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Friday, November 25, 2016

An Intriguing Behind the Scenes Look at Television News




Television news is a cut-throat business. Author Christina Kovac has been a TV reporter and producer in real life, and her first novel (The Cutaway, Atria Books, March 2017) is about the TV news business in the nation’s capital. DC is different than the rest of the world. It’s a world unto itself.
Although Virginia Knightly’s work world is complicated enough, her personal life is about to become complicated, too. It begins with a missing persons news release. Her former boyfriend, head of Metro PD’s Criminal Investigation Division, is the man in charge of the investigation. Virginia needs to cultivate Michael as a source, but she has good reason not to trust him. Before the novel ends, Virginia learns she can’t trust anyone, not even her long-time co-workers. Also complicating Virginia’s personal life is the pending death of her estranged father who walked out of her life and left Virginia with an ailing mother who died and foster parents who cared little for her. Virginia learned the hard way to do everything herself, becoming the producer of the nightly news for Washington’s leading independent television station.

Pending personnel changes at the station complicate matters as Virginia doggedly pursues the story of a woman not unlike herself who was brutally murdered and dumped into the Potomac.

This is a great story that has romance, intrigue, and great dialog. It is also a walking tour of the nation’s capital and a peek behind the scenes of politics, justice, and the news business.



Highly recommended.


Monday, November 21, 2016

A Perfect Model for Crime Writers





Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia (Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books, January 2017) should be subtitled “The Curse of MacBeth.”
Wabash County Sheriff Del Goodman investigates the tragic murder of Hattie Hoffman in rural southern Minnesota. Hattie, the daughter of Del’s closest friend, wanted to be an actress and had starred in a high school production of MacBeth the night she was murdered. When Hattie’s mutilated body is discovered the day after the play opens at the high school, the town of Pine Valley—a small farming community where everyone knows everyone else—is mortified. Everyone is suspect and anyone could be the murderer. Who killed Hattie Hoffman and why? The whole town wants to know and so does the reader.
Told in flashbacks from multiple points of view, the answer unfolds over the course of Hattie’s senior year at Pine Valley High. Literature geeks will love the literary references to Jane Austen novels and Thomas Pynchon and Tim O’Brien from Hattie’s Advanced AP Senior English class, taught by Peter Lund. As we watch the forbidden relationship between Lund and Hattie develop, we begin to piece together possible scenarios for murder.
Mejia fleshes out her characters well, making each come alive. We become silent voyeurs peeking into the windows of tortured souls not so different from our own. Hattie and Del and Peter become us, and we become them.
This story is a cautionary tale of what might happen when, after acting parts to please others for most of one’s life, one decides to be true to one’s own self. Telling the truth can be liberating, yes; but it can also prove deadly. The truth isn’t always the best policy, nor does it always set you free.
This story is also an expertly-crafted whodunit, a mystery that grips the reader and won’t let go. Every crime writer should study this novel to see how a whodunit should be done.
Brilliantly plotted, perfectly executed, this novel rates 5 1/2 stars.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Dragon Devours




In Barry Eisler’s eye-opening novel Livia Lone (Thomas & Mercer, October 26, 2016), there are 3 kinds of people in the world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Livia Lone is a sheepdog. She protects the sheep from being devoured by hungry wolves.
But this sheepdog has a dragon hidden inside of her. When the sleeping dragon wakes, the dog displays its fangs.
Livia has been a victim, and now she has become a predator herself, preying on those who prey on helpless women and children. Labee, Livia’s real name, was sold into sexual slavery by her parents in Thailand, and then Labee and her sister Nason were shipped to the US by unscrupulous human traffickers. Labee and Nason are separated aboard ship, and Labee (Livia) swears to someday find Nason and rescue her.
Livia studies hard and grows up to be a black-belt martial artist and a Seattle police officer investigating sexual crimes. Most of the time, she helps people. But, sometimes, she helps victims, and herself, by killing men who take advantage of the weaker sex.
All the while, Livia Lone continues to search for her abducted sister.
This is a well-crafted psychological thriller filled with violence, sexual content, and lots of really bad people with only a few good ones to make a difference. Ripped from the reality of today’s headlines, Livia Lone is a masterful expose of the underground world decent people deny exists.
Eisler alternates chapters between then and now, relating Livia’s backstory while holding the reader in suspense over what will happen next. Set in the hill country of Thailand, Bangkok, Seattle, and Llewellyn, Idaho, this gritty tale is an emotional roller coaster as well as an exciting thrill ride.
Highly recommended for adults who can handle terror, betrayal, and exploitation of children graphically portrayed.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder: The Psychological Insights of Paige Dearth's Born Mobster

https://www.amazon.com/Born-Mobster-Paige-Dearth/dp/1505831229/

Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder: The Psychological Insights of a Born Mobster
It took me almost a hundred pages to get used to Paige Dearth’s unique spellings of the South Philly dialect. I’m from Chicago where we speak a different variation on the South Philly cross between Irish and Italian. Dearth is obviously an auditory writer. I’m a visual reader. When words aren’t spelled the way I expect, I’m distracted from getting into the story. But Dearth’s great characterizations of Tony and Vincent kept me reading anyway.

Everyone has been bullied at one time or another in his or her life. We can all identify with Tony. Even Vincent and Carmen, Tony’s “fadder”, have been bullied. Tony Bruno, like so many of Paige Dearth’s characters in this novel and her previous novels, is trapped by his heredity and his environment. He feels helpless in a hopeless situation not of his own making. It is only when he says “enough” and begins to fight back, to take control of his life, that Tony has any chance of surviving.

Educational psychologists will tell you that humans tend to imitate behavior that is modeled: we—-both as impressionable children and as adults—-learn from the way we see others behave. Role models have great influence on us. We are products of our environments.

Characters constantly ask each other, “Are you okay? Is everything okay?” Ain’t nothin’ okay in Tony Bruno’s world. It’s a shithole. Shit happens. Period. End of sentence.

Bad things happen to good people all the time in this novel, and bad people get their share of shit dumped on them, too. Born Mobster is a gritty tale filled with graphic violence and four-letter profanity and explicit sexual situations. If it were made into a movie, it would rate a definite “R”. It’s not a story you want kids to read, though older teens might easily identify with Tony, Vincent, and Salvatore.

I give Born Mobster five stars for characterization and storyline. The quality of writing, especially dialog, is consistently four stars. Paige Death is still learning her craft. But she is a writer to watch, and this novel proves it.


Monday, October 31, 2016

RUN: A Collection of Dark Tales






Today is the official release of RUN: A Collection of Dark Tales, edited by Elle J. Rossi and published by Seaside Publications. Here is the list of contributors and the names of their stories:


                                            RUN – A Collection of Dark Tales

 

 

Nightmares come to life in this thrilling collection of dark tales.

 

Resurrection Morning by Caleb Pirtle III: Ambrose Lincoln is a man without a memory. The government has erased his mind with drugs and electric shots. He is a more effective operative, the powers say, if he has no fear. A man without fear can accomplish assignments that others would be afraid to try. Besides, a man cannot reveal any secrets if the secrets have been taken from him. Lincoln is sent to Paris with a British Intelligence officer to help a famous jazz singer escape. She has been smuggling German information out of the country, and someone has betrayed her. If the Gestapo finds the jazz singer first, she will be executed as a spy. Who can Lincoln trust, who wants him dead, and who can help them in their frantic, desperate flight from Paris to the English Channel? If the don’t make it out of France by morning, they won’t make it at all.

 

Black Out by Sue Coletta: When the power goes out on Bear Cat Mountain evil stalks the terrain. With a fallen tree blocking their only escape—live electrical wires dancing across the road and cell tower down—the body count quickly rises. Blu and Jake Carpaccio must track down the killer before they fall victim to his trap. But who can they trust? And how do you fight someone, or something, you cannot see?

 

Sweeton’s Shangri-La by Rachel Aukes: When a young couple discover a mythical paradise, they learn that a fantasy can all too quickly become a nightmare.

 

The Sideshow by Kimberly McGath: Katie Cartwright is struggling with her memory and is haunted by flashbacks. Regressing to an evening at the circus, things are not as they first appear. Strange events, suspicious deaths, and eerie music set the stage for an unforgettable trip to the big top.

 

Three Days by Jennifer Chase: Samantha Carr receives a special email invitation for three days to stay at a new luxury beach hotel. Nothing is as it appears including where the hotel is located. The view from her room changes, leading her into the middle of a gangland war. Will she be driven to madness or give in to the sinister force that relentlessly stalks her?

 

Smile For Me by Kristine Mason: Make me young, make me pretty, make me happy, make me smile… Lisa Duplain refuses to grow old gracefully. Fearing the aging process and desiring youth, she books a weekend at Melody’s Grace—a quaint bed and breakfast also known as the fountain of youth. But something wicked dwells within the walls of the B&B and not everyone who stays at Melody’s Grace leaves happy…even if they have a smile on their face.

 

Bleeder by Paul Dale Anderson: Lucy makes the mistake of answering her doorbell early one morning to find a handgun shoved in her face. The armed man, bleeding from gunshot wounds, forces Lucy to patch him up and hide him inside her house. But the bleeder picked the wrong house, and Lucy is far from innocent victim she pretends to be. A taut tale of blood and fury with no bounds.

 

A Love Story by Kathy Love: When a group of teens use social media to create a fictional love interest for a fellow classmate, they have no idea the horrible chain of events they will set in motion. Now they are the ones receiving messages from the boy they created. But the question is, who is sending them the messages?  Someone who knows what they’ve done? One of their very own group? Or could it be something far more sinister? One thing is for certain, this isn’t a story about revenge. It’s a love story.

 

A Promise is a Promise by Joe Broadmeadow: When an innocent summer day turns into a lifetime nightmare, two friends make a promise to visit vengeance on those responsible. The naivete sets in motion a deadly conclusion.

 

The Game by Elle J Rossi: You win, you live. You lose, you die. The game is as simple and as complex as that.

 
$13.99 for trade paperback. $3.99 for Kindle (on sale now for 99 cents at Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/RUN-Collection-Caleb-Pirtle-III-ebook/dp/B01MDK8VII/
 
 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Discovery and Discoverability




This year has been, for me, one of both discovery and discoverability. Columbus had his 1492. I had 2016, and the year isn’t even over yet!


Interesting that I should write this the morning after returning from Columbus, Ohio, where I read, autographed and participated in an R. A. Lafferty panel at World Fantasy Convention 2016. The trip odometer on my ten-year-old Toyota turned over another thousand miles as I arrived back home in Rockford, Illinois. During the past five years since Gretta’s tragic untimely death, I have traveled more than a hundred thousand miles promoting myself, my new writing, meeting new people, and renewing old friendships. Is it any wonder I feel a little like Brian Keene on his current farewell tour or Richard Collier in Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return?



Life has often been likened to a journey, and I suppose there is a passing resemblance. We, in the fiction business, send our heroes on impossible quests that involve actual or metaphorical journeys of discovery. Writers, like readers and protagonists, must journey from here to there in order to discover who and what they really are.



Here are some the important things I discovered about myself this year: I kill people for a living, I can never remember a pitch or an elevator speech when an agent or editor asks me what I’m excited about now, and I have lots of wonderful friends and acquaintances who actually do remember me despite all of my faults and foibles (or perhaps because of them).





Every writer needs a label (as, according to publishers and librarians, does every published book), and mine is “I kill people for a living.” I forgot to mention that I kill people for a living when Darrell Schweitzer asked me to introduce myself to the large audience at the Ray Lafferty panel during WFC. I mumbled something about being first and foremost a reader (as was Lafferty), a shy guy who doesn’t know how to promote himself at an SFF convention. I should have, instead, captured the audience’s attention by mentioning that I kill people for a living. I didn’t, and I regret it.



We live and learn. Don’t we?



Likewise, when an editor asked me in an elevator what I was working on now, I should not have mumbled “I never talk about works in progress because talking depletes the energy I reserve for my writing.” What a missed opportunity! I should have had a pitch prepared so the editor, before leaving the elevator, would have asked to see the completed manuscript. Does it do any good to kick myself after the fact?



But I was heartened by good friends who remembered my name and my characters from my stories which were published alongside theirs in anthologies or magazines or from panels we had been on together at Worldcons or Windycons or previous World Fantasy Cons. I got to spend some quality time discussing the business of writing with well-known authors I respect. What more can one ask for?



And a few friends even showed up to hear me read from Winds and Light, two of my supernatural fantasies in the Winds-Cycle.



Just as valuable an experience, however, was the road from here to there and back again. I wrote in my mind an entire short story due next January for an anthology, worked out the next two chapters in my current WIP, and saw locations and scenery I want to describe in future novels. I drove the same I-70 Jack Maguire and Amanda Miller drove in my novel Executive Function to get from St. Louis to Washington, DC.



Now I am back at my keyboard and putting those experiences into words.



During the past five years since Gretta died, I have seen much of the country I never had the chance to see before. Oh, sure, I traveled a lot when I was a soldier. Even then I was a writer at heart and noted people and places for future fictionalizing. But looking at everything through the eyes of a working writer is different. You are on the hero’s journey of discovery.



Noting how tired and exhausted—yet exhilarated—I looked and we both felt, Stephen Vessels asked me in the smoking room at WFC as I prepared to depart for home: “So, was it worth it?” Stephen and I attended Thrillerfest in NYC, MidAmericon2 in Kansas City, and World Fantasy Convention in Columbus this year on book promotion tours and kept bumping into each other. We took time out of our busy writing schedules to promote ourselves and our books, spent our own hard-earned money, and traveled thousands of miles. Was it worth it? Was it necessary? Did it sell books?



The answer, of course, is still blowing in the wind. Was it worth it to meet fellow authors and readers in person? Yes. With so many titles being published these days, promotion is essential to discoverability. The more people who know your name and can place a face with the name, the more books you are likely to sell. That’s the theory anyway. But the reality is that the more books you write, the better you write, and the more people will want to read what you write. There is a direct relationship between quantity and quality, although it’s almost as easy to write lots of bad books as it is to write just one. What matters most, though, is what you’ve learned about the human condition that readers recognize as true in their own lives. If you are able to share your discoveries with others in a way that resonates with them, they will want to read more of what you write. It is really as simple as that. In the final analysis, it’s the writing that matters.



So next year I will stay home and write more. I was gratified when a Nebula and Hugo nominated writer I admire told people at his reading at Worldcon that Paul Dale Anderson is a fantastic writer and everyone should read my books. I was thrilled when so many people showed up at my own readings at Stokercon and WFC. I was honored when readers asked me to sign copies of my novels for them.



But now it’s time to write. I have deadlines looming. I am happy to be home with my cats and my books and my computers where new works beg to be written.



I discovered a lot during my many travels and in my life’s journey from here to there and back again.



I invite you to discover me through my writings.



Sunday, October 9, 2016

I'm Paul Dale Anderson, and I Kill People for a Living (TM)


SF writers love to astound people. Suspense writers love to leave people hanging, oftentimes from cliffs and sometimes from ropes. Thriller writers love to take people on fast roller coaster rides. Mystery writers love to lead people on a merry chase, often with hounds nosing up the wrong trees while the fox hides in plain sight. We horror writers love to shock people.


I read aloud from my works recently at a public library. I was the last writer to read that afternoon. I shocked people awake by saying, “I’m Paul Dale Anderson, and I kill people for a living.”



The nine mostly-mainstream writers who preceded me identified themselves as fiction writers or biographers or historians or journalists who celebrate the lives of either real or fictional people in books.

.

I write about death and dying.



I identify with serial killers. I identify with trained assassins. I kill people for fun and profit. I love to get into the minds of my villains as much as, or perhaps more so than, the minds of my protagonists. I want to show why, as well as how, people do what they do.



Like I said, we horror writers love to shock people. I write shock suspense stories that cross genres, but all of my stories and novels turn into cautionary tales. I am the executioner who holds an axe over your head, and I love to watch the hairs on the back of your neck bristle.



Make one false move, and feel my Instruments of Death!