I just finished self-publishing my book, The Hierophant, a police procedural/thriller. Not only am I excited about finishing this book, which required a lot of study and learning, I also am pleased and surprised I actually finished the self-publishing route without hiring someone to help.


            There were some bumps along the way with the publishing, such as figuring out some of the steps which, of course, turned out to be easy. Well, isn’t everything easy once you know how to do it? And then, both my PC and my laptop crashed last Thursday and I had to get Xfinity Signature Support to fix them. It took two hours, but they did get it done and by that afternoon I had the book in the process of publishing.


            You won’t find it on Amazon or B&N for a matter of hours as I decided to lower the price. But it should be available soon. Pubit is having technical difficulties so it could take a while.


            Next, I will tackle Create Space and do the print version. I’m no longer terrified about doing this, especially since they have a template, which should make it a lot easier.


            About the writing of the book: I’d started The Hierophant a long time ago and it went through several metamorphoses. I first had it set in Chicago, where I grew up. Then it was in St. Paul or, rather, a fictional city like St. Paul. The next place was Hamlet, Minnesota, my fictional city created for my cozy series, the Mollie Fenwick Series. None of them worked. So, in 2008 I decided to resurrect the book and, this time, set it in a real place, the city I live in, Inver Grove Heights.


            Now, since I knew next to nothing about police work, never worked in a police station, and never have been dragged into custody, handcuffed and kicking and screaming, I decided I needed technical help. I called the police station, left a message on the chief’s phone, and figured I’d wait an eternity for a response. Much to my astonishment, a police lieutenant called me back, listed to what I wanted, and asked me to type up a list of questions and give them to him during National Night Out, which was in a few days. I did that, and thus began our association. I will continue to work with him on the second book, having finished the complete first draft during NaNoWriMo. The lieutenant is now Chief Larry Stanger of the Inver Grove Heights Police Department, and believe me, I’m grateful for the wonderful help I received.


            I also was lucky enough to participate in the Inver Grove HeightsCitizensPoliceAcademy this fall, a wonderful course that provided lots of good information and the impetus for the new book.

            Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of The Hierophant, actually, the very beginning. You’ll meet the antagonist right off the bat, and then the police investigator who is the main character in this novel, Victor Marino. You’ll also meet the newest investigator, Jennifer Solheim, whom he’s assigned to train in as an investigator.






Chapter One

The watcher’s pulse sped up and his heart swelled with pride as he viewed the crime scene through his telescope. He’d succeeded. But would her parents get the message? Would they recognize their crimes, their sins?

And what about Butterfly’s brother, the cop? When would he arrive at the scene, if at all? A patrolman stood talking to the plow driver, getting his story, no doubt. Not enough activity for the watcher. He needed and wanted recognition and acceptance.

Using his swivel chair, he rolled across the floor to his desk, removed a pack of Tarot cards from the center drawer, and laid several down. His hand shook and one more card dropped to the center. As if of their own volition, his eyes focused on the pattern – and then the last, unplanned, card.


As he gazed, transfixed, a bolt of lightning rent the air.

He shot his fist into the air, and stopped, his arm held aloft, the cry of triumph caught in his throat.

What if he’d misunderstood? Lightning in the winter was rare, but not unheard of. The last time, he’d read Zeus’s sign wrong, and had suffered horrendous punishment. The smell of fear hit his nostrils as sweat ran down his arm, his face, his entire body, soaking his sweat suit. The rest of the deck slipped from his grasp, scattering onto the table, his lap, the floor.

His heart thundered and pain radiated throughout his chest. He squeezed his eyes shut, waiting, expecting to seeMt.Olympus before him, and the twelve gods gathered to discuss his fate.

Would he always suffer for the mistake he’d made years ago? He pictured Butterfly, the beautiful and delicate creature who’d taken the place of the one who’d fled.

He shouldn’t have done that, but hadn’t he made amends – over and over again?

With a wild cry, he tumbled to the floor, vomit spewing from his mouth as tears streamed down his face.


“Odd” Victor Marino closed his cell phone and almost missed seeing the blue Ford Taurus at the side of the road, snow reaching almost to the top of the right rear tire.

