Reading, Storytelling, and Deep Point of View

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What am I reading? 

 

Gray Mountain John Grisham

 

 

John Grisham has a new hero . . . and she’s full of surprises

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

 

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It’s no surprise that international sensation John Grisham is a grand storyteller, but now I know why. Gray Mountain is about the story of a big city lawyer, Samantha Kofer, who ends up in a small time town of Brady, Virginia. Everything she worked for is nearly gone when her law firm folds under stressful circumstances of a recession. Now forced to work for free under limitations of her employer, she has to go up against big time coal mining companies in the middle of nowhere.

Right away I was drawn into the point of view and mindset of Samantha Kofer as she navigates life after the big city. Storytelling is all about people in the midst of challenging situations. This is her story. Really looking forward to the rest of the book!

 

 

What am I anticipating next?

 

 

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Let it bleed. Watch it burn.

The first shot punches through the windshield of an SUV. A head shot. The driver’s death is instantaneous.

By the time Special Agent Violet Darger arrives in Atlanta, the city teeters toward panic. The vacant streets and restaurants paint an eerie picture. No one dares to venture out.

A killer walks among them. A shadow. And the public cowers just the way he wants them to.

A sniper along I-20 kills eight and causes a 36 car pileup. The next morning, the same individual stalks through a grocery store parking lot with a handgun, taking out six innocent shoppers along with the store’s front window before fleeing without a trace.

Once more Agent Darger must identify with a murderer, must stare into the darkest recesses of mankind to anticipate his next move. Putting herself in his head may be the only way to stop him. But what hatred drives a man to such desperate, violent acts? What damage? And what price must one pay to invite that chaos inside themselves?

 

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I just finished the first book, Dead End Girl and LOVED IT.  There are good writers, great writers, and those who bring you so deep into the point of view their characters are indelibly impressed upon you. The Violet Darger FBI series by L.T. Vargus & Tim McBain is of the latter category. The prose is quite remarkable. The ability to capture a scene so well it invokes physical reactions in the reader as its replayed in 3D.

I’ve really been enjoying the deep point of view of characters recently. Listened to the audiobook of Dead End Girl so I feel like I know Protagonist Violet Darger. Seeing her reactions, fears, vulnerabilities, strength, secrets, family, history was quite the ride. Now I’m definitely looking forward to book 2! The Killing Season A Gripping Serial Killer Thriller.

 

 

 

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Audiobook Blog Tour: Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett

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Call to Arms: A Detective Kay Hunter mystery (Kay Hunter British detective crime thriller series Book 5)

 

 

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About the Audiobook

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: hours minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮20

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 5

Release date: March 5, 2018

Synopsis: Loyalty has a price.

 

 

 

Kay Hunter has survived a vicious attack at the hands of one of the country’s most evil serial killers.

Returning to work after an enforced absence to recover, she discovers she wasn’t the only victim of that investigation.

DI Devon Sharp remains suspended from duties, and the team is in turmoil.

Determined to prove herself once more and clear his name, Kay undertakes to solve a cold case that links Sharp to his accuser.

But, as she gets closer to the truth, she realises her enquiries could do more harm than good.

Torn between protecting her mentor and finding out the truth, the consequences of Kay’s enquiries will reach far beyond her new role…

 

Buy Links

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

 

 

The Detective Kay Hunter series is one of my favorites of 2018. Kay Hunter is back on the job having to prove herself again merely a year after barely surviving an attack. I always feel like I”m part of the investigation when I read one of these books. This time it’s her boss, DI Devon Sharp who’s in trouble. Kay and her team take it upon themselves to solve a cold case linked to Sharp ten years ago involving someone close to him. The mystery unravels in splendor in this page-turning crime book. I’ll be eagerly awaiting book #6!

 

 

 

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Call to Arms is a gripping murder mystery, and the fifth in the Detective Kay Hunter series:

1. SCARED TO DEATH
2. WILL TO LIVE
3. ONE TO WATCH
4. HELL TO PAY
5. CALL TO ARMS

 

 

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About the Author: Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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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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Book Review: The Advocate’s Daughter by Anthony Franze

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A Washington, D.C. lawyer and a frequent major media commentator on the Supreme Court, Anthony Franze delivers a high-stakes story of family, power, loss and revenge set within the insular world of the highest court of our country.

