Meet author Ian Wingrove

18199380_106489323255752_2720189054157647793_n

Ian began writing a few years ago and self-published his debut novel, Dead Pool in 2015. The mystery, thriller series is set in a dystopian England in the near future and features private detective Tom Barlow.

The second in the series, Feel.it, came out in March and Ian is looking forward to the prospect of editing and publishing the next two novels in the series.

Born in London, he currently resides in Norwich and enjoys life with an extensive family.

Let’s get to know Ian. 

What’s the first book that made you cry?

 I didn’t learn to read until I was nine, but by age eleven, I was onto Lord of the Rings. It was the moment I realised I was a sucker for tragic romance; when the immortal, Elrond, tells his daughter Arwen about the terrible fate that awaits her if she marries the heroic, but mortal, Aragon. She will have glorious days of love, children and great grand children, but ultimately she will outlast them all and they will become a distant memory as she fades into the shadows. His bleak description of her long years of loneliness and despair is incredibly powerful. She knows he is right and it will be a horrible eternity, but she goes ahead regardless because the love and the joy of children are worth it – however brief it seems to her father.

My favourite film is Cyrano de Bergerac (with Depardieu), which is the greatest tragic romance I’ve come across.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’ve been around writers my entire adult life because of my brother, David Wingrove, who is a science fiction author. A lot of my early reading material was influenced by him. When I hit fifty and decided to start writing, he gave me invaluable feedback on the early drafts of my first two books.

I have my own local writers group in Norwich and we are always reading out chapters of our work and giving each other feedback. I think that kind of direct communication with a group of writers is essential, but you have to work at building the trust and being prepared to engage in a positive way. What I haven’t yet established is a large network of beta readers who will look at the whole book and whether it works. I think my books could have benefited a lot from that kind of feedback.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There is a huge back story that I have planned for my main character, Tom Barlow, and the first two books are littered with clues, but no one has picked up on it yet. The third book will start to open up Tom’s story a lot more and in the fourth book, his personal history emerges, which is expansive and strange. That is what worries me. I have written a couple of thrillers which are set in the near future, but the people are relatively straightforward. Do I want to take the reader into a very different world, which has been going on silently behind the scenes in the first two books? It’s a risk.

What was your hardest scene to write?

All the sex scenes. Thankfully, there are none in Dead Poor, but Feel.it is a ‘will they, won’t they’ love story.

I could have skipped over the sex, but one of the main characters, Roxanne, is on a journey of discovery. She can’t feel pain because of a teenage trauma involving her mother’s suicide. That makes her the mega star ‘Queen of Pain’ in the futuristic game show called The Tournament. However, she wants to leave both the game and the stardom behind her, so that she can be herself again – so she can feel again. It is the central theme of her story. A big part of that emotional and physical reconnection is with her own body and for a young woman, sex is inevitably wrapped up with that kind of journey.

I won’t be writing sex scenes again if I can help it. Everyone assures me that they turned out okay and they won’t be winning any bad sex awards, but they took weeks of editing to make them raunchy and intimate, without them being pornographic. I suspect that some readers will find them too much, others will simply enjoy.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Nothing, because the characters are more than imitations by the time they find their place in the story. Some of the characters are based on people I haven’t seen for thirty years and I doubt that anyone would recognise themselves in the story. Except one I used to play football with, postie Paul from Donnie (Doncaster), but I told him.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

It is a detective series and I have drafted four of them. The first two actually cover the same 18 day period, with both books including several of the same main characters. Tom Barlow will walk out of a door in one book and walk into a room in the other book. As with the sex scenes, I won’t write anything like that again.

There are even a couple more thrillers that I have sketched out, ready to be written. What worries me is that I can’t think of anything different to write at the moment. I did a short story for an anthology my writers group are pulling together and it ended up being about the crazy 13th birthday party of the sociopathic Alexandria, one of the other main character in my books. I’ve realised that for me the characters come first and then the story happens. I would have to ‘invent’ a new central character, in order to write a different kind of book.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

This is going to sound silly because this book has a Goodreads rating from over 53,500 people and nearly 3,000 actual reviews, but it deserves more. Ursula LeGuin’s “The Dispossessed” is one of the greatest books of the 20th Century. The reason it isn’t rated as highly as some mainstream literature is simply because it is labeled science fiction. People pre-judge and turn away. The Dispossessed has many layers, it’s a great love story and the pages are packed with humanity. I read it eight times before I was thirty. Even the structure of the book reflects the theme of the book, which is about the nature of time and space. It is brilliant. Please give it a go.

