Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2017

steve-dunn-hansonI’ve lived in places that grew me . . . from a small Idaho farm town, a run-down neighborhood in St. Louis, and a middle-class southern California community, to Sydney, Australia, and Bucharest, Romania. My experiences are as varied as the places I’ve lived. I have a hopper full of “reality” including being a volunteer jail chaplain and flying with a U.S. presidential candidate in his small plane when an engine conked out. And all of this is fodder for my writing.

My latest book is the action/adventure/suspense novel, Sealed Up.

Website & Social Links

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

About the Book:

The Da Vinci Code unsettles. SEALED UP shakes to the core!

UCLA anthropologist Nathan Hill, in a funk since his young wife’s death, learns of staggering millennia-old chronicles sealed up somewhere in a Mesoamerica cliff. This bombshell rocks him out of his gloom, and he leads a sealed-upclandestine expedition to uncover them. What are they? Who put them there? No one knows. But, self-absorbed televangelist Brother Luke, who funds the expedition, thinks he does. If he’s right, his power-hunger will have off-the-charts gratification.

Striking Audra Chang joins Nathan in his pursuit and brings her own shocking secret. As they struggle through a literal jungle of puzzles and dead ends, she finds herself falling in love with Nathan. Her secret, though, may make that a non-starter.

When a shaman with a thirst for human sacrifice, and a murderous Mexican drug lord with a mysterious connection to Brother Luke emerge, the expedition appears doomed. Yet Nathan is convinced that fate—or something—demands these inscrutable chronicles be unearthed.

And if they are . . . what shattering disruption will they unleash?

Intricately layered and remarkably researched, this enthralling suspense-driven and thought provoking tour de force begs a startling question: Could it happen?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon

Would you call yourself a born writer?

If I am, I didn’t discover that for a few decades! In my earlier life, writing had as much appeal to me as going to the dentist. However, over time, I have discovered I have a penchant for writing—maybe even a talent. In any case, writing is what I do now.

What was your inspiration for Sealed Up?

The idea for my novel came to me some seven or eight years ago. Where did I come up with the idea? Actually, to say anything about that would be to give away too much of the plot and the conclusion. I will say, it has the potential to be controversial in the vein of The DaVinci Code.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Change! What do people do when they are confronted with external events that have the potential to turn their own lives inside out?

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It’s been five years in the writing. Much of this time was spent in research. I wanted every aspect of it to be completely authentic.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m disciplined—with a lapse here and there. I don’t let writing rule me though, and I don’t set aside a certain amount of time to write on a specific project each day. I am retired, and I can use as much of my time writing as I want, but I’m also heavily involved with church, family, and other pursuits. Furthermore, at any one time I have several writing projects I’m working on including my books and my website with blogs, poetry, and my photography. I don’t mean to imply that my writing is not regular. It is. I do it virtually every day. I’m just not locked into a set amount of time.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Just about everything. Since the book is so unique, I found myself plowing new ground almost constantly. Research was exceptionally time consuming because of my desire to make it completely real. The characters took on a life of their own, and I spent uncounted hours trying to look through each of their eyes. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges was putting in the absolutely necessary backstory in a way that didn’t kill the suspense-pull of the book. Some people who were looking for a thrill-a-second in the book thought that made the book drag. Most who have read it, however, (it has a 4.3 rating on Amazon), are very satisfied with how I did that.

What do you love most about being an author?

There is nothing that quite equals the creating of something beautiful, meaningful, and true.

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?

My first books years ago were traditionally published, but this one, Sealed Up, is self-published. I probably would have gone traditional with this one, if I could have found an agent that fit. As it turns out, I went the right way. I’ve learned a ton in the process, and my book is doing very well. The downside is the time it is taking to “do everything.” That’s slowed the writing of my next book in the series, but that’s okay.

Where can we find you on the web?

Please visit my website at: http://stevedunnhanson.com/

 

Read Full Post »

EchoesOfTerrorFrontTitle: Echoes of Terror

Author: Maris Soule

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Five Star

Websitehttp://marissoule.com 

Find out more on Amazon

The latest release by award-winning novelist Maris Soule, Echoes of Terror is a taut, tense tale about secrets, deadly intentions, and what happens when murder hits way too close to home.   Set against the backdrop of Skagway, Alaska,Echoes of Terror introduces protagonist Katherine Ward, a Skagway police officer who finds herself thrust in extraordinary—and extraordinarily frightening–circumstances when her past, present and future threaten to collide in a most dangerous way.

About Echoes of Terror:  Rural Skagway, Alaska’s small police force is accustomed to an occasional crime–a stolen bike here, a DUI there.  But when a teenager goes missing, the Skagway Police force is hardly prepared, especially with its Police Chief  in the hospital and an officer missing. Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years earlier.  Soon, Katherine realizes what originally appeared to be the case of a rebellious teen runaway is anything but.  There’s something—or someone—sinister at work in this usually quiet town and a teenager’s life is in danger.

But missing teen Misty Morgan isn’t your average teenage girl:  she’s the daughter of a billionaire.  Misty thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention, but now she and another kidnapped teen are praying for their lives at the hands of a ruthless kidnapper. Stuck in China on a business trip, Misty’s father suspected his daughter was up to something and asked his longtime friend, Marine veteran Vince Nanini, to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late to stop the kidnapping, and the police aren’t eager to let him help find the missing teen.

When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces.  Together, Katherine and Vince must figure out where the kidnapper has taken two teenagers, and fast.  But nothing is at it seems in this race to stop a madman before he kills again. The clock is ticking—and this time, the past is close behind. Dangerously close behind…

Brimming with tension, filled with twists and turns, and resplendent with pulse-quickening suspense that reaches a dramatic and shocking crescendo, Echoes of Terror is a bone-chilling tale that grabs readers and doesn’t let go. Award-winning novelist Maris Soule delivers a briskly paced, masterfully plotted, spine-tinglingly realistic thriller that will leave readers gasping for breath.

According to bestselling novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman mystery series, “The pace and writing will keep you turning pages. And the twist at the end?  I didn’t see if coming. Do yourself a favor and read this thriller now.”

CHAPTER ONE

7:25 a.m. Thursday

“That guy is a frickin’ idiot.”

“Who’s an idiot?”

Brian Bane glanced at the girl sitting next to him before again splitting his attention between the twisting road in front of his Chevy Blazer and the tailgating Ford Explorer. On their right the roadway dropped over a thousand feet. As much as he liked excitement, this Internet-born adventure was not starting out as he’d imagined.

“The guy behind us,” he said, keeping a tight hold on the steering wheel. “He came up out of nowhere. Now he’s all over my ass. Like there’s any way for me to go faster up this grade.”

Misty—or Miss T as she was known on ChatPlace—twisted in her seat to look behind them. Her wild, blonde curls brushed her shoulders, and her mini-skirt showed a teasing view of her inner thigh. “Shit,” she hissed through her teeth.

“What?” Brian said.

“He sent Vince.”

“Who sent Vince?”

“My dad.”

“Your dad?” Brain didn’t like the sound of that. “So who’s Vince?”

“He’s a guy Dad knew in the Marines. He’s supposed to do computer security for my dad’s business, but he keeps acting like he’s my bodyguard. I can’t do a frickin’ thing without him showing up.”

She flopped back against the seat, and crossed her arms over her chest. The fact that her old man had sent someone after her, and the way she was pouting, didn’t bode well. For the first time since he’d picked Misty up in Skagway, Brian wasn’t so certain she was the eighteen years she’d advertised.

“How old are you, Misty? Your real age, I mean.”

She glared at him, and then looked away. “Age is meaningless.”

Meaningless, my ass, he thought. Damn, I’m so screwed. He was about to take an under-aged girl into Canada. No wonder some steroid filled ex-Marine with an over attachment to the boss’s daughter was after him. He’d be lucky if he wasn’t arrested as an International felon.

“Do you think—?”

A thump to the back corner bumper sent the Blazer into a fishtail, and Brian gasped, clinging to the steering wheel as he fought to bring the car back under control. “Jeez, Misty, your dad’s buddy just rammed us.”

“Then step on the gas,” Misty ordered, giving a quick glance behind them. “Outrun him.”

“In this thing?” The old Blazer was tired iron. The first part of the Klondike Highway, from Skagway to White Pass and the Canadian line, was a twisting, turning two-laner that rose from sea level to over three thousand feet. The steep incline was already taxing the engine. They’d be lucky to outrun a snowplow through this stretch.

Again the Explorer rammed into them, this time lurching them straight toward the guardrail as the road turned. Misty yelped and grabbed at the door. Brian swung the wheel. The sensation of the front right fender grating on metal vibrated through the steering column. When they came out of the turn, the Explorer was nearly side by side.

“Your dad’s buddy is nuts! He’s going to kill us.”

“Just go faster!”

“I’m going as fast as I can.”

The powerful Explorer began squeezing them closer to the guardrail. Jaw clenched and muscles taut, Brian struggled to keep his SUV on the pavement. Adrenalin pumped through his body, a bitter taste rising to his throat.

And then his heart nearly stopped.

Just a few hundred feet ahead, the guardrail turned into a twisted, jagged strip of metal that hung limply to the ground. Open air replaced protection. One bump from the Explorer as they passed that broken section of guardrail, and they’d definitely be going over the edge, tumbling down the mountainside.

“That’s it, Babe.”

Brian pulled his foot from the gas and began to brake.

“What are you doing? Don’t slow down!”

“Forget it,” he said in disgust. Man, his friends had been right about this whole hooking up online thing. They’d tried to talk him out of it, but all Brian had been seeing was a summer traveling through Canada with a hot chick. Instead of lots of sex and partying, after this ex-Marine got through with him, he’d be lucky if all of his body parts were intact.

Brian brought the Blazer to a complete stop, his entire body shaking. The Explorer angled in front of him, preventing a forward escape. With a sigh, Brian shifted into park, and then turned toward Misty—the beautiful, sexy Miss T.

The beautiful, sexy, under-aged, Miss T, he mentally corrected. “Wouldn’t you know I’d hook up with jailbait.”

She glared at him. “So it didn’t work out. Stop whining. Vince isn’t going to do anything to you.”

“Oh yeah?” Brian sure hoped that was true. “So, what was this, just a little joy ride for you?”

“What it was is none of your business.” Once again she looked away, out the side window.

Brian stared at her for a second, kicking himself for being such an idiot, then he stepped out of the car. As he looked toward the Explorer, he wondered if he should act angry—after all, Misty had duped him. Or guilty—because he should have known she was under-age.

The other car door began to open, and Brian called out, “Listen, man, I had no idea she was—” He broke off as the man straightened and faced him. He almost laughed when he saw the bear mask . . .

Then he saw the gun.

////////////////////////////////

MarisSoule2015

Acclaimed novelist Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels over the last three decades. Born and raised in California, Maris majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. Maris and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th book.  Visit Maris Soule online at: www.marissoule.com

Read Full Post »

184cd-author2blisaLiza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine. Visit her at  lizatrevino.com

Find out more on Amazon: All That Glitters

INTERVIEW:

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: It follows the rags-to-riches Hollywood journey of a creative, ambitious, street smart and gorgeous Latina who sets her sights on making it big in Hollywood as a writer and film director in the 1980s. All That Glitters has grit, glamour, Hollywood and some romance mixed in for good measure.

I was re-reading a Jackie Collins book I’d love as a teenager, and I began thinking I wanted to read this kind of story, but with a Latina as the main character.  That’s definitely something I wanted to read. I couldn’t find it in the marketplace, so I started writing.

All That Glitters CoverQ: What do you think makes a good women’s fiction book? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: The thing about women’s fiction is that it mixes with so many other genres, well, any other genre, really.  That’s what I find so interesting about this genre. It allows me to investigate a woman’s point-of-view and her character’s evolution in relation to any other genre or story that I’m interested in experiencing, whether it be a Hollywood romance or a horror or a mystery. But I digress… three fundamental elements are a believable character or characters the will draw the reader in. A character that makes you care or, whether it’s love or hate, the character has drawn you in. Also important is a universal struggle. Sure, there’s plot, structure and what not, but is the central question or struggle one that is a larger one that the reader can understand? So, again, no matter what the particulars are, the reader is caught up in the ‘what would I do’ game. And, finally, a good villain. Whether it’s external or internal, the project needs to struggle and be tested, and that’s exactly what a great villain does for the story.

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

A: Originally, I just started writing. I had an idea of the overall structure I wanted, as well as a few specific things I wanted to happen, so I attempted to write with that in mind.  What I discovered was that, for me, that didn’t work out so well. At all. It’s really important to get that ‘inspiration about the story you want to tell and how you want to tell it, but when digging into the actual work of writing an entire novel, I need to outline and plot. It helps me see where the holes are and  what is and isn’t working.

Q: 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: The initial idea for Alexandria Moreno came from the fact that I was reading a lot of Los Angeles and Hollywood fiction. I have a soft spot for this type of writing.  And, two of my favorite characters from this type of writing, and in general, are Lucky Santangelo and Maria from Play It As It Lays. From there, I wanted to create a Latina heroine that was a blend of those two characters – a character with ambition, confidence and who also exhibited nearly clinically depressed ennui. I also wanted to explore Hollywood glamour – both its magic and its darkness.

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: My villain was more difficult, but fun.  I say difficult because there were different iterations of this character in earlier drafts of the story. Once I got my head straight about the structure of this story, I realized there were three different characters that would be so much better if I just combined them into one person. After I realized that, filling him out and finding the physical traits was the easy part.

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

A: That’s where plotting or outlining comes in handy. Even with an outline, you can find yourself at odds with the pacing when you actually get into writing. To keep the narrative exciting, I think it’s important to keep the protagonist always discovering something. It’s important to end chapters with a question asked and lingering, which will propel your reader to move onto the next chapter and further into the story.

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: I’m a big architecture and urban planning geek, so setting is always a particular joy and challenge to me.  I go out of my way to select specific details that interact with buildings or rooms, like light quality, grit on the windows or streets, or the furniture upholstery. Depending on the type of scene I’m working on, will determine how I go about filling out the scene. That is, if I have general action occurring, then I will go broader with descriptions, like how is traffic on the street moving. But, if the scene is more intimate in nature, like a stilted conversation between two estranged friends, then I’ll pick small details that would evoke what the character is doing and experiencing. For example, with the stilted conversation I just mentioned, I might add a detail about the table their sitting at and the grain on the table or crumpled napkins sitting on the table.

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: I set out to write about relationships. There are three key relationships in the book, and each of the relationship highlights different but complimentary themes that overlap. Themes that include the redemptive nature of loyalty and friendship, the destructive power of giving into your worst impulses, facing your demons, learning to love yourself, self-acceptance and trust. But, I’m most intrigued by the idea of free will vs. fate. Do we have free will or are things set before we even take our first breath? How in control are we of our life journeys?  Is there some pre-determined destination that all of our little, everyday decisions ultimately leads us?  Or, is it all just chaos? And, if it is chaos, then how do we account for certain repetitions in life? I suppose I’m quite taken with that theme because I see it played out and the questions come up again and again in different stories I’ve written. And, to all of this, I’d say that the themes became apparent after I wrote the story.

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

A: There’s an argument to be made on both sides. Ultimately, I believe it’s not an either/or proposition. Craft and art co-exist. What I found is that art is the inspiration and vision of what you want to say and craft gives you the skills to create. Editing, when done constructively, can bring out the beauty of the initial inspiration, not diminish it.

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

A: Desire, perserverance and discipline. You have to want to tell the story that’s in your head. You have to want to tell it so much that you will persevere against all odds. I know that sounds  melodramatic, but it’s true.  There’s nothing harder to do than to keep pushing forward through all the obstacles that come with everyday life. And that’s where the discipline comes.  You have to train yourself to say no to that snooze button if you’re going to get up early to write. In the end, you have to shut everything else out so that the story you want to tell can make it to the page. Simple, right?

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

A: I don’t see it like that because homework has such a negative connotation – at least to me, anyway. Homework was something assigned to me that I had to get done in order to not fail out of school, never get into a good college, and have my life ruined. See what I mean?  Instead, writing and all the other stuff is something I choose to do, so, yeah, it’s work, but it’s an entire world/universe that I’ve created and choose to visit. That’s WAY better than homework.

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

A: So many resources over the years were helpful. Among the best, I think are local writer’s conferences. It is a great way to dip your toe into the waters of the publishing world. You spend a couple of days hanging out with a bunch of writers who have varying degrees of experience and success. The most important thing from going to this is just being around other people who have the same passion or crazy idea about writing that you do. That’s awesome.

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

A: Draw inspiration from everything, always be curious about the world around you and you’ll never want for inspiration or stories.

Also, that words matter. It sounds funny or obvious, but it’s something I’ve learned. Once you have to name, describe or explain the idea floating in your head and make it concrete in the real, physical world, then how you express it with language makes all the difference. Now, that sounds paralyzing. But, it isn’t.  Because the other thing that writing has taught me is that fifteen minutes can be an eternity.  I used to think I needed hours and hours of dedicated time to get writing done. Timed writing sprints are a Godsend for focusing your thoughts and getting your story out of your head and onto the page.  Then, after you’ve finished your draft, the ‘words matter’ revision and refinement process can begin.

Read Full Post »

Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America” –  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

INTERVIEW BOOK CIRCLE ONLINE AT YOUTUBE

INTERVIEW BLOGTALK RADIO

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes.  My very first short story about piloting a Cessna – about half a page long – was written when I was in elementary school.  And I got my first rave reviews!

I wrote all though High School and college, everything from the school paper to newspapers.  Even myy Master’s thesis was a draft of a novel about the social upheavals of the late 60’s and an accompanying teaching guide.

In my mid 20’s I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a Scholar several times into Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Conference where I met the late novelist, John Gardner.  John became my mentor and over the next few years I returned to Bread Loaf as a scholar a total of three times. There I worked with other greats of that era, John Irving, Toni Morrison and Tim O’Brien. I also studied with John back in DC and Virginia. Gardner was hands down the best teacher I have ever had for any subject ever.  It was through my work with him that I found my essential voice and truly began my career as a writer.

My first book John Gardner: An Interview was published way back in 1979 by the now defunct New London Press. The best surprise was walking into a bookstore in Middlebury, Vermont, one summer and seeing it on the shelves and for sale.  Wow!

I was a three time winner of the Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellowships. My short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications.

After publishing a dozen or so short stories in literary magazines, I headed west to what I imagined were the greener pastures of Hollywood and screenplay writing. I was a top writing Fellow at the American Film Institute.  After graduation from that program I worked as a Film and Television executive at ABC-TV, Embassy TV and Academy Home Entertainment while also beginning a career as a screenwriter. I wrote over thirty screenplays and worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects.

Much of my career work has been related to not only writing, but business and finance. I have always been described as one of those “Left Brain – Right Brain,” kind of guys who goes back and forth between these two worlds.

The publisher of my second, Opening the Doors to Hollywood, was Random House. It was a non-fiction work based on film and writing classes I taught at UCLA.  We had great distribution through bookstores nationally and it was again, a great kick to walk into a bookstore and to not only find it on the shelves but to also be asked for autographs.  That book sold in excess of fifteen-thousand copies but the profits were all gobbled up by Random House in shipping and distribution costs.

My experience in both finance and writing about musicians led me to the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America,” – where I now serve on the Executive Board of Directors and head up their Development and Planned Giving Committees.

What was your inspiration for Beethoven in Love; Opus 139?

When I came across the story of Beethoven’s death — how at his last moment a bolt of lightning strikes the side of his building, rousing him from a coma; his eyes open, he sits up right, he shakes his fist at the heavens and then collapses back to the bed and is abruptly gone — I found the contrast to my own near death experience stunning.

When I was not yet twenty-one and going to school overseas in Singapore, I had a severe motorcycle accident. As my body somersaulted through the intersection, time stopped and a great and profound sense of peace and tranquility suffused my consciousness.  Fear, especially that fear of death we all share, disappeared.  My biggest surprise was landing very much alive – and in pain – on the other side of the crossroads and not the “other side” of life.

Beethoven’s death throes were so different from my calm transition.  That led me to wonder what it would have taken for this great man to come to peace with all the turmoil and failings of his life – and there were many.  In that nugget of a thought, Beethoven in Love; Opus 139, was born. Although those injuries still ache decades later – especially when it rains – researching and then writing this novel was an absolute joy.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

As one of the characters Beethoven encounters on the road to paradise proudly proclaims, “What is a novel but a collection of lies we tell to reveal greater truths?”

As a working professional writer, screenwriter, teacher and TV executive for almost four decades, I am always on the lookout for great stories of historical figures where my potential protagonist wrestles with the same types of profound emotional or psychological issues that each and every one of us can relate to in our own lives.

For all his creative genius, Beethoven was a flawed man who led a troubled life.  In my novel we explore the depths of that love and pain.  At the moment of his death, in his last seconds of conscious, Beethoven raised his fist and shook it at his Creator.  Did he demand to know why it is, that he, whose hearing once surpassed all others in sensitivity and degree had been cast out as history’s cruel joke, a deaf composer who was also denied the comforts of family and the affections of his Immortal Beloved?

In that last tick of the clock, our Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him one final wish… One day, just one day of pure joy in her arms.   Thus begins a spiritual journey to the borders of Elysium, where Beethoven re-experience each of those precious moments. He struggles to come to peace not only with all the failings of his life but to also to find solace in the embrace of his Immortal Beloved.  Will he succeed?

“Your love makes me at once both the happiest and the unhappiest of men. . . Love me today, yesterday . . . . What tearful longings for you, you, you. My life, my all. Farewell. Never cease to love me. Never misjudge this most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever yours . . . Ever mine . . . Ever ours. . . .”

Thus concludes one of the most famous love notes in history; Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” letter written to a mysterious and as yet unknown woman. Not only did he fail to address her by name, he further baffled music historians by simply dating the letter, July 7th, leaving off the year. Outside of Beethoven’s actual music, there is more speculation about the women in his life than anything else.

So who was this woman, this Immortal Beloved, that has been the focus of such fevered study in the nearly 190 years since his death in 1827, when a copy of the letter was found in his apartment by accident alone?

Will we ever know her true identity and give this woman her due?  Was she a married aristocrat with whom he had an affair? Or a childhood sweetheart he longed to see once again? Or was she even the mother of a child he never knew?

Speculation is rife, even today, when the descendants of over a dozen women, including the dedicatee of the “Moonlight Sonata,” claim him as their own.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Researching and then writing this novel was a five year long journey, every moment of which was an absolute pleasure.  I learned ages ago that if you want someone to take the time and effort to read your book and find your work compelling and engaging, you must also be equally passionate about what you create. I absolutely love the entire process of crafting a story, from jotting down ideas and doing research when necessary, to shaping each line, each paragraph, each character, each scene. I want to transport the reader into a vivid and continuous dream that is so powerful, so all-encompassing that the next thing they know is that someone is calling them to dinner. So my first advice to any other would be writer is this: love what you are doing and let that passion be your motor or you will most-likely fail.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I find it very easy to write – provided I have something to say – which is not always the case. As a lifelong writer I have learned many things about myself.  The first of which is that I am always thinking about writing – and that is important.  I often see the world around me in terms of story.  True writing is the expression of concrete ideas about the nature of our lives and the spaces in the world we inhabit.  The second lesson is that one doesn’t always have to have a focus or a particular thought about what to say.  That’s dream time and dream time is critical to allowing ones creativity to jell.

Even in the middle of a long project, a screenplay or a novel, I spend a fair amount of time just visualizing and reflecting on what it is I want to say, how I want to say it, what it will look and feel like when it’s written and how will it come off to a reader. I will often try to work on an idea as I am falling asleep, trusting my instincts so much so that when I wake I know the essential idea will be there.

When I actually sit at my desk and write, I can go for hours – provided again, I know what I am going to say.  I put on music – relevant if possible to what I am working on – and use it to mask the outside world. I will go on until I’m exhausted and drained.

I am also about getting in the rhythm of what I am doing. If I am in the middle of a book, I will usually go backwards to a somewhat more polished chapter and do a bit of reading and re-writing until I go to the new section.  I will work on the new section until drained.  I shut down then and then resume the dream time process.  While contemplating the next section I am equally at home working in the garden, chopping wood or going for a walk.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Shaping the novel out of such a full and rich life had little resemblance to my initial notion of finding the blank spaces in his life and creating a fully woven fiction. Instead it was more like chipping away at a giant block of marble to find the essence of his life.

My initial thought upon coming up with this notion about Beethoven being forced to review the failings of his life by his “Ghost of Christmas Past,” before he could pass on to Elysium or paradise, was to read a single biography, find the empty or white spaces in his life that we did not know much about and then create a totally fictional story. After reading one biography, I quickly grasped that scholars and musicians knew and had preserved a staggering amount of information about Beethoven, so much so that there were few blank spaces to fill in. If I was going to do a novel about such a famous man, I realized that I was going to have to research that life fully and make sure everything I wrote was as accurate as possible.

My personal dilemma was this: All of my mentors from my early years as a writer, John Irving, Tim O’Brien, Toni Morrison and the late John Gardner, all won National Book Awards or some similar accolade.  When I committed myself to doing a Beethoven novel, I knew there were two hurdles I had to overcome in order to be successful. First I would need to thoroughly research everything about his life and times and be exceedingly accurate or risk being shredded by historians and critics in the music world.  Given the enormous amount of material on his life, including dozens of major biographies, six volumes of letters as well as his diaries – not to mention his music – I was initially daunted by the scope and size of what I had taken on.  I decided not to proceed unless the quality of the writing line by line was at a level that those mentors would have approved.

Feeling the weight of their teachings upon me, I committed myself to doing everything necessary to research not only Beethoven’s life, but the life and times of his family, friends, and lovers and of the entire Napoleonic era, no matter how long it took. And then and only then would I write a novel based on that research that could stand up to the weight of any critic or criticism.

I spent nearly two full years researching before writing a single word of fiction. I built a chronological outline that ran over two hundred pages itself. I read all the major biographies; all the volumes of letters to and from Beethoven; I read his diaries and first-hand accounts of his life compiled by his friends. I listened to endless hours of his music. I studied the history of the times, from Voltaire and the French Revolution to the spas of Central Europe and the life of Napoleon – whose ghost plays a central role in the novel.

I read each book at least three times: the first to get a general sense of its content; the second to highlight specific notes (don’t even ask how many yellow highlighters or sticky notes I went through); and the third to transfer key information to my outline. If Beethoven or Napoleon referenced a philosophical text, such as the Bhagavad Gita or the works of Confucius, I would read those as well. I had majored in Asian Studies as an undergrad, so that aspect came easily to me. I should note that the influence of Asian philosophy on Beethoven is unmistakable if one reads his diaries and letters, yet it is one area that musicologists generally miss not having any exposure to Eastern thought. His quotes go right over their heads.

Furthermore every character except for three minor but important ones, is an actual historical figure. I researched them as well.  And of those minor characters, one is inspired by my friendship with the now deceased novelist, John Gardner, and the other two are an homage to my own family’s East European history that I stumbled upon doing my research. I even learned that Napoleon, on his retreat from Moscow, passed through a tiny village in Belarus, the village my maternal grandparents are from, and that critical events in the war took place there.

Shaping the novel out of such a full and rich life had little resemblance to my initial notion of finding the blank spaces in his life and creating a fully woven fiction. Instead it was more like chipping away at a giant block of marble to find the essence of his life.

When I was nearly done with a first polished draft, I began showing it around to my friends in the writing community and to a one, their response was, “Yes, you’re there.”  Since that time, the reviews from critics in the literary world, the music world and more specifically, the world of Beethoven scholars and devotees has been wonderful – and gratifying. In fact my first public reading was for a gathering of Beethoven scholars at the American Beethoven Society’s Thirtieth Anniversary Conference.  There I was, reading a work of fiction to the very people who knew more about Beethoven than anyone, and, thankfully, they loved it.

What do you love most about being an author?

Researching and then writing this novel was a long journey, every moment of which was an absolute pleasure.  I learned ages ago that if you want someone to take the time and effort to read your book and find your work compelling and engaging, you must also be equally passionate about what you create. I absolutely love the entire process of crafting a story, from jotting down ideas and doing research when necessary, to shaping each line, each paragraph, each character, each scene. I want to transport the reader into a vivid and continuous dream that is so powerful, so all-encompassing that the next thing they know is that someone is calling them to dinner. So my first advice to any other would be writer is this: love what you are doing and let that passion be your motor or you will most-likely fail.

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?

My friend and fellow writer, Russell Martin, author of the non-fiction bestseller, Beethoven’s Hair, also runs a small independent press, SYQ.  The publisher of my previous book, Opening the Doors to Hollywood, was Random House. It was however not only a non-fiction work based on film and writing classes I taught at UCLA, it was also a long time ago.  After a number of attempts to reach out to literary agents and other publishers, I realized that the publishing world had vastly changed since Opening the Doors to Hollywood was released.  Every agent I spoke with wanted either a celebrity driven piece or an easily commoditized book of 250 pages.  Beethoven in Love; Opus 139 is neither. I ultimately decided to go with SYQ and found the process much more to my liking.  I was involved and had control over every aspect of the process, including the layout, design and cover.  I should add that the cover art was done by my son, Zak Smith, a well-known artist in his own right with five published books and paintings hanging in eight museums around the world.

The first five years I spent researching and writing “Beethoven In Love; Opus 139,” were clearly the creative side.  Once done though I switched gears and treated the printing, marketing and sales of the book as a business proposition.  What good is it if you write a great novel but no one reads it?  I focused on marketing and treated the costs and time spent as one would a business start-up, imagining that it would take a while to recoup those expenses.

Clearly publishing and bookselling are industries that has been radically transformed by the web. Once I committed to a small press, I knew we had to maximize the use of electronic mediums to generate real business.  The old models didn’t work and I don’t think anyone has figured out the very best methods to deal with the new reality just yet.  Understanding that world remains a work in progress.

Recalling my experience with Random House where the profits were gobbled up by shipping, SYQ and I decided to limit sales to online outlets such as Amazon.  We created a large web and Facebook presence and then hired a publicist to promote the book to national newspapers and radio stations.  In the first few months following the release I did a lot of public readings and interviews on radio, in print, on podcasts and through the web.

One of the beauties of a book about Beethoven is that I was able to target diverse markets through Facebook. We focused not only the world of book readers and clubs but also to the music world and have had a fair amount of success in both those realms.

I have also performed in numbers of classical music venues in conjunction with soloists, small ensembles and even a full orchestra and choir.  The musicians would perform Beethoven’s compositions and I would read related selections from the book. In fact my first public reading was for a gathering of Beethoven scholars at the American Beethoven Society’s Thirtieth Anniversary Conference.  There I was, reading a work of fiction to the very people who knew more about Beethoven than anyone, and, thankfully, they loved it.

Now I not only have a following of devoted fans all over the world, I have also made a number of connections with the descendants of some of the true-life characters in the novel, such as the great grandson five generations removed of the woman, Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom Beethoven dedicated the Moonlight Sonata and is one of the women consider as a candidate to be his mysterious Immortal Beloved.

All of these activities feed into daily Facebook posts and Tweets and those in turn have driven sales.

Not everything however has gone as smoothly as desired. There are no road maps yet in what is still uncharted territory. For the better part of the past year, I have often felt like I am being forced to re-invent the wheel. My first publicist was a very traditional book publicist from Hollywood who has a client list of many famous writers – but in this new reality she was of limited actual help and very expensive.  I have since moved on to a publicist from the 21st century who understands the web and the results have been vastly superior.

In the end, though I have sold fewer copies than when I was with Random House, my personal return on investment has been much greater. Once a book is actually printed or put out electronically, one must be committed to spending both the time and dollars necessary on marketing. You can’t do it half way and expect good results.  It takes total commitment and effort.

Where can we find you on the web?

I have a webpage:  www.BeethovenInLoveOpus139.com

A dedicated Facebook Page for the book:  https://www.facebook.com/BeethovenInLoveOpus139/

And a Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/BeethovenOp139

 

Read Full Post »

Inside the Book:

Title: Aura of Magic
Author: Patricia Rice
Publisher: Book View Cafe
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Brighid Darrow, Countess of Carstairs, has endured years of a loveless marriage in order to aid her friends and the people of Northridge. Yet once she is widowed, the village shuns her with accusations of witchcraft—vilifying her unique gift of reading auras. Released from past restraints, Bridey rebelliously embraces her dream of establishing a forbidden school for midwives.

Having spent his life being all that is proper in hopes of earning a title in return for services to the crown, Aaron Pascoe-Ives, illegitimate son of a marquess, is ordered to Northridge to save the royal mines from rioters. Any hope of aid from the beautiful but aloof countess is dashed when his incorrigible twins endanger their young lives by following him, mystifyingly insisting that the Countess of Carstairs is their new mother.

Bridey and Pascoe face ghosts, assassins, and riots—but nothing as perilous as the irresistible attraction between them. With hard-fought goals at risk, they must make the ultimate choice between achieving dreams—or losing each other.

~~~~~~~
Reviews:

“Patricia Rice weaves magical love stories” – Mary Jo Putney, NY Times Bestselling Author

“Known for her masterful talent for writing whimsy, humor and mayhem, Rice gives the reader a delightful romantic adventure in . . . her Unexpected Magic series”—Joan Hammond, RT Reviews 4 ½ stars

                                           Purchase Here:
 Meet the Author:
With several million books in print and New York Times and USA Today’s bestseller lists under her belt, former CPA Patricia Rice is one of romance’s hottest authors. Her emotionally-charged contemporary and historical romances have won numerous awards, including the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice and Career Achievement Awards. Her books have been honored as Romance Writers of America RITA® finalists in the historical, regency and contemporary categories.A firm believer in happily-ever-after, Patricia Rice is married to her high school sweetheart and has two children. A native of Kentucky and New York, a past resident of North Carolina and Missouri, she currently resides in Southern California, and now does accounting only for herself. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Authors Guild, Novelists, Inc. and BVC Publishing Cooperative.

For further information, visit Patricia’s network:

Author Site

Facebook

Twitter

Blogspot

The Word Wenches

Tumblr

tsu

TOUR SCHEDULE

Tuesday, March 14
Book featured at Mello and June
Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Wednesday, March 15
Book featured at A Title Wave
Book featured at The Literary Nook
Thursday, March 16
Book featured at I’m Shelf-ish
Book featured at As the Page Turns
Friday, March 17
Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Book featured at Niume
Monday, March 20
Book featured at Cafinated Reads
Book featured at The Writer’s Life
Tuesday, March 21
Book featured at A Book Lover
Book featured at Voodoo Princess
Wednesday, March 22
Book reviewed at Warrior Woman Winmill
Thursday, March 23
Book featured at Write and Take Flight
Friday, March 24
Book featured at CBY Book Club

Save

Save

Read Full Post »

the-shadow-crucible-banner-2

We invite you to Tamara Lakomy’s THE SHADOW CRUCIBLE: THE BLIND GOD Book Blast! Please leave a comment to let Tamara know you stopped by or share this page through your social networks!

the-shadow-crucible

Title: THE SHADOW CRUCIBLE: THE BLIND GOD

Author: T.M. Lakomy

Publisher: Select Books

Pages: 400

Genre: Dark Fantasy

In a world where angels, demons, and gods fight over the possession of mortal souls, two conflicted pawns are ensnared in a cruel game. The enigmatic seer Estella finds herself thrown together with Count Mikhail, a dogmatic Templar dedicated to subjugating her kind. But when a corrupted cardinal and puppet king begin a systematic genocide of her people, the two become unlikely allies.

Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All organized religions are shops orchestrated to consume mankind. Every deity, religion, and spiritual guide has been corrupted, and each claims to have the monopoly on truth and salvation.

In a perilous game where the truth is distorted and meddling ancient deities converge to partake of the unseen battle, Estella unwittingly finds herself hunted by Lucifer. Traversing the edge of hell’s precipice, Estella and Mikhail are reduced to mere instruments. Their only means to overcome is through courting the Threefold Death, the ancient ritual of apotheosis—of man becoming God.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

the-shadow-crucible-teaser

Book Excerpt:

He seethed with indignation as he confronted his reflection. Rasping with rage and flexing his fingers impotently, he took in his bruised and broken face. This mirror was the only vanity he was allowed, and now it only offered him the stark knowledge of his ugliness and weakness. Livid, he smote the mirror with his fist. It shattered as he let out an incensed cry, the fragments flying across the floor, glittering sharply in the dimming lights. He looked down at the collage of broken glass and paused, numb with anger.

The shards of the mirror glittered and vibrated, reflecting numerous eyes. Then they slowly began to levitate, all the tiny fragments splintered across the room gathering together and reforming. Swiftly they became whole again, and the mirror floated in the air eerily toward the cardinal. Within the reflection he no longer saw himself, but another being gazing back at him. Lost for breath, he gaped in bewilderment, unable to form words. The being had the fairest of all faces. Beautiful, with an aura of inexorable grace, it had resplendent, shimmering wings—pair upon pair of them in varied iridescent hues. The countenance observed him with a soft smile, measuring him with his intoxicating, lucent blue eyes. “Do you know who I am, old man?” the mirror asked him blithely. The cardinal was immediately enraptured, but could feel the cross burning on his neck. “Take it off and it will not sear your skin,” the angel remarked mildly, his limpid blue eyes gazing lovingly upon the cardinal. The cardinal, like a man too deeply drunken to think, brought his hand to his neck and ripped the cross thoughtlessly off and cast it away. “That is better now, isn’t it? Always bearing the cross. Well, he carried his cross and now he wants the whole world to carry it with him . . . how truly selfish.” The voice, though laced with reproach, was heartrendingly sweet and full of understanding and promise. It rang like silver bells. The cardinal’s mouth hung open indecorously, and he found himself nodding his head in agreement with the angel’s words as his fear began to dissipate. “I do not want you to carry this cross, this heavy burden of debt,” the angel continued. “This false salvation you were peddled is a lie. I, on the contrary, want you to be free, liberated from your thralldom. The earth is your inheritance to rule over as a god, like you were promised. And yet they have deprived you of your freedom. My heart grieves for you,” the angel sympathized, his voice laden with unquenchable sorrow. As the angel spoke, the mirror began to ripple like molten silver, and he emerged from it, as though pushing through a translucent shroud. Robed in white flowing garments, he grasped a long spear in his left hand pointing it downwards, the bitter tip glistening coldly. Standing before the cardinal revealed in his full glory, he smiled fully—but the warmth never reached his detached, frosted gaze. “I want to liberate you from your thralldom,” he said. “I have watched over you all, my tender flock. I am Lucifer, the morning star, the first to greet you with my love into this life, and the last to claim you on my dark stallion of death. I have come to free you.” His persuasive voice was soothing and nurturing, like a gentle river rippling mildly over soft bedrock. The cardinal found himself in a daze of awe, and within him woke his longing for power and lust for dominion. “Come to me, let me free you, and we shall destroy the Twilit world that has robbed you of the gifts that you so deserved.” The fatherly voice of the angel was indignant yet gentle, and he beamed at the cardinal who nodded back eagerly. “Let me into your heart, then. Lead me into your house, in this false edifice erected in the name of God, and let us together find the lost sheep in the house of God. I am his true son, after all, prince of the world.” He glided towards the cardinal, his numerous nacre wings extending into the chamber. They shed their own pearly light, and it seemed he floated like a silver vision. The angel knelt beside the cardinal, gazing into his watery eyes. “Let me into his house.” The voice was slightly more pressing now. The cardinal, dazed, nodded in agreement. With a satisfied smile, the angel touched the cardinal’s chest with a slender finger, right at his heart, and breathed over him. The cardinal groaned, falling instantly asleep. The angel then shifted like a blurring image, colors melting and running, twisting like molten glass into a murky mess of shadow and dirt-colored fumes. The gleaming wings fell to the ground, losing their feathers and rotting instantly. Now instead of the radiant angel, there stood a hooded and cloaked figure, emanating death. Like a black hole, it sucked in all the light around him, exerting a fearsome pull. The light from the candles swirled and were drawn into him, as though he were a gasping sinkhole.

The lights that weren’t drowned out flared in his presence, then guttered as he walked towards the discarded cross lying dully on the ground. With his foot he trampled it into the ground. Then the lights went out and laughter resounded. It echoed through the abbey walls, shaking it to its foundations until all the lights within went out, and all the icons fell to the ground, dashed down by something far more sinister than the raging gale outside.

About the Author

tamara-lakomy

Tamara Lakomy is British born but grew up in North Africa during troubled times. She resides in London.

She studied archaeology and became enamoured with the shamanistic practices of indigenous people.

She is an author and poet who seeks to challenge our notions of reality, and see life with a different perspective.

She works in East Africa with indigenous tribes studying the origins of mankind and the salient golden thread in the tapestry of humanity’s beliefs.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Read Full Post »

 

 

Inside the Book:

Title: Pauli the Musical Pumpkin
Author: Pamela O. Guidry
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Format: Ebook

This is an inspiring story of a family whose characters depend on each other’s unique personality traits to see them through life’s little journeys. With Luis, the strength and leadership is dominant, and Erin’s motherly love is profound. The two boys are very different both in looks and in spirit. Dominic is adventuresome, and the outdoors is his passion, whereas Donovan’s love for beauty and music is his motivation. Pauli, different from any of his family, is talented and musical and brings forth a feeling of magic when he plays his beautiful music. In the end, the family is reunited and reassured. Each of us is special in our own way. As long as we have each other, anything is possible.

Meet the Author:

Pamela O. Guidry was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1960. My parents were the most loving and wonderful parents. I grew up in a family of six children. With three sisters and two brothers, an adventure was always just around the corner. Because family is the most fundamental purpose in life, the experiences we have shared have shaped my life. At an early age, I developed a passion for music, as well as a love for art and creativity. As an adult, I further pursued the imagination and use of colors and textures in my work as a decorator. And now, my passion is to travel the world so that I may experience the beauty of nature and the people I meet along the way.

Giveaway

Pamela is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 27 and ends on March 10.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 11.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read Full Post »

 

 

Inside the Book:

Title: The Love Story of Creation: Book One
Author: Edward Ruetz
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Religion
Format: Ebook

A man awakens one day in a land of brilliant light. Unsure of his surroundings, he sees another man, woman, and their child surrounded by a pure crimson energy of love. He soon realizes that the Divine Beings intend to use their energy of love to give birth to new beings. And so begins an expanding Universe, fueled by diverse particles woven by gravity’s power into a massive web.

The Divine Beings empower atoms to be agents of creativity. The first beings, Quarkie and Photie, join twelve atom friends and quadrillions of other atoms who manage to create billions of suns in billions of galaxies. After the Divine Beings take the atom pals on journeys back to the past to visit other atom families, the atom friends living in the Milky Way Galaxy are jolted by an exploding supernova and land on planet Earth where they eventually create the first living beings.

During the next two billion years, they engage in a crucial mission—the conception of the eukaryote cell—which will determine all future creativity on Earth. But just as they are certain of their success, a momentous catastrophe threatens to end their creative journey

Meet the Author:

Edward J. Ruetz is a retired priest and a founding member of Earthworks, an Indiana ecological community since 1988. He currently lives in Indiana where he presents workshops on the Universe and the scientific story of creation, and continues his interest in the evolution versus religion debate and social justice issues

Giveaway

Edward is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 27 and ends on March 10.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 11.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR SCHEDULE

February 27
February 28
March 1
March 2
March 3
March 6
March 7
March 8
March 9
March 10

Read Full Post »

101044HarleyinTuscanyHarley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, and majored in English literature at Hiram College in Ohio, and Elphinstone College, Bombay U. Harley worked as a record salesman (vinyl) and later served the U.S. Government as a computer programmer and in communications, where he honed his writing style as an editor and content provider for official web sites.

Retired now, he likes to write pulp fiction, mostly private eye stories, several of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Harley’s other passions are reading, his wife Anastasia, their two children, peace, running, Italian cars, and California wine.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, White with Fish, Red with Murder. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: White with Fish, Red with Murder is the story of private eye Frank Swiver, who accepts an invitation to a wine tasting on a private rail car, and brings along his secretary and lover, Vera Peregrino. They’re two thirds of a love triangle. The host, Frank’s client, General Thursby, wants him to find proof that a friend whose death was ruled accidental was in fact murdered. Thursby suspects Cicilia O’Callaghan, widow of his late friend, an old flame of Frank’s, and the third leg of that triangle. But Thursby takes two slugs through the pump, and the cops arrest Vera for his killing. Frank spends his nights with Cici, and his days trying to find Thursby’s killer and spring Vera. But soon he realizes he must change his way of thinking, or risk losing both women . . . and maybe his life.

I felt compelled to write this story because I had read all of Raymond Chandler’s fiction, and most of Dashiell Hammett’s. I loved it, and I wanted more, even if I had to write it myself. I tried to reproduce the feel of their stories in characters, atmosphere, dialogue, and plot so that readers who liked Hammett and Chandler will feel as much at home with Frank Swiver as they would with Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe.

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

A: Character, plot, and pace. A good private eye story is not about the eye, but about the characters –the client, the femme fatale, the villain or antagonist. The characters must be believable, well-rounded, and distinct from one another. They must be driven by desires they are powerless to resist. Character is revealed in action. The plot must be credible; it has to be of a certain magnitude to hang a novel on it. And it’s good to have a couple different things going on in the plot. The best way for a writer to conceal a mystery is by interesting the reader in solving some other mystery. Finally, pace. You don’t necessarily have to write a thriller, but it needs to be a page turner. You want the reader to wonder, what happens next. A fourth element, close behind these three, is setting, environment, or a sense of place.

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

A: I’m certainly in favor of knowing where you’re going when you set out. I was working towards a certain ending that I had in mind, but in this novel, the characters revealed to me how to get there and what to do along the way as the book progressed. For example, no one saw the murder, but private eye Frank Swiver questioned the seven suspects present, each of whom had a story, a version of the truth. By studying everyone’s comings and goings, their desires, and their versions of the truth, Frank gathered the clues he needed to put the whole mystery together. By following along with Frank, I learned what I needed to know to write my way to the ending.

Q: 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: Because of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, Frank Swiver is a pacifist, unusual in the tough, fists and blackjacks world of private eyes. He was a conscientious objector during WW II. As it happens, I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, so I didn’t need to interview Frank. We shared the same values.

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: The villain goes back to some of the most basic ideas I learned reading Edgar Allan Poe’s first detective story, and to the idea of the duality of human nature. In some ways the antagonist is the opposite of the protagonist, Frank. He’s the animalistic side of Frank’s nature, and the dark side.

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

A: Well, Raymond Chandler says, “When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.” I didn’t do that, but I kept the spirit of this excellent advice in mind. Consider variations on that theme—even a car chase, for instance. Also, I try to think of my book as a series of dramatic scenes that will tell the story. A novel’s a big piece of work, so it helps me to get my arms around it by breaking it down into scenes. I think, how will I move the plot along in this scene? How will I reveal character?

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: What I tried to do in White with Fish was create a story world–a noir-ish version of 1948 San Francisco. I used descriptions of specific locations and objects, details, and stylized dialogue to give the novel verisimilitude, and try to give the book the feel of a more human, less technological world than the one we live in.

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: Themes! Ah! I think I have a sense of the themes of my work inside my subconscious when I start writing. But I can only articulate the themes after the first draft is complete. Some of the themes in my writing have been recurring—non-violence, the duality of human nature, the breakdown of civil order, and classic noir themes, like love, lust, greed, lying dames, violence, double-crosses, and murder.

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

A: I for one, can’t imagine always hitting the mark on the first or only creative thrust. I believe editing and revision are a part of art, maybe 60 percent or more. Just don’t throw out what is good and true and right about that initial draft when you’re editing. Fix the structure to support the plot and the theme; develop and strengthen what is good and what could be better, and cut what doesn’t work so well.

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

A: Perseverance is necessary. This is especially true in marketing your manuscripts—pitching your novel to an agent or a publisher, or submitting shorter fiction to the right journal or magazine. Nearly 35 publishers declined my novelette, “Pearl’s Valley.” But it will be released as a standalone book in April by Dark Passages [ https://darkpassagespublishing.com/ ]

Discipline—To me, discipline means to write every day. The surest way to improve your skills and grow as a writer is to write. Write every day. If you write 500 words a day—a page and a half—you’ll have a first draft of a novel faster than you ever expected.

Creativity—Creativity is the fun part of making a successful novelist. You can start with the tropes of your subgenre—like I use tropes from hard-boiled fiction and from noir fiction. But you take them and make them your own—that’s the creativity part.

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 don’t know. As another person (who should be famous), said, “If you’re doing what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Though I may have dreaded homework when I was in school, I love my writing, now, and I think I will for the rest of my life.

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

A: You should keep a handful of reference books, such as Strunk and White and a dictionary on hand. Stephen King On Writing tells you everything else you need to know to write good narrative prose, and it’s a good example of the craft, presented in a fun, entertaining style. I also use Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction, and Ursula LeGuin’s Steering the Craft when I need examples of different techniques, such as third person limited omniscience point of view. I’ve taken online writing classes from Stanford that have been excellent, and I’ve participated in classroom workshops at a place in Bethesda, Maryland called the Writer’s Center. If you’re a genre writer, like me, consider joining a group of like-minded writers for different kinds of support. For example, I’m in Private Eye Writers of America, and in the local chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

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

A: Well, classes and workshops can be great and can give you a good foundation in the craft. But I truly believe there are two keys to being a writer. 1.) Read good writing. Reading is learning to write by osmosis. See how the great writers tackled a particular problem, or learn how contemporary writers in your genre handle a specific sort of scene. And 2.) write. Everything you write is practice and experience. There will be good stuff even in your earliest writing that you can build upon.

I’m always happy to help if I can, and I’d enjoy hearing from other writers, and my readers. Harley.c.mazuk@gmail.com

 

Harley Mazuk [http://www.harleymazuk.com/] is a mystery writer living in Maryland. His first novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder [http://www.drivenpress.net/white-with-fish-red-with-murder] is out now, from Driven Press. [http://www.drivenpress.net/]

Read Full Post »

 

Inside the Book:

Title: River of Denial

Author: Lea Braden

Publisher: iUniverse

Genre: Fiction/Suspense

Format: Ebook

River Bend is just another quiet picturesque town by the Missouri river-until its school superintendent is murdered in her office one evening. Under her leadership, the school district appeared to be thriving. But as investigators are about to discover, Timmons Worthington apparently had more enemies than friends. After the police find a sticky note stuffed under Superintendent Worthington’s computer keyboard with seventh grade science teacher Samantha Grant’s name scrawled across it, Chief Path Patterson embarks on a quest to work his way down the list of suspects that includes Samantha. As denials flow from suspects, Samantha is once again thrust into amateur sleuth mode as she sets out to find the killer and prove her innocence in an investigation complicated by flying bullets, a flaming toilet, cocaine, and her ex-husband’s crazy trophy wife. Helped by friends and her Shih Tzu, Samantha doggedly searches for the truth. But will she find answers soon enough to save her from prison or will a killer walk free? In this gripping mystery set in a postcard perfect river community, a middle school teacher must turn amateur sleuth in an attempt to eliminate her name from the list of suspects and find a determined killer.


Meet the Author:

Lea Braden is a retired middle school teacher. When she is not creating compelling mystery tales, she enjoys walks along the Missouri river with her two dogs. River of Denial is the second book in the Samantha Grant mystery series.

Giveaway

Lea is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins February 27 and ends on March 10.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on March 11.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: