Friday, January 25, 2019

WIP

Back in August of 2018, I announced that I had completed work on the first draft of Where Angels Fear, the prequel to my novel On the Side of the Angel. I had planned to get that book in the hands of my beta readers fairly quickly, but then life happened and there were also some structural plot-related issues I was having difficulty resolving. However, after some heavy reflection, I think I may have those issues in hand, and I'm prepared to move forward with the second edit. Hopefully by next month, it will be ready for my betas. If you'd like to join that team, please let me know.

I also redesigned the cover for the book. The story was crafted in a brainstorming session with several authors, and one of those other authors actually took the notes and crafted the outline I worked from. I then turned that outline into story beats, and a third author began turning those beats into a first draft, however she was unable to complete the draft. She returned to me what she had, which was just a piece of the opening chapter, and I completed that first draft. Because there is so much input from other authors, I am not taking writing credit, but rather am crediting the team who helped with story, characters and plot points.

The idea for the series is for some of those other authors to put the character into some of their own stories, making her journey a shared-world experience uniting the universes of several independent authors. Hopefully that can still happen.

In Other News


Beginning in mid February, my podcast will be returning with a serialized reading of The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse. The story was published in 1923 in the US, and due to changes in copyright law from the 70's, it just entered the public domain this year. Once the podcast serial has completed, I will be releasing the entire project as an audio-book, probably using Findaway Voices.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Author Interview - Sharlene Almond - Author of Initiated to Kill

Sharlene Almond has a diploma in Body Language and Criminology, enabling her to explicitly portray the main characters in her novel. Sharlene lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her two dogs and partner. She enjoys watching documentaries about history and conspiracy theories, giving her ideas for her next books.
At 31 years old, Sharlene has a diploma in Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Freelance Journalism, and Editing and proofreading; giving her the ability to better understand the human mind, writing about it in manner her readers can understand and connect with.
Sharlene has also started up two additional websites: Body, Mind and Health services - https://bodymindandhealthservices.wordpress.com
Animal Health and Welfare Services: https://animalhealthandwelfareservices.wordpress.com/home/

Both websites are based around her qualifications in Counseling, Personal training, human and animal nutrition, Animal behavior and Natural therapies.

Initiated To Kill
Two men from two different generations, both initiated into a powerful organization that throughout history has sought control and uses their power for destruction. They leave behind a wake of murder, manipulation and ancient secrets. The first man wreaks havoc in and around the Whitechapel district of London, England in the 19th century. While the other stalks his victims in the cosmopolitan city of Seville, Spain in the 21st century; knowing that only he could uncover the true motives of one of the world's most infamous serial killers—Jack the Ripper.

Who are your influences?
I like a variety of authors; however, there are some in particular that especially influence my writing.
James Patterson is one of my favorite authors, not only does he write great thrillers, he writes short chapters, which in my opinion makes the story go faster, encouraging the reader to want more.
Jeffery Deaver is another great thriller writer, with both of these authors delving into the psychology of the main characters, and especially the killer or killers.
Jack Kerley, Michael Marshall and Stephen White all write great psychological thrillers, largely based on drawing the reader in through the connection they make between the characters in the book, and the reader.
And, of course, Dan Brown, with his conspiracy thrillers, and the history behind those conspiracies
we still ponder to this day.

