Terry Shames: The Last Death of Jack Harbin Sunday, Feb 23 2014 

last death 2 copyWhile Auntie M is in Lumberton, NC this weekend for the literacy fundraiser Book’Em NC, please welcome guest Terry Shames.

 

 

Now What?

 

 

In my first book, A Killing at Cotton Hill, July 2013, I introduced ex-chief of police Samuel Craddock, the best lawman the town of Jarrett Creek ever had. The recent death of his beloved wife left him feeling like his life was basically over. Solving the mystery of an old friend’s death brought him back into action. When the book came out not only did I get some great reviews, but I received emails from people all over the country (as well as from England—who knew I would get an English audience for a series set in Texas?) telling me how much they loved Samuel.

 

 

The Last Death of Jack Harbin came out in January, 2014 to more good reviews—including the amazing declaration by a reviewer in the Toronto Times that Samuel Craddock was his favorite new American sleuth (who would have guessed that a Canadian reviewer would love a small-town Texas lawman?). It appeared that Samuel had traits people identified with.

 

 

Both of the first two books practically wrote themselves. It seemed as if the inhabitants of Jarrett Creek were eager to tell their stories. I heard the characters talk and watched them go through their daily lives as if I had a movie going in my head.

 

 

Then reality struck. When I started writing the third book in the series, the characters suddenly became coy—they refused to cooperate and seemed flat and uninspired. Thinking that I needed to re-spark my imagination, I took a trip back to the small town in Texas that Jarrett Creek is based on. Nope. Still the characters weren’t working. Now what?

 

 

I realized that I was confronted with what every writer of a series has to face—the need to have characters grow. Samuel Craddock and his supporting cast could not remain static and still be interesting to readers. The trick was to have characters change in ways that surprise readers—but not surprise them so much that they didn’t believe the characters would behave that way.

 

 

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I realized that one of the ways to do this was to use secondary characters to highlight different aspects of the recurring characters. Almost by instinct, in both of the first two books I did this. Like people in real life, citizens of Jarrett Creek came and went, interacting with the main characters like a Greek chorus.

I knew that some of these characters may only appear in one book, while others may come back. I love the character of Walter Dunn in The Last Death of Jack Harbin, and although I don’t think he will ever be a major character, I know I’m not through with him. And one character from A Killing at Cotton Hill showed up to become the victim in book three, Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek.

 

 

Settling into writing a series is like committing to a long-term relationship. People go along acting pretty much the same way they always have—and then they surprise you. Readers can look for changes as the series progresses. And as the writer, I have to be prepared for them to change as well.

 

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Terry Shames is the best-selling author of A Killing at Cotton Hill and The Last Death of Jack Harbin, Seventh Street Books.

Her books are set in small-town Texas and feature ex-chief of police Samuel Craddock. Terry lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two rowdy terriers. She is Vice President of Norcal Sisters in Crime and on the board of MWA Norcal. For more information, please visit her website: www.Terryshames.com.

With the chief of police out of commission, it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate the brutal murder of a Gulf War veteran who was a former high school football star. Craddock uncovers a dark tale of greed and jealousy that extends into the past, and well beyond the borders of the small town of Jarrett Creek.

 

 

 

 

D. B. Corey: Chain of Evidence Tuesday, Feb 18 2014 

. ChainEvidenceD. B. Corey’s debut crime novel, Chain of Evidence, opens with one of the most chilling chapters Auntie M has read in a while, narrated by a devious and despicable necrophiliac pathologist who enjoys opera. This character grabs you by the throat on page one and doesn’t let up.

It’s a hot August in Baltimore and a killer the press has dubbed the CK Killer is on the loose. DS Moby Truax of the State’s Special Investigation Unit is tasked with finding the murderer who uses cyanide to kill, earning him his sobriquet.

Moby is interesting, a Willie Lomax of a character who is nearing the end of his sterling career, facing the loss of the memory that used to be one of his finest assets. The newest Baltimore victim is a 31 yr-old woman, two weeks after the dead body of 71 yr-old Rosa Neunyo. There were similar killings earlier in San Diego five months prior, but most of the murdered California women were in their late 60’s until this newest victim appears.

After thirty years detecting Moby’s instincts tell him there are TWO killers at work: one killing the older women, the second the younger, copycatting in the shadow of the original CK killer. Try telling his boss that. Under pressure to find the killer, his job on the line, Moby finds himself saddled with the unwanted assistance of an FBI agent from the California cases.

And this is where Corey really gets interesting. Who is smarter? The original CK killer, or the copycat? And how can Moby convince his colleagues and his narrow-minded boss that there are two murderers at work, while he’s

Corey’s meticulously plotted story revolves around Moby and the sick mind responsible for the copycats, evil personified. That the copier is smart enough to know how to mimic the real CK killer adds to the tension. When the end hits with a wallop, there will be one more twist that will surprise readers.

Corey’s book is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and in Kindle format. You can order a personalized copy of his book through the Oxford, MD, bookstore Mystery Loves Company, too.

Here’s Corey in his own words from a previous interview:

When did you realize that you wanted to be an author?

 

                  In 2005, I challenged myself to write a novel; only because my new girlfriend (now my wife) said that my emails were so good I could be a writer. So I cobbled together my first novel just to see if I could write an entire book. After determining that a novel should be around 80-thousand words, I decided on a premise, and wrote the opening line:

 

“Call me Ishmael.”

 

                 HA! I wished!

 

                  Ok. I’m only kidding. But, the truth of the matter is that I started writing a book. After several days of Seek & Destroy on my laptop (I can’t type), I caught myself checking the word count every couple of pages. It was nowhere near 80-thousand words. That was when I decided that writing a novel was not about word count. When I finished about a year later, I had to admit that it was the worst thing I’d ever seen, that I couldn’t write a lick, and should have paid more attention in high school English. But … I also decided that I should try again. And this time, I should do it better.   

Do you think there is a difference between being an author and being a writer?

 

                  I think the difference between a writer and an author is the publishing part, of course. Being published allows you to claim the title of, author. But if you ask me what I am, I’ll tell you I’m a writer, unless I’m feeling especially full of myself. Then I’ll tell you I’m a novelist.

 

How did you find your current publisher?

 

                  Funny story. I stopped by a book signing for Austin Camacho held in Annapolis just off the Main Street docks. I’ve know Austin for several years and always tried to support him, knowing damn well he’d have to respond in kind if I ever managed to get a book into print. While chatting with him over a cup of coffee, he told me that he and his wife Denise were going to launch Intrigue as a full-fledged publishing house in the near future. I asked if he was looking for manuscripts, and he invited me to the Meet & Greet they set up to get it off the ground. As is my way, I couldn’t find the Meet & Greet because I didn’t have a GPS, so I emailed him the material several days later. After reading the manuscript, they requested a meeting. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

 What ritual do you have when writing? Is there something you do before, during and after you finish your story?

 

 I have a black tee-shirt my wife gave me. It reads, “Oh, this is SO going in my next novel.” I wear it when I sit down at the laptop. I also have a room that I set up for writing, and writing only. If you’d like a peek, it’s on my Facebook page.

Some writers say they write every day. As a rule, I don’t. I can’t. I have a day job to pay the bills. But I break that pattern when I have a reason. I just took two weeks vacation to finish the 1st draft of my 2nd novel. I wrote 8-10 hours every day because I set December’s end as a deadline, and it still took me into January.  

 

I write in pieces, or chunks, I guess. An idea for a story or novel will present itself to me (I don’t dream them up), and I’ll write the first scene or two; one Protag and one Antag—just enough so I don’t lose the story line, although this usually changes as things develop. Once that’s down, I mull it over, often during my work commute (radio off in the car) or at night, in bed. When I turn in, my mind doesn’t stop. It works and keeps me awake. Then a thought will occur and I have to get up to write it down. If I don’t, I’ll struggle to remember it over the next day or so and I hate that. Once I had a great idea for a character name and didn’t get up to put it on paper. It was the last name of an NFL player. The next day, I couldn’t remember it, and spent far too much time checking each NFL team roster trying to spark the recollection. It never came back.

 

            I get my best ideas at night, when my mind is free from the daily drudgery. I like to re-read the last scene or two that I’ve written, and start writing by re-writing to get to the next creative (and I use the term loosely) phase. It’s like picking up a book you’ve been reading,  but have laid aside for a day or so. You open to the bookmark, back up a few paragraphs, and refresh your memory. My writing process is much like that. Then it just kind of flows until I get tired, or my Muse goes to bed.

 

Who is your biggest supporter and why?

 

             That’s easy. My awesome wife, Maggie. Why? A few years back, before we were married, I wanted to quit “wasting my time”, as I put it.  She said, “Why do you want to quit now when you’ve learned so much?” She was right and I was wrong. Your writing is a learning process. A personal thing. It grows as you grow. If you stop, it dies.

 

 

What does it mean to you that you have a book in print?

 

              More than I can convey. It was never about the money (don’t tell my publisher that). It’s about accomplishment. I’m in my 60s. I’m a middle-class worker bee. I’ve done some cool things in my life, but never really achieved what I thought I could—what I thought I should—until now. I don’t expect to become  a household word because of one book, but it’s something to be proud of, a small mark I can leave behind that proves I was here,  and I just wish my mom were still alive to see it.

 

 

What advice can you give someone who is looking for a publisher?

 

              Don’t get discouraged. Many a successful writer forged their skills in the crucible of rejection.  Never give up. Keep improving. Become fireproof.

 

 

What advice would you give to a young person wanting to be an author?

 

                  Buy a thesaurus.

 

 

Give us five words that describe your novel?

 

 Shocking—Empathetic—Engaging—Unpredictable—Gratifying

 

 

What author would you compare yourself to?

 

                  A little Vince Flynn, a little Nelson DeMille, a little Lee Child.

 

                  Oh! Was I supposed to pick just one?

 

 

If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

 

                  Avoid this question.

 

 

How long does it take you to write a story?

 

                  If I could make the living I am now with my writing, I think I could produce three full-length novels every two years.

 

Are you a pant’ser or an outliner?

 

                  You’ll pardon me if I have a little fun with this, but I am actually a little of both. I write outline form until I can’t stand it anymore, and then I cave and write the corresponding scenes to go with it. I guess that makes me an out-pantser … a term I like much better than pants-liner, which sounds like a feminine hygiene product.

 

 

Tell us in five sentences or less what your book is about….

 

                  Chain of Evidence is a story of a medical examiner who fulfills his own twisted urges by duplicating the acts of a serial killer, killing the women he wants. He uses his position to manipulate the evidence, hiding his own involvement while re-directing forensic blame toward the killer he copies. It’s a story of an aging cop confronted with forced retirement, an economically devastated pension, and diminished body and mind. Faced with rapid-fire changes to his world, solving this toughest of cases is his only chance to salvage his pension—and his reputation—before he’s ushered out the door.It’s the story of an attractive FBI agent, and her manipulation of a young, inexperienced state police commander to achieve the revenge she seeks.

 

I hope you like it.  

 

 

D.B. Corey is the debut author of the crime fiction thriller CHAIN OF EVIDENCE.

 

D. B. Corey lives in Baltimore with his lovely wife Maggie, and after a stint in college, spent twelve years with the U.S. Naval Reserves flying aircrew aboard a Navy P-3 Orion sub-hunter during The Cold War. During his time with the USNR, he began a career in the computer field.

 

His debut novel—Chain of Evidence—was released August 2013. He continues work on a political thriller, and a second police procedural.

 

Corey has contributed opinion columns to online periodicals and has appeared on local talk radio, all under the nom de plume, Bernie Thomas

 

For more information about the author; please visit http://dbcorey.com

 

 

James Oswald: Natural Causes & The Book of Souls Sunday, Feb 9 2014 

DUE TO WEATHER ISSUES, PLEASE ENJOY JAMES OSWALD FOR THE NEXT WEEK.

AUNTIE M WILL BE BACK NEXT WEEK WITH A NEW BLOG!

 

James Oswald is a Scottish livetock farmer who raises pedigreed Highland cattle and New Zealand Romney sheep. He’s also a writer with several different genres  under his belt, who happens to be friends with crime author Stuart MacBride. (MacBride writes a wonderful series featuring DS Logan McRae and several other stand-alones which Auntie M has reviewed at times; check him out.)

Oswald credits MacBride with pushing and supporting him as he turned his hand from other novels, comic scripts, an epic fantasy series, and even a travel book to writing a crime series. Readers will be happy that MacBride has such discerning taste.

Each of the first two books in Oswald’s series featuring DI Anthony MacLean have been shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award. It should be noted that in his own series, Oswald named a character DC MacBride for his friend and supporter. Ian Rankin gets a mention, and perhaps a character named Dalgliesh is an homage to P D James, although the name is of Scottish origins.

A SCOTS farmer dubbed the new Ian Rankin celebrated his six-figure crime book deal - by buying a new tractor.Natural Causes opens the series and introduces MacLean, man whose grandmother lies in a coma months after suffering a stroke. MacLean has his own demons to deal with in the form of the gruesome murder years before of his fiancee, Kirsty, killed by The Christmas Killer whom MacLean helped put behind bars.

Oswald starts off with one of the most horrifying and gripping first chapters Auntie M has read in a long time, reminiscent of Denis Mina’s early books, with powerful imagery of a grotesque act that is as haunting as the evil that MacLean seems to feel.

This is the same Edinburgh of Rankin, but vastly different in tone with the cast of recurring characters and a fantastical element that doesn’t hit the reader over the head but serves to give pause.

The killer of a prominent city elder is found less than a day after the murder and commits suicide. It appears as if this case closed itself, until  a second murder days later bears haunting similarities to the first, even though once more the murderer swiftly confesses and then kills himself. These scenes are horrifying in their own way as the reader is privy to information that eludes MacLean at first.

Meanwhile McLean is investigating the discovery of the body of a young woman who has been walled up in the basement of an old Edinburgh mansion. She had been brutally murdered, and her internal organs removed and placed around her in six preserving jars. Forensic evidence suggests this happened over sixty years ago, and MacLean’s research shows is possibly linked to an attempt to re-enact an ancient ceremony to trap a demon in the dead girl’s body, thereby conferring immortality on the six men who each took one of her organs.

McLean’s grandmother, who raised him after his parents were killed when he was a young boy, finally dies. When he’s handed the investigation of a series of unusual, violent suicides, plus that of a cat-burglar who targets the homes of the recently dead, he feels fragile and overloaded, unable to process his grief.

Then another prominent Edinburgh businessman is killed, and McLean suspects there may be a connection between the murders, the suicides and the ritual killing of the girl found in the basement as the same names repeatedly appear. What he needs is a rational explanation as to how that connection works. But how can he stop the evil force he feels is behind these coincidences?

MacLean’s supporting cast is well-drawn: Emma, the SOCO he has a loose relationship; pathologist Angus Cadwallader; his friend and old school roommate, Phil; and of course, DC MacBride. They provide a counterpoint to MacLean and feel believably drawn.  Dark Edinburgh, as conceived by James Oswald, provides an excellent setting for this crime series. The multiple plot strands all come together  to create a tight, plausible tale of murder and deception that is as unusual as it is complex.

In the second MacLean outing, The Book of Souls,  it’s the Christmas season, a particularly difficult time for MacLean, as this was when      The-Book-of-Souls

Kirsty was murdered. The manner in which MacLean found Donald Anderson is unclear; most of all, to McLean himself. Something took him to the man’s antiquarian bookshop, and something else made Anderson, the Christmas Killer, let down his guard. In a cellar under the killer’s shop, his torture chamber was found. Anderson went to prison and the yearly murders stopped.

Then Donald Anderson is murdered in prison, and MacLean knows he lies in a grave. But soon after, another young woman is found murdered in the same manner as Kirsty: naked, her body washed, her throat slit, all after being kept prisoner and raped.

Did MacLean put the wrong man behind bars? Or is this a copycat killer? In MacLean’s mind he keeps seeing Anderson on the streets of Edinburgh, but he’s seen the man’s grave and knows he’s dead and buried.

Instead of the once a year murders of Anderson, similar abductions and murders start to pile up. Facing added stress from his nemesis, DCI Duguid, MacLean is tasked with investigation a series of arson fires, and these end up including MacLean’s own tenement home.

Once again, those responsible are too close to home and perhaps too close to people MacLean is growing to care for, so the stakes are upped. The fantastical element is subtle and yet the plot has twists and turns that will make it difficult for readers to put this one down. If anything, Oswald’s second is even stronger than the first.

There are two more in this series which will be reviewed at a future date: The Hangman’s Song, and not in print until this July, Dead Men’s Bones. Auntie M can’t wait to share these with you.

Rick Reed: Jack Murphy Crime Series Sunday, Feb 2 2014 

Please take a moment from the Super Bowl to check out Rick Reed’s essay. Rick is the author of true crime plus the Jack Murphy series. Leave a comment to enter a drawing for a free copy of FINAL JUSTICE.

Final Justice Ebook Cover

Lump of Clay

 

I’ve been asked this question many times. “Do you write from an outline? How do you get your ideas and keep them straight while writing a full length novel?”

 

The answer I gave in the past is, “I don’t start with an outline. I start with a title (an idea) and then let the characters develop the story.”

 

But today I realized that’s only partially true. 

 

Imagine a book as a lump of clay. (And please don’t think I’m comparing myself to an artist.) The definition of sculpting is to create by removing material in order for the shape that is hidden inside to be revealed.

 

With that in mind, imagine a title such as “Murder in Mind.” What images does that create? What feelings does it bring out? For every one of you it’s different, but will have subtle similarities. For one of you the story would be about a serial killer that fantasizes his murders and tries to make them fit the fantasy. For another of you it might be a nightmare, or the unconscious world of a coma patient. 

 

Probably most of you work the other way around. You have an idea in mind, and then come up with a title. Either way, the title almost always changes to fit the story. 

 

My books, The Cruelest Cut, The Coldest Fear, and Final Justice, all started with a title that stuck in my mind. It was my lump of clay. And like any sculptor or potter will tell you, eventually, the clay begins to take over, and the artist is merely the hands and chisel (or laptop) that tells the story. Inside my lump, I saw a number of possible directions for the story, and each one would lead to the characters. Then the characters would take over.

 

Each character has a different idea how they talk, what they will or won’t do, how a scene turns out, who they interact with. I never know the end until the end because it “ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” There is no better feeling in the world for an author than writing those two words…THE END.

 

Like any writer or artist or athlete, etc., each book is a different experience and you learn from all of them. I’d like to think that I’ve grown as a writer and I can look back at my old books and see where I would have done them differently. But the difference is the beauty of a book. Not everyone will like what you’ve written. Not everyone appreciates a painting or sculpture or song or music, but that doesn’t make it bad. (Like I used to tell my college students, “Not everyone likes asparagus.”)

 

So I say, “Go forth. Find your lump of clay. Create. Believe.” 

 

THE END

      

Sergeant Rick Reed (Ret.) was a member of the Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Department in Indiana for 30 years. During that time he served in almost all areas of law enforcement, as a hostage negotiator, handwriting expert, Bunco-Fraud, juvenile, crimes against persons, and homicide.

 In his law enforcement career he was lead investigator on numerous homicides, rapes, home invasion and battery cases. But it was during his stint in Bunco-Fraud (white collar crime) that he tracked and captured serial killer Joseph Weldon Brown. Reed’s acclaimed book, Blood Trail, is the true account of that investigation, which subsequently unearthed a serial killer claiming the lives of fourteen victims. While serving a life-without-parole sentence for these murders, Brown strangled his cellmate, made coffee, and called for the guard to move the body.

 After the success of Blood Trail Rick signed a two-book contract with Kensington Books to write serial killer thrillers. His first book, The Cruelest Cut, released in 2010, introduces detective Jack Murphy and his partner, Liddell Blanchard, as they chase a pair of revenge-driven serial killers through the streets of Evansville. In The Coldest Fear the detectives attempt to follow the reasoning of an unfathomable serial killer who is wielding a bone axe. The Coldest Fear was released in September 2011. Both of these works have been translated into German and Polish.

 Rick’s third detective Jack Murphy thriller, Final Justice, addresses the corruption and failings within the criminal justice system. Final Justice was released September 2013 and re-released in January 2014.Rick is currently at work on his next Jack Murphy thriller, Murphy’s Law, to be released in mid 2014.

 Rick also belongs to BOOKCLUBREADING.COM, an innovative group that pairs authors with book clubs, libraries, universities, domestic violence groups, and writer’s groups. The Internet makes the author available to speak at your event via Skype or iChat, or in person.

To learn more, visit Rick at:

Website:    http://www.rickreedbooks.com

 Blog:      http://rickreed007.blogspot.comRickReed - Copy

 BookClubReading:  http://bookclubreading.com/final-justice/

 LinkedIN:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rick-reed/37/535/8a6

 Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rick-Reed-Author-Page/118343444853522?sk=info&edit=eduwork

 Twitter:  @JackMurphy1010

Or contact via email: rick@rickreedbooks.com

 


 

                                                                                                                   

JoHanna Massey

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JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Make

make Your House a home

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

Just another WordPress.com site

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

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