Mapped Out Murders Ready for Readers

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Sarah Groben is an LAPD Homicide detective and a pastor’s wife. She’s got six murders she wants to solve by Sunday. Members of a fledgling group for 10-40 window transplants seeking Christianity are being killed. A Muslim charity interested in better relations with Americans seems to be connected by the death of a former financial manager. Family members of the victims might also end up in the crosshairs if Sarah is right about a “Persecutor for Hire.”

Sarah’s partner is down with the flu and her husband Don seems like a tailor-made substitute with his knowledge of Middle eastern languages and cultures. But the case keeps getting more complicated by the minute, and Sarah and Don might not be able to crack it before the killing starts again.

Avoid the lines and crowds to be a first reader of this murder mystery with a twist. You can request pdf, epub, or mobi versions. Email me directly at mjmcfindley@gmail.com.

Here are a couple of snippets:

“You cannot pretend to charge me with a hate crime,” Suleiman sneered. “Christianity is the only thing the whole world is allowed to hate and to discriminate against. Look at your own schools! You ban candy canes because they represent Jesus, and celebrate Muslim culture freely. Everything else is protected, taught, encouraged. Who these days hates Christianity more than Americans?”

“Raif Izzettin, my old friend,” Don said as a shrunken, twisted old man with a thick cloud of white hair and beard opened the door of a run-down efficiency apartment in North Hollywood. “This is my wife, Sarah.”
“Groben, Groben, welcome! This is your wife? You never told me she was such a beauty!”
“Well, her name is Sarah,” Don said with a grin as they entered the tiny but tidy dwelling. 
“God bless you for putting up with this rascal, my dear,” Raif said as he waved them to seats. “I am making tea. Give me just a moment.”
Sarah looked around at the shelves and small tables crammed with Middle Eastern curios. “You have so many beautiful things,” she exclaimed as the man brought a tea tray.
“They are not mine. I keep them in trust until the day they are reclaimed,” Raif said as he served them tiny cups of sweet mint tea. “Perhaps Don has told you that we met when I was known in Turkey as the Moses of Istanbul. I do not boast to say that for many years God allowed me to hold a position in the government that I discreetly used to help the persecuted find safer places to live, or to leave the country altogether. All glory to Christ, that I was privileged to be used in that way.
“So many wanted to cling to their family possessions, but they could carry nothing past inspectors, so they entrusted the things to me. I still have people arrive at my door and ask for things. I praise God with them, that they still found refuge and safety after I was forced out. These are like sacred things to me. I know the story of each one of them.”
Sarah nodded. “I would love to hear some of those stories, another time, sir, with respect.”
Raif heaved a great sigh. “But of course, you are the detective. You are here about the deaths. How many now?”

Mapped Out Murders is available for preorder on Amazon for 99 cents, and is free on Kindle Unlimited. http://mybook.to/MappedOutMurders

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What My Daughter’s Cat Is Teaching Me

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Some people are dog people. Some are cat people. I am both, but for many years we have had only cats because we have so many outside the home responsibilities and cats are better with being home alone. For eight years I rode in a semi with my hubby around the 48 states and Canada and we had no pets. I have since settled with our adult hearing-impaired daughter in her apartment (not exactly by choice, but by God’s loving provision, and that is another story for another time).  We built a house and now hubby has a place to come to when he can get off the road.

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Victoria I have been blessed to become housemates with Ruth, a Siamese/Tabby mix she got from a shelter to be a hearing aid cat. If you’ve never hear of a hearing aid cat, you’re not alone. She hoped to be able to train this kitty to let her know when things are happening that she might not be able to hear. We also hoped Ruth would be a good friend and companion for Vicky as a single young woman.

Well, I’m not sure who is getting trained all the time, but this cat is daily a wonder and a blessing from God. She runs to the door anytime anyone is approaching or making noises outside. She always knows when it is time for “mommy” or “grandma” or even “Grandpa” to come home and sits waiting at the door for that happy occasion.

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She even lets us know when it’s time to get up mornings with a jump on the bed or a pat on the face (or whiskers in the face or a lick on the eyelids). Ruthie is very vocal and lets us know by meows that sound a lot like words sometimes that we need to get ready for work or shut a window or door against loud noises (she doesn’t like mowers or trash trucks). When anyone is sick she will sit with them on a raised recliner seat sharing fuzzy warmth. And sometimes she goes off and leaves us alone.

