Sunday, July 14, 2024

Get to Know a Little About Me and My New Release - Catch a Tiger by the Toe - By Joe Congel

Last year I entered the world of the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles when my first novel for the series was released in August 2023. 

Second Chances was well received, and I have all of my readers and the support of my fellow Underground Authors to thank for that. My main character, Brandon Turner, packed up his life in New York City and found himself a home in small town Magnolia Bluff, Texas. He'd spent many years as a narcotics detective for the NYPD before making the decision to retire. There's only so much big city crime and the problems and accusations that come along with it that one man can take.

So what happens? He moves to a small town in the Texas Hill Country that rivals the body count per capita of the city he just left behind. And of course, as soon as the local police find out who he is and what he used to do for a living, they immediately tap on his shoulder for help solving a murder. 

Now, almost a year later, he's settled into his new home and enjoying his retirement. But not for long...

Catch a Tiger by the Toe: Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles, Book 26 is my newest entry into a mystery series that's now three years strong. I've ramped up the action in this one. I believe it's an exciting suspense-filled mystery-thriller that will keep you up turning the pages long past your bedtime.

The release date is Tuesday July 23, 2024

I'm looking forward to getting this book into your hands and I'm hoping you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Preorder your copy TODAY for the limited time price of 99¢ by clicking here: Catch a Tiger


Here is the blurb from the back cover of the book:

Two kids dead. A killer daring the Magnolia Bluff police to catch him. Who will win this deadly contest between good and evil?

A child is snatched from her stroller and murdered. Seventy-two hours later, a little boy suffers the same fate. The only clues are a couple of photos, an old counting nursery rhyme, a flash drive, and a stuffed toy animal left near each of the bodies. Is it the work of a killer preying on children--or something even worse? Retired NYPD detective Brandon Turner is in a race against time as he hunts for a killer--before another child dies.

Once again asked to work alongside the local police, Turner finds himself clashing with the lead investigator as they set their sights on stopping a madman killer who is forcing them into a sick game of "catch me if you can."

Police Chief Tommy Jager and Sergeant Investigator Reece Sovern are counting on Turner's skills as a former big city cop to help them rein in the terror in the hearts of every parent in a little town nestled along the Texas Hill Country called Magnolia Bluff.


A little about me:

I was born in Syracuse, NY and spent the first thirty-five years of my life battling the exceedingly long winters and enjoying the few days of summer that creep in between the snowflakes each year. 

Now I call Charlotte, NC home. Been here since 1995. Great weather nearly year-round. I can honestly say I have never unpacked the winter parka I brought from New York. Light jacket or a sweatshirt occasionally, but most of the time, I wear a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. The mandatory retirement outfit men wear when living in the south... Lol.

I helped raise two wonderful kids who've grown to become two extraordinary adults. I am enormously proud of them both and feel privileged to be their dad. I've also been blessed with three amazing grandchildren. I'm a very lucky man.

When I was a much younger person, I was a pretty good tennis player. My creaky arthritic knees have robbed me of that pleasure, but I keep up with the sport and watch all the major tournaments during the year. I'm also a BIG baseball fan. Most summer evenings you will find me watching an MLB game on television or if the local MiLB team is home, you might find me at the ballpark watching the game while enjoying a hotdog and a beer. I've been to several major league games in several different major league ballparks over the years. One of my biggest baseball highlights was going to a World Series game with my son a couple of years ago.

I own several guitars - my favorite being my Gibson SG '61 reissue (if you know, you know) and even used to play in a band--mostly (classic) rock and roll--and I'm still known to pluck a little here and there.

My writing -

I'm a member of the Underground Authors, the WolfPackAuthors, the Charlotte Writers Club and Sisters in Crime International as well as the local Charlotte chapter, Queen City Suspects.

I've written several short stories - mostly for myself. I do have a short story included in each of the two WolfPackAuthors anthology books as well as a collection of shorts I self-published. You can find them all on my Amazon page here: Joe's Books

Besides penning two Magnolia Bluff books, I also have a PI/Detective Mystery series. It's called The Razzman Mystery Crime Files and stars my sometimes-snarky private eye, Tony Razzolito AKA the Razzman. He's joined by his girlfriend, Karen Daugherty, his partner in the PI biz, Scott McHenry, a tough as nails, soft as silk police captain, Rita O'Connor, John Cahill, a police detective that doesn't think much of PI's, his partner, Detective Lucy Havens, who keeps him grounded, and a semi-mob connected enforcer, Vinnie Gabrianno. Mixed all together, they help me write, what I think is a pretty darn good private detective mystery series. Of course, you're welcome to judge for yourself by clicking here where you can learn more about the books and maybe even read a few: Razzman Series

The Razzman Mystery Crime Files Series
- A Modern Take on the Hardboiled Detective -


You can check out all the books in the 

Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles series here: MBCC Series

Plenty of good stories - Plenty of good reading


As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. And of course, your thoughts and comments are always welcome. 😊

You can find my books here: The Razzman Mystery Crime Files

Until next time...😎

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Meet Author April Nunn Coker: Newest member of The Underground Authors

Author April Nunn Coker's first Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles novel, Just Dying to Glamp is releasing this week on Thursday June 20th. It's available for preorder NOW. Although this is the first book she's written for the series, it is book 25 overall. As a member of the Underground Authors myself, I am proud to welcome her into the fold. 

I had the opportunity to preview some of Just Dying to Glamp, and I'm very excited for April's work to be a part of the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles family. This is a wonderful addition to the series, and I know you're all going to love it!

You can get your copy of Just Dying to Glamp for the limited time price of just 99¢ by clicking here: MBCC - book 25

April is an accomplished writer with several published books under her belt, including her romantic suspense series, The Keeper Trilogy, inspired by her husband's life as a zookeeper. She has been writing since the age of ten, but it was many years before her dream of becoming a published author came true. She was a public school teacher and administrator for thirty years and raised two children along with her husband, whom she recently lost to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Her first book, published in 2006, was a tongue-in-cheek guide to saving money at Christmas time. It was born out of her need to respond to an especially hectic holiday season where she exhausted herself spending and doing way too much. 

April is also a freelance writer, whose work has appeared in professional education journals, teacher magazines, and a society magazine. She resides in East Texas with her Boston terrier Stella and stays busy writing, glamping, traveling, tutoring, thrift shopping, and spending time with her three grandchildren. 

You can learn more about April and find all of her books here: April's Amazon Page


Here is the blurb from Just Dying to Glamp:

For Newly widowed Mamie West, it's time to get out of the house and do something. She has no

idea what she is getting herself into.

After buying the vintage camper of her dreams at a local used car lot, she joins the Gals Gone Glamping. At her first campout, one of the Three Gees is found murdered in her own campsite. Mamie soon discovers a cryptic note in the woman's RV, but when the same note is left for her, she becomes the sleuth, trying to figure out who the killer is before she becomes the next victim. Along with her sidekick, Boston terrier Babs, she captures the interest of Magnolia Bluff police officer, Nick Vandegan, who not only investigates the murder but is willing to offer his protection to women, especially Mamie.

Who would want to kill an innocent, fun-loving, adventurous woman on a camping trip?

Will Mamie's curiosity and determination to solve the mystery get her more than she bargained for?


You can find all the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles mystery books by clicking here: MBCC Series


As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. And of course, your thoughts and comments are always welcome. 😊

You can find my books here: The Razzman Mystery Crime Files

Until next time...😎

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Keeping Myself Sharp - What I've Learned by Writing Short Stories

When I first decided to be a writer, I went all in and started with a full-length novel. I had no idea what I was doing and figured, how hard could it be? I'd been reading fiction novels forever and, in some cases, just felt I could do a better job at it than a particular New York Times bestselling author who had probably been writing since I was in diapers and had several books to his name. I had an awful lot of confidence for someone who hadn't put a word on a page since getting out of school. Yet, I was going to knock this guy off the bestseller's list.

