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New Short Play: Drop the Phone

Newest in the collection of ten minute plays for teens and the classroom. 

                        What would happen if you put down your phone for a half an hour and had a real conversation with another human being? Now lets mix it up further; sit down and talk to someone in your class who you don’t really know that well or at all. Are they who you thought they were? Were they surprised about who you are? This one act play, styled for the classroom (no sets, no costumes, no props), has a group of teens who do not tweet, email, Facetime or chat on their mobile devices for one half hour. They must TALK to each other, face to (real) face.  What did you learn about the person? What did you learn about yourself? 

5f. 4m.

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Click here to see all 40 short plays

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Film Maker, Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Best Seller

 

Author of The Colonel and the Bee Joins Us, (part 2)

Q. Tell us about writing The Colonel and the Bee. Not so much the cerebral process but more your ‘gut’ instincts, the fairytale (but not quite) fantasy idea of it.

PC: I definitely wanted to straddle the line between fantasy and reality, so that the most extraordinary events in the book are implausible but not impossible (though that’s definitely strained). The idea was to have a whimsical journey you could almost believe is true. I tried to portray a world worth exploring that conceals surprises and treasures for those willing to venture out into it. It is definitely a halcyon view of the time period (though not without its villains and pitfalls), eschewing any too-heavy issues/events because it’s meant to be an adventure viewed through the romantic eyes of explorers. I love historically accurate books and I love fantasy books, this one just happens to trend toward the latter.

Hot air ballooning over Africa

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

PC. If you mean ‘get lost’ in a total-immersion way, not as much as I’d like to. I’m working on that. I do sometimes ‘get lost’ in a plot sense, especially in the middle of stories. When that happens I try to look back to the most core elements of the story for direction. If those aren’t there, then something is really wrong. Never fun to get halfway through a first draft and have no access to your own story.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

PC. I recently finished a sort of cozy mystery set in a 1980’s Midwest neighborhood. It starts with a goat murder and gets weirder from there. I’ve been pitching it was a suburban thriller plot à la Liane Moriarty, set in Ray Bradbury’s halcyon Midwest, with a hint of Neil Gaiman fantasy thrown in for good measure.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

PC. Screenwriting in my early 20’s, novel writing in my mid/late-20’s.

Q. How long after that were you published?

PC. I was 32 (self-pub/indie-pub).

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

PC. Not a chance. Most articles I see these days are about them making a resurgence. I think everyone got a little uneasy when e-readers initially came out, but each format has its own virtues and limitations. I think they’ll continue to find their equilibrium with one another (at least until whatever’s next comes along…)

Q. What makes a writer great?

PC. The cliché of ‘a good story well told’ seems to hold true. For me its also clarity and mastery of craft, creativity in linking previously independent ideas, brave but intentioned prose, portraying simple things elegantly or elegant things simply, and telling the truth in a compelling and memorable way.

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

PC. I accumulate ideas for a long time, usually a few years, constantly adding to a document on my phone/computer (always write ideas down, you will 100% forget some of them otherwise). When the story is ready, I’ll do any required research and translate the document of random ideas into a semi-coherent, narratively chronological outline. Off that, I write a first draft in as short a time as possible (I think inertia is important with first drafts), then take as much time away from it as possible for objectivity before the first revisions. Last, I get feedback/outside editorial input and revise, revise, revise.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

PC. Almost everything seems to find its way in somehow. I think more time lived equals more to draw from, so I’m always up for new experiences.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

PC. I think I’ve watched The Office (US version) about 50 times. I’m always trying to read more too (audiobooks are a godsend in LA traffic).

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

PC. So far each book has pretty much been a different genre. That’s not by design, it just kind of happens that way for me. Knowing the genre you’re writing in can be powerful/useful though, so I may be on my way to becoming a ‘master of none’ by switching so often. I think there are strengths/weakness with regard to sticking with one genre and of course it varies by the individual.

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

PC. Living in the moment seems to be a nice idea. Try not to get too many parking tickets but pay them if you do. Garlic and cinnamon make just about any food better (just not together).

Did you miss part I of this wonderful Interview?

Purchase The Colonel and the Bee: click here
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Book Review ~~ Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Review           

 

 

Delicious from the first page to the last. Anne Gracie is one of my favorite authors and it’s always a pleasure to read and review her latest offering. Marry in Scandal was no exception. It’s always a hit for me when Gracie adds old people or young kids as characters in her stories. Lord Galbraith, grandfather to the hero,  is painted with subtlety and quiet humor. Edward has dark secrets from the war, that block him from enjoying his family. Lily has secrets of her own that she must divulge if she is to find and keep love.

The writing is superb as always. The ‘Marry in...’ is an entertaining series and should not be missed. 

Did you miss my Interview with Anne Gracie?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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New Book in the Series, World of Murder

Book #10, Winter of Murder adds a new chill to the series. 

 

Detective Stella Garcia visits her grown son in the wilds of Alaska. He is interning with a field biology team. Their visit allows them to reunite after R.J.’s six month absence. Stella is delighted to spend quality time with her son. But murder has followed her north to the wilds of this vast winter wilderness and dead bodies start showing up in and around the Native village. Weather forbids local law enforcement from taking on the investigation and Stella is recruited as a murder consultant.

Caused by the absence of Stella, Detectives O’Roarke and Sneed deepen their professional relationship.  Once again they are called upon to solve a murder that was meant to look like an accident.

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

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Did you Know?

The entire collection of World of Murder is now available in AUDIO books. Listen to these true crime thrillers fromWorking successfully with an illustrator
book 1 to book 7. 

Art of Murder 
Dance of Murder
Act of Murder
Angel of Murder
Taste of Murder
Bridge of Murder
Video of Murder 

Coming Soon! Shadow of Murder

Audio Samples of Bridge of Murder & Video of Murder 
Narrator: Daniel Dorse

Available on Audible.com, Amazon.com, & iTunes.com

Interview with author, Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Amanda Quick)

TS. I have been buying and reading Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick (pseudonym  for her period pieces) for more than three decades and am one of her biggest fans. Since 2013 I have been requesting an interview from this author and finally the stars aligned and Santa granted my wish. Wink. It is my honor to share with my fans, writers and readers this fascinating look into Jayne Ann’s writing processes and down time. 

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.

JAK: I like to write in my office.  It’s my refuge, retreat and comfort zone.  That said, I can—and do—write just about anywhere—on a plane, on vacation, etc.  Writing is an addiction for me.  No matter where I am or what I’m doing there’s a story going on in my head.  I can make notes, work through plot issues, and jot down ideas with a pen and a yellow notepad but I do my most creative writing on a computer because I’m fast with a keyboard.  That means my fingers can keep up with my thoughts.  Every morning when I sit down to write I send up a personal “thank you” to the teacher who taught that touch typing class back in high school!

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

JAK:  No special rituals, well, except coffee.   I just need my computer and a keyboard and a cup of coffee.  I also need solitude.  I know a lot of authors write to music but I can’t do that.  My brain starts going in two different directions, one part following the music, the other trying to focus on the writing.  Guess I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

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

JAK:  Nope.  Okay, I love to shop at Nordstroms (Seattle, Washington) and I love to cook vegetarian/low carb but those two passions are not exactly secrets. Everyone who follows me on Facebook or Instagram knows that much about me. (and apparently also loves to crawl around in Lava craters.)

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

JAK:  I’m definitely a morning person. I get up around five am. My husband and I love our breakfast routine which includes coffee, cottage cheese, peanut butter on rye crisp and three different newspapers.  After the papers, I take my last cup of coffee to my office.  I’m usually at my computer by six-thirty at the latest.  I write fairly steadily until noon with a one hour break at some point for working out.  Afternoons are for the other things that go with writing—untangling plot problems, figuring out motives, checking research, and, oh, yeah, real life.


Fun Fact
: Is there any fan out there that doesn’t know that Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick are one in the same??

 

Join us for Part 2 on December 21st

Untouchable will be on sale January 8, 2019

Coming Soon!  My Review of Untouchable

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Book Review ~ Schugara by Joe English

 

reviews, authors, writing

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

5 out of 5 quills.  Book Review  

 

If you like words as much as I do (and you know how much I do) you will love this book. Words chosen and arranged so masterfully. English’s use of language is superb. No surprise, maybe, as the author took thirty years to complete the book. And he was still editing when he sent me the advanced reader’s copy. That’s dedication…but it also shows in the final product. 

I don’t writer spoilers…that is, I don’t include the whole story (as so many reviewers do) in any of my book reviews. I review the writing and the story. Is the writing good? Is the story entertaining and complex? Are the characters believable and do I care about them?  In the case of Schugara the answers are a resounding ‘YES’!

We’ve all wanted to run away and reinvent ourselves at some point in our lives. I certainly have…upon reflection I have actually done it! And that’s what this story is about. Several characters run away and they end up on the same remote island in the Caribbean. This book will require your full attention. It is not ‘light reading’ as the multiple characters are rich and the story complex. 

My only negative critique is with the publisher. The back cover of the book does not give a synopsis of the story to lure a reader into buying it. Reviews are fine but they should be taglines on the back cover and full reviews saved for inside the book.   The format is very distracting. (Maybe the issues were only in my advanced copy. Let’s hope so.) Unjustified spaces. Indents too deep. All these issues, including line spacing, contribute to the final number of pages, 500+, and may be a negative when a reader considers buying the book. Believe it or not, buyers check to see how many pages there are. No effort was made to create an author’s page on Amazon.com and other outlets, which is basic marketing. The readers want to know more about the book and its author. 

Having said my piece about the production of the book, it’s a fine piece of writing and I congratulate the author. Waiting anxiously for his next book. I think there’s a book in Joe Rogers, Zero and the bookstore, The Yellow Harp. 

Did you catch my interview with this author?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  other AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and in early 2019  Patrick Canning.
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Book Review ~~ Colorblind by Reed Coleman Farr (Robert B. Parker)

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing5 out of 5 quills    A Review  ~~ Colorblind

I have been wandering the streets of Paradise, Massachusetts with Jesse Stone for over 15 years and {over two decades with Spenser in Boston}. Following Jesse as he tries to make his little town a little safer. We all loved the creator of these wonderful mysteries, Robert B. Parker. After his death, Reed Farrel Coleman and Ace Atkins took over these series, helping the Parker estate to keep them alive. 

The latest offering is Colorblind. Whether by intent or coincidence, it’s a timely story of racism, bigotry and tribalism. The plot is complex while remaining very entertaining and keeps readers on their toes.  And if you’re a series fan of any writer, as I am, it’s always fun to meet back up with recurring characters, such as Molly Crane, Luther ‘Suitcase’ Simpson, and Healy. 

I am constantly amazed at the writer who can speak in another writer’s voice. Reed Farrel Coleman does this flawlessly. Giving the fans of Robert B. Parker years more of his stories, even though he is gone. I’ve never been one to write spoilers in my reviews. It’s all about the writing for me. The story. The Characters.  But I will tell you, there is a huge surprise in Jesse Stone’s story line. I mean HUGE! 

Another winner and I highly recommend it. 

Did you miss my Interview with Reed Farrel Coleman?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Failure Is An Option ~ Book Review

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing  5 out of 5 quills  ~~        A Review 

H. Jon Benjamin had me at the dedication, “For all you failures out there, you can do worse….”

The Robbery (and how I failed to stop one), The Threesome (and how I failed…), How I Failed to Have Chinese (while visiting my 

parents…) it’s chapter after chapter of failures that could be taken from any of our lives and it’s hilarious!   

I would consider  H. Jon Benjamin a comedy business success…. “But he’d like to remind everyone that as great as success can be, failure is also an option. And maybe the best option. In this book, he tells stories from his own life, from his early days (“wherein I’m unable to deliver a sizzling fajita”) to his romantic life (“how I failed to quantify a threesome”) to family (“wherein a trip to P.F. Chang’s fractures a family”) to career (“how I failed at launching a kid’s show”). As Jon himself says, breaking down one’s natural ability to succeed is not an easy task, but also not an insurmountable one. Society as we know it is, sadly, failure averse. But more acceptance of failure, as Jon sees it, will go a long way to making this world a different place . . . a kinder, gentler place, where gardens are overgrown and most people stay home with their pets. A vision of failure, but also a vision of freedom.” (Amazon.com)

Impertinent, tetchy and sidesplitting …I recommend this book to all who need a break from life’s little and big failures. A good laugh always helps. And you can pick it up, read a quick chapter, and put it down again until you need another giggle.

 

H. Jon Benjamin is an actor, voice actor, and stand-up comedian. He lives in New York.

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS! April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe

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Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins ~~ A Review

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5 out of 5 quills   Old Black Magic by Ace Atkins  ~~  A Review

 

Once again Ace Atkins nails it!!  Old Black Magic is right up there with the best of Robert B. Parker’s previous books. 
But readers better brush up on the history of Boston, as seen through Parker’s eyes, the hoodlums and mobsters over the past twenty years (introduced in the Spenser series)  ’cause they all show back up, alive and dead. The biggest heist of millions of dollars in classic art from a museum in Boston and the case was never solved. It finally goes cold for over twenty years. Hired by the museum to find the art, Spenser and Vinnie Morris team up…odd bedfellows to say the least. ….and that’s all I’m giving you of the story line.  

I don’t write spoilers in my reviews but I am known for sometimes running off on a tangent that has much or little to do with the book. So I thought it would be fun to see if the story plot had any truth to it…as truth tends to be stranger than fiction. Bingo!! Here’s what I found:  El Greco’s Gentleman was stolen and not returned to its rightful owners for decades.  But it was not a Boston crime crew who knocked it off but rather the Nazis!

‘In 1920, Mr. Priester began amassing a notable art collection of Old Masters, including the famous El Greco, which he displayed in his Vienna home and office. By 1938, however, Mr. Priester was forced to flee with his wife to Paris to escape the Nazis
Before leaving, Mr. Priester entrusted his impressive collection to a friend, but the art was ultimately seized by the Gestapo after the Anschluss with Germany. At the end of the war in 1945, Mr. Priester, who had escaped to Mexico City, undertook an internationally publicized recovery effort with the help of the Austrian authorities, but his collection and the El Greco painting could not be located before his death. 

After WWII, restitution of stolen art work would often take decades. But sometimes it could be accomplished seamlessly if the dealers who purchased the stolen art agreed to cooperate with the claimants, as recently occurred in the case of the stolen El Greco painting, Portrait of a Gentleman.

In a rare deal announced by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, representing the original owners, and Art Recovery International, representing the art gallery which acquired the looted painting in 2010, Portrait of a Gentleman was returned to the heirs of the collection of Julius Priester. This deal took several months to arrange after seven long decades searching for the masterpiece.’ (credit: Observer.com)

Ace Atkins

So I digress a little…sue me!  But, am I the only one that finds stuff like this fascinating?

This is a terrific story and Ace Atkins tells it flawlessly in Robert B. Parker’s voice.  I highly recommend it.
 

Did you miss my interview with Ace Atkins?
Old Black Magic on Sale Now!!  Click here
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 MY  features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Mystery writer, Manning Wolfe.
 
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