MTW Review-Smugglers & Scones

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Morgan C. Talbot’s book, Smugglers & Scones (Moorehaven Mysteries:  Book 1)can be described as the perfect “mystery” in the two main genres for Mystery Thriller Week. The story includes a mysterious death with professionals and amateurs trying to solve the crime.  

The protagonist, Pippa Winterbourne, was delightful and charming.  Her great-uncle, Hilt, inherited the Moorehaven Bed and Breakfast Inn from a famous mystery writer, and now she has taken over.  Their only guests were writers of crime novels until Lake Ivens crashed his boat, which was also his home, into the rocks below Moorehaven.  The sound startled Pippa out of her sleep, and she ended up rescuing him.  

I have my own way of rating the books I review.  For each “yes” answer to my questions, the book receives a gold star, with a total of five possible.

star Was the book well-written?  Yes.  Morgan C. Talbot spun a tale of suspense that kept me coming back for more.  If a book is worth my time, I stay up late to read it.  Every night I had to get several more chapters finished.  I did not know for sure who the actual murderer was until she revealed the culprit near the end.  I suspected another character a little more.  I’m usually good at figuring out “who did it.” 

star Did the book keep you interested from beginning to end?  Yes.  The premise was intriguing.  The details were amazing.  I’d love to visit the fictional town of Seacrest and stay at Moorehaven for one of my crime novels.  The place was easily brought to life in my imagination by this talented author.  

star Were you emotionally invested in one or more of the characters?  Yes.  All of the characters were intriguing, but Pippa and Lake were adorable together.  She was obviously falling for him.  Despite circumstantial evidence that he might be a murderer, she wanted him to be innocent.  I also loved the cats, Svetlana and Rex.  

star Would you read another book by the author based on your experience as a whole with this one?  Yes.  This is the first book in the series.  I’m ready for the second.  

 star Would you recommend this book to a friend?  Yes.  This is a must read for most anyone.  I would almost rate this as a “clean read.”  There are no graphic details about sexual encounters.  Alcohol is mentioned a few times, but a speakeasy from Prohibition days is a major part of the storyline.  Marijuana was hidden in false bricks in the speakeasy.  Cursing is minimal and limited to the word “hell.”

And the review is 5 stars:  5-stars

Congratulations, Morgan C. Talbot!  You’ve earned an excellent review!  I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this book.

Sample the first two chapters on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N32N46H

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MTW Review-Gemini by Ronnie Allen

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Ronnie Allen’s book, Gemini:  The Sign Behind The Crime Book 1, seemed the perfect choice for me to review, because I recently completed a sequel in my own Killer Attraction Series about the same subject—a serial killer.  After avoiding several books last year that I wanted to read for fear they might influence my writing, I finally had the opportunity to select a Mystery Thriller Week submission with the storyline I’d been avoiding for so long.

I came up with my own way of rating the books I’ll be reviewing.  For each “yes” answer to my questions, the book receives a gold star, with a total of five possible.

star Was the book well-written?  Yes.  Ronnie Allen used her expertise in psychology with the characters of Dr. John Trenton, a forensic psychiatrist, and Dr. Barbara Montgomery, a school psychologist, to weave an intriguing tale where their lives become intertwined.  Both the protagonist and antagonist were also psychic, which added another element to draw me in.   I was impressed with Ronnie’s knowledge about law enforcement, since I have several good friends in the field and harass them constantly about procedures in my own writing. 

star Did the book keep you interested from beginning to end?  Yes.  I couldn’t wait to get back to story.  I even stayed up later than usual each night to get a few extra chapters read.  Near the end, I was more than willing to lose sleep and finish, but dozed off around 2:00 a.m.  Almost as soon as I woke up, I had to know what happened.

star Were you emotionally invested in one or more of the characters?  Yes.  Dr. John Trenton’s wife, Vicky, left him in New York near the beginning of the book and moved back to Florida.  I don’t think I’m giving anything away with this revelation.   Their past love story played out as flashback chapters throughout the book.   I struggled right along with him, while he experienced the loneliness without her.  Ronnie made it very clear from chapter one that Barbara Montgomery was dangerous.  I couldn’t wait to see what she did next.  

star Would you read another book by the author based on your experience as a whole with this one?  Yes.  I can’t wait to read Aries:  The Sign Behind The Crime Book 2.   My astrological sign is Aries.  Based on what I know about the personality traits, this book should be fascinating.

 star Would you recommend this book to a friend?  Yes.  Even though a story about a serial killer isn’t for everyone, I definitely have a few friends who would appreciate this book.

And the review is 5 stars:  5-stars

Congratulations, Ronnie Allen!  You’ve earned an excellent review!  I hope others enjoy your gripping journey of a serial killer with moving accounts of how child abuse can adversely affect a life.

Oh, and by the way, I love your new red hair.

Sample the first four chapters of Gemini on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Gemini-Sign-Behind-Crime-Book-ebook/dp/B00Y3LARWS

Ronnie recently received news from her publisher that her book, Aries, was voted to be one of three submissions to Mystery Writers of America Nero Awards. http://www.blackopalbooks.com/author-bios/bio-ronnie-allen

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MTW Guest Author-JB Richards

The guest author in my spotlight today has been a long time coming.  She originally contacted me over a month ago and volunteered for my Blog.  I sent her a questionnaire that got lost in cyber space.  Yes, that does happen.  Luckily, I had one of those instinctual flashes of the brain that someone was missing on my list.  I went back through my conversations, and found JB Richards.  Her novel is Miriamne the Magdala.   I requested a introduction to get to know her and did a Q&A with her.  She has also been gracious enough to share a blurb and excerpt from her book.  

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Biographical Information

I have never been one to accept any sort of dogma easily and without question.  As an historian and skeptic who relied on facts and not fiction, it was inevitable that I eventually turned the tables on my faith.  I had been brought up as a Roman Catholic, believing that the Bible was God’s Word and that everything written in the synoptic gospels was fact.  It was during a class on the New Testament that my teacher pointed out the many conflicts that exist between each of the four gospels and their accounting of Jesus’ life.  I was stunned to learn that there were additional gospels, collectively known as the Gnostic Gospels, as well as other writings that had been excluded—banned—from the New Testament and labeled by the Church as heretical. What was it about these books that the Church patriarchs considered so dangerous … so threatening to our faith?  And, if they were real, then who was Jesus?  Was he really the Son of God as my Church claimed, or was he just a man mistaken for a messiah?  This need … This yearning to know the answers to all my questions spurred my research into the life and times of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and the early Christian community.  What I found after a quarter century of research, led me to write The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series.

If there was anyone you could choose to meet, who would it be and why?

No question—it would have to be Mary the Magdala.  What stories Mary must have about her relationship with the man called “Christ!”  She was his most intimate confidante, his Apostle to the Apostles, and—I believe—his one true love.  Imagine the strength that woman had inside her to keep Jesus’ movement alive when all the other disciples were about to give up and run back to Galilee.  Imagine the strength it took to stand there at the scene of her beloved’s crucifixion and watch him enduring a slow and painful death. Imagine the fortitude it took for her to sail away from her homeland, to Gaul (modern day France), and to continue preaching, healing, and leading his flock.  I have heard of no other woman in History who loved so much in spite of having so little, for once she was on her own in the foothills of the Langedoc, she resided in a cave as a hermit.  The local townspeople brought her food in exchange for her prayers and blessings until she died—some say well into her 90’s.  She waited all that time to reunite with her Master—her Rabonni. The Magdala must have been an incredible woman, and it’s no small wonder that Jesus loved her so much!

Tell us something you’ve uncovered in your research that would surprise your readers.

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all time is what happened to Jesus (Yeshua in my novel series) during the so-called “missing years.”  Without giving away too much of my story, what I reveal through The Yeshua and Miri Novels Series about the relationship between Jesus and Mary the Magdala will shock some people and open the hearts of others.  My interpretation of the relationship between Yeshua and Miri paints the picture of a love like no other … a love based on a deep eternal bond—connecting heart to heart, spirit to spirit, soul to soul.  What I portray is a man and woman whose love is destined to reach beyond death into eternal life, and a family legacy that passes down from generation to generation, forever changing the fate of humankind.

What are your hobbies when you’re not writing?

I’ve always been blessed with my grandmother’s gift for handicrafts.  Crocheting, sewing, knitting, decoupage, macramé, etc.—I’ve done them all.  I once won first prize in a city-wide contest recognizing exceptional artisans with a popcorn-stitch crocheted lamb I made in just 2 hours.  What’s unusual about that is that the woman who lent me the pattern was an expert crocheter who taught classes, and it had taken her over 12 hours to complete the same project!  Of course, I mentioned her name when I accepted my trophy—just to keep the peace!

I’m also a pretty good artist—if I do say so myself—and I have a portfolio of over 300 pen & ink drawings, some of which I’ve sold for hundreds of dollars and others that have been displayed at galleries throughout my home state, New Hampshire.  Unfortunately, I now I suffer from a degenerative spinal cord injury (I’ve had 2 failed spinal fusions), Diabetes, and Myasthenia Gravis—a rare neurological disease that affects the nervous system and one’s ability to control their muscles.  It’s the Myasthenia that’s caused me to cut back so much on my drawing and handicrafts since it’s difficult, and on some days even impossible, to keep my hands from shaking and growing numb from repetitive movements.

Writing is my first love now, and I try to work around my health problems by taking short breaks and laying down flat every 3-4 hours or so.  It’s frustrating sometimes, but hope springs eternal—I’ve just been put on a new medication that is increasing my stamina and overall health, and I hope to pick up my drawing again someday soon!

Do you have any pets?

I do!  I have a 12-year-old female Westie (White West Highland Terrier) named Monty, and a 4-year-old shelter-dog we’ve had in our home for 2 years now who is part Bassett Hound and part Golden Retriever named Ayden. (I’ve included pictures below).  My son has a gray and orange tiger cat named Mila who lives exclusively on the second floor of our house and refuses to come downstairs if the dogs are around.  Don’t tell the dogs, but she’s the one who really rules the roost!

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Do you have any addictions or indulgences?

My first love is writing. I am addicted to it, and I write whenever and wherever I can—on a car ride, at the dentist office, at the park, at the lake … I even took my writing pad with me to a mortgage closing!  I was the same way with my drawing, and I hope that someday soon I can get back to it.  There’s nothing better than sitting at a picnic table in a park and having a group of little kids come over to watch me draw!  I love to have them point to something they’d like to see me draw, and while they’re waiting for me to finish, I try to teach them a few things.  Before they leave, I always try to fit in a few caricatures they can take home to mom and dad!

My indulgence is my morning exercise routine.  It’s the only time I have all to myself and I’m religious about doing it. If I don’t, I run the risk of not being able to walk, and that’s much too scary to even consider!  So, every morning I spend 45 minutes doing a series of cardio, stretches, and calisthenics to counteract the symptoms of my disease while I watch the morning news. The payoff has been incredible! In 1 short year, I’ve ditched my cane, I haven’t had to use a wheelchair, plus I lost over 50 lbs and reduced my insulin intake by 30%! I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, but I realize I still have a long way to go to keep my muscles working properly and my health in check.  Hmm … Maybe I should consider changing this one to an addiction—what do you think?!

BLURB:

Fall in love with the boy destined to be King of kings and the girl who captured his heart forever in “Miriamne the Magdala!”  Based on over 25 years of research and insight into the lives and times of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Author and Historian JB Richards’ introductory chapter to the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series—the greatest love story never told—masterfully tells the tale of the so-called “missing years” of Jesus (Yeshua—in his native Aramaic tongue), expanding on his intimate relationship with the young woman who would become his closest confidante, most loyal disciple, and one true love.  Forget everything you thought you knew about Christ and the early Christian community, and learn how Miriamne earned the nickname Magdala—“the Tower of the Flock”—in this groundbreaking new novel.  Once you read “Miriamne the Magdala”, you will never see Yeshua and the Magdala the same way again!

Excerpt from “Miriamne the Magdala”, Chapter 31 – The Romans:

This scene takes place at Miriamne’s ancestral family estate in the foothills of Sepphoris. An ailing Joseph, Mary, and their three youngest children—Yeshua (age 13), Sali (age 12), and Little Mara (age 5)—have come to stay at their cousins’ country estate so Joseph can seek medical attention.  Miriamne and Martha are trying to make Sali and Mara feel welcome and at home on their first evening’s stay …

The Romans

At first, Sali pulled her veil forward to hide her tears, but a moment later, she looked back at me through hollow eyes. Her bottom lip trembled and her tears spilled over as she sucked in a deep breath. “My apologies, Miri,” she whispered as she forced an unconvincing smile.