Now as any writer who's been practicing their craft for any length of times knows, I was in for a rude awakening and several hard lessons. Fast forward several years and having written five full-length fiction novels at this point, with my sixth being released this July, I've picked up a few things along the way. First and foremost, I believe I'm a much better writer than I was when I wrote Dead is Forever. Second, I've worked hard to keep any lessons learned and skills I've gained sharp since that first book, by writing short stories in between the full-length stuff. And third, I've still got a lot to learn.

I've written many shorts over the years. I've published a few, but most have never seen the light of day. Scribbles on my Word program meant for my eyes only. They were not written with any thought of publication. The sole responsibility of these works of fiction are simply to keep my head in the game between my actual writing projects.

Writing a short piece of fiction can be cathartic as well as educational for me. Some of the stories are much darker than others and allow me an outlet for when I'm feeling anything short (pun intended) of amazing... which happens often. Writing short stories between the full novels also helps me from coming down with a severe case of writer's block. It keeps the juices flowing and my mind thinking outside the box.

I enjoy the process of working through scaling down a story to fit a self-imposed, predetermined word or page count. It forces me to get to the heart of the action. It helps me to understand how far along the conflict or pain or life changing event my protagonist is experiencing should be when the story begins. It also keeps me in tune on where I need to exit the narrative, leaving the reader to understand the character's world continues beyond the ending. The shorts still need structure with some sort of beginning, middle, and end, but the art is in how to become more succinct in telling the character's story in as little as a hundred words or up to maybe a max of five-thousand words. You begin to grasp what details need to stay and what needs to be left out. You lose the luxury of having a lot of words at your disposal to describe a scene or how a character is dressed -- learning the skill of using the right words to quickly create a picture in a reader's mind becomes a necessity. Less becomes more with the ability to rely on your readers to fill in the blanks.

Who knows? Maybe one day I'll package up some of the shorts I consider to be worthy of being read by others and put them into an anthology or two. But for now, I'm happy to just let them continue to help me improve my craft by keeping my mind and focus sharp, and I hope, each book I write better than the last.  


As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. And of course, your thoughts and comments are always welcome. 😊

You can find my books here: The Razzman Mystery Crime Files

Until next time...😎


Monday, May 20, 2024

Book Twenty-Four is now LIVE! Courtin' Disaster by Cindy Davis - Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles

Courtin' Disaster is not just a beautiful ballad by Neil Diamond, it's also the title of the newest Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles novel by Cindy Davis. This is Cindy's fourth book in the series and it's terrific. If you've read any of the other books she's written for the series, you're aware of Bliss Jager's strange relationship with song lyrics. This time around, as you might've guessed, she can't escape the Neil Diamond song catalog. Hopefully, between the clues found inside the song lyrics and the clues provided by Diablo, her super perceptive toucan, Bliss will be able to help catch a murderer.

You can get your copy of Courtin' Disaster for the limited time price of just 99¢ by clicking here: MBCC Book 24


Here is the blurb from the book:

Can a yellow throat toucan, and lyrics from Neil Diamond songs, help Bliss solve the murder of a local woman competing in the annual fishing derby?

The phone rings at the crack of dawn. Life for Bliss, Whitney, and Hannah shoots rapidly out of control. First, the only fisherman at the derby is found in her ex-husband's BBQ smoker. Even though Lucy's less-than-sparkling personality offers up a truly diverse group of suspects, her on-again-off-again relationship with the ex makes him the leading suspect. But was it possible for the 120-pounds-soaking-wet man to lift the muscular woman alone?

Next, another murder--also a tournament competitor, and VP at the bank. As far as Bliss knows, the two people's lives never crossed. Is it a coincidence they both die of an insulin overdose? Strange that each of their spouses are diabetics.

A visit in the form of Whitney's deceased exe's brother drops another snag in the day. Nobody "just passes" through Magnolia Bluff, Texas. What's behind Matt's sudden appearance and persistent demands for money?

As the girls decode clues brought by Diablo the toucan, a Tibetan monk arrives to perform a ceremony to transition Merrick's ghost from the general store to the girls' home. Unfortunately, Matt's interference sends Merrick's spirit shooting into the ether. Can they get him back, or is he lost forever?


I love Cindy Davis's books. I have read several and she is a master storyteller. She is best known for her murder mysteries and romantic suspense, many of which were set in her home state of New Hampshire. Her books have achieved considerable success over the years. Now, a transplant of Florida, she has found herself moving more toward New Age fiction written with her husband Rick.

She is an award-winning freelance editor who's worked in both fiction and nonfiction with over a thousand authors.

You can learn more about Cindy and her work by visiting the following links:

Cindy's Blog

Cindy's Website

The Fiction Doctor



You can learn more about the entire series (and even buy a book or two)
 by clicking here: 


As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. And of course, your thoughts and comments are always welcome. 😊

You can find my books here: The Razzman Mystery Crime Files

Until next time...😎

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Where Do Your Ideas Come From? One Of The Most Asked Questions

One of the most asked questions a writer gets is this one - "Where do you get your ideas from?" - or some other variation of that same question. It can be one of the easiest and hardest questions to answer. And there are as many different answers as there are people writing. I've heard everything from they come from my real-life experiences to the idea fairy, to they come to me in my dreams, and everything in between. I even heard one author tell his audience that his ideas come from magic, and I supposed there may be some truth to that answer.

I mainly write private investigator mystery novels and I find it hard to define exactly where my ideas for the storylines come from. All I really know when I sit down in front of a blank page is that someone will be murdered. But here is a peek at what sparked the idea for the first of my four novels in the Razzman Mystery Crime Files series.

Dead is Forever: This was my first book ever and comes closest to my real life than anything else I've written since. Now don't misunderstand, not close as in the murder and all the shenanigans that happen around it. More like the closest to my life as in the relationships and some of the scenes and conversation between the characters. I knew I wanted to write a murder mystery and I was going through some, let's call it, issues, at the time. Now don't read anything into this that really isn't there, but the murder part of the story just seemed to form from there. 

The story is set in both Syracuse, NY, where I grew up, and Charlotte, NC, where I've lived for almost thirty years. And except for the names being changed, my protagonist, Tony Razzolilto, his friends, the relationships, and the places they hang out at were all drawn from real life. As far as the murders, the people who committed them, and the circumstances behind the plot were all obviously a fabrication used to construct a murder mystery. This book is more of a whydunit rather than a whodunit style of mystery as the reader knows early on who the antagonist is, yet the reasons behind his heinous acts are revealed as the story unfolds. But the real question is where the idea came from for the actual murder mystery part, and that is the conundrum. And all I can say is damned if I know. As a pantser, I discover the story as it unfolds. It comes from some part of my brain as I'm typing and flows through my fingertips onto the blank page. 

So, in Dead is Forever, I find it hard to describe where the idea for the murder plot came from. The backdrop and all the good-guy characters came from what I knew best at the time--my family and friends, relationships, places I frequented, and the two cities where I've lived. Easy-peasy. I'd like to say that I carried through the series with all those same familiarities. But, no, I threw a wrench in the whole thing with all the books going forward. In the second book, Deadly Passion, I advanced the timeline by about five years, so I could make Tony a more seasoned PI, and the only carry over from the first book is the Charlotte location--which is now where all the stories take place--the main character, Tony Razzolito, Scott McHenry, who is the PI he worked with during the Charlotte, NC scenes as well as Rita O'Connor, the Charlotte police captain. Everyone and everything else were left behind in the first book.

I've never had an idea for a storyline come from an idea fairy or from my dreams, although I have dreamt about my characters while I'm actively writing a new story. The latter has helped me solve a few jams my characters were in--or more to the point, the corner I was in that I was trying to write myself back out of. And, yes, I'm fully aware that if I was more of a plotter or an outliner rather than a pantser/discovery writer, I might not write myself into those corners. But where's the fun in that?

Nowadays, my ideas mostly come from the oddest places. For instance, the idea for Dirty Air, the third novel in the Razzman series, came from reading an article in a racing magazine I was flipping through while in a Walmart. And I didn't even read the whole thing. I was fascinated with the first part of the article which had to do with the turbulent air currents caused by the lead race car compromising the aerodynamics of the car behind it, which could cause the second car to lose control. Apparently, this can be used as a racing strategy. Not being a big NASCAR fan, it seemed to me that it was kind of a dirty strategy, thus the term 'dirty air' since the air is deemed dirty in that situation for the cars behind the lead car, which causes the control issues. 

