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A New Author, A Fine Book, A Season for Second Chances

 

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A few weeks ago Jenny Bayliss’ publisher requested a book review from me.  I tend to shy away from unknown (to me) authors out of fear of having to write a bad review since my mission is to support and uplift all other writers. But the synopsis intrigued me so I accepted the invitation. And…

…might have missed enjoying a really good book. The writing is superb, the story line rich with detail, the characters charming and engaging. The little surprises of humor had me chuckling and spurting an outright laugh (once in awhile) at the clever writing.  The humor is honest and handled with a light hand. 

The story speaks to most women who have faced at least a couple of forks in the road of life.  I could really relate to Annie’s long marriage fizzling out. The abrupt loss of husband and children. What do we do with ourselves? Is this our ‘chance’ to live a life we’ve only dreamed of?  Try some things that we were discouraged to try in our previous (and safe) life? 

I love it when a place becomes a character in the book.  And Saltwater Nook certainly did that! 

Half way through the book I hurried to order Bayliss’ debut novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. Which, by the way, has received rave reviews.  This is a very talented writer and I hope she continues to crank out the wonderful stories.

Available for sale October 19th. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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A Book Review and a Writing Lesson

   1 out of 5 quills reviews, authors, writing

                                 

Second Chance Grill could have been an engaging, charming and entertaining read but….the writing was clunky and author, Christine Nolfi, did a lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’.  Where she could have put a character’s challenge into the hands of the characters in her book to solve, she elected to get out a small soap box and preach about the issue (real time).  It was very distracting.  

I will digress from this review and begin a writing lesson. One of the first tenants of writing well is wherever possible, to ‘show don’t tell’.   (Example) The employees of the Second Chance Grill need health insurance.  This writer tells all about the challenges of a small business owner trying to find an affordable plan for employees. She almost crosses the line and leaves fiction for non-fiction.  The author could have easily ‘shown’ the challenge of procuring health insurance by creating a chapter/scene where she meets with some insurance agents. Or she reports back to her employees, Finny and Delia, about her failure to find insurance. But that she isn’t giving up and will continue to pursue it. Maybe Finny reacts with cynicism and disbelief. Maybe Delia has special pre-existing conditions that she’s worried about. 

Same for Blossom’s leukemia. Nolfi writes a couple of pages about leukemia in teens, percentages of poor diagnoses, bone marrow transplants. That’s ‘telling’. It would have been a better story if she’d let her characters show the grim percentages of death, tell of Blossom’s struggle with the side effects of chemotherapy.

And then Nolfi barrels into a fund drive to raise money for the transplant. This is where the writing gets particularly clunky and chopped up, and frankly, unbelievable.  The rhythm of the writing goes off the rails so, sadly, I can’t give it a good review. 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Glowing Review Bestowed on Emma and the Lady Aardvarks

‘ Trisha Sugarek’s Emma and the Lady Aardvarks is both whimsical and thought-provoking and will delight and attract fiction and nonfiction young readers alike, as a new mandate to save the planet emerges.  A time travel adventure about climate change and a mystical forest that features sister Aardvarks, who arrive in the mystical forest quite by accident when their time travel adventure goes awry.

Emma and the Lady Aardvarks adds another book to Trisha Sugarek’s Fabled Forest series for advanced elementary to early middle grade readers. The aardvarks meet friendly elves, fairies, farm girl Emma, and a host of creatures who inhabit a rare habitat, indeed. Annie is the shy one. Her braver sister Agnes has always protected her young sister, but even she quakes at the strange creatures and dialogues that emerge at the beginning of their new adventure.

Trisha Sugarek’s dialogue and setting is anything but predictable, from a Spanish-speaking spider to a host of characters who greet the skittish sisters Aardvarks: “Patsy, where are your manners?” Donald strolled over to Patsy. “Everyone is welcome in the fabled forest, as long as they come in peace.” “Dios mio, how do we know they come in peace, pequeño? Se ven como bandidos!” Donald laughed, “No they are not bandits, Patsy. Don’t be silly.”

Colorful drawings bring the forest and its creatures to life as Sugarek spins a colorful yarn, from a magical portal that discharges a posse of puppies to the injection of facts about extinction, global warming, and threats to wildlife. While Sugarek’s Fabled Forest milieu has been explored previously in five prior adventures, it should be noted that newcomers need have no prior familiarity with its creatures or history in order to appreciate this warm fantasy of a magical place and a mandate to try to stop climate change’s impact.

Young readers just past the picture book stage will find the peppering of colorful drawings a fine embellishment to a tale that weaves elements of fantasy and reality into a thought-provoking adventure.’  D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREKfairy tales, fables, elves, fairies, running away, audio books

 

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Murder Mystery Series by Trisha Sugarek

It is time to remind my fans and readers about the murder mystery series that I have been writing over the past years.  I am currently working on Book #11 . 
It’s an exciting series (even if I do say so myself) with two fascinating homicide detectives working the murder beat in New York City. 

Here’s the first three synopsis in the series but there are 10 in all.  Very story line driven so best read in sequence. 

Brush with Murder, Book #1

 Ben is a struggling, unknown artist, living in a loft in Soho. From his third floor walk up, he watches his beautiful neighbor as she comes and goes. Too shy and reclusive to ask her out, he paints her again and again. Suddenly the police are at his door. His goddess, his dream woman is dead
and the police like him for the crime. 

 

Dance of Murder Book #2

‘Strippers have been found with their throats cut and their dead eyes filled with glitter and the killer’s rage is escalating. To make things worse, Homicide Detectives, O’Roarke and Garcia have several dozen potential suspects all with a reason to murder these girls.’
Now the press has gotten hold of the story dubbing the murderer, ‘The Glitter Slasher’. City Hall is breathing down the necks of the Homicide Squad and insisting that they ‘get this
thing solved!’ Before there are more dead bodies. Finally the two murder cops make an arrest.
But, do they have the right person in custody?

Act of Murder Book #3

O’Roarke and Garcia are called when a famous Broadway director dies. It appears that everyone hated this man, making the murder cops’ job just that much harder. They have their pick of suspects as everyone within a five mile radius of Broadway had a reason to want this guy dead. From the jealous stage manager, to the resentful actors, to a disappointed and hurt lover.
From a scorned understudy, to his ex-wives, any one of them could have cheerfully done him in. This mystery takes the reader back stage into the tumultuous, gossip ridden, passionate world of the theatre.



Book Review ~ Mike Lupica’s Stone’s Throw

 

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5 out of 5 quills

Mike Lupica writes so well  in Robert B. Parker’s voice that you immediately feel you’re driving your rental car up the main street of Paradise Massachusetts. You drive towards the beach, park, and walk up the path to a piece of land that’s called The Throw. It reveals some of the most beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean on the East Coast . After you get your fix from the ocean views you drive over to the local police station to say hello to your friend and deputy chief, Molly Crane. Chief Jesse Stone and Molly are  working a case. The beloved (by everyone) mayor of this small town has….. (Opps! Almost gave it away). 

One of my favorite characters, Crow, returns in this story. If you’re a fan of Robert B. Parker’s (and Mike Lupica’s) I don’t need to elaborate. If you’re not, well….you should be.  The plot twists and turns and surprises the reader with a page turning cop/murder mystery. 

Right up to, literally, the last page. SURPRISE!  Thanks, Mike!  

The writing is just as excellent as the rest of Mike Lupica’s work. Mike writes all of the Jesse stone and Sunny Randall murder mysteries for the Parker estate so we can look forward to more from this fine writer. 

Did you catch my Interview with Mike Lupica

Release date: September 6th
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monohan.
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Interview with writer, Veronica Henry (conclusion)

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

VH. I sure hope not! I think books make a home, and are a big part of us. You can tell a person by the books they have on their shelves. They make wonderful gifts too. My books are my most treasured possessions. I don’t feel so emotional about my Kindle!

Q. What makes a writer great?

VH. If they can make you laugh and cry. And if you recognize the characters in the book, even if they are from two hundred years ago.

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

VH. I write a book a year, so ideally it would be two months brainstorming and researching, six months for a first draft, two months for a second draft and then the rest of the time finessing. But it’s quite a fluid process. The most intense period is the second draft -that’s when the book really falls into place but it’s emotionally draining and you need to really concentrate to get the most out of your material.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Dinner party at sunset

VH. I live by the sea, so I spend a lot of time at the beach. Either walking the dog, or swimming (I swam all the way through winter without a wetsuit!) or hanging out with my friends with a picnic and a bottle of wine as the sun goes down. I love to cook, so I love to have the time to make a really special dinner. We have a great fishmonger near us, so right now it’s all about the crab and the lobster. I’ve just made a white chocolate and raspberry cake – it’s in the oven!

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

VH. I’ve spent a long time building up a career in my genre so it would be crazy to just switch – although I know a lot of authors who have gone over to crime or thrillers recently. I like people to feel good when they finish reading my books, so I’m going to stick with it!!

Veronica cooks to relax

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

VH. Everything comes back into fashion eventually!

Did you miss Part 1?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monohan.
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Interview with British Author, Veronica Henry

As an army child, Veronica went to eight different schools, including the Royal School Bath, where she learnt Latin, how to make rock buns and how to take her bra off without getting undressed. She went on to study Classics at Bristol University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course – a surprisingly useful combination. Veronica started her career as a secretary on The Archers, a long running radio drama, typing scripts, then moved on to television and became a script writer. When she had her first child she jumped over the fence and became a script writer, then turned to writing novels in 2002, “as books were always my first love.”

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.

VH. Now two of my children have left home I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office space. I have a huge desk to spread out all my papers and research and the books I’m reading. There are inevitably piles of paperwork and proofs to read and one day I will sort it all out so it is calm and organized! It has a sea view, which is great, and is very light and airy. I have to work in silence – no music, even though music is a big part of my life.

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.)

VH. The most important thing is to make sure my hair is tied up – with anything!! I can’t stand it falling into my face while I work. I have my

dog, Zelda, named after Zelda Fitzgerald, on a sheepskin rug under the desk.

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

VH. I went to school in the States for three years and had the accent to prove it! It’s faded now but I still say ‘gas’ and ‘trash’ instead of ‘petrol’ and ‘rubbish’

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

New Release

VH. I  love making notes with a black pen and a narrow feint notebook at the beginning of the process – somehow it makes me think more creatively. But then I work straight into the computer. I don’t use a special app but have recently discovered the navigation pane which really helps knowing where I am in the document.

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

VH. I’m a lark and prefer to get straight on with writing first thing, after I’ve walked the dog. My energy dips after lunch, so that’s when I go over what I’ve already written or do some light reading! I cannot work in the evening to save my life.

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

VH. Just grasp the nettle, I’m afraid. The fear is worse than the reality. We all do it, but I can’t afford to procrastinate too much. I view writing as a business. Most other professions don’t have the luxury of procrastination. Imagine your dentist faffing about before getting on with your check up!

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

Join Us For Part 2 of this Wonderful Interview
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
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What does it look like? From ‘no book’ to ‘finished book’?

A fellow writer and friend asked me this question:  “What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like?”  After years of writing my blog and interviewing other authors,  it seemed to be each featured author’s favorite question.  Having also completed  several novels  I’d like to add my two cents:

When writing my first novel, (Women Outside the Walls) I did not have a deadline and it probably would have really helped. I was my own deadline setter and that didn’t work out so well. On the other hand, I think having a publisher breathing down my neck would have stifled my creative flow.  When life got in the way I wouldn’t work on it for weeks but then I would get inspired and work on it for days, weeks, non-stop, sometimes 10-14 hours a day. So I guess it all evened out.  Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write for a few days….you’ll make up for it with better, more relaxed creative writing.

Because I inherently ‘rush’, I found that I had to watch-dog myself and be careful not to leave out important roads of the story. I was in early proofing of the final product of my novel and realized (in a countless re-read) that I had never described my female negotiator’s physical appearance. (Yikes!).  Again, (if the writer tends to rush) go back and re-read your work to see where you need to flesh out a chapter or a character.

I am not structured at all, if ‘structured’ means writing an outline, a story plot and character descriptions. I write a new project in my head for days, weeks and then when my brain is about to burst I begin putting it down on paper (or in my case, sitting at the keyboard). I also write out of sequence and I think that’s okay. My novel’s last chapter was completed months before the middle was written.

Some writers have actually written whole books while blogging; they found it less daunting by writing in segments. At the end they had a book and then they published.  If you need a deadline the days that you commit to writing a blog would serve.  For me this wouldn’t work;  I would feel too exposed having my rough draft out there for the world to see as I am a writer who slams it down the first time around and then edit, edit, delete, edit.  Did I mention that the lettering is worn off my ‘delete’ key?

Frequently I will begin a story that has inspired me, not knowing much about the subject. It has sometimes stopped me dead in my tracks while I researched (example: hostage negotiations for Women Outside the Walls).   I had 8 pages of a new play about Winston Churchill written and  had to stop to do research on his life during WW II. I find that it can be done while I am writing and that is what I prefer. It’s more fun and keeps me interested. I don’t think I would do well having my research all done before I put my story down. I find that the research itself inspires my story line.

And then there is that unseen, unheard phenomenon where, with any luck, the characters take over and you become the typist.  Your muse begins to tell you the story.  This has happened to me time and again, and while I resisted at first (being a control-freak) I now embrace and welcome it.  In Women Outside the Walls my character Alma, at sixteen, is abandoned by her promiscuous mother.  Alma is befriended by the ex-girl friend of the man Alma had a teen crush on.  They end up being room mates.  I could never have dreamed that one up;  but my characters got together and decided that this was what they would to do.books, authors, book stores, women writers,

I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to go through the process. Each writer should be unique in how they work. Instead of thinking of it as a project/deadline ‘thing’; think of it as a work of art, created just for you and by you. Where possible, let the characters lead you. They will never steer you wrong!

well, there you have it…the process such as it is and how it works for me. (First posted January, 2013)
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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Author Don Bentley, Interview (conclusion)

Q. What makes a writer great?

DB. I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question, so I’m going to quote my fantastic editor, Tom Colgan, instead. Tom once told me that the difference between a good writer and a great writer is that a great writer is not content to write the same book twice. According to Tom, a great writer will always push himself to do something different and bigger each time they write, and I think that’s true.

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

DB. I try to write my first draft as quickly as possible, but it inevitably takes longer than I want. In an effort to make the process more streamlined, I keep each POV as a separate word file until I’m completely done with the first draft as I’ve found this saves me quite a few headaches when I invariably move scenes around or cut them completely. Once the first draft is complete, I write out each scene on index cards and then arrange them using the Save the Cat beats as organizing tools. This is my first look at the completed novel, and I’ve found it’s a great way to ensure that I’ve hit the inflection points necessary for each Act in the Three Act structure. Once I’ve satisfied with the story’s layout, I’ll go back and begin editing in earnest. In my first pass or two, I’m concentrating mainly on plot weakness or other structural errors. In my final edits I focus more on language and the narrative flow.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

DB. As a former Army Apache helicopter pilot and FBI Special Agent, I’ve been lucky enough to do some pretty interesting things. Since I write espionage/military thrillers, I draw extensively from both my background and the incredible people I’ve had the fortune of meeting and befriending. During a radio interview for WITHOUT SANCTION, my first Matt Drake thriller, the interviewer asked me if I was Matt Drake. I assured her that I was not, but I also told her that I’d stood in the same room with Matt a time or two. Once you’ve had the pleasure of spending time in the company of heroes, you can’t help but come away a different person.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

DB. That’s a tough one right now. I’m in the middle of transitioning from working a day job to writing full time, but until then, I work every single day. It’s a bit of a slog, but I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be writing a book in two different series. When I’m not working, I love to workout, go to concerts with my wife, and hang out with my kids.

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

DB. I’m a huge fantasy fan, particularly epic and urban. The first two novels I attempted to write were both fantasy, and I still dabble in that genre from time to time. If my schedule ever allows, I’d love to take another shot at writing my take on urban fantasy.

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

DB. To progress as a writer, you have to do two things: get better at your craft and refuse to give up.

Did my readers miss the other parts of this wonderful INTERVIEW with Don Bentley
BTW:  Thank you for your service to our country, Don, and Happy Independence Day!!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

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Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy~Interview (part 3)

Don Bentley

Tom Clancy

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DB. There are times when the words seem to fly from my keyboard onto the screen, but if I’m being honest, these instances are few and far between. Writing is work. Hard work. And while I enjoy writing, there are certainly aspects of it that I detest. First drafts are especially hard and, and are most often the times when I berate myself for not choosing an easier profession. Like rocket science! But writing also has some magical phases like writing the second draft. For me, that’s when the story comes alive as you untangle the narrative, build on themes you didn’t even realize you were there, and give that secondary character the starring role they deserve. This is when writing becomes fun, but to get there, you have to slog through the tediousness of the first draft.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

DB. Yes to both! TARGET ACQUIRED, my first entry in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Junior series comes out on 8 June 2021. I read my first Tom Clancy book when I was thirteen or fourteen, and he was my introduction to the military thriller genre. The notion that, thirty years later, I get to write in the universe he created really is incredible. In addition to my Tom Clancy book, I have my own thriller series starring Defense Intelligence Agency case officer, Matt Drake. I’m currently writing HOSTILE INTENT which is the third book in this series. It will be released in May 2022.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

DB. I decided to take my writing seriously in late 2001 when I signed up for a series of online classes from Writer’s Digest Magazine. These classes helped provide a foundational understanding of the process of crafting a novel which I was sorely lacking. I then went on to write two more novels, each of which was strong enough to garner an agent, but not good enough to sell to a publisher. I then decided I must still have more to learn about my craft before I could be commercially successful, so I enrolled in the Seton Hill MFA program. This is a low residency program unabashedly geared toward writers who want to sell commercially viable genre fiction. I wrote my third novel as part of this program, but this one didn’t sell either. About this time, I was starting to wonder whether or not I was ever going to make it as a writer. Thankfully, I had the great fortune to meet Nick Petrie, author of the Peter Ash series, at the ThrillerFest writing conference in New York. Nick was kind enough to listen to my tale of woe, but he did more than listen. After sharing that he also wrote three books that didn’t sell before writing his fourth that did, he told me to go home, quit sulking, and write my fourth book. So I did. That book became WITHOUT SANCTION which my agent, Barbara Poelle, sold in a two book deal in 2018. Fast forward three years, and I’m now writing my third book in that series as well as poking around in the Tom Clancy Universe. To quote Nick, I guess the moral of the story is quit sulking and write your book!

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

DB. I don’t. I think there’s something tactile about paper books that people love.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2 of our Interview with Don?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK