Month: February 2015

Help Turn ‘Frontier Justice’ into a Movie

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deadline poster

Help turn Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal into a motion picture. Click http://igg.me/p/the-deadline–4/x/10033849 to support independent film maker Josey Well’s production of ‘Deadline 200 Marshals,’ an adaptabion of my novel about one of the American west’s most famous lawmen.

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A Second Review of ‘Broken Playthings’

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It’s not often that I do a second review of the same book – in fact, as I think about it, I’ve not done it before now. But, after receiving a revised version of Broken Playthings by Brennon Noss, I felt it only fair to give my view on it.

When a white suburban couple are brutally murdered in their home, and their teenaged daughter barely escapes with her life, private detective Jake Adams gets involved in exacting justice – read, revenge – for the crime. Opposing the heartless and vicious Big Joe and his coldblooded sidekick, Tea, Jake resorts to actions that are often over the line.
Broken Playthings by Brennon Noss is a hard-to-categorize novel. It is a look at the gritty underside of society and the dark denizens who inhabit a realm that the normal middle class person might find hard to believe exists. In this book, there are no heroes, and few are innocent. Noss holds a mirror up to the seamier side of life, and then turns it to give us a full frontal view as he rubs it in our faces.
The dialogue is probably a bit too earthy for some readers, but Noss has captured the argot of the street perfectly. While it is hard to sympathize with, and impossible to identify with the characters, Noss has done such a good job describing them, it’s easy to believe they could exist.
I previously reviewed this book, and commented on formatting problems, which the author has subsequently fixed. I am, therefore, changing my rating to what I think it really should be, and highly recommend it to anyone interested in ‘noir’ mysteries. My rating is, therefore, upgraded to four stars.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Review of ‘High Lie’

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When PI Miami Jones’ friend Lucas fishes a kid out of the water after he’s been tossed there by two roughnecks from a local gambling establishment, things get nasty. Miami learns that the kid, Desi, a young Cuban, was trying to earn money to get his father from Cuba to Florida, but was cheated. He, Lucas, and his sometimes girlfriend, Danielle, who happens to be a deputy sheriff, are determined to make things right for Desi. In the process of doing so, Miami finds himself immersed in the world of gambling, as toughs from all over face off for a chunk of the gambling revenue in south Florida.

High Lie by A. J. Stewart is the third in the Miami Jones Florida series, featuring former baseball player turned private eye Miami Jones. I received a free copy of this book for review.

Stewart, who writes in a style reminiscent of Elmore Leonard, paints a vivid and accurate picture of the world of legal gambling, especially the pari-mutuel scene involving jai alai (pronounced ‘high-lie’), and what can happen when money and the greed for money trump public interest. A cast of believable characters inhabiting a world so realistic you can smell the sweat of the jai alai players and hear the raucous cry of the Everglades water fowl.

This is a great weekend read that shouldn’t be missed. Stewart gets better with each book. I give this one five stars.

Review of ‘A Matter of Perception’

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A Matter of Perception is a fascinating collection of short stories by fantasy author Tahlia Newland. I received a free copy of this book for review.

While all of the stories in this collection are good, ‘Sacred Striptease’ is the one that really caught my eye.

‘Sacred Striptease’ takes us through an evening in the life of Lexie (Miss Electra), a stripper who works in a club frequented by mainly working class men stopping for a little entertainment before going home to their families. Told in the first person, the story shows the mental process of a woman who views what she does as art, not for titillation, but for entertainment. Lexie has a strong artistic connection and affection for the men who enjoy watching her perform, but is distressed by the presence of the Creep, a man who views her (in her view) not as a performer, but as a target for exploitation.

A profound treatment of subjects such as self-image, rape, and exploitation, this is a good short read that will entertain as much as Miss Electra’s artistic gyrations do. My only complaint is that the reader is never told why a former ballet dancer such as Lexie (not her real name we’re told) turned to stripping, and while the Creep is introduced and we’re led to believe he exerts a strong influence on Lexie (creating, we believe, a sense of fear and dread in her), he just disappears in the end with no real resolution to the tension, other than a slight surprise at the end, which I will not reveal so those who read the story can discover it for themselves.

Except for these two small weaknesses (in my personal opinion, I must stress), it’s a profoundly entertaining story, as are the others in this not-to-be-missed collection from an accomplished author. I give it four stars.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

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This week’s Photo Challenge is Rule of Thirds. This means having your main subject off center. In this photo, the bird is the main subject, and it’s orientation is reinforced by the line of the branch upon which it’s perched. The background is completely blurred, putting the emphasis where it belongs on the animal.

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Danger Danger, Bang Bang — State Department Eyes Changes in Danger Pay

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Danger Danger, Bang Bang — State Department Eyes Changes in Danger Pay.

Another example of Washington-based green eyeshade types making decisions for people in the field.

The Changeling and the importance of sound in #horror #horrorwriters

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Good advice for writers. Using sound, and other senses in your writing can hook readers.

Book Trailer Love Fest – Voting Starts Today

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Voting begins . . . NOW!

Book Trailer Love Fest 2

Show your support of over 30 authors including USA Today bestsellers by voting in the first ever Book Trailer Love Fest. Watch the trailers, vote in the polls, and share the contest with your friends! The voting is live from February 15th to February 22nd. Winner will be selected on the February 23rd. This is a fun, free contest made to support all authors! So hop on over to booktrailerlovefest.com and get your vote on!

Here is a list of authors participating in the contest:

USA TODAY Bestselling Authors:

DelSheree Gladden

Noree Cosper

Rainy Kaye

Angela Fristoe

Amazon Bestselling Authors:

Devorah Fox

Alesha Escobar

Emerald Barnes

Fiona Skye

Frank E. Bittinger

Award Winning Authors:

J. Andersen

Jennifer Chase

Also featuring these fabulous authors:

Charles Ray

Jennifer Fisch-Ferguson

Susan Laqueur

L. Bachman

J.R. Smith

Lindsey L. Loucks

Sessha Batto

Angelica Dawson

Yolanda Renee

Katherine Jean Pope

Jamie Marchant

Everett Robert

Charity Tober

Tam Linsey

W K Pomeroy

Jordan Mierek

Elle Boca

Isabella Tredway

Elle Jacklee

Support your favorite author by voting for his or her book trailer today. Remember, reading is FUNdamental, so read and enjoy!

Review of ‘Double Ugly’

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Detective Sergeant Armand Burke works for the Undercover and Surveillance Unit of the Irish Garda’s Serious Crimes Division. Relegated to staking out customs crimes because his superiors don’t trust his ability to control his temper, and distrusted by his colleagues, Burke only became a cop because his beloved wife Maeve felt he needed something more substantive than acting to be able to support a family.

Burke sees life as mediocre, and on his 36th birthday wishes for change. This is a mistake, because he gets what he wishes for – and regrets it. When Maeve goes out of town to visit relatives, and a hooker is found dead in Burke’s bedroom, in his bed, his life begins to spin out of control.

Double Ugly by Jim Murray is a free-wheeling mystery/thriller that explores people, places, and events in a way that only someone intimately familiar with the milieu could do. Follow Burke as he begins a downward spiral in his efforts to prove his innocence and redeem his life. Snappy dialogue and in-depth descriptions take you into the bowls of an environment that is so realistic you can smell the stale urine on the floors, and the dust in the air will make you sneeze. There are no likeable characters in Double Ugly; Burke is something of a psycho, and he’s set against a ruthless serial killer who is without human emotions. You nonetheless will find yourself rooting for Burke, who is bad, but makes an effort not to be completely evil.

Murray sets a gold standard for hard-boiled cozy mysteries that will be hard for others to live up to.  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I give this book five stars, and look forward to the next in the series.

Review of ‘Broken Playthings’

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When a white suburban couple is brutally murdered in their home, and their teenaged daughter barely escapes with her life, private detective Jake Adams gets involved in exacting justice – read, revenge – for the crime. Opposing the heartless and vicious Big Joe and his coldblooded sidekick, Tea, Jake resorts to actions that are often over the line.

Broken Playthings by Brennon Noss is a hard-to-categorize novel. It is a look at the gritty underside of society and the dark denizens who inhabit a realm that the normal middle class person might find hard to believe exists. In this book, there are no heroes, and few are innocent. Noss holds a mirror up to the seamier side of life, and then turns it to give us a full frontal view as he rubs it in our faces.

The dialogue is probably a bit too earthy for some readers, but Noss has captured the argot of the street perfectly. While it is hard to sympathize with, and impossible to identify with the characters, Noss has done such a good job describing them, it’s easy to believe they could exist.

A really good story, it’s marred only by too many formatting problems, primarily in paragraph indentation, and spelling errors throughout. Easy enough to fix, though, and doing so would raise the rating in my estimation.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I give it three stars.

Review of ‘Skin in the Game’

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Skin in the Game by Tomas Byrne is a taut political thriller that explores a range of topical issues, from government-sanctioned torture to corporate greed and manipulation. Dr. Kate Farrow is a psychiatrist working for an anti-terrorism interrogation facility in Kent, UK. When her boss, Dr. Krug, assigns her to help in the interrogation of ‘Subject 13,’ she soon discovers that things are not what they seemed at first, and finds herself having to decide between her job and her conscience.  Joe Hawkins, a counter-terrorism instructor and former US State Department official, who left government because his sense of justice could not take some of the things his government was doing, gets a strange communication from his estranged brother Sam. Sam is on the run, being accused by his company of consorting with terrorists. What Sam communicates to Joe, though, is that it is his company that is up to no good.

With that as background, Byrne takes the reader on a dizzying journey into the belly of the beast – the beast that is government and industry working hand in glove, not for the ideals of democracy, but for profit and power. The author tells parallel tales that are at first out of temporal sync, and demarked by different chapter numbering (which was not apparent until nearly halfway through the book). While a bit confusing at first, patience is rewarded as the two threads are brought together near the end in an explosive conclusion that will leave you gasping for breath.

A nicely told tale, full of red herrings, false clues, and murky happenings that will keep you entertained from the first page to the last.

