Book # 6 in The Pauline Sokol Mystery Series

THE BASICS
IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! IT’S PAULINE!

Normally, insurance fraud investigator Pauline Sokol likes to keep her feet firmly on the ground. But her latest undercover assignment has the aero-phobic ex-nurse flying high--as she takes off to ground a land-and-air ambulance company that’s been doing some rather flighty billing. Even having ER Dano, the company’s best (and hottest!) paramedic in the copter seat next to her isn’t enough to soothe her queasy tummy.

But her insides really start doing loop-de-loops when one of the company’s owners is brutally murdered--and Pauline starts receiving creepy phone calls…from the killer! Suddenly the air looks a lot safer than the ground. And if Pauline doesn’t crack this case soon, even mouth-to-mouth from her favorite paramedic won’t be enough to revive her.







Dead On Arrival Excerpt:
One

I stared down at the Jagger-handwritten note that said, “Case number six. Practice your driving skills, Sherlock. We’ll talk in the morning--at our spot.”
Our spot.
Suddenly the noise, from Goldie’s “nose-revealing” party, in my parent’s house brought me back to reality. My dearest roommate and second best friend was now celebrating the success (in his opinion) of his recent plastic surgery. Gotta love dear Gold. We all did, especially my other roomie, Miles. They were two of the best guys in the world, and although each had their own little quirks, I loved them dearly. The guys. Not the quirks. But, I had to admit that on a daily basis I looked forward to seeing Goldie’s outfits--especially when he wore Armani from the women’s department. Then again, he looked handsome in men’s Armani too, but, when in his female mode, I always learned some fashion statement from him that I later stole for myself.
And since knowing Goldie, I was looking better and better.
Maybe there was hope for me yet.
I stared at the note again and decided I had to forget that Jagger had called Dunkin Donuts “our spot” as if he thought we really were an “our,” (be still my foolish heart) and forced my mind back to case #6. That was my sixth medical fraud insurance case to investigate.
Practice my driving skills. Hmm. Okay, I’d be the first to admit I was no Mario Andretti, and, okay again, I admitted to closing my eyes when driving but only if something bad was about to happen. So what could case #6 be about?
Me and Jagger racing in the Grand Prix?
I started to laugh when I felt a presence behind me. My hormones readied to explode and turn to see Jagger, but unfortunately, very unfortunately, I turned to see Fabio Scarpello. My boss. A definite misnomer.
Then the recent revelation by none other than Jagger that he was, in fact, a Tonelli, making him my boss hit me. Hard.
I grabbed and subsequently startled Fabio. “Is Jagger the owner of Scarpello and Tonelli Insurance Company? Does he own it? Do you? Is he my boss?”
Normally Fabio would have called me “doll” and brushed off any of my questions with a curse or two, but he looked directly at me. Damn. Was that fear in his eyes? No one had ever been able to say who Jagger really was. What was his last name? Or first name for that matter? And who he worked for.
Until now.
However, I always figured Jagger intimidated Fabio.
“Well?” I yanked on the lapel of Fabio’s dark brown polyester suit. “Weeeeeeell?”
“Ha!”
“Ha? That’s all you have to say? Ha doesn’t explain shit, Fabio. Tell me the truth!”
Finally he reached both hands up between my arms and pushed me until I lost my grip. While he tried to straighten out his always-wrinkled suit, he said, “I own it.”
With that he turned and walked down the steps, out to his car and drove off with me standing there--back to square one.
And here I thought I’d had some information on Jagger.
Not to mention that I thought he was my boss!
What a fool! No one got any information on Jagger--unless he gave it to them.
#
The next morning I pulled into the parking lot of the local Hope Valley Dunkin Donuts. Hope Valley was not exactly a booming metropolis, but it was where I was born, raised and lived my entire life.
As a tiny, very ethnic town with a green in the center and bordered by Hartford, Connecticut one of the largest insurance capitols, Hope Valley was the center of my existence--which said a lot. Sad but true.
