have written to date.  And over the next five years, I plan on writing at least 3-5 more novels.

As for Madison Knight, the second in the series, JUSTIFIED, releases December 2011.  You can read an excerpt here.



Eleven Rooms. Ten Bodies. One Empty Grave.
Brandon Fisher never expected this when he signed up as a Special Agent for the FBI. Working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit his career seemed set. But when the team is called to a small rural town where the remains of ten victims are found in an underground bunker, buried in an unusual way, Brandon knows he'll never return to his normal life.
With one empty grave, and the case touching close to home, he fears he's become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven. Only thing is, everything Brandon thinks he knows is far from the truth.


Nothing in the twenty weeks at Quantico prepared me for this.
A Crime Scene Investigator, who had identified himself as Earl Royster when we first arrived, came out of a room and addressed FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper.  “All of the victims were buried–”  He held up a finger, his eyes squeezed shut and he sneezed. “Sorry ‘bout that.  My allergies don’t like it down here. They were all buried the same way.”
This was my first case with the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit and it took us to Salt Lick, Kentucky.  The discovery was made this morning, and were briefed and flown out from Quantico to the Louisville field office where we picked up a couple SUVs.  We drove from there and got here about four in the afternoon.
We were in a bunker illuminated by portable lights brought in by the local investigative team.  A series of four tunnels spread out as a root system beneath a house the size of a mobile trailer, and extended under an abandoned corn field.
A doorway in the cellar of the house led down eleven feet to a main hub from which the tunnels fed off.  The walls were packed dirt and an electrical cord ran along the ceiling with pigtail fixtures attached every few feet.
We were standing in the hub which was fifteen and a quarter feet wide, and arched out to a depth of seven and half feet.  The tunnels were only about three feet wide and the height clearance was about the same as here, six and a half feet. The bulbs dangled down from the fixtures another eight inches.
I pulled out on the collar of my shirt wishing for a smaller frame than my six foot two.  As it was the three of us could have reached out and touched each other if we were inclined.
“It’s believed each victim had the same cuts inflicted,” Royster said. “Although most of the remains are skeletal so it’s not as easy to know for sure, but based on burial method this guy obviously had a ritual.  The most recent victim is only a few years old and was preserved by the soil.  The oldest remains are estimated to date back twenty-five to thirty years.  Bingham moved in twenty-six years ago.”
Lance Bingham was the property owner, age sixty-two, and was currently serving three to five years in a correctional facility for killing two cows and assaulting a neighbor.  If he moved in twenty-six years ago that would put Bingham at thirty-six.  The statistical age for a serial killer to start out is early to mid thirties.
The CSI continued to relay more information about how the tunnels branched out in various directions and the ends came to a bulbus tip.
“There’s eleven rooms and only ten bodies.”  Jack rushed the briefing along as he pulled a cigarette out of a shirt pocket. He didn’t light up, but his lips suctioned around it like a life supply.
Royster’s eyes went from the cigarette to Jack’s face.  “Yes.  There’s one tunnel that leads to a dead end and there’s one empty grave.”
“What do you make of it?”  Jack spoke with the cigarette bobbing in his mouth, and turned to me.
“Of the empty grave?”
Jack’s smile slanted higher on the right, his eyes pinched and he removed the cigarette from his mouth.  “That and the latest victim.”
Bingham had been in prison for the last three years.  The elaborate tunnel system he had going would have taken years to plan and dig and it would have taken strength, leaning towards Bingham not working alone.  “He had help.Someone followed behind him.”
Jack perched the unlit smoke back in his lips.  “Humm.”
“Anyway you’ll want to see it for yourself.  I haven’t seen anything like it,” Royster continued.
Jack’s eyes narrowed and his brows compressed.
“Come–” The back of a wrist came to his nose in an instant.  The spray of sneeze only somewhat diverted.  More sniffles.  “Sorry ‘bout that.  Anyway this way.”
