R.E. Donald

author of the Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries series


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Bound for Bouchercon in Long Beach, California!

I’m looking forward to attending my first Bouchercon since I went to Bouchercon 1997 in Monterey. Bouchercon 2014 is taking place in Long Beach, California, and is aptly being called Murder at the Beach. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Bouchercon, it’s an annual convention that brings together mystery readers and writers, as well as publishing industry professionals. It’s an opportunity to connect with other mystery fans, meet some of your favorite mystery writers, buy books, exchange ideas and just generally have a good time with other mystery buffs.

This will the first such conference I’ve attended as a published author. I experimented with self-publishing by making my first Hunter Rayne novel, Slow Curve on the Coquihalla, available to Amazon readers in September of 2011 and the response was so encouraging I now have three novels in the Highway Mysteries series available in both print and digital editions through all of the major on-line retailers. I had hoped to finish my fourth novel in time to take some ARCs with me to the conference, but I still have a few chapters to write, revisions and edits to make, and formatting to do before it’s ready for readers.

If you’re going to be at Bouchercon, I’ll be doing an Author Focus Panel on Friday, November 14th. Look for me in Room Harbor C at 9:00 a.m. I’ll also be participating in the Author Speed Dating breakfast on Thursday, November 13th from 8:30 to 10:30. It’s something I’ve never done before, but I expect it will be a lot of fun and I look forward to meeting readers and other writers at the event.

Kings River Life, a California e-magazine with great mystery content, currently has a contest to win a free print copy of my third novel, Sea to Sky, featured as a Bouchercon coming attraction on KRL.  KRL published a short story of mine in September, partly inspired by my visit to Monterey for the 1997 Bouchercon (I’ve actually been there several times). It features Elspeth Watson, one of the main characters from the Highway Mysteries series, and is a good introduction to her rather unique personality. Check out Joggers on KRL.

Hope to see you in Long Beach!

 


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Real Truck Driver Heroes

My mystery series features a truck driver hero. Hunter Rayne is a former police officer who left the police force and bought himself a big rig. In the series, he travels the highways of western North America in a navy blue Freightliner that his boss likes to call The Blue Knight. Whether he wants to or not, he still gets involved in investigating murders and, like the Mountie he used to be, he always gets his man.

But Hunter Rayne is a fictional hero, and the men featured in the following two stories from Truckers Report this week are the real thing. One of the men, Robert Tyler from Washington State, used his head and his truck to possibly save more than one man’s life when he encountered an unconscious man in a vehicle that could have careened into traffic at any second. Read the full story from Overdrive Magazine here.

In the second story this week, a driver trainee and the driver who was training him (Harry Welker) were in the right place at the right time. A state trooper in Kansas had pulled over a van at a rest stop. In the van was a man wanted for parole violations. He was somehow able to overpower the trooper, and had him in a chokehold. The two drivers, Harry Welker and the trainee, are both former marines and didn’t hesitate to run to the trooper’s aid, helping to subdue the offender so he could be taken into custody. Read the full story, titled Driver Trainer, Trainee Rescue State Trooper on the Truckers Report.

Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angel

Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angels Program

There are ‘bad apples’ in every profession and trucking is no exception; often it’s the bad examples whose stories get passed along. The truth is, the vast majority of truck drivers are hard-working individuals who care about their fellow motorists and deserve our respect and admiration. The two examples of truckers helping out cited above are just the most recent. The Overdrive website has many stories of such heroic actions in their feature Knights of the Road, and the Truckload Carriers Association honors these Highway Angels on an ongoing basis.

Country artist Lindsay Lawler explains the program and introduces her song about Highway Angels on YouTube.

 

Next time you pass a big rig on the highway, you might just be passing a Highway Angel.


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Murder on the Mountain

A spectacular setting for murder, described today at Lois Winston’s Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers. It starts with:

Photo by Justa Jeskova

Photo by Justa Jeskova

A Mountain of Mystery

My hero is always on the move. That’s because the sleuth in the Highway Mysteries series drives an eighteen-wheeler up and down the west coast of North America. Even truck drivers need a little R&R now and then, and that’s what brings former RCMP homicide investigator Hunter Rayne to the resort community of Whistler, British Columbia in the third Highway Mystery, Sea to Sky. While Hunter enjoys a few days of downhill skiing, he plans to become better acquainted with an attractive female lawyer he met in L.A. He doesn’t, however, plan to become the prime suspect in a murder on the mountain.

The town of Whistler became familiar to many winter sports fans around the world when it was the site of Alpine events at the 2010 Winter Olympics. It’s a magnificent setting, with the snow covered peaks of Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains towering some 5000 feet above the attractive and upscale Village of Whistler, where you can walk to dozens of shops, restaurants and bars. Yet Whistler is only a two-hour drive from the port city of Vancouver, or four and a half hours from Seattle, the last hour of the drive on the spectacular Sea to Sky highway as it winds its way upward through the coastal rainforest and along the rugged shores of Howe Sound.

Read more at http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.ca/2014/05/travel-to-whistler-british-columbia.html

And check out the Anastasia Pollack mysteries while you’re there!

 

 


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18 Wheels & Heels: Women in Trucking

18_Wheels_Heels_Cover_page_001I am honored and delighted to be featured in the February 2014 issue of 18 Wheels & Heels, a magazine for women in the trucking industry.  They first contacted me on Twitter (@RuthEDonald) to ask whether I would be interested in having them feature me and my Highway Mysteries series, and of course I replied with an enthusiastic Yes!  They’ve listed my three mysteries in their “Book It List” of good reads for their subscribers as well.

Here’s a .pdf of the interview. (I’d link directly to the pages in the magazine, but I had trouble viewing it on my own computer, although it did work on an iPad.)

The role that women play in the trucking industry has obviously continued to evolve since the time period that the Highway Mysteries are set in (the 1990s). Most of us have seen a few hot pink or purple trucks on the road, with the drivers joyfully flaunting their femininity. Others downplay their gender in order to avoid harassment by their male counterparts; gender discrimination can still be a problem for women in the male-dominated industry. There are a few books out by women truck drivers chronicling their years in the industry, among them Trucking in English by Carolyn Steele. I liked reading about her adventures, and could relate to much of what she experienced.

I enjoyed my years working in the transportation industry, and am happy that I can put my experience to good use in the Highway Mysteries series. I’m also glad to have endorsements from readers who work in the industry, as I try very hard to make sure my settings and situations are authentic. Last year, two of my books were also reviewed and described as “recommended reads” by a trucking publication in the United Kingdom, Truck and Driver magazine. (The books were Ice on the Grapevine and Slow Curve on the Coquihalla.) I was delighted to hear from some new fans in England who had purchased my books on their recommendation.

The central plot of each novel is, of course, a murder mystery, but my stories are driven by the characters in them. Those characters are real to me, and you can meet people like them working in service industries (including trucking and law enforcement) almost everywhere in North America. They have flaws, insecurities, hopes and dreams; they have fears and triumphs, loves and losses, foibles and indulgences. They are ordinary people, and like all “ordinary” people, they are unique. They are my friends, and I hope they will become your friends, too.


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Hooked on Crime

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved books. It’s hard to pinpoint just when murder NancyDrewbecame the main ingredient of my favorite reads. No doubt I cut my literary teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I can’t remember how discriminating I was in my childhood, but I must have liked books with horses and concussions, because that’s what I remember about my first attempt at writing a novel when I was twelve. The heroine – loosely based on my young self, I suppose, although I had never had a horse or a concussion – was continually being thrown from her horse and losing consciousness in her quest to chase (or was it escape from?) a bad guy.

HemingwayOnce I entered the senior years of high school, I became a book snob. It was classics or nothing, and my preference was for European classics: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, Jean Paul Sartre and Thomas Mann are among those that come to mind. (I can recall throwing a Harold Robbins paperback across the room in disgust.) I also let myself read American writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Bellow, plus the occasional Michener historical saga. Except…

TravisMcGeeExcept when I was on summer vacation at my Uncle’s lakeside cabin, when I would raid his bookshelves for the works of John D. MacDonald, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Dick Francis and Ngaio Marsh, among others. Then it was on to university, my first marriage and some dark days – years actually – in my life, from which I emerged still scorning contemporary crime writers in favor of Penguin classics. My second husband, a charming and brilliant rogue, but a rogue nonetheless, got me back into reading modern novels and I quickly found myself hooked on crime.

ColumboMy preference soon became mystery series, harking back to my earlier enjoyment of the Travis McGee and Nero Wolfe mystery series. That was reinforced by TV series like Perry Mason, Columbo and Murder She Wrote, followed by the original Law and Order. I shared books with my father, and sometimes others in the family, and our collective tastes ran from The Cat Who series by Lillian Jackson Braun to the Richard Jury series by Martha Grimes and the Thomas Lynley series by Elizabeth George. More recently – which may not be terribly recent by most standards – Michael Connelly and John Lescroart have become my favorite authors, and I now prefer to watch true crime like Dateline and 48 Hours on television.

So what’s my point?

justiceWhy would a law-abiding pacifist who even apologizes to flies and mosquitoes when she is forced to kill them (in self defense, of course) be so fascinated by crime? I know I’m only one of millions with the same fascination. Why, when we hate to witness actual violence, or even read about it, do we love books and shows about murder? I’m no psychologist, but I’ve often pondered the question, and it seems to me that it gives us comfort to see the perpetrators of crime found out and put away so they won’t be able to harm innocent people. We want to be able to figure out who did the evil deed and see them brought to justice, and that lets us feel a little more in control of the scary world around us.

Whatever the reason, even though I stray back to classics and will even venture to read a contemporary ‘literary’ novel now and then, I am and will no doubt remain, firmly hooked on crime.