How long to write a book?

My problem is finding the time to write (and to promote the finished product) while earning a living, looking after the kids and sharing good times with family and friends. The first two books were mostly written between 5am and 6am, over a three year period. I would think about plot, sections of dialogue and settings, while I cycled to and from work. I would then spend five minutes writing notes on my phone when I arrived and those hastily mis-typed lines would be my starting point (along with coffee) the following morning at 5am.

If you read Feel.it, you will notice that Roxanne, the heroine of the book, also cycles a lot, as it represents freedom and her own head space. This is not a coincidence.

 Catch up with Ian on social media:

Ian Wingrove’s blog

Get the books: Amazon

FeelIt (Medium)

Dead Poor 110915 (Medium)

Meet USA Today Bestselling Author Amy M. Reade

Amy M. Reade is a new-to-me author and one that I’m really excited about.  I’m in the midst of reading her latest release, The House on Candlewick Lane and thoroughly enjoying it. And, bonus…it’s on sale for 99c right now!

Buy on Amazon          Buy Barnes & Noble

It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact, he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.


Let’s get to know Amy. 

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I went to Edinburgh last year and soo wanted to visit the Writers’ Museum, but we ran out of time. I was near it, though. Does that count? And the granddaughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder visited my hometown when I was young and I went to the talk she gave at our local library. She autographed one of her grandmother’s books for me. What a treat! I still have the book and I treasure it.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It depends on what I’ve written. If I’m happy with it, I’m energized. If I’m unhappy with it, I am useless and catatonic until I can edit the offending scene(s).

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

I think a big ego is unbecoming and I gravitate toward people who have a healthy amount of humility (as I hope I do). That being said, a relatively famous author I’ve met in person has a huge ego. Is that what makes her successful? I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem to hurt. Maybe that’s why I’m not as famous as she is—I’m just too darn nice.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

The greatest time suck in history: Social media.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I have, but there’s really no reason for it at this point. A: I don’t write anything that would embarrass my family or myself; and B: I have a pretty cool last name for a writer.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I am blessed to have readers who give me feedback about what they love and want to see in my books. I also know from a few early reviews of my first book that there are some things my readers don’t like. But I don’t feel like I’m giving up my originality by writing what people like.

Bottom line: I think it’s possible for a writer to be original while still delivering what readers want.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

I do think it’s possible. Just because a person doesn’t feel emotions deeply doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of understanding them or having empathy with people who do feel them. In fact, a dispassionate author might actually be better able to cut unnecessary words and scenes from a novel without feeling like they’ve lost a part of himself or herself.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I am very lucky to be friends with lots of authors. I’ve found authors, as a community, to be some of the most supportive, selfless, and genuine people I’ve ever known. They’re always willing to share their steps to success, as well as their failures, so other authors can learn from their smart moves and their mistakes. They’re also very generous with their help to new writers.

 How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It made me write faster! I wrote my first book longhand on legal paper, and it became apparent very quickly that I wouldn’t have time for that with future books. Now I write everything directly onto the computer.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my domain name.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

There’s only one person upon whom a character in my books is loosely based, and I must thank that wretched monster for the miserable experience s/he created for me. Without it, I would not have been able to craft the thoroughly evil villain in the book I’m working on now.

But I’m not bitter or anything.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have two half-finished books right now, both of which are (obviously) unpublished. I also have two books in the publication pipeline, both at different points in the editing process.

What’s the best way to market your books?

The best marketing isn’t done by me—it’s done by readers, by word-of-mouth. I think most authors would say the same thing.


 

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Amy.

You can catch up with her here:

On her blog: https://amreade.wordpress.com/

On her webpage: http://www.amymreade.com/

On  Facebook

On Twitter

On:  Goodreads

 

Guess what time it is?

It’s Mystery & Thriller Week over at Goodreads!  

Mystery Week Author

What an exciting time. You can count on fun-filled days of interaction with you favorite mystery authors. Well, me at least. Check out my Goodreads page and follow me for updates.   

