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, 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. designed a very nice banner for the site and newsletters. 

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

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.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

September Sale

We read until the night
Became a brand new day
Two book lovers playing scenes
From some suspenseful play
September book sales
Still can make me feel that way

Okay so that was a little hokey. But it's very hard coming up with fresh ways to let you know about all these great book promos. This month I'm taking part in a small promo over at Regina Welling's website. I included the permafree first book in my Lupa Schwartz series just to try to get some new eyes on it, but there are a number of other great offerings for 99¢ or even free!  Click the link and head on over this weekend to take advantage while you can.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Calling all Patrons of the Arts

My author friend Mark Gardner is married to an up-and-coming children's book author named Erika. She has written a trio of rhyming stories and an illustrator friend of theirs has been working hard on bringing her characters to life. You can get in on the ground floor by contributing to their Kickstarter, even just a few bucks would be a big help. And as a sponsor, you would get one of the few digital copies of the stories. It will only be available to the public in soft cover.

So for those of you who believe in the patron model of artistic support, why not click over and take a look at the page. Maybe you'll be inspired to help make this project a reality.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Author Interview - Joan K. Lacy - Author of A Shadow Away

From a young age, author Joan K. Lacy loved travel, meeting people in other countries, and learning to speak their languages. This interest led to leaving UCLA to live a year in Europe, where she got excellent practice with French, Spanish, Italian, and German. Joan is intrigued with myths and legends from all over the world, and now is happy to combine all she's learned, researched, and experienced into exciting and entertaining adventure stories with a magical twist.

As an artist, the wild and domestic animals she loves became her subjects for drawing, painting, and sculpting. Science, from quantum physics to the cosmos, piqued her interest and broadened her scope for storytelling. In her free time, Joan enjoys playing the banjo, bossa nova guitar, and Irish fiddle, and spinning alpaca fiber into yarn. Her other artistic interest is creating silk floral arrangements within unique glass vases.

Her first novel, A Shadow Away, is the first in the Alex Cort Adventure Series, where she combines research, imagination, and personal experience to create exciting stories filled with metaphysics, folklore, mythology, quantum physics, and archaeology. In a world where time and space are not always what they seem, Joan shows readers that anything is possible if they just believe.

In A Shadow Away, archaeologist Andrew Seaton discovers a jewel-encrusted golden statue and realizes he may have uncovered the key to the lost city of El Dorado. The statue disappears before he can verify his findings, and Andrew must rely on private detective Alex Cort to recover the prized artifact. The two men find themselves caught up in a dangerous race against a corrupt colleague and a ruthless art thief who will stop at nothing to claim the statue for themselves.
 As each new clue leads them up the Amazon River and deeper into the jungle, they soon discover things are not quite what they appear. When all seems lost, the mystical powers of a beautiful woman guide them out of danger and ultimately to the ruins of an ancient city, where Andrew must right the wrongs he committed in a past life and Alex discovers a secret of his own.

Who are your influences?
I love Mary Stewart’s books The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment. Her books started my love for Merlin and the legends of King Arthur.
All of James Herriot’s books, beginning with All Creatures Great and Small. I love the way he tells a story, and I encourage everyone who loves animals, and a good story, to read his books.

When did you begin writing?
I didn’t start writing until later in life. The benefit of that is I can combine all I’ve learned, experienced, researched, and imagined into the adventure stories I write now.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
First, I’ve always been interested in myths and legends, archaeology, and science. My characters evolve from the story I want to tell. My three favorite characters appear in every story of my “Alex Cort Adventures” series, starting with A Shadow Away. First is Alex, he loves adventure, has a curiosity about this world, and isn’t afraid of danger. Dr. Andrew Seaton is an eccentric British archaeologist who gives me the chance to write about everything from science to superstition. Angel calls herself a witch and has her own kind of magic. With her I can write about fantasy and the supernatural. They named themselves, and each has their own point of view to add to the story depending on the scene.

Do you work from an outline?
I first decide on which myth or legend I want to write about. That determines what country the story will take place in. Then I start my research, and from there start to develop ideas for the storyline. Those ideas become plot points which I arrange in an outline then transfer to a storyboard for additions and shuffling—which I find very helpful.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
I love every single scene in A Shadow Away. It is an exciting adventure that still sweeps me away into the world of my imagination.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
Write about what you know, because that will add depth to your story. Also important, is to write about a topic that interests you. Because if what you write is interesting to you, it will likely interest others who read your work.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
I’m writing exactly what interests me: adventure, mystery, and magic, blended with what I know about science and archaeology. I’m in my happy place!

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
My stories are fun to write! After I set the next scene I want to write for the story, I let my imagination go, and the characters “take over.” They come alive in my imagination, and they usually have something to say if I want to take the story in a direction they don’t want to go, or if there’s a glitch I need to work out. Their ideas are usually better than my original thought, so I don’t try to stop my imagination—I let it go, and write down what they say as fast as I can!

Please visit me at to learn more about A Shadow Away and future books in
the “Alex Cort Adventures” series.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Author Interview - Ricardo Alexander - Author of Bollywood Invasion

Ricardo Alexander is a descendant of the Great Yyu, a.k.a. the first king of China. He lives in Massachusetts and enjoys experiencing all kinds of cultures around the world. After obtaining his doctorate in science, he became fascinated with time-travel. As an aspiring writer, he loves to write time-travel fictions that blend fantasy, science, and real history together. 

In 2017, he published his debut time-travel novel Dragon Tomb, the first book of his TLR (The Last Resistance) pentalogy. This history science fiction series starts from World War II, during which a young archaeologist discovers the true origin of Chinese civilization and saves the world from Armageddon.

Bollywood Invasion 
A fantasy novel about a modern-day American boy who wakes up in 1958 India as the reincarnation of John Lennon. Bollywood Invasion opens when the protagonist, a sixteen-years-old boy from Brooklyn, finds himself with riches and power beyond his wildest fantasies in India, thirty-five years before he was born. Brooklyn is readily forgotten. Life becomes a constant stream of debauchery, coming to a stand-still only when he meets “the one.” However, love doesn’t come easy. He must become a better man, a pursuit ignited by his memories of Beatles songs on his iPod. Will these legendary songs change his life? Can he escape Lennon’s eventual tragic fate? Will he ever find his way back to Brooklyn? His fate will unfold in Bollywood Invasion.  
 Who are your influences?
I believe that my writings are heavily influenced by my favorite author, George R.R. Martin. His A Song of Ice and Fire would certainly keep me up all night reading. The most valuable lesson I learned from him is that the most beloved characters should die once in a while.

 When did you begin writing?
As a scientist, I was always fascinated with time-travel fantasies. However, I have not felt the compulsion to write till I am in my early forties, which was about five years ago.  

 How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
My dreams. All my stories are based on the dreams I have had at some point of my life. I don’t know how I can explain this. Many of my dreams are bizarre. Sometimes, I even woke up with sweat on my back and felt like I just experienced a life time in my dream. Bollywood Invasion was a perfect example.
In 2013, I, a Beatles fan, stumbled into a YouTube video. In that video, a tribute band played Let It Be, my favourite Beatles song of all time, with traditional Indian instruments. That very night, I had a strange dream. In my dream, I woke up as a singer in 1958 India, which I was always fascinated by. What are the odds?
The next morning, I scribbled down my lingering memory of the dream. Then, a question came to me. If John Lennon had been born an Indian—with the same talent—could he still conquer the world? This is the very question that I kept asking myself during my writing of Bollywood Invasion. Something extraordinary had to happen if the Indian (British) Invasion was to take America by storm, as the world back then was not even close to be as multi-cultural as we are today.

 Do you work from an outline?
I am an outliner writer; there is no question about it. Before I officially start writing a book, I'd like to have the ending of the story in my mind. As far as the character development is concerned, I typically don't think too much about them in the beginning. During my writing, I always imagine myself as one of my characters, talking to them, listening to them, putting myself in their shoes. As a result, they naturally come to life as the writing progresses.

 Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
My favorite scene in Bollywood Invasion is a scene that I call "Hey Raj". After the protagonist wakes up as a young prince named Raj in 1958 India. His life becomes a constant stream of debauchery, coming to a stand-still only when he meets “the one,” a girl named Ankita. However, she despises him. Raj decides to become a better man and sing his way into her heart with the songs based on his memory of vintage Beatles music. One night, Raj comes to the lawn outside her dormitory building to ask her out, for the last time…by singing "“Hey Raj, don’t make it bad …”, a parody of Hey Jude. The scene ends with Ankita agrees to go out with Raj just once in the chorus of "Na nanana" from all the girls in the building while the matron trying to catch Raj with a large broom.

 Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
Like I said, my stories are mostly based on some weird dreams that I had. I just follow my heart in my writing. 

 Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
No. I have not. I prefer to stay in Fantasies.

