Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don’t Do This: The 3 Most Common Medical Mistakes Writers Make

by D. P. Lyle, MD

The Quick Death: No one dies instantly. Well, almost no one. Instant death can occur with heart attacks, strokes, extremely abnormal heart rhythms, and cyanide and other “metabolic” poisons. But trauma, such as gunshot wounds (GSWs) and blows to the head, rarely cause sudden death. Yet, how often has a single shot felled a villain? Bang, and he drops dead. In order for that to occur, the bullet would need to severely damage the brain, the heart, or the cervical (neck) portion of the spinal cord. A shot to the chest or abdomen leads to a lot of screaming and moaning, but death comes from bleeding and that takes a while.

The One-punch Knockout: You’ve seen and read this a million times. The hero socks the bad guy’s henchmen in the jaw. He goes down and is apparently written out of the script, since we never hear from him again. It’s always the henchmen, because the antagonist, like most people, requires a few solid blows to go down. Think about a boxing match. Two guys that are trained to inflict damage and they have trouble knocking each other out. And when they do, the one on his back is up in a couple of minutes, claiming the other guy caught him with a lucky punch. Listen to me. Only James Bond can knock someone out with a single blow. And maybe Mike Tyson. Your car-salesman-turned-amateur-sleuth cannot.

The Bleeding Dead: Your detective arrives at a murder scene a half hour after the deed. Blood oozes from the corpse’s mouth and from the GSW in his chest. Tilt! Dead folks don’t bleed. You see, when you die, your heart stops and the blood no longer circulates and then it clots. Stagnant or clotted blood does not move. It does not gush or ooze or gurgle or flow or trickle from the body.
Don’t make these mistakes in your manuscript. I know. It happens all the time, and often readers and viewers don’t notice. But some do. Some cringe. Some walk away from the story. Some will not purchase your next book. That’s never a good thing. So get it right. Your readers expect it.

ORIGINAL SIN—a new Samantha Cody thriller
Dr. Lucy Wagner was on top of her game. The only cardiac surgeon on staff, a new pediatric cardiac unit dedicated to her, and an impeccable reputation not only put her at the apex of the local medical
pyramid but also garnered a few powerful enemies. Such is the nature of jealousy and greed. Turf wars can get ugly. Still all was good until the day old John Scully, the spiritual founder and leader of a local snake-handling church, died on her operating table. Fainting spells, nightmarish dreams, and patient after patient succumbing to some violent psychosis followed, putting her career, and her life, in jeopardy. Aided by long time friend and ex-boxer, ex-cop Samantha Cody, Lucy must reach deeply into her family’s past and into her own soul to find the strength to confront old and very powerful forces she never knew existed.

D. P. Lyle is the Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Silver Award winning and Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Scribe, and USA Best Book Award nominated author of both non-fiction and fiction (the Samantha Cody and Dub Walker thriller series and the Royal Pains media tie-in series). Along with Jan Burke, he is the co-host of Crime and Science Radio. He has served as story consultant to many novelists and the screenwriters of shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars. He invites you to visit him at his website:; blog:; or Crime and Science Radio: 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Buddhism for Novelists

by John Burley

Around the time when I was finishing my first novel and embarking on the arduous road to publication, my wife began taking an interest in Buddhism. “It says here there are Four Noble Truths,” she advised me, offering some tidbit of impractical wisdom.

To be honest, I wasn’t paying attention. I was distracted, agonizing over how long it was taking to secure an agent, to edit the novel down to a reasonable length. I was submerged in the agony of decimating some of my favorite chapters and leaving them twitching in the dust, all for the sake of a more marketable product. “The First Noble Truth is that life is suffering,” Lorie quoted, but I was in my own private hell and not listening.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to find an agent who was enthusiastic about my work. But the pain didn’t stop. “The manuscript is still too long,” he told me. “You’ve got to cut out another fifty thousand words.” Impossible, I thought. It’ll destroy everything I’ve worked so hard to create. But I wanted the book to see the light of day, and so I picked up a machete and went to work on it, lopping off appendages and major organs until I barely recognized the massacred thing in front of me.

 “The Second Noble Truth is that suffering arises from attachment to desires,” my wife read to me one evening. I barely heard her as I sat there mourning my novel, knowing how altered it was from what I’d originally intended.

And so it went. We cut the length of the story almost in half, signed with a publisher, and the first thing the editors said was, “The pacing lags in the middle. The whole middle third of the book needs to be re-written.” I fumed in silence, continued to circle the drain of my creative demise.

“The Third Noble Truth is that suffering ends only when you let go of your desire,” Lorie reminded me, but I was too far gone for platitudes.

I re-wrote the middle section of the novel, did what my editors asked—not because I thought they were right, but because I was in too deep now and there was no other way. It was a dark and difficult crossing. And what I discovered on the other side was this: The story was much better because of it. My agent and editors had helped me make the novel stronger, not weaker. Despite my resistance, they’d saved me from getting swept away in the current of my obstinacy and inexperience.

“The Fourth Noble Truth is that freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path,” Lorie quoted that night as I climbed into bed. “It’s about changing the way you see things, changing the way you think. It’s not sufficient to simply believe. You’ve got to have enough faith in the process to walk the path.”

“Right,” I said, turning out the light. And, at last, I was at peace.

THE ABSENCE OF MERCY (William Morrow, 2013)
When a teenager is discovered brutally murdered in the woods of a small Ohio town, medical examiner Dr. Ben Stevenson becomes entangled in an investigation that will force him to uncover the dark secrets of his seemingly quiet community and ultimately to confront a truth that will haunt him forever. With its nerve-fraying plot twists and eerie portrait of suburban life, The Absence of Mercy is psychological suspense at its best.

John Burley grew up in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay. He attended medical school in Chicago and completed his emergency medicine residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center and Shock Trauma in Baltimore. He currently works as an emergency medicine physician at an urban trauma center in the San Francisco Bay area. His debut novel, The Absence of Mercy, was honored with the National Black Ribbon Award in recognition of an author who brings a fresh voice to suspense writing. You may visit John at

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Rules of the Fire Swamp

by Thomas Sweterlitsch

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably just published or are about to publish your first novel: Congratulations!

My debut hasn’t hit the shelves quite yet—so while I can’t write about being a published writer, I can write what I’ve learned being an about to be published writer. In my case, I’ve been about to be published for about 18 months, from the moment I signed my contract to the moment when my debut novel will see daylight. The single most important thing I’ve been doing with that time has been to work on my second novel. And, yes, second novels are more difficult to write than first novels—but in addition to the specific struggles inherent with second novels, there are a few traps that the about to be published writer can easily fall into (I’ve fallen into all of these traps, by the way).

Here are my Rules of the Fire Swamp:

1.) Stop Googling yourself. Ask yourself “how many times did I Google the phrase ‘your name’ + ‘writer’ or ‘the title of your book’?” before your contract. Probably the answer is zero. That should be the approximate number of times you Google yourself now. Yes, you’ll gradually see your name resulting in more and more hits, and yes, it can make you giddy the first time you find someone writing about your book, but in the words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” Googling yourself can unwittingly become a significant part of your routine as you check the 20th search page, the 25th…the 35 th. Instead, take that time to write your second book.

2.) Don’t read early reviews. In fact, maybe don’t read any reviews. Some of my earliest reviews came from participants in programs that give away a free ARC in exchange for their honest review—while I understand the utility in this, especially for an unknown writer like me, this does mean that anyone can be among the first (and permanent) voices talking about your book on-line. Seeing those five star reviews can be thrilling. If you get a negative review, however, your day—and possibly your week, or month—is wrecked. Oftentimes, if you click on the negative reviewer’s profile, you’ll find that just before demolishing your book, they were ridiculing the packaging of Slim Jims or deriding the texture of paper towels. There’s nothing you can do about it. So just…stay away. Stay far, far away.

3.) Social media? Set limits. The first thing you’ll hear about promoting your work is to establish your social media platform. I do think it’s important to have an inviting web presence to welcome and interact with fans of your work—but try not to confuse being on social media with your job as a writer. (In fact, I just spent ten minutes reading an article about drunken Taylor Swift fans vandalizing her Rhode Island beach house…Ten Minutes. Why? Why did I do this???).

It is ten years since the attack that reduced Pittsburgh to ash. Today all that remains is the Archive: an interactive digital record of the city and its people. John Dominic Blaxton is a survivor, one of the 'lucky ones' who escaped the blast. Crippled by the loss of his wife and unborn daughter, he spends his days immersed in the Archive with the ghosts of yesterday. It is there he finds the digital record of a body: a woman, lying face down, half buried in mud. Who is she ... and why is someone hacking into the system and deleting the record of her seemingly unremarkable life? Dominic tracks the murder through a web of deceit that takes him from the darkest corners of the Archive to the city itself, leading him into the heart of a nightmare more horrific than anything he could have imagined.

Thomas Sweterlitsch lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and daughter. He worked for twelve years at the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Tomorrow and Tomorrow is his first novel. Visit him at or on Twitter: @LetterSwitch

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July Debuts

It's the first Thursday in July, which means debut releases. Please take a look and let’s celebrate their success!

M.P. Cooley - Ice Shear (William Morrow/HarperCollins) July 2014  

As a cop on the night shift in Hopewell Falls, New York, June Lyons drives drunks home and picks up the donuts. A former FBI agent, she ditched the Bureau when her husband died, and now she and her young daughter are back in upstate New York, living with her father, the town’s retired chief of police.

When June discovers a young woman’s body impaled on an ice shear in the frozen Mohawk River, news of the murder spreads fast; the dead girl was the daughter of a powerful local Congresswoman, and her troubled youth kept the gossips busy. Though June was born and raised in Hopewell Falls, the local police see her as an interloper—resentment that explodes in anger when the FBI arrive and deputize her to work on the murder investigation. But June may not find allies among the Feds. The agent heading the case is someone from her past—someone she isn’t sure she can trust.

As June digs deeper, an already fraught case turns red-hot when it leads to a notorious biker gang and a meth lab hidden in plain sight—and an unmistakable sign that the river murder won’t be the last.

Lori Rader Day -The Black Hour (Seventh Street Books) July 8, 2014

For Chicago sociology professor Amelia Emmet, violence was a research topic--until a student she'd never met shot her. 

He also shot himself. Now he's dead and she's back on campus, trying to keep up with her class schedule, a growing problem with painkillers, and a question she can't let go: Why?

All she wants is for life to get back to normal, but normal is looking hard to come by. She's thirty-eight and hobbles with a cane. Her first student interaction ends in tears (hers). Her fellow faculty members seem uncomfortable with her, and her ex--whom she may or may not still love--has moved on.

Enter Nathaniel Barber, a graduate student obsessed with Chicago's violent history. Nath is a serious scholar, but also a serious mess about his first heartbreak, his mother's death, and his father's disapproval.  Assigned as Amelia's teaching assistant, Nath also takes on the investigative legwork that Amelia can't do. And meanwhile, he's hoping she'll approve his dissertation topic, the reason he came to grad school in the first place: the student attack on Amelia Emmet. 

Together and at cross-purposes, Amelia and Nathaniel stumble toward a truth that will explain the attack and take them both through the darkest hours of their lives.

Teri Anne Stanley - Deadly Chemistry (Entangled Ignite) June, 23, 2014

Some chemical reactions generate too much heat…

Former undercover cop Mike Gibson has been lying low, working as a maintenance man to put his troubled younger brother through college. But when a beautiful scientist enlists Mike’s help to repair the damage done to her lab by a group of vandals, Mike finds that his, and his brother's pasts, are about to be brought to light.

Laura Kane was happy having a secret crush on the hot maintenance man at Tucker University, but when the drug she was studying is stolen, Laura has a chance to get to know Mike in person. The problem is, he seems to know more about what's going on than any maintenance man should. But then the drug turns up in the wrong hands, and Mike and Laura have to decide if their own chemistry will help, or hinder, the race to save innocent lives.

Thomas Sweterlitsch - Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Putnam Adult) July 10, 2014

"Simultaneously trippy and hardboiled, Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a rich, absorbing, relentlessly inventive mindfuck, a smart, dark noir...Sweterlitsch's debut is a wild mashup of Raymond Chandler, Philip K. Dick and William S. Burroughs, and, like their work, utterly visionary." --Stewart O'Nan, author of "The Odds"

A decade has passed since the city of Pittsburgh was reduced to ash.  

While the rest of the world has moved on, losing itself in the noise of a media-glutted future, survivor John Dominic Blaxton remains obsessed with the past.  Grieving for his wife and unborn child who perished in the blast, Dominic relives his lost life by immersing in the Archive--a fully interactive digital reconstruction of Pittsburgh, accessible to anyone who wants to visit the places they remember and the people they loved.  

Dominic investigates deaths recorded in the Archive to help close cases long since grown cold, but when he discovers glitches in the code surrounding a crime scene--the body of a beautiful woman abandoned in a muddy park that he's convinced someone tried to delete from the Archive--his cycle of grief is shattered.

With nothing left to lose, Dominic tracks the murder through a web of deceit that takes him from the darkest corners of the Archive to the ruins of the city itself, leading him into the heart of a nightmare more horrific than anything he could have imagined.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Witness Impulse

by Nancy Allen

I’m a Witness Impulse author. I still get a surge of pride each time I say so. Witness released my debut novel, The Code of the Hills, as an e-book on April 15 of this year, and the paperback release followed on May 20; so at this point, I’ve had some time to espouse my association with the HarperCollins imprint. But “the new” hasn’t worn off yet (as we say in the Ozarks); and it’s still hard to believe my good fortune. When I signed with Witness, I landed in a fabulous environment.

My novel is a legal thriller set in the Missouri Ozarks, following the struggles of a young prosecutor as she fights to convict a man charged with the crime of incest. It was my first novel, and I wanted what all authors want: to see it published, to hold it in my hands, and to have my story reach as wide an audience as possible. Witness made all of my hopes for the book a reality.

My literary agent, Jill Marr with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary
Agency (a veritable angel with wings—but that’s another story), submitted it to Trish Daly, an editor at HarperCollins who was part of Witness, HC’s new mystery and suspense imprint. Trish loved the book, and had a feel for the characters and the setting, and an understanding of the themes, that blew me away. When Trish and I went to work on editorial changes, it was a pleasure, the most satisfying artistic collaboration you can imagine. We shared a vision.

