Author Archives: Carey Baldwin

They Call Me Scout

Carey’s puppy, Scout, talks about TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GO SET A WATCHMAN and contemplates the question posed by Randall Kennedy in the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

Would it have been better for (Harper Lee’s) earlier novel (GO SET A WATCHMAN) to have remained unpublished?

IMG_6852[2] (1)They call me Scout.

Like my namesake before me, I know how to get into plenty of trouble, but I have a big heart. My human mother, Carey Baldwin, named me after the protagonist in her favorite book, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Last night at dinner, Carey’s mother-in-law complained that I am such a pretty girl, I should have a pretty name.

Why on earth would you name this puppy Scout? she asked Carey over a plateful of pasta.

I know the answer, and I’m proud of my name.

Scout is the person who taught Carey about justice, fairness and integrity. When Carey was ten years old, she read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, a tale told through the eyes of a young girl named Scout (Like me! Only I’m a puppy.) Carey was young too, and boy did Scout make an impression. The vivid images in this exciting story stuck with Carey throughout her lifetime: toys hidden in the trunk of an old tree, a Halloween costume designed to look like a ham, a pair of britches stuck in a fence, and a father who could put everything that was wrong with the world right again.

We live in a world with many injustices, but sometimes, unless we’re the ones getting the raw deal, we remain unaware. Maybe the injustice is happening far away from where we live or go to school, maybe it’s close by, but we’re afraid to look at it, or maybe we simply don’t understand what’s right in front of us. Like the black marble drinking fountain three feet away from the white marble drinking fountain in a certain fancy department store in Carey’s hometown. Only after reading TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD did ten-year-old Carey notice.killbird

Why are there two fountains? she asked her mother.

One is for whites and one is for colored people. That’s illegal now, but the fountains are still there, her mother answered. Sure enough, Carey could see the faded paint outlining a rectangular space on the wall that had once been occupied by a sign prohibiting blacks from drinking from the white fountain.

Carey grew up in a time and place where segregation in school, housing, and life was outlawed…yet still largely practiced. She didn’t know very many people who were different from herself, so she didn’t “see” a lot of things. Scout and Harper Lee taught her to open her eyes.

Randall Kennedy says:

“In America in 1960, the story of a decent white Southerner who defends an innocent black man charged with raping a white woman had the appeal of a fairy tale and the makings of a popular movie. Perhaps even more promising, though, was the novel Lee first envisioned (GO SET A WATCHMAN), the story of Jean Louise’s (Scout’s) adult conflicts between love and fairness, decency and loyalty. Fully realized, that novel might have become a modern masterpiece.”

Scout answers:

“I think there’s a place for both books. I don’t believe we lost out because Harper Lee’s editor changed the time and setting of GO SET A WATCHMAN to that of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or that Lee’s first attempt at the story should have remained unpublished. The truth is, Harper Lee’s vision and desire for fairness in the world comes through in both books. One is more polished, one has a hero, the other a flawed man and a conflicted daughter.

51G1qWt5-qL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Both are a window into the heart and mind of Harper Lee.

We need both books. We need all the windows we can get, because there’s simply not enough light in the world.”

Here’s a link to Kennedy’s full review of GO SET A WATCHMAN in the New York Times.

Have you read a book that has profoundly influenced your life?

P.S. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.






Thank You! and Winner Announcement

Fallen high resThanks to all of you for helping me celebrate the release of FALLEN! You made it a great release week for me! And now…drum roll…

The winner of the $10 Starbucks gift card is Julie Oest! Julie please contact me to claim your prize.

Tune in tomorrow when our very own Sarah Andre shares a very special release post for her debut novel LOCKED LOADED AND LYING. Take my word for it, you are going to love this book! LockedAndLoadedFinal cover

Blessed Are Those Who Weep

Giveaway alert: a Nook or Kindle copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP and a Starbucks card are up for grabs.

Today I’m thrilled to welcome my wonderful friend and fellow Witness author, Kristi Belcamino, to the blog. Kristi has a fascinating and heart-wrenching story to tell you, so I’ll let her do most of the talking, but I just have to say a few words about her new release BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP.

This story grabs you by the throat from the beginning and never lets go. The heroine, Gabriella Giovanni, leads you through a maze of compelling characters and twisting events until you arrive at an ending that will leave you breathless. But it’s not the heart-pounding ending you’ll read for. It’s Gabriella herself. A heroine who’s brilliant yet vulnerable, brave yet all too human. Pick it up today, then kick back with a glass of red wine, a hanky, and a do not disturb sign.

Here’s the blurb:

San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni stumbles onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor—a baby girl found crawling between the dead bodies of her family members. Reeling from the slaughter, Gabriella clings to the infant. When Social Services pries the little girl from her arms, the enormity of the tragedy hits home. Diving deep into a case that brings her buried past to the forefront, Gabriella is determined to hunt down the killer who left this helpless baby an orphan.

But one by one the clues all lead to a dead end, and Gabriella’s obsession with finding justice pulls her into a dark, tortuous spiral that is set to destroy everything she loves …

The Story That Did Me In

By Kristi Belcamino

I’ll never forget the story that did me in.

The one that slayed me and changed my career path entirely. The one that ultimately led me to quit my job as a newspaper reporter.

It was about the perfect family destroyed — shattered — by tragedy.

As a crime reporter, I had been blithely cruising through other people’s tragedies for years. I was moved and haunted by many of the stories I covered — some which caused me to drink and smoke too much — but I was still able to do my job and more importantly, I still loved doing my job.

My two close friends at the paper were just like me. We thought nothing of talking about “floaters” and “decomps” and those words were sprinkled into our ever day conversation.

Not much rattled us. Dead body? No problem.

In fact, I’ll never forget how excited I was one day to get a new copy of a homicide investigator’s manual in the mail. It was chock full of graphic photos of various modes and manners of death, including close-range gunshot wounds to the face and explosions and people crushed to death. Not pretty.

But that didn’t stop my friend C and I from taking the book to a Chinese restaurant and flipping through it over lunch.

C also had seen more autopsies at our county morgue than probably any reporter in the history of our newspaper. She was soft-spoken, drop-dead gorgeous, and fearless.

I only saw one autopsy. A guy about my age who overdosed. I can recognize the smell of a dead body to this day.

C and I were regular visitors at the morgue and I soon got a reputation at the newspaper. Every time an intern started, the editors would tell me to take them to the morgue that first week.

I wonder how many interns were traumatized by the experience? I took one young woman on a day when a young man who died in a motorcycle crash was on the slab as we walked into the room. The first thing we saw was the giant chunk of his skull that was missing at the top of his head.

But none of that bothered me. Not really.

Then I gave birth.

The flood of hormones transformed me into another person. Suddenly, everything I reported on was much too close to home.

All the evil that I had kept at arm’s length seemed to follow me home at night.

I would immerse myself in the seediest, darkest part of life and then come home to the very definition of innocence in my baby. I was having a hard time reconciling these two worlds, but then it got worse.

Right before Christmas, a mother in a wealthy suburb and her two children, who I think were less than a year apart, were walking on a beautiful fall day to get ice cream. They were on a parkway, where a wide sidewalk was separated from the road by a patch of grass.

The kids were either in front of or behind the mother when a suspected drunk driver went careening off the road and plowed into the kids, killing them both.

Not long after, the parents invited the press to talk to them in their luxurious home in a rich subdivision. I sat with other reporters in their living room and looked around at the beautiful couple in their beautiful home.

The mother, who I had imagined would be curled up in the fetal position with dirty hair and slobber on her wrinkled clothes, looked more put together than I ever had in my entire life.

She was gorgeous. Her husband was gorgeous. Without knowing their story and looking at them in their fancy home, you would think they had everything.

And yet, they had nothing. Not anymore. Some drunken fool had taken away their life.

The million dollar house was empty and hollow, haunted by memories of children playing and laughing.

Later, my editors asked me to do a story about what this couple’s Christmas was like. I refused. Or rather, I simply kept forgetting to do it.

I couldn’t force myself to call them. I knew what their Christmas was going to be like. Or at least I suspected. It was going to be a hellish nightmare, just like the rest of their days were right now.

So, I suppose it could have been any story that fall — any tragedy that struck me to the core — but that was the story that did me in. Suddenly as a mother, I couldn’t dip into and out of other people’s tragedies anymore. I just couldn’t do it.

I had always cared about my job and cared about the victims of tragedies and tried to do them justice in the best way I could, but I couldn’t do it anymore. When I became a mother, the emotions struck too sharp and too deep for me to continue doing my job properly.

I quit my job a few months later.

But I am forever changed by my former life as a reporter. I have seen things that help me put everything into perspective.

Luckily most of the people I know live very sheltered lives. When they complain — and cry — about trivial things, I try to understand. II tell myself they don’t know. They don’t understand.

They don’t know how lucky they are. They have a little bubble around their lives. They feel invincible. And maybe it is necessary to feel that way to go on day to day.

But I know something different. I know that bubble doesn’t protect them from tragedy. Tragedy is not picky. It is not discerning. It has a laissez-faire attitude in who it strikes. There is no rhyme or reason.

That’s one thing I know.

I’ve sat in too many living rooms of people who know the same thing.

This knowledge may seem like a burden to some. And in fact, up-close knowledge of that as a crime reporter was more than I could handle as a new mother.

But with hindsight, I realize this knowledge is not a burden, but a gift.

It is a gift because it reminds me to pick my battles, put minor setbacks in perspective and to never, ever take one moment of this precious life for granted.

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and crime reporter who also bakes a tasty biscotti.

As a reporter, she’s flown over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, and attended barbecues at the morgue. Her first novel was inspired by her dealings with a serial killer.

During her decade covering crime in California, Belcamino wrote and reported about many high-profile cases including the Laci Peterson murder and Chandra Levy’s disappearance. And because of her police sources, she was one of the first reporters in the country to learn that the passengers on Flight 93 had fought back on 9/11. She has appeared on Inside Edition and local cable television shows. Her work has appeared in such prominent publications as the Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury News, and Chicago Tribune. She now works part-time for the St. Paul Pioneer Press as a police reporter.

Connect with Kristi on her website, facebook, or twitterprofilecowboy2

Readers leave a comment or question for Kristi. One lucky person will win an e-copy of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP and a $10 Starbucks card. Good luck!




Many thanks to the awesome Nancy Allen for joining us for a fun Friday! Please come back anytime, and guys don’t forget to check out A Killing at the Creek!

9780062325969The winner of a ten dollar Starbucks gift card and choice of Nook or Kindle copy of A Killing at the Creek is: Patti Straight. Congrats to Patti! Please use the contact form to let us know your preference for Kindle or Nook and your preferred email for receipt of prizes. 

Also, thanks to everyone who stopped by last Tuesday to celebrate the release of Gwen Hernandez’s new book, Blind Ambition!

GwenHernandez_BlindAmbition_200pxThe winner of an electronic copy of Blind Ambition is kimk. Congratulations! Please use the Contact Us link above to send us your preference for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, or Kobo and include your preferred email.

Next up our very own Rachel Grant previews her new release: Incriminating Evidence and talks Second Book Syndrome. Don’t miss it!IE-frontCover-Final-r2-72dpi

Nancy Allen, Witness Impulse Author : Ten Tips to My Teen Self

Giveaway alert: One lucky commenter will win a ten dollar Starbucks gift card and Nancy’s latest legal thriller.

Nancy AllenI’m super excited today to be hosting my good friend and fellow Witness  author, Nancy Allen. Not only is she a sweetheart, to know her is to be awed by her! Nancy has just received a 2015 Missouri Lawyers’ Women’s Justice Award. She practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She has tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. Her first novel,The Code of the Hills, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. A Killing at the Creek, the second book in the Ozarks mystery series released on February 17, 2015.

I’ve already had the pleasure of reading her latest: A Killing at the Creek and I absolutely loved it. A Killing at the Creek provides an authentic peek into the life of a criminal prosecutor in small-town Missouri. Elsie Arnold, though whip-smart in the courtroom, is all too fallible in the social arena, making her a supremely relatable protagonist. Nancy infuses the story with the flavor of the Ozarks so deftly that the setting seemingly becomes another character in the book. Then she tosses in lively dialogue and an unputdownable murder mystery to create a compelling read that will keep you turning pages late into the night. I think you’ll really enjoy this one and be surprised by how engaging a legal thriller can be.9780062325969

Okay- that’s enough from me. Without further ado, here’s Nancy:


Ten Pieces of Advice I’d Give to Teen Nancy

By Nancy Allen

We’ve all said it, right? “If I knew then what I know now.” I’ve been thinking about this lately, for several reasons. The antagonist in my latest book, A Killing at the Creek, is an incorrigible teen; and my main character, Elsie Arnold, sometimes acts out like an incorrigible teen; and I have a teenage daughter (not the incorrigible type, thank goodness).

So exactly what would I tell my teenage self, if I had the power to go back and offer advice? I have a pretty good idea of ten things young Nancy would benefit from hearing.

  1. Go to class, damn it. Those college professors will teach you something you don’t know. And you’re paying cash money for it.
  2. Do not go on crash diets. Ever.
  3. Enjoy the time you have with your mother. Relish it, revel in it. It won’t last forever.
  4. Yes, a lot of people are shorter than you are—so what? Stand tall.
  5. Don’t bother with a lot of makeup, and don’t worry about name brand clothes or accessories. Youth is an ornament.
  6. Do not permit yourself to hanker after a boy who shows no interest in you.
  7. Never let your friends tell you what people say about you behind your back.
  8. Read your textbook before exam time. In fact, just keep up with the reading over the course of the semester. Maybe you’ll avoid being awakened later in life by the college anxiety nightmares.
  9. Never fake it, or try to be someone else. Plenty of people will like the real you. Be with those people.
  10. You will stumble. Own it. Use it. Grow from your mistakes.

codeofthehillsHaving just read over my list, it occurs to me that a number of those suggestions are still works in progress. Aaahhh, hell—what can I say? Some people never learn. I think I’m one of them….



Now it’s your turn. What advice would you give your teen self if you could go back in time? Remember, one lucky commenter wins a Nook or Kindle copy of A KILLING AT THE CREEK and a ten dollar Starbucks gift card. 

You can find Nancy here:





Fallen: Cover Reveal

Fallen high res

I couldn’t be more excited to share the cover of my new book, FALLEN, with you guys! I have to say I think the art department over at HarperCollins did me a solid. This just might be my favorite of all my Witness Impulse book covers. I’m pretty excited about the book too! I had a blast writing it, and I learned all kinds of cool stuff- like how to make a wax statue. FALLEN is available for pre-order now. Here’s the blurb for inquiring minds (yes, this is a sneak peek too).

A body just fell from the sky onto Hollywood Boulevard.

When a beautiful prostitute is dumped onto the Walk of Fame, FBI profiler Atticus Spenser and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Caitlin Cassidy are called in to solve one of their most baffling cases yet.

The media’s dubbed him the Fallen Angel Killer – a crazed murderer who’s leaving the bodies of high-priced call girls in Los Angeles tourist traps.

Then the killer raises the stakes, demanding that a mysterious celebrity publically admit to his sinful secrets —or he’ll dispose of his latest kidnapped escort. With every “john” the team exposes in their search for Celebrity X, another Hollywood secret is revealed and another charmed life is left in ruins.

Now time is running out, and Cassidy and Spenser will do anything to find the twisted serial killer…before another innocent woman winds up as the next grotesque tourist attraction.

Barnes and Noble


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PS JUDGMENT, book one in the Cassidy and Spenser series, has been named a best book of 2014 by Suspense Magazine. I’m incredibly honored to have been included in that list. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

contentHappy Thanksgiving! Today I’d like to share some silly and not so silly things those of us at Kiss and Thrill are thankful for.


BillandElvisSilly: I’m thankful I’m not a turkey.

Serious and Silly: I’m thankful for my husband’s Elvis impersonation. I swear it made me fall in love with him. 

Serious: I’m thankful for my three incredible children and the beautiful world we live in.


photoSerious: I’m thankful that my son and daughter will be home for the holiday.

Silly: I’m thankful that my son and daughter will be home for the holiday. (Seeing a trend?)

Krista:Rosie in my chair

The GirlsSilly: I’m grateful for Rosie who always keeps my favorite writing chair warm when I’m not sitting in it.

Serious: I’m grateful for my mom and sisters and all the laughter we share when we’re together.





Silly: I’m grateful for my DVR because it means I can take the time to talk to a friend or get interrupted by a family member and not worry about “missing” anything during my favorite show. The DVR puts me in control of TV, unchains me from the box, and means way less viewing time since it’s on my schedule, not theirs. Plus, fewer commercials. Yay!!Meissen+Figurine+Musee+Ariana (1)

Serious: I am grateful for my husband who is the love of my life, is always there for me, and thinks I’m great even when I’m not. What did I ever do to deserve him?


Silly: Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks for jotting down story inspirations while in the shower or tub.

matanuska glacierSerious: I’m thankful for all the wonderful people who fill my life and give it meaning, most especially, my husband, daughter, and son.


Gwen-ZoeSilly: I’m thankful to my golden retriever for forcing me to leave my home office a couple of times a day.

Serious: I’m grateful that I live where I can pursue my dreams and take that journey with the people I love most in this world.


Silly: I am thankful to Bonita Boarding and Kennel Camp for taking my little hooligans off my hands every morning.

704907FF-54A5-4030-8F6A-E32E8233DA9ESerious: I am thankful for the final safe return of my older brother, from 18 months in the US Embassy in Afghanistan. (In the picture he is holding Flat Stanley, some 3rd grade class drew and mailed it to him. Too cute!)


Silly: I’m thankful to Netflix and Hulu which kept me from losing my mind during my six weeks of mandatory IV antibiotic treatments.

Serious: I’m thankful for the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals and researchers whose hard work cured the infection in my heart so that I can keep on writing the books I love.Old+fashioned+TV (1)

Runner-up:  I’m thankful to my wonderful friends (Lena, Carey, Rachel, Diana, Gwen, Krista, Sarah and Sharon) who also kept me from losing my mind during those six weeks.


IMG_3154Silly: I am grateful for my Canon digital camera which lets me catch my children and their friends in all sorts of situations. All for future bribery/blackmail use, of course.

Serious: I am grateful for my husband and two children who have brought me more happiness than I deserve.

All of us are so grateful for your recovery, Manda. We love you!

If anyone wants to share a silly or serious thing they’re thankful for today, we’d love to hear it.

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone for making the release of JUDGMENT  a special day for me.  And now, without further ado, the winner of the one hour massage is Teen Books for the Kindle. Please use our contact page to claim your prize. Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented!  Carey

A Cassidy and Spenser Thriller

A Cassidy and Spenser Thriller


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