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MooreBook2014_4922A native of Tacoma, Washington, M.D. Moore worked as a therapist in Washington State’s most acute psychiatric hospital. Moore currently serves as a rehab director at a long term care facility serving veterans and their families. A member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, M.D. Moore lives in Gig Harbor, Washington with his wife and sons. Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy is his debut novel. Visit M.D. Moore online at: www.mdmooreauthor.com.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?  

A: My story is about a middle-aged son of a paranoid schizophrenic mother who has the problems of the world on his shoulders, but doesn’t have the skills to navigate them all successfully.  He has a mentally ill mother who still is the cause of chaos in his life, a life threatening illness, a failing business, and a host of people who want to see him fail on all fronts.  He also has two legal strikes (a third would result in a sentence of mandatory life in prison without parole) and anger issues.  He is forced to see a therapist against his better advice who seems to have as many issues as he has.  The only bright spot in his life is his reunion with his high school sweetheart, but even she is just recently divorced from his high school adversary who has the power to destroy what Harmon has worked to build.  The story focuses on how he navigates and untangles the messes of his life to a logical conclusion.

I worked in my state’s largest psychiatric hospital for several years and one of the patients had a husband and two teenage boys which was very unusual.  Most of the patients had never been married or if they had been, had been divorced.  The family’s dedication to their wife and mother was very touching, but I always felt sorry for all of them realizing how hard it must be for each one for their own reasons.  It inspired this story of a man and his schizophrenic mother and the life they have shared.

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

A: I think the single most important element of a family saga is it has to feel real.  Many of the occurrences in my book would be far fetched to readers who are not familiar with the mentally ill and what struggles they face, but I believe the reader could still see the plausibility of the events.  Now, this may sound somewhat contradictory to condition one, but you must also make it exciting enough that it doesn’t sound so real, that it could just happen to anyone, especially the reader.  I’ve judged several writing contests and one of the biggest flaws I’ve seen is that people make their stories sound so real, they could’ve easily happened to the reader.  Ok, your protagonist is buried in bills – been there.  Oh no, your protagonist had a fight with their wife or kids – done that.  Shoot, your protagonist is fat and needs to lose weight – it would be a bigger stretch if that person was in shape.  Make real world problems, just make them someone else’s real world problems.  The last element in a family saga, or for any realistic fiction for that matter, is to make your characters relatable.  Make your protagonist someone like your Uncle Paul or your grandfather with maybe a little scar here or there – make your person someone who could exist.

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

A: I tried the free-flowing method and I ended up making a mess all over myself.  There were pieces of book all over the place and a story that got me more lost than my first version of Mapquest.  Unfortunately, and I say unfortunate because I wish I had the skill to just “let the story happen,” I am a meticulous plotter.  My chapter summaries are almost as long as the chapters themselves.  I need to know where I’m going so I don’t waste too much energy trying to find my way with a sundial.  Give me a programmed GPS and just let me write.

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: My protagonist, Harmon, is actually a combination of a lot of people.  He shares character traits of a couple of family members and friends and physically, he’s also a combination of several people.  I actually had a little photo album, the type you’d get as a kid, that had several pictures in it that I would reference on occasion when describing Harmon.  In the editing process, however, I ended up taking a lot of physical description out as I like to let the reader develop their own image of the characters based on their own experiences.  As for behaviors, in the end, Harmon basically did what I would do.  I’d like to write a character someday that is a far departure from me, but with this being my first novel, decided to stick with what I know.

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: He was a little easier.  Since Harmon had known Frank (the antagonist) since childhood, I just thought of kids that I didn’t like when I was young and used them for the childhood antagonist and as Frank aged, I just created a history that would put him on a path to continue being an asshole.  I have known enough of those in my lifetime that I had some folks to draw from.

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

A: I think exciting narrative comes from exciting characters.  Having motorcycle gang members, chronically mentally ill patients, outlaw therapists and the like in the book made for easy, fun narratives.  I had the hardest time keeping Harmon interesting because his character was the most real of the bunch and real life isn’t typically that exciting.  The only tip I have is to really pay attention to narrative during your rewrites/edits.  Write it all during the first draft, but try to weed out the garbage the second and subsequent rewrites.  Better yet, have a trusted reader go through and tell you what doesn’t work or where your work really starts to slow down.  Another reader is a super valuable tool.

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: Again, make the setting as interesting as you can.  The type of story you write will dictate how interesting that will be.  A sci-fi set in space will definitely be more interesting than a family drama set in Washington.  One of the most helpful things I did for myself was to really pay attention to my surroundings before and while I was writing the book.  I worked at our states largest mental hospital and it still had some of the old, creepy buildings from when the grounds were an army fort in the 1800’s.  This was easy to make interesting.  Harmon’s business and home were a combination of this old antique store in Tacoma, WA and the residence of an acquaintance who lives over a bar whose home used to be used as a hotel (which I then turned into a brothel).  Pay attention to your surroundings, even going for a drive and taking notes, and you’ll find plenty of places that will work (given your story is not set in space or underwater!)

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:  My theme is the oft-used, love conquers all.  Since this was a story about a man and his chaotic relationship with his mentally ill mother and since I wanted there to be redemption in the end, I always knew that this would be a book that would get wrapped up by the end between a father and mother who come to realize that they do love each other even if they didn’t necessarily get each other.