Jack motioned for me to go ahead of him.
My thoughts were on the width of the tunnel.  I took a deep breath, careful to stagger it so that he wouldn’t notice.
Tight space.
I pulled out on my collar again.  Sweat dripped down my back.
“Go ahead, kid.”
Both Jack and the CSI were watching me.
The CSI said, “We’ll look at the most recent victim first.  Now as you know the victims alternated male and female.  The tenth victim was female so we believe the next is going to be–”
“Let me guess, male,” Jack interrupted him.
“Yeah.” Royster took off down the third tunnel that fed from the bottom right of the hub.
I followed behind him, tracing the walls with my hands.  My heart palpitated.  I ducked to miss the bulbs just as I knew I’d have to and worked at focusing on the positive. Above ground the humidity sucked air from the lungs, down here the air was cool.
Another heart palpitation.
I counted my paces - five, six.  The further we went the heavier my chest became, making the next breath even more expectant and less taken for granted.  
But this was my first case.  I had to be strong.  The rumor was you either survived Jack and the two years of probationary service and became a certified Special Agent or your new job would be security detail at a mall.
Five more paces and we entered an offshoot from the main tunnel. According to Royster, three came off this tunnel.  He described these as branches on a tree. Each branch came off the main trunk for the length of about ten feet and ended in a circular space of about eleven feet in diameter.  The idea of more space seemed welcoming until we reached it.
Most of the space was taken up by a circular grave which was a couple feet deep. Chicken wire rimmed the grave to help retain its shape.  The victim’s arms and legs were extended, forming the human equivalence of a star, her wrists and feet tied to metal stakes.  As her body had dried from decomposition the constraints had kept her positioned in the manner the killer had intended.
“And what made them dig,” Jack asked the CSI.
We knew the county came to reclaim the property because the taxes weren’t being paid. Bingham had entrusted his financials to his sister, and when she passed away a year ago the property was abandoned.
Royster answered, “X marked the spot.”  Neither Jack or I displayed any amusement.  The CSI continued, “He etched into the dirt, probably with a stick.”
“Why assume a stick?”  Jack asked the question and it resulted in an awkward silence.
My eyes settled on the body of the female who was estimated to be in her early twenties. It’s not that I had an aversion to a dead body but looking at her made my stomach toss.  She still had flesh on her bones.  As the CSI had said,preserved by the soil.
Her torso had eleven incisions.  They were marked like the linear way to keep count.  Two sets of four vertical cuts with one horizontal slashed on an angle through each of them.  The eleventh cut was the largest and was above the belly button.
 “You realize the number eleven is believed to be a sign of purity?”
My chest compressed further knowing another person was going to share the limited space.  Zachery Miles was a member of our team, but unlike Jack’s, his reputation hadn’t preceded him.  I had read his file and he had a flawless service record and the IQ of a genius. He was eight years older than me.
Jack stuck the cigarette he had been sucking on back into his shirt pocket. “Purity, huh?”
I looked down at the body of the woman in the shallow grave beside me. Nothing looked too pure about any of this.
“I’m going to go.”  Royster excused himself.
“Without getting into the numerology and spiritualistic element,” Zachery continued, without acknowledging the CSI.
Jack stretched his neck side to side, and looked at me.  “I hate it when he gets into that shit.”  He pointed a bony index finger at me.  “Don’t let me catch you talking about it either.”
I just nodded.  I guess I had been told, not that he needed to treat me like a child.  I possessed no interest in things I had no reason to know about.  I believed in God and angels despite the evil in the world but beyond that, I had no desire for more insight into the spiritualistic realm. 
“The primary understanding is the number one is that of new beginnings and purity.”
My eyes scanned Zachery.  While his intelligence scoring revealed a genius, physically, he was just an average guy. If anything slightly taller than Jack and I, probably coming in at about six-four.  His hair was dark and trimmed short.  He had a high brow line.
