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Archive for October, 2016

the-stranger-final-coverThe Stranger is the second book in Anna del Mar’s Wounded Warrior series. However, each book is standalone with new, different characters.
Having read the first book, The Asset, all I can say is that The Stranger is another tour de force from del Mar. Once again, she delivers an addictive romantic suspense read with a compelling, emotionally charged plot and engaging, likable characters whom you will root for—not to mention an explosive, passionate love story filled with dangerous twists and turns.
Treacherous circumstances related to the fact that her sister has gone missing bring sassy, hot-tempered architect Summer Silva to the Alaskan wilderness, only to end up freezing and stranded in the middle of a fast-approaching snowstorm.
Enters former military pilot Alaskan native Seth Erickson, who happens to be passing by in his truck on his way to his cabin when he spots Summer and comes to the rescue. However, it isn’t that easy. From the minute our alpha hero speaks with her, he becomes suspicious of her presence there, and quickly assumes she’s been sent there to spy on his family business. But he’s found a match in Summer, for she’s as quick to deliver comebacks as he is…and as quick to surprise him, too. That same night, as a result of her rare “condition,” Seth ends up having more than he bargains for. Soon after, Summer discovers that someone is trying to murder her.
The Alaskan wilderness, a cold-blooded killer on the loose, and murder bring them together, but they will need to trust each other if they want to get of this alive, something that doesn’t come easy for either of them.
This was a fabulous fast-paced read, simply addictive. Sexy, with a touch of darkness, and humor to boot! But the best are the strong, sympathetic, multi-dimensional protagonists and the way their love evolves. If you haven’t discovered Anna del Mar’s books yet, you’re missing something.
Cover art published with permission from the author. 
Originally published in Blogcritics.

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Inside the Book:

Title: Mixed Signals

Author: Diane Barnes

Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Getting dumped is never easy, but there’s a special bonus sting if your ex-fiancé is a producer for a popular morning radio show. Jillian Atwood’s breakup with Nico has become the hosts’ number-one topic. They’re even running a competition to find him a new girlfriend. The entire population of Boston, it seems, is tuning in with an opinion about who Nico should date next—and what Jillian should do to get over him.

Jillian’s co-worker, Ben, has his own ideas on that score. He hates seeing Jill depressed over a guy as unworthy as her ex. While he’s providing a friendly ear, he’s also realizing how much more he’d like to offer. And if Jill could just get over the man who broke her heart, she might find the one who’s perfectly equipped to heal it…

 

Meet the Author:

diane-barnes

Though she always dreamed about being the shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, Diane Barnes is a marketing writer in Massachusetts. She participates in two monthly writing groups and attends novel writing workshops in Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts.

She started “Waiting for Ethan” as a challenge to participate in National Novel Writing Month. The original story was about a character who dated a string of freshly divorced men who all had issues with their ex-wives. She won’t say if that idea came from her dating experiences.

In 2012, Diane was one of eight writers who attended the Boston Writers’ Studio, an exclusive four-day intense writing workshop taught by bestselling author Elizabeth Berg. Diane says having her idol read her work was a moment she’ll never forget.

When not crafting novels, Diane spends her time playing tennis, going to the beach or watching her beloved Red Sox. She completed her first half marathon in 2014 (to combat her love of chocolate) and lives in central Massachusetts with her husband Steve; they often fantasize about moving to Turks and Caicos – for the winter months at least.

Visit her at http://www.dianembarnes.com

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Tour Schedule

 Tuesday, September 27 – Book featured at Books, Dreams, Life
Wednesday, September 28 – Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
Thursday, September 29 – Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
Friday, September 30 – Book featured at Mello and June
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Monday, October 3 – Book featured at I’m Shelf-ish
Tuesday, October 4 -Book featured at Laura’s Interests
Wednesday, October 5 -Book featured at CBY Book Club
Thursday, October 6 – Book featured at The Review From Here
Friday, October 7 – Book featured at A Title Wave
________
Monday, October 10 – Interviewed at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Tuesday, October 11 – Book featured at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, October 12 – Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Thursday, October 13 – Book featured at The Literary Nook
Friday, October 14 – Book featured at Booklover Sue
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Monday, October 17 – Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Tuesday, October 18 – Book featured at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic
Wednesday, October 19 – Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Thursday, October 20 – Book featured at E-Romance News
Friday, October 21 – Guest blogging at Written Love Reviews
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Inside the Book:

Title: A Vampire’s Honor

Author: Carla Susan Smith

Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Sins Of The Past …

Rowan Harper thought being with a vampire would keep her out of harm’s way. But true evil lurks in the darkness, and not even her lover, Gabriel, knows all of its tricks.

Rowan may be his Promise, the one woman who can save Gabriel’s soul, but the two of them have a long and complicated history that Rowan is only now discovering–complete with old enemies who will stop at nothing to make them suffer.

When Rowan is abducted and forced to witness unspeakable violence, secrets of the past begin to unfold. Secrets that show Gabriel’s best friend Aleksei in a new light.

Will the truth destroy all three of them or bind them more tightly together, and if evil prevails, will it be Rowans’s soul that ultimately needs saving?

 

Meet the Author:

Born and raised in England, I now call South Carolina home where I  live with my wonderfully supportive husband, awesome son, and the most discerning canine critique group ever – if tails aren’t wagging then the story isn’t working!

I owe my love of literature to my mother, who, after catching me  reading by flashlight beneath the bed covers, calmly replaced the romance book I’d ‘borrowed’ with one that was far less risqué, and much more appropriate for a pre-teen! She encouraged me to include a wide variety of genres in my reading tastes, but romance, and  paranormal romance in particular, has remained my first love.

I never really thought about writing a romance novel until I read one that was so bad I can only assume it got published by mistake! Making such a comment to my BFF, Sharon, she challenged me to do better. The result was a 250-thousand word epic that I affectionately refer to as my ‘bodice-ripper’ romance – and yes, I still have it!

When I’m not writing I can be found in my kitchen. I love baking, and my husband will actually admit his love of Christmas fruitcake. (Personally I think all that brandy in the fruit has something to do with it!) If not baking then I’m working on my latest tapestry project or  playing catch-up with my reading list where I always seem to be at least three books behind!

It’s a crazy-good life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything, although I wouldn‘t object if I came up with the winning lottery numbers!

Visit her at http://www.carlasmithauthor.com/index.html

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Tour Schedule

 Tuesday, September 27 – Book featured at Books,Dreams, Life
Wednesday, September 28 – Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
Thursday, September 29 – Book featured at Celticlady’s Reviews
Friday, September 30 -Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
________
Monday, October 3 – Book featured at The Book Tree
Tuesday, October 4 – Book featured at I’m Shelf-ish
Wednesday, October 5 – Book featured at The Literary Nook
Thursday, October 6 – Book featured at Mello and June
Friday, October 7 – Book featured at The Review From Here
________
Monday, October 10 – Book featured at A Title Wave
Tuesday, October 11 – Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Wednesday, October 12 – Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Thursday, October 13 – Book featured at Write and Take Flight
Friday, October 14 – Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
________
Monday, October 17 – Book featured at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic
Tuesday, October 18 -Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Wednesday, October 19 – Book featured at Fundinmental
Book reviewed at I Smell Sheep
Thursday, October 20 -Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Friday, October 21 – Book featured at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews
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Time Phantom
By: Randy Anderson

 

time-phantom-001Blurb

On his 50th birthday, recently divorced male model Dane Vanderbrouk, is struck by a peculiar affliction. If he remains still for too long, he falls back in time. If he moves too fast, he’ll travel forward. And, when you’re a time traveler the world is an immutable place. Every action vanishes with each jump in time.

Chased by an assassin from the future through the narrow streets of Amsterdam, Dane is thrust into a war where shaping the future means changing the past.

Fast paced action, unexpected twists, and an eclectic cast of characters will pull you into a world where impressions matter, but only an action of consequence can change the future.

Time travel has a new speed, and adventure in a new series.

 

GOODREADS

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Exclusive to Amazon for initial release

Amazon

 

 

randyAuthor Info


Randy Anderson is a novelist and playwright. In 2011, he published his memoir, On Making Off. His second book, Careful, was released on May 1st 2014. He is currently working on a new time travel series as well as a literary trilogy. Plays he’s written include; New Year’s Resolutions, Homlessness Homosexuals and Heretics, Testing Average, Kill The President, Armor of Wills, and The Dwelling. If you want to know more, reach out! Randy currently lives in New York City where he writes, reasons, and reacts.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Check out the TIME PHANTOM release page.

Brought to you by Worldwind VBT!

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michael-phillip-cashMichael Phillip Cash is an award-winning and best-selling novelist of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels.  He’s written ten books including the best-selling “Brood X”, “Stillwell”, “The Flip”, “The After House”, “The Hanging Tree”, “Witches Protection Program”, “Pokergeist”, “Monsterland”, “The History Major”, and “The Battle for Darracia” series. Michael’s books are on the Amazon best-seller list and have also won numerous awards. Additionally, he is a screenwriter with 14 specs under his belt. Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island.

For More Information

About the Book:

The Battle for Darracia Books I, II, and III, are now combined into one epic novel! On the planet Darracia, an ever-widening social gap between its inhabitants is causing turmoil that is fracturing a once peaceful world. the-battle-of-darraciaStruggling with his identity, nineteen year old Prince V’sair must harness the power of the elusive Fireblade, the secret to a warrior’s heart, in order to overcome his uncle Staf Nuen’s lust for supremacy. Will the energy of the Elements guide the young prince to his true destiny or will Staf Nuen conquer Darracia?

For More Information

  • The Battle for Darracia: Books I – II – III is available at Amazon
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

Yes absolutely!

What was your inspiration for The Battle for Darracia?

I wanted to write my own Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Avatar.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Acceptance, tolerance, and hope.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It was three books in one, so approximately 6 months.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Very disciplined. I’m up at 6am, and my research and development is from 8am to 4pm. Google is my best friend. I cook dinner for my family. Eat, play time, etc until 8pm. Tuck the kids and wife in. I write from 830pm to midnight every day.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Honestly, nothing. I had a ball creating my own universe.

What do you love most about being an author?

The freedom to explore and create your own worlds. Nothing is off limits.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I self-publish all my own works, however I just got an agent so he is shopping two of my best-selling novels to major publishing houses.  No more self-publishing for me, as of now.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.michaelphillipcash.com. @michaelpcash

 

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gabriel-valjan-bw-600x452Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series from Winter Goose Publishing. Also the author of numerous essays and short stories that continue to appear online and in print, Gabriel lives in Boston’s historic South End, where he enjoys the local restaurants. His two cats, Squeak and Squawk, tolerate the occasional empty food dish and his traitorous fondness for dogs.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Corporate Citizen: Roma Series Book Five. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: Corporate Citizen has Bianca returning to Boston. She was last in Boston in Wasp’s Nest (Book 2). She’s here now to help the cantankerous Clemente, who has enticed her with a cryptic reference to her past employer, the covert agency named Rendition. While in town, Bianca will confront her past through a new member to the team, a former soldier with PTSD. Readers will learn more about her past, what makes her ticks; this installment will present major revelations Book Five turns the corner into new territory.

I wrote Corporate because I had watched the banking crises with interest (no pun intended). After I had written the novel, I watched the movies The Big Short and Spotlight, and felt a weird sense of discomfort. In books three and four, Threading The Needle and Turning To Stone, I had visited the ideas of financial and institutional terrorism, but after viewing those two films, I felt I had captured and conveyed the magnitude of cynicism (The Big Short) and corruption (Spotlight) in Corporate Citizen, although my characters fight the good fight. A day doesn’t pass without news about the deeds or misdeeds of a corporate conglomerate. This disquieting news plays as background noise in our lives.

I introduce a new character, a veteran who is both dangerous and compassionate. Nick was modeled (loosely) on a deceased family member. When I was a kid, he wouldn’t talk explicitly about combat but he did mention that he and other selected infantry soldiers had been given large doses of Dexedrine, an amphetamine, and, on one occasion, LSD. He would die at the age of forty as a result of exposure to Agent Orange.

Q: What do you think makes a good mystery-suspense? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Ambiguity. Pace. Tension. A good mystery-suspense is like a kettle on the flame; you know that the water is heated and at some point you will hear the water roil and then see whispers of steam before the kettle screams. A writer is responsible for how much water is in the pot and the degree to which the flame is pitched. The water will boil, the whistle will blow — suspense and tension. Is there a potholder nearby? An enjoyable mystery-suspense book is one that gives you an unexpected ending such that when you think about it, you see all the pieces had been there and had come together.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: With Corporate, I knew where I was going with the story. I knew what I wanted to achieve and how I was going to go about it. Corporate Citizen is a game-changer in many ways. Writing it, the intention was a calculated risk, but I don’t believe in a formulaic approach. Life has its changes. New challenges are necessary for my characters to grow. With change, there is discomfort, catharsis, and renewal.

5-CC.jpgQ: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A:  Bianca is an amalgam of people I’ve known. I once knew a notorious hacker. Another friend of mine, now deceased, was beyond brilliant, with a 200 IQ, but unable to interact with people. You could tell when you dealt with him that he was thinking about things on another plane and that he struggled to put it all into words. Bianca is a combination of these two individuals, and there is an element of my younger self. I was cold and very Spock-like when I was younger. It was a defense mechanism. I’ve mellowed some. I don’t do character sketches, but it isn’t difficult for me to access the people I’ve known and anticipate what they would say and do in certain situations.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: I think pure Evil is rare. Human beings have a primitive instinct, a survival impulse to avoid such people. It’s more realistic that a person is flawed, that they have a genuine impulse to do good, but the end-results are problematic. History is littered with individuals who are one nation’s hero and another’s nightmare. I aim for ambiguity. Here, the title matters. Is a soldier, who has killed for his country, a bad person? Objectively, he has taken lives. Is the politician, who has ordered an assassination to maintain hegemony and political stability, evil? Readers of the Series know that Rendition had started with the best of intentions. In Corporate Citizen, there are two new characters: I let the readers decide whether they are villains.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Writing a novel is like the race between the tortoise and the hare. First, I think you have to a clear and fast glimpse of the finish line. What does each character want? What is the price (assumed and real) of what they want? What will they have by the last page? If you have rough answers to these questions and you know your characters well enough that they speak to you inside your head then write it all down. That is the slow part of the process. You could vary the pace, like a director with a camera, with a cutaway to another scene, to another character, but end your chapter with a question or a revelation that is picked up later. The more you write, the more you read, the better you will get at knowing what to do, when to do it, and the more likely you’ll have a sense of how to do it. I know that sounds vague, but the more you read other authors, the more you become aware of the tricks of the trade. This is why reading widely across genres helps. There is also some excellent writing for serial television, such as Breaking Bad. Enjoy it first and then make a case study of it so you teach yourself how the writer(s) did it. Jane Austen almost never describes what her characters look like and yet she writes dialogue, often in close combat, that has withstood the test of time. What you teach yourself, the knowledge you acquire, is on your terms, in your own language, and what you know, you’ll never forget.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: It helps that I’ve lived or traveled to the places that I use in the Roma Series. However, special precautions are necessary when a writer uses a foreign locale. I wrote an article for Writer Unboxed about avoiding stereotypes. When I think the story is as good it’ll be, I’ll send it to my Italian friend in Milan, Claudio Ferrara, who is also a talented writer and translator. He does what I call ‘cultural editing.’ Simply put, there is a point where, despite all of my research and empathy, a native speaker helps with authenticity – whether it’s an Italian word, or a detail about a place. A foreigner often sees touristy things but a native will point those things that are the heart of the city and culture. Let me give you an example. I live in Boston, the city that sparked the American Revolution. There are so many touchstones to the historical past: the Freedom Trail, the Old Meeting House, and the Boston Tea Party, but I’ll point to one curious memorial. On School Street, where there used to be a Borders bookstore, there is a plaque commemorating the site of the first Catholic Church building in Boston and the city’s first public Mass in 1788. The Puritans settled New England in 1620.  Think about that gap in time and its implications for religious tolerance. It’s all a matter of perspective and insider knowledge.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme recurrent in your other work?

A: The recurring themes throughout all of the Roma Series books are friendship and loyalty among friends while they negotiate dangerous situations. I know from the start where the story will take place, and which aspect of organized crime I will present to the reader. Where I strive to be distinctive in crime fiction is in how I show that organized crime is more than just some thug like Tony Soprano, though they do exist. Organized crime in Italy is the vampire that feeds off superstition and fears, but yet has morphed, paradoxically, into a very modern, sophisticated and multinational corporation.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: A writer’s skill is craft, but the art of it all is a collaboration of invisible hands. Editing and revision is where there is Art. My friend Dean Hunt copy-edits my writing and has proofread my novels. Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist and a doctoral student in American literature, remarked that “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s spelling [was] so awful sometimes I think if he had auto-spell Gatsby would not have died.” Not comparing myself to the wonderful Fitzgerald or Rindell, but writers need guard rails. Line editing requires an attentive ear and knowing the writer. Dave King has helped me in this regard. He also has helped me with structural editing for the plot’s arc. I have readers who spot-check for continuity. I’ve already discussed Claudio’s work with me as my cultural editor. When my novel visits James’s desk at Winter Goose, I hope that it is as clean as possible, and yet he’ll find nits and wrinkles. The point to all this is that a book in hand – what we call Art — is the product of many different talents and minds at work.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Item #1 is a quote from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

Stupid people surround themselves with smart people. Smart people surround themselves with smart people who disagree with them.

In a word, you rise to the occasion because smarter people, those who’ll call you on it, make you a better writer and person.

Item #2: The ability to create characters who want something, and an obstacle in the way of fulfilling that desire. The character should start somewhere and arrive somewhere else.

Item #3: The writer should be invisible to the story. The story should reveal itself without any authorial intrusion, which means no verbal pyrotechnics, no showing off what they know, or forced jokes or gratuitous violence. Whatever happens in the story should be organic and logical to the initial premise and appropriate to the personalities.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: I agree. Writers are sensitive to language and the ‘homework’ is studying other writers. For example, I have little interest in rap music, but I admire and appreciated what Lin-Manuel Miranda did in his musical Hamilton. He used contemporary music to teach history, tell a story, a tragic one. I had read and enjoyed Chenow’s Hamilton, but the musical Hamilton brought the historical person of Alexander Hamilton, a brilliant and at times monumentally insecure man to life in my imagination.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: I consult Dave King and Rennie Browne’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and visit Writer Unboxed online, along with Kristen Lamb’s blog. While I respect advice, exercises, and strategies, I think you’re best left to figure it out on your own, using your imagination and learning lessons from reading for decades.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Do it. Write. Put your butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard and see what comes through the fingertips. Readers want a story that entertains them, moves them, and changes their way of looking at the world. Trust your imagination, draft and revise it. Have fun and write that story.

 

 

 

 

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Author Photo.jpgJournalist, Novelist and Writing Coach John DeDakis is a former Senior Copy Editor on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” DeDakis (pronounced deh-DAY-kiss) is the author of three mystery-suspense novels, Fast Track, Bluff, and Troubled Water.

Strategic Media Books is publishing Bullet in the Chamber, the fourth novel in the Lark Chadwick series, on October 1, 2016. The story deals in part with the death of John’s 22-year-old son Stephen in 2011.

During his award-winning 45-year career in journalism (25 years at CNN), DeDakis has been a White House Correspondent and interviewed such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.

DeDakis is a writing coach, manuscript editor, writing workshop leader, and has taught journalism at the University of Maryland – College Park, and American University in Washington, D.C.

John’s website: www.johndedakis.com. 

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Bullet in the Chamber. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?  

A:        Thank you.

In a nutshell, Bullet in the Chamber, begins on Lark Chadwick’s first day on the job as a White House correspondent for the Associated Press.  The Executive Mansion is attacked, launching Lark on a deadline-a-minute thrill ride.  The president is missing, the first lady’s life is in danger, and the man Lark loves disappears.

The book is the logical next step in Lark’s developing journalism career, but her story took an unexpected detour when my son Stephen died of an accidental heroin overdose. I was literally compelled to write about it, but folded it into a bigger story of drugs, drones, and journalism.       

Q: What do you think makes a good mystery-thriller? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A:        1. By definition, the one essential element you need for a thriller is the ticking clock. There’s nothing like a deadline to get a journalist’s (or a reader’s) heart racing.

  1. I think another critical element is High Stakes. And there’s no stake higher than life or death.
  2. And there needs to be a dash of mystery – the unknown. Who’s the bad guy? Or, if the villain is known, how will he or she be stopped? In my opinion, everything else (setting, dialogue, other characters, etc.) is texture.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A:        By nature, I’m a planner.  I don’t like to figure it out as I write because, for me, being a seat-of-the-pantster feels like I’m spinning my wheels.  I prefer having a map, yet I often give myself permission to take detours.

cover-art-bulletBut creating Bullet in the Chamber was different.

I write in the first person, so that automatically makes my job more difficult because my point of view is limited only to what Lark, my protagonist, sees and knows. It’s a lot like real life that way.

But, as the writer (God) I also know what Lark doesn’t.

In Bullet, I knew who the villain would be, but I didn’t know how Lark was going to figure it out. So, about halfway through the first draft, I would begin writing a chapter not knowing how it would end. No amount of ruminating or advance planning would suffice. I just had to write. And, as I wrote, the path became clear.  Spooky.

That agonizing approach lasted all the way to the final paragraph where I could have gone in three different directions. I wasn’t able to choose until I was actually writing.

So, by creative necessity, I’ve incorporated seat-of-the-pants writing into my tendency to plan. I’m now a plantster.  

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her.

A:      Lark can be angry and impulsive – but she’s working on it.  At times, she can be courageous, but often she’s riddled with fears and insecurities, which she masks by pressing ahead anyway. She’s well (perhaps too well) acquainted with grief and loss.  When it comes to men, she has a highly calibrated bullshit-o-meter, yet she still vexes herself by the choices she makes, which leads her to distrust men all the more – and herself.

I first began writing as a woman because someone suggested I should write in a way that stretches who I am.  I settled easily into the Lark persona when I realized that emotions aren’t gender specific, so I just took my emotions and put them into her.

But, in my experience, women are more nuanced than men in how they express those emotions. It helped that as I was creating Lark, I was also in daily contact with young women where I worked at CNN. When I’d ask them questions, they’d open up and tell me stories about their careers, their parents, their boyfriends, and their lives. Their voices became embedded in my psyche and subconscious. Later, I would let them read early drafts of my manuscripts to see if Lark seemed authentic to them. Their feedback has been – and still is – invaluable. 

Q: Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

I do some of that, but not too much. Usually, one sit-down “job interview” with a new character is enough to get the creative juices bubbling.  I’ll ask a question and just listen to the voice that pops into my head, then dutifully transcribe it.  Usually those exercises don’t end up in the actual story, but they serve to bring the character to life in my mind and imagination. 

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A:        Before retiring from CNN in 2013, I’d been working in day-to-day just-the-facts-ma’am journalism for forty-five years.  There’s nothing like real-life villainy to introduce a writer to evil antagonists.  They’re everywhere!

But a good villain (so to speak) is not perfectly evil any more than a realistic hero is perfectly perfect.   Heroes have flaws and villains have at least some redeeming characteristics.  If you think about the villains in your life, chances are you’ll realize that at first those people didn’t appear to be villainous.  In fact, in some cases, you might even have married that person before you saw their true colors.

So, I feel the best rule of thumb when creating your villain is to find a way to like and empathize with that person.  It makes them resemble the complex people we all are. 

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A:        The writing technique that works best for me I got from the book The Weekend Novelist by Robert Ray.  He strongly suggests writing the first draft all the way through with your Inner Editor turned off. Just write. Don’t self-sensor. Don’t loop back and get bogged down correcting nitpicks. Just write.

Ray argues that after you’ve completed the first draft you should read it through objectively, like a reader, to see (and feel) where the narrative drags and needs fixing.

Another trick I learned goes back to my days as a broadcast journalist. There’s tremendous pressure to write tight because time is of the essence and attention spans are short. So, even after I’m two words into writing a sentence, my Inner Scold barks, “It’s too long!”

So, to answer your question, first I write long and uncensored to find out what’s going on in my subconscious.  Then, I go back, and look for ways to tighten so that the story moves along briskly.  

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A:        The next best thing to being there is to talk with someone who’s in that setting now.

When I was a White House correspondent between 1985 and 1988, Reagan was president, the Internet as we know it didn’t exist, and there were no cell phones.  I needed someone to help me understand how the presidency is covered in the digital age.  Fortunately for me, Josh Lederman, a former CNN intern who took the broadcast news writing class I used to teach in CNN’s D.C. bureau, is now a White House correspondent for the Associated Press – the same job my protagonist Lark Chadwick has.

So, Josh agreed to read an early draft of the Bullet manuscript and then met with me over drinks to give informed insight into my portrayal of covering the president in the Twenty-first Century.  Josh then wrote a generous blurb for the book:

“Bullet in the Chamber” manages to capture all of the intensity, grit and breathlessness of covering the presidency in an age of nonstop news and fierce competition. Lark Chadwick stands out as a protagonist who is at once compelling and compulsively true to form. John DeDakis gets inside the head of a modern-day White House journalist who has no idea what’s in store for her when she begins this rollercoaster of a ride. 

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A:        For me, the act of writing is how the theme emerges.  At its most basic, my novels are about a young woman trying to figure out what to do with her life.  Arguably, that’s a universal theme that’s true for all of us every day of our lives. 

Q: Where does craft end and art begin?

A:        Oooooo. That’s a tough one. The question presumes that craft comes first.  It can. But it doesn’t have to.  Sometimes art (inspiration) comes first – the spark that ignites a story. Craft then takes the idea and gives it shape.  But, it seems to me, when creativity is at its height, art and craft work in sync like an internal combustion engine firing on all cylinders. 

