Friday, November 30, 2012

Rebecca Dahlke, Publisher of All Mystery e-newsletter

Rebecca Dahlke publishes a thriving Mystery Newsletter. She's here with us today to talk about how she started it.

In 2010, I started an e-newsletter for mystery and suspense authors. It ran, free of charge to the authors until December 2011.  I decided to let it go because: 1) authors just weren't with me on how effective this kind of advertising could be, and 2) I had my own books to write.

So I put the website in mothballs, but kept the Facebook site, the yahoo group (which is where authors meet to talk about promotion, and readers come to see what authors are talking about.) and Good Reads group for Indie and small press promotion, and a Twitter account.

Since then I have put four mysteries up on Amazon/Kindle, and because I understood that my books are a product, I also began a six month quest for the best, and most effective, form of advertising.

The results were exciting!  I discovered that with a combination of inexpensive paid and free promotion, I could sell more books. I thought the results of this were interesting enough to share. I put together a 7 page handout and spoke on this subject with my local Sisters in Crime chapter in Tucson. The handout was necessary because I had a lot of powerful information to share, but also I cautioned my grateful listeners with the following: The only thing I could guarantee about this information was that some of it would change.

That was in June 2012, and sure enough, things did change. One of the sites I listed as smart and creative bit the dust, and another site, Digital Books Today, has taken a giant leap after only 18 months in the business.  Eighteen months? Gee, All Mystery e-newsletter started before DBT… so that meant… but wait! There's more!

In a 2012  e-mail from the founder of Digital Books Today, Anthony Wessel  says, and I quote: "Traffic on our Sites: March: 8,000, June 16,000" and in their "The Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books List: November 2011: 600+ and June 2012- 10,000+ with 38,000 click outs to books on Amazon."

Obviously authors had finally seen the light and were using paid book marketing as part of a successful campaign to sell books. I know, because I was using them too, and the results have been gratifying—except I had one complaint: As a mystery writer, all of the promotion sites had mystery squished in between vampire and memoir.

It didn't take me but a nano-second to see that All Mystery e-newsletter's time had finally come. I ticked off the obstacles for resurrecting this e-newsletter against the fact that it might take some time to gain momentum. Then realized I already had all of my requirements for a good promotion site: I still had my list of readers from last year's e-newsletter, and I had a Facebook page, Yahoo and Good Reads groups, and Twitter with a small army of Re-Tweet pals.

September 1st I sent out the first weekly e-newsletter  accompanied with additional author posts at Facebook and Twitter that would continue throughout the week.

Sound interesting? Author information page:

Last but not least, for those of you who would like a copy of my copy of that 7 page hand-out for both free and paid promotions for authors, send me an e-mail with "promotion handout" in the subject line and I'll send you a PDF copy. E-mail:

Find her Books on her Amazon Author Page

Thursday, November 29, 2012

#BookChat The Search by Susan Leigh Noble #paranormal

Synopsis/Book Description
For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?    

From the Author
While taking a break between finishing Book 2 (Quietus) and starting Book 3 (Destiny) in my The Elemental trilogy, I thought it would be fun to explore a little more of Tosh’s life before he meets Lina (the main character from my trilogy). I have had at least one cat in my life at all times except during the college years so it was easy for me to set a short story with a cat as the main character. I think readers will sometimes forget that Tosh is a cat as they read The Search.

Reader’s Reaction

“Ms. Noble has a wonderful way with words that allows the reader to suspend belief. Never for a moment did I think ‘We have a talking cat. Cats can’t talk.’”  - J. Keller Ford, author

“Halfway through the first page my attention was fully drawn to Tosh, and I just had to keep reading to find out what his mission involved.” - Kristy Centeno, a review

“Cat lovers will recognize a lot of their own cats in The Search,” - Amazon Reviewer

Behind the Scenes
Often while I am writing I have my cat, Nikki, either trying to sit in my lap or lie in front to the monitor which of course makes it hard to write, but she is quite insistent on being there with me. Actually, she is the only one (we have three cats) that likes to sit with me while I write.