“Zachery here reads something once,” Jack tapped his head, “It’s there.”
Jack and I spent the next few hours making our way to every room where Jack insisted on standing beside all the bodies.  He took pause, studying each of them carefully, if only part of the remains had been uncovered.  I’d pass him glances, but he seemed oblivious to my presence. We ended up back beside the last victim where we stayed for twenty minutes, not moving, not talking, just standing.
And I understood what he saw.  There was a different feel to this room, nothing quantifiable, but it could be discerned.  The killer had a lot to say.  He was organized and immaculate.  He was precise and disciplined.  He acted with a purpose and like most killers he had a message to relay.  We were looking for a controlled, highly intelligent unsub.
Nine victims had their intestines removed but Doctor Jones, the coroner, wouldn’t conclude it as the cause of death before conducting more tests.  The last victim’s intestines were intact.  And even though COD needed confirmation, the talk that permeated the corridors of the bunker was the men who did this were scary sons of bitches.
Zachery entered the room.  “I find it fascinating he would bury his victims in circular graves.”
I looked up at him more from a need to break from the body than from curiosity. Fascinating?  I turned to Jack when I heard the flick of a lighter.
He held out his hands as if to say he wouldn’t light up inside the burial chamber. His craving was getting desperate, though, which meant he’d be getting cranky.  He said, “Continue, Zachery, by all means.  The kid wants to hear.”
“By combining both the number eleven and the circle, it makes me think of the coinherence symbol.  Even the way the victims are laid out.”
“Elaborate,” Jack directed.
“It’s a circle which combines a total of eleven inner points to complete it. As eleven means purity, so the coinherence symbol is related to religious traditions.  At minimum thirteen.  But some people can discern more and each symbol is understood in different ways. The circle itself stands for completion and can symbolize eternity.”
I cocked my head to the side.  Zachery noticed.
“We have a sceptic here, Jack.”
Jack faced me, and spoke with the unlit cigarette perched back in his lips. “What do you make of it?” 
Was this a trap?  “You want to know what I think?”
“By all means, slingshot.”
And there it was, the other dreaded nickname, no doubt his way of reminding me that I didn’t score perfectly on handguns at the academy.  “Makes me think of the medical symbol.  Maybe our guy has a background in medicine.  It could explain the incisions being deep enough to inflict pain, but not deep enough to cause them to bleed out.  It would explain how he managed to take out their intestines.”  Was this what I signed up for? 
“Humm.” Jack mumbled.  Zachery remained silent.  Seconds later, Jack said, “You’re assuming they didn’t bleed out. Continue.”
“The murders happened over a period of time.  This one,” I gestured to the woman and for a moment realized how this job transferred the life of a person into an object.  “She’s recent.  Bingham’s been in prison for about three years now.”
Jack flicked the lighter again.  “So you’re saying he had an apprentice?”
Zachery’s lips lifted upward and his eyes read, like Star Wars.
I got it.  I was the youngest on the team, twenty-nine this August, next month, and I was the new guy. But I didn’t make it through four years of university studying mechanics and endure twenty weeks of the academy, coming out at the top of the class, to be treated like a child.  “Not like an apprentice.”
“Like what then–”
“Jack, the Sheriff wants to speak with you.”  Paige Dawson, another member of our team came into the burial chamber. She came to Quantico from the New York field office claiming she wanted out of the big city.  I met her when she was an instructor at the academy.
I pulled out on the neck of my shirt.  Four of us were in here now.  Dust caused me to cough, and warranted a judgemental glare from Jack.
“How did you make out with the guy who discovered everything?”
“He’s clean.  I mean we had his background already, and he lives up to it.  I really don’t think he’s involved at all.”
Jack nodded, and left the room.
I turned to Zachery.  “I think he hates me.”
“If he hated you, you’d know it.”  Zachery followed behind Jack.
©2011 Carolyn Arnold
ELEVEN is available now in print and for Kindle on Amazon.  To read the first chapter or watch the book trailer, please visit here.

Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident. But when another woman’s body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they’re dealing with something more serious.
Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim.


Chapter 1

Someone died every day.  Madison was left to make sense of it.  She ducked under the yellow tape and surveyed the scene.  The two-story, white-sided house would be deemed average any other day, but today the dead body inside made it of interest to the Stiles’ PD and a few curious onlookers who gathered in small clusters on the sidewalk.
She’d never seen the officer securing the perimeter before but she knew his type.  The way he stood there with his back straight, one hand resting on his holster, the other gripping a clipboard, he identified himself as an eager recruit.
He held up a hand as she approached.  “This is a closed crime scene.”
She unclipped the badge from the waist of her pants and held it front of him.  He studied it as if it were counterfeit.  She respected those who took their jobs seriously – on a regular day – but not when she functioned on limited sleep and the humidity level topped ninety-five percent at ten-thirty in the morning.  “Detective K-N-I-”  Her name died on her lips when the front door opened and Sergeant Winston stepped out.  She would have groaned audibly if he wasn’t closing the distance between them so quickly.  She preferred her boss behind a desk.
Winston gestured for the young officer to let her in.  He glared at her before leaving his post.  She envied the fact he could leave.
“It’s about time you got here.”  Winston fished a handkerchief out of a pocket and wiped at his receding hairline.  The extra few inches exposed a large forehead that could have served as a solar panel.  “I was just about to assign the lead to Grant.”
Terry Grant was her partner of five years, and her junior by three.  Damn if he’d give the lead to Terry.
“Where have you been anyway?”
She disregarded his inquiry, jacked a thumb in the rookie’s direction.  “Who’s the new guy?”
“Don’t change the subject, Knight.”
She’d have to offer some sort of an explanation for being late.  “Well, boss, you know me.  Up all night slinging back shooters.”
“Don’t get smart with me.”
She flashed him a cocky smile and pulled out a Hershey bar from a front pant pocket.  The chocolate had already softened from the heat.  It didn’t really matter.  She took a bite.  Heaven.  She spoke with a partial mouthful.  “What are you doing here anyway?”
“Call came in.  I was nearby.  Thought someone should respond.”  He went to step over the tape to the sidewalk, but it wasn’t a smooth maneuver.  His foot got caught up in the band.  He hopped on the other leg to adjust his balance and straightened out.  He continued speaking as if he hadn’t noticed.  “The body’s upstairs, main bedroom.  She was strangled.”  He pointed the tip of a key toward her.  “Keep me updated.”  He depressed a button on his key fob.  The department-issued SUV’s lights flashed.  “I’ll be waiting for your call.”
As if he needed to say that.  Sometimes she wondered if he valued talk more than action.
With the Sergeant gone, she could feel the eyes of the young officer on her.  He stood there judging her from a distance.  What was his problem anyway?  She took another bite as she turned her attention to the house.
Terry came out.  “Too bad you had to show.  I think I was just about to get the lead.”
“I’d have to be the one dead for that to happen.”  She allowed a small smile to show as she brushed past him.
“You look like crap.”
The smile faded.  She stopped walking and turned around.  Every one of his blonde hairs were in place, making her self-conscious of her short cut, wake-up-and-wear-it style.  And his cheeks held a healthy glow, no doubt from his morning two-mile run.  She hated people that could do mornings.
“What did you get?  Two hours sleep?”
“Three, but who’s counting?”  She took another large bite.
“You were up reviewing evidence from the last case, weren’t you?”
She didn’t feel inclined to answer.
“You can’t change the past.”
She didn’t feel hungry anymore and wrapped up what was left.  “Let’s just focus on this case.”
“Fine, if that’s how it’s going be.  Victim’s name is Laura Saunders.  She’s thirty-two.  Single.  Officer Higgins was the first on scene.  Call came in from the vic’s employer, Southwest Welding Products, where she worked as the receptionist.”
“What would make the employer call?”
“She didn’t show for her shift at eight.  They tried reaching her first, but when they didn’t get an answer, they sent a security officer over.  He found the door ajar, called downtown.  Higgins was here by eight forty-five.”
“The security officer?  Terrence Owens.  And don’t worry, we took a formal statement, let him go.  Background showed notta, not even a speeding ticket.  We can function when you’re not around.”
She cocked her head to the side.
“He also testifies to the fact he never stepped one foot into the place.”  Terry paused and laughed lightly.  “Said he’s watched enough cop shows to know it would contaminate the crime scene.  You get all those people watching those stupid TV shows and they all think they can solve murder.”
“Is Owens the one that made the call downtown?”
“Actually, procedure for them is to route everything through administration.  A Sandra Butler made the call.  She’s the office manager.”
“So an employee doesn’t show for work, they send someone to your house?”
“She said it’s part of their safety policy.”
“At least they’re a group of people inclined to think positively.”  Madison could feel sweat droplets run down her back.  Disgusting.  She moved toward the house.
“You can’t take that in there.”  The young officer came hurrying over.  He shoved the clipboard under his arm, tucked a pen behind an ear.  He jabbed a pointed finger toward the chocolate bar.
She glanced down at it.  Chocolate oozed out of a corner.  He had a point so she handed it to him.  His jaw tightened.  She forced a smile and patted his shoulder.  “Good job.”  He walked away with the bar dangling from the wrapper he held pinched between two fingers mumbling something indiscernible.
Terry said, “You can be so wicked sometimes.”
“Why thank you.”
“It wasn’t a compliment.  And since when do you eat chocolate for breakfast?”
“Oh shut up.”  She punched him in the shoulder.  He smirked and rubbed his arm, same old sideshow.  She headed into the house with him following behind her.
“Stairs are to the right.”
“Holy crap, it’s freezing in here.”  She could feel the sweat on her skin chill and found it a refreshing welcome.
“Yep, a hundred and one outside, sixty inside.”  Two steps from the top, Terry spoke over a shoulder.  “And just a forewarning.  It’s not your typical strangulation.”
“Come on Terry, you’ve seen one, you’ve–”  She stopped talking, stood in the bedroom doorway.  Terry was right.
©2011 Carolyn Arnold

