Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Eureka Moment

There is this great moment when writing a story that you just want to stand up and yell, “Eureka, I got it!” like Archimedes.  He found his answer while having a simple bath and seeing how his mass made the full tub overflow.  Writer’s get their Eureka moment from a variety of things.
You can be plodding along trying to figure out how to get your characters from point A to point B without ruining it for the all-important reader.  It seems like you will never find a way.  You are ready to delete the entire project and start over from scratch.  Then suddenly, you know.  You just know how it can be done at it is amazing.  All that’s left is to write it.

For the book I am writing I used November and the National Novel Writing Month to try and get the last two thirds of my novel done.  I wrote every day, mostly in my notebooks at work between serving lunch and afternoon snack (I’m a chef at a daycare), and then I would type when I got home.  The last few chapters I wrote I began to feel that frustration that it wasn’t going the way I wanted to so I didn’t bother typing it.  Finally December came along and I still wasn’t finished.  I thought I would go back to the beginning and start my second draft without actually having an ending.  I knew basically what had to be done, but I didn’t know how to get Reid and the other’s there.

If you haven’t read RED ISLAND then you don’t know that in my book the point of view changed from Reid in the present to the killer in the past as he was growing up and becoming this monster killer.  For book 2 it was going to be the same, but alternating chapters were going to be the killer and his victims.  In my 2nd draft so far I have only worked on the Reid chapters.  I haven’t gotten to the bad guy ones and I’m still, honestly, not sure how they are going to go.  I was getting closer to where I stopped and it started to worry me.  How do I get them to where they have to go?  I did this the first time and I liked the scene, but it didn’t seem right.  What if I did this?  No.

Eureka!  I’ll kill this person off and go that way around and boom.  It’ll have a whole lot more impact.  And all that was while washing dishes at work.  It’s that amazing moment when you know exactly what you have to write to get to the ending. 

For me the best time these eureka moments arrive is when I’m not writing at all.  I can sit there staring at the computer for hours without a single idea, but five minutes into cooking something all the ideas fall into place.  That is why I love my job.  Cooking gets my hands and mind off of what I really want to think about, but once things are set there is a moment of clarity when I do my best thinking and writing.  Red Island was mostly written while working at the Urban Eatery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  Another time I have had a lot of ideas was when we were moving from one house to another.  I would work hard to get the truck packed and then while my wife drove my mind went to work.

For a lot of writer’s this is how their books are written.  Tess Gerritsen, for instance, usually doesn’t know how a book is going to end until she gets that great idea that locks the entire story together.  For all the writer’s waiting for the Eureka moment, just please don’t be like Archimedes who supposedly ran through the streets naked afterward.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Thriller Author MICHELLE GAGNON Interview

To finish off 2012 I read BONEYARD by author Michelle Gagnon and I’m thrilled to be able to interview her.  I’ll be honest and admit that I found Boneyard in a used book store.  There were burn marks on the back cover which added to the thrill side of the book, but I’m glad I got it.  It was one of the best books I have read in a while.  For my review click here.
Quick Bio straight from
Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, freelance journalist, personal trainer, model, and Russian supper club performer. To the delight of her parents, she gave up all these occupations for an infinitely more stable and lucrative career as a crime fiction writer.

Hi Michelle.  Thank you for giving me some of your time.  I’ve been reading some of your past interviews so I’ll try my best not to repeat too many of the questions.

Let’s start with, what is a typical day like in the life of Michelle Gagnon?

A bit dull, I’m afraid. My Twitter profile description is, “I write books and run errands,” and that pretty much covers it.

Boneyard was your second novel in a series of four novels for the adult suspense/thriller genre with FBI agent Kelly Jones.  Is she based on you or anyone you know?

 I’m not quite sure where Kelly came from- honestly, she just kind of walked on to the page. The irony is that when I sat down to write The Tunnels, I had a very different tale in mind: a college coming of age story. But I just couldn’t get it to work. After struggling with it for months, one night I sat down and almost inadvertently killed off one of my main characters. A page later, Kelly appeared. I decided to see where she took me, and ended up writing four books centered on her.

I read that you got the idea for the title from your research on Ted Bundy.  And here I thought I was the only one who spent time researching serial killers.  What type of research did you do for your novels?  (serial killers, police procedures, where they take place, etc.)

For Boneyard, I delved deeply into the history of Ted Bundy, the BTK killer, and John Wayne Gacy. I have to say, I probably almost did too much research, to the point where I was having terrible nightmares. I don’t recommend spending that much time reading news articles, watching documentaries, and reading books about serial killers.

In Boneyard you have 2 serial killers competing against each other, competing police lieutenants from different areas joining Agent Jones on a task force…what is your writing process?  (how do you keep track of things)

I write quickly, which helps. I try to finish the first draft of a book within four months, so in that tight of a window, it’s fairly easy to keep it all straight in my head.

Your latest novel is a thriller for Young Adults, Don’t Turn Around.  Care to tell us about this novel?

How about in just five words? “Teenage hackers on the run.” One reviewer called it,  “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets the Bourne Identity,” and I love that description. The book opens with 16 year-old Noa waking up on an operating table in a warehouse with an incision on her chest and no memory of how she got there. She escapes, and spends the rest of the book on the run, trying to find out what happened to her.

Rumor has it the second novel in this series is due out in September.  Can you give us some hints toward what that novel is about?

DON’T LOOK NOW will be released in late August, and the final installment of the trilogy comes out in August 2014. Basically, in book 2 Noa and Peter are trying to rescue other kids who have been snatched by Project Persephone. And that’s about as much as I can say without giving too much away!

I also hear you have another novel possibly coming out this spring…can we get some info on this one?

Strangelets is a dystopian thriller: I just got the back cover copy, actually, here it is!

17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
18-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…
 All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving. 
 Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life.

Where do you do your writing?  If you had to describe the scene, how would it go?

I write at home on a laptop, so I generally move around the house over the course of the day. Kind of like a sundial.

How long does it take you to write your novels?

3-4 months for the rough draft, then I usually get a month for first draft edits, two weeks for second draft edits, and a week or so for line edits. All told, the process takes about a year, although my editor has the book for significant chunks of that time period.

Are you going to stick with the YA genre or do you think you will go back to the adult side?

I actually am currently finishing up edits on an adult novel that I’ve been working on for the past few years. I’m hoping to be done with that by mid-February, and then my agent will go out with it.

You are published with Mira Books, a part of Harlequin, how many publishers did you go through before finding your home?  (basically how many rejections did you get)

Actually, I ended up leaving MIRA because I was dissatisfied with how the editorial process works there. After suffering through five editors in four books, I opted to change to a different publisher. I’m not entirely certain how many publishers rejected The Tunnels, but MIRA acquired it relatively quickly, if memory serves. Currently I’m published by HarperCollins and SoHo Press, and I couldn’t be happier with them.

You do a lot of the marketing yourself.  Do you consider yourself a traditional publish author or and indie author? I’m traditionally published, in that I’ve always worked under contract for a publisher. Occasionally I’ve considered self-publishing one of my unpublished manuscripts, but so far haven’t really had the time or inclination to pursue it. I’m under contract for two books a year, so it’s been challenging enough to finish those!

What do you feel about the modern Indie Author?

I actually blogged extensively about this a few months ago. My feeling is that whichever path people pursue, as long as they’re happy with it, great. I just wish authors would stop sniping at each other.  (check out Michelle's post here on The Kill Zone, a blog site where some of the hottest thriller writer's post each week)

Now for some rapid fire questions.  Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

Favorite movie? Star Wars.

Favorite book as a kid? Lord of the Rings.

Favorite book now? The Book Thief.

If you were going to a deserted island which 3 famous people (living or dead) would you want to be stuck there with you and why?

I’d choose Bear Grylls, Mykel Hawke, and Ruth England (from Man vs Wild & Man, Woman, Wild, respectively). That way I’d have a shot of surviving.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Lots of old condiments.

Day or night? Night.

Mountains or beach? Beach.

Pepsi or Coke? Neither- I don’t drink soda.

Loud night on the town or quiet night at home? Quiet night at home.

