Thursday, March 27, 2014

Author, Know Thyself (and Your Brand)

by Anne Marie Becker  

True confession time. On a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, I toy with the idea of diverging from writing romantic suspense to straight-up contemporary romance.  Yes, these would be stories without stalkers, dead bodies, or law enforcement officers. Without imminent danger, destruction of property, or the evil machinations of chilling villains. (I heard that collective gasp.) 

However, I recognize that, at least in part, these thoughts are my brain’s desire to run away from home, a way of creating distraction when I’m tired of the story I’m working on. Whether I’m in the throes of editing or trying to dig myself out of the sagging middle of my story, the grass looks greener over there, where writers don’t have to research deadly weapons or nuances of the law to make their stories work. While part of this desire for change may stem from a need to try new things, I realize the pros and cons of making such a decision.

Writing is a business—a challenging business where a sea of authors are attempting to keep their heads above water while thrusting their books above the waves, hoping they’ll be noticed. In such an environment, being untrue to your author brand can be deadly. To build your audience, it’s important to know who you are as a writer, and what your readers have come to expect from your work. After all, a book is a contract between you and your reader, promising a satisfying story. 

Recently, on one of the writer loops, an interesting link came across my inbox. This article from Forbes seems to prove that building a brand leads to success, especially if that brand is tied to a series. It seems to be working for Lee Child, anyway.

I released my first Mindhunters book nearly three years ago (*waves to debut class of 2011*). Now, as I near the end of my six-book Mindhunters series and look forward to starting a new series, I fight the distractions and remind myself of who I am. I am a romantic suspense author. I write thrilling psychological twists and chilling villains. In the new series I’m about to start, I’m going to be digging up dead bodies and hunting killers again. Because I actually do it pretty well, and because my readers expect it of me.

Who are you as a writer? What kind of brand are you building, and how are you working toward solidifying your place in readers’ hearts? As a reader, do you have a favorite series or author who has earned your loyalty?

Dark Deeds (Mindhunters, Book 4):

Walking away from sexy Detective Diego Sandoval was one of the toughest things security specialist Becca Haney ever had to do. But her past is a direct threat to his future, to the career he’s working so hard to rebuild. When he’s assigned to help keep her safe from a human trafficking ring, he’s determined to stay by her side and learn about the woman behind the passion—scars and all. But Becca has another admirer. Known only as “the Fan,” he believes he’s the perfect partner for her—and he’ll kill to prove it. When the stakes are raised in the killer’s deadly game, Diego will be called upon to save lives—including Becca’s.

Anne Marie has always been fascinated by people—inside and out—which led to degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling.  Her passion for understanding the human race is now satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and award-winning author of romantic suspense.  She writes to reclaim her sanity. Find ways to connect with Anne Marie at Sign up for her newsletter to receive special offers and sneak peeks of her books.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Never give up.

by T. Lee Harris

Chances are most of us have heard that phrase, never give up, until it's so much meaningless noise.

It also happens to be the single most important thing I've learned about writing. In spite of all the social media we use today, writing is still a mostly solitary occupation. I can't speak for anyone else, but while sitting at my desk, staring at that blank page, everyday problems can loom large. Instead of a gripping storyline, the phrase "What the @#$%$%# am I doing?" pops into my head.

Life gets frustrating. Sometimes sitting down to write is a signal for the telephone to ring. There are inexplicable bad reviews and snarkier than necessary rejection letters. The sink can only be located by the cairn of dirty dishes . . . the upshot? Sometimes walking away is more attractive than pounding the keyboard.

That's where I was a few years back. Nothing was going right. Story submissions returned almost as fast as I sent them. The only thing keeping me in the game was the fact that my historical short story, "The Maltese Groundhog" had recently taken first place against some stiff competition in Mysterical-e's Bloody Groundhog Day contest. Surely that meant someone liked my work, right?

When Wildside Press put out a call for the anthology Cat Tales 2, I was interested, but leery. My submission for the first volume had earned a not-so-helpful rejection. Still, I had another Ancient Egyptian piece ready to go. All they could say was no. Shortly after I hit Send, the response landed in my inbox. Oooooooo! Too fast! I gritted my teeth and opened it, expecting another "Later Much". I read it. I read it again. I had my housemate read it to make sure I was reading it right. It was a rejection -- sort of. They loved my Egyptian scribe and his temple cat companion, but this story didn't fit. Did I have another?

To make a long story short (too late!), I sent another and got an acceptance faster than the previous rejection/request. Shortly after, I submitted a story to Untreed Reads for The Killer Wore Cranberry anthology. That was "Hanukkah Gelt" and it went on to be a best-selling short -- and got me accepted into ITW. It also gave me the confidence to finish and publish the paranormal thriller, Chicago Blues, the first novel in the Miller & Peale series.

Tell your story the way you want to -- the way it feels right. I'm not saying to ignore criticism. Pay attention to any comments you get back. Sometimes they're gold, sometimes they aren't, but any time someone sitting in that editor/publisher chair takes time to give you more than a ripped-off-the-pad "No thanks", PAY ATTENTION. It means someone out there gave your work more than a brief glance -- and if there's an invitation to send something else? Melt the wires getting it out! Most of all, keep swinging. You'll never regret it.

T. Lee Harris is a scribbler of the lowest order. Not only does she pen lies about people who don't exist, but she draws pictures of them as well. Harris is known to aid and abet others by putting their scribblings into book form -- even going so far as to devise covers for these publications. She claims she went to school to learn these things, but that shouldn't be held against anyone. There are suspicions that Harris is committing another novel or two, but this has yet to be confirmed.

New York Nights,
Book 2 of the Miller & Peale Series
Undeath isn't going smoothly for BC Peale.
Peale's unintentional intrusion into an illegal arms investigation in Chicago has gotten him drafted into Sentry International as a Special Agent and partnered with former football star, Galen Miller. It also brought him face-to-face with his vampiric sire, Francesco Borgia, for the first time in more than two hundred years. That arms case has come to a cataclysmic close, leaving one colleague dead and both Peale and Borgia injured. While grief and wounds are still raw, a series of brutal killings take place in New York City. The victims are all connected to Eddie Michalson, one of Borgia's top Lieutenants, prompting Sentry International to pack Special Agents Peale and Miller off to the Big Apple to liaise with NYPD to solve the murders. However, the assassinations are only a small part of the problems awaiting the team in the city. The killings have ignited a power struggle within Borgia's criminal empire, shaking it apart and endangering everything and everyone Miller and Peale care about.

Visit T. Lee Harris at

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Company of Strangers

by Robert Pobi 
While we were trying to sell my first novel, my agent talked me into attending a writers conference. Anyone who has spent thirty seconds with me will tell you that I’m not much of a people person. Or team player. Or whatever they’re calling us hermits these days. I’ve just never been in sync with the rest of the folks at the methadone dispenser, as much as I try. But she insisted. Something about my having to get out more. Make new friends. Influence people. You know – same old, same old.   

I’m not going to say that I was dreading it, but the people in my old profession would eat their own children if the sushi joint on the corner closed early, so it’s safe to say I was not expecting much. But I went. And stayed. And was knocked out by the individuals I met.

When writers get together a remarkable thing happens – instead of the drunken egomaniacs one expects, they soften, let their guard down, and become very friendly. I was not prepared for the kindness I found in the writing community. There’s a real sense of solidarity, and a real effort to make new writers feel welcome. I have had some great conversations and made some new friends. Not an easy thing at any point in life. 

But along with the friendships and conversations and booze – did I forget to mention the booze? – there are also a lot of offers to help. You need a forensic dentist? Here’s my card. Looking for a Homicide detective? I was an FBI agent for twenty-one years, will that do? You need to know how fast a Zamboni can go on hot sand? Let me make a call. Writers want to help other writers. It just seems to be something that happens. And it took a while to get used to.  

The rules of being a successful writer are pretty complicated to explain, mostly because there aren’t any. This only sinks in when you meet other writers and find out that each one has his or her own way of doing things and it’s not the same as yours. Staring at the cursor for fifteen hours straight can be very isolating; it takes a special kind of person. But I’ve found others out there. Lots of them. Willing to help. 

Which is pretty suspicious when I think about it.     

Robert Pobi is the international bestselling author of Bloodman, a novel that earned a spot on the 2012 Summer Reading List for O, The Oprah Magazine. It was published in more than a dozen countries and became an international bestseller, garnering comparisons to “Thomas Harris in his prime” by Sarah Weinman of the National Post. Pobi does most of his writing at an isolated cabin in the mountains. The rest of the time he is busy getting speeding tickets. Visit him at:
A stifling heat wave rolls into New York City, amplifying the already critical level of tension in the fragile concrete ecosystem. The air tastes of electricity – the negative charge of bad things to come – but everyone hopes it’s just the temperature. Then, on the morning Homicide Detective Alexandra ‘Hemi’ Hemingway finds out she is pregnant, a twisted serial killer makes his debut. And the heat goes up.   

Not for the faint of heart - American Woman is a relentless ride that takes you through the fractured world of a nascent killer.  And you will never feel safe again.   

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Debut Releases

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

Rick Campbell - The Trident Deception (St. Martin's Press) March 11, 2014

The Trident Deception, a modern-day The Hunt for Red October, is the story of an armed nuclear submarine that is taken over and must be hunted down before its weapons are launched.

The USS Kentucky—a Trident ballistic missile submarine carrying a full complement of 192 nuclear warheads—is about to go on a routine patrol. Not long after it reaches the open sea, however, the Kentucky receives a launch order. After receiving that launch order, it is cut off from all counter-orders and disappears into the Pacific while it makes the eight-day transit to the launch range. What the Kentucky’s crew doesn’t know is that those launch orders haven’t actually come from the U.S. government.

Rogue elements within the Mossad have learned that Iran has developed its first nuclear weapon and, in ten days, will detonate it—and the target is Israel. The suspected weapon complex is too far underground for conventional weapons to harm it, and the only choice is a pre-emptive nuclear strike. With limited time, this rogue group initiates a long-planned operation called the Trident Deception. They’ll transmit false orders and use a U.S. nuclear submarine to launch the attack.
With only 8 days before the Kentucky is in launch range and with the submarine cut off from any outside communication, one senior officer, the father of one of the officers aboard the submarine, must assemble and lead a team of attack submarines to find, intercept and neutralize the Kentucky before it can unknowingly unleash a devastating nuclear attack.

Jana Hollifield - The Problem with Goodbye (Martin Brown Publishers) Feb 8, 2014
When untamed passion leads to murder, the lives of two people will never be the same.

Cora Dalton’s world has spiraled out of control. Months of terror at the hands of a determined stalker who wants to claim her for his own culminate in the brutal slaying of her sister, and Cora goes on the run. She trusts no one, not even the police, until she meets a sexy stranger who can uncover her darkest secrets with a simple touch.

Ryan McCabe senses what others cannot, and when he stumbles across the beautiful lead witness in his best friend’s latest homicide case, one caress tells him she’s desperate…and lying about something. Ryan knows what it’s like to be all alone in the world, and he can’t just walk away, but he can’t trust the beautiful liar hiding out in his bedroom, either. Forming an uneasy alliance, they frantically search for a madman determined to possess Cora one way or another while fighting an attraction that could get them both killed.

Ted Scofield - Eat What You Kill (St. Martin's Press) March 25, 2014

Eat What You Kill by Ted Scofield, Evan Stoess is a struggling young Wall Street analyst obsessed with fortune and fame. A trailer park kid who attended an exclusive prep school through a lucky twist of fate, Evan’s unusual past leaves him an alien in both worlds, an outsider who desperately wants to belong. When a small stock he discovers becomes an overnight sensation, he is poised to make millions and land the girl of his dreams, but disaster strikes and he loses everything.

Two years later a mysterious firm offers Evan a chance for redemption, and he jumps at the opportunity. His new job is to short stocks—to bet against the market. But when the stock goes up and he finds himself on the brink of ruin once again, another option presents itself: murder. At a moral crossroads, Evan must ask himself—how far will a man go for money and vengeance?