Ricardo's book is available on Amazon

Find Ricardo at his website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A New 99¢ Sale

Since Renée Pawlish is taking a break from the sales, fellow mystery novelist Anne R Tan has picked up the baton. This weekend, July 27 to the 29th, over 40 mysteries and thrillers, including the number two title in my own Lupa Schwartz series, Common Sense, are available to buy each for less than $1. And many are available on multiple book retailer websites including: Amazon, Nook, Apple, Kobo, and Angus & Robertson.

The landing page for the sale is available at this link, so click on over and check out what the other authors are offering to add to your summer reading list.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

In Case You Like Fantasy

I know all of you like mysteries and thrillers, but if you're like me you also love a good fantasy story. And since both of my series involve a strong female protagonist, you probably also enjoy that in a story as well. So you will certainly enjoy this book by a fellow indie writer, Blade's Edge by Virginia McClain.
   Mishi and Taka live each day of their lives with the shadow of death lurking behind them. The struggle to hide the elemental powers that mark the two girls as Kisōshi separates them from the other orphans, yet forges a deep bond between them.
   When Mishi is dragged from the orphanage at the age of eight, the girls are unsure if or when they will find each other again. While their powers grow with each season-cycle, the girls must come to terms with their true selves--Mishi as a warrior, Taka as a healer--as they forge separate paths which lead to the same horrifying discovery...
   The Rōjū council’s dark secret is one that it has spent centuries killing to keep, and Mishi and Taka know too much. The two young women have overcome desperate odds in a society where their very existence is a crime, but now that they know the Rōjū’s secret they find themselves fighting for much more than their own survival.

The book normally sells for $4.99 in the US, but it's currently 99¢ from now til the 9th of June. You can find it here at this link.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A New Project

Recently my girlfriend's adult son and his girlfriend, Tess, moved in with us. One night Tess and I were chatting, and I began describing for her the conspiracy theory I made up as the foundation of my novel, Five Secrets. I explained how I rooted the conspiracy in the same historical "theories" that form the basis of the plot of The Da Vinci Code and the National Treasure movies, how the geography and the landmarks and history I borrowed to flesh out my concept are all true to reality, and how a video I made several years ago describing the theory (complete with a skeptic's note at the end) had made its way onto several conspiracy chaser websites.

When I finished, she told me that even though I explained that the conclusion I drew was nonsense, the evidence was so compelling that it left her with a feeling of "Maybe though."

This got me to thinking that I should write another non-fiction book debunking my own fictional account in the vein of The Da Vinci Hoax, a book put out by Catholics concerned that the Dan Brown novel's premises might lead their flock astray. My take, however, would be broader in scope. I plan to first describe the evidence for my own "theory" in earnest, only debunking it afterward in the broader context of the need for skepticism and the dangers of earnest credulity.

I also hope to construct a PowerPoint/Ted-Talk-style presentation in which I lay out the evidence in context, and then challenge the audience to tear it apart, finally concluding with my own dismissal of the theory I invented and a challenge to any audience members who have bought into such ideas as: false-flags, Cryptids, science denialism, trutherism, etc; with a skeptical eye, because if I can invent a compelling conspiracy theory from scant evidence and wishful thinking anyone can.

I'm working on the PowerPoint now, and when finished I'll create a video of it to share with followers of my newsletter. So sign up now. Link in the sidebar.

So that's my current project. I'll keep you all updated in future installments on this blog.

P.S. For a limited time you can download Five Secrets, the novel that started it all, from Amazon for just 99¢

Monday, May 14, 2018

Author Interview: Shari Lopatin: Author of The Apollo Illusion

Shari Lopatin tells stories that matter. An award-winning journalist in her earlier years, she now writes complex and stimulating suspense novels that tie into modern-day social issues. Shari has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, public relations professional, social media manager, and earned the title of “Cat Mom of the Year.” Her debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, is coming out May 19, 2018. Digital copies are now available for pre-order. Learn more at

The Apollo Illusion 
The year is 2150, and bullied nineteen-year-old Flora can no longer ignore the burning curiosity to learn what’s behind the towering Wall surrounding her home state of Apollo. Citizens still read books, discuss philosophy, and send text messages, but questioning The Other Side is forbidden.
When Flora’s naïveté accidentally reveals a dark secret about Apollo, she’s forced into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival. Fearing for her life, she leaves behind a clue for her childhood friend, Andrew, placing her last hope in their special bond.

Who are your influences? 
My primary influences in creative writing have been George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, and more recently, Junot Diaz.

When did you begin writing? 
I've been writing for as long as I can remember! I wrote my first short story when I was seven years old about a group of aliens who befriended a girl on earth; they all had names of food items, such as "Butter." However, I began writing professionally in 2005, after I graduated from college with my bachelor's degree in Journalism. I started my career as a daily newspaper reporter.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc? 
I tend to write about things for which I feel passionately, or a topic that really gets my blood flowing (in either a good or bad way). For example, I came up with the idea for my current book, "The Apollo Illusion," while having dinner with my mom, sister, and boyfriend. My mom commented on a news story she'd watched that reported how babies are learning the swiping motion of a tablet before they learn to speak. We started discussing the societal repercussions of a generation brought up with that foundation, and the idea for my book sparked. I'd been watching the effects of social media on my beloved profession of print journalism as well, and had been contemplating issues around the rapid advancement of technology. That conversation with my family was the prompt I needed to finally start writing. On the other hand, I developed the idea for my second book, which has been completed but not yet published, after years of working in healthcare communications and witnessing certain scenarios that upset me.

Do you work from an outline? 
No! I cannot work from an outline. I always have a general direction that I'm running toward as I'm writing, and I may have some plot points in my head, but I let the characters (and therefore the plot line) develop organically. Sometimes, my characters surprise me by their actions or the things they say! I've actually come up with some exciting plot twists this way. I need to allow my creative energy to flow without too much structure. I can always fix things later, perfect the character development, or improve the story arc during the editing process.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel. 
My favorite scene in my novel, "The Apollo Illusion," is actually one of the surprise plot points, so I cannot talk about it! But it's a very emotional discovery in the book, one that I cried while writing. Without giving away spoilers, this scene deals with a theme that I value deeply: family. And I think in a way, I was writing a "wish" that I have for someone in my life who I love, and this was my way of waving my magic wand and giving this person something in my story that I know will not happen in life.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy? 
Maybe it's the journalist in me, but I aim to tell stories that matter. I like to say that a great story can change the world, and I think solid writing should aim to convey a higher truth and prompt readers to think deeply about their views on a subject. I like reading books that are not only entertaining, but explore aspects to life or issues that help me understand them from another's perspective. I like writing and books that challenge me, connect me to their characters, and force me to think on a multidimensional level. For these reasons, I prefer to write about topics that tie into modern-day social issues.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres? 
I sort of fell into writing suspense by default, but my second book is closer to a literary/contemporary suspense or dramatic work, than to a dystopian suspense/science fiction. So I guess the answer to this question is yes!

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share? 
Hahaha! I don't think so; I probably "talked" my head off with anecdotes already, in my answers above. I just really appreciate the opportunity to talk about my writing and share the love of this craft with other fellow writers!

To Connect with Shari:
Instagram: (@sharilopatin)
Twitter: (@sharilopatin)
Blog and website: 
"The Readers Club" email list:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Author Interview: Christopher Bardsley: Author of Jack Was Here

Christopher Bardsley lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. He undertook his studies at the University of Melbourne, where he received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Teaching. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Above Water prize for fiction. While he is primarily an author of novels, his interests also include modern and ancient history, with a particular focus on interpreting extremism. Christopher teaches literature and history at independent schools in Victoria. Jack Was Here is his first novel.

 Jack Was Here
 Hugh Fitzgerald is losing control. In the aftermath of a traumatic end to his military career, his life has disintegrated. Hugh is approaching the end of his tether when a desperate plea for help arrives from a most unexpected quarter.
Nineteen-year-old Jack Kerr, halfway through a coming-of-age trip to Thailand, has disappeared. He has left few traces, little information, and absolutely no answers. As the days turn into weeks, his parents grow increasingly frantic.
They approach Hugh with a simple request; do whatever it takes to find their son, and do whatever it takes to bring him home. It sounds easy enough. The money is right. More importantly, it’s something to do–something useful.
But as soon as Hugh touches down in Thailand, the illusion of control begins to slip through his fingers. Jack’s warm trail is easy to find, but it leads somewhere unimaginable. Finally, as he closes in, Hugh is forced to resort to increasingly desperate measures.
Jack Was Here is an intoxicating glimpse into Thailand’s underworld.
A startling debut from Christopher Bardsley.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc? 
I’m always on the hunt. Anybody spending too much time in my vicinity is likely to have their personality harvested for interesting quirks. Character names are plucked from here and there, and mashed together until they seem reasonably plausible. My imagination is a bit of a blender. To be perfectly honest, I don’t actually know where it all comes from. I don’t need to know, either, and it’s not something that I spend too much time contemplating. In terms of point-of- view, most of my work has been in the first person. That’s not a rule by any means, but I do prefer the subjective to that omnipotent third-person voice-of- god that can be so difficult to manage.

