Author Interview with Matthew Mather

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Please welcome Matthew Mather million-copy bestselling author of technothrillers Cyberstorm and Darknet, and hit series Nomad and Atopia Chronicles.

 

 

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Matthew Mather

 

 

Matthew Mather image

 

In just four years, Matthew Mather’s books have sold over a million copies, been translated into 18 languages, published in 23 countries, and optioned for multiple movie and television contracts. He began his career as a researcher at the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines before starting several high-tech ventures, everything from computational nanotechnology to weather prediction systems, to even designing an award-winning brain-training video game. He now works as a full-time author of speculative fiction.

 

 

 

 

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*Name at least 3 things early in life that made you a writer today. 

I only became a writer in the middle of my life, but I think the earliest spark for the idea came when I was quite young. I vividly remember reading and re-reading C.S Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and then Lord of the Rings. The stories and worlds inspired me to dream about my own stories. My grandmother nicknamed me “Dreamboat” and not because I was a good-looking kid, but more because I was always daydreaming. Later on, in high school, I had a teacher who took a particular interest in me and helped me engage in all sorts of interesting projects that were “off curriculum”. Finally, my family was a great inspiration—caring and engaged, it made me feel like sharing more with the world.

 

 

*Who are your favorite Science fiction authors?

I’m definitely an old-school sci-fi guy—so Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Vernor Vinge. When I was a teenager I would hang around bookstores and stare at the covers—I would love anything with an amazing-looking spaceship on the front. Which, now thinking on it, I should start writing some good-old-fashioned space exploring type stuff next!

 

*What do you appreciate about the Science Fiction genre?

I view science fiction as a tool we can use as a mirror to hold up to view ourselves—but from fresh perspectives. What would happen if we were stranded alone on Mars? How would the human spirit hold up, and how would the rest of humanity respond? What if we could switch gender and identity fluidly? How would that change society? The list goes on and on—I find that the most compelling dimension to science fiction. Of course, there is the pure adventure side of it as well, creating compelling new worlds and possible realities, but in the end, what interests us is how the characters respond to these new situations and react with each other within them.

 

 

 

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*What are your thoughts on the singularity? 

I’ve actually written a whole series of books on the topic—check out my Atopia trilogy to get my take on what it would feel like to live through and singularity, and for one character to survive through to the other side. Regarding an actual “technological singularity” where technology keeps speeding up exponentially and thus eventually reaches a point of infinite rate of change…I think this is a nice construct, but, like Moore’s Law, will eventually break down. However, for individuals and small groups, I believe that we will witness small break-away groups that will undergo rapid and inexplicable—to outsiders—bursts of evolution. Whether these evolved organisms, biological or digital, react “nicely” with the rest of us—this is to be seen. All I can say is that it will be interesting. I already feel like I’m living in a science fiction novel, when news headlines talk about the fusion of artificial intelligence and industry and whose corporate AI will win out, and which private space launch company will dominate.

 

 

*How do you determine if an idea is good enough for an entire novel?

I usually get the seeds of ideas when I’m daydreaming, often when I’m traveling, and when I do, I just let the idea take shape and the narrative to take form. I scribble down all the ideas and the best ones I organize into electronic and physical folders. I usually have about 20+ book ideas on the go at any one point in time, and sometimes combine two or three ideas into one integrated whole. When it comes time to start a new book, I spread out all these 20+ ideas on a table and let my mind wander and see which idea gets me the most excited…whichever one seems to stimulate my imagination the most gets to be the next book.

 

 

 

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*How do you research for your books?

I start by doing research on the web and reading books on the topics that might be connected. I often like to have exotic settings for my books—like doing the end of the world from the perspective of a family traveling in Tuscany in my Nomad series—so I like to travel to the places I write about. The final leg is doing primary research, for instance, when I include the Mohawk tribes in my Darknet book, I actually called the elders of the Mohawk tribe and interviewed them, and even went to their summer Pow-wow events to interact and spend time with the community.

 

 

*In another interview you mentioned, “I always recommend new authors to use the serialized approach…It seems to work.” This was in relation to writing the Atopia Chronicles. Do you still recommend this approach for new authors?

It’s been about five years since I propelled myself into the self-publishing world, and I’ve noticed that it’s become much more difficult to the point of being hyper-competitive—so I’m not sure that the strategies that I used back then are still applicable to getting into the market today. Back then, the established publishers wouldn’t price their books in the low echelons, so the self-published authors had the space all to themselves, but now it’s become a free for all with competition coming from all angles and with a much more sophisticated audience. All that being said, the “momentum” strategy seems to work the best, by which I mean, publish often, one after the other. If I was starting out, I would still aim to create a six-part series that I would write ahead of time, and then publish each new installment once a month and use the Kindle Select tools to boost…so yes, I’d still recommend the same strategy.

 

 

 

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*What new technologies are you excited about?

I think that self-driving cars will radically alter human society in the 21st Century in ways that we can’t fully imagine yet, the same way that horseless carriages totally changed the urban and societal landscape of the 20th Century. Basically these are just robots that we get inside—in a few years I doubt they will look much like cars, but will take on all kinds of shapes and locomotion strategies including flying. Artificial intelligence is already making a massive impact, and will continue to evolve in surprising ways, including merging with human intelligence (a process that is already underway). One thing I’m really excited about is the prospect of room-temperature superconductors—added with other technologies (like AIs and advanced robotics) it will allow for super-powerful electric motors, tiny-but-massively-powerful batteries, lossless energy transmission and more. It would make possible a whole range of capabilities we can’t even imagine today, and may just be a tiny breakthrough away.

 

 

*If you had to pick one setting to survive in which one would you pick? Cyberstorm or Nomad?

Definitely CyberStorm! At the end of that books, the world basically goes back to normal—if a bit wiser. In Nomad, I literally destroy the entire solar system, and almost obliterate the Earth not just once, but twice!

 

 

Cyberstorm

 

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*What next for you?

I’m writing a near-future detective series called The Lacuna Cases. The first book, The Dreaming Tree, will be out in hardcover and e-book this summer!

 

 

 

 

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A Worthy Villain – By Allison Brennan

 

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A Worthy Villain – By Allison Brennan

 

“The villain is the hero of his own journey.”
— Christopher Vogler

 

When I first started writing, I didn’t read any craft books. Everything I learned about writing fiction I learned through reading, falling in with a terrific critique group, and on- line workshops I took through RWA’s Kiss of Death chapter (the online chapter for romantic suspense.) It wasn’t until I sold my first three books that I started picking up craft books to see if I could improve my writing.

I was primarily looking for books that would help me take my books to the next level. By that I didn’t really know what I was looking for, just books that would help me understand my own intuition, I suppose. A lot of books didn’t resonate with me. Anything too technical, or anything that attempted to explain why that way was the best (or only) way to craft a story, irritated or bored me.

Then I read The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and had that light bulb moment.

The Writer’s Journey is a simplified and far more accessible view of the Hero’s Journey (Hero With a Thousand Faces) as explained by Joseph Campbell. But Vogler took the meat from Campbell and seasoned it with modern examples that resonated with me. I could see in all the books that I’d written that I had intuitively, albeit loosely, adopted a hero’s journey structure. But what really helped me was how I began to view the role of the villain in my books.

The quote from Vogler — that the villain is the hero of his own journey — gave me that lightbulb moment. I loved getting into my villain’s heads, but I’d somewhat separated the villain from the hero. The villain’s were bad; the hero’s were good. In classic fiction this works well — people like to know who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. Yet, to create a compelling story, the villain needs to be more than a caricature. The villain needs to be as strong and three-dimensional as the hero. And while there are some all bad villains, how did they get that way? What made them commit their first illegal or immoral act?

 

 

 

 

 

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About this time, I read two books that have stuck with me for years. The first was Thomas Harris’s The Red Dragon, which I still believe is superior to The Silence of the Lambs in almost every way. The hero is tortured, the villain is believable, and the dynamic between Will Graham (tortured hero) and Francis Dollarhyde (tortured villain) is truly compelling. (As an aside — don’t watch the movies. Neither movie did the book justice, unlike Silence of the Lambs which is iconic.)

What resonated with me the most was how deep Harris got into his killer. We get into Dollarhyde’s head, we begin to understand how he got to this point in his life. And there is a pivotal scene where he could choose the light—where he could turn away from the violence within him. But why he doesn’t—how he breaks—is so compelling and felt so real that The Red Dragon is one of the few books I’ve read twice. It taught me first and foremost that villains need to be real people. They are not monsters, at least not at first glance. They have backstories and conflicts and goals just like every other character in the story.

In fact, I’d argue that villains must have as strong or stronger conflicts than the hero. Every author should know exactly why their villain is committing the crime they are committing, and be able to justify it when in the killer’s head. It might not make sense to a “normal” person, but it had better make sense to the villain.

The other book I read was Psychopath by Dr. Keith Ablow. What drew me in was an intelligent and almost reasonable villain who had a very specific reason for why and how he killed. In fact, the villain was so compelling, that when the hero (a forensic psychiatrist) and the villain were on the same page, the villain appeared to be a stronger individual. How—why—can some who do such good in the world also be so bad?

 

 

 

Motivation award

 

 

 

Johan Wrens is the Highway Killer. He slits the throats of random people all over the country. His body count is in the dozens. Wrens is also a brilliant psychiatrist who helps disturbed children. He has relationships with women, is attractive and cultured. He’s a bit reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris’s “arch-villain”—but in many ways, far more layered. He’s definitely the bad guy, but he also saves children for a living. He detests crimes against children, and that redeeming quality, especially when the reader learns his whole story, makes him a tragic character.

The hero, Dr. Frank Clevenger, had very real problems and very real conflicts. A recovering drug addict who had serious problems with interpersonal relationships, readers wondered if he could overcome his personal adversity to stop a very real—and very intelligent—threat.

Through these two books—The Red Dragon and Psychopath—I realized that the dynamic between the hero and villain needs to be intense; it needs to matter to both characters. I haven’t always been able to achieve this, though I consistently strive to. And that, really, is what being a growing writer is all about: constantly striving to write a stronger, better story with stronger, more compelling characters.

A “good” villain needs to challenge the hero; a good villain must be as smart—or smarter—than the hero. The villain needs to be complex, capable, and cunning so the hero is challenged. It’s the hero’s intelligence, perseverance, and humanity that brings the villain to justice—not merely following the breadcrumbs of a villain who would rank in the Top Ten Stupidest Criminals.

 

 

 

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In essence, not only does the villain need to be worthy of your hero, but your hero needs to be worthy of your villain. It’s the creation of this dynamic that gives the reader what she is looking for in crime thrillers.

When you think about the villain as the hero of his own journey, you realize that there are logical reasons for every action the villain takes. Logical for the villain. This is why authors (or actors) need to spend some time in their villain’s head. Think of the villain as you would the hero, ask the same questions. Know what they want and why. Know how they got to this moment in the story. Give them the option of turning away from evil … and then when they don’t, know why they don’t.

The villain makes—or breaks—your story.

And if you remember that the villain is the hero of his own journey? Well, your job just got a small bit easier.

 

 

 

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Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of three dozen romantic 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 Book Reviews gave her recent Lucy Kincaid thriller BREAKING POINT a Top Pick and Lisa Gardner says, “Brennan knows how to deliver.” SHATTERED, currently out in hardcover, will be released in paperback on May 1. The next book in the Maxine Revere series ABANDONED is on sale August 14, and the next Lucy Kincaid thriller TOO FAR GONE will be out on October 30. Allison lives near Sacramento, California with her husband, five children, and assorted animals.

 

 

 

Breaking point

 

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Book Review: The Defense by Steve Cavanagh

The Defense Eddie Flynn

 

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Eddie Flynn #1

 

The truth has no place in a courtroom. The truth doesn’t matter in a trial.

The only thing that matters is what the prosecution can prove.

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turned out the two weren’t that different.

It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter Amy.

Eddie only has 48 hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial—and win—if wants to save his daughter.

Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?

Lose this case and he loses everything.

 

 

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“Steve Cavanagh has created a different breed of legal thriller.”

 

 

This book was unlike any legal thriller I’ve ever read. It grips you from the first paragraph until the very last, unrelenting in suspense and utter turmoil. Good to the last drop! The stakes are high, personal, and filled with dilemma at every turn.

Former con man turned lawyer Eddie Flynn doesn’t disappoint in the first book. He has to go up against the head of the russian mafia, a dirty cop, win an impossible case, while a bomb is strapped to his back. There’s everything to love about this series. It’s witty, gritty, tense, smart, entertaining, filled with drama, twists and turns. Don’t miss out on this one.

 

The Plea (Eddie Flynn #2)

The Liar (Eddie Flynn #3)

Thirteen (Eddie Flynn #4)

 

Books 3 and 4 aren’t available yet in the U.S., so we’ll have to wait patiently. The Plea is avaiable though as an ebook, hardback, paperback, and audiobook.

 

 

 

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Historical Mystery Book Recommendations with Daniella Bernett & Benjamin Thomas

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Let’s go back in time and visit some historical mysteries…

 

 

 

Watch old school pocket watch

 

 

 

 Charles Lenox Mysteries #10 Takes place in Victorian England

 

The Inheritance Charles Lenox

 

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A mysterious bequest of money leads to a murder in this new novel in the critically acclaimed and bestselling series whose last installment The New York Times called “a sterling addition to this well-polished series.”

Charles Lenox has received a cryptic plea for help from an old Harrow schoolmate, Gerald Leigh, but when he looks into the matter he finds that his friend has suddenly disappeared. As boys they had shared a secret: a bequest from a mysterious benefactor had smoothed Leigh’s way into the world after the death of his father. Lenox, already with a passionate interest in detective work, made discovering the benefactor’s identity his first case – but was never able to solve it.

Now, years later, Leigh has been the recipient of a second, even more generous bequest. Is it from the same anonymous sponsor? Or is the money poisoned by ulterior motives? Leigh’s disappearance suggests the latter, and as Lenox tries, desperately, to save his friend’s life, he’s forced into confrontations with both the most dangerous of east end gangs and the far more genteel denizens of the illustrious Royal Society. When someone close to the bequest dies, Lenox must finally delve deep into the past to uncover at last the identity of the person who is either his friend’s savior – or his lethal enemy.

 

 

 

Sebastian St. Cyr #13 Takes place in Regency England

 

 

Why kill the innocent

 

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In the newest mystery from the national bestselling author of Where the Dead Lie, a brutal murder draws Sebastian St. Cyr into the web of the royal court, where intrigue abounds and betrayal awaits.

London, 1814. As a cruel winter holds the city in its icy grip, the bloody body of a beautiful young musician is found half-buried in a snowdrift. Jane Ambrose’s ties to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, panic the palace, which moves quickly to shut down any investigation into the death of the talented pianist. But Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife Hero refuse to allow Jane’s murderer to escape justice.

