Guest Author: Don Travis

guest author don travisThanks, Vicki, for the opportunity to guest post your blog to honor the release of my sixth BJ Vinson mystery novel, The Voxlightner Scandal. Also like to thank Dreamspinner Press for publishing the work.

When BJ Vinson first appeared in print in my novel, The Zozobra Incident, he had no idea he would live his life in a series. In truth, neither did I. But BJ and his partner, Paul Barton, and the other regulars who show up in the mystery series just wouldn’t let me go. I have favorites among them, but like a good parent, I try not to let my dotage show. The seventh novel in the series, The Cutie-Pie Murders, is germinating in my computer right now.

Now to Voxlightner. The novel’s blurb probably gives you a pretty good preview of the book:

No good deed goes unpunished, as investigator B. J. Vinson is about to discover.

Writer John Pierce Belhaven was murdered before he could reveal the name of another killer—one connected to the biggest scandal to rock Albuquerque in years. Two of the city’s most prominent citizens—Barron Voxlightner and Dr. Walther Stabler—vanished in 2004, along with fifty million dollars looted from Voxlightner Precious Metals Recovery Corp. It only makes sense that poking into that disappearance cost Belhaven his life.

But BJ isn’t so sure.

He’s agreed to help novice detective Roy Guerra reopen the old case—which the wealthy and influential Voxlightner family doesn’t want dredged up. But Belhaven was part of their family, and that connection could’ve led to his murder. Or did the sixty-year-old author die because of a sordid sexual affair?

I’ve selected a passage in Chapter 17 of the book to excerpt here. As BJ and Paul work to solve the murder of a local author, who happened to be a friend of Paul’s, they keep getting drawn back into an old Albuquerque scandal involving a looted gold and silver reclamation project. The two people who seem to be the culprits disappeared years ago. BJ has stumbled across a clue that leads him to Sandia Mountain just east of Albuquerque on a hunt for the missing men’s cars. He finally runs to ground an elusive character who’s supposed to be knowledgeable about everything that happens of that 10,000-foot peak.


When I finally ran Foxy Slight to ground at his cabin, the name described the man. He owned a sharp nose, which contributed considerably to his nickname. But the appellation defined the man’s character as well.

A small, sly, and suspicious man, he was reluctant to talk until I told him what I knew of the Sandias. Forming the eastern edge of the Rio Grande Rift Valley, the mountains, actually a single mountain with two crests, the northern known as Sandia Crest and the southern as Sandia Peak, rose a million or so years ago. K-spar crystals in the Sandia granite gave the mountain a distinctive pink color, especially in the autumn light, giving rise to the Spanish name of Sandia, meaning watermelon. Local Pueblos call the mountain Bien Mur—big mountain—or Sleeping Turtle because of its distinctive shape. The Tewas and the Navajo had their own names for the hulking mass of rock.That was enough to loosen Foxy’s tongue. He spoke the magic words.

“Heard tell you was interested in the old Voxlightner place.”

“That’s right.”

“Right nice place when the old man was alive. He come up hardscrabble hisself, so he was sociable with the locals. The old lady was standoffish, but okay. The kids, though. Thought they was made out of diamonds and emeralds. Didn’t want nothing to do with the local folk. Brought their own friends.”

I let him run on for a little, hoping he’d say something that would catch my ear. Eventually, I interrupted to ask about old mines in the area.

“Hell yes. They’s abandoned shafts all through this country. Have to be careful where you put your boots. Liable to step into one of them. Some of them’s kinda growed over and hard to spot.”

“Any big ones in the area?”

“A whopper. A hole as big as a locomotive engine in the side of a canyon wall. Or used to be.”

He caught my attention. “When was the last time you were in it?”

“Who said I been in it?”

“Come on. Bet you have a pickax and a miner’s helmet in that cabin over there. You’ve probably tested rock in the tunnel a dozen times.”

His smile heightened his resemblance to a varmint. “More like a hunnert, I’d guess. Traces but nothing commercial. Anyways I was off in that direction ’bout three months ago. This is September? No? October. Lordy, where did the year go? It was probably last May sometime.”

“Anything different about it over the years?” I asked.

“Why don’t you let me in on what you’re looking for, and I’ll tell you what I can. If you’re planning on opening up the mine, save your money.”

“No. I’m looking for a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria and a 2004 Chevrolet Blazer. With a body in each of them.”

“Lordy! You talking about murder. When?”

“The night of March 15, 2004.”

His eyebrows shot up. “That’s a long time back. I can tell you for certain there ain’t no vehicles in the place. Over the years the shaft’s closed up. But back in them days I was a little more hopeful and went inside regular-like. You can’t go more’n fifty feet into the adit now, but I’m here to tell you nobody stashed two cars in there. I found them, I’d be riding in style not bumming around in a worn-out pickup.”

My heart sank.

“But you know,” he said slowly, “I got a more likely place for you. What you’re saying might explain something I been puzzling over for years.”


Now I suppose I have to tell you a little about myself. My life is so uninteresting, I’m using the bio from my prior blog: I’m an Okie born and raised who rambled around Germany while in the US Army and Denver and Albuquerque while in the business world. A tubercular child, I grew up in the library of my small hometown rather than on the sports fields. So what else should I do but write?  I was a paint artist for a while—oils and still life mostly—but that didn’t scratch my creative itch like writing did. I put away the brushes and took up the pen… well, the computer. Finding myself widowed in 2009, I flirted with moving back to Texas where most of my family has resettled, but the pull of New Mexico proved too strong. Here is where I choose to be and here… I will remain.

I welcome contact by my readers, and the following are some personal links:




Here are buy links for The Voxlightner Scandal:


DSP Publications:


Barnes & Noble:




Universal Link:

Let me close with another expression of gratitude to Vicki for hosting this guest post. Thanks.


Guest Author: Andrew Grey



He doesn’t know that home is where his heart will be….

Firefighter Tyler Banik has seen his share of adventure while working disaster relief with the Red Cross. But now that he’s adopted Abey, he’s ready to leave the danger behind and put down roots. That means returning to his hometown—where the last thing he anticipates is falling for his high school nemesis.

Alan Pettaprin isn’t the boy he used to be.  As a business owner and council member, he’s working hard to improve life in Scottville for everyone. Nobody is more surprised than Alan when Tyler returns, but he’s glad. For him, it’s a chance to set things right. Little does he guess he and Tyler will find the missing pieces of themselves in each other. Old rivalries are left in the ashes, passion burns bright, and the possibility for a future together stretches in front of them….

But not everyone in town is glad to see Tyler return….

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A soft poke on the shoulder woke him, followed by another. Then a giggle and footsteps on the floor. Tyler kept his eyes closed, listening for another giggle and waiting for a pounce. When it came, Tyler held Abey as he tugged him up onto the bed, to much laughter. It had taken months to hear that expression of joy, and it rang in Tyler’s ears as the most wonderful sound on earth.

“I heard you,” his mother said as she cracked the door open.

Abey immediately stilled, grew silent, and then buried his face in the covers.

“That’s your grandma. She’s really nice. I promise.” Tyler held Abey closer and waited for him to lift his face out of the blankets. “It’s okay.” He sat up and lifted Abey along with him. He went right to him, burying his face in Tyler’s neck.

“I’m making you something to eat,” his mom said quietly.

“Thanks. I’m going to get him cleaned up, and then we’ll be out.” He held Abey tightly and grabbed some of their stuff. He had gotten used to doing a lot of tasks one-handed, and once his mom had gone and closed the door, Abey let Tyler put him down. Tyler grabbed some fresh clothes and things, then headed to the bathroom with Abey.

Tyler got Abey washed up and helped him dress. Abey wanted to do it himself, which took three times as long, but Tyler could be patient and was relieved that Abey was acting a little more like a normal three-year-old. “Are you hungry?”

Abey nodded.

“Grandma is making us something to eat.” Tyler knelt down right in front of him. “Your grandma is very nice, and she is going to love you a lot. I promise.” God, he wished he knew if Abey understood him at all. Most of the time, he talked but thought all of it went right over Abey’s head. Not that he could blame him. This entire situation was difficult for both of them, but all the change for Abey had to be overwhelming his young mind.

Abey hugged him around the neck, and Tyler lifted him up. Few things in the world were as rewarding as those hugs. He carried Abey out of the bathroom and back to the bedroom, where Tyler changed quickly and took Abey into the kitchen.


Andrew GreyAndrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

I spent some of my childhood in the country and I thought I would give you my top 5 reasons for loving horses

1) Power – there is something about the power encased in these animals that are also quite fragile.
2) Romance – There is something very special about riding a horse with someone you love.
3) Personality – Horses are unique. They act differently and they have personalities all their own
4) Intelligence – These animals seem to see everything and it gets reflected back at you in those huge brown eyes
5) Miracles – When I was a teenager, I get to witness the miracle that is the birth of a colt. It left a permanent impression on me.

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For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)