As part of “The Next Big Thing Blog Hop” I was tagged by wonderful fellow writer Alexandra Wolfe. The purpose of this hop is to expose you to writers and their work that you might not have heard of before.
According to the rules of the hop, I’ve answered some questions below about my latest WIP, which are the same questions each Blog Hopper is answering. Other authors will be doing the same thing on successive Wednesday’s on their blogs. So watch out for more.
What is the working title of the book you are currently working on?
Credo’s Fire. It is the third in the Alex Wolfe Mystery Series.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
In all of my books I take a little bit from different cases I worked as an officer, and I combine that with a wicked imagination and a rollicking sense of the perverse to create a slightly realistic and slightly improbable fiction.
What genre does the book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
I had to ask my daughter because she knows more actresses in the age range for my protagonist, Alex Wolfe. Of all the actresses she suggested, I like Melissa Peregrym the best.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your work?
Alexandra Wolfe is a fresh, funny, tough cop who skates on the edge of the law in her quest for justice.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I self-publish all of my books. In this day and age, unless a major publisher promises me the moon, I feel it is foolish to turn over the rights to my work only to get a fraction of the selling price.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your MS?
I haven’t finished the first draft, but it usually takes me about three months to get the first draft out, and then another month to get it to the editor and then to do the re-write.
Who or what inspired you to write this book.
That’s easy. I keep getting requests from people who read the first two books in the series to write the third. I’ve been busy starting a fantasy fiction series, The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi, and since I published the first in that series, The Spirit Child, I’m now ready to continue with Credo’s Fire.
What else about your work might pique the reader’s interest?
I always create strong female characters in my books who are multi-dimensional and who play well with others. Very often, readers comment that they’d like to be friends with my characters in real life, because they are honest, caring, loving, kick-ass women. I also write in several different genre’s and it is easy for readers to find action, adventure, angst or just plain entertainment .
Next in line:
The next author I’ve tagged is the incomparable Harvey Stanbrough. Harvey is an editor, teacher, guest speaker, seminar leader and a pulitzer nominated poet. To read his answers to these questions on December 26th, go to http://www.harveystanbrough.com/blog/
A Guest Post by Author Ron Wick
There’s a new murder mystery author in town and I’m happy to be one of the first to introduce him to the reading world. Ron Wick began writing for others as a ten year old when his parents gave him a small rotary printing press with handset rubber type. Maybe not as old as this puppy…
…but not a new Mac computer either. It was good enough to allow him to “publish” The Golden Nugget News where he wrote about the latest neighborhood happenings for the next two years. I wonder if he had neighbors to write about like John and Ada Gillespie, who lived next door to my Dad and who let him, as a five year old, “drive” their draft horses,
Bob and Dick, while they moved steadily back and forth pulling a rope to haul hay up to the upper reaches of their barn.
But I digress as that’s a story for another time…
As Ron moved through life, he progressed from a ten year old journalist to being a teacher and administrator in Snohomish County, Washington where he influenced the younger generations for 30 years. As an educator he also worked with police and court authorities involving many criminal issues, ranging from juvenile delinquencies to suspected pedophiles. Also during his teaching tenure, he co-authored a collection of high contrast photographs and poetry centered on motorcycling which was published by Ellis Robinson Publishing. He is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all humanity and will donate 10% of his royalties from his new book, Gold Coast Murder, to Lions Clubs International Foundation, the charitable arm of the association of which he has been a member and officer for 35 years.
And now, let’s learn a little more about Ron, straight from the horses mouth, so to speak…
Milk in Bottles
Do you know that milk used to come in bottles? I remember those in my youth. When I was 5 years old a broken bottle of milk changed my life and taught a lesson in helping others, something I believe in and have done my entire life.
Dad and I were walking to the neighborhood grocery store, Mrs. Wickstrom’s, in Ballard. Another boy about my age was coming out the door with a bottle of milk in a paper bag. The bottom of the bag gave way, the bottle of milk hit the sidewalk, glass and milk went everywhere.
The boy jumped then began to cry. My dad went to him and asked if he was hurt.
“No,” he said. “My dad’s gonna beat me when I get home. We don’t got any more money.”
“Come with us,” dad said patting him on the head. “It’ll be alright.”
We went into the store. Dad got another bottle of milk for the boy and paid for it. Mrs. Wickstrom put it in double-bags and showed him how to carry it with one hand under the bottle.
“Thank you, mister he said going out the door and still trembling as he passed the man cleaning up the glass.
My dad was a commercial fisherman, halibut in the Gulf of Alaska. He always described the money he made as “…chicken today, feathers tomorrow.” That day we were in the “feathers” stage. Dad bought the milk and loaf of bread we came for. We didn’t get the ice cream.
That day I learned from example. Dad’s only comment was, “Sometimes you’ve got to help people. Sometimes others might help you.”
I didn’t know about kids getting beaten. I didn’t know some strangers would help you just because they could. What began that day carried into my life of writing, teaching, and serving my community through my 35 years as a member of the Lions Clubs International. My writing today reflects the observations and themes that began to form when I was a 10 year old writing and printing a neighborhood newspaper. Those themes and passions are shaped by life experiences, some wonderful and some brutal.
When I retired in 1997 I began expanding my love for poetry and short stories. The creation of the Santiago Mystery Series provided a vehicle to share fictional stories around fictional characters built around real life themes.
