Author: GHott

WOW! Presents: David W. Berner

WELCOME Author

David W. Berner

David W. Berner-the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS and ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE-was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area’s most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a “beautiful, elegantly written book” by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and “a terrific memoir” by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE is the author’s story of a 5000-mile road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called “heartwarming and heartbreaking” and “a five-star wonderful read.”

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The Disciplined Writer

by David W. Berner

I was lucky. In fact, I would consider myself privileged to have been chosen to finish the manuscript for Any Road Will Take You There during a 2-½ month stay at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando. That’s pretty special. I was named the writer-in-residence at the Kerouac Project and was honored by the opportunity to write, uninterrupted, for 10 weeks while I lived in the home where Kerouac lived just after the big splash for his masterpiece, On the Road. It was an amazing experience.

But of all the things I gained from that time in Orlando, one of the most important for me as a writer was perfecting the art of discipline.

I thought I had always been pretty good about considering writing as a job. What I mean by that is to treat the work of writing as just that, work. Get up, get dressed, go to the office (your writing space) and get down to the business of putting words on paper. When I wrote Accidental Lessons–my first memoir–I spent 30 minutes every weekday morning at my laptop before going to my job as a teacher, and the on weekend mornings I spent at least two hours at my desk, starting at sunrise. I was living alone at the time, so that made it easier. But that shouldn’t matter. Tell those you live with that “this is your writing time” and to give you the space, leave you alone, unless the house is on fire. The idea is to keep your writing time¬–when and wherever that is–sacrosanct.

However, when I arrived at the Orlando house, I knew I had to keep an even more disciplined routine. The Kerouac House is in a quaint part of city, College Park. There are great restaurants, coffee shops, a solid bookstore in an adjacent neighborhood, then you have the ocean only a drive away, and plenty of bike trails. Oh yes, golf courses, too. One could easily get lost in Florida’s charms, so in order to battle that I set up a schedule. I would rise around 6AM each day, make coffee, and sit myself down at a small desk in the same tiny room where Kerouac wrote The Dharma Bums and I would write for two hours. I’d then break, make breakfast, take a short walk, and then return to the desk. I would write until noon or 1PM and then call it a day, returning to the writing work only if I was particularly moved to do so. I would fill the rest of the afternoon with exercise, exploring the town of College Park, golf now and then, and a bike ride or two. In the evenings after dinner, I would play guitar or read. And then I would get up the next day and do it all over again.

There were times I would make adjustments. My son came to visit for a few days, I had some freelance journalism work to complete and that required some local travel. But generally, I stuck to that plan because it worked for me. I got words on paper every single day.

Many times at writing workshops I’ve been asked how to find the time to complete a book, a novel, even a short story. How do you find time for writing? It’s a simple answer, really. You have to make the time, and keep it sacred. I teach college and work in broadcast journalism in Chicago, I’m busy. But when I’m working on a writing project, I set up my schedule and I stay with it. You must think of the writing process like working out. You want to lose weight, get in shape, then you have to stick to a disciplined routine and it’s same thing for writing. You can make it work for you by locking in designated times or word counts as mileposts. Set goals, but don’t set the bar too high. Even if you can block out just 30 minutes a day, or knock out 500 words a sitting, that’s good. It all adds up.

And one other thing: forget about waiting for the muse. There is no such thing. Writing is a job–an artistic, creative job–but it’s still a job. There’s work to be done; get to it.

Any Road Will Take You There, my latest book is about a 5000-mile road trip I took with my sons after a family secret was revealed. The journey becomes an examination of fatherhood and how all men will be forever influenced by the fathers who came before them. But to make this cross-country trip a success, just like the work of writing, I needed to devise a plan. Map out some travel, book camping reservations, and rent a vehicle–one of those tacky RVs. I had to plan meals and pack food. But I also had to permit myself to break the rules, to forget about plans and go with my gut. We took some unfamiliar roads, made a lot of extra stops, and explored far more than was on the itinerary. So, despite all the talk here about being disciplined and scheduled with your writing, it’s also important to occasionally throw all of that out the window. Discipline gets the work done, but freeing yourself from it helps feed the soul. Remember both.

I completed the manuscript for Any Road Will Take You There at the Kerouac House that summer in Orlando. There would be more edits and some touch-ups to perform before publishing, but I was able to complete a very solid draft because, in part, I stayed true to the work. There’s no magic to it. Just start typing.

ABOUT Any Road Will Take You There

Any Road Will Take You There: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connect all of us.

Recipient of a Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, Any Road Will Take You There is honest, unflinching, and tender.

In the tradition of the Great American Memoir, a middle-age father takes the reader on a five-thousand-mile road trip — the one he always wished he’d taken as a young man. Recently divorced and uncertain of the future, he rereads the iconic road story — Jack Kerouac’s On the Road — and along with his two sons and his best friend, heads for the highway to rekindle his spirit.

However, a family secret turns the cross-country journey into an unexpected examination of his role as a father, and compels him to look to the past and the fathers who came before him to find contentment and clarity, and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of being a dad.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 300
Genre: Memior
Publisher: Dream of Things
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
ISBN-10: 0988439096
ISBN-13: 978-0988439092

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Guest Author & Giveaway – Charles Salzberg

WELCOME Charles Salzberg

Charles Salzberg

Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Esquire, New York magazine, Elle, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times, GQ and other periodicals. He is the author of over 20 non-fiction books and several novels, including Swann’s Last Song, which was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel, and the sequel, Swann Dives In. He also has taught been a Visiting Professor of Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, the Writer’s Voice, and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member.

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http://www.charlessalzberg.com/ https://twitter.com/CharlesSalzberg

How Did You Get Started

Guest Post from Charles Salzberg

The other day I was at lunch with fellow writer and good friend—that’s how we freelance writers fill our days: lunches with each other. We got to talking about writing and, while we awaited our iced teas—not all writers drink their lunch, you see—she asked me, “how is it you got into crime writing?”
A good question because the answer is that it was purely accidental.
I love crime as much as the next guy. There’s not a crime show on TV or a crime movie I don’t see, whether it be The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Goodfellas or my latest, A Walk Among the Tombstones. My favorite show as a kid was Naked City, which was based on the movie of the same name. I’ve now rediscovered them as reruns and believe me, they still hold up. Each story focuses on the human aspects of crime, while the crime itself is often incidental to the story. As the end narration, which still sends chills up my spine, announces, “There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.”
Which brings me back to why I write crime novels and to the kind of crime novels I write.
With several unpublished novels languishing in my file cabinet, I decided perhaps I was doing something wrong. Here I was a well-read English major whose heroes were Nabokov, Bellow, Roth, Mailer and Malamud, and although I was receiving plenty of praise for my writing, I couldn’t sell a damn thing. Maybe, I thought, it was because I was too focused on character not plot. Maybe if I wrote something very tightly plotted I’d have better luck.
Nothing is more tightly and intricately plotted than a detective novel, so that’s what I decided to write.
As a teenager I loved mystery and detective novels and used to haunt a downtown second-hand bookstore picking them up for a buck or two. But I hadn’t read any since then and I decided if I were serious about writing one, I ought to re-introduce myself to the genre. So, I devoured as many crime novels as I could. Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Nero Wolfe, Agatha Christie, even the so-called pulp writers like James M. Cain and Jim Thompson.
What I found was that most of them were pretty much cut from the same cloth. There was the crime then the detective was called in to solve the crime, usually a murder. He or she followed the clues and inevitably those clues led to the perpetrator. It seemed pretty simple, a formula I could follow fairly easily. I started to write one, but after a few chapters it just didn’t sit right with me. Frankly, I was getting a little bored writing to a pre-designed script and entering myself into a neat almost religious world, where following the clues inevitably led to the solution of the crime. It’s pretty simple: There is chaos and then there is order. The world is put back into its proper place by the detective. But what, I thought, if the world wasn’t so neat? What if all the clues didn’t actually lead to the perpetrator? What if the crime was totally random?
It wasn’t long before the non-conformist in me won out and I wound up writing what a friend called an “existential mystery” where the detective follows all the clues then finds that none of them had anything to do with the actual crime, that in fact the crime was totally random.
The result was Swann’s Last Song, with Henry Swann being a down and out skiptracer and it was meant to be a stand alone because at the end Swann, who is a rational man who believes in a rational world, is so disillusioned he leaves the profession.
I was happy with what I’d written but it seemed no one else was because no one would publish it with that ending. And so it languished in my desk for two decades until I finally unearthed it, sent it to an editor who said he’d publish it if I changed the ending. I was twenty years smarter, so I did, but I still kept the title, still having no intention of writing another one.
Much to my surprise the novel was nominated for a Shamus Award. I lost, but that spiked my competitive side and I vowed to keep writing them until I either won something or ran out of catchy titles.
Now the third in the series, Swann’s Lake of Despair, is just about to be released and I’m almost finished with a fourth. But in each of them I try to bend the genre a little bit. In Swann Dives In, you’re not sure what the crime is until the halfway point of the novel and by the end of it you’re not even sure a crime has been committed. And in Swann’s Lake of Despair, Swann tackles three separate cases, none of which concerns a murder. Why? Because I’m much more interested in how and why people act the way they do. I’m more attracted to the petty crimes we commit each day, betrayal, theft, fraud, lies we tell others and ourselves to get us through the day.
Those are the real crimes, the crimes all of us can relate to.

ABOUT Swann’s Lake of Despair

When rare photos, a scandalous diary, and a beautiful woman all go missing at once, the stage is set for three challenging cases for Henry Swann. It begins with an offer to partner up with his slovenly, unreliable frenemy, Goldblatt. The disbarred lawyer-turned-“facilitator” would provide the leads and muscle, while Swann would do all the fancy footwork. A lost diary by a free-loving Jazz Age flapper is worth enough to someone that Swann takes a beat down on an abandoned boardwalk. Pilfered photos of Marilyn Monroe propel him deep into the past of an alcoholic shutterbug, his wife; and he’s hired to search for a lonely writer’s runaway girlfriend. The cases converge and collide in a finale that lifts the curtain on crucial, deadly facts of life for everyone including Swann himself.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 284
Genre: Detective
Publisher: Five Star
Publication Date: October 22, 2014
ISBN-10: 143282936X
ISBN-13: 9781432829360

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DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Guest Author Kathleen Pooler showcase, guest post

 

WELCOME Kathleen Pooler

Kathleen Pooler

Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28.2014 and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir are about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

Connect with Kathleen Pooler:

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Writing Through the Pain

A Guest Post from Kathleen Pooler

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Oprah Winfrey 

In 2009, when I sat down to begin writing my memoir, I remember questions swarming around my mind like, What will people think of me when they know my secrets?  What will my family think when they read about the sordid details of my two failed marriages.  What will my friends think when they discover the real me?

I felt raw and vulnerable and many times questioned myself–Why do I want to expose my flaws and missteps to the world?

Fears of writing my truth raged on throughout the five years I wrote, but my fervent desire to spread hope and awareness about abuse continued to prevail.  I knew deep inside that my story needed to be told.  Abuse carries a stigma that induces silence, and often times those who have the suffered abuse exert all their energy to cover up the fact they have allowed themselves to be in an abusive situation.  The shame can be crushing.

I wanted to crush the shame.

Every time I cringed because of the raw, vulnerable truth I was writing, I told myself that maybe one person will choose to heal because of that passage.  Maybe one person will start fighting, or feel deeply understood for the very first time… all because of the depth of pain I revealed.  Those brutal moments of reliving the pain of my past created new anguish and uncertainty, yet refreshed my soul as finally…finally, I was breaking the silence. I was owning the error of my ways and giving myself a chance to make healthier choices.

I know that for the majority of people, disclosing their real pain seems impossible.  I remember when I held that belief. I thought I had resolved the pain of my poor decisions, moved on to a better life. Well, I had moved on and my life was better, but I still had remnants of my past I had not resolved, such as getting back into a second abusive marriage.

Revisiting the pain of my past seemed insurmountable at times, and yet five years later I wrote it in the pages of a book that would be available for the whole world to read.  How did this amazing shift take place?  We’ve all heard the saying: “Time heals all wounds.”  Well, time is only part of the process.  For me, it took a change of perception, an “attitude adjustment” – about who I was and who I was capable of becoming. I accepted the responsibility for my choices and made a conscious decision to take back my power—to embrace my inner strength and move on to live life on my own terms. I claimed and honored my voice.

I faced the past head-on, in my own way, and in my own time.  But I did face it.

I began pushing through the guilt and shame, instead of hiding from it.

I kept journaling, praying, writing and sharing and found the purpose for my pain—to share my hard earned lessons with others.

I began writing with intention until one day, I had a book with a message to share with the world- It is possible to climb out of the abyss of poor decisions and go on to live a life of peace and joy.

Writing and publishing my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead; My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, has been the catalyst of amazing and wonderful changes in my life. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the process is that we are limited only by our own thinking.  Healing is always possible. We only need to look within ourselves to find the answers—to claim and honor our own inner strength.

Writing through my pain helped me to get on the other side of it. It helped me to find the purpose for my pain and turn it into lessons to share with others.

 

 

Ever Faithful To His Lead : My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse

Ever Faithful To His Lead : My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse is a memoir, a true life tears to triumph story of self-defeating detours and dreams lost and found.

A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in which she receives a prophecy, she slides back, taking several self-defeating detours that take her through a series of heartbreaking events.

When Kathy’s second husband, Dan’s verbal abuse escalates, Kathy finally realizes she must move on before she and her children become a statistic.

How does a young woman who came from a stable, loving family make so many wise choices when it came to career, but so many wrong choices when it came to love, so that she ended up sacrificing career and having to flee in broad daylight with her children from an abusive marriage? What is getting in her way and why does she keep taking so many self-defeating detours?

The story opens up the day Kathy feels physically threatened for the first time in her three-year marriage to her second husband. This sends her on a journey to make sense of her life and discern what part she has played in the vulnerable circumstance she finds herself in.

She must make a decision–face her self-defeating patterns that have led to this situation and move on or repeat her mistakes. Her life and the lives of her two children are dependent upon the choices she makes and the chances she takes from this point forward.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 242
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Open Books Press
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
ASIS: B00M17OXYO

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Look!! A New Caitlin Strong Novel from Jon Land!

WELCOME Jon Land

Jon Land

Hailed as “the greatest thriller writer alive today” by Bookviews and called “a creative genius” by Romantic Times, Jon Land is the author of 36 books, twenty-one of which have been national bestsellers, Jon is published in over fifty countries and six different languages, including German and Japanese. There are currently almost 7 million copies of his books in print. RT Book Reviews honored him with a special achievement award for being a Pioneer in Genre Fiction.

