Thursday, December 26, 2013


The first question I get from folks who have read my book, those who liked it of course, is: “Loved your book - when are you going to write your next one?” I would smile nicely then offer up a full plate of polite baloney, because the first thing that goes through my mind is my wife and the thought of her dashing off to Wal-Mart’s gun department. I have given serious thought of opening my next book with the line: “Honey, great news- I have my next book in mind; I start tonight”. This would be followed by two quick blasts from a hand gun. The lap top gets it first, then the clueless dope gets it between the eyes. The second thing that goes through my mind, oddly enough, is my lawn. For some reason it was my lawn -sullen, demanding, and often run amuck – that reminded me, more than anything else, how much time I spent writing my first book. But I loved every minute of it.

The honest reason why I have not started “my next book” is I have been incredibly busy marketing my debut novel. Personally, for me, I found myself feeling a bit pretentious starting another project until I felt my first book had achieved some measure of success. So I have been totally motivated to promote my book – not to get rich – we all know that reality – but to prove, to myself, in the cold, brutally honest world of the market place, that I belong - that “yes, damn it – I am a writer”. Not until then would I start a new book. My publisher has been delightful to work with but they are not part of the big five so promotional efforts are limited and so unless you are Bill O’Reilly, book promotion is tough, time consuming work. Reaching and motivating people who can bring attention to your book takes a lot of effort but it must be done or your book will not get read – period.

What has worked for me so far. I am fairly certain I am not breaking new ground with my helpful tips, but here goes.
  1. My book is a religious thriller with a twist. The Catholic Church, in my book, is not the dark sinister anti-Christ that we often read about but rather the hero is a priest. He is a “miracle detective” – a decent guy. Because of this I have had some luck with Catholic / faith based media. This niche has real upside.

  2. My novel, in part, takes place in my home town of Alexandria, Va. My local paper is doing an article about my book. This is book marketing 101 – everybody knows this. The important point is that it takes a lot of time and persistent to make it happen. I called my local paper for the first time in July of 2013 and it was not until this December that I sat down with a reporter.

  3. One of the main characters in my book is an avid sailor. There are boating scenes that take place on the Chesapeake Bay. In my real life I spend a lot of time on boats as well. This led to an article about me and my book in a popular sailing magazine.

  4. To be successful, unfortunately, your book has to be successful. This advice came to me from a top Washington, D.C. literary agent. We are friends, we play tennis together. He told me “make your book really successful, Steve, and we can help you with your next book – keep pulling on the oars.”
The old line “write what you know” can be useful in book marketing as well. My recommendation for a new novelist is to reach out to groups that have some connection to the subject matter of your book. Be creative and be a grinder.

About The Madonna Files

On the quiet campus of M.I.T., a math professor is asked by the Vatican to determine the probability that six children are telling the truth. The children, from a small town in Bosnia, a town filled with sacred drama, say they see the Virgin Mary. The children claim the Virgin Mary has given them ten secrets that include apocalyptic warnings for the entire world.   On the other side of the world, as a Russian Freighter with a mysterious cargo vanishes off the coast of Iran, a letter goes missing from the Pope's apartment.. A priest - a Vatican "Miracle Detective" - is asked to find the missing letter, and as the miracle detective closes in on the secret letter, world events begin to hurdle out of control.

Stephen Ryan's explosive debut novel challenges the prevailing orthodoxies of American history and Christianity, and reveals the dynamic presence of the Virgin Mary throughout the ages. With unexpected turns and a full dose of scholarly intrigue along the way, The Madonna Files is a contemporary religious thriller that explores the hidden secrets of the Virgin Mary.

About Stephen Ryan

Stephen K. Ryan is publisher of Mystic Post .com and manager of  Castine Investment Management, a wealth advisory firm. Stephen's writings about mystics, mysteries and miracles of the Catholic Church  have been internationally recognized.
Stephen is married to Tania and lives in Alexandria, Va.  Tania and Stephen  have two children - Andrew and Meredith.   When he is not banging away on his computer, he can often be found somewhere on an ocean racing sailboats.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Connecting With an Audience

We’ve all been there. You’ve moved past the drafting stages, exhaustively worked over the prose like a duct-taped punching bag, and the writing is finally good. That’s when you share a scene from your book where a character is hacked in half by an ax and, after an awkward silence, your trusted reader hands it back to you, a little pale, and says something like, “It’s well-written, but not the kind of thing I like reading.” Or maybe it’s a different passage in the book, a passage you fell in love with, where your hero finally realizes romance and your reader says, “It was good, but I like the action scenes more. This is just a thought, but…when he says I love you, maybe have him holding an ax?”

