Saturday, July 22, 2017

If You Use Bookfunnel, Here's a Giveaway You Might Enjoy.

In the past, I have told you about a group giveaway hosted by author Anne R. Tan through Instafreebie. This month, Anne is hosting a similar giveaway featured on Book Funnel. Book Funnel is a unique site where readers establish an account through which authors can safely send you direct uploads to your eReader device. There are 27 mystery and thriller novels available for download at no cost.

The giveaway runs from July 21 through the 31st and can be found at this link. I don't have a book in this promo, but I am watching it closely to gauge for future value.


Friday, July 14, 2017

My Progress and Deals For You

  Just a quick note this month to bring you up to date on my progress. I am currently about a quarter to a third of the way through the manuscript for Where Angels Fear, the prequel to On the Side of the Angel. Once I finish that, I will send parts of it around to a few of the other authors involved in the Bartering Angel project for revisions. While they have the manuscript, I will begin work compiling the audiobook version of 8 Tales of Noir.
  When I get the notes back from the other authors I will make corrections, additions, and adjustments to the manuscript and it will be ready for beta readers. By the way, drop me a note if you'd like to be on the beta team for that story.
  Once the betas have had their say, it will be time to send out Advanced Reader Copies, so also let me know if you'd like to be on that ARC team. Hopefully those will be ready sometime in September.

Also...

  This weekend is Renée Pawlish's monthly promo. You can pick up a lot of great mystery and thriller reads for just 99¢ by visiting reneepawlish.com/promo right now.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Audiobook Review: Revelation by Carter Wilson

At a small New York college, two roommates set out to create a religious cult as a social experiment. Soon, however, things take a malevolent turn when the burgeoning Church’s chosen messiah turns out to be a socio-pathological lunatic. Waking to find himself trapped in a sort of dungeon cell like that of John of Patmos, with only a typewriter, a spider, and the rotting corpse of his former roommate for companionship, Harden Campbell sets to work writing his book of Revelation.

Set over a quarter century ago, Carter Wilson’s novel, Revelation, was only published last year, but it could easily have been set in contemporary times. The story toggles between third-person point of view and first as some of the examination of the action puts us in the position of observer, while other chapters are from the perspective of a manuscript being written by the captive, Harden.

Carter Wilson
There are three main characters, our part-time narrator, Harden; his roommate turned tormenter, Coyote; and Coyote’s girlfriend, Emma. The story takes us from Harden’s first meeting with Coyote all the way to a contrived conclusion in which the triangle of Harden, Coyote, and Emma come together to realize Coyote’s penultimate coup de grace, unless a miracle or Deus ex Machina intervenes.

My review is based on the audio version, which I received in exchange for my honest review, and to be honest, I’m not sure how I felt about the choice of narrator, Timothy McKean. It’s not that he did a bad job. On the contrary, he helped give life to the characters and added a sense of reality to the tension, and in the end that’s really all one can ask of a voice actor. But there is a slight Keanu Reeves-like immaturity to the quality of his tone. Another coming-of-age/college-experience story that wasn’t also about a murderous messianic sadist would probably be right in his wheelhouse.

Timothy McKean
As for the story, I have to confess, I have a particular fondness for thrillers which twist the conventions of religion into something distorted and horrifying. The best parts of this story for me were, in fact, the aspects showing how a charismatic sociopath could easily convince enough vulnerable and weak-willed neophytes to follow his promises of lasting happiness and self-improvement. From my perspective, Jim Jones, L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, and Paul of Tarsus are all just variations of a theme representing a template from which Wylie “Coyote” Martin was drawn.

Revelation is a successful thriller the same way that the first season of The Following was a success. We believe that a sociopath with access to vulnerable minds and a fortune in expendable cash could create the illusion that he has a message about the purpose of life. But why wouldn’t we believe that? After all, Joel Osteen and Tony Robbins are real people, and we’ve seen what they have done with the starter recipe. All we have to then do is toss in a little Charles Manson and some Kellyanne Conway. Voila!

Available on Amazon and Audible

Friday, June 16, 2017

Two Promos

Renée Pawlish's promo is this weekend, June 17 and 18; and this time around it's FREE eBooks. You'll find the promo at reneepawlish.com/promo, and for the one and probably only time ever, the book I have included is my newest title, On the Side of the Angel. This is your last chance to get that title for free, and if you grab one it will help push the book up the Amazon rankings, so we both benefit.



Also this weekend I am participating in a brand new (to me) Instafreebie promo with Book Deals Today. Even if you already have a copy of Five Secrets, the book I've included; you should click on over and check it out anyway as there are probably several new authors you haven't read before. You'll find that promo at bookdeals.today.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's Publication Day Tomorrow!



I'm very excited to make this announcement. On the Side of the Angel is going to be released tomorrow, June 7! It's available for the introductory price of $2.99 for Kindle, and it's enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so it's free with your membership to that program. It will be available wide in three months when the KU enrollment expires, so if you normally read using Kobo or Nook or iBooks or any of the other channels, you'll have to wait just a little longer. Or you can download the kindle app and read it now if you just can't wait.

Meanwhile, if you are one of the ARC team members, you can head on over to Goodreads and post a quick review today, and then tomorrow you can visit the book on your local Amazon site and post another.


And remember, due to FTC guidelines, when posting say something like this straight off:

I received a free copy of this book with no expectation of a biased review.
or
The following is my honest opinion, although in the interest of full disclosure I did receive a gift copy of the book from the author.

Of course, if you'd rather, you can just leave a stars-only review. Thanks again, everyone, and I hope you all enjoyed reading OtSotA as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Description
  Lina Forman has an assumed name, a vendetta, a résumé of varied skills, and the knowledge to make her a force to fear.
  Known in the criminal underground as The Bartering Angel, a mysterious “fixer” whose help keeps the bad guys out of trouble, she assumes the name Lina when she arrives in the Pittsburgh area in 2005. When the son of a local drug runner murders a convenience store clerk during a botched thrill robbery, Lina must keep him out of jail to prove her worth to the local criminal underground. Despite her elaborate scheme to confound the evidence and mislead authorities, two local cops threaten to disrupt her plans and steer the FBI on a path to avoid her red herrings.

  Can Lina preserve her reputation and make good on her promises before she has to abandon her vengeance, change her name, and start again? Or will a careless oversight expose her secrets?

To find the book online go to https://books2read.com/u/mV7yWr


Saturday, June 3, 2017

It's Instafreebie Time!

Anne R. Tan's monthly Instafreebie giveaway is going on right now, and this time around it features 31 totally free mystery novels yours to claim for just the price of your email address. Simply visit, annertan.com/free to claim as many free books as you want, and get on the mailing list for some new favorite authors.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Coelho Medallion by Kevin Tumlinson

In an off-the-beaten-trail location in Colorado, near the borders of Texas and New Mexico, a team of archeologists has uncovered an ancient medallion covered in symbols from various native languages as well as what appear to be Viking runes.  Is this evidence that pre-Columbian European explorers interacted with Native Americans this far into the North American continent? Somebody seems to believe so, and when evidence of a previously uncharted underground river possibly connecting the site to locations further north is uncovered, the speculation and the intrigue kicks into high gear.

The book, The Coelho Medallion, is named for this artifact; the artifact is named for its discoverer, an Hispanic archeologist named Coelho (pronounced Quay-o.) The story is reminiscent of Dan Brown’s Langdon series, the Indiana Jones franchise, and a little bit of the National Treasure movies as well. There are bad guys, heists, chases, an unrealized romantic backstory, a rich playboy/adventurer hero, a damsel in distress, an FBI sidekick, and loads of twists and turns – and I’m not just talking about the underground river.
Kevin Tumlinson

All of the tropes are present, but they are handled deftly and in a way that makes the story feel believable. Everything is told in a third-person omniscient POV, so we never leave our role as observer to become part of the action, and I personally like that. It’s more theatrical – which is just the mood a story like this requires. If the book has a weakness, it’s a dearth of strong female characters. There’s the damsel in distress, Dr, Evelyn Horelica, and the owner of a shady bar who is only in one scene and could just as easily have been a male character, but other than that the main cast of 
players is a sausage party rivaling Twelve Angry Men.

Richard Rieman
The audiobook version is ably narrated by Richard Rieman. He has a rich baritone perfectly suited to the gravitas of the story without distracting from the mood. He sounds familiar and pleasant without sounding generic and chipper. He does, however, have a verbal tell in the way he pronounces the word “room” in what feels to me like a West Virginia accent. And the word seems to appear in the story an inordinate number of times. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice it. Well, you will, now, because I brought it to your attention, but otherwise…

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, and if it was ever made into a film starring – oh I don’t know – Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Ryan Reynolds, I might watch it – eventually, on cable. Also, I understand that the character, Dan Kotler, is a recurring character with other adventures to his fictional name in the works as well as a prequel novella. Would I read or listen to those? Given the opportunity; absolutely. Would I seek them out though, that’s the real question.  They’re already in my Google Alerts cue.


Friday, May 12, 2017

May Promo

It's time, once again, for the monthly promo hosted by Renée Pawlish. This weekend (May 13 & 14) features 99¢ mystery and thriller eBooks. There are nearly 50 books and a few box sets in the promo, so for under half a C-note you can own over 50 titles.

My own book, Common Sense, the second title in the Lupa Schwartz mystery series is included in the mix.
   Common sense tells Cattleya Hoskin that her reporter ex-husband wouldn't have gone out night-fishing by himself in the middle of an investigation. The unaccommodating local authorities see it differently. In an effort to prove them wrong, Cattleya enlists the help of her private investigator friend, Schwartz, to follow through with Dave’s investigation—theft from the power grid in a small Ohio town.
   The inquiry is complicated by crooked contractors, a menacing white van, and some long-abandoned coal mines and antebellum tunnels. Aggressively loud church bells and the amorous advances of a bounty hunter Schwartz brought in to help add to an already convoluted situation. Yet Cattleya feels she owes it to Dave to figure out what happened to him, for better or for worse.
You can find the promo and links to all of the titles at ReneePawlish.com/promo/


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book Release on June 7!


All of the final beta notes are back or coming soon. The ARC team has been sent their rough draft copies. Final edits will be completed in the next few days. Then on June 7th, 2017, my latest novel, my first full length thriller, On the Side of the Angel, will be available in paperback and through Kindle Unlimited and on Amazon for Kindle. A few weeks after, it will leave KU and it will be available in wide distribution on all channels; Kobo, iBooks, B&N, everywhere.

On the Side of the Angel is the first in a proposed series of novels featuring the Bartering Angel, a fixer with a private vendetta. The story arc for Angel is epic, beginning in Alaska in the 90s and moving through time and multiple locations to the present day, with each story representing a stop in her journey to revenge and vindication. Here's the description:

   Lina Forman has an assumed name, a vendetta, a résumé of varied skills, and the knowledge to make her a force to fear.
   Known in the criminal underground as The Bartering Angel, a mysterious “fixer” whose help keeps the bad guys out of trouble, she assumes the name Lina when she arrives in the Pittsburgh area in 2005. When the son of a local drug runner murders a convenience store clerk during a botched thrill robbery, Lina must keep him out of jail to prove her worth to the local criminal underground. Despite her elaborate scheme to confound the evidence and mislead authorities, two local cops threaten to disrupt her plans and steer the FBI on a path to avoid her red herrings.
   Can Lina preserve her reputation and make good on her promises before she has to abandon her vengeance, change her name, and start again? Or will a careless oversight expose her secrets?

The eBook will be available for the introductory price of $2.99! You can pre-order now, if you are so inclined, at this UBL. As other installments in the Bartering Angel series are released by other authors, I'll keep you informed or you can check out the series' page at Bartering-Angel.weebly.com/

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Easter Weekend


As I've mentioned before, I'm not a particularly (or at all) religious man, but I enjoy the secular aspects of the holiday and I respect the beliefs of those who observe. It's also a time when many people have time off from their jobs or schooling, and with that time on your hands it's an opportunity to binge your favorite show, to catch up on some current music, or to read some of the literature that's been building up on your e-reading device.

If you're on my beta-reader or ARC team, you should have received an email from me by now with the latest and next-to-final edits of my upcoming release, On the Side of the Angel. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your remarks regarding your reading experience.

Until next month, happy ham shopping! Oh,and if you have any good leftover ham and boiled egg recipes, send them my way. Let's make this a Dyngus Day to remember!



Easter Freebies!


This weekend is also the weekend of Renée Pawlish's April promo, and this time around it's FREE kindle ebooks. Check out the more than 20 free thriller and mystery titles here on April 15 and 16.

Again the stars have aligned, and Anne R. Tan's Instafreebie giveaway is also beginning this weekend. It runs April 16 through 19, and the more than 30 participating mystery titles can be found here.

.

And for the first time, Anne has handed off the responsibility to handle the Instafreebie giveaway for thriller titles. Whereas her promo used to be mysteries AND thrillers, now Craig Hart has taken over thriller titles. His promo is hosted here, and all of the thriller titles are available on the same dates as Anne's promo. Enjoy.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Guest Post: Why I wrote the Vanishing Café, by Hana Esselink

Hana Esselink is a Public Relations Consultant, who has worked in Communications for 16 years for public and private sector organisations, charities and individuals. She has worked for organizations with high profile reputations such as the National Audit Office, HMRC and the Food Standards Agency.
Hana Esselink
Hana has helped an East London based artist who was a former businessman, to achieve success in producing two solo exhibitions. One featured on BBC London news and the other received good media coverage in East London.
A creative thinker who relates well to people from different backgrounds and ages, Hana grew up in multi-cultural London – a city that influences her work and writing.  She likes to think and develop ideas outside the box. She is also interested in spirituality and is a devotee of yoga and swimming. A keen traveler who likes to experience other cultures, Hana enjoys writing, art, music, film, cooking, reading a good novel and visiting diverse parts of London, such as Brick Lane.
As a writer, Hana likes to explore the human and metaphysical aspects of life. She is currently writing her second novel, set in the era of Jesus Christ.
Hana currently lives in South Kensington, West London.


The Vanishing Café by Hana Esselink
 The cafe had a metaphysical spirituality, a mystical - almost holy - vibe. It's where Nina had felt most alive. Where she was reborn. There she shed her driven persona as a public relations hack who cared only for the surfaces of things and for getting ahead.
The place was hardly trendy. Dim, indifferently furnished, it existed almost outside time. Oddly, it never even had a name, just a distinctive red canopy. But inside, Nina met people who opened her eyes to the world - to worlds behind the world. Small-p philosophers, Tarot-card readers, wise misfits, inspired eccentrics. Miraculous things took place there. Nina found she could hear what others were thinking. For a few minutes one day, before her eyes, the dowdy room transformed itself into a Buddhist temple. Over time, the cafe transformed Nina. She became more mindful, more receptive...more loving. It was a supernatural experience; a metaphysical awakening. And that let her find love. Nina married Pieter. Reliable, stable, wonderful Pieter. Now, after five years away, she has the chance to revisit the cafe. She has the chance to show him the miraculous place that changed her.But the cafe, once so brilliant with life and spirit, is derelict.And there's a second shock. Pieter, ever the cool rationalist, scoffs at the very idea of the cafe's magical realism. He disbelieves Nina's transformation - the very thing that allowed her to love him.Nina is bereft. Her friends, her teachers, her guides are gone. Suddenly, with the cafe defunct and Pieter mocking it - mocking her! - she's no longer sure of anything.Had that red canopy truly shaded a doorway to higher consciousness? Or had it all just been a supernatural hallucination?And...must her marriage break up over this? If Pieter can't accept this most important, magical truth of her life, could it possibly last?If only the café would suddenly reappear, so that she can convince Pieter of its power and win back his trust!Or can she somehow manage that on her own?

So the question arises: why did I write my novel The Vanishing Café?

It’s a genre that is either classed as magical realism, ‘spirituality’- and whatever that entails or inspirational. I like inspirational because for me, writing that novel felt inspired.

It took me the best part of 10 years on and off to write the book, which was originally called The Butterfly Dance, until I realized that no one would ever understand what that meant and for someone who is a communications professional (I’ve worked in public relations and communications for 16 years) that was a tragedy.

So, I hired an editor to help me reshape the novel and a guy from the States called Mike Alvaer, who is a Kindle expert and we changed the whole thing from the cover design to the title, to parts of the narrative until it flowed better, until it read better, until it just was better.

You see, as a communications professional working most of my career in public sector organizations amongst other places, I was used to being told that we couldn’t talk about certain subjects to the media as some topics were too ‘sensitive’ or the reputation of the organisation had to be protected. There was plenty of red tape, silly politics and bureaucracy along my career path.

That’s when I decided to write a novel about a café in Soho, where the narrator, Nina, would be on a hunt for the ‘truth’. For her, it meant that after the death of her beloved grandmother in India, she realized that her driven persona as a public relations hack was too shallow, that there was more to life. Despite the obvious similarities, I didn’t base the narrator on myself.

Nina wants to know if there is life after death, as her spiritual grandmother told her there was, she is fed up of living a life that only cares for the surface of things and for getting ahead, not for the things that really matter.

At this time, I was also going to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, London regularly. This is every Sunday, listening to people talking about religion, faith, socialism, anything that takes their fancy. People stand on their soapboxes and relay what they feel is most important, their Jesus, their Muhammad, the difference between the Bible and the Quran. Some of the speakers are serious and moody, others joke and want to play down religion. Still others, put each other down for their beliefs. However, for me it was a great way to learn about the search for ‘truth’, it was each to their own. It became a search for our feelings.

At one point during this time, I found a little café in Greek Street in Soho, which is now long gone (replaced by a small corner shop, selling sweets and chocolates and a few other things). During my time there, it was run by an Italian lady and was frequented by a transvestite and a few other regulars. I wasn’t working that summer, so the idea for The Vanishing Café came from this place.

However, I made my story very different. I wanted Nina, my narrator, to have been through something so painful, that she was hungry for a change in her life, a different direction that could pierce her reality after the death of her grandmother. I wanted Nina to create something so vivid in her imagination that no one would ever know if it was true or imagined.

So it was that the café in The Vanishing Café became the place for that transformation, the place where Nina met all the crazy characters who helped change her life. The café is like Dr Who’s tardis, it can transport her to other realities.

The cafe is hardly trendy. In fact it’s dim and indifferently furnished, it exists almost outside time. Oddly, it never even has a name, just a distinctive red canopy. But inside, Nina meets people who open her eyes to the world — to worlds behind the world. These are small-p philosophers, Tarot-card readers, wise misfits, inspired eccentrics. Miraculous things take place in the café. Nina finds she could hear what others are thinking. For a few minutes one day, before her eyes, the dowdy room transforms itself into a Buddhist temple.

Over time, the cafe transforms Nina. She becomes more mindful, more receptive and ultimately, more loving. And that lets her find love. Nina marries Pieter, her Dutch husband. He is reliable and stable, he is wonderful.

The novel begins with Nina and her husband coming back to London, after living five years away in Amsterdam. Nina has the chance to revisit the café again with Pieter, who has never been. She has the chance to show him the miraculous place that changed her. But the cafe, once so brilliant with life and spirit, has closed down and is derelict.

And there’s a second shock. Pieter, ever the cool rationalist, scoffs at the very idea of the cafe’s magic. He disbelieves Nina’s transformation — the very thing that allowed her to love him. Nina is bereft. Her friends, her teachers, her guides are gone.  

Suddenly, with the cafe defunct and Pieter mocking it and mocking her — she’s no longer sure of anything. Had that red canopy outside the cafe truly shade a doorway to higher consciousness? Or had it all just been a hallucination? Nina is starting to think that her marriage can now break up over this. If Pieter can’t accept this most important truth of her life, could it possibly last?

If only the café would suddenly reappear, so that she can convince Pieter of its power and win back his trust! Or can she somehow manage that on her own?

The reader is like Nina’s husband - skeptical and wondering if the café really was as magical as she says. Or was she suffering from too much grief at that time and did that emotion take over her and did she, in fact, imagine it all?

Only the reader can decide if the café really was a place of magic that transformed a woman’s life or whether Nina is indeed crazy in her imagination. Was the café a gateway to a higher energy than ourselves? Nina is defiant that it is, but once again, her emotions may have taken her there.

So it is that the search for the ‘truth’ still continues.

***


Follow @hanaesselink on Twitter
The Vanishing Café is available on Amazon.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Author Interview: Frank Cavallo: Author of Rites of Azathoth

Frank Cavallo is a horror and dark fantasy writer. His previous works include Eye of the Storm, The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death.
Frank Cavallo

He was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. His life-long fascination with the darker side of human nature has led him to devote most of the past 15 years to a career as a criminal defense attorney, at the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office, in Cleveland, Ohio. There he has come face-to-face with some of the truest horror in this world. Murder, rape, burglary, drugs. That's his bread and butter. 
Rites of Azathoth 
F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case. To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path. The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth.
Who are your influences?
Since my newest book contains a Lovecraft character in the title, you’d probably expect me to say HPL, and you’d be right. But there are plenty of others, especially from that golden age of pulp fiction.
I remember reading the preface to an old collection of Robert E. Howard stories in which the writer (I can’t remember who, unfortunately) said that a lot of writers made him want to read, but only a few writers made him want to write. That stuck with me, for two reasons. One, because I agreed with him, Robert E. Howard made me want to write too. Second, there are very few writers I’ve come across since who made me feel that way. Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker are the two guys working today who have that effect on me.

When did you begin writing?
When I was about eight years old, I started writing stories in school. At first they were just monster stories at Halloween, then sci-fi stories in the mold of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. That became kind of a habit, and I haven’t stopped since.
 
How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
I try to write stories that I would want to read, and I hope that other people share the same interests as me. As far as how I come up with them, that’s a harder question to answer. I usually work through an idea a little at a time, mulling over various scenarios and permutations until I find something that I think would be interesting to explore.
Things like character names are particularly fun to toy with, and highly dependent on the setting. I wrote a “weird western” a few years ago set in the late 19th century. So I scoured things like lists of Civil War generals to get a sense of what names were popular 150 years ago. The fashions change from era to era of course, and in those days there were a lot of Biblical and Classical names being used. Today very few guys are named Jedidiah or Lysander, but back then it was pretty common. Once you have the names down it really gets you into the feel of things.

Do you work from an outline?
I definitely do, but I don’t always stick to it. At one time I did not outline at all, I would just start writing and see what happened. That was a messy way to do it, and I found that it was taking me a very long time to write a single piece, since I was constantly changing course, re-working the story, etc. These days I outline everything on the front end, but I’m always willing to deviate from that structure as things develop. So I take a sort of hybrid approach.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
Without giving too much away, there is a scene fairly early on in Rites of Azathoth that I enjoyed writing. It’s pivotal point for one of the characters, where he is just being introduced to this secret cult that worships the dark gods. The rituals he’s initiated into are violent and soaked with blood, but he’s very much aware that this horror represents a path to something he desperately wants. So he’s forced to choose—accept these twisted and obviously horrific practices or turn away and risk losing the chance to finally have the thing he wants most in life.
I love getting into questions like that. How much are you willing to tolerate to get what you want? How much are we willing to compromise in the service of our deepest desires?

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
This isn’t exactly revolutionary, but I’m very much from the school of “character first.” Everything proceeds from that, no matter what kind of fiction you’re writing. It all starts with interesting, flawed characters who confront their internal issues while also dealing with some external problem. You sometimes hear people say that there are only about seven basic stories that can be told. My thought on that is “who cares?” Because that idea misses the point. What you should always be doing as a writer is examining the human experience through the lens of a single character, who just happens to be embroiled in some version of one of those seven plots. The journey of that character is why you’re writing.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
In a way, I suppose. I’ve written science fiction, fantasy and horror, broadly speaking. In each of those, I’ve tried to blend elements from different genres. In a larger sense, there’s an argument that all three of these are really just one genre: “speculative fiction.” If you look at something like The Twilight Zone that was not strictly a horror show or a fantasy show or even a sci-fi show, but from week to week the stories ran the gamut between all of them. So in a sense, I feel like everything I’ve been writing falls under this broad umbrella.
In terms of branching out into something very different, like romance or literary fiction, then the answer is definitely “no.” I just don’t know enough about those genres, because I’ve never read them. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
The book I released last year, Eye of the Storm, took place in a steppe society, very much like the ancient Mongols or Scythians. I always try to get as close to what I’m writing as possible, so in this case it gave me an excuse to do something I’d always wanted to do, to go trekking in Central Asia for a few weeks. Hopefully some of that comes through in the book, like the taste of fermented horse milk, for example. It’s better than you’d think.

Frank Cavallo’s latest novel, Rites of Azathoth, was released in January 2017, published by Bedlam Press (An Imprint of Necro Publications).

“Rites of Azathoth is an occult-thriller rooted in the H.P. Lovecraft tradition, or what is sometimes called the Cthulhu Mythos. It is a book that will appeal to general horror audiences, especially any fans of Lovecraft himself, as well as fans of Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Jack Ketchum,” says Cavallo.

Readers can connect with Frank on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. 

To learn more, go to http://www.frankcavallo.com/

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Two Promos; One Weekend


In the past, I have told you about Renée Pawlish's sales promos and Ann R. Tan's Instafreebie promos. Normally I can only tell you about one per post because they fall at different times of the month. However, this month, the planets have aligned, weekends have converged, and there has been a shift to the paradigm of epic proportions. Okay, that may be a little hyperbolic, but just a little.

Here's the situation, on the weekend of the 18th and 19th, Renée's promo featuring mystery and thriller ebooks on sale for 99 cents is running concurrent with Ann's Instafreebie mystery and thriller group giveaway which runs March 19 to March 21. 

Renée's promo can be found here:


Ann's can be found here:


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Author Interview: Ed Duncan: Author of Pigeon-Blood Red

Ed Duncan
Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He is the author of Pigeon-Blood Red, a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy.

Pigeon-Blood Red tells the story of underworld enforcer Richard "Rico" Sanders, who believed his next assignment to be an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss's priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.
 As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

Who are your influences?
Some of my favorite authors are Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, James Jones, Somerset Maugham, Richard Wright, Ken Follett, Theodore Dreiser, Scott Turow, Dennis Lehane, Walter Mosley, Frederick Forsythe, and Lee Child.  I think they all have influenced me at least indirectly.  Since I write crime fiction, the author who has influenced me the most in that genre is Dashiell Hammett.  His writing in The Maltese Falcon is brilliant.  Spade's long monologue near the end of the novel where he explains to Brigid O'Shaughnessy that he "won't play the sap" for her and that he's "sending her over" is masterful.  Relative to Lee Child, few writers can elevate the level of tension in a scene as well or as often as he does, novel after novel.  When Reacher is in one of his frequent tight spots, the reader feels as though he is right there beside him.



When did you begin writing?
I've been an avid reader since high school.  I always planned to write for fun in my spare time, but there never seemed to be enough of it since I had a busy law practice.  In 2008 I wrote a legal text entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage, for which I provided annual updates through 2012.  Pigeon-Blood Red, the first in a trilogy, is the first work of fiction I've published.  The idea for the novel came to me in the mid-1990's when I was attending a legal conference in Honolulu.  I worked on it off and on in my spare time over the years but never had enough time to develop it fully.  I retired with the specific objective of doing that. Now that it's finished, I've started on the next installment of the trilogy, which I hope to finish this Spring.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc.?
As mentioned, the idea for Pigeon-Blood Red came to me when I was in Hawaii.  During an evening stroll around the hotel where I was staying, the germ of an idea for the novel came to me spontaneously, although at first the premise was inchoate and hardly a story.  The only thing I saw in my mind's eye was a beautiful, mysterious woman in danger and on the run and a stranger (a lawyer like me) coming to her rescue.  Only after much contemplation and many drafts did the story as it appears in the novel today come together.  As for the next two installments in the trilogy, my methodology for coming up with new stories and characters was to dream up circumstances under which the two main characters, a lawyer and a hit man with a conscience, might cross paths and how they both could become involved in the commission or resolution of a crime of some kind.  Once I hit upon the basic outline, I devised the characters and plot lines needed to raise the stakes and create the necessary tension to create a satisfying story.    

Relative to character names, in Pigeon-Blood Red "Paul", one of the two main characters, is the name of my best friend in elementary and high school.  "Elliott," Paul's last name, is the name of a biology teacher in my high school.  I borrowed "Evelyn", Paul's romantic interest, from the tragic lead character in Chinatown, a movie I admire a lot.  "Rico," the name of the hit man, just popped into my head.  "Litvak," his boss, is a variation of "Rybak," the name of someone I worked with in the steel mill one summer when I was in college.  Other names I took from the phone book or from my high school yearbook.

Regarding point of view, I use the omniscient third person narrator but I occasionally slip into telling the story from the point of view of one or another of the main characters.  Changing point of view within the novel is frowned upon by some but my only concern is whether novel reads well.

Do you work from an outline?
I use an outline only sparingly.  I start with a broad outline that tells me what the novel is about, who the main characters are, and generally how the story will end (although this may change as I write).  The details fill themselves in as I write.  As ideas come to me, however, I jot them down so that I don't lose them.  As I write, quite a bit changes from my initial conception as I develop new plot twists and add new characters.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
Character A is wearing the ring that belonged to a character who has been murdered.  Character B, the brother of the victim, notices the ring on A's finger while both men are eating in a restaurant.  A goes to the men's room and B follows him and locks the door behind him.  While standing at the urinal, A hears the door lock and knows he's in trouble but he's in an awkward and vulnerable position.  B forces A, still standing at the urinal, to confirm that the ring belonged to B's murdered brother but he claims that he got the ring from someone else and that he's innocent.  Does A talk his way out of the dilemma or does B kill him?

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I have stumbled upon two compelling characters, one black and one white, from opposite sides of the tracks, and I've managed to develop three, I think, interesting story lines which bring the two men together and cause them to discover that they have more in common than either man realizes.  I don't know yet whether I can create more interesting stories involving these characters or whether I will have to move on to others.  Either way, I will write what interests me when I am in the mood to write, i.e.,, when the muse arrives.  I don't force myself to write for a set number of hours every day or at the same time every day.  That is too much like work, which I did for 37 years.  Now is the time for relaxation and writing when I feel like it is relaxing.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
Besides my legal treatise, Ohio Insurance Coverage, I have not.  That said, I think I'd like to try literary fiction some day.  Some of the most memorable novels I've read fall into that genre.  Some that come to mind include From Here to Eternity, An American Tragedy, Of Human Bondage, The Naked and the Dead, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
E.L. Doctorow was such a perfectionist that even a note to his daughter's teacher explaining why she'd missed a day from school took him forever to write.  One morning after he had struggled with the note for so long that his daughter was about to miss her bus, his wife relieved him of the chore and dashed off the note, consisting of only a couple of sentences, in a matter of seconds.  I fear that I share this trait with Doctorow, although he is not a bad writer with whom to have something in common, even if it is a failing.  I don't know who said this first but it applies to Doctorow and yours truly: "Writing is easy.  All you have to do is sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper and open a vein."


To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/






Friday, February 17, 2017

Renée's February Promo is FREE Books

The monthly promo run by Renée Pawlish is this weekend. I don't have a book in this one, but some friends of mine do. All of the books are available through Amazon for your Kindle or the Kindle app.

The promo is available on her website here. It features over twenty mysteries and thrillers which you can download to your devices for free. I interviewed Renée on my podcast a few months ago. Click here, if you'd like to have a listen. Another author from the podcast, HN Wake, also has a book included in this month's promo. I featured HN's story, Ghosts in Macau, as episode 6 and episode 7 of the second season.

So if you're looking for a few new authors to check out at no risk, why not download a free story and give them a try? As a reminder, if you haven't got it yet, my book, Extreme Unction, the first book in the Lupa Schwartz mystery series is also available for free download.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

Author Interview: Robert Skuce: Author of Kiss of Death

Robert Skuce thought that he was too pretty and small for prison so he decided to write about it instead. After dabbling in different genres, he found himself at home as a thriller/crime writer. A man, who was born and raised in Eastern Ontario, Canada, in a small town, he decided to try his hand at creative novel writing. Turned out, he loved it and kept writing to improve his craft and is now the writer he is today. He enjoys a good mystery and once in a while he likes to go back to horror when it was simpler and less complicated then you find in this day and age.
Robert Skuce

Currently living in Southern Ontario with his wife and four kids, he enjoys long walks, time with his family and lazy afternoons getting caught up on television. He loves playing with computers and is the household personal IT technician. When he goes out, you can find him exploring the different restaurants his city has to offer and driving in the country side.  He is always looking for new places to be the basis of his books. He photographs abandoned buildings and unique parts of town in order to create a sense of realism in his books.

Filled with ideas and personalities that are unique, he is always coming up with a new and twist-filled story that will make its way to the pages everyone can enjoy. Captivating his readers with the difficulty in his books and leaving them trying to figure out who did it, will make you want to keep reading to see what Robert Skuce will come up with next!
Kiss of Death

Bruno Norcross is a detective who never got over letting a serial killer get away. Now that Kiss of Death has re-surfaced; he is determined to close the case. The death of another young college girl has sparked outrage in Charlie Lassitor, the police Sargent, whose daughter was killed by this very killer. Bruno feels compelled to close this case, but the details get blurred when a new name enters the list of suspects. Can Bruno catch the killer before his killing spree ends and he vanishes again? Or will Kiss of Death once again elude him?
Who are your influences?
Stephen King is obviously a great influence and I always enjoy his books, but also have a couple lesser known authors that influence me and my writing. Rayne Hall has a Writers Craft series that I find myself always referring to over and over again. Charles Barnett has a book called The Deepest Sea. It’s still one of my all time favorite books and I admire his writing style.

When did you begin writing?
I wrote my first novel about four years ago, I would like to say it was a master piece and an amazing novel, but it wasn’t. What it did though, was show me that I could write a complete book and that each book I write gets better.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc.?
My stories ideas usually evolve from a few scenes that stand out and a theme develops. From there the characters develop. I try and create characters that I can relate to and truly twist their lives. My books usually jump from one to three points of view. Not just the hero, but the villain as well. I think it makes my books more fun to read and write.

Do you work from an outline?
I try and write from an outline of ideas but usually the characters come alive and the story takes on a life of its own.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
In Kiss of Death, Lee has been beaten down and a stranger comes up. The way he talks, you have hope that somebody is finally going to help the poor guy, then boom, the unthinkable happens.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
My philosophy is to try and write the kind of story that I want to read. To put the images, I have in my head and make them flow into the pages of my books.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
Yes, I have tried writing paranormal romance. My first book was a love story. The story itself wasn’t the accomplishment. It was completing the book. A few months later I reread the book and thought I can do better so I sat down and gave the character’s personality and made a better story.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
My books refer to Bloodvien prison which is based on the Kingston pen. I actually have a funny story about that. I told my parents that I was going to prison, but something happened that I had to go before the conversation finished. I checked my phone a few hours later and I had missed four calls. I guess I should have added that the prison is closing and it was for book research.

Learn more about Robert and his books at his website:

www.robertskuce.com/ or you can find him on Goodreads, and on Twitter.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's FREE Book Promo Time!

Here's one that I have nothing to do with. Anne R Tan has included one of my titles in her monthly Instafreebie promo in the past, so I just wanted to let you know it's going on right now so you can take advantage of it and maybe find some new mystery or thriller writers to enjoy.

Simply visit this page, peruse the titles, and download the ones you want to check out for free. You'll have to give the writer of each book you download your email address, and the writer will then put you on his or her mailing list, but that' not so bad. You already know you enjoy the writer and this way they can let you know about future sales or giveaways or new releases.

Enjoy!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Renee's January Sale

A few weeks ago I put Shared Disbelief on sale for 99¢ on all channels for a promotion through Ann R. Tan's companion sale to her monthly Instafreebie group promo. When that promo ended I changed the price back to normal on almost all channels. However, I never raised it on Amazon. The reason why is that this month, Renee Pawlish is having a 99¢ sale as part of her monthly promo - which is Amazon-only. 

So if you missed your chance at Shared Disbelief last month, and if you own a Kindle or have the Kindle App on your phone or tablet, now is your chance to get the book critics are calling:

"...a great read."  ~ Jeff Kivela

and:

" ...often witty and sometimes snarky, and that is fun to read." ~ Maryann Miller

The book is available for a sale price from Amazon USUKCan and AU. Or you can find all of the books in the promo at Renee's site. The promo runs January 14 and 15, and after that, I will be changing my price for this title back to normal.