Book Review: The Newsmakers Series by Lis Wiehl

 

 

 

 

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Lis Wiehl is a prolific author of several series. East Salem, Triple Threat, Mia Quinn, and the Newsmakers series starring Erica Sparks. She is a former Federal prosecutor, legal analyst and reporter for Fox news. Lis is also one of authors participating in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week celebration. Don’t miss it! There are so many ways to enjoy this event.

 

 

 

Book One: The Newsmakers

 

 

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Goodreads Description

 

Television reporter Erica Sparks has just landed her dream job at Global News Network. Beautiful, talented, and ambitious, Erica grew up dirt poor, worked her way through Yale, and is carrying a terrible secret. She moves to Manhattan to join GNN, leaving Jenny, her adored 7-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband. Erica’s producer at the network, Greg Underwood, is handsome and compelling. Scarred by her divorce, Erica is wary of romance, but there’s no denying the mutual attraction.

On one of her first assignments, Erica witnesses a horrific Staten Island ferry crash. Then she lands a coveted interview with presumptive presidential nominee Kay Barrish. During the interview Barrish collapses. Erica valiantly tries to save her with CPR. The footage rivets the world—GNN’s ratings soar and Erica is now a household name.

But she’s troubled. What a strange coincidence that both events should happen on her watch. It’s almost as if they were engineered. Is that possible?

Erica’s relentless pursuit of the truth puts her life and that of her daughter in danger. Her investigation leads her into the heart of darkness—where the future of our democracy is at stake.

 

 

 

MY THOUGHTS

 

 

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Surprisingly I found this to be a page turner in every regard. The motivations and characteristics of Erica Sparks spoke volumes. A die hard journalist who will seek nothing but the truth. Going up against a sadistic power hungry executive, she still shines as a true investigative journalist.

Erica is vulnerable person with a flawed past, yet has a spine of steel when it comes to finding the truth. It’s almost her weakness and strength simultaneously. Her dauntless curiosity gets her into trouble, but it also becomes her strength in the midst of life or death circumstances. You have to get to know Erica!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Two: The Candidate (Newsmakers #2)

 

 

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GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

How far would a candidate go to become President of the United States?

In covering the presidential election campaign, star newsmaker Erica Sparks notices that favored candidate Senator Mike Ortiz seems dependent on his wife to an unnatural degree. Celeste Ortiz is a brilliant and glamorous billionaire who—along with her best friend and confidant Lily Lau—has engineered her husband’s meteoric rise. The White House is within their reach. But the more Erica investigates the Ortizes’ strange relationship, the more intrigued she becomes.

Erica begins an investigation. But everyone material to her probe ends up dead. With each death, her foreboding grows. Is she next? And can she find out in time if the country’s beloved candidate is what he seems . . . or a threat to national security?

 

 

 

 

MY THOUGHTS

 

 

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Another well written page turner adventure with Erica Sparks! My favorite journalist who constantly sticks her neck out to unashamedly discover the truth.

This time Erica gets in pretty deep covering the presidential election. The story she’s covering doesn’t get her into trouble, but what she’s uncovers in the process could cost her her life.

At this point in the game she has global recognition with a household name. But in the midst of the fame is her waning personal life with her daughter and fiance.

The Antagonists in this one were much better in my opinion. They were realistic, quirky and actually pretty creepy! Lis does a marvelous job of capturing their personalities with dark motivations. Excellent. Don’t miss this one!

 

 

 

Both of these books are going into the…

 

 

Department of Awesome

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Midnight Obsession by Melinda Leigh

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Wall Street Journal’s Bestselling Author Melinda Leigh releases her latest masterpiece, Midnight Obsession. She’s also one of our awesome authors in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week celebration. Don’t miss out!

 

 

 

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BOOK TRAILER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

In Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s edgy new thriller, Louisa Hancock thought she was safe…but there’s a new killer in town.

When a mysterious package lands on Louisa Hancock’s doorstep, the Philadelphia museum curator can hardly anticipate the nightmare that’s about to envelop her. The package is addressed to her father—an expert in Viking culture—and inside is a ninth-century sword, a chilling thank-you note, and photos of two dead bodies in a tableau evoking a Nordic funeral. The gruesome images match a recent crime scene. But before the police can investigate the killer’s connection to Louisa’s father, Ward Hancock vanishes.

Sports bar owner Conor Sullivan wants nothing more than to spend his life with Louisa. Devoted and protective, he refuses to leave her side after her father’s disappearance. When a troubled young boxer he’s been coaching is suspected of the murders, Conor is pulled in even deeper. Desperate, Louisa and Conor take it upon themselves to find her father, but soon another ritualistic slaying makes it clear there’s a Viking-obsessed serial killer on the loose. And he has a new target: Louisa.

 

 

 

MY RATING

 

 

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You won’t find any dull moments in this one. Melinda Leigh does an excellent job of building suspense, action, and mystery to keep the pages turning!

When I first began this book I knew it was going to be a great read. I could feel it in my gut. Gotta love those guts, eh? YES. I was right!

The tension, pacing, characters, plot, romance, antagonist were perfect. Conner Sullivan is every woman’s dream of a gentlemen who is hell-bent on protecting the love of his life, Louisa Hancock.

Louisa is a vulnerable yet strong individual who is no pushover despite her circumstances. I can’t say more without spoilers.

Louisa’s father is an renowned Viking culture expert who has a demented secret admirer. It all begins when Louis starts receiving strange packages at her doorstep. Her father’s life is at stake and possibly her own…You’ll never guess who the killer really is until the very end! And the ending is exquisite to the last drop! A must read!

 

 

 

 

 

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CONNECT WITH MELINDA LEIGH

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

mtw-email-logo

Wings of Mayhem Book Review

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Author Sue Colleta 

 

 

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Sue is one of many great authors participating in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week. Don’t miss out on the fun…And spread the word!

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

A SERIAL KILLER STALKS THE STREETS…

Cat burglar Shawnee Daniels always believed her “fearlessness rules” mantra would keep her on top and out of jail. When she hacks a confiscated hard drive at the Revere P.D., she focuses on a white-collar criminal accused of embezzlement. To teach him a lesson and recoup the funds she breaks into his massive contemporary in Bear Clave Estates. Jack has even more secrets, deadly secrets, secrets worth killing over.

A CAT BURGLAR PICKS THE WRONG HOUSE TO ROB…


Shawnee thinks she made it out clean until a deadly package arrives at her door soon after. He’s found her. As a glowing eagle taunts her Skype screen, Jack tells her she stole his precious trophy box — and he wants it back!

THEIR LIVES COLLIDE…


When her “helpful” best friend convinces her to date charismatic Detective Levaughn Samuels, her two worlds threaten to implode. Ordinarily Shawnee keeps a firm line between her professions, but dating Levaughn might help her get this psycho off her tail.

AND NOW, NO ONE IS SAFE…


In this lightning-fast-paced psychological thriller of secrets and lies, Shawnee juggles being stalked by a serial killer, dating the lead detective on the case, and tap dancing around her librarian best friend.

If she doesn’t find the trophy box, the killer’s coming for her. If she doesn’t expose her secrets and lies, more will die. And if she does, she could lose her freedom and everyone she holds dear.

If you’re a fan of Lisa Jackson, Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter thrillers, crime fiction with an edge, or psychological thrillers, mystery, and suspense, then Wings of Mayhem is for you.



Praise for Sue Coletta’s novels…

“The heart-stopping descriptions are so jarringly real that there are several scenes I will never forget.” ~ Eliza Cross, Award Winning Author

“Sue Coletta isn’t going to spare you the gory details or an honest look behind the crime scene tape. She’s a well versed author in all things crime who indelicately dumps you into the middle of a life which has been disrupted, disturbed, and marred by the evil acts of a solitary man.” ~ Beaux Cooper, Author and Amazon Reviewer

“Sue Coletta’s writing style is bold. It’s riveting.

 

 

 

 

 

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First thoughts….

The idea and plot to this book really grabbed me from the beginning and wouldn’t let me go. A Cat burglar doubling in law enforcement, steals a ‘trophy box’ from a devious serial killer. Who wouldn’t read that!

I found it to a very refreshing and original plot. Especially from the overdone cliches in the crime thriller category.

 

Shawnee Daniels

The lead character Shawnee Daniels was also a treat. Instead of being the poor, vulnerable victim we usually see, she daring! She’s a snarky bold character with a chip on her shoulder.

She’s a good anti-hero type who blurs the line between good and evil. Working for law enforcement as a computer analyst, professional cat burglar by night. Love it!

 

Shawnee vs. the serial killer

Finally! A serial killer with a worthy opponent. This made the book extremely entertaining and compelling to read. The killer was devious, smart and capable. But Shawnee Daniels was just a formidable. When these two clashed the conflict was awesome.

 

Can’t wait to read the next book! Kudos Sue!

 

 

 

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CONNECT WITH SUE COLETTA

Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Youtube | Twitter | Amazon

 

Great Interview with Marc Rainer Author of the Jeff Trask Crime Series

 

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Everyone Please Welcome

Marc Rainer Author of the  Jeff Trask legal thriller series

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:


Marc Rainer is a former prosecutor in the federal and local courts of the District of Columbia, and a former circuit prosecutor for the U.S. Air Force’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he has more than thirty years experience in the prosecution of major cases. He is married to a former Air Force OSI Special Agent, and lives in a suburb of a major American city.



A Winter of Wolves will be available via Amazon and in select brick-and-mortar retailers as of October 2016.




 

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According to Goodreads

Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask and a team of investigators are on the trail of what they believe is a lone wolf terrorist who is murdering law enforcement officers in the nation’s capital. Their investigation leads them into a firefight with a cell of radical Islamic terrorists who have something much more terrible in mind. If successful, the terrorists’ plan will threaten the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. The fourth book in Marc Rainer’s Jeff Trask crime drama series is a contemporary historical novel incorporating issues associated with many current events.

A Winter of Wolves is also the 4th volume in the series.  Check out the first three volumes on Goodreads.



          Let’s begin….

          What led you to become a writer?

          After 30 years of service as a federal prosecutor, I had collected hundreds of professional “war stories” from cases. Told correctly, these are also known as “plot lines.” My wife kept saying, “You should write a book,” so I did.

          There’s no better fuel than life experience. Excellent!




          Which authors inspire your writing the most?

          If any served as inspiration, it would be the W.E.B. Griffin  father-son team and series, since it showed me how characters could be developed over the course of a series of novels. I also love the way Michael Connelly writes.

          Haven’t heard of W. E. B. Griffin, but I also love Michael Connelly. Great source of inspiration! 




          inspiration




          What’s your goal in becoming a writer?

          I honestly just wanted to see what I could do. Nothing beyond that. The modest success (about 40,000 sales as a self-published author) has been a pleasant surprise.

          Wonderul. I believe it’ll only get better. The reviews are great!




          What three things have hindered your writing?

          I don’t have three. The only obstacle before I retired was the day job; in other words, having enough time. Since then, the retail bias against self-published authors may have hindered sales, but not the writing itself.

          Having enough time is always a struggle. 




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          What keeps you motivated?

          I just like to write.

          That’s good enough motivation for anyone.





          “Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” -Bill Wheeler




          What is my antagonist?

          I don’t allow those, don’t have one.

          Oh, I love that attitude. Excellent.




          Compared to my previous work, what’s it like being a writer?

          First, I like my boss a lot more. Second, since I was a career prosecutor, I miss the cops and agents – real-life heroes – with whom I had the pleasure of working for years. Third, my schedule is my own now, and being comfortably retired, there’s no pressure. I’m very fortunate in that way.

          This sounds like a very sweet experience. I wish I had it! 







          home




          What would I say to a writer who has given up?

          Find something you believe in enough to NOT give up on. Examine yourself. Why did you give up on writing? Lack of financial success? Self doubt? One can be overcome with perseverance. The other is a sign of some deeper issues. Identify them and start to deal with them.

          Perseverance is the name of the game. I needed to hear this myself. 





          What are the key elements to a legal thriller?

          I try very hard to avoid formulas. In real-life legal work – especially in solving criminal cases –  formulaic approaches can lead to “tunnel vision.” By that, I mean that if you approach a case the same way every time, trying to solve a case using the same method that happened to work the last time, you can miss a lot of clues, make a lot of serious mistakes. Each case involves different people with different motivations. Some criminals act without rational motivation at all; they are creatures of impulse. A crime-based legal thriller by definition has to involve a crime, or series of crimes. After that, I climb on board with my characters for the investigative “ride,” to see where that leads. The solution can occur in or out of the courtroom.

          I agree wholeheartedly. Formulas can be quite boring.  






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          Introduce us to the Jeff Trask series.

          Trask is my fictional alter-ego. A lot of my plot lines are based upon actual cases, and I use trial transcripts from actual cases in the books, with the usual name changes “to protect the innocent” (and guilty). While Trask and I share a lot of experiences, he probably learns faster on the job than I did. I strive for realism. There aren’t any Hollywood gun fights where the good guys snapshoot someone off the roof of a building a hundred yards away with a handgun, then outrun a string of machine gun bullets. I also try not to use the hackneyed lone, tortured soul, alcoholic detective approach. Complex crimes are not solved by rogue superheroes acting alone. They are solved by teams of good people – cops, medical examiners, forensic specialists, and then prosecutors and their staffs – all working together. I’ve been fortunate enough to earn praise from professionals in these fields who say,  “Finally, somebody got it right.” Some critics have said that Trask is “too perfect,” in that he is NOT the typical tortured hero. We all have some demons, but I don’t seek readers who have to look down on a character in order to feel better about themselves. I don’t write literary fiction, and don’t have to apologize for that. The series is about how real teams solve real cases, facing criminals or criminal organizations posing real threats. It also has a lot of dark humor in it, which is also real, in that the guys and gals who do this work for a living have to have that sense of humor to do their jobs without going nuts.

          I love the whole team idea to solving crimes. Not conforming to the typical hero complex is a great way to step outside the box. 





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          What are the chief characteristics of Jeff Trask?  

          Smart. Occasionally a smart-ass, in fact. He does not, however, talk down to anyone or use his brain for anything other than finding solutions. He loves classic rock, and always has a jukebox playing in his head, usually providing a theme-based tune to any situation in which he finds himself. For example, in one book, he encounters a crime scene with about a dozen victims – gang members – shot to hell by a rival criminal element. Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” starts playing in his mind. Trask works well with others as long as they are interested in being part of the solution and not the problem.

          The characteristics of the protagonist help readers fall in love with them. 





          Any planned releases for 2017?

          The next book in the series has already started to take shape in my head. It will find its way to a keyboard some time next year.

          Looking forward to it! it’ll give me some time to catch up in the series.





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          Favorite quotes:




          “Government’s never react well, but they over-react superbly.” Robert Lassiter, Trask’s fictional mentor.





          Connect with Marc Rainer

          Facebook | Goodreads | www.marcrainer.com | Amazon




          Thanks Marc!

          Begin 2017 with a challenge. Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge.

           

          Join the Goodreads group: Book Hoarders Bucket List Challenge.

           

          A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

           

          Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

          Thanks for ridin’ the Train folks!  Come again!

          toy-train-2

          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com

          Story of the Writer Series with Author Kelley Kaye

           

           

           

           

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          Welcome back to the Story of the Writer Series!

           

           

          This is the story of Kelley Kaye…

           

          !

          Meet Cozy mystery, YA Paranormal and Memoir writer Kelley Kaye!

           

           

           

           

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          Are you originally from Southern California? 

          I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah (and in answer to your next question, no, I am not), but raised in a Western Colorado town called Grand Junction. Because I have MS and my body responds poorly to extremes in temperature (GJ gets really hot AND really cold), we moved to San Diego, the finest city in America and very temperate, in 2011.

          I’ve been there once and had a very pleasant experience. 

           

           

           

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          How long did you teach English?

          My first teaching job was in South Lake Tahoe, California from 1992-1994. Then I had that awful MS diagnosis in 1994, so I moved back home. I then taught English and Drama at my old high school (!) from 1994 until we moved to California in 2011. So…nineteen years? The Chalkboard Outlines® cozy mystery series was written in a fictional Colorado mountain town called Pinewood, which is a combination of both schools and towns in which I’ve taught.

          Nice. I’m still trying to learn English! You could teach me a thing or two. 

           

           

           

          Why did you decide to write a memoir?

          Haha. I didn’t plan it, at all—I’m usually a fiction lover because I can make up anything I want in my fictional worlds. Real life is hard, and depressing sometimes, and therefore I don’t want to write nonfiction. Then I got in this ridiculous fight with my husband, on the phone in the middle of an Office Depot parking lot, and my solution to this fight was this epiphany on how I wanted to live my life. Since I’ve lived 22 years with a Chronic Illness, and I was infertile for like 12 years before I was able to have kids, I applied this solution to these elements, included my outlook on family and wellness in light of these, and tried to put my own goofy and positive spin on the whole shebang. The result is a sort of hybridized self-helpy medical memoir with weirdness built in. I’m trying to find an agent for this book because I’d like to be able to expose it to some of those publishers that absolutely won’t look at you if you’re unsolicited and knocking at the door without an invite. I think there are a lot of people dealing with Chronic Illness or Infertility, and I know even more who appreciate some nuttiness in their day.

          Thanks for sharing this, Kelley. Certainly this isn’t easy to deal with. I see it on a daily basis working in therapy. I often have to console people. 

           

           

           

           

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          Tell us about your book, Death by Diploma.

          I am obsessed with mysteries—have been since Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and Encyclopedia Brown. I also love Shakespeare, because, you know—English teacher. That man knows more about human beings and what makes them tick than a Sigmund Freud/Charles Darwin/Jon Stewart mashup. So, mysteries are Thing One, Shakespeare is Thing Two, and then there is this amazing and fertile idea field called High School. For years I just spent too much time observing and eavesdropping on this crazy place, but when I started really writing I wanted to tap in to that. Death by Diploma is a cozy mystery that takes place in a high school, and the sleuths/suspects are this wicked fun amalgamation of me and all my colleagues and friends. The Chalkboard Outlines® series is going to be an amazing place to put all those three things together! I think the two main characters, Emma and Leslie, are as much a part of what makes the book fun as solving the mystery is.

          Wonderful!

           

           

           

           

          “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is he basis of man’s desire to understand.” -Neil Armstrong

           

           

           

           

           

          Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

          People always talk to me like this was some sort of a choice. I’ve always loved stories, have read obsessively since I was three, and because of this there are always stories in my head. The stories have to come out, somehow. It’s crucial to my mental health. So I let the stories out, and then there’s much less likelihood of a meltdown. Meltdowns bad, stories good.

          No, seriously, when I read good writing it makes me want to make my own stories better. Other writers inspire me to write.

          OH! I was just thinking of this today. I would love to talk to you regarding your reading obsession and experience with books.  I know the need to get the stories out of my head! 

           

           

           

           

           

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          What’s your goal in becoming a writer?

          I would love it if lots of other people wanted to read my stories, and I’m always working to make them better. But like I said before, writing isn’t so much a choice for me as it is a compulsion, and I’d probably keep doing it even if no one else was reading. But I hope you are!

          I’ll definitely be reading (or listening) to your stories. I’m drawing a connection here. So your obsession is reading, and your compulsion is writing. Not bad actually. 

           

           

           

           

          “If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.” -Francois Mauriac 

           

           

           

          What three things have hindered you from completing your writing? (Conflict)

          Ugh. There are so many things that hinder us. My teaching job was a big one—doing that job well takes an INORDINATE amount of time and energy, so before I had babies (with the exception of when I was getting my Master’s) I did my writing during the summers. Having children definitely makes it harder to write, although I feel so ungrateful for saying that—it took me a long time to be able to have babies! They’re so great. But also, complete energy suckers.

          And the other thing for me has to do with the MS. I can only write for short periods of time, because I get really tired and because my stupid fingers stop working. Literally. They curl up into little balls of refusal, or sometimes they arch up in rigid protest. It’s ridiculous. Then I have to rest or sleep or zombify for like an hour at a time before they will start working again, and I tell ya—it really puts a cramp in my style. That’s three, right?

          We have two boys–and they both are professional energy-sucking vampires. By the time 8:30 pm rolls around, I’m burnt toast. BUT I’m impressed  given all of your life experiences, you were still able to pull of writing a novel. That’s impeccable!!

           

           

           

           

           

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          What keeps you motivated?

          I am motivated by the fact that my husband is supporting a family of four in one of the most expensive cities in the world on a teacher’s salary, just to allow me to pursue this dream called “Writer.”

          Oh wow. That’s very touching. It’s so important to find support in this wacky world of writing. It’s like learning to surf in the storm. 

           

           

           

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          What’s your antagonist? What’s in the way of achieving your dream?

          Really, I think my biggest antagonist is time. I feel like I need hundreds of years and 53 hours in every day to be able to tackle the millions of ideas in my head, so time or a lack thereof is my biggest antagonist. And it’s further exacerbated by the fact the hours I DO have are further limited by my own body, when the MS hits me with fatigue or appendages that don’t do what I ask them to do.

          Ugh. I completely understand this one. When it’s time to write, I’m too pooped to party. Or I don’t end up writing when I do have time. Ugh!

           

           

           

          Have you ever wanted to give up?

          Nope.

          I love your nope.

           

           

           

          Why do writers quit?

          I don’t know. I think sometimes they don’t realize, when they start, how much work it is. And a lot of them—well, this is true for all of us, really—don’t like criticism. But people take it differently, ya know? Like if you can’t take criticism as either a) a need for improvement or b) a need to surround yourself with someone else or as c) par for the course, then maybe you’d be tempted to give up. But I  think you should work on making it one of those three, or maybe you do need to find a new occupation. Because really, it’s not supposed to be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

          This is so true. Writing is a lot of work. There’s so many elements to tie together you need to be a seamstress. 

