Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where do you start?

Some time ago, I mentioned in a varied group of people that I am a writer. Some met this news with glee and wanted to know all about what I wrote and where they could find it. Others nodded and said they wanted to write a book but didn't know where to start.

Well, start at the beginning, I suggested to them. I am suggesting that to you as well. But if you truly do not know where the beginning of your story is, then you might do well to check out below the list of authors I have compiled and how they jump-start a story.

John Irving: starts his story with the last line then works backwards until he has the whole story.
Ian McEwan: keeps a rigid schedule with morning for writing and evening for reading. He believes in getting at least 500-800 words in the morning and that reading helps him write.
Elmore Leonard begins with a character. You have to delve into who, what, where, when, but beginning with character is a great place to start.
Diana Gabaldon begins with description. She explained how she started out describing an antique goblet then went to the hand that held it and then the hand that pushed the decanter closer, and before long she had a whole scene.
Karen White often begins with place. Her books are so filled with the essence of place that the setting often is like a special character in her book.

Okay, that's it, Murderers. Get busy. There will be a test.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

I have thought all month long (on FB) of things I am thankful for. We call it the 30 Days of Thanksgiving or #30DOT for those following on Twitter. There are a lot of things to be thankful for! Some days I have found it difficult to post a "thankful for" post.

Now I want to post about what I am MOST thankful for. This is a toughie, and should be something special. But you, dear Murderers, know me. You know I am a simple woman. I write simple books, I am not complicated in any way.

So, what am I most thankful for?


Yes, it is so simple, but so true. I have been blessed with a great group of people to walk this earth with. My parents were not perfect. No parent is. But they did their best to raise four kids. I wasn't denied much.

My siblings have taught me life's greatest lessons. How to love. How to give thanks. Yes, my siblings!

My life has been graced with two husbands. One gave me my children, the other gave me my adult life. They taught me how to really appreciate things.

My kids are the greatest people on earth. They work hard, they love harder, and they are making a definite difference in the world. Without these two people, my life would be far different and much less rich.

I hope you will take time out today to tell those who are in your family how much you love them. Tell them today, Murderers. We are not guaranteed tomorrows.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Banker Spy by William G. Byrnes

Please tell us about your current release.

The Banker Spy weaves history into a contemporary thriller about ex-lovers who become entangled in a web of international intrigue. Investment banker Peter Armstrong believes he’s left his past in the States. He has an exciting new job in London and is managing the largest equity offering in European history. Behind him are an incident at his old employer and a broken engagement. He thinks his only problem is his client—an automobile company desperate for cash. Then he receives a phone call from his ex-fiancée, Dayna Caymus, a beautiful and unpredictable CIA agent.

When Peter discovers that his client is secretly working for the German government the two ex-lovers enter into an uneasy alliance, which their past sometimes helps and sometimes hurts, all the while sorting through their feelings for each other. Dayna puts her mission first, leading Peter into a labyrinth of deception and conspiracy. Peter loses his client, his job, and almost his life as they race to learn Germany’s secrets—secrets that could start a nuclear war.

Set against the backdrop of a national election, action takes place in and around Munich, and in Berlin, Washington and London.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

I always wanted to write and for years would sketch out ideas, but they lacked the critical mass to develop into a book. My wife and I were flying to Germany for a vacation a few years ago. Whenever we’d go to Europe I’d buy a book that had something to do with the country we were visiting. I’d read a lot about the World War II area, an interest of mine, and wanted something different. So I picked up a book on post-War Germany and read it on the flight over. The story of The Banker Spy literally came to me by the time I’d finished reading the book. Over dinner the next night, I outlined the plot to my wife. With some modifications and embellishments, it’s the story you’ll read in The Banker Spy.

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?

It’s pretty straightforward. I wanted a cover, and a title, that conveyed a sense of the book to the reader. On the cover is a man in a suit, carrying a briefcase, and a woman holding binoculars, standing next to each other. This suggests (I hope!) the two principal characters are a man and a woman, and they have a relationship. The suit and briefcase conveys the banker and the binoculars, the spy. They’re looking at landmark buildings, which gives the reader the idea where the book takes place.

What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?

I’m just beginning marketing and I’m very excited about my blog tour. I’m also asking friends and professional reviewers to post reviews about The Banker Spy. I believe that creating a buzz through word-of-mouth and posted reviews is the most effective way for an indie author, particularly one who’s published an eBook, to generate interest.

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

I really like Daniel Silva’s work. I’m not comparing myself to him or his books. Silva’s obviously an extremely successful author. I like that his books are set in Europe and he conveys a feel for the locale, particularly Italy. His principal characters are in a relationship and both are spies, although neither want to be. In The Banker Spy, the banker is dragged into espionage, just like Silva’s characters get called back into service. My principal characters have a more complicated, at times adversarial, relationship than Silva’s and it’s not resolved at the end of The Banker Spy.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure if this is a quirk but I like delving into history as part of the story, perhaps in greater detail then most thriller writers. The Banker Spy draws on historical events and places. The past is carried forward and guides the plot. Even my characters are deeply influenced by their pasts. Oftentimes, I got lost in my research because I found the information so interesting. This isn’t a historical novel, it takes place today and is very contemporary, but it has a strong historical basis and my characters experience the influences of history.

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.

Since you can’t flip open an eBook, I swept my stylus quickly along the bottom of my iPad’s screen and wound up at the last page in chapter 21. Dayna, Peter’s ex-fiancée and CIA agent, is talking to the CIA station chief in Berlin about the chancellor of Germany. Germany is in the midst of a national election and the chancellor is running for his second, and final, term. The race is close. Unknown to the German voters, the chancellor has a secret program to make Germany a nuclear power and reclaim the territory it lost after World War II. Dayna is tasked with stopping the chancellor. If she can come up with something bad from his past, he will lose the election and the German threat will end.

Do you plan any subsequent books?

I put a lot of thought into developing my principal characters, Peter and Dayna. I think there’s good tension and a complicated chemistry between them (of course, I’m biased!) and I’d like to see how their relationship plays out. I planted the seeds for their next adventure in The Banker Spy when Peter, an investment banker, gets the assignment to sell the German automobile company that figures prominently in the story. I’m thinking about sending them to Mexico or South America, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

I like reading a mixture of non-fiction (principally history and business) and fiction. I just finished Killing Lincoln, by O’Reilly and Dugard. The book conveyed a real sense of time and place. The authors communicated a great deal of information about Lincoln, the civil war and Washington, D.C. As O’Reilly said, it reads like a thriller. In fiction, my latest read was Daniel Silva’s Fallen Angel. Just like his principal character, Silva paints wonderful pictures of his characters and locations. Just before that I read David Baldacci’s (another favorite author of mine) The Innocent. Like Silva, Baldacci creates unique characters. Baldacci’s books are fast moving and I like that much of the action takes place around Washington, DC, where I’ve lived most of my life.

From the pen of William G. Byrnes...

The real-life inspiration for my Dayna character once said to me that a good book both entertains and imparts knowledge. I had no desire to write a literary novel. I wanted to write a page turner! And, I took to heart the adage “write what you know.” I know something about investment banking, having been one for seventeen years. The obvious skill is transaction management, such as the equity offering in the book. The more subtle skill is client management, which my banker character puts to the test with an egotistical CEO and deceptive CFO. I wrote about my passions—European travel, history, wines, and automobiles. I hope I brought these alive and The Banker Spy provides escape and entertainment for you.

I wanted The Banker Spy to be both vivid and factually accurate. In the course of writing the book my wife and I made two trips to Germany. We visited every locale described in the book, except one. (For that, I enlisted the aid of Google Earth.) So when I say, for example, the characters turn left, head down the Ebertstrasse past the American embassy and the Holocaust Memorial, the reader could retrace the characters steps in Berlin. I took some liberties with the World War II manufacturing sites. In one case I was blocked from getting close by a chain link fence topped with concertina wire, so I had to use my imagination. In another, I combined two sites into one. I saw pictures of the L-shaped protrusions along route 2 outside of Augsburg described in my book, but I don’t know if they still exist or what purpose they serve. It’s on my bucket list to go back and find out.

The more ambitious part of writing The Banker Spy was following the real Dayna’s dictum to impart knowledge. When I began I was under the, perhaps naïve, assumption that the physical reminders, such as buildings, of Nazi Germany has been obliterated. That is not the case. Trappings such as Nazi eagles and swastikas have been removed but the buildings remain. In Munich, Hitler’s apartment, the beer garden where he narrowly escaped assassination, and the plaza where he gave many speeches are essentially unchanged. Goering’s Luftwaffe headquarters in Berlin is now the Ministry of Finance. Many of the underground manufacturing facilities, where slave labor produced V1 and V2 rockets, remain. Some are open for tours.

Although I had some knowledge of post-war Europe, I had no idea about the shifting of German, Polish and Russians borders, the mass deportations that followed or the_______ brutal winters that added to the suffering and death. At times, The Banker Spy seemed to write itself. Russia occupying Silesia, giving it to Poland, and deporting all ethnic Germans became the basis for politically powerful expellee groups in Germany and Germany’s desire to reclaim its lost territory. All figure prominently in my story. A writer learns from writing.


More info about this author, his PR company, Tribute Books, and the book:

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The Banker Spy blog tour site:

William G. Byrnes's Bio:

Bill Byrnes was an investment banker with Alex. Brown & Sons for 17 years. After that he was a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Finance and, subsequently, member of the Board of Regents at Georgetown University. He's founded three companies and has served on the boards of six public companies. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and the University of Michigan. His interests include European and Mesoamerican history, wine collecting, and automobiles. He's happiest around the water and on the tennis court. Bill, his wife, and their two poodles divide their time between Washington, DC and West Palm Beach, FL.

Format/Price: $2.99 ebook
Publisher: Publish Green
ISBN: 9781938296345
Release: August 27, 2012

Kindle buy link ($2.99):

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Narrow Path by Brandt Dodson

copyright 2012, Brandt Dodson

I was only six years old, but I can still remember the scene. I was in art class, sitting behind my desk, painting feverishly and enjoying every minute of it. That is, until my teacher walked past.

She snatched my paper and told the other kids to set their brushes down. Holding my work high overhead she asked "Is this any good?"

A unified "no" emanated from my colleagues, and she set the painting on my desk before walking away. I can remember tossing my brush onto the paper, resigned that my artistic career was finished.

Fast forward to the fifth grade: We were given a story to write, based on a black and white photograph of two teenagers playing handball in an inner city alley. Inspired, I wrote a tale about a ball that contained a bomb that would detonate and level the city if the players ceased playing. I'm not sure how I got those kids out of their predicament, but I do remember the teacher reading my story to the class as an example of the type of writing she was seeking. My desire to write was set.

A few years later, while in high school, I had a creative writing teacher who despised her students even more than they despised her - if that were possible. Her desire to be somewhere else - anywhere else - was apparent from the start. Yet I enjoyed the class. Writing allowed me the freedom to create,and this teacher, tired as she was, noticed my efforts. She asked me to stay after class one day.

"If you don't write, if you don't do this, you'll regret it for the rest of your life."


When Chicago detectives Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are assigned to investigate the murder of Trina Martinez it seems like an ordinary homicide. An unfortunate young girl in the wrong place at the wrong time has been brutally murdered. But their investigation is halted by a wall of silence, a wall erected by powerful interests that will render their inquiry a lost cause.

Then they enlist the support of reporter Christy Lee – and come under immediate fire. Polanski is arrested. Campello threatened. Christy is attacked.

It’s the case that every cop gets. The one that changes his life. The one where justice is elusive and the hunter becomes the hunted.

Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are The Sons of Jude.


Brandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he would later choose as the setting for his Colton Parker Mystery series. Although he discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, it would be another twenty-one years before he would put pen to paper.“I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a writer. Our teacher had given each of us a photograph which we were to use as inspiration for a short story. The particular photo I was given was of several young men playing handball in New York City. I don’t remember all of the particulars of the story now, but I do remember the thrill that writing it gave me.”

Later, while in college, one of Brandt’s professors would echo that teacher’s comment.

“But life intervened and I found myself working at a variety of jobs. I worked in the toy department of a local department store and fried chicken for a local fast food outlet. Over the course of the next several years I finished my college degree and worked for the Indianapolis office of the FBI, and served for eight years as a Naval Officer in the United States Naval Reserve. I also obtained my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and after completion of my surgical residency, opened my own practice. But I never forgot my first love. I wanted to write.”

During his early years in practice, Brandt began reading the work of Dean Koontz.

“I discovered Dean’s book, The Bad Place, and was completely blown away by his craftsmanship. I read something like 13 or 14 of his back list over the following two weeks. It wasn’t long after that I began to write and submit in earnest.”

Still, it would be another twelve years before Brandt was able to secure the publishing contract he so desperately desired.

“I began by writing the type of fiction that I enjoyed; I wrote edgy crime thrillers that were laced with liberal amounts of suspense. Over the years, I’ve begun to write increasingly more complex work by using broader canvases and themes.

Since securing his first contract, Brandt has continued to pen the type of stories that inspired him to write when he was a boy, and that have entertained his legions of readers.

“I love to write, and as long as others love to read, I plan on being around for a long time to come.”

Brandt Dodson’s latest book is the crime thriller The Sons of Jude.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Under the Eye of God by Jerome Charyn

When Tribute Books contacted me to do a review for Jerome Charyn's Under the Eye of God, the title intrigued me so much I jumped on the chance. That, and the fact that I was out of something decent to read at the moment. As has been the trend, TB hasn't steered me wrong with books to read before. They have all been dynamite reads.

No exception here.

I liked this book, Under the Eye of God, I really liked it. Because I have never read an Isaac Sidel book before, and as he is driving this bus, (I should have uncovered him in a prior work-really, where HAVE I BEEN?) I came to appreciate him in ways others who have not been so remiss might not. He is a bigger than life character, and complex, and vivid.

Charyn writes with a knowledge of New York like nobody's business. There is no questioning he knows the city. And his efforts to inject that knowledge into this novel shows so that you are mentally right there. Charyn's mastery of plot structure and characterizations were excellent as well. I liked his references to incidents in historical places and events of the past, some I've even lived through (i.e. Vietnam). The story move to Texas was an easy transition, necessary for the political aspect of the story, (and some other plot lines that I cannot tell you about or spoil it~!!)

An enjoyable story. A readable story.

The story didn't move as fast as most of today's crime thrillers, with their high stakes and high action, but it was a change that interested me. I still cared about Isaac Sidel. I felt like he was truly in danger when the action ramped up. The treatment of the Ansonia was (to this ole Southern gal) done well, so well, I was there! A good thing, too, as the setting in that old building colored everything that happened from that point onward. (it reminded me of the Peabody here in my little burg).

The friendships forged at the Ansonia fizzled, then rekindled, then took a downward turn keeping the reader guessing about their strange alliances. I wanted them to be friends, but frenemies they became and as always, with a cool ending in mind. Isaac Sidel's delight in the woman, Inez/Trudy, was truly a love-gone-wrong. She was used as bait, and reminded me of the old days of movies where Humphrey Bogart peered into the camera with a cigarette dangling from his lips, sadness in his eyes. (Inez/Trudy was the most likable character in the book, in my opinion. A bombshell straight out of pulp fiction-which may be Mr. Charyn's finest writing talent).

As this was my first of Charyn's books, I felt a little out of my element, and for that I apologize. My first travels into the world of the man they called Mr. President came late to the game, but I had no trouble catching up. Although it is a part of a series it is a good stand-alone also.

I would recommend this book to those who love crime fiction/thrillers, Isaac Sidel fans, and people who love books that show that -how shall we say- seedier side of life?

Until next time...xoxo Murderers.


Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

Isaac Sidel's Facebook:

Isaac Sidel's Twitter:!/IsaacSidel

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Under the Eye of God blog tour site:

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Under the Eye of God Book Summary

After decades of madness in the Bronx, Isaac Sidel visits the craziest state in the country.

Isaac Sidel is too popular to be America’s vice president. Once the New York Police Department commissioner, he became the most beloved mayor in the city’s history—famous for his refusal to surrender his Glock, and for his habit of disappearing for months at a time to fight crime at street level. So when baseball czar J. Michael Storm asks Sidel to join him on the election’s Democratic ticket, the two wild men romp to an unprecedented landslide. But as the president-elect’s mandate goes off the rails—threatened by corruption, sex, and God knows what else—he tires of being overshadowed by Sidel, and dispatches him to a place from which tough politicians seldom return: Texas.

In the Lone Star state, Sidel confronts rogue astrologers, accusations of pedophilia, and a dimwitted assassin who doesn’t know when to take an easy shot. If this Bronx bomber doesn’t watch his step, he risks making vice-presidential history by getting killed on the job.

Jerome Charyn's Bio:
Jerome Charyn (b. 1937) is the critically acclaimed author of nearly fifty books. Born in the Bronx, he attended Columbia College, where he fell in love with the works of William Faulkner and James Joyce. After graduating, he took a job as a playground director and wrote in his spare time, producing his first novel, a Lower East Side fairytale called Once Upon a Droshky, in 1964.

In 1974 Charyn published Blue Eyes, his first Isaac Sidel mystery. Begun as a distraction while trying to finish a different book, this first in a series of Sidel novels introduced the eccentric, near-mythic detective and his bizarre cast of sidekicks. Charyn followed the character through Citizen Sidel (1999), which ends with his antihero making a run at the White House. Charyn, who divides his time between New York and Paris, is also accomplished at table tennis, and once ranked amongst France’s top Amazon10 percent of ping-pong players.

Price: $14.99
Release: October 30, 2012

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Thursday, November 1, 2012


About this time in 2009, I wrote about my little dog, Tinkerbell, and how we had to get her fixed. I used that as an analogy for "fixing" our writing.

It cannot be stated enough. You must do some self-editing of your work before submission. I have heard a lot of nonsense from writers who say, well, that is what they (meaning book publishers/others) have editors for.

No. Just--NO.

Here are a few things to ponder about how to do this self-editing job.

1. If you worry that you are not good with editing your own work, try editing someone elses. I know that sounds funny to think that such activity could aid you but believe me, it does. I have edited contest entries, and other works for friends and authors who just needed a pair of eyes, and it really did help me find boo-boos in my own stuff.

2. Write a synopsis before starting edits. If you know the way the story is SUPPOSED to go before you edit it, you will recognize places where you have wandered off the path.

3. We all have tics. Those little things that make us unique. Even in our writing, we do this. Like saying LIKE all the time. And using THAT too much. Go through your work and eliminate those things.

4. Do use spell-check. It is there for a specific reason. If there is a little red underline on the manuscript, look at it closely and try to see if there is a reason.

5. And please, please, please do not overuse EXCLAMATION points.

I will consider other things you may find in the self-editing world and try to post them later. Until then, enjoy your first of November, Murderers. It's going to be a nice winter.