Friday, September 26, 2014

Seeking Pirate Treasure in "Dark Tides Rising"

Let's take a trip back through history.  Through the early years of America's eastern shores.  Along the southern route to where pirates once congregated.

That's right - I said pirates!

In Andrew Clawson's exciting and engaging novel Dark Tides Rising we follow along until the proverbial 'X' marks the spot.  As far as movies go, it's National Treasure meets Indiana Jones with a healthy dose of Pirates of the Caribbean thrown in for a heaping helping of fun.

Book Blurb:
In Philadelphia, Penn historian Erika Carr studies a Revolutionary era map that had been lost for centuries. Scrawled across its surface is a cryptic poem, the contents of which Erika suspects may point to a prize that has fascinated mankind for ages.

Buried treasure.

When a mysterious benefactor appears and offers her a fortune in exchange for the map, Erika cannot imagine what her refusal will unleash.

With Erika at his side, investment banker Parker Chase soon finds himself racing for his life as they unravel the mystery of the map and the treasure it protects, deciphering clues charted by some of history's most infamous pirates.

Every clue brings them closer to the truth masked within the enigmatic poem, though they have no idea what darkness awaits. The treacherous course takes them from the remote beaches of North Carolina to the sparkling waters of the Caribbean, and if they can stay alive, Parker and Erika can uncover a treasure that will rewrite history.

My Review:
I found Dark Tides Rising to be a rollicking adventure of searching for buried treasure amid the historical record.  As a fan of history, I always enjoy a novel that seamlessly combines the reality of the past within the realm of fiction.  And of course, who doesn't like a good ol' treasure hunt?  At times I felt as if I was watching my son as he played the game Assassin's Creed: Black Flag.

Erika Carr is a professor of history and an expert on one of our illustrious Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton.  After exploring a recently discovered storage cache found at Hamilton Grange National Memorial, Erika uncovers a mysterious map.  After careful study, she presents her findings in a lecture to a sold-out audience.  Of course, it didn't hurt to allude to Hamilton's Caribbean connections and throw in a pirate story or two for good measure to entice said audience's attendance.  But what Erika didn't count on was the anticipation of buried treasure attracting those with ulterior motives.

Victor Burl claims heritage to the progeny of pirates Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.  As an extremely rich man, Victor is used to having whatever he wants - and using any means necessary to get his way.  The map Dr. Carr claims was found in Hamilton's possession was stolen from his ancestors, and when he seeks to bribe his way into Dr. Carr's good graces - and she refuses to allow him access to the map - he realizes there is only one way to reclaim his property.

After a break-in following her lecture, Erika, along with her wealthy boyfriend Parker Chase, must figure out the clues in the map and where the riddles lead before a precious part of history is lost.  With Parker's wealth, they jet set across the East Coast of America and to the Caribbean to track down the association between those most famous pirates - Blackbeard and Calico Jack.

Again, I'm a big history nut and found Erika's lecture quite interesting.  Sometimes with a great wealth of information, it's easy to get into the habit of what is known as info dumping.  However, the presentation of much of the information in the beginning in the form of a lecture made this potential telling smooth and easy without resorting to overload.  Additional historical elements were presented within conversation between Erika and Parker, broken up into nicely manageable pieces as they searched for clues.  This skirted the ever-too-easy element some authors use of telling and incorporated it into the story elements as they happened to show and lead the reader along the journey.  I really appreciated this.

Point-of-view shifts were properly delineated by scene and chapter breaks, allowing me, the reader, to settle deeply into the POV character's head, see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt.  Thumbs up!  Pacing moved steadily along and made me want to keep reading, and even within the history lessons it never felt as if it dragged or bogged down.  Editing was fairly clean as well, so all in all the story was a well-rounded read structurally.  A bit of artistic license was taken with one or two elements within the historical account, but nothing glaring, just a consideration of what could have happened if two elements lined up.  That's all I'll say so I don't give anything away.

The only thing I questioned was a little something that was allowed at the end when it came to disposition of certain assets.  As a historian, I felt Erika should've at least questioned it.  Yes, I know I'm being vague, but I don't want to give anything away.  I also had to laugh when I came across Parker's last name.  It was too close to the character of Abigail Chase from the National Treasure movies.  I'd have also appreciated a little more characterization of Erika and Parker, though since this is the third book in the series, more fleshing-out of these characters has likely already occurred.

Did I like the story?  Absolutely.  Did I enjoy the history lesson along the way?  You betcha!  Heck, my son knew the answer to every little question I asked because of his vast knowledge of the brief pirate era.  Was I pleased with the novel's structure. Certainly.  It's nice to just read a novel without all of the frustration.  Did I have a problem with the artistic license taken?  Not a bit.  Would I read the prequels?  That's a big yes.  And did I love the cover?  That's a heck-to-the-yeah!  For all of the above, I give Dark Tides Rising a rare five stars.

Purchase a copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Author Bio:
Andrew Clawson is the author of several books, including A Patriot's Betrayal, The Crowns Vengeance, and
Dark Tides Rising.

He lives in Pennsylvania, where he enjoys reading, writing as much as possible, and spending time with his rescued black cat, who brings him good luck and the occasional dead bug.

You can learn more about Andrew and his novels at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Enter the Assassin's World in "Next Exit, Dead Ahead"

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an assassin?  Not just any assassin, but one for the good guys fighting evil so prevalent in our world?

Now imagine the difficulties of trying to lead a normal life when your enemies are seeking retribution.

That's what we get today in C.W. Browning's latest release Next Exit, Dead Ahead.  Join me in exploring this exciting novel just in time for Halloween.

Book Blurb:
Alina Maschik expected to have a few quiet days alone in New Jersey.
She should have known better.

FBI Agent Stephanie Walker has a problem. Whenever Alina comes into town, someone ends up dead. When the enigmatic Damon Miles follows, that count is doubled. Now, a mere week before Halloween, Stephanie's main informant has gone missing. When part of him shows up in a reputedly haunted prison, the local attraction becomes the center of a macabre and baffling spectacle. As bodies start to fill the morgue, Stephanie must trust in Alina's particular skill set to prevent further bloodshed. But that trust comes with a price, as Alina and Damon bring their own brand of trouble, uncovering a sinister web of deadly intrigue reaching far beyond the familiar South Jersey suburbs.

A prison haunted by tortured souls, a puzzling federal investigation, a rising body count, and a pair of deadly assassins...what could possibly go wrong?

My Review:
Just gonna say this up front - I really, really enjoyed Next Exit, Dead Ahead!  It had equal parts creepy, intrigue, suspense, mystery, and a touch of humor and romance to make this a well-rounded read.  It's been far too long since I had the chance to review such an engaging novel.

We open with an introduction to Alina Maschik - code name Viper - as she's delivering a most important "package" back to British soil.  I assume this is closing out occurrences from the previous novel in the series (which I'd love to read also).  Alina then returns home to New Jersey, looking forward to some desperately needed off time, and finds herself dragged by her two best friends to a haunted house on the grounds of the crumbling old prison.  But nothing Stephanie and Angela can do in the fantasy world can ever scare her after everything she's experienced in the real world.

Especially where a certain hawk is concerned.

Damon Miles - code name Hawk - is a counterpart in the world of covert operations.  Rarely seeing one another since their early days of training, the last few missions have brought them into close quarters once again, and ignited a smoldering fire neither wishes to fan into a flame.  Their last mission together, however, has threatened to expose Hawk's real-world alter ego and take him out of the game played across the world's hidden stage.  Damon needs Alina's help.

Because someone besides the hawk is out hunting for blood.

The cast of characters here is wide and varied, which adds to the fun and intrigue.  Alina's friend, Stephanie, is an FBI agent who had a front-row seat to Viper's abilities in the previous novel - and now she's not so sure who this woman really is, but she definitely knows what she's capable of.  Couple that knowledge with the fact that her FBI partner, John, is Alina's former fiancee and things could get out of control real fast if Stephanie doesn't keep her mouth shut.  Angela is a completely different type of friend for Alina, which helps keep her grounded to the real world.  Whereas Alina is all black wrapped in mystery, Angela is flouncy and 100% girlie-girl.  Even dressed in a suit, she oozes feminine charm - but don't underestimate her ability to close a deal.

All the players come together when a cartel threatens to create financial Armageddon by secretly siphoning off billions from two of America's largest banks - and body parts start showing up on the haunted prison's grounds.  And just when Alina and Damon thought they were safe, the cartel comes after them and makes the mistake of targeting their friends.  Enter Viper and Hawk.

Great mystery here, with lots of little pieces coming from all different angles to keep you on the edge of your seat for what happens next.  There's a few gruesome moments, but I was pleasantly surprised how little language there was considering the genre and that we're dealing with hardened criminals and enforcement personnel.  It was a breath of fresh air not to have to weed through page after page of f-words (I can't even remember if there was a single instance here - I don't think there was but don't quote me on that).  Pacing moved along with only a few instances to come up for air - and they were needed.  Even in the midst of the crazy world of espionage and assassinations, the humor was present and accounted for on many levels - and I loved Alina's pet hawk!  Who needs a guard dog to keep the ex at bay when you've got Raven?

Even though I loved this story, there were still a few issues.

The constant back and forth usage of Alina's name and then code name in the same paragraphs at first confused me into thinking we were dealing with two different people.  Seemed strange she would refer to herself by her own code name all the time.  When in Viper persona, sure.  As Alina, not so much.

Point-of-view usage switched multiple times within scenes, a few times quite jarring, and with such a good story this was disappointing though easily remedied.  This was a pre-release review copy, so a few editing snafus may not have been caught yet such as poll instead of pole and some extra spacing at times between paragraphs (obviously not scene breaks).

As the story progressed, the eye narrowing of every single character became so prevalent I started counting them on each turn of my Kindle page, noting so many I just had to laugh after awhile to keep from groaning.  An abundant use of the words swiftly, silently, and slightly began cropping up as well the further along the story I read.  I know we authors have our favorite words and phrases, but these could be culled with another editing run-through starting from about the middle of the novel to the end.

Even with the above issues, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Next Exit, Dead Ahead and would be very happy to pick up the prequels in this series.  I can comfortably recommend this novel with four and a half stars.

Pick it up for Kindle or paperback on Amazon.  And don't forget to start with the first two in the series  Next Exit, 3 Miles and Next Exit, Pay Toll.

Author Bio:
CW Browning was writing before she could spell. Making up stories in the backyard with her childhood best
friend, imagination ran wild from the very beginning. When she moved to New Jersey from Kansas at the age of seven, those tales became written words as she adjusted to life on the East Coast. Her first full-length novel was printed out on a dot-matrix printer at the age of eight. Through the years, the writing continued as an enjoyable past-time while she pursued other avenues of interest, attending Rutgers University and studying History. In time, though, it became apparent where her heart truly lie. CW still makes up stories in her backyard, but now she crafts them for her readers to enjoy. She makes her home in Southern New Jersey, where she loves to grill organic steak and sip red wine on the patio.

Visit her at:
Find her on Facebook at:
Follow her on Twitter @cw_browning

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Searching for a Cancer Cure in "Hypocrisy"

While cat and dog sitting for my best friend over the weekend, I pounded through a couple of novels to review for you this week.

What did you do on your off days?

First up today is a police procedural mystery by author D.M. Annechino.  Hypocrisy explores the world of the pharmaceutical industry, research and development, and how great the change to the landscape if a cure for cancer were discovered.  I latched onto the opportunity to review Hypocrisy, as my mother's cancer several years ago quickly revealed the myriad and dizzying levels when dealing with this diagnosis.  From support systems, to charities, and surgery to post-operative treatments that follow you for years and years, the cancer web is an intricately spun enterprise.

Let's get started.

Book Blurb:
Dr. Lauren Crawford is a brilliant research scientist who discovers a revolutionary treatment for cancer that not only extends life, but much improves the quality of life for terminal cancer patients. The treatment, in some instances, can even cure certain cancers. On the evening before Dr. Crawford holds a press conference to announce that the FDA has given preliminary approval of her new cancer treatment, somebody follows her to her car and puts three bullets in her head. Was it a planned murder with a motive, a mugging gone badly, or merely a random act of violence?

Two New York City homicide detectives, Amaris Dupree and T.J. Brown, are assigned to the investigation. The detectives evaluate the circumstances surrounding Dr. Crawford’s death, and follow a trail of clues that exposes a sequence of startling facts. One by one, the detectives carefully examine each suspect and piece together a puzzle with unimaginable implications. As the investigation gets more intense, and the detectives get closer to solving the murder mystery, someone threatens Dupree’s life. The detectives now realize that Dr. Crawford’s murder was much more than a homicide. And if they don’t arrest the murderer soon, Dupree might be the next victim.

My Review:
Hypocrisy started with a bang - literally - as we experience Dr. Lauren Crawford's final moments before her life is snuffed out by a killer.  We quickly see how devastating her loss is, not only to her mother but to millions worldwide who had the potential for a cure from cancer.  Once her own mother was diagnosed with the disease a few years before, Dr. Crawford stopped at nothing in her attempts to prolong her mother's life and find a cure.  Mere days away from finalizing the FDA's requirements, forward momentum and funding for research ceases with her death.  But is Lauren's death a random mugging gone wrong or is something more sinister at play?

