Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Unringing the Bell by Judy Higgins - Book Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

In the small town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania, people don't forget. Especially something as sensational as 12-year-old Jacob Gillis burning down the town. Nineteen years later, Jacob returns, hoping for redemption. Instead, he finds himself entangled in a murder investigation. The prosecutor, taking advantage of Jacob's involvement with the victim's beautiful sister-in-law, threatens Jacob with loss of career and reputation if he doesn't play by his rules. Only by outwitting the prosecutor can Jacob save his future.


When Jacob Gillis was twelve years old, he burned down the town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania. The fire didn’t actually consume the entire town – only two blocks of the four-block business section went up in flames – but when the folks in Goose Bend spoke of the incident, they persisted in saying that Jacob Gillis, abetted by his friend Charlie Garrett, burned down the town.

Jacob watched Laskey walk back to the Sequoia, his limp barely detectable, and for the thousandth time he wondered why his friend kept what had happened to his foot a secret. But there were some places Laskey didn’t go – formidable Laskey with his gruff manner and hard-muscled body. He was a private person and sometimes a grizzly bear, but he had a goose-down heart which he tried like heck to hide. But Jacob knew.

Laskey grasped the arms of his chair and pushed his feet hard against the floor to contain himself. For a brief moment, the thought had rushed through his head that a jail term for assaulting a DA would be worth enduring for the pleasure of smashing Inglehook’s head against his desk.

Laskey squared his shoulders, turned around, and looked Jacob in the eyes. “Don’t get yourself in a mess, Jake. Extrication isn’t always possible.” He started for the door. 
“Give back the painting,” he called over his shoulder. “And Jake,” he paused and twisted around. “Don’t ever mistake pretty wrappings for the quality of the gift inside.”

Guest Post


One morning, quite a few years ago, I woke up with the idea for a murder mystery in my head. I had just begun to find a little time to begin trying to do what I’d always wanted to do: write. I didn’t yet know that writing was a craft that had to be learned like any other– music, painting, dancing. I thought writers simply sat down in front of a computer or with pen and paper and the story poured out, ready to read, ready to publish. Years later, it comes as no surprise that my first efforts to write this murder mystery didn’t work. 

Shortly after I realized that my story wasn’t going to work, I sold my house, and moved to the Middle East (Qatar) for eight years. In my spare time I began work on a novel about a girl living in South Georgia in 1956. I got up at five and spent an hour writing before I went off to my teaching job at Qatar Foundation. 

When I moved back to the United States and settled in Kentucky, I had the backbone of a novel. I finished it up, named it The Lady, and submitted the rough draft to the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest. (This was in 2012 when it was still a contest; Sadly, Amazon abandoned the contest, replacing it with a contest that’s more about the popularity of the author than the quality of the book). When I got over the surprise of being named a finalist, and with my new found confidence, I decided to pull out the old murder mystery idea that I had abandoned. An attorney that helped me with some of my legal questions involving the plot suggested the name Unringing the Bell. 

The story is set in the small town of Goose Bend, Pennsylvania where “people don’t forget, especially something as sensational as Jacob Gillis burning down the town.” I added elements to the story that weren’t there before. Thirty years ago, two boys accidentally set fire to the small town where I lived in Pennsylvania. I decided to include a similar incident in my novel, making Jacob and friend the two culprits. Jacob returns to Goose Bend at the age of thirty-one. He’s now an accomplished environmental attorney. His greatest wish is to redeem himself of the accident. Instead, he does just the opposite, entangling himself in the murder investigation when he becomes involved with the beautiful sister-in-law of the victim.

 My own son’s father died when my son was in the second grade, so I made my protagonist, Jacob Gillis, lose his father, at the age of ten. The best friend of Jacob’s father, Detective William Laskey, steps in to act as surrogate father to Jacob. I have dedicated this book to all the young men who grew up without fathers and to the mothers who raised them. 

Meanwhile, a friend told me a story about what the male students in his high school class did regarding the senior prom. I was so intrigued with the story, that I decided to weave it into Unringing the Bell. This story is the source of conflict between Jacob and the beautiful sister-in-law of the murder victim. 

After laying the story aside for so long, I was ecstatic when an agent liked it enough to offer me a contract for representation. He also suggested that I make it part of a series. Thus: Bucks County Mysteries. The second book in the series, Bride of the Wind, has come out at the same time as Unringing the Bell. I’m looking forward to writing the next book, Death by Oboe, based on the relationship between a mother and daughter. Death by Oboe will be a dark, dark novel.
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About the Author

Judy Higgins was born in South Georgia where she grew up playing baseball, reading, and taking piano lessons. To pay for her lessons, she raised chickens and sold eggs to neighbors. She attended Mercer University for two years, and then Baylor University from which she graduated with a BA in German. She received her MA in German literature from The University of Michigan. After teaching German for several years, Judy decided to become a librarian and earned an MA in Library Science at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
Judy’s life took an exciting turn when she left her teaching job in Pennsylvania to be Head of Library at the Learning Center School of Qatar Foundation. She lived in Qatar for eight years, enjoying the experience of living in a different culture and traveling to exotic places during every vacation. Recently, she returned to the United States and lives in Lexington, KY. Judy has two children, Julia and Stephen, two children-in-law, Jim and Erin, and four grandchildren: Kyle, Jon, Karina, and Addy.

Judy’s first book, The Lady, was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon Break-out Novel Award. The first two novels of her Bucks County Mysteries, Unringing the Bell and Bride of the Wind are available March 1, 2018. The series is set in an imaginary small town in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Call me Mara, the story of Ruth and Naomi, is scheduled for publication in March, 2019.

In addition to writing, Judy’s passions include travel, tennis, elephants, and playing the piano.

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

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