When did you begin writing?
As soon as I could, really. If the question is when I began properly focusing on writing, I would say that was around the age of nineteen or twenty. Since then, I’ve constantly had some sort of long-form project on simmer. Most of the early work is wedged safely at the bottom of a drawer, of course, but the apprenticeship in this trade is probably not something to be rushed. I’ve always been vaguely suspicious of the how-to- write industry, and I’ve never had any formal training in writing fiction. 

Do you work from an outline? 
I do work from an outline, but it’s a very nebulous one. I never know exactly how my stories will end when I begin writing them. I think it’s important to give your characters enough room to make their own decisions. The outline evolves as the novel progresses, and the plot can often veer off in wildly unexpected directions. I think the danger of having too much structure in your planning is that you can fall into the trap of designing a story around what you see as its message. Whatever meaning a work of fiction might generate is a rather private interaction between the novel and its readers. This is not something that the writer should curate too deliberately, lest the plot descend into a clunky parable. 

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel. 
I do particularly like the scenes that revolve around the full-moon party on Koh Samui. This is perhaps the most lurid and violent section of a lurid and violent novel, and I hope the atmosphere does tribute to this fairly remarkable spectacle. Anybody who has ever had the dubious pleasure of attending one of these parties might agree that it makes for an arresting backdrop. I found it both ugly and compelling, doubly so when I made the mistake of returning to the scene of the crime in later years. 

The southern islands of Thailand have been so thoroughly ruined by the tourist industry that it is impossible not to feel a little nostalgia for what they might have been before, even if you were never there to see it for yourself. A reviewer recently (and correctly) speculated that Jack Was Here is unlikely to be endorsed by the tourist board of Thailand. I sincerely hope that the novel doesn’t read as an indictment of the country. I love Thailand, and I have spent a lot of time there over the years. Enough time, though, to get a sense of the dangers particular to the backpacker scene. Westerners have been coming to untidy ends in the tropics for centuries. There is something underneath all that white sand and neon that can send otherwise sensible people unstuck. I’ve seen it myself more than once. 
This is a fairly violent novel.

What are your thoughts on violence in fiction? 
I did have to deploy a certain amount of violence in order to realise the plot of Jack Was Here. Personally, I don’t necessarily object to violence in a work of fiction, but I do think that it has to be there for a reason. I am not interested in bloodshed and suffering as a form of entertainment in and of itself. I think that it’s irresponsible to celebrate or glamorise violence, and I can think of more than a few famous writers and directors who are guilty of this. It must serve a purpose. This novel is ridden with conflict, and killing has completely defined the life of the protagonist. Hugh is already a profoundly traumatised character at the beginning of the novel, and I would hope that readers understand that each act of violence he commits actually takes him further and further from his goal. In certain circumstances, good people are capable of perfectly dreadful acts. This is one of the great conundrums of human nature, and makes compelling subject matter for any author. 

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres? 
I wouldn’t consider myself overly bound to any genre in particular. I have a secret yen to write a sci-fi novel. This would be an undertaking to be approached carefully, though. Science Fiction is a wonderful genre, but terribly uneven. If you’re planning to create an entire universe, then your technique has to be on par with your imagination. Managing exposition is enough of a challenge in the real world. 

What advice would you offer to a young writer? 
Stubbornness is a deeply underrated quality for any writer. To paraphrase Vonnegut, talent is actually surprisingly common. What is rare is the ability to endure the life of a writer. Writing novels is not a pleasant or glamorous pursuit. It can be frustrating, lonely, and there are no guarantees in this business. Your motivation cannot depend on external validation. There will be a million opportunities to quit. Real writers push forward, treat their trade seriously, and believe in themselves. You have to keep the fire burning on your own. 

Christopher's Author Page on his agent's website:
Christopher's Twitter: @chriscoburg

Friday, April 13, 2018

April Promo

This weekend only, Renée Pawlish brings us another great 99¢ eBook promo featuring over 35 fantastic mystery and thriller novels for your Kindles®. You can find the promo by clicking here.

My own novel, Common Sense, is included. It's the second novel in the Lupa Schwartz Mysteries series, and if you haven't grabbed one yet, this is a perfect opportunity. Here's the book description:

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.