Among Washington D.C. power players, everyone has secrets they desperately want to keep hidden, including Sean Serrat, a Supreme Court lawyer. Sean transformed his misspent youth into a model adulthood, and now has one of the most respected legal careers in the country. But just as he learns he’s on the short list to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, his daughter, Abby, a talented and dedicated law student, goes missing. Abby’s lifeless body is soon found in the library of the Supreme Court, and her boyfriend, Malik Montgomery, a law clerk at the high court, is immediately arrested. The ensuing media frenzy leads to allegations that Malik’s arrest was racially motivated, sparking a national controversy.

While the Serrat family works through their grief, Sean begins to suspect the authorities arrested the wrong person. Delving into the mysteries of his daughter’s last days, Sean stumbles over secrets within his own family as well as the lies of some of the most powerful people in the country. People who will stop at nothing to ensure that Sean never exposes the truth.

 

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I’ve been on a legal thriller kick recently.  Not sure if you’ve heard of Anthony Franze, a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice in a Washington, D.C. law firm, but he write’s a great book. From beginning to end, I peeled the pages in great suspense to find out what happened. A Supreme Court nominee is set to make history with the “cat in the bag”…Well, until he discovers his daughter is found dead the Supreme Court library. As he sets out to find the truth behind her murder, the plot unravels along with everything else in his life. Great book!

 

 

 

Five Gold Stars

 

 

 

 

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ANTHONY FRANZE is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, and a critically acclaimed thriller writer with novels set in the nation’s highest court. Franze has been a commentator on legal and Supreme Court issues for The New Republic, Bloomberg, National Law Journal, and other major media outlets. He is a board member and a Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization. Franze lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. Learn more at www.anthonyfranzebooks.com

 

 

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Book Review: After Anna by @LisaScottoline

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Riveting and disquieting, After Anna is a groundbreaking domestic thriller, as well as a novel of emotional justice and legal intrigue. New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline keeps readers on their toes until the final shocking page.

Nobody cuts deeper than family…

Dr. Noah Alderman, a widower and single father, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie Ippolitti, and for the first time in a long time, he and his young son are happy. Despite her longing for the daughter she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, Maggie is happy too, and she’s even more overjoyed when she unexpectedly gets another chance to be a mother to the child she thought she’d lost forever, her only daughter Anna.

Maggie and Noah know that having Anna around will change their lives, but they would never have guessed that everything would go wrong, and so quickly. Anna turns out to be a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules, though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble brewing in a once-perfect marriage and home.

Events take a heartbreaking turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused and tried for the heinous crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her daughter, but the realization that Anna’s murder may have been at the hands of a husband she loves. In the wake of this tragedy, new information drives Maggie to search for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.

 

 

 

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This was my first by author Lisa Scottoline and it didn’t disappoint! Storytelling is great; but I realized one thing while reading this book, how you tell the story has a huge impact. It was so well written it won’t be easily forgotten, which I believe is the telltale sign of a classic. Memorable. Sticks to your ribs like mash potatoes.

Written creatively in an alternating point of view made this a riveting thriller with juicy suspense. Noah is literally in the hotseat on trial for murder having lost everything that he lived for. Maggie, reunited with a lost daughter has a second chance at motherhood and a happy family. Well, until Anna comes around.

This book is loaded with suspense with a few killer plot twists down the road! Keep your eyes peeled.

 

 

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Lisa Scottoline is The New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 30 novels, including her upcoming, AFTER ANNA. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Chick Wit” which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman’s perspective. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in a New York Times bestselling series of humorous memoirs including their most recent, I Need A Lifeguard Everywhere But The Pool. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America. Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in English, and her concentration was Contemporary American Fiction, taught by Philip Roth and others. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she taught a course she developed, “Justice and Fiction.” Lisa is a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

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Blog Tour: Then She Ran by Charlie Gallagher

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#1 New Release in Noir Crime on Amazon

 

Discover a crime thriller that will have you gripped from the explosive start to one of the most shocking endings of the year.

On a lazy Sunday morning, Jenny Harris is shaken awake by her panic-stricken boyfriend, Joseph. Their baby daughter lies asleep on her chest. ‘We’ve got to go!’ Joseph screams.

In their hotel room, Jenny hurriedly wraps her tiny baby up. All their belongings are left behind. There’s no time. Joseph’s panic is contagious.

Jenny sprints with her family from the hotel. And it’s clear that they are being chased. Their pursuers are indiscriminate and they are deadly.

Her boyfriend falls, caught up in the carnage, but he manages to give her one last message: ‘RUN!’

Detective George Elms is investigating a separate crime: an elderly woman shot in the stomach during a robbery gone wrong. She is left for dead in her country kitchen where she stood firm against violent thieves.