You can buy TIES THAT BIND on Amazon in print and for Kindle.

TIES THAT BIND has been receiving great reviews.  Here are some:
Reminds me of JD Robb…Carolyn Arnold's book is the start of a new female-driven cop series. The writing is tremendous and the character, Madison Knight, is great. If you are a fan of JD Robb (Nor Roberts) and her In Death series, then this is the book for you.” – Amazon
Perfect for any fan of the crime drama genre…Arnold's writing style is very close to JD Robb's "In Death" series and he's right. "Ties That Bind" is an intelligent crime drama with a head-strong, determined female lead who isn't afraid to go up against her superiors if it means getting her man…. Arnold's writing gave just enough information to hold your interest, but not too much to give away the ending. A great read for a fan of the crime drama genre.” - Amazon
An excellent read that keeps you guessing…Ties that bind--First off I love book titles with double meanings and this one is certainly that. This is a great read for those who enjoy detective novels and chronological play-out, oh, and the excellent twists of skilled writers. I found myself trying to guess where this book was going only to be pleasantly surprised where it went. Without giving anything away, something that stuck with me since completing the book is Detective Madison Knight's reactions to viewing the deceased women her own age and how it brings to light her own mortality. Carolyn Arnold's portrayal of that really made me stop and think. I love books like that.” – Amazon
Strong Characters, Intriguing Plot…With her debut novel TIES THAT BIND, Carolyn Arnold manages to outdo many of her contemporaries by keeping the reader engaged chapter after chapter. A carefully crafted tale, TIES is not formulaic but does have all of its twists and turns very well timed, a trend that I hope continues for the upcoming books in the series. The Madison Knight detective series is built on a strong female lead and if TIES THAT BIND is any indication the upcoming books promise more of the same. As the father of a young daughter I am encouraged by the choice of bucking the popular trends of shopaholics and vampires, and instead relying on the mental strength, intelligence, and dogged perseverance of her character to win over the reader.   If you like detective novels Carolyn Arnold's TIES THAT BIND is a must read.” - Amazon