Enter Detectives Amaris Dupree and TJ Brown, homicide partners throughout the last six months who continue to struggle to understand one another.  TJ is continually late or absent when Amaris needs him on this case because Dr. Crawford's death brings back memories and regrets that have haunted her for years.  Somewhere in the midst of the investigation, the two have to come to terms with their own demons if they're ever going to mesh as a team.

I'm still a little torn on Hypocrisy.  The story started off quite well, giving the reader hints along the way at each players' tragic pasts.  I found Amaris to be a relatable character, though TJ didn't get fleshed out as well as I'd like to have seen.  He felt more like an unloyal-turned-loyal pet on a leash instead of a character with his own merits and abilities.  Now Brenda, the support analyst at the precinct, was a lot of fun and I'd have enjoyed seeing more of her interactions with the partners.  Then the dynamic between Amaris and TJ fluctuated so much it felt as if they were merely players on a stage directed with a heavy hand as they toggled back and forth.  It made their motivations and actions toward each other stiff and stilted, suddenly turning from hot to cold and back again.

Initially the plot moved along quite well and was focused, and I really enjoyed reading during this time.  But by midway through the novel it felt as if the mystery had taken a major backseat to the little side squabbles that really didn't do much to move the story along and grew rather rambling as if added as filler.  A bit too much telling during this phase contributed to the drag as well.  However, point-of-view was handled well and properly delineated by scene and chapter breaks.  Thumbs up for that!

Additional editing would be helpful for Hypocrisy, as there were several instances of the wrong word utilized (here/hear and you're/your) as well as a Nissan Ultima instead of Altima - sorry, I'm a car nut and this really stood out.  There were a few formatting issues such as hard returns within sentences or extra spacing, but this was more a minor issue.

The biggest problem I had was the plethora of improper procedures utilized by the detectives.  Once the investigation really got underway, there was a constant stream of suspects brought in for questioning, many of whom were hardened criminals, and then broke with little provocation.  Then when someone asked for an attorney, the detectives didn't stop with their questioning like they should have.  They started offering plea bargains without bringing in or consulting with the D.A.'s office.  DNA matching in less than 24 hours?  I can stomach play on reality, but this just went on and on to the point that I shook my head in disbelief.  The greatest frustration was when they had someone in interrogation who admitted to involvement in the conspiracy, they had solid evidence on the guy that he'd committed a crime, and yet they simply let him WALK OUT THE DOOR???  Nope.  Huh-uh.  Didn't work for me.

By the end, everything tied up in a nice, neat, and completely expected little bow - and yet it felt hollow.  What started out as a story with great potential ended up leaving me feeling disappointed.  I liked Amaris and would've enjoyed Hypocrisy much more without all of the little side filler stories, the odd and unnecessary interactions between Amaris and TJ, and if it would've had more believable procedural interplay.  I'm going to have to settle on three and a half stars.

If you're into police procedural mysteries and Hypocrisy sounds like something up your alley, pick up a copy at Amazon.

Author Bio:
Daniel M. Annechino, a former book editor specializing in full-length fiction, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, in 1992 while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. His second book, Resuscitation (Thomas & Mercer 2011), a follow-up to his first novel, hit #1 in Kindle sales in the UK and reached #26 in the USA. He is also the author of I Do Solemnly Swear (Thomas & Mercer 2012). Hypocrisy, is Annechino's fourth novel.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

Find out more at:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Welcome Author Brian C Poole to the Interview Table

While I'm steadily whittling away at my own writing, let's get to know another indie author.  Lawyer by day, writer of suspenseful thrillers (with a supernatural twist) by night - sounds like an interesting combination!  Dear readers, join me today in welcoming author Brian C. Poole to the table.

Welcome Brian!

DAB:    Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

BCP:     I think I've always been something of a storyteller, so the drive to write was there, even if I didn't always realize it. When I was a kid, I loved drawing my own comic books to amuse myself; in my mind, there was no reason why Batman and Spider-Man shouldn't have been in the same story. As I got older, I probably had the same dream that every comic book-loving kid did of drawing them professionally one day, but by the time I was old enough to be objective about it, it was clear to me I didn't have the talent for it, so I focused on other things. But I never lost the love for storytelling. I made my first two attempts at writing novels while still in law school, in my mid-20s. They both wound up being fairly derivative and I didn't complete either one, but I learned a few things. The first novel I completed began shortly thereafter; it remains unpublished, but there are parts of it I love. So the attempt at being a writer "for real" is something I've been pursuing for most of my adult life, though it's an ambition that's frequently gotten backburnered due to other "life stuff."

DAB:    What was the catalyst for this novel’s premise?

BCP:     The idea for Grievous Angels first started percolating in my brain many, many years before I began trying to tease it into an actual story. In my 20s I was a volunteer Sunday school teacher, working with high school juniors. One week, the head of the program showed the kids a video called Audrey, which introduced me to the concept of the "victim soul." (I reference the story from this video at one point in the book.) I found it fascinating, but it's one of the more obscure parts of Catholic theology and there wans't a lot of info to be found on it (at least at that time, this was before Google and Wikipedia seemed to have some info on just about everything). It took me several years to figure out how to work the "victim soul" concept into a plot; mixing it with my fascination with secret societies was one of those strokes of inspiration that writers hope for but can't explain.

DAB:    I think I hear 'Dan Brown fan' in your words. :-)  Who is your favorite character in your novel, and why?

BCP:     My favorite Grievous Angels character is definitely Lindsay. She was sort of the anchor of sanity through a series of rather insane events. I tried not to be too obvious about it, but to convey that she really understood how this situation would play out well before it all clicked into place for her fiance, Ben. The fact that I close the book having left a terrible emotional burden on her in no way is an indication of a lack of affection; indeed, I think it shows my respect for her because I know she's strong enough to endure it.

DAB:    Do you write full-time or part-time?  If full-time, tell us about the journey to full-time.  If part-time, share with us about your “day” job.

BCP:     I'd say that "part-time" is more accurate. I worked as a lawyer in the financial world for many, many years and would fit in writing when I could. Honestly, a lot of the writing I've done over the years is more "practice" than practical, stuff I'd never show anyone. But I've managed to fit in some writing that developed into actual manuscripts (two of which I've managed to get out to the reading world). Recently, I was working for a great company in Atlanta, working with a team of fantastic people that I liked and respected, but there was this buzzing in the back of my head that told me now was the time to take a chance on doing something different. So, I quit my job and moved back to Massachusetts and have been focusing on writing projects and promoting Grievous Angels, which I'd published a year earlier but for which I hadn't had the bandwidth to do much in the way of promotion. I'm also pursuing another interest of mine; I'm in the process of forming a real estate company with a law school friend. So I'm enjoying this brief period of being able to focus on writing, before the real estate business heats up. And I'm going to have to go back to practicing law in the near future, at least on a part-time basis, to pay the bills. But some day I'd love for "writer" to be my primary occupation.

DAB:    I'm with you there!  When I write, I have particular composers and music that gets me in the mood for certain scenes and characters.  Have you ever written to music?

BCP:     I'm a music junkie, so there's something playing in my apartment quite often. I don't usually employ a particular artist or album to set the mood or get me in the mindset of a character. Rather, I find that music helps get my brain in the right creative place to let ideas flow. Intermittently over the years I've worked on a series of short stories inspired by various songs I've found especially evocative of an idea. At this point, it's been eons since I've returned to that project, so I have no idea if I'll ever finish it. My mother's sung professionally since her teen years and my oldest brother is a professional musician, so I think that kind of creative inspiration comes from the same source. For me, writing seems to be a more effective outlet for that, but I think it's all connected.

DAB:    There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

BCP:     I have to have an outline of some sort. Even though my novels don't tend to be epic-length, I need a map of where I'm going and what points I need to hit along the way. Of course, that doesn't mean I work everything out in the outline; for some key scenes, I might craft a more detailed section of an outline, to make sure I'm hitting the beats I need to, but it's also just as likely an outline entry could be "Person A and Person B have a discussion about The Thing." The outline is an aid for me, but it's not set in stone. I find that once I start writing, ideas occur to me that didn't pop up during my preliminary thinking on the plot, so it's crucial to be flexible, but I do need some structure when writing, to keep myself on track.

DAB:    Do you belong to a critique group?  If so, tell us a bit about it.

BCP:     I don't belong to a group, but I'm lucky to have a good friend who reads even more than I do and whose command of English and grammar is impeccable. She served as my editor for Grievous Angels and having her perspective and comments was really valuable.

DAB:    Usually authors are also avid readers - what are you currently reading?

BCP:     I have a shelf full of books at all times; I can't stop myself, I go into a bookstore or wander around Amazon online and there are more books. But I do read constantly. I just finished Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country; I'm a late convert to Wharton and have found over the past few years that I very much enjoy her work and that it's very relevant still. That makes me sound hopelessly pretentious, so I'll note that I'm currently reading Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl; I've read Gillian's other books, too, and I love that her characters are as twisted as her plots. And I never quite grew out of comic books, but now I read the collected editions instead. Those pop up frequently; I just read the second volume of The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, which is an extremely entertaining series about several second-rate villains trying to make a dishonest buck in a tough economy.