Witness also provides publicity and marketing support. My publicist is Andrea Hackett; she sent out press releases, arranged national radio interviews, and set up a blog tour. But I wanted to be a part of the process; and as a team effort, we obtained book reviews in major Midwestern publications, local TV, a spot on NPR Morning Edition, and a piece in the Village Voice. Our marketing director will be doing retail promotions for The Code of the Hills this summer. All of this assistance has been golden; Witness has empowered me and my novel in ways I could never have achieved if I was going at it on my own.

In a recent visit to New York, I had the chance to meet these women face to face: my editor Trish, my publicist Andrea, the Marketing Magnate, Dana Trombley, and our editorial manager, Emily Krump. And though it was a bit daunting for a gray-haired hillbilly like me to encounter all that big-city flash and dash, they were just as nice as pie, and made me feel like one of the family. So: If I had it to do all over again, would I pick Witness Impulse as the home for my debut novel—my baby? Oh hell yeah. In a New York minute.

To uncover the truth, she'll have to break the code of the hills … In the Missouri Ozarks, some things aren't talked about … even abuse. But prosecutor Elsie Arnold is determined to change that. When she is assigned to prosecute a high-profile incest case in which a father is accused of abusing his three young daughters, Elsie is ready to become the Ozarks' avenging angel. But as Elsie sinks her teeth into the case, everything begins to turn sour. The star witness goes missing; the girls refuse to talk about their father, who terrorizes the courtroom from the moment he enters; and Elsie begins to suspect that their tough-as-nails mother has ulterior motives. To make matters worse, Elsie receives gruesome threats from local extremists, warning her to mind her own business. While Elsie swears not to let a sex offender walk, she realizes the odds—and maybe the town—are against her, and her life begins to crumble. But amidst all of the conflict, the safety of three young girls hangs in the balance ... A powerful debut, with the haunting atmosphere of Winter's Bone and the page-turning suspense of Alafair Burke's thrillers. 

Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She’s tried over 30 jury cases, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. The Code of the Hills is her first novel.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Unveiling the Mystery of Marketing

By Pamela Crane

Been there, done that. I’ve been on all sides of the publishing coin—worked as an in-house editor for traditional houses, edited for self-published authors, self-published my own book, and traditionally published a book. So for you fellow writers, I know how grueling and frustrating the publishing industry can be!

If you can write a book in a week and hit the NYT best seller’s list the first week your book hits shelves, then this article isn’t for you. This message is for the feast-or-famine writers, the ones trying to make a living writing but can’t figure out what’s holding them back. Over the course of my editing and writing career, I’ve learned a few things and am here to share some insights based on my publishing venture with my psychological thriller The Admirer’s Secret.

My biggest word of advice is to consider your book an investment. You gotta give some to get some…I’m using that dirty word here: Money. I can imagine you flinching as I say that, but the worst thing that can cripple your book is poor editing and a mediocre cover. I’m an editor and even I paid another editor to edit The Admirer’s Secret. As the author, you’re too close to your work to do it justice. So do yourself a favor and save up the cash before you plan to publish and do it right, because the goal is to earn back what you’ve spent and then some. You can’t do that if critics spread the word about the low quality of your book. Set a budget for what you can spend and pay out to get a beautiful, quality book.

Assuming you have a good story, quality edit, and eye-catching cover, how do you spread the word? It’s the publishing world’s greatest mystery, like discovering the Ark of the Covenant. I remember when one publisher I worked for bought several thousand of their own books to manipulate sales needed to hit Publisher’s Weekly best-seller status. But not all of us can afford to spend $40,000 on our own books! So here’s some affordable ideas that have worked to sell The Admirer’s Secret:
  1. Get reviews. I don’t care how embarrassing it is to beg for reviews—do it! And do it about 6 months before your book release.
  2. Try Amazon’s KDP for three months. The gist is that you make your book exclusive to Amazon for 90 days and you get 5 “Free Days” where you give the book away for free to help boost your rankings. Spread out those free days over 3 months—2 free days one month, 2 another month, and 1 the third month. Publicize the hell out of those free days on your Facebook groups so that you get plenty of downloads. I hit #9 in my genre in actual income-producing sales after my first free day, so I can tell you it works.
  3. Give BookBub a shot. It costs money, but they give your book coverage with their huge following.
  4. Consider a book blog tour. While I didn’t see a significant number of sales from my blog tours, it got my name all over the Internet. A small price to pay to get exposure.
  5. Autographed book giveaways are always a treat for fans. Goodreads hosts drawings for free print copies, and you’re sure to win a few new fans this way.
  6. Enter contests for Indie publishing, such as Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award and Los Angeles Book Festival Award (among countless others you can find online). The submission cost is minimal considering what winning an award could do for your book.
Before your eyes start to glaze over, I want to emphasize the biggest sales factor: Keep writing, keep publishing. Books sell books, and the cross-marketing gives you twice the chance of sales. I know it’s hard to justify writing and spending money on another book if one isn’t selling well, but remember—this is an investment. Keep investing and eventually you’ll see results.

Pamela Crane is a North Carolinian writer of the psychological thriller The Admirer’s Secret and wannabe psychologist, though most people just think she needs to see one. She’s a member of the ITW, ACFW, and EFA, and has been involved in the ECPA, Christy Awards, and Romance Writers of America. Along with delving into people’s minds—or being the subject of their research—she enjoys being a mom and riding her proud Arabian horse, when he lets her. She has a passion for adventure, and her hopes are to keep earning enough from her writing to travel the world in search of some good story material. Visit her at or follow her on Facebook at .

The Admirer’s Secret :
Westfield, New York—both home and prison to Haley Montgomery, a woman crippled by the death that hovers over her. After the loss of her father and best friend, Haley grapples with the loneliness of her small-town existence. But when her solitary life is upended by the man of her fantasies—the handsome, charming Marc Vincetti—her dreams quickly twist into a nightmare. A secret admirer’s eerie love letters threaten to uncover Haley’s dark past, unraveling a haunting childhood secret that consumes her. Soon the quest for the letters’ source sends her on a dangerous personal journey that could cost her life. As the layers of her troubled existence peel away, everything Haley thought she knew about love, and herself, testifies to the brokenness that lurks within the human psyche. A “masterfully written, raw psychological suspense novel.”

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Three Not-So-Thrilling Debut Surprises

by Robert Rotstein

Writing my debut novel? Exhilarating. It’s what I’d wanted to do for years. Navigating the byzantine world of the publishing business? Not exhilarating, but I’ve practiced entertainment law for some time, so those arcane agency and publishing contracts weren’t all that daunting. Trolling for blurbs? Scary, but eventually some generous, talented authors said yes.
Only when my book was actually launched into that vast sea of published print did I discover that I’d harbored some misconceptions.

Surprise No. 1: Not everyone you know is going to want to buy your book, even your friends. Because I’ve always loved books and admired authors, I assumed that everyone else does, too—or at least that they’d admire me for writing one. Not necessarily. There are the nonreaders—more and more lately—who simply aren’t so impressed with your accomplishment. Others think they’re doing you a favor by reading your novel—not buying it, reading it. I heard this more than once (and I’m not talking family or close friends): “You wrote a book? Cool. Send me a copy.” Depending on my mood, I’d either smile or say, “It’s available at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.” Then there was the friend, an aspiring writer himself, who graciously bought my book, but later reported, “I’ve lent my copy to five friends, and they all loved it.” “How nice,” I replied, while clenching my jaw and thinking, Why didn’t you tell them it’s available at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon?

Surprise No. 2: Posting on social media doesn’t automatically mean massive sales. My social-media-savvy son warned me. Maybe it was an age thing, but I’d hoped that all my Facebook friends would share my release date, that they’d tell their friends, and they’d tell their friends, and … Corrupt Practices goes viral. Nope. Many Facebook friends and Twitter followers are also authors, hawking their own books. And those friends and followers who aren’t writers didn’t necessarily buy my book (see Surprise No. 1).

Surprise No. 3: You might not draw big crowds at your book signings. You will if you’re the next Lee Child or Gillian Flynn, but most of us aren’t. Bookstores expect you to bring your own crowd. My first reading was well attended, but not by strangers—kind of a second Bar Mitzvah (“Friends and family, today I am an author.”) Another reading/signing took place on a Sunday afternoon so sweltering that the city streets were empty. At the tiny bookstore were my then wife, my son, my sister, my niece, and my eighty-eighty-year-old mother. In answer to my question about their most successful events, the bookstore manager said, “Michael Connelly. Lines out the door and down the block.”

I asked for it.

I drank wine, bought books, and read to my family. Strangely, it was relaxed, serene, all about the words and not about impressing an audience—ultimately, my most gratifying appearance. That wonderful day was a reminder of why I became a writer in the first place.

Attorney Parker Stern, still crippled by courtroom stage fright, takes on a dicey case for an elusive video-game designer known only as “Poniard.” In Poniard's blockbuster online video game, Abduction!, a real-life movie mogul is charged with murdering a beautiful actress who disappeared in the 1980s. The mogul—William "the Conqueror" Bishop—has sued for libel. Now it's up to Parker to defend Poniard in the suit. When key potential witnesses die prematurely, Parker begins to feel as if he's merely a character in a violent video game himself.

Robert Rotstein is a writer and attorney who’s represented many celebrities and all the major motion picture studios. He’s the author of Reckless Disregard (Seventh Street Books, June 3, 2014), about Parker Stern, an L.A.-based attorney, who takes on a dangerous case for a mysterious video game designer against a powerful movie mogul. Reckless Disregard has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. His debut novel, Corrupt Practices (Seventh Street Books), was published in 2013. Visit Robert at

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June Debut Releases

It's the first Thursday in June, which means debut releases. Please take a look and let’s celebrate their success!

Kym Brunner - Wanted: Dead or In Love (Merit Press)  June 15, 2014

Impulsive high school senior Monroe Baker is on probation for a recent crime, but strives to stay out of trouble by working as a flapper at her father's Roaring 20's dinner show theater. When she cuts herself on one of the spent bullets from her father's gangster memorabilia collection, she unwittingly awakens Bonnie Parker's spirit, who begins speaking to Monroe from inside her head.

Later that evening, Monroe shows the slugs to Jack, a boy she meets at a party. He unknowingly becomes infected by Clyde, who soon commits a crime using Jack's body. The teens learn that they have less than twenty-four hours to ditch the criminals or they'll share their bodies with the deadly outlaws indefinitely. 

Dennis Hetzel (with Rick Robinson) - Killing The Curse (Headline Books)  May 8, 2014

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series for more than 100 years or even played in one since 1945. Now they’re positioned to win the Series for the first time since 1908 – if only curses and bad luck don’t haunt them as usual. That’s what happens when a swarm of gnats helps the Boston Red Sox tie the Series at three games each. To kill the curse, the Cubs must win Game 7 in Chicago. 

No one wants the Cubs to win more than Luke Murphy, President of the United States and lifelong fan. Leading the chorus of disbelievers is Murphy’s boyhood friend, Bob Walters, a sports radio talk-show host with a beautiful daughter and a big ego who built ratings by being “the man Cub fans love to hate."

The Cubs have someone else on their side—a brilliant, crazed fan who will do anything to make sure they win. Anything. It starts with an attack on the father of Boston’s best pitcher and grows into an escalating threat that could destroy Murphy’s career, expose childhood secrets, and kill hundreds of innocent people.

Everything comes to a head as Game Seven unfolds---a game the Cubs must win no matter what. 

Graeme Shimmin - A Kill in the Morning (Bantam Press) 19 Jun 2014

I don't like killing, but I'm good at it. Murder isn't so bad from a distance, just shapes popping up in my scope. Close-up work though - a garrotte around a target's neck or a knife in their heart - it's not for me. Too much empathy, that's my problem. Usually. But not today. Today is different...

The year is 1955 and something is very wrong with the world. It is fourteen years since Churchill died and the Second World War ended. In occupied Europe, Britain fights a cold war against a nuclear-armed Nazi Germany.

In Berlin the Gestapo is on the trail of a beautiful young resistance fighter, and the head of the SS is plotting to dispose of an ailing Adolf Hitler and restart the war against Britain and her empire. Meanwhile, in a secret bunker hidden deep beneath the German countryside, scientists are experimenting with a force far beyond their understanding.

Into this arena steps a nameless British assassin, on the run from a sinister cabal within his own government, and planning a private war against the Nazis. And now the fate of the world rests on a single kill in the morning...

Tom Wither - The Inheritor (Turner Publishing Company)  May 16, 2014

America’s Most Deadly Enemy is still loose . . . and he’s ready to move.

On the eve of the takedown of the world’s leading terrorist, his protégé eluded U.S. forces . . . and now he’s racing across four countries in a scenario that could happen tomorrow.

Following his dead mentor’s desire to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate, Aziz Abdul Muhammad, hand-picked by bin Laden himself, masterminds a series of attacks on the U.S. energy infrastructure that will reignite the war against the West. As his initial series of attacks creates mass panic, leaving the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in terrified darkness, the manhunt is on.

In a unique special operations force, veteran intelligence officer David Cain, along with Air Force Sergeant Emily Thompson and rookie FBI Agent Dave Johnson, leads the U.S. effort to find Aziz and his operations expert. From Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay to Chicago and the outskirts of Tehran, the force must halt Al Qaeda’s attempt to rise from the ashes of its former self—and stop the Inheritor before the rest of his terrifying plan unfolds.

Erica Wright - The Red Chameleon (Pegasus)  June 8, 2014

As a private investigator, Kathleen Stone relies on her ability to blend into the background. With a little help from the best wigmaker on the Atlantic seaboard, Kathleen Stone can take on a variety of personas, from a posh real estate agent to a petulant teenage boy. She was once a valuable undercover cop for the New York Police Department, but since her early retirement following a botched case, she has gone a little soft. These days, with the assistance of a street-smart drag queen, she mostly catches cheating spouses in flagrante. When one husband ends up not so much adulterous as dead, Kat must tune up her rusty skills to catch a killer.

She begins investigating the upper echelons of New York, a city that can swing from glamorous to lethal in an instant. She soon finds herself stepping on the toes of her former best friend, Detective Ellis Dekker, as well as a sadistic kingpin she hoped to never see again. Not only do memories of Salvatore Magrelli’s knife-friendly tendencies give her the heebie-jeebies, but his connection to the case makes Kat a possible suspect, too. She needs to move fast . . . if she is to avoid becoming the next victim.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


by David Heilwagen

Story ideas, it seems, can pop into your head when you least expect them. Think back for a moment. How many times have you been riding in a crowded subway, or driving along the freeway in the middle of rush hour traffic, when a burst of inspiration picks that exact moment to dance through your brain? It’s more than likely happened to all of us at one time or another.

More than once I have woken-up in the middle of the night from a dream, my subconscious having just mapped-out a plotline for my next great novel. Regrettably, I rolled over and went back to sleep, thinking I would remember it in the morning. That never happened. Although I could recall having the dream, for the life of me I couldn’t recollect the nuts and bolts of what had taken place inside my head. Another great story forever vanished.

Unfortunately, great storylines are oftentimes fleeting, and if you don’t capture them at the exact moment they appear, or soon thereafter, there’s a strong chance they will be forever lost.

As a writer, it’s always a good idea to have a way of recording these thoughts close at hand. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or high tech. For example, it can be as simple as a yellow legal pad and a pencil next to your bed, or a small recording device stuck in your pocket. With today’s advances in electronic technology, you can easily document ideas, dialogue, scenes, characters, etc, onto an iPhone or any other device, and then store it for later use. I’ve even typed-out the idea into text message and then sent it to my email address. That way I can pull up the email once I’m back in the confines of my writing workspace.

In the days before cell phones and iPads, how many times did you see famed writer, David E. Kelly, walking the red carpet at the Oscars with a pen and yellow legal pad in hand. That’s dedication to your craft, folks. Ernest Hemingway, for example, used tiny notebooks bound with elastic bands called Moleskines. They were small enough that he could keep one in his pocket while out on the ocean in his fishing boat, Pilar. You can still purchase these handy little notebooks at almost any office supply outlet or college bookstore. If modern technology is your thing, there is an app available for your phone called, A Novel Idea.

Whatever method works best for you, make sure you get those ideas down as soon as you can. Who knows, you may just be mapping-out your next bestseller.

Fleeing a violent husband and a dying marriage, Amanda Brougher abandons her life in Nashville. Driving through the night, she eventually lands in Key West, Florida. It’s here Amanda hopes to find the tranquility needed to restart her life managing a small island inn. But Amanda’s plans begin to unravel almost as soon as she arrives. 
Paul Brougher isn’t about to let his wife leave so easily. As soon as he discovers she’s left, Paul embarks on a deluded quest to hunt her down. Plus, the inn’s elderly owner has died unexpectedly, leaving Amanda now without a job or a place to live. Her son, Brock Hamilton, is putting the inn up for sale. A veteran U.S. Coast Guard Officer, Brock is trying to come to terms with his own shattered past. Now, with a major hurricane barreling towards Key West, and a deranged ex-husband quickly closing-in, two lost souls turn to each other for comfort and security. A spark ignites and the flames of romance quickly consume them, setting into motion a chain of events that takes both of them on a life-changing journey of danger, intrigue, and self-discovery.

David Heilwagen survived nearly 30 years as a police officer on the streets of Indianapolis. He retired in 2008 with the rank of Sergeant. Out of his love of reading and writing fiction came his first book, Cone of Uncertainty. David grew up in the Indianapolis suburbs of Lawrence, Indiana; graduating from Lawrence Central High School. He studied at Vincennes University and the Indiana University School of Journalism. He has written and published several travel articles on the Florida Keys, as well as hiking and snowshoeing in Colorado. David lives on the Southside of Indianapolis with his wife, Julie, and daughter, Tara. When Indiana turns cold, David can be found on his sailing vessel, Wind Bandit, cruising somewhere in the Florida Keys. 

You can reach David at:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Seven Years to the Bookshelf

In 2007, I finally decided to sit down and begin writing a novel. I had been a voracious reader since I was a teenager, enjoying the terrific stories penned by James Clavell, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, and Robert Ludlum. In fact, I lost count of how many times during my high school years I re-read some of the books in Clavell’s Asian Saga (Tai-Pan & Noble House) in English class, rather than listen to another lecture on diagramming sentence structure or a discussion of a Shakespeare comedy.

During those years, my mother introduced me to Robert Ludlum’s books, and I particularly enjoyed his Bourne Identity and Parsifal Mosiac, which initially fueled my interest in espionage thrillers. Following closely on the heels of that discovery, I began to read Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventures.  My first exposure to the techno-thriller came from the man who founded the genre.  I found Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October on the shelf in my high school library, and by the time I’d finished his second book, Red Storm Rising, I was hooked.

Looking back on all those terrific stories, I was impressed not just by the story telling abilities of all those great authors, but also by the magnificent imaginations and sense of ‘world control’ that being an author conveys. You create a world or a universe, populate it with interesting characters, bring them into conflict, and determine how it will work out. Then you write a story that you hope others will enjoy and identify with.

Following the 9/11 attacks, I took note (and great exception) to some of the mischaracterizations and misinformation thrown around in the media about modern military capabilities and the professionalism of the members of the intelligence community. Being a veteran of the modern military and an experienced intelligence professional, my understanding was admittedly not shared by the larger public.

After due consideration, I decided it was time to put my fingers on the home row, and begin crafting a novel to give the reader a sense of being an intelligence professional and be in the field and ‘on the trigger’ with the special operations forces. It took me nearly a year to complete it, and as I worked, I also began to read everything I could find about writing novels to improve my technical skills (since I had only taken one creative writing class in college).  The books on writing also covered an overview of the book acquisition and publishing process; so I branched out, buying more books to learn about the business of publishing so I could interact effectively with my future agent and editor.

While I enjoyed building my ‘world’ within the novel and crafting what I hoped would be an enjoyable thrill ride, I also made a conscious choice to follow the traditional publishing route – find an agent to represent my work, and let my agent find a publisher.  At the time, self-publishing seemed a very murky prospect (and still does to my mind), and e-books were not yet the healthy chunk of sales they are now.

Once the manuscript was complete, I began querying agents for my genre. I did so with the same hope I suspect all writers share – I’ll get one after the first few queries. After a few months, I had experienced the first six of many rejections. Persistence, diligent searches for agents representing my genre, and the submission of effective queries (and, I think some luck) finally resulted in an offer of representation from a publishing professional just starting his own agency.

Then it was time for more rejections. My agent and I spoke monthly. He updated me on his queries to publishers, and their ‘it’s not right for our list’ vanilla rejections as the bad economy and the advent of e-books made impacts on the decision to invest in launching a new author. Patience became the watchword as the years crawled by.

Then, in late 2012, I received an early Christmas present – an offer from Turner Publishing for not just my first novel, but my second as well. Interacting with the staff at the publishing house is another exercise in patience.  Throughout the months leading up to the street date, it’s important to remember two things - your book isn’t the only one the staff is working on; and that the editing process requires that your ‘pride of authorship’ be throttled back - alot.  In the end, the editorial staff wants to make your book the best possible saleable property, from cover art to story, and that benefits you as much as the publisher.

With a street date set for the first novel in June of 2014, and the second in September, most of 2013 was another year to practice being patient, and finally, in October, a late birthday present – the cover art for THE INHERITOR and the first really tangible evidence that I would finally be a published writer.  Since then, the months have slid by in story edits, copyedits, marketing and publicity discussions, and plans for the first book signing.

Overall, while it has been long in coming, it has been an adventure so far.  Looking out over what will be my debut year, I’m sure it will be interesting and exciting in many ways.  Hopefully, the stories I’ve written will be enjoyed by my readers. After all, that is what matters most to a writer.

* * * 
Tom Wither served his country for more than 25 years as a member of the Air Force's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency and its predecessor organizations, the Air Intelligence Agency, the Air Force Intelligence Command, and the Electronic Security Command. He has served as an intelligence analyst at various locations, including Japan and Saudi Arabia, and is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. During Operation DESERT SHIELD, he was selected to brief HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales; the Commanders of British and French in theater forces; and the U.S. Army's VII Corps Commander on the integration of Air Force intelligence capabilities within the Tactical Air Operations Center. During Operation DESERT STORM, he provided time critical information to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center resulting in the safe extraction of downed allied airborne personnel and the provision of location data to the USCENTCOM targeting cell that culminated in the destruction of 25 strategic targets. He has received the Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Force Commendation Medals, and three Air Force Achievement Medals. In addition to his MS in Computer Systems Management, Tom holds professional certifications from the National Security Agency as an Intelligence Analyst, and the Director of National Intelligence as an Intelligence Community Officer (now the Joint Duty program). He lives near Baltimore.
You can contact Tom via:; or on Facebook: Tom Wither - Writer

America’s Most Deadly Enemy is still loose . . . and he’s ready to move. Following his dead mentor’s desire to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate, Aziz Abdul Muhammad, hand-picked by bin Laden himself, masterminds a series of attacks on the U.S. energy infrastructure that will reignite the war against the West. As his initial series of attacks creates mass panic, leaving the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in terrified darkness, the manhunt is on.  In a unique special operations force, veteran intelligence officer David Cain, along with Air Force Sergeant Emily Thompson and rookie FBI Agent Dave Johnson, leads the U.S. effort to find Aziz and his operations expert. From Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay to Chicago and the outskirts of Tehran, the force must halt Al Qaeda’s attempt to rise from the ashes of its former self—and stop The Inheritor before the rest of his terrifying plan unfolds. Wither blends his extensive military intelligence experience with fast-paced storytelling to create a gripping thriller that spans six weeks and four countries. 

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