Posts Tagged ‘turkey’

A native of Chicago, former police detective Chris Karslen grew up with a love of history and books. An only child, she spent a lot of time reading, developing ‘fictional friends’, and getting lost in the world of stories.

Naturally, her love of reading and books led to writing of her own, and when she retired from her police work she finally decided to fulfil her lifelong secret desire. In 2003, she sat down and wrote her first line—and she hasn’t looked back since.

ImageNow a fulltime writer, her mission is to entertain readers with her stories. “I want to share my love of certain things, like places, history, and time travel. It’s my way of saying, this is why I love England or Turkey or history, etc. I like using the characters to present a ‘what if’ question and have the reader join me in asking it to,” states Karslen.  

Karslen enjoys writing romance and adventure and her stories are full of action, mystery and suspense. Her latest novel, Byzantine Gold, is a romantic thriller set in Cyprus and the sequel to her first book in the series, Golden Chariot. For this series, she interweaves history and archaeology into her fiction. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa, something that no doubt has had an influence on her work. However, besides her modern romantic thrillers set in exotic locations, she also writes time-travel historical romances.

“I am not a fast writer,” says Karslen about her writing habits. “I have so much research with all my books that I start with an outline. That helps me set the parameters of the story. It also helps me to know what research I’m going to need the most and I can narrow what I have down. Once I begin writing, then the story changes as I go along. I’ll see an event on the page and a question will arise and I’ll build in a scene or character or problem that didn’t occur when I worked on the outline.”

Karslen tries to write every day and makes an effort to run errands and do other personal or household business in the morning and then sit down to write by midday. She writes until 5:00 or so. “That doesn’t mean I write all I’d like to put on the page, but I try.”

ImageShe advises aspiring authors to join a critique group, take classes, and go to conferences and seminars to learn the craft. She recommends the following books: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction by Don Maass, and Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deb Dixon.

She also advises to develop a tough skin and accept the fact that your early drafts may not be ready to submit right away. “Every new writer believes what they’ve written is perfect. Perhaps there’s someone out there this is true for but I can’t think of any. Hemingway said, ‘There’s no such thing as writing, only rewriting.’”

Her favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Joe Wambaugh, Julia Quinn, Julie Anne Long, and Deanna Raybourn. Among her favorite books you’ll find The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay, Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice, The Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell, The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, the Pennyroyal Green series by Julie Anne Long, The Prey series and Virgil Flowers series by John Sandford, The Harry Bosch series by Mike Connelly and the Hollywood Station series by Joe Wambaugh. 

Karslen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse. Currently, she’s finishing the third book in her Knights in Time series, which she hopes to release this late spring.

Learn more about Chris Karslen and her work on her website and blog.

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A native of Chicago, former police detective and now romantic suspense author Chris Karslen grew up with a love of history and books. Her parents loved traveling, a passion they passed on to her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

Though her desire to write began in her teens, Chris spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies before she decided to pursue her dreams. Chris is the author of the romantic thrillers Golden ChariotByzantine Gold and numerous other romance novels.

Now a fulltime writer, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.

Learn more about Chris and her work on her website and blog.

Read my review of Byzantine Gold here.

Her mission as an author…

I want to entertain the reader with my stories. I want to share my love of certain things, like places, history, and time travel. It’s my way of saying, this is why I love England or Turkey or history etc. I like using the characters to present a “what if” question and have the reader join me in asking it to.

Her inspiration for Byzantine Gold

Charlotte and Atakan from Golden Chariot—I like them and wanted to show how their relationship progressed. I also liked many of the support characters. I wanted to bring them back. The best way is another shipwreck. I liked using Turkey, as I did in Golden Chariot but also liked the idea of keeping the setting in that region but not necessarily Turkish waters, but someplace a bit different. I needed it to be a place that Atakan still had authority. I set it in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The setting is beautiful and it still, for Americans, has an unusual flavour.

The next thing was what to do with Atakan and Charlotte. I had to resolve the issue of Tischenko and I welcomed the idea of fleshing him out more. I knew I’d set him on a path of revenge but I needed something more for the plot. Terrorism is a global problem. Artifact smuggling is one source of funding for terrorist organizations. I did not want to do the usual Al-Qaeda situation. I chose a terrorist organization that originated in Turkey and is in Iraq and Iran now too, the PKK. The extreme militant wing of the PKK presents an on-going problem in Turkey.

