Spotlight on Death’s Footprint

I’m happy to feature this new release from two Guelph authors.


What’s your life worth? If the price isn’t right….you die.

They call him Dr. Death. Not a surprise. He reminds his philosophy students that we never know when the Grim Reaper will come for us. Before Professor Lucas Stride’s lecture at the Quebec City morgue, he receives a threat. If the extortionist isn’t satisfied with the cash offer, Lucas dies.

Toronto cop, Jordan Blair, arrives for a tryst with private investigator, Darcy Piermont. Sightseeing, fine dining, and blissful hours in Darcy’s bed are on her wish list.

Her plans are derailed after Darcy agrees to try and locate a family friend, missing since the morgue tour with his class. In their search for the professor, Jordan and Darcy uncover a series of crimes that conclude with the reality of — death.

Chapter 6 Excerpt

Tuesday, 3:00 p.m.

Lucas had endured a distinct eau de dog emanating from the carpet in the visiting professors’ apartment at Université Laval. He’d had enough. To celebrate the end of the Death’s Reality summer course, and mark his impending retirement from academia, he checked into the luxurious Fairmont Château Frontenac. He had two full days to relax before the morgue tour. After that, home.

With a contented sigh, he settled into the padded gold and blue-striped easy chair and supported his arthritic knee on the ottoman. He couldn’t put off that knee replacement much longer.

The fifth-floor suite’s old world décor calmed his spirit. He shifted his chair to face the window alcove to watch the cruise ships and barges float along the majestic St. Lawrence River. The bedroom view was equally enchanting, overlooking the chef’s rooftop garden. Tonight, he’d crank open the window and let the scents of lavender and mint help him sleep.

The Rococo wallpaper reminded him of the hotel he and Jolene had stayed in during their trip to France, five years ago, before they knew she was sick. He reached for the tumbler of Revel Stoke Spiced Whiskey.

He inhaled the zesty aroma and savoured the smooth taste of his drink, reflecting back to the day he presented the proposal for this grad course to the department Chair at the University of Waterloo. These days, some department heads were nervous about exposing young minds to unpleasant experiences. To Lucas’s surprise, the Chair approved the proposal and welcomed the short course into the Philosophy Department’s curriculum.

Choosing Université Laval to teach a summer course had given him respite from his empty home in Waterloo, where he half-expected to hear Jolene’s voice calling to him from another room. Despite lecturing others on the stages of grief, he seemed irrevocably stuck in stage 2 — anger.

Enough with the self-pity. Back to work. He put on his glasses and flipped open the folder resting on his knees. Despite his lengthy teaching career, he still felt some apprehension when reading student evaluations. He breezed through fourteen forms, all providing positive comments. One student reported spotting a ghost at the cemetery they visited. Evidently, she considered that incident to be the highlight of the course. The professor shook his head and picked up the final sheet.

One word had been printed across the form in red pen. “SUCKED!!!!”

Lucas laughed out loud and reached for the whiskey bottle. Well, Mr. Jared Kavello, hope you aren’t too disappointed with your failing grade.

Something white slid under the door. He hobbled over and picked up a folded sheet of paper and opened it.

Random letters had been cut from newsprint and pasted on the page. After he read the first line, he supported himself against the wall.




CoUNtRY lOT FOr SaLE ALOnG THe JEaN-LAROSE rIVeR $_________. FIrm. CaLL 555-240-6767 FOr DETAiLs.

Who would do this? Could this be from one of his students? He had used the reference to the Grim Reaper more than once in class. Surely, not even Kavello would stoop this low. Should he warn his son, Greg, and leave the city tonight? Had he ever mentioned where his family lived? There was still Friday’s field trip.

He reached for the phone to call the police. But his fingers froze. No. Corbin’s and Travis’s lives could be jeopardized. He had no choice but to follow the extortionist’s instructions. His head throbbed.

He lay on the couch with a cold, damp washcloth on his forehead in an attempt to ease his headache. The phone clipped to his belt vibrated. He opened an email from his friend, Dorothée Dufresne. Would he meet her at the 1608 Wine and Cheese Bar in the Château at five o’clock? She wanted to introduce him to someone special. Lucas hit the reply key, ready to beg off.

He paused. Dorothée knew he was leaving Québec City in a few days. If he didn’t meet with her and convince her that all was well, she’d hunt him down and pry his secret from him. He accepted her invitation.

His heart raced as he noticed the time. He used his laptop to access the newspaper classified ads department. The English-language Chronicle-Telegraph was a weekly newspaper, publishing Wednesdays. Tomorrow. Twenty minutes until deadline.

How much cash could he access by Friday? With stiff fingers, he provided his credit card information, then typed in the phony ad details. Three minutes to deadline, he entered a figure and hit the Submit button.

Buy Links

Amazon e-book (Canada) | Amazon e-book (U.S.) | Amazon paperback (U.S.)


Donna Warner’s novella, Targeted, published Nov. 2015, is book #1 in the Blair and Piermont crime thriller series. It’s set in the Caribbean on Roatán Island, Honduras. Book #2, Death’s Footprint, published Apr. 2017, takes place in Canada’s historic Québec City. Both Targeted and Death’s Footprint are co-authored with award winning mystery author, Gloria Ferris.

Before joining the fiction writing industry, first as a freelance editor and then as a published author, Donna was communication manager for the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres. Prior to that, she tutored ESL students; taught college-level education courses for ten years; and founded a registered private vocational school.

A keen cottager, Donna enjoys the challenges of climbing in and out of her kayak without getting dunked and trying to outsmart fish. Home is a country property on the outskirts of Guelph, Ontario. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers of Canada.

Website (Personal) | Website (Business) | Amazon Author Page | Email

Gloria Ferris is the award-winning author of the Cornwall & Redfern mysteries that feature serious crimes and far-from-serious protagonists. Death’s Footprint is her second crime thriller, quick read, co-written with author, Donna Warner.

When not writing, Gloria works on character profiles, researches plotlines, reads everything, and is often heard to mutter, “I wish I’d written that!” She is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, the International Thriller Writers, and the Alliance of Independent Authors. Gloria returned to her native Guelph, Ontario, after retiring from her job as procedure writer at a nuclear power plant. She spent more than twenty-five years in Kincardine and Port Elgin, small towns which inspire her mysteries

Website | Amazon Author Page | Email

Meet the Authors–Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner

L-R Gloria Ferris, Donna Warner

L-R Gloria Ferris, Donna Warner

Yesterday, I attended an author event featuring two of my fellow Guelph Partners in Crime, Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner. In addition to reading from their novels, Gloria and Donna shared an interview with the International Thrillers Writers and answered questions from the audience. A lively discussion followed, and several topics were covered, among them e-books vs. print books, reviews, book covers, inspiration, and querying.

Thanks to librarian Chris Fraser for organizing and hosting this event at the Evergreen Seniors’ Community Centre in Guelph.

Librarian - Chris Fraser

Librarian – Chris Fraser


Where to find Gloria…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

Where to find Donna…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

Series Writing

I’m thrilled to welcome Guelph author and editor Donna Warner. Today, Donna shares tips on series writing and her debut novella, Targeted.

Here’s Donna!

book series

Creating a book series can be both rewarding and taxing for an author. Some considerations before taking the plunge into these murky waters are summarized below:

• Your personal time line. Series books are usually released by publishers a year apart. Are you prepared to immerse yourself into the fictional world of your protagonist for many years?

• An intriguing concept should be at the core of every conflict. Will your series be open ended or have a predetermined shelf life? Will the series be a collection of stand-alone books or will each be a continuation of the previous story?

• Which Point of View (POV) will you utilize for each book?

• Character, plot driven, or both? There should be a perfect marriage between plot and characters to sustain the strength of a series.

• Character Roster. Will all characters move through all the books or only the main characters? Do you plan to add new characters as the series progresses?