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So here’s what I’ve learned from Ruthie that I’m figuring out how to apply to my own life:

  1. Service gives opportunities for praise and reward (All a cat asks for in return for being our living alarm is meals, treats, “rubbies,” and occasional “conversations” because she is so vocal).
  2. Nobody’s perfect (she doesn’t like to be hugged or held but she is learning to tolerate it from “mommy.” And boy she does shed! She is also not a fan of Grandpa playing music on the computer. The high notes make her ears twitch.)
  3. It doesn’t take much to be a mood-lifter (just seeing her on “bug patrol” by the front door or having her curl up next to you is enough).
  4. Comfort doesn’t mean smother (She’ll sit at the very edge of the bed or seat and not intrude on what you’re doing).
  5. Active time (running up and down the stairs was one of her favorites), social time, and alone time are all important. Life is about balance.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says He has made everything beautiful in its time. So it is with Ruthie.

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Alpha/Beta Readers Wanted for Mapped Out Murders

I am requesting readers and helpers for my first contemporary “how will they catch them” murder mystery, Mapped out Murders, which is also to some extent a police procedural. I have completed a draft of almost 74,000 words and have the basic story, characters, and steps in the process mostly the way I want them.

Here are the basic elements so you can see if you are interested in reading:

Sarah and Don Groben are an ex-military couple married about 20 years, no children. She is a homicide detective. They lived in the Fargo, ND area but 5 years earlier transplanted to L.A. He is a pastor and director of Martyrs for Christ, a group similar to real life Voice of the Martyrs, specializing in the 10-40 window. Because they could not have children they have invested in helping troubled families experience godly home and family through Bible teaching and loving them in Christ.

Sarah refuses to work with a male partner or be alone with men. She does this out of respect for her father and husband. Her female partner gets the flu and she has to go alone to a crime scene where a Middle Eastern man was murdered. She finds her husband and a pastor friend there and learns that the dead man was building a small group of Middle Eastern converts from Islam to Christianity.

Don becomes her temporary partner as they uncover six murders and a conspiracy to wipe out these converts and people they may have influenced. A small version of a CAIR-like organization may be involved. Family bitterness and fear also plays a role.

Don’s expertise in Middle Eastern languages and customs and inside knowledge of the outreach plan for these local former Muslims helps but Sarah must ultimately sort through the complex mountain of evidence to get at the truth. Bitcoin, persecution, and attitudes toward Christianity in Muslim and American cultures factor in to making her job harder.

1. Setting is Los Angeles area, but I need help with determining a region in or near the city proper that has a smaller feel, with a police precinct and a neighborhood where you could buy a small house and get to know your neighbors. I need local color, takeout options, and generally things to make the setting real. I do not want to get into too much detail about life in the city or police procedures but don’t want to be clumsily out of date or too sparse, either.

2. Need help with realistic names, customs, and cultures for various secondary characters who are transplants from Middle and Far East countries. All come from Islamic backgrounds.

3. Positioning of some flashbacks (set off in italic in the text) doesn’t seem quite right, and would appreciate input on how much info to include and where the best place to place them would be.

4. Timeline of the murders vs subsequent events. 5 happen in one day (in fact, in one hour), but I need to properly place resulting funerals at a reasonable distance for investigation progress.

5. Generally, being up-to-date and authentic about people, language, and situations. Help in better understanding Bitcoin would be great!

If you can help in any way, general critique, specific suggestions, or the points listed above, please email me at mjmcfindley@gmail.com

Thank you!

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12 Days of Christmas: Authors want to meet readers and give you stuff!

Don’t let Christmas shopping get you down! You don’t have to get out of those fuzzy slippers to find great books and get to know great authors waiting to meet you!

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Please join us starting Monday December 10th and continuing through December 21st. Every day you can see what authors are up to. You could win a $250 gift card or one of two Kindles, not to mention authors will be having their own giveaways.

You’ll find Christian fiction and maybe even devotionals or nonfiction to warm your heart and draw you closer to the reason for the season. Romances will flourish, adventures will thrill you, and clean and wholesome stories will charm away the stress and give you a few less presents to worry about.

Join our facebook group here to be ready for Monday’s festivities.

