The Don of Siracusa Blog Tour: By Sean Rea

 

 

Don of Siracusa

 

 

Stefano Caruso always does things the right way. With a grandfather who was forced to flee the venal Sicilian mafia and start life anew in America, Stefano now heads the corporation his father and grandfather built. Handsome and successful, he’s on top of the world…until one day he has an unexpected visitor and gets shocking news. Stefano is being cheated and lied to, and the company his family built from the ground up is in mortal jeopardy. That’s when Benito Cuggi, the face of the modern-day mafia, comes into his life. Cuggi appears to live by a strict code of morals that the laws of Western society cannot enforce. Loyalty and trust are rewarded, while betrayal is punished. Now Stefano faces a difficult choice. Can he ally himself with what he’s been taught to hate and fear? Or should he let what generations of his family built be stolen out from under him?

Fraught with moral complexity, Siracusa is a fast-paced, exciting crime thriller that pits good against evil and righteousness versus deception, while asking whether good men should sometimes do bad things to punish evil….

 

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The Don of Siracusa Book Trailer

 

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Sean Rea author

 

Sean Rea studied at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, majoring in communications and minoring in management. He has travelled much of America and nearly all of Italy. Like his protagonist, Stefano, from a young age Sean was exposed to the world of big business through his father and nonno, and he drew on much of this in crafting the business aspects of Siracusa. Sean is a long-time fan of the crime-fiction genre and all things mafia-related. THE DON OF SIRACUSA is his first novel. ​

 

 

 

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Q&A Mystery Thriller Week

Author: Sean Rea

Title: “The Don of Siracusa”

 

 

 

  • What was it like writing your first book?

 

Challenging, rewarding, infuriating, and fun. I started writing “The Don of Siracusa” when I was right in the middle of pursuing my degree, so I didn’t have too much time to devote to writing. When I finally did get a “finished” manuscript together the first thing I did was ask friends and family what they thought, and they confirmed what I basically already knew – the book was a mess!

 

Back to the drawing board I went, and when I had actually completed university, I decided that enough was enough. I poured everything I had into fixing the scattered manuscript and after much trial and error, and some help from a few close friends that edited and made suggestions, I had something I was proud of.

I learned so much in the process of writing this first one, and although it was infuriating sometimes, I can’t wait to get to work on my second novel. Whether that will be “The Don of Siracusa 2” or another idea I’m fleshing out is yet to be seen.

 

 

“Stay faithful to the stories in your head” – Paula Hawkins 

 

 

 

  • What was the most challenging aspect of writing?

 

Many writers complain about lacking motivation to write, or hitting a writer’s block, but I rarely seemed to run into that issue. Something I’ve always been good at is pouring my thoughts onto a page relatively unrestricted and incredibly quick. Unfortunately for me, that style of writing is what creates the challenge for me. I abhor editing my own work, though I realize the importance of it. For me, my often “planless” writing leads me down roads I don’t know my way back from. This results in a ton of deleted content, and plenty of hours trying to piece together scenes, dialogues, or plot points that don’t quite make sense.

The other challenge for me is being such a heavy critic of myself. There are times when I may feel like the quality of my writing isn’t quite up to snuff. I always want to be improving as a writer, and critiquing my own work so harshly allows me to improve, but it can also hold me back. It’s about finding a balance between not getting complacent when writing, but also not criticizing yourself into a standstill.

 

 

 

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  • What was the most rewarding? 

 

The most rewarding aspect of writing, to follow up on the previous question, is when it all comes together. I am definitely quite hard on myself when it comes to my writing, but that’s not to say there aren’t times where I go, “Damn, maybe I’m actually pretty good at this thing.”

I really love the English language and writing in general. I have such an appreciation for when words come together to make you feel something, and I’m always looking for the best way to put words together. So, when I craft a great monologue, or write a scene that gets your heart to race or ache – that is what it’s all about.

As for the most rewarding moment, walking into Chapters and seeing my book on a shelf… that was a pretty insane experience. 

 

 

 

Rewards Green Road Sign Against Clouds and Sunburst.

 

 

 

  • What elements make a good crime thriller?

 

This may be a somewhat subjective answer, but for me a great read has to be visceral. I want to feel what the character feels, I want to be emotionally invested in characters, and of course I want to be engaged in the journey they’re on. 

Dialogue, to me, is something that many writers struggle with, and clunky or non-realistic dialogue is an immediate immersion breaker for me.

I think characters are always at the heart of a novel, because I’ve read some great books with mediocre or seemingly uninteresting plots, but never a great book with poorly written characters. 

Everything else comes about as a result of a great character, because once the reader cares, they’ll follow that character down whatever path you take them. The same goes for me when I read a book – what really gets me to fly through the pages is when I need to know what happens to a character. 

And it never hurts to sprinkle in a generous serving of sex, violence, and depravity to keep a reader interested…

 

 

 

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  • Who are your favorite crime writers?

 

I love both true and fictional crime stories, and I’ll read most any crime story out there. 

My obvious favorite crime writers would be Mario Puzo and Nicholas Pileggi. Mafia fiction, in both book and film form, is my favourite genre. But I also happen to really enjoy John Grisham, Dan Brown’s earlier novels, and I’ve recently begun, and fallen in love with, Truman Capote’s works. And of course, I used to be obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and the Hardy Boys, perhaps that’s where this all started!

However, the obsession doesn’t stop at reading… when I’m not reading or writing I’m usually watching some true crime documentary, or some crime thriller film/tv series. Most recently I binge watched the entirety of the Mindhunter Netflix series on serial killers, promptly ordering and binge-reading the novel written by the main character’s real-life counterpart.

As for me, I would love to attempt writing something Grisham or Baldacci-esque, although I am also tempted to stray from the crime fiction niche and try my hand at something more classic. Regardless, the world of crime fiction has been very good to me, and I take so much inspiration from all the writers listed above.

 

www.seanrea.com

 

 

 

 

Book Review: All Out War by Sean Parnell

 

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“Eric Steele and author Sean Parnell are the real deal.”— Lee Child

Special operative Eric Steele, introduced in Man of War, is on the hunt for a formidable Russian terrorist in this high-intensity tale of international intrigue from the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Outlaw Platoon.

Badly injured while stopping a rogue agent from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, elite warrior Eric Steele is drawn back into service before he’s ready when unknown assailants break into his home near Pittsburgh, injuring his mother and stealing his father’s pistol.

An Alpha—an elite soldier under the direct command of the president of the United States—Steele is hell-bent on finding the attackers and bringing them to justice. While tracking his foe, Steele discovers he’s become entangled in a far more sinister plan that’s already been set in motion.

A terrorist named Zakayev, once locked away in a maximum-security prison in Russia, has escaped and joined forces with Hassan Sitta, a man who’s shown his prowess and ingenuity with a spectacular bomb planted somewhere in the Middle East that hasn’t been ignited—and no one can find. But that is only the beginning of a horrifying plan that, if it succeeds, will shatter international alliances and bring the world to the brink of war.

Now, the hunted must turn the tables on the hunter—Steele must find a way to stay alive and stop Zakayev before innocent lives are lost.

 

Amazon | Audible | Goodreads

 

 

 

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This is one of the best new series on the market. Eric Steele and the covert Alpha system is awesome. As an Alpha, highly skilled operative Eric Steele has direct access to the president of the United States, as well as unique resources that make this series a joy to read. There’s also what I call an “entertainment factor” revealed in Steele’s character and overall tone of writing. Wonderful.

 

 

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About the Author

 

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Sean Parnell is the author of the bestselling memoir Outlaw Platoon. He is a retired Army Infantry captain who served in some of the heaviest combat of the Afghan War. He recounts those battles in vivid detail during his leadership presentations for the nation’s most successful teams and corporations. He is also the Co-Founder of the American Warrior Initiative, a charity that honors and empowers our nation’s veterans. Sean lives with his three children near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

Website | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

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Book Review: Crusader One by Andrews & Wilson

 

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Tier One Thrillers Book #3

Nothing stops former Navy SEAL and Tier One operator John Dempsey from answering the call of duty—including a mission with the highest stakes he’s ever faced. When one of the most brazen and lethal acts of terrorism rocks American and Israeli intelligence forces at the highest levels, Dempsey’s ultracovert antiterror unit, Ember, mobilizes.

But this operation isn’t just a retaliatory strike by Ember; it’s a mission of vengeance for Dempsey—against the Iranian terrorist mastermind who slaughtered Dempsey’s Tier One comrades. Racing from Tel Aviv to Tehran, the elite American warrior and his formidable Israeli counterpart must forsake their backup in a capture-or-kill gambit that could turn into a suicide run.

But with missiles flying across the Middle East, Dempsey’s do-or-die quest must succeed. If it doesn’t, it’s a short countdown to World War III.

 

AmazonAudible | Goodreads

 

 

Book review

 

 

 

Finding this series has been one of the best discoveries this year! I’ve been absolutely devouring each and every book. I started out with book #4 American Operator, then went backwards to War Shadows, and now, Crusader One. Having thoroughly enjoyed this series I’m going to re-read American Operator, because that’s just how I roll, well that, and it’s amazing book. Next up on the menu will be book #5 Red Specter which you can pre-order right away.

To say Crusader One is good would be a serious understatement. There are many Black Ops, off the books, covert military thrillers out there—And there’s Team Ember starring ex Tier One Operator John Dempsey. The combination of plotting a realistic military thriller, 3-D characters, high stakes, and covert operations, makes this one hard to beat. I mean, it completely blew me away. And it was the same with every book in the Tier One series. It’s that good. Highly recommended—NO, it’s mandatory for all fans of military or counter terrorism thrillers.

 

Don’t forget to pre-order Red Specter

 

 

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It’s strike—and counterstrike—as John Dempsey takes the fight to the Russians in a riveting Tier One Thriller by the Wall Street Journal bestselling authors of American Operator.

When shadow warrior and former Tier One Navy SEAL John Dempsey goes undercover to meet with a Vory arms dealer, he thinks he’s laying the groundwork to penetrate the Russian criminal underground. Instead, he walks into a trap orchestrated by Zeta, the secret Russian task force behind a recent assassination attempt on the US President. For Dempsey and his team, the only way out is to lay waste to the Russians, putting a target on Ember’s back.

With Ember pitted against Zeta, a dangerous game of strike and counterstrike ensues—sanctioned in the halls of the Kremlin and the White House but disavowed to the world. As the line between espionage, counterterrorism, and spec op blurs, Ember is ordered to eliminate their ultimate adversary, which means taking the fight against Zeta to Russian soil. But like a phoenix risen from the Cold War embers, Zeta is more capable than anyone imagines, and the Russians retaliate with an operation that will find Dempsey and task force Ember battling for survival.

 

 

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Interview with Paco Chierici author of Lions of the Sky

 

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Interview with Paco Chierici author of Lions of the Sky

 

What motivated you to write a novel? 

I have always aspired to write a novel, ever since I was a child.  As a first timer I had a sense of how difficult it would be, and still I underestimated by a lot.  Lions of the Sky was motivated by my desire to share the inherent drama of naval aviation while telling a thrilling story.  It’s such a fantastic world, filled with wildly interesting people and daily craziness. And when you add the peril of actual military action to the mix, it elevates the stakes even further.

 

 

In learning how to write fiction what helped you the most?

I love reading fiction.  I’m a voracious consumer of books.  I took note of how my favorite authors crafted their stories and did my best to write with purpose.  I love characters, so I took great care to create fully developed, real people who would react in a natural manner to the circumstances I threw them into.  I also love the details of flying jets from aircraft carriers and wanted to share the intricacies with the reader in a manner that pulled them into the cockpit as a participant without overwhelming them with minutia.  Lastly, I have always enjoyed explaining how the high level global maneuvering of governments affect the individuals at the pointy end of the spear. When you read the news about “The Chinese” aggressively building up their military presence in the South China Sea, and “The Americans” sending ships to sail through the islands asserting freedom of navigation, there are actual humans representing those nations who are put at risk.  I tell stories where the global tensions build on a macro scale, but the reader gets to focus on how those tensions affect the individuals at the points of contact.

 

 

How did you come up with the title Lions of the Sky?

I must say that coming up with a good title was almost as challenging as writing the book itself.  I was in the Blacklions squadron myself, so I am partial to that squadron name. My characters end up in the Blacklions as well, once the trials of their training are complete, and are then sent to face the threat in the South China Sea.  I liked the simplicity and allusion of Lions of the Sky.  

 

 

How competitive are fighter pilots?

The short answer is, massively competitive.  Every aspect of being a fighter pilot is a competition.  From the moment we decide we aspire to be fighter pilots we are put into a pool of applicants that far exceeds the number required.  I don’t know the exact numbers, but say thousands per year for just a couple hundred slots at the far end of the funnel. Every academic test, every flight, every physical fitness test, every medical exam, is an opportunity to fail and be removed.  Over the course of our 18 months of flight training we fly hundreds of flights, each graded. If one fails too many flights, you are washed out. Once we finish flight school and get to the Fleet the competition changes gears. Each aircraft carrier landing is graded and all the grades are posted in each squadron’s Ready Room for all to see.  

It is such a competitive environment that when we dogfight against each other, before each flight we recite the Training Rules in an almost religious manner.  They are strict guidelines designed to reign in our natural desire to win every fight so that we preserve a measure of safety while practicing aerial combat.  

So yes, fighter pilots are extremely competitive.

 

 

As the instructor what role does Sam Richardson play in shaping the younger pilots?

Sam’s role is to make sure that the students he greets at their arrival to the F/A-18 training squadron are transformed from excited young bucks eager to play with their new toy into men and women who are prepared to go into combat the day after they graduate nine months later.  He sets the tone with his example and experience but he’s also approachable in that he’s only four years older than his students.  

 

 

What drives Keely Silvers to achieve her lifelong dream? 

Keely is driven by the belief that the cockpit of a fighter is absolutely where she belongs. She is surprised at first that there would be any opposition to her becoming a fighter pilot based on her gender, then annoyed, then angry at constantly having to defend herself.  Her crisis of confidence is especially powerful because it seems to validate the external beliefs she has been battling. And its resolution is particularly poignant as well, not to give away too much. 

 

 

Does Lions of the Sky employ any themes?

Lions explores a number of classic themes including love, war, death, survival, prejudice, and in a manner particular to being a fighter pilot, coming of age. 

 

 

Who are your favorite authors?

My current favorites are Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon series) and Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch series).  They both write character-centric thrillers and are masters at building tension while still writing beautifully. I aspire to their level of craftsmanship. 

I have always loved Hemingway, Le Carré, and Elmore Leonard for much the same reason. They have the ability to tell beautiful stories that have a tremendous amount of tension and fantastic, rich characters. 

 

Are you excited about the new Top Gun movie?

I am.  The first was such a cultural event that has had amazing staying power.  I have some friends still in the Navy that worked on the new film as liaisons and they assure me it’s going to be a good movie.  I’m hopeful that the new movie will be just as fun and fix some of the cheesier parts.  

 

What’s next for you?

I’m four chapters into the sequel to Lions, titled The Dragon.  We join Slammer Richardson on his next adventure, which is completely different from Lions.  It’s Slammer, this time, who is in crisis.  Shot down, stuck behind enemy lines, rescued and captured.  He’s got to find a way to make it back to the carrier so he can save the woman who helped him and stop an imminent war based on false pretenses. 

 

 

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In the world of fighter pilots, the most alpha of the alpha, competition is everything and the stakes are impossibly high. A Top Gun for the new millennium, LIONS OF THE SKY propels us into a realm in which friendship, loyalty, and skill are tested, battles won and lost in an instant, and lives irrevocably changed in the time it takes to plug in your afterburners.

 

AmazonGoodreads | Website

 

 

 

Fighter Jet Head-On View

 

 

 

About the Author

 

During his active duty career in the U.S. Navy, Francesco “Paco” Chierici flew A-6E Intruders and F-14A Tomcats, deployed to conflict zones from Somalia to Iraq and was stationed aboard carriers including the USS Ranger, Nimitz and Kitty Hawk. Unable to give up dogfighting, he flew the F-5 Tiger II for a further ten years as a Bandit. Throughout his military career, Paco accumulated 3,000 tactical hours, 400 carrier landings, a Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star and three Strike/Flight Air Medals.

Prior to writing Lions in the Sky, Paco published extensively in Aviation Classics Magazine, AOPA Magazine, and Fighter Sweep, as well as creating and producing the award winning naval aviation documentary Speed and Angels.

Currently a 737 captain, Paco can often be found in the skies above California flying a Yak-50 with a group of likeminded G-hounds to get his dogfighting fix. A graduate of Boston University, Paco lives in Northern California with his wife Hillary, and two children.

 

www.lionsofthesky.com

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Blog Tour: Beyond The Gates by Jason D. Morrow

 

Beyond the Gates Banner

 

 

 

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About the Audiobook

Author: Jason D. Morrow

Narrator: Stacy Gonzalez

Length: 8 hours 39 minutes

Publisher: Jason D. Morrow⎮2019

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic; Science Fiction

Series: The Starborn Redemption, Book 1

Release date: April 20, 2019

 

Synopsis: The Containment Zone is a 500-mile radius surrounded by mountains and closed in by gates. No one can leave, and anyone who tries will die. Within are lawless bandits, corrupt soldiers, and once-human greyskins that hunt down people to spread the virus. Some say the Containment Zone is where the greyskin virus originated. Others say the people inside are little more than lab rats being studied by the nefarious Screven government.

When 12-year-old Skylar and her father, Liam, are caught trying to escape, they are taken to Vulture Hill, a government prison camp no one has ever left alive. Inside the prison, Skylar learns that the facility is little more than a testing site for finding people of a certain bloodline – the Starborn. These are people with special powers that manifests in various spectacular ways, and Screven wants to exploit them.

Skylar has always known there was something special about her family. For years, her father has had the ability to completely numb pain with just a thought. Lacerated skin, broken bones, they can all be ignored with enough concentration. Learning that her father is a Starborn means Skylar is probably one too, placing them both in extreme danger.

Now, father and daughter must do the impossible and break out of a prison known for killing so many. But Liam has leverage the government may be willing to buy – the cure for the greyskin virus.

The first two books of The Starborn Redemption are set 40 years after The Starborn Ascension and 17 years before The Starborn Uprising. Each Series can be listened to independently.

 

Buy Links

Buy on Audible

 

 

 

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This book was BETTER than expected. Don’t you love it when that happens? YES. Author Jason D. Morrow does an excellent job ushering you into the point of view of the main characters; Father and daughter tandem Liam and Skylar as they navigate prison Vulture’s Hill. I was impressed with narrator Stacy Gonzalez with her ability to breath life into the characters.

 

 

 

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Interview with Beyond The Gates narrator Stacy Gonzalez

 

 

What are the first things you do as you prepare to narrate a book?

Very first–read the book. A lot of people ask that question, and, yes, I read the book. After reading it, I try to think through the characters. I put either a person I know or a celebrity as sort of the touchstone for each character. Beyond that, I don’t really do too much. I like to jump into the narration once I’ve read the story and thought through the characters.

 

 

Does the author help you with voice creation, or is it up to the narrator?

I usually do it all myself, unless I have any specific questions. Or unless an author has something very specific in mind. However, in most cases, the narrator is left to create their own artistic take on the characters.

 

 

How do you keep the characters straight in your head as you read through the text? 

I usually keep a little mp3 with a snippet of that character voice. Sometimes, there’s a word or phrase that I have to say to key me in to that character. There was a character in a book I did under my romance pseudonym where I had to pause the recording and say a really angry “F**K” to get in to that character. He was an angsty sort of neo-nazi. 

 

 

Do you have a method for characterizing, or portraying each character?

Once I get the voice down, I just let the story guide me. My method is just to let the author’s words tell the story.

 

 

How do you feel about being a medium through which readers can access a story?

I just love doing this. As an avid listener myself, there is nothing better than the feeling of not being able to stop listening. I hope that I can give listeners that feeling. I love when I’m listening to a book while running or cleaning–both of which, for me, can be activities that are hard to keep on doing past a certain point–and I HAVE TO run or clean longer because I just cannot turn the book off.

 

 

What do you want readers to know about narrating audiobooks? 

I hear a lot of non-listeners say that they like to hear the story how they hear it in their own heads. I would just want to say that listening to the book does not take away from that experience. You still use your imagination as a listener in a very similar way that you would as a straight-up reader. And listening can enhance the experience in different ways.

 

 

 

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About the Author: Jason D. Morrow

Jason D. Morrow is the author of more than 15 books in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, including The Starborn Uprising, The Starborn Ascension, The Starborn Redemption and Prototype D.

 

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Narrator Stacy Gonzalez

 

 

 

About the Narrator: Stacy Gonzalez

Stacy Gonzalez is a Chicago based narrator and commercial voice actor. She is feisty, bright and expressive. Stacy specializes in YA, self-help and romance, especially when the narration calls for a good handle on comedy, wit and sass. Audiofile Magazine has praised her pace and her ability to create bold characters. Stacy, who is half Colombian, speaks conversational Spanish. She has a great love for Old Hollywood—watching the movies and listening to audiobooks about any and every aspect of it! Follow her on Twitter at @stacygonzalezvo or visit her website at stacygonzalezvo.com.

 

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Book Release: Extinction Shadow – Dark Age Book 1 by Nicholas Sansbury Smith & Anthony J. Melchiorri

 

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Welcome to the Dark Age

 

The award winning, top-rated saga that sold a half-million copies returns in the next season of the Extinction Cycle. Welcome to the Dark Age. 

Survivors thought the extinction cycle ended, but a powerful evil lurks in the shadows… 

Eight years ago, an engineered virus ravaged the globe, infecting and transforming humans into apex predators called Variants. Billions died, civilization collapsed, and the human race teetered on the brink of extinction. 

Nations banded together and heroes rose up to fight these abominations. On the front lines, Captain Reed Beckham and Master Sergeant Joe “Fitz” Fitzpatrick of Delta Force Team Ghost fought against the Variant hordes. With the aid of CDC Doctor Kate Lovato, they helped lead humanity to victory. 

Now, almost a decade after the end of the war, civilization has slowly clawed toward recovery. In the Allied States of America, survivors live in outposts where they have rebuilt industry, agriculture, and infrastructure. The remaining Variants are believed to be dying off under destroyed cities and the abandoned frontier. 

But evil and intelligent forces dwell in the shadows with the starving beasts, scheming to restart the extinction cycle and end humanity forever. And once again, Beckham, Fitz, and Kate will rise to fight them, joining forces with new heroes to try and save what’s left of the world. 

READER NOTE: You don’t have to read the first 7 books of the Extinction Cycle to jump into Book 1 of Extinction Cycle: Dark Age. This new season is a self-contained storyline. For returning readers, this book takes place after book 7, Extinction War. 

 

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Website

 

 

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This is post-apocalyptic fiction at it’s best. It all begins with Extinction Cycle when a secret military sponsored bioweapon is deployed on US soldiers in Vietnam. They wanted a super soldier, but they got more than they bargained for. A deadly viral mutation commenced and caused a near extinction of the human race. To say it was a rude awakening to billions of innocent civilians is an serious understatement. Extinction Shadow: Extinction Cycle Dark Age Book 1 is season 2 of the series and can be read without the prior books. BUT, I would highly recommend it after reading Extinction Shadow. I have to say this series has me completely hooked. The storyline, action, science, characters, variants, and the fight for survival are all too real.

 

 

Stalker Zone (No one)

 

 

 

Bioweapons. An explosive, unrelenting and highly contagious virus with irreversible effects. 

 

 

Virus Bomb

 

 

 

Captain Reed Beckham and Master Sergeant Joe “Fitz” Fitzpatrick of Delta Force Team Ghost fight on the front lines against hordes of Variants, infected and mutated humans; while others such as CDC virologist Dr. Kate Lavato does her fighting in the lab. The science supporting the story is very intriguing so there’s NEVER a dull moment. They’re fighting a battle where science is critical and understanding the enemy is key. Dr. Kate Lavato is plays a pivotal role for the survival of the human race. At least, what’s left of it. Extinction Shadow is full of exciting genetic engineering.

 

 

 

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Extinction Shadow: Dark Age book 1 is not only awesome, but also available in audiobook format for listeners. This season 2 of the series will be narrated by the ever popular R. C. Bray. And if you know R.C. Bray you KNOW its’ going to be good. Need I say more?

 

 

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AUDIBLE

 

 

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Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Hell Divers series. His other work includes the Extinction Cycle series, the Trackers series, and the Orbs series. He worked for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management in disaster planning and mitigation before switching careers to focus on his one true passion–writing. When he isn’t writing or daydreaming about the apocalypse, he enjoys running, biking, spending time with his family, and traveling the world. He is an Ironman triathlete and lives in Iowa with his wife, their dogs, and a house full of books.

Sign up for Nicholas’s spam-free newsletter to learn more about future releases, how to claim a book patch, special offers, and bonus content. Subscribers will also receive access to exclusive giveaways. Newsletter link

 

NicholasSansburySmth.com

 

 

 

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Anthony J Melchiorri is a writer and biomedical engineer living in Maryland. He spends most of his time developing cardiovascular devices for tissue engineering to treat children with congenital heart defects when he isn’t writing or reading.

Read more at anthonyjmelchiorri.com and sign up for his mailing list at newsletter link to hear about his latest releases and news.

 

AnthonyjMelchiorri.com

 

 

 

 

Interview with Robert McCaw Author of Off The Grid

 

Off the Grid Koa Kane

 

 

A scrap of cloth fluttering in the wind leads Hilo police Chief Detective Koa Kāne to the tortured remains of an unfortunate soul, left to burn in the path of an advancing lava flow. For Koa, it’s the second gruesome homicide of the day, and he soon discovers the murders are linked. These grisly crimes on Hawaiʻi’s Big Island could rewrite history―or cost Chief Detective Koa Kāne his career.

The dead, a reclusive couple living off the grid, turn out to be mysterious fugitives. The CIA, the Chinese government, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, attempt to thwart Koa’s investigation and obscure the victims’ true identities. Undeterred by mounting political pressure, Koa pursues the truth only to find himself drawn into a web of international intrigue.

While Koa investigates, the Big Island scrambles to prepare for the biggest and most explosive political rally in its history. Despite police resources stretched to the breaking point, Koa uncovers a government conspiracy so shocking its exposure topples senior officials far beyond Hawaii’s shores.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Pub-Site

 

 

 

Retro old microphones for press conference or interview on table front gradient aquamarine background. Vintage old style filtered photo

 

 

 

Author Interview

 

How did the idea for Off the Grid begin?

Three disparate threads came together to inspire Off The Grid. First, my wife and I bought a painting from an artist who lived in a ramshackle house deep in the forest near the nearly off the grid village of Volcano, Hawaii. Visiting her home, stuffed with all manner of eclectic objects of dubious aesthetics, made me think I’d stumbled into a writer’s dream. That the artist’s husband had some kind of clandestine military background only further sparked my interest.

Second, one night my wife and I drove up to our favorite local restaurant in Hawi, a small town on the northwest coast of the Big Island, only to find it permanently closed because law enforcement authorities had arrested the proprietor as a fugitive from justice. My subsequent research established that he was far from the only wanted man to have been caught hiding out on the Big Island.

Lastly, I am an avid reader of the international press and had become fascinated by one of the most bizarre, unexplained misadventures in contemporary military history. No spoilers here. So voila! I had fugitives from a bizarre international incident living off the grid in rural Hawaii. All I had to do was find a unique way to imagine their deaths and unleash my chief detective on the case.

 

 

Problem analysis solution concept

 

 

 

What was your process for creating characters such as detective Koa Kāne?

Creating Koa Kāne involved an iterative process. Given my legal background and expertise, I wanted a character who would work with a prosecutor. Thus, Koa became a police detective. The story is set in Hawaii and draws on Hawaiian history, culture, and language. To effectively relate the culture and language, I wanted Koa to be Hawaiian. Like all good protagonists, he had to have a compelling backstory—one that drove his passion for justice. As a criminal lawyer, I have long been fascinated with the ways that people’s secret criminal acts shape their behavior. Regret, fear, guilt are powerful emotions that drive people to both good and bad ends. A cop with a deadly secret in his past provided lots of interesting hooks for a murder mystery. Thus, Koa became the killer turned cop with a potent passion to extract justice.

 

 

 

Investigations on Office Binder. Toned Image. 3D.

 

 

 

If you were to describe him, what are some of his characteristics?

Koa is smart and tenacious, but driven by remorse and guilt for having killed a man. Having escaped punishment for his crime, he is highly suspicious and paranoid about being conned, the way he deceived the police who investigated his crime. He is Hawaiian to the core, with a deep knowledge and appreciation of Hawaiian history and culture, but also worldly because of his military service. Viewing most politicians as disingenuous, he avoids getting involved in politics wherever possible, although he doesn’t fear confrontation when politicians attempt to impede his work. As the oldest living Kāne male, he is devoted to his family, especially his mother and sister, but deeply troubled by the disturbed and criminal behavior of his youngest brother. A loyal friend, his relationships with people run deep as exemplified by his bond with his giant fisherman buddy Hook Hao. He inspires loyalty in others, particularly Zeke Brown, the Hawaii county prosecutor. Ever playful with his girlfriend Nālani, he is proud of her expertise and accomplishments as a biologist and national park ranger.

 

 

 

Was it difficult writing about a police procedural?

Writing a police procedural required much research, but involved much fun. There are many tools available to writers. In my professional life, I had considerable experience with the legal side of criminal procedure, including warrants, searches, interrogations, prosecutors, grand juries, indictments, trials, and incarceration. I have used forensic text books, police equipment catalogues, and interviews with police officers to learn the more nitty-gritty side of police work. In this respect the annual Writer’s Police Academy, where federal, state, and local law enforcement officers teach police procedures was invaluable. 

 

 

 

POLICE PROCEDURES concept

 

 

 

 

What kind of political pressure does Koa Kane face when he begins to uncover the truth?

Although Hilo is a small town, it has a political elite that cherishes and nurtures power. Koa, on the other hand, grew up dirt poor and pulled himself up through tenacious hard work, and is driven by remorse and guilt to find justice for the victims of crime. He has little patience for politics and believes that the rich and famous commit just as many crimes as the poor and downtrodden. These differing perspectives create conflicts when Koa’s investigations touch on the political powerful or their wealthy constituents, especially because his police chief is close to, and protective of, the mayor.

 

 

 

What was your experience coming up with the plot for Off the Grid?

I knew from the outset how I wanted to begin Off The Grid and I also knew the general shape of the ending. I’ve heard other authors say that it’s the middle part of a novel where you find out if you really have an interesting story. So it was with Off The Grid. I also wanted to fashion a multi-layered mystery, and so Koa first follows a string of clues to the identity of the initially unidentified victims. As he solves that mystery, he must discover and pursue the killers, yet that too leads to yet another question—who is the mastermind behind it all. And why?

 

 

 

Writers plot washing line concept

 

 

 

Why did you pick Hawaii for the setting?

I first went to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1986 and fell in love with the mountains and incredibly varied landscapes and climates. When most people think of Hawaii, its beaches and palm trees come to mind, but the Big Island has much more—rain forests, cattle ranches, and alpine climates to name but a few of its charms. Mauna Kea reaches 14,000 feet above sea level and was once glaciated during the ice ages. It still collects several feet of snow most winters. The day atop the mountain arise before sunlight touches the rest of the island and the sun set on the land below before it fades from the mountain top. If the weather is right you can stand on the beach, looking up through the palm trees to see the snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea turn red at sunset.

I was lucky enough to meet real Hawaiians who shared their knowledge of this most special island. The land, its unique history, the culture of its people, and their language fascinated me. I quickly learned that there are two Hawaiis—the “tourist” Hawaii, largely manufactured by a sophisticated PR machine, and the real Hawaii, largely hidden from the tourists. In many ways, Hawaii itself, the real Hawaii, became one of the most important characters in Off The Grid.

 

 

 

Honolulu skyline with ocean front

 

 

 

What are some interesting facts you discovered in your research?

The ancient Hawaiians were great environmentalist. They imposed taboos restricting certain kinds of fishing during certain times of the year. They also created substantial aquaculture projects, raising fish in salt water ponds connected to the ocean. Their dry land farming systems produced surplus crops.

Lacking a written language, the ancient Hawaiians became great story tellers, not unlike the great epic poets of Greek and Roman antiquity, capturing their genealogical history in long poems, memorizing navigational information in chants, and explaining natural phenomena through legendary gods and goddesses.

Western businessmen—mostly sugar, pineapple, and cattle barons—spent years undermining the Hawaiian monarchy, whose sovereignty was recognized by the United States and many other nations, before these ruthless entrepreneurs staged a coup d’état, resulting in the expropriation of the Hawaiian Islands by the United States. For almost a hundred years thereafter, Hawaiians were forbidden to speak their native language in schools or government.

 

 

 

What were some challenges you faced while writing this book?

The biggest challenge that I faced, and the biggest challenge for most emerging authors, was finding a publisher. In today’s post-Amazon, super competitive publishing world, that is a tremendous obstacle for most emerging authors. I was extraordinarily fortunate to find Mel Parker, of Mel Parker Books, LLC, who became my agent and found a great publisher, Oceanview Publishing, for my book. Connecting with Oceanview Publishing has offered a second huge benefit. They have contracted to publish my third book—Fire and Vengeance—in 2020.

 

 

 

Business man pushing large stone up to hill , Business heavy tasks and problems concept.

 

 

 

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

As a lawyer I was always more or less constrained by the provable facts. A novelist’s freedom to invent stories and modify facts gets the creative juices flowing. Good review are also nice! But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of being a writer is to encounter the individual reader who says “I really liked your story!”

 

 

What kind of advice would you give to a new writer?

First, write what you know and love. Never attempt to jump on a “trend.” By the time your book gets written, edited, and published, the “trend” you sought to emulate will have passed into the dustbin. Second, find a good editor, one who will look at the substance of your story as well as the grammar and spelling. The exchange of ideas with a skillful editor will improve your work a hundred fold.

 

 

 

Closeup of a personal agenda setting an important date writing w

 

 

 

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I will share four of my favorites quotes about truth.

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.” ― Czesław Miłosz

“It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak, and another to hear.” Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Marrimack Rivers

“History warns us that it is the customary fate of a new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.” T. H. Huxley: The Coming of Age of “The Origins of Species”

 

 

 

BobMcCaw_2019_Version_4 - Calli P. McCaw photographer

 

 

Robert B. McCaw, a seasoned attorney and veteran of many headline-grabbing cases, blends his decades-old passion for Hawaiian history with a life-long enthusiasm for crime fiction to create the compelling protagonist, Chief Detective Koa Kāne, in Death of a Messenger. A former US Army officer and judicial clerk at the US Supreme Court, McCaw’s firsthand military experience, legal expertise, and immersion in all things Hawaiian lend the characters in this richly layered thriller unparalleled authenticity. An avid photographer and part-time resident of the Big Island since the 1990s, he and his wife split their time between New York and Hawaii.

Death of a Messenger is the first novel of the Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery series.

 

Website | Amazon | Twitter

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

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. 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: A Murder in Mount Moriah by Mindy Quigley

 

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Murder in Mount Moriah image

 

 

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?

 

Buy Links

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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

Allison Brennan image

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Viability Word Thermometer Potetential Success Business Measurem

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Black luminous computer keyboard and edit key. Conceptual 3D rendering

 

 

 

 

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!)

 

 

 

Nothing to Hide image

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Storm Warning image

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Successful Investigation, File closed and Case Solved

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Allison_Brennan_photo

 

 

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