Madison Knight should have ignored the call.  Now she is spending Christmas Eve dealing with her least favorite thing…blood and lots of it.
When a female victim is found in her home it has Madison and her partner tapping into the vic’s personal life.  With a rash of former business partners and lovers, all of whom wanted her dead, there are not enough hours to question them all.
But trying to find the person who had the most motive isn't all that's on Madison's mind.  As she struggles to establish balance in her own life, she knows she has to get her focus back.  Justice requires it.



He had to do it.  He had no choice.  Pushed into an unpleasant corner, he had no other option.  How could he allow himself to be walked all over, manipulated?  All that he had sacrificed for her, laid on the line.  
It was pitch black, the wind moaned and small flakes dared to precipitate.  It was a bitter cold, the type he felt through to his bones.
He knocked on the door.
He had chosen the backside of the house for added seclusion.  If the cover of the night wasn’t enough, surely this approach would diminish the possibility of a curious neighbor trying to play hero.  He didn’t need any cops showing up.  This was to be a private visit.
He knocked again, harder and more deliberate.  A light came on inside followed by one on the back porch.  Finally, attention was being paid.
She opened the door the few inches the chain would allow.  “What are you doing here?”
“Trying to reason with you.”  The chills left his body and a calm, radiant heat overtook him.
The door shut.  The chain rattled.  The door reopened.  “You can’t just show up whenever you feel like it.”  She let him in, more likely for her own comfort given the way she was dressed.  Arms crossed in front of her chest, an act of modesty over a lacey piece of lingerie.  He had seen it before.  Shivers trembled through her, and she gripped her arms tighter. “What is it?”
He disregarded the tone in her voice, the condescending overture it carried.  He ignored the body language that screamed for him to leave.  He went to touch a ribbon that served as a strap.
She stepped back.  “Please don’t–”
“Claire, we’re meant to be together.”  He was surprised by his lack of control, as his voice had risen in pitch with each word.
“You should leave.”
There was more to her words.  And the way she was dressed.  “You move on already?”  He took steps forward, heading for her bedroom.  
She grabbed his arm and pulled him back.  She didn’t deny his accusation, and she refused to look at him when she did speak.  “It was your choice, I gave you the option.”
He swore her eyes misted over.  “Not really much of one.”  
“You should go.”
He shook his head, as if it would bury the jealousy.  But the fact there was someone else here, lying in her bed, waiting on her to come back…
He would do what he came to do - regardless.  He had too much to lose.

