Did you pick the genre or did it pick you–Karen Vaughan

Did you pick the genre or did it pick you?

I was just thinking of this. What kind of books do you read and does it reflect on the genres you write in? For example I cut my eye teeth or reading HARDY BOYS/NANCY DREW so it’s no surprise that I continued reading that and suspense thrillers. When it came to writing the mystery genre picked me.

I have been writing some form of mystery since 2005. I had a dream that screamed at me to write it down and thus DEAD ON ARRIVAL was born.

cover for doa 2008

And like a good potato chip you just can’t stop at one book. I didn’t either. I had no intention of writing a series at that point but yet another idea was brought to me by my muse. I had just performed my first stand-up comedy routine and I was bitten by that bug as well as writing.  Naturally I combined my two passions and voila I hatched DEAD COMIC STANDING.


Meanwhile I was getting requests for more Laura and Gerry stories.  OVER HER DEAD BODY came to pass and by that time I may as well keep the series going as ideas were coming at me from all directions.

Karens final choice 6d  2011

DAYTONA DEAD came next but I needed a break from the series even though I started writing DEAD MEN DON’T SWING.

Front cover of daytona dead     2013

dead_mean_dont_swing_2 (2)


Last year my NaNo entry was a mystery which had been bouncing around in my brain for months so I started 101 CROSS STREET a retro mystery which I hope to publish soon as well.

101 cross street cover

Now just because my main genre is mystery doesn’t mean that I am not going to dabble with romance or romantic suspense. You’re just going to have to keep reading to find out.


I Love Dialogue! from Schooled by Love

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerEmerson Lake Palmer (sadly it’s his real name) has been dating Brooke Preston for about a week. It’s been a busy week, with one thing and another, and he really wants to get laid badly. Unfortunately, Brooke is a virgin and she has a very overprotective father. Lake has promised her father he won’t push her into anything she’s not ready for, but he dearly wishes she’d be ready sooner rather than later. One morning, before their college classes begin, they go out to breakfast.

Toby’s Restaurant is family owned and has the best food around at low prices. We ordered a cup of coffee and talked over the menu as we waited for the waitress to come back. After placing our orders, we chatted quietly for awhile, talking around what I wanted to know, but not quite ignoring it. The waitress brought our orders, and I’d made up my mind to ask Brooke outright what her dad had said.

“So,” I began, but she put her hand over mine.

“Dad had a lot to say after you left. He wasn’t mad. He was just. . . .”

“Concerned,” I finished for her.


“He has every right to be. I made no pretense with him the first time we talked about our relationship. He knows where I stand.”

“Yes, he told me. What he didn’t know was where I stood. That was what he most wanted to know.”

“And what did you tell him?”

“That I’m ready to make a commitment and so are you.”

“Did that upset him?”

“Not as much as I thought it would. He actually encouraged it.”

“What? He wants us to. . . .” I lowered my voice because I’d said that pretty loud. “He wants us to fool around?” I hissed.

She giggled, blushing like crazy as the people in the restaurant went back to their meals. The waitress refilled our cups of coffee and left more cream on the table. We ate a couple minutes, then I asked her again.

“Not in so many words, but he said, Brooke, if you don’t give that man what he needs, he’s going to explode. I couldn’t believe it!”

I scooted my plate across the table and let my head fall to the tabletop. The waitress came over to check on me.

“Are you okay, honey? Is the food all right?”

My head popped up and I smiled. “The food is great. I’m boned, but the food’s fantastic.”

To prove it, I took a big bite, a gulp of coffee and chewed, much of it running down my chin. The waitress handed me some extra napkins and gave me a really funny look. The people in the restaurant stared at me again as I wiped myself down.

“I’m having a personal crisis,” I said in a friendly manner, waving to them. “Not serious, life threatening, or contagious. Go back to your meals, don’t mind me.” I waved again and turned to Brooke.

She was red in the face trying hard not to spew her coffee all over the table. After a struggle, she swallowed, her eyes glittering as she tried not to laugh.

“Am I so pathetic that your old man is telling you that I need to get laid?”

I whispered intensely, cutting my pancakes with enthusiasm and stuffed them into my mouth. I was to the point that I really didn’t know what I was doing, trying to eat, drink coffee or flip out. All three seemed viable but didn’t coexist terribly well, especially the coffee and the flipping out. I was making a terrible mess.

“Are you all right, Lake?”

“I’m manic depressive. No, probably bipolar. Or I have some sort of serious emotional problem due to lack of intimacy. Something has affected my hearing, because I thought I heard you say that your dad was condoning us fooling around.”

“He sees how hard you’re trying to respect his wishes and not take advantage of me. He talked a long time with Grady, he knows we didn’t do anything the night you came over.”

“How would Grady know? Did he stay outside the bedroom door all night?”

“Apparently, he took his duty to protect me seriously. He put a chair in the hallway and sat there all night long. He said he never heard a thing. He also told Dad that you were too damn tense the following morning to have possibly had sex.”

“God, even the security officer thinks I need to get laid. Mike said the same thing. Am I that big a wreck?”

The waitress, an older black woman, came over to check on us again. She carried a fresh pot of coffee and our bill. She heard what I said about needing to get laid and looked between the two of us. She focused on me. Smiling pleasantly, she patted me on the shoulder.

“Yeah, baby, you’re that big a wreck. You need to take this girl somewhere nice and private and have some fun before you completely blow a gasket.”

“Thank you,” I said, my pride totally trashed. “Now the waitress thinks I need to get laid too.” I said that a little louder than I intended.