I picked a Byzantine ship because I love some of the art and jewellery from the period.

Her hero and heroine…

Atakan Vadim is an agent for the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. He has his PHD in archaeology. Fact: The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has a representative present at all legitimate archaeological sites in the country. Their job is to oversee the safe handling of recovered artifacts along with site safety and preservation.

He is from a middle class family and grew up near the town of Milas in the Mugla Province. His father was a career military man and his mother oversaw the family orchards in his father’s absence. Atakan has a married sister. He’s close to his family but can’t see them often due to distance. Istanbul is over 400 kilometres from Milas.

Atakan is a consummate professional. He is a reserved man unless he knows you well, then he shows his dry sense of humour and with Charlotte his very sensual side. He has a strong sense of honour and ethical code. He’s not a man driven to “obtain or possess” things. His apartment is functional although he has an interesting display of collectibles which are family heirlooms.  His apartment has a beautiful view of the Bosphorus Strait and that is more important to him than high end furniture. Nice suits are his one very expensive taste. He likes to dress well on the job.

Charlotte Dashiell is an American nautical archaeologist who just received her PHD. She’s outspoken and extremely determined in her pursuits, which sometimes disturbs, sometimes worries and sometimes amuses Atakan.

She’s the daughter of a Chicago policeman and a homemaker. Her parents divorced when she was a teen and her father remarried to a Chicago policewoman and her mother is remarried to a wealthy businessman. Charlotte also has an older brother who’s a member of the Chicago Police Department SWAT team She too is close to her family and tries to visit once a year.

Like Atakan, she is the consummate professional when working a shipwreck recovery team. She’s not overtly vain as her job requires her to keep her hair simple, she’s diving most days and not concerned with makeup. Conservation work on the relics is hard on a manicure. That said, she has a jealous streak when it comes to Atakan. She’s not above passing an acerbic comment or two when she’s introduced to a former girlfriend of his. When she has the opportunity, she does take pride in her appearance and dresses nicely.

Her guilty pleasure is belly dancing for Atakan. She takes lessons in Istanbul, where they live. Atakan is a big fan.

ImageAbout the cover art…

The overall concept was mine. Although most of the story takes place in Cyprus, Istanbul has such distinctive architecture and buildings I wanted something of it on the cover so a reader knows the story has a different setting. I wanted the shipwreck and divers because of the nature of the story.   This is what draws the characters to this place. I worked closely with the designer. I asked her to look at my previous cover, and the trailer for Byzantine Gold, which I was very happy with, and to look at my book boards for both this and Golden Chariot on my Pinterest page. She had the idea for the bullets and crosshairs in the lettering. She put all my wishes together and came up with a cover I love.

Her advice to aspiring authors…

Do join a critique group. You need other eyes to read your work. Your family and friends will avoid hurting your feelings and as a result are often not as honest as you need them to be.

Take classes or if you can afford it, go to conferences and seminars to learn the craft. If you can’t afford workshops, then buy books from the experts. Three I like and keep in my desk and reference are: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction by Don Maass, and Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deb Dixon.

Develop a tough skin and accept the fact that your early drafts (and that’s what they are, drafts) are not ready to send to an editor or agent or to self-publish. Every new writer believes what they’ve written is perfect. Perhaps there’s someone out there this is true for but I can’t think of any. Hemingway said, “There’s no such thing as writing, only rewriting.” Stephen King in his book, “On Writing,” said, he never lets anyone see his first draft.

Read books in the genre you want to write in. This is important. You need to have an idea of how stories in that genre flow, how tension and action and characterization is handled. Literary fiction is generally not the same style as a thriller. The readership of different genres have different expectations.

When you read a scene that is especially moving or well done, or one that stands out to you, then dissect it. See what it is that “makes” the scene work so well for you and try to do the same but with your own spin.


Book Description

A sunken warship from the Byzantine Era carrying an unusual cargo of gold has been found off the coast of Northern Cyprus. News of the valuable cache has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. They plan to attack the recovery team’s campsite and steal the artifacts. On the Black Market, the sale of the relics will buy them additional weapons.

Charlotte Dashiell, an American archaeologist, and her lover, Atakan Vadim, a Turkish government agent, are scheduled to be part of the recovery team that brings up the artifacts. While en route to Cyprus, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of Maksym Tischenko, a Ukrainian contract killer bent on revenge. Charlotte, Atakan and Tischenko share a grim history. As a result, Tischenko is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal—seeing them both dead.

Read the first chapter / Purchase from Amazon 

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ByzantineGold 500x750 (1)Book description…

A sunken warship from the Byzantine Era carrying an unusual cargo of gold has been found off the coast of Northern Cyprus. News of the valuable cache has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. They plan to attack the recovery team’s campsite and steal the artifacts. On the Black Market, the sale of the relics will buy them additional weapons.

Charlotte Dashiell, an American archaeologist, and her lover, Atakan Vadim, a Turkish government agent, are scheduled to be part of the recovery team that brings up the artifacts. While en route to Cyprus, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of Maksym Tischenko, a Ukrainian contract killer bent on revenge. Charlotte, Atakan and Tischenko share a grim history. As a result, Tischenko is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal—seeing them both dead.

Read the first chapter / Watch the trailer / Purchase from Amazon  /Author interview

My thoughts…

Being a great fan of nautical archaeology, exotic settings and long lost treasures, I absolutely loved this book. It is pure entertainment from start to finish. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the first book in the series, Golden Chariot, and that was also a great read, but I have to say that this second installment was even better. The relationship between the hero and heroine–American archaeologist Charlotte and Turkish agent Atakan–evolves and deepens and their love scenes are a lot more playful, steamy and exciting. Karslen weaves the exotic aspects of the setting, the sensuality of the sea, and the sights and sounds of Cyprus to add even more thrill to their loving relationship. We also see a more complex human side to cold-blooded villain Tischenko that is quite interesting.

Then, of course, there’s the constant threat and danger, not only from Tischenko with his revengeful agenda but from a Kurdish terrorist who wants to steal the artifacts and sell them in the black market in order to support the PKK. I loved the tension-filled, underwater segments between Charlotte and the terrorist, as they dive together and she becomes more and more suspicious about his identity. He, of course, is pretending to be an archaeologist like the rest of them, when in reality he doesn’t know much about it.

The novel is written in multiple points of view separated by chapters, which works well with this type of thriller, making the action move at a quick pace. The dialogue is sharp and natural and Charlotte and Atakan are good at witty, darkly humorous comebacks and retorts.

If you enjoy romantic suspense or stories about treasures and archaeology set in exotic locales, I highly recommend you pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

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ImageChris Karslen was born and raised in Chicago. Her father was a history professor and her mother was, and is, a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books. Her parents also loved travelling, a passion they passed onto her. Karslen wanted to see the place she read about, see the landand monuments from the time periods that fascinated her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

She’s now a retired police detective who spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. Her desire to write came in her early teens. After she retired, she decided to pursue that dream. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.

Thanks for this interview, Chris! When did your passion for thrillers and action/adventure fiction begin?

I don’t know if I could put a specific timeframe to my interest. I can’t remember a time it wasn’t there. As a child, I loved the old horror movies where folks were chasing or running from the Mummy or Dracula etc.  and the thrillers like North by Northwest,  The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Manchurian Candidate. When I got into my teens, James Bond became popular. I loved the movies and devoured Ian Fleming’s books.  Along that same vein, I enjoyed The Jackal, and Three Days of the Condor. Who didn’t love Indiana Jones? Now, I can’t wait to see movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, The Bourne Identity and still love the Bond movies.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

 I wanted to write since I was a teenager. But by the time I was ready for college I lacked the confidence to try so I went with the “safe” route and became a business major. Once I retired, I was ready to take a risk and live my dream.

Tell us about your latest novel, Golden Chariot.

ImageThe heroine, Charlotte Dashiell, is a nautical archaeologist. She’s working on her Doctorate in that field. Her thesis is very controversial and approval by the Doctoral Committee for her thesis is at risk if she doesn’t find evidence to support it. A shipwreck found off the coast of Turkey may hold her proof. She manages to obtain a position on the recovery team. En route, the Turkish government agent assigned to the wreck is murdered and she is on the scene at the time it occurred. Her close presence at the time of the crime coupled with a loose connection to a private collector of black market artifacts makes her a person of interest to the Turkish authorities. Atakan Vadim, the hero, is the Turkish agent sent to investigate her further. He becomes her dive partner. As the story progresses, he discovers smugglers plan to steal certain high value relics from the wreck and frame Charlotte for the theft. He also learns the thieves plan to murder her in the process. For her own safety, he presses her to leave the recovery team. She refuses. If she leaves, she loses all hope of finding proof of her thesis.  Together, he and Charlotte work to find out who is behind the smuggling operation. During the course of the story, the relationship between the two turns from one of wariness and distrust to friendship, trust and love.   

What made you decide to set it in Turkey?

 I love Turkey. I’ve visited several times. I knew after the first time, I would set a story there. It’s such a fascinating country. In Istanbul, the exotic Ottoman architecture mixed with the modern immediately captures your interest. There’s the hustle and bustle of the bazaars, which I enjoy, especially the Spice Market. It’s a colourful place. You can’t throw a rock in Turkey and not hit something historical. Their history goes back to the Bronze Age. Turkey’s been part of the Hittite Empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire and a secular, independent modern nation. The people are nice.  The food is excellent. The landscape is remarkable in its variance. There’s the beautiful coastal area along the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean and the starkly different coastline on the Black Sea. The region of Cappadocia with its fairy chimneys and underground cities is other worldly in appearance.   To the east are mountains and grassy plains. 

Did you have to do a lot of research about police procedural there?

Not police procedural per se. Atakan is actually a representative of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. I was fortunate enough to have a contact/advisor who is an archaeological diver and Turkish. He told me that all legitimate archaeological sites in Turkey have a representative of the Ministry present to watch over the safety of the site and relics. I took some dramatic license and gave Atakan more police authority than he’d have in real life. For the SWAT operation, I did research weapons used by the Turkish authorities and how they would interact with our military stationed at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey to obtain intelligence information needed. Again, I was lucky. I have a friend who headed up a SWAT team for a major US city and who was a Marine reserve who served in Iraq and trained our soldiers in urban-crisis entries. My friend was familiar with how the flow of intelligence gathering is handled. He also advised me on some of the SWAT tactics.

There are a lot of Turkish words in the story. Do you speak Turkish?

 No. I’d like to learn. I do have the Rosetta Stone program for Turkish but it is an extremely difficult language. It uses the Latin alphabet that we are familiar with but the conjugation and pronunciation is not what you’d expect. My Turkish diver friend helped with the translation as did another Turkish friend who’s a tour guide. I cannot understand it when spoken to me (rarely anyway). I am better at reading it and then I really only know some basic words and phrases.

I found the myth about Troy fascinating. To this day, do they know for a fact that Troy existed?

  Yes, Troy definitely existed. There have been archaeologists working the site for many decades. When we speak of Troy, it usually the kingdom associated with the Trojan War. At the time the war was supposed to have taken place, the kingdom was known as Wilusa and part of the Hittite Empire. Excavation at the site is ongoing and they have made some incredible discoveries in the last couple of decades. *I should mention that not all archaeologist/historians agree that the war occurred. Personally, I tend to believe those who do think it happened. 

There are many underwater scenes in the story. Do you scuba dive?

 No, I don’t dive. I had the benefit of an archaeological diver to advise me. I also did a lot of research on the subject and had books that documented many shipwreck recovery projects.  The books had pages of pictures showing the divers working a wreck.  I had pictures of the entire process from building the camp to cleaning the relics. Twice I’ve been to INA (Institute of Nautical Archaeology) in Bodrum, Turkey. I was given a tour of the facility and shown some of their photos, the conservation lab, the desalination tanks and the hard work and time involved in the piecing together of artifacts.

How long did it take you to write Golden Chariot?

Two and a half years, mainly because of the research. While I worked on one of my paranormal romances, I began the research for Golden Chariot. I’d done eighteen months of research before I wrote a single word. Then, I did several drafts over the next year before I was happy with the result.

Are you disciplined?

Yes, for the most part. I have to admit that I do have days when the smallest shiny object can distract meJ I do try to get some writing in at least 6 if not 7 days a week. I don’t always get the number of pages done I want. Some days I consider it a success if I get a few paragraphs finished but I try to make an effort.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

 I try hard to get all my errands and appointments done in the morning. Then, I take a break and have a bite to eat. I am usually at my desk by 12:00 or 12:30. I work on promotion, answer emails and try to read at least a few chapters of stories from writer friends for review purposes. After that, I pull up my work in progress. I read the last few pages I wrote to get my head in the same place again. I spend the next 4 or 5 hours writing or rewriting as needed.  That’s a typical “good” day. Like I said, there are those days I spend hours writing, deleting… sighing…writing, deleting and again…sighing.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

 When a reader tells you how you’ve moved them or which character or scene they loved. It’s so wonderful to have a reader say “I felt like I was there.”

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

 Writing is hard work. You’ll have days that are pure frustration, days that you can’t seem to get three lines right. Keep at it. Keep studying the craft. Every workshop I attend, I take something useful away. If you’re stuck on how to approach a scene, one thing I find that helps is to read a similar scene by an author you like. Analyze what you like about it and how they handled the scene and see if you can recreate the feel in your story with your spin.

What’s on the horizon for Chris Karslen?

 I am currently working on book three of my Knights in Time series. The first two are: Heroes Live Forever and Journey in Time. This is a paranormal romance series. I hope to have my current story, Knight Blindness, done and ready for release later this year. I’ve also finished the draft of the sequel to Golden Chariot. I hope to have the final finished and ready to publish early next year. 




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On Characterization…

I read and enjoy both plot driven and character driven books. I prefer to write character driven stories. After attending numerous workshops and seminars, I’ve learned that like plotting, how characterization is handled is individual to the author.

I find the variance among my favorite authors intriguing. With some thrillers I read, the protagonist’s appearance is vague. This seems especially true when the running character in a series is male. In others, the hero is easy to picture, his appearance is well detailed. But in both styles, the reader is given much more of the hero as a person, which is what is truly important. I like knowing how he dresses, what music he listens to, and what he does to relax. The part that pulls me in, engages me is when I learn what he’ll forgive. I want to see how he goes about analyzing a problem and what he has to do to solve it. What is he willing to do?

In romance, which is what I write, the hero and heroine’s appearance has a more dominant role in the story. By personal choice, I don’t make either the handsomest or prettiest person in the room. I’ve made them handsome and pretty, yes, but in the cases where I’ve done that, I worked to build in many aspects of their personalities. The hero and heroine’s attraction for each other is more than physical. In my latest book, Golden Chariot, I deliberately played down the physical. Is the hero, Atakan Vadim, a nice looking man? Yes. Is the heroine, Charlotte Dashiell, a nice looking woman? Yes. Their relationship and how it grows is based on respect, shared humor, and trust. They didn’t have to be the handsomest or prettiest in the room. What mattered was how they saw each other.

I chose to focus more on their goals, what they wanted for themselves and what path they took to overcome adversity. As I wrote them, I strived to uncover what they were willing to sacrifice.

In Golden Chariot, Atakan is an agent of the government. He prides himself on his professionalism. There is a point in the story that he must make a choice regarding Charlotte that jeopardizes his position. Charlotte, a nautical archaeologist, is driven to prove a controversial theory. She has one opportunity, which is the shipwreck project in the story, to find evidence for her theory or forfeit all she’s worked toward for years. That ambition drives her decisions even though it puts her life at risk.

While attending a Don Maass seminar I received a great piece of advice when developing characterization. I’m paraphrasing, but Don suggested having the characters do the unexpected. Your hero or heroine says or does something that he or she can’t take back. It doesn’t have to be a game changer but it has to have dramatic effect. This can also apply to the antagonist. He or she does a random act of kindness or shows an unexpected sense of humor. This doesn’t have to be a game changer either or have the same dramatic effect as the unexpected deed of the protagonist. But it does help to flesh out the antagonist as a character. It adds interest, he or she is not a one-dimensional villain.

I had finished the rough draft of Golden Chariot when I attended the seminar. When I did the second draft I applied Don’s suggestion. I had Charlotte make an unethical choice, foolish and knowingly wrong. Her choice had a dramatic negative effect on her relationship with Atakan. It ramped up the tension and gave her a new stressor. She had to regain his trust or lose everything.

