Archive for the Category » A Writer’s Take…… «

Interview with Author, Carolyn Brown

Carolyn and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, as well as what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she’s not writing, Carolyn likes to plot new stories in her backyard with her tom cat, Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, who protects the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Carolyn Brown is the author of more than 100 novels. She’s a recipient of the Bookseller’s Best Award, and the prestigious Montlake Diamond Award, and also a three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Brown has been published for more than 20 years, and her books have been translated into 19 foreign languages. Many are available in audio format. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

CB. I have my own little office in my house. I only have to walk across the hallway from my bedroom to go to work each morning. My husband, Mr. B, built a wall hung desk for me to clutter up with notebooks, calendars, etc. I try to clean it off each time I finish a book. Note that I said, “I try”…most of the time I end one book, and the very next morning I open up a file for the next one.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

CB. I do like my pajama pants, but I don’t have a favorite pair. Nothing special, really…just that I get something down on paper (computer) each day.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

CB. I didn’t get a toe in the door of a publishing company until I was forty nine years old. I’d been trying to get someone to look at my work for twenty five years before I finally got a break. Someone asked me about that time what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I simply asked them, “Do I have to decide today?” The next week I got the call from an editor who said she wanted to buy both the books I had sent to her.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

CB. I use the computer to write. My thought process goes from brain to fingertips, but I use a notebook, spiral or composition either one, to make notes. I use one of those little inexpensive recipe boxes when I’m writing series. Each character, included dogs, horses and donkeys get their own index card, so I can keep up with age, eye color, height and all the information about that character for later books in the series.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

CB. I usually write from eight to fourteen hours a day, beginning in the morning and keeping at it until I finish my daily word count.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CB. Write! Don’t Whine! Whining about my muse has left me, I have a block and I can’t write today so I’m going shopping or I’m going to lay out on the beach won’t work. If you want to be a writer, you have to be disciplined. Write something every day even if it’s crap. As Nora Roberts says, “You can fix crap. You can’t fix nothing.”

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CB. Any and everywhere. Mr. B and I were in a little café having a burger when we were on a research trip. A lady came in with a bunch of kids. They were all from a group home for foster kids, and one little guy sat over by himself and didn’t talk with the others. That little fellow became an autistic child in one of my next books.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Tune in next Friday for the conclusion to this charming interview.
You can visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Book Review~~the friendship list by Susan Mallery

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing            4 out of 5 quills  ~~  Book Review

Susan Mallery has done it once again!  She has woven a mundane story of a single mom, Ellen, and a young widow, Unity into a riveting journey that both women take, each in their own way.  I don’t believe it would be a spoiler to reveal that the friendship list is not a list of friends.  It is a bucket list that each woman (who are friends) has written out for themselves. They have decided that it will be a challenge, a contest if you will, with a reward at its end.  Sharing their victories, as they check off the list, and cheering each other on when a challenge seems unsurmountable. 

Susan Mallery writes wonderful stories and I know her fans agree with me when I say, Thank God she is so prolific as we all wait for the next new one.  This is a great summer read and I highly recommend it!

Release date August 4th. Pre-order now

Did you miss my Interview with Susan Mallery?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Book Review ~~ An Unfinished Story by Boo Walker

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing                5 out of 5 quills 

Die-hard fans of Boo Walker’s Red Mountain Chronicles really wondered what Boo would write about once he left the real red mountain wine country of Washington state. He transplanted himself to Florida, of all places. Boo knows so much about wine and growing grapes that it was hard to imagine what stories would be born out of the swampy, hot days in Florida. 

Oh ye of little faith (reviewer)!  An Unfinished Story is superb!  A bitter ‘has been’ writer and a grieving widow meet by chance and form an unlikely bond. The arc of the story is unexpected and fresh.  I loved the conflict,  the set-backs, the temporary truces, the tension, and the surprises.

Of course Boo couldn’t ignore the wine running through his veins totally so his protagonist, in this story, is a wine aficionado.  I loved the ‘nod’ to the Red Mountain Chronicles! Which is a series not to be missed. 

I highly recommend this wonderful story! 

Release date August 4th. Pre-order Now!

Did you miss my Interview with Boo Walker?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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A Slice of Time….How to Write a Ten Minute Play

I always see the script (for a 10 minute play) as a slice of time. ‘I Can’t Breathe’ was a slice of time before the event that prompted me writing the play. ‘Parkland Requiem’ was during  the event, that is the massacre that happened at Parkland’s high school. We all know what happened immediately after the shooting and not much before the shooting other than it was a normal day of  families getting ready for the day and hopeful young people hurrying off to school. 

For me, the writer, it’s like walking into a room where people are having a conversation (without you) and you are plunged into the story from there.

None of the rules of writing change when writing a ten minute play, just because it’s short. You must still have a beginning, an arc, and an ending(of sorts). You have to introduce the characters through dialogue quickly and concisely. You must attract the empathy of the audience with record speed. Remember, you only have ten minutes.

How do I know when I have ten minutes? Here’s some tips: The typical rule is a page equals one minute.  If a page is heavy with blocking, (movement) it will usually go longer than a minute. If you have a page that is solid with dialogue and movement you can rely on the 1 page = 1 minute. And leave lots of white space; an actor will need some space to write in blocking, from the director, and notes while in rehearsal. 
 

Check out my many “Motivational Moments for Writers” in past posts. 
Want to try your hand at writing a ten minute play? This journal is a great place to start. 
Want to see more of my ten minute plays? Click here 

Do you need help Formatting a Novel? 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Guest Blogger, Desiree Villena, Addresses Writer’s Block (conclusion)

The last two steps to combat writer’s block :

…………In a brief, it’s expected that you provide a synopsis of your book, as well as highlight any important visual elements within it. Don’t be afraid to play around with this! For example, if your project involves an epiphany, a revelation, or solution to a mystery, a cryptic cover that features a clue could be a way to “wink” at readers who have read the book and now understand the hint. Similarly, if an object plays an important role in your story (think of the cut-glass bowl in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story ‘The Cut-Glass Bowl’, for example), you should let your designer know about it, as they can brainstorm cover ideas that involve this object.
This is an entertaining and creative exercise to do when facing writer’s block because you’ll see certain aspects of your story in a fresh way after trying to synthesize your plot from a visual perspective. Envisioning a potential book cover for your project is guaranteed to motivate you —
not to mention it’ll probably come in handy later!

“Procrastination is unprofessional and a heinous habit…. If you are not a self starter or you cannot find it in yourself to show up for work on your own and deliver on time you should not pursue a writing career.” ~~Dorothea Benton Frank

#3.    Describe your reader avatar. In marketing lingo, a ‘reader avatar’ is your ideal, perfect reader. It’s a notion that every book marketer will remind you to consider as you narrow down possible target markets. For example, the perfect reader of Roald Dahl’s Matilda could be a bookish, moral, and playful child (just like the protagonist) or an English teacher, parent, or relative who encourages children to read and study hard for school. Once you’ve dreamt up your reader avatar, try experimenting with this “character” in a writing exercise! Narrate an ordinary day in their life, write a dialogue between your reader avatar and a friend, or try some poetry in the form of a dramatic monologue and see what their voice sounds like. Getting to know this avatar is a great chance to practice your characterization and dialogue skills, while also keeping them in mind for when the time comes to reach out to them! 

“Stop procrastinating! Okay, serious answer: Remind yourself that your book isn’t going to write itself. It doesn’t do you any good to sit around dreaming up every single detail of your plot and all the action and every line of dialogue. You’ll forget most of what you dream up, anyway, unless you write it down, and if you’re going to write down notes, you might as well just write the damn story.” ~~ Olivia Hawker 

#4. Write a review for a similar book.
If you really need to escape your project, you might even read another book in your genre and distill your thoughts in a review. You don’t have to publish it if you don’t want to, but do consider making it public since all writers appreciate getting a book review. Reading someone else’s work can be a uniquely revitalizing experience for a tired mind, and if their project is somewhat similar to yours, you might find yourself inspired to return to your work in progress. As for the writing part, it’s one of the best ways to support other writers and still train that word-generating part of your brain! Every piece of writing is an opportunity to structure your thinking with eloquence, so no writing effort ever goes to waste. No matter what you find yourself writing in your attempt to move past writer’s block, as long as you’re producing words, you’ll soon find your way through. Hopefully these four writing tasks can renew your excitement for crafting your book, while also inspiring you to think about its future marketing prospects. The key is to just keep going, one word at a time. Don’t lose hope!

