Book Review: The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

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Vanessa Michael Munroe #1

 

 

“Vanessa Michael Munroe deals in information–expensive information–working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle’s most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she’s never looked back. Until now.”

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

 

 

Official Trailer Part 1

 

 

 

 

Official Trailer Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Taylor Stevens is one of my great finds of 2018! Don’t you just love it when that happens? Vanessa ‘Michael’ Munroe is the INFORMATIONIST who specializes in…you guessed it, information. It’s hard to explain exactly who she is. She’s a smooth, troubled, skilled individual who can get the job done by any means necessary. American, but born in Cameroon West Africa, yet calls neither home. Taylor Stevens has a unique prose style of writing that matches the unique character she created.

 

 

 

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TAYLOR STEVENS is a critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers. Her books, known for high-octane plots populated with fascinating characters in vivid boots-on-the-ground settings, have been published in over twenty languages. THE INFORMATIONIST, first in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series has also been optioned for film by James Cameron’s production company, Lightstorm Entertainment.

Stevens came to writing fiction late. Born into an apocalyptic cult, separated from her family at age twelve and denied an education beyond sixth grade, she lived on three continents and in a dozen countries before she turned fourteen. In place of schooling, the majority of her adolescence was spent begging on city streets at the behest of cult leaders, or as a worker bee child caring for the many younger commune children, washing laundry, and cooking meals for hundreds at a time. In her twenties, Stevens broke free in order to follow hope and a vague idea of what possibilities lay beyond.

In addition to writing novels, Stevens shares extensively about the mechanics of storytelling, writing, overcoming adversity, and the details of her journey into publishing through email, podcast, and video tutorials.

 

 

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Why You Need to be Publishing Audiobooks – With Mark Dawson, James Blanch, and Tina Dietz

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Why You Need to be Publishing Audiobooks

 

 

 

 

Highlights

  • The importance of creativity in every type of business
  • How creativity makes us more productive
  • The different approaches to audiobooks by fiction and non-fiction authors
  • Thoughts on narrating your book yourself
  • The range of cost for producing an audiobook, including what you can expect to pay a narrator
  • Auditioning narrators to find the right voice for your book
  • Providing character information to narrators to find a good fit
  • Reading your book out loud yourself to get a sense of your characters’ voices
  • The three reasons for starting a podcast

 

This podcast originally appears on selfpublishingformula.com Sept. 14, 2018. Duration 50 min. Download full transcript: Here

 

 

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Tina Dietz: Website

 

 

 

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Book Review: Bloody Sunday by Ben Coes

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*The best thriller of 2018*

 

 

“Ben Coes’ Bloody Sunday is a propulsive read with enough plot hooks, twists, and action to fill five thrillers. Fans of Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, and Tom Clancy will tear throughBloody Sunday and close the book counting the days till Dewey’s next adventure.” —Mark Greaney, New York Timesbestselling author of Agent in Place

The latest in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Dewey Andreas series.

North Korea, increasingly isolated from most of the rest of the world, is led by an absolute dictator and a madman with a major goal—he’s determined to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. While they have built, and continue to successfully test nuclear bombs, North Korea has yet to develop a ballistic missile with the range necessary to attack America. But their missiles are improving, reaching a point where the U.S. absolutely must respond.

What the U.S. doesn’t know is that North Korea has made a deal with Iran. In exchange for effective missiles from Iran, they will trade nuclear triggers and fissionable material. An exchange, if it goes through, that will create two new nuclear powers, both with dangerous plans.

Dewey Andreas, still reeling from recent revelations about his own past, is ready to retire from the CIA. But he’s the only available agent with the skills to carry out the CIA’s plan to stop North Korea. The plan is to inject a singular designer poison into the head of the North Korean military and in exchange for the nuclear plans, provide him with the one existing dose of the antidote. But it goes awry when Dewey manages to inject a small amount of the poison into himself. Now, to survive, Dewey must get into North Korea and access the antidote and, while there, thwart the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran. And he has less than 24 hours to do so—in the latest thriller from Ben Coes.

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

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The best thriller of 2018 so far. Absolutely phenomenal!  A complete slam dunk by author Ben Coes.  Narrator Jay Synder even made it more exceptional with a stellar performance in the audiobook, so I highly recommend it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this won a few awards. Dewey Andreas is back on the scene with one startling realization; his wife’s death was no accident. Bloody Sunday begins with the non-stop impulse of revenge on those responsible for her murder, but this is hardly the beginning.

The North Korean regime is bent on unleashing nuclear catastrophe on the United States–even without much consideration of the cost. An ailing leader. A loyal soldier. A definite promise of destruction. There’s only one man who’s capable of pulling off an exponentially impossible mission, but there’s only one problem. He’s not up to the task. His mindset is no condition for yet another mission. Dewey Andreas is absolutely sensational in every sense of the word. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the United States, the CIA, North Korea; or even more personal for long time agent Andreas. An explosive, extraordinary plot that’ll blow your socks right off.

 

 

Five Gold Stars

 

 

 

www.bencoes.com

 

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Ben Coes is the New York Times bestselling author of international political and espionage thrillers. He graduated from Columbia College, where he won the Bennett Cerf Memorial Prize for Fiction. He worked at the White House under Presidents Reagan and Bush and was a Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

 

 

 

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ThrillerFest 2018 part 3 with Mark Dawson – SPF

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Prepare to be thrilled….

 

 

 

 

Highlight summary

In the final part of our three-part series of interviews from ThrillerFest 2018, James talks to prolific hybrid romance author Lexi Blake, Rambo’s father David Morrell, USA Today best-selling author Alan Jacobson, and, last but not least, megastar thriller author Lee Child.

 

 

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Lexi Blake

 

 

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David Morrell

 

 

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Alan Jacobson

 

 

 

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Lee Child

 

International Thriller Writers

ThrillerFest

 

 

Bloody Hand

 

 

ThrillerFest 2018 Part 2 via Mark Dawson

News

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights per Mark Dawson:

Mike Lewis on building relationships at conferences, Jon Land on picking up the Murder She Wrote franchise — Bringing Jessica Fletcher into the present day, The advantages to readers when authors have choices about how to publish, Lynda La Plante on doing research for her novels, The inspirational female police officer behind Prime Suspect, The luck and skill involved in Lynda’s writing career, Resources mentioned in this episode: Karen’s marketing book for authors of children’s books.

 

Sneak Peek of ThrillerFest 2018 via Mark Dawson

Thrillerwriters.org

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Sneak Peak of ThrillerFest 2018 via Mark Dawson

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Sneak Peek into ThrillerFest 2018 with Mark Dawson

 

 

 

 

 

See which books won big in the ITW 2018 Awards via TheRealbookspy.com

 

 

 

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How To Get Your Book Into Schools And Double Your Income With Volume Sales With Dave Hendrickson

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Link to full transcript

 

 

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Amazon | Goodreads

 

Have you ever dreamed of an entire school reading your book?

 
Would you like to double (or more!) your writing income?

 
This book shows you how.

 

Drawing from his own first-hand experience, David H. Hendrickson leads you through every step of the process. He highlights the critical pitfalls to avoid, and points out ways to maximize your profit when a school adopts your book.

With advice and insights that are adaptable to getting your book in front of audiences ranging from middle grade to high school to college, and even to corporations, this book is for you!

 
“If you have a book you want to get into K-12 schools and sell in the thousands,
you MUST read this book.”
—Maggie Lynch, bestselling author, Career Author Secrets series

 

www.hendricksonwriter.com

 

 

Getting to Know Author Cameron Poe

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Cameron Poe (Barry Cameron Lindemann) is a student of classic literature. He earned his undergraduate degree from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and his MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He is an observer of politics and the interplay between nation states. He has a keen interest in structural and mechanical engineering. He has three sons and resides in Las Vegas where he manages real estate portfolio financing.

 

 

 

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The most sought after commodity in the world is power, and when money is no object, power is up for grabs. Desiring autonomy, one small nation develops an unlikely plan to procure a nuclear-powered submarine. If all goes as intended, the Middle East will destabilize and the OPEC Alliance will crumble. Yet as money might buy power, there’s no guarantee that it buys loyalty. So when the submarine breaks the ocean surface it doesn’t travel to the Middle East, it sails for Russia, in an attempt to return the nation to its Soviet roots.

Alerted to the possibility of the theft of a Russian sub, the CIA must foil the plan for acquisition without alarming the rest of the world. A step behind and suffering from department infighting, the CIA watches in disbelief as the single most powerful weapon in the world rises from the ocean floor. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that the commander of the vessel has no intention of honoring his contract.

Scrambling to prevent a world-wide disaster, CIA operatives in coordination with the US Navy launch a daring and risky plan to quietly thwart a rogue submarine captain before he can obliterate Moscow and take control of the country. Those who volunteer for this mission risk their lives. Those who don’t risk the safety of the entire world.

 

 

 

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GETTING TO KNOW AUTHOR CAMERON POE

 

What was your journey like becoming a writer?