I’m a chef so I have to ask…what do you like to eat when you’re writing? Popcorn.

What do you do when no one is looking? Sleep.
With that I say, "goodnight and thank you for dropping by."

Interview with TESS GERRITSEN

Its a great honor for me to be talking with Internationally Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

I’ve honestly been struggling over what questions to ask. I’m sure in your twenty plus years as a novelist you’ve answered the same questions hundreds of times. “So where do you get your ideas from? How did you become a writer? Yada yada yada
I didn’t want to ask you those same questions again so I’ve been nervously agonising over it. I’ve never been this close to an International Bestselling author. The first time I met Chef Michael Smith from the Canadian Food Network I was so stunned that the only thing I remember is that his feet were huge. I don’ want to repeat that. So I’ve finally decided that since my blog is small with a tiny following that I should just ask the questions I as a writer trying to get out there and a fan would want to know the answers to.

I’ve done my research so please let me do a quick run down for everyone.
-as a kid you wanted to be a writer but your father said, no that you were going to be a doctor
-you went on maternity leave for your first child and wrote, Call After Midnight, a romantic suspense novel published in 1987
-Almost 10 years later you switched to medical thrillers with Harvest. This was your big boost to your career.
-5 years later your published The Surgeon which was the first appearance of Detective Jane Rizzoli
-The next year was the first appearance of Dr. Maura Isles in The Apprentice
And then my wife who had been a fan of your books for years got me to watch Rizzoli and Isles and I was hooked. I had to read your books right away.

First thing I want to know is, what is a day in the life of an International Bestseller like?
Mostly a lot of procrastination. Writing is still work, and it requires pushing aside distractions and focusing. I’m not always so good at it. Sometimes it takes me a few hours (after breakfast, coffee, emails, etc.) to really start putting words to the page. My goal is to write 4 first-draft pages a day.

Can you tell me your writing process for that first draft?
I start with a premise, an idea for the opening scenes, and away I go. I don’t write extensive outlines, and I often have to feel my way through the story. The first draft is really all about discovering what the story’s about. I write with pen and paper for the first draft — I find that composing new material on the computer makes me want to over-edit every single sentence, and then I never get on to the next page.

This other author that lives in Maine says you should have your own writing space with a door that locks…what is your writing space like?
I have a dedicated home office above the garage. It’s a nightmare of a mess, with books and papers overflowing everywhere. But I do have a really nice view of the ocean from my desk.

For my second draft I print what I have out then with a pen go over every line adding and subtracting things then put it in the computer changing even more. What is your re-writing process?
Yep, that’s my process too. I type in my handwritten pages, print them out, and work on paper. I always work on paper. I start with making sure the story is logical and the characters are consistent. Maybe I rearrange scene order. I add more emotional/textural details. I explain things that may have been unclear. I input it all, print it, and go on to the third draft. And the fourth. With every draft, it gets a little better. On average, I probably write about five drafts.

I’ve heard you say that Jane Rizzoli was supposed to be killed off in The Surgeon. At what point in the process did you decide she had to live?
About three-quarters of the way through, I realized I’d grown to like her — or at least, understand her. She was a real fighter, and she was working against a lot of prejudices. It seemed cruel to kill such a woman.

Did you write her death scene?
No, but I knew exactly when and where it WOULD have been.

Dr. Maura Isles got her name from a contest for people to name a character in a novel. Did you have that character already written? If so what was her original name? And did the character change any?
I knew I needed a medical examiner for that novel, and the name had already been won at the auction. So she was called Maura Isles right away.

When did you decide YES, these two belong together in a series?
In the third book, THE SINNER. Both women had so many personal issues that I wanted to explore — and their relationship intrigued me.

You’re contracted for at least two more Rizzoli and Isles novels. Is that going to be it for the two of them?
I don’t know. I’ll see how I feel after the two books are written.