DAB:    Oh my goodness - that's hilarious about the villains!  You never think what they'd do in a tough economy.  Do you have any writing pointers for the authors in our audience?

BCP:     It's something of a cliche, but I think if you want to be a writer, you need to write regularly, even if no one else is going to see it. I have folders full of stuff that no one but me will ever see, but it's valuable. It's helped me learn pacing, how to develop characters, how to structure plots... writing really is something that you need to do a lot of to become good at (he says, ending a sentence with a preposition). I mentioned my first two attempts to write novels that I abandoned because they weren't coming out well. I don't regret trying to write either one; they didn't work out, but they taught me a lot of lessons that have helped with what I've written since.

DAB:    I imagine all authors can relate to those throw-away manuscripts.  So much work that will never see the light of day.  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

BCP:     I've been using my brief break from the law to finish the first draft of what I hope will be the first in a new series (I'm almost there). The impulse came from me thinking about what a cool lawyer job would be, total lawyer fantasy stuff, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to be a lawyer who worked for a museum like The Met who basically went around troubleshooting the big crises for the museum. That might be an indication of how hopelessly uncool I am, that such would occur to me as a fantasy job, but it seemed like good terrain for a series. And it lets me indulge another of my junkiedoms, for museums. It's got a ways to go yet, but I'm hopeful about its future.

DAB:    Sounds like something I'd take a gander at (to use your preposition ending).  Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.

BCP:     Grievous Angels is a great thrill ride, with lots of action and suspense. It has a bit of a supernatural edge, but really is a family story that gets into how a family copes with an unreal crisis. It has some chills, some laughs and a few scenes that should give you a good scare. It's a great ride and I really hope people will come along and enjoy it.

Thanks again, Brian, for taking time away from your incredibly busy schedule to sit down with us and share your work and what being an author means to you.  One of my favorite things is hearing how authors got their start and all of the myriad "day jobs" we all carry but yet how we all cling to our dream of writing.  I'm with you there!  I look forward to having a chance to read your work.

Author Bio:
Brian C. Poole is a writer from the Boston area who’s trying really, really hard not to be a lawyer anymore. Well, at least not a full-time one. Brian’s novels include Grievous Angels , now available wherever e-books Echoes of a Distant Thunder (harder to find, but out there in the world of used books if you really, really look).
are sold, and

Connect on Facebook or follow on Twitter.  Stop by and check out profiles on Goodreads or AuthorsDen.

Grievous Angels is available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes and other e-book sellers.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Interviewing Author Eden Baylee

To get your weekend started off right, let's spend some time getting to know another author.  Eden Baylee recently released her latest novel Stranger at Sunset and is here to tell us all about it.

Welcome, Eden!

DAB:    Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

EB:    Firstly, thanks so much for having me here, DA. I really appreciate it.

Many authors say they’ve known all their lives they wanted to write, but I can’t say that. Informally, I’ve been writing since my mid-teens, but I took the leap to writing full-time January 2010. I knew I could write, and it was probably a way of nurturing my rich fantasy life and my love of reading.

DAB:    What was the catalyst for this novel’s premise?

EB:    It was a vacation I took to Jamaica in January 2013. The setting and timing of the book mirrors that trip. I stayed at a mysterious resort, right next to where Ian Fleming used to live and where he thought up and wrote his James Bond novels.

I’m a big James Bond fan, so it didn’t take much for my imagination to go into over-drive. I formulated ideas for the book while I was on holiday and started writing it after I returned home. 

DAB:    Do you have a character(s) in your novel with whom you closely identify?

EB:    Yes, it would be my protagonist, Dr. Kate Hampton. As with all the women in my fiction, she’s mentally strong, intelligent, and has a wicked sense of humor. In many ways, I “lived” as Kate while writing the book.

Actors call it method acting, a technique to create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters in order to develop lifelike performances.

As a writer, I tried to do the same thing by connecting to Kate. It forced me to draw on personal emotions and memories. This allowed me to write realistic scenes and have her behave in a way that was plausible.

DAB:    Character depth is so important in writing.  Do you ever have difficulty writing from the point-of-view of a member of the opposite sex?

EB:    No. I’ve written many stories from a male point of view, and Stranger at Sunset is told from multiple POVs, some male and some female. Male readers have told me I think like a man sometimes, so perhaps that’s why I can create authentic scenes in a male voice.

