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Diversity in this Action-Packed Thriller--The Burn Patient

The Burn Patient is a gritty, action-packed L.A. thriller featuring African-American TV reporter, Beatrice Middleton and her photographer partner, Lucy Vega. It’s the third in the Vega & Middleton series with a fourth scheduled for release in 2021. If you like Rizolli & Isles, you might enjoy this series, too.

The relationship between Vega and Middleton is based on my real-life partnership many years ago when I was a rookie TV news photog hired by a Midwest station with two FCC sex discrimination suits against them. They badly needed a female hire so I became the token woman in the tech department and my female reporter colleague was the only person of color employed by the station. As the two outliers, were often thrown together on assignments.

A feature that makes my work somewhat different than others in the genre is that my stories are very multi-cultural with diverse characters. Beatrice Middleton is from an African-American family in Savannah, Georgia. Lucy Vega was born and raised in Southern California by a Mexican mother from Guadalajara and a Norwegian father from Oslo. After the family was killed in a car accident, Lucy’s uncle and his housekeeper took over her upbringing. I’ve found many authors afraid of writing characters of different races, sexual orientation, religions, and ethnicities from their own—afraid of a making a mistake that reveals a hidden bias or unrealized prejudice. Criticism can be harsh. But that’s our world today—a huge, wonderful melting pot--so I want to embrace it even if I screw up or stumble across my own areas of ignorance and insensitivity. It will be an opportunity to learn. As Tananarive Due, author and American Book Award winner says, “‘Diversity’ should just be called ‘reality.’ Your books, your TV shows, your movies, your articles, your curricula, need to reflect reality.” Overall, I think compassion and due diligence in research are the most important parts of writing about anyone well.

The Burn Patient’s protagonists, Lucy and Bea, are smart, passionate, a little reckless but very effective at what they do. Both have great integrity, hearts of gold, and would risk anything for family and friends. Despite differences in age, race, and experience, their values are such that they are true sisters under the skin. I have been blessed with wonderful women friends and colleagues from whom to draw inspiration.

The Burn Patient Plot Summary

Lucy thought she’d seen her uncle’s murderer, Gary Mercer, Hollywood bad boy and black tar heroin czar, die in Guerrero. Incinerated in a Jeep explosion while trying to put a bullet through her head, she didn’t know officials never found his body. Now, back from the dead with a new face, his perverted sights are set on Bea’s beautiful, naïve teenage daughter, Alyssa. Trafficking her into the porn industry would be the perfect instrument of revenge. While Alyssa sneaks off to audition for the music video that will result in her ruin, Mercer’s henchmen start a brush fire on Lucy’s Malibu ranch. She and Bea struggle to save Alyssa, the ranch, and end Mercer’s reign of terror before it’s too late.


More on The Burn Patient and other books by the author at

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Podcast with the author: The Rocky Mountain Writer at

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