Q: Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A:        Absolutely not! (Unless you’re cursed with a heavy-handed editor who can suck the creativity out of what you’ve written. I’ve endured my share of those throughout my journalism career!) But, when writing fiction, you’re your own editor for most of the process.  In that context, editing is like the buffing and polishing that transforms a hunk of stone into a shiny sculpture. 

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A:        1. Courage to move forward in spite of your fears

  1. The ability to learn from your mistakes.
  2. Diligence and persistence to see your project through to the end and not give up. 

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A:        I think that’s probably true. It all depends on your perspective. It’s a daunting thought if you hate homework.  If, however, your philosophy is to be a life-long learner, then writing is no longer drudgery, but something one pursues eagerly.  

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A:        When I was first teaching myself how to write fiction, Writer’s Digest magazine was an excellent resource.  Now their resources are just a click away at writersdigest.com.  Robert Ray’s The Weekend Novelist is an indispensible practical guide to the novel-writing process, especially if you have a day job and other responsibilities that threaten to muzzle your muse.  Finally, I suggest finding writers’ conferences that stress craft, feature author speakers, and are attended by agents looking for clients.  There are many good writing conferences, but one of the better ones is Killer Nashville (killernashville.com).  Finally, I was rusty when I began to write my fourth novel, so I bought an inexpensive writing program, StoryWeaver, to jump-start my creativity. It’s available at storymind.com. It helped me a lot. 

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A:        If you have a strong desire to write because you feel you have a story to tell, then don’t give up. Giving up guarantees that your story will remain untold and you will remain unpublished.

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Inside the Book:

Title: Of the Abyss

Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Horror
Format: Ebook
 
After decades of strife, peace has finally been achieved in Kavet—but at a dark cost.  Sorcery is outlawed, and anyone convicted of consorting with the beings of the other realms—the Abyssi and the Numini—is put to death. The only people who can even discuss such topics legally are the scholars of the Order of the Napthol, who give counsel when questions regarding the supernatural planes arise.Hansa Viridian, a captain in the elite guard unit tasked with protecting Kavet from sorcery, has always led a respectable life. But when he is implicated in a sorcerer’s crimes, the only way to avoid execution is to turn to the Abyss for help—specifically, to a half-Abyssi man he’s sworn he hates, but whose physical attraction he cannot deny.Hansa is only the first victim in a plot that eventually drags him, a sorcerer named Xaz, and a Sister of the Napthol named Cadmia into the depths of the Abyss, where their only hope of escape is to complete an infernal task that might cost them their lives.

 

Meet the Author:

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is the author of seventeen young adult novels and three short stories.  In addition to writing, she has a full-time job teaching high school special education English, and is the mother of a brilliant baby girl named Becks.
Yes, it is possible her daughter’s nickname came from a favorite zombie trilogy (Newsflesh, by Mira Grant).  That there probably tells you more about Amelia than anything else I have to say.
Amelia started publishing novels when she was a freshman in high school.  As she tells her students, she knows every excuse to get out of doing homework because she got away with them all.  These days she works a bit harder to balance her responsibilities, which means she is sometimes a terrible web-mistress, but she still loves to write.
The Atwater-Rhodes household also includes two cats, Chivas and Morgan, and some goldfish in an aquaponics system set up for book research and maintained for yummy indoor home-grown food.
If you want to chat with Amelia, you can reach her through Facebook or Twitter.  She maintains her social media and website herself, which means she’s currently writing in third person and isn’t that kind of odd?What can I say – I’m an odd duck.

Website | Twitter

 

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Tour Schedule

Monday, October 3 – Book featured at A Title Wave
Tuesday, October 4 – Book featured at Write and Take Flight

Wednesday, October 5 – Book featured at Literal Exposure

Thursday, October 6 –  Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Friday, October 7 – Book featured at The Literary Nook
________
Monday, October 10 – Book featured at Don’t Judge, Read
Tuesday, October 11 – Book featured at CBY Book Club
Wednesday, October 12 – Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
Thursday, October 13 – Book featured at Perfect at Midnight

Friday, October 14 – Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge

________
Monday, October 17 – Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt

Tuesday, October 18 – Book featured at I’m Shelf-ish

Wednesday, October 19 – Book featured at The Review From Here

Thursday, October 20 – Book featured at From Paperback to Leatherbound

Friday, October 21 – Book featured at Voodoo Princess

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Monday, October 24 – Book featured at The Hype and the Hoopla

Tuesday, October 25 – Book featured at As the Page Turns

Wednesday, October 26 – Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords
Thursday, October 27 – Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Friday, October 28 – Book featured at My Bookish Pleasures
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Inside the Book:

Title: Black Jade

Author: Kylie Chan

Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Paranormal
Format: Ebook/Paperback

From the international bestselling author of The Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang series..

