Archive for July, 2010

Fans of Brenda Novak’s romantic suspense stories will not be disappointed by this her latest novel, White Heat.

This time the author takes the reader on an exciting, dangerous adventure in the town of Paradise, Arizona, where a fearsome, charismatic new leader named Ethan Wycliff has set up his own cult in the middle of the desert.

A young woman and former cult member has disappeared, and Department 6’s private security agents Rachel Jessop and Nate Ferrentino are called to the case. Rachel would rather, much rather go on her own. After all, not only does she find Nate distractingly attractive, but she also doesn’t want to be reminded each minute of her existence of the humiliating situation she experienced with him six months before. Nate, on the other hand, doesn’t think she should be assigned to the case. He believes it is too dangerous.

Posing as a young married couple, Rachel and Nate go undercover and try to infiltrate the group. Soon, the true nature of the cult begins to reveal itself: its primitive, patriarchal views and, especially, its shocking views about marriage and relationships. As danger escalates, and the number of missing members rises, the couple must put aside their personal feelings in order bring the crazy leader and his helpers to justice.

The story is told from two points of view: Rachel’s and Nate’s. Novak keeps the description to a minimum and focuses on dialogue and action scenes, making the novel move at a fast pace. As in other of Novak’s books, the characters are incredibly sympathetic in spite of their flaws—exhibited especially through the natural, entertaining dialogue. The constant bantering between the hero and heroine is fun and adds a touch of humor to the frightening scenes. Of course, the relationship between the protagonists is explosive, so fans of romance won’t be disappointed.

Novak has a gift for building compelling plots and creating characters the reader will identify with and care about. White Heat is pure entertainment from start to finish.

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Please welcome my special guest, New York Times bestselling YA author Maggie Stiefvater! Maggie is the creator of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. SHIVER was released last year and has garnered some excellent reviews. This month, however, Maggie is touring the blogosphere to promote the release of the second book in the series, LINGER.

(Blurb taken from the author’s website)

In Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love—the light and the dark, the warm and the cold—in a way you will never forget.


It’s a pleasure having you on my blog, Maggie! In the first book, SHIVER, the story is told from two points of view, that of Grace’s and Sam’s. What made you decide to use four points of view in LINGER?

I really wanted to make the story a bit of a wider focus, both to see Sam and Grace’s relationship from the outside but also to get a different perspective on life in Mercy Falls. Isabel’s point of view was a very late addition to the manuscript.

Isabel has an important role in this book. What compelled you to continue her story? Did you know in book I that she would eventually have such a major role?

I actually just put her in Shiver as the mean girl with Reasons for Being Mean, and the more I wrote her, the more interested I got in the nuances of her character. I was a bit of an ice princess in the first few years of college, and people tend to take that icy princess shell at face value. So frosty = bitch. When sometimes frosty = hiding, shy, or uncomfortable with making sincere relationships. Isabel lets me dig deep into what the girl behind the mascara.

In SHIVER Grace’s parents are almost nonexistent, hardly ever getting involved in their daughter’s life. In book II their attitude seems to change. Why?

Ah, Grace’s parents. When I sold Shiver, I prepared myself for reviews that grumbled about the sexual content. What I didn’t expect was to get more reviews talking about the absentee parenting of Grace’s parents. The thing is, I’ve met a lot of parents like Grace’s — more and more, actually, as I get older. They don’t see themselves as bad parents. They did their job; got their kids into high school without bad grades or drugs or wiccan rituals or an extreme love of World of Warcraft. They’re upper middle class white folks. Well-spoken, well-educated, two-income families that look quite ideal from the outside. But they aren’t families, they’re solar systems. Solitary planets who just happen to be in the same orbit due to the gravitational pull of the same last name. You might even know some of them. But I’ve talked to these teens who come from these families. Teens who drive themselves home, who have the house to themselves while their parents go on second and third honeymoons for a long weekend, who know more about their college plans than their parents. They exist. Trust me. Ask any high school teacher.