Jon’s latest series features female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong who debuted in STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE (May ’09, Forge Books). The Associated Press wrote “The book is a page-turner, the pace blistering, the characters well-drawn and the action hot. Caitlin Strong is a female version of John McClane from Die Hard.” That was followed by STRONG JUSTICE (June ’10, Forge) which Publisher’s Weekly lauded with a starred review calling it, “Intense and skillfully plotted.” The San Jose Mercury News added that, “I’ve always wondered why there isn’t an estrogen driven, sometimes skirt wearing female competitor to James Bond, Jack Reacher, Mike Hammer, Spenser … Well ladies and gentlemen, now there is and her name is Caitlin Strong.” STRONG JUSTICE was named a Top Thriller of the Year by Library Journal and was named runner-up for Best Novel of the Year by the New England Book Festival. The third Caitlin Strong novel, STRONG AT THE BREAK (June ’11, Forge) was called “the best book I’ve read this year” by the San Jose Mercury News. “A terrific plot, vivid characters, suspense, a fast pace, all the ingredients of a great thriller,” adds Strand Magazine which included the book on their Best Books of the Year list as did Library Journal which named it, again, as a Top Thriller of Year. The next book in the series, STRONG VENGEANCE (July ’12, Forge) garnered the highest praise in series so far, including from the Huffington Post which proclaimed it, “a rare combination of meticulous research and good old-fashioned shoot-em-up action.” STRONG RAIN FALLING (August ’13, Forge) Caitlin’s latest adventure, won the 2013 USA Best Books Award and 2014 International Book Award in the Mystery/Suspense category. STRONG DARKNESS, the next in the series, will be published in September of 2014.

Meanwhile, BETRAYAL (January ’12, Forge), Jon’s first nonfiction effort that reached as high as #5 on the Boston Globe bestseller list, was optioned by Fox as a vehicle for Denis Leery, and named Best True Crime Book of the Year by Suspense Magazine as well as winning the 2013 International Book Award for Best True Crime. Most recently, Jon has resurrected his longtime series hero Blaine McCracken in THE TENTH CIRCLE (December ’13, Open Road Media) and PANDORA’S TEMPLE (November ’12, Open Road Media) which was nominated for a 2013 Thriller Award in the Best E-Book Original category and won the 2013 International Book Award for Best Adventure Thriller.

No stranger to the world of the film, Jon’s first film, a teen caper-comedy called DIRTY DEEDS, was released theatrically in the summer of 2005 and in DVD in January of 2006. Among numerous others, his current film projects include CHALK (Handpicked Films and Millennium) and STRANDED (Milk & Media Productions).

Jon graduated Brown University in 1979 Phi Beta Kappa and Magna cum Laude. He continues his association with Brown as alumni advisor to the Greek System, and vice-president of the Brown Football Association. He bases his novels and scripts on extensive travel and research, as well as a twenty-year career in the martial arts. He is an associate member of the United States Special Forces, has volunteered frequently in schools to help young people learn to enjoy the process of writing and chairs the Marketing Committee of International Thriller Writers. He lives in Providence, RI and can be found on the web at:

Connect with Author:

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NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST

Guest Post from Jon Land

I am not your personal customer service hotline. Do not ask me the order of my series or when the book is coming out in your particular country or how to make your ____ing Kindle turn on. Google it. It will take you less time and turn up a much more reliable answer.

That, my friends, is a message from author Chelsea Cain to her, er, fans posted on Facebook on September 3 at 1:23am. Last time I checked, we authors kind of depend on such fans for our very livelihoods, and the response to Cain’s comments were both scathing and caustic. Which made me realize that in our industry, among thriller writers anyway, Cain is way, way the exception, not the rule. Far from it.

I was talking to my publisher, Tom Doherty, founder of Tor/Forge, the other day. Tom also publishes the iconic George R.R. Martin, arguably the best-known writer in America today, thanks to his GAME OF THRONES series. Tom mentioned he’s bringing out three books of George’s later this year, two of which are anthologies that George edited in addition to contributing stories to. The reason?

“He wanted to help out some friends of his who aren’t as successful as he is,” Tom told me and added that one of George’s contributions is an original GAME OF THRONES novella.

Think about that for a moment. The most successful writer on the planet right now wanted to do something just to help his fellow writer friends, and here’s the thing: George isn’t alone. The mission statement of International Thriller Writers ITW, an organization for which I served on the board and am currently chair of the marketing committee, was founded based on the principle of the haves helping the not-yet-haves. Successful writers stretching a hand out to writers in search of that same success. Like Doug Preston, Lee Child, Steve Berry, Sandra Brown, James Rollins—some of the biggest in the business not named George R.R. Martin.

It’s not like other creative mediums share the same proclivity. You don’t see Brad Pitt offering to help struggling young actors or Maroon 5 mentoring some garage band. No, this inclination of giving back and paying it forward seems unique to writers not named Chelsea Cain. I learned this first-hand back in 2007 when I was in the process of publishing my first thriller in three years after a pointless foray concentrating on screenplays. I’d just joined ITW and was desperate for author quotes, also known as blurbs, to help reestablish myself in the marketplace and rebuild my brand. I asked eleven New York Times bestselling authors for those crucial endorsements and all of them said yes. Every single one.

Okay, so why? What makes writers, including among the most successful, so generous and giving of their time and energy?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and my first thought boils down to a sense of community. Unlike actors or musicians, we spend an inordinate part of our lives alone, creating stories in a box of our own making. Writing isn’t a team sport; it’s relentlessly solitary and insular. We have to be very comfortable with our own company in order to pull it off. But that doesn’t mean we have to live like hermits which explains why so many of us thriller writers flocked to ITW upon its founding. Living and working in a box is a fine, but it also makes us long for the kind of camaraderie our profession seems to intrinsically reject. So the opportunity to band together to help others climb the elusive rungs of the publishing ladder is something we thrive on, not just tolerate.

That’s not all. Successful writers seem a truly unique bunch in the sense that we all remember, all too clearly, what it was like not to be successful. We all started in the same place pretty much and with the publication with each book, and the awards or bestseller list appearances if we’re lucky, comes the memory of what it was like the first time and the realization of how lucky we are to be succeeding, even thriving, in a business that seems to defy that. chaos

Another reason for this proclivity, I think, is the very nature and dynamics of publishing itself. It’s truly a tumultuous world where the rules keep changing so fast, nobody can really keep up. And the truth is we can learn a lot sometimes from the gorilla marketing tactics of authors who’ve been forced to go it alone after receiving the cold shoulder from the industry. Sure, they want in through the front door, but in the meantime many of them have found ways to make their mark by publishing independently on Amazon and the like. So in that respect we can gain something from them as well.

And that’s the point. Helping other writers flesh out their ideas and turn their Word files into published books makes us better writers too. If you can help someone fix their work, it only stands to reason that you’ll learn something about your own. In that respect, mentoring helps us fine-tune those crazy places in our minds from where the magic comes. Like stretching before a workout, getting loose and limber so you feel better and more comfortable about what you’re doing. We’re in the idea business, after all. Working with others to refine theirs helps us better refine ours.

Upholding the principles on which it was founded, International Thriller Writers now boasts a mentoring program, a remarkable Debut Author’s Program, and we have a board position dedicated to author development and education. In other words, we practice what we preach in large part because the process becomes self-perpetuating. Authors who’ve made their mark thanks in some part to ITW are going to give to others just as somebody gave to them. Nobody makes them; they do it because they want to.

Oh, and by the way, since I joined ITW and rebuilt my career on the shoulders of Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, who you can meet in STRONG DARKNESS, I’ve probably been asked to blurb, endorse, maybe a hundred books. And I’ve never turned a single request down. These authors deserve my time and attention because other authors gave both to me when I needed them the most. What goes around come around, my friends (and Chelsea Cain), a good thing in this case because, sometimes, nice guys do finish first.

ABOUT Strong Darkness

1883: Texas Ranger William Ray Strong teams up with Judge Roy Bean to track down the Old West’s first serial killer who’s stitching a trail of death along the railroad lines slicing their way through Texas.

The Present: Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself pursuing an-other serial killer whose methods are eerily similar to the one pursued by her great-grandfather almost a century-and-a-half before. But that’s just the beginning of the problems confronting Caitlin in her biggest and most dangerous adventure yet, starting off when the son of her reformed outlaw boyfriend Cort Wesley Masters is nearly beaten to death while at college.

The trail of that attack at Brown University leads all the way back to Texas and a Chinese high-tech company recently awarded the contract to build the nation’s Fifth Generation wireless network. Li Zhen, a rare self-made man in China and the company’s founder, counts that as the greatest achievement of his career. But it’s an achievement that hides the true motivations behind a rise fueled by events dating back to the time of Caitlin’s great-grandfather. Because the same era that spawned a serial killer who has impossibly resurfaced today also hides the secrets behind Li’s thirst for nothing less than China’s total domination of the United States.

His fiendishly clever plan is backed by all-powerful elements of the Chinese underworld that will stop at nothing to insure its success. Up against an army at Li’s disposal, Caitlin and Cort Wesley blaze a violent trail across country and continent in search of secrets hidden in the past, but it’s a secret from the present that holds the means to stop their adversary’s plot in its tracks, even as a climactic battle dawns with nothing less than the fate of the U.S. at stake. Because there’s a darkness coming, and only Caitlin Strong can find the light before it’s too late.

BOOK DETAILS:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge
Publication Date: Sept 30, 2014
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-0765335111

Purchase Links:

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

San Antonio, Texas

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

Caitlin Strong listened to the chant repeated over and over again by the Beacon of Light Church members who’d decided to picket a young soldier’s funeral here in San Antonio in pointless protest. The words were harder to make out across the street beyond the thousand-foot buffer the protestors were required to keep, but clear enough to disturb the parents of an army hero who just wanted to bury their son in peace.

“What are you going to do about this, Ranger?” Bud Chauncey, the young man’s father, asked her.

“I’ve requested that they vacate the premises, sir,” Caitlin told the man. “My orders are to do no more than that as long as they keep their distance. It’s the law.”

Chauncey, who owned several car dealerships in the area, turned toward the Beacon of Light Church members gathered on a patch of fresh land up a slight rise across the road Mission Burial Park had purchased in order to expand. His eyes looked bloodshot and weary, his face held in an angry glare that captured the frustration over being able to do no more about their presence here than he could for the son he was about to lay to rest. He stretched a hand through stringy gray hair to smooth it back down, but the breeze quickly blew it out of place again. Chauncey always looked so strong, vital and happy on his television commercials, leaving Caitlin to wonder if this was even the same man. His neck was thin and marred by discolored patches of skin that looked to have come from radiation treatments. His hands were thin and knobby and she noticed them trembling once he moved them from his pockets. She caught a glimpse of tobacco stains on the tips of his fingers and nails and thought of those radiation treatments again.

“Thousand feet away?” Chauncey questioned.

“Legislature passed a law restricting protests to that distance to funerals held in the state.”

Chauncey gazed back at the mourners gathered by his son’s gravesite waiting for the service to begin. He and Caitlin stood off to the side of the building funeral cortege at Mission Burial Park, the cemetery located on the San Antonio River where her father and grandfather were buried in clear view of the historic Espada Mission.

“Why don’t you explain that to my boy, Ranger?”

It sounded more like a plea than a question, a grieving father looking for a way to reconcile his son’s death in the face of picketing strangers paying him the ultimate disrespect. Blaming gays and their lifestyle for the landmine that had taken a young man’s life when he threw himself on two other soldiers to save them.

“The world might be full of shit,” Chauncey resumed with his gaze fixed across the road, electricity seeming to radiate out of his pores with the sweat to the point where Caitlin figured she’d get a shock if she stretched a hand out to comfort him. “But that doesn’t mean we ever get used to stepping in it.”

“I’ll be right back, sir,” she told Bud Chauncey and headed toward the street.

 

CHAPTER 2

San Antonio, Texas

It seemed like too nice a day to bury somebody as gifted as Bud Chauncey’s son Junior. An All-District athlete in three sports, Homecoming King and senior class president who’d joined the army’s ROTC program. He went to Afghanistan already a hero and came back in a box after his platoon was hit by a Taliban ambush while on patrol. It was bad enough when good boys died for no good reason Caitlin could see. It was even worse when it happened while a war was winding down and most back home had stopped paying attention.

Caitlin was thinking of Dylan Torres, the eighteen-year-old son of the man she considered, well, her boy friend, as she walked toward the road and grassy field across it in the process of being dug out to make room for Mission Burial Park’s expansion. Bud Chauncey’s son Junior had been barely a year older when he died and she couldn’t help picturing Dylan patrolling a desert wasteland with M-16 held in the ready position before him. Still a boy, no matter how much he’d been through or how many monsters with whom he’d come into contact. Currently in Providence, Rhode Island where he was in the midst of his freshman football season for Brown University.

Caitlin had read that Junior Chauncey had been accepted for admission at the University of Texas at Austin where he hoped to do the same. Dylan had a junior varsity game next weekend, if she remembered correctly. Junior would never don helmet and pads again.

That thought pushed a spring into her step as she strode across the road now crammed with cars, both parked along the side and inching along in search of a space. The funeral was being delayed to account for that, giving Bud Chauncey more time to suffer and the Beacon of Light Church more time to make their presence known. Alerted to their coming, television crews from five local stations and at least two national ones she could see had arrived first, their cameras covering all that was transpiring on both sides of the road.

Crossing the street, Caitlin thought she felt a blast of heat flushed by a furnace slam into her. It seemed to radiate off the protesters turning the air hot and prickly as they continued to chant. The sky was cloudless, the heat building in the fall day under a sun more like summer’s from the burn Caitlin felt on her cheeks.

Caitlin recognized the leader, William Bryant Tripp, from his wet-down hair, skin flushed red and handlebar mustache, and angled herself straight for him across the edge of the field that gave way to a drainage trench the width of a massive John Deere wheel loader’s shovel. The trench created a natural barricade between the Beacon of Light Church members and what might as well have been the rest of the world, while the big Deere sat idle between towering mounds of earth set further back in the field.
“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

“Mr. Tripp,” she called to the leader over the chants. He’d stepped out of the procession at her approach, smirking and twirling the ends of his mustache.

“It’s Reverend Tripp,” he reminded.

Caitlin nodded, trying to look respectful. “There’s people grieving a tragic death across the way, Reverend, and I’d ask you again as a man and a Christian to vacate the premises so they might do so in peace. You’ve made your point already and I believe you should leave things at that.”

The smirk remained. “Peace is what this church is all about, Ranger, a peace that can only be achieved if those who debauch and deface the values of good honest people like us repent and are called out for their sins.”

“Gays had nothing to do with putting that brave boy in a coffin, sir. That was the work of a bunch of cowardly religious fanatics like the ones serving you here today.”

The smirk slipped from Tripp’s expression, replaced by a look that brushed Caitlin off and sized her up at the same time. “We’re breaking no laws here. So I’m going to ask you to leave us in peace.”

Caitlin felt her muscles tightening, her mouth going dry. “You have every right to be here and I’m here to protect your rights to peaceful assembly as well as the rights of the Chauncey family to bury their son without a sideshow. The problem is that presents a contradiction it’s my duty to resolve. And the best way to do that is to ask you and your people to simply leave in a timely fashion.”

Tripp shifted his shoulders. He seemed to relish the threat Caitlin’s words presented. “And if we choose not to?”

“You’ve made your point for the cameras already, sir. There’s nothing more for you to prove. So do the holy thing by packing up your pickets and heading on.” Caitlin gazed toward the protestors thrusting their signs into the air in perfect rhythm with their chanting. “Use the time to paint over those signs, so you’re ready to terrorize the next family that loses a son in battle, Mr. Tripp.”

Tripp measured her words, running his tongue around the inside of his mouth. It made a sound like crushing a grape underfoot. Caitlin could feel the sun’s heat between them now, serving as an invisible barrier neither wanted to breach.

“It’s Reverend Tripp,” he reminded again.

“I believe that title needs to be earned,” Caitlin told him, feeling her words start to race ahead of her thoughts.
Tripp stiffened. “This church has been serving Him and His word since the very founding of this great nation, Ranger. Even here in the great state of Texas itself.”

“Those other military funerals you’ve been picketing from Lubbock to Amarillo don’t count toward that, sir.”

“I was speaking of our missionary work back in the times of the frontier; the railroads and the oil booms. How this church tried to convert the Chinese heathen hordes to Christianity.”

“Heathen hordes?”

“It was a fool’s errand,” Tripp said, bitterness turning his expression even more hateful. “The Chinese made for an unholy, hateful people not deserving of our Lord’s good graces.”

“But you believe you are, thanks to hurting those good folks across the way, is that right? Problem is you’re not serving God, sir, you’re serving yourself. And I’m giving you a chance to square things the easy way instead of the hard.”

Tripp sneered at her. “Such threats didn’t work in Lubbock or Amarillo and they won’t work here either.”

“I wasn’t the one who made them in those cities, Mr. Tripp. You’d be well advised to listen this time.”

“And what if I don’t?”

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

The chanting had picked up in cadence, seeming to reach a crescendo as the funeral goers squeezed themselves around Junior Chauncey’s gravesite across the road so the ceremony could begin. Caitlin watched the members of the Beacon of Light Church thrusting their picket signs into the air as if they were trying to make rain, the image of their feet teetering on the edge of recently dug drainage trench holding in her mind.

“I guess I’ll have to think of something,” she told Tripp and started away.

 

CHAPTER 3

San Antonio, Texas

Caitlin looped around the perimeter of the protesters, her presence likely forgotten by the time she reached the John Deere wheel loader parked between matching piles of excavated earth. She recognized it as a 644K hybrid model boasting twenty tons of power that could probably level a skyscraper. Caitlin had learned to drive earlier, more brutish versions while helping to rebuild a Mexican family’s home after they’d been burned out by drunken kids for a pot deal gone wrong. Trouble was the drug dealer who’d screwed the kids actually lived across the street. Caitlin’s father had arrested the boys two days later. Considering them dangerous criminals, Jim Strong made them strip to their underwear and left them to roast in the sun while he waited for back-up to assist him in a cavity search. Jim had organized the rebuilding effort, financed ultimately by the restitution paid by the accused boys’ parents to keep them out of jail. Caitlin’s father had brokered that deal as well.

The hybrid engine of the 644K sounded a hundred times quieter than the roar coughed by the older version and handled as easy as a subcompact, when Caitlin started it forward.

“Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die! Sinners repent or more will die!”

She couldn’t hear the chanting anymore, imagining it in her mind with each thrust of the picket signs into the air. It was loud enough to keep the protestors from detecting her approach, even when she lowered the shovel into position and let its teeth dig maybe a foot down into the ground.

Caitlin plowed the growing pile of dirt forward as if it were snow after a rare Texas blizzard. The back row of the protesters turned just as the wall of gathered earth crested over the shovel. Caitlin imagined the panic widen their eyes, heard screams and shouts as they tried desperately to warn the others what was coming.

Too late.

The massive power of the John Deere pushed the earthen wall straight into the center of the pack fronted by William Bryant Tripp himself, driving the mass forward without even a sputter. The last thing Caitlin glimpsed were picket signs closer to the front stubbornly clinging to the air before those holding them were gobbled up and shoved forward.

Down into the drainage trench.

Caitlin pictured Reverend Tripp toppling in first, imagined the trench as a mass grave or, better yet, the week’s deposit zone in the local landfill. Because that’s where the members of the Beacon of Light Church belonged in her mind, dumped in along with the other stench-riddled trash.

Some of the protesters managed to peel off to the side to escape the John Deere’s force and wrath, and Caitlin didn’t brake the big machine until the earthen wall she was dragging stopped on the edge of the trench. Portions of it sifted downward, forestalling the efforts of Tripp and his minions to climb out. So she gave the Deere just a little more gas to trap them a bit longer.

Caitlin cut off the engine at that point. Her gaze drifted across the street to the funeral ceremony for Junior Chauncey where to a man and woman everyone had turned around to face the other side of the road. They saw the members of the Beacon of Light Church visible only as hands desperately clawing for purchase to pull themselves from the trench into which Caitlin had forced them. She hopped down out of the cab and walked around the wall of dirt and grass the John Deere had helped her lay.

Then, to a man and woman led by Bud Chauncey himself, the funeral goers started to clap their hands, applauding her. It got louder and louder, reaching a crescendo just as the television cameras began rotating feverishly between both sides of the road and reporters rushed toward Caitlin with microphones in hand.

She leaped across the trench, brushing the microphones and cameras aside, the sun hot against her flesh.

“You’re going to pay for this, Caitlin Strong!” she heard Tripp scream at her, as he finally managed to hoist himself from the ditch. “The Lord does not forget!”

“Neither do I, sir,” Caitlin said calmly, regarding the dirt clinging to him no amount of shaking or brushing could remove. It turned his ash gray hair a dark brown, making him look as if he was wearing a vegetable garden atop his head. “And you’d be wise to remember that.”

Guest Author – Tara Meisner showcase & guest post

WELCOME Author

Tara Meisner

Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book. th grew up writing short stories and bad poetry before escaping the cold winters of Wyoming and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children, Abigail (11) and Gabriel (6). She still loves to write, but fortunately gave up on poetry.

Connect with Author:

WEBSITE TWITTER

Creating Time to Create

Guest Post by Tara Meisner

I am fortunate that I actually have time to write, and I’m sure you do too!
I have a husband, three kids, volunteer for youth organizations, take on freelance projects, and work ten hours a week at the library. Yet, I fit in time for creative writing. Some weeks are better than others.
Time has never been the thing holding me back! It was staying focused during that time and not squandering it with Facebook, blog reading, phone calls, reading, laundry, naps, list making, lunch or coffee with friends, etc.
Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert shares keys to her success and inspiration for living the life you want on her Facebook page. Most of us, of a certain age, have learned to say no to the things we don’t like or want to do. (If you haven’t done this yet, it is a great first step!) The next step, Gilbert presented, is saying no to the things you do enjoy. That advice changed my attitude. I felt I had permission to decline activities that didn’t get me closer to the creative life I craved. I miss out on things that would have been fun, but feel better about it.
Writing time might be found the first four hours of the day, every day. For some it is the lunch hour during the day job. Others may find time from 9-11 p.m. after kids are in bed or 1-3 p.m. during a toddler’s afternoon nap. Maybe it is Sunday mornings from 6-10 a.m.
If you are not cranking out two or three novels a year, writing six to eight hours a day at the exact same time is probably not a realistic goal, or even necessary. I carve out ten hours a week for creative work, all in blocks of time at least two hours long.
I schedule everything that I have to do in a week on “sticky notes” on my laptop. Things like carpool, library hours, swim team, doctor appointments, client meetings, and paid freelance work are blocked in and then I “find” ten hours a week when I can write.
The key then is to actually WRITE during those times and not squander them on the mentioned distractions. One of my friends writes on her laptop at a coffee shop and doesn’t ask for the WIFI password. I write at home longhand in composition notebooks, index cards, and legal pads.
The dang smart phone is difficult to ignore. I have three children, and I developed this notion that I must always be assessable to them in case of an emergency and should never leave my phone away from me. The oldest is 16; there has never been an emergency!! Seriously, nothing that couldn’t have waited an hour or two. So, I use the smart phone to my advantage. I set the timer for an hour, place it face down and ignore it until the timer goes off.
There is little immediate income attached to my creative writing, which makes it hard to justify for me. Yet, I realize the value developing my creative writing skills, so I try to let go of distractions and excuses, and I give myself permission write.

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is a moving and honest psychology memoir about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld.
Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witnessed a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine.
Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of a year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returned allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages: 224
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Tara Meissner
Publication Date: June 23, 2014
ISBN-10: 0990495108

PURCHASE LINKS:

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

 

Interview | Pigeon River Blues by Wayne Zurl

Pigeon River Blues

by Wayne Zurl

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedural / Mystery

Published by: Iconic Publishing

Publication Date: May 31, 2014

Number of Pages: 258

ISBN: 1938844025 / 978-1938844027

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.

The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.

C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.

The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality by flaunting her alternative lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.

Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate.

During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into how he foils a complicated plot of attempted murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

An oddball named Mack Collinson sat in his mother’s office discussing the upcoming auction of farmland straddling the border of Prospect and neighboring Seymour, Tennessee.

Jeremy Goins, part-time real estate salesman at the Collinson agency, defrocked federal park ranger, and now full-time maintenance man in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, walked into the room and tossed a newspaper on Mack’s lap.
Collinson, a short, dark man in his late-forties, had close-cropped, almost black hair, a single bushy eyebrow spanning his forehead, and a thick beard that covered his face from just below his eyes and disappeared into the collar of his sport shirt.

“You seen this article in the Blount County Voice?” Goins asked.

Mack shrugged. His mother neither commented nor gestured.

Goins sighed and continued, seemingly unimpressed with his male colleague. “’Bout how Dolly’s havin’ a benefit show and that lezzy bitch—‘cuse me, Ma—C.J. Profitt’s comin’ back home fer a week a’forehand.”

People showing deference to her age referred to Collinson’s mother as Miss Elnora. Those who knew her more intimately, called her Ma.

“Lemme see that,” Elnora snarled, screwing up her wide face, one surrounded by layers of gray, arranged in a style the locals called big hair.

“Yes, ma’am.” Anxious to please his employer, Jeremy snatched the newspaper from Mack and handed it to Mrs. Collinson.
The Collinson Realty and Auction Company occupied an old and not very well maintained building on McTeer’s Station Pike just below the center of Prospect. Sixty-five-year-old Elnora Collinson had been a realtor for more than forty years, first with her late husband and now with her son. In either case, Ma represented the brains of the operation.

After allowing the woman a few moments to read the article, Jeremy Goins continued the conversation.

“I hated that bitch back in hi-skoo,” he said. “And I hate her even more now that I know what she is and what her kind means ta the rest o’ us.”

Goins was a stocky, rugged-looking man, approaching fifty, with a liberal mix of gray in his dark brown hair. The gray hair was the only liberal thing about Jeremy Goins.

“I s’pose she’s fixin’ to stay around here and mebbe bring some o’ her pur-verted women friends with her,” Mack said. “This world’s goin’ ta hell when ya got ta be subjectedsta the likes o’ her on the same streets good Christian folk walk on.”

“Amen ta that,” Jeremy said.

When Ma finished reading she snorted something unintelligible, rolled up the paper, and threw it at a wastepaper basket, missing by a foot.

“Boys, this is shameful.” She took a long moment to shake her head in disgust. “Downright shameful.”

Both men nodded in agreement.

“When that girl went ta Nashville an’ become a singer, I thought Prospect was rid o’ her and her kind once’t and fer all. Lord have mercy, but we’re doomed ta see her painted face on our streets ag’in.”

“Momma,” Mack said, “we ain’t gotta take this.”

He spent a moment shaking his head, too. Then he decided to speak for the rest of the population.

“Don’t nobody here want her back. Mebbe we should send’er a message if the elected leaders o’ this city won’t. We kin let her know.”

“You’re rot, son. Ain’t no reason why that foul-mouthed, lesbian should feel welcome here.” Ma Collinson, who resembled a grumpy female gnome, sat forward in her swivel chair and with some difficulty, pulled herself closer to the desk. “Jeremy, git me that li’l typewriter from the closet. I’ll write her a note sayin’ as much.”

Goins nodded and moved quickly.

“And Jeremy, afore yew git ta work at park headquarters, mail this in Gatlinburg so as ta not have a Prospect postmark on it.”

Goins stepped to a spot where he could read over her shoulder and said, “Yes, ma’am, I’ll do it.”

After inserting a sheet of white bond paper under the roller, Elnora Collinson began to type:

Colleen Profitt we know you. We know what you are. All the money you made don’t make no difference about what you have became. You are a shame to your family and the city of Prospect. Do not come back here. We do not want you. God does not want you.

SIGNED

The Coalition For American Family Values

That was the first of six messages sent to country and western star C.J. Profitt.

The last letter, typed almost two weeks later, said:

CJ Profitt you have not called off your visit to our city. We repeat. You and your lesbian friends are violating God’s Law. You must not come here. If you do you will regret it. The people of this city will not suffer because of you. Your ways are the ways of Sin. Your life is a life of SIN. If you come here YOU WILL suffer and then burn in Hell. Do not show your painted face here again. If you do you better make your peace with GOD. You will face HIM soon enough. Sooner than you think.

The Coalition for American Family Values

<><><>

On Friday morning, February 2nd, Mack Collinson slammed the front door to the real estate agency, shrugged off his brown canvas Carhartt jacket, and tossed it on an old swivel chair. He spent a moment blowing his nose in a week-old handkerchief and stormed into his mother’s office.

“Well she’s here,” he said, putting his hands on his hips. “She never done took your warnin’s serious-like.”
Ma Collinson looked at her son over the tops of reading glasses she recently purchased at the Wal-Mart Vision Center.
“This mornin’ Luretta and the kids was watchin’ that Knoxville mornin’ show,” he said. “And there she was—film o’ her at the airport ‘long with some others goin’ ta perform at Dolly’s benefit thing. She never listened ta ya, Ma. Now she’s here.”

At five after nine, a coo coo clock in Elnora’s office struck eight.

Mrs. Collinson pulled off her glasses and tossed them onto the desk. She wrinkled her brow and puckered her mouth in disgust. Elnora did not look happy.

“She’ll be talkin’ ‘bout her ideas and her ways like she always does,” Mack said. “It’s un-natural is what it is. Against God’s way. Why does God let people like her live, Ma? Makes me jest so gat-dag mad. Makes me think we ought ta kill her. Kill her our own selves.”

Are the Sam Jenkins books imitating life or the other way around?

Guest Post by Wayne Zurl
Good cops are born actors. All you have to do is watch a pair of world-class interrogators go through
their routine and you’d become a believer. And all cops have stories to tell. In many cases, their reality is that which much fiction is based. I’m surprised more cops don’t write books when they retire.
What a reader likes is very subjective. But I’ve heard that some people like my stories. That may be true, because I sell a few books. Here’s where I confess—I have more of a memory than imagination. Most of my stories are based on actual incidents I investigated, cases I supervised, or things I just knew a lot about. Often, I composite incidents into a single storyline and embellish and fictionalize it to make the finished product more readable. Not all police work is a thrill a minute. Recently, I’ve combined things I’ve seen since retiring and incorporate them as components of a story that originated in New York, but as ever, gets transplanted to Tennessee.

PIGEON RIVER BLUES is one of these eclectic blends of numerous vignettes surrounding one story-
worthy plot.

The Collinsons and their henchman, Jeremy Goins, that trio of right-wing morons who threaten country singer, C.J. Proffit, are based or real characters I’ve met.

Since I began writing, I’ve been looking for the right place to introduce retired Detective John Gallagher, the goofy-acting but extremely competent former colleague of Sam Jenkins, who suffers from a severe case of malapropism. “John,” who is now a regular cast member at Prospect PD, is also based on a real person with whom I worked for many years.

Giving Sam and company an unwanted job of providing personal security for the famous singer allowed me to recall a few assignments I had in the Army and the reoccurring VIP security details we were bamboozled into taking on during my time in one command of the police department where I worked.

Originally, I had included an addendum or author’s disclaimer at the end of the novel—sort of a “don’t try this at home” statement about some of the things Sam pulled off during this adventure. But the publisher didn’t want it, and he was probably correct because they were all things that in reality, whether good police practice or not, are done for the sake of expedience.

You’ll read a statement at the beginning of all my books sounding something like this: ‘This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity to persons living or dead or to actual incidents is a coincidence and a
figment of the author’s imagination.’ Yeah? Nuts. I was there. I knew these people. But I take iterary license to change things as I see fit. I make incidents more exciting, people more beautiful or uglier, and to paraphrase Jack Webb’s weekly statement on the old TV show DRAGNET, I change the names to protect the guilty . . . and keep me out of civil court.

Cheryl,
Thanks for inviting me to your blog to meet your fans and followers. To all those who take the time to read my guest posting, I wish you the best and hope you enjoy the rest of the autumn and have happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year.

Author Bio:

Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.

Twenty (20) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles of A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and REENACTING A MURDER and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. Zurl’s first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards, chosen as 1st Runner-Up from all Commercial Fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His other novels are: A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT and HEROES & LOVERS. A fourth novel, PIGEON RIVER BLUES, was published in 2014.

For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see www.waynezurlbooks.net. You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.

Catch Up With the Author:

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It’s a John Lansing Giveaway!!

Blond Cargo

by John Lansing

Visiting with the Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tour Company

Oct 8 – November 30, 2014

Blond Cargo by John Lansing | Coming Soon

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Jack Bertolino, 2nd
Published by: Karen Hunter
Publication Date: 10/20/2014
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781476795515

Purchase Links:
* Blond Cargo does include some graphic violence.

Synopsis:

“A pulse-pounding thriller with a charming protagonist” (Kirkus Reviews), this gripping ebook continues the story that began in The Devil’s Necktie.

Jack Bertolino’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback. In Blond Cargo the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave.

A sizzling whodunit for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, Blond Cargo taps into the real-life crime world to deliver a thrilling, action-packed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the explosive, unprecedented finale.

Read an excerpt:

4

Jack carried a Subway turkey sandwich, a tall unsweetened iced coffee, a bottle of water, and a smile as he keyed the security gate that led to the dock in Marina del Rey where his boat was moored. The marina was always quiet during the week. Just the way he liked it.

He stopped to admire his twenty-eight feet of heaven before stepping onto his boat’s transom and then . . .

“Yo, Mr. B.”

Jack never forgot a voice, which explained his reluctance to turn around.

“Yo, yo, Mr. B.”

Miserably persistent, Jack thought. He turned to face Peter Maniacci, who was dressed head-to-toe in black. With his outstretched arms draped over the chain-link fence, Peter looked like an Italian scarecrow. The black circles under his eyes belied his youth. The sharp points of his sideburns, his boots, and the .38 hanging lazily from a shoulder holster added menace to his goofy grin.

So close, Jack thought. His only worry that day had been whether to eat his sandwich dockside or out on the Pacific with a view of the Santa Monica Pier.

“How you doing, Peter?”

“How you doin’?”

Jack let out a labored sigh. “We could do this all day. What’s up?”

“That’s funny, Mr. B. How’s the boy? How’s his pitching arm?”

Jack’s face tightened. He wasn’t happy that Peter knew

any of his son’s particulars. When he didn’t answer, Peter continued.

“Hey, nice boat. I used to fish for fluke off the north shore. Long Island. I think I must be in the wrong business.”

“Count on it,” Jack said. “What can I do for you?”

“My boss was wondering if you could spare a few minutes of your time.”

As if on cue, a black Town Car materialized behind Peter and came to a smooth, silent stop. The car rose visibly when Peter’s boss, a thick, broad-shouldered man, stepped out of the rear seat.

Vincent Cardona. Expensive suit, the body of a defensive linebacker—fleshy but muscled. Dark, penetrating eyes. Cardona looked in both directions before leveling his feral gaze on Jack. An attempt at a smile fell short of the mark. A thick manila envelope was tucked under one beefy arm.

Jack had been aware there would be some form of payback due for information Cardona had provided on Arturo Delgado, the man responsible for the attempted murder of his son. He just didn’t think it would come due this quickly. He opened the locked gate and let the big man follow him down the dock toward his used Cutwater cabin cruiser.

As Peter stood sentry in front of the Lincoln Town Car, Jack allowed the devil entry to his little piece of paradise.

“How’s your boy? How’s the pitching arm?” Vincent asked bluntly. Just a reminder of why he was there.

“On the mend.” Jack gestured to one of two canvas deck chairs in the open cockpit of the boat. Both men sat in silence as Jack waited for Cardona to explain the reason for his visit.

Jack wasn’t comfortable with Cardona’s talking about Chris, but the big man had taken it upon himself to station Peter outside Saint John’s Health Center while his son was drifting between life and death. Cardona’s enforcer had scared off Delgado, and that might have saved his son’s life. The unsolicited good deed was greatly appreciated by Jack. The debt weighed heavily.

“It rips your heart out when your children have problems and you can’t do nothing to help,” Cardona said with the raspy wheeze of a man who had abused cigars, drugs, booze, and fatty sausage for most of his life.

“What can I do for you?” Jack asked, not wanting to prolong the impromptu meeting.

Cardona, unfazed by Jack’s brusqueness, answered by pulling out a picture and handing it to Jack.

“Angelica Marie Cardona. She’s my girl. My only. My angel. Her mother died giving birth. I didn’t have the heart to re-up. I raised her by myself.”

Mobster with a heart of gold. Right, Jack thought. But Cardona’s wife must have been a stunner because Angelica, blond, early twenties, with flawless skin and gray-green eyes, didn’t get her good looks from her father. Cardona’s gift was her self-assured attitude, which all but leaped off the photograph.

“Beautiful.”

Jack Bertolino, master of the understatement, he thought.

“And doesn’t she know it. Too much so for her own good. You make mistakes, my line of business. Whatever.”

“What can I do for you, Vincent?” Jack said, dialing back the attitude.

Cardona tracked a seagull soaring overhead with his heavy-lidded eyes and rubbed the stubble on his jaw.

Jack would have paid good money to change places with the gull.

“I shoulda never moved out here. L.A. I’m a black-socks- on-the-beach kinda guy. East Coast all the way. Never fit in. But I’m a good earner and the powers that be decided they were happy with the arrangement. Everyone was happy except Angelica and me.

“She turned thirteen, didn’t wanna have nothing to do with her old man. Turned iceberg cold. I tried everything— private schools, horses, ballet, therapy, live-in help; nothin’ worked. She closed up tighter than a drum. I finally threatened to send her to the nuns.”

“How did that work out?”

“I’m fuckin’ sitting here, aren’t I? On this fuckin’ dinghy . . . no offense meant,” he said, trying to cover, but the flash of anger told the real story. “I hear you’re an independent contractor now.”

It was Tommy Aronsohn, his old friend and ex–district attorney, who had set him up with his PI’s license and first client, Lawrence Weller and NCI Corp. But Jack Bertolino and Associates, Private Investigation, still didn’t come trippingly off his tongue.

And thinking of the disaster up north, he said, “We’ll see how that goes.”

“This is the point. I haven’t seen my daughter in close to a month. Haven’t heard word one since around the time your son was laid up in Saint John’s,” he said. Reminder number two. “It’s killing me,” he continued. “I’m getting a fuckin’ ulcer. Then this.”

Cardona pulled out the L.A. Times with the front-page spread reporting on the woman who had died when her boat crashed on the rocks at Paradise Cove. As it turned out, a second woman down in Orange County had washed up on the beach a few weeks earlier at the Terranea resort, scaring the joy out of newlyweds taking photos at sunset. Talk about twisted memories, Jack thought. As if marriage wasn’t tough enough. He’d already read both articles with his morning coffee and hadn’t bought into the pattern the reporter inferred.

“And the connection?”

“I got a bad feeling is all. She’s never disappeared like this before—not for this long anyway,” he said, amending his statement. “And then . . .” Cardona said, waving the newspaper like it was on fire. “It says here they were both blonds. Both about Angelica’s age. They could be fuckin’ cousins. Could be nothing.”

“Did you file a missing-persons report?”

Cardona gave him a hard side eye. “Jack, don’t fuck with me. We take care of our own.”

Jack thought before he spoke. “I’m not one of yours.”

“Semantics.”

“What about your crew?”

Cardona flopped open his meaty hands. “I get angina, I don’t call my cousin Frankie, who has a certain skill set but stinks when it comes to open-heart surgery. Look, I get it. You were on the other team. But this is straight-up business. One man to another. One father to another. I need you to find my girl. You got my number. Use it, Jack. Money’s no object. Find my baby.”

Strike three.

Jack didn’t answer. He stared out at the navy-blue water of the marina, past row upon row of beautiful yachts, symbols of dreams fulfilled, and knew they were empty notions compared to family.

Cardona hadn’t actually spoken the words you owe me, but they filled the subtext of everything he’d said. He was not subtle. The big man had reached out when Jack was in need, and Jack had accepted the offer. Now Vincent Cardona wanted his pound of flesh.

“This is everything I know. Last address, phone numbers, phone bills, e-mail accounts, bank, credit cards, friends and whatnot. The whole shot,” Cardona said, holding the manila envelope out in Jack’s direction.

“I have other commitments,” Jack stated.

“You look real fuckin’ busy, Jack, if you don’t mind my sayin’.” His eyes crinkled into a sarcastic grin. Vincent Cardona does charm.

Jack accepted the overstuffed envelope with a sigh.

“If she don’t want to come back, fine. No funny business, no strong-arm bullshit from my end. You got my word. I just need to know that my blood is alive. I’m fuckin’ worried and I don’t do worry too good. Sleep on it, Jack. But do the right thing.”

Cardona’s eyes locked on to Jack’s. Jack remained silent. He’d take a look. No promises, not yet.

Vincent’s knees cracked and the canvas chair squeaked like it was in pain as he stood up. He covered a belch behind his fist and rubbed his gut as he moved stiffly past Jack. The boat rocked when Cardona stepped off and walked heavily away, his Italian leather shoes echoing on the wooden dock.

The weight of the world. Jack could relate.

Peter Maniacci opened the gate for his boss and then the door to the Lincoln Town Car, which plunged to curb level as the big man slid in. Peter ran around to the other side of the car and tossed Jack a wave like the queen mum. He jumped into the Lincoln, which lurched forward before Peter could slam the door shut.

Jack walked into the boat’s deckhouse, grabbed a bottle of water, and downed two more Excedrin. He stretched his back, which was going into a spasm from yesterday’s violence, and chased the pills with a Vicodin to stay one step ahead of the pain that he knew was headed his way.

Jack had already decided to take the case.

Author Bio:

John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. “The Devil’s Necktie” was his first novel. “Blond Cargo” is the next book in the Jack Bertolino series. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

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Sydney Avey Guest Author interview & giveaway

WELCOME Sydney Avey

Sydney Avey

Sydney Avey is an author of historical and women’s fiction set in California. The Lyre and the Lambs is the sequel to her first novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, which won an honorable mention from the Center for Basque Studies (University of Nevada, Reno) in their Basque Literary Contest. Both novels were published by HopeSprings Books, a small publishing house that promotes realistic Christian fiction.

Sydney and a lifetime of experience writing news for non profits and corporations. Her work is has appeared in Epiphany, Foliate Oak, Forge, American Athenaeum, and Unstrung (published by Blue Guitar Magazine). She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley and has studied writing at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. She lives with her husband Joel the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

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Q&A with Sydney Avey

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Both. I write about the communications gaps between the generations. Members of different generations have different frames of reference. They struggle to understand and be understood in a family setting. I have experienced this in my own family. Current events help form frame of reference, so I research the “current” events in the time period I’m writing. For example, The Lyre and the Lambs is set in the Sixties, when President Kennedy’s assassination had a huge effect. I drew from my own experience of that event to show how society changed, partly as a result of having our sense of personal security threatened.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

I always know how my story ends, but I never know how my characters arrive at their destination until we get there together. I begin by identifying critical plot points and outlining chapters and scenes. I tweak the outline as I go, expanding some sections, adding or deleting others. My Scrivener software makes it easy to see the story flow. The process is like starting with a rough sketch, then thickening some lines and shading for depth. Gradually, an image emerges.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I write in the morning, at my desk in the mountains or the desert. I set fingers to keyboard, rejoin my characters by reviewing the last scene, and then move with them into the next scene. Sometimes I come out of the story to research details that makes the setting jump to life. For example, what kind of equipment did the news crew that showed up on Lundy Lane use when they tried to ambush the Dolds? On site reporting was very new in the Sixties. How did the cameras and microphones work? I go down lots of rabbit holes like that! Readers don’t want an explanation of cabling technology, but knowing how it all fit together helped me write a funny scene where aggressive “reporter girl” gets tangled in a microphone cable plugged into a heavy camera shouldered by the camera man.

Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?

Writing is my full time occupation. I can’t really call it a job until I start making some money! I balance my writing life with nurturing family and friend relationships and participating in church and community life, but writing is the activity that takes priority.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

The writers who make my heart beat faster are those who use beautiful language and show a grasp of deeper truths, or those who give me a sense of place or the sweep of history. I love the classics. I like historical fiction, like Edward Rutherford’s books. I admire literary fiction, like John Updike’s stories. I enjoy women’s fiction writers who have a sense of humor and are kind to flawed characters, authors like Elizabeth Strout, Elizabeth Berg, and Anne Tyler.

What are you reading now?

I just finished Slugger, debut fiction by my former HP colleague David Price. His signature humor, depictions of heart wrenching struggles with addiction, and cutaways to drama on the baseball field were brilliant. Next up on my iPad Kindle App is Lady of Devices, A steampunk adventure novel, by Shelley Adina Bates. I’m looking to her for influence for a short story collection I am preparing, Pastor Jerry and Jesus at the Beanpunk Café.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

My third novel is about a young man with unrecognized genius who flees rural poverty for the West coast. Shadowed by the mother who abandoned him and a mentor who pursues him for decades, he will receive help from a young woman who, despite their brief attachment, will play a big role in his future on the national stage. On Edge (working title) explores the unlikely connections that make us who we are.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

A Hallmark TV movie or an Indie film, I hope. I’d love to see new faces should my novel ever reach the screen.

Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?

My handwriting is illegible, but I touch type like the wind.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

I gave up hobbies when I took up novel writing. I like leisure activities that counteract all the sitting I do, yoga and exercise classes, walking on the beach or hiking in Yosemite. Also, activities that refresh my soul, movies and plays, singing, laughing with my husband, seeing God show up in daily life.

Favorite meal?

Organic, local fare, but mostly whatever I don’t have to prepare or clean up. The savory buckwheat crepes accompanied by hard cider, served in a petite Montmartre creperie using recipes that originate in Bretagne come to mind. Ooh la la!

About The Lyre and the Lambs

It’s the Sixties. Modernity and tradition clash as two newlywed couples set up house together. Dee and her daughter Valerie move with their husbands into a modern glass house Valerie built in a proudly rural Los Altos, California neighborhood. When their young relatives start showing up and moving in, the neighbors get suspicious. Then a body is found in the backyard and the life they are trying to build comes undone.

Father Mike is back to guide Dee through a difficult time with humor and grace, even as his own life is unraveling. Now he’s going to have to take some of his own advice about love.

The Lyre and the Lambs explores the passions that draw people together and the faith it takes to overcome trauma.

BOOK DETAILS:

Number of Pages:
Genre: Romantic Christian Fiction Suspense
Publisher: HopeSprings Books
Publication Date: September 3rd 2014
ISBN-13: 9781938708312

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