The Heavenly defenses struggle to hold against the combined might of the Eastern and Western demon hordes. The God of War Xuan Wu is now at full strength — but is his might enough to safeguard the realm when half the Heavens are already in their hands? John and Emma fight a last-ditch desperate struggle to conserve their kingdom and their protect their families.

But will the kingdom ever be the same again?

 

 

Meet the Author:

kylie-chan

Kylie Chan married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony in Eastern China, lived in Australia for ten years, then moved to Hong Kong for ten years and during that time learnt a great deal about Chinese culture and came to appreciate the customs and way of life.

In 2003 she closed down her successful IT consultancy company in Hong Kong and moved back to Australia.  She decided to use her knowledge of Chinese mythology, culture, and martial arts to weave a story that would appeal to a wide audience.

Since returning to Australia, Kylie has studied Kung Fu (Wing Chun and Southern Chow Clan styles) as well as Tai Chi and is now a senior belt in both forms.  She has also made an intensive study of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy and has brought all of these together into her storytelling.

Kylie is a mother of two who lives in Brisbane.

Visit her at http://www.kyliechan.com

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Tour Schedule

 Monday, September 26 – Book featured at Books, Dreams, Life
Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
Tuesday, September 27 – Guest blogging at Centeno Books
Wednesday, September 28 – Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Thursday, September 29 – Book featured at A Title Wave
Friday, September 30 – Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
________
Monday, October 3 – Book featured at CBY Book Club
Tuesday, October 4 – Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess
Wednesday, October 5 – Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Thursday, October 6 – Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
Friday, October 7 – Book featured at Book Cover Junkie
________
Monday, October 10 – Book featured at Mello and June
Tuesday, October 11 – Book featured at The Hype and the Hoopla
Wednesday, October 12 – Guest blogging at Tien’s Blurb
Thursday, October 13 – Book featured at My Bookish Pleasures
Friday, October 14 – Book featured at The Review From Here
________
Monday, October 17 – Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight
Tuesday, October 18 – Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Wednesday, October 19 – Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Thursday, October 20 – Book featured at Celticlady’s Reviews
Friday, October 21 – Guest blogging at Tez Says
Guest blogging at Curling Up By the Fire
Guest blogging at Centeno Books
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Inside the Book:

how-to-save-the-world
Title: How to Save the World

Author: Lexie Dunne

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyage Impulse
Genre: Paranormal/Urban
Format: Ebook/Paperback

In the third book of Lexie Dunne’s action-packed Superheroes Anonymous series, Hostage Girl returns once again to save the world.

Gail Godwin—once so famous for being kidnapped by supervillains, the media still calls her Hostage Girl—is done with superheroes and their shadowy schemes. She’s got a cute boyfriend, a great roommate, and she’s even returned to her old job. For the first time in years, life is exactly what she wants it to be.

But when a figure from her past resurfaces, he brings with him a plague that changes the game for every superhero and villain out there. Now Gail must team up with both friend and foe to help save the world she thought she had left behind.

 

Meet the Author:

lexie-dunne

Lexie Dunne is a woman of many masks, all of them stored neatly in a box under her bed. By day a mild-mannered technical writer and by night an adventuress and novelist, she keeps life interesting by ignoring it and writing instead. She hails from St. Louis, home of the world’s largest croquet game piece, and SUPERHEROES ANONYMOUS is her professional debut into the world of caped crusaders, a journey that started when her father took her and her brother to see The Rocketeer.

Getting her to return a phone call is impossible. You’d have better luck sticking a Dr Pepper under a propped up box and waiting nearby, string in hand.

Visit her at http://www.dunnewriting.com

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Tour Schedule

Monday, October 3 – Book featured at The Writer’s Life
Tuesday, October 4 – Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Wednesday, October 5 – Book featured at My Bookish Pleasures
Thursday, October 6 – Book featured at A Title Wave
Friday, October 7 – Book reviewed at Books on the Knob
________
Monday, October 10 – Guest blogging at I Smell Sheep
Tuesday, October 11 – Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Wednesday, October 12 – Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Thursday, October 13 – Book reviewed at Our Families Adventure
Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Friday, October 14 – Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner

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