Writing Effective Characters by T.M. Williams – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Writing Effective Characters

One of the most common mistakes that even seasoned writers make is creating ineffective characters. I’m a reader before I’m a writer and I’ve spent most of my life reading and loving books. One of my biggest pet peeves is a character that doesn’t pop off a page and a character that is black and white, good or evil. No one in real life is like that. Even Adolph Hitler had a reason for doing what he did. There were people who saw good in him, why? There were people who loved him, why? He believed he was doing the right thing. Although, today, we agree that he was an evil man – that wasn’t the general consensus when he was alive. There were many who gave their lives for him.

Yet, when we write a protagonist – we tend to forget they have their own back story or a reason to being who they are. When we write our hero or heroine, they’re flawless in their decision making. They never have a truly selfish deed and everything falls into place. Do we really know anyone like this? So why do we write this way?

The dialogue of a character speaks volumes for them. Here are some great questions to ask yourself about your character:

Are they verbose?
Do they beat around the bush?
Do they use a lot of idioms?
Are they soft-spoken?
Are they always playing the peacemaker?
Is their English broken?
Are they more of a listener than a talker?

A real hero usually has a lot of help from those around them, whether it was a direct or an indirect influence. These are all things to keep in mind when writing a character. And hardly anyone ever speaks or communicates with each other perfectly.

Example of bad dialogue:

“I’m going to need a lot of help with rescuing her so I’m going to ask John and Jill to help me. Then I’ll give you a call so you can pick us up,” Monica said.
“I think that’s a good idea. I’ll go to the warehouse and wait there with your mother.”

Shoot me with boredom! This is a major revelation in a story and there’s no mystery. A better way would be:

She paced back and forth, repeatedly running her hands through her hair.
“You’re going to need help,” he stated.
Monica stopped in her tracks and pressed the heel of her hand to her forehead. Shaking her head she said, “I know, but I can’t ask them to do that.”
“They’d want to.”
She took a deep breath and pulled her cell out of her back pocket. “Okay, I’ll call John and Jill.”
He nodded and his shoulders slumped, relaxing. “We’ll wait for you at the warehouse,” He forced a smile. He stood up and wiped his hands absent-mindedly on the front of his jeans. “I’ll go pick up your mother,” he said as he walked out of the apartment, leaving her alone to make the call.

This was just a quick way to demonstrate painting a picture. Which dialogue gave you a better idea of the type of characters we’re dealing with? Which dialogue painted a better picture? Through the dialogue in the latter example we saw the main characters stress in having to ask for help. We saw that this was a big deal and was something she was hesitant to do. We also see that perhaps the male character is someone she trusts because she is quick to take his advice.

Often times, the biggest statement made is without words.

4_17 BookCover_ClustersSeven year old Olivia Baxter and her dog vanish while playing in the front yard of her family’s home. After a week of searching, Olivia’s body was suddenly found in the closet, even after the police had thoroughly investigated the home.

Ethan Franco is a troubled journalist working for the Washington Gazette. His inability to move on from the past has deflated the passion he had for his career, causing him to lose his edge. Frustrated with Ethan Franco, but not wanting to lose his once star journalist, Editor-in-Chief, Jameson Stone assigns him a story to cover as a last chance to prove he could be the reporter he once was.

Ethan Franco begins his investigation into the mysterious death of Olivia Baxter and other unexplained disappearances, believing there may be a connection in the cases. No sooner did Franco begin his investigation then he realizes he is being tailed by government agencies.

Large footprints in the woods, strange sounds, foul stenches, and a looming government presence become pieces of the puzzle in cases of the missing.

Inspired by real events, the author of the Bohemian Grove trilogy and the Apocalypse brings forth a story that has been kept a secret for over a century — a story that a large group of people are still trying to keep under wraps.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Just as Michael reached for the pot of coffee, replaying that scene in his head for the thousandth time, a noise from the back room stopped him. Claire was closest to the hallway where the sound came from and she spun around quickly, drawing her gun.

Deena shot up to her feet, her eyes bright with concern. “Who’s back there?” she whispered to the officers.

The Captain shook his head. No one was back there. Michael had checked the bedrooms just an hour before, like he had done every morning, hoping to find some missing clue as to Olivia’s sudden disappearance. Claire backed up to the north side of the hallway while Sean and Craig flanked the other side, their guns drawn as well.

The noise came again, clearer this time. “Is that a dog?” Claire whispered, her eyebrows drawn together in a deep V.

Whimpers filled the home, followed by – scratching? Claire narrowed her eyes as they made their way quickly down the hallway toward Olivia’s bedroom, with Michael leading. As they entered her room it was clear where the noise came from.

“I think that’s our dog,” Deena said, wide-eyed.

The rangers all exchanged looks. The family dog had disappeared the same morning as Olivia.

Michael approached Olivia’s closet door and motioned for Craig and Sean to flank his right. He opened the door in one quick motion just as the frightened looking dog bounced out of the closet, causing Michael to stumble back at the sight inside.

Deena’s tortured scream pierced the air as she fell to the floor, crawling over to the dead body of her little girl, curled up on the closet floor.

About the Author:4_17 AuthorPhoto_ClustersT.M. Williams began her writing career by accident when a song inspired a story. Once she discovered the writing bug she couldn’t stop. Since starting her writing career late in 2012 she has gone on to write several more novels, including two Amazon best-sellers.

She writes Experimental Fiction and Non-Fiction. She is also a freelance journalist, copywriter, and public speaker.

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Metamorphosis by RW Reels – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

4_16 BookCover_MetamorphosisMetamorphosis: The Trey Parker Story, the first novel in a three-part paranormal thriller series. A young male is forever changed after a near death experience. His incident invites the attention of a covert Government agency. A gritty detective remains diligent in discovering the facts of the incident and encounters opposition from the unlikeliest of places.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The Chief says, “Explain the circumstances regarding the arrest of Thomas Barstow today.”

Tightening his arms around his chest, Landis knows this is the bullshit he was warned about in the academy. This is the part of the force he did not sign up for. Serving the community is only 5% of it. The other 95% is this shit.

Landis says, “Well, sir, I was writing parking tickets on East Kansas Avenue when I got the 9-1-1 call of a possible sexual assault in the area.”

The Chief interrupts. “Did you receive a call from police dispatch … or did you overhear dispatch make an all-units call?”

Landis labors to take in a deep breath. “I should say that I overheard the all-units call.”

Special Prosecutor Lancaster is already taking notes and barely looks up. Landis stares at the prosecutor and is not sure he has ever seen someone scribble so fast. These bastards are setting him up.

“Officer Landis.”

Landis brings his eyes back to the Chief. “Yes, sir?”

“Please continue.”

Landis sighs and begins to see the victim all over again in his head as he relives the events. “Well, I overheard the call and was about two blocks away, so I went to the address dispatch mentioned. Once I got there, I realized that I was the first on the scene.”

The Chief asks a question everyone in the room knows the answer to. “When you say that you were the first on the scene, does that mean you were the first responder?”

“Yes, I was the first responder,” noticing the special prosecutor has stopped writing to look at him for the answer.

The Chief nods. “Continue.” The special prosecutor goes back to writing.

“I saw the victim was an African American female that was beaten. Her face was bloody … she was missing some front teeth and had two black eyes. Her nose was all …”

The Chief’s voice grows louder. “What did you do after seeing the victim, Landis?”

His heart beats in his throat, Landis yells, “I went after the bastard next, that’s what I did.”

The Chief relaxes his posture and lowers his voice. The look on his face reveals he just got the answer he was looking for. “We don’t go after bastards, Officer Landis … We follow evidence that leads us to perps.”

Landis remains tight-lipped and redder than a stop sign, squeezing each armrest with both hands.

The Chief asks, “What is the first responder’s primary duty?”

Landis lets out a deep breath. “To secure the scene, call for medical attention if needed, and to wait for backup.” Rage makes its way in as the young cop grits his teeth. “Do you mind telling me what the fuck this is about? I take a fucking rapist off the street and …”

Before he can finish, the Chief rises to his feet and raises his voice. “This is about protocol, kid. Something your hotheaded ass didn’t follow. Because of your dereliction to duty, a rapist may end up going free unless the DA can find a way to save this case. If you want to be a police officer on my force, then you have to count for one … You must, count for one. This was not the work of a trained police officer.”

His face as red and hot as a branding iron fresh off the coals, Landis stands. “This is about truth. Do you remember our front seat companion that gives us the right to kick a bad guy in the ass? Well, it’s justice. And that’s what the victim got today. Justice.”

The fed up Chief waves off his green officer. “Save your speeches until you run for office. This type of shoddy police work is why you will never make detective … You find value in seeking the truth versus following procedure. Go pack your desk. You’re looking at a two-week suspension, son.”

About the Author: 4_16 AuthorPhoto_MetamorphosisMy infatuation with writing was born before I ever took my first breath, somewhere on the rural plains of Eastern North Carolina, nourished by the adventures of my grandmother’s childhood. From the time I was only four or five years old, her memories gave flight to my imagination and fuel to my curiosities. Her stories widened my eyes to the fascinatingly bizarre in the everyday.

As a young girl, my grandmother would bring her puppy with her to stalk rabbits every morning. The two of them would chase an unlucky long-eared rascal until it escaped into a hollow at the base of a tree, and she would run a stick around the inside of the opening as though churning butter. The spell of the sound and vibration would lure the rabbit out of the tree and into her hands.

Good fiction, inventive and provocative fiction, reverberates in readers and spellbinds them. It can spur surprise, delight, discomfort, and revelation and defy reason. As a storyteller, I strive to help others solve their problems by sharing things that I have read about, heard about, and seen. But I also prize the look on people’s faces when they hear the brilliant punch line of a joke, or when they experience an epiphany that knocks the logical wind out of them. These are the reactions that I live to inspire in my audiences when I write paranormal thrillers.

My obsession with the extraordinary in my writing might also, ironically, stem from my 20-year career in the U.S. Army. I can allow my mind to wander in the extraterrestrial sphere while my love for my country keeps me grounded in domestic affairs. Of all of my accomplishments, serving as a paratrooper in a Special Forces Group and a Field Artillery outfit during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm claims high rank. Few situations force a person to confront his humanity as painfully as going off to war, and this experience taught me both to accept accountability for my actions and to trust others. Eventually, I became a successful Army Recruiter and Station Commander, earning the Top Recruiting Station awards in Dallas and Seattle Recruiting Battalions. North Carolina Central University granted me a Public Service Award for my work in the local community. And currently, I serve fellow veterans as an HR Specialist for the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Other passions of mine include playing chess, traveling, and indulging in my contrarian nature by instigating debate. Spending time with my wife tops the list of my life’s privileges, however. Whether I am entertaining her with my emulation of Laurence Olivier as Marcus Crassus or protecting her from an elk during one of our photography excursions in the wild, I treasure her companionship and affection.

When I was twelve years old, I announced to my Aunt Becky and Cousin Tony that I wanted to write a book. They stared at me in astonishment. The world of publishing was an enigma to simple country folks in Beaufort, North Carolina in 1982. These days I am achieving my dream with the ebook, a medium through which I can express my individuality without sacrificing my voice to expectations of marketability, popularity, and deadlines. My goal is to create an opportunity for escapism that is bold and absolute.

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My Take on Critique Groups by Edita Petrick – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Edita will be awarding a Kindle copy of “Ribbons of Death” gifted from Amazon to 4 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My take on critique groups

You’ve worked hard on your first 2,000-word chapter of your brand-new mind-child and you’re absolutely sure it’s ready to be sent to your critique group, for praise and nothing else. Of course, you agree to abide by the conduct rules of the workshop and why not? There’s nothing to fear about. You’re the epitome of respect and courtesy, fairness and honesty—heck, you’re the foremost crusader for honest reviews…and then the first critique comes in and every single curse and insult that you’ve ever learned bubbles up on your lips. You want to hurt all of them, all at once, at the wretch who dared to rip your darling apart.

This is the reaction most often echoed in any workshop-member’s response when asked how he or she felt about his first critique.

I’ve been a member of Fiction Writing Workshop for more than ten years.

It is an Internet Writing Workshop, run off the Penn State University servers. I’ve lost count how many offensive and downright threatening emails I received from a workshop member whose submission I critiqued. There are moderators of course, but once the email is hurled out there for workshop members to see, it’s hard to backpedal for its author. And precisely because most authors, beginners or established, do not react well to critiques, I tell those who ask me about the critique groups to simply stay away from them. They are not for everyone. In fact, they are for very few who have developed their professionalism to a point where they’re able to look objectively on any form of critique and either disregard it or learn from it. There are really only those two options that emerge from a critique. That’s the main reason for my cautionary advice.

The writer who is just beginning to develop his writing craft is cocooned in a bubble of heady optimism and lofty dreams of glory and recognition that his writing will bring him. The mid-level writer’s optimism has somewhat cooled off and he is in a stage where doubts start to set in. He is at the point of difficult decision: Continue or give up writing and focus his energies on something more rewarding. The next stage is what I call “count-to-five-groaning” stage. At this stage, the writer will read the critique, groan and then count to five and re-read it again and again and again, as long as it takes, to ascertain whether the critiquer has a valid point or whether to dismiss his critique. Regardless what his decision, he will write a polite ‘thank you’ note for the critique.

When the writer reaches this stage, it would be beneficial for him to join a critique group – but not before he is able to self-identify that he is in ‘author-developmental’ stage. It takes a great deal of courage, self-control and medication-of-your-choice for the writer to reach this stage. Is there a way to get ‘here’ from ‘there?’ Sure there is. And I don’t mean to develop a thicker skin.

Ten years ago, after receiving a critique that was well-meaning but hurtful nevertheless, I walked around for 4-5 days, tossing my reply to the critiquer over and over in my head until it literally worked itself out of my system. Believe me, few if any people can go for days silently cursing and hurling insults at a disembodied name. Life will interfere; other more pressing needs will wash out the pain and anger and by day four, you will be ready to let go of the hurt and get back to the serious business of improving your writing craft. As times goes by, the length of time it takes for you to get rid of the anger becomes shorter and shorter until finally, the writer reaches the stage where he is able to read all critiques, good and bad, with equally stoic expression and only an occasional sigh.

This is the stage where joining a critique group will be actually quite beneficial. Especially if you manage to find one or two members whose observations you’ll come to trust. These will be the equivalent of your publisher’s editor (or freelance professional editor, as the case may be) that you will work with toward a common goal—to produce a flawless manuscript that shines for your reading audience.

In conclusion, those writers who are just starting to develop their writing craft should stay away from critiquing groups and workshops. Their confidence and optimism would only get undermined by the members’ varied and often ill-targeted critiques. New writers should direct all their energy into self-learning and reading works of established writers. Critique groups are beneficial to mid-level writer who is able to take away some kernel of knowledge from any critique. It is also important for the mid-level- and-higher writer to find the right-fit critique group. Basically, if the author does not feel ‘at home’ after one or two critiques he or she should leave the group and find another. And those writers who are ready to seek publication, can join a critique group as means of staying in touch with others learning the craft, but they would be better off finding one or two high-level editors to show them what is still lacking in their craft.

4_9 ribbons BookCover_RibbonsOfDeath When a horribly scarred man knocks on the door of Stella Hunter’s ramshackle cottage in upstate Montana, she lets him in. What’s there to lose? The book critics killed her chances to warn the world about myths and legends behind the myths and legends.

But once the man pushes a book smudged with bloody fingerprints across the table, Stella sees a glimmer of hope. She may yet repair her academic reputation. She may re-establish her credibility within the scientific community and she may vindicate her ‘peace-taker’ theory. She may also be murdered by anyone standing next to her if her theory is correct.

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Enjoy an excerpt:

“Of course. Why didn’t you just say so,” he said gruffly but knew she’d see that his eyes were laughing. Then something occurred to him. “Wasn’t the Benedictine order founded by St. Benedict?”

She rapped her knuckles on the back of his hand. “No. He only wrote their rule—its prologue and seventy-three chapters—commonly known as RB. It spells out basic virtues a man should have—humility, silence and obedience. It also gives details of common living and sharing. Many a broken marriage today would still be intact if the partners had only taken trouble to learn the ins-and-outs of St. Benedict’s Rule.” She let him ruminate on her lecture and turned to McEwen. “What’s in the tabloid/diary that would interest me?”

The antiquarian resumed his story. His friend Peter immediately set to translate the Latin text of the diary and, when finished, he sat back reflectively, much puzzled how such a fanciful tale could have indeed been written by a monk. Brother Lucien, the scribe at the Clairvaux Abbey, was inspired to become Abbot Bernard’s unofficial biographer when he heard that clergy in Paris had already started this noble pursuit.

About the Author: By profession, I’m an engineer and ten years ago, I left a corporate job to concentrate on writing. It was perhaps the scariest thing I’ve done. Of course, there were other considerations at the time, life, kids, economy and my mother who was battling cancer. I wrote as means of staying grounded because I had to hold it together. There was no one else to pitch in. There wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t have doubts about whether what I was doing was the right thing or not, but doubts come and go, while the need to write goes on forever. Since 2005 I’ve published 5 books and this year alone I have 6 new ones coming out. I live in Toronto with my family and our two pets – wheaten terriers. And whenever I’m tempted to look back, and start second-guessing my past decisions, I sit behind the computer and start another book. At least for me, that’s a cure-all.

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Interview and Giveaway: J. Frank James

Long and Short Reviews welcomes J. Frank James, author of the Lou Malloy Crime Series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win a Kindle copy of the book.

J. Frank James is a pen name, and I asked him how he came up with it.

“My father was killed in WWII a month and a half before I was born. He liked to be called Frank. J. Frank James is a reversal of his name. I figured that was the least I could do. It also allows me to think about him always. My heart goes out to those kids who have to face life without a parent regardless as to how it happened.”

We asked Jim what inspired him to start writing.

“suppose I could say hunger, but that would not be right. As having had some experience in the field of being a journalist as well as a photographer having worked for a major newspaper group known as the Gannett Group with one of their newspapers while attending the University of Florida where I obtained a degree in Journalism and one in Advertising, the ability to communicate ones thoughts was a challenge and as law student as a member of the law review where I was published as well. Later on as a lawyer, it was a great help in writing appellate briefs. So writing always of interest.

“About ten years ago I started to outline some fictional pieces and eventually I wrote some short stories in support of my thoughts. Actually publishing the work never entered my mind. Then one day I was sitting in an art gallery on the coast of Georgia and a man walked in and asked me if I could help him. He was looking for a picture of logs floating down the Altamaha River. It seemed he was a publisher who was looking to publish a historical piece on life in central Georgia and he needed something to put on the cover in the way of a picture that would be germane to the book. In the course of our discussion he asked me what I did and I told him, for lack of a better answer, that I was a writer and so it began. Two weeks later I started writing my first book, Lou Malloy: The Run Begins and I followed that up with Dead Money Run. To date I have written ten books of which six are available on Amazon and four soon to be.”

He admitted that between attending the College of Journalism and Advertising at the University of Florida, then working for the Florida Alligator (a college paper) and the Gainsville Sun, it seems like he has been writing forever. And, once he finished college and law school, the need to write never ceased.

“I once though about the number of words I have written since entering college and the number is staggering at best,” he told me. “Therefore, having started college in 1962 until present is a significant amount of time, fifty-two years to be exact. The phrase ‘Time Flies When You Are Having Fun’ comes to mind.”

Jim’s first book was a novella, Lou Malloy: The Run Begins. He started the book in June, 2013, and finished it in a month. He began Dead Money Runs in August, 2013. Since then he has published six books with four more in the wings.

When it comes to good writing, he thinks the most important thing is to entertain the reader–to bring the reader into the story.

“There are a lot of very good writers today. I think that is because of the diversity of our society and the growth of the electronic age,” he said. “I think in due time there will not be books in written form unless they are text books or research texts. The growth of Kindle and I-pads will eventually eliminate written books. In fact the need for brick and mortar public libraries will be a thing of the past. Everyone will have some form of electronic reading device. Companies like Amazon will be giving them away.”

He has a new book soon to be released called Finders, Keepers, which is about a missing ship that was supposed to be transporting $400 million in diamonds to the United States for payment of oil sold to South Africa. The ship has gone missing and has not been seen for years. Lou Malloy has been requested to find the ship and obtain the diamonds. However, the real need here is to secure the whereabouts of a weapon of mass destruction known as a Electro Magnetic Pulse device or EMP. The weapon is being sought by a Islamic group to be used in their effort to wage war against the western powers that oppose their agenda. If they should obtain the device then most countries in the northern hemisphere will be at risk to be annulated. Malloy and his team must stop them at all costs and still keep the return of the missing diamonds on his radar screen. The twist at the end of the book is that Malloy suspects the diamonds never were missing because they never made it to the ship and never left South Africa, but were taken by a Russian operative who was supposed to be helping the US recover the gems.

Currently, he’s working on a new character- Indigo Marsh. Indigo is more of a detective series and less of a crime action-adventure series. Like Lou Malloy, Indigo has his own rules he lives by. His word is his bond, but he’s not beyond breaking a few heads to get his point across.

Jim does all his writing on his laptop and, when he’s writing, he is able to shut out the world, so he’s able to write anywhere. He does, however, have an office in his home in Atlanta and another at his home south of Savannah on the coast. He has another profession as a consultant in the fields of mergers and acquisitions, which allows him the luxury of writing without the concern on selling books.

He would like to write a western series, as well as one about a Franciscan who travels through time solving religion-related mysteries.

“Both are works in progress and the first books will probably be out next year. Right now I have four books to complete in the Indigo Marsh series and four in thee Lou Malloy series,” he said.

“What is your most embarrassing moment?” I wondered.

“When I first started writing I felt fairly sure that I had a good handle on the use of firearms. Being the owner of several weapons, one of which is a Glock 17, I felt confident in using them in a book. In one of my books I make use of a Glock and I wrote that Lou clicked off the safety. A Glock does not have a safety. I should have known better since I owned the weapon. It was a silly mistake.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“I probably am not the best person to give someone advice in this area. The reason being my entry into the field was anything but planned. When I started writing I didn’t plan on being a writer. I had some ideas and I wanted to develop them. As time passed, I began to develop a protagonist and built a book around him. That protagonist was Low Malloy. So how do you build a story around a character? A book will either be plot driven or character driven. Plot driven books are generally written in the third person with the writer being an omnipotent participant as the book develops. I like a story built around a character because it gives me more control and quite often I find my characters talking over the book. However that said, I would advise a person to be sure they have a passion for the game. This not a profession for the weak of heart. There is a lot of disappointment in being an author. When you get a no, you have to pick yourself up and go to the next page.

“Remember one thing. Do not surrender control if you can help it. There are a lot of publishing houses that are only interested in helping themselves. After all, they are interested in making money first and you second. One other thing, we as authors, are blessed with Amazon and as a self-publisher with Amazon, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Last but not least, get a good proofreader and a person to edit your book. Sometimes you can find a person who can do both. That is the best of both worlds. Then, if you can afford it, get a publicist. They will earn their money. Again, be careful to find the right one.”

4_8 james all 4 books

4_8 james Dead Money Run CoverLou Malloy has just maxed out on a fifteen year prison sentence for the theft of $15 million and just before leaving prison he learns that his sister is brutally killed. As he is leaving prison, he’s told to keep his nose clean or he would soon be back. As far as Malloy is concerned all bets were off until he finds his sister’s killer. In the meantime, he has to fight off predators trying to get their hands on the money he stole and keep from being sent back to prison trying to protect those dear to him. He catches a break when he meets up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator with an agenda of her own, She has been hired by the insurance company that paid on the theft claim of the money stolen from the casino by Malloy. In the course of events, Malloy and Kelly become more than just friends and Kelly decides to throw in with Malloy. Together they work to uncover exactly what happened to Malloy’s sister and why. Their search involves a vicious gang led by a vengeful old man and his crazy son who has his own problems keeping his hands off other women. To make matters worse, Malloy and Kelly’s search is complicated by the fact that Malloy’s sister was really a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security and she was working undercover when she was killed trying to locate the whereabouts of special plates to produce counterfeit currency that if the plates end up in the wrong hands, whole banking systems of major foreign countries could collapse overnight.

As Malloy and Kelly race to find the killer of Malloy’s sister, they enlist the help of Crusher, a pro wrestler who served in the cell next to Malloy at the Atlanta Penitentiary. The decision is made for Malloy and company to hit the same casino again that Malloy robbed fifteen years ago by a special ops unit of the Department of Homeland Security. The plan is complicated by the fact that the ops unit is a phony setup led by a former agent turned rouge who is backed by another vicious gang with international contacts intent on getting their hands on the missing money plates. Malloy decides to go through with the heist of the casino a second time, but on a different schedule than planned. If they don’t make it they have no way to return to the real world. They are in a make or break it race. Read as they race to the finish line and learn if this where the run ends or the run begins….

Dead Money Run is a fast paced, action packed, crime thriller. This is the first book in the Lou Malloy Crime Series.

About the Author: J. Frank James is the author of crime thriller novels. His crime fiction books are gripping and suspenseful with readers being unable to put them down once they get into them. Jim has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thriller novels, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation.

Jim’s experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. Not only that, Jim has traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thriller novels from his travels. Some of the countries that Jim has visited include Peru, Brazil, Italy, Greece and countless others. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with.

At present, Jim has published four crime thriller novels in the Lou Malloy Crime Series: The Run Begins, Dead Money Run, Only Two Cats, and Blue Cat In Paradise. They offer the readers just enough information to keep them guessing and trying to solve the crimes until the end of the books when they are actually revealed. Jim’s books are also fresh and unique takes on crime as well, though. They are not the same whodunit type books that have been done over and over again. By infusing his personal travels into his books, Jim creates characters and atmospheres based on just enough truth to be relatable.

Jim’s books have everything in them from robbery to prison to family. They have hard and soft elements simultaneously to really capture the life of a hardened criminal who is still very human and struggles with the same emotions as the rest of society. At the same time, Jim gives the reader perspectives from private investigators to balance out the story.

Jim’s books even have a hit of romance when his characters come to care for each other as more than just friends. Then, crime and love mixes to create a dynamic atmosphere that is even more complicated than ever before since characters care not only for each other but for their other family members as well. Jim has an amazing way of incorporating various elements into his latest crime novels to create thrillers that readers cannot get enough of, which is perhaps why all four of his books so far carry on one from the other to continue the same story concerning the hardened criminal who did 15 years in prison, Lou Malloy and who comes to be his partner, private investigator, Hilary Kelly. The two of them go it together to create gripping stories that keep readers coming back for more.

