My Take on Critique Groups by Matthew Peters – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Matthew Peters will be awarding a $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.

My Take on Critique Groups

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my writing career thus far is that most good books are not written in a vacuum.

I bring this up because I am of the mind that a good critique group is vital to the writing and, ultimately, the publication process.

Why? Because a good critique group can provide the following:

1. Fresh eyes to catch grammatical mistakes and typos. No matter how meticulous we think we are, or however grammatically knowledgeable, we are certain to make mistakes in our writing. While a critique group should not take the place of a good editor, any mistakes found and pointed out will help strength the manuscript.

2. Insight into larger story elements. Does your plot hang together? How well developed are your characters? Do they have arcs? What are the emotional stakes involved? Is there as much conflict as possible? These only some of the issues a critique group can address.

3. Ideas for strengthening any identified weaknesses. Often the ideas expressed will be things you yourself will never have thought of, indeed probably couldn’t have thought of, because you are so tightly wrapped up in your story.

4. Much needed support. Along with constructive criticism, a good writing group provides support and encouragement to its members. Such support is crucial and in my opinion can make or break a writer. Writing is hard work. People who are working hard at writing know that, and seek to build up rather than knock down a writer.

5. An audience for your work. This is an early opportunity to see how your work will be received. One of the most important things a group can provide in this respect is perspective. You may be sweating things that are not even crucial to the story and its potential impact on readers. The critique group can really help you see the forest through the trees when you need to.

6. Incentive to keep writing. One of the hardest things about writing is to keep writing. Starting is relatively easy, but to keep doing so day after day, week after week, can test the commitment of even the most seasoned professional. Scheduling presentations on certain dates by certain members can provide incentive to keep writing. Most writers I know benefit from some type of deadline, self-imposed or otherwise.

7. Insights into other elements of the writing/publication process. Members of a critique group can offer insights into things such as marketing and promotion.

This having been said, having a bad critique group can be worse than not having one at all. Generally speaking, one should stay clear of a critique group that doesn’t provide most of the services mentioned above, and especially from ones that tear the writer down, instead of building her up. Choosing the people who belong to your critique group can be one of the most important decisions you make as a writer. Ideally, you will know the potential member by having met her in a writing workshop or a similar environment.

Personally, I wouldn’t trade my critique group for the world. We’ve been meeting for two years. There are four of us. We meet once a month for two hours. Two of us present each month. We submit our chapters or stories to the members of the group two weeks prior to meeting so we all have time to read and critique the work. We come to the meeting prepared to discuss the submissions. We don’t make it a habit to provide food or beverages for fear the meeting might become a strictly social event. We provide constructive criticism and support for each other. I am not saying this is the only way to run a group. I am just sharing what has worked for us. I know writing groups that differ in nearly all respects, and yet provide excellent services to their members.

Bottom line: it’s important to have others read your work before you submit it for publication. Of course everything in your manuscript sounds right to you and is clear in your mind, but that may not be the case. Find a good critique group, or better yet start one. You won’t be sorry you did.

MediaKit_BookCover_TheBrothersKeepersMost of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Father Rawlings drained his cup and set it on the table. “What I’m about to tell you may sound ridiculous and melodramatic. At best it will seem the stuff of conspiracy theories and spy novels. However, I assure you it is not.” He fixed Branson with a steely gaze. “As God’s soldiers, we are engaged in a battle, Nicholas. As real as any battle ever waged. The war we fight has raged for centuries, but the battle we fight now could well be the last. And we, you and I, the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, must emerge victorious. Nothing less than the foundations, the stability of the Christian world is at stake.” He smiled again, this time with bitterness.

“Of course it sounds unbelievable, even paranoid, but believe me, it is neither. I choose my words carefully. I don’t make bold assertions I cannot support. I assure you I am telling you exactly how things stand, exactly what is at stake. Before I go on, however, I must demand a pledge from you, your promise to help the Church in the epic struggle in which we currently find ourselves. We require your guarantee, your warrant if you will, that you will use all your energies, resources, and powers to secure the interests of the Church, and that you will let nothing deter you from the task at hand. With this binding agreement comes an inexhaustible supply of resources: anything and everything you deem necessary to accomplish your mission. But I must have your pledge before we proceed.” Rawlings rose from his seat, motioning for Branson to stand as well. “Before you give me your answer, listen again to Jesus’ words: ‘He who is not with me is against me.’ Nicholas Branson, tell me now: Are you with our Lord, or against Him?”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheBrothersKeepersDual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. In addition to The Brothers’ Keepers, he is the author of Conversations Among Ruins, which features a dual diagnosed protagonist. Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

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Silk by Chris Karlsen – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Chris will be awarding a $20 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.

MediaKit_BookCover_SilkWhat would you do to stay young: Lie, Manipulate..kill?

London-Fall, 1888

The city is in a panic as Jack the Ripper continues his murderous spree. While the Whitechapel police struggle to find him, Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner are working feverishly to find their own serial killer. The British Museum’s beautiful gardens have become a killing ground for young women strangled as they stroll through.

Their investigation has them brushing up against Viscount Everhard, a powerful member of the House of Lords, and a friend to Queen Victoria. When the circumstantial evidence points to him as a suspect, Rudyard must deal with the political blowback, and knows if they are going to go after the viscount, they’d better be right and have proof.

As the body count grows and the public clamor for the detectives to do more, inter-department rivalries complicate the already difficult case.

Silk on the skin—luxurious, luscious..lethal.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Events of the day and the potential satisfaction of giving Napier a bloody nose dwindled. Questions about the murder crept back into Ruddy’s thoughts. Morris joined him at his table in the rear of the pub with a Guinness, the popular beer of choice in hand. “You’ve got the look of a man whose thoughts are a long distance from London.”

“No, sadly my thoughts are fixed here in the city. I’m trying to figure out a clue. Ellis’s roommate said she’d sometimes meet with a well-dressed man, a man of means the victim indicated. They’d meet up at the fountain by the British Museum.”

“Don’t know the spot but then the museum isn’t my cup of tea.”

“Not the point. I’m saying it’s odd. What member of the upper class chooses to stroll through a public garden other than Hyde or Regents, where they can see and be seen by one of their own?”

“I agree the wealthy prefer the parks filled with others of their kind but it doesn’t mean a man can’t enjoy someplace different.”

“We interviewed the guard again. The one that discovered the body walks that half of the building. He told us the majority of their male patrons are natty dressers, but he never saw a man like that loitering by the fountain.”

“My guess is: the man is married and can’t afford to run the risk of being seen by a friend of his wife’s. Or, he might live or work in the area and the spot is convenient.”

“Or, he’s a murderer who’s noticed the victim walking through the park on a regular basis, saw it as an opportunity and cozied up to her.”

Ruddy took another swallow of his ale, mentally debating the merit of each theory. “I don’t think he lives in the area. If so, he’d have cut through the park more and been seen by the guards. Not sure about the married man having a tryst idea.”

To Ruddy’s way of thinking, if the man was married and looking for a tumble, he’d have met her someplace other than the gardens and at a better hour.

Instinct drew him back to his original sense of the culprit and crime. “I feel like this was a crime of opportunity. I’ve thought it all along and can’t shake the sense.”

“If he was just seeking a victim, then why haven’t you had more murders like this?” Morris asked.

Ruddy downed the rest of his beer and put his tankard on the edge of the table where June would refill it. “Everyone has to start somewhere. She might be number one.”

About the Author: SONY DSCI was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books.

My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream. I write two different series. My paranormal romance series is called, Knights in Time. My romantic thriller series is, Dangerous Waters.

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.

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Ultimate Prey by Kristine Mason – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kristine will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banners to see the other stops on the tour.

When the hunter becomes the hunted…who will become the ultimate prey?

CORE agent Lola Tam has two things on her mind, quitting her job as a criminal investigator and baking a frozen pie for Thanksgiving dinner without burning it. But a midnight call forces a change of plans. Her boss and future stepfather, Ian Scott, has been kidnapped from his Florida vacation rental—along with her mother. The kidnapper’s plan? Drop Ian and her mom in the Everglades and hunt them like animals. Terrified for her mom, Lola takes the bait and travels to Everglade City, Florida where she’s determined to end the hunt before it begins.

Ryan Monahan, former Navy SEAL turned airboat captain is used to taking tourists through the Everglades, not guiding a sexy agent on a rescue mission. After spending years dealing with a past filled with guilt and regret, he needs a little action and adventure in his life—he needs to prove he could still be a hero. What he doesn’t need? Falling for a woman he has no business wanting, especially when the hunt takes a deadly turn…

Enjoy an excerpt:

From Lola’s point of view:

Lola stopped and looked toward Ryan, who pulled off his pack as he jumped to the last root. His easy smile had disappeared. His face had grown tense, his eyes filled with alarm.

Terrified by his sudden change, she swallowed hard and glanced down at her boots, expecting a python or gator to be inches from her feet. When she didn’t see anything but vines, dead leaves and dirt, she decided she’d rather be closer to Ryan, than whatever might be behind her. Gaze on him, she took a step forward.

“No,” he yelled, and rushed forward in a leap, just as her boot snagged against a thin, wire.

She landed on her back, Ryan’s arms cushioning her fall. She squeezed her eyes tight and burrowed against his hard body, fisting his shirt and waiting for the inevitable. Seconds passed. His heart pounded against her chest and his breath came in ragged bursts along the side of her face.

He raised his head, but kept his body flush to hers and held her tight. “Are you okay?”

She met Ryan’s gaze, saw the concern in his eyes, then quickly let go of his shirt and wrapped her arms around his broad back. She might not know this man but she didn’t want anything to happen to him. He’d assumed the worst and selflessly shielded her body. That he would give his life to save hers amazed and humbled her.

