Friday, September 23, 2016

Team Mystery Thriller September Promo

On September 24 and 25, my collection of noir stories, 8 Tales of Noir, will be included in the monthly Team Mystery Thriller promo for just 99¢. It will be just one of dozens of such books available at ReneePawlish.com/Promo

In previous promos with the team I have included my first-in-series Lupa Schwartz mystery novel, Extreme Unction (which was free,) and my box set of the Lupa Schwartz series books two through five, Twice Told, for 99¢. Each time, the promo helped my book rise in it's respective category on Amazon, and - to this day - Extreme Unction remains in the top 300 free in the category "Women Sleuths" and is almost top 100 free in the "Private Investigators" category. Let's see how high we can push 8 Tales of Noir.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A New Anthology For You

A new anthology of flash fiction, which has just been released, includes a 1000-word complete Lupa Schwartz Mystery entitled FTS. The anthology, entitled Bite-Sized Stories, was compiled and edited by author, George Donnelley. The book is available for free from most online retailers, and will soon be free on Amazon, as soon as we can get them to price-match. In the meanwhile, it is available on Amazon for just 99 cents.

OR, you can get a copy for free by signing up for my newsletter.

iTunes, Google Play, B&N, Kobo

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Testify on the Thrills and Mystery Podcast

Those of you who regularly listen to my podcast already know this, but I'm currently featuring my Lupa Schwartz novella, Testify, on my audiobook-style podcast, The Thrills and Mystery Podcast. Testify is available to read on this blog, and has been for over a year. It will eventually be removed from this site and published in a collection of Lupa Schwartz novellas to be entitled Hard Boiled. The first installment is currently available for download, and consecutive installments will be rolled out in three more parts each Monday. Jump on over to Thrills and Mystery's website to hear the first episode now. And enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Guest Post: The Whole Thing About Existence by Arthur M. Doweyko, PhD


After retiring in 2009, Arthur M. Doweyko took up writing fiction. His novel Algorithm garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award. He has also published a number of short stories, many of which have been selected as Finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Award contest, and two Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

Arthur was awarded the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for his contribution to the discovery of Sprycel, a novel anti-cancer drug successfully brought to the marketplace in 2009. He has authored over one hundred publications (papers, abstracts, patents, book chapters) and has been an invited lecturer in a number of drug-discovery and computational venues. 

Arthur lives in Florida with the love of his life, Lidia. When he’s not writing, he’s happily wandering the beaches. 

As Wings Unfurl
   Applegate Bogdanski returns from Vietnam with a missing leg, a Purple Heart, and an addiction to morphine. He stumbles through each day, looking forward to nothing and hoping it will arrive soon. When he attempts to thwart a crime, he is knocked unconscious and wakes up to discover that people are once again calling him a hero, though he feels undeserving of the praise.
   Apple returns to work and meets Angela, a mysterious woman who claims to be his guardian. Immediately, he feels a connection to her, which morphs into an attraction. But he soon discovers that Angela is much more than she seems.
   Apple and Angela are swept up in a conspiracy that stretches through time and space. Together, they must fight to save everything they hold dear from an alien race bent on destroying humanity.
Okay, so this could possibly be an exercise in deep thinking. Or not.
The single most important question we could ever ask is the one we will never get an answer for.

Put in a simple way:  "What the hell is going on?" implying… Why are we here? What is this place? Does something else come next? It's a favorite topic in science fiction, whether addressed head on or implied, in fact, it underlies both my debut novel, Algorithm and As Wings Unfurl.

In Algorithm I used the premise that a large part of our DNA is responsible for instinct, that for humans has a very specific purpose. In As Wings Unfurl the idea is that we have been fooled into a belief of evolutionary origins, and that the biblical accounts may be more accurate.

Philosophers, theologians, and even scientists have sought the answer, but we all know deep down that isn't going to happen. That grim fact alone is really quite an interesting clue to the answer itself. And there are other clues.

When a question is posed that really cannot be answered, the reason is either it's not a legitimate question or we aren't capable of understanding the answer. An illegitimate question is one that sounds logical but is poisoned with a logical impossibility. For example, when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, what happens? Here it's clear that the question has no logical underpinning. You simply can't ask that question!

Does asking about the Universe and our place in it fall into such a false trap? In this case, we may be faced with an answer that we cannot understand. Theologians would point to scripture and belief systems that explain everything. The supposition is that we don't have all the facts, and may never get them. However, even in a belief system, there are questions that can be posed, that we need to relegate to a higher authority… admitting we will never understand the answers as living human beings.

It seems the question of existence is like the endless series of "whys" a child might dish out, which usually result in parental exasperation. There is a limit to our understanding, and that limit derives from the type of logic we use.

Our logic was developed by a life form obsessed with survival. That's how we came to be. The way we think is entirely based on getting food, shelter, and staying out of deadly trouble. All this came about over a period of millions of years on a tiny dust mote called the Earth, stuck in a corner of a galaxy containing 100 billion stars in a universe containing at least 10 billion galaxies. The numbers are staggering. But the point is that our way of thinking came about in an exceedingly parochial way in a negligible part of the universe. Our logic may not apply to the bigger picture. When we ask a question aimed at the entire universe, we make the crass assumption that the universe and all its moving parts follow our brand of logic. Heck, even the language we use may not apply.

Aristotle once declared he was able to prove the existence of God. His approach is sometimes referred to as the First Cause. The assumption, made logically, is that all things have a cause. Applying this cause/effect relationship to anything will ultimately lead to the First Cause. For example, why is there wind? The air is moved by the heat from the sun. Why does the sun heat the air? Its thermonuclear reactions give off heat and we happen to be near enough to feel it. Why is there a sun? Matter was attracted by gravitational forces, and when an enormous amount was squished together, atoms fell apart. How did the atoms come to be? They are the consequence of the Big Bang, where matter for some reason chose to appear from nowhere and take on the form of atoms. Now we're getting in trouble.

To Aristotle the Big Bang could easily be interpreted as God. To physicists, it's just one of those curiosities that maybe someday we'll understand. Interestingly, the logical problem with the First Cause is that there is no proof that all things in the universe need to have a cause. (Just like the Big Bang). Here, logic itself demands that we be careful in extrapolating a series of deductions.

I propose that the question so dear to us all, is one that makes no sense. Just like a square circle, the question itself is simply not allowed.

Don't feel bad or get mad. Logic, like everything else, has its limits.

I mentioned other clues early in this essay. They are all around us. Matter is made of something, right? What exactly is that? Ah…silly question? We're great at taking things apart, giving them names, studying how they interact. But we will never ever know what matter is. That, right there, is a clue!

Another clue: did you know that all attempts to produce a perfect vacuum have failed. Put in another way, we cannot create a space with nothing in it. Read that as trying to produce a tiny spot where nothing exists. Reason? Because something always shows up. Light and/or tiny particles of matter manage to be created. Out of nothing!!!

Another: entangled particles … one can separate subatomic particles that usually exist as pairs. Whatever is done to one particle happens to the other at the very same time, regardless of distance between them. Einstein called this "spooky." It defies reason, but does suggest what we are seeing is not at all what really exists.

Finally, how is it that after the Big Bang, matter chose to form into atoms? It's peculiar because atoms have properties which are anthropomorphic … that is, they have likes and dislikes, which persist through higher levels of complexity, all the way through to us. It's puzzling that matter came together in the form of building blocks.

Existence is a strange phenomenon. It resists eradication. Matter behaves as if it's all part of one thing—odd little observations, but deeply meaningful. At this point, one could draw the conclusion that we are immortal, based on the fact that all our atoms will continue to exist after we die. It seems matter will last forever, either in the form of solids or energy, since it and energy have nowhere to go. They simply cannot unexist.

For more such oddities, strange discoveries, and even some thoughts about science fiction, please feel free to visit www.ArthurMDoweyko.com/blog


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Should Authors Use Booktrack: My Opinion

Several months ago, I decided to put my noir collection, 8 Tales of Noir, into the Booktrack program after hearing an interview with CEO and co-founder of Booktrack, Paul Cameron, conducted by Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn. The thing Paul said that closed the deal for me was that as a fairly new platform, new authors could gain traction by being one of the few options available on the site. Those weren’t his exact words, but that was the gist I took from it.

For the uninitiated, Booktrack is a website and app that allows readers to listen to a soundtrack which is partly synced to their reading rate. Thematic music is a part of the experience, but there are also sound effects. The music and ambient noises begin when the reader enters a scene, and once the program learns your reading speed, it times sound effects to coincide with when the reader reaches a specific event. 

So I spent about a week late at nights creating a Booktrack version of my book. All tolled, it probably consisted of about a 20-hour investment of my time. I found the interface easy to learn and apply, and the process was actually kind of fun – once. If I had to do it for all of my books, I’m certain the process would quickly become a chore. And luckily, Booktrack offers professional services for those who do not wish to compile their own, or be bothered learning the process.

So I worked diligently until I was satisfied that my book was as good as I could make it. I chose the music carefully; I found fitting sound effects for almost every grunt and door slam; and when I was stumped, I found suitable alternatives. For example, one of my stories features a fly flitting about from scene to scene, but there was no buzzing fly sound effect available. However there was a mosquito and other insect noises which to anyone other than a trained entomologist will suffice quite nicely.

When it was all said and done, on Valentine's Day I pressed publish, and … nothing.

Turns out, my paid version does not even show up as a purchasable option on the app store. I queried about this, and learned that the app servicers (android and Apple) take too big a slice. So the book is ONLY available for purchase on the website, and then only after a direct search for my author name. It doesn't even come up doing a title search for crying out loud. Oh, I suppose if one wades through the hundreds and hundreds of FREE options (which for some reason get all the prime real estate), one might eventually stumble on my cover, but I’m not holding my breath for that.

So how many copies have I sold? That’s another great question. I assume zero, but for all I know there have been a few sales. I mean, somebody gave it a 4-star rating after all. (Possibly somebody who clicked over from my mailing list or Facebook page.) But there’s no dashboard, no sales ranking, no downloadable sales history … no nothing. I have received one lone email telling me I haven’t earned the sales threshold for a royalty payment yet. Other than that, I have no idea what the heck is going on.

Of course there's always the possibility that my book isn't selling because it's not enticing enough. That's a possibility, but not a certainty. However, one certain thing is that it can't sell if it's utterly undiscoverable. 

So I’m afraid I can’t recommend Booktrack for authors. At least not until they address these issues. Sorry.

It's a shame too. The Booktrack version of my book is pretty dang cool. You should check it out

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Author Spotlight: Renée Pawlish, Author of It Doesn't Happen in the Movies

Editor's Note:
Renée Pawlish is the mastermind behind the monthly Team Mystery Thriller promos. She doesn't even have a dog in the race this month, but she generously coordinates and hosts the promo anyway. 

Renée Pawlish is the award-winning author of the bestselling Reed Ferguson mystery series, the Dewey Webb mystery series, horror bestseller Nephilim Genesis of Evil, The Noah Winters YA Adventure series, middle-grade historical novel This War We're In, Take Five, a short story collection, and The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, a nonfiction account of a haunted house investigation.

Renée has been called "a promising new voice to the comic murder mystery genre" and "a powerful storyteller". Nephilim Genesis of Evil has been compared to Stephen King and Frank Peretti.

Renée was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado.

This Doesn't Happen in the Movies
 
A wannabe private eye with a love of film noir and detective fiction. 
A rich, attractive femme fatale. 
A missing husband. 
A rollicking ride to a dark and daring ending 
Reed Ferguson’s first case is a daring adventure, complete with a dose of film noir, and a lot of humor. With a great supporting cast of the Goofball Brothers, Reed’s not too bright neighbors, and Cal, Reed’s computer geek friend, This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies is detective noir at its best. Follow Reed as he solves crime akin to his cinematic hero, Humphrey Bogart.
Sample:

“I want you to find my dead husband.”
“Excuse me?” That was my first reaction.
“I want you to find my husband. He’s dead, and I need to know where he is.” She spoke in a voice one sexy note below middle C.
“Uh-huh.” That was my second reaction. Really slick.
Moments before, when I saw her standing in the outer room, waiting to come into my office, I had the feeling she’d be trouble. And now, with that intro, I knew it.
“He’s dead, and I need you to find him.” If she wasn’t tired of the repetition, I was, but I couldn’t seem to get my mouth working. She sat in the cushy black leather chair on the other side of my desk, exhaling money with every sultry breath. She had beautiful blond hair with just a hint of darker color at the roots, blue eyes like a cold mountain lake, and a smile that would slay Adonis. I’d like to say that a beautiful woman couldn’t influence me by her beauty alone. I’d like to say it, but I can’t.
“Why didn’t you come see me yesterday?” I asked. Her eyes widened in surprise. This detective misses nothing, I thought, mentally patting myself on the back. She didn’t know that I’d definitely noticed her yesterday eating at a deli across the street. I had been staring out the window, and there she was.
The shoulders of her red designer jacket went up a half-inch and back down, then her full lips curled into the trace of a smile. “I came here to see you, but you were leaving for lunch. I followed you, and then I lost my nerve.”
“I see you’ve regained it.” I’ve never been one to place too much importance on my looks, but I suddenly wished I could run a comb through my hair, put on a nicer shirt, and splash on a little cologne. And change my eye color – hazel – boring. It sounded like someone’s old, spinster aunt, not an eye color.
She nodded. “Yes. I have to find out about my husband. He’s dead, I know it. I just know it.” Her tone swayed as if in a cool breeze, with no hint of the desperation that should’ve been carried in the words.
“But he’s also missing,” I said in a tone bordering on flippant, as I leaned forward to unlock the desk drawer where I kept spare change, paper clips, and my favorite gold pen. Maybe writing things down would help me concentrate. But I caught a whiff of something elegant coming from her direction, and the key I was holding missed the lock by a good two inches. I hoped she didn’t see my blunder. I felt my face getting warm and assumed my cheeks were turning crimson. I hoped she didn’t see that either.
Perhaps I was being too glib because she glanced back toward the door as if she had mistaken my office for another. “This is the Ferguson Detective Agency? You are Reed Ferguson?”
“It is and I am.” I smiled in my most assured manner, then immediately questioned what I was doing. This woman was making no sense and here I was, flirting with her like a high-school jock. I glanced behind her at the framed movie poster from the The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was one of my favorites, and I hung the poster in my office as a sort of inspiration. I wanted to be as cool as Bogie. I wondered what he would do right now.
She puckered pink lips at me. “I need your help.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” Now I sounded cocky.
The pucker turned into a fully developed frown. “I’m very serious, Mr. Ferguson.”
“Reed.” I furrowed my brow and looked at my potential first client with as serious an expression as I could muster. I noticed for the first time that she applied her makeup a bit heavy, in an attempt to cover blemishes.
“Reed,” she said. “Let me explain.” Now we were getting somewhere. I found the gold pen, popped the top off it and scrounged around another drawer for a notepad. “My name is Amanda Ghering.” She spoke in an even tone, bland, like she was reading a grocery list. “My husband, Peter, left on a business trip three weeks ago yesterday. He was supposed to return on Monday, but he didn’t.”

If you'd like to check out Renée's books, her links are just below. Or to check out the promo, go to Renée Pawlish's website where all of the books in this giveaway are available.

You can also find It Doesn't Happen in the Movies at the following links:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Author Spotlight: M. W. Griffith, Author of The Cold Bending Light

Editor's Note
The Team Mystery/Thriller promo returns this month with another round of free titles on the 20th and 21st of August. I do not have a pony in the race this go around, but I still plan to do my part to pay-it-forward and promote those who do. With that in mind, this weekend I will be spotlighting two of the books and their authors. Today, we're spotlighting author M.W. Griffith.

Michael Griffith was born in Carthage, Tennessee, and now lives in Murfreesboro TN after marrying his best friend.  He is the author of several bestselling mysteries, including The Truth About Alex and Monsoon Morning.  He is currently studying history at Middle Tennessee State University.  Always a storyteller at heart, Michael enjoys nothing more than sharing his tales with the world.


There's nothing worse than not knowing...
 On a hot summer evening, a young woman’s body is discovered in a small Tennessee town. When another girl vanishes on her way home from work, Special Agent Selena Marrenger takes on the case. All signs point to a terrifying serial killer with a unique modus operandi: a chemical used in state executions that isn’t found in Tennessee.
 As Selena inches closer to the unnerving truth, she starts to believe that something much larger - and sinister - is at play. Probing local law enforcement for answers unearths a well-hidden secret woven into the fabric of truth, justice, and madness…
 In this fast paced novel where nothing is quite what it seems, M.W. Griffith leads readers on a dangerous, twisting quest to bring justice to families whose lives have been changed forever by tragedy.


CHAPTER ONE
It had been another sweltering day in Middle Tennessee. Kristi Gillings’ mother told her it was too hot for kids to be running around and driving her crazy. A broken air conditioner meant they were all sweating in the late afternoon.
It was time to play outside.
Nobody had to tell Charlie, Kristi’s older brother, twice. He ran into the front yard with their younger sister, Elissa, carrying icy cold push pops and holding them up in the air just out of both girls reach. When Elissa began to cry, Kristi kicked her brother hard in the shin. He toppled over in the grass, and she snatched up her sister’s frozen treat.
“I’m telling!” Charlie’s voice squeaked. He scrambled to his feet, red-faced. “You’re going to be in big trouble. Mom already told you, remember? One strike left. You are so dead!”
Kristi bent down and handed the push pop to her sister. “Go on and do it then.” She directed a glare at Charlie. “You’re just a tattle-tail. Momma ain’t always gonna be there for you to run to!”
When her brother stomped up the steps and through the screen door, Kristi panicked.
She grabbed her bike from the garage and sped off down the road, leaving Elissa bewildered in the yard.
Kristi just needed to cool down. There was no way she would be able to face a third strike from her mother. Summer wouldn’t last forever, and she didn’t want to spend the rest of it grounded to her room. She was eleven years old, for crying out loud! When was she going to be treated like it? Just because Charlie was thirteen didn’t mean their mother always had to take his side.
Her bicycle tires crunched through the dirt along an uphill path less than a mile away from home. Thunder rolled faintly in the distant west. It was just after five, and the sun was drifting down in the late summer sky. The clouds became tinged with orange and red.
Kristi had to turn around. She knew the distance. She could make it back before the first droplets fell if she hurried.
The road was still, quiet. It cut a gash through the woods and wound like a snake across the hills. A cool evening wind pushed against the trees, lifting her corkscrew pigtails, and the sound reminded her of the ocean in Florida. They had vacationed there with relatives when school first let out. Silently, she smiled at the gentle waves crashing against the shore of memory.
Fireflies danced between the trunks. She watched them streak by as she peddled up the hill. Her legs burned from the effort, but when the road leveled out, she glided along and enjoyed the air on her freckled cheeks.
Lightning pulsed between heavy clouds. The storm was getting closer. Thunder cracked above, making her heart leap. Ahead, there was a turnoff leading back to her neighborhood. Almost there, she thought. Time to deal with that third strike.
* * *
Julia Fowler and Dylan Farrow sat on a grassy outcropping overlooking the carnival lights below. The two teenagers had just finished taking a dip in the creek behind her house. They snuck a six pack of beer from the refrigerator in his dad’s garage earlier; a locally brewed pale ale that was stronger than what they were used to, but they planned on celebrating before school started back.
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered, the lights sparkling in her eyes.
“I’ll say,” he breathed, sliding a hand along her lightly browned skin.
Julia pulled her chocolate brown hair back into a loose ponytail. She wore the green two piece bathing suit especially for him. “Not what I meant, but okay.”
Lightning lanced across the sky, followed by a deep concussion of thunder.
“Shit,” she said, leaning into his gentle nibbles along her neck. “Maybe we should head back.”
“Are you kidding me? That storm’s at least five miles away. We can hang out here for a little bit longer.” He moved his hand to her thigh. “You’re so hot.”
Julia let him kiss her ear, down to her bare shoulders, savoring each movement. All the while, her eyes remained locked on the lights from the summer carnival below. It was a tradition in Cedar Brook that had spanned almost fifty years. She remembered riding the Ferris wheel when she was little, and the sinking feeling in her gut when it rose to the highest point and the entire town sprawled out before her.
Dylan abruptly rose. “Sorry.” He laughed, covering the erection in his swim trunks with both hands. “I really gotta piss. Been holding it and I didn’t want to ruin the mood.”
Julia rolled her eyes. “Fine,” she said before putting earbuds in and switching on her iPod. “Make it quick, Romeo. That storm is moving in pretty fast.”
* * *
Dylan Farrow stepped into the surrounding woods and glanced over his shoulder at his girlfriend. She arched her back, both eyes closed, and lit only by the town beneath the outcropping. He could imagine that she was a dream, and that any moment he would wake up to the boring life he’d had before she came along. There was a gentleness to her, a classic sort of beauty he didn’t find in other girls.
Finally, he turned around and moved an appropriate distance away. There was a large tree with a hole in the trunk, split open by lightning long ago. He stepped forward and placed a hand on its ancient bark. Sometimes, he wondered what sort of things trees have seen in their lifetime. The comings and goings of nature, and people like himself sneaking off into the woods to get it on.
When he was finished, he made his way back. The wind had picked up, brushing coldly over his bare skin. More lightning bloomed above the little town.
Julia wasn’t there.
“Jules? Hey, Jules where’d you go?”
He stepped closer to where they had been sitting only moments before. The half empty six pack was sill where he remembered next to her open purse. The headphones and iPod lay in the grass a short distance away. He looked east and then west, peering in the near dark with squinted eyes. Finally, he stepped towards the outcropping and looked down.
The lights from the carnival rides were turning off one after the other.
“Jules?” Where was she?
Instinctively, he pulled his phone out and dialed her number. Julia’s phone lit up and buzzed inside her purse. He hit the end button and then dialed 911.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“My girlfriend’s gone,” the words shot out of his mouth.
“Your girlfriend left you?” The operator sounded like she had heard the same thing a million times that day.
“No, I mean she was here one minute and the next she’s just gone.”
“Did you and your girlfriend have an argument?”
“No!” He ran a hand over his shaved head. “Even if we did, she wouldn’t just up and leave without her cellphone or her purse. That’s not like her.”
“I can send a patrol car. What’s your location?”
“122 Hillcrest. It’s her parents’ house.”
“Are her parents home now?”
“No.”
“Okay, I’m sending an officer out there. Are you inside the house?”
“No. We cooled off in the creek around back. There’s a clearing in the woods on the other side.”
“Stay where you are, okay? An officer will be there shortly.”
“Thanks.” He stuffed the phone into his pocket just as the first cold drops of rain began to fall. It would be completely dark soon. When he turned to face the woods, Dylan couldn’t help but to wonder what the trees saw.


If you'd like to check out MW's books, his links are just below. Or to check out the promo, go to Renée Pawlish's website where all of the books in this giveaway are available.

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Amazon Kindle Bestselling Books By M.W. Griffith
The Runaway Train - Buy At Amazon
The Truth About Alex - Buy At Amazon
Monsoon Morning - Buy At Amazon
Tanglewood - Buy At Amazon