So you've written this wonderful, powerful, marvelous book.
Against all odds, it's now published, available on Amazon and ready to garner
some well-deserved readers. You are in promo mode. Through your publicist's
hard work—or perhaps through your own agency—you're booked to talk about your novel
on a radio show. You now have the
opportunity to engage hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in a conversation
about your work.
Are you ready?
Talking about our novels is not always easy for most
authors. We spend the majority of our time writing our books, not talking about
them. Many of us are introverts by nature and not used to the limelight.
However, we all understand the need to promote our work. After all, nobody
knows more about our novels, characters and storylines than we do. Publishers
want and expect authors who are willing and able to promote their work. Readers
want to hear from us.
I'm no expert, but after promoting four books, I've learned
that preparation is key. Whether you are doing a live interview at your local
radio station or a Web radio interview—also known as a podcast— here are a few
simple things that any author can do to get ready:
1. Confirm the date
and time a few days before the interview.
Sounds simple, right? Wrong!
When you agree to do a radio interview, most hosts will e-mail
you instructions on how to go about it. In this e-mail, he or she will specify
the date and time for the interview. Make sure that you clarify the
interviewer's time zone. Otherwise,
your timing might be off. In our global society, your radio host can be
anywhere in the world, and most radio interviews, especially those on blog
radio, are conducted live. If you are late or absent, your radio host will have
to scramble. The worst interviews are those that don't happen.
2. Get clear
directions prior to the day of the interview.
If you don't get instructions prior to the show, feel free
to ask. Don't wait until the last minute. If you are driving to a radio
station, confirm driving directions and think ahead. Allow yourself some extra
time, just in case you get lost or hit traffic. If you are on Web radio, make
sure you have the right phone number or Skype address to connect to. It's never
a good idea to keep your host—and your audience—waiting.
3. Focus on your message.
What do you want to achieve by doing this radio interview?
Are you promoting a new release? Are you looking for reviews? Are you promoting
a personal appearance, a book launch or a particular aspect of your writing?
I like to make notes, usually a page or two that includes
all the information I might need, including Websites, e-mail addresses, blogs,
events, giveaways, dates. Notes can come in quite handy when your brain freezes
mid-sentence. The website address you've given out millions of times before can
suddenly evaporate from your mind when you are on air, along with your
firstborn's name and your date of birth. Notes can help us snap back into the
conversation, avoid awkward pauses and maintain focus.
Avoid mind freezes with handy notes prepared before the radio show
4. Verify the show's
Most shows' Websites will post a blurb about your upcoming
interview. Go to the Website and verify the details, especially if you have
written more than one book. Not too long ago, prior to doing a recent
interview, I went to the Website and noticed that the headline announced my
latest release, but the cover picture and the synopsis belonged to a different
book. I was momentarily confused. I contacted the host and the problem was
quickly corrected. Verifying the interview subject and checking the promo on
the Website helped to avoid on-air confusion.
5. Be prepared to
tell your story.
Most radio hosts will ask you about how you became a writer
and why. Be prepared to share yourself as part of the story. Be ready to
explain what your novel is about. I don't mean for you to read the blurb on the
back of the book. I mean conversationally. Become an oral storyteller if you
can, brief and to the point, but compelling. Practice if you'd like. It might
help you to become more fluid and natural.
6. Know your radio
Who is your interviewer? What matters to him? What kind of
questions does she like to ask? A little bit of research goes a long way. Many
radio interviewers are writers themselves. Visit your host's Website. A radio
interview is about the host as much as it is about you. If you can engage the
host, if you can find common ground and get her excited about your book, odds
are your interview will be more engaging to the listeners and you'll come
across better and more interesting to the audience.
7. Listen to the
Hosts love it when you are a regular listener of their shows.If you are not a regular listener, become
one. If you can't, then try to listen to as many shows as you can prior to
going on the show. Most radio shows have easily accessible archives posted on
8. Identify the
show's format and trends.
Listening will give you a sense for the show's style, speed,
cadence and format. Most shows have a standard format: a pre-recorded
introduction, a live introduction, a greeting, the interview and a conclusion.
Listening will give you a clear idea of the show's specific structure and how
long each sections tends to run. Most radio hosts will give you a few minutes
at the end of your segment to say anything you want. This is an important
opportunity for you to address the listeners and convey your message.
9. Pinpoint the
Listening to the shows will also give you a sense for the
host. What's her interview style? Is she formal and deep? Is he light and
funny? Does she talk a lot during the interview or does he prefer to let you do
most of the talking? Is there a lot of laughter and bantering or is the tone of
the interview more subdued? Fitting in with the host's style is important. You
want to achieve some sort of chemistry. Remember, the chemistry between you and
the interviewer will set the mood for the listeners and engage them—or not—in
10. Recognize the
questions likely to be asked.
Listening to earlier shows will also help you establish the
kind of questions that the host likes to ask. Some hosts will always ask the
same questions. If that's the case, you can actually plan your answers. But even
if the questions are not always the same, hosts have patterns that you can
easily identify when you listen to their shows.
Make sure you have copies of your books handy prior to beginning the radio interview
11. Consider the “where.”
Where will you be during the interview? Will you be at home,
at the office or at a hotel? I'm not kidding. This is important stuff. Recently,
I did a radio interview while staying at a seaside resort. My room had an
enviable view of the beach, the pool, and the nine-thirty AM water aerobics
class, where the instructor shouted directions over a cranked-up microphone that
echoed in my room and rattled my bed.
The bathroom ended up providing an alternative, sound-proof
solution, but I learned my lesson. Make sure you are in a place where you can
have a measure of privacy. You don't want the dog barking and the kids barging
in. When stuff like that happens—oh, yes, if you do enough radio interviews, it
will happen—you have to laugh about it. But if you can, select the right place for
your interview and avoid the grief.
12. Consider the “how.”
Will you be doing your interview overSkype, on a landline or on your cell phone? These are important
decisions and best made in advance. Technological failures are the number-one
problem that most authors face when doing radio interviews. Connection failures
are common. The Internet can work arbitrarily in places and batteries conk out
in the middle of interviews all the time.
Select your technology in advance. Make
sure you have a good connection. An equipment test run is always a good idea. Watch
the weather. Violent thunderstorms throw everything off. You can't control
nature's fury, but you can make sure that your batteries are fully charged,
your chargers and power cords are nearby, and you have a backup plan, just in
"Be prepared" is the scout's enduring motto. As we
authors contemplate our next radio interview, it should be ours too!
Do you have some author radio interviews you'd like to
share? Post the link in the comment box. Good or bad, it doesn't matter. Let's
have fun! D.
Once in a while we MB4 hosts let ourselves promote our new titles. Today's my day to share The Seacrest with you. For my twenty-first book, I've jumped into romantic suspense with this one - here's a bit about it.
What They're Saying:
“The abiding power of a first love
resonates throughout this compelling story of loss and redemption.” Warren
Adler, author of War of the Roses.
is a poignant love story that will have you reaching for the tissues.
Every woman needs a Finn McGraw!” – Victoria Howard, bestselling
romantic suspense author of RING OF LIES.
"At a time when many authors seem to crank out
fiction by the numbers, Aaron Paul Lazar invests his whole heart in
every book he writes. His stories shine with sensitivity, compassion,
and the richness of deeply personal experience." – Michael Prescott,
bestselling thriller author of GRAVE OF ANGELS
Paul Lazar takes his reader on a ride that moves between wildly intense
and slowly sensuous. It is a gripping love story that transports
readers to a land of sea and lovers and life." -Maria B., reviewer
“…Beautifully drawn, The Seacrest
explores twin mysteries of past and present tragedies that combine into
a fascinating tale in which a young couple overcomes life’s
misunderstandings, while reaching for the truth.” - Sheila Deeth,
author of Divide by Zero
book is about love – first love, young love, unrequited love, lost
love, and rediscovered love. Simply put, it’s a good old-fashioned love
story with an ending that will make your heart swell with joy.” - Cindy
Guest Taylor, acclaimed book reviewer “I just finished reading Seacrest by
Aaron Lazar. Let me tell you, ladies... you will LOVE this book! A love story of
all love stories, and characters so easy to fall in love with! Aaron has a way
of painting a world so descriptive you feel like you're really there. If I had
a five star rating system to use, I would give him six!” Heather McLaren,
They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Finn McGraw disagrees.
was just seventeen when he had a torrid summer affair with the girl who
stole his heart—and then inexplicably turned on him, just before being
sent to boarding school. Finn may have moved on with his life, but he’s
never forgotten her.
ten years later, he’s got more than his lost love to worry about. A
horrific accident turns his life upside down, resurrecting the ghosts of
his long-dead family at the same time it takes the lives of the few
people he has left. Finn
always believed his estranged brother was responsible for the fire that
killed their family—but an unexpected inheritance with a mystery
attached throws everything he knows into doubt.
on top of that, the beguiling daughter of his wealthy employer has
secrets of her own. But the closer he gets, the harder she pushes him
The Seacrest is a story of intrigue and betrayal, of secrets and second chances—and above all, of a love that never dies.
Love and Loss
July 2, 2013
can change in the blink of an eye. This blink came when a cop car
cruised up The Seacrest’s white shell driveway on a hot Saturday in
I’ll never forget the moment. You know how folks remember
where they were when John Lennon died? Or when President Kennedy was
assassinated? It was like that, every detail stamped into my brain,
A fresh breeze laden with the scent of the sea rustled
blue flowers in a nearby hydrangea hedge. Hot and sweaty, I stood in
the blazing sun feeling like a fool. I’d just finished weed wacking
around the paddock fence posts. Unfortunately, said weed wacker had
spooked Libby Vanderhorn’s favorite mare, Serendipity, who I secretly
called Dippy, because she was such a loose cannon. She’d bucked and
twisted like a bronco in a Wild West show, knocking down several fence
boards and unseating Libby, the boss’s daughter.
Libby ran The
Seacrest’s dressage school and was an experienced rider, but this time
she’d been caught by surprise and landed in a sprawling heap on the soft
dirt, swearing at me.
At thirty-two years old, she stood tall
and willowy, and quite lovely if you didn’t count the personality. When
she came at me, she didn’t mince words. We were about the same age, but I
worked for her family, and she never let me forget it. The sting of her
accusations still sounded in my head. How stupid can you be, Finn? What’s wrong with you?
father held great power on Cape Cod. Rudolph Vanderhorn sat on so many
boards, I’d lost count. His father’s fish canning company made a fortune
back in the eighties, and he and his daughter had enjoyed the spoils
I stooped to pick up a hammer from my toolbox,
planning to reattach the fence boards before any of the horses got hurt
on the protruding nails. Curious now, I watched the Brewster Police car
circle the long drive, heading toward the mansion. The local authorities
stopped by every few days to discuss town matters with my boss. But
today the blue light was flashing, which didn’t look like a casual
A shudder went through me, and I turned cold. Something bad had happened. I sensed it.
front door opened, and Rudy watched them approach, one hand shading the
sun from his eyes. Like a majestic lion, he stood broad-shouldered and
strong, his longish white hair lifting in the sea breeze.
stopped hosing down her big white mare, who thankfully hadn’t hurt
herself in the fit she’d thrown earlier. The horse snorted and rubbed
her big head against her owner’s arm as if to scratch an itch. Long,
dark hair blew around Libby’s face, and she stared with open curiosity
at the cruiser, rhythmically combing her fingers through the mare’s
I stood still, gripping the
hammer, studying the patrol car as it drove past the front porch with
its impressive columns and portico. It didn’t stop for Rudy, but passed
the six-car garage, followed the driveway to the barn, and rolled to a
stop ten feet from me, lights still flashing.
Police Chief Kramer and Deputy Lowell stepped out and ambled toward me, their eyes somber.
I dropped the hammer; it thudded to the grass near my feet.
“Finn?” Kramer said, approaching slowly. “I’m afraid we have bad news.”
is nothing worse than hearing that bad news is about to be delivered.
My brain went wild, imagining the worst scenarios. But somehow I didn’t
quite picture what he was about to tell me.
“There’s been an accident,” Kramer said.
a high school football star in his day, kicked the dirt at the edge of
the path. “Car went over the cliffs,” he said, avoiding my eyes.
“For God’s sake, guys.” I looked from Kramer to Lowell. “Who was in the car?”
pulled out a piece of paper. “I regret to inform you that your wife,
Cora Mae McGraw, and your brother, Jaxson Robert McGraw, have been
killed in a vehicular accident.”
Deputy Lowell touched my sleeve, then awkwardly stepped back. “We’re real sorry, Finn.”
“Car went into the ocean,” Kramer said. “We believe they were dead on impact.”
I stared at them, numbness creeping up my spine. “What the hell?”
look, if there’s anything we can do...” Lowell seemed remorseful, and
he offered a hand when I lost my balance and grabbed for the fence.
and her father appeared at my side in seconds, but in the dreamlike
state of denial and shock, I caught only brief snatches of their words,
as if the wind had grabbed them, teasing me with the bits and pieces.
“Who was with her?”
And so on.
guided me across the lawn and around back to the mansion’s cavernous
kitchen. I leaned woodenly against the refrigerator while the family’s
beloved cook, Fritzi, bustled her big, ample self about the kitchen
making coffee and pushing fresh corn muffins at the officers.
helped me into a chair. I sat, dazed and unmoving. The voices warbled
around me and now my brain began to pick through the new knowledge,
still not comprehending.
It wasn’t real. Couldn’t be real.
Jax is dead?
I hadn’t seen my brother in ten years.
Ten years since I’d even talked to him. I sometimes almost drove past the blueberry farm, thinking of my old life. But I never actually stopped there.
years since my parents died in that fire. Since I lost my little
sister, Eva. Ten years since my family burned because of that cigarette
smoldering in the couch.
Ten freaking years.
even know what Jax looked like anymore. Had he lost hair? Gained weight?
Turned prematurely gray like our father did in his thirties?
A shudder passed through me. A great gulping sound sputtered from my throat. I think I started to hyperventilate.
I locked eyes with Libby, whose mouth was moving. I couldn’t hear her.
Cora is dead.
Jax is dead.
Laying my head on my arms, I silently convulsed.
One thought wandered around the edges of my brain, refusing to go away, in spite of the enormity of what had happened.
What the hell was Jax doing with Cora?
CLICK IMAGE TO BUY:
Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A multi-award winning author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and
a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New
York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids,
grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at
http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books
releases, SANCTUARY (2014), and VIRTUOSO (2014).
In our continuing series from award-winning author Christine Amsden,
today we feature
another review of an online book tour company. Thanks again to Christine
for providing us with this valuable information! Please be sure to
share your support for Christine's candid and open reporting here by
checking out her website and commenting below.
I hired Bewitching Book Tours in September as part of my continuing promotion for Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective.
Since Cassie Scot came out in May, this book tour was several months on
from its release. Sales were good, but certainly not as strong as they
had been in the first few weeks. My goal with this tour was to keep the
book in the public eye until the release of its sequel, Secrets and Lies.
Bewitching book tours is a low-cost tour host. Its most expensive
package, which was the one I went with, is $155. It includes a month of
tours and help finding radio interviews. For a month of regular tour
stops you can spend $110, which is extremely competitive.
This was a good value. Please keep in mind that I have no idea how to
draw a line from any given promotion to sales. Too many factors come
into play, and as I said above — one of my big reasons for scheduling
this tour was to keep this book current until the release of book two in
the series. It did that, and it didn’t cost that much to make it
Look and Feel
Bewitching came up with several cute banners for me (one of them is
pictures at the top). The banner links to my book’s tour page on
Bewitching, which was professional, well designed, and attractive.
The tour included a rafflecopter giveaway of two Amazon gift cards
(provided by me). Most book tours suggest using a giveaway as a strategy
to attract participants, but sometimes those giveaways attract so
little interest that I have to wonder if it’s really working, or if it
just sounds good. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who
entered this contest, especially given that it wasn’t for a super big
prize (like the Kindle Fire I gave away with PUYB) and it only lasted a
month. Bewitching’s giveaway renewed my faith in giveaways in general,
although I have just become more exacting about how they get carried
out. Bewitching, you have raised the bar.
Professionalism and Communication
On this point, I can’t say enough good things about Bewitching. I am
beginning to think that this is the most important part of a good book
tour. That’s mostly what they’re doing, right? Hooking up authors with
interested bloggers, setting up a schedule, mailing out reminders, and
keeping up with it all is almost entirely about organization and
communication. Roxanne was on the ball. She replied promptly and
politely to every e-mail I sent her. Plus, I have never had a tour go
this smoothly — ever. There was only one no-show all month. I usually
feel like I have to be on top of every stop to make sure it has even
taken place! For once I just found the daily stop, posted my thank you
(always thank your tour hosts), and went about my day.
My only nit-pick about this tour provider is that they do not make
any promises about your book getting the top spot on a blog. That is to
say, a site may post multiple promos on a day, and your book could fall
anywhere in the list. For the most part, this was a non-issue. Most days
my book was at the top anyway. But twice — exactly twice — my book was
so far down that it felt like little more than a footnote. Once in was
the fifth post, and the other time I had to click through multiple pages
of posts all made on the same day — so many I lost count. Bewitching
promotes your post directly on social media, but I still felt like those
blogs’ followers were unlikely to see my promo.
I recommend Bewitching Book Tours. I plan to rehire them, probably as another bridge tour between Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2) and Mind Games (Cassie Scot #2).
Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as
long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that
others will be inspired by this love and by her stories.
fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction
is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary
situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this
way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a
condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision.
She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in
the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)
In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband,
Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They
have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.
I recently bumped into Sharon Cupp Pennington online, and was impressed by her review-writing skills. Matter of fact, I asked her to review my upcoming release, The Seacrest. She kindly accepted, and after we chatted for a while, I realized that many of my writer friends clamor for good reviewers to take a look at their work. Sharon has graciously allowed us to post an example of her work here on MB4, and also gave me permission to provide her contact info and the genres she likes to read!
I absolutely adored the following review - it's so beautifully written, now I want to go read this mystery series myself! I guess that's the sign of a good reviewer, if they can get readers to go check out the books they loved, we're all happy, right?
Have fun reading, and don't hesitate to contact Sharon, at the email address listed below. ;o)
BOOK REVIEW: LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE by C. Hope Clark
reviewed by Sharon Cupp Pennington
Rules were absolute; that’s
the way she was raised. If she followed the rules, she’d be just fine . . .
Uh-uh, honey. Not this time. Not
for Carolina Slade, County Manager, United States Department of Agriculture.
Slade's professional life has blitzed from the structured normalcy of bailing
out farmers with federal loans to head-spinning chaos faster than a
filibustering politician can shout “pork barrel spending.” From the splatter of
employee Lucas Sherwood’s O-positive blood on his office wall -- an apparent
suicide -- to pig farmer Jesse Rawlings with his unabashed bribe to gain
possession of an adjacent farm, author C. Hope Clark will have readers fretting
over and cheering for her gutsy protagonist in LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE (BOOK ONE:
A Carolina Slade Mystery).
Doesn’t sound like enough
conflict for you die-hard mystery devotees yet? Turn another page. With the
deftness of an all-star hitter, Ms. Clark brings in the bickering,
grudge-holding, soon-to-be-ex husband and a couple of gotta love’ em kids
inching their way into puberty.
Oh, and let’s not discount
Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, who arrives in his white Impala toting a big
Smith and Wesson .357 and even bigger government credentials. Did I say white Impala?
Dark hair, broad shoulders, trim waist? A drawl that has Georgia peaches
dropping from the trees?
Yep. That’s him. Sigh.
edge-of-your-seat mayhem and sizzling romance done Southern style, C. Hope
Clark’s debut novel packs it all into 272 pages. And then some. This author
drops readers straight into the story’s heart with her wonderfully painted
visuals of the South Carolina coast, her smart and snappy dialogue, in-depth
characterizations, and infinite plot twists and turns. Protagonist Slade loses
ground and gains it back again and again in LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE, but she
never stops trying -- and she never loses the stranglehold on integrity that’s
helped her succeed in a man’s world. In a word, she's likeable.
(I guess that’s two words.)
This is a good one, folks.
I’d tout LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE as a page-turner, but readers will recognize
this after the first chapter. I’m giving Ms. Clark’s effort five sterling
stars, and you can bet I’ll be watching eagerly for the second installment in
her Carolina Slade mystery series. Maybe a third installment, a fourth?
About the author: The granddaughter of a Mississippi cotton farmer, C.
Hope Clark holds a B.S. in Agriculture with honors from Clemson University and
25 years experience with the U. S. Department of Agriculture. She currently
manages FundsforWriters.com, her
weekly newsletter that reaches almost 50,000 writers to include university
professors, professional journalists and published mystery authors. Ms. Clark
is a long-term member of SC Writers Workshop Association, Sisters in Crime and
MENSA. To learn more about this talented author and her future endeavors visit www.chopeclark.com.
About the reviewer: Sharon Cupp Pennington's short stories have appeared in numerous online and print venues, with anthology contributions to The Rocking Chair Reader in the Coming Home edition (2004) and Family Gatherings (2005), A Cup of Comfort for Weddings: Something Old, Something New (2007), and Good Old Days Magazine (March, 2007). Her debut novel, Hoodoo Money, and the second installment in The Stolen Nickel Series, Mangroves and Monsters, were released in second editions on September 21, 2013. She resides in Texas with her husband, Wayne, where she is working on her next novel.
Note from Aaron: Sharon is accepting review requests!! If you are seeking a review and fit into her genres, give her a try! (no guarantees she will accept, of course, but it can't hurt to ask!)
Sharon's Book preferences:
I prefer reading contemporary novels - mystery, romantic suspense,
suspense, thrillers, adventure. I don't go for mushy romance. I have
reviewed one horror novel (not all that horrible) and several historical
mysteries but these would not be genres I would seek out. If this
helps, my favorite authors are, at the moment, James Rollins and the duo
of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and James Patterson - but only
his Alex Cross series.
I felt right at home the first time I visited Murder By 4. It was like,
"Honey, I'm home!" An instant sense of connection enveloped me as I
read through this wonderful blog. I loved the way in which Aaron, Kim, Marta
and S.W. approached the writing life—with wisdom, dedication and joy. I relished
the discussions, the guest bloggers who found a platform here, and the clever readers'
comments. It was as if I had found this very special place, a clearing in the
huge, crowded forest, a safe haven where travelers shared my interests,
questions and concerns. No—wait—it was better than that. I had stumbled into a
community of open arms willing to embrace my writer self.
when my friend and fellow Twilight Times Books author Aaron Lazar asked me if I
would join Murder By 4, I was thrilled. I love to hang out with my writer
friends. We all benefit when we share information, promotion tips, support,
thoughts, questions, aspirations and inspiration. Thank you Aaron for inviting
me to join MB4!
of the wisest, kindest, most generous and helpful authors I've ever met—leads
by example. He is always talking about paying it forward. He talks the talk,
but let me tell you: he also walks the walk. And since I've learned so much
from him, I had to come when he called. I'm grateful and honored for the opportunity
to become a part of Murder By 4.
goal is to support MB4's tradition of sharing and building community as we
learn and grow together. In my posts, I
plan to share whatever helpful tidbits I've picked up in my writer's journey. But
I also know that learning is a continuous process and we learn best from each
other. So I plan to ask a lot of questions to other writers, publishers,
editors, cover designers, publicists—anyone who works to support writers and
promote writing, books and publishing.
brings me to my next point: If you have a subject you'd like to discuss or
learn about, if you have comments, questions and suggestions, people you want
to hear from, issues you want to bring up, by all means, send them my way, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We
want to learn from you too!
might find that I'm a little different from Aaron, Kim, and the others, mostly
because I write fantasy instead of mystery. To find out about me and my books visit
http://www.doramachado.com/. But here at
MB4, we all share a serious passion for writing, a compulsion for words, and a
lust for adventure, mystery, suspense and romance as vital components to all
In addition, we believe that, regardless of genres, all
writers benefit from coming together and having a dynamic forum like Murder By
4. And if along the way I can someday entice you to give the fantasy genre a
try, well then, I'll be more than delighted to share in that journey with you.
an awesome week. See you next Wednesday!
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic
fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest fantasy romance, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up
in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a
taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but
different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida
with her husband and three very opinionated cats.
To learn more about Dora
Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her in any of the following ways:
It’s rare that an author, or pair of authors, in this case,
can bring to life a character who seems quite hopelessly repugnant in the first
scenes of a novel, and yet turn him around through deft revelations to swing
wide through a character arc into a downright hero.
Jim Christopher and Ellis Vidler have accomplished such a
feat, and in The Peeper, their
combined effort psychological thriller, they hooked me from the beginning.
Someone’s watching and then murdering young coeds. This
someone happened to cross the path of young, intellectually challenged Elliott
Cash, who habitually hangs around the outsides of dorm rooms to peep inside.
During one of his usual stints, Elliot hears and is horribly close to the
abduction and murder of a young girl he knows. Afraid to intervene, he hides
and runs away. But later, curiosity draws him to the scene of the murder, where
he tries to say goodbye and offer his apologies to the deceased.
Simple of mind and pure of heart, this young man longs to be
important. He speaks to an inner personality—Jeremy—who is quite bolder and
frankly, crueler, than Elliot. Jeremy drives him, befriends him, and scolds
him. But nothing can stop Elliott’s desire to help the police, and maybe one
day even be deputized.
Little does he know, the events that roll out in this
gripping thriller indeed do draw him into a dangerous net, where his staunch
heart and good spirit enable him to try to save a young girl’s life.
Written in a smooth and engaging style, The Peeper is highly
a recommended thriller.
Gosh, it seems like as a writer we are constantly trying to keep our writing lives going from one thing to the next. Lately, I have been to events for writers, and booksignings and so on and it really opens my eyes to the fact that we have a CRUSHING amount of competition out there.
So, what do you think an author has to do to stand out today?
Today we are helping author Scott Eder "book bomb" his new book, Knight of Flame. Isn't that one gorgeous cover? And early reviews show folks are loving the story, as well. Why don't you give it a try? And please hit the facebook, twitter, and google plus buttons below to help us spread the word! Thanks!
Here's a look at Chapter 1:
Knights don't dance. Develor
Quinteele wrung the leather-wrapped steering wheel and swallowed hard. The
muted roar of the rented Jag's high-performance engine and smooth-as-silk ride
did nothing to dispel his apprehension. Wren could have picked anything, but
she chose dancing. He jammed a finger under the rigid collar of his first
modern suit and yanked it away from his skin.
Great. Just great.
to adjust the rear-view mirror and ripped the seam of his jacket. Armani stretch wool, my ass. A growl
rumbled in his chest and he glared at Wren, but she seemed oblivious to his
farther?" Wren's excitement tumbled out with each word. The sun's last
rays reflected off the silver sequins of her micro-dress and sparkled across
the car's dark chocolate interior. She shifted position, adjusted her dress,
and crossed her legs. Despite her fidgeting, her head remained still, focused
on the distant horizon, straining to get her first look at Club Mastodon.
through his growing unease. Though somewhere in her early twenties, Wren
reminded him of a small child driving up to the gates of Disney World for the
first time. Her usually tense and critical Japanese features were soft, eager
and innocent. Seeing her excitement helped steady his nerves…a little.
few more minutes. You know I'm missing a Three
Stooges marathon for this, don't you?"
Wren brushed him off.
Dev checked his
mirrors, vision in constant motion, and raked the hair out of his eyes. The thin,
wavy strands felt foreign to his calloused fingers. He couldn't remember the
last time he had more than a dark prickly shadow on top of his head, let alone
mussed brown locks.
With a careless
wave of his hand, he grazed the new bruise over his left eye. Damn, forgot about that. He prodded the tender skin, trying to gauge the
size of the purpling evidence. So far, he'd managed to keep his fights at work from
Wren. If she found out, he'd never hear the end of it. The last time, she went
on and on about him being reckless, and jeopardizing the mission. Thankfully,
she hadn't reported the incident to Stillman, his commander. It had been close,
though. Cost Dev a night on the town. But it wasn't that big of a sacrifice. He
loved her like a little sister, and enjoyed seeing her smile.
hair forward, Dev tried to cover the injured area, and hoped for the best.
place won't be crowded, will it?" he asked. "You know crowds and I
Wren's arm shot out, pointed ahead and to the right. "There it is." The
rest of her words blurred together, "I can't believe you got us on the list. I mean, like, I've never been
to a place like this." She turned her sparkling green eyes on Dev. "Do
you think a lot of movie stars will be here?"
Wren." Dev took the exit off I-275 south, just in sight of the Sunshine
Skyway Bridge, and stopped at the traffic light across from the club. When Club
Mastodon first opened he'd read about the local business leaders raising an
uproar over how quickly the permits, zoning and associated building minutia
were pushed through. But, when the club was bank-rolled by Alexander Gray, one
of the head honchos at Daegon Gray, the normal red tape-covered bullshit
Dev tilted his
head as he caught his first glimpse of their destination through a ring of palm
trees lining the property.
respond. Instead, she leaned forward, hands pressed tight against the dash,
mouth open wide.
a big ass tent," Dev said. "I paid 10-K in advance to go to a
circus?" His stomach rolled. "Wonderful."
changed and he pulled onto the gravel drive. Tires crunched on loose stones as they
passed through the trees and drove the half-mile to the front of the club.
"I hate clowns," he murmured,
"And elephants. I hate when they make those big bastards do stupid tricks."
Dev queued for
the valet behind a sleek Mercedes SLR and waited his turn. The wait gave him a
chance to assess the place without being obvious.
People. Damn. So many people, so many potential ways to piss
A large number
of the area celebrities milled about in front of the club's huge entrance.Beyond a set of giant wooden doors rose the
three tall peaks of the monstrous Club Mastodon tent. Spotlights spaced evenly
around the perimeter beamed on the white walls, causing them to glow. A smaller
tent hung off the rear of the main, connected via covered walkway.
He couldn't see
any exits other than the big main door, not even a window. They really weren't kidding about the whole privacy thing. The club
was touted as the place to relax, a soothing oasis where the local aristocracy
and visiting celebs could let their guard down and be themselves. In essence, society's
elite could make fools of themselves without it showing up on the internet the
next day. Absolutely no cameras were allowed, not even cell phones.
too late." Dev shook his head. "We could always go somewhere else."
we're good." Wren sounded distracted. Her gaze darted from one car window
to the next. "Hey, isn't that Marcus Albright from the Bucs?"
the cornerback for the Buccaneers. Ooh, and that's the guy from that new show
Carlisle." The name rolled off Dev's tongue before she finished the
station's call letters.
Wren oohed and
ahed over a few other names he'd never heard of. Probably famous athletes or
politicians or something, but he played along for her sake.
the window to his left. Dev tracked it out of the corner of his eye. A pair of
security guards in black blazers and slacks marched down a row of exotic cars
parked in tight lanes. Their heads swiveled every few feet so as not to miss
More movement. Further
out this time and a couple rows over. Another pair on patrol. Rent-a-cops
didn't move like that. They had to be ex-military.
I bet the bulges in their jackets are compact automatic
they take their security seriously around here." Dev spied more guards
near the back tent. "Can you say overkill?"
you babbling about?" Wren asked, flipping him an annoyed glance.
Dev moved up in line. Rhythmic burps of deep bass rattled the windows and
thrummed through the steering wheel. Within seconds, the vein at his temple
throbbed in time.
approached the driver's side while another opened the door for Wren. Dev got
out and shrugged at the tear in his jacket then met her on the curb.
naked in this." He whispered, running his hand over his chest and the
expensive suit. "Out of my element."
like a princess." Wren, five-foot three, a smidgen under five-eight in her
knee-high boots, twirled. Even with the added height, she only came up to Dev's
chin. "Like the boots?" She modeled the right one—slick black leather
that laced to the top—turning it enough to flash a red sole. "Louboutin.
Got them yesterday."
"Nice, I guess. Not very practical."
She slapped his
arm. "Dork. Not everything in this world is meant to be practical. I think
they're gorgeous. Now, hold still." She straightened his tie and fussed
with his hair, exposing his little secret.
narrowed. "You've been fighting again." She spun on her spiked-heels,
her expression blocked by the swish of her shoulder-length, ebony bob, and
wound her way through the throng of socialites and celebrities.
Dev tried to
keep pace, but she melted through the crowd toward the entrance. Impressed, he
admired her agile dips and whirls as she put years of his hard-core physical
training to unconscious use.
On her trail, he
moved left and jostled the guy on his right, "Sorry," then bumped the
woman on his left. "Excuse me." Anger flared, but he forced a tight
smile. The shoulder-to-shoulder press of humanity reminded him of the
battlefield.He slid between a pair of athletic-looking
young men, but clipped one's shoulder. "Sorry, sorry."
alpha-male bravado, the kid tried to shove back, but Dev caught his hand before
it made contact. With a deft twist, he bent the young man's wrist back and
lifted him onto his toes. Dev leaned in close and bared his teeth. Anger boiled
into rage, heating his body and fueling his need to fight.
"I said, pardon
me." He spoke so only the impromptu ballerina could hear. Muscles tense, he
wanted to yank this punk's arm off and beat him and the rest of the crowd with
it, lay waste to everything around him until nothing stood between him and the
entrance except Wren.
straightened, took a loud breath through his nose, and found her off to the
side near the entrance. Safe. Arms crossed. Hip cocked. Frown in place.
Crap. He'd lost control in
front of her again.
your lucky day, skippy." After a last, painful wrench on his captive's arm,
Dev released him and slogged his way through the crowd to Wren's side. People
reacted to his rough passage, cast annoyed glances at his broad back then
quickly went back to their own lives.
cell and fiber of Dev's being surged inside him. It didn't take much to get him
going anymore. And
sitting idle in Tampa for the last two years, due to a nebulous prediction of
the Gray Lord's return, was not how an
elemental warrior should live.
skirmishes in the shipyard got him by, but he craved more. Primed for combat, he
wanted a release. He wanted, no, needed, to fight. But this wasn't the time or
the place. He needed to be strong, for Wren. This was her night.
promised the fighting would stop." Wren said between clenched teeth.
"You stationed yourself at the
shipyard to watch for signs of the Gray Lord, not play around. You don't see me
getting in fights at the airport, do you?"
just a minor disagreement," he said. "There were eight of them,
jumped me behind the scrap metal piles."
A nearby couple
turned to stare at Wren. Dev took her arm and pulled her further away from the
screwed up. They usually attack in threes. I didn't see Little Mike hiding in
the garbage can. He whacked me with a crowbar." Dev looked away from her
accusing stare. "It's no big deal. Won't happen again." That you'll know of.
"But you —"
"Let it go.
Wren opened her
mouth as if to say more when her eyes opened wide. "You're hot," she
Dev wiggled his
eyebrows. "Why, thank you, thank you very much. You're looking pretty good
"That's not what I mean."
Dev caught a
whiff of burned hair. His hand shot to the top of his head and found it still
covered. As his body cooled, he found the singed stalks of the little hairs on
the back of his hands. The shirt cuffs were scorched as well. That was close.
this was a mistake." Wren's tentative, quiet voice touched him. "We should
Dev stared at his shoes. Black. Leather. Uncomfortable. "No. I'm okay. You
scrunched as she assessed his attitude. She nodded. "Yeah, I do. Don't screw
She laughed, wrapped
her arm around his, "Come on, come on," and pulled him to the entrance.
Up close, the
imposing entry reminded Dev of a smaller version of the village gates on Skull
Island built to keep out King Kong. A dense collection of palm fronds and
exotic, big-leaf plants, surrounded a pair of giant double doors unevenly
framed by thick, rough-hewn timbers. The presence of security cameras
positioned within the plants did little to deter from the primordial setting.
Dev smiled and
waved at the camera tracking his movements.
Another pair of
guards, much bigger than those patrolling the parking lot, flanked the entrance.
Clad in nothing but loincloths, with long, black hair draped over heavily
muscled shoulders and square pecks, they looked like stand-ins from Conan the Barbarian. Both stared straight
ahead, boulder-crushing arms rigid at their sides. If it weren't for the slight
motion of their immense chests, they could be statues. A low mist crawled
around their feet and billowed in front of and under the big doors. Capping off
the primitive atmosphere, flames swirled and popped above their heads in a long
trench dug out of the lintel.
Blessed fire. Dev focused on
the flames. He felt their lure, their potential, and the fire's raw power. A
taste. That's all he needed. A quick fix to steady his nerves and help him
through the night. With a thought he called to his element, drew it into him. His
body tingled. Invisible tendrils of heat trickled into his chest and coalesced
into a fireball behind his ribcage. It churned and roiled and intensified.
Wren's harsh whisper seemed to come from far away.
That's nice. With another
thought, he capped the flow and dispersed the warmth throughout his body. It
calmed his spirit, dispelled his rage.
An elbow to the ribs punctuated her call.
rushed in as his wind rushed out. Damn,
that girl knows right where to hit a guy. He wheezed, tried to refill his
lungs, and ignored the curious stares of the other patrons.
Gray stood in front of the floor-to-ceiling penthouse windows and scowled at
the world far below. Streetlights bathed the Tampa Bay Times Forum and
Channelside shops in a sickly yellow glow. People, ants from this height,
scurried through the darkness from one light post to another while a few late
drivers braved the downtown Tampa streets.
His dark power
surged, burrowing beneath his skin like angry wasps. With a thought he could
make the shadows rise up and lay waste to those insignificant specs of life
beneath him, but he reluctantly held back.
Out of the flat
screen mounted in the corner, a local news anchor droned on about the rash of
unexplained disappearances that baffled police.
A small brown
bird thumped into the window and fell dazed to the ledge. Stupid birds. Alexander crouched and tapped on the window. He knew
neither the sound nor the vibration would penetrate the hurricane-proof glass, but
he did it anyway.
there," he cooed, "Are you okay, little one?"
The bird got to
its feet, shook his feathery head and leaned against the glass out of the wind.
something for you." Alexander pressed his index finger against the thick pane
and exerted a sliver of his will. A dark ribbon of inky-black energy oozed
through the window and wriggled on the outside.
bird hopped down the ledge.
Alexander's face twitched. "Take it."
closer, its curious little head bobbing from side to side.
A little peck to taste the darkness.
struck, tore off a hunk of black flesh, and bounced backward.
stopped the flow, folded his hands between his knees and studied his prey.
Its beak opened
once, an unheard chirp of distress lost in the wind, and its chest expanded
until hollow bone and skin could no longer contain the pressure. It exploded in
a puff of gray-feathered clumps that floated away on the breeze.
stood, smoothing the imagined wrinkles from his pants, and stared at the human
infestation below. If only the rest of
you were so easy. A picture came to mind, one in which thousands of people
writhed on the ground while their life force drained into the soil, and their
skin turned the color of ash. A pleasant
spoken, "Sir?" accompanied a soft knock at the door. Alexander Gray, Master
of Shadow, son of the last Gray Lord Bestok Molan, transformed into Alexander
Gray, Regional President of Daegon Gray, philanthropist. Tight features relaxed
and he coerced a false smile from his lips.
The intern from
the mayor's office minced through the room reeking of Chanel and french fries.
White?" Smooth, confident, and charismatic, that's what all the local
papers wrote about him. His warm, deep voice put people at ease. "How can
I help you, my dear?"
Gray, the reporters are st-still waiting, sir." Straight blond hair framed
an attractive face. She regarded him with bright-eyed innocence tinged with a
delicious helping of fear. "Are you r-r-ready to start the press
savored the uncomfortable silence when he did not answer immediately. Fresh. Young. Barely out of college. Dressed
in a grown-up's business suit and conservative heels. Even in the dim
lighting, he noted the slight tremble in her limbs and her delightful habit of
nibbling her lower lip. Mmmm. Her life
would taste sweet.
A slight buzz
tickled the back of his neck, but he ignored it. Not now.
We can start." Alexander walked over, placed his hand on her lower back
and escorted her to the door.
increased to a sustained tingle, urgent, insistent. I do not have time for this.
At the doorway Alexander
grabbed the back of his neck as it started to burn. "I am sorry,
sweetheart, but I need to make a call first. I will only be a few minutes."
He pushed her out and shut the door.
strode to his antique mahogany desk, threw himself into the high-backed leather
chair and spun to the portraits on the wall. The largest, an older gentleman in
a high-collared black waistcoat and black cravat, hung in the center. Dark brown
eyes, small and deep-set, stared out from narrow, emaciated features under a
thin fringe of white stringy hair. Brown spots littered his pallid face like
dead leaves over old snow.
a deep breath, closed his eyes, and tried to calm his murderous thoughts, but
the intensity of the pain made it more difficult than usual. He had been told
his impatience would get the better of him and he didn't want to let on just
how frayed he was. Frustration, anger, anticipation—feelings of any kind were
considered flaws, and it would not do to show weakness in front of Bestok Molan.
Breathing and heartbeat normal. Body still and relaxed. He opened his eyes and
met the stare in the portrait.
A gnarled head pushed
out from the painting, stretching the canvas into three dimensions while the
background colors drained away. Bestok Molan's likeness blinked its black eyes
rapidly then jerked from side to side, searching. "You are alone?" A
breathy voice, like a harsh and well-articulated hiss, issued from the gaunt
visage. "I hear someone."
contact established, Alexander's pain dissipated and he stifled a relieved moan.
"That is only the television, Father." Calm, flat and deferential. No
hint of emotion.
The Gray Lord spat the word out as if it were a rat hair in his porridge. "The
harvest is progressing, no?"
Thin, dry lips over-enunciated every word. "Tell me."
has been operational for four months and produces two hundred shadow orbs per
dead eyes flickered, and his upper lip twitched. "That few?"
drain any more of the people's energy, they will feel it. It would not take
them long, even as simple-minded as they are, to trace it back to us. With the
current harvest setting, they go home feeling weak and tired, which they
attribute to a hard night of revelry." He gripped the arms of his chair. "As
it is, the stupid sheep have no idea we are sucking out their very life
The head behind
the canvas tilted. "So be it."
wish to test the orbs on something small."
we sure the death magic works? That the orbs can kill?" It galled Alexander,
this asking for permission to do what should be a natural act for any Shadow
pushed his bulbous head further into the room, testing the strength of the
canvas, and the temperature dropped thirty degrees in less than a heartbeat.
question me again, boy." An evil grin split the Gray Lord's face. "Or
have you forgotten the last time?"
Alexander's words puffed out in a white mist as he flexed the fingers on both
hands. The painful memories of that first and only time haunted the dark
recesses of his mind. Changing the subject and, hopefully, the homicidal
atmosphere, he steered back to the plan. "The orbs will be ready when you
better be." Bestok Molan melded into the painting.
is that?" Alexander knew he was pushing his luck, but could not help
himself. The lack of inactivity made him reckless.
"When I am
ready." Bestok Molan's head flattened out and the background colors
reappeared, but the distant hiss carried one more message before fading,
I hate that word.
was solid again, ugly.
hated that picture, and those of his three brothers to either side.
tired of waiting." Alexander got to his feet, strolled back to the window,
and clasped his hands behind his back.
knock sounded. His hand rose out of reflex, enwrapped in rippling gray shadow, but
he stopped before he blasted the door with a bolt of dark energy. It was a close
call. He needed an outlet for his frustration, or he would explode and take out
Tampa in a shadowy swirl of death and destruction.
That's what he
should be doing, bending the world around him to his will and that of Bestok
But the old Gray Lord says, 'Wait.' I have waited centuries
for his grand plan to take shape, bounced from one menial post to another. I had
hoped this time would be different, but it does not look promising. He preaches
that the world must not know of our existence until we are ready to strike.
That there is no need to alert the sheep that greater powers exist, for it
would give them time to prepare. It is tough enough evading the Knights'
constant vigil, let alone the billions of mortals on this world.
Billions. Their numbers are too vast. Time to cull the
sounded again and he turned toward the door with a broad, friendly smile
plastered across his face.
As the door
opened, he swooped to her side and took her hand. "After the press
conference, how about we get a drink? I know a little pla—"
cell phone rang.
"Excuse me, my
dear. I have to take this
Since he was a kid, Scottwanted
to be an author. Through the years, fantastic tales of nobility and strife,
honor and chaos dominated his thoughts. After twenty years mired in the
corporate machine, he broke free to bring those stories to life.
lives with his wife and two children on the west coast of Florida.
Tainted by the very
element he's supposed to control, an elemental Knight must overcome a centuries-old
tragedy and find the balance to his fire-stoked rage to prevent his clandestine
Order's ancient enemy from destroying all life in modern-day Tampa.
Fire. The most chaotic of the primal elements. When wielded properly by
the Knight of Flame, it burns like the sun. Otherwise, it slowly consumes the
Knight, burning away his control, driving him towards dark deeds.
Stationed in Tampa, FL,
Develor Quinteele, sixth Knight of Flame, waits impatiently for the predicted emergence
of the last Gray Lord, his Order's ancient enemy. Hampered by a centuries-old
tragedy, Dev knows of only one way to control his elemental power—rage. It
broils just below his surface, waiting for the slightest provocation to set it
Anticipating Dev's transition
from asset to liability, his commander assigns a young guardian, Wren, to
report on Dev's actions. Torn between duty and love, Wren struggles to save her
Knight; but, after a brutal attack by the Gray Lord's minions for which Dev is
wrongly blamed, he's stripped of his freedom until he regains control.
With the help of his
fellow Knights, can Dev regain his balance and unlock his full elemental potential
in time to prevent the destruction of all life in Tampa?
"In Knight of Flame Scott re-imagines
traditional fantasy and forges something new from old metal--a fast-paced
thriller that delivers a healthy dose of wonder. As enjoyable as it is
engrossing." - David Farland, International Best-Selling Author of The Runelords