After burning out of a very successful nursing career, I decided to throw that profession out of the proverbial window and landed (through my roomie, Miles, who had connections all over town) this job. Pauline Sokol, ex-Rn, medical insurance fraud investigator.
I smiled to myself as I watched Jagger’s black Suburban pull into the spot next to me.
I licked my lips. Only because they were dry!
I couldn’t eat a thing if my mouth dried like the Sahara each time the guy appeared. And appeared he did. Mostly when I least expected him, but I will say, he’d taught me a lot of what I now knew about investigating medical insurance fraud.
Limited amount. Sure. But when he gave me his standard “Atta girl, Sherlock” I melted--and knew I was learning and growing in this profession.
I rolled down my window. “Hey.”
Once he got out of his SUV, he nodded, paused and when I got out of my Volvo, we both walked in to get our coffee.
Jagger did the ordering--as usual. The thing about that was, it always gave me a jolt that he knew exactly what I’d want. Hazelnut decaf, light and sweet with one Splenda, and either a Boston cream donut or a French crueler. Today I was in the mood for French.
“Give her a French crueler,” I heard him say to the clerk--and didn’t even blink my eyes.
However there was no denying the little hormonal surge inside me.
Yikes.
It was always a yikes kinda moment, hearing that Jagger could just about read my mind. I turned my flushed face away from him so he wouldn’t read those kinds of thoughts.
After we got our order, I followed Jagger to the last booth by the window.
Our spot.
Sometimes though our spot was out in the parking lot--in his SUV, which was big enough for a family of four to vacation in. I actually debated about whether Jagger lived in the Suburban that wanted to be an RV.
But even if I asked as a direct question, there was no telling if he’d answer.
He was just that mysterious.
And I loved it. Damn.
He sat down and took a sip of his coffee. Black. Natch. Nothing pretentious about Jagger. “We start today on your sixth case, Sherlock.”
He used that little nickname for me in jest--at first--since I started out in the profession knowing nothing. But now he used it more as a term of respect for my learning the job.
At least that’s how I chose to view it, and I was going with that permanently.
“Yeah, six.” I took a sip of my coffee, licked my lips and broke off a piece of crueler but before I shoved it into my mouth, I said, “What the hell did you mean about driving?”
He leaned back and looked around Dunkin Donuts as if half expecting some spies to be nibbling muffins and sipping coffee and listening to us.
When he looked back at me, my hand shook, so I shoved the donut into my mouth. The shaking wasn’t only because of him looking at me--that was normal. This time it was how his eyes grew concerned that made me shake and eat. Jagger was going to fill me in on my next case--and it troubled him.
Yikes again.
You didn’t want Jagger troubled. Although I had to say, I always felt safe with him.
I chewed and swallowed. “Come on, Jagger, tell me about my case. The driving bit. Etcetera.”
He sipped his coffee very slowly. Very deliberately. Very Jagger-like.
“Reports are that there is some suspicious activity going on that is costing the insurance companies money. Big money.”
“Then you’re not talking about my case.”
He chuckled.
“Actually I was serious. You know I never get the big money cases.”
Over his cup he said, “You have to start somewhere, Sherlock.”

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Biography

After working thirteen years as a registered nurse, four of which she felt like "Hot Lips Houlihan" while serving in the United States Air Force, Lori Avocato picked up a book and said, "Hm. I can write one of these." Yeah right!

Oh, she wrote several all right--twenty-one to be exact--but getting them published proved to be another matter. Throughout the years, she realized it was not an easy task to write a book, much less a short, concise one. Oh how wrong Lori was!

However, now as an award-winning author, Lori is multi-published with twenty-one books currently sold in which her humor lends itself to her comedic voice. She writes contemporary novels and often uses her military, medical, or a combination of both backgrounds in her plots.