The antagonist is a contract killer, cold blooded and without mercy. He was once with an elite Russian military unit that fought in Chechnya. I gave him a moment with a blind veteran of that war. It didn’t change him as an evil character but I feel it added an interesting side to his personality.

I think the most important part of characterization is your willingness as an author to dig deep. Don’t shy away from having the hero and heroine react in a way that makes the reader sit up and go, “Oh, no.” Or “Oh, yes.” 


By Chris Karlsen

Genre:  romantic thriller 

Myth, murder, and money clash in this gripping undersea adventure. 


The rare discovery of a ship sunk during the time of the Trojan War has been found off the coast of Turkey, near Troy. Charlotte Dashiell is an American nautical archaeologist and thrilled to be part of the recovery team. The wreck may contain proof of her highly controversial theory about the Trojan War. 

          Charlotte is present when the Turkish government agent assigned to guard the site is murdered. Her possible involvement and a questionable connection to a private collector of black market relics bring her under suspicion. Atakan Vadim is the Turkish agent sent to investigate her. Unknown to either of them, the smuggler behind the murder plans to steal a valuable artifact and frame Charlotte for the theft…after they murder her. 


          Shouts of “fire” came from all sides of the camp. The west wind blew sparks in the direction of the lab. They could lose the entire camp, but not the lab, not the artifacts.

          Charlotte grabbed an empty barrel from the fire line. She ran with it and started climbing the stairs to the shower stall’s water tank. A man’s large hand covered her mouth. His other hand brandished a gun. With the cold barrel to her ear, he walked her backwards down the few steps to the ground.

          “Don’t scream.” Little-by-little his palm came away from her mouth. 

About the Author: 

Chris Karlsen is a retired police detective who spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. Her father was a history professor and her mother an avid reader. She grew up with a love of history and books. 

She has always loved traveling and has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Near East (especially Turkey and the Greek Islands), the Caribbean, and North Africa. 

Born and raised in Chicago, Chris has also lived in Paris, Los Angeles, and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four rescue dogs. 

You can contact her at: chriskarlsenwriter@gmail.com  

Or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chriskarlsenwriter 


Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of GOLDEN CHARIOT!

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ImageThe process Brandon and I have set up for ourselves is quite easy. We first come up with an idea for the story, the characters, their backgrounds, etc. Once the major details have been agreed upon, one of us writes the first chapter, let’s say it’s me. I then send it to Brandon so he can critique it. He then sends the chapter back to me filled with all his comments, to which I critique his critiques. Once we’re both happy with the chapter then he works on chapter 2. And the whole process repeats itself until we’ve finished the entire novel.

Though Brandon and I have developed a good working relationship, we also know co-authoring a story is not for everyone. The creative process is very personal, and some people have a hard time receiving negative feedback from someone else. But that is what needs to happen if they are to have any chance of finishing their novel.

For us, there have been the inevitable disagreements along the away, such as deciding on the structure of a particular scene, the way a sentence should be written, or the kinds of personality traits we want for a character in the novel.  In the end, the overall vision for the story is what mattered, to make it as exciting as we possibly could.  That always trumped the other’s feelings about the way a scene should be written or what to leave in or cut out of the story.  Usually, when one of us shared our reasons for why a certain part needed to be a certain way, especially when he felt pretty strongly about it, the other would usually defer to him, and then we would move on. In the end, the story always ends up being that much stronger because we both embrace the collaborative effort.

About the book: An 800-year-old letter discovered at an archeological site in Istanbul makes the astonishing claim the cross of Jesus still exists, and has been safely hidden away in an unknown location. Dr. Colton Foster and Dr. Mallory Windom, two leading archeologists, take on the hunt for the cross, but soon discover hired mercenaries are bent at stopping them at all costs. Their search eventually leads them to a small town in Israel, where they must choose between their growing love for one another and the future of the cross itself.

