Award Winning Author Micki Browning discusses Writing

 

 

 

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Please Welcome Award-winning Author Micki Browning!

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Author Interview

 

 

 

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  • What does it mean to plot from the POV of the antagonist and write from the perspective of the protagonist? 

  • What’s your experience and how did it help with writing?



The best writing advice I ever received was to plot from the point of view of the antagonist and write from the perspective of the protagonist. Simple, right? But it was an a-ha moment for me.

 

 

 

 

light bulb moment

 

 

 
A bit of background. Like most writers, I have a couple of practice manuscripts currently occupying space in the bottom of a drawer. They both garnered decent feedback from agents, but the novels were episodic—most of the second act chapters could have been rearranged without affecting the story. I wasn’t building on prior events. Why? Because I didn’t know what my antagonist was doing behind the scenes.

 

 

 

 

antagonist behind the scenes

 

 

 
I think most writers put a great deal of thought into the character development of their heroes, but they tend to give their antagonist short shrift. But think about it—the antagonist is the character that drives the story. It is his or her actions that the protagonist must address.

 

 
For most of my adult life, I was a police officer. Part of the job description involved investigating crimes. Most incidents began when someone called 9-1- 1. Upon arrival, I’d try to piece together what happened by observing the scene, obtaining witness statements, and collecting physical evidence. Armed with this information, I’d search databases, develop additional contacts, run down new leads.

 

I was a first responder—just like my protagonist.

 

 

Police Officer grabbing his gun

 

 

 
Imagine how easy police work would be if an officer knew before being dispatched to the scene exactly how the criminal had planned the crime, what motivated the person to do such a nefarious deed, and what steps he’d taken to avoid detection.

 

 
As a writer, you can do that!

 

 

 

 

 

Police work Micki B

 

 

 

 
To combat my story-structure issues, I enrolled in a plotting course for mystery and thriller writers. During the course, the instructor assigned two exercises that I’ve since incorporated into the planning stage of every story I write.

 

 
The first exercise explains the antagonist’s motivation for doing what he did. I write it in first person and it essentially creates the backstory of the character. The first line of this exercise for Adrift, my debut novel reads:

 

 
Ishmael Styx is a man who knows what he wants, and he wants to be dead.  All he has to do is figure out how to make it temporary.

 

 
I then wrote 1200 words explaining what had happened in his life to bring him to this
point.

 

 
The second exercise explains how the antagonist pulled off his crime. Adrift had a complicated crime (more than one, actually, but that developed later in the story).

 

 

 

 

Process Definition Magnified Showing Result From Actions Or Functions

 

 

 

 

Drawing on my background, I hatched the plan. Knowing how the crime occurred gave me the insight I needed to identify the clues my protagonist had to notice, what other things could be misinterpreted, and how to follow the breadcrumb trail left by the antagonist. The exercise revealed some surprising options that prompted me to go deeper into my storytelling.

 

 

 
The structure of a mystery novel is such that the antagonist runs the show in the first act. His crime is the inciting incident that ensures the protagonist’s involvement. Roughly the first half of the story involves the hero reacting to the actions of the protagonist. After the midpoint, their roles change. Now your protagonist is hot on the trail, developing those leads, realizing her mistakes. Sure, she’ll have setbacks, but as she gets closer to solving the crime, the two characters are also nearing their final confrontation. Both exercises will help you determine how your cornered antagonist will lash out, try to escape, or outwit your sleuth.

 

 

 

 

 

STRUCTURE - Glowing Neon Sign on stonework wall

 

 

 

 
Mapping out the crime allowed me to structure my storyline so that it built on the information learned in previous chapters. Actions had consequences. My writing was no longer episodic.

 

 
The first time I’d put this writing advice into action was during the writing of Adrift. The novel won both the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for mystery. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

 

 
I knew how to foil the crime because I had plotted it first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIO:

An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades, retiring as a division commander. Now a full time writer, she won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for her debut mystery, ADRIFT. 

 
Micki also writes short stories and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines and textbooks. She resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research”

 

 

 

Micki's logo scaled

 

Stay in touch with Micki at

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Book Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner

Unsub

 

 

 

A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

Caitlin Hendrix has been a Narcotics detective for six months when the killer at the heart of all her childhood nightmares reemerges: the Prophet. An Unsub—what the FBI calls an unknown subject—the Prophet terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990s and nearly destroyed her father, the lead investigator on the case.

The Prophet’s cryptic messages and mind games drove Detective Mack Hendrix to the brink of madness, and Mack’s failure to solve the series of ritualized murders—eleven seemingly unconnected victims left with the ancient sign for Mercury etched into their flesh—was the final nail in the coffin for a once promising career.

Twenty years later, two bodies are found bearing the haunting signature of the Prophet. Caitlin Hendrix has never escaped the shadow of her father’s failure to protect their city. But now the ruthless madman is killing again and has set his sights on her, threatening to undermine the fragile barrier she rigidly maintains for her own protection, between relentless pursuit and dangerous obsession.

Determined to decipher his twisted messages and stop the carnage, Caitlin ignores her father’s warnings as she draws closer to the killer with each new gruesome murder. Is it a copycat, or can this really be the same Prophet who haunted her childhood? Will Caitlin avoid repeating her father’s mistakes and redeem her family name, or will chasing the Prophet drag her and everyone she loves into the depths of the abyss?

 

 

 

 

My Review

 

A Damn good thriller!

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and definitely the best crime fiction. Absolutely amazing. A must read. Caitlin Hendrix, a narcotics detective joins an investigation to catch one of the nations worst serial killers that her father failed to catch. In fact, her father Mack Hendrix now a retired cop, tries to persuade to stop investigating since it ruined his life nearly driving him insane. 

I loved what Meg Gardiner has done with detective Caitlin Hendrix. She’s not necessarily an expert, but joins the homicide division due to her father’s connection to the case. Determined, focused, bold, not to mention brillant; she works with law enforcement to catch the UNSUB.

Meg Gardiner does a spectacular job creating the twisted M.O. of the serial killer, UNSUB. He was such a formidable opponent it made for a JUICY conflict. Meg crafts his motivations perfectly.

The suspense is so thick you can cut it with a steak knife. So if you like edge-of-your-seat thrillers, THIS IS IT. Look no further.

In the crowded arena of crime fictiob UNSUB is quite unique. Don’t miss it!!

 

 
Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

Pre-order the next book here: Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel

 

 

Into the Black Nowhere

 

 

Release date is Jan. 30th 2018!

 

Inspired by real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, an exhilarating thriller in which FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix faces off against a charming, merciless serial killer

In southern Texas, on Saturday nights, women are disappearing. One vanishes from a movie theater. Another is ripped from her car at a stoplight. Another vanishes from her home while checking on her baby. Rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix, newly assigned to the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, fears that a serial killer is roaming the dark roads outside Austin.

Caitlin and the FBI’s serial crime unit discover the first victim’s body in the woods. She’s laid out in a bloodstained, white baby-doll nightgown. A second victim in a white nightie lies deeper in the forest’s darkness. Both bodies are surrounded by Polaroid photos, stuck in the earth like headstones. Each photo pictures a woman in a white negligee, wrists slashed, suicide-style–posed like Snow White awaiting her prince’s kiss.

To track the UNSUB, Caitlin must get inside his mind. How is he selecting these women? Working with a legendary FBI profiler, Caitlin searches for a homology–that elusive point where character and action come together. She profiles a confident, meticulous killer who convinces his victims to lower their guard until he can overpower and take them in plain sight. He then reduces them to objects in a twisted fantasy–dolls for him to possess, control, and ultimately destroy. Caitlin’s profile leads the FBI to focus on one man: a charismatic, successful professional who easily gains people’s trust. But with only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murders, the police allow him to escape. As Saturday night approaches, Caitlin and the FBI enter a desperate game of cat and mouse, racing to capture the cunning predator before he claims more victims.

 

 

I already have this title and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

 

 

 

Hungry meat-eating man

 

 

 

 

 

Connect with Meg Gardiner

 

 

Meg Gardiner

 

 

Meg Gardiner is the author of thirteen thrillers. UNSUB, her latest novel, features homicide detective Caitlin Hendrix. Don Winslow says, “Like The Silence of the Lambs, this novel scared the hell out of me. I dare you to try putting it down.” The novel has been bought for development as a TV series by CBS.

Meg was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She’s also a three time Jeopardy! champion. Meg lives in Austin, Texas.

She’s the author of the Evan Delaney series and the Jo Beckett novels. China Lake won the 2009 Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Paperback Original. The Dirty Secrets Club won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of 2008.

 

 

Amazon Twitter | FacebookGoodreadsWebsite

 

 

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be a stranger!

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

MTW Blog Cover Image by Eva

 

Author Mary Angela Introduces Passport to Murder

 

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Death never takes a holiday, but it certainly can take away one. Will Professor Prather find out who killed her Parisian plans before the end of spring break?

 

 

 

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.

 

 

Book Blurb

Passport to Murder (Professor Prather Mystery #2)

 

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.
When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

 

 

 

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  1. What was your process for creating English professor Emmeline Prather?

I knew I wanted to set my series in a small college town in South Dakota, so I imagined a young professor relocating to the area. The landscape had to be a draw for my protagonist because the pay is definitely not. I like that she’s an outsider looking in. It heightens her awareness of the region.

 

 

 

 

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  1. What do you like about an amateur sleuth versus a professional one? 

I like that an amateur sleuth is not paid to solve crimes. It’s not her job, so she doesn’t have any police experience to help her. The amateur sleuth allows me, as a reader and a writer, to become intimately involved. I like to imagine what I would do in the same circumstances.

 

  1. What are some characteristics of Emmeline that help her solve crimes?

She is an excellent researcher, which helps her dig up information. She also has a degree in French literature, so she’s great at analyzing stories. Combined, these characteristics make her a tough sleuth to beat!

 

 

 

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  1. You affectionately call her “Em.” Describe your relationship to the protagonist. 

Em is so much fun, and I do think of her as Em as I’m writing. I enjoy writing her because she can be incredibly passionate when it comes to education, students, and crimes. Sometimes I get a chuckle out of her antics.

 

  1. What are the dynamics like between Emmeline and her sidekick Lenny Jenkins? 

There is a strong dynamic between Em and Lenny; they balance each other nicely. Em can take herself too seriously, and Lenny—doesn’t. They both challenge each other to see the world from another viewpoint, which is incredibly advantageous for crime fighting.

 

 

 

Fighting crime word cloud concept on grey background

 

 

 

  1. Describe some challenges writing Passport to Murder. 

Moving a group of thirteen characters was hard. I had to talk to the airport police in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also had to read about police procedures and what can and can’t be done when police investigate a suspicious death.

 

 

 

Distracted businessman distracted

 

 

 

  1. What did you learn while researching this book? 

I learned that the FBI has jurisdiction involving any crime committed in the air. I thought that was pretty interesting! I also learned that a plane can’t land on a full tank of gas.

 

 

 

Seriously, Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sunburst.

 

 

 

  1. Is it challenging writing a mystery? 

Yes, it is challenging, but that’s exactly what I like about the mystery genre. It works both sides of my brain. I spend lots of time making my characters and settings interesting, but I also spend an ample amount of time creating a clever and believable plot. All loose ends have to be tied up by the end of the novel. It takes great attention to detail.

 

 

 

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  1. Do you outline your novels? 

No, I don’t, but I do create a timeline and plot some events before writing them.

 

  1. Imagine yourself as Professor Emmeline.  Given the criminal circumstances, would you make the same choices as her? Why or why not?

That’s a tough one! I think I would. I might try to reveal the murderer in a less obvious way, but if I thought I could solve the crime, I would have to try, especially if it benefited my campus or friend.

 

 

 

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  1. Have you ever been to France? 

Yes, I have been to France and loved my time there. I would like to go back and spend the summer in a little French village. That’s my hobby: looking at vacation rentals in wine country. Maybe some day!

 

 

 

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  1. What’s next for you?

I’m writing book three in the series, A Very Merry Murder. It’s a holiday mystery, so I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming about baking sugar cookies and eating fudge. Not a good omen for the impending holidays!