• Main characters must be memorable and have activities thrust them into situations to test their courage or resolve. Through the course of their adventures, personalities should evolve. Make every crisis relate to their inner development.

• Setting is a time period and space. This is the world you give your characters to dwell in or visit. Decide whether the setting is an integral part of the story or just a backdrop. Once you determine this, you can create a setting that is interesting and believable in the mind of the reader.

• Plot the timelines when you write the first book in the series. Will story timelines be concurrent, consecutive, or will there be overlap?

• Be consistent with the genre of each novel or readers’ expectations won’t be met. Maintain a similar tone or style throughout the series.

• Be thorough with fact-checking. If you have a lot of research material, excess can go into subsequent books.

• Keep readers guessing – avoid getting stuck in a formulaic pattern. Plant clues and connections for future stories within each book. Make notes about how characters, events, and location may intersect and influence each other. Plot high points and incorporate other tension points such as internal conflicts between main characters, secondary characters getting into hot water, or past traumas popping up to haunt the protagonist(s).

• Introduce new questions to deepen mysteries across stories but ensure each book has its own story question, conflict, and resolution. Don’t solve the big questions or resolve all the conflicts in the first book.

• Order of stories. Will it matter if they are read out of order? This will happen so ensure each book is both dependent on and independent of the other books.

• Will the climax of each story leave readers with a different feeling? What about the ultimate climax for the series?

• Each previous book is backstory. Excess backstory can stall the current story’s momentum. Pretend each sequel is the first in the series to avoid the dreaded info dump and avoid repetition when relating snippets of backstory.

• Hook readers’ interest within the first paragraph of each novel. Some authors repeat one book’s closing line as the opening in the next book or provide a sneak peek of the sequel.

• Keep track of essential details. Develop a “bible” of vital statistics or a style sheet of your main character(s), world settings, timelines, etc. Create a draft synopsis for each novel, as you write.

• Become a sketch artist when creating fictional or real settings. Mapping out rooms or crime scenes where your action takes place can help you keep details straight. Tools like Google Earth are helpful to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, etc.

• Be creative with each book and the series’ title. The title will be what represents your work to the rest of the world, now and forever. Aim for interesting, easy to remember titles, appropriate for the genre. A number of famous writers create titles that follow a pattern unique to their series of stories.

Books have personalities. Enjoy the time you spend creating memorable characters and weaving interesting threads to connect your novels. With advance planning, an eye for detail, and a little luck, readers will relish spending time with your series’ character(s) the same way you enjoy immersing yourself in a T.V. series.



What could be better than a week of sipping rum cocktails, basking in the sun, and listening to waves lap against a Caribbean beach? Nothing, according to Jordan Blair and her friend, Ellie. Until their vacation takes a sinister turn.

The former occupant of their hotel room has vanished and the charming resort manager is unconcerned. He suggests the woman has taken off for a romantic interlude with a sailboat skipper. Given the visible police presence, Jordan doesn’t buy it.

An enigmatic guest, Darcy Piermont, attaches himself to Jordan and Ellie, but his covert activities arouse Jordan’s suspicions. Could he have been involved with the woman’s disappearance?

Plagued by unanswered questions, Jordan trusts the wrong man. Now, she and Ellie are running for their lives. Will her survival skills save them, or will their return flight home be in body bags?

Purchase Links

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Black Opal Books | KOBO | Barnes and Noble


donnawarnerDonna Warner’s debut novella, Targeted was released Nov. 2015 by Black Opal Books. This mystery thriller, set in the exotic Caribbean setting of Roatán Island, Honduras, is co-authored by award winning mystery author, Gloria Ferris.

Donna’s prior careers were in education, communications, and management. She taught adult education courses; owned a private vocational school; was communication manager for the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres; and provided freelance editing consultation.

When not attempting to outsmart fish at her cottage, home is a country property near Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She enjoys tutoring English as a Second Language students and trading writing, editing, and publishing war stories with members of local writing groups. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Crime Writers of Canada.

Where to find Donna…

Author Website | D. J. Warner Consulting Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest