I'm chatting live tonight, 9pm ET

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff) Just a quick note to let you all know – I’m chatting live tonight in the WriterSpace chat room, 9pm ET
http://www.writerspace.com/chat/

It’s 1 am for me so I’m not always coherent (!) but I’ll happily answer any questions you might have about the Huntress series, my concern over escalating violence against women in the media and in life, and, um, story structure.

All welcome, and there’s an audiobook giveaway, too!

YES, I am working on the Silence of the Lambs breakdown. Some family issues and a spate of traveling and the Cold Moon launch have slowed me down a bit….

– Alex

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff

    

5.17.15 - What Lies Behind the Book (see what I did there?)

By JT Ellison

On July 24, 2013, I read a story about a young med school student named Paul DeWolf who’d been killed in his apartment. No motive, no witnesses, no suspects. By all accounts, DeWolf was an exceptional young man. He excelled in everything from school to his military training to sports and his faith. He was perfect. Everything about him foretold a brilliant future. And here he was, his promising young life cut short. I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I read everything I could find on the case. And there was a single conclusion to be drawn.

It was a perfect murder…

That became the first line of WHAT LIES BEHIND. I let my imagination run, wrote up a somewhat outlandish proposal. By August 12 I had a title, one that fit beautifully with the idea of a locked room mystery, and the futility of a life lost too soon. The title comes from the Thoreau (or perhaps Emerson, no one knows) quote:

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us

are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.

Oddly enough, the day I decided on the title, I was in Ace Hardware looking for plants, and saw a plaque with beautiful birds on it. Up close, I realized it was the very quote I’d used to title the book. (I snatched it up, and it resides in my office in a spot of honor.) I knew then I had something special. Sometimes, the universe tells you when you’re on the right track.

In October, I submitted the proposal, which my agent and editor loved. I shelved the story until April 2014, when I was finished with my six months of the year I dedicate to Catherine and could think about it.

I started writing April 3. My publisher needed an excerpt for the paperback of WHEN SHADOWS FALL, so I wrote an opening. Cobbled it together, really. And in so doing, realized the story I thought I was telling wasn’t the story that wanted to be written.

It happens that way sometimes. You think a book is about one thing, but it surprises you, takes on a life of its own, and suddenly, you’re left with a completely new story. The characters dictate the story, obviously. And a lot happened between October 2013 and April 2014. Weird things, and good things.

Several wonderful people gave money to charity to have their names appear in the book. When I accept these kinds of commissions, I don’t just toss in a name. I want the donor to get their money’s worth. I create real characters, with real purpose to the story. Tommy Cattafi became my dead medical student. Robin Souleyret was his contact, also dead. (There’s another character name I can’t share, because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. You’ll see that one in the acknowledgements.)

And then the story decided it didn’t want to be about dead people. It wanted to have live people, who did amazing things. Every day, while I watched, it wove itself into a completely different entity. Tommy Cattafi wasn’t dead, but gravely injured. Robin Souleyret was very much alive, and a former CIA agent. What? She had a sister who was FBI, and her name was Amanda. She was murdered and Cataffi injured in what looked like a murder suicide. Their names became so intrinsically involved that, because of these character names, the story itself changed. It evolved. It became about Sam and Robin, the push and pull of the investigation, and the power of love.

There were other issues with the story as well. At its heart, WHAT LIES BEHIND is about a bioterror attack on the U.S. using an Ebola-esque hemorrhagic virus. Yeah. Topical much?

I was more than halfway through the writing well before the African outbreak, and as the virus, and the story, continued to spread, I kept having to change the book so it didn’t look like I’d stolen the story from the headlines. Because I, apparently, am simply too prescient when it comes to writing about current events.

And then we have Sam and Xander and Fletcher. The backbone of these books. Vital, one might say, to their longevity. Samantha really comes into her own during this investigation. It was such a blast to watch her take over. She’s always been a smart cookie, but now, she’s smart and tough and isn’t about to sit back when she sees injustices. To put it mildly, she kicks ass.

It took five months to write this book, because the story was a moving target, day after day. When I finished the book, I was almost afraid to turn it in. The synopsis I’d given my editor months before was unrecognizable outside of a young man cut down in his prime. Completely different from the finished book. Happily, she loved it, and here we are.

It’s always fascinating to me to relive the writing of a book. WHAT LIES BEHIND was possibly my most challenging to date, simply because it did not behave. It didn’t do what it was told. It’s fitting WHAT LIES BEHIND was the thirteenth novel I’ve written. It seems I’ve just given birth to my first teenager.

Via: JT Ellison

    

5.14.15 - 7 Minutes With... Tracy Grant

By JT Ellison

Meeting the lovely Tracy Grant was another benefit to my relationship with Catherine Coulter. We got to know one another at one of CC’s lunches a couple of years ago, and I’ve been entranced with her work ever since. She’s a very interesting woman – I mean, come on, how many people do you know who studied fifteenth-century British history at Stanford, co-wrote with their mom, and love opera? Tracy is now writing in the fascinating vein of fellow favorites of mine, Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig, whose work come alive on the page as history mixed with a dash of romance and a lot of suspense. I can’t recommend her enough both as a person, and a writer. She’s the bomb.

_________

Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

“Children will Listen” from Into the Woods. The original Broadway cast, though I also listen to the movie version.

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

A scene set at the London docks involving a runaway child. It’s from my as yet untitled WIP, the next book in my Malcolm & Suzanne Rannoch Regency/Napoleonic historical mystery series.

What’s your latest book about?

THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, which comes out tomorrow (May 15) begins with Malcolm and Suzanne woken in the middle of the night by a friend who is a Bow Street Runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been murdered in his St. James’s Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was found standing over the dying duke. Laura has been a minor character in the series. It was fun exploring her story – and her secrets.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

At home curled up in an armchair. In Peet’s Coffee & Tea with a latte or a cup of Earl Grey. Or in the play park or Pottery Barn Kids while my daughter plays. I write on a MacBook Air using Scrivener, but sometimes I take notes by hand. I’m very attached to my Cross pen.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Different books at different ages, but THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer was a favorite from about 10 on.

What’s your secret talent?

I’m good at seating arrangements. Would come in handy if I found myself in one of my novels.

What book are you reading now?

WHO BURIES THE DEAD by C.S. Harris. Love this series!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I actually can’t remember not wanting to be a writer, but the first I remember consciously thinking about it was in 3rd grade when we were assigned a story in school and characters and scenes poured out of me. From then on I was always writing something.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

Jane Austen and Tom Stoppard. I suppose it’s conceivable I could meet Tom Stoppard someday. I think I’d be starstruck to the point of incoherence.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

“Don’t get it right, just get it written.” My mom, Joan Grant, with whom I wrote 8 books, had it taped to her computer.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Tell myself I just have to write 100 words and then I can take a mini-break, check email, look at Facebook or Twitter, read a few pages. Then another 100 after the mini-break. I can nearly always come up with 100 words (and usually when I read them over they aren’t as bad as I fear).

Are you creatively satisfied?

Yes very. As long as I’m working on a book!

What would you like to be remembered for?

My writing. And, by my daughter, for being a good mom and inspiring her to be creative.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains? Beach.

Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning. Lattes or Earl Grey tea while I’m working.

Skydive or bungee jump? I like to create adventures for my characters rather than have them myself, but if I had to pick probably bungee jump.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Though I love vanilla lattes!

Winter or summer? Winter. Good writing weather.

Cake or pie? I have to pick? Cake.

Cats or dogs? Both, though right now we have 3 cats.

Pens or pencils? Pens.

Truth or dare? Probably truth. Of course I might change my mind if I heard the question…

Print or ebook? Both. I still love print books and buy them. But I got an iPad to read out-of-print research books and found I love reading on it, so that’s actually how I do most of my reading now.

_________

photo credit: Raphael Coffey Photography

photo credit: Raphael Coffey Photography

Tracy Grant studied British history at Stanford University and received the Firestone Award for Excellence in Research for her honors thesis on shifting conceptions of honor in late-fifteenth-century England. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her young daughter and three cats. In addition to writing, Tracy works for the Merola Opera Program, a professional training program for opera singers, pianists, and stage directors. Her real life heroine is her daughter Mélanie, who is very cooperative about Mummy’s writing time. She is currently at work on her next book chronicling the adventures of Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. Visit her on the Web at www.tracygrant.org.

And here’s a little more about THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, in stores everywhere tomorrow!

In the elegant environs of Mayfair, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch live a seemingly charmed life. Malcolm, a former diplomatic attaché and intelligence agent, is a rising Member of Parliament. Suzanne is fast becoming one of London’s most sought hostesses. But even their closest friends don’t know that the Rannoch’s marriage is still reeling from the revelation that Suzanne was a French spy when she met British agent Malcolm and that she married him to gather information on British plans. Malcolm and Suzanne are hoping for private time to repair their marriage. But their peace is shattered by a late night visit from a Bow Street runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been found murdered in the study of his St. James’s Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was standing over the dying duke.

Malcolm and Suzanne are convinced the woman they trusted with their children is not a killer. To prove Laura’s innocence, they are drawn into an investigation that will test their wits and the fragile truce between them. But whether or not she murdered the Duke of Trenchard, Laura Dudley is certainly not what she seemed. Revelations about her identity cut dangerously close to Suzanne’s own past. Malcolm and Suzanne realize more is at stake than Laura’s life and liberty. The investigation into the Duke of Trenchard’s murder will either prove the resilience of their bond–or snap it in two.

Via: JT Ellison

    

5.11.15 - A Sneak Peek of WHAT LIES BEHIND!

By JT Ellison

The countdown continues! Here’s another insider treat for you – a sneak peek at the first chapter of WHAT LIES BEHIND.

Sam is coming….

_________

Chapter One

Georgetown
Washington, D.C.
Tuesday morning

Laughter.

They’d drunk too much, gotten too loud, too boisterous. Mr. Smith’s kicked them out a few minutes past midnight, and they stumbled into the Georgetown night, dragged themselves up Wisconsin, and loped across M Street, tripping and clutching each other to stay upright, cackling hysterically, their heels an incoherent tattoo on the sidewalks. People watched them, their antics greeted with amusement or derision, depending on the mood of the observers.

“I can’t go on, I can’t. Stop, Emma, please, stop.”

Emma, ponytailed, blonde and lanky, fiddled with her tights with one hand, tugged on Cameron’s arm. “I gotta pee. We can’t stop now, Cam, it’s just a few more blocks.”

“My feet hurt. And my head.” Cameron slipped, landed hard against the plate-glass window of Starbucks. “Bump!” That set them off again, the giggles turning into guffaws.

Emma yanked on the door to the darkened store. “Nuts. They’re closed.”

“Why are they closed?” Cameron whined.

“`Cause it’s midnight. The witching hour. And you’re not a witch, you’re just a bitch. Tommy’s place is just ahead. Can you make it there?”

Cameron squeezed her eyes closed, chanting the rhyme under her breath. “Not a witch, just a bitch, not a witch, just a bitch.”

“You really are screwed up, aren’t you? Come on.” Emma dragged her to her feet, off down the darkened street.

Georgetown never truly sleeps. Even when the bars close, there are still people about—joggers, the ubiquitous construction workers, musicians and homeless, dog walkers and students, lovers and mistresses. A stew of incessant liveliness, perfect for the college-aged, and the cuckolded. The romantics and the hardened.

They made it a block before Cameron stopped dead. She grabbed Emma’s arm, nails digging into the soft flesh.

“Did you hear that?”

Emma strained, but one block up from M Street and two blocks over, all she heard was the tittering of the night birds and the whooshing of tires on pavement, maybe some faint, masked music. “Hear what?”

Cameron shook her head. “I thought I heard something. Someone shouted. I’m drunk. Where are we?”

Emma glanced at the sign on the corner. The numbers and letters weaved together. She shut one eye and the familiar N floated into range.

“We’re on N Street. One more block up. Come on already.”

They started off again. “How are you going to get in? I thought you two broke up. Didn’t he take back his key?”

“We’re not broken up. Just on a break. There’s a difference. He’s so busy now, with school and working. He just took on another new project. He needed some space. I understand.”

“Oh. I see. You understand why you’re not important to him anymore. Big of you.”

“Bitch.” But there was no heat behind the word.

She heard footsteps. Straightened in time to see a jogger cross the street in front of them, legs pounding out a steady rhythm. Chick could move. Emma wasn’t a runner. She played tennis, quite well, but the idea of running for the sake of running was boring to her. At least on the courts there was a tangible goal.

She realized she was alone, looked over her shoulder. Cameron had stopped again, was leaning woozily on a trash can.

“Come on,” Emma said, her tongue getting stuck on the words. She bit back a giggle and held out her hand. “We’re almost there.”

“Gotta rest.”

“Fooocuuuus, Cameron. Don’t make me leave you behind in the dark, all alone. Whooooo. Big nasty dark gonna eat you alive.”

Cameron flipped Emma the bird and stumbled back to her feet. “Lesgo.”

A car turned the corner, engine purring as it disappeared behind them. Now they were truly alone.

One block, turn right. Twenty steps more, then the basement apartment railing appeared on her left. Emma fished the key out of her bra. She’d known they were going to be drunk tonight. Thought a little booty call would be appropriate, even though she and Tommy had, in essence, broken up. Not because he didn’t dig her; he did, she knew it. It was just school was tough on him.

She knew Tommy would be home studying, late into the night, working on some random epithelial cell or DNA splicing theory, as he always seemed to be. Medical school was hard. Hell, undergrad was hard. Harder than she’d expected. Life was hard, too, especially for a pretty young thing with just enough smarts to make it into Georgetown, but maybe not quite enough to stay there. Her parents would freak if she failed out.

Tomorrow, I’ll stop drinking and partying and really study.

Tomorrow.

But for tonight, everyone needed to blow off some steam, get a little nookie. Sex was good for the brain. Raised the levels of oxytocin, serotonin, melatonin, all those tonins Tommy liked to talk about.

Emma shook her hair free of its ponytail so it would fall in a sultry mass about her shoulders, sloppily freshened her lip gloss, licked her lips and shot Cameron a look. Cam seemed like she was about to pass out. Her eyes were half-shut, the smile on her face dreamy and stupid.

Emma slipped as she went down the five stairs to Tommy’s front door. She grabbed the railing with both arms, clung on, the metal biting cruelly into her rib cage. She managed not to drop the key, but one sky-high platform peep-toe clattered toward the door, hitting it with a thump.

“Whoops,” she said, laughing. Cameron hooted like it was the best trick she’d ever seen.

Emma put a finger to her lips. “Shhh. God, you’re gonna wake the whole street.” She righted herself with dignity, squared her shoulders and put the key in the lock.

“Aren’t you going to knock?” Cameron asked.

“Why?” Emma replied, jiggling the key, then turning the knob. The door swung open into darkness.

“Darn it. He’s asleep,” Emma said, looking back over her shoulder. “Better be quiet, Cam. Can you be quiet?”

“Go in, for Chrissakes. I need a drink.”

Emma took off her other heel and stepped inside, the straps looped on her index finger. It was dark, so dark she couldn’t see anything. She ran her hand along the wall by the door, found the light switch. The lamp in the foyer cast its yellow glow into the hallway. Tommy’s bike was leaning against the wall. Careful not to knock it over, she pulled Cameron inside and shut the door. Made her way down the hall into the living room.

Turned on the light. Saw red, and it took a moment for reality to penetrate her margarita-fogged brain.

Red.

Not red.

Blood.

Blood, everywhere. The sofa, the floor, the wall by the two-seater bar.

Emma stood frozen, unable to move. Cameron was busy getting sick behind her, gagging and choking. Only then did the smell of the blood hit her, meaty and raw, like steaks left too long in the refrigerator, their surface shiny and green.

Want to run, want to hide, want to go away.

Something kept her rooted to the spot. “Tommy?” she called.

There was no answer.

“Stay here,” she told Cameron, an unnecessary direction. Cam was on her hands and knees, moaning, trying and failing to scrabble backward away from the living room and the vomit. She bumped up against the hallway wall and ducked her head into her hands, eyes squeezed tightly shut. She wasn’t going to be of any help.

Careful to avoid stepping in the blood, Emma moved along the edges of the living room. Tommy’s bedroom was down the hall. It was dark. There were no sounds but Cameron’s low keening, which sent shivers down Emma’s spine.

“Please,” she said, uncertain to whom the plea was directed. Please don’t let this be Tommy’s blood. Please don’t let him be hurt. Please don’t let him be dead. Please please please please please.

His door was shut. She steeled herself, took two deep breaths. The smell was worse here, tighter, fresher. Almost alive in its awfulness.

She opened the door, flipped on the light.

Screams.

Over and over and over again.

Screams.

_________

Don’t forget, if you pre-order WHAT LIES BEHIND, you get more treats. Send your receipt to tmgebooks@gmail.com and you’ll receive classified material from my top-secret author files, downloadable to your e-reader or other device.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | IBOOKS | KOBO
INDIEBOUND | PARNASSUS BOOKS | POWELL’S BOOKS

ADD TO GOODREADS

Via: JT Ellison

    

5.8.15 - Pre-order WHAT LIES BEHIND, Get Classified Material

By JT Ellison

Want a special “director’s cut” (okay, editor’s cut) of a chapter in WHAT LIES BEHIND? When you pre-order the book and send your receipt to tmgebooks@gmail.com, you’ll receive classified material from my top-secret author files, downloadable to your e-reader or other device.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | IBOOKS | KOBO
INDIEBOUND | PARNASSUS BOOKS | POWELL’S BOOKS

ADD TO GOODREADS

Via: JT Ellison

    

5.5.15 - A DEEPER DARKNESS e-book sale!

By JT Ellison

Wanna prep for the release of WHAT LIES BEHIND, Sam Owens #4, later this month? Some of your favorite ebook retailers are here to help you out. A DEEPER DARKNESS, Sam Owens #1, is only $0.99 now until May 11! Find your favorite e-retailer below:

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1AzmEzn
Amazon Canada Kindle:http://amzn.to/1GUmERS
B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/1GT9wtw
Apple iBooks: http://apple.co/1dGNmkE
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1JjFSOg
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1I8VXcH

Via: JT Ellison

    

Enough: Violence against women in crime fiction & film

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

I’m excited to announce that today Cold Moon, book 3 in the Huntress/FBI series, is available worldwide (ebook out now, print and audio coming July 7).

Anyone who’s read the first two books in this series knows that I’m very passionate about it. More than passionate.

I’m writing these books because I’ve had enough.

Last summer I was at Harrogate, the international crime writing festival, and prominently displayed in the book tent was a new crime fiction release that featured a crucified woman on the cover.

A crucified woman. On the cover.

It’s not like I’ve never come across a crucified woman in a crime novel before. In fact, I’ve had to stop reading three or four novels in the past two years when variations of this scene came up. But on the cover, now? The selling image of the novel?

2014 was also the year of the highly praised TV miniseries True Detective, which featured two complex male detectives and a female cast made up entirely of hookers, dead hookers, little dead girls, a mentally challenged incest victim, and the female lead: a wife who cheats on her husband with his partner because she’s too weak to just freaking leave him. Oh right, there was a female love interest who was a doctor – but she had, I believe, one line in the entire show. Maybe two.

Defenders of the show argue, “But the detectives weren’t sympathetic, either.” No, they weren’t, always – but unlike the entire female cast, they were actual, developed characters, not fuck toys for the male characters or – well, corpses.

Then there’s Game of Thrones – a great series that became unwatchable for me a while ago because of the overwhelming frequency of rapes. Defenders of that show say: “But in that world, in those warring countries, there would be a lot of rape. It’s reality.” Yeah, but if you’re arguing realism – the boys and male hostages would be being raped along with the women – just look at the US statistics of male-on-male rape in our own military. But on Game of Thrones, somehow it’s just the women. Over and over and over again.

And difficult as it is to confront the videogame images dissected in Anita Sarkeesian’s sobering series, “Tropes vs.Women- I think we can’t afford not to watch and learn. We’re going to have to wake up to the messages teenage boys are growing up with.

Those are just some high-profile examples. Believe me, I could go on all day and not scratch the surface.

So what do we do? How do we counteract the brutalization of women in crime fiction and media?

I suppose as an author you can avoid the issue by writing cozies, or another genre entirely. But I don’t read cozies, and I wouldn’t know how to write one. I used to teach in the L.A. County prison system. I want to explore the roots of crime, not soft-pedal it. For better or worse, my core theme as a writer is “What can good people do about the evil in the world?”

So my choice is to confront the issue head on.

The fact is, one reason crime novels and film and TV so often depict women as victims is because it’s reality. Since the beginning of time, women haven’t been the predators – we’re the prey. Personally, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

But after all those years (centuries, millennia) of women being victims of the most heinous crimes out there… wouldn’t you think that someone would finally say – “Enough”?

And maybe even strike back?

Well, that’s a story, isn’t it?

So my Huntress Moonseries is about just that.

The books are intense psychological suspense, and take the reader on an interstate manhunt with a haunted FBI agent on the track of what he thinks may be that most rare of killers – a female serial.

Now, I’ve been studying serial killers for years. Years ago, when I was a screenwriter writing crime thrillers, I tracked down the FBI’s textbook on sexual homicide before it was ever available to the public. I attend Citizens Police Academies and other law enforcement and forensics workshops whenever I get the chance. If I know there’s a behavioral profiler at a writing convention, I stalk that person so I can pick his or her brain about serial killers. And I attend Lee Lofland’s fantastic Writers Police Academy (a yearly three-day conference that’s a law enforcement and forensics immersion course).

And here’s what’s really interesting. Arguably there’s never been any such thing as a female serial killer in real life. The women that the media holds up as serial killers actually operate from a completely different psychology from the men who commit what the FBI calls “sexual homicide”.

Even Aileen Wuornos, infamous in the media as “America’s First Female Serial Killer” wasn’t a serial killer in the sense that male killers like Bundy, Gacy and Kemper were serial killers. The profilers I’ve interviewed call Wuornos a spree killer with a vigilante motivation. (I write about her case, and the psychology of other real life mass killers, in Huntress Moon.)

So what’s that about? Why do men do it and women don’t? Women rarely kill, compared to men — but when it happens, what does make a woman kill?

Within the context of my Huntress series I can explore those psychological and sociological questions, and invite my readers to ask – Why? I can realistically bring light on crimes that I consider pretty much the essence of evil – and turn the tables on the perpetrators.

I do not depict rape or torture on the page. I can assure you, no one gets crucified. I think real life crime is horrific enough without rubbing a reader’s face in it or adding absurd embellishments (my personal literary pet peeve is the serial killer with an artistic streak or poetic bent).

In this series I can pose questions about human evil, as it actually presents in real life, without exploiting it. And I’ve created a female character who breaks the mold – but in a way that makes psychological sense for the overwhelming majority of people who read the books.

Whoever she is, whatever she is, the Huntress is like no killer Agent Roarke – or the reader – has ever seen before. And you may find yourself as conflicted about her as Roarke is.

Because as one of the profilers says in the book: “I’ve always wondered why we don’t see more women acting out this way. God knows enough of them have reason.”

So I’d like to know: do the authors among you grapple with the issue of how to counteract the brutalization of women in crime fiction? And what about readers? Do you ever feel that violence against women in crime fiction, TV and film has gone over the top?


— Alex

http://AlexandraSokoloff.com

________________________________________________________________________
Books 1, 2 and 3 of the Huntress/FBI Thrillers, Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, and Cold Moon are available now from Thomas & Mercer.

I very strongly recommend that you read the series in order, starting with Huntress Moon.

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff

    

5.1.15 - A Note From Lee Child on SWEET DREAMS, on sale today!

By JT Ellison

Kindle | Nook | Apple

Today is the release day of several anthology box sets to benefit Brenda Novak’s Juvenile Diabetes foundation. You’ve already heard me talking about SWEET DREAMS (thrillers) SWEET SEDUCTION (erotica) and SWEET TALK (romance). I contributed my very first Taylor Jackson novel, never before seen until today.

All told, 36 authors contributed stories. We receive nothing for this. It’s a labor of love, a way for us to help Brenda raise money for this wonderful cause.

Which sounds great, but what does it really mean? Why have we done this? Why are we participating?

The wonderful and fabulous Lee Child wrote the foreword for the SWEET DREAMS box set. I’m sharing it with you today so you can understand the WHY behind this very cool fundraiser.

I’m a thriller writer, and a thriller reader, and hence a sucker for the classic thriller plot, where an ordinary man or an ordinary woman slowly becomes aware of a looming threat: someone or something is out there, close by, infinitely dangerous; or perhaps an intruder is already in the house, mocking, violating a sanctuary, or perhaps – really creepy – he’s been living in the attic for a couple of weeks already, camping out, undetected, silent, leaving odd nighttime disturbances … who moved that chair?

Or perhaps, for added anguish, it’s not the ordinary man or woman under threat: it’s his or her son or daughter, their child, their responsibility, the intended victim, a helpless target. What mother or father wouldn’t fight to the death? And they do … 400 pages later, an investigation has been conducted, the bad guy has been identified, close scrapes have been survived, and finally the family is sitting together on the bottom stair, stunned but finally safe, as the bad guy is put in the cop car and driven away. The end.

Diabetes starts like that. But it doesn’t finish like that.

It’s a mysterious malfunction. No one knows the cause. Researchers suspect an element of genetic susceptibility, and in those susceptible it’s possible the Coxsackie B4 virus kicks things off. Then a tiny balance among the human body’s billion moving parts goes slightly out of whack, and the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans (such an innocent name) inside the pancreas shut down and stop producing insulin, so the body can no longer deal with the kind of sugars we crave.

The intruder is now in the house.

Untreated, all kinds of complications will follow. Cardiovascular disease, and stroke, and damage to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. And more. Including death. All in store, unbelievably, for the ordinary parent’s beautiful and vulnerable child. No one’s fault. Type 1 diabetes is unrelated to lifestyle. Most victims are thin or normal, healthy, well fed, well loved.

The fight back begins with maintenance. Sometimes diet is enough; more often, insulin must be provided. An endless round begins: testing and injecting, testing and injecting. Most sufferers do OK for a long time, but only OK. Quite apart from the social and organizational burdens of diet and injection, they can feel under the weather a lot of the time. But in thriller terms, we can at least get them barricaded in a safe house, at least temporarily, doors and windows locked, guns drawn, with the bad guy lurking outside in the yard.

But how do we get the bad guy in the cop car?

Research is the answer, but it’s fantastically expensive. All around the world, teams of biochemists are working hard, but they have to pay the rent. And eat. Their funding comes from governments and institutions and drug companies – but also from hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals. Many of them are parents of diabetic children, and it’s easy to see why. The primeval instinct that makes a mother or father fight to the death is a powerful one – perhaps the most powerful among our emotional inheritance. But in the case of diabetes it’s frustrated. There’s no identifiable antagonist, no role for a gun or a blade. There’s no bar fight to be had. If only it was that easy. I know of no parent who wouldn’t gladly smash a long-neck bottle and join the fray. But they can’t. Such parents have to channel their natural aggression into a long, patient, endless struggle for progress. They raise awareness and money any way they can.

This anthology is an example. It will help fund the search for a cure. All good. In fact better than good, because whatever else, there are some great authors and some great stories here to enjoy. So if you buy it, you’ll get some excellent entertainment – but also you might just get the chance to be that mysterious character on page 297 of our notional thriller, who contributes the tiny but vital clue that eventually leads to the big reveal on page 397. Your few cents could make the difference. You could be the one.

Lee Child
New York
2015

Here’s your chance to help fight this insidious disease. Buy your copy today!

Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble Nook | Apple
Kobo | Google Play

Via: JT Ellison

    

4.30.15 - 7 Minutes With... Jim Born

By JT Ellison

All hail Jim Born.

Not only because he’s an amazing writer. Nor because he’s a cop (two of my biggest likes in the world – writers and cops).

Nor even because he went to a shooting range wearing a Killer Year T-shirt, and showed we debuts of 2007 so much love.

Jim sporting some fine Killer Year swag

Not even because he spent a day walking around a conference with my debut novel in his back pocket. Not even because he’s, you know, cool.

Jim suavely sporting PRETTY GIRLS in his back pocket

No, we much all bend the knee to Mr. Born because it was he, and he alone, who cured me of my insane fear of public speaking. I’ve told the story far and wide (and, as some of you know, in the wrong forum, to the wrong people, using Mr. Born’s exact words – ahem), but I will sum it up here in less colorful language.

Nashville, 2007. The Southern Festival of Books. After his own panel, Jim was walking me to mine. It happened to be my very first time on a panel. I was scared. Actually, scared doesn’t even come close to describing the overwhelming fear and anxiety and panic I was experiencing (My palms are sweating just thinking back to it).

Jim saw my hands shaking as I opened a bottle of pills to take something to calm myself. He inquired why. I told him I was totally freaked by the idea of public speaking. He looked at me like I was a loon, and said something to the effect of, “What are you afraid of? The audience will rush the stage and beat you up?”

When I said, “Well, yes, that’s exactly it,” we had a good laugh. He told me I was the expert, and I was the one who knew the most about my book. That the audience won’t know if I make a mistake or say something wrong. And they would forgive me if I did, because readers are wonderful people made of unicorns and puppies (I don’t’ think he said exactly that, but you catch my drift). I still took the pill, but it was the beginning of something for me. Every time I’ve ever spoken since, I remind myself that I’m not about to get mugged. It helps.

Jim has a new book out, which I highly encourage you to purchase immediately, and share among your friends. Any guy who will take pity on a scared girl and offer her succor is a prince among men, and deserves all the good things.

Welcome to the Tao, my friend.

_________

Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

“Night Moves” by Bob Seeger

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

Today I’m traveling to New York for the release of SCENT OF MURDER. I will be making a few notes on a co-authored book with Lou Dobbs. It is the sequel to last year’s BORDER WAR.

What’s your latest book about?

Three K-9 officers and their relationship with their dogs. They end up on a task force on the trail of a kidnapper that forces them each to consider how far they’re willing to go to catch the suspect. It explores the relationship between dog handlers and their super talented partners.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

Usually all my porch overlooking the water on a simple laptop. The only thing unusual I use is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It takes extra editing, but I’ve probably saved myself carpal tunnel syndrome.

What was your favorite book as a child?

THE LIVING SEA by Jacques Cousteau, and a young reader’s version of MOBY DICK. I memorized the first page of MOBY DICK from my father reading it to me every night. I would then tell people I could read when I was only a couple of years old by looking at the page and reciting it by memory.

What’s your secret talent?

I am an excellent chef.

What book are you reading now?

WORDS OF RADIANCE by Brandon Sanderson

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In my late 20s. I remember seriously starting my first novel (unpublished) in June of 1989.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

Elmore Leonard. Yes, I worked for him for many years. Now it would probably be Bernard Cornwell, whom I have not met and will nerd out when I do.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Keep it in perspective. No one is shooting at you, and you’re not putting a roof on a house in the middle of summer.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Go for a run.

Are you creatively satisfied?

Generally yes. All things being equal, I have a giant fantasy novel that would take six years to finish that I would like to write.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Good kids who have their heads on straight.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains? Beach

Coffee or tea? Neither. I don’t think I’ve ever had an entire cup of either. In my whole life.

Skydive or bungee jump? Skydiving

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Vanilla should be outlawed.

Winter or summer? Summer

Cake or pie? Cake. Pies are meant to be thrown.

Cats or dogs? Dogs

Pens or pencils? Pens

Truth or dare? Dare

Print or ebook? Print

_________

Jim Born

James O. Born is a graduate of Florida State University and received a Master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Psychology.

Born started his career in police work as a US Drug Agent (DEA) and was part of the late 1990′s Miami drug war. He then moved on to become a Special Agent with the elite Florida Department of Law Enforcement, working undercover and spending eleven years on the agency’s Special Operation’s Team (also called SWAT).

In 2014, Born coauthored the popular BORDER WAR with TV commentator Lou Dobbs. His current series is a realistic view of police K-9s. The first novel in the series Scent of Murder, due for release in April of 2015, follows the pursuit of a serial kidnapper and showcases police service dogs.

A native Floridian, Born currently lives on the east coast with his wife, Donna and has two children, John and Emily.

And here’s a little bit about Jim’s newest book, SCENT OF MURDER, out in stores now!

Two years after being tossed from the detective bureau for his questionable tactics catching a child molester, deputy Tim Hallett’s life is finally on track. Assigned to a special K-9 unit with the best partner in the world, a Belgian Malinois named Rocky, Hallett has finally learned to balance police work with his family life. But that all changes in the heat of a Florida sugarcane field.

While searching for a kidnapper, Rocky locks on to the scent of a predator unlike anyone has ever seen. Or have they? The more Hallett digs, the closer he comes to the case that ended his career as a detective and appears to be the key to a series of kidnappings.

When the trail turns to murder, Hallett risks everything to catch the killer, even if it means clearing the child molester who drove him to violence and ruined his career. Along the way, Hallett and his partners learn the true meaning of loyalty and courage as their canine partners take police work to a new level and show that instinct means more than training.

A realistic view of cops and canine’s lives from a veteran law enforcement agent and award-winning author, SCENT OF MURDER takes the reader into the world of police service dogs in a way no other novel will

Via: JT Ellison

    

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