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Enjoy, like, and share this video made by Samantha Fury

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Mapped Out Murders: a NaNoWriMo Project by Mary C. Findley

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My NaNoWrimo project for this year is called Mapped Out Murders. NaNoWriMo, by the way, is a project to write at least 50,000 words on a new novel project during the month of November. You need to write a little under 1700 words a day to reach that goal. I won’t tell you how far behind I am, because it’s very far. I used to get very stressed out about being behind, but right now I’m just happy to be writing pretty much every day, and to have this story to work on.

Mapped Out Murders is the story of Sarah Groben, a homicide detective. She has a very strange quirk that keeps getting her in trouble at the precinct. She won’t be alone with her male colleagues. That means no male partner. Yet Sarah has had the highest case closure rate of any detective in the department for years. When Sarah’s partner Rachel comes down with the flu, the captain orders her to go alone to the scene of a murder. The victim has been stabbed multiple times. When Sarah looks up to find the witness who called in the crime, she is shocked to see an old pastor friend and her husband, Don, who happens to be the department chaplain.

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Don becomes her temporary partner as they investigate a series of killings linked by Google maps taking them from location to location. All but one of the victims are middle eastern men. I got the idea for this story from two recent events: One is the scorn endured by Vice President Mike Pence over his refusal to be alone with a woman not his wife, and the #MeToo Movement. I wondered what would happen if a woman took the same stand against being in potentially compromising situations with men. The other inspiration was a recent Voice of the Martyrs conference, where an Iranian man told the story of multiple Christian leaders in Iran, including his father, being murdered and left with a paper in each pocket with an address where another body could be found.

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Detective Sarah Grobin and her police chaplain husband Don struggle to solve a string of murders featuring the brutal early morning stabbing deaths of middle aged men, all in the same day. Map printouts found on the bodies lead Sarah to each murder site but the third body doesn’t fit the perfect profile.

From mugging to hate crime against middleastern immigrants to a sudden dead end, the motive just won’t stay neatly pinned down. Worse still, Sarah and Don fear withholding evidence when they discover what appears to be the one sure connection between the first two victims. Revealing it might endanger a fragile work by hidden believers ministering to those who may have left Islam and embraced Christianity.

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Nasir Natal struggles to understand the murder of his father while grappling with a growing mountain of contradictions between the abusive, unfaithful man he knew and what he learns from those who knew a completely different man. Secrets kept by the victims and family members like himself muddy the already turbulent waters as the body count starts rising again. Nasir is forced to cooperate with his tempestuous sister Pira as well as the strange detective and her husband.

Sarah is at her wits’ end until a timid stranger constrained by culture breaks free to admit she may have the key to unmasking the Mapped Out Murders killer.

Excerpt:

“What’s your read on this guy?” Homicide detective Sarah Groben asked as she and her husband Don waited in the hallway. “I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t ask you to help with this. You’re still trying to process his father’s death. At least someone is mourning for him.”

“No, it’s okay. And you’re right,” Don replied.” It’s hard to miss the fact that Nasir’s not grief-stricken. He was genuinely surprised, though, when he saw his father’s face. And he certainly doesn’t seem to be relieved, or happy, or anything that would suggest guilt.”

“I agree. That was a look of shock. Curiosity, too, maybe. But for a second, he looked angry. Why would he be angry at his father?”

“There had to be something seriously wrong in the family for Imar to leave them, and to leave Iran. That was another shock to his son, finding out Imar had come here. He never talked much about his past. We try to take the view that whatever happened to a person who comes to us, it’s under the blood, but it’s so strange that Imar wouldn’t tell us he had family members living.”

“That emergency contact card was fresh and new-looking,” Sarah pointed out. “If he’d found out where his son was, why did he never contact him?”

“Can I see the card?” Don asked. Sarah handed the white pasteboard to him. He turned it over and gasped.

“What is it?”

“It was dark, so I didn’t notice it when you showed me before, but this is one of the cards Imar had made up for his ministry. “It’s all embossing, with no actual ink. You can hardly tell what it’s for, but if you hold it up to the light, you can see he had it specially printed.”

Fears cast out,” Sarah read. “Tongues loosed. What does that mean?”

You can find all my books at major online retailers like Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Mary-C.-Findley/e/B005SVXQW0

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What Is the Best Way to Learn What Your Opponent Believes? — post by Michael J. Findley

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In answer to a Quora question: What’s the best way to learn the opposing side’s arguments when it comes to politics?

