Saturday, December 3, 2011

Poetry Corner ~ Calling all POETS!!

I'm really hoping some of the GREAT authors of poetry that I know are out there because I've tweeted or chatted with them, begin to partake in this weekly ONLINE POETRY SLAM! I'm tired of "winning" every week by

Here is my submission this week (WARNING: NOT FOR YOUNG READERS):

Longing, Lust and Desire

The mind is a powerful thing and mine is a sea of relentless sexual torture as I sit here thinking of you,
I started with a blank canvass that is now filled with images that mock me,
The vivid picture that has come to life in my minds eye has left me yearning and wanton,
Imagine the sky is a mixture of light clouds and blue sky, the sun is out and yet a slight rain is falling,
You stumble upon me laying in the lush grass under a maple tree in the corner of the yard,
I'm naked and the cool rain is falling upon my heated flesh, enhancing my erotic thoughts, which are already plentiful,
You watch as I lightly trace a droplet that has fallen between my breasts with the tips of my fingers,
My skin feels electrically charged and as my fingers continue to caress, my eyes close and my back arches pushing my breasts forward,
A frustrated sigh escapes my lips, my dark nipples are hard and jutting begging to be touched,
I am longing for you to be beside me pressing your naked body against mine our legs entwined,
As I lay there touching myself I can almost feel your hands knotted in my hair as you pull me to you and claim my mouth with yours,
Your tongue a mixture of sweet and spicy as you probe the depths of me, you are sure, slow and demanding more,
My hips rock against your cool thigh and you feel the warmth of my heated excitement,
You thrust your hardness against me as your hands cup my behind and pull me closer, you strain for control gritting your teeth,
I open myself to you and inch by inch my body claims you, wrapping you within walls of warm pleasure,
You move your hips slowly and purposefully as we cling to each other, our eyes locked in shared passion,
The waves of pleasure rising and falling, rising and falling, our breath is labored, muscles taunt,
You feel me tighten around you and as I breach the crest I call out your name, my nails dig into your back,
Control is now a distant memory as you move more urgently, one hand holding my hips down while the other pulls my hair,
Your body tenses, your face contorts in lust as you twitch inside me filling me with your warm seed,
Languid and momentarily spent we lay in the wet grass still embraced our eyes saying what words cannot.

Written by Becky Illson-Skinner

Friday, December 2, 2011

WhiteSmoke Editing Software ~ Affordable Editing at Your Fingertips!!

Hi everyone,

As a writer and author, everyone knows the importance of ensuring that the end product you are selling is top notch in terms of spelling, grammar, etc. That being said, not everyone can afford to hire a professional editing house or editing services at all. Does that mean that you should just ignore this very important aspect of writing? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

I would like to introduce all of you (writers, authors, seasoned writers, authors, etc.) to WhiteSmoke Writer 2011 -- there are versions for both PC and MAC and you will have the following tools at your finger tips for a very affordable price:

Grammar Checker: Check your grammar to perfection. The most powerful grammar checker on the market detects and corrects a huge range of hard-to-spot errors. 

Grammar Explanations: Any grammar error that is corrected by Writer 2011+ also comes with an explanation that explains the grammar rule behind the error. Write confidently and learn from your mistakes. 

Style Checker: Enhance your sentences with alternate words and phrasing, including alerts for informal language. 

Dictionary-Thesaurus: An easy-to-use one-click dictionary-thesaurus gives you instant access to definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and idiomatic phrases. 

Spell Checker: Writer 2011+ spell checker can detect typos and common spelling mistakes, as well as correctly spelled words used in the wrong context. 

Letter and Document Templates: Never be stuck for words - hundreds of letter templates are available to help you get started on any letter or document you need to write. 

Writing Review: Writer 2011+ not only corrects your text - it gives you detailed information about your writing in order to help you improve.

WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+ is used by children at school, adults in the workplace, by people learning English as a second language, and by corporate professionals writing business reports and documentation. Anyone who is writing English, either online or on the desktop, can benefit from WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+ text correction and enhancement. 