Anyway, in LINGER, Grace’s parents, floating as they were, get shocked out of their complacency when the natural order of things is disrupted. I try to be truthful in my characterizations even when it’s as annoying as all get out for me as a writer.

What was your inspiration for Cole and what made you decide to make him a rock star?

Cole! Cole was originally designed to make Sam look good. Sad, but true. I really, really have this thing for opposites in my fiction. Before a really bad scene, I’ll have a really pretty one. For every good relationship, a bad one. For every really nice boy, a really bad rocker one. *evil grin* Anyway, Cole was to be everything that Sam wasn’t. He also had to have a very good reason for choosing to go with Beck.

I just realized I still haven’t actually said “why rock star.” I can’t remember the exact moment I decided to make him a famous musician, actually. I remember that he had his roots in a character that I toyed with in a short story [http://community.livejournal.com/merry_fates/37340.html] I wrote on Merry Sisters of Fate, called Heart-Shaped Box. You can kind of see the scaffolding there for his personality and for the the relationship between Cole and his friend Victor.

How do you go about maintaining your characters’ motivations believable throughout your stories? Is this a conscious decision or does it happen automatically as you write?

Wow, you have good questions (and hard ones). I think of my novels as character driven stories so therefore, to me, the characters’ motivations are always the most important thing. I can’t write the next scene until I ask myself: how will this affect them? What are the possible things they would do next?

Of course, I know the character arcs beforehand, so sometimes I have to come at it backwards. Like: I want this character to change in this way. What needs to happen to make that happen?

It is definitely not automatic.

Thank you for having me on your blog!

Thank you, Maggie, and best of luck with your tour!

LINGER trailer…

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Bob Boan has been a member of the space community for over twenty-five years developing RF and optical systems for communications and sensing satellites. He has multiple patents and publications in his field. Previously, he served in academia. He earned a BS from Campbell University, a master’s from the University of Mississippi and a doctorate from Florida Institute of Technology. He’s with us today to talk about his latest novel, Bobby Becomes Bob, published by Twilight Times Books.

Visit the author’s website to read reviews and find out more about his work.

About the book:
(blurb provided by Bob Boan)

Bobby Becomes Bob is story of coming of age set in small-town North Carolina. The story depicts life in rural areas across the U.S. in the Fifties through early Seventies. The events are seen through Bobby Padgett’s eyes. It is a story of sharing. It is a story of great happiness. It is a story of unfortunate events. Bobby was nurtured and sheltered by a small, caring community. Ultimately, that loving little town could not protect him from misfortune in the world-at-large. Perhaps it also proves that all good things and most bad things come to an end. His extended ordeal finally ended allowing him to return to St. Umblers. Was it too late to regain the love of his life – Sam? He and Sam had been nearly inseparable before his departure. Sam, though she had no way to know it, was largely responsible for helping him through his darkest moments.

Read an excerpt here.

Thanks for being my guest today, Bob. From space scientist to literary author… will you share with my readers how this came about?

Mayra, I first flirted with the idea of being a literary author as a young teenager. I wondered if I could tell tales as well as some of my favorite authors. Being the confident optimist that I have always been, I’m sure that it was more like “I’ll bet I can write a story every bit as well as they can.” Nonetheless, I put that thought aside for more traditional teenage activities. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I revisited the concept of becoming a writer. I made several unremarkable attempts at writing over the next dozen or so years. Frankly, looking back, what I wrote wasn’t very good. I found I needed concentrated blocks of time which were unavailable to me in order to write partially because I am severely typing challenged. If I were going to be a successful writer, I was going to have to overcome my time constraints. I retired to write. I flunked retirement several times continuing to delay the fulfillment of my desire to be an author. I finally got retirement about right, I think.

You were a voracious reader as a child. Were you also a young writer or did writing come later?

As I think back to my youth, I wouldn’t say I was so much a writer as a verbose user of words much of the time. When I wasn’t being unnecessarily wordy, I was blunt and brief. Neither of those is a highly desirable trait for an author. Good thing I didn’t have to rely upon income from writing to live during my youth though it probably would not have afforded a much more Spartan existence.

Your enthusiasm for literature was somewhat blunted when you took high school and literary courses. Can you tell us why?

As I mentioned before Mayra, I never lacked confidence. I have been told that I successfully demand to be different. Perhaps there were those who needed the teacher to tell them what a passage or a story meant. That was not me! Maybe I was being a brat but I wanted to get from my reading that which I wanted to get. I wanted to be the one to fill in the bandwidth as opposed to some instructor telling me that when I read the snow was accumulating in deep drifts really meant that the author was in a dark mood. I didn’t see and didn’t want to see the instructor’s interpretation. I pretty much shut down and left the printed word behind except for required reading.

Interesting. I’m sure many students can identify with that. Let’s move on to your latest novel. Bobby Becomes Bob is a coming-of-age literary story set in a rural town. What was your inspiration for it and what themes do you explore in the novel?

More than once, I had heard the advice, “write about something you know.” That sounded reasonable to me so I chose to follow that advice. I grew up in a rural North Carolina town quite similar to St. Umblers during the time frame of the story—the 50s through the 70s. Bobby Becomes Bob is a story of real-life. When I started planning the book, Bobby was going to approximate a superhero. It was only after one of my daughters asked me to tell her about my life growing up that I decided to change the tone of the story partially to answer the questions she didn’t know how to ask. I found Bobby more likable after I made him invulnerable. He was certainly much more realistic. I made Bobby an Everyman. The hero could have been almost anyone from a large number of rural towns across the country. I focused on the ups and downs of life to which any one of us might have been exposed during that period of history.

You’ve also penned two other books, An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion (Brown Walker 2006) and Williams Lake Was Once The Center of The Universe (Verbal Pictures Press 2008). How was your background helpful in writing these books?

My science background was extremely instrumental in being able to co-author An Introduction to Planetary Defense as it is a science text. It was necessary to do significant research in a variety of technical disciplines to compile the data to complete that book. Williams Lake Was Once The Center of The Universe is a novel. Once again, I had to do research albeit a different variety. This time I sought out stories associated with Williams Lake and other similar venues from the second half of the 60s. I called upon some of my memories as attenuated by 40 years or so as well as those of several friends. It was also necessary to do research for the historical content in the second part of the book.

Bobby Becomes Bob, however, is quite different from these two, and doesn’t have anything to do with space and science. What compelled you to take this new direction?

My desire to write was always genre-free. When I was thinking of writing I actually never thought about fitting into a genre such as fiction or science. I consider myself more versatile than that.

Has the writing of this novel transformed you as a writer?

I’ve learned several lessons as a writer from the experience of going through the process of getting this book published. One of the things that I learned is that I used the word “that” far too frequently. I had to reduce the number of repetitions of the word “that” by at least an order of magnitude. I also found that I had a tendency to oversell a point by repeating it using different terminology. I thought that I was helping the reader understand the point of emphasis; however, in truth I was probably losing the reader. Another major transformation which took place during the publishing process was to understand the importance of maintaining a consistent point of view. Failure to do so can be confusing and frustrating to the reader.

How do you combine your left-brained scientist self with your right-brained creative self when you sit down to write? Does your ‘logical’ side get in the way at times? By this I mean, do you edit methodically as you write, or do you allow your creative side to take control and just ‘write down the bones’?

When I sit down to write I trust my creative side and allow it significant freedoms; however, I have to come back with the logical side and test timelines, accomplishments and the like to make sure that they are within the realm of the possible. While there are exceptions, as a rule I write the entire story before beginning to edit unless my logical nature tells me that there is a problem. If that happens, I stop and edit the sections involved.

Are you a disciplined writer? I read somewhere that you’re able to write 7,000 words in an 8-hour working day!

Being a task-oriented person, I think of myself as a highly disciplined writer. When I write, it becomes my job; I dedicate myself to it day in and day out according to a schedule.

Mayra, I’d like to routinely write 7000 words in an eight-hour day. But, that 7000 words per day was a calculated theoretical upper limit for my output as a metric to help me understand how much time I had to set aside to write a book. Hitting that mark would enable me to write a typical novel in approximately 15 days. The truth is I was falling far short of that level of output. In practice, I was taking more like 60 days eight-hour days. Speech recognition technology was partially responsible for achieving my level of production. In the last couple of years, the technology has improved enough to allow me to approach that 7000 word day on occasion.

I admire your productivity! Sixty days is still quite impressive in finishing a book!

I understand that, as a writer, you were deeply affected by Mark Twain and Jane Austen. Can you tell us what about them you’ve found most influencing?

On the surface, they appear quite different. In practice, they are very similar. They reached their endpoints from opposite directions. Mark Twain used folksy humor to tell his stories while Ms. Austen used the elegant language of the upper crust. Despite their difference in delivery, they both had the ability to relay life in simple, entertaining terms.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website, www.bobboan.com, is up and running while undergoing reconstruction. I hope to have the improved version operational by mid-August. I don’t have a blog at the moment; that’s something that I have been considering. Mayra, your readers and others can find me on Facebook which is as close to a blog as I have.

What’s next for Bob Boan?

I am working on a couple of mystery novels. The first of those, Don’t Tell Brenda, is forthcoming from Twilight Times Books, within the next few months. The other is a collaborative effort with Travis S. Taylor. The first draft is currently titled The Defense Affair. It is somewhere in the range of 60% finished. We hope to have it in bookstores early next year. We will begin the search for a publisher by September. Any help finding one would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the insightful interview, Bob, and best of luck with all your writing endevours!

Thank you, Mayra. It was a pleasure being with you. I hope we have a chance to chat again.

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Reymundo Sanchez is the pseudonym of a former Latin King who no longer lives in Chicago. He is the author of My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King, Once a King, Always a King, Latin King: Una vida sangrienta, and the latest Lady Q, The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen, published by Chicago Review Press. Sanchez has appeared on Fox News Chicago, Telemundo, and Univision. In spite of his busy schedule, he was kind enough to answer a few questions.

About the book:



Offering a rarely seen female perspective on gang life, this raw and powerful memoir tells not only of one woman’s struggle to survive the streets but also of her ascent to the top ranks of the new mafia, where the only people more dangerous than rival gangs were members of her own. At age 5 Sonia Rodriguez’s stepfather began to abuse her; at 10 she was molested by her uncle and beaten by her mother when she told on him; and by 13 her home had become a hangout for the Latin Kings and Queens who were friends with her older sister. Threatened by rival gang members at school, Sonia turned away from her education and extracurricular activities in favor of a world of drugs and violence. The Latin Kings, one of the largest and most notorious street gangs in America, became her refuge, but its violence cost her friends, freedom, self-respect, and nearly her life. As a Latin Queen, she experienced the exhilarating highs and unbelievable lows of gang life. From being shot at by her own gang and kicked out at age 18 with an infant daughter to rejoining the gang and distinguishing herself as a leader, her legacy as Lady Q was cemented both for her willingness to commit violence and for her role as a drug mule.

Short Interview:

When did you start your career as a writer?

With the first book released in the year 2000. It took about 8 years to put together.

Please tell us about your latest release, Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen. I understand you wrote it in collaboration with Sonia Rodriguez. How did this project come about?

Great majority of e-mails, MySpace/Facebook hits I get are from females from the hood that are in some way affected by the gang lifestyle, so I decided to tell the woman’s side of it.

Was it hard writing someone else’s memoir?

Yes. Had to separate myself emotionally from the person I was writing about in order to present an un-biased story.

What is the main message of the book?

That not all kids join gangs because they have nothing better to do, and that gangs are not the “family” they make themselves out to be.

How do you think the book will help young people?

By providing non-sugar coated, real accounts of a lifestyle that seems so attractive to many… they will hopefully realize what they are getting themselves into and chose a different path.

How has the writing of this book affected you as a person and writer?

It has challenged me to reach for a broader reading audience.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

Gangs, whether they are female or male, are a product of a blind, uncaring community. To think otherwise is to allow gangs to flourish, and apparently most communities are thinking otherwise.

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Anne K. Edwards loves to read and it was reading that led her into trying to write. It took many years before she achieved publication, but she feels it was worth the wait. She is currently working on several other projects including a new mystery. Her just released book, Shadows Over Paradise, is a suspense with a female protagonist. It may be purchased at Barnes and Noble’s stores, and ordered online from them as well and Amazon, the publisher http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com and several other online bookstores.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?

Shadows Over Paradise came into being because I wanted to tell a story about a woman in danger who did not depend entirely on a hero to save her. She could stand on her own two feet and not fall apart when faced with danger. In other words, I wanted to avoid the stereotyped heroine who, when faced with danger, runs screaming through the woods in high heels. Doesn’t she have the sense not to wear heels in the woods or to take them off and not to scream so the villains or monsters will surely catch her?

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

My creative process is what I’d call a mish-mash. I write in spurts and back edit as I go. I don’t use outlines of any sort as I love to be surprised as the story unwinds. I never know what might happen next. The characters decide that. After about the second chapter of a book, they come alive for me and then I get to know them. The only thing I know for sure is the book will have a certain ending, but getting there is all the fun. I wouldn’t call it stream of consciousness writing as I write a bit, then go back and look for trouble spots while ideas or actions are percolating for the next part I write. I tend to see the scenes as I write, like a movie in my head.

How long did it take you to write the book?

On the whole it took about 4 years. The problem is the same now as then, not enough hours in the day.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I wouldn’t call it writin’s block in my case. Sometimes I get distracted and end up doing something else or I simply take a day or week or month off because I run out of steam. (This means my brain gets lazy.)

What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Don’t laugh too loudly, but I get my best solutions or new scenes when I’m shoveling out a stall. I have no idea what the connection is.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Looking for a publisher can be very discouraging. I had that happen several times before I went with a publisher that offered me a contract after they’d the manuscript for only afew days. I don’t know whether they know that discouraged writers are a good bet to sign or not, but I did. That error in judgement or plain stupidity on my part taught me a lot. It took seven years before I got the rights back, and the book has been republished with a real publisher. Lesson–don’t jump into that first contract without thinking about it and asking questions. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation. The trick is that publisher sold authors copies of their books for almost the same price they sold to the public. The money they make is from authors buying their books to resell. But, I am not placing the blame on that publisher. I was ignorant of how to find a publisher, I knew none of the rules of the road to getting published online. I wish I had taken the time to ask questions of other authors. That is the key to finding a publisher that will suit you best. Ask questions. Don’t sign without doing so.

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you? Share with us some writing tips!

I guess the usual reviews and interviews. I’ve tried book signings, but I live in an area where unknown authors just don’t make out well at them, even when they’re well publicized events. Ads, press releases are also good to start with. Building myself a name as a reviewer, having a newsletter that is about other authors and a website that offers visitors more than repetitious news about myself seems to help also.

What authors or type of books do you read for fun?

I read mysteries, biographies, history for fun. Enjoy a good funny tale also.

Do you think a critique group is essential for a writer?

I don’t know if they are essential, but they certainly do help. Those readers find errors an author misses. That alone is a great teaching tool. You also critique their work in turn and that, too, is a way to learn from others who write better than you do.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website http://www.Mysteryfiction.net is more about other authors than myself.

Do you have another novel on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I have a new mystery novel underway. It deals with a family conflict and how the people concerned resolve it. Hannah Clare who made her debut in Death on Delivery will work on the case. I have some new kids stories under way also. One is the second in a series of Jeremy and the Dragon. I’ll be working with Author Mayra Calvani on presenting a course a tthe October Muse Online Conference also.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

Visit my webiste above and read copies of Voice in the Dark ezine. The interviews and articles offer lots of helpful information. Also, visit Twilight Times Books for some good reading.

Many thanks, Mayra, for the opportunity to talk to your readers.