Anyone familiar with even the basics of publishing knows that identifying a readership is hugely important. Agents and publishers want to know who you write like. Amazon pairs and suggests your work in accordance to reader preferences. Having a defined genre helps to identity the best reviewers for your work and find which writers you should bug for blurbs.

This was a problem for me. Even though I’m a fan and student of thrillers, I wasn’t sure where I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead fit best.

Despite its grim title, my debut thriller isn’t noir enough to be noir. It has some funny moments but isn’t a comedy, and deals with parenting but isn’t domestic. If there’s a category for a book where a man seeks revenge, hires assassins but the plan goes wrong and ends up placing himself and everyone he loves in danger, and he also has a pet rabbit, well, that’s where my book fits.
Of course I knew, as my publisher gently reminded me when my book was first accepted for publication, I’d need readers. So I decided to write a prequel for I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead – about a depressed hit man who factors in to the novel – called When the Deep Purple Falls and distribute it serially. I placed the prequel on sites like JukePop, WattPad and Tuesday Serial and, happily, people liked it. I had interest, and that was as much as I could realistically hope for. And a lot of those readers ended up reading and liking my debut. It’s become the scraggly but stubborn beginning of an audience.

Only a few lucky writers have a vast and dedicated audience – outside of their friends and family – after one book. But that is what we all want, and getting it extends beyond marketing, and beyond people buying enough books to keep you in business, or reading your genre because they know what they’re going to get. At its best, there’s love in the reader-writer contract, in the way the audience you’ve searched for feels like they found you. And it echoes that moment in your writing, when the story you’re telling surprises you, and you suddenly realize you’re working with magic. The book is good, the story is fun, you smile as you type; later, they smile as they read. It’s an odd connection, separated by time, unproven by anything physical. Readers feel it with writers; writers first felt it as readers. We’ve all been there. We want to be taken back.

About E. A. Aymar

E.A. Aymar studied creative writing and earned a Masters degree in Literature. He was born in Panama and has lived throughout the United States and Europe. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers and SinC, and he and his wife live with a relatively benign animal menagerie outside of Washington, D.C. 

For more information about E.A. Aymar, and to watch the animated trailer forI'll Sleep When You're Dead, visit

About I'll Sleep When You're Dead

Tom Starks has spent the three years since his wife’s murder struggling to single-handedly raise their daughter, Julie, while haunted by memories of his dead spouse. When he learns that the man accused of her murder, Chris Taylor, has been released from prison, Tom hires a pair of hit men to get his revenge. But when the hit men botch the assassination, Tom is inadvertently pulled into their violent world.

And now those hit men are after him and his daughter.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

To Promote or Not To Promote...Is That Even a Question?

The question I get asked most often by emerging writers is whether it's really necessary to...X.

"X" can be any number of things. Tweet. Blog. Appear at bookstores. Maintain a website. Have a GoodReads or Facebook or Shelfari presence, and what is this Pinterest thing anyway?

Because we writers are stumbling around in search of an answer to this question: How do we become successful authors? And this one: How do we reach readers?

As the great William Goldman says, "Nobody knows."

But I don't think this wisdom means that we should just throw up our hands. And while there's not exactly a roadmap for figuring out what you should do once you've reached that land called Publication, I have accumulated a few thoughts during the long road to my own. Getting a book written well enough to be published is one of the harder things any of us will accomplish in our lives. But then what?

First I need to back up and tell you a little about myself. It took me three agents, eight novels, fifteen almost-offers, and eleven years on submission before I sold my debut novel. This finally happened through a confluence of events that still feels mystical to me. And the dream of being a published author was such a long, long, long time in coming that, once it happened, I did the only logical thing.

I hired an independent publicity firm, rented out our house, withdrew the kids from school, and asked my husband if he would accompany me on a book tour that would cover 44 states and 40,000 miles. Not exactly in that order, but you get the point. The whole family's life would be subsumed by this dream, at least for the next seven months.

Since my book came out, we have visited over 200 bookstores, as well as libraries, book clubs and almost every place where people come together over books. I've been the inaugural author at a brand new mystery bookstore in Madison, WI and the newbie who drew the smallest audience at a bookstore that holds near-daily events. I stood up in Oxford, MS with a rockabilly band behind me and spoke for precisely fourteen minutes--we were being recorded live--to a house crowd of three hundred. I've done Sit & Sign's where only one person showed up, but that one person drove three hours to see me, and thus will always have a place in the Annals of my Becoming an Author, not to mention in my heart. And there have been events that hit almost every point between these extremes.

So, is this the point of my blog post? Is there a roadmap after all, a literal one that shows our route, or a message: change your whole life in service of The Book?

I'm hoping that writers will take something else from this description of what I've done. That it's not necessary to do any one thing as an author. Neither Tweet nor Tour.

Instead, figure out ways you will find joy in your book being out there, and in your great love of books in general. Things that will help you celebrate this shining accomplishment while connecting with those who want to share it.

To my mind, it doesn't matter what you do, it just matters that in today's increasingly crowded content space, you find something that allows your own voice to stand out.

Say you're an introvert and the idea of meeting crowds of people face-to-face sounds as draining as a bathtub. Online social media might be a great outlet for you. Or perhaps you have an author platform, such as being a doctor who writes medical thrillers, or a biotech expert who wrote a book about GMOs. Maybe you can find a listserv or organization that will appreciate hearing your wisdom. One good thing about having 1.4 million blogs out there is that one of them is sure to be interested in your topic. There are more reviewers today than back when a daily paper landed on the curb at every house in the United States. The net gives like-minded readers and writers ways to find each other virtually and face-to-face. There are more riches than we can ever spend, but that also means that there is more than enough to go around. It's just a matter of finding it.

Some will find Twitter the perfect medium for self-expression while for others the idea of boiling something meaningful down to 140 characters will be anathema. Some will love blogging, others will start a charitable cause connected to their book. Some might come give workshops at great writers' organizations, such as the one that's featuring this post.

Some might even take to the road for seven months.

And when you do--whatever you do--please come find me. I'll be one of the connections that you make.

Jenny Milchman is a suspense writer whose debut novel, Cover of Snow, was released by Ballantine in January 2013, and whose follow-up, Ruin Falls, will appear in April 2014. After making her home on the road for seven months, she has come to settle in upstate New York. For now. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Debut Days

Generally we reserve the first Thursday to celebrate that month's Debut Authors' book releases. Sometimes, people join ITW post-release, so they miss the excitement of seeing their book featured on the blog. When we have an opportunity to do a "catch up" posting for these authors, we jump on the possibility.

Please join us in celebrating (again!) the release of our Debut Authors' initial novel.

Maegan Beaumont – Carved in Darkness (Midnight Ink) May 8, 2013

Fifteen years ago, a psychotic killer abducted seventeen-year-old Melissa Walker. For 83 days she was raped, tortured, and then left for dead in a deserted churchyard . . . but she was still alive.
Melissa begins a new life as homicide inspector Sabrina Vaughn. With a new face and a new name, it’s her job to hunt down murderers—a job she does very well.
But when Michael O’Shea, a childhood acquaintance with a suspicious past, suddenly finds her, he brings to life the nightmare Sabrina has long since buried.
Believing his sister was recently murdered by the same monster who attacked Sabrina, Michael is dead set on getting his revenge—using Sabrina as bait.

S.L. Menear – Deadstick Dawn (Suspense Publishing) August 6, 2013

The Belfast Agreement is about to be shattered by Operation Blue Blood. One young American stands in the way, airline pilot Samantha Starr. She is catapulted into a deadly chess match with police, assassins, and British Special Forces, all who want her dead. The fate of nine noble bloodlines depends on Samantha and a boy whose hero is a wizard. Stranded in Scotland where she is accused of kidnapping and murder, where can she run? When a US Navy fighter pilot and a SEAL join the hunt and every choice can get her killed and start a bloody war in Northern Ireland, on whom should she rely? The line between trust and betrayal is razor sharp, and it is cut at Deadstick Dawn.

S. B. Redstone – A Sinister Obsession (Black Opal Books) August 27, 2013

A psychopathic killer on a quest leaves behind a string of brutal murders, and to find the Who, the police must first discover the Why...
Detective Aubrey McKenzie has been assigned to investigate the murders. A lovely, fabulously wealthy, dark-haired Scot, whose iron will was forged in the inferno of human tragedy, Aubrey is stymied by the lack of solid clues. Now she must rely on her paranormal ability to apprehend the killer—an ability that has been invaluable in her police work but has made a disaster of her social life. Fate teams Aubrey with Detective Joshua Diamond, a handsome, talented, and compassionate man who is more than happy eating a greasy bacon-cheeseburger and wearing clothes that should have been thrown out with the trash. In a race against time, Aubrey and Joshua must overcome their vast differences—and their attraction for each other—and discover the identity of this elusive killer, and the quest this fiend is on, before more lives are destroyed.

Orest Stelmach – The Boy From Reactor 4 (Thomas & Mercer) March 9, 2013

Nadia’s memories of her father are not happy ones. An angry, secretive man, he died when she was thirteen, leaving his past shrouded in mystery. When a stranger claims to have known her father during his early years in Eastern Europe, she agrees to meet—only to watch the man shot dead on a city sidewalk. With his last breath, he whispers a cryptic clue, one that will propel Nadia on a high-stakes treasure hunt from New York to her ancestral homeland of Ukraine. There she meets an unlikely ally: Adam, a teenage hockey prodigy who honed his skills on the abandoned cooling ponds of Chernobyl. Physically and emotionally scarred by radiation syndrome, Adam possesses a secret that could change the world—if she can keep him alive long enough to do it. A twisting tale of greed, secrets, and lies, The Boy from Reactor 4  will keep readers guessing until the final heart-stopping page.

Monday, November 25, 2013


We lost a member of our ITW family on October 30 when medical thriller writer and human being extraordinaire Dr. Michael Palmer passed away. On this day of Thanksgiving, the staff of "The Thrill Begins" wants to express our gratitude for this amazing man and our appreciation of you, our readers, by sharing Michael’s wisdom and his encouragement to be fearless. 

We’re honored that Daniel Palmer, Michael's son and author of STOLEN, introduces not only his father's words, but the man behind those words. 

                                                             Wishing you all a HappyThanksgiving!
                                                                   The Staff of “The Thrill Begins” 

My father, Michael Palmer, derived endless pleasure from helping and mentoring new writers. When he was getting started in the business, many well-established writers gave him a blurb for his first novel, THE SISTERHOOD. He vowed never to refuse a blurb request from any up-and-coming author, and as a result, he often had little time to read books of his own choosing. During the days and weeks following his death, I received numerous emails and letters from fellow writers he had mentored who commended my father’s generous spirit. Each noted how my dad took a special interest in their work. How was it possible one man could give so freely of his time without diluting the results? He was constructive without being critical. He was patient because that was his nature. As busy as he was, my dad took the time to listen and help. He was truly a giving person, and for this so many others were thankful. Dad’s first passion (outside of his family) was medicine. And if anything, my father was a true healer. He could mend an arm with the same deft skill he could tackle a clunky piece of prose. I hope you’ll take the guiding principles about writing my father outlined in this previously published piece to heart. But also you should know that his outlook on life came down to four even more important guiding principles.  1) You can only do what you can do. 2) Live one day at a time. 3) Never go around comparing your insides to everyone else’s outsides. 4) Being a good person supersedes everything else. 

By Michael Palmer

Before I get started, let me explain the way I write when I am communicating with friends...

It’s like this—thoughts with no particular syntax or attention to punctuation...lots of ellipses...One of the reasons for doing this is that I can only type with 2 fingers...think of it—19 books with all the rewrites…20 if you count the one that has never been published in English (6 foreign translations, though) and all of it done with these two first 2 books were done on a manual Olivetti, the third on an electric smith corona, and the next two on a Kay-Pro, the 30 pound “portable” 9” green screen so-called writer’s computer…After that it’s been Mac all the way…I go for easy… 

No wonder I needed to have a carpal tunnel release 2 years ago…great operation, by the way, for anyone who needs it…write me for the name of my doc at MGH… 

There is more than laziness to my blogging this way…this is how I write when I’m figuring things out or am trying to break my way out of creator’s block…writing is easy—making up what to write, not so easy…so I call it creator’s block, and writing like this is the way I handle it. 

So, here are some rambling thoughts for you as they pop into my head—thoughts accumulated over 34 years (I first tried my hand at this in November, 1978 and sold my first book as an 80-page outline in 1980 for what was at the time, the largest advance ever paid to a fiction writer who had never published a book -- $250,000… amazing) …for some of my writing story, check out the bio on … 

My two guiding principles in this business are never to forget that (1) THIS IS HARD and (2) BE FEARLESS… 

It is so hard that I can never believe how many authors actually finish books—good or stinky, published or not…I don’t think I ever would have tried if I didn’t have a nice fall-back job behind me—namely: physician…talk about a safety net…my two biggest assets are my always wild imagination, and my discipline…

Wanna know if you have the discipline it takes to write a novel?—take organic chemistry…as for the second guiding principal, that’s what it’s all about—you (me) must get rid of the fear of sounding stupid and also of being rejected…write first, worry later…

And be careful about reading your stuff over when you are tired…not much of anything reads un-stupid when you’re exhausted…of course, we’re all always exhausted, so the state is relative…any questions, read your stuff out loud (I do that all the time, and when I’ve finished a book, I actually pay my son Daniel (a terrific writer, now finishing his 4th thriller, and doing well with STOLEN, his third) to read it out loud with me… 

I write almost every chance I get…usually I write six days a week with a goal of like three to five pages a day…

HOWEVER, perhaps the third guiding principle is never to be too hard on myself…if I do two hours and only one page and can’t do any more for whatever reason, then I walk away…

But remember what I wrote about discipline…discipline is doing it when you don’t want to…you must know yourself to know when it’s time to stop…I used to be driven to do another hour in organic by seeing other pre-meds sitting there in the library with their noses in that humongous to me…I just now put on some music for a while…anything to make it easier…I love the 150 or so tunes on my iTunes and know them so well, they are like white noise most of the time…at the moment it’s Richard Cory by S&G…what a great song…

Brings up my 4th guiding principle…never if you can help it, I mean NEVER go around comparing your insides (or writing) to other people’s outsides…it takes practice and reminders, but it will make a hell of a difference in your writing and your life…need reinforcement about this, get Richard Cory from the sounds of silence album and put it on your iTunes…

Everyone wants to be an overnight wonder in this business…I never even thought about that and damn if I didn’t luck out with The Sisterhood…but life and the book business was different then…it was more personal and less crowded, it moved slower and there were amazingly talented and imaginative people in the publishing world whose job it was to make me a success…there are still such people, but the industry can’t pay enough to keep them…

Now I watch what son Daniel is going through and I ache for him…he’s good—really good, actually…but there are just so many people writing, and so many publishers throwing books up against the wall searching for the next girl with the dragon tattoo, and then deserting the author when the book doesn’t immediately make it…computer-generated sales figures are the enemy in that regard…

There are e-books flooding the market, and amazon, and nook, and blogs and conferences and speaking opportunities from organizations looking for “free” entertainment and program fillers…you can’t imagine how many ARCs I get every month searching for blurbs…believe it or not, Daniel’s older brother Matthew just got a great 6-figure, 2-book deal from Putnam…he’s got a great “fall-back” job as I did…so I don’t ache for what he’s in for as much as I do for the full-time writers who have no other source of income… 

That brings me to the last thought I want to blog about here…publicity and marketing…new writers often ask me: okay, my book is coming out next march, now what can I do to get people to read it?? …they never like my answer, which is that the most effective thing they can do is to write another book…

It wasn’t like that in the old days…I was on good morning America and today and Larry King (several times) and many other shows…I had reviews in tons of newspapers (some of those papers still exist and some of those actually still review books—but a continuously shrinking number) …I did dozens and dozens of my favorite media—talk radio, and dozens of shows like good morning Cleveland and good morning Pittsburgh, many of which if not most have gone the way of the dodo bird…

So what’s left? …here’s sort of an amalgam of what I’ve learned from my experience and Daniel’s and others and what I will be passing on to Matthew (who is too busy working for the state department to go out and hock his book anyway) …

First of all, get a web site and keep it up…get lots of business cards made that are eye-catching and list your site (…..give one to whoever will take it…make it informative and imaginative…people love the writers’ tips on my web site, even though I don’t have time to update them…TV and radio appearances probably help…TV lots…newspaper ads—who knows? …no one really seems to know about ads, even big ones like the full pagers I have had in the NY Times…

Social media may actually help, but only if you really work at it…contests, frequent postings, Facebook ads to increase numbers on your “fan page” …what about hiring a pro?? I REALLY DON’T KNOW…

I would go social media pro rather than media unless you have a real hook that would appeal to TV or Glenn Beck or someone…Daniel does social media himself, but he spends time on it, and of course when you’re doing anything that isn’t writing, you’re not writing…make that guiding principal #6 or whatever number I’m on… 

Speaking of which, even though this is fun and relaxing and easy for me, as well as being gratifying because I love to help new writers, while I’m doing it, I’m not working on my new book, RESISTANT … so… 

Dr. Lou Welcome, from Palmer's bestselling Oath of Office, is back. A desperate phone call embroils Lou in scandal and murder involving Dr. Gary McHugh, known around the Capital as the “society doc.” Lou has been supervising McHugh, formerly a black-out drinker, through his work with the Physician Wellness Office.  McHugh has been very cavalier about his recovery, barely attending AA and refusing a sponsor. But Lou sees progress, and the two men are becoming friends. Now, McHugh has been found unconscious in his wrecked car after visiting a patient of his, the powerful Congressman Elias Colston, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Soon after McHugh awakens in the hospital ER, Colston's wife returns home to find her husband shot dead in their garage. She then admits to the police that she had just broken off a long-standing affair with McHugh. Something about McHugh's story has Lou believing he is telling the truth, that the Congressman was dead when he arrived and before he blacked out. Lou agrees to look into matters, but when he encounters motive, method and opportunity he is hard pressed to believe in his friend—that is until a deadly high-level conspiracy begins to unravel, and Lou acquires information that makes him the next target.

BIO:  Michael Palmer was the author of nineteen novels of medical suspense, all international bestsellers, and an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society Physical Health Services, devoted to helping physicians sidelined by mental illness, physical illness, behavioral issues, and chemical dependency. His books have been translated into thirty-five languages. His twentieth novel, Resistant, will be released in May, 2014. You may read more about Michael at

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Reinvention of Me

By Douglas Corleone

Sometimes failure is a good thing. Although you’d never hear me utter the words “blessing in disguise,” I suppose that’s what you could consider the bad news I received in 2011 when my agent asked my editor whether she’d like to read my proposal for the fourth Kevin Corvelli novel.
“Actually, we’d prefer to see something new from him.”
The moment I heard those words I experienced both a pang of grief and a jolt of excitement. Grief for the series of legal mysteries that I’d spent the last half-decade writing and promoting. And excitement about the possibility of a fresh start. A new series, a new setting, a new hero. Maybe even a new genre. I thanked my agent and promised I’d have an idea to her by Friday.
Truth is, I could have blurted my new idea to her right then and there over the phone. The idea for Good As Gone had planted its seed two years earlier, after reading a one-page article on a real-life private investigator who specialized in retrieving children kidnapped by their estranged parents and taken overseas to countries that don’t recognize U.S. custody decisions. I had immediately envisioned a Taken-style thriller that would transport my new tough-guy hero to exotic locales where he’d be pit against criminals from every walk of life, from Eastern European gangsters to Latin American narco-paramilitary forces.
Roughly a year later the book was written, the contract signed, and I was no longer just an author of quirky legal mysteries set in Hawaii. The advance I received was far greater than anything I’d hoped to get for a fourth Kevin Corvelli novel, and I was suddenly full of hope that my reinvention as an author of international action thrillers could be the catalyst for the writing career of which I’d always dreamed.
When the cover art for Good As Gone was first revealed to me, I was blown away. It looked as though it could serve as the one-sheet for a new blockbuster film starring Matt Damon or Daniel Craig. For the first time I could picture a novel with my name on the cover sitting in the bestseller racks in supermarkets and international airports. As much as I enjoyed writing the Kevin Corvelli books, I’d always known he’d never get me to where I wanted to be as a writer. Kevin Corvelli was cool and he was comfortable and his stories provided me the opportunity to show off my neurotic New York sense of humor. But he wasn’t the larger-than-life figure that could enthrall a wide audience and someday be portrayed by Ryan Reynolds on the big screen.
Simon Fisk, on the other hand, has that kind of potential. A former U.S. Marshal whose six-year-old daughter was abducted ten years earlier and never found, Simon Fisk is the type of haunted lone wolf who can leave behind a significant body count and still win the hearts and minds of readers. Of course, whether he (or I) will ever be even a moderate success remains to be seen. But ever since Publishers Weekly – who’d panned me mercilessly in the past – compared Simon Fisk to James Bond, I’ve at least felt as though I am in the game.

(Update: Since I wrote this article, which first appeared in Crimespree magazine this summer, I’ve been tapped to write the fourth book in Robert Ludlum’s Paul Janson series. I’ve recently begun work on Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Equation, which will be published by Grand Central in 2015. The second novel in my Simon Fisk series, titled Payoff, will be published by Minotaur Books on August 19, 2014.)   

About Douglas Corleone 

Douglas Corleone is the author of contemporary thrillers. His debut novel ONE MAN'S PARADISE, introducing hotshot defense attorney Kevin Corvelli, was a finalist for the 2010 Shamus Award for Best First Novel and winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award.
Douglas Corleone's first international thriller, titled GOOD AS GONE, featuring former U.S. Marshal Simon Fisk, was hailed by the Huffington Post as "a heart wrenching, adrenaline producing adventure that...leaves the reader gasping for breath at the end."
A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Douglas Corleone now resides in the Hawaiian Islands where he is at work on his next novel. 

Visit the author online at

About Good As Gone

A heart-pounding tale of international intrigue about a man whose mission is to find a young girl who is as GOOD AS GONE…


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Deadline Hell

By Donnell Ann Bell

Back in 2008, I read a blog by Tess Gerritsen called ,”When business runs your life,” in which she expressed concern over a bestselling author, a millionaire many times over, who had become so consumed by her deadlines she was literally making herself sick.

I never forgot that blog, or Dr. Gerritsen’s admonition. Then and there I decided that if/when I got published I would respect my limitations. I mean, who wanted fame and fortune that bad?
My publisher bought my first book, and afterward I signed a two-book contract. I felt the time constraints were reasonable. After all, one book was completely written. That left me nearly a year to write book two. I’d worked for a weekly newspaper; I’d met deadlines. Every Wednesday without fail my coworkers and I put the paper to bed.

I was organized, professional. I would make my fiction deadlines as well, have a life, and not spend my mornings over a toilet like this poor author I no longer envied.

The goal toward dealing with deadlines started out fine. I developed my characters, outlined the book, and wrote. Most months I made my goal of 20K—even allowing for family time, book signings, conferences, and for when the inevitable self-doubt and freezing set in.

It was a doable deadline of August 1 until June 23, 2012, and 60,000 words into my 85K word manuscript, breaking news hit the citizens of El Paso and Teller Counties. Fire had broken out on a popular hiking trail known as Waldo Canyon, approximately ten miles from my house.

This was concerning on so many levels, a writer’s deadline was the least of firefighters’ worries. The drought that had afflicted the Midwest, Rockies, and the Southwest had left my area a tinderbox. It was summer, in the high 90s, with unpredictable winds, and scrub oak and beetle-ridden pine trees provided enormous fuel.

We’d dealt with fire before and nobody panicked―yet. The U.S. Forest Service arrived like the cavalry and emergency preparedness took effect. Officials started out first with voluntary evacuations, then mandatory, as flames could be seen reaching 150 feet into the sky. Eventually more than 32,000 residents of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Woodland Park as well as the mountain communities surrounding Hwy. 24 would be removed from their homes.

Still, the beast refused to be contained, and it didn’t help that speculation abounded, that the blaze had been manmade. All at once, I had more suspense going on around me than I was trying to achieve in my book, and like every other resident, we packed our suitcases and sat glued to our televisions watching the nightmare unfold. To walk outside required face masks, and the contaminated air smelled like a massive campground or ashtray. Even at my distance, I found charred debris in my yard.

June 24 and 25 came and went, and like a thriller novel when things appear to calm down, Colorado’s notorious winds picked up, climbing to 60 mph. On June 26, officials feared that the fire might come down the mountain and reach into the major population of Colorado Springs. Residents of an area known as Mountain Shadows had hours to evacuate, and soon The US Air Force Academy was at risk and ordered to do the same. During rush hour that day, the I-25 corridor was nothing more than a chaotic sea of vacating automobiles.

On June 28th, it was determined that 346 homes had been destroyed, two deaths had occurred, and the west-side neighborhood of Mountain Shadows had been wiped out.

In Waldo’s aftermath, we were left with displaced people and the responsibility of helping people pick up the pieces. One of my dear friends lost her home, and the collection of clothing, food and purchasing of bare necessities became our priority. As I drove to the Care & Share food bank, I was both pleased and astonished to be left waiting in line behind other people who wanted to give back in some small way.

Meanwhile, my deadline approached and I had yet to return to my keyboard. It was as though watching my neighbors suffer had afflicted me with their PTSD. The idea that someone had erroneously, or worse, deliberately set this blaze to my beloved community blocked my muse, and I read everything I could get my hands on in hopes that the police had apprehended the suspect.

Mid July, I contacted my publisher and warned that I might miss my deadline. Deborah Smith, Vice President of BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books, wrote back, “Deadline, Fire, Deadline, Fire. Fire wins.”
I was so grateful, her kind remarks were freeing, and soon after that I finished my book, in truth, ten days after my deadline. Fires and flood have affected my community in 2012 and 2013, and 500 more homes were lost, and more deaths occurred this year. Arson is suspected to be the cause of Black Forest. Waldo Fire, Black Forest and our recent 100 year flood have proven to be more suspenseful than any thriller writer could pen. “Come hell or high water” isn’t just a phrase to me, it’s something I’ve lived. As for the author Tess Gerritsen wrote about, I have a new and vivid appreciation of her deadline hell.

About Donnell Ann Bell 

Donnell Ann Bell has put her first two novels on e-book bestseller lists, including Deadly Recall, her sophomore release from Bell Bridge Books, which hit #1 on Amazon Kindle’s best sellers’ list. BETRAYED is her third novel. She lives with her family in Colorado. 

Active in the writing community, Donnell sits on the board of Pikes Peak Writers, is a member of RWA’s Kiss of Death Chapter, Sisters in Crime, Guppies, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She also co-owns Crimescenewriters, a Yahoo group for writers, started by retired veteran police officer Wally Lind.

You can visit her website at

About BETRAYED (Bell Bridge Books) - November 18, 2013 

Available for preorder on Amazon Kindle

When Oklahoma City resident, Irene Turner learns the incomprehensible, that the stillborn baby she delivered 28-years earlier is alive, she takes the evidence to where her daughter now lives—Denver Colorado.

Detective Nate Paxton can’t believe what Irene’s evidence shows him.  Kinsey Masters, a world-class athlete, raised by a prominent Denver family, an unattainable woman he’s known and loved for years, was stolen at birth. 

Irene Turner, Nate Paxton, and Kinsey Masters are united in a sordid conspiracy.  But, it’s who the conspirators turn out to be that will leave the trio shaken and in disbelief.  Irene’s foundation of trust will be ripped from its core, as kidnapping, murder, and a thirst for revenge lead her to learn she’s been betrayed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November Debut Releases

It's the first Thursday in November and that means new debut releases. 

Please take a look and let’s celebrate their success!

Steve Weddle - Country Hardball (Tyrus Books) November 18, 2013

After more than a decade spent in and out of juvenile detention, halfway houses, and jail, Roy Alison returns to his rural hometown determined to do better, to be better. But what he finds is a working-class community devastated by the economic downturn--a town without anything to hold onto but the past.
Staying with his grandmother, Roy discovers a family history of good intentions and bad choices, of making do without much chance of doing better. Around him, families lose their sons to war, hunting accidents, drugs. And Roy, along with the town, falls into old patterns established generations ago.
A novel-in-stories in the tradition of Bonnie Jo Campbell, Donald Ray Pollock, Denis Johnson, and Alan Heathcock, Country Hardball is a powerfully observed and devastatingly understated portrait of the American working class.
"Steve Weddle's Country Hardball is a perfect combination of the brokenhearted and the just flat broke... Here's hoping Weddle never stops writing..." --Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike

Ed Aymar – I'll Sleep When You're Dead (Black Opal Books) November 16,2013

Tom Starks has spent the three years since his wife’s murder struggling to single-handedly raise their daughter, Julie, while haunted by memories of his dead spouse. When he learns that the man accused of her murder, Chris Taylor, has been released from prison, Tom hires a pair of hit men to get his revenge. But when the hit men botch the assassination, Tom is inadvertently pulled into their violent world.

And now those hit men are after him and his daughter.

I'll Sleep When You're Dead is a haunting tale of vengeance and its toll. It is both thrilling and tender...E.A. Aymar weaves a touching tapestry loaded with surprises.”
- Michael Sears, author of Black Fridays, winner of the Shamus Award for Best First Novel

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mysteries & Thrillers - The Differences

  By Tom Sawyer

Mysteries and thrillers. What are the differences? The following was acquired some years ago, its original source unknown. And while it is not gospel, it’s not a bad set of guidelines for anyone with questions about the two forms.*

A puzzle
Curiosity motivates
Protagonist has skills
Thinking is paramount
Action is offstage
Small circle of friends
Red herrings
Information withheld from audience
Audience a step behind
Mostly single Point of View
Ending intellectually satisfying
Closure a requirement
Series expected
Usually 300 pages     

A nightmare
Victim story (at top)
Protagonist must learn skills
Feeling is paramount
Action is onstage
Thrust into larger world
Cycles of mistrust
Information given to audience
Audience a step ahead
Up to four Points of View
What will happen?
Ending emotionally satisfying
Can end ambiguously
Often stand-alone
Can be longer

  *Generally speaking

About Tom Sawyer:
Novelist, screenwriter, playwright, Tom Sawyer was Head Writer/Showrunner of classic CBS series, Murder, She Wrote, for which he wrote 24 episodes. He’s written TV movies, 9 network TV pilots, 100 episodes, on staff of 15 series. Edgar and Emmy-nominated, Tom wrote-directed-produced the cult comedy feature Alice Goodbody. Co-librettist/lyricist of JACK, an opera about JFK, he’s taught writing at UCLA, now online at Screenwriters University, publishes Storybase software, authored Fiction Writing Demystified. Tom’s latest conspiracy thriller, bestselling No Place to Run, deals with the truth behind 9/11

Attorney Bill Lawrence’s client, a just-convicted hitman, confides a chilling secret: information that will buy his freedom – evidence of a murder he carried out on Sept. 11, 2001. Bill finds the documents, and knows that he, his family, and his client must immediately disappear.  Uprooted without warning from career and lover, Claudia Lawrence, 24, and brother Adam, 12, figure it’s the worst moment of their lives when, with their parents, they’re thrust into Witness Protection.  Not close. Next morning their mother and father are blown to pieces by a car bomb.  Their father’s client is murdered in his jail cell. Within hours, Claudia’s accused of their parents’ murders. She and Adam become fugitives, running from police, and from rogue FBI agents determined to murder them. Their key to survival: find the evidence their father had – before the bad guys get it – and give it to the authorities. With ingenuity and daring, Claudia and Adam locate this McGuffin, escape seconds ahead of the bad guys – and discover that it makes no apparent sense. Now, they must figure out its meaning – and why people want them dead. Over the next days of breathless chase and harrowing escapes, Adam and Claudia lie, steal, and assume aliases as they outwit people ever more desperate to kill them, while piecing the truth together with the long-distance help of her lover, Nick. Their quest propels them from Houston to LA, to a tiny North Carolina hamlet, to D.C., to a Chesapeake Bay estate, where they confront the major heavy, finally deciphering the puzzle – and its horrific meaning. In a mega-tense climax, facing almost certain death, Claudia makes a moral choice few people ever have to face as she avenges the murders of family and friends – and exposes the truly ugly conspiracy behind the events of 9/11.