Very long! Most people talk about writing a book, but doing the first one takes forever. Approximately 25 years because back in the day you had to beg people to read it, and if they liked it then maybe they would talk to you about publishing. Needless to say, it was written and then collected a lot of dust.

 

 

What are your favorite pieces of classic literature?

The Homeric tales, The Iliad and The Odyssey. I have an appreciation for Tolstoy, especially The Death of Ivan Ilyich. That being said Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is always at the top of my list. The inverse would be Ulysses; not a fan of James Joyce and his supposed adaption.

 

 

Is Red Agenda your first novel?

Yes. The initial draft was back in the Clinton era. When editing and publishing became problematic (I couldn’t afford it) I shelved it. In late 2013 I resuscitated the book because the story still resonates today. All I did was upgrade the technology and lingo. It’s true, the more things change the more they stay the same. That being said I did write a screenplay (Supergrass, with co-writer Clem Connolly) and submitted it to Final Draft’s Screen Writers contest in 2007. Out of 3,200 submissions the screenplay place in the final 10. I heard later it was 6th. Still, it is Hollywood and no one had their story made.

 

 

 

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What were some major hurdles while learning to write?

Convincing myself that my writing style worked. I don’t like input until I have a finished draft. It was a big risk for me to write it (yes, no one saw it for 20 plus years), have it edited, and then wait and see what the reviews say. It is very gratifying to see the positive comments on the pace and style of the book.

 

 

What’s the difference between good writing and telling a good story?

I would think they are too similar to separate. Word usage is key. Good writing demands tactile expressions and good story telling also requires such. On some level your story telling has to engage your writing ability. You become laser focused and your story gushes through your repertoire of words, down to your fingertips, and spills onto the page

 

 

Take us through your plotting process for your book Red Agenda.

That is tough. I know I wanted a story where the Soviet Union rears it head, but I didn’t want it as simple as someone in the Russian government plotting the overthrow. I also like the confluence of unrelated events producing an outcome no one thinks about. The problem with that kind of plot is that it comes off as expansive with many character for the reader. So to keep them engaged you have to move the book fast to a point in the story where it all melds together. Then you can step off the gas and let them become engrossed. I also wanted to blow up a nuclear missile for grins. So I did.

 

 

 

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Do you take your ideas based on world events or create your own?

I base them in world events and then put an unusual twist on it. I would assume today that what we don’t know about our government is 10x more scarier than what we can think about.

 

 

Is there a central protagonist?

Yes. Nicholas Shaw. I don’t introduce him until a third of the way through because he needs something to rescue. He is loyal, flawed, and scared most of the time. Most of written American hero characters seem to be able to solve any problem, no sweat. I don’t want a McGyver for my protagonist. I want a guy who needs a shot of bourbon to calm his nerves later.

 

 

Are there any authors you model yourself after?

Cussler and Clancy. That is the fiction in which I will fit. I have never read a Vince Flynn novel but I might have smattering of him in my style too judging from reviews on his books.

 

 

What are you working on next?

I am keeping some of the characters in Red Agenda to continue into the next book. I am thinking about a platform from which they all work and solve pressing problems to the US and the world. The plot will be about rare earth metals and China’s (or some antagonist)  reason for purchasing all that is mined across the world. Am waiting for the antagonist to form. Title – Dyson Sphere. Which is a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output. Just kicking that around.

 

 

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Interview with Historical Mystery Author Jennifer Kincheloe

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Jennifer is a research scientist turned writer of historical fiction. Her novels take place in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD and combine, mystery, history, humor, and romance. THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK was released in November, 2017. Her debut novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC was a finalist in the Lefty Awards for Best Historical Mystery, The Colorado Author’s League Award for Best Genre Fiction, the Macavity Sue Feder Award for Historical Mystery, and is the WINNER of the Mystery & Mayhem Award for Historical Mystery and the Colorado Gold for Best Mystery.

Jennifer grew up in Southern California, but has traveled to such places as Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. She’s been a block layer, a nurse’s aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. Jennifer currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers, two dogs, and a cat. There she conducts research on the jails.

 

 

 

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*What’s a typical day like for you?

 

I’m a corrections researcher, so by day, I’m coding multi-level statistical models and shadowing deputies in the jails. By 6:00 AM I’m at my desk at the Sheriff’s Department. It’s culturally so different from academia, where I came from. After work, I lift weights with my personal trainer in the jail. I’ll go over to a weight machine and someone will have left their gun on the seat. Then I go home, take care of my teenagers,do an interview, arrange a reading in a bookstore, write a little, fall asleep on my laptop.

 

 

*Do you still struggle with Chronic fatigue?

I gave up sugar and that helped me a lot.

 

 

 

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*What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Art inspires me. Music inspires me. When readers respond to my work in a positive way, it’s a huge jolt to my creative energies. I love readers.

 

 

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*On your website you state the following, So when I wasn’t writing or conducting research, I was reading every writing book I could get my hands on. I treated it like one more graduate degree. This took a couple of years.”  

 

  • During this time frame name some of the writing books that helped you the most.

I started writing screenplays before I wrote fiction. I sent my first screenplay off to my Oscar-nominated screenwriter x-boyfriend, David, who graciously read it and told me it stank. It did. He recommended three books to me: Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee; The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives by Lajos Egri; and The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. They changed my game. Screenwriting books are incredibly instructive for fiction writers because they teach you story structure. Now David is a big Anna Blanc fan (and I know he’d tell me if he wasn’t).

  • Any favorite quotes, tips, techniques?

Give into your voice. Don’t self censor. There’s a Neil Gaiman quote that is right on the money.

 

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”  

  • Were you ever overwhelmed by the amount of information?

I was famished for information. Writing was a fresh discovery for me. I hadn’t known that I could do it or love it so much. And once I made that discovery, it’s all I wanted to do or talk about. So, I was like, ‘bring it!’

 

 

Write Sign, Love for Writing, for writers and authors.

 

 

 

* “I treated it like one more graduate degree…” Tell us more about this and your approach to learning the craft.

 

When I first started writing fiction and screenplays almost ten years ago, I was surprised that I wasn’t good at it.  I thought it would be easier because I was a already a competent non-fiction writer. It wasn’t. Writing fiction or screenplays is a whole different beast and you have to learn the craft. You’ve got to put in your ten thousand hours. I read dozens of screenplays and dissected them. I diagrammed novels. I would read books I loved five times in a row. Each time I’d look for something new. What was the ratio of description to action? What rules did they break? How did the author make me feel so deeply? I would study first paragraphs of novels that were effective and mimic them. When I presented my writers’ group with my first sex scene, they laughed, because it was unintentionally hilarious. So I started reading romance novels–just the dirty parts–to try to figure out what made a good love scene.

And, I wrote. Some days, I wrote for fourteen hours. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and write. I wrote first thing in the morning. I wasn’t working much at the time, so I could do it.

 

 

 

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*With a MPH (I’m guessing it’s a Masters of Public Health–My wife has one of those), a Ph.D, a love of reading, and what you’ve accomplished so far in writing, I’ve assumed the following.

 

-You love to learn new things. Is this true?

Yes, which is why I love corrections research so much. I get to learn a whole new discipline that also ties into my fiction.

 

-You have great self discipline. How did you develop such great character?

Thank you. I don’t know. My mother worked us pretty hard when we were kids, be it doing chores or hiking up mountains, and I’m grateful. Then I traveled extensively in the developing world, so I know about cold showers and picking bugs out of your food. Working hard and pushing through when things are tough is key. But it’s crucial to know where to focus your energies. I let a lot of things slide because they would take me away from writing or time with my kids.

 

-I can also tell you have a sense of humor, which I love in Anna Blanc, The Woman in the Camphor Trunk. Where does your sense of humor come from?

 

Boredom. Childhood used to be filled with boredom. Wonder too, but in the 60s and 70s we had to make our own entertainment. I liked to amuse myself by finding the humor in things. Even now, I’m often giggling behind my hand.

 

 

 

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*How do you utilize research for your novels?

 

I love to use primary sources for my Anna Blanc research. The Los Angeles newspapers from the early 1900s enthrall me. Most of my story lines come straight out of the papers. I steal events from the newspapers, descriptions of technology, prices from advertisements, fashion, entertainment. I love eyewitness accounts. I harvest slang and social morays from novels written in that period — things that Anna Blanc would have read. Text books from the period. Magazines. Photography is my very favorite source I’ve collected thousands of pictures of the 1900s on my Pinterest page. Here’s the link. Prepare to be amazed https://www.pinterest.com/jrobin66/

 

 

 

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*I love Anna Blanc! She’s such a unique character. This sounds weird but, did it take a while to create her?

 

Thank you so much!. I was planning on writing someone else entirely and she forced her way onto the page. She’s maturing a bit, and that takes time. But her voice is in the very first paragraphs of the first draft I wrote. In some ways, Anna is like me at 19 only magnified. I was self-absorbed. She’s even more self-absorbed. I was naive and privileged. She’s sheltered and filthy rich. I was relatively smart and brave. She’s even braver and more brilliant. And, like most women of my generation, I was frequently dismissed. So Anna is dismissed.

 

 

*What’s next in the Anna Blanc series?

 

Book three will be out next Spring. It’s based on a true story and involves a white slavery ring, a murder in Griffith Park, and a mysterious man who comes into Anna’s life and drives Joe Singer crazy. There’s a trip in the Blanc’s luxurious private train car, a brutal trek in the desert, family drama, and lots of skeletons in closets.

 

 

 

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Q&A with the Prolific Author Debra Webb

Golden Question And Answer

 

 

 

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DEBRA WEBB is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 150 novels, including reader favorites the Shades of Death, the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency and the Shades of Death series. She is the recipient of the prestigious Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense as well as numerous Reviewers Choice Awards. In 2012 Debra was honored as the first recipient of the esteemed L. A. Banks Warrior Woman Award for her courage, strength, and grace in the face of adversity. Recently Debra was awarded the distinguished Centennial Award for having achieved publication of her 100th novel. With this award Debra joined the ranks of a handful of authors like Nora Roberts and Carole Mortimer.

With more than four million books in print in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood when, at the age of nine, her mother bought her an old typewriter in a tag sale. Born in Alabama, Debra grew up on a farm. She spent every available hour exploring the world around her and creating her stories. She wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the Commanding General of the US Army in Berlin behind the Iron Curtain and a five-year stint in NASA’s Shuttle Program that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has expanded her work into some of the darkest places the human psyche dares to go. Visit Debra at http://www.debrawebb.com.

 

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Welcome Deb!

 

*Is it true you’ve written over 150+ books??

It is!

 

*What’s the method to the madness? What’s your superpower?

LOL. I don’t have a superpower. It’s just the way the stories come to me. In BIG chunks rather than small pieces. I had to slow down a few years ago because I was in a terrible accident. I might have reached that 200 mark by now if not for that lol!

 

*After writing so many great books what’s your secret to telling a good story? 

Love the characters. If you’ve in love with the characters the story has to be good!

 

 

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*What’s been your experience writing the Shades of Death series? Will there be more?

Maybe. I never say never. For now, I’m moving on to The Undertaker’s Daughter series and a couple of standalone projects! THERE ONCE WAS A CHILD is what I call one of my fun projects. I just wanted to write it for me.

 

 

There was once a child

 

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A predator recently released from prison is missing…there’s blood on the floor—but there are two blood types. Is he a victim of revenge or has another of Nashville’s children gone missing?

Joseph Fanning stole and abused seventeen children. Recently released after serving his time, now he’s gone missing. Detective Olivia Newhouse and her partner, Walt Duncan, have a duty to do all within their power to find him—just as they would for any other citizen. The first step is to make a list of possible suspects and the logical names to start with are Fanning’s victims. Those seventeen children are now adults and more than one would like to see Joseph Fanning dead.

As Olivia and Walt dig deeper into the case their own lives begin to unravel. The fragile threads of discovery start to twist and tangle until nothing is as it seems.

When the one victim who knows the whole truth is revealed, no one will be the same.

 

 

 

 

CLAP-THRILLER

 

*Is There Once was a Child your first psychological thriller?

Some of my others have been psychological suspense but this is the first one like this.

 

*What are some interesting facts you learned while researching for this book?

How deeply moved I can be by a character, for one thing. The power of denial. We humans have incredible self-defense mechanisms.

 

 

 

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DEBRA WEBB is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 140 novels, including reader favorites the Shades of Death, the Faces of Evil and the Colby Agency series. She is the recipient of the prestigious Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense as well as numerous Reviewers Choice Awards. In 2012 Debra was honored as the first recipient of the esteemed L. A. Banks Warrior Woman Award for her courage, strength, and grace in the face of adversity. Recently Debra was awarded the distinguished Centennial Award for having achieved publication of her 100th novel.

With more than four million books in print in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood when her mother bought her an old typewriter in a tag sale. Born in Alabama, Debra grew up on a farm. She spent every available hour exploring the world around her and creating her stories. She wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn’t until she spent three years working for the Commanding General of the US Army in Berlin behind the Iron Curtain and a five-year stint in NASA’s Shuttle Program that she realized her true calling. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Since then she has expanded her work into some of the darkest places the human psyche dares to go. Visit Debra at www.debrawebb.com or write to her at PO Box 10047, Huntsville, AL, 35801.

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