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Slip, slide into the World of Book Reviewing

Enjoy reading and discussing books, why not expand your canvas and slip, slide into the world of book reviewing. How does one write a review and gain recognition one may ask? The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing answers your questions.

PRLog (Press Release) – Jul 11, 2010 – M E D I A R E L E A S E

CONTACT: Lida Quillen
Email: publisher@twilighttimes.com
Website: www.twilighttimesbooks.com

For Immediate Release

Slip, slide into the World of Book Reviewing

Enjoy reading and discussing books, why not expand your canvas and slip, slide into the world of book reviewing. How does one write a review and gain recognition one may ask? The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards answers many of your questions along with practical advice which will get you started in no time.

Taking the publishing world by storm, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing first edition quickly became a must have reference tool for new and seasoned book reviewers. The authors acknowledged the fact our high speed information world changes in a nanosecond and embarked on their quest to update The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing and have released the newly revised and updated edition.

Reviews from well established and respected book reviewers continue to pour in:

“The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing should be considered mandatory reading for novice and aspiring book reviewers, as well as having a great deal of enduring value as a reference for even the more experienced reviewer. Additionally, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will provide to be informed and informative reading about the book review process for authors, publishers, publicists, booksellers, librarians, and the general reading public.” Reviewed by James Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review.

“The Slippery Art… is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in book reviews – writers, reviewers, publishers, publicists, librarians, booksellers and readers.”
Reviewed by Francine Silverman, Editor of The Book Promotion Newsletter

It comes as no surprise The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing has the distinct honor of the ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award and the esteem privilege of being listed as required reading at several American and Dutch universities.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing
Twilight Times Books
ISBN: 978-1933353227
Amazon.com, B&N.com, and of course you can order through your local independent book store.

Anne K. Edwards is an award-winning multi-genre author, reviewer and editor of Voice in the Dark Ezine. Her latest novel is the suspense thriller, Shadows Over Paradise, just released by Twilight Times Books. Visit her website at http://www.MysteryFiction.net.

Award-winning multi-genre author Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She reviews for SimplySharly.com, The NY Journal of Books and Blogcritics Magazine. She’s had over 300 articles, reviews, interviews and stories published online. Visit her website at http://www.MayraCalvani.com.

Full Media Kit, Headshot, Book Cover Art and more are available upon request.

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Shadows over Paradise
By: Anne K. Edwards
Twilight Times Books
Copyright 2010
ISBN-13: 9781606191354

Author’s website: www.MysteryFiction.net
Purchase from Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?isbn=1606191357

After receiving an unexpected wedding invitation from an old college girlfriend, aspiring novelist Julia Graye flies to the exotic Mantuan Islands to attend the celebration. Not having seen nor heard from her friend Samantha for the last six years, Julia finds the request somewhat odd. Yet she’s soon captivated by the idea of visiting this part of the world which she’s heard so much about. Maybe the place will even inspire her and give her an idea for a novel.

However, as soon as she steps foot in Orinda, the capital, an atmosphere of mystery and dread begins to darken her enthusiasm. On the boat ride to Tiboo, the little volcanic island where Samantha actually lives and where Julia will be staying for the next few days, the Captain warns her about bad times and political restlessness and advises her to turn back. Turn back, after such a long trip? She’s just got here. She’ll only be here a few days to attend a friend’s wedding. What possible harm could come to her?

That night she finally meets Samantha again, as well as Samantha’s petulant brother and cold mother. An air of intrigue, lies and secrets seem to veil this old family. Then the next day, to Julia’s utter shock, she discovers a dead body on the beach, a body which turns out to be none other than Samantha’s groom-to-be Ramon. The police declare it a murder. Family members and relatives become suspects; everybody appears to be hiding something. Moreover, Julia can’t shake off the feeling that she’s been followed, that someone’s been tracking her movements. But who and why?

After several suspicious incidents it becomes clear someone wants Julia dead, but what possible threat could a harmless aspiring novelist pose to anyone? As she’s caught in the vortex and forced to fight for her life, her actions will have an impact on the political future of the entire island.

This book impelled me to read late into the night. I simply couldn’t put it down. Anne K. Edwards has created a twister of deception and mystery that kept me guessing for the culprits. The climax gripped me and left me breathless all the way to the fully satisfying ending. The exotic setting, polished narration, tight plot and strong atmosphere of menace make this story a must read for lovers of the genre. Being a fan of this very talented author, I impatiently look forward to reading more of her works.

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Book of Shadows
By Alexandra Sokoloff
St. Martin’s Press
June 8, 2010
ISBN 978-0-312-38471-5
Supernatural thriller

Author’s website: www.alexandrasokoloff.com

Every time I pick up a book by Alexandra Sokoloff, I know I’m in for a good treat. I was not disappointed with this her last supernatural thriller: Book of Shadows kept me reading late into the night and I ended up gobbling it in two days.

The story begins with a horrible ritualistic murder: a teenaged girl is found in a garbage dump, strange markings on her chest, her head and hand missing. Detective Garret and his partner are called into the case. Not too long after that they have a strong suspect, a Goth band member who seems to have been dating the victim. As evidence mounts and all points to the young musician, Garret is able to make an arrest. But things get complicated when Tanith Cabarrus, a beautiful woman who not only claims to be a psychic but also a witch shows up at Garret’s office and tells him the murderer is still at large and getting ready to kill again. It is her belief that the killer is a Satan worshipper with the intention to summon a powerful demon… and that the final killing will take place on Halloween, only a few weeks away.

Garret feels incredibly attracted to Tanith, but, a sceptic by nature, he refuses to believe in what he can only describe as mumbo jumbo. As the case progresses, however, he begins to doubt the nature of reality and eventually must put all of what he’s ever believed in to the test.

Is Tanith correct? Is the killer still at large—or is she trying to manipulate the investigation for her own purposes? Is there, in fact, a supernatural aspect to this case, or does it only looks that way?

I kept asking myself this last question over and over as I kept turning the pages. Just when you’re certain there’s something supernatural, something else happens that makes you wonder: is it—or isn’t it? I love how the author teases the reader in this way.

Alexandra Sokoloff has penned another page turner. The protagonist is a sympathetic cop with a sceptic nature and a dark Catholic upbringing, making him a perfect character for the story. The pace is quick, the dialogue sharp and natural. Sokoloff doesn’t waste time with long description or narration. Action and dialogue dominate this story, so if you’re looking for a fast suspenseful read, this is the book for you. I also found all of the myth fascinating. Book of Shadows combines the excitement of a supernatural thriller, the chills of a horror novel, and the mystery of a crime story. Add to that a sprinkle of romance and how can you go wrong?

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California native Alexandra Sokoloff is a professional screenwriter, director, choreographer, and author of the supernatural thrillers, The Harrowing, The Price, The Unseen, and now the latest, Book of Shadows. The first was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel and for an Anthony Award for Best First Mystery. She’s also an International Thriller Writers’ Thriller Award winner. She has adapted numerous novels for film for companies such as Sony, Fox, Disney, and Miramax. Sokoloff is a regular blogger at Murderati, a collective of dark suspense authors.

Thanks for this interview, Alexandra. All your novels are supernatural thrillers. What got you into the realm of the paranormal?

I grew up in Berkeley, California, which was a paranormal experience all on its own! I’m not really joking, either — people in that city are very dedicated to pursuing altered states of consciousness, whether that be chemical, spiritual, psychological, or occult. Very early on I developed a fascination with the question of whether a paranormal event was a psychological experience, a supernatural one, or some blend of the two. That’s what I’m always writing about. And of course, my favorite books and movies of all time are the ones that explore those psychological/supernatural mysteries and hauntings, like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, and Stephen King’s The Shining and Carrie.

Let’s talk about your latest one, Book of Shadows. What was your inspiration for it?