It’s day one so let’s get started. 

Here’s an excerpt from Still Life, book 1 in my Randi Lassiter series. I have yet to hear from anyone who’s solved the mystery before the ending. (Not that I’m making it a throw down or anything!) This is near the beginning of the book, when our lead detective arrives on scene. I was aiming for realism and grit. Meh, what can I say? Hopefully, I don’t fall too short of the mark. 


Jon drove his Jeep with the window unzipped and let the crisp air slap him in the face as he made his way to the bypass. Within minutes his Wrangler bumped to a stop against the concrete curb in front of Hometown Café. He turned off the ignition and sat. Sipping black coffee he’d picked up on the way, he popped a couple of ibuprofen, followed by three breath mints, and waited for the caffeine and painkiller combo to hit his bloodstream. He surveyed the bustling scene behind him in his side-view mirror.

EMS, local cops and sheriff deputies all on hand to offer assistance to the city jurisdiction dotted the area with a rainbow of uniform colors. Detectives employed by Mt. Ouisco, all three of them, were no doubt inside the official perimeter. Overkill in the number of personnel it took to cover a homicide and a potential contamination issue if they were wandering the crime scene. Jon knew it was bad when he saw the chief of police among the throng. There was an aura of frenzy as everyone vied to be part of the nightmare— everyone, that is, but him. He noted a remarkable absence of reporters. If this were Milwaukee, they’d have arrived alongside the first responders. Soon there would be an onslaught of news people, each sparring for a morsel like vultures over carrion.

Greg Stanton stood off to one side of the crowd nervously shifting foot to foot. Young and lanky with straight russet hair and flat, pale face, the rookie officer was just finishing his probationary period. He fidgeted with his duty belt and a government-issued Beretta and looked ill. A smile edged onto Jon’s face. When he worked homicide in Milwaukee, he’d dealt with more than his fair share of bloody murders. The worst were the gang killings where innocent children ended up as turf-war collateral damage. That kind of inhumane crap that was impossible to forget. This kid had it easy and didn’t even know it. The rookie looked his way; recognition crossed his face, and he waved spastically, desperate for help.

“Shit.” Jon did not wave back. He swallowed the dregs in the cup and tossed it onto the passenger side where it bounced off of several others on the floor. He got out and took his sweet time crossing the parking lot.

Unable to wait for the mountain to come to Muhammad, Stanton rushed up to meet Jon. “Hey, Detective. How are you doing? It’s a good thing we got you here to handle this… with your experience and all.” He trailed behind Jon like a puppy tripping over his own feet. Jon shot him an aggravated look that went unnoticed. “Guess you got lucky, huh?” the rookie added.

Jon pulled up short and turned to face the young officer. “Yeah. Lucky. You might want to redo your button job there, kid.” He pointed at the rookie’s shirt, which was a mess even by three a.m. standards. The kid blanched and turned his back to the crowd to fix it. Jon fought to keep from smiling. “At my first murder, I puked my guts out in the bushes not far from the corpse. The squad never let me live it down.” He patted the kid on the shoulder. “You puke yet?”

Stanton shook his head.

“Then you’re ahead of the curve.” Stanton blushed so deeply his freckles almost disappeared. A rural town with no major crime, Mt. Ouisco didn’t need— nor could they afford— a CSI team, so it fell to regular staff to conduct investigations. The local detectives typically dealt with things like B& E, vandalism, drug violations and theft. Jon knew full well their homicide skills would be academic at best. It was pretty much a given that he would be handed the investigation.

(DB Kennison. Still Life: The Randi Lassiter Series (Kindle Locations 264-291). W.R. Publishing.)


dbkennison-thedarksidedraft1-1

StillLife

 

Everyone who leaves a comment will be put in a drawing for an ebook of Still Life or The Dark Side (your choice). Tune in every day for more tidbits, contests, games, and all things mystery! 

And there’s more…

Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. I’ve teamed up with more than 50 crime fiction and crime thriller authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS  a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner! You can win my novel STILL LIFE, plus books from authors like J.T. ELLISON and MICHAEL LISTER.
Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/crime-fic-may-17 Good luck, and enjoy!

Can hanging out with cops improve your writing?