I gave Sali an encouraging jut of my chin as I continued to dry Mara’s hair with the towel, blaming her highly emotional state on simple exhaustion and the stress of just having left her home. Martha had a harder time coming to terms with her anguish. “What is wrong, Sali?” Martha asked as she wrung her hands nervously. Her green cat-eyes opened wide as she gasped, “I hope I did not say anything to upset you!”

Sali’s shoulders heaved and she began to cry uncontrollably. Martha looked at me with great concern, but she was at a loss for words.

“Slih’a,” Sali blurted out between sobs. She covered her face with her hands before she took in a deep breath and tried to steady herself.

“Sali,” I asked her again, “what is it?”

Sali gathered the front of her tunic in her two fists and held on for dear life as she tried to explain her outburst.

“Bevakasha, Martha and Miri, do not misunderstand me, for I am most grateful to your family, but—” She looked at each of us in turn. “It is just that … that—” She choked on her words, unable to contain her sorrow.

Martha rushed over to her. “Sali, I am simply beside myself,” she said as she pushed Sali’s hair back away from her face. “Bevakasha—tell us what is wrong!”

Sali caught her breath and she gave Martha a grateful nod of her head. “Truly, I did not mean to offend you, Cousins. It is just that I have never seen such a beautiful home before—let alone eaten a meal fit for a queen. Nor have I ever been invited to sleep in such splendor.” She bowed her head and looked up at us through her long dark lashes. “My bed has always been on the rooftop in the summer and on the floor of the Common Room by the brazier in the colder months, wedged in between my brothers, or their wives, or my sister and my nephews.”

Sali wiped a tear away with a shaky hand. She laughed cynically before she forced herself to speak further. “Never have we had such things as … as … these!” She extended her arm and swept it over the mikvah and past the doorway into the bedchamber. Still, more troubled her beyond the lavishness of the Manor House—something dark … something heinous, and Martha and I were stunned by what she shared. “May I ask who is keeping guard tonight, Martha?” Her eyes darted about anxiously. “I am certain Dod Micah has a plan in place should the Villa should be attacked, but Mara and I have not been given the signal, nor have we been shown where to hide.”

Martha and I exchanged concerned glances as Sali cowered against the corner of the wall. She was panicked and breathing heavily as she scanned the opulence of her and Mara’s bedchamber, searching for a route of escape. I had never seen anyone—much less a young woman with Sali’s usually blustery disposition—so scared.

Before we left for Nazareth, Abba and Ima had warned the two of us about the sparser living arrangements and adverse conditions our cousins suffered here in Galilee, and had explained to us the reason for the Galileans hatred of Rome.

Ever since the rebellion and destruction of Sepphoris two decades ago, the Romans had given little leeway to the populace of Galilee. It was the Commander’s dear friend, Centurion Crassius Draco Cyprianus, who summed up Rome’s position by repeating Caesar’s own words, “Keep these Galileans under a heavy yoke and they will be controlled. Those who do not succumb to the Law will be made to die by the Law.”

The Legionaries had come down hard, sacking their villagers and pillaging their farm goods at least once every few years. Rumors of atrocities, such as murder and rape, were common. Thus the Galileans—who suffered immensely under Roman rule—always had their backs to the wall. Once alerted to any Roman patrols heading their way, women and children were sent scurrying down into a system of tunnels that wound their way beneath village streets—tunnels that were well-hidden and secreted away from prying Roman eyes. They remained cowering underground—sometimes for days at a time—until the all-clear signal could be given. I gulped when I realized, This is the reality of Sali and Mara’s world.

While Sali’s family pieced-out their daily existence—hiding from soldiers and bandits—my own family had lived in relative safety. Life in Jerusalem and Bethany was much more cosmopolitan. There were no rogues—other than a few pick-pockets and wine-sots—and the Roman influence in Judea was incidental. The legions attached to the Holy City were a fact of life, and although it could sometimes be quite obtrusive during religious holidays, many Roman soldiers and their families took up residence right alongside the Jewish families abiding in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns.

Do not misunderstand me—a very tight rein was kept by the Roman Consulate and the Temple Hierarchy to keep the peace. Together, the two forces maintained a discretionary eye on those who would dare disrupt the Pax Romana, and the result was worth it, for we all lived in peace as neighbors of the Holy Temple and the Fortress Antonia. Back in Jerusalem, and throughout Judea, the Commander had many Roman friends: citizens, politicians, military leaders, and soldiers. As a Temple Guard, he had received his own military training from Cyprianus and the Roman Garrison at the Antonia. Over the years, he had become close friends with many of the soldiers stationed there, and those friendships only grew stronger as Abba was promoted through the ranks of the Holy Temple Guard.

In Bethany, it was not at all unusual for our family to host banquets for the Commander’s closest Roman friends and their families. They were always welcomed warmly at our former home. Even now—despite the distance from Jerusalem to our new home at the Villa—many of Abba’s Roman friends still stopped in regularly to visit their old comrade and lodge with us for a few days before returning to Rome or Jerusalem for retirement or reassignment. The Commander’s former comrades-in-arms were welcome just as much here at the Villa as they had been in Bethany—with open arms and perked ears, we yearned to discover how the rest of our dear friends and family were faring in our old community.

Here in Galilee, the people feared and hated the Romans. Galilee was a hotbed of rebels and prophets proclaiming the Lord’s wrath upon the Empire and the imminent destruction of Rome. Within the last few decades, several unsuccessful coups and uprisings had resulted in disaster for the Galilean populaces, and the Roman authorities had reacted with swift and terrible vengeance. Many Galilean families had lost fathers, sons, brothers, and nephews to the Roman lance, sword, or arrow, but the manner of death feared the most was crucifixion. Fewer than two decades ago, an armed revolt by Galilean revolutionaries had taken place in Sepphoris, and the Roman legions had swept into the city like wildfire. The rebels were easily defeated and the Romans razed the city—burned it right to the ground! Many of the people who lived in Sepphoris at that time were either executed or sold as slaves. But the greatest horror the Galileans had endured took place when the Two-Thousand—those labeled as rebels by the empirical authorities—were crucified by order of the Roman Legate, Varus. This harsh action instantly squelched any further talk of rebellion, but the Galileans’ hatred of the Romans was still palpable, even to this very day.

Roman soldiers who patrolled the villages around Sepphoris were distrustful of the peasantry, and they oftentimes found ways to harangue and persecute them given the least opportunity. The Roman regime plagued the Galileans with routine raids on the villages and severe over-taxation of a people who could barely subsist on the meager rations they had. The sight of rebels and instigators mounted on crosses along certain town roads was commonplace, and the average Galilean would say the only action anyone could take was to pray to God for deliverance from their abusive overlords.

During our brief overnight in Nazareth, Martha and I had hardly been exposed to the fear of attack and the harsh living conditions our cousins suffered each and every day: the lack of proper sanitary conditions to wash and relieve oneself, the constant rationing of food, water, and other provisions, the pounded dirt floors, the persistent layer of chalk-dust that covered everything in sight, and the smoky, overcrowded rooms that offered virtually no privacy from others who were hurriedly disrobing and dressing up.

Dod Joseph’s dilapidated little home on the outskirts of Nazareth had provided scarce comfort to Martha and me as far as amenities were concerned, but what unnerved us the most were the three limestone guard towers situated behind the property. They had been built—and were routinely manned—to warn the villagers of any raid or attack, but the towers certainly provided no defense at all for the town since they left my uncle’s house open to every possible affront. Any band of thieves could see that Nazareth afforded an easy opportunity to pillage the annual harvest, rob a few houses of their treasured goods, or seize a few women and children who could be taken away and sold off as slaves or servants for the houses of the wealthy.

On the way back to the Villa, Yeshua pointed out a lone figure crouched atop his family’s house. When the apparition stood up and waved to us, I recognized the hulking shadow of his brother Judas. As Yeshua waved back to him, he explained that he and his brothers took turns sitting up on the rooftop—day and night—watching keeping an eye on the distant horizon and looking for any sign of trouble. Apparently, the men who were stationed inside the towers drank often and fell asleep at their posts.

Sali had lived all her life under the constant threat of raids and attack from foreign bandits or soldiers who would certainly not hesitate to seize her once they noticed her youthful beauty and healthy, firm body. She would bring a fine price in the slave market for any corrupt landowner or aristocrat seeking to use and exploit her. As a slave, she would be subjected to the whims of her master. If she was lucky, she would be sold to King Herod, or one of his Court Attendants, and treated as a concubine, cherished and pampered, but never truly free. More often than not, however, even girls as beautiful as Sali were raped outright by the crass and lustful bandits or soldiers who tore them from their family’s arms. These unfortunate victims were fated to be murdered, butchered beyond recognition, and buried in unmarked graves. Ultimately, no evidence would be left to prove that these girls—and sometimes young boys—had ever existed at all. 

These were the conditions Sali grew up with and feared all of her young life. Liberty, freedom, and security were luxuries for the privileged class only. If Sali was like every other Jew in Galilee, she prayed for the day when the Anointed One would finally rise up and deliver our people from the oppression of Roman rule, foreign bandits, and the corruption of Herod Antipas.

Tiny Link to “Miriamne the Magdala” on Amazon:  https://www.tinyurl.com/z8vtvtp  Check out a sample of the first seven chapters.

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Featuring Jude Roy-MTW Blog Tour

Last, but not least, for my Blog Tour special guest author is Jude Roy with a Q&A Interview. I especially enjoyed reading his bio.  His father reminds me of my own dearly departed grandfather, who came to West Virginia from Kentucky when he was only eight years to work in the coal mines with a second grade education.   I’ve never heard anyone speak Cajun in person before, although I’ve read a few good books about Louisiana and the different dialect.    

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Bio

Jude Roy grew up in Chataignier, a small town in South Louisiana. His father was a sharecropper, illiterate, and poor as dirt. His mother was the educated one in the family. She went all the way up to the six grade. He failed the first grade because he could not speak English–he spoke Cajun. Despite all that, he is a writer and an English teacher in a college. Stories were very important in his culture. He listened, he internalized, and now, he is giving back. His latest novel, Lisa’s Rape, focuses on a woman’s effort to find out who raped her twenty years in the past.  He is currently working on his third John LeGrand novel about his effort to find a young woman, abducted by a psychopath, and missing for for over thirty years. His life is a lot calmer than his novels on most days.

Why do you write in the mystery/detective genre?

At the tender young age of fourteen/fifteen, all I read were detective novels and movie magazines because that was what my mother read.  I started with Erle Stanley Gardner. Then I moved on to Chandler, Spillane, Cohen, Stout, and others.  What attracted me to them were the sexy covers—hey, I was fourteen.  All my training has been in literary, but most of the novels I write are a mixture of literary and mystery.  John LeGrand, my main detective, came to me as a short story.  I enjoyed his company, so here I am.  I have included him in over twenty short stories, novellas, or novels.

What inspires you?

People—how they walk, talk, act.  At a party, I’m the one sitting by himself, watching the other partiers having fun.  I read the local paper religiously—everything from the front page to the editorials.  I’m a college instructor.  I watch how my students interact.  I read their papers and pay attention to what is important to them.  However, what inspires me most is how people speak—the rhythm of their speech.  One of my favorite writers in that respect is Elmore Leonard.  He was one of the best at capturing the rhythm of speech.  I just finished a short story.  One of my characters, a young woman, is instrumental in the plot of the story, but she seemed flat to me, in that she didn’t seem to stand out.  I went back over her dialogue and had her say “you know” each time she gave the main character information.  It’s aggravating for him, and helps define their relationship.  I like the story much more, now.

Who is your favorite author?

Earnest Gaines because he was a master at showing instead of telling.  I’d been told that throughout my college career, but Gaines actually showed me how it was done.  In one of his scenes—in Katherine Cormier, I believe—a group of men are sitting in a bar with a set up (a bowl of ice, a pitcher of water, and a bottle of whiskey) in front of them.  These are hardworking men, mostly field hands, but Gaines doesn’t have to tell the reader that.  He gives us a glimpse of the ice bowl with dirt from their fingernails mixed in with the water at the bottom of the bowl.  Now, I understood what showing meant. I also enjoy Grisham, especially A Time to Kill, The Firm, and The Pelican Brief.  As for as detective/mystery writers go, I have to say Raymond Chandler.  I mean, I was Philip Marlowe.

LINKS

Blog: http://juderoycajunpi.blogspot.com/

Amazon: https://goo.gl/4hDPTO

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/r7z1RA

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jude.roy9

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Featuring Christina Philippou-MTW Blog Tour

A warm welcome to my very first Mystery Thriller Week Blog Tour guest author, Christina Philippou.  I love her name!  Anyone who’s ever read my blog or my Undercover Romance Series knows that I’m a tad bit obsessed with spies, so I have to admit I was more than a little disappointed when she flat out states she’s not one…..or is she?  At least, she has deniability on my blog. 

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Author Bio

Christina Philippou’s writing career has been a varied one, from populating the short-story notebook that lived under her desk at school to penning reports on corruption and terrorist finance.  When not reading or writing, she can be found engaging in sport or undertaking some form of nature appreciation.  Christina has three passports to go with her three children, but is not a spy.   Lost in Static is her first novel.

Christina’s Advice-POV

Hello and thank you so much for having me on your site today as part of the Mystery Thriller Week blog tour!

I’ve decided to talk a little on point of view (POV) today, so here goes:

When I set out to write my debut novel, Lost in Static, I started with a single seed of what I wanted to do: write a multi-POV story. I’ve read a few over the years, including Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and I devoured them. I hunted for multi-POV stories everywhere (which is how, incidentally, I started reading outside my crime and adventure comfort zone and even started reading – shock, horror! – romance and other genres).

I loved seeing things from differing points of view as, when done well, this gives an added layer to any story and an insight into more than one character’s thinking.  But it does have to be done well.  I have, unfortunately, read many multi-POV stories which alternate between different characters that sound exactly the same.  This, as you can well imagine, is not a good thing as, unless the characters are identical twins, them sounding alike is incredibly unrealistic and therefore detracts, rather than adds, to the narrative.

So how do you make them sound different?  I had (please don’t laugh) a spreadsheet with common words, phrases, and mannerisms that my four protagonists used and made sure that they were sufficiently alike to be believable (they came from similarish backgrounds, after all) but also sufficiently different to be real.  And, from the reviews I have read of Lost in Static to date, this seems to have worked.  Other people I know use character sheets or notes, but the main thing is to have somewhere where you can chart each character to help make them three-dimensional.

But that wasn’t all. I’m also fascinated by the idea of what are classed as unreliable narrators. Ask my husband and me (separately) to tell you the story of how we got together, and you’ll get two very different accounts of events.  Ask an entire team to tell you the story of one group event or night out, and you’ll get multiple versions of a single occurrence. I wanted to read books that made you question points of view and understanding of events but, the harder I hunted, the less I found.  Fine, I thought, if I can’t read it, I’ll write it.  And so I did.

I threw my characters into the deep end, put them in situations that could, potentially, appear completely different depending on which way you were looking at things or what knowledge you had of the events leading up to the crash. I dragged them through violence, manipulation, jealousy, stupidity, and everything in between, and scarred them as best I could.  Because only then did I feel that could I really show what it is I wanted to do from the start: that, no matter how much you think you know about a person, you can never know everything they are thinking, and therefore you can misinterpret their actions ever so easily.  And this can have some very dangerous consequences…

Lost in Static

Sometimes growing up is seeing someone else’s side of the story.

Four stories. One truth. Whom do you believe? 

Callum has a family secret.  Yasmine wants to know it.  Juliette thinks nobody knows hers. All Ruby wants is to reinvent herself. 

They are brought together by circumstance, torn apart by misunderstanding.  As new relationships are forged and confidences are broken, each person’s version of events is coloured by their background, beliefs and prejudices.  And so the ingredients are in place for a year shaped by lust, betrayal, and violence… 

Lost in Static is the gripping debut from author Christina Philippou.  Whom will you trust?

Links

Lost in Static is available from, amongst others, Amazon UK, Amazon US, and direct from the publisher, Urbane Publications.

You can connect with Christina on her websiteTwitterFacebookInstagram and Google+.

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MTW Guest Author-Graeme Rodaughan

I’ve been a life-long fan of vampires.  As previously mentioned in my blogs, Rick Springfield was my first crush.  He played  a homicide detective cursed to live as one of the undead in the 1989 movie Nick Knight.  In 1997, I fell in love with another vampire named Angel played by David Boreanaz on a television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  His successful spin-off, Angel, was a little more dark and serious.  I started the addiction to my favorite show, Bones, and still tune in every week after twelve seasons simply because of his acting skills. I’ve even watched a few more serious movies about the preternatural beings, including Dark Prince:  The True Story of Dracula about Vlad Dracula the Impaler.  

As a teen and young adult, I became absorbed in horror novels such as Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.  I haven’t had much time to read lately, but I’m taking a couple of months off from writing, starting next month.  I’m intrigued about today’s topic of a present-day book about vampires for Mystery Thriller Week.  In the spotlight is author Graeme Rodaughan and his thriller with paranormal/supernatural elements, A Subtle Agency.    In a universe where reality can be re-programmed, any wish can be satisfied or any nightmare realized.  Set in a near future Boston & New York; in a world that looks a lot like ours, vampires rule from the shadows, but they are not unopposed.  Standing against them are two ancient secret societies. The Order of Thoth and the Red Empire, united in their opposition to the vampires and bitterly divided by their different values.

A young Anton Smith, a Boston university student in his freshman year, and star Hockey player comes to the attention of the 2nd most powerful vampire in the world, General Chloe Armitage.  She has a visionary plan for the future in which she needs Anton to play a critical part.  Anton’s world and everything that he thought he knew is shattered. He is thrown onto the streets of Boston and must quickly adapt to survive.  Will he learn what he needs to know quickly enough to make a difference or become a knight in an ambitious vampire’s chess game where the future of humanity is at stake.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt:

Gang’s sword crashed against the praetorian’s blades.

The praetorians fought with skill and power, they pressed hard against Gang and he had to give ground, shifting backward toward the melee along the dock. A dozen yards away, Chloe Armitage waited with glistening eyes, her attention focused on him; the Red Dragon was unsheathed, its point carried in perfect stillness an inch off the concrete surface of the dock.

First these two, and then the Demon.

Gang reassessed the battle, as the two vampires circled around him, probing his defenses without success.

I can’t allow her to get to Li and Anton – they are not ready to face her – I must protect them.

Plunging his mind deeply into silence he became one with space, flow, and time. He felt power surge through his body as the White Dragon arced through the air, shearing through the red-headed praetorian’s sword in a shower of brilliant sparks. The vampire’s eyes widened in terror as Gang’s blade continued past his shattered defenses, driving deep into his chest. Gang drew the White Dragon back, cutting the vampire’s heart in two.

The second praetorian’s blade whispered through an overhead arc toward Gang’s head like the hammer of a dark god.

Blurring with blinding speed, Gang continued the motion of drawing the White Dragon from the dying vampire, sweeping it through a horizontal arc, striking the second praetorian beneath the armpit, the White Dragon continued easily through ruptured armor, flesh and bone before exiting in a spray of bright red blood.

The vampire, his mouth gaping with shock, slid off the lower part of his body, crumpling into a writhing heap.

Graeme shares information about himself:

I have a driving ambition to be the best writer of suspenseful, thrilling, action orientated vampire novels that I can be.

I’m a stand for human dignity and I enjoy empowering those around me because I prefer the company of those who are awake to their own power over those who are blind to it.

I value courage, intelligence, compassion, independence, ingenuity, liberty, empowerment, and human dignity.

I base my own moral perspective on the pillars of informed consent, and compassion through empowerment.

I’m a pessimist about how much humans can know, and I don’t believe in much at all. I’m both curious and comfortable with mystery.

I don’t assume that I’m right.

There are things in this world that are of great, sublime, awesome beauty and there are things in this world that are of great, sublime, awesome horror.

I hope to reflect both polarities within my stories, and leave it up to whatever audience I attract to judge the value of what I do for themselves.

Sample the Prologue and Chapter One.  LINK (Amazon US): myBook.to/ASubtleAgency

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2nd in Series-The Seaside Slayer

I have a fascination with the number one, and this was well before my sons told me that the time 11:11 was good luck.  I remember reading when I was much younger that “one” was my lucky number.  Maybe that stuck with me.  When my newest book The Seaside Slayer was completed on 1/11, I was thrilled.

How did I come up with the serial killer’s obsession with the numbers nine?  Well, I did one of those add up all the digits of your date of birth.  Then add together the two numbers you get as the sum, and that is your lucky number.   I believe you can guess what I came up with.

A lot of people die in my Killer Attraction Series sequel.  Only one of them stays in the story for a little while longer as a ghost.  I don’t personally believe in ghosts, even though I enjoy a good ghost story.  The ultimate romantic gesture would be to love someone so much that you can’t leave them.  I write fiction, so anything goes as long as I can make my story believable.

https://channillo.com/series/killer-attractions-series-2-the-seaside-slayer

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