Everyone in the restaurant was ogling our unfolding drama. I glanced around the restaurant at all the curious faces. There were no kids in there, mostly people my parents’ age and older. A couple college kids had just walked out. Not caring anymore, I stood up and turned around, examining them all and letting them get a good look at me.

“I assume you’ve been listening.” I smiled sweetly, letting them know it was all right even if it wasn’t. “So, are you all of the same opinion?”

“Get fucked,” an old man said with a big grin.

His wife smacked him on the shoulder, smiled politely at me and nodded. Everyone else agreed.

“We can’t go against popular opinion,” I told Brooke as I sat down. “I think we need to go have sex, honey.”

I kissed her deeply, giving her the best kiss I could. It made me tingle all over, I hoped it was having the same effect on her. The people in the restaurant cheered, whistled and clapped. One man, about my dad’s age, handed me a twenty dollar bill to pay for breakfast.

“Son, if you’re stupid enough to let this beautiful young lady get away from you, well then you’re a goddamn fool.”

I handed the waitress the money which paid for breakfast and a nice tip. Amid clapping and cheering, we walked out of the restaurant. I didn’t know if I should be humiliated or not. Brooke didn’t say a word until we got to her car. Once we were inside, she burst out laughing so hard I thought she was going to pee on herself. Tears ran down her face as she clung to the steering wheel.

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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I Love Dialogue! Indian Summer Revisited

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerI have an historical novel called Indian Summer, about a young woman, Gabriella Deza, the daughter of the Spanish governor, who falls in love with his confidential aid. They have a series of wild adventures during the spring and summer of 1739, in St. Augustine, Florida.

I love the city of St. Augustine and felt as if there were more stories waiting to be told. On a visit there, I felt another one nagging at me. I named it Indian Summer Revisited. It centers around a musician named Malin Dimas who has recently met a woman named Carina who works as a waitress at the small restaurant he’s just been hired to play for. He’s an overnight hit! He takes great pleasure in telling his disapproving father that he’s working as a musician and has been offered a record contract. He neglects to tell his sister, Tess. She calls, after having a chat with their furious father. In full fury, she gives him hell.

Malin knew he couldn’t win. Tess was in full swing and he was totally screwed. If he thought he was going to get her to understand, he was dead wrong. It was better to ride it out and let her have her fit. Once she was done, then he could get a word or two in. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like that was going to happen anytime soon.

“Tess, I need to get my stuff packed up.”

“Don’t you have servants for that, Mr. Rock Star?”

“No. I’m not a rock star, I’m just singing at a local restaurant.”

“Why didn’t you tell me, Mal? God, I had to find out from him!”

“Was he mad?” He couldn’t keep the gleeful anticipation from his voice.

“He was livid. I’ve never seen him so angry. He was all red in the face and spitting. It was a beautiful moment.” The anger in her voice subsided, changing to glee.

“He didn’t threaten you with a loaded gun, did he?”

“No. The Nora Bitch took them away and locked them up after the time I told him I was pregnant with Clay’s love child.”

“Why would you tell him a thing like that? He hates Clay.”

There was a slight pause and a snort of laughter. Malin gathered up some of his equipment.

“Okay, answered that one myself. I’m sorry I forgot, Tess. The last few days have been completely surreal. I’ve had exams, the new gig and a new girlfriend all since Tuesday.”

“Is she amazing?”

“She bypassed amazing when she rammed me in the gut with her elbow. Honestly, I can’t find words good enough to describe her. She’s symphonic.”

“Oh, I have to forgive you now. You’re in love, you prick. How dare you?”

“Am I? How can you tell?”

She repeated what he said, giving it her own twist. “Gag me now, I might throw up.”

“Wouldn’t you like to be described as symphonic? I think it’s pretty cool.”

“I’d love it, but Gary doesn’t know any words that big. He gets as far as hot and sexy and starts to drool. I’m thinking of breaking up with him.”

“Why’s that? I thought he was great in bed.”

“He’s okay. Clay was better.”


“I’m kidding. We never got that far. Not that I wasn’t interested, but we knew you’d kill us both if we even tried it. He kisses well, though. Is he dating anyone?”

“Yeah, he is,” Malin sounded very annoyed. “I can’t believe you liked Clay.”

“Malin, I know you’re just a guy and all, but Clay is nearly as gorgeous as you. It makes me sick to say that, but my brother is one of the best looking men I know and his dumb friend is pretty jacked and hot and I’d do him in a heartbeat.”

“Tess,” Malin was getting uncomfortable. “Remember that conversation where it was way too much information?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, we’ve reached that point again, only it’s your turn.”

“Grow up, Malin! I like sex just as much as you do.”

“Not listening.”

“I’d venture to say I’m nearly as experienced as you are.”

“Still not listening.”

“I did have a thing with your friend Benji a few months ago. He’s kind of kinky, but the things that man can do with his tongue!”




He hung up, flushed and angry. He really didn’t think Tess had screwed Benji because she was always complaining that he smelled like last week’s dirty laundry. He still didn’t like hearing her talk like that and he certainly hadn’t appreciated what she had to say about Clay.

“Who was that?” Clay asked him in passing.

“That was Tess.”

“Oh, yeah? How’s she doing?”

“She misses you and your tongue.”

Clay wiggled his tongue around looking confused. “Me? What for? I thought she hated me.”

“Hell if I know. She’s in one of her moods.”

“Ooh, Evil Tess has come out. Must be a full moon.” He looked up at the sky.

“Clay, did you ever do my sister?”

“Do what? Oh, Do your sister. No. Not that I wouldn’t want to, she’s smoking hot.”

Malin gave him a black look, saying nothing.

“But in a purely virginal and totally untouchable way. I’m going over there now where no one wants to murder me.”