Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lane Changes by S. L. Ellis


Title: Lane Changes
Author: S.L. Ellis
Date of Publication: December 20th 2014

CASSIE CRUISE wants her life back as a kick-ass P. I.
Trouble is, she has zero credibility since bungling a case on reality TV. After a public tantrum, she slinks off to bury her head in the sandy beaches of Southwest Florida.

Just as she starts over as the owner of The Big Prick tattoo shop, a body is discovered in the trunk of her burning car. Cassie’s aware there are those who’d get in line for their turn to torch her car. But murder?

You don’t have to like her, but you damn well better respect her. And get out of her way—this is one case she intends to solve, with or without an audience

Maybe I wasn’t the best PI around, but none of my cases had been likely to get me killed—until now…

Lane grabbed my arm, pulled me in front of her, and shoved me toward the hallway.
“I can walk on my own.” I shrugged her hand off my shoulder. Everything my eyes landed on I measured for use as a weapon.
“Go sit.”
I walked to the lanai and flipped the light on. She flipped the light off and grabbed my hair to steer me toward the chair. The moon was huge, white, and in position with the tops of the palm trees. I blinked and slid my eyes toward the closed and barred sliding doors.
“How’d you get in?” I asked.
“Jimmied your side garage door. You really need a deadbolt on that if you’re not going to lock the inside door.”
“Well, shit.” I couldn’t believe I’d been so concerned with the sliding doors and not the side door. After all, it’s how I got in to her house.
“I’m sorry to have to do this,” she said and gave my hair an extra twist. “I just couldn’t think of a cleaner plan.”
“I could help. There are nicer plans. Maybe you didn’t give it enough thought?”
“You’re so weird all the time,” she said.
Moonlight radiated from the barrel of the revolver, a Ruger Single Six. I hid my panic while Lane backed in to the chair next to mine. She still had my hair in her hand, pulling out hair and stretching my scalp with each inch she moved. Tears came to my eyes, and then she let go of my hair.
“Do you think anyone would be surprised if you’re found floating in the pool?” Lane asked, once she situated in the chair and had the revolver aimed at me just so.

Cassie is a woman who is now living in Florida, owns a tattoo shop and has few friends. She has been hiding ever since her life as a PI went to hell due to messing up on a case on her reality show. Cassie has been living a quiet life working at the shop, spending time with her friend and her fiancee.

Things went to hell for her when her car went up in flames in her driveway and then there was a body found in the trunk of her car. Needless to say, this doesn't help her settle in and live a calm life. Cassie is trying to help figure out who is the body in the trunk of her car and why someone did this to her.

Her neighbor Lane asks her to look into finding her father. However, something seems off to Cassie ....  Lane seems to be changing personalities. Will Cassie be able to figure out why someone burned her car and stuffed a body in the trunk? Will Cassie be able to help her neighbor with finding her father? Will Cassie be able to figure out what is going on with her neighbor and why she seems to be changing?

If you like mystery novels that have a great family around the main character, pick this one up. It reminds me a lot of the Stephanie Plum Novels.

How did you come up with the idea for this story? 
When we moved to Florida, we stayed for a time in a subdivision full of retirees.  The neighbor across the way, however, was in her 30’s, blond, slim, and attractive. She just didn’t fit, which got me thinking about why she would move to a neighborhood of older people. Was she hiding from something or someone?  And, well, you get the picture…

Where do you find your inspiration? 
I am inspired to write when I read. The better the book, the more I’m inspired and eager to write.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
I am easily distracted. Any shiny thing will get me going into another direction and I have to dig deep to find the will power to keep going and finish the story before beginning another.

What are your current projects?
I am working on the next in the Cassie Cruise, Private Investigator series, and I’m 30,000 words into a historical (late 1880’s – early 1900’s) novel with a strong, female protagonist. She has visions of gloom and doom and, as you might imagine, isn’t the most popular person in the village when her visions come true.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
Just that people aren’t always what they seem to be.  They aren’t always what they present to the world.

Does music play any type of role in your writing? 
Music is an important part of my writing. I like to remind myself how few words make up the lyrics to most of the songs that I love. They tell a story and convey emotion in under 200 words. I strive to keep my writing tight while still telling the story.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life? 
Experiences are things (conversations, emotions, adventures, work) you’ve participated in and felt internally.

What books have influenced your life most?
I loved and learned so much from a handful of biographies found in school libraries, but beyond those, any book written by Catherine Cookson, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Mary Stewart began my love of reading genre fiction.  

Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest? 
It’s best to say “newly discovered authors” because my TBR pile/list is huge and an author may have been published for years before I get around to reading them.  Authors who’ve recently caught my interest and have become an obsession are Gillian Flynn, Elizabeth Hand, Ariana Franklin, Gil Adamson, and William Gay.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I welcome all reviews.  How else will I learn and grow as a writer if I don’t listen to my readers?  I say all, but there is the one I’m not looking forward to reading.  I recently gave a memoir writer (who I’ll not name), an honest two star review and she wrote a response comment blaming it on a “tussle” we had in a forum.  I’m not looking forward to her “revenge” review only because I won’t allow myself to respond to it.  I have so many clever and snarky things to say to her, but won’t give her any more of my time and attention.

How can readers discover more about you and your work? 
I have an author page on Facebook (facebook.com/slelliscassiecruise) and my website is www.cassiecruise.com.  The blog posts on the website are written in Cassie Cruise’s voice, but I write the book reviews that you’ll see on that site.

Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise? 
I write wherever and whenever I get a chance.  Sometimes it’s only a sentence or two, so my progress on most projects is at a snail’s pace.  

Why did you choose to write [genre] stories?  
Genre stories are typically about characters and their actions, reactions, thoughts and behaviors.  That’s what interests me and that’s what I write.

What is for you the perfect book hero? 
A flawed, tough-minded, person who’ll always stand on their own, but isn’t afraid to show their loyalty to their loved ones.

When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively? 
I’m not a plotter.  I have key points written, but everything else occurs organically during the writing.

When and why did you begin writing? 
In 1996, I began my attempts at writing as a way to understand everything I was feeling when a family member was convicted of a very serious crime.  The story was a failure as far as the writing, but I did come to terms with my feelings regarding the conviction.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I needed (and still need) validation, so I didn’t really believe in my writing until I won a contest for a short story and it was published in an anthology.

List three books you have recently read and would recommend.  
1. Two Guys Detective Agency, Stephanie Bond
2.  Burial Rites, Hannah Kent
3. The Impossible Wish, Christine Nolfi

Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do.
Most people would be surprised to know I was afraid of driving an automobile and avoided getting a license for a long time, but purchased and taught myself to drive a motorcycle in a matter of days.
Will you write more about these characters? 
Lane Changes is the first in the Cassie Cruise, Private Investigator series. My hope is to write about Cassie, Janice, RJ, and Brick for a long time.

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S.L. Ellis came from a small town in Michigan, and after a few decades of winter she was ready for a fresh start. A move to Florida and a few days on the beach improved her disposition a hundred-fold, and it was here that writing became more than a thought. Classes were taken, workshops worked, and a few books written. 

Ellis's short story "A Brush With Death" was published in Vol. 12 DARK TALES, a UK magazine and reviewed by: Vince A. Liaguno, Dark Scribe Magazine, Anthology Reviews: "A Brush with Death is a solid, at times poignant, chiller in which a dying woman--who knows death well after a lifetime of obsession--makes a deal with the Grim Reaper. Ellis's keen observations on aging and death are spot-on." Her short story "If the Shoe Fits" was accepted for publication in HARDLUCK STORIES for its final issue. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and ITW.

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