ImageAuthor’s bio: Mike Lynch’s first book, Dublin, came out in 2007, followed by When the Sky Fell, American Midnight, The Crystal Portal, and After the Cross. His next novel, Love’s Second Chance, will come out in 2013. He has also published numerous short stories in various magazines. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Link to author’s website or blog: www.mikelynchbooks.com

Link to excerpt: http://www.mikelynchbooks.com/PreviewChapters/tabid/66/Default.aspx

Link to purchase page: http://www.amazon.com/After-Cross-Brandon-Barr/dp/0982624204/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1



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Let me share some news!

DARK LULLABY is now available from Fantastic Literature Ltd, UK’s largest and best online purveyor of out of print books, rare books and used books in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, thrillers, ghost stories, weird tales and macabre fiction both in paperback, hardcover and magazine format.

At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. Soon, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her–her skin’s abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.
The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.
But nothing, not even the stunning splendor of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…


“Mayra Calvani is a masterful storyteller… Dark Lullaby is complex and compelling…” –Habitual Reader

“Dark Lullaby is an atmospheric paranormal horror that grips you from page one and refuses to let go until you’ve raced, breathless, to the end.” –ePinions

“Dark Lullaby is a page-turner. A horror story from the top shelf! You’ll love it.” –5 stars from Euro-Reviews

“This is a terrific horror…” –Harriet Klausner

“Dark Lullaby will capture you with its rich descriptions, its exotic location, and the need to uncover the dark secrets hidden within its pages.” –Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection

Dark Lullaby
By Mayra Calvani
Whiskey Creek Press
EBook formats ISBN: 978-1-59374-908-8, $5.99
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-59374-907-1, $13.95
September 2007
Supernatural Thriller
Available from Fictionwise, Amazon, and Whiskey Creek Press
* Discounts for bookstores and libraries
Contact the publisher: Phone: 307-265-8585, Fax: 307-265-4640

Thank you, Simon and Laraine, for stocking my book in your wonderful store! I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon as part of my Halloween Festival Interviews this October. Read my interview with this bookseller here.

Read some of my interviews about the writing of Dark Lullaby at:
Patricia’s Vampire Notes (note: my book is NOT about vampires)
Fiction Scribe

Watch the trailer!

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Available on AmazonI’ve only given one piece of advice in life and that is, “Never fall for a beautiful, mysterious woman while drinking at a Turkish tavern.”

Talented writer Mayra Calvani’s latest book, Dark Lullaby, is yet another example of why I have grown to prefer reading small press books over the usual and predictable mass market books found at the big corporate bookstores. Now don’t get me wrong, those bookstores have great books but when you’ve read every Stephen King or Dean Koontz book possible you would like the opportunity to read a new voice or discover a story teller that can captivate you in a way that makes you stay up late at night because you can’t put the book down.

Mayra Calvani qualifies as one of those writers. In the fairness of full disclosure, I have read other works by Ms. Calvani, so I already knew she was a talented story-teller and as expected, her latest horror book, Dark Lullaby, kept me up late into the wee hours of the dark night.

The story begins when Gabriel Diaz ignores my advice in the opening paragraph and becomes enchanted with an exotic woman he meets at a local tavern. He is quickly captivated not only by her beauty but by her obsessive ideas regarding good and evil and the moral concepts of personal justice.

Despite the fact that almost from the beginning Gabriel feels there is an underlying darkness to his new love named Kamilah, he just can’t seem to break away from her physical and intellectual grip despite her increasingly bizarre behavior and his almost nightly nightmares.

As Kamilah begins to ingrain herself into Gabriel’s live, their relationship grows more complex and dark and a sense of terror pervades Gabriel that somehow Kamilah motives towards him are sinister and that she is hell-bent on overseeing his, if not, personal, at least, moral destruction.

Kamilah convinces Gabriel to travel with her back to her remote homeland in Turkey where they can relax and spend some quality time together.

Despite his rational mind screaming for him not to go Gabriel relents to her child-like pleas and agrees to the trip. Once in the lair of her homeland Gabriel descends into an anxiety-riddled paranoia as he discovers the true nature of his Kamilah. Is Gabriel simply mad or is Kamilah the true essence of all thing evil?

Read Dark Lullaby—You won’t be disappointed.

—JR Clifford, author & reviewer
*This review originally appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Northwoods Journal

DARK LULLABY is available on Amazon, Fictionwise, and Whiskey Creek Press.

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