Readers can find out more about Susan at her blog – or her author page on the Independent Author’s Network –

The Search is FREE on Amazon, 11/29 to 12/1 - download it now!

Books by Susan Leigh Noble:

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

#BookChat The Last Letter by Kathleen Shoop

She wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t found the letter... 

Katherine Arthur's dying mother arrives on her doorstep, forcing her to relive a past she wanted to forget. When Katherine was young, the Arthur family had been affluent city dwellers until shame sent them running for the prairie, into the unknown. Taking her family, including young Katherine, to live off the land was the last thing Jeanie Arthur had wanted, but she would do her best to make a go of it. For Jeanie's husband Frank it had been a world of opportunity. Dreaming, lazy Frank. But, it was a society of uncertainty—a domain of natural disasters, temptation, hatred, even death. 

Ten-year-old Katherine had loved her mother fiercely, put her trust in her completely, but when there was no other choice, and Jeanie resorted to extreme measures on the prairie to save her family, she tore Katherine’s world apart. Now, seventeen years later, and far from the homestead, Katherine has found the truth – she has discovered the last letter. After years of anger, can Katherine find it in her heart to understand why her mother made the decisions that changed them all? Can she forgive and finally begin to heal before it’s too late?

For every daughter who thinks she knows her mother’s story…

This book came to be through family letters that were written over 120 years ago. My mother’s father gave her this stack of letters my great-great grandmother wrote to her fiancĂ© during the year of their engagement. They’re beautiful, heart-felt sentiments about all the hopeful ways the future would be theirs. But…of course things did not go as planned as the first blush of love is often veiled, with the truth about who the lovers are, being hidden until the wedding is over.  It was seeing the gorgeous, optimistic letters in contrast to another set of letters written decades later that I saw a compelling story develop. It’s what happened in between the tell-tale family letters that I created.  My great-great grandmother’s letters, the early and the late ones revealed a strong, stubborn, though probably, a little difficult to live with woman. She was very educated and intelligent and cobbled together a life when she had no materials to work with. It was this character that was compelling to me.

Also the history of the pioneering Americans, the land they lived on and worked—every day was a challenge, an obstacle to survival. The Children’s Blizzard of 1888 worked into my plot perfectly as the environment in which they lived was extraordinary. All of these elements, mother/daughter relationships, love, the land—helped me construct a story I thought was moving.

For me, relationships--the nature of them are partly revealed in times of crisis and partly revealed in reconciliation. Many readers have talked about how they could relate to Jeanie and Katherine's relationship and they were warmed by its strength. Others found it hard to understand the fracture that marked it for so many years after seeing the love they shared in younger years. But, everyone seems to really appreciate the way James and Jeanie were so close.  Many were disheartened by Frank and Jeanie's relationship--but I think that's a testament to it being realistic. For me, this story is Katherine's--hers to learn from and to finally become capable of growing past her childhood wounds.  I think that's hard for all of us sometimes!

Readers' Reactions:
I don't know when I have read a book where the heroine has stolen my heart.  I just love Jeanie Arthur.  She is strong and determined, and her journey is heartfelt. Kathleen Shoop is a marvelous talent with a fresh new twist on historical fiction. Selina MacPherson, award-winning author of Rough and Tender

Shoop's characters breathe. I’m blown away by the naturalness and authenticity of the dialogue and setting. The author is a gifted writer with a bang-on sense of atmosphere, time, place, and social class. Bev Katz Rosenbaum, author of I Was a Teenage Popsicle and Beyond Cool.

