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Book Review~~Four Funerals & Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen

                                             5  out of  5 quills  ~~ A Review 

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By far the best in the  series, the  Royal  Spyness Mysteries.  I  love  this  series. In Four  Funerals….  there  was  not  a single  misstep by its author. The story weaves faultlessly to the final pages. Ended by a deep sigh of satisfaction from this reader. 

All the elements were there historically. Queen Elizabeth as a child, Prince Edward and the notorious Wallis Simpson. Even Hitler as a black cloud on the horizon. But we pick up with Lady Georgiana (Georgie) preparing for her wedding and worrying about where she and Darcy will live on their meager combined income. It appears to be hopeless.  Add in Fig and Binky, Georgie’s granddad and a band of slap-dash servants. And my  favorite character, Queenie (the maid) is back in full force. 

The whole story is delightful from the first page to the last.This is a must read for fans, old and new, of Rhys Bowen. I highly recommend it.

 

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Did you miss my Interview with Rhys Bowen?
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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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Interview with author, Jayne Ann Krentz (Part 2)

Q:  How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

A: Before I got this cool writing gig I did time in the corporate and academic worlds so I often use elements from those experiences in my plots.  I’m convinced that every writer has a core story. We spend our careers exploring it.  My core story is romantic suspense—a murder mystery entwined with a passionate relationship.  I love that combination.  The love story raises the stakes in the suspense and the danger raises the stakes in the romance.  When I plot I try to make sure that every twist in the suspense affects the relationship and vice versa.  This is true across the three time zones in which I set my stories:  historicals, contemporaries and futuristics.

When I was growing up my formative books included Nancy Drew and Andre Norton.  But it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I came across the book that changed my life:  Anne McCaffrey’s RESTOREE.  Looking back, I think it’s clear that she pretty much invented the futuristic romantic suspense novel with that one book.

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

A: There has always been plenty of room for my stories in the romance genre. In my opinion it is the least confining of all the genres. The others all seem to have rather strict conventions and expectations—writers violate them at their peril.  But there is plenty of scope for storytelling within romance.  The settings can be historical, contemporary, futuristic or paranormal. The sexuality can be sweet or intense. The suspense can be anything from a serial killer thriller to a cozy plot.  Romance writers are  free to deal with almost any social issue.  No limits, really.  All that is expected is a romantic relationship and the HEA.  Works for me.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JAK. I was recently introduced to boxing as a workout and fell in love with it. Which is a good thing because  I love to cook AND eat and, therefore, I need the workout!

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

JAK. Nope.  As has been noted, the paper book is still the simplest and best way to preserve information and stories because it can survive hundreds of years.  Our technology, on the other hand, evolves so fast that anything preserved in that format will probably be impossible to read even a hundred years from now. 

Q. What makes a writer great? 

JAK. Voice. It’s impossible to define but in the end it is the only thing that really matters.  If the writer’s voice is not compelling readers will not finish the book.  But here’s the sticky part — no two readers respond to a book in the exact same way.  Everyone brings something different to a book and everyone takes something different away.  Readers will fall in love with a lot of different voices over the years. 

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

A. One scene at a time. 

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

A:  Figure out your core story early on.  Every writer in every genre has one.  It has nothing to do with a particular fictional landscape.  It is all about the emotions and themes and values that compel you as a writer.  Once you truly understand your core story you will realize that you can take it into any genre.

Did you miss Part I of this wonderful Interview? Click here

Untouchable will be on sale January 8, 2019
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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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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

Latest books in the series, World of Murder, Now in Audio Books!

Beneath the Bridge of MurderGood news!  With the recent recording of Bridge of Murder and Video of Murder, all of the true crime series are now available on audio books. Just added: 

 In Book #6 of this true crime series, someone is knocking off the homeless of NYC. There don’t appear to be any motives; what could a bum have that anyone would want? Their life style affords the killer plenty of opportunity. Nobody cares what happened to these shadow people?  Detectives O’Roarke and Garcia quickly realize that they have another serial killer on their hands as more bodies are found at an alarming rate. 

Available soon on audible.com, amazon.com and itunes.com for purchase

Sample of Bridge of Murder 

Sample of Video of Murder 

A murder occurs every day in the Big Apple. It follows that homicide detectives carry a case load of three to seven cases, at all times. In this new thriller, Video of Murder, NYPD Homicide Detectives O’Roarke and Garcia investigate seven killings. Every case has one witness who is never mistaken, can’t remember, or tells a lie. The video camera. They must enter the unknown world of the Tongs, the Chinese Mafia, when one of its members is beaten to death, sparking a string of retaliation-type homicides. At the same time they investigate the random murder of a cross country trucker only to be interrupted by a domestic disturbance case gone horribly wrong. A normal day in the life of a murder cop.

 

Coming soon! Shadow of Murder in Audio!

Now available on audible.com, amazon.com and itunes.com for purchase

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling 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.
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

Interview with Author, Playwright, Alretha Thomas (part 2)

Part 2: 

Q. What comes first? The situation or the characters.

AT. The situation comes first.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

AT. I become completely immersed in my writing. I get so lost in the world I’ve created, I forget where I am, and hours fly by. It’s really a high!

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

AT.My latest work was released August 7, 2018. It’s the first book in my new Dancing Hills Mystery Series. It’s called “The Women on Retford Drive.” It’s about a mother and stepdaughter who have endured abuse at the hands of their husband and father respectively. The day they shape plans to leave him, he goes missing. The women, afraid the police are going to name them as suspects, try to find out what happened to him. Did one of them kill him or is there another agenda at play unbeknownst to the women and the police far more sinister?

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

AT. I began my first serious work in 1999. I wrote a novel loosely based on my dysfunctional childhood called “Daughter Denied.” I had no idea what I was doing. However, readers fell in love with the ten-year-old protagonist Renee.

Q. How long after that were you published?

AT. It was fifteen years later before I received a publishing deal. Thank goodness we can’t see the future. If I had known it would have taken over a decade, I might have given up. Lol!

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

AT. Yes!!!! There was a time when I couldn’t imagine reading a book on a computer, but now my Kindle library is filled with books. I do, however, still enjoy reading a paper book. I like seeing them on the bookshelves in my library. However, electronic books are so easy to manage, especially at the gym.

Q. What makes a writer great?

AT. Someone who has studied their craft and that has a passion for storytelling. You must be open and free to write what you know and what’s in your heart, not the latest trend.

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

AT. It starts with an idea. I turn that idea into an outline. I determine the end of the story. I decide what my plot twists will be. Then I get into the characters. I create bios for all my characters. I determine what the main characters want, what their obstacles will be. I complete a first draft. I have beta readers go over my work. I complete more drafts. Then when I have the final draft, I send it to my developmental editor. After she goes through it, and I address all her concerns, I complete another draft. Once that is final, I send it to my editor who also proofs the book. Then I’m good to go! It’s about a six-month process.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

AT. I’ve had an interesting life. My childhood at times was harrowing. I lost my mother when I was 14 and she was only 36. God got me through. My twenties were crazy, due to my childhood and my own bad choices. I began to grow up in my thirties and from there, my life has been fabulous. Not perfect, but amazing. Nineteen years ago, I met the love of my life. We had a beautiful wedding. In 2000 we went to Africa together. In 2001 we bought a home. In 2012 my husband retired and in 2016 I retired and am writing and acting full time. Because of all my experiences, I feel deeply. I’m passionate. I can relate to pain, disappointment, hurt, exhilaration, joy, all the things you’ll find in a good book. I believe my life enables me to write books that move and inspire readers.

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

AT. I started writing women’s fiction. In my Cass and Nick series, it dawned on me that in all four books someone dies and that there is an element of suspense in each book. In 2015, I made a foray into writing murder mysteries and I’ve never looked back.

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

AT. Don’t ever cry too hard over the person, job or material object you wanted and couldn’t have, because God has something so much better in store for you.

Did you miss Part I of this wonderful Interview? Click here
To see more of Alretha’s books: click here
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Interview with Playwright, Author, Alretha Thomas

  Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, this prolific writer soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming.  In between plays, Alretha’s first novel Daughter Denied was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country.  Alretha was awarded the Jessie Redmon Fauset Literary Award for her indie novel Four Ladies Only. Alretha returned to acting and is now writing and acting full 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.

AT. I write in the family dining room/hang out room. My computer is up against a wall and it’s my special place.
Whenever my husband wants to get my attention, he’ll leave a note on my keyboard knowing it won’t be missed! He calls it my home within the home. Lol! My husband and I often talk about buying a bigger home, if, and when we get a windfall. My dream workspace would have a view of the Pacific Ocean.

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.)

AT. I have to be very comfortable when I write. Thus, I write in very loose-fitting clothing. Usually my blue sundress my husband bought me or my ripped up blue robe. I guess it’s something about blue.  I also must have my desk fan blasting. I have about a half dozen little stuff animals and toys that I keep to the right of me. I think they’re my good luck charms.

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

AT. I volunteer every Tuesday at a nursing home not too far from my home. There are about six people there that I feel very close to. I paint nails for the ladies, tell stories and most times just listen. The residents have no idea how much they do for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They are wonderful people who for one reason or another are in the nursing home. It makes me grateful and it makes me appreciate being able to get around right now. No one knows what the future holds.

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

AT. I love writing at night after my husband has gone to bed and it’s quiet in the house and the neighborhood. I just love it. I feel like a little girl in a sandbox. No matter what I’m doing during the day, I get excited when I think about the fact that later that night I’ll be writing. So many ideas about what my characters are going to say and do flood my head during the day. It’s wonderful when I can put it on paper.

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

AT. Just do it! I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block or procrastination. Thank goodness. If anything, you have to pull me away from the computer!

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

AT. I believe my characters discover me. They enter my subconscious and take over my being. They slowly began to evolve. Case in point are the main characters in my latest mystery novel, “The Women on Retford Drive.” I’ve never met anyone like my protagonist Julia Pritchard or her stepdaughter Blythe Pritchard. One day I just had this feeling about writing about a mother and step daughter being abused and working together to escape their plight. From there, the story just took off.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

AT. My fifth-grade teacher inspired me to write. She gave the class a short story assignment. I got an idea to write a story about a bag boy in a supermarket who falls in love with a young customer. I guess you could say that was my first romance story. The following day our teacher congratulated the entire class on our work. However, she said there was one story that stood out. And that story was mine. I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it. She read it aloud and the class was riveted. While I was watching the expressions on the faces of my peers, I knew in that moment I wanted to be a writer for life.

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

Join Us with Part Two of this fascinating Interview on October 26th
To Purchase Alretha’s books, click here 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and Patrick Canning.

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Interview with Jonathan Rabb, Writer (conclusion)

TS.  This has been a terrific Interview. All writers achieve the same goals using different paths to get there. 

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

JR. Muscle memory. That’s where it is now. I can’t imagine not having a book I’m working on. In other words, I have to be working on something. So, in some sense, I never fully enjoy “finished book” because I’m always at least thinking about the next one. In the same way, I never feel I’m in “no book” territory.

You don’t get a lot of resolution in your creative life if you’re a novelist (at least I don’t). It’s probably why I do crossword puzzles. Resolution is immediate.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JR. How can they not? When I first started writing, I was in NY and single. Now, I’m in Savannah, married with two kids, and a professor of writing. Save for that first novel, I don’t borrow from my own life as the foundation of a novel. Yes, my characters grapple with the same anxieties I grapple with, but they aren’t me in a fictional guise. But as the challenges have changed in my life, I think they’ve changed for my characters as well. And my interests have shifted. Five years ago I would never have thought about a book in Mexico. Now, I can’t imagine not writing it.

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

JR. I’ve been accused of bucking genres. My first two books were clearly thrillers, based around historical documents. Then I dove into historical fiction entirely with three books in Germany and Spain in 1919, 1927 and 1936. Yes, there was a mystery in each of those, but the mystery was always less important than the political and social anxieties that the characters were dealing with. Some reviewers called them historical fiction, others literary fiction, still others mysteries. And then I jumped to my last book, which is Savannah 1947 – a much more intimate novel, less about the historical backdrop and more about one man’s struggle. And now I’m doing contemporary Mexico in one book, and 1606 Venice in another

So, I don’t really think in terms of genres. I just write what excites me. So far I’ve been lucky enough that my publishers let me do that.

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

JR. Writing is hard, maybe harder than anything else in the arts for the simple reason that everyone thinks they have access to language. Very few people walk around thinking, Yes, I can design a dress or produce a self-portrait. But everyone thinks, Hey, I can write. Just look at me on Facebook….

But that’s not true, which makes writing even harder if you really want to take a stab at it.

So, the lesson I’ve learned is: do whatever you can to make writing easier while you’re writing. Take the pressure off and just try and get a single sentence down that you don’t hate. Some days, that one sentence is enough. It paves the way for the days when you write 5,000 words and you can’t imagine how you did it.

Give yourself a break. Writing is hard. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

Did you miss Part 1 or 2 of this fine Interview? Click here
To Purchase books
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) and Patrick Canning.

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Book Review ~~ Shadow of Murder by Trisha Sugarek

D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review      ‘Book 8 in the ‘World of Murder’ series more than does justice to its companions as it creates both a stand-alone read that requires no prior familiarity with the series, yet dovetails nicely with the emotion-packed approaches and mystery themes of its predecessors.

Homicide Detective Stella Garcia and her partner Sergeant Detective Jack O’Roarke are again challenged by murder, with Jack’s new marriage serving as a quiet opening success to events which quickly turn into hair-raising circumstances based on a true crime.A deadly and gruesome mass shooting of Indian women and children in a family-run store, the killer’s desire to destroy a lovely young woman who neither wanted nor knew him. Unrequited love steeps the story line with a passion and drive that makes it feel true to life and hard to put down.

Forensic profiling has done a good job of identifying the pattern of the deaths; but now it’s up to Garcia and O’Roarke to put together the pieces in a case that leads them to not only identify the perp, but understand what happened and why. The latter charge is what readers are also tasked with in a story line that moves back and forth across time and events to build its case for how events arrived at such a shocking crescendo of violence.

What keeps Shadow of Murder thought-provoking and absorbing is not the ‘whodunnit’ piece; but the ‘why’, which goes into revealing detail about the psychology of a killer’s motivations and psyche. Readers looking for a gripping short murder story which is more psychologically charged than most will appreciate this murder mystery, which pairs a gripping saga with insights that compel reflection long after the case is solved.’
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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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A Book Review ~~ Green Fees by Manning Wolfe

3 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Reviewreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

The plot was good, the story entertaining. The main characters were interesting, but the supportive characters (Deuteragonists) were more dynamic than the main protagonists. Merit Bridges frequently teetered on being a cliché  but was  brought back just in the nick of time. Mark Green was empathetic and I found  myself rooting for him. 

The story was too golf specific for the general reading public. Golfers will love how the author weaved the game of golf  through the plot. But non-golfers might find it too much. Those readers will not understand the lingo or care anything about the PGA. This reviewer fears it might be a turn-off.  And if the author is going to tell a story where golf plays such a large role (it’s almost a character in itself) then she should have stopped to integrate an explanation of golf terms into the story. Or a glossary should have been included.
For example I don’t remember seeing an explanation for the word ‘par’. (Par is the predetermined number of strokes that a scratch/expert golfer should require to complete a hole. Par is determined by guidelines set by the US Golf Association.) 

If a non-golf enthusiast gets as far as the last round of the PGA Championship (20 pages before the end of the book) they will be drawn in because of the excellent writing in this section. Despite their lack of knowledge (about golf) they will be cheering Mark Green on to victory. 

Did you miss my Interview with Manning Wolfe
Green Fees on sale now 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  June: Manning Wolfe. July: K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. Sept: Jonathan Rabb, December: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Interview with legal Thriller writer, Manning Wolfe (part 2)

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

MW. Next month, (July) Green Fees, the third legal thriller in the series will be published. It’s about a Russian money lender who uses an evil enforcer to extract repayment of illegal loans. Of course, Merit Bridges works to extricate a young golf pro from the Russian’s grip.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MW. I’ve always taken writing seriously.

Q. How long after that were you published?

MW. I’ve had professional material published for years. As for fiction, the Merit Bridges Legal Thriller Series began in 2016.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MW. It’s hard to describe, but when I feel a certain emotion or tone as I write it, readers tend to feel it when they read it.

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

A Night at the Ballet

MW. I carried a mini bottle of champagne around for a year thinking I was going to finish the book any day. Finally, I got to pop it!

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MW. I’ve practiced law for many years and use the legal aspects as well as my knowledge of people and their proclivities in my writing.

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

MW. Yes, I expect to publish a memoir at some point.

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

MW. I have witnessed many times that a good person can do a bad thing and change their lives and those around them forever. Those good people deserve a second chance, and in my stories, they often get that chance.   As above, my main character, Merit Bridges talks to me about a situation. That said, all my stories are based on real life legal dilemmas that happened in my law firm. Of course, I take the facts only so far and then explode them into a thriller.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MW. Often, but I am usually writing from a dual perspective. I can be the writer and the reader at the same time. That way, I can gauge what my audience may enjoy about the story I’m telling.

Did you miss the first part of this writer’s perspective? Click here 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick) !

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