* * * * * *

Joggers_covSWIf anyone is interested in sampling my fiction writing on their e-reader, I’m offering a free short story on Kobo, Smashwords and most major ebook retailers (except Amazon, where I can’t make it less than 99 cents). It’s called Joggers and features Elspeth Watson, one of the main characters in my Highway Mystery series. The three novels in the series are available in both digital and print editions. More information about the series at Proud Horse Publishing.

Enjoy!


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Sea_to_Sky_HJA dead man rides a chairlift on Whistler Mountain, and it doesn’t take long for the press to label the murderer “The Chairlift Killer”.   Former homicide detective Hunter Rayne drove the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler’s ski resort for what was supposed to be a pleasant weekend of skiing with an attractive female acquaintance.  Instead, he finds himself at the top of the suspect list, and has no choice but to get involved in the investigation in order to clear his name.

While he’s busy in Whistler, trucker Hunter is forced to hire his biker friend, Dan Sorenson, to take his place behind the wheel.  What connects the badass biker from Yreka, California to the most prolific female serial killer in US history?  And what happens when Hunter’s dispatcher El Watson gets the biker involved in the murder investigation?

In the midst of the investigation, Hunter’s life becomes complicated when the progress of a new relationship is arrested by the appearance of a woman from his troubled past.

Sea to Sky is the third novel in the Hunter Rayne highway mystery series, just released in a digital edition at the end of 2012 and in a print edition in March of 2013.  It’s now available in digital format from most ebook retailers, and the print edition can be ordered online or through your local bookstore.  Quote the ISBN of 978-09881118-20 for the print edition.

Visit Proud Horse Publishing for additional information.


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A Celebration of Ebooks at the Global Ebook Awards

I pulled into my driveway just six blocks north of the 49th parallel a little before midnight last night, my head still spinning from the 2012 Global Ebook Awards on Saturday night, along with the rest of my 48 hour visit to beautiful Santa Barbara, California.  I had a wonderful time with my sister from Palm Springs, enjoying the sights and shops of the town, and I brought back with me a small stack of other attendees’ business cards and website addresses to go through, the names of new books to download and read, and the good wishes of numerous new acquaintances to recall.

The striking cover for Ice on the Grapevine was designed by Hunter|Johnsen of La Quinta

My mystery novel, Ice on the Grapevine, may not have been announced as a winner, but I feel like a winner all the same, just to have been there as a finalist in Mystery Fiction for the 2012 Global Ebook Award.  You could feel the excitement in the rooms of the University Club of Santa Barbara (I say ‘rooms’, because the tables overflowed around corners to fit the enthusiastic crowd) both during and after the awards were announced.  From the time writers started to get to know one another at the outdoor reception under the sunny Santa Barbara skies until the end of the evening, it was an unreserved celebration of the success of ebooks and independent publishing.

The emcee Bill Frank announced a list of finalists who had travelled the farthest to attend, and I was delighted to be among them and receive a bottle of California wine.  (Unfortunately, due to airline carry-on baggage restrictions, I had to give it away, but I was grateful for the recognition all the same.)  There were several fellow Canadians representing different book categories in attendance, and we managed to connect at the airport on Sunday and to share experiences on the flight to San Francisco.

The list of winners is available on the website and Facebook page of the Global Ebook Awards.  I’m looking forward to seeing more reviews from the judges who selected Ice on the Grapevine as a finalist.  The judging rules asked that reviews not be posted until after the awards ceremony to prevent one judge’s review from influencing others.  The reviews, along with Dan Poynter’s coaching and the PR opportunities the Awards afforded, made entering a book for an Award a very worthwhile decision.  As Dan pointed out during his brief speech, each book submitted was screened before being accepted as a nominee so the standards were high.

Among the highlights of the evening for me were meeting the very personable Jim Cox of the highly respected Midwest Book Review and ebook guru Dan Poynter of Para Publishing.  Jim gave a very well-attended seminar on how to get ebooks reviewed prior to the awards, and Dan is the founder of the Global Ebook Awards and a larger-than-life figure in the world of digital publishing.  The Awards are in only their second year, and if their success this year is any indicator, will no doubt be bigger and better in 2013.

It was also a pleasure to hear the enthusiastic comments of Marilu Henner, who was signing print books at The Book Den prior to the event, and public relations professional Barbara Gaughen (pronounced “gone”), who both spoke at the ceremony.  They both had encouragement and worthwhile advice for the finalists and winners alike.

Getting a chance to meet some talented and creative people, listening to the enthusiasm and sharing in the positive energy of the organizers as well as the other attendees, I’ve got to say that I never for one moment felt like an “ALSO RAN”, but I did and still do feel like an “ALSO WON”.  Congratulations to the organizers, finalists and the winners!  Hope to see everyone again next year.

Ruth gets a chance to chat with Dan Poynter

Ruth enjoyed talking to Jim Cox of the Midwest Book Review

Ruth and her sister Chris enjoying Beluga martinis at The Wine Cask in Santa Barbara