Untangling the secrets of Jane’s world leads Sebastian into a maze of dangerous treachery where each player has his or her own unsavory agenda and no one can be trusted. As the Thames freezes over and the people of London pour onto the ice for a Frost Fair, Sebastian and Hero find their investigation circling back to the palace and building to a chilling crescendo of deceit and death . . .

 

 

Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope Mystery #8 Takes place during WWII

 

 

The Prisoners castle

 

Available August 7, 2018 Pre-order now

 

American-born spy and code-breaker extraordinaire Maggie Hope must solve a baffling series of murders among a group of captive agents on an isolated Scottish island as the acclaimed World War II mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal continues.

Maggie Hope is being held prisoner on a remote Scottish island with other SOE agents who know too much for the enemy’s comfort. All the spies on the island are trained to kill–and when they start dropping off one-by-one, Maggie needs to find the murderer… before she becomes the next victim.

 

 

Alyssa Maxwell’s A Lady & Lady’s Maid Mystery #3  Which takes place in the early 1920’s in England.

 

 

A Devious Death

 

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In the sobering yet hopeful years following the First World War, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, find their summer plans marred by an instance of murder . . .
 
Phoebe and her sister Julia are eager for a summer getaway at High Head Lodge, the newly purchased estate of their cousin Regina. But they are not the only houseguests. Regina’s odd friend, Olive, is far from friendly, and Regina’s mother and brother—bitter over the unequal distribution of her father’s inheritance—have descended on the house to confront Regina.

In addition to the family tension, Eva is increasingly suspicious of Lady Julia’s new maid. She questions Miss Stanley’s loyalty and integrity, wondering why she left her former employer so suddenly. And why does Regina seem ill at ease around the maid, as if they were previously acquainted? Everyone, it appears, is on edge.

But things go from tense to tragic when their hostess meets an untimely end—mysteriously murdered in her bed with no signs of struggle. Now, with suspects in every room, Lady Phoebe and Eva must uncover secrets hidden behind closed doors—before a killer ensures they never leave High Head Lodge . . . alive.

 

 

Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily #12  Takes place in Victorian England.

 

Death in St. Petersburg

 

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A dance with death…

After the final curtain of Swan Lake, an animated crowd exits the Mariinsky theatre brimming with excitement. But outside the scene is somber. A ballerina’s body lies face down in the snow, blood splattered like rose petals over the costume of the Swan Queen. The crowd is silenced by a single cry –Nemetseva is dead!

Among the theatergoers is Lady Emily, accompanying her dashing husband Colin in Russia on assignment from the Crown. But it soon becomes clear that Colin isn’t the only one with work to do. When the dead ballerina’s aristocratic lover comes begging for justice, Emily must apply her own set of skills to discover the rising star’s murderer. Her investigation takes her on a dance across the stage of Tsarist Russia, from the opulence of the Winter Palace, to the modest flats of ex-ballerinas and the locked attics of political radicals. A mysterious dancer in white follows closely behind, making waves through St. Petersburg with her surprise performances and trail of red scarves. Is it the sweet Katenka, Nemetseva’s childhood friend and favorite rival? The ghost of the murdered étoile herself? Or, something even more sinister?

 

 

 

Jennifer Kincheloe’s Anna Blanc Mysteries #2 Takes place in the early 1900’s in Los Angeles. 

 

The woman in the camphor trunk

 

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Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. Her lover has fled. If news gets out that a white woman was murdered in Chinatown, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna plan to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret. So does good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent Chinese leader who has mixed feelings about helping the LAPD and about Anna.

Meanwhile, the Hop Sing tong has kidnapped two slave girls from the Bing Kong tong, fuelling existing tensions. They are poised on the verge of a bloody tong war that would put all Chinatown residents in danger.

Joe orders Anna out of Chinatown to keep her safe, but to atone for her own family’s sins, Anna must stay to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.

 

 

Karen Charlton’s Detective Lavender Mysteries #4 Take place in early 1800’s London. 

 

Plague Pits and river bones

 

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London 1812: Treacherous gangs roam the capital, and not even the Palace of Westminster is safe. When Detective Stephen Lavender is called in to investigate a highway robbery and a cold-blooded murder, both the cases take a dangerous and disturbing personal twist.

And when Lavender’s trusted deputy, Constable Ned Woods, finds a mysterious severed foot washed up on Greenwich Beach, they soon realise that these ancient bones are more sinister than they first appeared.

With Bow Street Police Office undermanned and in disarray, it will take all of Lavender and Woods’s wit and skill—and some help from Lavender’s spirited wife, Magdalena—to unmask the fiend behind the mayhem, restore peace and justice to the beleaguered city and solve the tragic mystery of the severed foot.

But will they do so in time to foil a plot that threatens to plunge the country into chaos?

 

 

 

Alan Bradley’s Flavia De Luce Mysteries #9 -Takes place in Buckshaw 1950’s England. 

 

 

The Grave's a fine and private place

 

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Flavia is enjoying the summer, spending her days punting along the river with her reluctant family. Languishing in boredom, she drags a slack hand in the water, and catches her fingers in the open mouth of a drowned corpse.

Brought to shore, the dead man is found to be dressed in blue silk with ribbons at the knee, and wearing a single red ballet slipper.

Flavia needs to put her super-sleuthing skills to the test to investigate the murder of three gossips in the local church, and to keep her sisters out of danger. But what could possibly connect the son of an executed killer, a far too canny police constable, a travelling circus, and the publican’s mysteriously talented wife?

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Crime Writing Conferences by Christina Hoag

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Conferences: Where to go? Which to Choose?
By Christina Hoag

 

For crime fiction authors, the good news is that there are plenty of  writing conferences. The bad news is that there are plenty of writing conferences. It can be hard to choose the best investment for your money and time.

I decided not to choose. I just went to a slew of them, although not all by any means. Not only did I have a great time at every one, I found value in all of them. Each offers something different, and from each I took away things I didn’t know before, as well as a host of new friends. Frankly for me, networking is one of the best reasons for attending conferences. I love meeting other writers and discussing writing, publishing, reading. These are my peeps!

The two biggies are Bouchercon, held in a different city every year, and Thrillerfest, held in New York City every year. Both get well over 1,000 attendees. I chose to attend Thrillerfest this year, leaving Bouchercon for 2018. Thrillerfest is the most expensive con of the bunch, plus Manhattan is a pricey destination, which is something to keep in mind. But this is the place for networking and there’s plenty of opportunity to mingle with the biggest names in the business from Lee Child to Lisa Gardner. Thrillerfest also hosts a separate event, Pitchfest, which attracts a ton of top agents and editors, a key advantage to being in the center of the publishing industry.

There are also a host of smaller regional conferences, usually sponsored by local chapters of the Mystery Writers of America and/or Sisters in Crime. These typically attract 200-300 attendees, including published and aspiring authors as well as fans, and cost in the range of $200 to $350. Most offer authors a chance to participate as panelists and to sell and sign their books in the con bookshop. This makes them great promotional vehicles if you’ve got a new book out or are simply seeking exposure.

However, cons have different requirements for panelists so that may affect where you choose to go if promotion is your goal. Sleuthfest, held around Florida, for example, requires panelists to be published by approved publishers. Killer Nashville is friendly to independent and pre-published writers while New England Crimebake in Boston does not allow authors to request panels and selects its own. Magna cum Murder in Indianapolis, California Crime Writers Conference, held biannually in Los Angeles, and Left Coast Crime, offered in a different western city every year, generally offer authors panel spots.

Another factor to look at is the con’s subgenre emphasis. Malice Domestic, held annually in Bethesda, Maryland, is geared to cozies and traditional mysteries while Thrillerfest is as its name suggests.

Finally, you may choose a particular conference simply because it’s in a place you want to visit or where you have friends or family. Whichever conference you choose, you can save by planning well in advance and taking advantage of early bird prices, which usually start the year before. Another cost-cutting tip: you can stay in less expensive hotels, or AirBnBs, or with friends and Uber back and forth. I’m already looking forward to my next conference in 2018!

Christina Hoag is a former journalist for the Miami Herald and Associated Press who’s been threatened by a murderer’s girlfriend, had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, hidden under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail, interviewed gang members, bank robbers, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Her noir crime novel Skin of Tattoos (Martin Brown Publishing, 2016) was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her thriller Girl on the Brink (Fire and Ice YA, 2016) was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also writes nonfiction, co-authoring Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence (Turner Publishing, 2014. Christina makes her home in Los Angeles and lives on the web at www.christinahoag.com.

 

Her novel Skin of Tattoos is available at Amazon

 

 

Skin of tattoes

 

 

When Cyco Lokos gang member Magdaleno (Mags) Argueta comes home to Los Angeles after serving prison time for a robbery, he wants nothing more than to start a new life. However, there’s one obstacle he has to overcome first…his old life.

Mags tries to let go of his bitterness–he was framed by Rico, the new leader of the Cyco Lokos–and stay out of gang life for the sake of his Salvadoran immigrant family and his girlfriend Paloma, but trying to integrate into society after a stint in prison doesn’t come easily. Faced with low job prospects and Rico’s demands to help the Cyco Lokos make money, a broke and disillusioned Mags makes the only choice he can. However, Mags soon discovers that loyalties have shifted, including his, and being a part of the Cyco Lokos with Rico in charge is far more dangerous and uncertain than it used to be. With his sister pregnant by a rival gang member and his own relationship with Paloma, his best friend’s sister, a violation of gang code, Mags becomes caught in a web of secrets, revenge, lies, and murder that might ultimately cost him everything.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | My review

 

 

 

 

How to Harness the Difference between Plot & Story with Steve Alcorn

share your story. Coffee mug and wooden letters on wooden background.

 

 

 

How to Harness the Difference between Plot and Story with Steve Alcorn

 

 

Original air date Feb. 15, 2018 TCK Publishing Epi. 176

Duration 32 min

Full Transcript

 

 

Steve Alcorn Author pic

 

 

Steve Alcorn is the author of a wide range of fiction and nonfiction works. His novels include the mystery A Matter of Justice, the historical novel Everything In Its Path, and the romance Ring of Diamonds (under the pseudonym Sharon Stevens). His best-selling history of the Imagineers who built Epcot, Building a Better Mouse, was co-written with author David Green.

During the past decade Steve has helped more than 30,000 students turn their story ideas into reality, and many of his students have published novels they developed in his classes, taught through http://writingacademy.com

When he isn’t writing and teaching, Steve is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a leading theme park design company.

 

 

 

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The Clue to Character by Mystery Writer Daniella Bernett

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The Clue to Character
Daniella Bernett

 

Where would a story be without a character? Character is the engine that drives the narrative. For me, it is a magical process. Imagine having the omnipotent power to create and mold a person on the page. Not only do I get to conjure up the character’s physical attributes and such details as a birthdate, but I have the opportunity to develop his or her personality. Evil or noble? Intelligent or foolish? Witty or dull? Take a smidgen of this and add a pinch of that, and voilà a person starts to emerge. To be believable, the reader must be given intimate insight into the character’s thoughts and emotions, likes and dislikes. One has to understand the motives behind why a character reacts a certain way. Of course to be fully formed, the author must imbue the character with both admirable qualities and flaws. After all, in real life nobody is perfect. So too must it be on the written page. Once the author is satisfied with the character sketch, then the real fun begins: unfurling the imagination to weave the tale.

 

When writing a mystery series, the essential component is a sleuth to solve the crime. Here, the author is presented with two possibilities: professional detective or amateur sleuth. It all circles back to character and the story that the author has in mind for him or her. For my series, I chose the amateur sleuth. My protagonists are journalist Emmeline Kirby and jewel thief Gregory Longdon.

 

 

Business, internet, technology concept.Businessman chooses Inves

 

 

 

 

Why a journalist? A journalist is inherently curious about many subjects. His or her job is to ask questions to uncover the truth and ensure transparency. Naturally, a journalist would be intrigued by crime, especially murder. The determination to find answers and see that justice is served are all important.

 

Now, how does a jewel thief fit into the model of a sleuth? Aren’t lying and evading the law a thief’s modus operandi? Isn’t this in stark contrast to a journalist’s reverence for the truth and justice? Most definitely, but that’s exactly the point. A portrait in contrasts. Who better than someone on the wrong side of the law to discern the twisted workings of a fellow criminal’s mind? A thief immediately recognizes things that the honest person would never even contemplate. In Gregory’s case, he has a certain code of honor. Murder is an offensive transgression. A line that should never be crossed. Thus, I have two diametrically opposed sleuths who are of one mind when it comes to the taking of a human life: the culprit must pay for the crime, otherwise chaos would reign in the world.

 

Meanwhile to round out my ensemble, I have Chief Inspector Oliver Burnell and Sergeant Jack Finch of Scotland Yard. They represent “the law” in all its gravitas. While their job is to hunt down criminals, sometimes the law’s constraints chafe and make their task more difficult. That’s why I have Gregory. He is Burnell’s nemesis. They have an adversarial, cat-and- mouse relationship. As a thief, Gregory has more flexibility to maneuver and never misses an opportunity to needle the chief inspector. Burnell, for his part, has been thwarted in his many attempts at catching Gregory red-handed. Will he ever succeed? The jury is out on that question.

 

There are myriad things to consider when delving into the essence of what makes a captivating and appealing character. The author must much achieve a delicate balance of shadow and light, intrigue and clarity, to give the story meaty substance and an air of authenticity. It’s an ongoing challenge, but one that you as a writer have to explore in every book as you seek to make readers truly care about your characters. Once readers make an emotional connection, you have them hooked because that means they want to know the story behind the character.

 

 

 

 

Daniella Bernett Author Photo

 

 

 

Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Lead Me Into Danger, Deadly Legacy and From Beyond The Grave are the first three books in the Emmeline Kirby Gregory Longdon mystery series. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure.

 

Visit www.daniellabernett.com or follow her on Facebook at Facebook or on Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Bones Don’t Lie by Melinda Leigh

Bones don't lie

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Shocking evidence hits close to home for attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger as Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s acclaimed series continues.

Private investigator Lance Kruger was just a boy when his father vanished twenty-three years ago. Since then he’s lived under the weight of that disappearance—until his father’s car is finally dredged up from the bottom of Grey Lake. It should be a time for closure, except for the skeleton found in the trunk. A missing person case gone cold has become one of murder, and Lance and attorney Morgan Dane must face the deadly past that’s risen to the surface.

For Lance, the investigation yields troubling questions about a man he thought he knew. But memories can play dirty tricks. For Morgan, uncovering each new lie comes with a disquieting fear that someone is out there watching, because someone is killing every witness tied to this decades-old crime. Morgan and Lance follow in the shadows of a relentless killer and walk right into the cross fire.

 

 

 

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Melinda Leigh has hit another homerun in book 3 of Morgan Dane series and it’s currently one of the bestselling books on Amazon. After reading it I realize why. It’s simply great writing.

Melinda’s books are just like the spaghetti sauce Ragu–It’s all in there. It has everything you want in a book. Great characters with solid motivations, goals. Great tension, conflict, dilemma, mystery with romance at the core. What’s not to love about that?

First, I love the title. Bones. Don’t. Lie. Lovely isn’t it? The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Lance’s Father literally resurfaces when his car is found in the bottom of Grey Lake. Did his father leave him and his mother many years ago? Or was he murdered? The mystery unravels bit by bit involving almost every person in the series. Great book! The best one yet.

 

 

 

Bewertung: 5 Sterne

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I've Done

 

 

Morgan Dane Book #4 – Available September 18, 2018 Pre-order now!

 

 

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Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Over the next few years, she learned a few things about writing a book. The process was much more fun than analyzing financial statements, and she decided to turn her hobby into a career. Melinda’s debut novel, SHE CAN RUN, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She is a RITA® Award Finalist and has earned three Daphne du Maurier Award nominations, Two Silver Falchion Awards, and Two Golden Leaf Awards.

Melinda holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate. She’s dabbled in Arnis stick fighting, studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and taught women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house in the suburbs with her husband, two kids, a couple of shelter dogs and two rescue cats who clearly run the show. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination. Find out more about Melinda by visiting melindaleigh.com.

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Book Recommendations with Crime Fiction Blogger Sheila Howes

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“Drink good coffee and read good books.”

 

 

 

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I love good book recommendations don’t you? Today we have more from Sheila Howes  (a.k.a. @thequietgeordie) crime fiction book blogger.

 

 

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

Deeply atmospheric and ingeniously plotted, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a highly original debut that will appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson and Agatha Christie.

 

 

 

Killed Thomas Enger

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Henning Juul sits in a boat on a dark lake. A man with a gun sits opposite him. At the man’s feet is a body that will be soon be dumped into the water. Henning knows that the same fate awaits him. And he knows that it’s his own fault. Who started the fire that killed Henning’s young son? How is his sister, Trine, involved? Most importantly, who can be trusted? Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-waited finale of the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned but always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and one of the most chilling, dark and moving crime thrillers you may ever read.

 

 

 

Friend Request

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Maria Weston wants to be friends. But Maria Weston is dead. Isn’t she?

1989. When Louise first notices the new girl who has mysteriously transferred late into their senior year, Maria seems to be everything the girls Louise hangs out with aren’t. Authentic. Funny. Brash. Within just a few days, Maria and Louise are on their way to becoming fast friends.

2016. Louise receives a heart-stopping email: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. Long-buried memories quickly rise to the surface: those first days of their budding friendship; cruel decisions made and dark secrets kept; the night that would change all their lives forever.

Louise has always known that if the truth ever came out, she could stand to lose everything. Her job. Her son. Her freedom. Maria’s sudden reappearance threatens it all, and forces Louise to reconnect with everyone she’d severed ties with to escape the past. But as she tries to piece together exactly what happened that night, Louise discovers there’s more to the story than she ever knew. To keep her secret, Louise must first uncover the whole truth, before what’s known to Maria–or whoever’s pretending to be her–is known to all.

 

 

The Perfect Girlfriend US image

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend is a frightening depiction of unbridled obsession, where love and pure hatred grapple on a knife edge. The perfect new psychological thriller for fans of Friend Request and The Girl Before.

 

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight
attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

 

‘Brilliant and terrifying’ Fiona Cummins, author of RATTLE

‘So addictive it should come with a warning’ Alice Feeney, author of SOMETIMES I LIE

‘One of the best twisted narrators I’ve ever read’ C.J. Tudor, author of THE CHALK MAN

‘Thrillingly different and totally gripping. I loved it!’ Laura Marshall, author of FRIEND REQUEST

 

 

 

The Lying Game ruth ware

 

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From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

 

 

 

The Escape US image

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

The new psychological thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Accident, The Lie and The Missing.

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

 

 

 

“Be awesome! Be a book nut!”- Dr. Seuss 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking Books with Thriller Fan Tom Dooley

RECOMMENDATION - fluorescent Neon tube Sign on brickwork

 

 

 

 

“So many BOOKS, so little TIME.” –Frank Zappa 

 

 

 

Need more time to read books? Yeah, me too. On that note here’s some more great book recommendations with a fellow book lover, Tom Dooley.

 

Name your favorite thriller writers.

Don Winslow, Matthew Betley, C.J. Box, Kyle Mills, Nick Petrie, Steve Hamilton, Meg Gardiner.

 

 

What are your favorite books so far this year?

 
Into The Black Nowhere, Closer Than You Know, Field Of Valor, The Disappeared, Hellbent, The Escape Artist.

 

 

Into the Black nowhere

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, an exhilarating thriller in which FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix faces off against a charming, merciless serial killer

In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.

Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.

To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.

 

 

 

Closer than you Know Brad Parks

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Brad Parks delivers another riveting, emotionally powerful stand-alone domestic suspense thriller perfect for fans of The Couple Next Door and What She Knew.

Disaster, Melanie Barrick was once told, is always closer than you know.

It was a lesson she learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she’s survived into adulthood–with a loving husband, a steady job, and a beautiful baby boy named Alex–she thought that turmoil was behind her.

Until one Monday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he’s been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It’s a terrifying scenario for any parent, but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls “the system.”

Her nightmare mushrooms when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff’s deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming, and if Melanie can’t prove her innocence, she’ll lose Alex forever.

Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Amy Kaye–who has been assigned Melanie’s case–has her own troubles. She’s been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women.

Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation . . . or her undoing.

 

 

 

Field of Valor

 

Available May 22, 2018 Pre-order now

 

Oath of Honor and the discovery of a deadly global conspiracy, the president requests Logan West to form a covert task force with the mission to dismantle a nameless enemy.

With the full resources of the Justice Department, Intelligence Community, and the military (not to mention presidential pardons pre-signed), Logan must battle a secret organization with the connections and funding to rival many first-world nations. The goal of this organization is both singular and sinister—to pit the United States against China in a bid to dismantle the world’s security and economy. Back on US soil, Logan and his task force pursue the elusive foe from the woods of northern Virginia to the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, from suburban Maryland across the urban sprawl of Washington DC. The stakes have never been higher for Logan or America itself…

 

 

 

The Disappeared CJ Box

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett has two cases to contend with, both of them lethal, in the electrifying new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

Wyoming’s new governor isn’t sure what to make of Joe Pickett, but he has a job for him that is extremely delicate. Three British executives, all women, never came home from the high-end guest ranch they were visiting, and the British Embassy is pressing hard. Pickett knows that happens sometimes–these ranches are stocked with handsome young cowboys, and “ranch romances” aren’t uncommon. But three disappearances? That’s too many.

At the same time, with the help of his friend Nate Romanowski, he’s been called to investigate the killings of several bald and golden eagles–a serious federal crime. The more he investigates both cases, the more someone wants him to go away. Is it because of the missing woman or the dead eagles? Or are they somehow connected? The answers, when they come, will be even worse than he’d imagined.

 

 

 

Hellbent

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Evan Smoak—government assassin gone rogue—returns in Hellbent, an engrossing, unputdownable thriller from Gregg Hurwitz, the latest in his #1 international bestselling Orphan X series.

Taken from a group home at age twelve, Evan Smoak was raised and trained as an off-the-books government assassin: Orphan X. After he broke with the Orphan Program, Evan disappeared and reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, a man spoken about only in whispers and dedicated to helping the truly desperate.

But this time, the voice on the other end is Jack Johns, the man who raised and trained him, the only father Evan has ever known. Secret government forces are busy trying to scrub the remaining assets and traces of the Orphan Program and they have finally tracked down Jack. With little time remaining, Jack gives Evan his last assignment: find and protect his last protégé and recruit for the program.

But Evan isn’t the only one after this last Orphan—the new head of the Orphan Program, Van Sciver, is mustering all the assets at his disposal to take out both Evan (Orphan X) and the target he is trying to protect.

 

 

 

The Escape Artist

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

In #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer’s new thriller, death is just another way to disappear.

Two hours outside of Washington, DC is the mortuary for the U.S. government’s most top-secret and high profile cases. America’s most important funeral home. To work there, mortician Jim “Zig” Zwicharowski has one rule: never let a case get personal. But when a new body arrives–of young female sergeant Nola Brown, who was a childhood friend of Zig’s daughter–Zig can’t help himself. Looking closely at Nola’s body, he realizes immediately: this isn’t Nola. Indeed, his daughter’s friend is still alive. And on the run. Zig’s discovery reveals a sleight of hand being played at the highest levels of power–and traces back through history to a man named Harry Houdini. “Nola, you were right. Keep running.”

 

 

 

Name up to three of your favorite series.

 

Joe Pickett Series 18 Books by C.J. Box 

Walt Longmire Series (14 books) by Craig Johnson 

 

 

Which books are you highly anticipating in 2018?

 

Red War, High White Sun, Field Of Valor (already read it), Warning Light, The Outsider, Dark Sacred Night.

 

 

Red War Vince Flynn

 

Available September 25, 2018 Pre-order now

 

 

High White Sun

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

Field of Valor

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

Warning Light

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

The Outsider by Stephen King

 

Out May 22, 2018 Pre-order now!

 

 

Dark Sacred night

 

Release date October 30, 2018 Pre-order now

 

 

Name your top pet peeves as a reader

It drives me nuts when you pre-order an authors book, and then find out depending on retailer that there is multiple special editions. For instance Barnes and Noble will have one, Costco will have a different one and so on.

 

 

Time to get reading!