 

 

 

Connect with Mary Angela

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Maryangelabooks.com

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin the train folks! Come back and see us. Peace out.

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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The Atwelle Confession Book Trailer by Joel Gordonson

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!

 

 

 

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The Atwelle Confession Book Trailer

 

 

 

 

BOOK RELEASES SEPT. 19TH!

 

Atwelle Confession

 

 

 

I’m reading this book right now and it’s very intriguing! It’s that kind of book that draws you back into its pages.

 

 

BOOK BLURB

After discovering rare gargoyles mysteriously positioned inside an ancient church being restored in the small English town of Atwelle, the architect Don Whitby and a young research historian Margeaux Wood realize that the gargoyles are predicting the bizarre murders that are occurring in the town. Five hundred years earlier when the church is being built, two powerful families in Atwelle are contesting control of the region in the delicate backdrop of King Henry VIII’s dispute with the Pope over the King’s divorce. In the middle of these conflicts, the same bizarre murders are being committed in the town. Two stories of identical macabre murders five hundred years apart ─ One surprising solution in the mystery of the gargoyles and the Atwelle Confession

 

Amazon | Goodreads | joelgordonson.com

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Talking Mysteries with Author Margot Kinberg

 

Margot Kinberg

 

 

 

Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kinberg graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then moved to Philadelphia, which Kinberg still considers home.

 

 

 

*Who influenced you to read books?

 
My sister had a real influence on my love of books. She read to me when I was very young, and then taught me how to read when I was in preschool. And there were a lot of books in my home, too, as I was growing up. I was also fortunate to have helpful, friendly librarians in the schools I attended (our public library, too). All of them encouraged me to read, and talked to me about books. As you can see, I was truly lucky to have a lot of support for reading.

 

 

 

So Many Books, So Little Time.

 

 

 

*What are the benefits of supporting literacy?

 
Research supports a number of benefits for literacy. First, there are cognitive benefits. Reading and writing promote critical thinking skills, perseverance skills, creative skills, and communication skills. Literacy also gives children access to information that they wouldn’t otherwise have. There are also major advantages in terms of academic prospects. And there’s the worldwide economic divide between people who are literate and those who aren’t. Being able to read and write makes it far more likely that a child will find meaningful work and more economic security.

 

 
The fact is, though, that millions of people, even in wealthy countries, don’t have access to literacy. Poverty, politics, war, remote living, and other realities mean that literacy is out of reach for a lot of people. For this reason, I think it’s important to carefully choose and then support groups that provide books, literacy education, and other literacy resources for those who don’t have them.

 

 

 

 

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*What impresses you the most about Agatha Christie?

 
Ah, you’ve found out I’m a Christie fan! Well, that’s no big surprise… Many things impress me about Christie’s writing. For one thing, she was prolific; she wrote for fifty years. And she tried several different formats, too: novels, short stories, plays, and radio scripts, to name a few. I respect that willingness to venture into different territory. I also am impressed with her willingness to bend, or even break, the ‘rules’ of writing in service of a good story. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is just one example, but it’s perhaps the best known one.

For all that, though, Christie worked very hard at writing, and understood the need to keep at it. If she broke some rules, it was only after she knew what they were, and when it’s important to follow them. To me, it’s a bit like music. You can’t understand and use dissonance in a musical piece if you aren’t thoroughly familiar with how melody and harmony work.

 

 

 

 

“Work harder than you think you did yesterday.”

 

 

 

 

*Who was the first mystery novelist you were addicted and why?

 
The first mystery novelist I read was Arthur Conan Doyle. I started with his stories when I was a child, and never looked back. I think it was the intellectual puzzles that really appealed to me. I also liked learning about what life was like in Victorian London. At the same time, like many other children, I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I loved trying to find the solution before the ‘star’ of the book did.

 

 

 

Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

 

 

*What do you teach as an associate professor?

 
I’ve taught a number of different courses. Mostly, though, I teach in my university’s education program. Most of my students are working towards their master’s degrees in education. The classes I teach focus mostly on culture, language, and their impact on teaching and learning. I would love to teach writing and literature classes, but that hasn’t happened yet. I hope it will some time.

 

 

 

*You began writing fiction in 2007. How did you reach this point?

 
I’ve actually been writing since I was about eleven. That’s when I wrote my first short story. Over the years, I did mostly academic/non-fiction writing, especially when I was working on my doctoral degree. But I still wrote the occasional flash fiction piece, and a few short stories. Then, I decided to start writing novels, mostly at the encouragement of my family. That part of my writing career started with a dinner-table conversation. I told a work-related story, and my husband and daughter said I ought to write a mystery novel about it. And so I did. And I couldn’t be happier that they encouraged me; I love writing.

 

 

 

 

Writer

 

 

 

 

*What do you appreciate about crime fiction?

 
The diversity of the genre. Today’s crime fiction takes place all over the world, and features so many different sorts of plots and protagonists that it’s impossible to get bored. It’s diverse in other ways, too. Crime fiction can be fun and light, or the bleakest noir. It can be comic, tragic, and everything in between. There are long novels, short stories, and more. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. It really is a genre that offers something for just about every taste. And there are mystery stories written at all reading levels, too, from beginning readers to the most accomplished adult readers. What more could you want?

 

 

 

 

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*What makes a great mystery?

 
Everyone’s got a different response to that question, I think. People have different tastes, and look for different things in their books. But for me, a great mystery starts with well-defined characters. They don’t have to be sympathetic, but they do have to catch the reader’s interest. If you don’t care what happens to the characters, then why bother reading?

 
Great mysteries also need to be believable. It’s hard to be drawn into a story if you can’t imagine that it could really happen. Of course, fiction is fiction, so there’s always a bit of suspension of disbelief. But in real life, murders aren’t generally solved in just a few days, as they are on plenty of TV dramas. In real life, there aren’t that many credible motives for taking another person’s life. And in real life, police, attorneys, and other
professionals in the justice system do things in certain ways. The best crime fiction reflects that reality.

 

 

 

 

*What are your top pet peeves as a reader?

 
One thing that really bothers me as a reader is lack of careful editing. Skillful editing can tighten up a plot, so that the book moves along at a solid pace. It can also pinpoint inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and other problems, so that they can be corrected. And, of course, thorough editing calls attention to spelling and grammar issues, so that they can be fixed, too. When a book hasn’t been carefully edited, it leaves the impression
that the author didn’t care enough to make sure the book was well written. That may very well not be true, but that’s how it seems.

 
In a similar way, I dislike too many stretches of credibility. Everyone’s different about this, but I prefer to keep my disbelief close by. So, I get pulled out of a story rather quickly if something too unlikely happens. That includes too many coincidences, characters doing things they wouldn’t be able/allowed to do, and glaring inaccuracies.

 
I have to admit, too, that I’m not much of a one for extreme, brutal violence or other extreme explicitness in my crime fiction. Gratuitousness doesn’t serve a story. And adding something in just for ‘shock value’ takes away from the plot, in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

*What’s the hardest part about writing?

 
For me, the hardest part about writing is the perseverance it requires. Writing first drafts, revising, editing, and so on all take time. They don’t happen overnight, and it takes persistence to do those things. And then there’s the process of querying and sending manuscripts out to agents and publishers. Any writer can tell you that rejection happens a lot more often than acceptance, and it takes perseverance to keep going even after the fifth, or sixth, or tenth ‘no.’ Writing also takes a physical toll, and there are plenty of times when it’s tempting not to sit down in that chair and get to it. It takes determination to write when you’re least in the mood to do it.

 

 

 

 

Distracted businessman distracted

 

 

 

 

 

*Your favorite books of 2017?

 
That’s a difficult question to answer, because the year’s only a little past half over. There are lots more good books to be released. But here are a few 2017 releases that I’m especially excited about:

 
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books – Martin Edwards
The Dry – Jane Harper
Greenlight – Kalpana Swaminathan
Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

 
There are also several other new entries in series I like – far too many to list here. I think 2017 is going to be a fine year for crime fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

*What are you currently working on?

 
Thanks for asking. I’m currently working on a few things. I’m finishing the revisions for my next Joel Williams novel, which will hopefully come out in the early spring of 2018. I’m also working on two standalones. One of them follows the story of one of the characters in my second Williams novel, B-Very Flat. The other is an expansion of a very short story I wrote a couple of years ago. We’ll see how these projects go, but I’m hoping they’ll turn out well.

 

 

Thanks again for hosting me, Benjamin!

 

 

 

CONNECT WITH MARGOT KINBERG!

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

Book Review: Elderhaus by Anne Carmichael

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Gertrude spent the better part of her adult life scouring Europe for Helmut Klingenfelter, the father who vanished not only from her life and that of her mother but had forsaken everyone in his past.
With midlife looming on the horizon, Gertie made the decision to stop chasing the ghosts of the past and return to her childhood home of Pitch Pine, where she purchased a century-old house at 1211 Castle Lane sight unseen.
Elderhaus, as it came to be known, had a mysterious past of its own, one that would threaten more than Gertrude’s desire for finding happiness.

 

 

 

My Thoughts

 

 

thoughts

 

 

 

 

There is something about this book that draws you into it’s story. Who is Gertie Klingenfelter? And what happened to her father Helmut? It takes you down a path discovering her roots and mysterious family history. Finally she decides to return to her home town, Pitch Pine.

I found the setting of Pitch Pine with it’s characters to be very endearing ! There’s something about them that sticks out begging you to find out more. Gertie’s family history is heart wrenching but makes the story that much more resonant.

Quality writing with good characters. What else can you ask for? Recommended!

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

 

anne-carmichael

 

 

Anne Carmichael

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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Book Review: Davenport House Book 1

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Goodreads Description

Davenport House is the first book in a family saga following the wealthy Davenports and their servants in 1915 America.

Mary Davenport is a 22-year-old idealist who worries that the world in the Progressive Era is leaving her behind. She lives isolated in the Pennsylvania countryside with her affluent and secretive family. When her father dies suddenly, Mary becomes pained with grief and increasingly suspicious of those around her.

A humble servant girl has the chance of a lifetime to become a lady’s companion. Costly dresses, exquisite rooms, and fine dinners are pleasant distractions from what is really happening in the house.

 

 

 

My thoughts

 

 

thoughts

 

 

 

 

Page Turner!

This book was a delight to read! It quickly became a page turner as I got used to the characters and sought for answers.

 

Mystery

I really loved that this was a historical mystery set in the progressive era.  Mary’s father died, or was he murdered? The Family saga begins at this point sending poor Mary on a wild goose chase. Very entertaining!

 

Characters

Loved every character. Family drama and secrets made it even more intriguing. I found myself sucked into the story through Mary’s experience, her servant girl and the household. Marie Silk does a great job this. This was a strong point throughout the book. Character interaction and dialogue was superb.

 

 

Can’t wait to finish the second book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marie Silk

Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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Book Review: The World Beneath by Rebecca Cantrell

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Introducing the Joe Tesla Thriller Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Description

 

***Winner of International Thriller Writers’s Best Ebook Original Novel award!*** Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell drops you into a vast, dark world: 100 miles of living, breathing, tunnels that is the New York City underground. This subterranean labyrinth inhales three million bustling commuters every day. And every day, it breathes them all out again… except for one. Software millionaire Joe Tesla is set to ring the bell on Wall Street the morning his company goes public. On what should be the brightest day in his life, he is instead struck with severe agoraphobia. The sudden dread of the outside is so debilitating, he can’t leave his hotel at Grand Central Terminal, except to go underground. Bad luck for Joe, because in the tunnels lurk corpses and murderers, an underground Victorian mansion and a mysterious bricked-up 1940s presidential train car. Joe and his service dog, Edison, find themselves pursued by villains and police alike, their only salvation now is to unearth the mystery that started it all, a deadly, contagious madness on the brink of escaping The World Beneath.

 

 

 

 

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My Rating

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You’re going to love Joe Tesla! A brilliant programmer and millionaire debilitated by agoraphobia, a gripping fear of crowds and public places. Throughout his journey to discover the truth about a hidden presidential train car hidden in the depths of New York’s tunnels, you’ll see his flaws and his strengths. Accompanied by his faithful dog Edison, they embark on a journey to discover the truth that might cost them their lives.

I found Joe to be a very compelling character. The mysterious settings and circumstances make this an intriguing adventure. I actually missed him when it was over! What more can you ask for?

 

  • Characters 10/10
  • Story 10/10
  • Settings 10/10
  • Mystery 10/10
  • Emotional Resonance 9/10
  • Antagonist 8/10
  • Resolution 10/10

 

Reading this book brought to mind the importance of creating great characters. Memorable characters. It wasn’t so much the action, or plotting per se, but it was Joe and Edison. A man and his dog confined to a myriad of hidden tunnels in New York City. You throw in a mystery with that and you have yourself a bestseller.

Joe Tesla stands for a certain group of people. People who have fears and weaknesses. Yet this man became a hero when it counted most. In the midst of life or death circumstances his brilliance in programming, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and will to survive are exemplary. That’s why I love Joe Tesla.

People are a combination of strength and weaknesses. Flawed virtues and quirky traits. But I found Joe’s character to rather refreshing and teeming with originality. Simple, yet resoundingly profound. Most of the ‘flawed’ characters we see today are very heavily flawed, troubled individuals. Those aren’t bad by any means, but maybe too much on the extreme side of things. Joe was certainly flawed but it seemed within reason.

Then you have his trusty companion, Edison. You can sense the love he has for his dog. Much more than a dog to him though. As he’s resigned by no fault of his to the dark tunnels beneath the city, he’s accompanied by no except Edision. Faithful Edision. What a team!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THANKS FOR RIDIN’ THE TRAIN!! DON’T BE A STRANGER!

 

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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Book Review: Midnight Obsession by Melinda Leigh

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

 

 

 

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BOOK TRAILER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

MY RATING

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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CONNECT WITH MELINDA LEIGH

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Trail of Secrets by Laura Wolfe

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AUDIO FORENSICS EDITION

 

Featuring Trail of Secrets by Laura Wolfe

 

 

 

 

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Laura Wolfe is one of our participating authors in Mystery Thriller Week. To find out more about Laura go to her website.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trail of Secrets by  Laura Wolfe

 

Narrated by: Kelli Andersen

Length: 5 hrs and 42 mins

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date: 3-04-16

Publisher: Author Laura Wolfe, LLC

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist (First Novel)

Spending three weeks of her summer at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen year-old Brynlei’s life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched.

Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl—or her ghost—may be lurking in the shadows.

Brynlei’s quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode’s coveted “Top Rider” award. Someone soon discovers Brynlei’s search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl’s disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY RATING

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AUDIOBOOK PERFORMANCE

 

Narrator Performance: 7/10

Voice switch over: 7/10

Story  resolution, climax: 10/10

Overall: 8/10

Sound quality: 8/10

Emotional Resonance: 8/10

Characters: 8/10

Dialogue: 8/10

 

 

 

 

 

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HEAR ME OUT…

Narrator Kelli Anderson did a good job connecting to the story and bringing it into life. For me that’s very important component. Otherwise it’d drudgery.

When it comes to voices of narrators it’s a pretty subjective experience. It may or may not reflect on their skill. In this case it wasn’t so much the voice I enjoyed but it was keeping my interest in the story. For that I give a thumbs up. Kelli Anderson does a great job of pacing her reading, dialogue and keeping things going.

 

 

 

 

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My impression…

Being short on time, I decided to go with the audiobook version. The story premise grabbed me from the beginning and kept me going. I wanted to find out what the story was about. Once the story got going it began to center around the mysterious death of Caroline Watson at Foxwood.

For a first novel it was great! Loved how everything unfolded especially in the resolution. It exceeded my expectations when everything was wrapped up in such an orderly way.

Brynlei is very likeable character who enters into a new, yet awkward, social experience at Foxwood. She definitely comes to life when she meets some new friends and begins to obsessed with the death of Caroline Watson.

If you like Young Adult reads, mysteries and horses, this is a good one.

 

 

 

CONNECT WITH LAURA WOLFE

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin’ the train!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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