Chapter 1

The coffee came up into the back of her throat the way it always did.  Madison Knight swallowed hard, forcing the acidic bile back down.  This was a messy one; the kind she did her best to avoid.  She knew the first officer on scene was speaking, but the words weren’t making it through.  Despite her revulsion, her eyes were frozen on what was before her.  
The victim lay on a crimson blanket of death, wearing nothing but a lacy camisole.  The blood pool reached around her body in an approximate two-foot circumference.  The blood had coagulated resulting in a curdled pudding-like consistency.  The kitchen floor was a porous ceramic, and the blood had found its way to the grout lines, and seeped through it like veins.  Arterial spray had splattered the backsplash like the work of an abstract painter who had fanned a loaded brush against the canvas.
Cynthia Baxter was hunched close to the body, taking photos and collecting shards of glass that were in the blood.   She was head of the Forensics lab, but her job also required time in the field.  She looked up at Madison, nodded a hello and offered a small smile.  Madison knew her well enough as a friend outside of work that the facial expression was sincere, the scene only dampened its fruition.
Weir, the first officer on scene, stood back at the doorway that was between the front living room, and the kitchen.  “Such a shame, especially on Christmas Eve.”
Terry Grant, Madison’s partner, braced his hands on his holster and exhaled a jagged deep breath.
“What’s her name and background?” Madison asked Weir with her eyes on the victim.
“The vic is Claire Reeves, forty-three.  Lived here alone.  No record of restraining orders or anything out of the ordinary.  Nothing noted as her place of employment.  Her maid, Allison Minard found her.  She’s over at the neighbors.  Officer Higgins is over there with her.”
Madison managed to break eye contact from the body, glanced at Terry and settled her gaze on Weir.  His words had broken through as though out of context.  
“Detective Knight?”  Judging by the softness in his tone of voice, Weir must have read her reaction to the scene.  His eyes inquired if she was okay but the silent probing would have been squashed by the wall she had erected.  He continued, “The maid’s pretty shaken up.”
Madison could understand that.  She had experience in processing murder scenes and she could barely handle this one.  She did her best to keep eye contact with the officer but her fear - her distaste for blood – kept pulling her attention to the woman.
Claire.  That was her name before she had been reduced to this.  To be killed in this manner pointed towards an emotional assailant.  And if her lack of clothing was any indication the vic likely had a personal connection with her killer.
Madison scanned the room.  There was no sign of a struggle - no overturned chairs or broken dishes.  The only thing standing out was a tea towel bunched on the floor in front of the stove as if it had slipped off the front bar.  “Any evidence of forced entry?”
Weir shook his head.
“She let her killer in.”  Madison’s eyes dropped back to the victim.
She was someone’s daughter, someone’s best friend, someone’s lover.  Normally Madison didn’t have an issue with separating herself from the crime scene and keeping them impersonal.  Maybe it had something to do with all that blood and the fact Claire had been murdered just before Christmas.
The vic was on her back, albeit slightly twisted, from the fall to the floor.  Her legs were crumpled beneath her.  A large slash lined her neck, and based on the angle and directionality, her killer had come from behind.  Logic dictated this killing method typically belonged to a male but there was something about the maid finding the body that didn’t make sense. “So the maid was to work on Christmas Eve?”
“Supposedly she got a text message from Claire.  She called us right after she–”  Weir pointed toward the vomit at the far entrance to the kitchen.  
Madison had noticed it on the way through.  She took a shallow breath, hoping to cleanse her focus despite the fact the stench of the crime scene had transformed to a coating on her tongue.  “Did you see this text message?”
Weir shook his head.  “She couldn’t produce it.  Said she must have accidentally deleted it.”
“Anyone think to check Claire’s phone?”
“I’ll go check on that now.”  Weir’s cheeks flushed.  “Anyway Higgins is with her, and Richards should be here soon.”  He excused himself with a wave of a hand.
Cole Richards was the Medical Examiner.
Cynthia rose to her feet, picked up her kit and addressed Madison, “So what are you thinking?  Love affair gone wrong?”
“It looks like it could be but rarely are things that straight forward.”
“Isn’t that the truth?  But I know you’ll figure it out.”
“Hey, I’m here too,” Terry said.
Both women smiled.
“Okay, both of you will figure it out.”
“Better.”  Terry smiled.
Cynthia left the kitchen in the direction of a hallway that no doubt led to the bedrooms. Based on the vic’s attire it would be a reasonable progression to search there.
Madison moved toward the vic.  “Wonder where her underwear are.”