Where Can I Use WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+?  

Social Media: Making friends on Facebook or talking to your audience on Twitter? WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+ ensures your message is loud and clear with correct grammar, spelling and style. 

Blogs: Many leading bloggers agree that correct grammar and spelling is vital to your success as a blogger. WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+ makes sure that your posts are always error free.

International Business: English is the indisputable language of international business. Communicate more clearly with your customers and business colleagues with WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+. 

School and Academic Research: Persuasive arguments and correct grammar are essential in academic writing. WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+ gives you an indispensable proofreading tool for all academic texts. 

WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+ comes in several writing profiles to suit a range of uses. The key features are shared across all profiles - grammar checking and explanation, spell checking, style checking, and the dictionary-thesaurus. On this base, each profile has unique letter templates to suit the field, specialized text enrichment based on the type of writing, and unique dictionary and glossary entries. WhiteSmoke Writer 2011+ is currently available in General, Business, Creative, and Bio-Tech profiles. All profiles are bundled together with a specialized multi-lingual dictionary in the Executive Package.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Unexpected Pairing

Kate Burns

I'm late!! I'm late!! My apologies for the tardiness of this post. It seems that I e-slept in.

When I was eight years old, my dad was posted to Winnipeg. That meant we were moving, again. We had spent two years in Aylmer, and I had made a lot of friends. But being a military brat, I was used to being uprooted.

What I didn't expect was that my parents would decide to give away our cat, Herman. To the Humane Society. In 1977, it was only too common: the drive across the country was long, and public censure hadn't really formed against the practice of abandoning a pet. I'm sure my parents thought they were doing the right thing. However, regardless of hindsight and recognizing that it was a difficult thing for them to do, it was one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my childhood.

To this day, I can close my eyes and I am a child again in the wood-paneled Toyota station wagon, crying and begging, as we dropped my best little buddy off to an uncertain future. My dad, grim-faced and unyielding in the front seat. My mom trying, and failing, to comfort me. My dusty little black Persian cat in my arms, struggling and clueless to his situation. I would never see him again. The song that played on the radio, one I'd never heard before, one I could never forget and that has stayed associated with loss.

The song? The Hustle.

Yes, The Hustle. Famous disco song (Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony). People dance to it. It's a happy song. Full of bright flutey sounds and a aural backdrop of singers going "oooo..."

That is a song which brings me nearly to tears every time I hear it, a reaction in direct contrast to its intent.

So, why am I telling you this? Because that the sort of contrast I want to put into my writing.

There are many common and related techniques (irony, oxymoron, contrast, juxtaposition) to this kind of unexpected pairing. Wiki any one of them, and you will find countless examples and explanations.

It is this contradictory combination that can elevate a scene, or a whole novel, to a riveting read.

This can be a visual, sensory or even temporal juxtaposition. Its use may range from a discordant note in a small scene, designed to slightly discomfort the reader (and believe me, they don't always know what's bothering them, and if it's done right, all they know is they have to keep reading, because something's going to happen, they just know it) all the way up to something as all-encompassing as a predestination paradox, where everything in the story leads inexorably to a conclusion the main character wants most to avoid.

From the visual:
Pink balloons slowly drifting over a scene of carnage.

To the sensory:
The smell of cotton candy mixed with blood.

The tinkling of the calliope (circus music), which continues to play after a fatal gunshot, because no one is left to turn it off.

To character:
Killer clown.

To theme or plot:
A hero or heroine who is deathly afraid of/enamoured of something, only to be saved/done in by that very thing. That's the predestination paradox. (Think Oedipus Rex.)

Tell us some of your favourite ways to introduce tension using justaposition or other techniques!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ Carolyn Arnold

Mystery Writers Unite is PLEASED to be supporting the work of Carolyn Arnold, author of MADISON KNIGHT SERIES, and ELEVEN and many other titles that are “in the works” (see below). 

Carolyn Arnold was born in 1976 in the rural town of Picton, Ontario.  Currently she lives with her husband of fifteen years and her two beagles in a city in Southwestern Ontario. 

She has been an aspiring writer since her teen years when she began writing short romance novels.  But as life has a way of doing, it can mute your dreams into the background and it wasn’t until 2007 when she was reunited with her love of the written word.  Her drive to complete one novel, turned into several. 

--- Interview 

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main in your MADISON KNIGHT SERIES, who is your favorite and why? 

Carolyn Arnold: Tough question as I become quite attached to all my characters.  By the time you spend thousands of words with them they are real.  However, with that said, if I were put on the spot I would have to say Terry.  Although he’s quite distracted in TIES THAT BIND, he and Madison still have a good working chemistry.  He’s a family man, devoted to his wife and he loves dogs – how can one go wrong there?  Running a very close second is Cynthia Baxter, the head of the forensic lab.  She’s easy going, and I love the friendship between her and Madison. 

MWU: If Madison Knight could step out of the book and talk with you, what do you think would be the most pressing thing she would want to tell you? 

Carolyn Arnold: Probably why I had to give her an unresolved case.  Madison is a perfectionist and determined to find justice for the victims and bring closure to their families.  For her to have a case that was never solved, even though she knows who the guilty party is, drives her crazy.  The law still dictates that she proves the guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  While this case is mentioned in TIES

THAT BIND, the reader will get more details as the series goes on. 

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes from each of your books and why is it your favorite? 

Carolyn Arnold: This is a tough question because it’s hard to narrow in on one specifically and even harder to think of one that doesn’t include a spoiler.  I’ll share ones from my released or recently released novels.  It’s been a while since I’ve read the others. 

TIES THAT BIND - It’s definitely the scene where the parents of the second victim come into the police department seeking to talk to Madison and get answers about their daughter.  The couple was estranged from the daughter and it makes for an emotional scene. 

ELEVEN - The discovery scenes would certainly be at the top of the list of my favorites without disclosing any details that may include spoilers.  They’re among my favorites scenes because of the dark intrigue. 

JUSTIFIED - Again, it’s hard to pick one that doesn’t include spoilers.  However, one of my favorite scenes is when Madison Knight and her partner are trying to find a suspect who was reported missing by his wife.  Let’s just say the wife is an interesting character.  

MWU: Is there a character from any of your books that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again? 

Carolyn Arnold: There is one character from my suspense novel, RESTITUTION.  Although this novel hasn’t been published as of yet, there is an older woman in it named Berta.  She’s a sweet soul who has been through so much in her life only to wind up alone.  There’s huge potential for story in there should I wish to pursue this.  The spin-off would be categorized romance or women’s fiction. 

I also have to say I see great potential for the characters in ELEVEN to come back as part of a series.  We’ll see if my readers agree. 

MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing? 

Carolyn Arnold: I write as if I were watching a movie unfold which provides me with body language in addition to an inside mental knowledge of how they’re feeling.  There have been times when I close my eyes and breathe in deeply to immerse myself completely into a certain scene. 

MWU: Are any of your characters based on you or someone you know? 

Carolyn Arnold: Most definitely.  I believe any author would be lying if they said otherwise.  It’s only natural to pull from those around us, from ourselves, from observations we make of people. 

MWU: How do you choose the title for your books? Do you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose? 

Carolyn Arnold: My titles normally come to me before I write the first word. 

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from each of your books(you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

Carolyn Arnold:  

TIES THAT BIND - The first case was ruled an isolated incident until the second victim.  Madison Knight and her partner must work to stop a potential serial killer from striking again. 

ELEVEN - New FBI Special Agent Brandon Fisher never expected this when he became FBI – eleven rooms, ten bodies and one empty grave. 

JUSTIFIED - It’s Christmas Eve and the case has Madison Knight and her partner dealing with blood and lots of it. Everyone wanted the victim dead.  In order obtain justice Madison Knight and her partner must find out who has the most motive and hold the guilty accountable. 

MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it? 

Carolyn Arnold: I have never experienced it while trying to write a novel.  I have, however, pegged a character wrong before setting out to write.  I assumed he was more innocent than he was.  Once I let the character tell me who he was, the novel brainstorming progressed rapidly.  In fact, this novel was written in less than two months and came in at the highest word count for me to date. 

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft? 

Carolyn Arnold: Don’t give up.  There are times it can feel very overwhelming but remember why you’re doing this. 

MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena? 

Carolyn Arnold: What have I learned about writing?  That subject alone could take hours (maybe even days) to disclose and I’d probably still miss something.  I’ve read a lot of books on the craft, on creating suspense, on dialogue, on the use of dialogue tags, on creating relatable characters…the list goes on.  But I cannot stress enough the importance to keep writing.  As you write you grow yourself, and as you read books on the craft, you can incorporate these jewels to strengthen your work.  A word of caution, however, books on the craft should be viewed as guidelines not hard and fast rules of how things should be.  You know your story best, and how it should be told.  Application of craft guidelines will accentuate what you have going already. 

As for advice when it comes to entering the self-publishing area – create a platform.  You’ve likely heard this many times before but it cannot be underestimated.  Do so long before you’ve even decided to self-publish.  Share what you’re learning with others, encourage and connect with other writers.  You’ll make true friends who will support you for the long road ahead.

Another piece of advice if you’re at the point of deciding to self-publish – create anticipation for your release.  For example, months ago, I started sharing hook lines for my novel ELEVEN.  I had a trailer produced to help promote it.  I marketed it as ELEVEN coming 11.11.11.  It makes it harder for people to forget. 

And now with my novel JUSTIFIED, the second in the Madison Knight series, I’m sharing hook lines and relating it to Christmas.  The release is slated for December so I’m using lines including the following “This Christmas murder doesn’t take a holiday”, “When you think of Christmas think of Justified”, “This year Christmas is stained with blood.”  I link from there to an excerpt available to read on my website. 

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work? 

Carolyn Arnold: New writers:  Keep writing. Take constructive criticism and grow. 

New readers and current fans of my work:  Thank you.  Without your readership my writing would hold no purpose.  I thank you for not only buying my books, but thank you for reading them.  I hope you enjoy each one you read and it has you reaching for another one I’ve written. 

---Madison Knight Series by Carolyn Arnold 

Synopsis for TIES THAT BIND 

Detective Madison Knight concluded the case of a strangled woman an isolated incident.  But when another woman’s body is found in a park killed by the same line of neckties, she realizes they’re dealing with something more serious. 

Despite mounting pressure from the Sergeant and Chief to close the case even if it means putting an innocent man behind bars, and a partner who is more interested in saving his marriage than stopping a potential serial killer, Madison may have to go it alone if there's not going to be another victim. 

Synopsis for JUSTIFIED 

Madison Knight should have ignored the call.  Now she is spending Christmas Eve dealing with her least favorite thing…blood and lots of it. 

When a female victim is found in her home it has Madison and her partner tapping into the vic’s personal life.  With a rash of former business partners and lovers, all of whom wanted her dead, there are not enough hours to question them all. 

But trying to find the person who had the most motive isn't all that's on Madison's mind.  As she struggles to establish balance in her own life, she knows she has to get her focus back.  Justice requires it. 

Synopsis for SACRIFICE 

Scheduled for release in 2012 

The Bradshaw River claims lives every year.  But when the body of a young man washes up during a winter thaw, it’s obvious he wasn’t a victim of the high waters.  Now it’s up to Homicide Detective Madison Knight and her partner to find out the truth.  But things only get more complicated when his identity comes back as the son of Marcus Randall, business tycoon and founder of an investments firm worth billions.  

With Marcus Randall already on the radar of the Secret Service for fraud and counterfeiting, the investigation sheds new light and they require the full co-operation of the Stiles PD.  But with power and money to back him, Marcus has a reach that extends right inside the police department.

In order to find out the truth, Detective Knight must sort through the lies and balance diplomacy with politics or sacrifice everything, including her career, trying.  

---Thrillers by Carolyn Arnold 

Synopsis for ELEVEN 

Brandon Fisher never expected this when he signed up as a Special Agent for the FBI.  Working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit his career seemed set.  But when the team is called to a small rural town where the remains of ten victims are found in an underground bunker, buried in an unusual way, Brandon knows he'll never return to his normal life. 

With one empty grave, and the case touching close to home, he fears he's become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven.  Only thing is, everything Brandon thinks he knows is far from the truth. 


Scheduled for release in 2012 

Raymond Hunter's past has returned and demands one final favor.  Eighteen years ago he worked as a hitman for the Detroit-area Italian mafia.  

Now settled as an accountant and family man, he assumed life would be calm.  He thought wrong. 

The directions are simple:  Kill Governor Behler and be out for good.  In order to protect his family and guard them from the truth, he has no choice but to accept the job.  He picks the date and location – Niagara Falls, New York – two hundred and forty miles away.  But by the time he returns home he finds out the assassination attempt failed, his family has been kidnapped and he has twenty-four hours to set things right if he ever wants to see them again. 

With time running out, Raymond discovers the real reason they wanted Behler dead, and realizes he’s placed himself and his family right in the middle of a mafia power struggle.  What he doesn’t know is law enforcement is getting closer, and a rogue FBI agent is after his life. 

---Suspense by Carolyn Arnold 

Synopsis for RESTITUTION 

Scheduled for release in 2012 

After a tragic car accident claims the life of his wife and six-year-old daughter, Ben Hammond becomes obsessed with finding the answer to why it had to happen. Motivated by a need to find the answers, and immobilized by grief, he fixates his attention on the one man he holds responsible – the man in the oncoming car.  He survived, albeit it barely, but that’s not good enough. Ben lost everything that day.   

Even with the man in a coma, Ben’s determined to get the answers he needs.  But, the true test comes when the man awakes and claims amnesia blocked out his memory of the accident.  Having sworn the oath to protect and serve, Ben needs to decide what is more important – his career or finding justice for his family. 

---Romance by Carolyn Arnold 


Release schedule still to be determined 

A defense attorney’s worst nightmare – a convicted client with a grudge. 

Unfortunately for Bryan Lexan that nightmare is quickly becoming his reality.  When he took Dimitre Petrov as a client he knew there would be risks.  After all, the Russian Czar’s reach would extend beyond the walls of the prison and that alone should have been enough reason to take his warning more seriously:  “If I pay with my life, you will pay with yours.” 

When the guilty verdict is passed, his death threat is widened to encompass those Bryan loves.  And that translates to one person - Jessica Pratt, his fiancée.  With the vendetta coming to her doorstep, and the type of person Bryan is becoming, she's second-guessing her decision to marry him.  She's not sure if she possesses the commitment required to endure the harassment long term.  But can she leave him to fight his own battle?  Maybe it wouldn't be such a struggle if it wasn't for her new client, Mason Freeman.  The chemistry between them is irrefutable and to make matters worse he won't take no for an answer. 

This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join CAROLYN ARNOLD and 9 of her author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ S.L. Pierce and Maren Kaye

Mystery Writers Unite is HONORED to be supporting the work of S.L. Pierce and Maren Kaye, authors of THE DEVIL’S GAME (see below). 
S.L. Pierce spent ten years earning a Ph.D. in enginerring, only to discover she wanted to write. She currently lives in Colorado with her husband and four children and is always hard at work on her next novel. 
Maren Kaye spent twenty years working in the newspaper business before taking the plunge into becoming a full-time fiction writer. As a journalist in Texas she won several awards for feature column writing and photography. She resides in Chapel Hill, NC.

--- Interview 

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you both. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main character in THE DEVIL’S GAME, who is your favorite and why? 

S.L. Pierce:  My favorite is Patient X.   Why is harder to explain.  I think it's because this is the character that keeps you guessing throughout the book.  Who is Patient X?  What is Patient X's past?  What part is Patient X playing in the unfolding drama?  All slowly revealed throughout the story. 

Maren Kaye:  During the process I became overly attached to Carl, the building manager. I could see him so clearly with all his crazy antics and bazaar behavior. I felt like his character took on a life of its own. Even as the author, I wasn’t sure what he was going to do next. 

MWU: If one of your characters could step out of THE DEVIL’S GAME, which one would it be and what do you think would be the most pressing thing they would want to tell you? 

S.L. Pierce:  I think it would be Rachel and she would tell us to stop torturing her (LOL).  This is a tough question!  

Maren Kaye:  I feel for Rachel’s mother. Being a mother myself, I was often compelled to send out a warning to her, begging her to get that girl home safe and sound. 

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes from THE DEVIL’S GAME and why is it your favorite? 

S.L. Pierce:  My favorite is the first Chapter because that is what started it all.  I was actually sitting in a coffee shop trying to think of something to write about.  I saw a couple and just started describing them and what was going on between them.  Then I thought, what if someone was really watching them?  What if a stalker actually had a stalker.  And that was the beginning. 

Maren Kaye:  I love the chapters with the therapist and the patient. They are so meaty and intense that it’s impossible not to become drawn into the story. 

MWU: Is there a character from THE DEVIL’S GAME that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again? 

S.L. Pierce:  I would love to know more about the therapist, Dr. Gloria Pike.  She's complicated and obviously has issues.  It would be really fun to go back into her past and explore what happened there.  Maren and I have even toyed with the idea of writing a short story about her.  

Maren Kaye:  Rachel’s family seems like it could do with some flushing out. There are certainly a few skeletons hiding out in those closets. 

MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing? 

S.L. Pierce:  I have to have absolute quiet, first of all.  Then I just sit and think about what is supposed to happen in the scene.  Then I go through, like a movie in my head, how my character responds and what they would say.  

Maren Kaye:  Music plays an important part in my writing. I love to choose music that speaks to the era and personality of my characters. 

MWU: Are any of the characters in THE DEVIL’S GAME based on you or someone you know? 

S.L. Pierce:  No, not for me, but I know Maren will have a different answer. 

Maren Kaye:  All the characters reflect on people I’ve known in my life, but I think Rachel is a mixture of my own naivety as a young adult and the strength of my own daughters. 

MWU: How did you choose the title for THE DEVIL’S GAME? Did you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose? 

S.L. Pierce:  We chose the title after the book was finished, and it was a process.  I can't even remember how many possibilities we went through.  It was almost as hard as agreeing on the cover (LOL).  What we finally did was write down some central ideas of the story and made lists of synonyms to get the ideas flowing.  

Maren Kaye:  It was a fun process. S.L. had come up with GAME. We were talking back and forth on the phone with different ideas. I have a clear memory of calling her from the checkout lane at the grocery store with DEVIL and I think at that moment we both knew we had a winner. 

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from THE DEVIL’S GAME (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

S.L. Pierce:  What if a stalker had a stalker? 

Maren Kaye:  If you love books with unexpected twists and turns that keep you up until the wee hours of the night, this is that book. 

MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do either of you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it? 

S.L. Pierce:  Absolutely.  I'm going through a pretty bad spell right now.  Unfortunately it is hitting at a very busy time so it's harder to just make myself sit and write, which is what I usually do.  I also have a writing prompt app on my phone that works sometimes. 

Maren Kaye:  I’ve found the best cure for writers block is to get out of the house. Netbooks are great for taking to the park or the nearest coffee shop or museum. Every person you see has a story to tell and it’s just a matter of getting that initial spark. 

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice they would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft? 

S.L. Pierce:  My advice is to just keep going.  It might seem like it is taking forever but it will get done if you just keep going.  I would also tell them to ignore that voice inside that says 'this is terrible and you will never be a writer'. 

Maren Kaye:  Don’t let too many people read it before you get to the end. It’s easy to get derailed with well meaning, but often misguided criticism. Listen to your own instincts and you’re sure to have something that you can feel proud of in the end. 

MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena? 

S.L. Pierce:  I have learned it's not as easy as it looks.  You thought writing was the hard part.  Wait until your sales are terrible or you get a bad review.  But you just have to keep going, keep writing, keep promoting.  It will payoff in the long run!  If you think you're going to push that publish button and the money will start rolling in, you should just stop now. 

Maren Kaye:  Be patient and don’t get discouraged. Self-publishing is a new arena and it’s going to take a while for people to recognize it’s value. 

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work? 

S.L. Pierce:  I would say, in this order, keep writing, try a sample – they're free, and thanks for the support.  Every nice word is incredibly motivating.  

Maren Kaye:  We have been blessed with really wonderful feedback and reviews. I would like to personally thank all our readers, especially those who took the time to write down their own thoughts about our book. 

Synopsis for THE DEVIL'S GAME 

Is a stranger who stalks your stalker a friend or your worst enemy?

Rachel Pendelton is determined to break from her small town past and stake out a new life for herself with a dream job in the big city. But hard work and determination are no match for whoever is working against her. When anonymous gifts show up, she’s flattered. When they appear in her locked apartment, she starts worrying. What can she do when everyone she turns to for help looks suspicious? 

What she doesn’t know is that a game has begun. A game with rules as baffling as they are deadly. A game that will pit her against the criminally insane. And only one can finish alive.

This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join S.L. PIERCE AND MAREN KAYE and 9 of their author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!

Monday, November 28, 2011

DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ Andy Holloman

Mystery Writers Unite is EXCITED to be supporting the work of Andy Holloman, author of SHADES OF GRAY (see below). 

Andy grew up in Greenville, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Economics.  All through high school and college, he was notorious for scribbling out stories and ideas for novels, which he always kept in a top secret shoe box.

After college, Andy fell into the travel industry by accident and was able to grow a travel business into an Inc. 500 company.  The agency grew through the use of the Internet and by acquiring three other companies.  Late in the 1990’s, he became familiar with the story of one of the company’s clients who was murdered in Durham, NC and was a suspected drug smuggler.  This story and the subsequent downfall of the travel agency industry (and Andy’s company) after 9/11,  planted a seed in his head that grew into his first published novel, SHADES OF GRAY. 

Today, Andy lives in the Raleigh, NC area.  He is the father of three,  and has been happily married for 20 years.  He enjoys (mostly) attending my kids sporting and school events, supporting the local real estate industry, and watching fine films with his wonderful wife.   

--- Interview 

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling)...aside from the main character in SHADES OF GRAY,  who is your favorite and why? 

Andy Holloman: Hmmm, haven’t thought much about that so thanks for kick starting my brain!   Beyond the main characters, my favorite is Mary Thomas who is the manager of my protagonist’s (John)  company.   Mary is very talented and capable and her ability to run the company in John’s absence allows him to spend time with his daughter and pursue his main quest in the novel.  She is the type of manager that every small business needs and if you were to query most small business owners, I think they’d agree that this type of person is VERY hard to find! 

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes from SHADES OF GRAY and why is it your favorite?

Andy Holloman: Now that is an easier question to answer.  My favorite scene is the one where John and his brother Travis go surf fishing on the beach near Hatteras NC.  I loved constructing this scene as it allowed me to relay more back story about John’s ex-wife and this scene focused on the bond between the brothers.   If you read the book, you’ll notice that I love the Outer Banks and surf fishing is a BIG deal in the fall, so I enjoyed that part of the scene also. 

MWU: Is there a character from SHADES OF GRAY that you feel like you could explore further and may like to go back to at another time and write about them again?

Andy Holloman: Undoubtedly that character would be Travis.   In the novel, Travis is presented as a young boy and then the story skips to him in his late 30’s but I know that his development through his teen and young adult years would be terrific fodder for more writing. 

MWU: How do you “stay in character” when writing?  

Andy Holloman: I try to keep my head clear of all preconceptions that I have and, because I use a lot of dialogue, I “practice” my characters by reading the dialogue out loud to see things from their perspective. 

MWU: Are any of your characters in SHADES OF GRAY based on you or someone you know?  

Andy Holloman: All of my characters are foreign to me.  They don’t represent anyone that I know. 

MWU: How did you choose the title for SHADES OF GRAY? Do you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose? 

Andy Holloman: WOW – the elusive “good title”.  It was a struggle for me to come up with a title that I truly could get behind.  Originally, I had 4 titles that vied for my affections, the most compelling one for me was The Fine Line That Surrounds Us.   I switched in August 2011 to Shades of Gray and it became the chosen path. 

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from SHADES OF GRAY (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

Andy Holloman: If the worst possible thing you could imagine was going to happen to you, what lengths would you go to in order to prevent it?    Do you feel that you know your friends and family really well or could they harbor some secrets that would change your life were you to discover them? 

MWU: I ask this question to every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it? 

Andy Holloman: I feel fortunate in that I have never been through a period where I couldn’t write, so I haven’t had to deal with that issue, yet.  I’m sure it will happen.  Can I call you for advice when I hit the dreaded block? *smile* 

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft? 

Andy Holloman: Be dedicated, persistent, and patient.  Never throw away anything that you’ve written.  Expect your first and second drafts to be awful.  Writing is not truly about “writing the story” it is about “re-writing the story”. 

MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena? 

Andy Holloman: Twitter, twitter, twitter.  An amazing place to make writing friends.  I have been totally blown away at how helpful people are and the value of having a “writers network” is immeasurable.  Did a mention that twitter will help? 

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work? 

Andy Holloman: I would say one thing -  I LOVE YOU ALL !!!   Contact me, send me pictures, send me your thoughts and dreams.  Nothing matters more to me than hearing from my readers.  Everything I write is for you folks.  * big hug * 

Synopsis for SHADES OF GRAY 

In the Fall of 2001, John’s life has fallen off a cliff.  His six- year-old daughter,  Lucy, needs a kidney transplant and his Durham, NC  travel agency has been wrecked by the events of 9/11.  He must find a way to secure a large amount of money quickly in order to pay for Lucy’s surgery.  He’s been in tight places before but he’s currently out of solutions.

Wanda, a client of John’s travel agency, has had her livelihood hit hard by 9/11 also.  She can no longer transport cocaine via airline flights due to increase airport security.  Like John, she is a single parent  and has wanted to get out of her line of work for several years.   She needs more money to allow her and daughter Tonya, to move from Durham to California and break free of her boss, Jamel. 

John and Wanda form a partnership around a plan to smuggle cocaine via cruise ships.  His industry knowledge and connections would remove the transportation risks and she could handle the distribution and selling once they brought the drugs back to Durham. 

Despite being nearly killed on their first run, it worked.   Wanda coaxes John into another trip while Jamel  is becoming suspicious of Wanda.  John’s half-brother Travis, a Durham police detective battling his own demons, can’t connect the dots between John and Wanda . He continues to line his pocket with ill-gotten gains.  Lucy and John are the most important people in his life and he would gladly provide them with financial help, if only John would ask. 

How far should a father go to save his child?  Can a man and woman from completely different worlds help each other?  Could they fall in love?  And which one of these people will live to see the summer of 2002?  Find the answers in Shades of Gray, a debut novel by Andy Holloman.

This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join ANDY HOLLOMAN and 9 of his author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Can YOU Write in 6 Sentences?

Hi everyone,

It's that time of week again on Mystery Writers Unite where you need to interact with us and show us WHAT YOU CAN WRITE IN SIX SENTENCES! Great much happiness, sadness or anger can you convey in six tiny sentences? Let your writer come play and see!!

Here is my submission this week:

She was on the ground laughing so hard she thought she was going to pee her pants! Never in all her 43 years had she ever seen something so delightfully funny or endearing. Her sides ached and the muscles of her cheeks burned from this laughing fit and still she could not stop. People passing by were looking at her and pointing and talking amongst themselves, probably thinking she was a little crazy. Suddenly, the laughter stopped and she thought she had control of it. Just one look at her 8 year old daughter proved her wrong.

Have a great day!