Forensic Lenses Series with Author Sherrie W. Frontz





Welcome back to the Forensic Lenses Series!

An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of voracious readers everywhere.



Today we have an author of Romance, suspense and mystery novels, Sherrie W. Frontz. She’s the author of When the Morning Comes, and Don’t Look Back from the Land’s End series.  Sherrie is also one our many talented authors in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week event, beginning Feb.12-22nd! Don’t miss it!!



















What were your first memories of reading as a child?

My first memories of reading were my mom reading to me as a toddler.  She worked with me and I was reading by the age of four. I read Gone with the Wind when I was twelve.

Thank God for Moms! 











What were your favorite sleuths as a youth?

My favorite sleuth as a child was Trixie Belden.  I had all the books in the series that were available in the 70’s.

Good ol’ Trixie Belden. I hear her name quite a bit. 











What else do you enjoy in a story besides solving the crime?

Besides figuring out the “who did it” part of a story, I enjoy the interacting of the main characters.

YES. I love this too. The dynamics amongst characters brings out more depth, dialogue and conflict!














Name your favorite classical and modern sleuths.

I have no classical favorite sleuths; as far as modern sleuths, Lucas Davenport from John Sanford’s prey series.

Eh, I don’t have a favorite classical sleuth either. I’ll have to check out this Lucas Davenport character and see what he’s about. 




How do they solve crimes and what makes them different from one another?

Both classical and modern solve cases by talking to witnesses and listening to their hunches.  Modern sleuths have the advantages of modern technology, dna bases, fbi profiles, gps tracking, cell phone records, etc.

I love seeing how things have progressed over the years. Of course, the main staples don’t change!













Name some recent suspense books you’ve read. 

I recently read Triple Six by Erica Spindler and I re-read all of Tess Gerritson’s Rizzoli and Isle series of books over the past couple of months.

Thanks for the recommendations! Gotta love em’.













Who are some of the best suspense writers?

Some of my favorite suspense authors are Erica Spindler, John Sanford, Lee Child, Tami Hoag

Lovely.  I’ve never heard of Spindler or Tami Hoag, but that’s never stopped me from finding great authors!






“The world belongs to those who read.”-Rick Holland






If you could pick a character as the director of the FBI, who would it be?

I think the best choice for director of the FBI would be Benton Wesley, Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s husband, written by Patricia Cornwell.

Awesome! Great choice. 

















If you could marry a fictional character who would it be? 

If I could marry a fictional character it would be Lucas Davenport from the prey series.

Hmm. This Davenport character must’ve really scored some points. 














At the scene of the crime…


Name 3-5 pet peeves as a reader.

If the print isn’t right I won’t read it. I hate when a story drags too.

I can’t stand dragging stories either. Since I normally finish every book, I end up dragging right along with them. *Sigh*












Connect with Sherrie W. Frontz!


Amazon | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram







Thanks for stopping by!!





“To a great mind, nothing is little.”-Sherlock Holmes.






Benjamin Thomas











Discussing Plays, Novels, and Reading With Elena Hartwell






Welcome to another edition of Forensic Lenses


An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of voracious readers everywhere.

Please welcome novelist, playwright and teacher Elena Hartwell!









Elena is the author of One Dead, Two to Go and Two Heads Are Deader Than One Both a part of the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series. She is also one of our wonderful participating authors in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week  event. Beginning Feb. 12-22. Don’t miss it!

















*Who influenced your reading habits the most as a child?

My parents taught me to love reading. I was read to extensively by both parents. My father would put his rocking chair in front of my and my older sister’s bedroom doors, and we would go to sleep to the sound of his voice and the shushing of the rocker on the hardwood floor. We read the Narnia series, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, all the great books. The other big influence I had as a child was my paternal grandmother. Granny read mysteries and westerns, she got me into those genres.

I love that they taught you a *love* of reading. That says much more than just reading itself. 











*Who were your childhood heroes?

Nancy Drew. Misty of Chicoteague and the two kids who own her. Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Outside the literary world, probably Carl Jung. My parents had a Jungian library for a while. It was the 70s.

Oh wow. Carl Jung. I’ve been enjoying his work too, among others. ENFP’s rock!! Everyone’s heroes are unique.












*What sort of books did you read as a teenager?

Mysteries – Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, I loved the Jean Auel Clan of the Cave Bear series. I read a lot of Sci-Fi – Robert Heinlein, Asimov,  Anne McCaffrey.

Lovely. I like Sci-fi too. Haven’t read Sue Grafton yet, unfortunately. 



*Any particular books that shaped you in this time period?

Watership Down was a big one. And The Hobbit. I use The Hobbit all the time when I teach story structure. Little House on the Prairie series, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. Any book about horses, I’m still in love with them.

YES. I just listened to the Hobbit audiobook and it was wonderful. I got a better realization of the story this time around. 





“Reading changes us.”-T.Michael Martin






*How did you get into theater?

I dropped out of high school, so when I decided I was going back to school I had to start at a community college, because I didn’t qualify for a four-year. I started back, while working full-time as a bartender, and started with Spanish and Acting. Spanish because I’d need a language requirement and I’d been very good at it in high school. I grew up in San Diego, so there was a lot of Spanish spoken around me. I took Acting because I’d always thought it would be fun to try and I was easing into going back to school. I loved the acting class and went on to take every theater course Grossmont College offered, as well as working on a number of productions. I went on to get a theater minor at the University of San Diego, a M.Ed with an emphasis in teaching theater from UW-Tacoma, and a Ph.D. in dramatic theory and criticism from the University of Georgia. Throughout my educational years and beyond I continued to work professionally in theater and teach on the university level.

Very academic!  I’d love to hear one of your classes!












*Name the core elements of a play, and what is its purpose?

This could be answered a number of ways. I’m going to go with dialogue, conflict, and universality. Dialogue, because despite the fact there is action in plays and we go to watch them, not just hear them, the basis of a play is the text written by the playwright, primarily in dialogue. Conflict, because without conflict there’s nothing to overcome, and if there’s nothing to overcome, there’s no tension or rising action or character development, and universality because it is through the specificity of a character or event that makes the experience of going to see theater universal. We have the opportunity to realize we often struggle through the same issues, regardless of race, ethnicity, politics, or religion. I can watch a play about a black family and feel it resonate with my own experiences, even though I’m white. I can watch a play about gay issues or struggles of faith, and while I’m straight and agnostic, I can still find common ground with the characters. It also creates the opportunity to recognize our own prejudices and hopefully become more accepting and compassionate.

Very interesting. I’ve actually only been to one play so I don’t anything about the subject. Thanks for sharing!















*How does the structure differ from a novel?

I would argue it really doesn’t, except there are no intermissions in a novel. I often hear people talk about “Three-act structure” – but as a playwright and novelist, I think novels are like One-Act plays, not Three-Act plays.

Interesting. I wish I could pick your brain more about this subject! 




*Have you written any plays?

Several. I’ve been published and produced around the US, and parts of the UK and Canada.


Awesome. I wonder what happens next? Do you submit it to someone for casting?










*Name your top 5 favorite characters.

Bilbo Baggins from JRR Tolkien. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Pryor from Angels in America. Bosch from Michael Connolly. Kinsey Millhone from Sue Grafton.

YES. Bilbo Baggins is a wonderful reluctant hero. LOVE Bosch.


*Did your taste in books change while in college?



Simplicity is bliss.










*If all the books were going to be burned, yet you had your choice of three, which would you select?

The Oxford English Dictionary, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Then we could write new ones.

Oh wow. This is s fascinating choice indeed. Then writing new ones! You have the right kind of spirit!!




*If you could pick any fictional character for a sibling who would it be? Brother or sister.

Merlin the Magician. He would be an awesome brother. Though Gandalf would be a close second.

I can see you love magic! Personally I’d take Gandalf.












*Name your favorite modern authors and what you appreciate about them.

Dennis Lehane, he writes stand alones, a contemporary series, and historical, I love his breadth.  Gillian Flynn for her strong, unique voice and proof women can write terrible people too. Blake Crouch, I can’t put it into words why his books enthrall me so, but I can’t put them down once I start them. Sue Grafton for her sheer tenacity and so many years of wonderful books.

Historical fiction is now one of my favorites. Not so familiar with the others. At least I haven’t read them yet. (Don’t hate me).


*What books would you like to recommend to us?

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens, Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger, Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Awesome. I’ve come across William Kent Kreuger. Thanks for the recommendations!

















Don’t be a stranger…





Benjamin Thomas







Talking Mystery & History with Author Ritter Ames




An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of voracious readers everywhere. Strap your seat belt and let’s take a ride into the wonderful world of mystery…






Contact lenses






Let’s see through the eyes of yet another voracious reader…












Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Organized Mysteries series and Bodies of Art mysteries. She’s also a voracious reader and one of our participating authors in  this year’s Mystery Thriller Week

Welcome Ritter!


*Who influenced your reading habits the most as a child?


Oh, so many people. Probably the earliest was my grandmother, but once I started school I was fortunate to have wonderful teachers. And once I discovered the public library and that librarians LOVED to help kids find new books about things they liked, I couldn’t be stopped.


Thank the Lord for grandmothers! That’s wonderful you had so many helpful people early in life. I remember two particular teachers in elementary that encouraged me a lot. We never forget the ones who truly cared for us.













*Which were the first mysteries that drew you into the genre?


The first mystery I ever read was in third grade, and it was The Brownie Scout Mystery by Dorothy Sterling. I checked it out of my elementary school library and honestly only chose it because I was a Brownie at the time, so felt that connection. Then, for Christmas, my aunt (the daughter of the grandmother I mentioned in the earlier question) gave me my first Trixie Belden book. It was the fourth book in the series, and I was thrilled to realize there were so many more Trixie Belden books for me to read, since I think they were all written before I was born. That led on to Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and I read a few Robin Kane mysteries that my cousin had, but none of them compared to Trixie and Honey’s mysteries and adventures. Later, I moved on to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie.


I love hearing about the mysteries that shaped a writer early in life. 






A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket ~Chinese Proverb





*Name your top 5 favorite books and what affect they had on you.


1)    The Odessa File by Frederick Forsythe – I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, but I still have that amazed feeling whenever I think about the answer the bad guy received when he asked why the main character continued trying so hard to pursue him. I’d read the whole book up until then wondering why, myself, and the answer surprised me so much—especially when I realized the clue had been there all along, but I’d missed it.

2)    Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams – I purchased the hardcover edition of this book in 1987 because I was already an Adams fan due to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. So, I knew this wasn’t going to be your standard mystery. The absolute creative genius behind this book makes it not only my all-time favorite by this author (though the addition of Thor in the sequel The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul makes that novel come a close second), but I’ve read and reread this book (and too short series) several times. I haven’t yet seen the BBC program featuring the novel, but it’s on my to-watch list when I get time for some British binging.

3)    Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy – This isn’t a mystery, but there were so many absolutely beautiful passages to fall into as I read the book. The first time I read it I probably took three times longer than usual to do so because I kept going back and rereading whole paragraphs and pages.

4)    Every Single Novel by Elizabeth Peters – Actually, I like a lot of her Barbara Michaels books, too, and I own several of her nonfiction books written under her real name of Barbara Mertz. But truly, I love everything penned as Elizabeth Peters and own every title she wrote under that name. Rather than list a novel, I’d have to say her Amelia Peabody Mystery Series would be my favorite because of the way she wove fascinating real facts within her historical mysteries, and had such standout characters throughout the titles. For almost the same reasons, I’d have to list the Vicky Bliss Mystery Series as a close second—with less books in the series it doesn’t have quite the depth of Peabody, but it does a great job of blending fact and mystery plot and characters. And, of course, there are the Jacqueline Kirby books, and the many wonderful standalones Peters wrote before all her series took off.

5)    The Harry Potter Series – I think every book in that series was wonderful, but together, seeing the complete series arc by the end, and all the pieces Rowling wove within the individual novels requires this whole series to be listed as one piece in my top five. But I’ve always been a series reader—as implied by my inclusion of all-things-Peters in the previous question—so this probably isn’t surprising.


I like these! Of course, I only recognize one of them, but I love to get book recommendations. There’s too  many good writers around to count. 






FAVORITE -Realistic Neon Sign on Brick Wall background






*Name your favorite classic sleuths and how are they different from one another?


I love Miss Marple and Columbo for the same reasons: they pay attention to so much more than just the visible clues and they want to solve the crime to truly give the victim justice—not for accolades or to improve their own position.


I also love to read Martha Grimes’s Inspector Richard Jury series, but primarily the ones where Melrose Plant is involved in the case with him—because I love Melrose. He’s kind of a contemporary Lord Peter Wimsey and I look forward to his arrival in the books each time and the way he impacts the case.


Equally, I especially enjoy unconventional sleuths. I often stay up late on weekends to watch the old Avengers shows with Diana Riggs as Mrs. Peel, to see what kind of off-beat crime she and Steed will solve—usually eminently quirky. And finally, I adore the new BBC Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman because they so perfectly play off one another and show not only Sherlock’s brilliance, but how his almost sociopathic tendency to not consider others is offset by Watson’s tempering humanity—which all comes together to better solve the case and understand the outcome.


I’ve yet to see the Sherlock Holmes series with Cumberbatch, although it’s cued and ready to go. 












*How has reading affected your style of writing?


I think my writing has more often affected my reading style than the reverse. I’ve always been a voracious reader and read across all genres and literary and nonfiction standards. But while I used to be able to read through things that weren’t…shall we say…written as well as they could be, now that isn’t the case. I simply cannot read something filled with bad editing or—especially—are written with unbelievable plots, or if characters begin changing to suit a plot need rather than acting the way they always have. I just stop reading and move on to something else.


I find this very fascinating for some reason. The dynamic relationship between reading and writing is wonderful. I would say a voracious reader would develop a keen eye for the matters you mentioned above. Then developing the writing craft would only serve to sharpen those skills to a whole new level. 













*If you could hire any fictional sleuth to solve a major crime who would it be? Who would be the sidekick?


I would love to see Columbo and Adrian Monk solve a crime together. I know that sounds mean because Columbo just standing next to Monk would probably give the OCD detective a mental breakdown, but to me it would be kind of an American Sherlock/Watson combo. I imagine Columbo would be the humanizing end of the team and Monk would be…well, Monk. But the crime solving could be the absolutely fastest on record with those two brilliant minds working on it at the same time.


 That sounds like a great combination!






private detective road sign concept










*Name 3-5 of your pet peeves as a reader


1)    Love triangles. Hate them. Just pick a guy or girl already and move on to the real story. Don’t let the “which guy will she choose” go on from book to book to book.

2)    Authors who don’t think readers are smart enough to figure things out and try to fill in every single dot or write mostly dialogue and skimp on narrative because it’s easier.

3)    Characters who change from the way they’ve been throughout the story to fit plot problems a writer stumbled into and couldn’t figure how else to get out of.

4)    Unnecessary sex, violence or language as a quick and cheap way to try to heighten the tension.


I always find this one interesting. Writers can learn so much by hearing these.












*How have mysteries changed over the years?


It feels like they’ve become more real to life through the years, but that may just be that I’ve gotten older and read things more contemporary to my life. I still love the old standbys like Christie and Dick Francis and Forsythe, but there are so many new authors like Michael Connelly and Lee Child who write fabulous, exciting mysteries that truly are 21stcentury. I think more than anything, we’re getting more blending of genres, so while we can find straight mysteries still, we also have great combinations we likely wouldn’t have had decades ago. The aforementioned Dirk Gently series, for example, or the fabulous Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz, both of which use humor and contemporary insight as much as they do elements of mystery. Another offbeat cross-genre example is the Bryant and May series by Christopher Fowler, or anything by Jasper Fforde.


Wow, great examples here. I’m very interested in this topic for some reason. So intriguing! 







2017 past








*What makes a great mystery?


It must give me something to figure out, and provide good characters I want to spend time with. I’ve read so many mysteries that I’m seldom halfway through a book before I’ve figured out whodunit, and that’s okay, as long as there are still surprises for me to discover as the character(s) still look for clues. I don’t want to know everything about everyone from the beginning, I want that to unfold just like the mystery, so if I solve the mystery halfway along, there’s still something to keep me reading.


That’s wonderful. There’s something so cerebral about solving a good puzzle, especially a ‘whodunit’.  When you weave in great characters, the book is well worth the read.







The Great Unknown Puzzle Pieces Hole Uncharted Exploration Adven











Connect with Ritter Ames | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook 
























Come back and see us on the train!


















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Benjamin Thomas







Reading and Inspecting the Sleuth with Ingrid Bouldin





Investigating the reader’s experience…





forensic evidence, 3D rendering, vintage old red sign








“Never theorize before you have the data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.” -Sherlock Holmes











Everyone please welcome writer Ingrid Bouldin!





The reader’s experience is the best evidence. -Benjamin Thomas






*What is your favorite genre (s)?

I really have no distinct favorites although I can say, I’m not fond of romance novels.  

I read pretty much any genre and love the variety.  You’ll find me reading three to five books at the same time.  Two or three will be fiction of different genres, then a book or two on writing structure, and maybe one that’s research for my own WIPs, etc.

I gravitate towards Murder/Suspense, Crime, Science Fiction…at least for now.
It’s far more important for me to be experiencing a great read that I get absorbed into, versus limiting myself to any particular genre.  Close runner-ups would be Fantasy and YA (yes, young adult!)    

Often, I’ll pick up a classic or what’s currently popular at the time, outside what I might be more inclined to delve into.  I do this because it stretches my brain cells and may spark my interest in some other genre that I otherwise might not think of reading.    

Very good! The exact same taste as I do. 





*What is your educational background?


I’ve had several years of college but alas, no degree…yet.

Since way back, I can’t begin to remember a time that I didn’t create art and have my nose in a book or three, or was ‘covertly writing’ in hidden notebooks.  I grew up in a family where no one else devoured books like I did, much less wrote wacky stories about flying to other planets and talking animals.

Through Junior High, then High School, my focus was initially on
artwork…pen and ink and pencil that lead to several successful one-man art shows.  I had one of my pieces displayed at the Smithsonian / Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. for a month, even.

Straight out of High School, it was determined that I would become a Registered Nurse, so I attended two years of College, Pre-med and clinicals, before I decided nursing was not my cuppa tea.  I left college to marry my High School sweetheart (our 35th Anniversary is today, Sept. 5th!) and two years later, happily began our family as my major shifted to Mom.  I raised our four phenomenal younglings plus semi-fostered a waffling tally of seven other younglings through their school years and into colleges, all the while continuing to do commissioned artwork on the side.

As my younglings became sassy and more independent, I entered the working field as a professional rescuer where I discovered I, by far, preferred being the one to call the shots and make the lifesaving decisions.  I attended formal college level training to the Advanced EMT / Shock Trauma / Cardiac Tech and Enhanced levels… operating as Medic and Training Lieutenant for 27+ years, now currently semi-retired.  My certifications fill two 2″ notebooks.

A few years back, I’d returned to college full time to attend a massive mix of lectures, practicals, clinical rotations, and field duty.  I had zero life beyond academia and regular duty for two full years as I worked towards achieving my AAS Degree in Paramedic Sciences, on the Dean’s list every semester.

As I began the final semester of my two year program, my mother passed away.  It was sudden and unexpected.  I deeply loved her, was close to her in both location and heart, and was entirely devastated.  In the mayhem of closing down my mother’s life and home by myself, I had to pull out of the Paramedic program at the eleventh hour.

Much soul searching later…one day soon I’ll get that Associate’s Degree, but it’ll be a general diploma.  Now I’m following a dream I had back about a hundred fifty years ago, when I was that scrawny little quiet kid that hid notebooks in boxes under her bed.

Navigating through life experiences is by far the greatest education.  Although you never graduate, it constantly teaches you.










*What part of the earth are you in?

I reside on my peaceably beautiful homestead in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I’m a stone’s throw away from the Shenandoah River and every outdoor activity possible.  From 2014 to this year, I was the Stable Manager and a Professional Horse Wrangler with my string of 30 amazing horses in the heart of the mountains on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

Oh my, that sounds so adventurous! I’d love to go there one day.












*Who are your favorite characters?

There is no way on this planet I could narrow down my favorite characters to even a dozen or so!  I’m currently infatuated with Inspector Rebus in the Ian Rankin Inspector Rebus Trilogy.  Also Hitch and Jael in Katie Weiland’s “Storming” novel at the moment.  

Okay, okay… if you’re gonna put my arm behind my back… I adore Sherlock Holmes, Severus Snape and if I can squeeze in a movie character that I’m currently fangirling on (plan to read the books asap) it would be Jason Bourne.  I know I’ve left off at least two or three obvious others that once I push the ‘Send’ button will pop into my mind and complain about being left out…

I don’t know Inspector Rebus, but I’m acquainted with Jael and my good buddy Hitch. Quite a treat aren’t they?  Oh yeah, Jason Bourne and I are pretty tight.  Don’t say anything though. He’s still undercover.




*Favorite books?

Good grief!  Again, you’re asking the impossible of me, Benjamin!

Every Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”, “Angels and Demons”, and “Inferno”.

Nearly all the Stephen King’s, every Agatha Christie, the entire collection of “Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  

J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series believe it or not, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, “Lord of the Rings” and every Grimm’s Fairy Tales…(which I got into trouble for sneaking in 4th grade, I was black opping it to the 6th grade section of the school library to read them and had to get a permission slip from my mom so I could ‘officially’ access the 6th Grade level books that I could barely reach…yeah, making trouble wherever I go *;) winking)

Also the first seven of Patricia Cornwell’s “Scarpetta” series, along with her fascinating theory in “Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper”, also Dennis Lehane’s “Shutter Island”. 

Asking me which book is my favorite is exactly the same as asking me which of my children is my favorite…how in the name of Odin am I supposed to be able to answer that, eh?

There is never a wrong answer to this question. Seeing everyone’s’ favorites is exciting. 













*What do you like most about reading?

What do I like the most about reading…..hmmm.
This answer’s not as hard to pin down as the others.

When I pick up a book, cradle it in my hands…all eBooks aside, there’s so much more than paper, printed letters, and compressed cardboard there.  More than I can put into words well enough to know, beyond any slight shadow of a doubt, that you’ve grasped what reading truly means to me.


That’s probably the one word I would choose if I had to narrow it down to that.
Reading is a sanctuary for me, an amazing adventure, mystery, journey to some place I’ve never been with fictional characters that become so flesh and blood while I read that I feel as if I met them somewhere along my life, and miss them once that last page has been read.  

Reading gives me that respite from what ails me along the path of life.
And then there’s the learning about new places and worlds, civilizations and eras, and…..

I have sacrificed precious sleep more times than I will confess, all in the name of the next chapter that I must just read a little more of.

That’s a great way of putting it, Ingrid!













“Reading is a sanctuary for me, an amazing adventure, mystery, journey to some place I’ve never been with fictional characters that become so flesh and blood while I read that I feel as if I met them somewhere along my life, and miss them once that last page has been read.” -Ingrid Bouldin





*What do you appreciate about Inspector Rebus in the Ian Rankin Inspector Rebus Trilogy?
The first and second installments of the Inspector Rebus Trilogy, penned by Ian Rankin, are my most recently read novels in the Murder / Crime genre. I’d been wanting to read this trilogy for quite some time and finally was able to get to it.

I’ve enjoyed “Knots And Crosses” (1987) and “Hide And Seek” (1991) quite a bit!
The ‘Tartan Noir’ aspects of Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector John Rebus are well met in the story lines of both novels thus far.  Descriptions of local spots around Edinburgh that Ian Rankin gently places into his narratives effectively pull the reader into vivid depictions of each location, affording credibility to his settings…both good spots and the ‘bad’, like back alleys and abandoned buildings, as if the reader’s been placed directly into Edinburgh and not some postcard depiction.

I’m looking forward to getting to the third installment of this trilogy, “Tooth And Nail” (1992).  There also are just over a dozen more Inspector Rebus novels that carry this character on beyond the trilogy.  I’ve definitely found these first two interesting enough to keep with this series beyond the third book, “Tooth And Nail”.

I found Rankin’s smooth writing easy to get lost in as he blends a certain gruff, “hard boiled” twist to the main character’s disillusioned, slightly non-compliant persona that conflicts with his inner turmoil.  The Inspector pushes his limits a bit against the grain to get the job done, at times in a sort of bumbling, human way.  This, in spite of his own personal problems along with inner political issues within his job.

Inspector Rankin is probably the second most contemporary detective I’ve read (the first being Patricia Cromwell’s Kay Scarpetta).  That being said, this trilogy’s publication dates are still dated enough to make the lack of today’s modern technology a bit noticeable and a little odd to have it missing in the narrative… he has to find land lines to make phone calls, rely on maps, etc., kind of a flash back to the late eighties situation which lends a unique voice to this trilogy, not such a bad thing and rather vintage.  Different than say, an Agatha Christie when you know you’ll be warping backwards by nearly a century.

What I appreciate about Ian Rankin’s character is Rebus’ humanness, the way he occasionally has to fall back and punt when he’s run out of clues, quite literally at times…and has to still deal with life in general, for better or worse, along the way like the rest of us.  In the first of the trilogy, Rebus must overcome an overwhelming past experience that threatens to be more than he can deal with, an interesting sub-plot that presents without a clear and obvious solution. 

I’m going to have to meet this Inspector Rebus. Interesting name isn’t it?


*Who are your top 5-10 sleuths? What do you appreciate about them?

1.  “Sherlock Holmes” – Author / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — “The greatest Detective who never lived”.  I adore Sherlock Holmes and have since I first read this collection when I was about ten years old.
This memorably grouchy, introverted, antisocial character solves murders and crimes utilizing aspects that I find very interesting myself…Sherlock Holmes combines forensic science, his extensive knowledge of medical sciences, and his keen powers of observation and unbiased deductive reasoning to decipher clues and hunt down suspects.  Often on the run while thinking on his feet.

Sherlock is also purported to be a fairly rare MBTI personality type known as INTJ, which I am myself…another likely reason I appreciate this character no matter who portrays him, or whether I find him solving crimes in the pages of a book, via tv, or on the big screen.  Not thinking linearly like 99% of people do, but rather in three dimensions, the contemporary version of Sherlock Holmes accesses his Mind Palace with an ability to store information for retrieval at any time which is supposedly a trait of this personality type.  I’d love to think so anyway!

No matter what the medium, any version of Inspector Holmes has him discovering solutions by going outside the box while using unconventional thought processes with total disregard of social standards…offending nearly everyone as he goes along much to the chagrin of his sidekick, Dr. John Watson.

You could say I’ve pretty much loved every rendition of Sherlock and Watson…from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories, Basil Rathbone’s late 1930 b&w portrayals, all the way to the current Benjamin Cumberbatch version.  My gravitation towards murder mysteries began the minute I read “A Study In Scarlet”, the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes that led to other installments resulting in Holmes becoming so well loved by the populous that when Sir Doyle wrote Sherlock plunging to his death at Reichenbach Falls at the hands of (and with) his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, all of London rebelled.  I can understand that, I was young and devastated myself when I read that moment of Sherlock’s ultimate sacrifice…the feels.  I’m pretty sure I was in a foul mood for weeks.

2.  Kay Scarpetta – Author / Patricia Cornwell — Once again, here’s another character I totally enjoy reading.  Cornwell portrays Kay Scarpetta as a confident, strong female protagonist.  In a male-dominated genre no less!

Scarpetta utilizes quick-thinking intelligence and forensic technology to solve murders and stay alive as she pursues killers, yet dodge her own premature demise.  This series first novel begins with Scarpetta as the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, out of Richmond.  Cornwell modeled Kay Scarpetta after real life M.E., Dr. Marcella Farinalli Fierro, based out of Richmond.

I’ve read the first nine consecutive novels in this series, all fast-paced and undeniably a series that compels me to stay up reading all night.  Kay Scarpetta is written realistically, preserving her character as intelligent with an astute, sophisticated ability to not lose her own self, her integrity or her compassion in a high stress occupation.  She deals with real world problems, both personal and professional yet remains focused on solving the crime even under adverse conditions.  More than capable of taking care of herself, she still recognizes her own vulnerability and sees her own flaws.

This is not an easy character to convert to written word in any way without it coming across as false and two dimensional yet Cornwell does this, and creates a character that grows with the progression of each chronologically progressive novel.

One unique aspect of this story line are the oft times, true to life descriptives of scenes, diagnostics and procedures involved in solving the murders…an inside look at the world of present day forensic sciences which I’ve found fascinating though undeniably, not everyone’s cuppa tea.  Cornwell changes the narrative POV from book to book at times which gives the reader the experience of different perspectives within the same character series…an interesting and somewhat unique approach, at least for this genre.

This book series is the inspiration for several current popular Crime tv shows, such as “CSI”.  I’ve found Patricia Cornwell’s blending of narrative, action, and technical info fascinating across the board.

3.  Hercule Poirot – Author / Agatha Christie —  I very much enjoy vintage Detective stories. Undeniably,  Agatha Christie spun these yarns with classic suspense as the ‘Queen of Crime’, creating Detective Hercule Poirot as an absolute opposite of the vast majority of grizzled inspectors, to be sure.

A Belgian Detective and perfectionist at heart, Poirot practices sleuthing via use of his self-described “little grey cells”, preferring to solve murders in a manner that will preserve the upturned, perfectly groomed tips of his magnificently impeccable mustache, and without scuffs to his impeccable shoes.

Quite a change from other sleuths, the neat and tidy Detective Poirot with his frequent stomach issues usually stages a classic great reveal to a room full of people by story’s end in true Agatha Christie style.  This “opposites” approach Agatha Christie used as she created Poirot’s fastidious obsessions produced an interesting protagonist that proved immensely popular over time, and I found just as interesting decades after his creation…once again, at a very young age.

(3 and 4 are a close tie)

4.  Inspector John Rebus – Author / Ian Rankin — Pretty much covered up there ↑.  I plan to be reading the third in the trilogy soon and hope to go on from there with Ian Rankin’s numerous further adventures with Inspector Rebus.

From this point, I can’t say that I’ve read complete collections of other singular Detective characters or sleuthing authors recently enough for me to be comfortable commenting on them.  Most of the Crime / Mystery novels I’ve read were from many years ago but included some Ellery Queen, Sam Spade and “The Maltese Falcon”, Edgar Allan Poe’s character C. Auguste Dupin in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robt. Louis Stevenson, and others.  Several suspense novels, and other genres, etc.

I am in no way an authority on Detective / Crime novels and have definitely not read all the works of these authors, or all the novels in any Crime / Detective series.  Hercule Poirot alone has somewhere around thirty novels to this character.

Awesome! If this were the NBA and you had one more sleuth, these would be your starting five!
private detective road sign concept

*What do you like most about crime thrillers? Is it the hunt? The suspense? A meaty hook?

That’s a good question, Benjamin!

I believe I love this genre because of that classic challenge, the thrill of the hunt.  I enjoy the settings, the exotic characters, the mysterious unfolding of plots as I read along to uncover clues along the way, at times along with the characters.  Other times, deciphering whodunnit and solutions in some Sherlockian fashion as I read to the end.

I enjoy the suspense, the cerebral exercise, the stretching of the “little grey cells” and the challenge to see by the story’s last page if I was right or not.  And if not, what it was that stumped me.  I like figuring out solutions to seemingly impossible problems…some labyrinth that makes me think outside the box.  It’s good to know when I’ve deduced the solution on my own brain power which is it’s own reward. Not to mention, a good mystery is it’s own form of escapism.

The plot and story line are far more important to me than a meaty hook! Sure, it’s great to grab my attention but if the rest of the story can’t keep me absorbed in the plot line…
That’s right on the money. I enjoy the same cerebral exercises!

*Name your favorite Murder/Crime/Mystery/Thrillers of 2016. (In no particular order)

I’ve been writing myself, Beta reading for others, reading outside this genre and catching up on Technical Writing, Paramedic and so forth. My fiction Murder / Crime / Mystery reading’s been pretty limited for 2016 which I’ve recently been changing so that I’ll get more of this genre under my belt, it’s been awhile and I’ve missed it.

By default, I would have to say the Inspector Rebus novels have been pretty good thus far for 2016 although recently reading Dennis LeHane’s “Shutter Island” might qualify for a mystery thriller!

Great, I love hearing the best reads of the year. I’ll take all your recommendations. 



Benjamin Thomas


Legal Thriller, Mystery and Crime Fiction with Sherrie Marshall




It’s time for FORENSIC LENSES!








This week we would like to see through the “lenses” of a person who not only loves mystery, legal and crime thrillers; but also who has over two decades of work experience in the legal system. Come join us for another investigative session of Forensic Lenses…















*What did you study in college?

I have a B.S. In Organizational Leadership and a minor in Economics. Yes, that’s a real degree. It’s code for how to be a leader in today’s disorganized society. The instant gratification expected in everything we touch lends to a society that has become less focused. It has left the door open for much needed leadership. I just hope I can contribute some small part.

I’ve definitely heard of this one. Couple of my comrades have the same degree! 



*What genre do you write?

I have an affinity toward legal thrillers and mystery. After serving the legal community for 22 years, I’ve learned that the human spirit is the most creative medium to write about. The criminal side, as well as tangled civil matters fascinate me.

We’re definitely kindred spirits in this department. Legal thrillers, mystery, law…It’s all so fascinating. My dream is to write a sci-fi type legal thriller, then perhaps other quirky legal thrillers. Whatever my imagination can come up with. 









*How long have you wanted to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember stories have been brewing around in the old gray matter. It’s only in the last year that I’ve decided to share. Writing has been an evolution for me. Like any artist will probably admit, sharing our craft is intensely personal. I’m delighted to have arrived at a place in my life that I finally have the time to create and the inclination to share.

I like the word you’re using in describing this journey. It’s definitely an evolution in many ways. Writers are the most interesting people on earth. Unless of course, you’d happen to be an alien writer. THAT would be something.




“Easy reading is damn hard writing” -Nathaniel Hawthorne




*What exactly is your work experience? (In the legal system)

The first ten years were spent as a bailiff sitting in the courtroom for trials and hearings of all kind. I worked for a District Judge which allowed me to study human nature stemming from a very unsavory place. It was not for the weak at heart, but I became fascinated with human psyche. After my journey through the courts, I became a paralegal and focused mainly on Securities Litigation. Weirdly, it wasn’t that much different than previous criminal trials I had attended. Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them, money, retirement, possibly business or family. The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.

This is too good, Sherrie. I had a hardy laugh and about cried, all in the span of one paragraph. I laughed at what you said about human nature stemming from an unsavory place. I pictured you making a face at some pungent smell in the courtroom. Lol! But in all seriousness, I almost cried at the mention of loss that people have to face. I guess I never realized it in this way before. Someone is always put at a loss for something dear to them. Whether it be family, friends, possession, freedom etc. There will always be a loss involved with consequence. 

“The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature” I love this statement. Human nature is extremely flawed. But some authors explore the beauty in the midst of the storm through their writing.  I believe it was Sally Allen who said something about it in our interview. Finding beauty in the midst of the shipwrecked human condition. Very intriguing. 












“Someone was always faced with losing something very dear to them…”



The law is an ever-evolving study of human nature, and it intrigues me deeply.- Sherrie Marshall






*Which books did you devour growing up?

I loved the antics that Nancy Drew found herself in every novel. I couldn’t wait to check out the next book from the library and shred through it like it was the holy gospel. My imagination worked overtime at a very early age. It fascinated me that a young girl could solve a crime. Talk about your strong female character!

That’s awesome! I admit, I’ve never read Nancy Drew but I’m glad you’re imagination was set on fire! That’s great. Would you ever write a YA mystery?




*Who are your childhood heroes?

My parents were my everything. They showed each other kindness and respect. I held a naïve belief that all children had parents like mine. We took picnics regularly; I can still taste mother’s fried chicken, and we stayed after church to eat dinner on the ground (it’s a southern thing). Then I found Elvis. I completely admired that a backwoods boy from Tupelo, Mississippi could turn his beautiful pipes into a voice heard ‘round the world. The fact that he paused his career to serve his country deepened my admiration even more. I always thought if he could do it, anyone who tried hard would have a chance too.

That’s great. Parents are a very important part of our lives. Elvis is awesome. I love to impersonate Elvis. I actually have a pair of “Elvis” sunglasses (Shh..Don’t tell anyone).











*What are your favorite legal thrillers and mysteries?

John Grisham is the legal thriller king in my book. I have to say after studying writing for decades, he is not the best person to emulate if you’re a newbie. He breaks all the writing rules, but is a fine example of consistency in delivering a wallop of a story to readers every time. Books in this department include The Testament and The Innocent Man by Grisham, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow.

I’m a Grisham fan as well. I have the Testament downloaded but haven’t read it yet. Definitely looking forward to reading Harper Lee, and I’ve yet to read Scott Turow. .










*List your favorite crime and mystery writers.

James Patterson is simply a freak of nature in the writing world, and I also enjoy English cozies by Deborah Crombie. I believe I’ve read all novels written by both authors.

Awesomesauce! I have some Patterson books lined up on my to-be-read-list. The cozy mysteries are extremely appealing for some reason. The next one I’ll read is by Elizabeth Spann Craig, or Riley Adams. 




“Maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” -Unknown












*Who are your top 5 sleuths and what do you appreciate about them?

 Alex Cross (Patterson) is such a lovable detective. He has a realistic family life with ups and downs that carries through the entire series. The crimes he must solve are heinous, which peaks my interest.

 Gemma James (Crombie) is a female detective that solves crimes in the UK with sensible rationale. No hyper-dramas, which I appreciate.

 Sherlock Holmes is of course on my list. He is so flawed by nature, that I can’t help but pull for him when solving a crime.

 Mike Hammer (Spillane) had a no nonsense style that forged “hard boiled” detectives into my brain at a fairly young age. All that Hammer reading became beneficial later when I worked with lawyers 

 Inspector Clouseau was such a bumbler, I couldn’t help but love him. Since I was so young, I never knew whether or not the caper would be solved. But of course, they all were, which may be my earliest hook into the legal arena. The movies released in the 60’s and 70’s were always a family favorite.

I love it! This is a very diverse group of sleuths. Honestly I’ve been pondering starting a Mystery Thriller Week starting February 2017. Interested? I could use your assistance.




“Danger is the snack food of a true sleuth” -Mac Barnett





*What do you experience as they solve crimes?

The novels that capture my attention always propose more than one logical answer to a set of problems. I am enthralled with how the sleuth arrives at his decision to pursue one only to find that it is a complete disaster. I’m not a fan of such plot devices as Deus ex Machina, but I love a surprise during the climax of any novel, as long as there was some small crumb left along the way that I can go back and connect. It becomes the “Wow” factor for me in novels. I’m a “twist” junkie.

Nice. I’m thinking it must be very challenging to fool an experienced mystery reader.








*As a reader, what are your top 5 pet peeves?

Talking heads, hopping heads, a huge cast of characters with a POV, abandoning me for 100 pages after a cliff-hanger, and novels without resolution. I like to know what happened after the disaster.

Very good list here. I’m always fascinated by what irks readers in their experience of a story. It gives great insight.









*What fascinates you most about criminal, civil matters?

I led a lovely sheltered and protected childhood and was shocked to discover the other side of human nature. I began to research what made serial killers tick, and why passion seems to be the human emotion I most closely equate with animal instinct. In other words, if someone is threatened with the loss of something they hold as dear to them as breathing, then fight or flight enters into the equation. I believe that is where the wires get crossed in many killers. Civil trials can be as twisted and quirky as criminal court. One of my favorites included a lawsuit where a real estate developer decided to cut corners and not spray for termites under the foundation. Guess what can swarm thick enough during dinner to blind you? Yep, termites. It was strange though, after the verdict in favor of the family, that home burned to the ground while they were on an extended vacation. Hmm, fascinating.

Fascinating indeed. I can see why discovering the other side of human nature would be very shocking. It sounds like such a contrast doesn’t it? Certainly makes for great fiction!




*As a person who has much experience in the legal system, what is justice?

Such a loaded question! Justice is administered in a legal sense when a jury of your peers decides on a verdict. But, whoa, is that a huge oversimplification?! In my personal opinion, real justice is when a wrong is set right, be it sincere incarceration for an offender or the correction of a civil issue. Where these two can never meet to administer true and rightful justice is a flaw in our judicial system. Laws are made to protect us all, but at what expense to our basic rights as humans? It is unfortunately deemed prejudicial to a defendant to tell a jury about his prior convictions for similar crimes and patterns. I never sat through a trial where a jury was allowed to consider every piece of evidence for this reason. Jurors and Judges have some of the hardest jobs on the planet. They must weigh all evidence and vote to do the “Just” thing. Justice probably boils down to what Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.”

I couldn’t wait to ask this question. LOVED EVERY BIT. This is a large reason why I’m even writing at all. What is justice? I can’t escape this question. It comes back to me time and again. 














Thanks so much for sharing Sherrie!







Benjamin Thomas


Unlocking Worlds a Reading Companion by Sally Allen





Featuring Sally Allen author of UNLOCKING WORLDS a reading companion for book lovers








  • File Size: 1760 KB
  • Digital Length: 172 pages, Paperback 248 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Griffins Wharf (November 11, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 11, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017VOU7NC

















Have you ever wondered what life is like through the eyes of another? To see what they see, know what they know, experience as they do? Do you yearn to participate in another’s inner life journey as they learn to navigate through it? Well, today we have an excellent resource in talented author and book lover, Sally Allen. Her book Unlocking Worlds, does exactly that. Unlock worlds in book after book with amazing protagonists, heroes and supporting cast. I’ve already added several (and counting) of these books to my Goodreads account. Which seems to be growing like kudzu on steroids at the moment.

I love books, and I also yearn to experience the the world view through the eyes of voracious readers, bookworms and book lovers. To get a taste of what they appreciate and how books have shaped them over the years. Whoohoo! Fun stuff! Unlocking Worlds will introduce you to the familiar and uncharted territories of lands waiting to be explored. To boldy go where no man has gone before…(sounds like Star Trek).


Now we get to enjoy an interview with Sally! Yippee!! Take it away Sally…






Who affected your reading habits as a child?

My family was my strongest influence. My parents restricted screen time (meaning I wasn’t allowed anywhere near screens from Monday through Friday), and my parents and older siblings were all readers. So from house rules to house habits, I learned to turn to books for entertainment. And I did!

We do the same thing at our house and our kids hate this. My childhood was quite the opposite with unrestricted screen time, yikes!  Wish I could’ve read more books back then. 









Which stories, characters, or themes became part of your core values?

The two that first come to mind I read (and reread often) as a child: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The All-of- a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Both embodied the values my family instilled in me – community, family, empathy, and compassion – though in very different ways. They’re books I still think of, draw inspiration from, and enjoy rereading to this day.

These are very good values!  










How did your reading affect you in high school?

Reading was how I would relax and unwind. I remember spending countless hours lying on the floor of my room reading and rereading my favorite contemporary novels. High school was also when I first fell in love with classic literature Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and learned to embrace a broader range of literary genres and styles.

I often hear these as sources of inspiration, especially Austen.











What did you appreciate about literature throughout college?

I most appreciated building on the close reading skills introduced in high school and learning how to research and discover more about the story behind a book. These highlighted how much we don’t understand and how much we have to learn. They taught me to have patience, to listen, and not to rush the judgment. Incidentally, all excellent life skills as well!

Reading is one thing, but learning the nuts and bolts behind it is another. Gleaning solid virtues such as patience, listening and understanding are excellent.




Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies -Proverbs 31:10 




What was your goal in writing this particular book?

I wanted to share a way of reading for personal pleasure and enrichment. Reading preferences can be incredibly personal, driven by what we’re trying to figure out and by our personal experiences and preoccupations. I wanted to honor that and to show how books of all kinds can bring us both pleasure and growth, depending on how we approach them and why we’re drawn to them. I hope that readers will discover both books they’ve read and not read and that my book will inspire reflection and conversation.

Yes I’ve definitely appreciated reading your book and I’ve added many to Goodreads account already. Personally I believe we could benefit more from reflecting and conversing about what we’ve read and experienced. 








Tell us about your fascination with “aspects of wonder” from “Criticism” by Matthew Goulish. 

I encourage everyone to find and read Goulish’s beautiful essay! There is so much to treasure in and learn from it. What captured my imagination about “aspects of wonder” is the idea of being transported by beauty. In a way, it seems like it should be obvious that engaging with art is about transcendent moments. But that’s not always what happens in practice.

I’ll have to do some more digging to find it. Thanks for the reference!



…”it takes a keen mind and an open heart to recognize and value beauty.” I really enjoyed this quote and Ghoulish’s view of the critic changing, and not the work of art.

Thank you! Goulish’s view reminds me of the saying (I believe it’s Carl Jung’s), “You are what you do.” How we approach and engage with art can mirror how we approach and engage with the world around us. If we enter into an art experience with an openness and sense of possibility, it can change what we allow ourselves to get out of it. And that approach to books can translate into how we approach the world around us as well. So how we read matters a great deal.

I find this very fascinating. How we approach and engage with art mirroring how we engage with the world around us. EPIC!









How do you feel about the current 5 star rating system for books?

I am not a fan. Reading is such a rich, transformative, dimensional experience. To reduce a book to five stars has a way of draining the complexity, life, and beauty out of it for me.

Wow. I love your statement on this. It provides a totally different mindset when it comes to books. 








If you had to choose another time period in which to live in, which would you choose?

So many of the books I love were written in the 19th century. I’m also fascinated by ancient Greek literature and by all that we can’t know about that time. It would be interesting to visit and experience everyday life in either of these times. Though I must admit, I’m quite happy to read about the past from my comfortable perch in the 21st century!

Hah! True enough. Greek is pretty fascinating, love the language. The 19th century sounds cool…but I’d rather read about it. 




How does reading shape and transform us?

Reading allows us to see the world through another set of eyes and from another position in space and time. It introduces us to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world. Research is beginning to help us understand how reading experiences can rewire our brains. Having felt changed by my experience of books – Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth come to mind – I can believe it!

I’m very intrigued how reading affects our brain development and experience. Recent books have touched on this using cognitive science. It’s affects are amazing!













Tell us about your favorite literary Mom.

The first one I thought of is Marmee from Little Women because she’s such a steady, comforting presence. But I also adore Miranda’s mom in When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. She’s quirky, gives great advice, challenges Miranda to think harder and be kinder, and she is 100 percent devoted as a parent.

Moms are the BEST! Like you said, steady and a comforting presence. That’s a mom. I’ll have to add these books to my ever-growing TBR list.












Do you have a favorite father figure?

My favorite literary father figure is Joe Gargery from Great Expectations. He’s kind, loving, patient, loyal, forgiving. My favorite literary dad is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He never talks down to his children, and he embodies empathy, even when it is most difficult (and therefore most valuable).

Splendid. Empathy can be rather challenging at times, but it’s definitely worth it.



If you had to pick a protagonist to marry who would it be?

I love Hamish Macbeth from M. C. Beaton’s murder mystery series. He has the right priorities: the desire for a peaceful life (somewhat ironic, since he’s constantly having to solve murders!) and deep care for his community. Another favorite is Obinze from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. He’s patient, loyal, and an empathetic listener, (and he’s a reader!).

This was a fun one! Hamish Macbeth and Obinze. By the way, thanks for recommending Americanah. It sounds like a very moving story. 










If you had to pick a hero for president, who are your top 3 choices?

I agree with Albus Dumbledore that those who want power are probably the least to be trusted with it. So my choices would lean towards those who have neither expressed a desire for power nor pursued it. My three picks will stick with the Harry Potter theme: Kingsley Shacklebolt’s focus, discretion, and principles put him at the top of my list. I would also vote for Hermione Granger, who is highly rational, clever, and has a strong sense of justice. Finally, Mr. Weasley seems happy to sacrifice prestige for doing the right thing. He would get my vote.

Great picks! Love your philosophy on this. Sounds like it would make a great book, or perhaps fan fiction?










If you were a damsel in distress, who would you call on to rescue you?

Hopefully, I would be able to rescue myself. 🙂 But in a pinch, Hermione would be a good person to have in my corner.

Being rescued is more fun 🙂  I’m noticing a pattern here. If Hermione would become president, then rescued you, that would be a blockbuster.









Do you have any other books in the works?

I’ve been working on an idea for a book on classic literature. It’s still in the beginning stages, so we’ll see where it takes me.

Stay tuned!

Absolutely. A book on the classics sounds great. 







Sally Allen is an award-winning author who holds a PhD in English Education from New York University, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and an MA in English Language and Literature. She has taught writing and literature at New York University and Fairfield University, and is the recipient of New York University’s Willy Gorrissen Award for Dedication and Skill in the Academic Development of Student Writing. Currently, Allen is a faculty member at Post University where she teaches literature, writing, and communications. She is the founder of Books, Ink at HamletHub, a website dedicated to Connecticut books news, where her writing has earned her three Connecticut Press Club awards.

Unlocking Worlds (Griffins Wharf, 2015) can be purchased from Amazon

and other booksellers nationwide. More information about Sally Allen can be

found at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.







Benjamin Thomas





The Reading Voracity of Author Rayne Hall




Welcome Back to the reading series




Bringing you the best of the reading experience. 




There are those who read. Then there’s the avid readers. Beyond that, you have the chronic bookworms and voracious readers who set themselves apart from the pack. After reading this article, you’ll discover a person who is altogether in another realm when it comes to reading voracity. 





Contact lenses




Forensic Lenses seeks to discover the rich reading experience accumulated deep in the wells of the human heart. Taking an investigative and exploratory approach, case by case, I hope you’ll join me in this exciting journey.





used books at the bookshop








and Sulu the Cat




Rayne Hall


Rayne Hall is a Publishing guide, writing coach, the bestselling author of the Writer’s Craft guides who has three decades of experience in the publishing industry as a publishing manager, editorial assistant, magazine editor, investigative journalist, production editor, literary agent, and publishing consultant. WHEW. But the most impressive feat to me is that…










Yes, you read that correctly. 







Who influenced you in your early reading habits as a child?

I learnt to read early. At the age of 4, I startled my parents by reading a political newspaper headline out loud. They were aghast, because they had not taught me to read. I had somehow worked out the meaning of letters myself, though I can’t remember how I did it.

From then on, I devoured books, starting with small-sized illustrated children’s books from the ‘Pixi’ series which was popular in Germany at the time. Soon I grew bored and read bigger books, borrowed from my elder sister who encouraged me. There were a lot of religious books in our home, mostly gifts from a great-uncle who was a catholic priest, and they included some really exciting children’s stories. I also remember a book filled with stories about the lives and deaths of martyrs. That was scary stuff – it seemed that the reward for a pious life was to get crucified, burnt alive or eaten by lions!

When I finally went to school to be taught to read, I was of course bored. After reading about kings, robbers, goblins and pirates, the school book with pages of nothing but ‘i I i’ and ‘l l l’ held no interest. Even in year two, when we finally got a textbook with stories, I was frustrated, because I’d read the whole book on the first day which left nothing new for the rest of the year.

This is rather AMAZING. You seemed to devour books even before you were officially taught to read! You’re probably the most voracious reader yet. You’re voracity is off the charts!





Portrait of a very hungry, wild and angry young boy, holding and




*Who were your childhood favorite authors?

You may not have heard of them, because they’re German authors: Hans Baumann, Karl May, Anna Müller-Tannewitz. Erich Kästner. I was also a fan of Enid Blyton and devoured every book available in German translation. Once a week I took the bus into town and borrowed as many library books as the library card allowed, which was never enough. Eventually, I’d read every book in the library’s children’s section.

Now that’s an amazing feat. Reading EVERY book in the library’s children’s section. That’s completely mind-boggling.  You just elicited the WOW factor. 


Wow Surprised Word Astonished Surprising





*Tell us how you came to read around 500 books a year

I read very, very fast.

It’s not just your appetite for books, but also the pace of reading that’s stunning. 









*That comes down to about 10 books per week and 41 per month. That’s a lot of books. Are a lot of them forgettable? Which one’s touch you the most and why? 

I easily read a book a day, often more. Sometimes I don’t read for a day or two, but that’s rare.

I remember most of them, although not consciously. I often buy or borrow a book which feels familiar after a few pages and after a couple of chapters it’s clear that I’ve already read it many years ago.

If a book is forgettable, I won’t waste time reading anything by that author again. I wish Amazon had a feature for marking authors I don’t want to read again. On the other hand, if I loved a book, I immediately look for more works by that author.

You must have an awesome memory! Can I borrow some? There must be a longstanding history in the memory banks. I can only imagine.










*In your motivation to read so many books, are you searching for something particular?

I seek the pleasure of reading, of experiencing different worlds, meeting new people, learning new things, going on adventures without putting myself in danger. Sometimes I look for excitement, sometimes for something to smile about, sometimes for information, inspiration or advice.

These are all so lovely. It’s amazing how we can experience it all through the written word. Exciting!


*What’s your method? Do you aim for a certain amount books per week or month?

Not at all. That would make reading a duty.

Well said. 


*Do you have an outlet after accumulating so many experiences reading?

I’m not sure I understand your question. I always mean to review all the books I read, but I rarely get round to this, because I’m always busy reading the next book.

 There’s a wealth of experience just waiting to be mined. I would love to pick your brain sometime. 











*You’re a very experienced reader who must have a keen eye. What are your 5 biggest pet peeves?

Let me think.

1. Characters who sigh and grunt all the time, and heave deep breaths to steady themselves on every page.

2. Over-use of ‘began to’ and ‘started to’.

3. Gratuitous sex scenes.

4. Head-hopping/point- of-view violations, i.e. when I’m reading the story and experiencing the events from inside the head of one of the characters, and then suddenly I’m in another character’s head. That jolts me out of the story.

5. Writers obviously natural talent but haven’t honed their skill to the full level and instead used self-publishing as a short-cut before they were great. Had they continued learning their craft and revising their works, their books could have been great.

These are all very good. Everyone’s pet peeves are different but some are more common than others. Head hopping or POV hopping is definitely one of the more frequent ones. 











*How has reading affected your career in writing, editing and publishing?

I’ve become very aware of how important the free sample pages are. As a reader, I always download several samples, glance at the beginning, and decide which one I want to buy. Some books are appallingly written, and I won’t buy them. But I’ve also come across many books where the free sample had no real content. The sample was taken up by legal disclaimers, forewords, quotes, lists of the author’s other works, review excerpts – but no taste of the actual book. So I didn’t buy them. This has taught me to arrange the front matter in away that leads the reader straight into the main content.

I spot common mistakes, and see what kind of mistakes writers make most. These range from lay/lie confusions to early flashbacks. Knowing what mistakes writers make is useful when I guide writers in my classes, books and consultations.

I know which beginnings are overused, for example, the main character travelling to a destination, the main character waking up and readying himself for the day, the main character selecting a dress to wear for the special event. This knowledge helps me avoid those beginnings in my fiction, and it enables me to advise other writers.

It’s also the other way round: my writing and editing work influences how I read. I see flaws in books more than a ‘normal’ reader does. If I wasn’t a writer and editor myself, I would probably still perceive those flaws, but I couldn’t put a finger on what exactly is wrong, I would just sense vaguely that ‘I don’t like this’.

You must have a very keen eyes.











*As a person who has read probably thousands of books, what has changed over the years?

Are you asking about books, or about me? I’ll answer both. What’s changed about me is that I’ve become less patient. I used to read at least two chapters before giving up on a book I didn’t like. Now I don’t even read two pages. Two paragraphs is enough to tell me whether a book is worth reading or not. The free sample downloads are great for this. I guess I’ve become blasé in my assessment what books are worth reading.

What’s changed about books over the years? A lot! Thanks to ebooks and the indie publishing revolution, far more books are getting published, and a much wider choice is available for any taste. Books have become available catering to very specific niches. There’s more freedom for readers to choose, and more freedom for writers to write what they want. All this is wonderful.

The downside of this is that a lot of sub-standard stuff gets published. New authors don’t realise that their book isn’t good enough yet, and some people hire ghostwriters for ridiculously low rates to churn out book after book. But I don’t think this is a big problem, because readers can choose what they want to read, thanks to the ‘look inside’ and ‘download sample’ functions.

There’s a lot more interactions between readers and authors. In part that’s because in many cases, middlemen have been removed from the publishing process, and in part its thanks to easy online communications. In the past, if I wanted to write to an author, I had to write a snail mail letter c/o the publisher, who would forward it to the agent, who would forward it to the author, and if I was lucky, the author would reply. Most of the time, I didn’t get a reply, because the author was long dead (and I didn’t realise that), because the publisher hadn’t bothered to forward my letter (withholding fan mail was common practice) or because the author couldn’t be bothered – and I didn’t know which was the case. Nowadays, I simply search the author online, send them a message via their website, leave a comment on their blog or write a quick tweet. And most of the time, I get a reply. That’s wonderful. Often there’s a dialogue between authors and readers that wasn’t possible in the past.

Book buying has become easier. I remember how long I had to wait to get a book I wanted. I had to go to a book shop, order the book, wait for days or weeks for it to arrive… and then it was often a disappointment.

Now I click ‘download sample’, dip into those pages, and if I like it, I click ‘buy now’ and have the book within seconds.

Regarding book content, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot more sex in fiction. Erotic fiction has become easily available in a wide range of subcategories catering to every taste. It think the emergence of ebooks enabled that, because readers can buy the book they want without exposing their interest, and they can read it on their Kindles without anyone seeing. I remember as a twenty-year- old I wanted to read some erotic fiction. I waited until I went on a journey by railway, then at the destination station, where nobody knew me, I scanned the shelf for such titles and had to make a rapid choice without test-reading. Hot and blushing with embarrassment, I took my selection to the cashier. Back at home, I wrapped the books to hide the covers, less any visitors would see the titles. When I finally got to reading them, they were often disgusting stuff I didn’t like, because of the narrow available range and the hurried decisions. These days, I could browse at leisure, pick a book I really wanted to read, and read it discreetly on my Kindle. I’m no longer interested in reading erotica – I choose not to – but I think it’s good that other adults have the freedom to read erotica if they choose. And they don’t even have go through the mortifying process of taking the books to a cashier.

Sex has also become more common in other genres – so common that sometimes it’s difficult to find a book without sex in it. Personally, I prefer erotic tension to erotic actions, and when characters have sex, I prefer it if they keep their bedroom doors closed. I get annoyed when sex scenes are forced on me. I remember wanting to read some good urban fantasy novel and every one of them had gratuitous sex. Of course, the latest development is the rise of the ‘chaste’ book. In almost any genre, it’s possible to search for ‘chaste’ or ‘clean read’ books. That’s part of the diversity and increased choice, and is good.

In crime fiction – cosy mysteries and thrillers – specific real locations have come to play a much bigger role than they used to. Whole series are set in Edinburgh or in Colorado or wherever, often the place where the author lives. This local flavour has become part of the pleasure of reading crime fiction.

In non-fiction, I’ve observed that advice books are increasingly based on the author’s experiences, and include first-person sections. This makes the books more authentic and personal.

This is great info indeed, thanks!










*As an experienced reader, in your opinion, what makes a good book?

My answer would be different depending on what kind of book. A good book is a book that gives me what I want – and what I want differs from day to day and genre to genre.


I love this answer. It’s so succinct and to the point. 




A good book is a book that gives me what I want – and what I want differs from day to day and genre to genre.- Rayne Hall









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Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life. -Mortimer Adler




Reading a good book is living life dangerously- Benjamin Thomas

















Benjamin Thomas




The Impact of Reading & the Power of Storytelling with Lorna Faith


Welcome back to the new reading series FORENSIC LENSES 



Join me, as we go deep sea diving into the intrinsic view of the actual reading experience. Interviewing authors, bookworms, and voracious readers alike.

Words are powerful. Especially when crafted by a skillful author who knows how to tell a great story. While I love interviewing authors and displaying their work, I equally enjoy getting a glimpse of their reading life. That’s what this series is all about folks!

Come, let us take peek….




Eye scanning. Concept image. Concept image

















Lorna Faith pic 800X800




Lorna is a fiction & Non-fiction author, storyteller, blogger, podcaster, story coach and lover of books!


Bio: I love to write unusual historical romances that have been known to include scarred heroines, brave heroes, far too much scheming, evil terrorists and always a way for the two lovebirds to find their sweet happily-ever-after.

When not writing fiction, I love to help first-time and struggling writers get rid of their fear of the blank page and self-publish their stories. In the in-between time I can usually be found either drinking green smoothies, or cleverly think up another way I can convince my hubby and four college-age children to watch yet another old movie;)


Are you originally from Canada?

Yes, I am originally from Canada… and still live there. I was born – the youngest child of 11 -in the far north woods 50 miles north of Fort St. John, British Columbia. We were a family that lived off the land. My Dad had a little more than a section of land, where we grew crops like wheat, barley, canola, oats, hay and more. We also had milk cows, chickens, pigs, a couple of horses, a goat, a lamb, 2 cats and 3 dogs.

We butchered cows and pigs in the fall for our meat for the winter (we did this with our neighbours) and milked the cows every morning and evening for our own milk and cream.

So each of us kids knew how to work – but what I loved most, was that we learned how to play as hard as we worked. We made our own go-carts, wooden stilts, tree forts as well as rode trail motorbikes, rode horses, and played baseball as a family on Sundays.

The summer I finished elementary school, we moved to Hythe, Alberta. Dad and Mom had bought a hobby farm and that’s where I lived until I got married at 19 years of age 🙂

That sounds like a lot of fun! A nice big family on the farm. You definitely don’t see large families like that anymore. I think the hardest part for me would be waking up at 4 am to milk the cows.





Which stories did you grow up reading?

My mom was always reading bedtime stories to us after the days work was done. She would sit on a creaky wooden chair in the hallway that separated our 2 bedrooms (where we slept 2 to a bed – some of the oldest children had moved out of the house by then) and would read Hardy Boy mysteries, Nancy Drew stories as well other children’s books like Hans Christian Anderson or Uncle Arthur’s bedtime stories. 

So I grew up with a big interest in stories. There were always stories told around the supper table of some sort of mishap that happened on the farm that day, or my dad or mom would tell stories of their life growing up after their parents immigrated to Canada.

Listening to and reading stories through my growing up years, definitely made a big impact and fed my love of storytelling.

I always enjoy hearing this part of someone’s life. How they were impacted by particular stories and their early reading habits. 




~When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it.-Julian Barnes





Can you name 5 or more books that had the most impact on you? (As a child or adult).

I’m not sure that I can keep the list to 5… but I’ll try. My first real love of stories was when I read the Hardy Boy mysteries for the first time. I loved how they would always get the bad guy in the end…. but I especially loved the suspense leading up to where they discovered who the bad guy was. 

Then in my teens I read Anne of Green Gables, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Little Women, Gone with the Wind and Pride and Prejudice. I remember feeling like a whole new world of stories had opened up. I thought to myself, if only I could write stories that were so captivating and descriptive someday, I’d be thrilled. 

In my 20s and 30s – while I was studying for my Bachelor of Music degree and later raising 4 children – I would binge read all the time. A few of my favourites were contemporary romances by Debbie MacComber and The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. 

Some nonfiction books that have really inspired me to push past resistance and have helped me to believe in myself are The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your life by Thomas M. Sterner.


“I thought to myself, if only I could write stories that were so captivating and descriptive someday, I’d be thrilled.”  I drawing on this statement.  I’m always fascinated how stories affect our imagination from a young age. From a child, through the teenage years and adulthood, they continue to have a major impact on us.  I’ve noticed that children attempt to imitate, reproduce or recreate what they see. I can see that you your statement above. I believe every writer has had that thought running through their mind at some one point while reading. 








Have you ever cried while reading? What were you experiencing at that moment?

Yeah, I’ve cried many times while reading a great story.

But, I can’t help it, I love a good cry-fest. I’ve cried while reading Anne of Green Gables. It’s this orphan girls struggle to be accepted and loved by family and the town that pulls at my heartstrings.

Another book that made my cry through the whole reading of it, was A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer. To me this is easily one of the saddest true stories of abuse I’ve ever read. This little boy suffered horrific abuse from his abusive mother and others. I cried because of his desperation for love and acceptance and that he still continued to fight for survival in a home where he was thought of as worthless.

Also another real tear jerker is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I cried at the boy and his father traveling by foot in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to eek out an existence when all seems lost. I cried because of their losses, their struggle to survive and was inspired by this profound and moving story – of their journey. The father and his son are inspiring as they still imagine a future even though no hope seems to remain. They are each other’s whole world – and they are sustained by the love they have for each other, in the face of total devastation. Amazing story.

These are all admirable and very touching. I hate crying, honestly. But if an author can evoke tears through their story  It’s a 5/5 star read in my book. Only a few books have managed to accomplish that feat so far. One book I recently added to my TBR list had me crying just by reading the premise! It’s called M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. 











What are your favourite genres?

My favourite genres are Historical Romance and Contemporary Romance. I especially love how characters are in a big mess at the beginning of the story and how they are transformed through acceptance and love 🙂 I love it when each of those genres also includes a little bit of suspense and mystery. Also, I do love reading Dystopian novels too – like Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Testing, and others.



Who are your top 3 – 5 characters and what do you love about them? (If you had to marry one of them who would it be?)

There are a few characters who have stuck with me.

One of those characters is Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. I love that Lizzy grows into a strong, confident woman who isn’t afraid to say “no” to marry the man that her mother wants her to marry. She is respectful to her parents and people around her, but she is strong and many times it’s Lizzy who in her maturity, points out the folly of some of the actions of her sisters or parents.

Anne Shirley, from the story Anne of Green Gables sticks out in my mind from when I was a teenager, as a girl I could relate to. She had to survive through abuse, fear and rejection and continued to grow and transform herself into a better person as she grew up. She didn’t let all of life’s struggles ruin her… instead it made her stronger.

Lastly, I like the character of Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind. Rhett is a man of strength who falls deeply in love with Scarlett. Even through all her temper tantrums, he still loves Scarlett, that is until the very end when Rhett discovers even he has a boundary line that Scarlett crosses. I like how he is practical, that he still does what he needs to do, to help his friends, that he respects his mother and that he is generous throughout the story to Scarlett, despite her childish ways.

Of course, if I wasn’t married already… I would definitely marry Rhett Butler! He’s a man of strength, exciting, adventurous, respectful, generous and loves deeply 😉

Awesomesauce!  Gotta love your favorite characters. You do crazy things when you’re in love. 








Do you have a favourite antagonist or anti-hero?

Well, as a big fan of Star Wars, I’d have to say Darth Vader is a pretty convincing antagonist. For me, I loved learning of Darth Vader’s background. That he as Anakin Skywalker – a goodhearted jedi and hero of the Clone Wars and a powerful Jedi – that made me see him as more than just an anti-hero. So with the fall of the republic, when Anakin Skywalker became a disciple of the dark side, and eventually became known as Darth Vader, I felt I understood him a little better… he seemed more human somehow… even though he was the bad guy.

Darth is my absolute favorite antagonist. He’s such a, well, force to be reckoned with.  No pun intended. 















As a reader what are your top 5 pet peeves?

What a great question… and one I took some time to answer.

For a bookworm like me, who finds reading not only relaxing, but often therapeutic, there are many things that have become pet peeves. Maybe there are other readers who can relate.

Spoilers. I really don’t like it when I find a book I’m excited to read, only to have someone else tell me how it ends… before I get a chance to read it. Ugh.

Waiting for Library Books. With 4 kids, we’ve often gone to the Library to read or have ordered books from the Library online. It’s super disappointing borrowing a book, only to realize that you are number 20 on the list… which means you have to wait a couple of months before you can read it.

A book with a promising start that begins to go downhill. I feel a little miffed as a reader, when I love the first few pages or chapter of a book and then the story suddenly takes a turn for the worse. It feels like all my hopes for a good read have just been dashed with cold water ;(

Being interrupted while reading a good book. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a little annoyed at constant interruptions when you’re in the middle – or near the end – of a good book. Although, I must say as far as my family goes, they don’t interrupt me so much anymore when they see I’m reading a book.

Poorly Edited Books. For me, this means not only poor grammar or typos, but also repeated metaphors and descriptions or when the storyline is way too predictable. I guess I just really like some surprises in a story.

So those are some of my pet peeves. But I’m also a reader who loves to give first-time authors a good chance. I’ll read the entire first chapter before I’ll decide if I want to keep reading or pass on a book. I think it’s because I totally get where new authors are coming from… and if they choose to keep writing books, I’ll give another one of their books a chance, because I know as writers we keep getting better in our craft, the more we keep writing.

I love your list, but I love your understanding even better. Very touching.












In your opinion and experience, what makes a great story?

There are a few details, in my opinion, that make a great story.

First a really great story is easy to read. I love it when the story is so easy to read, that I just get “caught up” in the moment.

Secondly, great stories have captivating characters. I love characters that are flawed and yet they are transformed somehow throughout the story. I love coming to ‘the end’ feeling inspired 🙂

Third, a story is compelling when it has a sense of wonder. For example, in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales, the creatures and land of Narnia are so unusual and exotic, that as a reader I feel a sense of excitement and my curiosity is piqued because of the newness of it all.

Fourth, I love a story theme that is easily recognizable and that is meaningful. Common themes are: good vs. evil; love conquers all; or sacrifice, redemption, acceptance, etc. When your flawed characters face soul-searching themes, it’s a pretty compelling reason to keep reading.

Fifth, I do love a story where there’s a lot at stake for the characters. Where they give up everything for love or they have to face an evil villain that challenges all they believe in – and the characters are forced to overcome the odds. The best stories I’ve read, are those where characters were changed and they also changed their world around them for the better.

I LOVE IT! This pretty much says it all!  Wonderful.




Kid with bear toy






“The best stories I’ve read, are those where characters were changed and they also changed their world around them for the better”.-Lorna Faith





How do you help writers tell their stories?

I do love to help first-time and/or struggling storytellers, to write, self-publish and market their stories to their unique audience of readers. I’m passionate about helping new writers, because I spent so many years trying to get over fear and insecurity that I could actually write. Then it took me a few more years of searching on Google for answers on how to self-publish my novel. After all those years of trying to figure this out, I became passionate about helping to save writers time and money – to avoid the mistakes I did. So, for new writers who are struggling to write and self-publish and market their books, and are tired of struggling and failing over and over again, they can get Write and Publish your first Book as a Free eBook download – along with The Storyteller’s Roadmap mini-course when you click here: The Storyteller’s Roadmap





Receive the Western Historical Romance Free Book download. The link is here: A Most Unsuitable Husband


Subscribe to Lorna’s Podcast on iTunes at this link: Create A Story You Love

Or, You can sign up for new podcasts/blogposts to come to your email inbox every Thursday, when you add your email here:







Lorna has her own Youtube Channel: CREATE A STORY YOU LOVE. Check out the videos!

I’ve included a wonderful video with Lorna & Joanna Penn entitled, Learn How to Trust Emergence in Storytelling with Joanna Penn. 








~Those who tell the stories rule society- Plato




~There’s a story in you, don’t be stingy. -Benjamin Thomas







Benjamin Thomas



Discussing the Reading Experience with Writer & Blogger Wendy Greene








Bringing you the best of the reading experience. What’s yours?









“Finishing a good book is like leaving a good friend” -William Feather




“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting” ~Edmund Burke






This series is all about reflecting on the reading experience. When we read and enjoy a great book, there’s so many things happening in our brains! We need time to reflect and digest what we just ate, then fully appreciate the beauty. 




~When you read a good book what do your eyes really see?



Bambino con lente d'ingrandimento - Boy with a magnifying glass




Well, we all see a little differently. Let’s introduce today’s guest! 










Wendy is an aspiring writer, successful bookworm, a fellow blogger and follower of Christ.




What were your childhood experiences with reading?

I actually hated reading when I was younger! I enjoyed small books once and a while, but I never really got into it until I was probably in 5th grade. I was in the library and randomly started reading the Dear America series. I read every single one they had in about six months and fell in love with historical fiction that later branched out into more genres.

WOW! I find that so fascinating. You once were a person who hated reading, then somehow you became a complete BOOKWORM. The impact the Dear America series had on you is nothing less than impressive.











Which books influenced you the most as a child?

Of course, the Dear Americas were so influential in my life as well as Little House on the Prairie. But I remember, very distinctly, the first book that made me sob. It was titled Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch. I would say it traumatized me more than influenced me, though XD It was a historical fiction about a girl who immigrated to Ellis Island to work in a clothing factory in New York. Horrific events occurred (but I won’t spoil it for you ;)) and the realization that it based on actual events rattled me to the core. Even though that experience hurt, it made me realize the power of words and how a collection of pages can change someone.

Words are powerful. I love to see how the writings of others have affected us. This never ceases to amaze me.



What’s your favorite genre to read? (it could be plural) and what do you enjoy most about them?

As of this moment, I really love science fiction. I hadn’t read a lot of that genre before, but I just love the mix of science and whimsy. Although, fantasy is a longtime love for me and the possibilities of that genre are ENDLESS. But also historical fiction. ALL OF THEM, PRETTY MUCH.

I love science fiction and fantasy as well. Hard to choose one eh?









Who are your top 5 favorite characters of all time?

Ooooh, that’s SO HARD. I’d have to say Percy Jackson from the Percy Jackson series is definitely up there along with Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Aslan from Narnia, Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, and Wolf from the Lunar Chronicles.

Bilbo is lovable and Wolf from the Lunar Chronicle is a pretty cool guy. 





~There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates loot on treasure island – Walt Disney






What is it about them that draws you?

I love quirky personalities. Especially in Percy and Anne, they have a significant amount of spunk.They’re also brave without realizing it and simply view themselves as normal people; nothing particularly special. With Aslan, of course, he’s such a strong character and I’ve admired him for a long time. Bilbo is basically me if I were a hobbit, so there’s that. Wolf is just so awesome. He’s so violent yet sweet and I just loved him. ^_^

This is a nice handful of heroes! Sounds like they all have had a particular affect on you as a reader. 



Do you enjoy character driven books more or plot driven?

I definitely believe that good characters can make up for a bad plot. If I can connect and love a character, I tend to ignore the massive plot holes that stand in the way. With that said, I love a good, intense, well-written storyline. So, both?

Good answer! 








Have you ever cried while reading? If so, what were you experiencing?

YES. I cry in books All. The. Time. Sometimes the author will describe an emotion in such a beautifully rich way that touches me so deep I can’t help but cry. Other times I just feel the pain of the characters or relate something to my own life that moves me to tears. Oh, and there are also the copious amounts of character deaths I sob through…

Yes, this is truly a special moment when an author evokes tears in the reader.












As a reader what are your top 5 pet peeves?

Insta-love. Masculine female characters. Dog-eared pages. Stupid parents/villains. Pointless deaths.

I always enjoy seeing what irks people the most in books. Good things to avoid when writing!









When you read what are you seeking most?

Sometimes that depends on why I’m reading. Sometimes I delve into a book to escape from the world, other times I want to laugh or think. Sometimes I read as a writer. Reading is the tool I use the most when trying to develop my own writing style. If that’s the case, I read to glean information on style, story structure etc. But overall, I read because it’s so unique and beautiful. It gives me a glimpse of a universe unexplored and allows me to become someone else. I read because it changes me.

You just elicited the wow factor!!! That’s probably one of the best answers I’ve seen yet.



Wow Surprised Word Astonished Surprising





What are your top reads of 2016?

Oh dear…such a hard question! Number one would probably be Scarlett by Marissa Meyer. I also loved Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Storm Siren by Mary Weber, and What He Must Be by Vodie Baucham (there are so many more, but there ya go XD)

I enjoyed Scarlett too, but my favorite of that series was Cress. Great choices!



Thank you so much for interviewing me, I had so much fun! =D
















~The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. –Dr. Seuss





~Nothing transforms the mind like a good book -Benjamin Thomas








Benjamin Thomas



Forensic Lenses: Interview with Voracious Reader, blogger and Reviewer Candace















Take the journey to enjoy the view -Jeffrey Benjamin






What is the actual experience of the reader? -Benjamin Thomas










Welcome back ladies and gentlemen for another edition of Forensic Lenses; an investigative and exploratory approach into minds of voracious readers. Somewhat recently I put my thinking cap on (Yes, I have one) and imagined viewing people in a different light. Not just as writers, but as readers. Reading is the fire that ignites the imagination in so many that have become authors. So we’re here trying to discover the vast wealth of the complete reader experience. Join me, as we embark on this journey.



Everybody please welcome Candace!






Candace is a book fiend, a classic reviewer, excellent blogger, and the awesome mind behind Literary Dust.  You can find her on Twitter at @literarydust, on Facebook Literary Dust: A Bookish World, and on Instagram at Literarydust.




I’m so glad I had opportunity to connect with Candace, because she is an avid reader who consumes books by the minute. I wish I could read as fast as she does. Or perhaps, a second set of eyes could be helpful. Or it could prove to be more troublesome! Hah!




*You’re a blogger, book reviewer and a reader.  Are you also a writer or artist?

Well I try to write, but haven’t gotten far enough where I could be called a writer. Hopefully one day I will finish a book. I also used to be really into photography, but I don’t have much time for that.  As for any other art form? I can’t draw a stick figure to save my life.

Hey, if you writing you’re a writer. There’s no set of rules to dictate the designation. You’re a writer when you call yourself one. This kind of struggle is fairly common actually. Myself included. It took me several months to call myself a writer. Try it, its fun!



*What did you study in school? 

I studied to be a teacher, but I didn’t finish that.

Never too late I suppose. You don’t necessarily need school to be a positive role model in someone’s life though.



*I saw that you are obsessed with books. What is it about books that you love?

I love the escape, and the opportunity to be in someone else’s mind for a moment. The fact that you can go almost anywhere whether it is a fictional world that is beautiful or dark without the worry of something dreadful actually happening to you yet getting to experience something incredible.


Candace, I utterly enjoy the escapism too. The last six years have been a complete nightmare. I plunged deep into depression without a way out. Just this morning while listening to an audiobook on the way to work was therapeutic. I take great pleasure being in someone else’s skin for a while. You know, there’s a lot of benefits to audiobooks that you don’t get by reading. The subtle intonation of voice, minor dramatic effects, and the different dialects of characters make a BIG difference. Actually I laughed pretty hard a few times because the way something was said. 



*What is your current occupation? 

I actually stay at home.  I suffer from hemiplegic migraines.

More time to read books!  Sometimes all I want to do is read and write. Put the world and everything in it on pause. 







Time to read…





*What were your favorite childhood books and why?


Strega Nona, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Giving Tree. I loved these books because they have meaning within them, and I feel they teach life lessons inside of their short pages, and the pictures inside are memorable and have stayed with me.


Those are the best. The stories that teach you something with theme and rich significance. You can’t beat it.



*You mentioned how you like to be in someone else’s mind when reading. Name your all time favorite characters and how you most relate to them.


I was always into reading when I was younger, but when I was in high school I read 1984, and that book opened a whole new world for me. Being in Winston’s head was interesting, and the whole thing was just intense.  I feel like if I were in that situation with the whole “Big Brother” type situation I would want to break the rules too.

Nice. It’s stunning, how one character can open up “worlds” for us when we read them on the page. Amazing.



*Name your top five fictional worlds


1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by: Sarah J. Maas 

2. The Covenant series by: Jennifer L. Armentrout 

3. The Hunger Games by: Suzanne Collins

4. Angelfall by: Susan Ee

5. Shatter Me by: Tahereh Mafi


Don’t hate me, but I actually haven’t read any of these authors yet. I always enjoy seeing what others favs are though. Thanks for sharing. 



*If you had a one way ticket  to one of them, which would it be?

Most of these worlds would actually be pretty scary to live in, but I am going to go with A Court of Thorns and Roses because in Rhysand’s world I could spend an eternity.


Sounds intriguing!








*Have you ever cried while reading? If so, why, and state what you were feeling at the moment.

I have cried while reading, but I don’t get hysterical.  It is mainly just tears sliding down my face, but it has been when characters I really have grown to love die, and it feels like a piece of your soul has been torn away.  It is weird how you can feel for these characters that aren’t even real, yet they feel so three dimensional.


This is the most amazing experience, when an author can make me cry. There’s only two books where I’ve almost cried, only because I was holding back. *he he he*   😉







It’s good to cry, let those feelings out. 


You know in some countries if you burp that means the meal was good. Well, if and when there’s a tear streaking down your face, hats off to the author. 









*Name your favorite YA books and what you love about them. 

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, The Under the Never Sky series by: Veronica Rossi, The Precious Stone Trilogy by: Kerstin Gier, Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses by: Sarah J. Maas, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Falling Kingdoms series by: Morgan Rhodes, and The Blood of Eden series by: Julie Kagawa, and I could keep going on for a while. I love these mainly because most of them are just a whole different world, and these characters just all do things that normal people just don’t do, and I love that.

I can almost see your enjoyment here. Great!





*Name your top 5-10 pet peeves you hate when reading a book. 

1. Too much self loathing

2. When characters say someone “Let out a breath they didn’t know they were holding”. How is that possible?

3. If characters have kissing scene etc. and get interrupted too many times. Does that happen in real life?

4. Way too many point of views.

5. Names I can’t pronounce. Unless the author provides a page on how to sound out the names.


Hold it right there, pal…




*What other genres do you read?

Fantasy, Paranormal, New Adult contemporary. I can’t do a lot of the “People with real problems” type books.

I hear you. Guess that could be rather depressing.



*What do you think of the current 5 star system for book reviews?

It is okay, but I know the 3 star area is different to some people. Some people say 3 stars is still a good book while others have 3 stars as thinking it wasn’t great, so it is all opinion pretty much.

I’ve heard the same thing. It think it serves a certain purpose while failing in others. Doesn’t capture the complete reader experience in my opinion. But eh, what do I know?



*When you rate a book, do you have specific criteria? Or does it depend on your subjective feeling?

If I am left really thinking about the book I give it a 5. I don’t really give books a 1 because those are ones that I wasn’t able to finish, but I feel bad about rating a book I don’t finish, so I just don’t rate it at all.

Same here. If I didn’t finish a book I wouldn’t be able to properly assess it.



*In your opinion, who are the top authors of the century and why?
Wow okay sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have something like Shakespeare or Poe. At the moment it has to be Sarah J. Maas. Her series are just so addicting and always has me yearning for the next book.
You just elicted the WOW factor!
Wow Surprised Word Astonished Surprising
Give credit to Sarah J. Maas
*Over the course of your life, how has reading affected you?
It has opened doors to all sorts of places where I now have an open mind and can see from others perspectives even if I don’t agree with their actions. I feel that that has helped me be a better person and can empathize with people in real life and understand the choices that some people make even if they are not the same choices I would choose. Everyone is different, and if we were all the same and thought the same then what a boring world this place would be.


Awesome! I read somewhere that reading literally changes your brain and how you think. Empathy was one thing the article mentioned. That’s so cool!



Thanks for joining us Candace!













~Books fall open, you fall in. -David McCord







“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.” -Maud Casey







Never take for granted what you read -Benjamin Thomas






Benjamin Thomas