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

A: This is a tough one.  I guess if I had to try and name this, I’d say that craft is what makes an author’s writing readable, art is what makes it memorable.  I believe that anyone can learn the craft of writing.  There are all kinds of resources – classes, books, workshops, critique groups – to learn the craft of writing.  One can learn to write very well by learning the craft of writing.  I’d go so far as to say that a lot of what we find on the shelves of our local bookstores are books that display good writing craft.  It’s the books that we keep on our shelves and are stingy about passing around that have nailed the art of writing.  I don’t believe that you can teach the art of writing – you either have it or you don’t.  Luckily for most of us, I think we all get a little lucky and show a little art mixed in with our craft.

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

A: First, I think it’s important to study the craft of writing.  There are many writers who believe that just because they can craft a good sentence or write a good paper for a class, they have what it takes to write a novel.  I know because I was one of them.  It wasn’t until I read some of the crap that I initially wrote that I realized that I didn’t know the first thing about writing a novel.  Sure, I could write a good sentence, I just couldn’t write enough of the them in the right order to complete a book.  Take classes, read books, join critique groups, etc, and then practice, practice, practice to learn how to do it right.

Second, listen to the advice of others.  Find someone you trust and have them proofread your work.  The writer gets too close to their own work and they always know what they were talking about.  “My dog is really protective.”  Did you picture a german shepherd? a pitbull? a Doberman? A Chihuahua?  You know you were thinking about your yappy Pomeranian but your reader did not.  If it matters, a good editor will help you clarify or tell you when something is missing or has awkward structure.

The third trait needed is perseverance.  This is a long and grueling and highly competitive business and for the most part, only the those who persevere reach their goals.  If you’re not finding the success you believe is coming to you, you must do some soul searching and find out why.  If you’ve done everything you can, it’s time you just put your head down and keep sending out queries.

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’d say that that author either loved doing homework or was in the wrong profession.  I hate homework, but I love to write.  I also do woodworking and beekeeping, both of which took considerable work to get good at, but it was an enjoyable learning experience for both.  Homework is what I did for school and it sucked.  Work at home is what I do for me and I love it.

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

A: There are a couple of excellent books on writing that provide a good roadmap towards writing fiction.  The first and best is Dean Koontz’s book How to Write Best Selling Fiction.  It doesn’t so much teach the mechanics of writing as much as it teaches about what goes into a great story.  It’s a little pricey if you can even find it.  It’s been out of print for a long time, but if you can track one down, it’s well worth having in your library.  The second is Stephen King’s On Writing.  It’s very similar to Koontz’s book, but just not quite as direct.  As for resources on the craft of writing, my best lessons came at writing conferences and from critiques.  I also read a ton of books (almost literally) about writing.  I thought I knew what I was doing until I tried to do it.  When I failed miserably, I began to read books on how to write books and everything started to come together.

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

A: I really believe that this is an endeavor worth pursuing.  It takes way more work than you think it’s going to take, but ultimately, if you work hard, listen to others who’ve done it before you, and learn, learn, learn all you can about writing and the writing industry, you can find success.  You may need a little luck along the way, but I do believe, more so than any other part of the entertainment industry, that hard work and perseverance are rewarded.

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Ken Malovos photo

Ken Malovos is a mediator and arbitrator in Sacramento, CA . Previously, he was a trial lawyer, as a public defender for 12 years and a business litigator for 25 years. He is a graduate of Stanford University (philosophy) and UC Hastings College of the Law. Ken is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association and Legal Services of Northern California. He is a panel member for the American Arbitration Association, a fellow in the College of Commercial Arbitrators, a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and a member of the California Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. This is his first novel. He lives in Sacramento with his wife. You can visit Ken Malovos’ website at www.malovoslaw.com.

About the book

Sacramento trial lawyer, Mike Zorich, is finally coming to grips with the death of his wife from cancer five years ago. There is a new woman in his life.  His son is making his way in the business world. His law practice is going well. And he has a new case that promises to be very demanding.  Members of the Darnoff wine family are at odds with each other, amidst a divorce and partnership dissolution.

Then things go wrong. Mike becomes the target of some unexplained personal attacks.  He is mugged on the bike trail and his house is ransacked. Is it someone connected to the Darnoff case?  Is it an old client from his years in the Public Defender’s Office?  Is it some disgruntled witness from a trial? To top it off, Mike is held in contempt of court and remanded to jail.  The attacks continue and only get worse. The authorities don’t have a clue. Can Mike figure it all out before someone is killed?

Purchase on Amazon.

Interview

Q: Would you call yourself a born writer? 

A: I have never seen myself as a born writer, but I can say that I love to write.  For most of my life I have written non-fiction, either writing essays in college or case summaries in law school.  As a lawyer, it was writing legal briefs and as an arbitrator, it is writing arbitration awards.  There was a creative aspect to all of this, in that I had to learn how to express myself so that someone else can understand it and, in some cases, be persuaded by it.

I have always loved writing and I promised myself that someday I would write a novel.  Of course, writing fiction is a whole different thing from what I had done in the past.  My interest in writing fiction started with reading a lot of novels and marveling at the stories that authors created.  I love trying to imagine events that have not occurred and to put them down on paper in a way that people will enjoy reading.  This is my first novel, so I am learning a lot in the process.

Q: What was your inspiration for Contempt of Court?

A: In thinking of a good story for my book, I thought of a case that that happened a few years ago, when a judge threatened to hold some of the attorneys in contempt of court for not turning over financial documents.  The attorneys stood up in court and told the judge that they would not obey his order because they were under another order from another judge not to turn over the documents.  The first judge was not deterred.  So, the question was how far does an attorney go in standing up in court and telling a judge that he or she is not going to obey the judge’s order?  Isn’t it just easier to give up and avoid the hassle? That was the start of this story.  It is not a common situation in the law, for sure.

Q: What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

A: I like to explore the themes that are common to trial lawyers, such as regret, justice and fairness.  Also, there is the theme of total frustration when a lawyer can do nothing to help someone in need.  I especially like to explore the theme of the personal impact on a lawyer of trying a case in court, whether it is elation, disappointment or failure. What is the impact on the lawyer’s family? I am familiar with all of these feelings, so exploring them seems natural.

I also like exploring ideas that are new to me such as how someone reacts when a loved one dies or how far someone will go to save a loved one in peril.   What does true friendship or love mean?   Another theme that I like to explore is how to handle a huge set back in life, something totally unexpected, maybe something embarrassing.

Q: How long did it take you to complete the novel? Contempt of Court cover

A: This novel took five years and ten revisions.  I did not work continuously on it, as I have an active law practice, working as a mediator and arbitrator.  So, I would find time on a weekly or monthly basis to work on the manuscript.  It was always in the back of my mind and I spent a huge number of hours just thinking about it, thinking of transitions or plot twists or ways to make the novel more exciting.  I wrote a lot of outlines and changed most of them.  I deleted a lot of writing out of a lot of earlier drafts when I realized that some portions just were not needed to advance the story.

Part of the reason why it took me so long was that I was learning how to write fiction at the same time.  I took some courses, both live and online, and I read quite a few books on writing.  I listened to CD’s from lectures by writers.  It was all inspiring but it usually meant that I saw something in my manuscript that needed to be changed, so that brought about a new revision.  I am sure that my next one will not take as long.

Q: Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

A: I am not disciplined.  In fact, I often look for ways to procrastinate.  Whenever I get back into a manuscript, it takes an effort because I cannot write every day, due to my day job.  The effort is to try to remember everything that has happened so far and to not repeat myself or change some fact.  I am getting better at this.  I need to consult my notes a lot, just to be sure that I am being consistent in my story and my character.

When I have a full day, which is not often, I start around 10 in the morning, after I have done my daily internet surfing and after playing a few games of solitaire.  I stop for lunch and go to about 3 in the afternoon, maybe later if I am really on fire.  I will think about what I write in the evening and make some notes about changes or plot lines that I will pursue.  I can think about my manuscript while I am reading other books, jogging, watching television or taking a shower.  It seems as if the story just sticks right in the center of my brain.

Q: What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

A: The biggest challenge for me was creating a believable and interesting story.  I started with something that I knew from personal experience and tried to enlarge it into a complete plot with likable characters.  I added sub-plots and details.  But it took time.

I always asked myself if a reader would be engaged in my manuscript, as I was writing.  Would they find it interesting?  Would they relate to the characters?  It was hard for me to be as objective as I wanted to be, although I think I got better the more I wrote.

Another challenge was making changes to a manuscript.  It is a whole lot harder than it would seem.  If you change something on page 32, you basically have to read the entire manuscript to be sure there are no inconsistencies in the other 250 or so pages.   The internal consistency and logic was a struggle.

Q: What do you love most about being an author?

A: I love most the pure ecstasy when I am alone, sitting in front of my computer and writing, especially when I have figured out exactly what I want to say.  It means that I have given a great deal of thought to the particular passage or chapter and have a clear plan for what will happen.  Even when I have not figured out exactly what to say, there are times when it just comes to me, as I write.  It is obvious and it feels right. There is pure joy in writing at those times.  I have started sometimes in this writing mode in the morning and all of sudden realized that it is 5 p.m., with no recognition of the passage of time.

I have to say that there are other times when it does not come so easily.  Then I have to grind it out.  But as long as I am making progress, it is still very exciting.  I am creating something out of nothing.

Q: Where can we find you on the web?

A: I am at www.malovoslaw.com.  However, most everything at this website is about my legal work.   It does tell you who I am and what I do.  And I have written about my novel and the writing process.   My book is available on amazon.com, in paperback and  kindle and at smashwords.com.

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Beverly Stowe McClure photojpg

Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.

You can learn more about Beverly Stowe McClure at http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com or her blog at http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com.

Would you call yourself a born writer? 

Nope, not even close. Everyone might think I was, since my eighth-grade teacher sent “Stars,” a poem I wrote for a class assignment, to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings, a high school anthology. That poem was my only claim to publishing, as well as my only attempt at writing anything except school papers, until I grew up into an adult. I wasn’t really interested in becoming an author. When the writing bug finally bit me at a much older age, and I decided to become a famous author, haha, I had no idea how to start, so I took a couple of courses on writing for children. I worked hard, following my instructor’s directions. Writing was tougher than I thought it would be. I kept at it though and am so happy I did not give up.

What was your inspiration for A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat?

On a visit with my son and daughter-in-law, who live on James Island just outside Charleston, SC, we decided to go to Folly Beach and watch the sun rise one morning. Morris Island Light House, built before the Civil War, sits in the Inlet. As the sun peeked above the horizon, turning night into day, I pictured a ghost living in the light house. Who was he? Why was he a ghost? Why was he in the lighthouse? Then the vision of a pirate ship cruising in the waters, searching for something appeared. A pirate, tricorn hat on his head, cutlass at his side, stood on board the ship. Some people might think I’m a little on the weird side. But isn’t the imagination the place where many stories begin? Ghost stories are quite popular in Charleston. I heard a lot while I was there. According to legend, many of the old houses have resident ghosts. I’ve written one ghost story and knew I’d soon write a second one. Now I have: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. Since my target audience is children and teens, my characters are tweens, thirteen years old. And the ghosts … well, you may  recognize a couple of them.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I seldom think of themes when I write, but I’d have to say “family” is an important theme to me. I’m big on family and I think it shows in my writing. Also honesty and love are found in many of my novels.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

I started the novel in early 2010. Revised, revised, and revised. My critique group gave me expert advice. I revised some more. I confess to being a slow writer. The English teacher in me cringes at punctuation errors and such, so I spend a lot of time correcting myself. Finally, the manuscript was ready to submit in fall of 2011.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Most of the time, yes, I stick to a schedule. Having a set routine goes back to my teaching years, I think. I accomplish more if I write down my goals for each day, not that I always reach them, but they motivate me to stay busy. I generally start writing around 9:00 AM, after I’ve checked email. If I’m working on a new story, I do it first, and write until 11:00 or 12:00. I usually have more than one story going at a time, in different stages. Right now, I’m working on a new YA historical fiction novel, editing a YA contemporary that I hope to submit around the first of the year, if not sooner, and tossing about ideas for a couple of new stories. I alternate working on the new and editing the old.

Afternoons I search for promotion ideas, post blogs, read other’s blogs, and read books to review. My brain doesn’t create well in the afternoon, so I seldom write then. Perhaps a short story, but nothing that takes a lot of energy. Evenings I spend reading.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?pirate-blockade-runner-cat-200x300

Since the pirates in the story are “real” instead of fiction, I had to do a lot of research to make sure I portray them accurately. Many young readers will be familiar with Major Stede Bonnet, the gentleman pirate, and surely they’ll know Blackbeard, one of the most notorious pirates that ever lived. Also, the setting had to be authentic, because it’s where the pirates were part of the time in real life. Children are smart. They catch the little details and being wrong will stop them reading.

What do you love most about being an author?

When someone tells me they love/like/relate to my story, and that it helps them see a solution to a similar situation they might be facing. I write for the reader, and for the reader in me.

Where can we find you on the web?

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

https://plus.google.com/102015270528558455280/about

https://twitter.com/beverlymcclure

http://www.facebook.com/beverlysmcclure

http://goodreads.com/author/show/11462.Beverly_Stowe_McClure

Thank you for hosting me today. Please stop by my blog and leave a comment. Thanks.

 

Purchase at MuseItUp Publishing or Amazon!

 

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IMG_3703Kat Flannery has loved writing ever since she was a girl. She is often seen jotting her ideas down in a little black book. When not writing, or researching, Kat enjoys snuggling on her couch with a hot chocolate and a great book.

Her first novel, CHASING CLOVERS became an Amazon’s bestseller in Historical and Western romance. This is Kat’s second book, and she is currently hard at work on the third.

When not focusing on her creative passions, Kat is busy with her three boys and doting husband.

Find the author on the web:

Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Website

Q: Congrats on the release of your novel, Kat! Tell us why readers should buy LAKOTA HONOR.

A: LAKOTA HONOR is set in the late 1800’s yet deals with the same issues people face today. The story of Otakatay and Nora will appeal to everyone because the problems they face are real. There is suspense, drama, action and romance.

Q: What makes a good Paranormal Historical Western Romance?

A: That’s a lot of genres. J I choose to write my characters with real problems and real emotions. I strive to have the balance of the two and give my readers good three dimensional characters that they can connect with. The Paranormal genre can be tricky to write. I didn’t want to write about vampires or werewolves, they’ve been done thousands of times. I wanted to write about something that had a huge effect on history like the Salem Witch Trials. With this genre, you can give the reader a little bit of history, a fantasy, and romance.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: Once the kids are off to school, I grab my coffee and do a bit of marketing before I delve into writing. I generally write while the kids are at school and late in the evening. This sometimes doesn’t work and when I’m in the middle of a book I generally write late at night and into the early hours of the morning.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A: Being able to tell a story that will touch people’s lives. What I find fascinating is that no matter what year I chose to write my novels in people haven’t changed. This allows me to connect to my readers on a personal level and I love that.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: Not to give up. In my early years as a writer I knew that this was what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to get there. So I took classes, and went back to school. I researched until my eyes couldn’t focus on the page in front of me. I asked questions. I never turned down criticism, even when it hurt, even when I was told not to pursue this career. I read every rejection letter and I made notes. I took what they said and applied it to my writing. I worked my butt off. In this industry there is always something to learn, and just because I am published doesn’t mean I’ll stop learning.

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Fate has brought them together…but will a promise tear them a part?

Otakatay is hired to kill the witkowin-crazy women. A deadly bounty hunter, he has found his last victim in timid healer Nora Rushton. Marked as a witch, Nora uses her gift to heal those in need, and the bounty hunter is one of them. Will the desire to complete his promise drive him to kill her, or will the kindness he sees in her blue eyes push him to be the man he once was?

Nora and Otakatay must fight for their freedom in a time when race and discrimination are a threat and innocence holds no ground.

Purchase LAKOTA HONOR on AMAZON US /  AMAZON CA / AMAZON UK 

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earp1While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?

Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Dark River Press, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, and others.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest anthology, SHADOW MASTERS: AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THE HORROR ZINE. When did you start writing and what got you into horror?

