Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: A Death in Duck by Mindy Quigley

 

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A Death in Duck Lindsay Harding

 

 

About Audiobook #2

Author: Mindy Quigley

Narrator: Holly Adams

Length: 9 hours 13 minutes

Publisher: Mindy Quigley⎮2015

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Lindsay Harding Mysteries, Book 2

Release date: Dec. 22, 2015

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: With the new year approaching, hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding heads for a much-needed break in the peaceful resort town of Duck on North Carolina’s outer banks. Her plan to attend the wedding of her friend, Anna, runs aground when a boatload of trouble washes ashore, and as the old year ticks down, the body count goes up. Thrust into the path of an increasingly desperate killer, Lindsay must uncover a sinister secret before she winds up swimming with the fishes.

 

Old family scandals, sunken World War II U-boats, obscene desserts, and a stolen Doberman all guarantee a far from restful break for the irreverent reverend, who makes her second appearance in this lively mystery.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #2

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Time For Review, the phrase is written on multi-colored stickers, on a brown wooden background. Business concept, strategy, plan, planning.

 

 

 

Author Mindy Quigley can tell a really good story. Between the first book and this one, A Death in Duck, is the stronger story in my opinion. More cohesive, strong motivations, multiple layers of conflict, subplots, tension, family drama and a good villain. Or, you could sum it all up in a few words—Good storytelling. Great, storytelling actually.

 

 

 

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Author Interview

 

How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? 

In my second book, A Death in Duck, there are a few characters who speak with an Outer Banks (of North Carolina) accent. That accent is a trip! It sounds like an Irish accent and a Southern accent had a baby, and that baby was born with a mouth full of marbles. 🙂 Holly and I talked a lot about how to render it accurately, but still make it understandable for the purposes of the recording.

 

 

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? 

I know this is cliche, but OMG the Harry Potter audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale are THE BEST. I also quite liked Eddie Izzard’s reading of Great Expectations. I knew Izzard as a quirky comedian who often performed in drag, so I was extra impressed by his skill as a narrator.

For me, a good audiobook is all about the sharpness of the characterizations. With the Dale and Izzard readings, you can tell who’s speaking almost as if you were listening to dozens of actors rather than just one.

 

 

If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? 

I’ve seen enough sci-fi movies and TV shows to know that time travel always ends badly. I’ll have to be content with time traveling through books and movies, because I sure as heck am not going to be the one responsible for setting off a catastrophic chain of events by accidentally stepping on a butterfly in 1722.

 

 

What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

That question is best answered by punching those dumb-dumbs in the face. Seriously, though, whatever way someone chooses to inject narrative content into their brains is okay by me. Some people have long commutes, and audiobooks provide a great companion. Some people, like my grandmother, have vision impairments that prevent them from reading. Audiobooks are her lifeline. Personally, I love reading, listening to audiobooks, and watching movies and TV shows. I even like hearing storytellers at events and festivals. A great story is a great story, no matter how it gets from one person to another.

 

 

How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?

I never really feel like writing projects are finished, so I don’t celebrate. I mean, are you supposed to celebrate when you finish the draft? The corrections? Submit it to your agent? Return the page proofs? See it in print? Register your first sale? Get your first review? I’d be hungover for months, if not years!

I just finished a full draft of a middle-grade novel I’m working on, and I’ll tell you exactly how I celebrated. I went into the bathroom, where my husband was brushing his teeth and said, “Well, I think I’m done with that book I’ve been working on for three years.” We high-fived and then went to bed. 

 

 

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About the Author: Mindy Quigley

 

Mindy Quigley is the author of the Mount Moriah cozy mystery series, which is based in part on her time working with the chaplains at Duke University Medical Center. Her short stories have won awards including the 2013 Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition and the 2018 Artemis Journal/Lightbringer Prize. Her non-writing career has been stranger than fiction, taking her from the US to the UK, where she worked as the personal assistant to the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, and as project manager for a research clinic founded by the author J.K. Rowling.

She now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her Civil War history professor husband, their children, and their idiosyncratic miniature Schnauzer. 

 

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About the Narrator: Holly Adams

An actress and physical theatre performer for many years before becoming a Voice Actor, Holly continues to divide her time between stage, screen, circus, and audiobook narration. 

Holly began her VO career doing radioplays and audiobook characters with the amazing Full Cast Audio company. Since then, Holly has voiced radio and web commercials, various e-learning projects, documentary shorts. . . and of course, audiobooks! She has been nominated for Best Fiction and Best Female Narrator.  Holly has conservatory training; her attention to tone, energy and rhythm make her work personal and dynamic. Holly’s performance projects abroad (Italy, Afghanistan, Haiti, Russia, the UK, France, and the Middle East!) support her training and skill with dialects and languages.

 Holly records for Audible, Deyan Audio, Christian Audiobooks, Tantor, and more. Holly loves telling stories!

When she’s not in the recording studio, she is on stage or screen; favorite projects include Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, the films “Here Alone”, “Gotham Blue” and “Your Loving, Virginia”, working with girls in Kabul for the Afghan Children’s Circus and with  performers in Balan, Haiti, as well as with her ‘home circus’ Circus Culture. Holly is a SAG-AFTRA performer, a graduate of the International Dell ‘Arte School, and holds a Master’s in Theatre, Education and Social Change. Https://shearwaterproductions.com/voice-actor and on IMDb as Holly Adams III.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: A Murder in Mount Moriah by Mindy Quigley

 

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About Audiobook #1

 

Author: Mindy Quigley

Narrator: Holly Adams

Length: 9 hours 36 minutes

Publisher: Mindy Quigley⎮2015

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Lindsay Harding Mysteries, Book 1

Release date: Apr. 15, 2015

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: From award-winning mystery writer Mindy Quigley comes a hilarious tale of small-town intrigue and big-time crime.

For hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding, facing death is part of the job. After all she spends her working days comforting sick and dying patients. But when the annual Civil War reenactment in her hometown of Mount Moriah, North Carolina, produces a real casualty, the Grim Reaper suddenly gets a little too close for comfort. With the clock ticking, the police struggle to unravel how and why a beloved local reenactor was shot in front of hundreds of onlookers. As fingers point and tempers flare, another victim ends up laid out on Lindsay’s front porch.

Lindsay’s life is in danger, but her efforts to expose the century-old sins that lie at the heart of the mystery are undermined by her disastrous love life, her no-good mother, and a ninja-like squirrel – not to mention the small matter of a dangerous killer who’ll stop at nothing to keep a sinister secret. Will courage, curiosity, and Lindsay’s irreverent brand of religion be enough to catch the killer before she becomes the next victim?

 

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Book Review  - colorful Neon Sign on brickwall

 

 

There’s good books, great books, thrilling and exceptionally well written ones–but not all have what I call, the ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR. That’s why I love when I come across one. Insert Mindy Quigley’s Mount Moriah series starring ultra-adorable Lindsay Harding. What an adventurous romp! I just finished the first book in the series, A Murder in Mount Moriah and it was a hilariously entertaining mystery. This was the audiobook version narrated by Holly Adams. When you listen to her skillfully characterize each person with distinct southern accents, it adds stunning depth to an already amazing story. Don’t miss out on this series!

 

 

Author Interview

 

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? 

Not remotely. Audible was still a fairly young company when I started writing the first book, and it wasn’t really on my radar screen. For a while, Amazon had a program where they offered to cover the costs for authors to have their books made into audiobooks using professional actors and production staff. I was lucky enough to be selected for that program. 

Can I admit something terrible? As an author, you face so much rejection, so it was pretty great to have the tables turned. I got to audition narrators, negotiate terms, and make the ultimate decisions. It was an awesome experience to have the buck stop with me for a change!

 

 

How did you select your narrator?

I received dozens of audition tapes and had started to make a short list of possible narrators. When I heard Holly Adams’ audition, however, it went right to the top of the list. Her command of her voice–tone, accent, humor, diction–just blew away the competition.

 

 

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 

The fact that my main characters are ministers and chaplains was drawn from real life. Two of my college roommates went on to become ministers, which was strange given that we didn’t go to a religious college and neither of them had particularly religious upbringings. My two roommates now provide wonderful, heartfelt pastoral care, all while taking irreverence to new and hilarious heights—traits I stole for Lindsay. 

Having been young women in our late teens and early twenties together helped me to see that ministers really are just humans, prone to all the same flaws and worries as anybody else. When you’ve seen someone eating dry pancake mix straight out of the box with a spoon, it really takes them off their pedestal. 

For the sake of my poor mother, I should take this opportunity to clarify that my main character’s mother, a no-good criminal sleazebag, is NOT based on her.

 

 

QuigleyNov2016high-9

 

 

About the Author: Mindy Quigley

 

Mindy Quigley is the author of the Mount Moriah cozy mystery series, which is based in part on her time working with the chaplains at Duke University Medical Center. Her short stories have won awards including the 2013 Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition and the 2018 Artemis Journal/Lightbringer Prize. Her non-writing career has been stranger than fiction, taking her from the US to the UK, where she worked as the personal assistant to the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, and as project manager for a research clinic founded by the author J.K. Rowling.

She now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her Civil War history professor husband, their children, and their idiosyncratic miniature Schnauzer. 

 

WebsiteFacebook

 

 

 

Holly Headhots June 2017_0190-wht

 

 

About the Narrator: Holly Adams

An actress and physical theatre performer for many years before becoming a Voice Actor, Holly continues to divide her time between stage, screen, circus, and audiobook narration. 

Holly began her VO career doing radioplays and audiobook characters with the amazing Full Cast Audio company. Since then, Holly has voiced radio and web commercials, various e-learning projects, documentary shorts. . . and of course, audiobooks! She has been nominated for Best Fiction and Best Female Narrator.  Holly has conservatory training; her attention to tone, energy and rhythm make her work personal and dynamic. Holly’s performance projects abroad (Italy, Afghanistan, Haiti, Russia, the UK, France, and the Middle East!) support her training and skill with dialects and languages.

 Holly records for Audible, Deyan Audio, Christian Audiobooks, Tantor, and more. Holly loves telling stories!

When she’s not in the recording studio, she is on stage or screen; favorite projects include Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, the films “Here Alone”, “Gotham Blue” and “Your Loving, Virginia”, working with girls in Kabul for the Afghan Children’s Circus and with  performers in Balan, Haiti, as well as with her ‘home circus’ Circus Culture. Holly is a SAG-AFTRA performer, a graduate of the International Dell ‘Arte School, and holds a Master’s in Theatre, Education and Social Change. Https://shearwaterproductions.com/voice-actor and on IMDb as Holly Adams III.

 

 

 

 

 

Allison Brennan on Writing & The Lucy Kincaid series

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Allison Brennan discusses writing and her new books in the Lucy Kincaid series, STORM WARNING and NOTHING TO HIDE.

 

 

How do you determine if your idea is viable enough for a complete novel?

Because I don’t plot, every book idea evolves as I’m writing. Usually, I have a spark of an idea — a premise, a set-up, a character conflict — something that interests me. If the idea isn’t working, I tweak it as I write. Sometimes, a story just flows and the idea was better than I thought. Other times, the initial idea isn’t strong enough to carry a novel — I’ve actually written a couple short stories/novellas on ideas that were good but not “big” enough for 100,000 words. But after three dozen books, I usually know based on the initial story concept whether the idea is viable.

 

 

 

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Do you approach writing every book the same or does it vary?

Yes. I start with an idea and a character and go from there. I don’t plot. I start at the beginning and write (mostly) linearly. At about the end of the first act (roughly page 100-150) I almost always get stuck and go back to the beginning. I add/cut/edit extensively. Then I finish the book. The first 150 pages usually takes me twice as long to write as the last 300 pages. And, ironically, it’s usually the first act that has more editorial notes than the last act. Go figure! But I can’t seem to do it any other way.

 

 

What are the bare essentials of your writing process? 

A computer and caffeine. LOL. Seriously, I write every day. I start in the morning and write until the kids come home from school—and often later. I wish I could say I write XXX number of words a day then shut it off, but no. I write anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 a day. Some days—especially in the last act as I’m nearing the end of the book and am really excited about what’s happening, I can write up to 10,000 words in a day. It’s rare, and they need a lot of editing! (For example, once I wrote an entire chapter with no dialogue tags because I was typing so fast!) 

 

 

 

The effects of caffeine on the brain image from coffee beans

 

 

 

 

How would you say your writing process has changed over the years?

Mostly, no. But I have noticed one fundamental change. My first five or six books I wrote from beginning to end, a “sloppy copy” and when back to edit. I wrote fast, a lot of it was a mess, but I had the confidence that I could clean it up in edits. Now, I can’t seem to do that. I edit as I go. About book seven, I realized that if I think I’m writing something that isn’t working, I can’t continue. I have to go back and fix it. This isn’t about the word choices or grammar, it’s about story. If the story isn’t working quite right, I can’t continue without fixing it. The good news is that my first draft is usually really clean and tight. The bad news is that it takes me a lot longer to write that first draft. Now, and for about the last 10-15 books, at the beginning of the writing day, I re-read the last scene or chapter I wrote to get me back into the story (editing as necessary) then write the next scene or chapter. 

 

How do you break down your story into scenes?

Instinct. 

 

 

 

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Did you enjoy writing the next Lucy Kincaid books, Storm Warning and Nothing to Hide?

I always love writing. I’m doing what I love. Even when I’m struggling with a story or a scene, I love it. Storm Warning was particularly fun because I knew it was going to be a novella and I could focus on one linear story. The benefit is that I don’t worry about sub-plots, and the story itself tends to be more fast-paced. This has been true for all the novellas I’ve written, so they’re a lot of fun to write. Nothing to Hide started with a solid premise — I wanted to call the book Two Lies and a Truth because each of the widows lied to Lucy about something and Sean’s son Jesse lied to him about something. The book is really about the lies we tell to protect others, and the lies we tell to protect ourselves. 

Anyway, by the end of the book I loved the way it turned out, though I’ll admit at the beginning of the third act I had no idea how I was going to catch the killer (though by that point I knew who it was. And no, I didn’t know when I first started writing who was guilty!)

 

 

 

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How are these two stories related to one another?

They really aren’t, other than sharing the main characters. In fact, Storm Warning more directly relates to the upcoming Lucy Kincaid book Cut and Run. The novella was set against the backdrop of a storm and flooding outside San Antonio. In the beginning of Cut and Run which takes place two months later, Lucy’s team identifies four bodies that had been uncovered in a mass grave after the flood waters passed. Nothing to Hide takes place between those two stories.

 

 

 

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How does Lucy’s background in psychology help her solve cases?

Criminal psychology has always fascinated me, and I’ve read a lot of books about the subject, as well as true crime. Psychology is a tool that can be learned, but mostly it’s a tool that many cops use based solely on experience. So to me, Lucy has the best of both worlds—she’s been trained in criminal psychology, and she has a lot of experience both before and after she became an FBI agent. Now that she has nearly two years under her belt as an agent, she has more confidence in her abilities, but she still calls in those who have more experience to help—as any good investigator will do. 

 

 

 

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What dilemma is she facing trying to solve the crimes in Nothing to Hide?

The biggest problem with this case is that there is no apparent motive. The victims are very loosely connected (all married men under forty, all driving home alone at night, all killed by the side of the road when they exited their vehicle for no known reason.) But the men didn’t know each other; no one in their circles knew each other. They were of different races and socio-economic status. They had different family structures. The attack itself was quick but not painless, and as Lucy and her partner quickly learn, each injury was specific. The lack of motive for these crimes is what is keeping Lucy from solving it quickly—plus, there is little forensic evidence. If the crimes are truly random, Lucy recognizes that they won’t be able to solve the murders until the killer slips up and there’s a witness or physical evidence left behind. And so far, nothing. 

As an aside, I wrote the killer so smart that even I had a hard time figuring out how to solve the crimes! I went back to a statement made by retired cop Lee Lofland in one of his blogs: every contact leaves a trace. That means that the killer had to have left something behind, even if they don’t know what it is. So they go back and look more carefully at each crime scene. And while the evidence they do find doesn’t give them enough to find the killer, it does give them a direction to pursue.

 

 

 

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan believes that life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year.

Allison has penned more than two dozen thrillers and many short stories. RT Book Reviews calls Allison “a master of suspense” and her books “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” “pulse-pounding” and “emotionally complex.” RT also said that “The Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan books are getting better and better!”

COLD SNAP, was a finalist for Best Thriller in the Thriller Awards (ITW) and FEAR NO EVIL (2007) and COMPULSION (2015) won the Daphne du Maurier award. Allison has been nominated multiple times for RWA’s Best Romantic Suspense award, and the Kiss of Death’s Daphne award.

Allison lives in Northern California with her husband, five children, and assorted pets. Her current release is STORM WARNING: A Lucy Kincaid Novella, and NOTHING TO HIDE Lucy Kincaid #14 Available now.

 

www.allisonbrennan.com

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Eye For Eye by J.K. Franko

 

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Book 1 of the Talion Series

 

 

 

 

“NEW TWIST ON STRANGERS ON A TRAIN” – THE SUNDAY TIMES 

When I first met Susie, she appeared to be a normal, happily-married woman dealing with tragedy.

Then, I uncovered her secrets. While I could understand everything that she’d done, I could never approve.

But, knowing what she was capable of, it became clear that if I was going to survive her, I had to play by her rules.

And, the first and most important rule is… leave no singing bones.

 

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A gripping crime, nail biting suspense, stellar plot twists…

 

 

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This book kept getting better and better as I kept reading. A couple with an interesting past, to say the least, gets caught up in a GRIPPING crime. A mother, father consumed by grief. The thirst for revenge grows stronger, the lies run deeper, and the deception even more sinister. Great suspense with major plot twists! Author J.K. Franko does an excellent job detailing each character with dark, twisted motivations. Realistic and chilling, Eye for Eye kept me on the edge of my seat!

 

 

 

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J.K. Franko was born and raised in Texas at a time when what he really wanted to do in life – writing and film – were not considered legitimate jobs. His Cuban-American parents believed there were only three acceptable career paths for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect.

After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name).

Franko was on law journal. His work was cited by courts, and he was recognized on the National Law Journal’s “Worth Reading” list – which for law is the equivalent to a top review in the New York Times.

While moving up the big law firm ladder, Franko also published a non-fiction book and a number of articles.

After ten years as a lawyer, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He decided to go back to school where he got an MBA, and later pursued a PhD, crossing the line from well-educated to over-educated around the turn of the century.

He left law for corporate America, with long stints working in Europe and Asia.

It was his wife who pushed him to write novels. And, after thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight literary miscarriages over the course of eighteen years, he completed his first book, finally launching his career as a writer of fiction.

Ironically, although he started writing fiction before any of his three children were born, they were all old enough to see and remember their father’s first book launch.

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in South Florida with their four dogs and one cat.

 

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J.D. Trafford Discusses His Newest Legal Thriller Without Precedent

 

 

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Interview with author J.D. Trafford

 

 

What was your experience creating Matthew Daley?

I knew from the outset that Matthew Daley was going to start high (fancy job and lots of money) and be brought low (no job and living in parent’s basement), but that was about it. Through the editing process the character, however, was became much clearer and the stakes became more significant to him personally and professionally. This is my sixth book, and I’d say that this book more than any of the others was created more during the editing process than in the initial draft. It reminded me that editing is not distinct. It should be considered an extension of the writing process.

 

What exactly is a corporate lawyer?

There are two kinds of corporate lawyer: transactional, when deals are made and partnerships are born, and litigation, when all those deals and partnerships go to hell. My experience is that the transactional, corporate attorneys are salesmen. They wine and dine. Corporate litigation attorneys are warriors. They love to fight.

 

 

 

Shot of thinking financial advisor businessman working in office.

 

 

Describe the relationship between Matthew Daley and his sister.

Mathew grew up in an abusive household with another who is an alcoholic. His sister was his protector. She took a lot of the heat while he was growing up and that allowed Matthew to focus on his education and escape.

 

Does his sense of justice change throughout the book?

Yes, I think he began without caring much about justice. It was about winning or losing. He wanted to win because he was paid to win. By the end, the law became personal and he wanted to win for his family.

 

What kind of dilemma is he facing?

Like a lot of lawyers, you go to law school with an idea of how your life is going to be and then there comes a day when you’re like, “is this really it?” There is a gap between what you thought it was going to be and the reality of life. For Matthew Daley, he was living the dream and then he realized that dream came at a cost.

 

 

 

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What can you tell us about his fiancee?

She is also a lawyer at a big firm, and she is like a mirror image of Matthew Daley but it takes her longer to understand the realities and costs of what they do for a living.

 

Where is he blue-collar hometown located?

This book takes place in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

 

 

St Louis

 

 

 

How high are the stakes if he loses?

The case is his redemption. He has bet his whole life, job, and savings on this case.

 

How many attorneys does a large pharmaceutical company normally have?

I think the short answer is that they have as many as they need plus one.

 

What are you working on next?

I’m working of another legal thriller that takes place in St. Louis. I think I know how it’ll end, but if I say it out loud, I’ll jinx it.

 

 

 

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J.D. Trafford is an award-winning author who has been profiled in Mystery Scene Magazine (a “writer of merit”). His debut novel was selected as an IndieReader bestselling pick, and his books have topped Amazon’s bestseller lists, including Amazon’s #1 Legal Thriller.

In addition to graduating with honors from a Top 20 law school, J.D. Trafford has worked as a civil and criminal prosecutor, an associate at a large national law firm, and a non-profit attorney for people who could not afford legal representation.

Prior to law school, J.D. Trafford worked in Washington D.C. and lived in Saint Louis, Missouri. He worked on issues of housing, education, and poverty in communities of color.

He now lives with his wife and children in the Midwest, and bikes whenever possible.

 

www.jdtrafford.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Mysteries with Author L. A. Chandlar

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About L.A.  Chandlar

LA CHANDLAR is a 2019 Agatha nominated, National Best Selling author with Kensington Publishing. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun – Book One in the Art Deco Mystery Series debuted in 2017. The Gold Pawn (Best Historical Agatha Nominated) released 2019, and Book 3, The Pearl Dagger, releases August 2019. Laurie takes a fresh look at the innovative and artful side of 1930s New York City and features Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Laurie lives in New York City with her family.

 

 

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Interview

 

What do you enjoy most about writing historical mysteries?

  •       I love bringing into play a larger picture of the culture or the era. I feel like we learn about history in pockets and it’s so fun to learn about what was going on at the same time. For instance, we all know about the famous crash of the Hindenburg, but most of us don’t know it was tooling around back and forth across the Atlantic frequently. So it was a part of the New York City skies quite a lot. It’s also why I love to bring in cameo appearances of famous people, often before they were household names.

 

 

How long did it take you to write your first book?

  •       The first one was hard to figure out timing. I got the idea for the series right after I moved to New York City and we decided to start having children. Needless to say, I had a hard time carving out the hours to write. But I could read, so for a long time, I immersed myself in 1930s history and biographies of Fiorello La Guardia. By the time I figured out how writing works for me personally, because we are all unique and there’s no formula, then it went fast because I’d developed so much. It took about six months to write the first draft of The Silver Gun (of course that was after about seven years of research! Lol).   

 

 

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Describe the historical background of New York during your story.

  •       What I love most about this series, is the fact that often the 1930s is overshadowed by the Depression, and I show a different side. People automatically think soup lines and shanty towns. But despite all that, the thirties was a vibrant time full of innovation, women’s rights, art, humor… In some ways I feel like the 1920s and 30s were more modern and more like today than the 1940s and 50s. I think we regressed in some ways. Women were rising to prominent positions in the workplace before World War II and the lively spirit of Mayor La Guardia is inspiring. And funny! The humor of the time and of the mayor specifically is what I really love. So my protagonist is the top aide of the mayor’s, and through the story and through her perspective, I try to exemplify those qualities that I think our time has forgotten. The art and architecture of the time was vibrant and engaging, the cocktails were numerous and freeing right after Prohibition ended, and the era was smack dab in the middle of the two world wars. Yet, the beauty even in the midst of adversity was staggering. I think that’s why most people know what Art Deco is. For those two short decades, the art was distinctive and memorable.

 

 

 

 

 

Why are they called the Art Deco mysteries?

  •       Well of course they take place during the Art Deco era, and those words “Art Deco Mysteries” evokes that exact time frame. But it was also suitable because I wanted to show the vibrancy of art in that era (and in general). I have a piece of art in the background of each story that comes alongside a character as they navigate the mystery. I love those deeper levels, and I choose things that are rather unknown, or seen in a unique way. In The Silver Gun, Lane Sanders, the protagonist, comes across an old artist’s journal. The artist is a household name today, but then was not. In The Gold Pawn, Lane and later a villain, come across a famous classic novel that everyone knows but surprisingly few have actually read. And in The Pearl Dagger is my absolute favorite! In 1936 Orson Welles as part of the Federal Works Project, creates the first all-black theater cast and they perform Macbeth. They set the eerie play with a jungle and skeleton-esque stage. It was called Voodoo Macbeth. It was wildly successful, sold out ten weeks in a row and toured the country. I would do anything to go back in time to see it first-hand.

 

 

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Who is Lane Sanders and what is she struggling with during The Gold Pawn?

  •       Lane Sanders is the aide to the ninety-ninth mayor of New York City, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. In The Silver Gun, Lane realizes that her own history is full of questions and secrets. So in The Gold Pawn she has to face the ghosts of her past and wrestle with not only the dark parts of her family history, but the darkness within herself. An actual gold pawn is the death card of a famous crime network boss and the entire book is about that pawn as they unravel the mystery to discover not just what that pawn means, but who is the player and who is the pawn.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s her occupation and what was it like in the 1930’s?

