Sequel exposes dark side of tourism in Florida

If tourism is the lifeblood of Florida, the killers in Tourist in Paradise are intent on draining the state dry. Whether they succeed depends on a female sleuth who moved to the Sunshine State to escape this kind of violence.

What CW McCoy finds is a tsunami of corruption and deceit as she battles punks and politicians in the second in the McCoy series of mystery/suspense novels.

TIP covers top bookThe stakes are high for residents of the fictional city of Spanish Point, a tony resort town located between Tampa and Naples on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When a gunman mistakes CW for a wealthy tourist, the real estate agent is thrust into a series of crimes that pit visitor against visitor. Is the violence the start of a full-blown war on tourists? Or are the attacks a smokescreen for an even greater threat?

And if CW unmasks the killers, will it spell the end of her career, her friends and her life?

Published by Allusion Books, Tourist in Paradise is the sequel to Peak Season, a book Kirkus Reviews calls “an entertaining mystery romp.” The crime novel is available through Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble in both e-book and trade paperback formats. Readers can view the book trailer at or YouTube.

Fans of Janet Evanovich, Robert B. Parker, Ruth Rendell and Chelsea Cain should enjoy the book.

I hope you’re one of them.

All the news that’s fit to break

Fans of “The Office” will enjoy the mockumentary format of the new book trailer for Peak Season, which came out in audio last week.

Breaking News 'Peak Season' trailer.jpgIn a tongue-in-cheek takeoff of shows like “Entertainment Tonight,” the broadcaster casts the debut of the CW McCoy crime series as breaking news, giving it the proper gravitas, with a bit of wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

Here’s the video. (You can also watch it on YouTube.) Enjoy the show.


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Beach-town thriller ‘Peak Season’ debuts in audio

I heard CW McCoy before I saw her face.

The heroine of my first crime novel was listening to a fugitive con artist make the case for clearing his name. CW did what I bet most former police officers would do: she kicked the guy to the curb.

Feisty, I thought, from the low, smooth voice to the Spenser-like banter. Maybe I should take notes.

I did, and the result was Peak Season, a novel set in the tony Florida beach town of Spanish Point. The work came out this summer in ebook and paperback formats. And while that satisfied my itch for publication, I kept hearing the dialog and realized CW wanted her own voice.

She has finally gotten it. After months of preparation, Peak Season is now available as an audiobook through Amazon, Audible and iTunes. The recording sounds just as I envisioned it, thanks to the powerful narration by Pamela Almand, who captures CW’s grit as well as the nuanced voices of her mentor, friends and enemies.

At first I had some doubts. Everyone said that writing from a woman’s point of view would prove challenging. So it felt like a victory to hear Pam bring the fellow risk-taker to life. CW may surrender her gun and badge but she will never surrender her spirit, and Pam’s rich tone and nuanced reading make that spirit sound very real.

If you’re a fan of Lorelei King’s wonderful rendition of the Stephanie Plum books, you’ll enjoy Pam Almand. It’s a voice that will ring in your ears long after she turns the last page.

You can listen to a free excerpt of Peak Season at Audible or iTunes.

Peak Season Audible

Judging a book by its cover

I remember the day it it finally arrived . . . the cover for the Kindle version of Peak Season, the first in the CW McCoy series of crime novels. With its palm-tree sunset and police motif, the artwork reflected the setting and theme of the book—the fictional city of Spanish Point and the dilemma narrator CW (Candace) McCoy faces in her new life: how to live in peace while surrounded by violence.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00064]Here she is, working in a resort town in Florida, selling beach homes to the uber-rich, sailing with a former police commander and kayaking with a hunk who manages more money than the Philadelphia Mint. Paradise by most standards. If it weren’t so dangerous, she’d find the situation ironic.

That’s a lot to ask a designer to convey. Even more taxing is translating emotional nuance into something people can see.

I know, I’ve tried. Back when I made my living as an art director as well as a writer, I designed the cover and interior of my first published work of nonfiction, the Spirit of Swiftwater. It proved challenging but fun. I selected objects that embodied the theme, hired a terrific photographer (David Coulter), designed the cover in Quark and handed the whole thing to the printer.

Fast forward a dozen years to a technology that has outrun my ability to comprehend it. The applications are new and utterly complex. I tried designing a cover for Peak Season in Photoshop and cringed. Time to get professional help.

I found Rick Smith’s how-to book CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass on Amazon and followed it to a site called Fiverr. There I found a person in Bulgaria who created a design that’s provocative, attractive and professional.

But it’s your opinion that counts. Can you judge a book by its cover? Has a cover ever made you want to read a book?

Writing from the distaff side of life

It’s time to switch genders.

In the genre of mystery and suspense, women have pioneered a tradition of writing as men: Agatha Christie, Elizabeth George, Ruth Rendell, Martha Grimes. Poirot, Linley, Wexford, Jury . . . masculine characters come alive in the hands of female writers. The men seem real, the writing accepted by the public.

But what happens when men write about the distaff side of life?

Peak Season 3D cover 375x548Sure, men have written about women since cave days. Their work ranges from sparkling (Robert B. Parker’s Susan Silverman) to riotous (P.G. Wodehouse’s characterization of Honoria Glossop and other females in the Jeeves and Wooster stories). But when it comes to getting into women’s heads, do men get it right?

Some authors seem to meet the challenge without effort: Anthony Doerr’s blind French girl, Marie Laure, in All the Light We Cannot See and Tony Hillerman in Listening Woman. Others, like Parker in his Sunny Randall series, seem to present female versions of their male characters.

Ignorant or undaunted, I’ve entered the fray with Peak Season, a novel about a former detective who surrenders her gun, her badge her and confidence after shooting a fellow officer. Moving to Southwest Florida to care for her ailing grandfather, CW McCoy swears off violence until a fugitive kidnaps her family and she’s forced to decide which side of the law she’s on.

In portraying life through CW’s eyes, I’ve steered clear of stereotypical male and female roles. She swears off guns but will defend herself. She longs for a relationship but doesn’t make it her life’s pursuit. Even while navigating the mostly male world of law enforcement, she puts a high premium on family and friends, qualities exhibited by both women and men.

When I began the CW McCoy series, I wondered whether I could voice the feelings of a woman. Now I wonder about a more practical question: can the public embrace that voice?