“Maybe they were of the edible variety.”  Terry gave her a goofy smile.
“At a time like this you’re going to bring out that horny grin of yours?”
“I’m only a man.”
“Uh huh, that’s your excuse for everything.”  She paused, studying the backsplash and the floor around the victim, looking for any cast off blood spatters that could have come from the weapon.  “She was standing in front of the sink taking a drink when her killer came up from behind.  He would have wrapped his arm around her, to hold her steady, as he ran the knife across her throat.”  Madison acted it out.  “Looks like it went right to left.”  She swallowed hard.  Periodically the smell of the blood hit in intensive waves equal in scale to tsunamis.
“So we’re looking for a left-handed killer.”
“Someone call?”  Richards entered the kitchen.
“Hey.”  Madison smiled.  The man’s presence had that ability – too bad he was a married man.
“There’s my favorite detective.”  He returned the smile.  The whiteness of his teeth beaming to near blindness as it was offset by his dark skin.
“Nice to see you too,” Terry said.
“I was actually referring to Knight.”
“She always gets the spotlight.”
Madison laughed.  “Oh someday, Terry.  Someday, when you grow up you can be a
“Ah quiet.  You and I are not even talking right now.”  Terry continued the show with a dramatic crossing of his arms.
“Moody like a female.”  Richards shook his head.
“Excuse me?  Moody like a female?  Are you implying that we’re moody, that I am?”  Madison challenged him.
“Never.”  He waved his hand in a gesture of making peace.
“Uh huh.”  She laughed, but it faded fast.  Small talk was often used as a way to ease the intensity of a scene but doing so here caused her a few seconds of guilt.  
“Hey I’m with Richards on this.  Only thing is, he’s afraid of you Maddy, whereas I’m not.  If anyone can attest to the mood swings of a woman
“I know you can.  And only you can get away with that comment right now.”
Terry’s wife was two months pregnant and already experiencing the hormonal shifts and cravings.  
“I should be a good husband and dispute what you’re implying.  But I can’t.  She’s driving me nuts.  Drove all around town looking for black cherry ice cream only to come home and be asked what took so long.”
“Nice to know they’re all the same.”  Richards’ joviality came to an abrupt end as his focus went to the victim.  “It’s pretty safe to conclude COD was exsanguination.  Based on the amount of blood loss, her carotid artery was severed.”
His comment drew Madison’s attention to the red expanse on the floor.   Her coffee threatened a repeat showing.
Richards continued, “The blood pressure in her brain would have dropped so rapidly she would have lost consciousness pretty much immediately.  She would have bled out in less than a minute, and seeing as she’s coming out of rigor, I’d say TOD was over twelve hours ago.  The blood separation also testifies to the fact the blood left her body hours ago.  On estimation, I’d pin it at fourteen to sixteen hours ago, so between two and four this morning.  Of course I’ll take her temperature and conduct other means before I verify with certainty.”
Richards bent down beside the victim and put a rubber-gloved hand on her face.  “The killer was no professional I can tell you that.”  He traced a finger along the jagged edges of the slash.  “He was hesitant.”  Richards carefully turned the body over, handling it with care as if it were a priceless china doll.  “Lividity shows she was killed here.”  He pressed fingers to the skin, and even under the touch it remained a bluish color.  “And, it too confirms that it was over twelve hours ago that she died.”
Madison had to step back from the body just for a few seconds.  She moved to the doorway near the vomit, a normally potent scent, yet now it was overpowered by the smell of blood.
She looked out the window of a side door that led to the backyard.  There was evidence of a walkway even though it was buried under eight to ten inches of snow, but it wasn’t the notice of a walkway that had her attention.  She knew Weir had said something about which door the maid used but her focus had been on the blood at the time.  “Did Weir say which door the maid came in?”
“The front,” Terry answered.
She could detect it in Terry’s voice, the underlying question, what you don’t remember, but Madison’s focus was on the divots in the snow, boot-prints.  “Let’s put it this way.  Either the maid’s lying or we know where our killer came in.”
©2011 Carolyn Arnold

~ ~ ~

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  1. What a fantastic post, Carolyn and Janet! And, BTW, who says you don't have kids? Those pups there look like they're a huge part of the family :D. Best of luck! Keep up the great work!! XO

  2. Janet and Carolyn!!! What a splash. This is almost a book in its self... Great Post!

  3. It was my pleasure putting this one together - as all of these Splashes are. It's so much fun getting to know each of these awesome author's better...I think it really helps connect with them and makes you want to read their books! ;-)


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