  •       As aide to the mayor, she handles secretarial duties, press releases and is generally a sounding board to the mayor. Lane was raised by her aunt, an artist and philanthropist. So her upbringing makes her more worldly and ahead of her time, but like the artists were in the Belle Époque era and in the Village downtown in the twenties and thirties. So Lane is more progressive than many women then in some ways, but I portrayed her as someone whom Gertrude Stein or Dorothy Parker would have raised. She does face in the office some fanny pats and degrading things of that sort, that I remember my mother and her friends having to face. In fact there’s a scene where Lane takes one of the handsy guys to task, and the setting was from a story my mom told me, but Lane’s reaction is what many of us women are prepared to do in the subway now. Let’s just say she utilizes those high heels of hers very well. Lane also sees herself as a self-proclaimed investigative reporter. And everything she does on a day to day basis in the stories is often accurate from articles about the mayor’s office and the fact that none of the reporters could keep up with him. There are so many articles that proclaim the insufficient number of adjectives and storm superlatives to describe Fiorello.

 

 

Jack of All Trades Business Cards Diverse Versatile Skills Exper

 

 

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

  •       Right now I do most of my writing in the mornings after my kids go to school. The first book was writing primarily at night after everyone else went to bed. I think writers need to continually flex with what works in different seasons. I had a harder year with the death of my father, and honestly, I was exhausted physically and emotionally. And yet, you still have to work, you still have to feed the kids, pay the bills… But my regular routines just didn’t work. I ended switching around the day and had an hour or so here or there to literally do nothing. I could watch TV or nap or whatever. Because if I didn’t do that, the rest of my time was fruitless.

 

 

What role does the setting play in the Art Deco mysteries?

  •       The setting is mainly New York City and Lane adores the city. It becomes another character. And the setting is what makes the story a world. I love it when I read a book and when I’m finished, I miss that world. A book can have an excellent plot, but if I don’t miss the world, I probably won’t read it again. So I hope that the city and its spontaneous capacity for beauty and excitement, along with Lane’s family life with her Aunt Evelyn, really make people enjoy diving into the books.

 

 

How’s the writing going for the Pearl Dagger?

  •       It’s great! It releases August 27th and I just finished up the last edits.

 

 

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What can you tell us about the plot and the crime syndicate?

  •       At the end of The Gold Pawn, it is revealed who is behind the major crime syndicate. But at the beginning of The Pearl Dagger, the main characters don’t know yet. So it created a very fun writing situation wherein the reader is more informed than the characters. And you have to take into consideration readers who have not read the prior books. You absolutely can read The Pearl Dagger on its own. But if you’re a series lover,  you’d probably enjoy the series more from starting at the beginning. In this book, a pinball gambling racket claims the life of friend and a new ring-leader of the syndicate rises to power. Spurred on by the possibility of the crime network spreading through Europe, Lane and Detective Finn Brodie head to London where not only do they hunt down the intentions of the new crime boss, but Finn has to face the ghosts of his own past that threaten to cripple not only the investigation, but his life and Lane’s.

 

 

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Art Deco Mysteries

The Silver Gun

The Gold Pawn

The Pearl Dagger

 

 

 

 

Talking Cozy Mysteries with Author Ritter Ames

 

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Interview 

 

Who is Laurel Beacham and what does she do as one of the world’s premier art recovery experts?

Laurel Beacham’s total job objective is to recover stolen art. If she can catch the baddies, too, that’s wonderful. However, if it comes down to having to choose, art recovery triumphs for her every time–and she’ll use any means to meet her objective. Even out-thief the thieves.

 

 

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Who is Kate McKenzie and what does it mean she’s an organization expert?

Kate McKenzie is a busy mother of two who finally able to plant some roots now that her formerly pro-hockey husband has retired from professional sports and become a hometown sports anchor at a radio station. But all those moves and all that chaos early in her married life has taught her more than a few ways to keep families and individuals on track and clutter free. Her girls (twins) are in elementary school, and she’s finally able to start her own business too, so with the help of her best friend and neighbor, Meg Berman, the pair are set to organize Hazelton, Vermont. And solve a few murders at the same time.

 

 

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Who is Melissa Eller and why is she called Frugal Lissa?

Melissa Eller goes by Lissa unless she’s in trouble, but she goes by Frugal Lissa because that’s the name of the blog she publishes regularly to help all her subscribers save money and help stretch their family budgets. Unfortunately, she finds herself in big trouble when she discovers the body of a man who recently started a very public argument with her. She’s set up her business to meet her stay-at-home needs, but now she’s the police’s prime suspect, and she’s worried she’ll be working in the Big House if she can’t figure out whodunit before they slap the cuffs on her.

 

 

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If Laurel, Kate, and Lissa were to meet would they get along?

Kate gets along well with Meg, even though their personalities are different–she connects with the way they are alike, and appreciates when Meg does (or says) things Kate can’t. So, I think she would have no problem doing the same with Laurel and Lissa. And Lissa is a lot like Meg, and uses her best friend, Abby, to keep her balanced, much like Kate does for Meg–so again, I think Lissa would work well with Kate. Laurel is used to Cassie trying to rein her in–though it seldom works, so she’s used to that personality, too, and makes me think all three women would like each other and get along as friends.

 

Could they work together to solve crimes?

Laurel is kind of a wild card, since she leaps first and looks later, and even Cassie in mom-mode can’t keep her in line. So, no, I think she would just drive Lissa and Kate crazy if they tried to work with her–and vice versa. I do, however, feel that Kate and Lissa could solve a crime successfully as a team, but I would expect Meg would make sure she played a role too.

 

 

 

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Specially priced during preorder! 
Melissa Eller looks for ways to save people money. She never wanted to find a dead body…

Especially since she and the victim argued in public the previous evening. And she kind of threatened him (all a big misunderstanding – really).

When would she learn to keep her big mouth shut?

Now, she’s suspect number one in the guy’s murder. Worse, the detective in charge of the case is someone Lissa made fun of in high school—because he made fun of her—and he holds more leverage than just the threat of getting her sent to detention. Her boys don’t need a mom in prison!

She should never have moved back home.

Who said small towns were safer?

Frugal Lissa Finds a Body is the first title in the new cozy Frugal Lissa Mysteries series from USA TODAY bestselling author Ritter Ames.

BONUS: Along with solving the crime, Lissa finds ways to save her blog subscribers money and shares those methods with readers. Also included are terrific family-friendly recipes.

This is a NEW cozy mystery series: 
Book 1: Frugal Lissa Finds a Body
Book 2: Frugal Lissa Digs Up a Body (preorder soon)
Book 3: Frugal Lissa Hunts for a Body (coming soon)
And more to follow!

 

Preorder | Goodreads

 

 

 

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Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Organized Mysteries series and the Bodies of Art Mysteries series. When she’s not writing or brainstorming new mysteries Ritter is usually trying to get her favorite yellow Lab to stay out of the pond, or keep her grouchy black cat from trying to give the dog away on Freecycle. Ritter would love to live on a boat and write from far flung locations around the globe, but the dog would constantly have to be fished from the water, and her husband and cat would just complain endlessly about the dog’s smell, so staying on land seems to be the only good option to keep her sanity and not get sidetracked from writing.

Ritter tries to blog regularly at RitterAmes.com and subscribe there to get the latest news about upcoming releases, and inside scoops on her characters and series. She uses her Pinterest boards at www.pinterest.com/ritterames to capture great places and ideas she wants to use in both series. Go to her website to subscribe to her newsletter and get the first alert about new books in her series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Honey Became a Character by LC Hayden

 

 

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How Honey Became a Character

By L.C. Hayden

 

 

In order to understand how Honey, the dog, came to be a character in my latest thriller When Memory Fails, one must first know a bit about the story’s basic plot.

Sandy Sechrest, her boyfriend Daniel, and retired Detective Harry Bronson head for Sechrest Falls, a ghost town in Colorado, which houses an alluring ledger that the three seek. The sole resident in this ghost town is a character simply known as The Hermit.

In order for this story to work, I knew that the Hermit needed to be a strong character, one that the readers would identify with. However, when I read the first draft of When Memory Fails, the Hermit was definitely not memorable. The story needed something that would give the Hermit a boost.  I considered adding another character. I quickly eliminated that idea as it would only detract from the story.

What then? I thought and thought. Then it hit me.

The Hermit would have a dog. Yes, the right type of dog would be ideal.

Once I had decided this, my next step was to create such a dog. That meant first finding the right kind of breed. I felt overwhelmed when I realized that a lot of types of breeds exist, not to mention the sub-breeds. Which one should I choose? And how could I narrow this list down?

As I’m brooding over this, my dog, a Basenji named Honey, nudged me.

I looked at her.

She nudged me again. Feed me.

“Later,” I told her. I wanted to finish my research.

She gently hit my hand with her nose. No, now.

I glared at her. She nudged me again. I sighed and stood up. “Okay, dog, you win.” I went to the kitchen and prepared her food. For any other dog, this would be the end of the task. But not for Honey. She insists on me being present when she eats. If I simply put her food down and walk away, she will follow me and not eat. She’d rather starve. Consequently, I crossed my arms and waited until she finished eating.

Once she did, I quickly headed for my computer to finish my work. Honey ran in front of me, blocking my way. I stopped and looked at her.

Aren’t you forgetting something? her eyes seemed to ask.

I gave myself a mental tap on my forehead. Oh, yeah. Her after-dinner treat: a dental chew stick we call Greenie. Thank God she is willing to eat this by herself without me being present. I gave it to her and made a mad dash for my computer.

Minutes later, she stood by me and yelped. Basenji’s don’t bark as their ancestors used to live with the Egyptian pharaohs in their castles. Therefore, the dogs were not allowed to bark. To guarantee that there would be no barking in the castle, the king ordered the dogs’ vocal chords removed. Through generations, this breed of dogs lost their ability to bark, but they are definitely not one-hundred percent quiet. They learned to yodel and make all kinds of other noises. Thus the reason Honey yelped instead of barked.

I knew what she wanted. “Let me finish this first, and then we’ll take you for your walk,” I told her.

She let out another high pitch yelp.

I ignored her.

She yelped again.

I did my darnest to ignore her.

She yelped.

I stood up. “Okay, okay, you win. I get it. You want your walk now.”

Rich, my husband, put her harness on and the three of us went for the walk. Half-an-hour later, as we headed home, I treasured the idea that Honey likes to take a nap after her walk. Good. Finally, I’ll find the time to continue editing my novel.

We reached our house, and Rich said that he was a bit tired and was also going to take a nap. Great! A picture of a quiet house danced in my head. I could finally focus on my research.

That lasted a whole five minutes.

Honey let out a loud whining, not once, but a constant sound that sent a chill running down my back. I bolted out of my chair, nearly knocking it down, and ran down the hallway and into our bedroom.

Thankfully, being hard of hearing, my husband remained sound asleep. Honey stood beside the bed by his head, looking up at him, whining.

“Honey, what’s wrong? You’re going to wake Daddy up. Hush.” I pulled her toward me.

She worked her way free and resumed her stance by Rich’s head. Once again, she whined. I grabbed her again and the entire incident repeated itself.

In spite of my efforts to keep the dog quiet, my husband woke up. He opened his eyes and looked at her. “What’s wrong, Honey? You ate, you got your treat, and your walk. What do you want?”

Honey whined.

Rich sat up on the bed.

“Honey?”

She continued to whine.

“Do you want to play? Is that it?”

Her answer came in the form of another whine.

“Okay, okay. We’ll play.” Rich got up and reached for his shoes.

Soon as he was out of bed, the dog jumped up and occupied the same spot Rich had just vacated. She curled up and went to sleep.

Rich and I stood looking at her. She wanted his spot, and she got the spot.

I shook my head. “What a dog,” I told my husband.

Rich agreed.

I went back to work on my computer.

Now, let’s see, where was I? Oh yeah, I was about to decide on what kind of a breed the dog in my story should be. I considered the qualifications I needed for my fictional dog to have.

First of all, the dog shouldn’t be too big or too small. It had to be just the right size. An image of Honey popped in my head. I nodded. Yeah, a dog about her size would be ideal.

Second, I needed basically a quiet dog, like a Basenji.

Same image popped up. Honey.

I needed a dog that had a cute personality.

Honey.

I needed a dog that had a strong personality that always found a way to communicate with the humans in the story.

Honey.

I shook off the images and began the research. I typed in on the Google bar dog breeds. I heard Honey gently snoring, happy that everything had gone according to her schedule.

Honey.

I closed the search bar. I didn’t need to do any research. I had everything I needed here at home.

And that’s how Honey became a character in my book—and will continue to be a character in future Bronson books.

Honey. What a dog.

Read Honey’s first adventure in When Memory Fails at www.tinyurl.com/LCHaydenMemory .

 

 

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What happens when you lose your memory and others are depending on you?

When Sandra Sechrest discovers the terrible secret about her family’s ancestors, she’s determined to right the wrongs. She seeks Bronson, a retired detective’s help. They along with Bronson’s nephew travel to a ghost town in Colorado to unearth the secrets buried there.

But Sandra’s family led by the evil Bobbi Lazzarone will do anything to guarantee that Sandra fails—anything, including murder.

Suddenly Sandra, Daniel, and Bronson are thrown into a world filled with deception and danger. Bronson swears to protect the young couple at all costs, but when the house he’s at explodes, Bronson is left for dead, and Daniel and Sandra are forced to fend for themselves.

When Bronson regains consciousness, he can’t remember who he is, where he’s at, and why he’s there. Will he regain his memory in time to save Daniel and Sandra? Or has he finally met his match When Memory Fails?

 

Amazon |Goodreads

 

 

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About L.C. Hayden

 

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L. C. Hayden is known for her adventures and for her travels. When her fans ask her why she does this, she answers, “Take Aimee Brent, my character in the Aimee Brent Mystery Series. She learned how to scuba dive. Do you really think I’m going to let her have more fun than me? No way! She had to learn how to scuba dive, so I learned how to scuba dive.
“Harry Bronson, my character in the Harry Bronson Thriller Series, has a motor home and travels all over. Well, guess what? I have a motor home and I travel all over.”

Hayden considers herself very lucky. She has been touched many times by miracles and angels. That led her to write her series based on hers and others’ angel and miracle experiences. “These books are very well received, both nationally and internationally.”

One of Hayden’s greatest joy is being a grandmother. “That’s the reason I wrote the children’s picture books. Don’t be surprised if the age level for my children’s books increases as my grandkids grow up.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Papantonio Discusses His New Legal Thriller Law and Addiction

 

 

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Author Interview 

 

*What’s the connection between Jake Rutledge and Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis?

Jake is a brand-new lawyer, a recent law school graduate.  His brother has just died of on opioid overdose, and when Jake returns to his West Virginia hometown of Oakley, he discovers that opioid addiction has devastated the community.  This is what drives him to take on the country’s pharmaceutical companies – to hold them accountable for this widespread opioid abuse. Jake realizes that if he wants to succeed, he needs a seasoned pro — like Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis – on his side.  Deke is a partner at one of the country’s most powerful law firms, and is well-known for his winning tactics against corporate wrong-doers.  Jake coaxes Deke to visit Oakley to see first-hand why the once thriving town is now called Zombieland. Deke is overwhelmed by the devastation and agrees to join forces with Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

*Why is Deke reluctant to take the case from Jake?

Deke has more work than he can handle, but Jake reminds him of what it was like to be a young trial lawyer on a mission.  Deke has gone up against Big Tobacco, and nothing since has motivated him as much as this opioid case. It the same kind of life-and-death consequences.

 

*What’s Jake’s initial strategy against the Big Pharma companies?

Initially, Jake wanted to bring a case in state court on behalf of the individuals addicted to opioids.

 

 

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*What can you tell us about Deke’s legal strategy against Big Pharma?

Deke’s strategy is to represent counties that have suffered financial losses due to opioid addiction.  He personalized the deaths, beyond the numbers, by displaying photographs of 117 people who died in a single day because of opioids.  And he presents a series of maps, beginning in 1999 showing drug poisoning mortality data in the country, with death rate going from dark blue to dark red.  With each passing year, the complexion of the map changes, with more and more red popping up – as if the graphics were bleeding out for all to see. Deke then demonstrates precisely how Big Pharma brought about this massive abuse of opioids.

 

 

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*What interesting facts did you learn while researching for Law & Addiction?

When I was first approached about representing plaintiffs in an action against the major corporate opioid distributors, I knew little about the opioid epidemic.  As I write these words, somewhere in America an individual is dying of a drug overdose. During the next twenty-four hours, there will be at least 115 deaths from the same cause. In 2017, more than 72,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose. To put that in perspective, during our seventeen-year involvement in the Vietnam War, there was a total of 58,220 American casualties.

The more I discovered, the more outraged I became. The opioid crisis didn’t occur as some kind of happenstance, but as a direct result of corporate greed. My legal team has documented these claims . . . and more. We have roomfuls of paperwork showing that these distributors knowingly and willfully opened Pandora’s Box, and the evils and misery that sprang out of that box are still plaguing our society.

My hope in writing this fictional account was to both edify and entertain. I wanted to provide readers with a front-row account of this epidemic, but not bludgeon them in the process. While I didn’t try to gloss over the human suffering, I still remain a believer in the power of the human spirit to prevail. At the same time, I am hopeful about getting meaningful justice out of this terrible and sad epidemic caused by corporate greed. I hope this novel does spark outrage in readers. As a nation, we need to be outraged.

 

 

 

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One week before Jake Rutledge is scheduled to graduate from law school, he receives the devastating news of the death of his fraternal twin, Blake. What makes this death even more terrible for Jake is that his brother died of a drug overdose. Until hearing of his death, Jake had no idea his brother was even using drugs.

When Jake returns home to Oakley, West Virginia, he takes a hard look at the circumstances of his brother’s death. In the five years Jake has been away for his schooling, his hometown has drastically changed. Because of the opioid epidemic, and the blight it has brought, many now call Oakley Zombieland. Jake can see how his town’s demise parallels his brother’s.

Undeterred, the newly minted lawyer takes on the entrenched powers by filing two lawsuits. Jake quickly learns what happens when you upset a hornet’s nest. The young attorney might be wet behind the ears, but is sure there is no lawyer that could help him more than Nick Deke Deketomis and his law firm of Bergman/Deketomis. Deke is a legendary lawyer. When he was Jake’s age he was making his name fighting Big Tobacco. Against all odds, Jake gets Nick and his firm to sign on to his case before it’s too late.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | B&N | Audible

 

 

Publishers Weekly Book Review: Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

Kirkus Book Reviews: Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

 

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Mike Papantonio is a senior partner of Levin Papantonio, one of the largest plaintiffs’ law firms in America, that has handled thousands of cases throughout the nation involving pharmaceutical drug litigation, Florida tobacco litigation, litigation for asbestos-related health damage, securities fraud actions, and other mass tort cases. “Pap” has received dozens of multimillion dollar verdicts on behalf of victims of corporate corruption.

Papantonio is one of the youngest attorneys to have been inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. In 2012 Papantonio became President of the National Trial Lawyers Association, one of the largest trial lawyer organizations in America. For his trial work on behalf of consumers, Papantonio has received some of the most prestigious awards reserved by the Public Justice Foundation, The American Association for Justice, and the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Papantonio is an author of four motivational books for lawyers. He is also co-author of Air America: The Playbook, a New York Times Political Best Seller.

Papantonio is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show “Ring of Fire” along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Sam Seder. Papantonio has conducted hundreds of recorded interviews with guests, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, Howard Zinn, Arianna Huffington, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bernie Sanders, David Crosby, Merle Haggard, Morgan Spurlock, John Edwards, Bill Moyers, Rickie Lee Jones, Alanis Morissette, Pete Seeger, Jackson Browne, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Henry Rollins, Ted Sorensen, and Elizabeth Kucinich. His role on “Ring of Fire” is featured in the movie, “Jesus Camp,” which was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Papantonio is also a political commentator who frequently appears on MSNBC, Free Speech TV, RT America Network, and Fox News.

Papantonio is married and has one daughter. He is an avid scuba diver and often dives on the Emerald Coast.

 

www.mikepapantonio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing, Rewriting, and Craft by Elena Hartwell

 

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Writing, Rewriting, and Craft

By Elena Hartwell

 

As a novelist and playwright, I’m often asked where I get my ideas. Almost every writer I know gets this question, and I think we all feel the same. Ideas are never the problem. That’s the easy part. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part, the magic part, is turning the idea into a polished, final manuscript.

The writing process varies wildly from author to author. Some write extensive, detailed outlines. Others sit down with an idea and write scenes on the fly. A number of writers fall somewhere in between, while they may not outline, neither do they sit down and write completely organically. They might write a synopsis or outline a chapter in advance.

The various combinations of these methods all work, depending on the writer and the project. There is no “wrong” way to write a novel. The “how” a writer works isn’t why their manuscript sells or doesn’t sell. The primary reason an author’s work has not yet sold is a lack of craft.

People who lack craft skills rarely sit down to write a novel. Or if they do, they can start, but never finish. Or if they do finish, they don’t rewrite. Or if they do rewrite, they quit after a single pass. Or, if they do continue to rewrite, they aren’t aware enough of craft to recognize the flaws in their own work. You get the picture. The problem is the writer stops too soon.

As a writing coach—I do one-on-one manuscript critiques as well as teaching workshops—there are some fundamental issues I see repeated in early drafts, over and over. These same issues show up in my own work, and probably on some level, in the early drafts of every writer out there. So the first thing aspiring writers can do to increase their chances of writing a successful manuscript, is learn how to identify these problems.

 

 

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The first is a lack of clear objectives, obstacles, and stakes. It’s not enough to have a dead body to write a mystery. Someone has to investigate the murder. The person investigating the murder has to need to solve the crime. If they don’t need to solve the crime (objective) there’s no tension about the investigation. If the solution doesn’t matter to the investigator, it won’t matter to the reader.

The sleuth also can’t solve the crime easily, that’s not dramatic. Various impediments (obstacles) have to appear, one after the other, to prevent the protagonist from catching the killer. The more the investigator has to overcome, the more satisfying to the reader when they do.

Lastly, it has to matter (stakes). For example, the protagonist with an internal struggle, coinciding with their investigation, is far more interesting than someone who simply goes through the motions of solving a crime.

The more important solving the case is to the protagonist, the more dangerous or difficult the journey, and the greater the importance to find the guilty party, the more invested a reader will be. That’s what keeps a reader turning pages.

Complex protagonists will also have personal objectives, obstacles, and stakes to go along with their investigation. For example, a crumbling marriage, a child in danger, or overcoming an addiction are common tropes within the genre. When we know an investigator has to choose between catching a killer and saving their marriage, the stakes are high and we breathlessly turn each page waiting to see what the character chooses.

 

 

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Another common error I find is a lack of structure. All stories have an underpinning structure. While there are variations to that structure, for the most part, especially in crime fiction, we start with the world as we know it, which is disrupted by a specific event, followed by rising action, where events pile one on top the other, each more important than the one that went before. This ends with a climactic scene, with the maximum danger to our hero or heroine, followed by a glimpse into the new world order for our characters.

If any of these parts are missing, the story can feel unfinished. For example, if we don’t have some sense of what the character’s life was before the intrusion, we don’t know what they are putting at risk. The “world before” can often be well hidden, it might not appear in the first chapter, but later in reflections the character makes as the story progresses, but usually a reader can identify it if they look for it.

The middle of a manuscript might falter if a lot of exciting things happen at the beginning, then nothing exciting follows. Rising action is important, because it builds dramatic tension, making it impossible to put the book down.

Lastly, an ending can feel unsatisfying if we have no sense of the outcome. Readers don’t need everything tied up in a bow, but they do want the primary threads to be resolved enough to know what the character’s lives will be like after they read “the end.”

 

 

Hello Speech Bubble Isolated On Yellow Background

 

 

Dialogue can also be difficult to master. One of the most common problems I see is when authors have their characters say exactly what they feel and exactly what they mean. That doesn’t ring true. People lie all the time. We lie because it’s expedient, it benefits us in some way, it keeps us from hurting others, or we don’t want to get in trouble. We rarely say what we mean, we obfuscate, we dither, we agree out loud when disagreeing feels like a mistake. Dialogue works best when each character speaks distinctly from the others, through word choice, sentence length, grammatical accuracy, and the use of slang.

If a writer can identify just these specific problem areas in their own writing, their next draft will be a much tighter, more polished manuscript. It can feel overwhelming to try to identify and fix all the issues I’ve outlined at one time. My recommendation for writers is to choose one aspect and rewrite just for that. Heighten the stakes in one rewrite. Focus solely on dialogue for the next. Breaking down the process into smaller chunks can make each rewrite a more successful venture. This will help the writer get through a series of rewrites rather than attempting one and feeling like the mountain is too high to climb. My final piece of advice. Don’t give up. That’s the only difference between a published author and an unpublished one.

 

 

Giveaway Colorful Stripes

 

 

One dead two to go imageTwo heads are deader than one imageThree strikes your dead

 

 

 I’d be happy to do a giveaway! Copies of my Eddie Shoes Mystery Series will be available to the first 3 people that sign up for my newsletter win! Send me a PM with your email! More info on the series here:  www.elenahartwell.com

 

 

 

Elena Hartwell author photo with horse

 

 

Elena Hartwell started out her storytelling career in the theater. She worked for several years as a playwright, director, designer, technician, and educator before becoming a novelist.

Elena has more than twenty years of teaching experience and now works one-on-one with writers as a manuscript consultant and writing coach.

She lives in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, two cats, and the greatest dog in the world. When she’s not writing, teaching writing, or talking about writing, she can be found at a nearby stables, playing with her horses.

For more information about Elena, please visit www.elenahartwell.com.