The words, dirty air stuck with me. When it was time for me to start the third book in the series, and living in Charlotte, where stock car racing is huge, I constructed an entire storyline around the words, dirty air, and even used those words for the title of the book. I had never thought of writing a mystery with racing as a part of the story, and if I hadn't happened to have seen that article, probably never would have written Dirty Air.

Coming up with ideas for a story is not as hard as one might think. The hard part, at least for me, is fleshing that idea out across two-hundred and sixty or more pages and having it all fit together in the end. THAT is the question that should be asked - not where do our ideas come from, but how do you take that germ of an idea and make it grow into a full-length novel. Because that's where the magic truly happens. 


As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. And of course, your thoughts and comments are always welcome. 😊

You can find my books here: The Razzman Mystery Crime Files

Until next time...😎

Monday, April 15, 2024

Don't Miss RC & JP Carter's Magnolia Bluff Debut!

Rob and Joan Carter are two of the busiest and most respected people in our industry. Under their pen names, RC & JP Carter, they are the talented writing team behind the award-winning O'Rourke Crime Novels series. They also host the extremely popular Meet the Author Podcast every Wednesday evening and are paranormal investigators as well as active members of the Tampa Bay Spirits Paranormal Research Group based in Tampa Bay Florida. The latter spawned a second podcast called Haunted Campfire Tales, where Rob and Joan, along with other paranormal investigators from the Tampa Bay team, host a monthly livestream show dedicated to conversation and stories centered around everything and anything to do with paranormal activity. And if their plate wasn't already full enough with all of that, they also find time to publicize and support other indie authors every single day through their Indie Book Source website.

Last year Rob and Joan were invited to join and become permanent members of the Guild of Underground Authors writers group and participate in our Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles project. The result is the April 20th release of A Chance Of A Ghost, book 23 in the series. I have to say, I'm very excited about this addition to an already wonderful series. As paranormal investigators, the couple know their way around a story with a fun, haunted twist.

Whether you've already enjoyed the first 22 books in the series or you're discovering the Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles for the first time with this book, all can be read as standalone novels. Of course, I highly recommend reading them all for maximum enjoyment! And, if you haven't done so yet, you can order the entire series here: MBCC Series

You can order your copy of A Chance Of A Ghost for the limited time special price of just 99¢ by clicking here: A Chance Of A Ghost

From the back cover of the book:

Danny & Maria have moved their young family from Tampa, Florida to the outskirts of Magnolia Bluff, Texas. They have spent the last year and a half renovating an old Victorin mansion. It had been neglected for years and needed a lot work. Now, most of the work is done. During renovations they would hear things go bump in the night, Floorboards would creak. Sometimes, tools would be found in very odd places. They did not think much of that until their son woke up screaming for them in the middle of the night. He had seen a shadowy man at the foot of his bed. Danny immediately called his cousin Mike in Tampa.

Mike and his wife are paranormal investigators with Tampa Bay Spirits. As soon as they got the call, they packed up their car and headed west. While enroute to Magnolia Bluff, Maureen sees in her mind's eye a shadowy figure walking through the house. The closer they get to Magnolia Bluff, the stronger Mike feels someone in Magnolia Bluff will be murdered.

Is Mike's premonition correct? Is there a shadowy figure walking through the mansion? Who is the shadowy figure? Why is he there? What is lurking in the attic? Who is in danger? What else will the team discover during their visit in peaceful Magnolia Bluff?


I don't know about you, but a chill just ran up my spine!😧


You can learn more about the Carters and their books here: RC & JP Carter Bio and books

Connect with the Meet the Author Podcast here: Meet the Author

Connect with Tampa Bay Spirits here: Tampa Bay Spirits


As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. And of course, your thoughts and comments are always welcome. 😊

You can find my books here: The Razzman Mystery Crime Files

Until next time...😎

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Best & Worst Advice

I was listening to a Sisters in Crime podcast the other day and it got me thinking about the best and the worst advice I'd ever received as a writer. What struck me at the time was the answer for the worst advice given to the featured guest writer. The interview was with Katherine Hall Page, and she said that it wasn't exactly advice that was given to her, but more like a catch-all phrase that she felt was terrible advice:

Write what you know.

