Saturday, October 27, 2012

Essentially Yours: Finalist in EPIC 2013 Awards

I'm thrilled to report that ESSENTIALLY YOURS, book two in the Tall Pines Mysteries, is a finalist in the 2013 EPIC suspense/thriller eBook category! Woo Hoo! We will find out in the spring who wins the category. ;o)

Here's a bit about the book if you're interested in meeting Marcella and Quinn, Callie and Copper, Sky, and Beau, the big lovable Bernese Mountain Dog.


Marcella’s first love has been MIA for eighteen years. Callie, her best friend and Sky’s sister, flips out when a mysterious package from Sky arrives on her doorstep. Inside his old backpack are bottles of precious essential oils, a memory stick, and a bag of emeralds. Are these his final effects? Or is Sky alive?

When Marcella’s husband Quinn hears about it, his jealousy spikes. He and Marcella have been married for seven years, and he’s not about to let some punk from the past mess that up.

Drug company goons want the data on the memory stick, which links a newly discovered essential oil with a leukemia cure. They kidnap Callie, hoping to lure Sky into the open.
Marcella’s not so sure how she feels, but she remembers her scalding relationship with Sky and wonders about him.

Marcella and Quinn track her to the wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains, where against all odds they fight to save Callie and preserve the proof that could change the world.


Read an excerpt, here. 

Happy Sunday to all!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Why Do We Read Mayhem and Murder? by Marcia Applegate

copyright 2012, Marcia Applegate

A while ago, after having spent much too much time looking for a particular Ruth Rendell mystery among books scattered on the living room bookshelves, I decided to organize them by category–mysteries, classics, mainstream, humor, instructional, religion and of course miscellaneous. When I finished with those bookcases (I hadn’t yet done those in my study or the ones piled on tables and the floor), I was struck by the number of mysteries.

Intrigued, I went to my Nook e-reader library. There again, and not surprisingly, the mystery category was no small part of the books stored there. Wow, I thought, I spend quite a bit of my reading time with–chuckle, chuckle–blood and gore and murder and mayhem.

Which led to the question I’ve used as the title of this essay: Why do we read mayhem and murder? The obvious answer is: “It’s life. There have been murder and mayhem since earliest times. Look in the Bible. Read a history book or today’s newspaper. Read about wars, rebellions, uprisings.”

True, certainly. World history includes brutality in everyday life in every society, horrific legal punishments,  cruelty to children and animals, all part of every culture’s history. My question, though, is really “Why do we–members of a supposedly advanced and civilized society–enjoy reading and watching TV, video and DVD about blood and gore and horror and evil doings and doers? Aside from the real stuff that goes on in our world that we can read in the daily papers. I’m talking about fiction, although true crime is a big seller, too.

I tried to find the number of mystery books in all genres that were published in a given time span, maybe a year or two. No luck, though. Mysteries are generally lumped into the mainstream category, so I have no statistics to share.  I guess I’m a good example, though. There are 34 individual mystery writers on my shelves and those are only a tiny fraction of the total number of writers writing mysteries. Almost all of the 34 writers have more than one book on my shelves, some have many, and there are also plenty of mystery anthologies.

Certainly the attraction of people to crime and evil is a complex issue. A psychologist would have some answers. Students of the history of crime might have others, different ones. A cop would indeed have theories,  likely with a touch of cynicism. All of these individuals probably have substantial expertise on which to base an opinion.

But I, as a devoted reader of mystery fiction, am taking the liberty to declare myself an expert in my own reading, and therefore have an opinion to share with you. Note that I am not going for depth in my reasoning; what follows is what occurred to me after an afternoon of dusting and rearranging shelves of books. A good time for self-analysis.

My first reaction was to chuckle at the whole idea. I read genre fiction for escape, for relaxation. I’m escaping from the real world, where I live my life, where the news of the day is filled with awful stuff, at home and abroad, wars and rumors of wars–to get biblical.

My thinking goes like this: In past centuries, crime, evil, murder and mayhem were a normal part of everyday life for the average person. They didn’t need to read the paper, assuming they were literate. Today, even though we know perfectly well it’s not true, most of us live orderly lives, where evil and crime seem distant, apart from our own lives. We believe, we know–all evidence to the contrary–that crime won’t touch us or those close to us. How many times have we heard someone say, when their neighbor turns out to be a serial killer, “This is a safe neighborhood. He (or she) was so quiet, who’d ever suspect?”

So we feel safe, relatively. The kinds of excitements our ancestors experienced through the brutality of daily life is not part of ours. It’s safe for us to imagine evil, since we don’t expect it to confront us personally. We can be spies, murderers, robbers, jewel thieves, kidnappers, child abusers, dirty cops, any kind  of miscreant we choose, because it’s not real. Or we can solve crimes, wreak vengeance, dispense justice, be the good cop, lawyer or judge; it’s just in our imaginations.

All these can be enticing intellectual exercises, challenges to our wits and senses. We can get lost in a convoluted and scary plot by an inventive writer because it’s fun to be scared that way, when it’s not real. The scare goes away when we finish reading and we’re left with the enjoyment of a well-written story that took us out of our daily lives for a while. It gave us a peek at another way of life, one we wouldn’t dare try for real. A world we’re glad not to live in.

So. You most likely wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t a mystery reader. Stop for a moment and think why you enjoy a good mystery, among all the other kinds of reading you do. Then use the comment space to share your thoughts.

I’d love to hear from you, find out what you think about the reasons so many millions of us, of different ages and places in life, with different backgrounds and different hopes for the future, why we have in common a love of reading, and in this case, of reading about murder and mayhem. 

Marcia Applegate blogs as  and tweets as!/meladolce

She is a retired communications/media consultant and columnist. For fun, she enjoys reading (and writing) mysteries and studying Italian. She also loves music, her husband and family, her two cats, eBooks, blogging, and her brand-new IPad! Visit her blogs at and

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Halloween!

So...I have been missing. No, the Great Pumpkin didn't get me. My hubby had major surgery and was in ICU for a week. He is doing a lot better, now recovering at home. But these life things have a way of wreaking havoc on our writing lives and blogging/online presence.

I, on the other hand, am doing very well.

So in honor of Halloween coming fast at us, I am posting a little about the writing life for us pertaining to paying fees. Yes, there are still THOSE places. Don't be a jack-o-lantern -- pay attention!

If you are a newer author, and don't know what to look out for, here is a short list.

Fee paying agents -- don't do this. Just don't. There is no reason to ever pay anyone to consider your work. Especially with the rise of places to publish yourself for free.

For pay writing contests -- Pay $5, or $10, or $50 for a chance to win $500 they say. Well, why? Do the math. The writing contest people are making a small fortune! If 100 people entered the contest and paid $10 each, they made $1000 - paid the winner $500 and kept the rest. Imagine if the fee was $50 and the entrants ran into the thousands. No nO NO!

Vanity presses -- this is where you pay them to publish you. Again, why would you do this? There are some very legitimate places now that will publish your work for free and YOU get the income. Definitely no.

In other words, if it seems too good to be true, AND THEY ASK FOR $$ from you, run. Run fast.

Have a scary Halloween, Murderers. And don't eat candy. It will make you a fat cat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Warren Adler's Contest - I won!

I wrote this little entry to Warren Adler's contest on the plane back from Germany last week.

The challenge was to write 300 words about "what reading fiction (or writing) means to me." Here was my submission:

What Reading Fiction Means to Me, Aaron Paul Lazar

I’ve inhaled books with gusto since childhood. In addition to stimulating my imagination, reading fiction has always lifted me from times of trauma and provided solace. Whether I joined hands with John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, or Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, or was whisked to alluring Italy via Warren Adler’s The David Embrace, the act of living and breathing in someone else’s skin provided comfort and separation from the sting of life’s misadventures.

I didn’t have to fully test this process, however, until my family and friends started dropping like proverbial flies. Sanity nearly eluded me. I needed solace, and books provided a lifeline.

It was when my father died, however—the eighth loss in five years—that I learned reading wasn’t enough. Aching with grief, I began to talk long walks in the woods, hearing my father’s voice rustle in the leaves, believing the whistling wind was my father telling me he was okay.

I returned home and wrote lush, God-awful poetry about my walks. It felt good. It felt right. Each time I put pen to paper, the pain lessened a little.

Writing was great therapy. I decided to dedicate a mystery series to my father, something I originally planned to do when I retired and the kids were gone. But it couldn’t wait.

It was all so addictive! The power of words, whether the birthing of a complex character, or churning out a pithy dialog, the pure joy of having absolute and total control over plot, the ability to cure the ill or punish the villains…mesmerized me. I was hooked.

Fifteen years later, I still thank God for the ability to transcend my own wonderful—albeit challenging—life through books. With stories absorbed through books or borne of my own imagination, life is not just tolerable, but utterly fulfilling.


Did anyone else enter the contest? The prize is lunch with Mr. Adler himself at a famous literary cafe. Oh, I can't wait!

Take care my friends and remember to write like the wind!

- Aaron Paul Lazar

Friday, October 12, 2012

FOR KEEPS (a Sam Moore Mystery) is FREE today and tomorrow Oct 12th and 13th.

Here's the link for the free Kindle download.


Writing the Tough Stuff (Or Killing the One You Love)

copyright 2012, Aaron Paul Lazar

It’s not easy writing a scene where you kill the one you love.

Of course I don’t mean your actual spouse or lover. I mean the wife, husband, or sweetheart of your main character.

I’ve done it in FOR KEEPS. Thinking about it tears my heart out every single time.

That’s what I mean by “writing the tough stuff.” Sam Moore—a retired family doctor who is our resident hero in Moore Mysteries—is very much like me, except he’s twelve years older and retired with enough money to putter around in his gardens all day. Let me repeat that. All day!

I hate him for that.

Okay, so maybe that’s a little extreme, considering he’s fictional. Shall we say, I am exceedingly jealous of his lifestyle? Although Sam was a family doctor and I am an engineer, we’re still a lot alike. We both love to plunge our hands into the soft earth and grow things. We both love our grandkids so much it hurts. And we both have spouses with multiple sclerosis. There are plenty of differences, too. I cook, I write, and I take photos. Sam doesn’t. But of course, it’s not a competition. At least I don’t think so…

In spite of the fact that he’s not real (at least not in the traditional sense, LOL), I relate to this man and feel his pain when he’s hurting. Sure, you say, writers should feel ALL their characters’ pain. We have to, to get into their heads and nail the characterization. Don’t we?

But I’ll bet some characters are closer to your heart than others.

Sam’s wife, Rachel, shares many qualities with my dear wife, Dale. They both endure MS, they both love to read, they are both chair-caning artists. Some of their symptoms are the same, but that’s where they split apart. Rachel loves to cook (that’s my job in our marriage), she’s in a wheelchair, and she stays pretty upbeat, considering her challenges. They both adore their grandchildren and both love to read. Rachel’s a tribute to Dale, in all honesty. But she also has morphed into her “own woman,” too, and I love her deeply. Er... through Sam, of course. (Honey, don’t be jealous!)

In the first two books of the Moore Mysteries series, Rachel sticks by Sam’s side, supports him when he’s overcome with grief and is plagued by strange paranormal events, and loves him deeply enough to keep him sane.

That’s why it really hurt when I had to kill her.

In For Keeps, the third book in the series, life takes an awful turn. When Rachel is murdered by a serial killer, it puts Sam back in the psych ward, the same place he was thrown when his little brother disappeared without a trace fifty years earlier. Desperate to fix things, he calls on the power of the green marble, the talisman his little brother Billy controls from afar that whisks him back and forth through his past.

Unlike those of us in real life, Sam gets a “do over.” He flies back in time to desperately try to fix the problems that lead to this gruesome act, and over and over again, he attempts to tweak the past to bring his dear Rachel back to life.

How do you write such a scene without losing it? How do you make it feel authentic to your readers? How much is too much? And how can you be certain that your character’s reaction will ring true?

It’s not easy. Matter of fact, since I loosely base Rachel on my own wife, and since Sam and I are really quite alike, it was close to torture.

I called upon my darkest, most powerful emotions experienced when my father died and also when my own dear wife almost died several times in the past few years. I’ll never forget the time the nurse in the ER called the nun on duty to bring me to a little room where no one would see my reaction to her impending news that Dale might not make it. She carried a box of Kleenex under one arm and a bible in the other. She was so sweet. Yet it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Thankfully, my wife pulled through and is doing okay today.

That hollow-gut, black-sludge-in-your-heart feeling is horrible when you lose someone dear to you, isn’t it? It’s all encompassing. Sometimes you just want to deny that awful truth, and pull away—far away—like Sam does in the following excerpt. I tried to channel those feelings when getting inside Sam’s head. Let me know if you think it worked.