Ron’s debut novel, Gold Coast Murder, published by Stone Thread Publishing, is available on Amazon for Kindle and Smashwords in all other formats. Here’s a description of Gold Coast Murder as seen on Amazon.
When the body of a young black woman is found in a bathtub at the Avenue Hotel in Seattle’s University District the victim is unidentified. The crime scene yields little evidence beyond a blue banquet ticket to a teacher conference from the night before, a possible semen sample on the bed sheets, bruising on the victim’s neck, and the torn tissue of her earlobes. The specifics of the crime are withheld from the media. The desk clerk identifies the room renter as John Smith; large, early thirties, married, wearing a big southwestern watch on the left wrist, and Caucasian.
Homicide detective Michelle “Mitch” Santiago is young, smart, sassy and sexy. She is a twenty-eight year old University of Washington graduate, Police Academy graduate; and member of the Seattle Police Department for four years including two on homicide. She is on the fast track to advancement; a gifted but independent investigator. Santiago and partner Chance Stewart are assigned the case. As the investigation proceeds Santiago is forced to deal with personal issues and a lifestyle that parallels the victim’s.
Using the limited clues Santiago and Stewart identify the victim as Hailey Cashland through a missing persons report filed by gay artist neighbor Terry Shaw. They discover Cashland led a double life with a sordid background beginning with a childhood of sexual abuse including rape, to college and the porn industry in Las Vegas, to the day of her death; successful teacher by day, many lovers by night. The case becomes high profile enough Santiago and Stewart’s other case, the killing of a hobo at Golden Garden’s is shifted to another team.
Santiago and Stewart focus on four persons of interest. Jack Hartley, Superintendent of Gold Coast Academy, has known Hailey for years going back to their days in the Las Vegas skin industry. They are close and he has a unique and distant relationship with his wife. Moses Cruz is an infatuated student athlete stalker, a jealous and confused teenager. Terry Shaw is the angry gay artist neighbor who loves Hailey like a naughty sister, reported her missing, and tries to manipulate the investigation. Trevor Gunn is the mystery man in her life, known of by all her colleagues but not by name; a man with an alcoholic wife, two sons and unable to earn tenure at any of three community colleges where he has taught.
The investigation leads Santiago and Stewart back to the hobo killing, linking one of the suspects to both murders. The suspect runs. He’s traced to Port Angeles, Washington. Did he take the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia or go into hiding? Santiago discovers he once had a relative living in Forks. He is traced to La Push. The motel is staked out. .
When found the suspect is battered and bruised after meeting the enraged brother of a local Native American woman he had attempted to seduce. He is confused and disoriented as he fluctuates back and forth contemplating escape, starting over, suicide and murder. All the key players are present. At the close Santiago moves closer to resolving the personal issues revolving around her background as a stripper while in college, sexual harassment within the squad room, and whether to remain with SPD.
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirit Child, January 27, 2013
By Sher “Sher” (Canton, OH) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Spirit Child (The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi) (Kindle Edition)
First off, my favorite genre of books is Fantasy. That being said, in my opinion Alison can hold her head up proudly with her contribution. I loved this book! I loved the characters and how the story unfolded. Miss Holt has a way of keeping the readers attention with every page. I thouroughly enjoyed this first volume to her new series and can’t wait for the second one to be available. I don’t want to give any of the story away but if you love Fantasy books, this one is well worth your time. Thank you Alison for yet another great book!
via Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Spirit Child (The Seven Realms of Ar’rothi).
The Spirit Child available in paperback or as an Ebook.
I read The Spirit Child in one sitting; once I started I couldn’t put it down and I will be following the series. This book will hold your attention with every page. I love a book where the main characters are smart, stubborn, kick-ass women! The author does an awesome job at describing a fantasy world in a way that captures your imagination. I definitely recommend this book.
-By Dena Elliott
Equipment issues. To any cops reading this, need I say more? For you authors, in your novel, does your main police character ever experience dangerous and often embarrassing moments in the patrol car? These examples came from a friend of mine with somewhere around thirty years of police work under his belt.
“Ever had a cop in a murder mystery where either the radio just wouldn’t work or there was an over-saturation of airtime and he can’t get on the air? I was in a chase once and couldn’t tell anyone. One time I was going Code 3 (lights and siren) while leaning out the window and banging on the light bar to keep it working. Another time a cab driver stopped traffic so I could get out of the 4th Avenue tunnel on a Code 3 run when all my equipment quit. Another time I was about to stop a drug car for MANTIS (Metropolitan Area Narcotics Trafficking Interdiction Squad) and my car died every time I hit the lights.”
If you want realism, write the most ridiculous equipment failure you can think of. I guarantee that some cop somewhere will read it and say, “Hey! That happened to me!”
I’m going to take a minute and step back into my cop persona.
A friend emailed these tips to me and they were so good I thought I’d pass them along to my friends. I don’t know who originally wrote them, but the email said they were written by a female cop. I’m not writing these as gospel, and I KNOW a lot of people will have differing opinions. However, if a woman finds herself in any of these situations, maybe, just maybe, remembering one of these suggestions will save her life.
1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :
The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!
2. Learned this from a tourist guide.
If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM.
Toss it away from you…. Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!
3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy.
The driver won’t see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.
4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.) DON’T DO THIS!