It may be good advice in general, but her thought is that it's much more interesting to write what you don't know. I agree. As a writer of mysteries, I've never committed a murder, yet I write about them in all my books. I certainly didn't know how to do that before writing about it. And even now, I wouldn't be good at it in real life because it's something I really don't know about. I've also never been involved in a kidnapping, but I wrote about a judge being kidnapped in one of the short stories included in my book, The Razzman Chronicles.

Of course, that doesn't mean that including scenes from cities I've lived in or places I'm familiar with is a bad idea. Using those places in my stories enhance the enjoyment for myself and the reader because it's what I know. So, in some cases writing what you know, does actually work for me as a mystery writer.

As for good advice I've received, here are a few of my favorites that I've actually taken:

Join a writing community.

This can be in the form of a local critique group with some of your peers, an organization be it local or national, or one of several social media outlets. 

I am somewhat active on a couple of the social media sites - X(Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the four where I spend most of my social media time. I've met some incredibly talented writers on these sites who also just happen to be wonderful people. I'm a member of the Charlotte Writers Club where I live, and I recently joined the national Sisters in Crime organization as well as the local chapter, Queen City Suspects (yes, men are welcome to join). I also listen to and occasionally interact with writing/writers/readers podcasts. My two favorites are Meet the Author Podcast, hosted by Rob and Joan Carter and The Charlotte Readers Podcast, hosted by Landis Wade, Sarah Archer, and Hannah Larrew. I've been a guest on Rob and Joan's show a few times and I've had a couple of blogposts posted on The Charlotte Readers Podcast website as well as being asked by the hosts to record them for playback on their show.

Do the research.

This is an important piece of advice. My mystery series takes place in Charlotte, NC and just because I live here doesn't mean I'm familiar with everything in the city and surrounding areas. For example, in my novel, Dirty Air, I had to spend hours researching the world of NASCAR and illegal street racing. Did I use everything I learned in the book? Of course not, but it gave me a sense of security and confidence that I could write the story without worrying about whether I was authentically portraying the characters and scenes. Another example was a short story I wrote where several of the scenes take place in Jamaica. I've never been to Jamaica, so research was a crucial part of making sure the story rang true for those scenes.

Carve out a writing schedule and stick to it.

It took me a while to get this one to work for me and I kind of combined it with another piece of advice which is to grow your network to help expand your marketing. Admittedly, since I am now semi-retired this advice has been much easier to make work to my advantage. I work a couple days a week and then have seven or eight days off in a row. The days I'm working my part time job are full eight-hour days and unless I'm against a writing deadline, I don't write on those days. The days off are where my writing schedule is setup. On those days I primarily spend time working on my WIP, and advertising and marketing my work. That includes setting up ads on social media, visiting local bookstores, and networking to get my name and books out there through podcasts, book clubs, the libraries, and anything else that may pop up depending on the month and time of year. I get up early and write a full day on most days and reserve at least two of the days for the advertising and marketing stuff. 

I haven't had any really bad advice. But one piece that's not necessarily bad advice that's been mentioned to me that I haven't taken has to do with my method of writing. The advice was to just get the words on the page and go back later to edit and rewrite. The idea behind that is to not break the flow of writing so you can get that first draft finished. A sense of accomplishment if you will. I admit I've completely ignored that piece of advice. I write around two-thousand words a day - more if I'm really on a roll. The next day, I go back and edit and rewrite what I wrote the day before. I've been told I'm wrong for doing it this way... but I've also been told that there's no one way to write. I choose to go with the latter. 

If there's one thing I've learned through all of this, it's that you need to listen to all the advice. And once you've listened and digested all the advice, do what works best for you. And remember to never stop listening when other writers talk about what advice they've received and what works for them, because you just might learn something new that will work for you too. 



As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. And of course, your thoughts and comments are always welcome. 😊

You can find my books here: The Razzman Mystery Crime Files

Until next time...😎