This past August, writers from around the globe descended on Green Bay Wisconsin like cops diving for an open box of donuts. In fact, they came in droves from as far away as Thailand and Germany to meet with law enforcement specialists at The Writers’ Police Academy. Their collective goal? To get the writing right. After all, when it comes to the technical stuff, the goal is to gain a level of authenticity that the reader doesn’t ever have to question. Readers expect a bit realism and accuracy when it comes to the details. They want the story to be believable. And, writers want to deliver it. For instance, the earlier cliche about cops and donuts is far from the truth. These days, law enforcement officials strive to stay in top-notch condition, not only to do their job well but to carry around an addition twenty pounds of gear (vest and duty belt).

The Writers’ Police Academy provided an experience like no other. Where 14054949_10207526999108692_295445966679904031_nelse can a wordsmith learn how to evaluate blood spatter or explore the use of explosives and IED’s. Or field strip and shoot a long gun, study a death scene, and learn the proper time to Mirandize a suspect?

As a debut author who is all about improving my writing, I’ve found the fine points of police procedure, legalese, forensics, and psychopathy are sometimes hard to get right. Research from behind the laptop only goes so far and it’s those little tidbits that make the story dynamic.

Based on what I learned at the academy I’ll admit mistakes were made in my first book. Hopefully, none that the average citizen would note. And yet, my goal will always be to get the minutiae right. Not only is it out of respect for those who do the job but I want fans to experience an adventure that reflects real life. This writer thing I’ve got a passion for is going to last awhile and I owe it to readers to improve where I can.

This event was law enforcement 101 on steroids.

The WPA’s wicked intense schedule is a one-stop shop that provides interactive, hands-on, professional instruction. And, much like Disneyworld, the offerings are so vast that it’s impossible to do everything in a single visit. I’m talking 42 classes offered over a 2-day period-Yikes! With all the group presentations, classes, guest speakers, and networking, my head was spinning by the end (good thing I took notes). The jam-packed days continued into the night with drone demos, traffic stops, and arrest protocol. I was particularly impressed with how patient and determined instructors were to ensure we left with a clear understanding of each subject. No question went unanswered.

Police procedure and crime scene investigation expert, author and consultant, Lee Lofland (of the Graveyard Shift Blog), is the driving force behind the academy. He and his team put together one heck of a training adventure. Here’s a look at just a few things I experienced that weekend.

Special Ops show and tell of equipment, gear, and vehicles:  S.W.A.T.,  bomb squad, emergency response and rescue, K-9 cops.

14054273_10207527056990139_2151073560183728042_o  14066399_10207527056950138_3987943591778574354_o 20160811_152317 20160811_152700

And, a few of the classes I participated in:

-Oneida Tribal Police and Native Gangs: This class was a gold mine of information on various gangs not only in Wisconsin but across the U.S.

-Examination of stereotypical motives for mass/serial murders and the psychological nuances behind specific cases. This was taught by renown author, instructor of forensic psychology, and lover of all things dark–Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

-Police basics – learning the walk and talk – a crash course in cop lingo. Taught by Robin Burcell,  a former cop, hostage negotiator, and an FBI-trained forensic artist turned author.

-Private Investigation: Or, how to be a dick for fun and profit. Great for my amateur sleuth protagonist.

20160813_121656-Force on Force clearing of a building: When is deadly force necessary?  This class was a real eye-opener for me. I learned how officers are trained using reality-based tactical scenarios to evaluate and determine if deadly force is necessary. Gone are the days when trainees shoot at pop-up targets during training and then hesitate when confronted with the same shoot/don’t shoot scenario with a live person. An instant is all it takes to be right or wrong. I learned how this cutting-edge training better prepares officers for dangerous situations.

(Here I am with instructor Randy Clifton. Former Special Agent for the DEA and FBI Academy Instructor.)


As if the classes weren’t enough, one exciting part of the weekend were the surprise events that were planned for us.

When we arrived on campus Friday morning we witnessed a fatal head-on collision involving a drunk driver (simulated). This incident felt very real. Officials wore microphones so that we writers could hear the exchange as emergency personnel arrived and dealt with the events in real time. Responding officers evaluated the intoxicated driver, issuing a field sobriety test and subsequent arrest. Emergency medical personnel triaged the injured and extricated (using the jaws of life) a victim for medical transport on the Flight for Life helicopter.

14039920_10207526994908587_3368170097671268097_n

20160812_080434

(Impressive acting by the guy in the orange shorts! He played dead as the entire scenario unfolded.)


We were in class early Saturday morning drinking coffee and covering terrorist statistics. For instance, Worldwide terrorist attacks in 2015 numbered 391. That number jumped dramatically to 759 in the first six months of 2016!  All of a sudden, we were under attack (simulated). Terrorists had come onto campus and staff was dealing with multiple stabbings while performing a lock-down in the lecture hall to keep us all safe. We all knew this was one of the WPA surprise simulations, but still. Not only did we get to hear staff in the room but critical responders as they made their way to us.

A lot was happening at once and it was tough to take notes with our hands on our heads. (I did manage to sneak a few photos with my cell). We were required to keep our hands on our heads until our non-involvement was established by officers. Afterward, instructors covered protocol for the response.

20160813_08293120160813_082044



Lee Goldberg shared insights into his writer’s journey and words of wisdom on how to use or not use what we learned at the WPA.

14053918_10207527041349748_3436097544304255929_o

Lee Goldberg and Tami Hoag receive recognition at the Saturday night banquet.

To top off the weekend (I know, you’re wondering how it could possibly get any better), Tami Hoag spoke about her panster writing process and how, often, she doesn’t know the ending until she’s there. She sports a tattoo that keeps her centered and has a love of mixed martial arts (and yes, she can lay you flat with one punch). She also shares a passion to the details right and attended classes that weekend. See, a writer never stops working on the craft.

resized_20160813_221421

resized_20160813_221346-1

The Writers’ Police Academy was an all around adventure I look forward to attending again and again. Thanks WPA for keeping it real!

The Writers’ Police Academy sign up is February 19th. Don’t miss out!

Interview with debut author CJ Warrant

Today I welcome fellow debut author CJ Warrant to my blog.

CJ Warrant

CJ is an Award Winning Author for dark romantic suspense and thrillers that pulls at your heart, makes you shiver, and hope for a happy ending. A lover of coffee, baking and family, but not in that order–She’s a wife, a loving mother of three and a cosmetologist by trade. Drawing her experiences from her Korean Italian heritage and growing up as an Army brat, her stories stir in dark plots with addictive flawed characters you will fall in love with.
Visit CJ at www.cjwarrant.com

 

What do you think people would be the most surprised to learn about you?

My nationality. People look at me and assume I’m a certain heritage but in fact I’m far from what they think. I’m half Italian and half Korean, which are equal influences in my life. So when you first meet me, I’m generally quiet, but once you get to know me you can’t shut me up.

What do you enjoy most in your free time?

Being with my family. Especially nowadays, since my kids are growing up so fast and moving out the house. I treasure them and the time we have.

Other than a computer, what modern convenience could you never live without?

My cell phone. Not only does it link to social media but also my family. It’s the central hub of all incoming information for both personal and professional.

Every author has a process—what works for them when they write. What does your writing process look like from first scribbles to finished manuscript?

Wow, if you had asked me that a few years ago, I’d say I was all over the place with my writing process. I’m a total pantser, through and through. However, while writing Forgetting Jane, I realized I needed some plotting to keep my story in line.

13308741_1118203708244073_5257531052267915119_o

Perhaps the start of CJ’s new novel?

So, when I get a spark of an idea—which can come from anything I see, hear, or even dream and that idea usually forms into movie playing in my head. Upon that, I start writing a chapter or two of a scene. In that scene, my main characters emerge. However, sometimes, it’s a character that comes forth before the storyline. After developing my characters, that is when I begin writing my first draft. Once done, I usually go three to four rounds of edits, with a full rewrite and my critique partners going through the manuscript twice.

What is your all time favorite book and why?

This is a tough question, because I have several. I’ve always been a sucker for a love story with grittier plots. I want a book with characters that have major flaws and then find redemption. But one story has always stood out of my mind since I was a kid. It was the first book I fell in love with. The book made me cry and care for the characters deeply. It was, The Pigman by Paul Zindel. It’s far from what I read now, but it’s a great story.

Goodreads

Goodreads: Paul Zindel

Pigman

Via Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project research, love it or hate it?

I love doing research. It helps me dig deeper into my characters, plot and/or the places where the dirty deeds had taken place. The more I know, the better my story is.

Is there a specific author who inspires you?

I could say numerous well known authors have inspired me, like for example Sherrilyn Kenyon. She is one of my favorites to read, but I feel that the ones who truly inspire me the most are the writers who aren’t published yet. They keep writing and pushing along to get their stories out there. Their perseverance and diligence are what I feel inspires me; not to quit and keep striving for what I want. Just like them.

You write in various genres, which is your favorite to write?

I tend to lean toward my darker side, so I would have to say romantic thrillers.

Which is your favorite to read?

It would have to depend on my mood at the time. But if I have to choose, then it would be Paranormal romance. It so outside the realm of reality, and that’s what draws me.

Is there a genre you haven’t written but are thinking about trying?

Erotica. Just to see if I can write it.

How long did it take you to write your first book?

My first book—which by the way will never see the light of day… it me over four years to finish it with the heavy push from my wonderful husband.

Your latest book?

It took me eight months.

Like my debut novel, yours is set in Wisconsin. Tell us a little about FORGETTING JANE

Forgetting Jane is set in a small rural town in Wisconsin in current times. Some of the scenes in the novel were derived from my experiences I had when I was kid, living on a farm(which was haunted by a female ghost—no joke) for a year, and the closest town was ten miles away.

The story is about a woman found in the outskirts of town near a lake. Jane was horrifically beaten and had lost her memory. Her memory holds the key to who tried to kill her, and links her to a ghost, who haunts her until the killer’s secrets are revealed. What secrets? That’s what Chief Elias McAvoy’s intends to find out.

Small towns have buried secrets, and those secrets are about to be unearthed. With each step closer to getting Jane’s memory back, so is the truth about the killer. During the chaos of this investigation, Elias and Jane’s attraction grows and it can’t be denied.

And I do have to give a shout out to my secondary character, Harold and his hunting dog Traitor, a black Labrador. They are the ones who helped sparked this story.

What other projects are you working on?

I have three projects right now. My first project I’m currently editing is an erotic thriller called Mirror Image, which starts in Las Vegas and ends in Denver.

In my second project, I’m finishing up book one in a romantic suspense series based out of Chicago, which my lead female character, Jazz knows how to kick some a**.

And my third project is outlining a second romantic suspense series based out of Tennessee. Characters, towns and events—good and bad. A road trip will be required for this series.

CJ's book

Excerpt:

The small town of Beaver Creek, Wisconsin has never seen a horrific act of violence before. So when two hunters find a woman beaten and partially buried, but alive, recovering alcoholic Chief Elias McAvoy has to find who’s behind the attempted murder. After Jane Doe wakes up from a coma, Elias discovers she has amnesia, which makes the case nearly impossible to solve.

Jane wants to remember the horrid crime that put her near death’s door, but the only thing she can envision is the girl in the yellow dress that repeatedly visits her. Seeing ghosts is the least of her worries, however. Between the severe headaches and nightmares, the only person keeping her sane is Elias. His desperate touch gives her the strength to learn more about herself and him, as well the girl who haunts her. She unwittingly captures Elias’s heart while the killer is bent on reclaiming her for his deadly game.

Elias and Jane search for answers and find more than lost memories. When another body is discovered, Elias uncovers a killing spree that spans forty years that connect to the girl in the yellow dress. With evidence pointing to a local, the killer quickly closes in, recapturing Jane to finish what he started. As Jane’s life hangs in the balance, Elias’s sobriety is tested as he realizes he can’t live without her. It will take strength and perseverance to save the woman he loves before the killer does.

Forgetting Jane releases June 29th, but it’s available to pre-order now!

10399406_10154012950738631_2006538156775531401_n

 

Please join CJ and several other authors on June 29th from 3 – 10pm for her FORGETTING JANE Launch Party on Facebook.  CJ will start us out and I’ll be there at 3:30! It promises to be loads of fun with lots of giveaways!

Do you prefer bent, straight or blended?

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be part of an author round table on International Thriller Writer’s on air forum—Author’s on the Air ( blog talk radio ), talking about next steps in a debut author’s path. It was an interview of four other thriller writers for an hour long sharing of personal journeys.

With fellow debut authors, Matt Brolly, R. K. Jackson, H.A. Raynes, and Brendan Rielly as guests, I was among impressive company. I’ve since scoped out their books and have added all of these debut novels have to my TBR list.

What an opportunity it was to share our books with thriller readers. It was interesting to hear about the varied experiences on writing, publishing, and what comes next for a new author. There were some similarities among the group but as I listened to each writer talk, it was obvious my novel was slightly different from the straight thrillers featured. The line that kept running through my head was, one of these things is not like the others.

My debut, STILL LIFE, is listed as a romantic suspense novel. As a mixed genre with offbeat comedic wit among the pure thrill reads it seemed like a rose among more ominous corpse flowers. The comparison brought me back to an interview I’d heard about a month before where the author of a dark romantic suspense project had a difficult time selling her project to a publisher because of the genre blended concept.

Fast forward a few months and I have come to learn that it is challenging to market a genre-blended or genre-bent project. It neither fits neatly into the romance nor thriller categories and some readers have a problem with that. I consider my book a suspense mystery with a story thread that is romantic. I call it my kitchen sink book because it has a little something for everyone.

This blending of genres is challenging for some purists. They just can’t get past the mix. I’ve had readers think I missed the mark of writing a good romance, while still others don’t understand the quirky humor of my characters, strange plot twists or the need for graphic violence and profanity. Some have complimented my ability to nail a deep POV, while another opined my failure to flesh out a fully romantic character.

All of this has me shaking my head and wondering, can a novel with a hybrid storyline find a solid foothold in the book market? Me personally, I’m not opposed to reading romance novels, they’re just not the first books I turn to. My tastes run along a darker bent. I am first a fan of thriller and mystery fiction with page-turning suspense and influences from writers such as Blake Crouch, James Patterson, Stephen King, and Jeffery Deaver. However, I’m also a fan of Tami Hoag, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, and Lisa Jackson. As such, it’s understandable that my writing may reflect some of the traits of both genres. I think that’s okay and based on these reviews of STILL LIFE I’m not alone:

“The last 10% of this novel is wicked intense, as our heroine runs for her life from a psychotic killer.” “But it was also surprisingly funny, sweet, and sexy as hell. Everything builds towards a suspenseful climax which will keep you on the edge of your seat.” ~ROMANCE4THEBEACH

 “The first title in the “Randi Lassiter” murder mystery series paints a grisly picture of a deranged serial killer and the grotesque capabilities of a twisted mind. But romance readers don’t despair! Sparks fly between the jilted Randi and her hunky detective, and not even gruesome murder scenes can stop this pair from igniting.” ~Library Journal

According to Writer’s Digest genre-blended books have been around for a while now and can be successful when done right. Marketing and sales may be a challenge for the publisher trying to slot and sell your book, but the bigger issue is meeting audience expectation. Readers take great comfort in knowing that their latest book isn’t going to surprise them too much or leave them disappointed.

It’s important that the base genre be at the forefront or that the blended genres are equally balanced, with crossed lines nearly invisible so that fans are not distracted from the story.

Entertaining readers and meeting their expectations is the same. Romance fans want to be swept up in a steamy relationship, mystery fans want to try to solve the whodunit along the way, and genre fans in general want standard outcomes to still be met by the end of the book. Added elements or crossover should enrich the storyline, not throw it out of balance.

Again, I ask, can genre-blended fiction find a foothold in the book market?

Absolutely!

It may be a challenge to find the right placement and there will always be readers who prefer their fiction to run to the traditional only and that’s fine. But let’s embrace those adventurous souls who want to mix it up and have a little fun. In fact, check out the unique favorites Lincoln Michel chose to talk about in Publisher’s Weekly last November (  10 Best Genre-Bending Books ). Now there’s some bent genre reads to add to my TBR list.

Keep reading. And for goodness sake…try something new!

 

 

A Debut Author’s Next Steps

This past week I was fortunate enough to be part of an author round table on International Thriller Writer’s on air forum—Author’s on the Air, talking about next steps in a debut author’s path. Author, Jenny Milchman, hosted me and four other thriller writers for an hour long sharing of personal journeys.

Listen in as five authors share their personal publishing experience and what the immediate future holds for each of them.

Blog talk radio/ Authors on the air