What’s the link between the two incidents? And who will do anything to silence Jenny forever?

George’s only option is to make ground on both cases. And he must move fast. Because everyone is in deadly danger and time is running out.

 

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A gripping crime thriller!  Author Charlie Gallagher writes great suspense scenes! You never know what’s going to happen next. Poor detective George is dealing with a sinking marriage, attempting to keep it together to solve two crimes. The stakes are high. Can he solve the cases before time runs out? Wonderful!

 

 

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Charlie Gallagher has been a serving UK police officer for ten years. During that time he has had many roles, starting as a front-line response officer, then a member of a specialist tactical team and is currently a detective investigating serious offences.

 

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ALSO BY CHARLIE GALLAGHER
LANGTHORNE POLICE SERIES
Book 1: BODILY HARM
Book 2: PANIC BUTTON
Book 3: BLOOD MONEY
Book 4: END GAME

MISSING
RUTHLESS

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A and Book Recommendations with Sandra Block

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Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab Delilah. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. Her debut of the Zoe Goldman series, “Little Black Lies” was nominated for an International Thriller award. “The Girl Without a Name” is her second and “The Secret Room” the final in the series. Her newest stand-alone thriller called “What Happened That Night” comes out on June 5th, 2018!

 

 

*If you could trade places with any author who would it be?

JK Rowling. Because one, she’s a terrific writer. Two, she delivers some serious burns on Twitter. And three, who wouldn’t want a theme park created for them?

 

 

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*Which top three writing awards do you covet?

I would love an Edgar, an International Thriller award, and/or an Anthony. Preferably all at once. And of course, the Pulitzer 🙂

 

 

 

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*Where are you now in your writing journey?

That’s an interesting question. As I writer, I feel more comfortable with my voice, and I’m more confident in my ability to write. However, I’m less optimistic and more realistic about publishing in general.

 

 

 

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*How do you recharge yourself so you’re fresh creatively?

I recharge myself with vacation. There’s nothing like a romp on the beach to get my neurons firing again.

 

 

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*Can you tell us a little about your new book coming out?

My book coming out in June is called What Happened That Night, about a woman who is attacked in college with limited memory of the event. When a video emerges of the assault a few years later, she now knows every single person involved. And she decides to get justice. I think of it as a revenge-love story.

 

 

What Happened that night Sandra block

 

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One moment Dahlia is a successful Harvard student. The next, she wakes up from a party, the victim of a brutal assault. Her life veers into a tailspin, and what’s worse, her memory of the attack has been ripped away, leaving a cold rage in its wake.

Now, years later, Dahlia is a tattooed paralegal suffering from PTSD, still haunted by that night. Until one day, a video surfaces online, and Dahlia sees her attack for the first time. Now she knows what happened to her. And she knows who to blame. Her rage is no longer cold, but burning, red hot.

And she is about to make everyone pay.

 

 

 

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*Do you approach each book the same, or differently?

For the Zoe Goldman series, I had a similar approach for each book. I made a detailed outline and followed it, with the ending clearly in mind. In What Happened That Night, I actually did not know how it would end until I was almost finished with it. And strangely, the ending turned out to be perfect!

 

 

*What are the best books you’ve read this year?

Best psychological suspense was The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood. The ending completely threw me. It’s the kind of book where you think you hit the final twist, and realize on the last page that you were wrong. I think it takes a special kind of skill to pull that off. I also greatly enjoyed THE BLACKBIRD SEASON by Katie Moretti. Well-written with a spooky, rural, small-town setting.

 

 

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The latest gripping psychological thriller from Edgar Award winner Alex Marwood

When a child goes missing at an opulent house party, it makes international news. But what really happened behind those closed doors?

Twelve years ago, Mila Jackson’s three-year-old half-sister Coco disappeared during their father’s fiftieth birthday celebration, leaving behind her identical twin Ruby as the only witness. The girls’ father, Sean, was wealthy and influential, as were the friends gathered at their seaside vacation home for the weekend’s debauchery. The case ignited a media frenzy and forever changed the lives of everyone involved.

Now, Sean Jackson is dead, and the people who were present that terrible night must gather once more for a funeral that will reveal that the secrets of the past can never stay hidden. Perfectly paced all the way through its devastating conclusion, The Darkest Secret is one that fans of Gillian Flynn and Liane Moriarty won’t be able to put down.

 

 

 

The Blackbird Season

 

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In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alecia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.

 

 

 

*Which books are you anticipating reading in 2018?

I can’t wait for IN HER BONES by Katie Moretti and I KNOW YOU KNOW by Heather Gudenkauf.

 

 

 

In Her Bones Kate Moretti

 

 

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Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her.

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…

Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, In Her Bones features Moretti’s “riveting and insightful” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author) prose and “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists, and will leave you questioning the nature of guilt, obsession, and the toxicity of familial ties.

 

 

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Interview with Author of the Flavia De Luce Mysteries Alan Bradley

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Alan Bradley received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, his first novel, which went on to win the Agatha Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Macavity Award and the Spotted Owl Award. He is the author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. He co-authored Ms. Holmes of Baker Street with the late William A.S. Sarjeant. Bradley lives in Malta with his wife and two calculating cats. His seventh Flavia de Luce mystery, “As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust” will be published in the US and Canada on January 6, 2015, and in the UK on April 23.

The first-ever Flavia short story, “The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse” has recently been published in eBook format, as has his 2006 memoir, “The Shoebox Bible”.

 

 

 

 

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This is your 9th Flavia de Luce novel. What stuck out to you as you were writing this one?

Flavia’s always buoyant enthusiasm and (dare I say it?) lust for life always impresses me. She goes on from strength to strength no matter what. Even though she’s growing older, her irrepressible spirit is never quenched. I think there might be a message in it somewhere.

 

I love the titles of all your books. Describe how you came up with this one.

Most of the books’ titles reflect Flavia’s enthusiasm for tombs and graves, and what lies within. This one, of course, came from one of my favourite poets, Andrew Marvell. “The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace”. What else is there to say?

 

 

 

The Grave's a fine and private place

 

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During this book, what motivates Flavia at this point in her life?

Flavia is motivated primarily by Chemistry, and the knowledge of what it can achieve, including power. She is beginning to think about her future, too, and what lies beyond Buckshaw.

 

As your 9th Flavia de Luce novel what’s it like to write about her as a person?

I am in awe of Flavia. She is a constant surprise and delight. It is a great honour and a privilege to be allowed to sit quietly in her presence and write down what she’s thinking and doing. Does she frighten me? Yes, definitely. Those around her are not really aware of how dangerous she is – or could be.

 

If you were to meet Flavia in person what would you say to her?

“Thank you, Flavia.”

 

 

 

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Tell us a little about the setting where the story takes place.

The setting is a crumbling country house somewhere in England a few years after the end of WWII. Buckshaw has been handed down in the de Luce family for many generations, and contains echoes and memories of everyone who has ever lived in it. For most of its occupants, the past coexists with the present, and sometimes, the only reality is Death. Nearby is the village of Bishop’s Lacey, which provides almost everything that one could ever want in life, including a ready supply of victims.

 

 

Can’t wait for the audiobook! What is your role in the audiobook process?

The lovely folks at Random House Audio are always kind enough to allow me to point them towards interpretations which might be somewhat obscure in today’s world. We always have a lively exchange before and during the production of every audiobook. I must say that it was only recently that I had the opportunity to speak, live, to Jayne Entwistle, and I think both of us were in tears to discover the commonality of writing and becoming Flavia de Luce. We could have, as the saying goes, talked all night.

 

 

 

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The world’s greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth” (The Seattle Times), Flavia de Luce, returns in a twisty mystery novel from award-winning author Alan Bradley.

In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vicar had recently dispatched three of his female parishioners by spiking their communion wine with cyanide, Flavia, an expert chemist with a passion for poisons, is ecstatic. Suddenly something grazes her fingers as she dangles them in the water. She clamps down on the object, imagining herself Ernest Hemingway battling a marlin, and pulls up what she expects will be a giant fish. But in Flavia’s grip is something far better: a human head, attached to a human body. If anything could take Flavia’s mind off sorrow, it is solving a murder—although one that may lead the young sleuth to an early grave.

 

Audible

 

 

 

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Author Interview with Matthew Mather

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

 

 

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Matthew Mather

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

*Who are your favorite Science fiction authors?

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

 

*What do you appreciate about the Science Fiction genre?

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

 

 

 

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*What are your thoughts on the singularity? 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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*How do you research for your books?

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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*What new technologies are you excited about?

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Cyberstorm

 

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*What next for you?

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

 

 

 

 

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A Worthy Villain – By Allison Brennan

 

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A Worthy Villain – By Allison Brennan

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

The villain makes—or breaks—your story.

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Breaking point

 

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Amazon | Goodreads