The driver’s door opened. Legs, long ones, with tight black pants tucked into tall cuffed boots, appeared. His gaze reached the short jacket that ended an inch or so past her waist. Then he saw the fur collar.

The wildlife guys would go nuts.

Best of all was the long blonde hair, whipped by a gust of wind.

The blonde yanked open the rear door, pulled out a shovel, and began digging by the impacted tire. Her cheeks were red from the cold and her lips moved as if she were swearing at Mother Nature.

The nicely rounded derriere belonged to Jennifer Solheim, one of the patrol officers.

Marino put his lights on to warn oncoming traffic, eased out of his vehicle, crossed in front and stopped next to her.

“Need help?”

She stared for a moment, and then recognition flashed into her eyes.

“Thanks, Marino,” she said, giving him a grin along with the shovel, and climbed back into her car.

Minutes later, done with the snow removal, he put the shovel in her back seat and signaled for her to leave. As soon as she drove off, he slid behind the wheel and followed her right into the station lot.  “Damn,” he said, wondering if he dared break one of his do-not-break rules, never date a cop. So far, it hadn’t been a problem. The Inver Grove Heights P.D. didn’t have many females on the force, and the ones they did have were either married or not his type. He didn’t do well with women or partners. Couldn’t keep either. When the memory of his last partner’s death nagged at him, he shoved it aside. Time to go to work.

Calling to mind the message he’d received right before leaving for work, he shook his head. Why did Chief Higgins want to see him before he went to the crime scene? It didn’t make sense. A patrolman had found a body in McGroartyPark. That meant they’d have to secure and work the scene fast.

He entered the station, stamped the snow off his boots and set off down the hall to Chief Higgins’ office, Solheim maybe three feet ahead of him.

Sergeant Steuben, on his way out, inclined his head. “Hey Prof, what’s going on?” He glanced over his shoulder at Solheim, but went on.

“Prof,” Marino muttered. “When’ll they give that up?”

Solheim entered the Chief’s office just ahead of him, the musk scent of her perfume assailing his nostrils.

Suspicion lodged itself in the back of Marino’s mind. Nah, couldn’t be.

Higgins, facing the window, swiveled around, his chair squealing like a damn pig. He rolled up to the desk, placed both palms down on top of a bunch of files, and turned first to Solheim, then him.

“Sir,” Marino said.

“You remember about training someone?”

Aw, shit, it was what he’d thought. Marino ran his fingers through his hair. Weeks earlier, Higgins had mentioned getting a new investigator. Was Solheim the one?

“Yes, I remember.”

Higgins motioned to Solheim. “Marino, Jennifer Solheim is our new investigator. I’m sure you two will work out the details of her training, but right now you need to get out to McGroartyPark.” He coughed several times and cleared his throat. “Have Solheim stick with you on this.”

Then the chief stood, snagged a jacket hanging on a hook by the door, and left, his usual ramrod-straight body sagging.

Marino detected the menthol odor as Higgins passed. He must have dosed himself with something. Marino remembered his mother slapping a cloth on his chest when he’d been a child. Smelly. A lot like what was on Higgins. He hoped it would work. That was a bad cough Higgins had.

Marino exchanged a glance with Solheim before they stood, and then stepped aside to let her go first. She stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“No need to stand on ceremony, Marino. Just treat me like one of the guys, okay?”

Marino gave her the once over. Legs, long hair, beautiful green eyes. He swallowed before answering. “Right. One of the guys.”

She strode ahead of him, full of purpose, her arms swinging by her sides. This would be an interesting association. He couldn’t call it a partnership—they didn’t have partners in Inver Grove Heights, not with just three investigators. It wouldn’t be easy with her looking like she should be modeling swimsuits instead of doing police work. An image of her in a bikini, holding handcuffs, flashed through his mind. He swore under his breath and rubbed the back of his neck. Why hadn’t he seen this coming? Higgins had been concerned about equality in the past few months, leaning over backward to change from his former male-dominant attitude.

Joan K. Maze

writing as J. K. Maze


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