Often, I see scenes as whole conversations with people. The dialogue is usually easiest for me to write, then it’s a matter of bringing the characters to life, no matter what their sex is. This has more to do with the mechanics of writing such as adding movement to their bodies, sound to their voices, and so on. That’s the part I find more challenging.

DAB:    What kind of research practices do you utilize for writing?

EB:    For Stranger at Sunset, it was a combination of things—a location that I knew would make a wonderful setting for a book and my love of psychology. The two came together serendipitously.

I love travel, culture, and language, so anything that takes me away from home is a wonderful source of new ideas. I research using the Internet, but if I’m writing about a location, it’s always best to be there in person to soak up the environment.

My protagonist is a psychiatrist, and research was important in that vein to make her appear credible. My lifelong interest in psychology made this part fun. I still read texts from the field just because I’m interested in the mind. One of my go-to books is the seminal work of Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley called The Mask of Sanity.

The book describes his interviews with patients in a locked institution. His detailed clinical description of psychopathy is still relevant today even though the book was written back in the forties.

I was also a student of Freud’s writings, but many of his observations are no longer studied. It all makes for good fiction though.

DAB:    When I write, I have particular composers and music that gets me in the mood for certain scenes and characters.  Have you ever written to music?

EB:    No, I can’t. I need complete silence to write. Even the sound of my nails pecking the keyboard will bother me, so I wear ear buds to dampen the noise. I do love music though, and I feature it regularly on my blog. Because of that, I did some pre-book release promotion featuring songs as clues for my novel.

Now, I’ve partnered Stranger at Sunset with iTunes, so my book actually has a soundtrack!

DAB:    That's cool!  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

EB:    I’m a pantser bar none, and I’ve had the luxury of never having to outline when I wrote short stories and novellas. Prior to Stranger at Sunset, the longest book I had written was about 30K words.

A novel, however, requires a different mindset. What I did not plan and outline had to be hashed out in final edits; that was painful. For my future novels, I intend to spend more time upfront outlining and plotting. I think it will make for less tears in the end.

DAB:    How do you handle negative feedback about your novel(s)?

EB:    Thankfully, I haven’t had much, but I think it’s inevitable to receive negative feedback. Books are subjective in every way imaginable. The subject matter and style of writing vary from author to author, and readers can be choosy, as they should be.

Though it would be wonderful if everyone liked what I wrote, I know that’s not possible. If I were not prepared for criticism, I should never have ventured into writing because it’s such a personal outpouring of who I am. Having said this, I can also be detached when necessary. If the negative feedback is constructive, I will use it to improve on upcoming books. If it’s just mean-spirited, I will ignore it.

It’s the Zen way of looking at things; there is no point in me adding fuel to the fire.

DAB:    Very true.  It would do all authors well to develop that mindset.  Of all your novels, which one is your favorite, and why?

EB:    Wow, that’s like choosing a favorite child! I think I’ve improved as I’ve written more, so I’m very proud of Stranger at Sunset as my foray into a novel and a different genre. It’s created a lead character whom I see a future with, and that’s exciting.

My previous books were erotica short stories and novellas, and each of them has a special place in my heart.

DAB:    Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

EB:    More of Dr. Kate Hampton! Stranger at Sunset is the first of a trilogy with her in the starring role, and the next book, A Fragile Truce is something I’m working on right now. You can read an excerpt of it at the end of my current book.

DAB:    Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.

EB:    Ha! Thank you DA, I don’t think anything else can sell my book more than what’s inside it. I can sing its praises all I want to, but my suggestion is for the reader to go to Amazon and use the “Look Inside” feature.

Sample the book and read the chapters available. I know I use this option all the time before I pay money to buy a book, so I highly recommend it.


EB:   Thank you again DA for interviewing me and having me on your great site.

And thanks to you, Eden, for stopping by and sharing with us about your writing regimen and for allowing a peek into your novel.  Sounds like something I'd enjoy reading if I can ever find the time.

If Stranger at Sunset piqued your interest, pick up a copy at Amazon US Amazon UK or Worldwide.

Book Blurb:
Vacation can be a killer.

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show. 

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation. 

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers? 

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate's own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.

Author Bio:
Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as: travel; humor; music; poetry; art; and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories.  She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounding by books.  She in an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden's book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Traveling in Time - Again and Again

Review day here at the blog.  Today we're going to go back in time...and back...and back...and return again in attempt to prevent untold catastrophe.  Let us travel to the year 1553 as we explore A. Ka's novel Isaac the Fortunate:  Part One The Winter.

Book Blurb:
Beltran had humble ambitions—to farm his land, to grow his family, and to live fruitfully with his wife, Amaranta. The winter of 1553 had different plans. After a crippling famine, unbearable storms, and a devastating plague known as the Delirium, the winter had taken everything dear to him.

Then, through the backhanded kindness of a mysterious traveler and her time-obliterating potion, he got everything back.

His salvation is the beginning of his problems, as he discovers just how stubborn history can be. Greater forces are at work. The more Beltran learns about the circumstances, the less he understands—especially when it comes to the traveler and her inept husband, Isaac. In their quest to stop the Delirium, she and Isaac won’t let anything, or anyone, get in the way of their senseless plans.

Beltran fights for his simple life, his love, and his future… again, and again, and again, even when he finds nobody on his side, not even his dear Amaranta.

My Review:
We open with Isaac as he's drowning his sorrows over the loss of his beloved wife.  When his daughter, the area midwife, prepares to head off to bring yet another life into the world, Isaac reminds her of the story behind her nickname - Chamesh, which means "fifth" in Hebrew and is a testament to the five times in which she was conceived.  Thus begins Isaac's reminiscence of how they saved humanity from complete and utter annihilation.

And all with a price too high for the farmer to pay.

Beltran is a simple farmer of Aragon, drowning his sorrow and pain by drinking every bottle of wine in the village.  He's not stealing.  No one else will drink it because everyone in his village is dead - including his young bride, Amaranta, dead from hunger and exposure before the plague arrived to take the rest.  In the midst of his alcoholic ministrations, a strange woman rides up and pours them both a drink from the Golden Bridle.  Before she has a chance to explain, Beltran drinks the bitter liquid and watches in fascination and horror as the world melts away as if erased from existence.  When he awakes, he is once again on the cusp of winter and races home to find his wife alive - as well as the entire village.

Time is changed as Beltran avoids doing that which brought about Amaranta's original death - but death will not be stopped and the Delirium creeps up and claims her this time.  Beltran awaits the coming Annunciation Day when the strange woman said she'd return.  With a drink of the Golden Bridle - and a little more information this time - Beltran returns to the winter to once again save his wife from death's shadow.

I actually found myself enjoying the story.  Each time Beltran returns to the edge of the past he learns and discovers more as he seeks to save humanity from oblivion and the strange riders that periodically show up in his varying realities.  But the one he seeks most desperately to save is his beloved Amaranta, who is taken in new and horrifying ways each and every time.  The question remains - will he be able to save both humanity AND his wife from the pain of death?

I was afraid the continual travels back would become tiresome and rote, but each time something new and unexpected occurred to keep things interesting.  The ending was a bit disappointing but offered enough closure to this end of the story.  I'm looking forward to reading the next installment of Isaac's time-traveling adventures.

Editing was nice and clean.  Good showing instead of telling and point-of-view throughout most of the story was in Beltran's.  Pronoun usage was a bit heavy, but as I got into the story this became more of a minor annoyance.

Considering I'm not well-versed in the time-traveling genre, I was surprised to find myself engaged in the story and rooting for Beltran and Amaranta's survival.  Now I'm curious as to where the story will turn in the next offering.  I give The Winter a solid five stars.

Visit the publisher to purchase

Author Bio:
Aubry Kae Andersen, also known as A. Ka (yes, she knows and embraces the absurdity of that
pseudonym), currently lives in Seattle, WA. She’s an artist, an illustrator, and an aspiring writer. To make ends meet, she also pimps out her web design services.

Her debut serialized novel, Isaac the Fortunate, began with the release ofThe Winter in 2013, and is slated to run through 2015. Set in Renaissance Europe, a vengeful demon threatens to bring about the end of the world with the Delirium, a plague that kills its victims by instilling deadly knowledge of the future. Isaac Keshet, a Jewish doctor, and his once and future wife, Eostre, must use the Golden Bridle, a potion that repeats time, to try to stop the demon and its plague, but they can’t do it alone, and they can’t do it easily. Told in six disordered parts, Isaac the Fortunate explores the nature of reality and the nuances of human psychology, through an epic and textured story far more entertaining and heartfelt than those big words make it sound.

As an illustrator, Aubry collaborates with Zachary Bonelli by providing cover and chapter illustrations for his Voyage series.

When Aubry isn’t writing and drawing, she’s probably thinking about writing and drawing. Or else she’s designing a website, hanging out at coffee shops, or reading Wikipedia. At some point she also sleeps.
Author Web Link: