Ragnar Jonasson: Snow Blind Sunday, Jan 29 2017 

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Ragnar Jonasson’s Snow Blind introduces a new crime series set in Iceland. Jonasson hones his crime chops translating fourteen Agatha Christie mysteries into Icelandic, and is a founding member of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

Snow Blind introduces Ari Thor Arason, a new policeman who has just moved to the tiny northern fishing village of Siglufjordur. It’s a place where white is the predominant color many weeks of the year, and where avalanches can cut off the small mountain tunnel that allows access to the rest of the world.

Taking this position meant leaving his girlfriend behind, and Ari Thor is still smarting at the way their relationship is floundering. When a young woman, half-naked, is found bleeding and near death in her backyard, he becomes quickly involved in his new community. While he seeks the perpetrator, he suspects not everyone is telling the truth.

That new community involves a local theatre group, one of whom is giving Ari Thor piano lessons. Then someone at the theatre dies, and he must ascertain if this was a tragic accident, or a case of murder.

Is it possible these two instances are connected, as the woman’s partner is a member of the theatre troupe? With only two other members of his police team, and his Chief intent on smoothing troubled waters, it will be left to Ari Thor to investigate on his own.

With its complex plot to keep readers flipping pages, the stark coldness emphasizes Ari Thor’s alienation and sense of claustrophobia. Then his own house is broken into, and the young policeman must figure out if he’s been put on the killer’s list, and why.

A classic whodunit set in a stark place with a twisted ending.

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Peter Swanson: Her Every Fear Wednesday, Jan 25 2017 

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Reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Grace Kelly/Jimmy Stewart classic, Rear Window, Peter Swanon’s thriller Her Every Fear has the same kind of see-through-a-window aspect to parts of his book. But this is even more suspenseful, as we see the action through the eyes of several of the key players at the same time.

After a traumatic experience with a boyfriend, British Kate agrees to a six-month swap with a Boston cousin she’s never met. Corbin will stay in her flat and she will live in his much more spacious and lovely place that Corbin inherited from his father in one of Boston’s nicest neighborhoods. Forget any similarities to the romantic movie “Holiday,” for there the similarities end.

A young woman in the apartment next to Kate’s new home is found murdered. Audrey was killed in such in a bizarre fashion that is kept out of the media. A young man in the apartment directly across from Audrey’s can see into her place, and has developed a a habit of looking at her. He’s also seen Corbin in the Audrey’s apartment.

Yet Corbin disavows a relationship with the dead woman, and soon Kate starts to look for evidence incriminating her cousin with the murder.

Swanson is currently writing a sonnet cycle on all of Hitchcock’s films, and his influence is strongly here. It’s written in a cinematic style that is just aching to be translated to the big screen, too.

This is a fascinating look at how easily people can learn not to trust their own instincts; and the devastation that comes from the fervor of others who live in their own moral universe. It’s also a tense, gripping thriller with a twisted plot. Leave the lights on for this one.

Sandra de Helen: Till Darkness Comes Tuesday, Jan 24 2017 

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Please welcome Sandra de Helen, to talk about her new thriller, Till Darkness Comes, and give us an exciting and suitably creepy excerpt. Don’t miss the buy links for all of her work at the end of the excerpt~

If you’re a thriller lover, I may have just the book for you. Chelsea Cain (she of the famous Gretchen and Archie thrillers) says “I wish I had half the plotting talent that Sandra de Helen has. This is such a terrific and totally satisfying book.”

Till Darkness Comes is set in Kansas City, Missouri, where I used to live. A serial killer first kills a pedophile, then moves on to killing insurance executives. Two young women who were best friends in high school get caught up in the murders. One because her uncle is killed; the other because she’s a young rookie cop with big ambitions.

I had been merrily writing along, working on my Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson mystery series, set in modern day Portland, basing their stories on tales of Sherlock Holmes, when I was seized with a desire to go darker. Much darker.

The first two books in the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series are The Hounding and The Illustrious Client. I’m currently at work on the third Shirley Combs book A Valley of Fear, but the next one will be a follow-up to the thriller.

An Excerpt from Till Darkness Comes:

A sliver of crescent moon rises through the clouds as an unseen watcher leans near the closed window of the shed. The ramshackle building is covered with English ivy, honeysuckle, and a wild rambling rose that makes it difficult to see into the one-story woodworking shop. A Coleman lantern is the only light in the building. Even though the sun has set, the Missouri heat is oppressive, the humidity so high the watcher is sweating. Cicadas, tree frogs, and nearby traffic provide the soundtrack. The honeysuckle scent disappeared a month before. The odors of this night are sweat, dust, and cigarette smoke.

Jerry Vogelsang puffs his cigarette while sitting on a stack of burlap bags in his underwear, a can of Budweiser at his side. A small boy is in a heap on the floor, wearing only a tee shirt, his back heaving with sobs.

“Get it together you little shit. You got to go inside and you got to act like everything’s okay.”

The boy jerks away from Jerry, but raises his head and faces him.

“Wipe your face and stuff. Straighten up.”

The boy wipes his nose with the back of his hand, stands up, covering his private parts with his other hand.

Jerry slaps the boy’s hand away.

“Now get dressed and go in the house. Just act like you always do. Everything’s okay as long as you don’t tell. All right?”

The boy scurries to put his clothes and shoes on, and runs out the door, letting it slam behind him. As soon as he is gone, the watcher goes to the door, opens it, steps inside, and locks it.

Before Jerry can express more than surprise, the watcher crosses the room and hits him in the head with a crowbar, knocking him out. The watcher prepares the room. First the window is covered with a black cloth. The door is barred to make it more secure. Next the workbench is cleared to make room for Jerry. The watcher uses the firefighter’s carry to hoist the man onto the bench. He is of average height and weight, but he is unconscious, and of no help. Using a nail gun, the watcher secures him to the table with three-quarter-inch galvanized metal strapping. Jerry is strapped at neck, biceps, wrists, waist, thighs, knees, shins, and ankles. And one across the forehead for good measure. The watcher opens Jerry’s mouth and stuffs it with a sock, wraps a bandana around the back of his head, and ties it over his gagged mouth.

Jerry groans and begins to squirm. The watcher holds up a pair of scissors where Jerry can see them. Jerry tries to yell and when he can’t, he begins to thrash, his eyes wild. The scissors, held in hands encased in black rubber gloves, come at his face, stopping just short of his right eye. Jerry presses the back of his head into the workbench. Beads of sweat pop up on his forehead and a deep growl issues from his throat. The warm building reeks of bodily fluids.

“That’s better. Stay still. I’m going to give you some injections so the things I do won’t hurt so bad. Shh. Be quiet now. You know we like to be quiet. We don’t want anyone to know what you do out here in the shed, do we? I’m going to cut your underpants off, here we go. Don’t wiggle, you’ll make me cut you. Oops, you see? I did cut you, these scissors are really sharp. Let’s cut these all the way off, see what you’ve got down here. Well, that’s not so much, is it? What’s the matter, you cold? All the time I was thinking I’ll bet you hurt that little boy you had in here, but maybe you didn’t hurt him so bad with this little old thing. Oh, but I’m forgetting. It gets hard when you’re around little kids, right? Both little boys and girls, right? You’re equal like that, huh? A real man. Maybe you need to be a bit less of a man. Maybe you need to be castrated. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll give you a shot. Hold still. Here we go. Are you numbing up yet? How about now? Look, it’s not going to hurt that much anyway, right? I’m not going to cut them off with the scissors. No. I’m going to use dental floss. I’ll tie them real tight and they’ll fall off in a couple of weeks. Hold still. Hold still!”

As Jerry twists and turns, the metal banding loosens. At the first sound of the nails pulling from the workbench, the watcher grabs the scissors and stabs Jerry in the stomach, then again higher in the chest, and finally in the throat. Blood is gushing from Jerry’s body, but he is still. The watcher gathers up all the tools, including the black cloth from the window, the bar from the door, the crowbar, the nail gun, and the leftover metal strapping. These items go into the duffel bag they bought at the Army surplus store. With a last look around, the watcher leaves the shed, shuts the door, pulls off the rubber gloves and stows them in a pocket.

BIO:
Sandra de Helen, author of the thriller Till Darkness Comes, also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.

BUY LINKS:

Till Darkness Comes:
Amazon.com http://bit.ly/TillDarknessComesPaperback
Amazon.com/kindle http://bit.ly/TillDarknessComesKindle
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://bit.ly/TDCNook
The Illustrious Client:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Illustrious-Client-Sandra-Helen/
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/illustrious-client-unabridged/id898136443
Audible: http://adbl.co/1TVy2RN
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1Usz8Em
Bookmate: https://bookmate.com/books/JkXPYQbV
Powell’s: http://www.powells.com/book/the-illustrious-client-9780991079209/61-0
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dehelen
Tanum (Norway): http://bit.ly/1XNueEt
The Hounding:
Amazon: http://bit.ly/TheHoundingbysdh
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/hounding-shirley-combs-dr./id797820901
Audible: http://adbl.co/1XdmfSN
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1spt32C
Bookmate: https://bookmate.com/books/xwAeiJ69
Powell’s: http://www.powells.com/book/the-hounding-9780991079216/61-0
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/dehelen
Tanum (Norway): http://bit.ly/1RKyOMP

Greg Hurwitz: The Nowhere Man Sunday, Jan 22 2017 

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After the huge success of last year’s Orphan X, Greg Hurwitz returns with The Nowhere Man.

Evan Smoak has learned a set of unique skills he uses to his advantage. With no financial issues at hand, Evan is playing vigilante to assuage his guilt over his past crimes as a deniable assassin.

But it isn’t easy to break completely with a government program, especially when you know where all the bodies are buried–and put some of there yourself. Evan’s knowledge makes him the target of the new head of the Orphan X program, with a price on Evan’s head.

With the victim of a child sex ring waiting to be rescued, Evan finds himself trapped in a secluded mansion and has only his knowledge and smarts to help him escape to save the girl–and himself. How he does that form the basis of a book filled with nonstop action. It’s also an incredible look inside the mind and thought process of this highly intelligent young man who has been thoroughly trained to outwit even the people who trained him.

A comprehensive thriller with a complex plot and clever twists make this much more than a sequel. A compelling read that mixes elements of James Bond, Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne.

Dorothy Hayes: Keys to Nowhere Friday, Jan 20 2017 

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Auntie M had the good fortune to interview Dorothy Hayes recently about her new release, Keys to Nowhere. Dottie has generously offered to giveaway a copy of the new book to one lucky person who leaves a comment~

Auntie M: –Keys to Nowhere is your third Carol Rossi novel. How did you decide to write about a Connecticut-based investigative journalist?

Dorothy Hayes: Marni, I do believe in the basic rule: write about what you know. I was a reporter for more than five years for local Connecticut newspapers, The Wilton Bulletin, a weekly, and then The Hour, a daily in Norwalk. The culture of the newsroom comes to life only because I lived it.

AM: -How much of Rossi’s personal life is based on Dorothy Hayes?

DH: Rossi is married to a much younger man, and so am I. But I, gratefully, have four grown children and a huge family. Rossi has one baby, and her parents have passed away. Rossi is a writer and a vegan, and so am I. She is my alter ego, however, for she lives a perfect life on Peaceable Kingdom. She and Jerry rescue animals and live in rare harmony with nature. Of course, Jerry is a police detective in Wilton, Connecticut, where they reside, so when their tranquility is rudely broken, a new mystery is born. Also, people in desperation turn to Rossi, who is a bit of a local hero, then she’s forced into being a reluctant amateur sleuth and in that role she faces potentially lethal violence.
In the end, Rossi is far braver and cleverer than I.

AM: -You’ve chosen 1985 as your time frame. What prompted that decision?

DH: I wrote full-time as a journalist in that time period. My mysteries focus around the crimes of the times and are based on facts and research going back to my newspaper beginnings as a writer. The Mafia and serial killers were just being uncovered in all their various forms in the seventies and early 80’s. The God Father, for instance, debuted in 1972. Also, crime was at an all time high in New York City, where Broken Window takes place, 2,000 homicides a year, and with gangs roaming the subway trains.

AM: -In Keys to Nowhere, Rossi decides to leave her infant with her husband to pursue the case. How does Rossi justify that decision?

DH: Well, Marni, being a new mother, Rossi understood her friend’s fears. When Vera Dearborn shows up at her door in hysteria, telling her that her two teenagers and her sister have vanished in Tucson, Arizona, Rossi puts herself in Vera’s shoes. If her baby disappeared she’d want help as well. She struggles with this decision and is subject to mother’s guilt big time, but it’s impossible for her to say no. Rossi is sure that she’ll persuade the Tucson Police to work on the case somehow. If they won’t, she’ll go beyond her investigative journalistic role and again venture forward as an amateur sleuth, as she’s done in the past. That in fact happens, leaving Rossi to pursue, against her better judgment, a serial killer before he strikes again.

AM: -What pitfalls will Rossi face having no official credentials once she arrives in Tucson? How do you get around that?

DH: Rossi usually works with her detective husband and it’s a two-way street. She attacks the case as an investigative journalist and he follows police procedure, which often misses major points. Both benefit from the dual investigations. But now, Rossi is on her own. She strikes a bit of good luck in the form of a young police officer, Brian Larson. Jerry also telephone’s Larson, leaning on him a little as a brother-in-blue. But nevertheless the police insist that the three women are “runaways,” and refuse to open a missing person’s case. But the compassionate Larson extends a helping hand to Rossi.

AM: -How does Keys to Nowhere compare to your two others, Murder at the P&Z, and Broken Window?

DH: Murder at the P&Z is a classic Whodunit. I don’t want to give it away by telling what the crime of the time was behind the murders.
Broken Window and Keys to Nowhere are missing person stories. Broken Window deals with human trafficking in the US, while Keys to Nowhere is about serial killers. I’m not giving anything away for this is fairly clear from the beginning of the two mysteries.

AM: -So many readers enjoy reading a series protagonist. How does that work for you as the author?

DH: I’ve fallen in love with my characters. I get a kick out of the trouble Rossi finds herself in and how she cleverly works her way out of it. I’m always surprised by my characters. Like my vegetables, I’m an organic writer. My stories grow as they go. I place my characters into situations and allow their instincts and emotions to take over. I, of course, put myself in that character’s role. I never know where the story is heading. Stephen King does the same and I often wondered if I should be more buttoned down about the plot, but King said a plot all mapped out is like a prefab house, and I get that. I’m excited when I begin a new mystery, Marni, for I don’t know where the heck it is going. It’s an adventure for my readers and for me.

AM: -What’s a typical writing day like for Dorothy Hayes?

DH: It’s up with the sun. Write to about two or three in the afternoon. I feel totally satisfied. Writing is my natural habitat. Marni, when I was a kid, I wanted to two things: to have four kids and to write novels. I’ve been blessed with both.

AM: -Where do you find your plot ideas for the cases that attract Rossi?

DH: Coming from newspapers, my stories are all based on crimes of the times. Through my research, I love research. I have great fun preparing for a book once I know what the underlying subject will be. In the Author’s Note of all my books, I reveal the real life crime mainly reported in newspapers, I also do a great deal of reading on the subject in books, which I list. At times I’ll list the names of people in real life who were models for my characters, and the dates of the crimes reported and the name and date of the newspaper article. Once I’ve got my topic, I research more, and before I know it, characters pop up like surprise, but welcomed, guests at my door.

AM: -Who do you like to read when you’re not writing?

DH: Henning Mankell was one of my favorite mystery writers, I’ve read all his Kurt Wallander books. Kurt is a flawed, but real human being and I love character driven books, as a rule. Now, I’m reading Chernow’s Hamilton like many other readers. I’ve just finished Dead Wake, The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, and The Guns of August. I’ll keep reading newspapers, novels and histories until an idea strikes my imagination and then we’re off again, me and my characters, to another adventure.

But, Marni, it was The Ballad of Reading Goal, a ballad I read by Oscar Wilde, that moved me as a writer; “Yet each man kills the things he loves, by each let this be heard…” In his writing, Wilde allowed me to feel the raw emotions of the last few minutes of a condemned man’s life. This was impossible for me to experience otherwise. It stunned and amazed me. Homer’s The Iliad was the first book that made me cry, I even know where I was when I read it–that was when Andromache sees Hector’s dead body, her wonderful husband, being dragged through the dirt by Achilles. Hamlet…I could go on.
Books such as these were an awakening for me.
My passion, as a writer, humbly and thanks to incredible writers, is to transport readers to places, times and feelings impossible to reach other than in books.

READERS: Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like to win a free copy of Keys to Nowhere~

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Dorothy Hayes, a staff writer for local Connecticut newspapers for five years, received an honorary award for her in-depth series on Vietnam Veterans from the Society of Professional Journalists. Prior to that she was a Language Arts teacher. A staff writer for a national animal protection organization for six years, she wrote her first novel, Animal Instinct, in 2006. Dorothy lives in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband, Arthur. She also raised four children, and is the mother-in-law to three, grandmother to fourteen, and great-grandmother to Bella.

Her other books in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series are: Murder at the P&Z, 2013 and Broken Window, 2015. Her short story, , was published by Mysterical-E, December 2016.

She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime-Tri-State Chapter, and Mystery Writers of American. Visit her at dorothyhayes.com.

Karen Pullen: Cold Heart Wednesday, Jan 18 2017 

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Karen Pullen returns with the second in her Stella Lavender Mysteries, Cold Heart. With her debut, Cold Feet, readers were introduced to the NC State Bureau of Investigations agent, who’s been doing undercover drug work. But Stella keeps hoping for something more. Always on the lookout for a homicide, she quickly becomes involved in an investigation after giving a ride to a hitchhiker.

The teen needs to get to her babysitting job, but once inside the wealthy neighborhood where her employer lives, Stella and the girl find the father in the family lying dead in the backyard. The toddler in question is missing. Stella gets herself assigned to the case and finds it particularly unusual.

Family photos have gone missing. It appears the victim was unconscious for a period of time before being killed. Why does he have a new huge deposit in his bank account? With the toddler’s mother pregnant and due to deliver soon, the child’s disappearance takes on a new urgency, even as Stella strives to find the father’s killer.

Stella’s backstory includes being raised by her very modern grandmother after her own mother went missing when Stella was a baby. This underlines much of her drive and motivation, and it comes into play in this case in an unusual manner.

Pullen creates her North Carolina setting and her characters well. A strong entry in a compelling series.

4 UK Treats: Russell, Tope, Mitchell, Ireland Sunday, Jan 15 2017 

Auntie M had a ball over the holidays reading on her Kindle between wrapping gifts, having family over and celebrating with friends and family. Here’s four for readers to check out, all set in the UK~

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Blood Axe is Leigh Russell’s newest DI Ian Peterson mystery. As the young detective struggles to adjust to his posting in York, and to the issues in his marriage, he’s confronted with a grisly murder scene.

A Viking axe goes missing after a festival and becomes the tool the murderer uses to carry out what soon becomes a series of murders. Peterson and his team, still adjusting to each other, must go full out to find who could possibly be the perpetrator. This is a canny killer, and it isn’t an easy task.

York springs to life, with plot points carefully worked out, and the gritty tasks, long hours and often frustrating work detectives face nicely illustrated. Russell’s police procedural’s hum with realism and this one is a fine addition to the series.

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Rebecca Tope brings back florist Simmy Brown in The Troutbeck Testimony, the young woman’s fourth outing. This time Simmy is walking with her father when an overheard conversation leads to a mix-up that ties in with a local murder. It doesn’t help that they find a dead dog.

Simmy is a most reluctant sleuth. She becomes embroiled in cases, to the delight of her young assistants. There will be changes in those closest to Simmy, too, and a surprise twist that has some of her preconceived notions shaken to her core. There are plenty of red herrings and mixed messages to keep readers on their toes.

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The writing duo known as DE Ireland return with Eliza Doolittle, Professor Henry Higgins, and the whole cast of My Fair Lady in Get Me to the Grave on Time.

It’s wedding season, which Higgins abhors, yet when the groom dies at the first one they attend, Eliza and Higgins find themselves sleuthing again. There are plenty of suspects as the plot thickens, and more deaths to come. Several in their close circle will be hurt as things start to get out of control.

The period details, especially the mores and customs, plus the emphasis that was placed on clothing, are detailed and specific, lending an air of plunging the reader back into Edwardian times. A looted Indian temple becomes the basis for the investigation and raises the question of British supremacy and the taking of antiquities for British museums. There are more layers here than first meet the eye.

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Caroline Mitchell debuts a new series with a most interesting protagonist in the first DS Ruby Preston, Love You to Death.

Ruby’s unlike most other police detectives. She’s pulled herself up to rise in the police after being raised in a neighborhood known more for its criminals. Her ties to her old life can’t seem to be cut, with good reason. She finds herself involved in complicated relationships at every turn, unable to lose the baggage of her past.

It makes for a very interesting and different approach, as Ruby must decide where her allegiance lies: to her old neighborhood and those she’s loved for years; or to the letter of the law she’s sworn to uphold.

A serial murderer is abducting and killing women after gaining entrance to their homes. It’s soon apparent that the thread connecting them is that each woman gave up a child for adoption.

The killer is looking for the mother who gave her up, and for a fairytale ending to their relationship. A wonderful twist occurs when Ruby receives emails allegedly from the daughter she gave up at birth as a teenager, implying that she is the killer. The child’s father is Nathan, a gangster who is not a part of Ruby’s life any longer–or is he?

An very different kind of character to lead a new series. It will be interesting to see where Mitchell takes Ruby next.

Christina Hoag: Girl on the Brink; Skin of Tattoos Wednesday, Jan 11 2017 

Please welcome YA author Christina Hoag, who will share her writing tips Auntie M’s readers~

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Writing Tips
By Christina Hoag

Here are several writing tips I’ve discovered through many years of writing. You may find them helpful. They’re in no particular order.

1. I don’t write myself out every day. I leave something – the very next scene, usually – so when I come back the next day I know what to do. I just pick up and keep going. If you write yourself out, then you end up wasting a lot of time wondering what comes next and trying to get back into the rhythm of the story.

2. If someone says something in your piece doesn’t work, it’s only one person’s opinion. But if two people make the same observation, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. More often than not, it’s something that needs fixing.

3. Develop a thick skin. It takes courage to write and show your work to the world for judgment, but remember that not everyone is going to like your work, and that’s okay. You have to learn to let criticism roll off you. The nastiest rejection I ever got was from the editor of a literary journal who scornfully said of my experimental fiction submission, “Why would anyone even read this?” I kept submitting it and got the piece and another like it published in other journals.

4. If there’s someone in your life who does not support you creatively, either get rid of them or distance yourself from them as much as possible. Be ruthless because your art is worth it. I’ve broken up with boyfriends because they were not supportive or had no interest in my writing. In my mind, you can’t be with a writer if you’re not interested in what they write because their writing is part of their self-expression.

5. Don’t give up! It can be hard to keep going amid the onslaught of rejection –agents, editors, reviewers. If you get a particularly bad rejection or setback, allow yourself to wallow in self-pity for a set period of time, say three days. When that’s over, get back to your PC.

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6. When critiquing other people’s work, remember to be constructive and how it feels to be on the receiving end. Always state some positive points first then say “I thought you could improve this by…”

7. Have a general sense of where your story is going and how it will end. I’ve tried “pantsing,” ie. writing by the seat of my pants, and ended up lost in the plot labyrinth and wasted a lot of time. Now I have a loose outline and I periodically map out the next couple scenes as I write. That keeps me on track and thinking ahead. It makes the process much smoother.

8. Read a wide range of genres and authors. Read poetry to develop lyricism and an ear for language. Read plays to develop dialogue. Read mysteries/thriller/classics to improve plot development. Read literary works to enhance character development.

9. When confronting the dreaded writer’s block, do something else for a while, don’t fret and don’t force. I’ve found that getting up and going to the kitchen clears my head enough for the next step to pop in it. You can also use the time to do something else writing-related: work on your website, submissions, an essay, or on another section of your book. The secret is changing your focus so you can clear your blocked channel.

10. This may be the most important tip of all: Believe in yourself. Believe that you have something worthwhile to say. Believe in your talent. Believe that you will succeed and that the rocky road is part of any artist’s journey.

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Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, 2016) that was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list.

She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald, and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014).

ChristineS lives in Los Angeles. For more information about her, see http://www.christinahoag.com.
Skin of Tattoos and Girl on the Brink are available in ebook and paperback: http://amzn.to/2bSRjqP and http://amzn.to/2aRFsVZ

Jonathan Moore: The Dark Room Tuesday, Jan 10 2017 

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On the heels of last year’s thrilling Poison Artist, Moore returns with The Dark Room, a police procedural thriller that will leave readers flipping pages long past bedtime.

San Francisco and its communities spring to life in their dreary, rainy season when Gavin Cain, experienced homicide investigator, is pulled from an exhumation surrounding and old case to spearhead one that has the FBI involved: someone has sent the city’s mayor photographs of a beautiful blonde woman being systematically brutalized, forced to swallow a handful of pills, then raped. The accompanying letter hints there are worse photos to follow unless the Mayor, hard-hitting Castelli, commits suicide first.

As he and his team investigate the photos and the cold case that surfaces, it becomes obvious there’s a connection to the exhumation case he was on.
The mayor’s family and staff become entwined, and with the FBI’s help, Cain is on a roller-coaster ride he can’t get off until he finds the evil behind the actions.

Cain’s entire team and his personal life will be affected as one unthinkable action after another occurs. The dialogue-heavy action bring Moore’s realistic individuals to life in this intricately-plotted novel that Stephen King calls “heart-pounding” with good reason. Highly recommended.

My Favorite Reads 2016 Sunday, Jan 8 2017 

As we welcome 2017, out of 177 reviewed books (!) in 2016, a listing of those that received Auntie M’s coveted HIGHLY RECOMMENDED status:

Colette McBeth: The Life I Left Behind (Minotaur)

Ausma Zehant Khan: The Language of Secrets (Minotaur)

Nicholas Searle: The Good Liar (HarperCollins)

Nele Neuhaus: I Am Your Judge (Macmillan)

Alison Gaylin: What Remains of Me (Minotaur)

Jeannette De Beauvoir: Deadly Jewels (Macmillan)

Elly Griffiths: Woman in Blue (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Noah Hawley: Before the Fall (Hodder & Stoughton)

Kate Rhodes: Blood Symmetry (Macmillan)

Laura McHugh: Arrowood (Spiegel & Grau)

Louise Penny: A Great Reckoning (Minotaur)

Sarah Ward: A Deadly Thaw (Minotaur)

Sharon Bolton: Daisy in Chains (Minotaur)

Tana French: The Trespasser (Viking)

Tony Parsons: The Hanging Club (Macmillan)

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