Here’s the setup. Sam just picked up his son, Andy, from the airport and they enter the house after arriving home. Andy’s just arrived from his second tour of duty in Iraq, and this is his long-awaited homecoming. Rachel’s been cooking all morning to welcome her boy home. All day, Sam has ignored the insistence of the green marble, which has been pulsing, glowing, and searing his leg all day from his pocket; little brother Billy—who communicates from beyond through this talisman—was trying to “warn” him that something was terribly wrong.

For Keeps is book #3 in Moore Mysteries, and is now available through Twilight Times Books and The series can be read in any order.


Sam raced toward the laundry room in a panic. Rachel’s wheelchair sat abandoned in the hall, and his son froze in the doorway, hands clenching and unclenching at his side.

Andy’s voice thickened. “Maybe you shouldn’t come in here.” He spun and tried to hold Sam back.

One of Rachel’s shoes lay beside the doorjamb. The brown clogs. Slip on. With lambswool lining. She loved them so much she wore them even in summer.

Sam drifted closer, terror pooling in his stomach. As if in anaphylactic shock, his throat tightened and threatened to close off his air. His heart beat wildly now, in his throat, ears, chest.

Sam barreled past his son and stumbled into the room, his voice hoarse. “What happened?”

Rachel lay on a basket of laundry, her eyes wide open, looking with blank surprise at the ceiling. Sam’s garden shears protruded from her heart. The image danced before him like heat waves on tar, shimmering with unreality. Blood ran from Rachel’s floral print blouse to the sheets stained red in the basket, pooling on the white linoleum floor.

The room tilted. A series of screams of No No No No No resonated in his head. Or maybe he yelled it aloud. He couldn’t tell as he shoved Andy aside and collapsed beside her, checking for the pulse that evaded him like a cruel tormentor. Neck. Wrist. Ankles. No beating met his probing fingers.

“NO!” He drew the shears from her chest, sickened by the soft sucking sound it made, then wadded up a compress of pillowcases and held it over the wound to stem the flow. More blood dribbled from the wound and curled around her pearl buttons. He realized with a start that she was still warm.

He looked wildly about the room, as if a solution lay beneath the neatly folded piles of towels and linen. “Call 911. Hurry!” He cradled Rachel in his arms, smearing the blood between them, and feeling her arms dangle away from him, as if she didn’t have the strength to return his embrace.

Andy cried out, his anguish pinging across the small room. He squeezed between his mother’s body and the washing machine, holding his hand out to his father. “Dad. It’s too late. She has no pulse. I checked, too.”

“NO!” Sam’s mind reeled, his vision clouded, and the scent of blood tasted metallic on his tongue. “Who did this? Is he still here? She’s still warm, Andy. Find the bastard!” He stiffened when his brain repeated a phrase he’d heard during some of Rachel’s favorite shows.

Don’t disturb the evidence.

Panic slewed over him, boiling inside his head, freezing his arms and legs.

My garden shears. The killer took them from the barn. Used them on my Rachel. And my prints are all over them.

A great gulping scream filled his throat, tearing out of him like a primal scream. “RACHEL!”

Her head slumped sideways when he moved away, as if she was rejecting him. He checked her pulse again, muttering under his breath. “No way. No. No.” In a sudden manic thrust, he stood and reached for the marble, searching his pockets, patting madly at his pants and shirt. “My God. Where is it? What did I do with it?” Sam asked aloud. “Billy! Why didn’t you warn me?”

Inside the double-stuffed world that batted him between reality and nightmare, he remembered the marble’s insistent throbbing all morning. Billy had tried to warn him, had tried hard.

“Dad, come on. You can’t help her now.” In spite of Andy’s two tours of duty in the heat of battle in Iraq, the bodies he had seen and possibly created, and his soldier-toughened soul, he wept. Loud and strong, he wept and choked on his words. “Dad. Please. Leave her be. It’s over.”

Andy pulled him to his feet. Sam stared at his son as if he’d never seen him before. His eyes widened, trying to piece together a puzzle. Who is this nice young man? And why does he look so familiar?

Andy took him by the elbow and started to shuffle him toward the living room.

“Come on, Dad. Let’s go sit down.”

“No. Please. My wife needs me. She has multiple sclerosis, you know.”

Andy’s eyes popped open. Tears still streamed from them, and he shook his father’s shoulders as if he could not only snap him out of it, but maybe bring back his mother, too.

“Dad! Come on. Hold it together. Don’t do this.”

Sam stopped and stared at his bloodied hands. His legs weakened to jelly. He stumbled, then braced himself against the wall as sobs wracked him in waves of increasing amplitude. He slid to the floor and buried his face in his hands.


Dear God.

Not Rachel.


Thanks for reading! I hope you were drawn into Sam’s world, and that you might want to see how our favorite retired family doctor gets out of this one.

FREEBIE! The FOR KEEPS Kindle eBook will be free to all readers on October 12th and 13th. Please stop by for your free download here. Also, all of my other books in my three mystery series will be priced at $1.99 during this sale. Check them out at

Aaron Paul Lazar

For Keeps Virtual Book Tour Stops
October 12th and/or 13th, 2012:

Kindle Websites:

Kindle Nation Daily  eBook of the Day

Bargain EBook Hunter,  Showcase Book

Digital Book Today, (October 10th) Great Reads

The Frugal EReader  Frugal Find of the Day

Book Bloggers:

Authors’ Blogs:

Pat Bertram (author interview)

Monday, October 8, 2012

What I've Learned So Far by Jack Brody

copyright Jack Brody, 2012

Note from author: I had originally posted this on my blog for about a day, when my brother, who is a PR and social media specialist and who has been helping me market THE MORONI DECEPTION, quickly emailed to tell me that I "was better than that," and that he thought it sounded like a whiny, angry rant to him. Actually, I wrote him back, I had assumed a few writers might have stumbled across my blog, and that my post was really for them, to pass on some tips and advice before they went down the same path, or so they at least might know what they were getting themselves into. So here, in most of it's unedited glory, is the post that was up for less than a day this past week, relaying my experiences with BookBaby, and the advertising programs set up by Goodreads and BookDaily. 

Well, The Moroni Deception is finally out and I've learned a lot of things in a relatively short amount of time. I've learned that when dealing with a service like Bookbaby (the company that converted the book into an ePub file, but then more importantly, distributed it), it's mostly (although not completely) like any other company, despite all their feel good rhetoric about helping out writers. At one point, they lost my file, found it, then turned around and tried to blame it on me for not letting them know that I had sent them the file, despite the fact that I got a confirmation back from them that they'd received it. I know--a bit Kafkaesque.

They then also stretched out what should have been a 5-10 second conversion (press a key and wait for the program to convert it) into 3 weeks (1 week the first time, 2 weeks the second) before they sent it out. However, I was pleased with their conversion and their distribution, which is what I paid them $249 for, and am now just waiting for that 70% from Amazon (and the several other distributors with their various percentages) to come back through BookBaby into my bank account (which reminds me, I still need to set that up).

So in the end, I guess I could use the analogy and describe BookBaby as a pretty good doctor, with not the greatest bedside manner--they'll get the job done, just don't expect them to hold your hand (and they may even slap you).

Next, BookDaily sounded like it was going to be a great investment. For a very reasonable monthly fee of $49, they'll send out your first chapter to their 23,000 reader members who are supposedly looking for the first chapters of new books to decide whether or not they want to read the rest.

Fine in theory (and in their advertising), but what I've found early on was a company and a service that appeared to mainly just be going through the motions (although I was recently told they will modify their delivery method for the better after a suggestion I made). My first experience with BookDaily involved my book's chapters being sent out to about 700 members under their heading of "Literary Collections," which my novel is most definitely not -- so that was basically a wasted effort that got almost zero response (they have a very good tracking system of who actually opens the email, and then who goes on to read your chapter).

When I went to see what their Thriller/Mystery offering was for that same day (which mine really should have gone out under), the lead-off book was a non-fiction sociological study having to do with crime in the hood (which was what the description read after I clicked on for further details). So not real close attention to detail appeared to be paid by whoever hit the "Send" button that day, and in both cases readers received genres they didn't sign up for. They then supposedly sent out my chapters to almost 17,000 members with their next emailing about a week later --17,000 who were supposedly interested in reading Thriller/Mysteries. Of those 17,000, I think only something like 800 of those recipients eventually opened the email, and of those 800, only about 50 supposedly then read my chapters.

So 50 out of 17,000 -- I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure those are not real good odds. I think this largely, or at least in part, had to do with the fact that nobody would have had any idea what my book was remotely about when all they got in the email was the chance to blindly leap right into Chapter 1 (that is, if they decided to give it read if and when they got through the first offering -- mine, also unfortunately, was the second offering -- I'd like to see the statistics on that, as to which gets read more, the first or the second one).

As I pointed out to an executive at BookDaily, you don't usually just walk into a bookstore, walk over to the mystery section, and then grab the first book off the shelf you see and start reading Chapter 1.

Nobody I know does that. You may grab the book if the cover catches your eye (that is, if you are not already looking for your favorite author), and you'll then read the back jacket, and if it's a hardback, you would likely read the longer inside jacket synopsis. Then maybe, after all that, if it still holds your interest, you might start reading that first chapter.

So until BookDaily starts including just a brief synopsis with their emails preceding the chapter (and their reader members learn that they'll be doing this), I would maybe not advise using them until that time they make the changes -- you can still list if for free on BookDaily until then. After they make these changes, though, if their readers are seriously interested in the varying genres they've signed up for, I think it could be a pretty good return on your minimal investment once they make it closer to a "bookstore experience."

As for Goodreads and their "self-help" per/click ads, the verdict is still out, but so far I've seen a fairly slim return. I saw the statistics at one point that there had been something like 27,000 views of my ad, but only 15 clicks or something ridiculously tiny (the most recent statistics just showed 282 clicks out of 223,000 "views"), and I was like, where are these ads even posted? And then I finally noticed where, most often in the very far right lower corner -- usually the last place anybody would get to by reading left to right and top to bottom.

There they were in a rather unobtrusive gray box with several tiny book cover images, which by its size, location, and design, appeared almost as an afterthought. So these ads had been there all along and I didn't even know it. I had, in fact, been part of that earlier 27,000, but until I searched these per/click ads out, I had no idea they were even there.

Now this one, I have to say, is definitely partially on me -- I really should have checked out where and how these ads would appear before shelling out $300. In Goodread's defense, however, they have the added advantage of potential "viral" marketing, so that when one of their readers adds the book to his or her shelf, this is then shown to their Goodread's (as well as their Facebook) friends if it's been set up that way, which could then potentially lead to their friends checking the book out as well, and then so on, and so on. So I'll also probably check out Shelfari and Librarything as well for that very reason.

So, all of this is just a long way to say, going about promoting your book independently is a very tough row to hoe. (Yeah, I know, I had always thought it was "road" too) I knew that going in, I just didn't know how hard.

The thing, though, is, apparently from what I'm reading, unless you're John Grisham or Steven King (or some other well known author with a promotional budget behind you), you're probably going to be mostly on your own anyway. Maybe your publisher will get you one of those larger, more expensive ads at the top of the Goodreads page (which admittedly, would definitely help at getting the word out better), but I guess it still ultimately comes down to first, the quality of your work and whether anybody would recommend your book after reading it, and then finding these kind, generous, very intelligent people one reader at a time--through Goodreads, BookDaily, Amazon reviews, Twitter, Facebook, and trying to find some interested book bloggers and reviewers (might try Mayra Calvani at to help you with that for a very reasonable fee).

Good luck with your promotional efforts and if you have any hot inside tips or suggestions for me, please email me at Jack L. (Also, if you're a fan of conspiracy thrillers, check out my new novel, THE MORONI DECEPTION, at where you can read the first 13 chapters for free. If you liked THE DA VINCI CODE and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, I think you'll really enjoy it.)

Until next time,




Jack Brody is a writer, ex-military, and an avid traveler. After his Army stint and then deciding to pass on law school, he went to film school, wrote screenplays, and held a number of jobs which ran from everything to working for a newspaper for one day, to film production, to then going into real estate (with at least five other jobs along the way). He's fascinated by history, politics, and architecture, all of which play a part in his novels (yes, he already has two more in the works).

When not writing, Brody can often be found hiking with his two faithful dogs, occasionally breaking out the old BMW bike for a ride though the mountains, or playing volleyball or bar trivia with his friends. He divides his time between his home in the Southern Appalachians and wherever his passport will take him. After reading Jon Krakauer's bestselling Under the Banner of Heaven, he was inspired to undertake a full year of research in preparation for his novel. Taking what he'd learned, along with a bit of imagination, the result was the conspiracy thriller, The Moroni Deception. Go to for more information about the novel and to read the first chapters for free.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Shadow Man, Mark Murphy

The blog tour's official site is:

On his blog tour for his book THE SHADOW MAN, Mark Murphy stopped by Mb4 to give us a great interview. (there is an excerpt at the bottom of this post also!) We are giving away a paperback copy of his book for a lucky winner with a US mailing address. If you want to be included, please leave us a comment!

Meet Mark Murphy....
I’m a gastroenterologist.  That’s my day job, and it’s a busy one.  But I have an alternative life as a writer. That alternative life is a reflection of what I see every day.  It is seen in the beautiful and ancient city that I live in, filled with ghosts and intrigue, drawing its very lifeblood from the sea to its east and the marshland that gave the city its name.  It is in the practice of medicine, a veritable parade of characters who waltz through my exam rooms every day.  It is in the love of my wife and children—the driving forces behind everything that I do in my life.  And it most certainly in my love of the written word—the subtle nuances of spoken diction, the deft use of description the place a reader in a certain contextual location—that makes me revel in what I do in my writing life.

Those are the things I derive my writing from.  I’m simply a reflection of what I have been given to describe. 
And what a wonderful gift that is.

Please tell us about your current release.
My current release is a thriller called The Shadow Man.  It is the story of a Savannah surgeon, Dr. Malcolm King, who is accused of being a serial killer.  He suspects he is being framed for these crimes by another surgeon, but does not know who that person is.  Dr. King must race to determine the identity of the killer before anyone else, including his family, can be harmed—and before the police capture Dr. King for these same crimes.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?
I’ve always been a writer.  I edited my high school newspaper, winning several writing awards in the process, and actually enrolled in undergraduate school as a journalism major before switching to a pre-med track.  As a clinician, I wrote several book chapters and medical journal articles, but it was the death of my wife’s close friend Lisa Erickson that catalyzed a renewed interest on creative writing.  I spent a couple of summers at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, wrote a short story about Lisa’s death called The Funeral that saw publication in a short story collection in 2004, and began writing a regular column for the Savannah Morning News, my hometown newspaper, two years ago. A little over a year ago, my car was nearly struck by a dark-tinted black SUV my way home.  I thought about honking at him, but deferred this gut response.  The car just looked ominous.  And then I thought, “What if you honked at a car like that and the driver was a psychopath who then hunted you down?”  That was the initial premise for the novel—being targeted by a serial killer.  The rest just took off from there.

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?
The cover of the book is a black-and-white nighttime photo of the Forsyth Park fountain, an iconic structure in my hometown of Savannah, which is the setting of the novel.  It was taken by a local Savannah photographer named Tim Nealon.  I found it online and obtained permission from Mr. Nealon to use it.  It’s a creepy, shadow-draped image, with Spanish moss draping the surrounding trees and a starry night sky overhead.  You could almost see a killer lurking in the edges of the photograph, if you look hard enough. It’s also an image that is instantly recognizable as Savannah to anyone who has ever visited our city. I thought it was beautiful and provocative, and the perfect image for the cover of this novel.

What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?
Marketing will be done through traditional print media (reviews via various media outlets, etc.), web-based media (social websites, blog tours, and my personal website) and personal appearances (book launch party, book signings, etc).  

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?
Probably the closest similar recent work was the John Hart novel called The Last Child, which won the Edgar Award a few years back.  Hart’s work is a well-written thriller set in the south with a twist-filled plot that kept me guessing the entire time I was reading it.  I could not put that book down while I was reading it.  That’s the effect I was striving for with my book.  However, I’m a big Stephen King fan—the protagonist’s last name is a tip of the cap to him—and there are a few Stephen King touches in my story.  Also, the Savannah setting is unique. In fact, I think Savannah is an integral part of the fabric of the story—a mysterious character woven throughout every facet of the story.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
In writing a novel, I outline the entire plot before I begin the first line of the work.  I then flesh out that skeleton by writing a chapter or so every weekend until I am finished.  Since I am a practicing physician, this requires a great deal of discipline.  I’m up every Saturday and Sunday at 4 A.M. so that I can get in four or five writing hours each weekend day.

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.
Page 43:  Detective Sam Baker is interviewing Malcolm King about the murders, and—to his horror— it becomes clear to Malcolm that he is the prime suspect.  Moreover, he realizes that Detective Baker has physical evidence linking him to the case—and enough physical evidence to convict him.
 Do you plan any subsequent books?
Yes, there will likely be a sequel to The Shadow Man.  And I am currently writing a young adult sword-and-sorcery series called The Bloodsword Trilogy.
Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.
I’m currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin (currently on book 3 in that series, A Storm of Swords), which I really love for the complex plot structure and in-depth characterization.  I’m also reading Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home, a well-written Southern gothic tale reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor.  I love O’Connor’s writing; she’s a Savannah native, and arguably the most talented Georgia writer of all time.  Anything that echoes her writing is an attraction to me.

Thanks for stopping by today, Mark!

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The Shadow Man Book Summary:
There is a devil in the night, silent and invisible, moving in the dream realm between life and death. And he's coming for you.
Savannah surgeon Malcolm King had a perfect life—a loving wife, devoted daughter, and a thriving medical practice. But when a random airport parking lot hit-and-run links him to a dead body in a Florida hotel and an acquaintance is found dismembered and stuffed into a garbage bag, Malcolm finds himself on the run as a suspected serial killer. But he's no murderer.

Or is he?

Who is the mysterious Thin Man who lurks at the edges of his vision? Are the ravens that crowd the skies overhead a warning of impending doom - or do they exist at all?

With the help of Seminole tracker Billy Littlebear, Malcolm tries to untangle the web of clues left behind by a mysterious chameleon-like killer known as the Shadow Man. But will he be too late?

The Shadow Man is a complex, atmospheric thriller in the tradition of Stephen King. Darkly evocative and relentless in its twists and turns, it dares the reader to put it down - even for a minute.
Mark Murphy's Bio: 
A physician currently living in Savannah, Georgia, Mark Murphy is also a lifelong award-winning writer. In the midst of a busy medical career which included several academic publications, Dr. Murphy’s decision to attend the Iowa Summer Writing Festival led to the inclusion of a short story, "The Funeral," in a 2004 collection of works entitled O! Georgia! A well-received regular newspaper column in the Savannah Morning News followed. The Shadow Man is his first novel.

Formats/Prices: $14.95 paperback, $5.99 ebook
Publisher: Langdon Street Press
ISBN: 9781938296031
Pages: 348
Release: July 20, 2012

Amazon paperback buy link ($14.95): paperback buy link ($14.95):

Kindle buy link ($5.99):

Nook buy link ($5.99): ebook buy link ($5.99):

Chapter 3
The storm hit when it was still dark outside.

Malcolm awoke at 4 AM with a full bladder and an empty stomach. He relieved himself and went downstairs to rummage through the kitchen for something—anything!—to eat. There was, of course, some leftover spaghetti in a Tupperware bowl. He also found a package of Swiss cheese, a package of sliced turkey and two jars of pickles, in addition to a vast array of dressings, condiments, and sauces.

After he found a container of sauerkraut and a still-full bottle of Thousand Island dressing, Malcolm decided to construct a turkey Reuben. A toasted turkey Reuben, in fact. 

Chapter 8
The detective kept his hat on at first.

It was a black felt fedora, the kind that can be crushed and retain its shape, and he had it pulled low on his forehead so that Malcolm could not see his eyes.

That’s weird, Malcolm thought.

“Sam Baker,” the detective said, extending his hand. “I’m one of the officers assigned to this case. Thanks for coming in.” 

Chapter 15
Timmy was late.

The sun was low on the horizon, and he knew what that meant. Mom was going to be furious if he got home after dark.

His front tire caught on a pine cone as he made the sharp turn at Bluff Drive. He almost slipped.


But Timmy had great balance. That’s what Coach Fox always said in P.E.: “You’ve got some wheels, young man.” Which was Coach Fox lingo for having great balance. All the kids knew that.

Timmy lurched to the left, instinctively countering the shift in weight as the bike tried to skid out from beneath him, and the wheels of his Raleigh Record snapped back in line like he knew they would. Timmy chugged past the marina parking lot, knees churning. He did not even glance at the scores of bobbing Grady-Whites and Sea Pros tied up at the Isle of Hope Marina..