About the Author:
Kathleen Shoop, PhD is an author and educator who has taught, researched and worked with teachers for twenty years. She writes historical and women’s fiction. Her first novel, The Last Letter (Kindle bestseller), won a Gold Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards and her second novel, After the Fog, won Silver the next year. Kathleen has also contributed stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat’s Life. Her background in education came in handy in writing her latest novel—a quirky, post-college, coming of age story called Love and Other Subjects. It launches in January, 2013. Kathleen lives with her husband and two children in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. 

Read more about Kathleen at her Amazon Author Page

Books by Kathleen Shoop:

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Monday, November 26, 2012

#GuestPost Five tips for writing a Medical Thriller by Frank J. Edwards, MD #writertip

Here are five ideas that a beginning writer of medical thrillers can’t go wrong thinking about. 

  1. First of all, you’ll need a good conspiracy.   It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, but one of the reasons thrillers do so well sent in the world of medicine is that the field is so rich with drama at the four-way intersection of life, technology, big business and government.   This gives you an unlimited vein of conflict to mine for suspense.

  1. Give your main character the potential for greatness combined with an Achilles heel.  This rule applies, I believe, for all good characters, whether they appear in literary works or genre fiction, comedy or tragedy, and for that matter, whether the character is hero or villain.   My hero in Final Mercy, for example, neglects his private life for work and pays a price.

  1. Don’t forget the huge role that women play in modern medicine.  When I was in medical school in the late seventies, there were only 14 women out of a class of 100 (and some of our professors actually smoked cigarettes while lecturing).   Most med school classes today are 50-60 percent female.  So, if your hero isn’t a female, make sure you’ve got some strong female secondary characters.  This will lend your story texture and verisimilitude, not to mention the potential for relationships.   No spice, no flavor.

  1. Sling the jargon like a pro.   If you spend all your time explaining things like V Fib, ET tubes and laparoscopy, you’ll end up insulting the reader and making characters sound like robots.  The average reader can understand most medical terms through context alone, and furthermore they will deeply appreciate the fact we believe they are smart enough to figure things out.  Whenever possible, don’t interrupt the flow with mini-lectures and definitions that don’t fit in with the narrative.   

  1. Go for the new.  The success in recent years of medical thrillers—including medical TV shows—has created a big audience out there for this genre, but as also made our job a little more difficult in the sense that a lot of the easy ground has already been broken, and sometimes more than once.   Yesterday’s fresh idea has become today’s clichĂ©.   The mysterious epidemic caused by the toxic water supply, the underground cabal engaged in euthanasia, and the ever-popular organ harvesting plots.  You get the point.  There’s still a ton of great ideas out there awaiting development, but you’ll want to have some familiarity with what’s already been done.   No one, however, should let that intimidate him or her from taking the leap.  We all possess individual quirks and experiences that will inevitably lead us to fresh fields, though perhaps a little further from the highway.  Onwards!
Frank J. Edwards MD
Frank J. Edwards lives in Western New York.
He entered the Army after high school and became a warrant officer helicopter pilot, serving a tour in Vietnam. He studied English and Chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill, went to medical school at the University of Rochester, and later received an MFA in Writing at Warren Wilson College.
Frank served as a faculty member in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the 1990′s, leaving academic medicine to start a regional emergency medicine group, now called Delphi Emergency Physicians, where he continues to serve as the medical director.

In 1994 he started the first writing workshop for medical students at the U of R’s Division of Medical Humanities and remains active in the program.

He has written several books, including the medical thriller Final Mercy, a collection of poetry and short stories called It’ll Ease The Pain, and two books of medical nonfiction.

Please visit him at

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

#AuthorInterview Emma Tyler #humor #satire

I really do meet strangers on the Internet. And maybe none stranger than Emma Tyler, author of Adderall and Juris Doctorates: A Collection: Vols 1 & 2, an irreverent and hard-hitting book that pokes your funny bone and fills your heart with existential pain.

