08 July, 2013

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - The Gift: Part 1 by #Author Joyce T. Strand

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - July'13 ***

Publicist Jillian Hillcrest solves murders written by Joyce T. Strand that pop up at a small biotech company in Silicon Valley. When not sleuthing, she spends quality time with her ex-husband Chad Bradbury, who entertains her with the ultimate goal of reversing their “ex” status.  In the following Part 1 of a 2-part article, Jillian writes how Chad is challenging her with clues about a gift he will give her when she identifies it. 

The Gift: Part 1

Chad is driving me crazy.  He’s bought me a special gift for a non-occasion and will not tell me what it is. I have to figure it out before he’ll give it to me.

Chad is my ex-husband. About two years ago, Chad and I divorced after ten years of marriage. We got back together following the murder of a very dear friend of mine, and have been together ever since. And, yes, I do mean that in the so-called “biblical” sense.  

Chad loves to surprise me.  And he knows I relish solving mysteries. So he keeps feeding me clues about his gift. His first clue—which he stated with a grin and his silly derby hat askew—was:  “It’s bigger than a breadbox.” 

“That’s not very helpful,” I told his arched eyebrow.  

“At least you know it’s not jewelry.” 

The last gifts from Chad were my two cats: Uri and Stolrez, which he gave me as a way to help me recover from some adventures I experienced in pursuit of a missing reporter friend.  Since then, we have spent a lot of time together as I recovered from that event.  

So I decided to see if I could encourage my favorite (and only) ex-husband to share another clue. “Is it a new piece of furniture?”

Chad arched his left eyebrow again and shook his head. “Oh, c’mon. Would that be special? Next, you’ll be asking me if it’s a new mop or vacuum cleaner.”

I knew better, but I wanted another clue. “You owe me another clue.”

Chad smiled. “OK. It’s something to do.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“Jillian, no new clues until you guess.”

That didn’t seem fair, somehow, but these were his rules. I live in a revitalized area of San Francisco near the Giants ball park. So, just to keep the process moving along I guessed, “Tickets to the Giants/Dodger game?”

 Publicist and sometimes sleuth Jillian Hillcrest lives near the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium in San Francisco

“Now, Jillian, tickets are hardly bigger than a breadbox. But, no, it’s not a day at the ball park.”

“But now I get a new clue.”

Again, with the silly tipping of the derby and the arched eye-brow. “All right. It’s something to do NOT located in San Francisco, and, to be fair, it’s several “things” to do.”

Unfortunately the game had to stop because we both had to go to work. And, yes, we had a sleep-over at my apartment. We departed at the same time—me  to head down the peninsula and think about “things” I would do not in San Francisco, and Chad to speed off confidently across the Bay Bridge to work in Alameda. 


Murder intrudes on PR Executive Jillian Hillcrest's routine as head communications executive at a small Silicon Valley biotechnology company. She is eagerly staying "on message" to inform investors, the media, and the community about her company and its products. First, she receives a peculiar package. Then, a homicide detective calls. Jillian soon discovers that solving a murder is more hazardous than writing press releases.

PR Executive Jillian Hillcrest is having lunch with a reporter colleague when a woman enters and begs him not to print anything she's told him because they will kill her if he does. A few days later, the reporter tells Jillian that the woman was killed in a car crash in his hometown. The police ruled her death an accident caused by driving under the influence of alcohol.
Although Jillian is busy promoting her Silicon Valley biotech company, the reporter draws her into an investigation of his hometown's police department, located in California north of the Napa-Sonoma wine region. Coincidentally, Jillian's neighbor Cynthia Anderson wonders about the untimely death of her policeman husband years earlier as part of the same police department. Meanwhile, Jillian's ex-husband hovers over her to reverse the "ex" status. Unfortunately, none of them anticipates the frightening events that follow.

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Ms.Strand has offered to giveaway 5 Paperback copies of Open Meetings! Don't worry, they can be read as stand-alones and so even if you have not read book one, you can have a go at this one. The Giveaway is open to the residents of US, Canada, UK, New Zealand or Australia.

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