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Spring Blogfest: Kathryn Lively

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Win 1 eBook or 1 audiobook from the author’s backlist by commenting on this post. Also click on the banner to enter the rafflecopter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC, one of four book packs, or one of four swag packs (US only on book and swag packs).

The Rites of Spring

Each Easter break I try to use the time wisely for myself and the little one. If you don’t plan ahead, you wind up spending five days in front of the television or hunched over a digital pad, playing video games or sinking into a never-ending hole of Pinterest boards and Vines. I love the cyber-age, and wouldn’t trade this time to live in any prior era, but I do recognize the need to go outside and breathe in the air.

My daughter cringes at the thought of using downtime for educational purposes. Vacations are simply that, time away from the books and sentences that begin with “Did you know…?” Two years ago we visited my mother in Florida, and took a side trip to Disney World. Fun, yes? Of course, but Disney is a learning experience. On that trip we learned two things:

1) The budget hotels on the property have paper thin walls.
2) Everybody in the world goes to Disney World for spring break.

Last year I conceded to a trip to New York City on the condition that we visit one museum. I chose MoMA and we enjoyed ourselves. My daughter has a strong interest in art, and it’s one essential stop for anybody visiting the city. Securing her good behavior required a trade-off visit to the big Toys R Us in Time Square, but it was worth it.

This year, back to Florida, mainly because I need to thaw out. I don’t have an Easter break officially, but as I work remotely I can do so in the Florida sun. It takes some adjustment to write in unfamiliar territory, but as long as the girl occupies the grandparents I should be fine. It’s the long drive to and from there I don’t relish. Flying is preferable, but cost prohibitive now that the girl is considered an adult in the eye of the airlines. I’d consider a train and knock out a chapter or two on the ride down, but time-wise it is longer and less comfortable.

More than anything, I want to relax this break and regain some feeling to my fingers. Typing in the cold helps, but only so much. I look forward to a visit to my favorite bookstore in my birth-town, a day trip to St. Augustine, and wearing short sleeves.

Is it time to go yet?

KillingtheKordovas600

Words come easily to writer Danni Hewitt. If only success did the same. The news of America’s latest reality sweetheart inking a major book deal sends Danni spiraling into depression, to the point where the idea of soothing her jealousy with a murderous rampage appeals to her.

Of course, this requires getting close enough to Krystal Kordova and her family to draw blood, something Danni achieves when she manages to land a job as Krystal’s ghostwriter.

Is the pen deadlier than the sword? Stick with Danni and find out.

About the Author: Kathryn Lively writes romance and mystery, and drinks wine. She is searching far and wide for a good pair of noise canceling headphones.

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The North Country Confessional by Craig Charles – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Craig will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

3_25 BookCover_NorthCountryConfessionalFamily roots, teachings, and tradition permeate Darby Weeks’s existence despite a two decades old decision to walk away from a life of privilege. They have given him the courage to survive under impossible conditions, but the most challenging of them all comes from an unexpected place: his return home. As heinous crimes peppered with riddles begin to plague the North Country, Darby’s reappearance back home sparks an old rivalry between two families, releasing an evil to wreck vengeance upon everything around them. Darby’s proposal of a truce between them not only fails to appease the rival family’s thirst for retribution; it fuels it. And the town of Bretton Woods lies between the two when old passions ignite and set forth new determinations to win an old struggle.

Reunited with an old flame and guided by a pompous blowhard, Darby sets out on a journey to learn the truth about his family’s past and their ancient blood feud with a ruthless industrialist. Darby’s quest leads him all over New England, from the rare books library at Dartmouth College to Author’s Ridge – the final resting place of the literary greats Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Emerson. Darby discovers family he’s never known and an insidious danger lurking in the arms of a rekindled love.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Pickford Marsh looked up at the heavens and scowled, covering his head just as the sky opened up and began to spit on him. He would rather be anywhere but here tonight. Dark water pelted his raincoat as he scurried toward the safety of the hotel’s portico. Removing the spattered coat, Pickford reshaped his thinning comb-over which had been victimized by the wind; he started the long descent to The Cave.

The former speakeasy was one of the few places he didn’t despise in this ancient relic of a hotel. It reminded him of the medieval dungeons of Europe where tormentors had worked their magic centuries ago. He smiled at the thought, revealing a mouth full of coffee-stained teeth and the stench of rotting flesh. Just wait, he thought to himself, you’ll get what you deserve.

Pickford slithered into the dank room, moving quickly through the iron-gated doorway and into the private back room, near the bar. Taking a seat in one of the darker corners of The Cave, he blinked his eyes, trying to adjust to the darkness, then he checked his watch. He’d wait just five minutes before leaving.

The end of a cigarette glowed as a figure in the dark just across the table from Pickford began sizing him up. Squinting into the flickering shadows, Pickford searched for something familiar. He saw only a cold blackness that pursued him in his nightmares. He stood up, preparing to leave, when an arm reached out and violently slammed him back down in his chair. Startled by the force, Pickford began to plead, “I don’t know who you are, but you’ve got the wrong —”

“Oh, Iscariot, I’m hurt,” teased the voice. “After all we’ve been through, you don’t remember me?”

Pickford’s mind raced as he searched the confines of his memory, trying to make sense of the stranger’s words. The arm pulled him in closer, threatening him with more violence.

“Perhaps this will jar your memory,” the voice hissed, just before planting a deep wet kiss on his lips. “Sit back and listen closely. I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do, for something wicked this way returns.”

About the Author:3_25 AuthorPhoto_NorthCountryConfessionalI’m a native New Englander. I grew up in the sleepy shoreline community of Madison, CT. After graduating from high school in the late 80’s, I headed out West and spent a wonderful six years living in, exploring, and getting lost in the deserts of Arizona. After earning my B.S. from Arizona State University, I headed back East trying to find my path in life.

I found myself trying out MANY different careers. I learned the art of audio engineering and worked at a major recording studio in Manhattan for a while. I learned the nuances of fine wine from a wonderful South African man and sold libations in his high-end store. I sold power transmission equipment as a manufacturer’s rep in the Northeast. Next I ventured into the publishing world when I signed on with Yankee Magazine working in their Community Partners Program. It was here at Yankee’s headquarters in Dublin, NH that I fell in love with the art of writing and beauty of the Great North Woods of New Hampshire. I met tremendous people and embarked on my own quest to write an engaging mystery novel set in New England. However, I couldn’t ignore the internal pull I felt to work with young people. I went back to school and earn a Masters of Education degree and embarked on a career as a special education teacher working primarily with autistic children. This has been my main profession for the past 14 years as I continued to write and work towards mastering the craft of writing. I love the creative process of writing and editing.

In short, I’m a life long learner who continues to absorb all I can about the world around me.

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Key to Lawrence by the Cargills – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter will receive a historical, 100-year-old postcard of the Lusitania – a valuable collector’s item. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Water rushed into the four, great smoke stacks of the ship as they, too, hit the waves. Tremendous, churning whirlpools sucked victims inside. A few were ejected, blackened with soot. Propellers rose above the maelstrom. The rudder lifted higher than the smoke stacks. The ship’s prow pointed down toward the deep. It looked as if the ship’s nose would hit the sea bed hundreds of feet below. The Lusitania sank in only 18 minutes after being torpedoed on May 7, 1915. Dora Benley vowed revenge on the enemy. Key to Lawrence tracks the beginning of her quest for justice in this special edition of the first volume of the Edward Ware Thriller Series. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Great War.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Manhattan — Saturday, May 1, 1915

The stranger stared at Dora’s package. A wide-brimmed hat shaded his face, revealing only a dark beard and mustache. Smoking a small, cheap, stubby cigar, dressed in a nondescript, ill-fitting dark suit, the man strutted towards her in a menacing fashion. Blueish-white cigar smoke curled upward in a lazy corkscrew. It vanished into the air several yards above his head.

Twenty-year-old Dora Benley quickly stuffed the surprise birthday gift for her father into her satchel. Holding a green parasol edged with black fringe over her head she skirted crowds of well-dressed, gossiping passengers waiting to board the Lusitania. Dressed in a full-length, aquamarine dress with white lace around the sleeves, Dora moved as far away from the intruder as she could without falling off the edge of the pier.

She searched impatiently for her parents. They were supposed to rendezvous with her at 11:00 AM. By now it was almost noon!

A man and woman reporting team burst upon the crowd at Cunard’s Pier 54. They were trailed by a photographer and his assistants carrying a large folding camera and a tripod. The reporters hurled themselves at the passengers.

“What do you think of the German announcement?” The male reporter thrust a copy of The New York Times at Dora. He pointed to the advertisement prominently displayed on the front page.

About the Author:

The Cargills docked at Southampton and explored the South of England in preparation for this thriller, Key to Lawrence. They also sailed the North Atlantic just like Dora Benley. But their transatlantic voyages were on the Queen Mary 2 instead of the Lusitania. They made use of the American Southwest where they live to depict the Syrian Desert that was home to Lawrence of Arabia. Visit their website. Read their blog. Linda also has a Facebook Fan Page.

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What I Learned From My Hero by K. Williams – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. K. Williams will be awarding a grand prize of a paperback of OP-DEC: Operation Deceit (US only) to one randomly drawn winner and a digital copy of the book to 10 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

What I learned from my hero…Carsten Reiniger, the lead male character of OP-DEC: Operation Deceit

There is so much that we learn as we write, things about ourselves—the world at large. This may be why I approach my projects with a mix of apprehension and excitement. Can I pull this off, and how will it change me?

I put off undertaking the writing of OP-DEC: Operation Deceit for years. I wanted the story to be right. I had had this fantastic dream, and the narrative derived from it was worth mulling into a workable story. The hero, even more so. He was mysterious, dangerous and quite attractive. However, in the weeks it took to draft the initial copy, I learned his depths. Most of those depths wouldn’t be plumbed until the sequel, which I had yet to plan. A sequel wasn’t even on my mind until a reader asked if there would be more Carsten to come, or if this was a single instance. It took little convincing for me to pursue the idea, as there was so much more to say about him, as I learned through examining the text during my Master’s study.

The final push to get me to write the book was pursuing a Master’s degree in Screenwriting. OP-DEC was the perfect story. It would be fresh for me. It hadn’t become the effigy of my struggle that my first novel had become. I was excited about the story, and that story would be exciting to readers and viewers alike. My professors and mentors at the college were very much excited to work with me on the project. So the writing concluded before that fall term and the book was released at about the same time. The reviews were all good: tight characterization, complex characters, good handling of the historic details and wild ride that is a must-read.

In the midst of what I learned during the graduate program, probably mostly due to the exploration of archetypes via Carl Jung, Carsten became a figure that was so complex to me that I realized one book would do him little justice. Where was his drive to be this thing he’d become? Though Claire is terrified of Germany and the German people because of the propaganda she’s been exposed to, why is she willing to pursue his affection? Is it simply an aberration of the kidnapping—Stockholm Syndrome? It had to be more than that.

Wending through it all was this appreciation of German culture, and sorrow for what that European State had done, and those Germans trampled under foot to see it happen. My research led me down many paths. I spent time with U-Boat crews, learning about the upper echelon and the men who served. I spent time with German dignitaries. The icy chills down my spine were thrilling and alarming. I simply love this period of time. That said, as we glorify the good, we tend to try and wipe clean the bad—or hide it, or at the very least make a clear demarcation between good and bad. Carsten taught me that you cannot do that. The German people, through him, spoke to me about their war experience and the nightmares they too were exposed to. It was German citizens in those camps—regardless of religion or political bend.

Recently, I saw a photograph taken of a German soldier, Josef Schulz, who threw down his weapon, refused to shoot the Yugoslavian civilians his corps had lined up, and was asked to join them.

His resistance is not that well known to the rest of the world. It should be. Carsten taught me that, with his resistance to the power that yokes him in OP-DEC: Operation Deceit. Never forget. 11 Million people were killed during the Holocaust; 6 Million were Jews, 1.1 Million were children, the rest were a mix of Germans and conquered groups who stood in the way of the Nazis, like Josef Schulz). https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-holocaust

kw_op_dec_2015_cover.ai A shadowy past becomes a sinister future… It’s 1933 and the height of Boston’s social season. Claire Healey overhears a terrible argument between her industrial-tycoon father and her socialite mother. Claire’s father sends her mother away, declaring she is hysterical with fatigue. Displaced by this disastrous outcome, Claire is brought to New York by her spirited aunt, to be raised beyond the reach of the damaging turn of events.

Nine years later, Claire returns to her childhood home to face her past once more. The world has long since exploded in war. A mysterious stranger named Carsten Reiniger has infiltrated the scene, placing his commanding presence among the old familiar faces of Boston’s elite. Intrigued by the newcomer, Claire struggles to piece together his identity and finds a dangerous connection to her troubling past. When Claire’s prying comes to light, she and her aunt are whisked away in the middle of the night to ensure their silence. Can Carsten Reiniger be trusted or is he implacably loyal to duty alone?

Enjoy an excerpt:

Claire was relieved her father had not taken up with a Nazi. Rumors of Americans sending their money overseas to the fascists had spread wildly back in New York. She blushed at having dared to think it of her father. Ever since that horrible day so long ago, Claire found fault and suspected everything her father did. She no longer wanted to do that, as it must have been routed in lingering blame for her mother’s displacement.

Clasping her hands in her lap, Claire still felt Carsten’s touch on her skin. She lowered her eyes to the floor, thinking of how silly she’d acted despite being a graduate of a prestigious girls’ school and certainly no longer a girl.

“I have a fabulous idea!” Claire’s father sat up again. “Why don’t you show Carsten a little of Boston for an evening? He’s been working so hard at the factory—I’m liable to burn him out. It would do him good to get out for once. I’ve given him no time to see anything but machinery. What do you say, Claire?”

Claire’s mouth went dry. She knew nothing about the young man her father was pushing at her. Regardless of his resemblance to the god Apollo, he spoke with a unsettling foreign accent. Besides that, he might as well prove to be a deity for all they had in common. Her eyes darted to Carsten. She crossed her legs and clasped her hands on her knee. She struggled for a response, but Carsten silenced her with a smile.

About the Author: Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she continues to reside, K.Williams embarked on a now twenty year career in writing. After a childhood, which consisted of voracious reading and hours of film watching, it was a natural progression to study and work in the arts.

K attended the State University of New York at Morrisville, majoring in the Biological Sciences, and then continued with English and Historical studies at the University at Albany (home of the New York State Writer’s Institute) gaining her Bachelor’s Degree. While attending UA, K interned with the 13th Moon Feminist Literary Magazine, bridging her interests in social movements and art.

Currently, K has completed the MALS program for Film Studies and Screenwriting at Empire State College (SUNY), and is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Foner Fellowship in Arts and Social Justice. K continues to write and is working on the novels of the Trailokya Trilogy, a work that deals with topics in Domestic Violence and crosses the controversial waters of organized religion and secularism. A sequel to OP-DEC is in the research phase, while the adaptation is being shopped to interested film companies. Excerpts of these and more writings can be found at: www.bluehonor.com.

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Heart-Shaped Stone by Arby Corry

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Arby Corry will be awarding $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Enjoy visiting with the author!

On Character creation:

I love this question because it’s my favorite part of writing. The thing about character creation, for me anyway, is I never go in with an outline of exactly who that person is. I know she’s female, likely conflicted, or a guy who’s about to give up everything he loves for the woman he loves – that’s it! As soon as type hits paper, so to speak, the characters slowly start to reveal themselves to me. They tell me what to say, where they’re going and how we’re going to get there and I just type. I have a writer friend who plots everything, including her characters, ahead of time. She knows their age, what they look like, what they do for a living. Still, she creates amazing reads. I cannot plot effectively. It just doesn’t work for me. I feel it’s much more natural to just let the characters do the talking and I’m always happy with the results.

10 things most people don’t know about you;

Well, I got a couple for you. My “real” job is as a radio announcer. I’ve done it for many years, working in the radio business as a disc jockey plus creating commercials for airplay. I love it and have found my writing skills come in handy when creating interesting spots. Another thing people don’t know, and probably comes as no surprise for someone who does what I do, is that I’m terribly shy off air. I’ve gotten much better about this through the years but there is definitely a transformation that takes places when one sits in the “air chair” and gets to become the life of the party for five hours a day. People mistakenly believe dj’s are always on, yeah, not so much. When the mic goes off and I leave the studio, I leave it all behind! However, I have gleaned some interesting characters from the request line that ultimately find their way into a storyline.

Lessons I learned from my hero (heroine/villain);

Cliché as it sounds, “don’t give up.” My protagonist, Caila, fights for everything she wants. And when what she wants changes, she’s fights for that. I found this to be true in my own life. The more vocal you are (strange thing for a radio dj to say) the more you’ll be heard. It’s easy to sit on the benches and wait, but much harder to say, “Coach, I’m ready, put me in.” Fight like your life, or more accurately, your self-esteem, depended on it.

One of my own writing quirks.;

I act out the dialogue of the characters. I find it lends a more authentic voice to not only them but to the story. I immediately get turned off when reading a novel with contrived conversations. In radio we speak, and write, for the ear. It’s come in handy when creating interesting characters with interesting, and real, exchanges.

If I’d never heard of me would I read my book?

What a great question. And, yes, it’s true. Instead of falling ever so easily for the “well you never heard of ___ before ___ book,” let me just bring that around to my own personal truth. If just one person read this book and enjoyed it, I would feel as if I had done my job. However, I have tons of faith in this book because I not only enjoyed writing it, but reading it as well. At the risk of sounding braggadocio, let me just say that everything about Heart-Shaped Stone clicked – the characters, the plot, the twists. I can’t say that one-thousand percent with other things I’ve written. I urge people, women in particular, to read this story because the feedback that I’ve had from women is very encouraging. It hits all those things we love.

How to handle negative criticism;

I’ve got one review I can’t shake and it kills me! But it’s a fair and honest review. She went into a lot of detail about, well, detail! I pride myself on being a thorough editor but still, she found things. To me they are minor, to those who love my book, they are minor, but they are still real things. When all is said and done I take heart in that the book is one not to be over-analyzed. It’s simply a very fun ride with awesome characters, twists and turns and an ending no one, not even myself, was expecting. I say read the first chapter and you’ll be hooked.

The making of a writer in your genre;

Easy answer…because I love a good love story and a complicated one all the more. I think it’s safe to say you’re attracted to that which you love most.

What would I tell a new author?

Believe in your product! Yes, I didn’t say story, I said product. Some take umbrage with that but in the end it’s truly a product. And I don’t mean that in the sense of a marketable, “make-me-tons-of-money-now” way, though that would be nice, but that you’ve got to treat what you’ve done like a product. This is what makes the best salespeople the best…they believe in their product. Believe in what you’ve written. If you don’t, that’s a sign something is wrong.

The hardest part about writing is…

I’d say the middle. It became like that couch you just loved in the furniture store. You take it home, admire your “I could have been an interior designer” taste, throw pillows on it and invite everyone to come see it and sit on it. But by month three you notice it’s sagging in the middle. The ends are still quite lovely, giving your couch a great beginning and ending, but there’s something about the middle that’s not right. You throw more pillows on it, hoping no one notices the middle is just a means to get to the end. But in the end there’s no getting around that your middle needs less cushion and more fabric.

Caila, like most dreamers, just wants to be wanted. Unlike most dreamers, she’s wanted by the CIA.

When the last decade of thirty-two year old Caila Domenici’s life disappears, destroyed in a car accident, she is forced to begin again. Defying doctor’s orders to slow-go-it, she sets out to navigate the world on her own. It’s not going well. Coddled from birth, everything from a bus schedule to how to boil water confounds her. Worse yet, she’s about to accept her meddling mother’s offer to pay for food and rent. With just a hunch her talents extend beyond that of daughter of privilege, Caila searches for her past. Before she can find it, it finds her. And the handsome azure-eyed stranger who’s saying he knows her is somehow part of it.

Caila always believed there had to be more, but now, on the verge of discovering the truth, she must decide which is worse – never knowing who she really is, or knowing too much.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Reese was being too nice. Something was up – their deep conversation the night before, the bubble bath, the tea, turning down her bed and now breakfast? Caila wasn’t suspicious by nature, and in most cases trusted more than she should, but where Reese was concerned she dropped all pretenses and questioned his every move. He was much too calculating to not see opportunity in everything he did. Caila recognized that in him right away. Her mind was now churning with theories. Why, if he was up to something, would he be so blatant with this sudden kindness? Did he think she would not notice?

 

Then she imagined the most unexpected thing.

Maybe he wasn’t up to anything at all. Maybe this was another side to the man she detested right from the start. The invader, the man who came to make her life a living hell and push aside her father may not, after all, be the man she believed him to be. But even that theory was short lived. No, she thought, he has a motive.

About the Author:Arby Corry has spent the last twenty-five years in the radio business. Performing every job from radio announcer, to program director, to commercial producer to copy writer, Arby gives voice to characters found just on the other end of the request line. Her debut novel, Heart-Shaped Stone, has received critical acclaim as well as delighting readers with its fresh approach. Arby believes in real characters, with real voices. And while a happy ending is always satisfying, she believes life has other plans. When not on the air or writing her follow-up to Heart-Shaped Stone, Arby enjoys spending time with her husband, children and the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.

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Joe Cosentino – Interview and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Joe Cosentino. His newest release, Paper Doll, the first book in the Jana Lane series, is released today from Whiskey Creek Press. Post a comment about your favorite ex-child movie star. Who is it? Why do you like him/her? The staff at Long and Short Reviews will pick the comment that tickles their fancy the most and the winner will win an electronic version of PAPER DOLL, a mystery/romance novel by Joe Cosentino.

Joe usually starts a new project by writing an outline and character biography–and in Paper Doll, he wanted to share his love of movies and moviemakers with his readers.

“I have always been fascinated with ex-child stars like Hayley Mills, Shirley Temple, Patty Duke, and Brooke Shields. I also included the important concept of someone rediscovering her lost self-worth and confidence,” he explained. “My heroine, Jana Lane, is an ex-child star who has lost her self esteem as an adult. Through the course of the book, Jana not only solves the mystery of her past, but also reclaims the courage and fortitude she had as a child. This is an important message for all of us.

“Jana’s agent, Simon, came about as I recalled various agents and managers I worked with in the past. He is amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, loyal to Jana, and most importantly, I want to play him in the movie version!

“Jana’s sister, Tamara, was hardest to write since, unlike most of the other characters in the book, Tamara does not have a sense of humor. She came about as I remembered visual artists I’ve known who were amazing creative artists but had very little people-skills. Tamara is a tortured soul with a secret and painful past. She loves her sister yet at the same time envies her. It was difficult for me to get into her mindset, but once I did, I believe I represented her well.

“Jana’s best friend Jackson was the most fun to write because he is so funny, smart, charming, and devoted to Jana (and her husband). I also like that Jackson is a gay activist back in 1980 when it wasn’t so popular. I created him when remembering back to the gay men I met in the 1980’s in NYC who were hysterically funny, resilient, and tortured inside from years of being the victims of homophobia and heterosexism.

“I love that the story takes place in the early 1980’s since I had fun with real events, music, fashion, and mindsets from the time period. I also love that the story takes place in locations dear to me: NYC, upstate New York, and Hollywood.”

He’s just completed the second book in the Jana Lane series, Porcelain Doll, which takes Jana to the next stop of her career and personal life, as well as an M/M novella, A Shooting Star which takes place in the theatre department of a college. Since Joe is a college theatre professor/department head himself, he knows a great deal about that world.

He has another M/M romance novella available: An Infatuation, published by Dreamspinner Press.

“Like all of my writing, it is full of humor and drama,” he told me. “Here’s the blurb: With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.”

He is also writing an M/M comedy mystery series set in the world of theatre academia. The first two books, Drama Queen and Drama Muscle are completed, and he’s working on the third, Drama Cruise. Lethe Press is publishing the first book in the series this summer.

When Joe was a kid, he played make believe constantly. He became as actor in film, television, and theatre, working with stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. You can see him in a theatre skit at .

“Morphing into writing plays and now novels seemed like the perfect progression,” he told me. “It occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give writing a try. I knew my first novel would be a show business story, since show business has always been such a huge part of my life. As an avid reader of hundreds of mystery novels, it was clear to me that my novel would be a page-turning murder mystery with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, humor, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion.”

He actually started writing about twenty years ago when he began writing musical play adaptations for young audiences that tour throughout the northeast. His adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is available at Eldridge Plays and Musicals.

“It was a great way to begin writing since children’s audiences can’t be fooled,” he explained. “They know what is funny, touching, and real. They also get restless if a character or storyline becomes stagnant. You learn immediately what works and what does not. After that I wrote one-act plays and eventually full length plays that were performed in regional theatre and in NYC. Working with other actors and directors helped me hone my writing skills. Two years ago I was finally ready to tackle fiction writing. Paper Doll is my first full novel.”

“If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to a movie, what would you pick?” I asked.

“Since I come from a show business background, each of my novels and novellas is theatrical. I think An Infatuation and A Shooting Star would make great indie films. The Jana Lane mystery series and the Nicky and Noah mystery series would make terrific television series. When you read them, I’m sure you’ll agree. So film and television producers, contact me and let’s get the slate board cracking!”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“I love reading and writing stories with engaging characters who I want to spend time with. I recommend letting your characters talk to one another and seeing what happens. An outline is simply an outline. Don’t be afraid to deviate from it. I prefer mystery suspense novels that drop lots of clues leading to the murderer. I also recommend incorporating many other characters with secrets into the story. A writer should create an entire world of suspense above and beyond “who done it.” When a reader finishes a book, he/she should be satisfied that the various parts equaled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. I always see the humor and the romance in life, so I look for both in my writing and reading.”

About the Author: 3_5 Joe CosentinoJoe Cosentino is the author of An Infatuation (Dreamspinner Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote a musical theatre adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals), and The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Porcelain Doll (the second Jana Lane mystery) and Drama Queen (Lethe Press).

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3_5 paper-coverwhiskeyJana Lane was America’s most famous child star until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Now she’s a thirty-eight-year-old beauty and mother of two living in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Jana’s flashbacks from her past turn into murder attempts in her present. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana visits the California movie studio she once called home. This sends her on a whirlwind of visits with former and current movie studio personnel. It also leads to a romance with the son of her old producer – Rocco Cavoto – the devilishly handsome filmmaker who is planning Jana’s comeback both professionally and personally. Can Jana uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves, including the person who destroyed her past and threatens to snuff out her future?