So let's start. Emma, where are you from and how did you get started writing?
I’m originally from “Indianaland” and spent most of my life there.  I moved to Kentucky to go to law school.  I graduated and got my juris doctorate but by the time I did, I was so burnt out that I didn’t take the bar exam.  The title of my book actually comes from my last year of law school when I found out I had ADHD and was prescribed Adderall.  Right now I am unemployed, sort of looking around to take a different route other than legal.  Writing this book was partly out of boredom and partly to see if I could make it as a writer and leave plaintiffs and defendants behind.

Let's expound more on your book. You've chosen to categorize it as satire. Why is that?
The book is a collection of memories and events from my life, most of them true.  I think that everyone’s life is a satire; we are all walking parodies of ourselves.  I wanted to show that you have to laugh at yourself and the people around you, or else you’re missing out on a huge wealth of knowledge.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration? Okay, nouns, mostly. But seriously it's all the things happening to my generation (under-30) and how royally screwed we are.

What do you hope your readers get from your stories?
Herpes?  I hope that the stories make people think and reconsider some of their preconceived notions about religion, family, career, etc.  I’ve always found society to be problematic and I’m hoping that, if other people feel the way I do, then maybe things will change.

You mix some really serious dark situations with funny anecdotes. How do you think the reader will react? Are you going for shock value?
I’m not going for shock value.  I chose to mix the stories so that the reader doesn’t become too comfortable with the material.  A lot of understanding comes from contrast.  I want the reader to feel completely disoriented afterward, and, if that happens, then this book will have been a success.

Sounds like a plan. I was certainly disoriented even though I also have a warped sense of humor. Here is the book description:
The complete collection of "Adderall and Juris Doctorates: A Collection", Volumes I and II provide a unique look at modern life: in turns provocative, hilarious and touching. With subjects ranging from drugs to bikers to religion to government, "Adderall" reads like a punch in the stomach, a lightning bolt to the brain and a surge to the heart, all at once. Emma Tyler is the voice of a generation and a literary force to be reckoned with; her satirical look at life both scathing and thought-provoking.

Emma is currently working on a collection of short stories tentatively called "70% Royalty."

Adderall and Juris Doctorate is available at

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Long Live Paperback! Give the Gift That You Can Kiss

Paperback is not DEAD!
Check out the Deals at
World Literary Cafe!

Get your Favorite Author's Books!
Selections from Melissa Foster, Emerald Barnes, Stacy Eaton and MORE!

#BookChat Hailey's Truth by Cate Beauman #3 in Series #romanticsuspense


Hailey Roberts has never had it easy. Despite the scars of a tragic childhood, she’s made a life for herself. As a part-time student and loving nanny, she yearns for a family of her own and reluctant Austin Casey, Ethan Cooke Security’s best close protection agent.

Hailey’s past comes back to haunt her when her long lost brother tracks her down, bringing his dangerous secrets with him. At an emotional crossroads, Hailey accepts a humanitarian opportunity that throws her together with Austin, taking her hundreds of miles from her troubles, or so she thinks.

What starts out as a dream come true quickly becomes a nightmare as violence erupts on the island of Cozumel. Young women are disappearing, community members are dying—and the carnage links back to her brother. 

As Austin struggles to keep Hailey’s past from destroying her future, he’s forced to make a decision that could turn her against him, or worse cost them both their lives.

Words from the Author:
Music is a huge part of my writing process. I typically listen to Pandora while I create my stories and compile a collection of songs that I feel represent my characters or the situations they face as the novel unfolds. It’s a rare occasion that my creativity demands quiet (And that’s a good thing. I’m a mother of two boys. Quiet doesn’t happen in my house.).  ‘Wide Awake’ by Katy Perry, ‘Bare Naked’ by Jennifer Love Hewitt, ‘Wild Ones’ by Flo Rida ft. Sia, and ‘Stay’ by Safety Suit  were four of the many songs that ‘spoke’ to me while delving into Hailey and Austin’s journey in Hailey’s Truth.   

Reader reactions:
“WOW. My head is in a whirl from this one. From the high intensity of Suspense, down to the oh-so yummy Romance, by far, Hailey and Austin have the hottest freaking scenes of the three books!”  --Melisa Hamling, author and reader

“Damn you!!! I am sooo exhausted but I can't put Hailey's Truth down!!” –Cari Ordway, reader

What’s next:
I’m currently working on the fourth novel in The Bodyguards of L.A. County Series, Forever Alexa, which will debut in the Spring of 2013. We’ll follow Jackson Matthews, Ethan Cooke Security’s newest hottie with a great sense of humor, as he helps a woman from his past, Alexa Harris. When Alexa finds herself mixed up in the dangerous and disturbing world of human trafficking, she’ll have no choice but to turn to Jackson and reveal secrets she’s kept from him for the last four years. 

Visit Cate at her Amazon Author Page or at her website

All three of Cate's books are available at

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

#BookChat BROKEN BUILD by Rachelle Ayala #technothriller #romanticsuspense

Jen Cruz Jones hides a horrible secret behind her new degree, toned body, and exciting job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup—until a man linked to her past is killed by a hit-and-run.

CEO and founder Dave Jewell is about to land a huge deal. He doesn’t need blood on his car, threatening phone calls, and Jen wrapped in broken code and blackmail.

A gang of thugs hunts Jen, and she takes refuge in Dave’s protective arms. Together, they must thwart a killer and rescue an innocent victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jen, threatening to tear them apart forever. 

From the Author
The premise is simple. Find the worst thing that can ever happen to a man. Have a woman be responsible for it. Put them together, mix in a huge dose of chemistry, an unsolved murder and industrial espionage and let nature take its course. I won't say what Jen did to Dave, but it's bigger than breaking his heart or sleeping with his best friend. It's the kind of agony no one gets over with. The idea to this story actually came to me when I was critiquing another friend's manuscript. I suggested upping the stakes in her story by having the woman be at fault in the situation rather than just a bystander. My friend did not take the bait. Maybe it was too over the top. But I found a nice situation to run with.

Reader's Reactions
"Plenty of twists and turns for every reader. Did I mention that Dave is a bit of a playboy? All I can say is yummy! The chemistry between the pair sizzles."

"I enjoyed Jen. She has everything a woman wants--a great body, a great job. Her only problem is her damaging secrets! I like that Ayala developed a strong woman who can make it on her own even though she loves Dave and will more than likely lose him when he figures out that she's responsible for much of the turmoil in his life."

"From reading the other reviews there seems to be no middle ground on this one. You love it or you hate it. Hated it. Too many convolutions, extraneous characters, etc. The tech speak got to be tiresome and I know tech. ... It seems the author has a working knowledge of computers. She should stick to a job in that field and forget writing stories."

Behind the Scenes
On the surface, a "broken build" refers to a non-functioning software system during the development and test phase of a project. It causes untold stress, finger pointing, tiger team investigations, and long overnight hours to fix. It a symptom of underlying problems including superficial management, lack of adequate infrastructure and of course, bad teamwork.

On the spiritual level, a "broken build" is a person who has lost all of his bearings. He has wandered far from God, relied on his own wits, and made a complete failure of his life. King David experienced both heady success as a national hero and abject degradation as a morally depraved murderer. In Psalm 51, he cries to the LORD with a broken spirit and lays his human wisdom aside. He empties himself of pride and self-esteem. And when he cries to God in his brokenness, God is pleased to bind his wounds, heal him, and make him rejoice.

Surprised? Broken Build is ultimately a story of redemption and healing. Both Dave and Jen must hit bottom, stop making excuses, and admit their own faults before they can rejoice in the new life God grants them.

Are you excited to read this spiritual dimension in Broken Build? I have Good News. Broken Build is free on Amazon for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. While the datacenter burns on Thanskgiving Day and Jen struggles to rescue the Black Friday Build that will determine the company's survival, you could be hitting the Amazon servers with umpteen downloads of Broken Build.

Download Now [FREE Nov 22-23] and enjoy it with your turkey leftovers and early morning shopping. Please leave me a comment on how YOU deal with a broken build.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#AuthorInterview Jean Brown of Black Days #Psychthriller

Today, I'd like to welcome Author Jean Brown. She'll talk about her book, Black Days, book 1 in the Faulkner's Curse series.

Jean: Thanks! I'm glad to be here.

Tell us what Black Days is about and what genre it would be classified.

Jean: Black Days crosses into many genres but would be considered a psychological suspense/thriller with a twist of paranormal. Robert Faulkner has four grown children who hold him responsible for Billy, their younger brother, and their mother’s death. Robert has lived his life intoxicated as he was unable to deal with his problems. Alcohol kept him numb, blocking all the pain from his troubled childhood and made it easier for him to pretend not to care. But then he collapses on the street and wakes in the hospital guilt stricken with a conscience. While on his mission to right his wrongs with his children whom all have some serious issues of their own, Robert discovers he has the ability to heal with the touch of his hands while at an appointment with internal medicine. Reconnecting with his children will be the biggest challenge of his life as he is getting closer to death and running out of time. Life becomes even more complicated as he is forced to accept the truth about the legends of his family’s bloodline being cursed. 

Sound like an extremely involving book. What was your process like for writing Black Days and how long did it take to finish it?

Jean: Black Days started off as a short story in 2000 but kept growing. It was about twelve pages long but always felt unfinished to me. So I kept adding to it until it became a full length novel. It still didn’t feel “completed” to me, so that’s what influenced me to write the series. I finished the first draft in 2010 and before I started editing and rewriting, I was already writing the second book, Rending Skies/2012.

Can you explain what “Faulkner’s Curse” is about?

Jean: The Curse or supposed curse, however a reader may want to perceive it in book 1, is mythic to have started over two hundred years ago when Tristan Faulkner cheated Indians out of their land where an Indian Burial Mound existed. Tristan was also said to be responsible for the death of a great Indian Chief as the curse of the Faulkner bloodline began.

Sounds kind of Stephen King like, doesn't it? While you were growing up, was reading and writing a part of your life? Who were your earliest influences?

Jean: I grew up with a father whom, in my opinion, was a master story teller. His tales of myths and legends were a large part of my life. My father loved to tell stories about Indian Burial Mounds, ghost stories and tales of all genres, often times making them up as he went along or adding to old stories always keeping the sagas interesting and keeping me on the edge of my seat. He never wrote his stories as they only existed in his mind and the minds of the people he shared them with. Writing and reading was a big part of my life since my earliest memories. You could say writing was my imaginary friend. I kept a notebook at hand, always writing short stories, and found myself up late at night in the middle of an interesting book.

From the beginning when Black Days was a short story, was it your intention to make it an emotional character study?

Jean: I did plan Robert’s guilt as an emotional base to the story. As the story grew, I realized that the characters emotions were the driving force, so I used the force to move the plot along.

Why did you choose to write this series at this time in your life?

Jean: I suppose it’s because I have the time. I’ve written short stories throughout the years, but now that my children are older, I’m able to dedicate more time to writing. It’s never too late, right?

Exactly. Do you have a specific theme throughout the series?

Jean: My series are all about the characters emotions. I’ve written two screenplays and really enjoyed doing so, but I miss getting into the characters heads as you are limited in screenplays. Also, I’m an animal lover and advocate, so every story I write typically has an animal character. Ruby, a 120 pound German Shepard plays a large roll throughout the series. In Rending Skies/2012, Eve Faulkner is also an advocate for animals.

Sound interesting. Always good to have some strong subplots to keep the series going. What is some of the feedback you’re getting from the readers?

Jean: I’ve had readers tell me that the ending of Black Days really shocked them. Some readers say that the book holds their attention with the twists and turns in the plot. The most surprising comments is that Black Days was an inspirational book. I had never thought about it in that way, so when I asked the reader why he thought it was inspirational he said, “in all ways that matter, family”. My favorite comment is when someone tells me they couldn’t put the book down until the end of the story. I get so excited when I hear those words that I can’t sleep.

Ha, ha, that's so true. Causing a reader to lose sleep is our biggest accomplishment, right? Where did the inspiration come from for the series?

Jean: I’ve always been intrigued by why people do what they do according to the early influences in their life, whether it makes them happy, sad or leaves them feeling guilty. I witnessed someone I loved, in their final days, feeling so guilty knowing they didn’t have time to make amends, and this guilt was the most powerful emotion I’ve witnessed. It affected me so deeply that I used it somewhat as guide to live my life by.

What do you hope readers will get from Black Days?

Jean: Mainly, my hope is to entertain the readers by forging an emotional relationship between the readers and the characters as I tell a fast passed story (events take place in ten hours). If I’ve done my job correctly, the readers will care enough to follow me through the series.

Sounds good to me. What's next?

Jean: Rending Skies/2012, book 2 in the Faulkner’s Curse series, has just released. I’m currently working on book 3 in the series.

Jean Brown lives in the Piedmont area of North Carolina with her husband Michael, daughter Asia, and all her furry friends. In her spare time, Jean fosters and rescues animals in need. She also enjoys spending time on the lake. She is currently working on book  three in the Faulkner's Curse series. Jean invites you to take a journey with her to the cursed Durga Lake where evil resides beneath the surface of the breathtaking landscape. 

Find out more about Black Days at Amazon.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Traces of Kara by Melissa Foster

Traces of Kara is a heart-rending, emotional and thrilling drama with the backdrop of horror.

All Kara ever wanted to do was to lead a normal life, go to nursing school and get away from her cheating husband. But an overprotective mother, a sinister stalker, and secrets with deep roots combine to throw Kara into a shadowy nightmare of real and implanted memories.

The setting of an aging coal plant, sealed off tunnels and graveyards of outdated machinery create a horrifying atmosphere where blood, bodies and  suspicious odors lurk around every corner. The story reeled me in from the start and I could not let go of it, no matter how scary. A movie ran through my mind, complete with sound effects, creepy music, and the shuffling of the villain, raspy breathing, and that voice calling in the dark. Yet, love and devotion shone deep inside the chamber of horrors. The characters were realistic and admitted things to themselves that most people hid or denied. They were scared, not heroic, but loved and cared deeply enough to do the unthinkable, and at the end made themselves admirable and heroic.

I never thought I'd enjoy story that would leave nightmares, but this one sucked me in and spit me out thrilled, chilled, and congealed. It was just so good, and yes, I'll never think about a coal plant the same way ever again or take a tour of one. It was SO-O scary, but had a touching mother-daughter story and plenty of relationship drama intertwined into it. Gosh, I'm still reeling. It is so rich, so multi-faceted and a story I'll never forget. It's like Hannibal Lector, Freddie Kruger and the Tami Hoag villains combined with the emotional bond of Jody Picoult, Jane Fitch, and Steel Magnolia. Expect the unexpected. The ending was perfect and realistic. Not tied with a plastic ribbon, but satisfying at a deeper level.

#AuthorInterview Lars Guignard, thriller and fantasy writer

Please welcome Lars Guignard to Rachelle's Window. Lars is a writer of all things exciting.

How old were you when you first started writing for yourself? What was your first story about? 

I think everyone who works as a writer probably started writing in grade school, stories and the like. I did that, but I first started writing in a professional, I'd like to get paid for this sense, when I was in college. I thought it would be a fun way to earn a living. My first story was a a kind of coming of age drama called Year of the Chicken. If I'm going to be honest, it was about me and my friends doing increasingly crazy things until the bottom fell out and things got truly out of hand. I guess you could call it a coming of age tale -- with poultry. 