The promo ends Sunday at midnight, but I'll be leaving my book on discount for a few extra days in case you don't see this post over the weekend.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Author Interview: Shaun Baines: Author of Woodcutter

  Shaun didn't always live in a damp cottage in Scotland.  He once lived in a flat that permanently smelled of pizza. He wasn't always a writer, either. He worked in a factory, a government institution, as a manager in a purchasing department and later as a gardener.
  He has had a gun levelled at him and been threatened by a man with 'Bad Joe' tattooed on his neck. He doesn't knowingly associate with criminals.
  Shaun comes from the north east of England where his novels are set. He is represented by David Haviland of the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency.
  Woodcutter is his debut novel published by Thistle Publishing. It is based on the criminal underworld of his native home, available as an ebook on Amazon. The paperback will be published 7th June 2018.
  These days, he keeps chickens and bees, grows his own fruit and vegetables and wonders where it all went so right.
  You can find him at, on Facebook as Shaun Baines Writer or Twitter as @littlehavenfarm

On the run from his criminal family, Daniel Dayton returns home to Newcastle Upon Tyne when his abandoned daughter is attacked.But his family have problems of their own. Targeted by a brutal mercenary, their empire is destined to be destroyed should Daniel refuse to help.Betrayed by his parents. Despised by his brother. In love with his sister-in-law. Home has become a dangerous place to be.Daniel wants his daughter safe. And he wants his revenge, but in the shadowy streets of Newcastle, things are never what they seem.

Who are your influences?
There are a lot of writers I've admired over the years. The list is achingly long, but includes James Herbert, Jeffrey Deaver, Thomas Harris, Martina Cole, Stephen King and more. They're all very different, but they've worked hard at their craft. Whether you like them or not, that effort comes across in their writing.
The people who influence me the most aren't writers. I live in a rural community where farmers work around the clock just to keep up with the payments on their farm. My Dad had a series of grisly jobs when I was growing up, but he went in every day without complaint. When I grumble about how difficult writing can be (and I do. Bitterly.), I remember there are people out there working twice as hard for half as much.
If that doesn't squeeze another paragraph out of you, nothing will.

When did you begin writing?
I think everyone enjoyed writing stories when they were a kid, but some of us never grew up. I have a vague memory of writing a Christmas play for my parents when I was six-ish. I persuaded my sister to play an elf while I played Santa Claus returning to his Grotto from the pub. I'm not sure why Santa was drinking on Christmas Eve, but I was very judgemental about it. He certainly shouldn't have been flying his sleigh. The narrative arc started and ended there, but we received rave reviews from our parents. Forty years later, we are still hoping to tour the play at some point.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
I have to come clean. I am terrible at naming my characters. Conventionally, names should encapsulate the characters in some way, but I'm so eager to get the story finished, I don't stop long enough to give them much thought. Where I write, I am faced by rows of DVDs. There is a direct correlation between my character's names and actors in my favourite films.
Or names simply surface from my murky subconscious.
It wasn't until the third draft of Woodcutter that I realised I'd named the main villain after my wife's uncle, a mild mannered optician. Or the conniving matriarch figure after my best friend's wife. I changed them, of course, lest Christmas get-togethers got awkward, but name-checking has become an important part of my writing process.
I don't want to get cut out of anyone's wills.

Do you work from an outline?
One of my favourite authors John Connolly plans out his first few chapters and uses them as a springboard for the rest of the novel. If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me and it worked a charm for the first draft of Woodcutter, but the rewrites were a massacre. Huge swathes of innocent words were cut and I was left with a story with more holes in it than a British road.
So I embraced the Post-It note and plotted things out properly. I have since adopted this as my go-to method. Maybe it's a safer option, but it's a lot easier tearing down a Post-It note than deleting whole chapters.
I admire fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writers, but for me, it's like jumping off a roof and then attempting to avoid a sticky mess at the end.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I approach writing as a job. There isn't enough time to wait for the Muse to show up, if it does at all. And there's nothing you write that can't be fixed later so it's about head down, words down. This works best in the first draft stage where I'm carried away with creative fervour. As I progress through my drafts, I pay less attention to word count and it becomes more about replacing quantity with quality.
For a lot of people, money is hard to come by. I owe it to readers who spend money and time on me to take that seriously. I put a lot of hours into getting something right. Readers deserve it.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
I write a lot of short stories and hope to put a collection together some time. It's mainly dark fantasy with shades of folklore. I've tried writing science-fiction, but I can barely work the TV so it always falls flat. I'm way too cynical to write romance and too English for erotica. But I am passionate about commercial crime fiction. I love it. I love the darkness and the light of it, the joy of a red herring, the theatre of the denouement and the complicated characters.
My goal as a crime writer is to put my reader on a rollercoaster, warn them the brakes are faulty and press Go.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Two Sales For St Paddy's Day

It's March madness if by madness you mean free books featuring female sleuths. Anne R. Tan is hosting a book funnel giveaway with 37 titles available. Visit this link from now 'til March 31 for the details.

Meanwhile, this weekend also marks the return of Renée Pawlish's monthly promo. 38 mystery and thriller titles for 99¢ are available from Amazon for your kindle at this link.


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Author Interview: Sarah Scholefield: Author of Redferne Lane

Sarah Scholefield initially trained as molecular biologist gaining a BSc (Hons) in Biology from The University of the West of England. After realising she wasn’t cut out for life in a laboratory she worked in numerous schools across the West Country.
She has always enjoyed making up stories in her head and finally began to write them down. In 2014 she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Redferne Lane is her first novel.
She lives in Somerset with her husband and children.

 Redferne Lane
Ezra had it all when he died. A good job. A nice house. His loving wife, Grace. 
Grace doesn’t even realise she’s struggling to keep herself together. Until Torin turns up in Redferne Lane. It’s been nearly two years since Grace has seen Torin. Since Ezra’s funeral. Now Torin is back in her life, emotions from the past are resurfacing and Grace begins to realise elements of her life are going wrong. She’s not sure she can take control. 
But Grace isn’t the only one with problems in Redferne Lane. Josie has a husband and young family to contend with. Ada is facing the difficulties of old age. Jerome thinks he’s found the perfect girl. Eliza just wants to grow up. And Torin isn’t sure he should have what he wants. They all begin to turn to Grace for answers. Can Grace look beyond her own difficulties and help those around her, even while she’s trying to save herself?

Who are your influences?
The first writer that really got me into reading was Sebastian Faulks. I read ‘Birdsong’ and was smitten. At the moment, I particularly enjoy Maggie O’Farrell, David Nichols and for literary indulgence I always go back to Jane Austen.

When did you begin writing?
I started making some primitive scratchings around 2003. I’ve been writing with intent since 2010. In 2013/14 I did an MA in Creative Writing, which really helped my writing.

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
It all usually starts with daydreaming. Perhaps I’ll see or hear something that interests me, maybe something someone says or a picture. Then I’ll go for a wander in my head with that thing and start building a character or a situation. Characters usually come first for me and I can hear them in my head. Then I’ll start writing and play with aspects, like POV and tense and see what feels right. I’ll add some concrete facts, like personal attributes and setting. Then work out what the arc of the story is about and whether I can take that further.

Do you work from an outline?
Yes, but often it’s vague and always changes!

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
My favourite scene in Redferne Lane is when Torin first comes back to see Grace, it’s quite near the beginning of the novel. It was one of the first scenes I ever wrote with Torin and I loved writing him from the moment he hit the page. In that scene I love the tension between Torin and Grace, and all the things that go unsaid.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I try to make sure I sit down to write every day. It’s not always possible, so I try not to give myself a hard time (unless I know I’m slacking!). If I know I can’t write for a couple of days I make sure to give my work some mental time, which is often really beneficial anyway. I don’t reread much of what I’ve written the previous day, just a paragraph or two to remind myself where I am. Only if I get really stuck with a plotline or when I’ve finished the first draft do I go back and start reading and editing.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
I love reading YA fiction (although I am certainly not a YA anymore!) and I’ve been playing with writing some of my own, we’ll see where that goes in the future.

You can follow Sarah here:
Her novel ‘Redferne Lane’ is available from Amazon.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Author Interview: Max McBride: Author of Mink Eyes

Max McBride is a lawyer, novelist, playwright, and poet. He writes. He reads. He works. The bulk of his time is spent at the office.  He will never read all the books by his bed or watch all the shows saved on his DVR. Max enjoys art, design, college basketball, ballet, modern dance, and sacred music. Bob Dylan, Shakespeare, Rumi, and Yeats are just a few of the greats who have had an impact on him.  His book Mink Eyes, a novel he calls “white noir,” and Tenebrae, a collection of poetry centered around the death of his wife (but also including several snapshots of growing up Irish in America) are both available for purchase in print and digital form from Amazon, B&N, and bookstores nationwide, as well as directly from the author. McBride is also a social commentator of sorts, and his occasional observations about culture, travel, and—when he can’t hold it in any longer—politics can be found on his website:

Mink Eyes 
October 1986—the tarnished heart of the “Greed Is Good” decade. Private detective Peter O’Keefe is a physically scarred and emotionally battered Vietnam vet. Hired by his childhood best friend, ace attorney Mike Harrigan, O’Keefe investigates what appears to be merely a rinky-dink mink farm Ponzi scheme in the Missouri Ozarks. Instead, O’Keefe finds himself snared in a vicious web of money laundering, cocaine smuggling, and murder—woven by a mysterious mobster known as “Mr. Canada.” Also caught in Mr. Canada’s web is the exquisite Tag Parker, who might be the girl of O’Keefe’s dreams—or his nightmares. Mink Eyes weaves murder, addiction, obsession, sex, and redemption into a fast-paced, compelling detective novel that also brings in themes of duty, fatherhood, friendship and love. Peter O’Keefe is a reluctant hero who struggles every day to choose in favor of life over death.

Who are your influences?
I am able to say who my “inspirations” or “admirations” are, but I am reluctant to call them “influences” because they all wrote so differently, and so much better, than I do.  In poetry and drama (and everything else), Shakespeare above all.  In poetry, Wordsworth and especially Yeats.  In prose, Dickens, Turgenev, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Salinger, Donleavy, Joyce Cary, Simone Weil, Joseph Campbell, Robert Stone, E.L. Doctorow.  In detective fiction, Chandler and the MacDonalds (Ross and John D) showed me how good it could be, and Elmore Leonard showed me not only how good but how funny it could be and how ordinary people could be its heroes.   
When did you begin writing?
Since high school I have felt the strong and persistent “call” to “write.”  But, due to an unfortunate combination of not knowing how and where to enter and not having enough confidence in my abilities to take the risk of plunging into it as a full-time vocation, I instead pursued a career in academia and then in law, both of which involved a lot of writing, creative in its own way but not of the imaginative variety.  Yet I have periodically managed to find enough time to actually finish a creative writing project.  I have written several plays, one of which received a staged reading at a theatre in NYC, but it didn’t go anywhere from there.  I have written a few short stories that I have just kept in a drawer, an occasional poem, and two other plays.
Finally, the “call” was just too strong to resist any longer, and, while continuing a very busy legal practice, I wrote and have now published, a novel called Mink Eyes and a book of poetry called Tenebrae.
How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
The milieu of Mink Eyes—lawyers and courts and bankers and financial manipulations, both legal and otherwise–is one I have worked in all my life, but the plot itself is pretty much pure imagination (although I did get involved with a failed mink farm once, although it was far less exciting than the events portrayed in the novel), which I worked out very deliberately, knowing how I wanted it to end but working hard to figure out the best way to achieve that end and asking myself at every step—is this realistic, could it really happen in the real world?  It’s easy enough to have a message but so much harder to embody it in believable characters, situations, and outcomes.  I am not sure where the names of my characters come from; they often change and more than once, as the writing proceeds.  The main characters are in my mind from the start although some good ones “pop up” as the plot moves along, and characters have their own way of evolving as the book evolves.  As for POV, although it can be very tricky, I like the omniscient with fairly frequent changes in POV.
Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
That’s a really hard one, and I am afraid to give too much away, but three stand out in my mind as I answer this—the Halloween scene, the interview with Ullman, and the last chapter of the book.
Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
Make it interesting, with main characters that people will care about; make it worthwhile in terms of themes and message; and make it real—believable in every way--believable characters with believable reactions, thinking and saying believable things, in believable situations with believable outcomes.
Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
A screenplay of Mink Eyes.  I have written several plays, in fact my original efforts were all plays, one of which has enjoyed a staged reading in New York, and several of which I still hope to get produced.  Also a few short stories, no publications. 
I have also recently published a book of poetry, Tenebrae.  The lead poem in the collection, Tenebrae: A Memoir of Love & Death, is an interlocking chain of 15 verse and prose poems that amount to a single narrative of my wife’s final sickness, her life under a death sentence, and her death itself, a hero’s journey (heroine’s in this case) if there ever was one and one that we all are fated to take.  My effort in poetry is to be as clear and direct as possible, but to use poetic techniques of concision, rhythm (and even rhyme occasionally, violating the contemporary notion that rhyme is puerile), and relatively simple, but hopefully exalted, language to reach as personal and as deep an emotional level as I can. As in Mink Eyes, I try to convey the way that the foundation literature of the West—myths and fairy tales—are still with us and how the grand rituals of Western religion, even emptied of their original theological content, still can connect us with the sacred in our everyday lives.
Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
Writing itself is pretty uninteresting really.  Often painful too.  Best I can come up with is this bit of irony:  One of my specialties as a lawyer is business bankruptcy.  Mink Eyes was accepted by a publisher that was unable to complete the publication because it had to file bankruptcy.  The world can give with one hand and take away with the other.

Again, Max's website is