What is best varies from person to person. I read Plato’s Republic, then acquired an audio version to listen to it many times. Rather than the Communist Manifesto, Plato is the real foundation of the left. Communism/socialism is older than Plato, but Plato is a good beginning. I also read the works of the French revolutionaries, such as Voltaire.

While they were influential in their day, they lack an overall depth of thought. Next I read the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, which I bought for 50 cents. When a dog ate them, I did not think they were worth replacing. Next I read the personal experiences of those who lived in countries where these religions where forced on the populace, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. 

I learned that the term “the left” came from the French Revolution. Revolutionaries took over the French Parliament and sat on the left side of the King. Everyone who opposed them sat to the right of the King. So the term “the Right” means opposed to the Left. “The Right” is not a specific belief or position. It simply means opposed to Communism/Socialism/Fascism. All are various versions of dialectical materialism; tyranny, to use the language of Thomas Jefferson. With Communism, dialectical materialism is god, controlled entirely by the government.

Socialism permits business to join the ruling class of government. Fascism permits anyone who is willing to join the party to rule over those who resist Fascism. Conservatism is quite different depending on the country. In the USA, it stands for private property, personal responsibility, free enterprise, and the understanding (belief), that these gifts are rights from God as explained in the Word of God. Government can only take rights away. It cannot bestow God given rights on anyone.

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When Moving Day Comes: CreateSpace to KDP

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Among my indie author friends, I am seeing a good deal of excitement and concern over the fact that CreateSpace, the go-to print book destination for many of us, is closing down. Our books will now be merged with Kindle Direct Publishing. I am going through this conversion now, and, with 50 titles in print, you can imagine it made me a bit nervous. For the most part the transition has been pretty smooth. I will share the steps in my process in order, and hope to help with what is easy and what is a bit tricky.

Most of us have gotten an email announcing the changeover. Some were able to go straight to CreateSpace and follow three easy steps to transfer books. Some of us, however, were a bit bewildered when we didn’t find any way to activate the process. I was able to take the first step, to verify and link up the two accounts. but that was as far as it went. I waited very impatiently, followed other author comments as they got the nod and did the switch. Nothing for me.

Then one day I had to send a question to KDP. That’s when I saw that one of the things you could ask them about was the changeover. When I clicked on that option, the ability to make the transfer blossomed before my eyes. So I took the plunge and made the transfer. Almost all the books came over very easily. Time will tell if there are problems with the books themselves, but so far it went very easily.

I saw that other people were still talking about the transfer. Some mentioned that there were a few things to be aware of. I wanted to share those here to try to get everything in one place.

  1. You may need to link some print and ebook files manually. Just run through your bookshelf list and see if they all appear to be linked up on your KDP dashboard. If not, follow the instructions. It does a search for the same/similar title and links them up.
  2. You will have access to two more keyword slots. Be sure to take advantage of those.
  3. You can choose one more BISAC category. This helps with discoverability.
  4. You will want to check worldwide rights to potentially reach readers in more countries.
  5. Check your prices and royalties. KDP print figures them differently, especially on shorter works. Adjust as needed.

Here are a couple more items that won’t affect everyone, it seems, but they have affected me.

  1. After changing my books over to KDP print, I got an email saying I would need to change my Benny and the Bank Robber study guides. They implied I wasn’t the author of the original works (I am), or that the original work isn’t included (it is). Happily, when I explained, they published the student and teacher editions without changes.
  2. The first time I tried to publish a print book directly through KDP print, I couldn’t get it to accept my cover. I’ve been designing print covers for myself and others for years with basically very few problems. But the print preview for this kept showing that the cover was sized and positioned wrong, no matter how much I adjusted. I finally gave up and went back to CreateSpace. But now, there’s no going back. So, yesterday I wanted to redo a book already published on CreateSpace and ported over to to KDP. I had no real problem with the interior. The cover, however, kept coming out too high, text at the top outside the dotted line. But, after a few adjustments, I got it to work, I think. Still waiting for final approval, but it looks good. I am hopeful. I think KDP Print is improving its customer experience and they will get it right.

So take the plunge! Please comment about issues you have had with the changeover. We can all help each other get through this. That’s what the indie author community does best. I’d love to hear how the process went (or is going) for you.

Post by Mary C. Findley image from Pixabay User Fabianne1

 

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