I’d love to give this one five stars, but there are a few too many formatting problems, so it only gets four.

Review of ‘Rifle River’

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Rifle River by Roy LeBeau is a formula western about Frank Leslie, a man trying to get away from his hard-drinking, whoring, gun fighting past. He settles in a green valley to raise horses in peace and quiet, but too many people are determined to see that his life is anything but peaceful.

Billed as an erotic western, it only has a few sex scenes, admittedly pretty graphic, but it has enough gun fighting and fist fighting to satisfy the diehard western fan. The action scenes are models of the genre, and the characters fully fleshed – not the cardboard, cliché characters one usually finds in stories like this.

While it might be a bit too graphic for the faint of heart, or the prudish, it’s sure to please those who like their westerns realistic.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Auraria’

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James Holtzclaw is a numbers-oriented land speculator. He’d never even heard of the town of Auralia, Georgia until his employer, the enigmatic H.E. Shadburn sent him there to buy it. Located in the mountains of north Georgia, Auralia is strange at first glance, and even stranger the more Holtzclaw learns of it.

Auralia by Tim Westover is a fascinating merging of fact and fantasy that defies categorization. Set in an actual gold-mining region of Georgia, it’s peopled with characters, real and imagined, that will tickle your funny bone from start to finish. Holtzclaw is something of a dullard, barely affected by the fantastic creatures and goings on around him, which makes the story all the more fun to read. He’s the perfect foil for the voracious Shadburn and the denizens of a town that defies the laws of nature.

In a talented author’s hands, the real and the not-so-real become so mushed up it’s hard to tell the difference.

A great weekend read. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Backworlds’

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Craze knew his father, Bast, was something of a soulless con man concerned mainly with himself, but he didn’t expect, after having helped him con so many marks, that Bast would turn on him. But, turn he did. In an effort to raise  his status with the other Verkinn Elders, Bast conspired to have Craze exiled from his home – and to add insult to injury, takes the woman Craze wanted as his second wife.

Out on his own, Craze, desolate and fearing he’ll never be able to return home, finds that home is not necessarily where you come from, but where you belong. He hooks up with other species and gets caught up in schemes and adventures that make his early life seem petty.

The Backworlds by M. Pax is the first in a series that is somewhere between Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Star Wars. By turns funny and frightening, the author has created a world that is believable in its improbability, and characters that you love to hate. There are a few formatting glitches that need fixing, and some of the dialogue is a bit stilted, but it’s still a fun read. I give it three stars.

Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek: ‘Angel on His Shoulder – Revised Edition’

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Angel on His Shoulder, the story of 40-year-old loser Winston Nesbitt, was one of my first self-published books. While the story is nice, my inexperience at the craft resulted in a poorly formatted offering. In addition, the more I read it, the more I realized that, in this case, less was more. So, I’m doing a job of re-editing and republishing it – hey, live and learn, that was several years ago. You can get a sneak peek at the re-edited chapters at Wattpad. Feel free to comment on them. I also decided to do a new cover, because, let’s face it, the old cover was lame.

Here’s the cover I’m using on Wattpad, just as a teaser:

Wattpad cover

But, for the new edition, here’s the cover I plan to use:

cover revised

Tell me what you think.

#IWSG: To Write or To Have Written: Which is More Important?

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For my second Insecure Writer’s Support Group offering of 2015, I wax a bit philosophical about writing. This is also, by the way, the second year of my participation in Alec Cavanaugh’s blogging effort. Comments are welcome, and if you have anything to contribute, check the IWSG link and sign up.

InsecureWritersSupportGroupWhen I worked in Zimbabwe (2009 – 2012) I wrote occasional opinion pieces that appeared in the independent press which was opposed to the government. Some of the more popular of those pieces were put together in a little book which was provided to schools and youth groups. The book, Where You Come From Matters Less Than Where You’re Going, was quite popular, but aroused the ire of the government even more than the original editorials had, generating weeks of back and forth over, of all things, the title. I defended the title, while the government’s propagandists attacked it vigorously. Looking back, I now realize that a better title might have been The Journey is More Important than the Destination.

I mention that episode as a digression of sorts to introduce a topic that I’ve been thinking about lately – is it more important to write, or to have written? Now, working on book number 52 that might seem like an academic or even moot question for me, but it’s not. The question ‘do I want to be known as a person who writes, or as a person who has written?’ is still a valid one. It’s in fact a question that every writer should ask – and answer.

I think I know the answer for myself. After I’ve finished writing something, except for the unavoidable marketing once it’s published, I pretty much forget about it because I’m already working on the next; and sometimes thinking about the one after that. Having written is nice, but what really drives me is the desire to write, write, write. I wake up in the morning thinking about writing. I go to sleep at night thinking about writing. Most of the hours in between are about writing. Sometimes I even dream about writing.

You see, having written is a destination. Once you’ve arrived, where do you go next, if that was your focus? Writing, though, is a journey; one that is always fascinating to me because I never know what I’ll encounter in that next sentence, paragraph, or page.

So, stop a moment and ask yourself the question: which is more important to me, writing or having written? Answer it honestly. Then, you’ll know if you’re really a writer.