A: When I was a little girl, I spent nearly every Saturday night at my best friend’s house. We would try to stay up late and watch the Bob Wilkin’s Creature Feature here in Sacramento. (I say try because we always fell asleep on the floor in front of the TV). Wilkins always showed gothic vampire films and B-grade monster mashes.

That started my love of the genre…and then came Carrie by Stephen King. Need I say more?

Q: Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?

A: It’s always a teacher, isn’t it? My fifth-grade teacher told my mother: “Encourage her writing and discourage her artwork.” Ha! That says something about my drawing ability.

Q: Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?

A: Oh god, yes. Before computers, there was the typewriter and gobs of White Out. Then technology advanced, making writing better for everyone. Embrace technology! The “good old days” are really the “difficult old days.”

11736839-22769210-thumbnailQ: What was your inspiration for putting together SHADOW MASTERS?

A: My inspiration is to combine best-selling writers with the talented lesser-knowns. SHADOW MASTERS is the first time The Horror Zine has compiled original, never-before seen works from horror greats such as Bentley Little, Yvonne Navarro, Scott Nicholson, Melanie Tem, Elizabeth Massie, Earl Hamner, Simon Clark, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Ronald Malfi, Lisa Morton, Jeff Bennington, JG Faherty and many others; this amazing collection of works also includes a Foreword from Joe R. Lansdale.

Q: Do you have any short story plotting secrets? Do you use index cards or special software?

A: I have written the “secrets” for short story writing that can be found in the June issue of The Horror Zine (under TIPS) available now at http://www.thehorrorzine.com.

Q: What do you tell your muse when she refuses to collaborate?

A: I say “I’ll be back” and file it in my “unfinished” folder. Then I work on something else. Or go out and enjoy the day. The point is, you cannot force your muse. She comes to you.

Q: Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to write. Can you relate to this?

A: Not really. Writing is like your job: you set aside a certain amount of time each day. If your muse is uncooperative, then you can always do edits on what you have previously written.

Q: How do you celebrate the completion of an anthology?

A: Splash it all over The Horror Zine, Facebook, and Shocklines!

Q: What do you love most about the writer’s life?

A: Well, you have to understand that I am also an editor. I think I like that best, because I get opportunities to work with the most talented (and nicest) people in the world.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: The Horror Zine is always seeking fiction, poetry and art from morbidly creative people. Come visit us at http://www.thehorrorzine.com.

Purchase SHADOW MASTERS from Amazon (paperback) and on Kindle.

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R. Barri Flowers is an award winning criminologist and internationally bestselling author of more than sixty books–including thriller and suspense fiction, relationship fiction, young adult mysteries, true crime, and criminology titles.

Bestselling mystery and thriller fiction, including SEDUCED TO KILL IN KAUAI, MURDER IN MAUI, MURDER IN HONOLULU, KILLER IN THE WOODS, DARK STREETS OF WHITECHAPEL, STATE’S EVIDENCE, PERSUASIVE EVIDENCE, and JUSTICE SERVED.

Author Photo R Barri FlowersOther novels by the author include the bestselling relationship novel, FOREVER SWEETHEARTS, and young adult novels, COUNT DRACULA’S TEENAGE DAUGHTER, GHOST GIRL IN SHADOW BAY, and DANGER IN TIME.

Flowers has also written a number of bestselling true crime books, including THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS, THE PICKAXE KILLERS, SERIAL KILLER COUPLES and MASS MURDER IN THE SKY. He was editor as well of the bestselling anthology, MASTERS OF TRUE CRIME.

The author has been interviewed on the Biography Channel and Investigation Discovery.

Official Website: http://www.rbarriflowers.com/

Q: Tell us why readers should buy BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

A: BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN is a crime thriller written by an award winning criminologist and bestselling author of such true crime books as THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS and thriller fiction, including MURDER IN MAUI and DARK STREETS OF WHITECHAPEL.

This book is about an FBI profiler and criminal psychologist who returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon, to assist the police in tracking down a serial killer, who murders beautiful women in pairs.

As someone who has written extensively about real life serial killers, BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN brings verisimilitude to the perpetrator and his psyche as he pushes the boundaries in handpicking his victims.

For readers who love thriller fiction where the villain is a frightening serial killer who matches wits with the beautiful protagonist and homicide detectives on the case—or are fans of TV series such as Criminal Minds, Dexter, and Hannibal-– this is a novel you are sure to enjoy.

Q: What makes a good thriller novel?

A: A good thriller novel is one in which there is a constant sense of danger and a suspenseful whodunit, with three dimensional characters who bring you along for the ride as they converge for a heart pounding conclusion.

Within this regard, the thriller should also convey a strong plot with smart twists and turns and deft pacing that will allow the story to play itself out while keeping the reader thoroughly engaged.

Some great thrillers that come to mind include Robert Ludlum’s The Aquitaine Progression and John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. I believe that BEFORE HE STRIKES AGAIN also fits in this category.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: A regular writing day for me involves getting up at 6 a.m. and heading to my computer at 7 a.m. (after an hour of working out and having breakfast)—where I spend the next five hours writing and rewriting my latest book.

After a noontime lunch and chores, I am back at it by 1 p.m., where I go at it on computer till 5 p.m. (sometimes 6 p.m., if really on a roll), typing away in faithfully sticking to the plot in my head.

I call it quits for the night after that and am back in the grind the next day.

This is a routine I follow seven days a week. I am the type of writer who is not easily distracted by other things—understanding that I get out as much as I put in as an author.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A:  What is most rewarding to me as an author is being able to successfully write in multiple genres (thriller, true crime, young adult mysteries, and criminology). As such, I have fans in these different genes, giving me a good reason to try and keep up with them in bringing out fresh material they can take pleasure in reading.

Aside from that, I enjoy the camaraderie with other authors, having found some great friends over the years to seek advice and words of wisdom from while returning in kind.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: That’s a great question. Hmm… I’d have to say that the best writing advice I’ve ever received and have passed along to other authors came from a bestselling crime writer who told me when I first got started: “The thing that separates serious writers from those who aren’t in it for the long haul is the ability to shake off rejections and look at as constructive criticism rather than personal attacks—making yourself a better writer in the process with each rejection letter.”

Definitely words to live by for any writer willing to work at it to hone your craft till you get where you’re going in finding success in the business.

———————————————————-

 

Before He Kills Again_Cover

Book Description:

From R. Barri Flowers, award winning crime writer and international bestselling author of Dark Streets of Whitechapel and Killer in The Woods, comes a gripping new psychological thriller, Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

FBI psychologist and criminal profiler Veronica Vasquez returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon to assist police in apprehending a ruthless serial killer dubbed “The Rose Killer,” who kills beautiful women in pairs, leaving a rose on top of each corpse.

Heading the investigation is homicide Detective Sergeant Bryan Waldicott. Veronica must win him over, along with the entire task force, and prove herself worthy of the job. Since losing her husband three years ago, Veronica had been focused on her work to escape the pain of loneliness and separation. A romance with Waldicott, who has issues of his own, complicates things for them both as they try to stop a serial murderer before he kills again.

When she begins to suspect that the new husband of her estranged sister Alexandra could be the killer, Veronica pursues that delicate angle and, in the process, becomes a target herself.

Before He Kills Again is tense thriller that will keep readers on edge till the very end.

 Purchase:

Amazon Trade Paperback / Kindle /Kindle UK / Kindle CA / Barnes and Noble Nook eBook / Smashwords / Kobo

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Before He Kills Again_CoverBook Description:

From R. Barri Flowers, award winning crime writer and international bestselling author of Dark Streets of Whitechapel and Killer in The Woods, comes a gripping new psychological thriller, Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller.

FBI psychologist and criminal profiler Veronica Vasquez returns to her hometown of Portland, Oregon to assist police in apprehending a ruthless serial killer dubbed “The Rose Killer,” who kills beautiful women in pairs, leaving a rose on top of each corpse.

Heading the investigation is homicide Detective Sergeant Bryan Waldicott. Veronica must win him over, along with the entire task force, and prove herself worthy of the job. Since losing her husband three years ago, Veronica had been focused on her work to escape the pain of loneliness and separation. A romance with Waldicott, who has issues of his own, complicates things for them both as they try to stop a serial murderer before he kills again.

When she begins to suspect that the new husband of her estranged sister Alexandra could be the killer, Veronica pursues that delicate angle and, in the process, becomes a target herself.

Before He Kills Again is tense thriller that will keep readers on edge till the very end.

My thoughts:

Before He Kills Again is indeed  a very entertaining read, one of those suspense thrillers that will keep you turning pages late into the night. At least, this was my case. I finished it in 2-3 days, as I couldn’t put it down. The heroine, criminal psychologist and FBI profiler Veronica Vasquez, is a sympathetic character, smart and independent but with a gentle side. I found all the information about serial killers fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyed all the setups, twists and red herrings devised by the author. Just when you think you know who the killer is, something happens to deter you from suspecting. The love story between Veronica and Homicide detective Bryan Waldicott  adds some spice without getting in the way of the mystery. The novel does have some graphic violent scenes, so if you’re squeamish about this sort of thing, be warned.

If you’re a fan of thrillers about serial killers, you should pick this one up!

Purchase:

Amazon Trade Paperback / Kindle /Kindle UK / Kindle CA / Barnes and Noble Nook eBook / Smashwords / Kobo

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Review by Susan Keefe

Lee Talbot, an American journalist, is in Guernica, northern Spain with Quinn Bergin on the day Hitler chooses to try his experiment ‘total war’ there. Devastated by the scenes of horror which unfold before her, she sends a graphic eyewitness account to London, where it is broadcast on the radio.
Back in London Sir Winston Churchill meets with his Director of the Secret Intelligence Organisation, Sir Fletcher McAlister and Lord Wynne Henry Radcliffe, as they build their spy network and watch Hitler carefully.
Undercover spies Lee and Quinn are in Vienna surreptitiously minding the lovely pianist Lady Grace, daughter of Lord Radcliffe as she wins the coveted Belvedere Medal; they are still there when Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) changes everything. That night Lee and Grace witness horrors which bond the young women from very different backgrounds together, and a close friendship develops.
England is at war and when tragedy strikes Grace’s life, she decides to work with Lee undercover in the desperate race to stop Hitler from make an atomic bomb, knowing that if he does so first, all is lost. What follows is a tale of love, intrigue and betrayal, as the two women and the people in their lives face unimaginable dangers, and hurdles, in the name of duty.
The secret life of the underground network, and spies, who risked their lives to help others escape the tyranny of Hitler in World War II, comes alive as we learn of the dangers they faced constantly, and the personal sacrifices they had to make.
The knowledge that this author has firsthand experience of wartime journalism comes as no surprise when reading this engrossing book. With her thorough research and attention to historical detail, I felt as if I was taking a peep into hitherto hidden war files, rather than reading a work of fiction.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, full of love, betrayal and intrigue, it has so many twists and turns it keeps the reader guessing right to the end.
Available in paperback and Kindle.

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Please welcome my special guest, Jack L. Brody, author of the latest suspense thriller, The Moroni Deception. I had the opportunity to read it and you can find my review in Blogcritics. In this interview, Brody talks about the history behind the book and how difficult it was to dwell in Mormon controversy, among other things. 

ImageAbout the author:

Jack Brody is a writer, ex-military, and an avid traveler. After his Army stint and then deciding to pass on law school, he went to film school, wrote screenplays, and held a number of jobs which ran from everything to working for a newspaper for one day, to film production, to then going into real estate (with at least five others along the way).  He’s fascinated by history, politics, and architecture, all of which play a part in his novels (yes, he already has two more in the works). When not writing, he can often be found hiking with his two faithful dogs, occasionally breaking out the old BMW bike for a ride though the mountains, or playing volleyball or bar trivia with his friends.  He divides his time between his home in the Southern Appalachians and wherever his passport will take him. After reading Jon Krakauer’s bestselling “Under the Banner of Heaven,” he was inspired to undertake a full year of research in preparation for the novel. Taking what he’d learned, along with a bit of imagination, the result was the conspiracy thriller, The Moroni Deception. Go to http://www.themoronideception.com/ for more information about the novel and to read the first chapters for free.

The Moroni Deception is your first novel. What made you decide to sit down and write it?

I’d written screenplays for a number of years, and had made several half-hearted attempts at a novel before, but not only was it was so different, but it was so much harder I found than writing a screenplay, so I had tended to give up pretty easily.  The thing I ran into with screenplays, however, was the old Catch-22, that to sell a screenplay you have to have an agent, and to get an agent you have to have sold a screenplay.  I won’t go into a lot of details–for possible future legal actions which I may still take, but in my attempt to navigate around this agent obstacle, I sent my very best screenplay directly to two different director/producers.  Both wound up–although it’s not yet been proven in court– “borrowing” very large and significant portions of this screenplay, and went on to make two different movies where I got to see a lot of my work up on the big screen, but without a penny in compensation.

The second film even went on to make over $100 million, which was sadly ironic, because I had always jokingly referred to that script as my “$100 million dollar screenplay.”  Those episodes really kind of took the wind out of my sails, and so I thought I the next time, maybe I need to to write a novel, and that hopefully it would be easier to find an agent, who could then represent my 5 other screenplays.   My first, well, I hate to call it an inspiration, but what spurred me on, believe it or not, was an episode of “South Park” –“All About Mormons.”  Like a lot of people, I had never really given the religion much thought and had always just kind of thought of it as one of the lesser know Protestant branches of Christianity. After having my interest sparked, I then went on to read Jon Krakauer’s Under The Banner of Heaven. With all the sordid history, and some, what I found to be, rather odd beliefs and practices, I knew, there was a lot of potential there for a novel.

I found the history behind the story fascinating. Is the prophecy mentioned in the novel true? 

I did, well, I won’t say “tons,” but literally, pounds of research, from all the books I went through, notes that I took, and reams that I printed off from my internet research.   While I had some idea in the beginning of what my story would be–which at the time, started out having to do with a rogue FBI agent who was investigating the murder of his Mormon girlfriend who had broken away from one of the LDS’s radical fundamentalist offshoots.  As you can see after reading it, it’s changed quite a bit from that. I then probably took close to a year of doing nothing but researching and taking notes, mostly of what seemed like fascinating items to further explore and perhaps later work into the story.  As far as “The White Horse Prophecy” goes, I wish I could take credit, but Joseph Smith supposedly first came up with that in the 1840’s.  There’s actually a pretty good Wikipedia entry on the prophecy that gives a basic explanation.  Mr. Romney has mostly dodged the question when asked about it, but I think back when he was running the first time, he said something along the lines that he considered the Prophecy to be a matter of “speculation and discussion by church members” and “not official church doctrine.”

ImageThe novel deals with a negative aspect of religion, especially the Mormon religion. Was it difficult to deal with this aspect of the novel while working on it?

Definitely, because I never wanted to turn it into a screed against the religion, and I tried to say some positive things that I could find whenever appropriate in the story.  I did, though, want to work in as many true beliefs and historical facts as I could and let the reader make up his or her own mind.   Like Michael Chenault, the main character, as well as the writers of our Constitution, I  firmly believe that everybody has the right to believe in, and practice their religion in whatever way they see fit.  But on the other hand, if say, Tom Cruise, a well-known practicing Scientologist, was to run for President, I would have to take his religion and beliefs into account before I went into the voting booth. 

How long did it take you to write it?  

If I could condense all the time I spent, doing both the research and the writing, it would probably be about 2 and a half years.  However, and unfortunately for me , that’s not the way things work, especially when we’re not only living out our lives, but trying to put bread on the table with our day job. So the true time it took stretched out to almost 5 and a half years. I started it more than a year prior to the election of 2008, which is how I remember.

Are you a disciplined writer?
 

In that, unlike most people, I wrote and completed a novel, yes.    But when compared to other writers, definitely not.  When I read about how a guy like Dan Brown gets up every morning at 4:30 or some ridiculous hour, does an hour of exercise, and then sits down to write for 4-5  straight hours, or 10-15 full pages, and I’m both impressed and amazed.  My writing time has always generally been limited by how much energy–both physical and creative–that I had left at the end of a working day.  I often found myself not beginning my writing until 11 at night, and then writing until 1 or sometimes 2 AM.  And that, again, was not every night.  I also for about a year, had a very real case of “writer’s block” where no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I couldn’t get anything substantial down on the page.  I even went to a hypnotist, which didn’t do a lot, and I almost gave up.  Also during this time period,  I  had to deal with a heart attack at a relatively early age, which came completely out of the blue, and then after that, the year and a half long battle a best friend of mine had to endure in his losing fight with cancer. 

Did you plot in advance?  If yes, tell us about your plotting process.  

Well, as I mentioned earlier, I started out with a completely different story.  I don’t even quite remember where along the way my protagonist turned into an investigative journalist, other than that I thought I wanted to create a character who solved his problems more with his brains than with what he was packing, which seemed to be so often the case with a lot of adventure/thriller protagonists I was reading at the time.   With The Moroni Deception, which I think is fairly intricately plotted, a lot of the little details that I think made it that much better, came out along the way.  I, of course had a general plot outline in my head, and then down on paper.  And then when something else would pop into my head, I would see first if it worked, second, if it actually made the story better, and then if it would work into the overall conspiracy.   The lead conspirators/villains I didn’t settle on until probably two thirds of the way through that I was working on the book. But when I finally did settle on this person or persons who shall remain nameless, that’s when I then went back and made little subtle changes starting from the beginning.

What reaction do you think or hope your story will have on the general reader? Do you think it’ll create a controversy the way The DaVinci Code did?     

Well, the reaction I’ve gotten so far from just about every reader I’ve spoken with, or heard from either by email or through their reviews, is that The Moroni Deception is a fast, fun, very topical read, especially with the current election going on.  I guess I should mention that in addition to exploring the strange but true history of the LDS (Mormon) Church, the protagonist, Michael Chenault, is investigating the background of a candidate running for President, who is a Mormon Senator from Utah, who it appears will say or do just about anything to get elected.  Comparisons have obviously been drawn to Gov. Romney, and I’ve even had the timing of the release questioned.  But I really did just finally finish writing in mid July, and I’m pretty sure I had no idea five and a half years ago that Mr. Romney would be in the position to be our next President come this November.  As far as controversy, I can imagine some old school LDS members maybe not being too happy with some of what is revealed,  but I’m not making any of it up–like the White Horse Prophecy, or the secret brotherhood of vigilant assassins known as the Danites, and some of their beliefs, like for instance, how any man can become a god and one day live on his own planet.

Where is your book available?
 

With a brief bit of explanation, because it took me so long to finish the book, I realized that if I went the traditional route of trying to find an agent, and then a publisher, and then have the publisher finally release the book, it could take up to another 2 to 3 years.  I thought the timing was right, with the current election and all the interest there has been in the Mormon religion over the last several years, as well as the fact that electronically delivered books appear to be the wave of the future, to just release it initially for Kindles and Nooks and the like.  And then, who knows, hopefully, maybe a publisher might want to step in and release it in hardcopy if there appeared to be enough interest.  So with that said, right now The Moroni Deception is available from Amazon for Kindles, at Barnes & Noble for their Nook, at the iBookstore for Ipad, as well as for Kobo, Copia, and soon supposedly for the Sony reader, as well at Gardners Books, Baker & Taylor, and e-BookPie. 

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
 

I guess just that if you’re a fan of thrillers like The Girl With The Dragon Tattooor The Da Vinci Code, or you’re one of those readers who likes to learn a little something along the way as you’re being entertained, then I think you’re really going enjoy my book.  As there is some sex, and quite a bit of violence, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and despite the fact that most 12-year-olds probably know more about life than I did when I was 20, I still wouldn’t recommend it for anybody under 17. Also, I wanted to thank you for the great questions. 

Thank you for the great interview, Jack, and best of luck with your book!

My interview originally appeared in Blogcritics, http://blogcritics.org/books/article/holdworking-div-tags-interview-with-jack/

 

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Jack L. Brody’s The Moroni Deception is an exciting page-turner in the tradition of The DaVinci Code, one that will be relished by fans of suspense thrillers.

The presidential election is just around the corner and it looks as though charismatic Republican candidate and Utah senator Brockston Ratchford is going to win. The fact that his wife has been brutally murdered and his daughter kidnapped has only gained him public sympathy.

However, his wife isn’t the only one whose throat has been cut from ear to ear and whose forehead has been marked with strange symbols. A retired history professor by the name of Martin Koplanski has suffered the same fate, and the fact that he’s the author of a book that apparently doesn’t sit well with the powers that be in the Mormon Church doesn’t look like a coincidence.

New York Times journalist Chenault begins working on the story. With the help of Rachel Potter, a fledgling reporter for the The Salt Lake Tribune, he sets out to investigate the murders. Soon, a dark grim history begins to emerge, one of ancient artifacts, secret societies, and a mysterious prophecy that points to none other than Senator Ratchford.

Who, in fact, is The Prophet? Who is meant to be The Great Restorer? As the clock ticks and the presidential election approaches, the bodies pile up.

I enjoyed this novel immensely. The Moroni Deception is a hell of a ride. The pace is quick, the characters compelling, the stakes high. I really liked Chenault. He’s smart and sympathetic and has a good heart. I especially like that he’s not one of those tortured journalist heroes with a bitter past and prone to drinking. That was refreshing. The ending is surprising and satisfying.

The Moroni Deception is a controversial novel in the same way as The DaVinci Code is. So if you enjoy thrillers with religious and historical undertones, you’ll get a kick out of this one.

Visit the website at  http://www.themoronideception.com/
Purchase from Amazon.

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics

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