He hugged her back. His warm breath caressed her ear as he let out a sigh. “Promise me the next time I tell you not to move, you’ll listen?”

She let out a shaky chuckle. “I promise.”

He lifted his head, then used his arm to brace himself above her. The sunlight haloed his dark blond head, and with the way the shadows played across his face, his eyes took on a gunmetal shade of gray. He moved his hand from beneath her, then smoothed the hair that had escaped from her ponytail away from her cheek. “I’m going to blame every new gray hair on you,” he said with a grin.

He dipped his head, and for a split second she thought he might kiss her. But then he simply pressed his forehead against hers. She might have met him less than six hours ago, but she would have welcomed a kiss. She wanted to be reminded that she was alive. That she wasn’t living a nightmare alone.

About the Author:

Kristine Mason is the bestselling author of the popular romantic suspense trilogies C.O.R.E. Shadow and Ultimate C.O.R.E. She is currently working on her next trilogy, C.O.R.E Above the Law, along with a series of Psychic C.O.R.E. novellas—all to be released in 2015.

Although Kristine has published a few contemporary romance novels, she focuses most of her energy on her romantic suspense stories, which she loves for their blend of dark mystery/suspense and sexy romance. She is fascinated with what makes people afraid, and is famous for her depraved villains whose crimes present massive obstacles for her heroes and heroines to overcome.

Kristine has a degree in journalism from Ohio State University and lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, four kids, and two dogs. If she’s not writing, she’s chauffeuring kids, gardening, or collecting gnomes. Oh, and she makes a mean chocolate chip cookie!

Connect with Kristine on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads. And be sure to sign up for her newsletter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

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Shadow Maker by James R. Hannibal – Release Day Book Blast and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A winner randomly drawn via Rafflecopter will receive a $20 Amazon or BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How far will collateral damage from a CIA drone strike reach?

When a suicide bomber shatters the peace of a winter afternoon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., former pilot and undercover Cerberus operative Nick Baron receives an eerie invitation from the chess app on his phone—a mysterious figure named The Emissary wants to play.

Nick and his covert unit—the Triple Seven Chase team—soon find themselves drawn into battle against an unknown opponent who has resurrected an ancient order of assassins: the legendary Hashashin. And there is a long-awaited prophecy being fulfilled by a series of violent attacks which may culminate in a final apocalypse over Jerusalem.

As the Triple Seven fight to stop each attack, Nick tries to keep The Emissary on the hook by playing their digital chess game. The lines between the game and the fight begin to blur, as every time Nick loses a piece on the board, he loses one of his men. And if Nick cannot find a way to stop the terrorist mastermind, a checkmate may kill millions…

Enjoy an excerpt:

As Nick pointed out the National Air and Space Museum to his dad, he heard his wife quietly giggling to herself.

He never got the chance to ask her why.

Katy’s laughter became a shriek as an immense blast rocked the Jeep up onto two wheels. The driver-side windows blew completely inward, showering the interior with glass. As the vehicle came crashing down onto four wheels again, it veered left into oncoming traffic. Nick fought the wheel to regain control, swerving back across his own lane and skidding into the curb with his foot jammed on the brakes.

The bomb had exploded ahead and to his left, next to Health and Human Services. The fireball that first flashed in his vision had become a black cloud. Debris rained down around them. Something landed on the roof with a heavy thump.

“Are you okay?” he asked Katy, but she was busy reaching for her son.

“Luke!” she cried.

Nick turned with her and found that the toddler had escaped unscathed. Nick’s dad had acted as a shield, taking the brunt of the flying glass.

“Dad, you’re bleeding.”

“I’m fine.”

“Good, then take the wheel.”

Kurt Baron furrowed his brow. “What? Where’re you going?”

Nick didn’t answer. He looked to his wife. She had several small cuts on the left side of her face, but nothing serious. Katy met his gaze and nodded sharply. “I’ll be all right. Go.”

He popped the rear hatch and climbed out of the Jeep, noting as he stepped around to his father’s door that the object that had landed on his Jeep was a severed hand. He brushed it off the roof and into the gray-brown slush beneath the curb. “Dad, get up there and take the wheel. Get them to the hospital in Chapel Point. The closer facilities will be too busy.”

“You get back in the car and get us out of here yourself.”

Nick didn’t have time for father-son competition. The Mall was about to fill with first responders and rubberneckers, and soon there would be no exit. Even more pressing, the reaper’s relentless clock had started ticking the minute the bomb went off. As the ringing in his ears diminished, Nick was beginning to hear the wails of the dying.

About the Author:

James R. Hannibal is a former US Air Force Stealth Bomber pilot with over a thousand hours of combat experience including over-watch, close air support, and HVI captures. He graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1997 with a bachelors of science in Middle

Eastern Studies and earned a masters of science from Central Missouri State University in Aviation Safety Sciences. His flying career included the A-10 Warthog, B-2 Stealth Bomber, MQ-1 Predator, T-38 Talon, T-37 Tweet, and the Boeing 737, 757, and 767. When he is not flying or writing thrillers, James occasionally reviews for the New York Journal of Books.

Buy the book:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G3L6N6K/

BN – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadow-maker-james-r-hannibal/1117225112

IndieBound – www.indiebound.org/book/9780425266885

Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-maker-1

BAM – http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Shadow-Catcher/James-R-Hannibal/Q601624991

Powell’s – http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9780425266908-0

Walmart – http://www.walmart.com/ip/31893105

Publisher – http://www.penguin.com/book/shadow-maker-by-james-r-hannibal/9780425266892

Social Media:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/JamesRHannibal

Twitter – http://twitter.com/JamesRHannibal

Website – http://stealthcommand.com/

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My Writing Process by Kelly Stone Gamble

This stop is part of a book tour organized by the publisher. Enter to win your choice of Red Adept swag or a $5 Amazon GC.

My Writing Process
Writers often talk about their ‘process’ and I bow to those who can actually define one. I’ve thought long and hard about what my own process for writing is, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to describe how I write is to talk about my first paintball experience.

When my sons were in high school, I tried to be the ‘cool’ mom and was willing to try anything at least once. I discovered I’m pretty good at laser tag, terrified of SCUBA and can still throw a mean left upper cut. But, typically, these activities weren’t necessarily planned well in advance, it was more like, “What should we do today? Go for a hike? Rollerblade? Try out the new boxing gym that opened downtown?” And soon, we were in padded helmets, boxing gloves and mouth pieces, punching bags and showing off our fancy footwork. That’s how we ended up at paintball.

I have to say I was uncomfortable at first. The gear can be heavy, the mask is designed for protection, not necessarily sight, and the gun full of paint was not something I was used to carrying around. But I soon got used to all of this and became somewhat comfortable with the restrictions. I started to gain confidence and began to formulate a plan of attack.

I found myself becoming frustrated quite often, as I would have what I considered a great hiding spot but was soon discovered by one of my sons who was more than happy to stealthily sneak up from behind and unload his purple paint on me while the other stayed at a safe distance and sniped me with green. I looked like Barney the Dinosaur, and, yet, no-one had a trace of my yellow paint on them. But frustration be damned, I was determined to make something happen.

I decided that hiding and playing it safe was not necessarily the best strategy. So I went rouge. I ran through the paintball court, shooting left, then right, behind me, above me, at anything that appeared to be moving. I even tried a fancy roll, which was much more graceful in design than in execution, but came up shooting.

I got slaughtered. I couldn’t have been more covered had I climbed in a barrel of paint. When the alarm sounded, indicating the session was over, I ran to the exit. I was a mess, exhausted and a bit humiliated by my performance.

But as we took off our gear, I noticed that there were splatters of yellow on my sons: a knee here, a butt cheek there and a few chest shots. Regardless of the pain and frustration I had experienced, I had managed to make a half dozen shots stick and some of them were expert in placement. In my mind, all of the mediocre could be deleted, leaving nothing but the perfect yellow circles.

My writing process is a lot like this. It begins with spontaneity, I have an idea, so I dive right in. I start with a plan, but soon find myself running through my field of thoughts, throwing paint everywhere. It is definitely exhausting and can be frustrating at times. But then I go back and evaluate what I’ve actually done. I delete the ineffective splatters and wash off what didn’t stick. And what’s left?

Bull’s-eye.

About the Author: 1_26 bio shotKelly Stone Gamble lives in a hunting lodge in Idabel, Oklahoma, and spends way too much time looking for Bigfoot and the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, both of which are said to reside in her 1,800 acre backyard. When she isn’t writing, trying to keep her dog from befriending a skunk, or shooting various wildlife (camera shooting, that is), she teaches Communications, Humanities and English to students at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

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1_26 They-Call-Me-Crazy-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalCass Adams is crazy, and everyone in Deacon, Kansas, knows it. But when her good-for-nothing husband, Roland, goes missing, no one suspects that Cass buried him in their unfinished koi pond. Too bad he doesn’t stay there for long. Cass gets arrested on the banks of the Spring River for dumping his corpse after heavy rain partially unearths it.

The police chief wants a quick verdict—he’s running for sheriff and has no time for crazy talk. But like Roland’s corpse, secrets start to surface, and they bring more to light than anybody expected. Everyone in Cass’s life thinks they know her—her psychic grandmother, her promiscuous ex-best friend, her worm-farming brother-in-law, and maybe even her local ghost. But after years of separate silences, no one knows the whole truth. Except Roland. And he’s not talking.

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Interview: Rich Zahradnik

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Rich Zahradnik whose debut novel Last Words was release last fall by Coffeetown Enterprises. It’s the first of a series featuring Coleridge Taylor, a journalist who has been demoted to writing obits after a previous source he used proved to be unreliable. It began as a “what if…?” What if a big-time police reporter were forced to do the dull work of obituaries, always dealing with the dead but never pursuing the why of their deaths.

Rich himself is a former long-term reporter, so we asked him to describe his journalistic experience compared to his character’s.

“Taylor obviously came up earlier than I did at a different time for newspapers. I started in the suburbs, while he’s always been in the city. He’s covered police stories far more than I ever did. Much of my career was in media and business journalism. I think Taylor is a much more tenacious reporter than me, braver even, doing anything to get the story. That’s what’s important to him. Other things have always competed with journalism in my life, including writing fiction.”

Music also plays a big part of the story, with Coleridge Taylor mentioning music often. The author admits he likes most of the music that Taylor does, but he found out about a lot of the groups later than Taylor did, because the author was in high school from 1974-78.

“My group of friends and I thought we were mired in a musical wasteland, disco on the one side and hair bands (Styx, Foreigner, Kansas) on the other. Punk had not reached Poughkeepsie, so I did not become a fan of that music until I reached college, when I discovered the Talking Heads, the Police, and the Ramones. I also became a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen, who was neither punk, nor hair band, just real. My three favorite songs:

1. Thunder Road
2. Pyscho Killer
3. Sweet Jane (with the Intro)”

“When Laura and Taylor go out for drinks, the song “Gloria” by Patti Smith is playing in the background. What made you choose that song for them?” I asked.

“I loved Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” and I wanted to have Patti Smith singing a song from ’75 that she did sing and most readers would know.”

The author set the book in 1975 because there were striking parellels to America today.

“Then as now, an unpopular war was finally coming to its sad end. A major institution, the city itself, tumbled toward bankruptcy, threatening a cataclysm on the entire financial system. This as banks and ratings agencies ignored the warning signs or willfully misled the public,” he explained. “I chose this time period for the differences as well as the similarities. Solving a mystery in 1975 required good old-fashioned legwork and serious brainwork, rather than science fiction-like instant DNA typing and surveillance video available from any and every angle. Taylor has to find a pay phone when he needs to call someone. There’s something satisfying in that for me.”

Part of the challenge of writing this book was that for a good part of it, Rich was also working full time, so there were days he might only write half a page, which was very discouraging to him.

“I thought I’d never finish,” he admitted. “The second was thinking that since I lived through 1975 I wouldn’t have to do a lot of research. I was wrong about that. It was all the little details that needed checking. Like when did the cost of a pay phone or subway token go up. I learned a lot more about what a terrible beautiful mess Times Square was at the time than I could fit in. Some was cut; some I couldn’t even use. Things like the signage, the history of some of the restaurants. I could have written pages alone on the Horn & Hardart Automat and bored everyone but myself.”

“Did anything surprise you as were writing LAST WORDS?”

“Characters who came out of nowhere and became interesting and important. How grim 1975 really was. Time has a way of mellowing things. I remember the mid-Seventies as a difficult period, but I was a kid so I wasn’t really plugged into how terrible things were in New York and the country. Gas shortages. Inflation. Unemployment. Crime. The South Bronx burning.”

“Taylor carries a hefty literary name being named after the English Romantic poet Samuel Coleridge. What inspired you to connect Taylor to the English Romantic poet?”

“Taylor has a poor relationship with his father, an alcoholic English professor. His father gave him that name, and Taylor hates the ornamentation of it. Doesn’t much like his father either. Journalism is pretty much the opposite of poetry. I liked the name for all the contradictions it implies. I’m a huge fan of Morse and really wanted to go the one-last-name-only route, but didn’t want to be too much of copycat. This was my compromise.”

Finally, I asked, “If you could go back in time, when and where would you go? Why?”

“I’m obsessed with time travel stories. In fact, I’m writing a time travel novel for middle graders. It’s hard to pick one, but if I had to, the time of Christ. His life affected all of Western Civilization, the entire glove. I’d like to see what really happened during that period. Either that or my own childhood, to see everything I’ve forgotten.”

1_22 mystery RecordPlayer_image copy

1_22 mystery last_words_300In March of 1975, as New York City hurtles toward bankruptcy and the Bronx burns, newsman Coleridge Taylor roams police precincts and ERs. In LAST WORDS by Rich Zahradnik (Camel Press, $12.49 paperback; $4.95 Kindle), Taylor searches for the story that will deliver him from obits, his place of exile at the Messenger-Telegram. Ever since he was demoted from the police beat for inventing sources, the 34-year-old has been a lost soul. A break comes at Bellevue, where Taylor views the body of a homeless teen picked up in the Meatpacking District. Taylor smells a rat: the dead boy looks too clean and he’s wearing a distinctive Army field jacket. A little digging reveals that the jacket belonged to a hobo named Mark Voichek and that the teen was a spoiled society kid up to no good, the son of a city official. Taylor’s efforts to learn Voichek’s secret put him on the hit list of three goons who are willing to kill any number of street people to cover tracks that just might lead to City Hall. Taylor has only one ally in the newsroom, young and lovely reporter Laura Wheeler. Time is not on his side. If he doesn’t wrap this story up soon, he’ll be back on the obits page—as a headline, not a byline, in Rich Zahradnik’s LAST WORDS.

About the Author: 1_22 mystery Rich_Zahradnik_imageRICH ZAHRADNIK is the author of the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series published by Camel Press. He was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter, often writing news stories and analysis about the journalism business, broadcasting, film production, publishing and the online industry.
In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York’s Center for Fiction. He has been a media entrepreneur throughout his career. He was the founding executive producer of CNNfn.com, a leading financial news website and a Webby winner; managing editor of Netscape.com, and a partner in the soccer-news website company Goal Networks. Zahradnik received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University.

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Interview and Giveaway: Eden Baylee

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Eden Baylee who is giving away two Amazon gift certificates for her book, Stranger at Sunset. Read our review here. Leave a comment or ask the author a question to be entered in the drawing.

Stranger at Sunset wasn’t the first title for the story. Eden had several others including Strangers in Paradise, Strange Encounters, and so on.

“I settled on Stranger at Sunset because there are several meanings the title can take,” she explained. ‘Stranger’ can be both a noun and an adjective, and it alludes to how we view others as well as ourselves. ‘Sunset’ refers to the time when a pivotal scene takes place in the book as well as the name of the resort.”

Eden currently has thirteen titles available, because she sells her novellas both separately and in anthology format. Even though it’s hard to choose a favorite, she is a bit partial to Stranger at Sunset, partly because it’s her latest and she believes she has improved as she continues to write, but also because Kate Hampton is a character that she can see a future with. In fact, she’s working on the next book in the series now and admitted she’s excited to see where Kate goes next.

“How do you do research for your books?” I asked.

“When researching a location, the best thing is to go there. My current book, Stranger at Sunset, takes place in Jamaica, and getting a feel for the setting was a big part of the book. I’ve stayed at Sunset Villa, where the novel takes place, though the name has been changed for the book. As in the story, the real resort is located next to where Ian Fleming lived and wrote his James Bond novels. Given this, it was an inspiring place to draw upon for a mystery/suspense novel.

“I feel there is little else that can infuse as much realism into a novel as actually visiting a location where the story takes place. In doing so, you have the advantage of experiencing an environment with all five senses. If it’s not possible to be there in person, YouTube videos of a location are probably the next best thing.

“Research for other aspects of the book involved reading and surfing the Internet for information. My protagonist is a psychiatrist, and my lifelong interest in psychology made this part fun. I still read texts from the field just because I’m interested in the mind. One of my go-to books is the seminal work of Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley called The Mask of Sanity.

“The book describes his interviews with patients in a locked institution. His detailed clinical description of psychopathy is still relevant today even though the book was written back in the forties.

“I was also a student of Freud’s writings, but many of his observations are no longer studied. It still makes for good fiction though.”

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

My main tip is to keep writing. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned by writing continuously. The fact that I cringe a little by reading some of my earlier works is a good thing. It means I’ve moved on from there. I feel the mark of any writer should be to improve with each book they write.

I’d also advise to hit a word count or daily goal you set for yourself. As a writer of fiction, I’m fully aware that my imagination is a function of my brain; the brain is a muscle. And like any muscle, it needs exercise daily or it will atrophy.

About the Author: 1_21 edenEden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as: travel; humor; music; poetry; art; and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

Author Links

Website | Blog | Amazon Author page US | Amazon Author page UK

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1_21 Cover_smallVacation can be a killer. 

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.

 

 

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Interview and Giveaway: Kat Martin

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kat Martin, whose newest book Against the Sky is being released on January 26. To celebrate the release, Kat will be giving away a copy of Against the Wild to a lucky winner– please leave your email address.

Kat started writing because of her husband. He had written a novel he couldn’t sell, so she started helping him.

“I got hooked!” she told me. “Basically it’s as simple as that. Once I got going, I felt I had discovered my true calling.”

She began writing in 1985, had her first book published in 1988, and has written 65+ books (she’s lost count of how many she actually has written. She doesn’t have a favorite book, but she does love all the AGAINST books.

Against the Sky is a fish out of water story. Nick Brodie, an ex-Anchorage cop, is tough as nails, a true man’s man, comfortable in the hard life in Alaska. But Samantha Hollis, the owner of the Perfect Pup pet grooming parlor in San Francisco likes shopping at Sak’s and a day at the spa.

“It was fun finding ways to make their relationship work when they seem so very far apart,” Kat said.

She’s currently working on the final edits and marketing for the next book in the series, Against the Tide, which is being released on May 27. It’s the story of Nick’s brother, Rafe Brodie. I asked her to tell us a little about it.

“It starts with a murder and expands into high action suspense. Lots of secrets in Against the Tide,” she shared.

“Do you ever suffer from writers’ block?” I wondered.

“I never used to get writers’ block. Even now I don’t call it that–too terrifying a word. I do get stuck on the story line, trying to make the clues fits, to solve the murder or whatever, to figure out a way to tell the story that makes sense. I stop writing, read, take a trip, a day off. I don’t stay off the computer very long.”

Kat just works through her characters and the plot a little at a time. She’ll get an idea for a story, then she tries to solve the mystery as she writes it. If she gets off-track, she’ll stop. She also looks for the right guy to tackle that mystery and creates a woman strong enough to handle him.

“I’m not much on re-writing,” she confessed. “Rather not make the mistake in the first place.”

Kat has a great office in their home in Montana, with wonderful views out over the mountains. During the winner in California, she can look out at the channel where the boats go in and out of the harbor.

“The view helps me stay focused yet relaxed,” she said.

“Do you hear from your readers much?” I asked.

“My Facebook page is very active. Readers seem to like both my old historicals and my contemporary romantic suspense novels. The AGAINST books have been especially popular. One thing readers say that I love hearing is that they read them over and over. What a terrific compliment. Makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

“What did you want to be when you grew up?”

“I had no idea. I loved learning, but couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to do. After I got out of college, I went into real estate. I enjoyed it and was pretty successful, but it wasn’t until I started writing that I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up!”

Since Kat writes a lot of crime, she does most of her research on the internet.

“Things change very fast,” she told me. “I like to be accurate. The web is the only way to do that.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice do you have for a new writer?”

“Tough to give advice these days since I can’t figure out what to do to advance my own career. Get the book written would be my first advice. Then try for an agent and go the traditional print book route if possible. If that doesn’t work, you can always self publish. But the money is better with both print and digital and a good publisher behind you. Traditional publishing has huge advantages. Like getting your books in front of people who don’t read digital.–which is nearly 60% of the market.”

About the Author: 1_20 Kat---Ventura-Star(250by175New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels.

Kat has written more than sixty-five novels. Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains. Her last nine books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list.

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1_20 AgainsttheSky(300x500)In America’s last wilderness there are no limits to what a man can do.

For detective Nick Brodie, that means keeping the perps off the streets of Anchorage 24/7. Nick has never backed down from danger, but after the horrors he’s seen, he’s definitely in need of a break.

Samantha Hollis never thought she’d meet anyone like Nick, especially in a place like Las Vegas. But after one reckless, passionate night, she discovers the charismatic stranger is everything she wants in a man. But can he ever be anything more than a one-night stand?

When Nick invites her to Alaska, Samantha decides to find out, never guessing the depths she’ll discover in him or the tangle of murder, kidnapping, and danger about to engulf them both…

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indiebound.com.

Gone Before Goodbye by Nora Leduc – spotlight and giveaway

Review_TourBanner_GoneBeforeGoodbye

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The auther will be awarding a $30 Starbucks GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Cover_GoneBeforeGoodbyeThe police are stumped. Was she a runaway careening toward disaster or the victim of a predator preying on teenage girls?

When rebellious seventeen-year-old Lisa Grant vanishes from her New Hampshire home, her guardian, Teagan Raynes, becomes ensnared in the frantic hunt to find her. Search dogs lose the girl’s scent at Pretty Park, where another teenager disappeared three months ago. Law enforcement fears a stalker is using the park to abduct young girls. Desperate, Teagan, reluctantly puts her faith in the lead detective, the notorious Noah Cassidy.

Hot-headed, Noah Cassidy’s reputation and job are on the line. Rumors that he attempted to kill the man found guilty of destroying his family in a boating accident have tainted him. To prove his worth, Noah devotes every minute to the case and realizes he’s up against a cunning adversary. Worse, he finds himself distracted by feelings for the attractive, gutsy Teagan. To erase her doubts about him, he must earn back his reputation and let go of his past. He knows what he has to do. He must bring Lisa home and take down the monster who is hunting the girls of Pretty Park before it’s too late.

Enjoy an excerpt:

In the hallway, Teagan unlocked the door. On the street, a postal truck crawled up the block of New England style houses with sprawling porches, rectangular ranches, and modern Cape Cod homes. She grabbed the envelopes from the mailbox attached to the beige clapboards, stepped inside, and closed the entryway.

She sorted through the ads and bills to the last piece, a large white envelope. The sender used a printed label addressed to her. What was this? She ripped open the flap and pulled out…a holy card?

The picture of Mary Magdalene decorated the front. Someone must have sent a prayer for Lisa? Teagan flipped to the other side and frowned at the words.

Tu sequens morieris

Someone wrote to her in…Latin? Strange. The prick of sweat stabbed the back of her neck. She sat on the sofa and scooped up her phone from the coffee table. As she searched online for a translation, she dug into her memory of high school Spanish to help crack the code. Tu was you and morieris had something to do with death and sequens translated to—

Her breath whooshed out of her. She dropped her cell on the cushion, but the phrase stared up from the screen.

You die next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
AuthorPic_Gone Before GoodbyeNora grew up in rural New Hampshire, picking blueberries in her backyard and wandering the woods with her brothers. Now that she’s older, she still lives in rural New Hampshire and enjoys writing stories. She was first published in 2000 and has written historical romances, contemporary romance, romantic suspense and mystery. She is a co-founder of the New Hampshire Romance Writers chapter, which meets monthly at the Bow Library. Here she enjoys great speakers and the company of fabulous authors.

When not writing, Nora spends time with her family, sews quilts, gardens and takes road trips to anywhere fun.

Visit her:
Website: noraleduc.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/57070.Nora_LeDuc
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Before-Goodbye-Mystery-6-oh-3-ebook/dp/B00OTWAGHC
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/nora-leduc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nora.leduc.

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Crashers by Lindy Hudis – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lindy will be awarding an autographed paperback copy of Crashers (US Only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Fraudulent car accidents is a multi-million dollar racket, involving unscrupulous medical providers, personal injury attorneys, and the cooperating passengers involved in the accidents and who also receive a portion of the illegal proceeds. Such is the fate of newly engaged Nathan and Shari, whose joy is tempered by the dark cloud of mounting debt. A chance encounter with a stranger in whom Shari confides her troubles, proves fortuitous: he tells her of a get-rich-quick scheme that will put her and her fiance on easy street. Seduced by the chance to move from hard times to good times in no time, she finds herself acting as a stuffed passenger the victim in a staged auto accident. Shari gets her payday, but getting out and breaking free of the insurance fraud underworld will take nothing short of a miracle. A modern day cautionary tale that uncovers how the innocent get lured into the scheme of cappers and hammers.

Enjoy an excerpt:

As the blare of the clock radio on the night table jolted her awake, Shari Barnes rubbed her eyes, blew her long brown hair out of her face, and snuggled into Nathan Townsend’s chest. She curled her body around his middle and took a deep whiff of his salty, masculine neck.

But she couldn’t ignore the voice on the radio.

“Monday morning traffic,” she sighed.

Nathan matched the sigh and put his arms around her. “At least you don’t have to drive over the hill.”

“Yeah, I would just die if I had to drive into Beverly Hills every day to work in a beautiful office.”

Shari giggled and disappeared under their thick blue comforter for a few more moments of sleepy-headed bliss. She felt Nathan stretch up, and a moment later the radio shut off. Then he slid down next to her in the single bed they shared in their Studio City apartment, a few blocks north of Ventura Boulevard. The constant drone and rumble of another L.A. morning came clearly through the open window: cars honking, rock music blaring, the frantic scurrying sounds of the film shoot a few blocks away. Shari ran her bare feet up the inside of Nathan’s thigh.

He jumped. “Shit, your feet are cold.” He pushed her legs off of him.

“What time is it?” she murmured between kisses.

“Um, seven.” He nuzzled her neck and she felt him becoming erect against her.

“No time for that!” She threw off the covers. “Gotta be at work on time for once; gotta get my asp out of bed.”

“There’s a snake in the bed?” Nathan grabbed her with both hands and gave her belly gentle nips.

“Yeah, of the one-eyed variety.”

Shari leaped to the floor and padded naked into the bathroom. She turned the hot water in the shower to high and stepped in, filling the small bathroom with steam.

She had just poured a green drop of shampoo into her palm and was running her hands together when the flimsy yellow and white shower curtain flew back and Nathan grinned in at her. She smiled back, surprised by neither his arrival nor the partial hard-on that preceded him.

“Mind if we join you?” he asked.

“There’s enough shampoo for everybody,” Shari said as she rubbed her hands across her scalp.

He stepped into the stall, pulled the curtain closed and began to lather her hair for her. She put her hands on his back, feeling the taut muscles and the water streaming there, but did not reach down between them. It took him about five seconds to realize it and hold her away.

“You okay?”

“Fine….”

“Don’t lie; I can always tell when you have something on your mind.”

“You know me better than I know me,” she said.

“You know it.” He pushed her wet hair over her shoulders. “Come on, give.”

“I was thinking maybe I should get a second job.”

“You’re worrying about money again?”

“Well, I have to shoot my student thesis film this year or I won’t graduate. But where am I going to get the money I need?”

“How much do you need?”

“At least five figures.”

About the Author:

Lindy S. Hudis is a graduate of New York University, where she studied drama at Tisch School of the Arts. She is the author of several titles, including her romance suspense novel, Weekends, her “Hollywood” story City of Toys, and her crime novel, Crashers. She is also the author of an erotic short story series, “The S&M Club” and “The Mile High Club”. Her short film “The Lesson” was screened at the Seattle Underground Film Festival and Cine-Nights in 2000. She is also an actress, having appeared in the television daytime drama “Sunset Beach”. She and her husband, Hollywood stuntman Stephen Hudis, have formed their own production company called Impact Motion Pictures, and have several projects and screenplays in development. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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