I’ve always wanted to write a story with the backdrop of the modern practice of witchcraft. Being a California native, I have friends who practice the Craft, and it’s so rich in visual and archetypal imagery and power. And you may have noticed I am fairly obsessed with gender issues and differences. I wanted to write a book that would pit a very outwardly rational, logic-driven man, in a very male profession (homicide detective), from a very rational city (Boston) against a very otherworldly, psychic, subconsciously driven woman (a practicing witch), from a much more mysterious town (Salem) — and play with the contrasts and the line between what is real and what is supernatural as the two of them investigate what he thinks is a serial murder which she insists involves a real demon. I thought I could create some great chemistry and distrust between the characters there, a paranormal noir, if you will. Then I was also working with my constant theme of people, especially young people (in this case a troubled college student) opening doors that they really don’t understand and having to deal with what might be supernatural consequences.

A new aspect of this novel, not really present in your earlier ones, is having a detective as your protagonist. This adds a touch of crime/mystery to the book. Why did you decide to make your protagonist a police officer?

I’ve written quite a few police procedurals as a screenwriter, and I read a lot in the genre, I love it. For Book of Shadows I wanted the protagonist to be a cop because as I said, it’s outwardly such a male, rational profession, and would provide the biggest contrast and conflict with the witch that he is forced to team up with to solve this murder. He is also constantly fighting his own unwillingness to believe there is a supernatural element involved in the case. The interesting thing about cops, though, is that they’re really very intuitive, so he has more in common with the witch than he would initially be inclined to admit.

Did you have to research police procedure for the story?

I’ve interviewed all kinds of law enforcement professionals and done a lot of forensics research for scripts that I’ve written, so I know how a homicide investigation works. But for Book of Shadows, when I was visiting Boston and Salem for research, I was very lucky to find a criminalist in the Boston Police Department who gave me an extensive tour of police headquarters and the crime lab and was very generous about answering my specific procedural questions.

There’s a lot of fascinating—and scary—information in the story about witchcraft. Having written about this subject before, you must have been familiar with most of it. Is there anything new you learned about the ‘dark forces’ while working on this novel?

I don’t know about the dark forces, but I am learning both in writing and in life that we human beings are much, much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. Our intentions can create our reality, so it’s important to be clear and conscious about what we’re thinking and what we want, so we focus always on the positive and don’t unconsciously manifest something with negative consequences. That, in a nutshell, is practical magic.

All throughout the story I could feel how careful and almost methodical you were in creating doubt in the reader—we never stop wondering, is it or isn’t it supernatural. Was this easy to create from a technical point of view?

Hah – what about writing is ever easy? In this story I was very committed to leaving everything ambiguous; I wanted the reader to decide — or not! — whether there was anything truly supernatural going on. That’s my experience of what real witchcraft is; it’s subtle, not one thing or another. I never deviated from that mission statement, which I guess made the writing easier because I was so clear about what I wanted to do.

I read online that of all your books, this one is your favorite so far. Why is that?

I think it’s because I love all the characters and the mysterious story world so much. The main characters are all flawed people truly trying to do the right thing, and risking themselves to save other lives.

I hear you have a nonfiction e-book out to help writers plot their novels. Tell us all about it!

When my first novel, The Harrowing, came out, I was really surprised at how in demand I was to teach writing at conferences because I had worked for a number of years as a screenwriter and now had written an acclaimed book as well. I very quickly realized authors had never heard of the film techniques that are the bread-and-butter of Hollywood writing and filmmaking. So I started teaching workshops and writing blog posts explaining the process of film writing, and demonstrating how to watch movies to pick up story structure and film techniques that are a huge help with novel writing. The workshops and blogs evolved into a workbook, Screenwriting Tricks For Authors, which is available now on Amazon.

You also give workshops online. Will you be giving one in the near future?

I have a two-week online workshop coming up July 15, and one in November. Details and sign-up links are on my website and blog.

What’s next for Alexandra Sokoloff?

I have my first paranormal coming out in November, The Shifters, part of a trilogy set in New Orleans, with co-authors Heather Graham and Deborah LeBlanc. And I’m working on a very dark young adult paranormal thriller and another, yes, dark, supernatural adult supernatural thriller for next year.

Thank you, Alexandra!

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