The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go.
AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR , LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.
If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything,wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.
5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
- Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor , and in the back seat.
- If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
- Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
- ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!)
- If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!
- As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked ‘for help’ into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.
6. Crying Baby Scam
Another Safety Point: Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her ‘Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The dispatcher said, ‘We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.’ He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby’s cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby’s cries outside their doors when they’re home alone at night.
7. Water scam
If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on all your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate and then attack.
Please feel free to copy this to your blogs or email it to your family and friends. One of these tips just might save the life of someone you love.
I have found that this complaint is universal among police officers all over the country. I have heard this PPP (Police Pet Peeve) from California to Chicago to Virginia.
How come in books, the best cops get promoted?
While it may be true in books that the best cops get promoted, its definitely not the rule in real life police departments. In the majority of departments, officers take extremely difficult written exams in order to promote to the next rank. For my lieutenant’s promotional exam, we had to study two large textbooks on police administration plus we had a lengthy handout we had to memorize. Luckily for me, I’m good at studying and taking tests. But what about the stellar officer who simply cannot take tests?
One of the best detectives I know, bar none, had to take the detectives test three times before she finally scored high enough to make the detectives list. Her problem? Dyslexia. Another excellent patrol officer I know took the sergeant’s test four times and never scored high enough to make the list. He just never learned how to take tests.
Now let’s look at the other side. I can’t count how many times an officer with absolutely no common sense or people skills got promoted simply because they were good at taking tests. They were known by the rank and file for being a so so officer, and yet now the rank and file have to answer to the dufus simply because he or she was a good test taker.
As a writer, use this phenomenon to create interesting characters or commander to officer interactions. You’d be amazed at how many scenarios something like this will give you if you just let your imagination fly.
I’d like to welcome guest author, Jennifer Fulford, to my blog today. Her interview with Brian Felson, president of BookBaby, has some great insights concerning the self-pubishing business.
This post evolves from my curiosity about ebook self-publishing and how the trend can help or hurt the unsigned, unpublished author.
Very organically, meaning by a natural outgrowth, the ebook self-publishing business has gained legitimacy with writers who feel the need to take their work to the streets themselves in an increasingly dismal marketplace. Writers are faced with many options and some tough decisions nowadays. Slug out the traditional route, clawing for an ever-shrinking publishing hole, or hold your breath and jump with two feet into self-publishing?
I do believe the stigma associated with self-publishing is as distasteful as you want to make it. If you take yourself seriously as a writer, you logically will also take a serious look at your publishing options. For me, it’s been an evolution. First and foremost, there is the act of writing. There’s the self-education to get better. Then, there’s the coming to terms with feedback and criticism. Somewhere along the way, there is commitment. The last hurdle is the push for publication. For many writers, traditional publication basically means that their work is worthy. They’ve made it. The writing is obviously good. We think getting a book accepted by an agent or a publisher will validate our talent. I’m not so sure anymore about that last statement.
Brian Felsen, BookBaby President
My doubt increased after I spoke to Brian Felsen, the president of an e-publishing startup called BookBaby
. Felsen let me hang out with him recently at the Portland, Ore., headquarters of BookBaby, CDBaby
and unequivocally made the case for what he calls self-release. (Of course, we want release, in more ways than one!). In terms of economics and marketing, he sees self-publishing as the hands-down winner.
Granted, this is the nice man with the gun
who suggested the bus to Cartagena. Disclosure statement:
I took no gifts or gratuities to speak with him or to publish this post and the transcript of our interview
. I’ll still have to pay the $99 to e-publish my book via BookBaby, if in fact I chose to do so. I simply went on a fact-finding trip, and he was nice enough to cooperate. Laid-back, no question. A man not afraid to use the word poopy in an interview. Sure, he’s running a multi-million dollar company that is breaking into a competitive market, but he was still a nice guy.
BookBaby is new among the electronic book publishers, competing with the likes of Smashwords
. It has released only about 4,000 titles in the last year of doing business. Its competitors have somewhat different models, though I won’t outline the pros and cons here. At BookBaby, you pay an upfront fee, a real person processes your manuscript by hand, and it gets distributed to all the major retailers. The writer keeps 100 percent of the profits after the retailers take their cut. BookBaby has the benefit of being a spinoff of the highly successful CDBaby, a 13-year-old company that is the largest distributor of independent music.
Felsen is an artist and businessman
. He writes poetry (no kidding), composes music and used to play rock ‘n’ roll. The way he sees it, self-publishing cuts out a lot of headaches. “It doesn’t hurt you if you release your work now by e
,” he said. “Either you can get it pulled down and then get traditional distribution later or still give up the e-rights to it later, if you want to. Or, it’s the calling card for you to get future works noticed, but you shouldn’t put your career on hold and spend tons of money trying to go traditional with awork that’s completed and drive yourself crazy if it’s not imminently happening.”
For e-rights, he says it’s silly to let a publisher take them from you, especially when so little of the revenue from ebooks goes back to the writer. “There’s no warehousing or distribution, there’s really nothing. It’s not rocket science. There’s nothing to it. The sort-of dirty little secret of publishing is that publishers don’t add a ton of value in terms of marketing your work to the readers. They market your work to book sellers. But so many famous authors still have to go to book conventions themselves. They still have to manage their social networking presence themselves, have a website and Twitter accounts and reach out to fans and have contests and do all this stuff that they do, but you’d have to that as an independent author anyway, so you might as well keep the money.”
His logic is this: The publishers and agents are already looking for plug-n-play writers. Why play their game? Do it yourself. “Now, will traditional publishers look at you different? Well, traditional publishers are going to tell you they’re going to look at you differently because you are out there eating their lunch. So, you know, I talk to people, to traditional publishers, many of whom I’ve interviewed on camera for the BookBaby blog
, and they would, they’ll say, ‘Yeah, there’s a stigma to self-publishing.’ Well, of course, ‘cause they’re taking an unreasonable cut with unreasonable overhead, and they’re going out of business, so of course they’re going to say that. But if you’re self-released, and you’re one of the top sellers, or if you win awards, they’re gonna want to sign you so badly and so fast, they’re not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s just writing, a family memoirist.’ No, not at all.”
I still believe publishers are looking for high quality. But I also agree that their model of selling to book sellers is dying. They already know that. Where does that leave us whimpering newbies? The outlook, according to Felsen, isn’t all that rosy in traditional publishing. “As bookstores are going away, as the publishing houses are consolidating, the mid-tail author is becoming more and more abandoned. It’s like the shrinking middle class. The mid-tier author is not getting the advances that they were. They’re not getting the publicity that they were; there’s not the outlets that there used to be; advances that are doled out are doled out over three years in quarterly installments, and it’s still not really—the pot at the end of the rainbow is a very small one nowadays, and it’s not for everybody.”
The interview with Felsen
is more indepth and worth a read. For every new author (and some of the old ones), every option is on the table. It may mean I’ll need an attitude adjustment to worry less about how
my work ends up with readers and to focus more on the real goal
: satisfied readers
. And those readers will let me know whether or not they’re satisfied, regardless of how I publish.
A Rookie loses his lunch at a homicide scene.
A Veteran eats his lunch at a homicide scene.
A Rookie uses McDonald’s drive thru so he won’t miss a call.
A Veteran spends 45 minutes drinking coffee at Dunkin Donuts.
You can’t read a Rookies name plate because it’s polished so brightly.
A Veteran doesn’t wear one for liability reasons.
A Rookie puts too much in reports.
A Veteran doesn’t put enough into reports.
A Rookie loves foot pursuits.
A Veteran makes the rookie do foot pursuits.
A Rookie is given 40 hours training on communications at the academy.
A Veteran was given 40 rounds of ammunition when he left the academy.
A Rookie wants everyone to know he is a cop.
A Veteran doesn’t want anyone to know he is a cop.
A Rookie loves to find stolen vehicles.
A Veteran doesn’t care about stolen vehicles unless someone is in them.
A Rookie can spot an expired tag at 50 yards.
A Veteran can’t spot anything at 50 yards.
A Rookie spends 2 hours on a follow-up.
A Veteran gives the follow-up to detectives.
A Rookie thinks every death is a homicide.
A Veteran thinks every death is a suicide.
A Rookie calls the brass by their rank.
A Veteran calls the brass by their first name.
A Rookie carries a laptop computer.
A Veteran writes on his hand.
A Rookie checks out deserted spots in hope of finding a drug deal in progress.
A Veteran checks out deserted spots in hope of finding a place to sleep
Written by: Unknown
Female detectives wearing revealing shirts and high heels
Well, this one’s pretty self-explanatory. Can’t run, fight, or in my case, walk in high heels, not to mention the scuff and yuck factor of bloody crime scenes. And trying to walk through a muddy field without the heels sinking all the way down and getting stuck in the muck? Forget it.
Revealing shirts? Hah! I once had a Sergeant tell me to button up the second button on my uniform shirt because he thought two undone buttons were unprofessional. And really, if you have any size up there, try running after a bad guy with a low-cut bra on. Talk about bruised chins… And the lewd comments the women would get from the bad guys defies description. Nope, female detectives have to dress professionally if they want to be treated like a professional, so if you want the female cops in your murder mystery to be taken seriously, dress them accordingly.
What do Mystery, Psychological Thriller and Fantasy Fiction have in common? Not a whole heck of a lot. Not a lot except for the fact that each category of fiction is populated with characters who just can’t wait to begin living life. Writing in three different genres can be quite an adventure at times. As a retired police lieutenant, writing murder mysteries is obviously the easiest for me. The character’s personalities practically write themselves, and I always know exactly what they’re going to do to get their jobs done.
I don’t outline my work before I begin a book. I let the story unfold as the characters work their cases or live their lives. I’ve found this approach to be comfortable since that’s exactly what happens in police work. That being said, I have to admit that when I write murder mysteries, I follow an unwritten script because I know how cops and victims and criminals act. My psychological fiction, The Door at the Top of the Stairs, is based on a woman who worked as an undercover narcotics officer, so her personality and life flowed easily for me. Even though her experiences as an officer differ from mine, her reactions to those experiences were second nature.
Now, imagine switching genres from mystery and psychological suspense to fantasy fiction. My latest book, The Spirit Child, completely took everything I knew and threw it out the window. I created the characters and hung on for the ride! Holy Spirit Guides became sarcastic or witty instead of the honored wise beings I’d intended. Instead of a minor character staying minor, she took over the whole book! How dare she? Well she did. There were times when I would sit back and laugh at the antics being played out on my computer screen.
Writing a book or a short story is a fantastic adventure where characters have the breath of life breathed into them. People have written to me saying they love my characters and wish they could be their friends and live in their worlds. I believe a person can write in any genre, any time, as long as the people who populate those stories are true to life, un-stereotypical and interesting in their own right.
Police Pet Peeve #3
Most detectives in cop shows lead the way on a high risk house entry.
While it does make it more exciting for your main character to lead the way on a high risk building entry, the truth of the matter is, if they work for a large enough department, SWAT will usually make the high risk entries. If time is of the essence, or if the entry is in the jurisdiction of a small town cop, then patrol officers will make the entry.
Sure, sometimes, if the detective gets to the scene in time, and if he/she can find their vest, and if they can locate their gun in the trunk, they might be on the entry team. ( Just kidding guys, I used to be a detective myself…and I love to jerk their chains)
Here’s an excellent contest for those of you who enjoy writing fantasy and Science Fiction.
StoneThread Fantasy & Science Fiction Short Story Contest
The result of this contest will be an anthology to honor Ray Bradbury. Seeking fantasy and sociological science fiction short stories. We want stories in which science or magic plays a role but is not the main ingredient. The focus should be on the effect of science or magic on the characters or their reaction to it.No reading fee or entry fee
Entry deadline, 31 July 2012
1500 to 15,000 wordsFor more information, please see http://stonethreadpublishing.com/contests
StoneThread Publishing is an excellent resource for writers of any genre. General submissions to StoneThread are closed for the present, but will reopen soon. To be notified when submissions reopen, interested writers should send the publisher, Harvey Stanbrough, an email to Publisher@stonethreadpublishing.com
with WTW in the subject line.
As I said in yesterday’s post, all of these pet peeves come from real cops, most of them friends of mine. I realized the other day though that there has to be one caveat as you read this. Some of these pet peeves have to be used in fiction simply because real life police work can be pretty darn boring at times. That said, at least you will be a better educated writer if you know the “real” way police work is done.
Okay, Police Pet Peeve #2
TV cops always get the bad guy to confess
While it does allow television cop shows to wrap up the case in an hour and it helps writers “prove” their bad guy did the crime, confessions happen in real life only part of the time. As a writer, our job is to write so well that the detective can prove their case without having to rely on a confession, just like a real live cop has to do.
Try this for an exercise: If you have wrapped up your mystery by having the bad guy confess, get rid of the confession and see if your detective would have solved the crime without it. If he can’t, then you haven’t done your job as a story teller. Prove the guilt without the confession, and you’ve done some real police work.
Review of Credo’s Legacy on Novel Addiction – Amanda Togh
Type: Series, Fiction, Mystery, Police Fiction, Procedural Fiction, Long Hours, Fighting the good fight
About the book: Alex Wolfe returns in Book 2 of the Alex Wolfe mysteries. Set in the lush deserts and barrios of Tucson, Az, Credo’s Legacy delivers an intricate, interwoven story of deception, hidden agendas, and the occasional murder, punctuated with episodes of laughter and humanity. A sexy Mafia boss and a brassy eleven year old accused of murdering her foster father help turn Alex’s life upside down.
Occasionally, the second book in a series doesn’t even come close to the first – this is definitely not one of those books. “Credo’s Legacy” packs just as much punch as “Credo’s Hope,” maybe even more so! I’m not much of a suspense junkie, but I decided to give this series a chance because hey, we all need something different now and again, and I have never regretted picking up this book. Alex is still the tough chick, passionate about her work and finding the truth in every situation, no matter how much trouble she gets into because of it. And boy does she get into a lot of trouble.
While it is the story that keeps me reading, it’s the characters that draw me in, in the first place. And the Alex Wolfe series boasts a menagerie of excellent characters, and equally wonderful character interaction. There are no extra, useless scenes. Even in the moments when it seems like Alex is just having fun with her friends, she’s using them to help sort through a few extra details in the case, or they’re helping her solve a problem in her life. Alex’s friends and coworkers help with the pacing of the book, as well as add in a light element. Alex Wolfe’s life can be dark and gritty, especially working on the cases she does, but time spent with her friends gives the reader a few bright moments in the dark.
This story had me hooked from page one. And even better than that, it had me guessing until the very last page. The mystery played its part, I didn’t know why the villain characters did what they did, and I had to keep reading to find out. I cared about Alex, Shelley, Gia, and more. The ending was definitely a good one, I felt like I needed so much more. I had to know Alex and the crew would get their happy endings, that even though some of these characters suffered so badly, things would be all sunshine and puppy dogs. I guess I’ll just have to tune in for the next book – I hope there will be a next book!
Cover Loving: Good cover. The fiery-ness of it really suits Alex’s personality and drive in this novel. And the vague heart shape is perfect, considering Alex’s huge heart. Gruff personality sometimes, but huge heart.
Recommendation: Definitely check out “Credo’s Legacy,” and it’s predecessor, “Credo’s Hope.” I loved both of these, and they really are excellent mystery/suspense novels. There is just so much I love about these books.
Final Rating: FIVE out of FIVE (5/5). Another excellent Alex Wolfe book by Alison Holt. I really love this series, be sure to pick up your copy of “Credo’s Hope” and “Credo’s Legacy!”
I have asked a lot of cops over the years to tell me what bothers them the most about fictional cops portrayed either on television or within the pages of a book. I’ve managed to gather a list of quite a few complaints and I thought it would be fun to address them in my blog. So, today kicks off the Cops and Writers blog posts. Each day’s post will be short and sweet…so here goes:
Police Pet Peeve (PPV) #1
A bad guy misses his target when shooting with a shotgun from six feet away.
While it’s always wonderful to see a bad guy miss by miles when they’re shooting at a cop, the sad truth of the matter is, if you aim in the general direction of your target with a shotgun, you’re gonna hit your target and it’s not going to be pretty.
The moral of the story…If your character needs to miss what he’s shooting at, give him/her something besides a shotgun.
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
— Stephen Biko
Let’s spend a few minutes discussing the terrible little topic of “torture”, which, not so surprisingly, comes from the Latin torquere, to twist. When you think of it like that, it doesn’t sound quite so bad. However, if you consider it as an ideophone, you start to pick up on its dark, insidious, evil nature.
Torture has been the go-to weapon for physical and psychological punishment and duress as long as mankind has walked the earth. It’s also been long abused as a tool for sick and sadistic gratification. Nation states, religious institutions, organized crime, law enforcement, paramilitary organizations, serial killers, kidnappers, and the truly demented have used it for re-education, coercion, punishment, intimidation, sexual indulgence and pure barbarism.
On rare occasions, seemingly normal people have been pushed too far, had too many switches flipped, or been inundated with unwanted improvements to Facebook, and have inexplicably taken to torture with gusto and relish.
Literature and film have been exploring various aspects of torture and the nature of the torturer and tortured for centuries. Consider this impressive list and the depravity within it:
- Room 101 and Winston’s torture by O’Brien and the intellectuals of The Party in the Ministry of Love in Orwell’s 1984
- Regan and the Duke of Cornwall’s gruesome torture of the Earl of Gloucester at the end of Act III of Shakespeare’s King Lear
- Nurse Ratched using electro-shock and lobotomy on McMurphy in Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- Patrick Bateman’s horrifying decompensation in Ellis’ American Psycho
- Jack Merridew Lord’s torture of Sam and Eric in Golding’s Lord of the Flies
- The sinners being tortured in the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante’sInferno
- Asami’s torture of Aoyama and his dog in Audition by Ruy Murakami
- The prisoner’s torture by the Spanish Inquisition in Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum
- The numerous and brutal instances of torture in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians
I’m sure if you ask any survivor of torture to discuss the various forms of torment inflicted upon them, they would lump it all into one big category – probably called something pithy like “It Sucks”.
However the “experts” generally lump the events [now there’s a clinical term for you] into several broad categories: (1) sexual torture; (2) physical torture; (3) psychological manipulations, such as threats of rape or witnessing the torture of others; (4) humiliating treatment, including mockery and verbal abuse; (5) exposure to forced stress positions, such as bondage or other restrictions of movement; (6) loud music, cold showers and other sensory discomforts; and (7) deprivation of food, water or other basic needs.
The Door at the Top of the Stairs is the 2010 debut from up and coming author, Alison Holt.
Morgan Davis is a farmer, horse and dog trainer, and Master of the Myrina Hunt Club. She’s used to doing things her way, especially on her farm. Against her better judgment, she hires the ill-tempered and insolent Jesse Shaunessy to work her horses. After several near disastrous run-ins, Morgan and her partner, the lovely Dr. Ryland Caldwell, a retired psychologist, begin to realize that Jesse has a past that is hidden deep inside her subconscious.
Working closely with the often-times unwilling Jesse, Ryland and Morgan learn that the young woman was an undercover narcotics officer that had been kidnapped and brutally tortured, then dismissed as an officer because she was too emotionally damaged to function professionally. The thing is, Jesse has no memory of the events that happened to her, but day-by-day seemingly random events chink away at her carefully constructed emotional walls.
Morgan and Jesse have a troubled relationship, but Ryland realizes that the younger woman sees Morgan as a strong, centering force. Together, Ryland and Morgan begin to slowly work with Jesse to return her to the torture room, address each of the events that happened there, and take away their power, one at a time. Jesse isn’t always willing, the older women often feel overwhelmed, and a handful of mean-spirited locals try to teach any number of lessons to the damaged young woman. But, Morgan and Ryland are in it for keeps – they know that once they took the top off the bottle that is Jesse, there is only success or failure. And, for Jesse, failure will mean the end.
When I first picked up this book last fall, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. From the blurb on Amazon, it sounded a bit like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma on top of a bed of tough and chewy lesbians. While that vibe wasn’t too far from the truth, it only captures part of what makes The Door at the Top of the Stairs fresh, powerful, and defiant.
For my money, strong, balanced, multi-dimensional characters are key to any successful story. If you think carefully, few good books in the “by/for/about” Lesfic genre have more than two truly main characters. This is usually a product of character detailing and plot complexity.
I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just that it happens that way more often than not.
If I were forced to eeny, meeny, miny, moe only two main characters in The Door at the Top of the Stairs, I’d be inclined to point at Morgan, the tough and chewy farmer with a leather whip, and Jesse the tough and chewy horse wrangler with a twitch. These two women have striking similarities and glaring differences, but as a reader, their interactions and the battles of will are moments of true character artistry.
However, Ryland is beautifully intellectual, emotionally present, and aware of her limitations – she also steps up as a major character. There is magnificence in her softer approach and loving relationship with Morgan that makes each woman stronger. Similarly, there is a layered intricacy to her relationship with Jesse that goes beyond doctor/patient. And, while so much of the story is focused on the “sessions” the three women endure on an almost daily basis, the richest parts of the story and the characters are centered on the day-to-day conversations among and between Morgan, Ryland, and Jesse.
As a reader and reviewer, plausibility of the plot and its content are non-negotiable requirements. There’s often a bit of wiggle room in stories – this tricky little tool is called artistic license.
Some stories lend themselves to it and some veer off into the land of Are You Kidding Me!
In a complex and disturbing story like The Door at the Top of the Stairs, it would be easy for the author to find the most troubling, sadistic, and grotesque elements of human nature and thrust each and every one of them into the story for maximum soul-sucking dramatic effect. The thing is, these elements are all naturally occurring in this story and aren’t given embellishment – that is a testament to Ms. Holt’s vision as a storyteller, patience as a writer, and filter as an author.
Ultimately, the story is tight and each of the elements has a realistic edge. I believe the love/hate relationship between Morgan and Jesse, the homophobic dog handler with a sad excuse for an enabling mother, Pete’s betrayal, the lusty socialite, the sadism, the fear, the anger, and last second Hail Mary for redemption.
A few months ago I contacted Alison Holt to let her know that I write The Rainbow Reader blog, and told her that I’d like to do a review on her next book whenever that might be. We had an interesting little conversation related to the fact that she doesn’t write “lesbian books” just books that have lesbians in them. While not all readers will agree, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter because they still fit the “by/for/about” criteria. Regardless of the label, I believe she’s one of the best writers emerging onto the overall literary scene, and I love that she has the guts and grit to write the stories she has to tell.
If you’re looking for a classic Lesfic romance or mystery, you’re not going to find it in The Door at the Top of the Stairs. What you will find is a fresh approach, great characters, strong plots, a slip of humor, and one of the most beautiful writing styles in the game.
The Door at the Top of the Stairs was great when I read it last year, and it was even better the second time through. It’s artistic, edgy, and will haunt you for weeks to come. I’m giving this powerhouse story a 5.3 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!
It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.
Clapperboard of review of Credo’s Hope
Holy Cow! Alison Holt ROCKS! This novel, the first in her Alex Wolfe Mystery series is FANTASTIC!
Holt’s writing style is both intriguing and gripping, and leaves the reader with a great sense of satisfaction after finishing this book.
Alex Wolfe. Now THAT is a character, if ever there was one. She is one cop you won’t want to miss! I loved the way she handle her situations, especially once she was kidnapped. Yep. She was kidnapped. And, well, let’s just say that conducting an investigation isn’t always the best thing to do. You can tend to make someone mad….VERY mad. To the point of kidnapping.
Anyway, I loved all the secondary characters as well. Mostly all women, you will fall in love with all the characters as you laugh til you cry at their way of life. Oh, and let’s not forget Alex’s new nurse friend…..one hunky nurse……who’s bisexual. Yea. Okay. Well, you’ll have to read it for you self to see just how good this bi nurse fits into the story. You’ll be surprised.
So, I highly recommend this novel as 4 Books worthy. You’ll laugh til you cry (just a precaution…do NOT drink anything while reading this novel!), you’ll turn page after page, ready for each new character, each new twist and each new piece to the puzzle. Alex Wolfe is a character to enjoy, and one who I can’t wait to read more about! Fantastic work, Ms. Holt!
I loved this book! I can identify with the heart and the highjinks that befall Alex and I hope to follow her exploits through numerous books in the future. I’m in love with the supporting case of characters. If you want some laughs, and a decent mystery that never leaves you feeling like “No way, that can’t be what happened!” and group of women you’d want to call your friends, then this book is totally for you.
-by GirlRMusic on Amazon
Thank you! I’m in love with the characters too and hope to have the third in the Alex Wolfe Mysteries out in a few months.
Alison and Hounds
Greetings. I’m glad you decided to join me as I set out on my journey as a published author. My first book, The Door at the Top of the Stairs is at the printers as we speak. I loved writing The Door, which tells the story of JESSE SHAUNESSY, an undercover narcotics officer who is kidnapped and tortured, then thrown away by her department as damaged goods. The mind is a powerful ally, and 26-year-old Jesse has no memory of the abduction or the subsequent torture. Inevitably, the protective walls carefully constructed by her subconscious are beginning to crumble. Insanity, friendship, and redemption are all possibilities dependent upon one choice, one gamble, and two determined women who must risk everything to save one lost soul.
I am also busy formatting my second book, Credo’s Hope, which introduces Detective ALEXANDRA WOLFE, a fresh, funny, tough cop who skates on the edge of the law in her quest for justice. A Mafia boss, a hunky bi-sexual nurse, Alex’s rescued mutt, Tessa, and her exuberant best friend, MEGAN, help Alex turn her everyday life as a detective upside down.
Well, onward and upward as they say!
Having specialized in Psychiatry as a doctor, I was unbelievably drawn to the plot of this book. Too many times the themes of this genre of books leaves me bored with the predictability of the plot and often the ending. Holt kept me gripped to the very last word. Her sense of humor throughout the book made me giggle outwardly at times, some of those not appropriate for the surroundings I was in — hehehehe.
My recommendation gives this book 10 stars out of 5. Do yourself a favor and indulge in this book, but don’t blame me if you miss sleep finishing the book in one sitting. Thanks Alison for a great book. one could say a block buster if it were a film. I hate to sound greedy but I purchased the next 2 books by her on Amazon. When I am done reading them I will enlighten you on my feelings of each of those books…..
have fun reading………yours in friendship…….Tenpercent
Book Review: Alison Naomi Holt, The Door At The Top Of The Stairs
03-25-2011 by L. S. Carbonell
There are forty yards of fiction on my bookshelves. Yeah, you read that right – yards. Thirty yards of it are mysteries. I love a good mystery – police procedurals, English country houses, classic who-done-its, everything from Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelmas to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. The challenge is to find one I can’t figure out before the last chapter.
Alison Holt blew me away.
While there are a couple of criminal subplots to this book, the real mystery lies inside a mind. Fair warning, if you are not a fan of shows like Criminal Minds, the journey through this mind can easily become too much to read. This book requires a strong ability to take a step back from the horrors inside that mind.
I found myself grateful for the parts of the book that stepped away from the mystery, because it gave me a chance to put it down. Otherwise, I would have read straight through the night, and that’s something I only do if I’m dumb enough to get caught two-thirds of the way through a Dick Francis around 11 p.m. The breaks work well, primarily dealing with the operations of a farm that trains horses and hounds for American fox hunting – no foxes are killed. Holt finds that balance between explaining something most of us have no clue about and over-explaining it. Nothing about the farm operation gets so detailed that you want to skip a few paragraphs.
I was initially surprised that Holt never pegs this farm to a state or region. That’s rare. Authors go to great lengths to establish their characters within the framework of a real location, even though a street or estate or town may be fictional. The closest one comes with this book is a sense that they don’t ever have to dig out from under three feet of snow. The town is like small towns in every state. The people could be anywhere, just supply the accent. By the end, I realized that the lack of specific location had allowed me to imagine a place where I felt safe to return to after delving into the terrifying terrain within that damaged mind. I appreciated the freedom from being in California or Virginia or anywhere I wasn’t at home.
Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that I’m the straight gal on this staff, so the only part of this book I can’t comment on with any authority is the relationships of the five female characters. On the other hand, none of the, shall we say, romantic scenes were graphic or embarrassing for a middle-aged straight woman, so you can safely recommend this book to your auntie if she’s cool with your lifestyle. I was particularly comfortable with the relationship of the older, committed couple. Morgan and Ryland felt right. That’s the only way I can explain it. They just felt right. All the relationships felt right. I cared about these people, and isn’t that the most important part of any book?
Let’s put it this way, in the last three days, I recommended it to my younger daughter. She bought it for her Nook and has already recommended it to her mystery book club. It’s that good.
I recently ran across this quote. “Every calling is great when greatly pursued.” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. When I read it, I thought of the wonderful character Bert in the movie Mary Poppins. He swept streets, but he did it with such joy that, as a child, I honestly felt I wanted to be a street sweeper when I grew up. Just remember to try to find the calling that will be great FOR YOU. Find the career that you love as much as Bert loved his and your life will magically turn around, even without the help of that wonderful woman, Mary Poppins.
Harvey Stanbrough’s poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The National Book Award, and the Inscriptions Magazine Engraver’s Award. He’s also one heck of a great editor. If you’re interested, visit his website, www.stonethread.com
What is your biggest pet peeve when editing?
Having to convince writers that someone else’s advice was bad. For example, some writing instructors tell writers to delete all instances of “had” from their writing, or to delete all “ing words” (gerunds) because they create passive voice. The truth is, past progressive and past participle are necessary in fiction. There are a lot of bad writing instructors out there passing out bogus information, and a lot of them are in college and university programs.
2. How many times should an author self edit a book before sending it to an editor?
The author should at least put it away for awhile, at least a week or two, and then re-read it with fresh eyes. Make any changes that jump out at you, then send it to an editor. I strongly recommend against writing by committee. You can employ readers to give you recommendations, but consider those recommendations and then apply the ones that you believe help the work and discard the rest. If you change the character, story, etc. each time someone says you should (especially if that someone is not a professional writer or editor), you’ll never get your work published.
3. Could you discuss your “leave the lady in the shower” technique?
Author C. J. Cherryh once said to avoid writers’ block, leave your character in the shower when you stop writing for the day. When you come back to writing, you’ll have to write the character out of the shower before you can do anything else, and that will get you back in the flow of your WIP.
4. If you could give writers only one suggestion, what would it be?
If any writing instructor (myself included) tells you something that he or she can’t explain to your satisfaction, don’t listen. For example, the writing instructor who says “show, don’t tell.” When a student asks what that means, the instructor says something like “Well, I can’t explain it but I know it when I see it.” No, he doesn’t. If he knew it when he saw it, he could explain it. And if I were invited to give writers a second suggestion, it would be this: Don’t allow your narrator to use the physical or emotional sense verbs (saw, could see; heard, could hear; etc). Instead, have the narrator describe the scene; then the reader can experience it right along with the character. The narrator’s only task is to describe the scene, period. This is also called “deep point of view (POV).”