           

           

           

           

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          What would you say to those who have given up?

          I would tell them to look inside their heart for the reasons they want to write. If their motivation comes from that source (your heart), think again about not quitting, and then don’t! If they are looking for a way to get famous or make a lot of money, weeeeellllll…maybe in that case they should look elsewhere. (Unless they are okay with fame in their own mind—always a fun place to be!)

          Yes. I love it. This is great. 

           

           

           

          Favorite quotes?

          Every day above ground is a good day. I don’t know who said that originally, but I say it every day. This second one I can give proper credit to: it’s Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Isn’t that a great quote?

          Mm—I just love it!

          AWESOME. Love both of them.

           

           

           

          “Every day above ground is a good day.” -Pitbull

           

           

           

           

          “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

           

           

           

           

           

           

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          Death by Diploma

          Book Trailer

          Audiobook Sample

          Get the Audiobook on AudioBoom! Death by Diploma is narratred by the terrific voice of Angie Hickman which is on sale for $1.99.

           

          Connect with Kelley:


          Kelley Kaye on Facebook

          Kelley Kaye’s Cozy Mystery

          Kelley’s Website

           

           

           

           

          Thanks Kelley!!

          Thanks for riding the train folks….

           

           

           

           

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          Up for a challenge? Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge

           

          A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

           

          Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

           

           

           

           

           

          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com

          Splendid Interview with Fellow Intuitive Author Lauren Sapala

           

          LAUREN SAPALA

          Author of The INFJ Writer Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type

           

           

           

           

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          Lauren Sapala is a writer, writing coach, author of The INFJ Writer, is obsessed with all literature, and my newfound best friend.

           

          Welcome Lauren!

           

           

           

           

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          *Are you originally from the west coast ? 

          I’m originally from Michigan, but moved to Seattle right after college. After a few years there I took off for San Francisco. I had never visited the west coast at all before moving to Seattle, and I had never been to California before I moved to San Francisco. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl!

          I hear you! Me too! 

           

           

           

           

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          *When did you decide to be a writer?

          Wow, this might be the toughest question I’ve ever been asked about writing! I don’t think I ever “decided.” I started writing stories and poems from a young age and it was just always something I did. I never had to think about it or choose it. However, I did choose to stop writing, right after my senior year in college when a professor told me I wasn’t very good at it and I should find something else to do with my life.

          That’s awesome it feels very natural and instinctive to you, or at least until you encountered a negative influence in college. Sorry to hear that. You’d be surprised how many writers I’ve talked to that had the same experience. I find that very perplexing.

           

           

           

          WRITING

          “Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” -Melinda Haynes

           

           

           

           

          *Who or what influenced you the most in your decision?

          There are too many names to list so, in the interest of brevity, I’ll just say: Other writers. Every book I read that spoke to me had a writer behind it who encouraged me to start writing again, and then to keep going.

          It’s great to receive encouragement and motivation from other writers isn’t it?

           

           

           

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          *Besides nonfiction, what else do you write?

          I’ve written three memoirs and two novels. The first memoir is scheduled for release in Spring 2017.

          Oh nice! Yippee! Another book release! Drop me line and I’ll help you with some promotion if you’d like. 

           

           

           

          *Why did you decide to become a story coach?

          After I started writing again in my mid 20’s I formed a writing group in Seattle and then one in San Francisco. These writing groups were based off of the Alcoholics Anonymous format, meaning: you came and you shared your struggle with writing, but you didn’t have to participate if you didn’t want to, you could always remain just an observer. After the sharing, we settled down to do an hour of silent writing together. I found myself working one-on-one with a lot of the writers in the group, and pretty soon it was eating up so much of my free time that I decided to open a business doing this work.

          Nice. I like how those begin. Organically and spontaneously. So glad you started writing again. 

           

           

           

           

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          *Can you name a few benefits from helping others in their writing?

          Holy cow, there are so many benefits I don’t know that I could even begin to cover them all! My first and favorite probably is that I get to hear about and share in other people’s lives. Whatever story someone is writing, it always has everything to do with them. I find human beings to be the most fascinating magical creatures, and the fact that other people trust me enough to let me try to help them with their creative process, and sometimes all their inner emotional “stuff” too, is such an honor.

          There’s definitely a rewarding social aspect to helping others. Human beings are definitely fascinating magical creatures! Especially the intuitive, artistic types! 

           

           

           

           

          *Tell us about your book, The INFJ Writer.

          The INFJ Writer is a writing guide based on the real-world experiences of my writing clients. After a year or two of doing coaching work with writers, I noticed that almost every blocked writer that showed up on my doorstep (that is, in my email inbox) was an INFJ or INFP personality type. These writers were highly sensitive introverts who had A LOT to say about the world but no way to get the words out. I saw immediately that they were the same kind of writers who had shown up to the writing groups I formed based on the AA format—scared, creatively paralyzed idealists who were also thoughtful, compassionate, and invested with a deep sense of purpose and passion about art and writing.

          They were intuitive writers. And traditional methods don’t work for intuitive writers, as I had found out through my own personal experience, and as I saw my clients finding out, over and over and over again. Outlining, plotting the entire arc of the story in advance, using checklists for character development—none of this stuff worked for intuitive writers. In fact, it blocked them even more from their own inner creative light. That’s when I knew I had to write The INFJ Writer. It’s for intuitive writers who are experiencing blocks and don’t have the money or the time to hire a coach like myself who specializes in working with intuitive introverts. The book contains exercises in every chapter to get the blocked writer’s creative energy moving again.

          Thank you for taking the time to write such a book. Although my personality type if not INFJ, I can relate to all of the points that you make here. We’re not too different!

           

           

           

           

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          *What led you to discover your personality type and what bearings did it have on you as a writer?

          I had a desk job for a while where I had a ton of free time and unlimited access to the internet. I had always been interested in psychology so I started taking a lot of online personality tests. Most of them were just for fun, but when I read the description of the INFJ personality type it was like my whole world cracked wide open. Suddenly I realized there was a chance that I wasn’t a completely weird alien (which is how I had felt for most of my life). Finding out I was an INFJ bolstered my self esteem in a thousand ways, one of those being that I finally had the confidence to start putting my writing out into the world.

          I could never have a desk job, although I’ve been blogging a lot these days, lol! Wow. You’re story sounds strikingly similar to mine. I’ve only discovered my personality type earlier this year after suffering from a long bout of depression and low self-esteem. But when I read Heidi Priebe’s book, The Comprehensive ENFP Survival Guide, It opened up mines of life changing revelations. 

           

           

           

           

          *How much does our personality type affect our ability to learn the craft of writing?

          Hmmm…this is an interesting question. I would say that our personality type doesn’t affect our ability at all, but it does affect the way we view ourselves and how adequately we are measuring up to what we consider “ability.” For instance, most INFP writers do not do well with linear structure. When they’re writing, they tend to write in scattered pieces. There IS an order there, but the order usually has to do with a hidden beautiful pattern that the INFP writer follows almost solely according to intuition. From the outside, it might look like a mess. And many, many INFP writers have internalized the assumptions of mainstream writing culture, which says writers should be very concerned with the coherence of the storyline, even in the very first draft. So the INFP writer will see that he’s writing in pieces and get very down on himself for it, and then the negative self-talk comes in and the INFP writer berates himself for not having any writing “ability.” Well, this writer does have ability. His ability just shows up in a different way (especially in that first draft) than it does for most other people.

          I should’ve phrased this question differently, but your response is perfect! I can totally relate to this one. 

           

           

           

           

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          *How can not knowing our personality type inadvertently affect our writing?

          Just like in the world at large, an intuitive who does not know she’s an intuitive will tend to feel crazy or like something is wrong with her most of the time. It’s exactly the same thing in writing. If you write in scattered pieces, or you have a lot of trouble finishing things, or you go through huge amounts of anxiety and emotional turmoil whenever your stories are critiqued, and you don’t know you’re a highly sensitive intuitive writer, the first thing you’ll do is blame yourself. The second thing you’ll do is try to “toughen up” and introduce some sort of harsh discipline into your writing life, which will make you feel worse. Until you learn about your true makeup as a person and an artist—and accept that makeup—you’ll always be caught in this vicious cycle that swings between the inner critic and writer’s block.

          This is all very helpful and therapeutic information. Thanks for sharing. 

           

           

           

          *Have words of encouragement to all the intuitive types?

          Almost every intuitive person I’ve ever met undervalues their own intuition and their own strong intelligence. Use that mind that’s so strong in you! Read everything you can about what you are, and learn everything you can about other people and what makes them tick. The more deeply you know yourself, the easier everything becomes.

          I love this statement! I find it very uplifting. Do you have any reading recommendations for personality type? How about your book! 

           

           

           

           

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          Goodreads | Amazon | Website

           

          According to Goodreads

          After years of coaching writers who struggled with procrastination issues, high sensitivity to criticism, and crippling self doubt, Lauren Sapala realized that almost every one of her clients was an INFJ or INFP. Using the insights gleaned from these clients, as well as her own personal story, Sapala shows us how the experience of the intuitive writer can be radically different from the norm.

          INFJ writers don’t think like anyone else, and their highly creative brains take a toll on them that they rarely share with the outside world. The INFJ Writer discusses such topics as:

          How an INFJ writer’s physical health is tied to their creative output
          Why INFJ writers are more likely to fall prey to addictions
          When an INFJ writer should use their natural psychic ability to do their best creative work

          Whether looking to start writing again or to finish the novel/memoir they started so long ago, any writer with the self-awareness to identify themselves as highly sensitive and intuitive will benefit from this book that helps them to find their own magic, and to finally use it to build the creative life that actually works for them.

           

           

          Add this one to your TBR pile!

           

           

          Reading

           

           

           

           

           

          *I’m an ENFP writer. What 3-5 things would you say to this kind of writer?

          Oh, one of my best friends is an ENFP! You guys are truly bubbling fountains of light and inspiration…who can very quickly turn into avenging angels when someone has been unfairly wronged. ENFPs tend to experience a lot of guilt because they are driven so strongly by their curiosity that it makes them sometimes abandon projects they cared about a lot or befriend people who can be unhealthy for them in different ways. ENFPs are very, very hard on themselves inwardly and, like all intuitives, they struggle with giving too much to others and not letting themselves receive.

          Oh good, make that two of your best friends are ENFP! Tell her I said hi and give her a big high five! Thanks for sharing this. It all rings so true. Never realized how hard I was on myself either. I’m totally Curious George on steroids. 

           

           

           

           

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          I always advise ENFPs:

          To follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. It doesn’t matter if no one else understands why you’re drawn to that person or thing. If you’re drawn to it, it’s got something for you.

          You’re way more intelligent than you give yourself credit for. ENFPs can come off as bouncy and happy and even a little spacey, but under the surface they are extremely astute observers and very quick studies. Science, math, foreign languages—all of these subjects come naturally to ENFPs who find some emotional reason to get invested in them.

          It’s okay to work on a bunch of different writing projects at once. And it’s okay to abandon a writing project if the spark is gone for you. ENFPs are true artisans. They’re like sculptors with words—they like to have their hands on many different textures at once. Let yourself play and explore. ENFPs need to do that.

          WOW. I love this. I want to print this out and plaster it on my forehead!

           

           

           

           

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          *If you could change yourself which personality type would you pick? Or perhaps, what would change in your cognitive stack?

          A few years ago I probably would have said that I wished I was an ENTJ or an ENFJ, some type that still had the intuitive piece but perhaps didn’t share the constant companion of introverted anxiety I’ve experienced for so much of my life. But now, in my late 30s, I’m actually pretty happy with what I was born with, anxiety and all.

          What a great answer. I love it. Sometimes I want to be an ENFJ, but I would be a completely different bird. Having that “P” Perceiving function is a huge part of my personality. Thank for sharing.

           

           

           

          *Favorite quotes?

          One of my very favorites is from Napoleon Hill:

           

          “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.”

          Isn’t that the truth. 

           

           

           

          *Favorite writing books?

          I love, love, LOVE Stephen King’s Memoirs on Writing. That man is a genius.

          That he is. Haven’t read it yet but looking forward to it. 

           

           

           

           

          Thanks for joining us Lauren!

           

           

           

           

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          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com

          Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

           

           

          Watch “BOOKS I BROUGHT TO SCOTLAND!” on YouTube

          IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS

          WITH SASHA ALSBERG!

           

           

           

           

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          What are you reading? Tell me in the comments!!

          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com

           

           

           

          Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

           

          Watch “BOOKTALK WITH VERONICA ROTH | SPOILER FREE” on YouTube

          It’s Television Tuesday

          Veronica Roth speaks on her upcoming release!

           

           

           

           

           

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          Pre-order Carve the Mark on Amazon!

           

           

          Are you excited about this book? Tell  me in the comments!

           

           

           

           

          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com

           

           

           

           

          Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

          Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

           

           

           

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          • Hardcover: 480 pages
          • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 11, 2016)
          • Language: English
          • ISBN-10: 0345544951
          • ISBN-13: 978-0345544957
          • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches

           

           

           

          According to  Goodreads

          Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

          Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

          With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

           

           

           

          MY RATING

           

           

          Five golden stars isolated on white background

           

           

           

           

           

          First I wanted to thank Jodi Picoult for taking the time to write such a tremendous book. Jodi, if I ever get the chance to meet you I’ll give you a double high five. This great book is no small thing!

           

           

           

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          MY IMPRESSION

           

          First it took me awhile to get use to the multiple point of views, but once that happened it became the strength of the story. I commend the author for taking head on things that most people try to avoid. Racism. Prejudice. Bias. I certainly try to avoid these topics like the plague instead of facing them.

          Small Great Things employs a heavy theme throughout the book. Jodi makes no attempt to skate around the subjects at hand. Honestly, at first I thought it was a little bit over the top; but then I thought about the interaction between Kennedy McQuarrie and Ruth Jefferson. Kennedy a defense lawyer, did not think it was appropriate, necessary, or wise to bring race into the courtroom. Eventually she fully embraces the matter of race in her own life, both personally and professionally. This helped me to embrace the story more on a thematic level. It’ll never be easy to discuss matters of race, but I’m glad somebody did!

          I will always reserve a place in my heart for the great story of Ruth, Kennedy, Edison and Turk Bauer. The embody the real life struggles, challenges, and transformation that we all need.

          I greatly appreciate Jodi’s ability to capture the reality of each character and reveal them on the page. Weaving together so many elements is not easy for an author.

           

          • Kennedy McQuarrie– I enjoyed such a classy, witty, gritty, determined and compassionate lawyer. The kind of arc that she went through in the story was quite compelling.
          • Ruth Jefferson– Ruth was special. Such a hardworking individual in so many areas getting caught in the midst of an impossible dilemma. I could sense her pain, frustration and fears. Her transformation also is notable. Really when I consider Ruth, I have to consider Kennedy because they both had such a huge impact on one another.
          • Edison– He was a sweet kid who loved his mother. A bond between a mother and son that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
          • Adisa– She was hilarious! What a potent character. Captured beautifully.
          • Turk Bauer– It was good to see how he developed with all of his experiences good and bad. His trans formative arc was very touching.
          • Brit Bauer– What an intense character! Loved her too. Too bad she suffered such an ending though.

           

          Each character is symbolic of something deeply rooted in our society. But love overcomes all things. 

           

           

           

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          Love suffers long. Love is kind; it is not jealous. Love does not brag and is not puffed up- 1 Cor. 13:4

           

          “…does not take account of evil- 1 Cor. 13:5

           

          “It covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.-1 Cor.13:7

          *All verses are taken from the New Testament Recovery version Bible*

           

           

           

          “With love, everybody wins.”-Benjamin Thomas

           

           

           

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          “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.-Nelson Mandela

           

           

           

          THANKS JODI PICOULT FOR BEING WONDER WOMAN!

           

           

           

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          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com

          Cozy Mystery Author Mary Feliz

           

          Introducing Cozy Mystery Author Mary Feliz

           

           

          Welcome Mary!

           

           

           

           

           

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          “Trying to solve the mystery is what I enjoy most about writing.”-Jon Ronson

           

           

           

           

          How long have you lived in the Silicon  Valley?

          I moved to Mountain View in 1982 and lived in the area for 34 years. My husband and I recently relocated about 50 miles south to live at the beach.

          Sounds inviting. Haven’t been that far north in California just yet. 

           

           

           

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          How has living there affected your writing?

          Silicon Valley is a unique area that changes quickly. It’s an incredibly gorgeous setting with a mild climate, but it’s also crowded with lots of traffic. The tech companies that originally created the area did so because of its proximity to Stanford University and a number of other large educational institutions, and education is highly valued. Movies, television, and newspaper articles have focused on some of the regions flashiest characters, but I don’t think they capture what the day to day life is like for ordinary people. I’ve tried to do that in my mysteries.

          Nice touch. It would be good to get an inside scoop of what life is like inside the valley! 

           

           

           

           

           

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          How long have you been writing fiction? 

          In the late 90s, I wrote two young adult historical novels about a young Latina woman who was a refugee in Monterey following the Mexican American war. I wasn’t able to attract a publisher and self-publishing wasn’t as prevalent as it is now, so I put them away and focused on writing communication materials for schools and other local programs. I’ve learned a lot about narrative structure since then and plan to go back and re-edit them. A few years ago, I decided to try again, and chose to write mysteries because I love them, and I knew I’d have fun writing the stories even if no one else saw them.

          Oh great!  I would love to hear more of the stories you wrote back then. I’m curious how you came to writing mysteries though. What made you switch?

           

           

           

           

          “My life was a mystery even as I lived it.”-Melissa Gilbert

           

           

           

           

           

          What other kinds of professional writing have you done?

          I’ve worked in Corporate Communications and Public Relations for financial and high-tech companies, and did a lot of community relations writing for the schools and programs my children were involved in.

          Wow, you’ve lived a writing life. In my experience writing professionally and writing fiction have been mutually beneficial, however I definitely prefer fiction!

           

           

           

           

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          Tell us about some of the short stories you’ve written.

          I’ve written a grand total of ONE short story. It won a few contests, which was fun. I have the greatest admiration for short story writers — one false move and the story crashes and burns — they are incredibly difficult to craft. But I find it easier and more enjoyable to write novels.

          Sounds like it was fun, especially if it won contests. I had no idea about the difficulty in crafting short stories.

           

           

          How did you craft Maggie Mcdonald?

          The series began because I wanted to do something new in the cozy mystery genre. At the time I started writing series, most of the amateur women sleuths were young single women or recently divorced women who were caterers or crafters. But I wanted to write about an older character who was happily married and juggling a career and kids. Raising a family is hard work and doing it while you’re trying to catch bad buys and launch a successful business is probably only possible in fiction, but I wanted Maggie to try. I felt that making her a personal organizer would give her access to the places people keep secret — their closets and underwear drawers.

          I love her already! She sounds adorable, witty, and very capable. It takes a lot of skill to the potter of a great character.

           

           

           

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          How do you relate to Maggie personally? 

          Maggie shares part of my world view, but she’s thinner, fitter, braver and younger.

           

           

          Do she have a sidekick?

          Maggie’s permanent sidekick is her golden retriever, Belle. In each of the books, a different character takes precedence as her primary helper. But her sons and her husband Max are always helping out.

          I like it. You gotta love a good sidekick! 

           

           

           

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          Tell us a little about the setting for Address to Die For.

          The book takes place in Orchard View, a fictional compilation of Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain View. The McDonalds move into a large 100-year old craftsman home Maggie’s husband inherits from his great aunt. The house is based on an actual home, The Griffin House, which is now part of the Foothill College campus and is awaiting renovation. Griffin House was designed by a prolific Bay Area architect Frank Delos Wolfe in 1903.

          I’ve been thinking a lot about setting recently and it’s importance in these kind of genres. By the way, I absolutely love this book cover!

           

           

           

           

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          What are the elements of a good mystery?

          I think the most important part of any mystery is the characters. I love the books of Louise Penny and miss her characters between books. Even the secondary characters have developmental arcs across each book and the series. I can’t begin to touch Penny’s deft skill, but I’ve tried to bring those elements into the Maggie McDonald series.

          This is definitely a skill one should have in their books. Learning how to pull it off takes time though.

           

           

           

           

           

           

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          Can you tell us about the next book in the series?

          Scheduled to Death will be released in January, Maggie works to help friend, client, and Stanford University physicist Lincoln Sinclair escape a murder charge. In Dead Storage (July 2017) Stephen Laird is held responsible for the death of a local restaurateur.

          Sweet!  I have the first book, and looking forward to the second and third installments. Your covers are so beautiful and captivating. 

           

           

           

           

           

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          The job of the artist is to always deepen the mystery…-unknown

           

           

           

           

           

          Support your authors by buying a book and posting a review. Without it they would fall!

           

           

           

           

           

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          CONNECT WITH MARY

           

          Like her Facebook page

           

          Mary Feliz

          Author of the Maggie McDonald Mysteries

          ____________________________________________

          Silicon Valley Professional Organizer Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that extends beyond her clients’ closets and sock drawers. When murder comes to Orchard View, Maggie must set things right.

           

           

          Address to Die For (Kensington Publishing) July, 2016

          Scheduled to Death (Kensington Publishing) will be released January, 2017

          Dead Storage (Kensington Publishing) will be released July 2017.

           

           

           

           

           

           

          Hey folks, thanks for ridin’ the train. Come again, and don’t be a stranger!

           

           

           

           

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          PS

          Check out our other site at: www.mysterythrillerweek!

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

          Benjamin Thomas

          @thewritingtrain

          http://www.thewritingtrain.com