When did you begin writing?
Way back in high school, I was homeschooled through the Correspondence School, which encouraged essay writing instead of actual exams. This piqued my interest in writing, as I even enjoyed writing academic papers.
Throughout my teen years I dabbled writing a variety of things, including short stories and novels.
However, life sort of got in the way, and I didn’t fully commit to writing an actual novel until I was about 21 years old.
From there, I finally completed my first novel, and continued to write three more. As well as a New Zealand travel E-book, and a variety of health and animal articles based around my training as a therapist and animal nutritionist.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
I first started to get my ideas from random things popping up in documentaries or on television, or even in other books. They tended to help lead me down several paths of the kind of books that I wanted to write.
From there, my own thought process and ideas kicked in on what I wanted to do with the snippets of information I heard about, saw or read.
History is one of my best inspirations for ideas. As it also lends credibility to the story line, so when the reader reads my book, the plot isn’t that implausible, hopefully making it even more thrilling.
My novels are not designed to create ‘copy-cat’ killers; merely the historical killers are connected in some way to the present day killers.
Locations are also a key part on where I get my ideas. Whether it is a place I want go to, or just a place I literally pointed to on the map. That then leads me to research more about the location, and its myths and history on the location. Of course, every time plenty of information pops up, and usually more than one idea pops into my head of where I want to take the story line.
The conspiracy angle also gives me plenty of ideas, as it tends to be the base for the plot line, then I just expand everything from there. Whether it is several conspiracy theories or myths intertwined, or with some of my novels, the ideas materialized from my research. I begin to make connections between different events and people, building on the theory of what I think could have happened.
Finally, my main character Annabella Cordova, also allows me to create another aspect to the plotline through detailing how to read facial expressions and body language, and how to detect when someone is lying. Because Annabella is deaf, she has to hone her other skills to help solve the case.
For Initiated to Kill, I already had written a sentence for a story idea. I decided to run with that, and as I did more research, more ideas came flooding in. And like I mentioned above, the historical aspect on Jack the Ripper with the connection to the Freemasons – history had already written that. I just expanded on it. Bringing the characters to life, and using the real events to create a fictional, and hopefully, exciting read.

Do you work from an outline?
Definitely. The process differs slightly for each book, but I need a place that I can immerse myself in research and writing without disruption and too much noise. A place that I can relax back and let ideas flow.
However, the other elements that help bring my novels together always start with a basic plot outline. Sometimes I might start off with researching different countries in which I want my novel to be based in, then look into the history of that place to see if anything jumps out at me that I can use as my historical backdrop.
Other times I might have a general idea of the historical aspect of the novel, so I build on the idea that way.
From there, the plot outline can be formed, outlining the main events that might occur throughout the novel.
In order to write my first novel, I used the snowflake method; although quite time-consuming, it helped me build on the major events with each step. Including writing a more detailed plot synopsis, and major character synopsis.
Once those were completed, using Word Excel, I could easily create a chapter outline by numbering the chapters along the top line, and writing a sentence or two about what I wanted each chapter to include. I might start off with about thirty chapters, but throughout more research and actually writing the book, I gradually build on this. The end result being about hundred chapters or more.
This last part, I still do for every book. This element enables me to have a clear picture about what I need to research and write about each day.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
Hmmm, there are so many to choose from. However, if I were to pick I would say the later scenes as Annabella develops into a stronger personality. I first designed her character to be shy, and unsure. As the story progresses, and more things come to light, her character becomes stronger, more skilled at reading people, and better equipped at dealing with the things that happened in her past.
What excited me the most about Annabella’s character, was what I was going to do with it in the other books I have written. The scenes with Annabella in my first novel are specifically designed to create a major change in her, which hopefully readers will see and like.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I stick to what I love. If I love writing and entertaining people, then writing will never be a waste of time. Yes, there will be rejections and criticisms countless times, but as the saying goes ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.
I take note of constructive criticism so I can improve on my writing. Every bad review may also have some valuable advice that I can take on.
I also keep persisting. I have received a lot of rejections unfortunately, but it goes with what I do. Because I love to write, I never know what might happen.
I have found a good query letter is also key. I need to be able to hook the publisher pretty quickly. A query letter shouldn’t be long winded, but get straight to the point.
In the end, it’s easy to fit into the popular genre, it’s harder to actually write what I enjoy writing if it’s not so popular. However, like many books now, in which once a upon a time they weren’t popular, one never knows what might pique the readers’interest, making writing even more exciting, which is my main motivational philosophy.
As I mentioned above, I use a basic plot outline for every novel – The Snowflake Method.
This is my favorite, and in my opinion most useful tips for authors. And not just ones that are starting out, I still have used this for my second, third and fourth novel. In my opinion, a good novel needs a detailed plot outline. You can just sit down and write; however, if you haven’t created an outline, the structure may be all over the place.
And you might waste time trying to think up what you want to write each day for the chapters. Events may not be cohesively linked. Using the Snowflake method c helps to arrange all my thoughts and ideas. And in word excel, it makes it easier to rearrange chapters, and add to them, without having to do that after I have done all the writing.
Also, the chapter outline basically helps to schedule in what I need to focus on each day, by using the section under chapter headings to write a few sentences on what I want the chapters to include.
I will, of course, add to the chapter outline, remove other things etc. However, this just gives a great starting point. And it means I can even add what research I have collected so it fits into the story better.
The other aspect I find important is Research, write, research, and write. This is the stage when I actually intend to flesh out a novel. Researching before, during and even after the first draft is not only useful for getting more ideas, but it makes it easier to remember things when I am writing, so I am as accurate as possible.
I find the best way to prevent writer’s block is to have plenty of research to work from. That way I can pick and choose what I find necessary to include, and helps me come up with a wealth of ideas.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
I dabbled a little bit in other genres like sci-fi and Romance. However, I am always drawn back to the thriller genre. That is my favorite genre I like to read, I’m not really drawn into a Romance plot.
Although, I have enjoyed reading and watching things based in the sci-fi genre, it wasn’t something that I particularly liked writing.
I enjoy writing something that is as close to being as realistic as possible, so it seems plausible to the reader that what they are reading could actually happen. And it makes it exciting to write about as well.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
I’ve always had a notebook that I’ve jotted down ideas that I want to write about. One idea caught my attention, and when I started research on it, things fell into place.
I didn’t really have something in particular that inspired me, but I’ve always enjoyed reading thrillers/mysteries, so that’s what I wanted to write about. The more research I did, the ideas just kept flowing. But it wasn’t until I started to edit Initiated to Kill, that I began to see how interesting it would be to include the historical element to it.
Going from past and present enabled me to explore a whole other dimension, and give more meaning to the present-day plot line. The Jack the Ripper angle was only supposed to be a quick mention, but reading more about the conspiracy angle that surrounded it, I knew I had to write about it.
But I didn’t want it to be like other Jack the Ripper books or movies, something different, someone different. Patricia Cornwall’s book – The Portrait of a Killer, reveals another suspect to the never-ending discussion of who this infamous killer was.
And so, I delved into the mind of a killer. Detailing about this man’s life, going into the psychological workings of this eccentric man and bringing him to life. And in the same way, I did this more my present-day characters as well. As the character’s lives are written almost like mini sub-plots, a lot is revealed about the inner psyche of the characters.

Are there some quotes from your book that you can share, or graphics?




If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast to be the main characters?
For Annabella Cordova, Scarlett Johansson.
Andres Valero would be Jim Caviezel.
And as Jack the Ripper – Gary Oldman.
All these actors show they have a diverse range of characters they can play, bringing the characters to life.

You can follow Sharlene through her blog, her Amazon Author page, on Twitter where she's @SharleneAlmond, her Facebook page, her Pinterest, or on Goodreads.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

My Holiday Gift is this Recommendation

I don't have anything new coming out right now, but if you're looking for a gift for the cozy mystery lover on your list (or even for yourself - why not?) then have I got the new release for you.

From USA Today & Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author Sandi Scott:


Nothing can slow down Ashley & Patty, who are only a day away from their dream. 
What about a dead body?
Charlotte Murder
Ashley Adams and her best friend Patty LaFontaine are a day away from realizing their dream of owning a food truck and nothing can dampen their enthusiasm—not even finding a body. 
After finding the perfect truck to expand their catering business, Ashley and Patty are dismayed to find the dead body of the owner of the sales lot when they arrive bright and early to take possession of their purchase. 
When the Sheriff’s department confirms that the death is suspicious, Ashley starts poking around to satisfy her curiosity.  In the meantime, her boyfriend Ryan is behaving very strangely, and Ashley is worried that he is getting tired of being with her already. 
Ashley and Patty plan menus, paint their new truck and work together to find a killer in this delightful Seagrass Sweets cozy mystery series.

You can find all of the info on this great new release as well as review Sandi's back catalog at her website, SandiScottBooks.com. And here's the link to the book's Amazon page.

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Next Big Project

I recently organized and designed a promo selling ebook collections for 99¢/99p over the long Black Friday weekend. The promo wasn't a big success, but short story collections are a hard sell. Still it gave me an idea.

My new project is to run monthly promos featuring any kind of eBook format: novel, novella, collection, anthology, even box-set; but to limit each promo to two complimentary genres. For example; the first two promos I have planned feature romance and crime stories for the first mash-up, and fantasy and horror novels for the second.

The idea is to feature a spectrum of novels under the two genres in a given promo, so while (in the first promo by example) the novels can be both horror and romance (ie the movie Ghost or The Bride of Frankenstein - you get the picture) they can also be strictly romance or strictly horror. The top of the landing page will feature one genre, the bottom will feature the next, and cross-over books will take up the middle of the page.

Since the foundation of this site is cross-promos and cross-genres, I call the site Double-Cross Lit. If you'd like to see the site, you can find it here. It's still a work in process, but eventually I will be purchasing the URL.

Beetifulbookcovers.com designed a very nice banner for the site and newsletters.

Beetifulbookcovers.com 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

One Sale to Rule Them All!



You know how sometimes, all you really want is a snack, but everybody else is serving turkey with all the trimmings? Well, reading is like that too. Sometimes, you just want a short story, not a full blown novel. So myself and several of my author friends have gathered together to compile all of our short story collections into one massive 99¢/99p sale. It's literally a collection of collections, or as our tagline says, "cheap quickies."

So if you're looking for a Black Friday deal, or if you're planning on waiting til Cyber Monday to get stuff at a discount online, or if you like supporting small businesses (technically indie-authors are sole-proprietors) maybe you can visit the page on Small Business Saturday. The sale runs November 22 through the 26th at promo.thrillsandmystery.com

We have something for fantasy and sci-fi fans, romance lovers, crime and mystery buffs, and we even have some general non-genre fiction available. Check it out.

As for me, I have two entries in this sale, my collection of short stories all with a focus on crime, 8 Tales of Noir, and the third book in my Lupa Schwartz mysteries series, Fair Play, which is an omnibus of three shorts from the universe of my titular fictional detective.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

My Favorite Baby

Every parent has a favorite child. I am a father of three, and I have a favorite. Is it my eldest, my only son? Is it my middle child, the first baby daughter I ever held in my arms? Is it my baby girl? Okay, I'll tell you. It's █████████

There, I said it.

And just like every parent has a favorite child, so too every author has a favorite story. In my case, that story is Confessions of the Cuckold. CotC is clever, brilliantly plotted, has fascinating characters, tells a universal story of revenge and deception, and the ending is simultaneously satisfying and ambiguous; an almost impossible feat to accomplish. Plus, bonus, the title keeps tricking people who are searching for erotica into accidentally purchasing it, and then keeping it once they begin reading and learn it's actually not the story of a man who enjoys watching his wife engage in naughty times with strange men, the "modern" definition of cuckold. No, I was using it in the traditional evolutionary biology meaning, a man who has an unfaithful wife.

Here's the description:
“He destroyed everything of mine.” Eric said as tears filled his sunken eyes. “He destroyed my life. He broke my future, so I broke his windshield. I shouldn’t have to pay for that.”
The last person Eric Dadjov would have expected to confide in was the bounty hunter sent to take him to court, but his wife has betrayed him leaving his life in shambles. A careless moment purging his anger has led to formal charges, so when he learns that he might have more in common with the forlorn bounty hunter than he thinks, a frustrated Eric just begins venting.
Gradually, the details of Dadjov’s story begin to suggest that he has a sinister plan for revenge brewing. Is the bounty hunter complicit, a dupe, or is he the next victim of the cuckold?
The story exists as part of the Lupa Schwartz universe in kind of the same way The Punisher exists as part of the MCU. It is included as one of the collection of three novellas, Fair Play, which I published as book three in the Lupa Schwartz canon. However, it can also be purchased as a stand-alone novella in eBook format. Currently, the stand-alone eBook is also included in the "Thriller and Mystery Short Reads Sale" Bundle through StoryOrigins here.

Each story in the bundle is a thriller or mystery short read under 120 pages with an Amazon rating of 3.5 stars or higher, and is guaranteed available for 99p/99c through mid November.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Author Interview - Sebastiano Lanza - Author of That Which Must Happen

Sebastiano Lanza, born and bred in Sicily, Italy, is the author of That Which Must Happen.
He's passionate about non-linear storytelling, labyrinthine plots, and mise en abyme, which feature heavily in his works.
He adores impossible challenges, if nothing else for their paradoxical nature. Nothing is impossible. Or so he says.
He also loves good food.

That Which Must Happen 
   Benjamin is a child able to foresee and forestall events unfolding in his life and that of others. Yet he dreads to reshape them, for these events intertwine each and every existence in a delicate balance. However, when he senses his sole caretaker’s imminent death, he feels he must intervene.
   In a fevered state, Benjamin was abandoned in the midst of a winter night, and is now sheltered by Ms Penter, a woman grieving over the loss of her own child. As he’s nurtured back to health, and his presence helps the woman to partially let go of her grief, Benjamin is devastated each and every time he glimpses her imminent demise.
   Despite his attempts to alter the events leading to her death, Benjamin knows he won’t be able to save Ms Penter without damaging the delicate balance which entwines each and every life. The same balance he was born to preserve.
   That Which Must Happen tackles the theme of fate.
   Not to be understood as a series of immutable events leading to a predetermined destination, rather, as a series of interconnected events which can be influenced by our choices.

Who are your influences?
If I were to name all of them, we would stay here for quite a while. So I'll limit myself to three.
First, I'd say Pirandello influenced me a great deal. I was always fascinated by his writing, since high school. Maybe at the time I didn't truly grasp what was he trying to convey, but I knew there was something more underneath. Eventually it came to me, and I said to myself, "This is brilliant!"
His works are truly worth some in-depth studying. His latern theory, the psychological relativism, the fragmentation of self, these are all concepts worth sinking one's teeth into.
I'd like to say Umberto Eco was one of those intellectuals I admire a great deal. Let's just say I love intertextuality.
And finally Nolan. He's a brilliant storyteller. His reflections on time and subjectivity make his films so thought-provoking and enjoyable.

When did you begin writing?
Just about a few years ago. It's funny to think that around 6 years ago I said to a friend of mine, "I would never be able to write a book. I just don't have it in me." Fast forward to a few years later, I said to myself, as I was thinking to start writing That Which Must Happen, "I'm not even going to get past page 1." Yet here I am. Things change so quickly, do they not?

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
I do give a great deal of thought to POV. It fascinates me. It's quite interesting how a writer can manipulate a linear story in just about any way he wishes just by changing or slightly altering the point of view. There are endless possibilities, each more interesting than the last. And, if life won't get in the way, I do intend to explore a few of these possibilities in future novels.
As for character names, it depends on how important the character in question is. I won't give much thought in naming a secondary character whose role is very limited. Obviously, that changes with main characters and supporting characters. You'll probably find out that the name Benjamin is quite important to understand Benjamin's role in That Which Must Happen. That and a few more hints I give out throughout the novel.
As for how I do come up with my characters, well, they're a deconstruction and reconstruction of different archetypes of different people I've met in my life and characters from other books or films. A sort of miniaturized fragmentation of self to give rise to a new self.
How do I come up with my stories? I absolutely have no idea. I like to imagine that these stories are just floating in the air, they are everyone's property, and at some point they just collide with me. In short, a story has to come to me naturally, if I force it to, chances are it won't be quite as good. Luckily enough they do come quite often.


Do you work from an outline?
Absolutely yes. Structure is crucial. These stories I write tend to get quite labyrinthine at some point or another. The outline does keep them at bay and, most of all, keeps me sane. It's also important because it allows me to check if my story actually makes sense, it ensures there's no plot holes.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel
This may be considered a mild spoiler, so it would be advisable to skip forward. Anyway, for a series of circumstances which I'm not about to describe, at some point during the novel Benjamin finds himself in the memories of a woman who is about to die. These are her very last moments of consciousness. There's this particular memory which happens to be amidst her most cherished. A sunny day during her youth, a normal, slow-paced day of work. Yet all around you can perceive this horrible feeling that something is not quite right.
I did not notice it until the first round of editing. It struck me as quite intense. Despite all that has happened in the novel by that point, it's a celebration of life.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
Subtlety first and foremost. The overused cliché "Show, don't tell". Which holds true in any instances you could apply it. "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anyway, actively sought information is far more valuable than passively collected information.
The beautiful in the horrid. When I started writing That Which Must Happen one of the goals I had set was to describe all of these terrible events in a fluid and beautiful prose. It's a stark contrast. And I believe I may have partially achieved it; it's not up to me to say.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
This is something I would like to do, and I will probably do so in the future. Maybe some foray in the horror genre (the smart one). Also, I have set in my mind I absolutely have to write an epistolary novel. I actually have a partial outline for it.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
Actually no. Now that I think on it, my writing experience has been rather dull up to this point. There were no aliens invading earth, nor I have been bitten by a radioactive spider. What a let down.


You can follow Sebastiano on Goodreads, Facebook, and on Twitter where he is @SebLanza. His book is available on Amazon right now.