Thursday, June 26, 2014

So you want to be a writer

Guest Post by Lisa Regan, author of Hold Still

Some people are practically born writing.  I’m that type—I started writing stories at a very young age.  Other people come to writing later in life.  Either way, you can be successful at it if you work hard and are committed to it.  Even people like me who spend their whole lives writing sometimes still take a long time to get published.  Here are five things to keep in mind if you want to be successful at writing:

  1.  Figure out what you want to write and stick with it.  Many published writers are successful because they can keep readers coming back for more.  Readers like to know what they’re getting when they pick up one of your books so you should try to focus on one genre and really give it your all.  Pick a genre that you’re passionate about and stick with it.
  2. Read, read, read.  One of the best ways to become a better writer is to be a reader.  See what other writers do.  Get the bestselling books in your genre and read them.  Take note of how those authors craft and deliver a story.  Re-read your favorite books with your writer’s hat on and try to figure out what the author did that made you love that book so much.
  3. Write, write, write.  Try to write as much as you can.  Even if you’re not working on a story or a book.  Write emails, keep a journal—write something as often as possible.  One of the best ways to improve your writing is to actually write.  Remember, you don’t have to use everything you write, but you should write something.  Practice your craft and you will get better.
  4. Connect with other writers.  I’ve found the best way to do this is through blogging but with the internet there are so many ways to find and connect with other writers.  See if there is a writing group in your area.  Get yourself some writing friends and cultivate those relationships.  They’ll help you become a better writer and they’ll buoy you up when the business pushes you down.
  5. Research.  Take writing classes.  Read books on the craft.  Talk to other writers.  If you’ve already written something and want to get it published, research how to go about it.  Make sure you know as much about the business as you can before you put yourself out there.  You don’t want to be turned away by agents, editors or publishers or disqualified from contests because you didn’t take the proper steps to submit or did not follow directions.  Take the time to learn about the industry before you plunge into it.
Lisa Regan is a crime fiction author.  Her first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards 2013.  It was runner-up for Best Novel.  It was also a Digital Book Today Best of 2013 ebook selection.  In December 2013, Finding Claire Fletcher and her second novel, Aberration were #1 Amazon bestsellers in the Kidnapping and Serial Killers categories, respectively.
Lisa is a member of Sisters In Crime.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. 

Three men are viciously assaulting Philadelphia's prostitutes, and it's up to veteran detective Jocelyn Rush to stop them.  She catches two, but they won't betray their partner, the most dangerous of all, and the attacks continue, striking closer to home.  Jocelyn's only real clue comes when a monster from her past resurfaces--now she must race to connect the demons of her past with the villain of her present--before the sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

Hooray for the Brown Box!

Yes, that does sound a little sad.  But after a week in a Kyiv hospital my Brown Box Apartment felt like home.
My apartment is a tad brown.  Brown carpets, brown walls, brown fake leather furniture, brown cupboards.  Even my bedroom is brown.  And in the kitchen, the dark maroon cupboards do lean towards the brown side.  The bathroom has chocolate brown tiles on the floor and walls.  It is a little bit like a brown cave.  Even when the sun is shining brightly outside, I have to have lights on in the inside because of the very brownness of it all.  What stops it from being a bit like living in a pile of brown excrement is the green art deco chandelier in the lounge.
A brown box can be a depressing place to live, especially when I think of the white, blues, turquoises and purples I used to decorate my home in Cape Town to give it that beach cottage feel.  But I have got used to the brown, and instead of brightening it up with colour I have livened it up with cooking smells as I try out recipes for my cookbook I'm working on.
After 3 nights in hospital, 4 days but who's counting, all I wanted was to go back to my brown box.  Never had a brown box felt so inviting.  I wanted my kitchen so I could cook up a storm.  I wanted my fake leather couch that is so comfortable to lie on.  I wanted the comfort of my brown walls and feel the softness of my brown carpet under my feet.
It wasn't as if the hospital was terrible.  It wasn't.  I had a private room en suite and a bar fridge and a very comfortable easy chair.  But it wasn't home.
The nurses were pleasant enough even though they tried to avoid me as much as possible as they couldn't speak English.  Some of the doctors I saw had limited English.  It is a bit frightening when you have all these tests and nobody talks to you and explains what is happening.  Communication is a series of grunts and gestures.
The one doctor who did have decent English I hit.  I punched him and knocked him right off his chair so that he landed on his bum on the ground.  And I didn't even apologise.  The sadistic little turd deserved it.
The nurse had taken me to see this doctor and I assumed it would be another scan as I had been having a few of those each day.  He informed me with a cruel smile that he would be performing an endoscopy and asked me if I knew what it was.  I shook my head.  I should have run while I had the chance.  The doctor's bedside manner had been left behind at the Torture Chamber he frequented after hours.  "Lie on your side," he ordered with another cruel smile, "And open mouth."
Not having any inkling what was going to happen, I complied.  The doctor jammed a funnel in my mouth that tasted of toilet cleaner.  (I have never actually tried toilet cleaner, but this is what I imagine it tastes like.)  He then proceeded to force a large black pipe down my throat.  Of course I panicked.  On good days I suffer from an acute gag reflex and I often struggle to swallow pills.  He kept shouting for me to swallow, but how can you swallow when your throats clamps shut and you can't breathe?  I struggled to pull out the pipe, he continued to try and force it in and in my panic I decked him.
If I wasn't hyperventilating, I would have returned the cruel smile he had greeted me with.
"We must do it," he snarled.
"I can't do it!" I shouted clutching my throat.
"We must do it," he said through gritted teeth as he advanced with his pipe.
"Okay, I'll try."  I can't believe I said those words and gave in so easily.
The second time was even worse.  The nurse held the funnel to my mouth so I couldn't move and a young blonde man with Justin Bieber's famous hairstyle when he first made it and pink scrubs sat on me and held me down.  Doctor Evil advanced with his pipe shouting, "Swallow!  Breathe!"
I could not breathe at all and my eyes felt like they were protruding so much they were going to pop right out of the sockets.  I fought and managed to dislodge the pink scrub man who was sitting astride me and ripped out the black pipe so I could breathe.  "It's okay I'm finished," the doctor said, lying through his teeth.  There was no way he had passed it down my insides and had time to take photos.
I was severely traumatised by that experience.  The nurse kept patting my back and stroking my arm as she led me hyperventilating, with tears running down my cheeks, back to my room.  Never again.
And so I started dreaming about my brown box and how safe I feel there.
The doctor in charge of me, not Doctor Evil, was easily persuaded to let me stay at home and just go in every day for my blood pressure to be checked, injections and a drip.  Hopefully Wednesday will be my last day of commuting to the hospital.
Cindy Vine is a South African currently living and working in Kyiv in Ukraine. She is the author of Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8, Not Telling and The Case of Billy B. All her books are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What would you do if your family was used as Leverage?

Forget about the Godfather and the Italian Mafia, Leverage introduces you to the Russian Mafia and they are far more to be feared than the Italians.  Nancy S. Thompson delivers an action-packed fast-paced story that will have you gripping the edge of your seat.  Thought-provoking.  What would you do if your family was used as Leverage?

Four years ago, Tyler Karras’ quest to avenge his wife's death led to all out war with San Francisco's Russian Mafia. With the Bratva’s collapse and its king, Dmitri Chernov, long dead, all Ty wants now is to put it behind him and enjoy a second chance at life with his new bride, Hannah, and the child they're expecting any day. But Chernov's heir, Grigory Dmitriev, has returned, bitter and determined. He wants his kingdom back, and he's more than willing to leverage Ty's new family to get it. 
First he targets Conner, Ty’s brooding nineteen-year-old stepson, manipulating the boy into a vortex of sex, drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Then he turns his sights on Hannah. At eight months pregnant, she’s the ultimate bargaining chip. With both their lives in jeopardy, as well as his unborn child, Ty has little choice but to do as Grigory commands—even if that means assassinating the new leadership resurrecting within the Bratva.
But Tyler swore he'd never kill again. He buried that monster four years ago and means to keep it that way. Grigory, however, makes that vow impossible to keep.
With his new family on the line, Ty will cross further into the dark side than he ever has before, challenging everything he believes about himself, and forcing him to face the ghosts of his past. Only then will Ty discover if he has the strength to do the unspeakable, to sacrifice his last chance at redemption and save the lives of those he loves most.

Nancy is a sunny California transplant currently living in dreary Seattle, Washington with her husband of twenty-four years, their son, a student at Seattle University, their giant snow dog, Jack, and his kitty, Skye. She works as a freelance editor and also has her own interior and architectural design business. When she's not writing, editing, designing, or marketing—a rarity these days—Nancy keeps herself busy by cooking and baking, that is, when she can pull herself away from Facebook, also a rarity.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Sexy and fun murder mystery

J.M. Griffin does it again, bringing us a saucy mystery filled with fun, food, love and murder.  These bodies keep piling up and Melina has to find the killer to clear her name.  Add in love interests for some spice, throw in a corpse or two and bake at 200 degrees until you have a heavenly loaf of a book that will have your mouth watering for more.
The Focaccia Fatality BLURB:
Melina Cameron is single, and looking. For a date. Not another dead body. 

Her former flame, the sexy Scotsman, Aidan Sinclair, went MIA after he proposed a few months ago, so Melina isn’t wasting any more bread and tears on that one! When hunky police detective Porter Anderson asks her out, she says yes. She could do worse than dating a cop. She and Porter already have a lot in common given her penchant for finding dead bodies. 

When high-ranking politician Vincent Gallagher hires Melina to cater his swanky party, and specifically requests her famous focaccia, Melina looks forward to the event, and the potential new customers it could bring. Not to mention, flirting with the cute waiters. But two things happen on that fateful night that could change the course of Melina’s future. First, Aidan walks into the party with a tall, sultry blonde. Second, that same tall, sultry blonde winds up dead, and Melina is the one who discovers the body! 

This can’t be good for business let alone Melina’s love life. 

Now, Melina has to figure out how to stay away from Aidan, and figure out who killed the blonde, or she might be the one to take the fall.
J.M. Griffin/Dana Stone grew up in rural Maine. She relocated to Rhode Island and lives in the north western part of the state with her husband and two cats. J.M.'s first published novel For Love of Livvy, began a series of humorous mysteries featuring Lavinia "Vinnie" Esposito. J.M. has also written a romance under the pseudonym Dana Stone.
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Indian author explores the dark side of humanity

Here's a new author for those of you who are into the dark and are a little adventurous.  Kshitij is from India.  Read about his latest book, Agony, over here.

Set in a small county of Ireland, Agony depicts the struggle of Kewy, a young high school art teacher. Kewy find herself tormented by a series of haunted dreams, one connected to another. The dreams take her to a god forsaken place filled with evil and surrounded by death, fear and hopelessness. Even when she’s awake, she hears strange voices and eerie knockings at her doorstep. Things buried in her past, start communicating with her in the form of nightmares, sickening her soul and questioning her existence.
Kasper is a grocery boy who works at Finke’s- a popular shopping store in Louth. He has never seen anyone as mysterious and charming as Kewy. Einin is a catholic teen studying in Kewy’s art history class. She just needed a look on Kewy’s face to understand her agonies. Kasper and Einin, quickly become comfortable with Kewy and get involve in her problem, not knowing what they are getting into, not having the slightest idea that what waits for them in those dead woods. But as the three entered into Reinhardt County- the place from Kewy’s dream, they realize it was never about the fear and survival. The truth was earth shattering, but it becomes too late to get away from it...
KSHITIJ lives near New Delhi, India. He loves writing and reading fiction, particularly the ones that envision the dark corners of human mind. He loves travelling and exploring the cultures and people through the medium of reading, travelling and watching. He was born in 1986 in Agra.
Twitter  @PartridgeIndia 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Steamy Fiction

It's always good to introduce new authors.  Tracy Lee, author of Personal Possessions has this to say:
"Happy Month of May!
I can’t believe it’s already May but excited to see what this month has to bring! I want to say thank you for this opportunity, I am so excited to be here!
If you haven’t had a chance to read The Personal Series, make sure you get copies of BOTH books this week they are available through Amazon for only $.99!!! Don’t miss out because they won’t be staying at that price.
Book one is Personal Experiences which is Elleny Barker’s story and WOW!! What a story it is!! It’s personal and raw and shows the power that is behind a love that is meant to be!
Book two is Trevor McHale’s story. The man that has always been in love with Elleny. Find out what was going on with him throughout the seventeen years he was away from Elleny and how love pulled him back kicking and screaming!
I would love to invite you to my next book’s cover reveal, Envisioning Hope. The cover will make its debut May 1st at 8:00 pm EST. 
I want to thank you again for spending some time with me."
Tracy's BIO:
“I am a lover of chocolate, an outspoken dreamer who cannot survive without chaos! Those who truly know me can attest that I am obsessed with chocolate peanut butter anything. I write about hot, alpha men and the women who love them and the only way that I can get anything accomplished is in a crisis.
I am no good in math; as a matter of fact, I suck in math. My true love is the English language. My children are my world that not even a hot man could come between. I am originally from outside Tampa, Florida but currently reside outside Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am digging the farm animals that live behind my house.”
Tracy lives with her husband and 4 children in a small town just outside Tulsa, Ok. Originally from Brandon, Florida she was a city girl at heart. Growing tired of living in the concrete jungle she wanted a change of scenery and pace; she packed her kids up and moved to Oklahoma where she met her husband.  Now she’s seen snow, touched pigs and has cows and chickens in her back yard.
Being a stay at home mom she became an avid reader and part-time blogger, she decided to put the three of them together and try her hand at writing and fell in love. In between running kids from band practice to PTO meetings, she enjoys her “me time” working on her next book.  She thoroughly enjoys head-banging heavy metal and a kickass game of Black Ops and will be your slave if you offer her chocolate.
BLURB for Personal Possessions:
Trevor McHale has tried to move on from the night that everything he cared about was ripped away from him. Having been in love with Elleny Barker since second grade, TJ comes home from college to find her married to another man…his best friend, Bear Jackson. Moving on has been nothing but a struggle for TJ. Through years and distance from his home town of Richland Georgia, Trevor ends up finding wealth, friendship and lust. But nightmares and visions plague him of a love that he knows deep down is meant to be. Finally giving in, Trevor realizes that the only way to make his life whole again is to recover what was once his and begin life anew. That turns out
to be easier said than done. 
Elleny Barker-Jackson is not the same girl she was seventeen years ago. Having endured years of abuse from her husband’s hand, Elle has hardened her heart to everyone and everything. Believing that true love means nothing other than a young girl’s fantasy, Elle lives in her memories that she made with the one who will always hold her heart; Trevor McHale. Secrets and lies have been what Elle has built her life on and she is convinced that this life is her punishment for the decision that she made seventeen years ago… 
That was until Trevor McHale returned to town. Purchasing the local factory, Elle finds herself working right alongside of Trevor for eight days straight. Not only does Trevor have to convince Elle that their love is alive and strong, he has to repair the damage that has been done to her; inside and out. 
Want to know what was going through TJ's mind on everything Elle? 
Questions will be answered...Truths will be known and love will be found. TJ is on a mission to get back his Personal Possessions. 
(Contains: Adult language, sexual MF participation, some violence and explicit scenes of arousal) 
·        Tracy’s official website page
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Looking for a good mystery story?

Title: The Davidson Case
Series: Heartfelt Cases: Book 3
Author: Julie C. Gilbert
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Genre: Christian Mystery
Presented by: As You Wish Tours

Somebody wants her sister dead … FBI Special Agent Ann Duncan knows how to face down danger, but once again, she’s not the target. Her baby sister, Joy Davidson, has stumbled upon a conspiracy and made some powerful enemies. Luck and God’s grace help Ann save her sister the first time, but she knows the bad guys will try again. With Patrick on a university tour and perhaps the most important case of her career weighing upon her mind, Ann must find the strength, wisdom, and heart to find out who wants her sister dead, what Joy discovered, and how to stop the conspirators. Ann instinctively knows that if she fails the Davidson case will only be the first of many tragedies. 
Teaser 1
 Knocking on the door, Ann heard, “Come on in.” Ann opened the door and burst out laughing. Thoughts of her bad day faded. Rachel’s brown hair hung haphazardly, and she held a wailing child in each arm. Homemade play dough decorated her shirt. “Not a word out of you,” Rachel said, mock-crossly. She slowly backed up to give Ann room to enter. “I’m speechless anyway,” Ann replied. She stepped forward, closed the door, and faced her friend. “I’d give you a hug, but it looks like your arms are busy.” “Here, I believe one of these chubby beauties is yours,” Rachel said, holding out both infants.
 Teaser 2
 Where’s Ann? Joy wondered for the fifth time in as many minutes. Although they had never specified a time, Ann should have been there by now. Maybe she got lost … No, she helped you move in. Maybe she had extra work to do. She’d have called by now. Maybe—stop! Joy grunted in frustration. Someone knocked. “Finally!” Joy exclaimed, rolling her eyes in relief. A second, more insistent, knock sounded. “I’m coming! Goodness, you make me wait up half the night and then expect me to jump when you’re ready,” Joy grumbled. “You’re late!” she scolded, swinging the door open. Only it wasn’t Ann.
 Teaser 3
“Drop the weapon and step away,” Ann ordered. The man’s eyes wandered to Joy. One more solid blow would seal her fate. “Touch her again and fifteen chunks of lead find a new home,” Ann added. Her gaze radiated absolute sincerity. The man took a small step away, let the weapon fall, and raised his hands. “You don’t know what you’re doing here. Let me go—” “Quiet,” Ann snapped. She yanked her phone off the clip at her waist and dialed 911 without looking. The gun didn’t even waver. “Interlock your fingers behind your head, then turn away from me, take one step to your left, kneel, and cross your legs behind you.” Ann stated the instructions clearly and slowly, fighting hard to control her temper. If she lost it now, she wouldn’t be able to help her sister.
 Teaser 4
 At the hospital, Ann watched miserably as the rescue squad rushed her sister to the emergency room. She found the waiting room and sat down. After ten minutes, she thought to call her parents. What do I tell them? Her mind rushed through several makeshift conversation starters. One by one Ann tossed them out. Before she could work up the nerve to phone home, a doctor came out to give her a progress report. It was not cheerful. “Agent Duncan?” the doctor asked politely, startling her from the gloomy thoughts. “What? Oh, yes, right here,” she said, jumping to her feet. “How is she?” “She’s alive, but she slipped into a coma,” said the doctor. Feeling like someone had smacked her with a two-by-four, Ann managed to nod and read the man’s name tag: Dr. Gerish. “There’s no telling when she’ll wake up. I’m sorry. I wish I had better news.” Dr. Gerish turned to leave.
 Julie mainly confines her writing to three genres: Christian inspirational, YA real-world science fiction, and normal science fiction. She likes teaching, writing, reading, sleeping, doing puzzles, and hanging out with friends. (Not necessarily in that order) Writing has made her super picky about the things she reads but normally, her reading list includes something that fits under the thriller, mystery, science fiction, or fantasy. Occasionally, she attempts short poetry. The poems turn into songs, which she sings with abandon when nobody's looking.
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