I tried sending manuscripts off to agents and publishers. (I got rejected by your agent last year) and then I saw a friend had put out a book and I decided to go the indie way. What do you think of the Indie Author?
I think indie publishing is a marvelous opportunity for writers, and offers you total control over your stories. From the writer’s point of view, it’s a terrific development. From the consumer’s point of view, it leads to a lot of uncertainty about which book to purchase, because there’s no way to judge ahead of time. I’ve read some pretty good indie stories — and some pretty awful ones.

Do you read any Indie books? Who?
I really enjoy Joe Konrath’s thrillers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get outside and get some sunshine. Travel. Indulge your curiosity. It’s important to always seek story inspiration in real life.

I often feel that when I meet someone I should give them a disclaimer, “anything you do or say to me may end up in a future story or novel.” Do you feel the same way? Can you give me an instance of something from the lives around you that made it into a novel?
Oh, yes. Anything I see or hear could end up in a future story. THE APPRENTICE was inspired by a late-night limo pick-up at the airport. Sitting alone in the back seat of that dark vehicle, I realized I knew nothing about the guy driving the car — or even if he was who he said he was.

Now for some fun quick fire questions…
Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon.

Rizzoli or Isles?
Depends on my mood. The truth is, I AM Maura Isles.

Do you watch Rizzoli and Isles?
Of course.

Who is your favorite character from the TV show?
I have a particular fondness for Detective Korsak.

What do you do when no one is looking?
Surf the internet. Way too much.

I’m a chef so I have to ask – what do you eat while writing?
Nothing. Unless it’s a sneaked piece of chocolate.

Best part of being an author is?
The research!

Worst part of being an author is?
The deadlines.

3 books everyone should read

Favorite book when you were a child

Favorite book now?
I just finished “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” Loved it!

Favorite movies?
I love SF. Particular faves: “Galaxy Quest” and the re-make of “Star Trek”

Favorite book of yours?

I want to thank Tess for this opportunity. For more information on Tess Gerritsen and her books go to and check out this FREE short story starring Rizzoli & Isles Freaks and just in case you missed my review of her novel Keepsake.
Tess Gerritsen’s latest Rizzoli & Isles novel Last to Die

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.
Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.
Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.

Meet Nina D'Angelo

Today I’m talking with Nina D’Angelo. You may not have heard of her yet, but her first crime/thriller novel, Nowhere to Run, is coming out February 14thand once it does you will get to know her.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is a day in the life of Nina D’Angelo like?

At the moment, it’s very, very busy. When I’m not writing Nowhere to Hide (the second novel in the Stephanie Carovella series and the sequel to Nowhere to Run, I’m marketing Nowhere to Run. I also have a day job, which takes up a lot of my time.

Tell us about, Nowhere to Run.

Nowhere to Run is a crime/thriller.
A Dominatrix is murdered, her body positioned to show Dominance. An actress is found dead, in clear view of the Hollywood sign. The sole connection between both murders is the one woman, who swore she would never return to Los Angeles.

Stephanie Carovella walked away from it all - a high flying career, her friends and Los Angeles. When her best friend is murdered, she returns with the sole purpose of finding a killer.

Instead her arrival triggers a spate of murders, in which she is the common denominator.

Drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse, Stephanie must race to find a serial killer, before he claims her as his own

Okay I can’t help myself. I have been a fan of the Smurf’s since 1980 when I got my first little figure. In your bio on your web site you said the first story you wrote was an 8 page one about the Smurf’s. What was the plot of that one?

I believe it was about smurfette and escaping Gargamel. I can’t remember the rest J

Back to your novel. What can you tell us about your main character, Stephanie Carovella?

Stephanie Carovella is a survivor. She has gone through everything you could imagine (and you will find this out in the novel) and is still standing. She’s tough. Some may say she is self absorbed and a little selfish when they first read her, but she isn’t. She will do anything to protect everyone she loves including putting herself in the path of danger. She’s vulnerable but has built a wall around herself to protect herself from getting hurt. She can be reckless sometimes but she never does anything without reason. She just wants to be loved for who she is – scars and all.

I know the mental side of my main character is based on me. Is Stephanie based on you or anyone else?

I think a lot of Stephanie is based on myself, but like you said I think we all do this. Stephanie has a lot of my idioms and many of her struggles have been my own. I like to think she is as tough as I am, is independent and takes the world head on.

Do you have a publisher or are you going the full on Indie route?

At this time I will be self publishing, but the hope is to get picked up by a publisher further down the track. I originally swore black and blue I would only go the traditional route, but as I’ve watched the Indie Publishing scheme take off, I have become more intrigued by it and decided it was the best route to take for now. I think, with Indie Publishing, you have more control of your novels – from the writing process to the editing, the formatting and the cover design. You also have more control of how much you sell the novel for and your royalties. But on the flip side it is a tougher. You don’t have a PR and marketing machine behind you, you have to do it all yourself and you need to get smart about it all.

How long did it take you to write your novel?

It took me 12 months to write Nowhere to run.

What drew you to this genre?

Crime has always fascinated me. I started reading True Crime at a young age and I also studied a semester of criminology at university. For a long time I imagined myself being the next Jackie Collins or romance author – or at least I did when I was 16. When I was 17, I discovered Patricia Cornwell and Anne Rice and then further down the track James Patterson. Something clicked with writing crime and thrillers. You have the opportunity to add twists and turns and tap into a darker side. I think you can explore so many avenues writing crimes and thrillers. Ultimately though, the genre just fitted.

Who has inspired you through your life and career? Writing and anything else

I’ve been inspired by a range of people. My grandfather always inspired me to be creative. He was very creative. He was an actor and loved singing. I also find James Patterson inspirational. He has complete control over everything he does – from the marketing and public relations to the editing and the book covers.

Is there any part of the writing or publishing journey that you are not happy with?

The writing process is wonderful. I love writing and I even love editing. Marketing and Promotional is tough though. It’s tiring because it is constant, but ultimately it is so worth it.

I know you probably just want to talk about Nowhere to Run, but on your Goodreads page you have a second novel, Nowhere to Hide, listed as hopefully coming out in August of 2013. Can you give us any glimpses into that novel?
I can. Nowhere to Hide will be the sequel to Nowhere to Run and the second novel in the Stephanie Carovella series. It will be grittier and darker than the first novel and will see Stephanie facing off against a copycat killer. Ultimately she will be drawn into his dark web and she will need to use everything she knows to defeat him before she becomes his next victim. In the background there will also be another killer lurking, one from Stephanie’s past who wants to claim her for his own.

In your bio on your website you talk about a novel you wrote for friends called, Live and Let Die…any plans on dusting it off and putting it out there?

Live and Let Die has already been pulled out of the archives and I’ve started playing around with it, but Nowhere to Hide comes first. I’m still trying to put together the main ideas for that novel and see where it takes me.

Now for some rapid fire questions. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

Favorite movie?

Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Top 3 books people should read?

Harper Lee’s – To Kill a Mockingbird

Cormac Mccarthy’s All the Pretty Horses

Jane Austen – Pride and prejudice.

Dominating or submissive?


Favorite book as a kid?

Favorite book as a kid was Charles Dickens Great Expectations

Favorite book now?

Right now I have hundreds of favorite books so to name one is hard. I’m going to have to think of one I read this year, which blew my mind and that would be Samantha Towle’s “The Mighty Storm”

You have a lot of quote on your website so…favorite writing quote?

The second thing you have to do to be a writer is to keep on writing. Don't listen to people who tell you that very few people get published and you won't be one of them. Don't listen to your friend who says you are better that Tolkien and don't have to try any more. Keep writing, keep faith in the idea that you have unique stories to tell, and tell them. I meet far too many people who are going to be writers 'someday.' When they are out of high school, when they've finished college, after the wedding, when the kids are older, after I retire . . . That is such a trap You will never have any more free time than you do right now. So, whether you are 12 or 70, you should sit down today and start being a writer if that is what you want to do. You might have to write on a notebook while your kids are playing on the swings or write in your car on your coffee break. That's okay. I think we've all 'been there, done that.' It all starts with the writing.”
- Robin Hobb

If you were going to a deserted island which 3 famous people (living or dead) would you want to be stuck there with you and why?

Alfred Hitchcock – the man was a genius – not just in his writing and directing but in everything he did. It’s why his work is still around today

James Patterson – I’d discuss marketing and PR ploys with him and storylines. Patterson can create twists like no one I’ve ever known.

Blake Shelton – I need music to the mix and his personality always makes me laugh because it’s so out there. The man does not have a filter.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

A lot of fruit and vegetables.

Day or night?

Night. I think better at night and writing is easier.

Mountains or beach?

Mountains. The crisp fresh air, and the feeling of peace draws me to it.

Pepsi or Coke?

Diet coke.

Loud night on the town or quiet night at home?

Depends on what the loud night is. If it’s a rock concert, I’m there. Otherwise I like the quiet night at home, plotting.

I’m a chef so I have to ask…what do you like to eat when you’re writing?

I’m not big on food when I’m writing but I drink galleons of coffee.

What do you do when no one is looking?

Sing. I don’t like singing in front of people, but when I’m home alone I turn the music up and belt out a tune or two.

Get to know Nina a little better
Web site:
Visit her on Goodreads or Nowhere to Run on Goodreads
Or check out her Facebook Page

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A review of KEEPSAKE by Tess Gerritsen

What a great book to start 2013 with. The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen is just a ripper of a great book. I’m a slow reader and I finished it in a week. That’s a good thing. I had to keep reading, I had to keep turning pages.
The Keepsake is the 7th book in Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series, her 21st novel all together, and I feel it is an amazing addition to the collection. When the curator of the Crispin Museum and an archeologist bring the found treasure of a mummy named Madame X to get a CT scan, Dr. Maura Isles discovers this may not be a 2000 year old mummy at all. Detective Jane Rizzoli is immediately called in to try and help figure out what is going on. More mysteries build up instead of clues that can solve what has happened and to find who may be out there. The clues start to come in and as the reader you have to turn the page to get to what else is going on. I had to flip through. I had to find out who the killer was and how many more victims would fall.
I became a fan of Tess Gerritsen because of the TNT TV show Rizzoli & Isles. My wife had been a fan long before, but I did not read any of her novels until after seeing the show. The only trouble that there is, is remembering that the Rizzoli and Isles from the novels are not the same characters from the television show. There are a lot of similarities, but their descriptions are different and except for the novel The Apprentice where the two characters first work together in the novels the show goes off in a completely different direction.
I’ll be honest, I skipped The Surgeon – the first novel in the series for no other reason than I did not have that one in our collection. The books seem to get better as they go along.
As I said in other reviews, the ending is one of the important things to me when I read a book. First I want a good start that pulls you right in and then I want a finish that leaves the reader satisfied. The Keepsake did this for me. There were enough clues that the reader had a chance of figuring out what was going on just as Detective Rizzoli was figuring it all out. I love that.

My rating is 5 stars.

STRANGER IN TOWN by Cheryl Bradshaw

This is the perfect book for a one of those great evenings when you get to sit in your favorite spot with your favorite drink. I’m a slow reader and this one went smooth with the story flowing nicely.
Stranger in Town is the fourth novel staring private investigator, Sloane Monroe. This time she is hired to find a child who was taken from the daycare play area and may be connected to another child abduction 2 years earlier in a different city in Wyoming.
I didn’t read the other Sloane Monroe stories, and maybe I should have. I felt there was a lack of description of the main character. I’m a fan of the reader using their own imagination, but some description can lead your mind in the right direction. Also I was not a big fan of the ending of the mystery.
All that aside it was an excellent read that I would happily recommend and would gladly read again. Now I have to go back and read Cheryl Bradshaw’s other books.

My rating 4 stars.

To read my interview of Stranger in Town author, Cheryl Bradshaw, click here.

Synopsis of Stranger in Town

He only needed her to look away for a few seconds...

Six-year-old Olivia Hathaway tiptoes down the center aisle of Maybelle's Market, stopping once to glance over her shoulder and make sure her mother isn't watching. But Mrs. Hathaway is too preoccupied to notice her daughter has slipped away. Moments later, a frantic Mrs. Hathaway runs up and down the aisles, desperately searching for her missing daughter. But little Olivia is already in the arms of a stranger. Will PI Sloane Monroe find Olivia before it's too late?

BONEYARD the best book I read in a long time

I would have to say that Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon was one of the best books I read in 2012.

A mass grave site is unearthed on part of the Appalachian trail along the border of two states putting FBI Special Agent Kelly Jones at the head of the investigation. :She has to juggle the clashing personalities of two police forces while trying to steer things in the right direction. One serial killer becomes two, relationships blossom, secrets that challenge everything are kept, and rivalries spark. More bodies show up and the hunt is on – for more than one person.

I was looking through the shelves of a used bookstore and saw the title, BONEYARD, in white/grey letters, looking like they were cut from bone, on a red background. I pulled it out and flipped to the back. There were cigarette burn marks on the back that I, at first, thought they may have been there on purpose. I figured they must have been there by accident, but after reading the torture inside the pages I am not so sure. I ought it, took it home, and put it on my shelf. For a couple of months I kept looking at that title every time I walked by, Boneyard. I picked it up, flipped to the prologue, and was totally thrown into a twist right there in the first 6 pages.
The book bounces around from the point of view of agent Jones to Lt. Boyd who has his own skeletons in his closet, to the serial killer who’s been killing for over a decade, to Dwight who you aren’t sure whether he envies the killer or is out to get him, but this is done almost seamlessly. It has a smooth progression with enough clues for the reader to figure things out and a lot of surprises.
The ending for me is the final judgement. Michelle Gagnon ends her novel with enough to make you feel satisfied, but it also makes you long to come back for more.
There are a couple of typos. I just mention this because it makes and Indie Author like myself smile to see a handful of typos come in a traditionally published novel. (my favorite was “…one of his rubs punctured his right lung.”) But those in no way take away from the story.
I would gladly read Boneyard again.
5 out of 5 Stars

A Review of TWO GRAVES by D.A. Graystone

I was bullied in school, but nowhere as bad as Preston Peterson. My bullying was more in my head than in reality, but I get how it can make you feel. I can understand how someone would want to get revenge.

In Two Graves, kind of by accident, Preston gets a taste of what it was like to strike back at the people who liked torturing the week. He got a taste for murder. And he liked it. At first I sympathised with Preston and how he wanted to get back at the bullies from his high school years, even though his revenge blinded him to the fact that he was killing people who only looked like the bullies. I was on Preston’s side right up until Benji. I dealt with the sick things this killer did. I cringed at the pain from one victim and I felt ready to vomit at what he did to the reporter, but once he killed Benji I was on Lt. Mann’s side.

As a second story Lt. Mann, a cop who put his own reputation on the line to weed out those who would soil the police force, had a strong hatred for the largest mafia family in town. When it becomes Southside Slasher vs. mafia hitman all bets were off.

Now for the honest side of things. With two, sometimes four, stories going on at once it occasionally was tricky to figure out which story I was on, but since my own novel is similar – who am I to bitch? I will say I was not a fan of the ending. It was like having a great season finale with a flop for a new season premier. You get all excited only to have it fall flat. But it was still a great read and I highly recommend it.

My rating is 4 stars

An Interview with CHERYL BRADSHAW

I have the great honor today of talking with mystery/thriller writer Cheryl Bradshaw author of the Sloane Monroe Series. (This interview was done in August of 2012 and origionally placed on my other blog

Thank you for joining us Cheryl. Why don’t you tell us something about yourself, where you are from, and what you do (besides writing of course)

I grew up in California; I’m from the town I talk about in I Have a Secret. I got married a few years ago and moved to Wyoming which has been a major adjustment for me. But I am learning to like it here, little by little, and will be starting a new series set in Wyoming in 2013.

When I am not writing and chasing after kids, I like to travel. Over the next two months I’ll be going to Alaska and Hawaii. I love historical locations. I’m a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, so I’ve been to his birth place and childhood home, etc. As a side note, I almost bought a framed (and certified) strand of his hair a couple months ago for $900, but I decided that might seem a bit too obsessive.
Do you regret not buying it?

I personally am reading your Sloane Monroe series of books. Book #4 in the series, Stranger in Town, is soon coming out. What is this one about?

Stranger in Town begins with a little girl getting kidnapped. This is followed by another kidnapping several months later. Sloane is hired to track down the kidnapper when the case goes cold.

In Sinnerman you go noticeably darker, even the cover is darker than the other brightly colored ones, do you think Sloane will ever be in a dark story line again?

Sinnerman was the easiest book for me to write. I finished it in four months. Thrillers are probably more my style than mysteries (for whatever reason it’s easy for me to write the “dark stuff”), but I enjoy writing in both genres, and I anticipate going back and forth between the two as I continue writing. I might even veer off the path and dabble in a ghost story or two.

Black Diamond Death was the first novel I ever wrote, and I was trying to find my voice. It wasn’t until I wrote Sinnerman that I got more comfortable with my writing style. Over the last month I have revised Black Diamond Death and anticipate publishing the second edition in September. I am also redoing the cover. It’s amazing what we learn as we go. Since publishing my first novel, I have a new editor, formatter, and cover artist.

A lot of writer’s base their main characters on one or more real people. Mine, for instance is supposed to look like Bosco from the show Third Watch but is also based on Bayliss from Homicide, myself, and a real officer I interviewed for the part….who is Sloane Monroe?

I can’t point my finger at any one influence and say they are Sloane. I suppose in ways she has some of my qualities (some of my relatives are convinced she IS me), but she is a lot different as well. She has a fear of commitment, is codependent, and has had a lot of life experiences I can’t relate to. It was fun to dream Sloane up and put her on paper. I enjoy seeing her evolve; she becomes more unique and more of her own person as time goes on.

You help other Indie Writer’s to connect with each other and connect with audiences…why?

When I first started, I didn’t know anyone, except a few traditionally pubbed authors, so I created Indie Writers Unite. I also created a blog for writers. There’s so much to learn when you are just starting out, and I wanted to pass the information on to all the newbie writers out there who aren’t sure what they are doing at first. The industry is constantly changing, and there are a lot of things to keep up with. I believe we all need to help each other out as much as possible.

What is the greatest part about being an independent writer?

Being indie published is perfect for my OCD! I love being in control of things like what the cover looks like and when my books come out, etc. But I don’t just look at myself like I’m independent. I’m an author. I have a publicist. I’ve considered signing with a publisher, and maybe one day I will. It all comes down to making sure it’s the right fit for me at the right time. I see all authors the same way, no matter how they are published. A good book is a good book.

What is the worst part about being an independent writer?

There’s still a stigma attached to it, which I hope will change one day. I understand why though, to a degree. We’ve seen a wave of writers publishing books without an editor, a cover artist, a formatter, and things that make the writer look legitimate in the eyes of the reader. I’m hoping this will change in the future.

Do you have any regrets about going this direction with your writing or your books?

I’ve never regretted publishing this way.

I’m a chef so I have to ask – what do you like to eat and/or snack on while writing?

I don’t usually eat while I’m writing, but I almost always have a cup of tea nearby. Sometimes two. I’m a tea fanatic. If I were to have a snack, it would be dark chocolate of some kind, preferably chocolate mousse or a frosted brownie. But since I am keen on keeping my girlish figure, I usually just go with the tea! Of course, if you were to send me some cookies or brownies, Lorne, rest assured I’d eat them while writing.
I'll work on that.

If Sloane Monroe were to come for a visit for an evening, what would the two of you do?

Probably something practical like dinner and a movie. If I was playing the role of Maddie, however, I’d try and get Sloane to do something she’d most likely regret in the morning.

What do you think you two would talk about?

Sloane’s life is always complicated. The conversation would either be about the case she’s working on, or her love life.

What is the one thing you enjoy about writing?

I express myself better through writing than I do in normal conversations with people. I’m a very private person. It takes years for people to get to know me on a personal level. But when I write, I don’t care what I say. There’s a kind of freedom I get from writing that I can’t get any other way.

When can we look forward to Stranger in Town being out?

Fall 2012. I’m hoping for October, but it might be November.

For updates on Cheryl and her books:

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