Did you miss part 1?

 More good information, click here
Additional post about writer’s block
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Guest Blogger, Desiree Villena contributes…(part 1)

Guest Blogger: Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction, writing short stories, and giving (mostly) solicited advice to her fellow writers. When asked about where she lives and how many cats or kids she has, this was her response, “Sadly I have no dogs, cats, or kids, as my London flat isn’t quite big enough!”

Battling With Writer’s Block? Here’s four tasks to help kick start your writing again….

When you find yourself dreading going back to your work in progress, it may be time to switch to another writing task. Writing something different can provide the perspective shift you need to  able to return to your project without a feeling of miserable writerly drudgery.
Of course, these alternative writing tasks can still be related to your project, but it’s important that you allow yourself to take a break from the specific points in your writing where you’re encountering difficulties! Since the mind works subliminally, working on something that’s somewhat related to your project is an excellent way to keep exercising that writing muscle, while giving your brain the space to reorganize itself and find new inspiration. Here are four different writing tasks I recommend for anyone trying to break through writer’s block, while still keeping your project in sight.

#1. Draft a query letter to a literary agent
Your query letter is going to be critical when it comes to finding a literary agent. This letter functions as a pitch of your work in progress, and writing this pitch means two things. First, it forces you to distill the essence of your book. Trying to present your project to a total stranger involves taking a step back and re-assessing the bigger picture, which can help dislodge our tired focus from worrisome micro details and minor issues. Second, in describing your idea, you’ll hopefully be reminded of why you love it so much: in other words, you’ll get a chance to re-motivate yourself on the way. Of course, queries to agents are subject to some conventions and rules. To avoid remaining in an agent’s (or indeed publisher’s) slush pile forever, remember that your query should stand out for its content, not its structure. So make sure to open with a hook, followed by an exciting and concise synopsis of your book (check out some examples here).
Then make the case why you are the best person to be writing this book, and demonstrate your knowledge of the literary market by listing a few comparable titles — and don’t pick the most popular titles just because they appear to buff up your work! It’s much more effective to choose books that you feel are actually the most comparable to yours.

Since you’re just working on a draft letter for fun, you don’t need to worry about personalizing your query for its intended recipient. But when the time comes for this query letter to be sent, make sure you also talk about why you have chosen that agent specifically.

#2. Write a brief for a book cover designer
Another fun way to mentally circle the terrain of your ongoing project is to draft a cover brief. A strong book cover design is going to be a crucial part of your marketing later on, but for now, a design brief is a fun way to summarize your project. In fact, it’s not dissimilar to drafting a query letter, but with a distinctly visual focus.  To be continued…

“The first lie every writer tells themselves is this: I don’t have the time to write. The second lie is this: I can’t write. Here’s the truth: writers always write. Are you a writer? But you’re not writing? Then ask yourself this: why aren’t you writing? What are you trying to avoid by not writing? I promise you the answer is going to be some variation of abject fear.” ~~ Mike Maden writing for Tom Clancy

Don’t Miss Part II next week. 
For more helpful information. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
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Poetry featured on PoetrySoup.com

Dear Trisha,

Congratulations, this is just a quick notice to let you know that your poem Remembered Love is one of the poems being featured on the PoetrySoup.com home page this week. 

Thanks again and congratulations.

Sincerely,
PoetrySoup

Remembered Love

Ashes waft over the meadow
a jet stream of sorrow,
beckoning the widow to the
edge, down to the river.

Contented epoch, at the
creek where the wolves run,
he lived and laughed.

We watched the bright blue
stars foxtrot across the milky
way, a midnight indigo quilt
shivering with light.

Mountain men whose
toughened hands cradle their
violin and mouth harp. Music
soared amidst craggy
chiseled countenance.

We listened to the chaste
screech of a hawk, the forlorn
cry of a mountain cat,
soft snuffling of a bear,
watery splash of a fish.

You and I waltzed in the
meadow; no music needed
other than the love song that
pulsed in our hearts.

Can I have this dance for
the rest of my life?
Together it seemed so…

right,
wrong,
simple,
eternal,
joyful,
lonely,
sad…

…happily ever after?

No.

Time enough for us to love,
laugh, share, be silly, fight,
forgive, and cry?
To seethe and despair?
Yes.

 

Copyright © Trisha Sugarek | Year Posted 2014     
Books of poetry:  Butterflies and Bullets  ~~ Moths and Machetes
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY.  August: Carolyn Brown
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Book Review ~~ the Banty House by Carolyn Brown

reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing                 5 out of 5 quills                                   Book Review 

This is a newly discovered (for me) author .  And what a pleasant surprise.  If the Banty House is any indication, this prolific author gives readers hours of charming stories. 

the Banty House is a charming tale of three old ladies who take in strays, from bedraggled kittens, to damaged heroes, to homeless young women.  Betsy, Connie and Kate are real eccentric characters who you can’t help but fall in love within the first few pages. That’s all I’m going to say, as you all know I don’t write spoilers. The writing is superb and you’ll find that you can’t put the book down. I love Carolyn Brown’s style of writing and look forward to reading more….and more. 

Even though Banty House was just released there’s already another story in the pipeline, to be released in late July, Miss Janie’s Girls. Can’t wait!

Don’t miss my interview with Carolyn Brown coming in August.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
To receive my posts sign up for my 

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Interview with Writer for Tom Clancy, Mike Maden (Conclusion)

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MM. The first lie every writer tells themselves is this: I don’t have the time to write. The second lie is this: I can’t write. Here’s the truth: writers always write. Are you a writer? But you’re not writing? Then ask yourself this: why aren’t you writing? What are you trying to avoid by not writing? I promise you the answer is going to be some variation of abject fear. Fear of failing as a writer, of falling short of our ideal of good writing, of disappointing others, etc. In other words, it’s all about self-preservation or to be more blunt: death. Death of my ideal self, death of my status in the world as “a great writer;” some painful, shameful, hateful permutation of emotional and/or psychological destruction. Don’t believe it! Don’t define your sense of self in the world through writing. Rather, your writing is defined by your sense of self. You are not your writing. Your writing is you.

Here is the irony (and I’m stealing this from the best): if you seek to save your writer’s “life” by not doing the work in order to protect yourself, you’re going to lose the very life you’re trying to save. More simply, not writing is the death of your career. Everything you think you’re avoiding by not writing is actually going to occur when you don’t write—so write! Here’s one more tip (also stolen, in this case, from Hemingway): the first draft is always (rhymes with) “spit” so you’re only job is to “spit” out your first draft—the complete and entire first draft—and then you can fix anything later in edit, i.e., “all writing is rewriting.” If Hemingway thought his first draft was “spit” then I’m in pretty good company and so are you. I spend most of my time spitting—from an outline.

If that’s still not enough, attack the problem from the other direction. Forget yourself and simply obey the work.

Slovenia ~~ the river below the narrow trail

If you say you’re a writer then you’ve made a commitment to a “vocation” in the oldest sense of the term. Writing (truth telling, either fiction or non-fiction) is holy work; “holy” as in set apart for service. Whether or not you are religious, you committed yourself to the priesthood of Art once you said, “I am a writer.” What follows is both necessary and clear. You must recover and practice with earnest devotion the disciplines of the disciple—a follower, a student, a servant of the Work. Faith—the evidence of things hoped for, like a completed manuscript when you’re staring at the first blank page—and Love of the word are the first two hallmarks of the writer/disciple. Commitment, sacrifice, suffering…the list of the qualities of the true disciple are well known or easily discovered (e.g., the Gospels or whatever you prefer). In other words, writing is not about “you” it’s about answering the call, to saying “yes” when summoned and exerting inexhaustible effort toward the completion of the task, denying self and even other people and all other things that distract or dissuade you from your mission. “Not my will, but Thine.” If you happen to be a person of true religious faith, then your discipleship is twofold: obedience to the One who calls and fulfilling that call through the faithful exercise of the gift that the One has given you.

If all of that is too abstract then here’s the most practical advice I can give you: do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art. Study it, memorize it. Let it be your missal. Then get your derriere in the chair—and write!

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MM. Characters are all that matter. Situations, scenes, plots, actions…it all comes out of character choices, character collisions, character flaws, character construction.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MM. I start with a solid outline so I always have those touch points that keep me on the path from A to Z. But if I’m really writing—really doing it the way it’s meant to be done—I get completely carried away in the moment, plunging headlong into the river, carried along by the surging rapids.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

MM. Yes. Can’t. Top secret. But it’s gonna be awesome and my first collaborative effort. News coming soon.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MM. I’ve always written seriously beginning with my academic, non-fiction writing. What surprised me was to find out I was actually a writer. Yes, I could write. But I never thought of myself as a writer because of the mystery that surrounded that term. I was forty years old before I gave myself permission to call myself one. And what really surprised me was that I could write fiction. I was utterly stunned to discover I could write a screenplay but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I could never write a novel. Until I did. But one novel was it. Finito. No way could I do another even though I’d just signed a two-book deal. I knew I couldn’t write the sequel. Until I did. And another two-book contract showed up. And then I knew the game was up. My publisher would finally realize their big mistake. Until I finished those up too. And then…well, I think you get the idea. A serious writer writes. And writes. And writes. It’s hard work. Really hard. And it only gets harder—but only if you’re doing it right.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

MM. Absolutely not. They may become rare or expensive but they will never disappear. For people of a certain age, ahem, me, the tactile nature of the printed page never ceases to amaze or comfort.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MM. All writers are great but only if they write. The act of writing—of completing the work—is an act of obedience unto the Muse. It is our offering on the altar. The mere doing of it is its own reward. Whether or not the work will be judged as “great” by history or the literati or the New York Times bestseller list is completely outside the control of the writer. We can’t choose to be “great” but we can choose to do the work. Tell the truth, be yourself (i.e., original) and do the work—the rest will follow whether you like the outcome or not.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MM. Get a bucket. Fill it with kerosene. Carry it to the top of a ten-story building. Stick your head in the bucket. Light your head on fire. Throw yourself off the roof. Hit the pavement. Douse the flames. Type, “end of chapter one.” Do it again. Sixty-five more times. Now you know what it feels like to go from “no book” to “finished book.” Easy as pie. Or as some wag said, just open up a vein and bleed onto the page.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MM. Everything. You write out of your life.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

MM. Reading. Watching the best film and television I can. Hanging out with my best friend (my wife). Exercise. Golf. Guns. Hiking.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MM. I wish I was smart enough to write science fiction.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MM. General life lesson: “Discipline Equals Freedom.” (Jocko Willink)
General writing life lesson: “The bad news is, the Problem is Hell. The good news is, it’s just a problem. The Problem is not us. The PROBLEM is the problem. Work the Problem.” (Steven Pressfield)

PS. (from Mike Maden)  My Clancy novel ENEMY CONTACT was set in Poland. Amazing history, culture, people…and food. We love travel and learning new things but unfortunately it also means encountering the human condition in its worst permutation. Auschwitz is one such place and of all of the things that wounded me in that terrible place nothing grabbed me more than this moment. Those red shoes took me to a very dark moment. I could just see a young woman picking them out of the shop window one bright sunny morning, so happy and proud of them…having no idea where they would one day take her.

Did you miss Part I and Part 2 of this fascinating interview?

Book Review of Firing Point

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
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Firing Point, by Mike Maden, writing for TOM CLANCY~~Book Review

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5 out of 5 quills             ~A Book Review~

 

From the first sentence, on the first page, begins a riveting new story for Jack Ryan, Jr.  Our readers would never know that Tom Clancy wasn’t writing this book. Mike Maden does his usual magic in creating another harrowing international intrigue. 

The story winds and weaves through Spain, with flash-backs to Washington D.C., and cruises the deep seas of the South Pacific.  Supreme intrigue, international terrorists, spies, and lots of techno stuff that I adore.  An extremely complex story plot made simple and clear in the deft hands (and pen) of Mike Maden. 

My new readers (Tom Clancy fans) may not know this about me: I don’t write spoilers. I don’t write cliff notes for the book. I review the WRITING! And it is a pleasure to report that the writing here is superb. 

I highly recommend this book to my readers. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!