Yes, that sounds about what a college guy would write. What kind of training did you have as a writer? 
I have pretty significant training as a writer. I attended the conservatory of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles where I earned an MFA in screenwriting. Carl Gottlieb, the screenwriter of Jaws was my mentor. We did a lot of work on things like story structure for film and the like. Screenwriting teaches you to be very precise and efficient in saying what you need to say because you don't have a lot of time to get your point across -- in fact its measured in minutes and each of those minutes cost hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of dollars.

I can see how working as a screenwriter would motivate you to tighten your script. When you turned your attention to writing books, how did those formats translate for you? What was the biggest challenge? The biggest advantage?

Strangely, the length of the format doesn't change things that much. You're still dealing with a beginning, middle, and end. It's just a question of how much story you can squeeze inside the box. There are a lot of 120-minute movies that, story-wise, could fit into a half-hour format and remember you're talking about 22 minutes of screen time there. The biggest challenge with books is that it's up to the author to flesh everything out -- the little details that an actor would bring to a performance can't be inferred as they are in a screenplay, they need to be on the page. The biggest advantage I personally took from screenwriting is the solid sense of story structure you need to develop to practice your craft. If that same discipline and structure can be applied to a book, I think you'll get something where the plot moves along nicely and doesn't bore the reader. I guess the main thing you learn is that time is precious. If what you're saying doesn't serve the story, you cut it.

That is actually a great lesson to have. I noticed you have series in 3 different genres: Spy Thriller, Paranormal Horror Detective, and Middle-Grade Magic Adventure. Can you talk about each title briefly and describe what inspired you to write that book.

My first book Lethal Circuit was inspired by two events -- a trip I took to China and a person I knew who joined the CIA, but, obviously couldn't tell anyone about it. When I combined those elements I realized that I had a spy story set in an exotic foreign land. After that, it practically wrote itself.

So Lethal Circuit, as I mentioned, was inspired by a trip that I took to Hong Kong where I actually ended up extending my stay and living there for a few months. The plot hinges around a backpacker who goes to China to find his missing father. The situation quickly turns critical from there. 

Brood, a paranormal thriller was inspired by a summer job I had out in the middle of nowhere in northern British Columbia working on a fish farm, which is basically a big metal island of fish pens anchored in the ocean. Brood is about the search for a missing scientist in that wilderness, and the frightening conspiracy of his disappearance which is ultimately brought to light. 

Ghost Leopard was inspired by the boarding school I attended in India -- a truly magical, crazy place way up in the Himalayas. Ghost Leopard is about two kids, Zoe and Zak, who tag along on a business trip to India with their parents where they get recruited by a snake charmer to save a mythical beast. Zoe and Zak end up going on a crazy adventure with flying carpets and talking elephants and the like, high in the mountains, where they ultimately end up saving the world.

Incredible. Three series in different genres. I shouldn't ask, but do you have a favorite genre? What is easiest to write?

I don't have a favorite genre, so much as a favorite style. I like stories that move. Stories that have a lot of "story" to them. I guess I'm partial to thrillers in that sense, but a thriller for kids like Ghost Leopard is just as interesting to me as a spooky thriller like Brood or an action spy thriller like Lethal Circuit. I am just finishing the final edits on Lethal Circuit's sequel, Blown Circuit right now though, and I will tell you that the action spy thriller poses a special challenge. The kind of plotting required to make a good spy thriller is grueling, probably harder than other genres, but in the end I think it's worth it.

I'll bet. You have to make sure all the little pieces tie together, drop clues and keep track of the outcomes. But it's exciting. Thanks for joining us today. I look forward to your guest post on backpacking and spying. I'm sure a leisurely hike will never be the same again.

Please visit Lars at his Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @Lars_Gu

Book Links:
Ghost Leopard

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