Recently Lori has found her niche writing her new series, The Pauline Sokol Mysteries. Her ex-RN character, Pauline Sokol, becomes a medical insurance fraud investigator. Now she is working on a new series called "Lethal in Lace." Yikes! Stay tuned for details.

As an Air Force veteran, Lori belongs to RomVets and The Nathan Hale Chapter of Military Officers Association. As a writer, she belongs to The Author's Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America along with several local chapters.

Lori lives in the New England area, raising two sons (Heaven help her!), and, of course, continuing to write novels. She'd love to hear from you via email at LAvocato@​cox.net

Promotion & Writing Tips
Lori Avocato’s Promo Tips (September 2004)

Okay, here's some of my promotion "wisdom."

First lesson for writers is to "dissect" your book to see what groups to target. Example. My humorous romantic mystery, A Dose of Murder, is about a Catholic Polish American burned out RN who becomes a medical insurance fraud investigator. So, I targeted Polish American Organizations, Insurance companies, nurses, hospitals (the one I graduated from and all I had worked in), the colleges my heroine graduated from (SCSU and Yale) and even nursing magazines for national coverage--by writing an article for them. I also sent a letter to a Catholic Newspaper since my heroine has a devotion to a particular saint, St. Theresa. To all of the above I sent: An ARC, brochures, bookmarks, business cards, page of reviews, press release and cover letter stating the connection with the book. (i.e. the heroine graduated from your nursing school).

The setting of my mystery is an orthopedic office. Twice in one week I had to take my aunt and then my son to an orthopedic surgeon. So, I loaded up my purse with brochures and bookmarks and passed them all out. The doctor said, "Don't tell me the surgeon is the murderer!" I said, "I'm not going to tell you anything. You have to buy the book to find out!" Instant sale. Always carry brochures with you and politley hand them out. Here's my sure-fire statement that always has gotten me a smile, a thank you, and a promise to look for my book: "I am a writer with a book due out September 28. Here, let me give you one of my brochures." No one has ever said no thanks. If you say something like, "Would you like a brochure?" they can say "NO." Use positive words.

I made up a tri-fold brochure with a "hook" scene from the book and all the info about where and when to buy it. I believe that readers are not necessarily going to buy a book because the name of it is on a pen or magnet, however, if they read a part of the scene and want to know more...they will buy!

I made two-sided bookmarks and had them professionally printed. I included this short blurb: "Burned out registered nurse becomes a medical insurance fraud investigator only to be yanked back into the nursing field by an experienced hunk of an investigator who she just can't say no to--until she stumbles upon two dead bodies." The blurb is to "hook" a reader in case they only got the bookmark and no brochure. Also, I had a few good quotes on the back of the bookmarks.

I also sent out small "buyer" packets. These included: ARC or bound gallies, brochures, bookmarks, business cards (which I tucked into a nice little baggie) and candy. I used Strawberry Twists because there are so many twists and turns in my story. Then I printed a one-page list of my best reviews and quotes and added that along with a cover letter introducing myself. I picked all the buyers in big chains and small independent stores that are in various parts of my state especially the affluent areas. Then I picked buyers from various parts of the country to get good coverage, including Hawaii, and Canada. The bookseller in Hawaii emailed me that she would put my books in the front of the store when they arrived. Also, my book is in a second printing before it is even released. This, I attribute, to the promotion to booksellers.

Wrote a press release and sent it via email to all the newspapers in my state. Several have asked for an ARC to review.

I belong to several loops online and every time some chapter requests goodies or handouts for a workshop or conference, I send. I include a brochure and bookmark for the number of attendees they say will be there. When I attend a conference, I bring the brochures to pass out. For these, I have tied a pen with my name on it to each brochure. I think people are more likely to take the brochure if it is in a bright color and has a pen attached.

I volunteer to judge all contests that I am asked to. This is my way of giving back to organizations like RWA or MWA and it also gets your name out there. I always sign my score sheets.

Ever since I started writing and was pre-published, I volunteered. This helps out the chapters and conferences, but also gets your name out there. I believe word of mouth is a big seller of our books so you need name recognition early on.

I hired a publicist to send out ARC's(Advanced reading copies) of the book to booksellers. My book went into a second printing before it even was released. I think sending the ARCs out is the reason. You can do this on your own. You don't need to hire a publicist, but when you can afford one, it is well worth it. I used Judy Spagnola of Book Trends.

Contact Judy Spagnola at info@​book-trends.com to read about her services.

**So much can be done online by cutting and pasting a general letter that you write, and occasionally tailoring it to whomever you target.

**With the exception of hiring a publicist, most of these tips are not too expensive. Set yourself a budget, check around for good deals and don't use expensive, shinny paper for something that is going to be read and thrown away. Do, however, use bright, catchy colors. The tips are time-consuming--until we build up our names in the business. I think we need to spend the time to promote our books and ourselves, especially for that first sale.

Example costs for me: 1000 tri-fold brochures printed at Staples= $125 (I made the file first and brought it there as a floppy disk or CD), 10,000 bookmarks (two-sided with color book cover) by a printer in Florida = $200.

Check around for price quotes first! I don't recommend you spend your entire advance!

Selected Works-Click on red title for excerpt

Humorous mystery
The Pauline Sokol Mystery Series Book #1
The first book in The Pauline Sokol Mysteries, A Dose of Murder, is a wonderful medical-world story enlivened by an exceptionally fun and sassy voice. In it, a burned out registered nurse becomes a medical insurance fraud investigator only to be yanked back into the nursing field by an experienced hunk of an investigator who she just can’t say no to--until she stumbles upon two dead bodies.
The Pauline Sokol Mystery Series Book #2
Pauline Sokol, ex-RN turned medical insurance fraud investigator finds herself embroiled in a scam of senior citizens...and Viagra fraud. If that isn’t bad enough, one of the old geezers has fallen for her...and two have mysteriously departed from this world.
The Pauline Sokol Mystery Series Book #3
Ex-RN Pauline Sokol finds herself confined against her will in a psychiatric hospital when she goes undercover to investigate fraudulent brokers who match patients with treatment facilities--for a bounty as high as $4000.00 a head. A master plan of escape ensues when “doctor” Jagger shows up...until the broker is found dead.
The Pauline Sokol Mystery Series Book #4
Blurb: Sailing over the bounty seas is not the ideal case for ex-RN Pauline Sokol who has never been out of New England. But when her sleazy boss, Fabio Scarpello, offers her the chance to work a case on The Golden Dolphin--sailing through the Bermuda Triangle is the least of her problems. Murder, mayhem and a missing nurse take center stage while Pauline is trapped on the ship, her roommate murdered, and Pauline’s name is next on the list.
The Pauline Sokol Mystery Series Book #5
For her latest case, Pauline Sokol is assigned to investigate plastic surgery fraud in swanky Newport, Rhode Island. To get inside the exclusive “spa”, she must go undercover as a private duty nurse. Now all she needs is a suitable well-heeled patient. Luckily, her best friend and colorful co-worker Goldie fits the bill (and the high heels), and he selflessly volunteers for a nose job. Once she’s infiltrated this surgical playground for the rich and spoiled, Pauline discovers that someone in the practice is scamming the insurance companies. More than a few of these jet setters have become addicted to plastic surgery and many of the women’s husbands have refused to pay for any more elective “changes.” So someone is making up diagnoses so the (inflated) costs are covered without anyone being the wiser. A “nose job” has now become a “repair of a deviated septum for better breathing.” But a simple case of semantics soon turns deadly when a male secretary’s body is found floating fifty feet below the jagged ocean cliff. As she struggles to keep herself out of danger, Pauline can’t believe her non-altered eyes when the enigmatic Jagger shows up to at the B&B where she’s staying. But even her hunky cohort can’t keep her safe when a simple case of going under the knife is anything but cut and dried.