Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Writing Wednesday: Inside the Mind of Stephen B.King

Happy Halloween to all - instead of the usual cup of coffee photo, I've got a cup of hard cider lined up, as well as a chat with Wild Rose Press author Stephen B. King. Note the important middle initial, which differentiates him from that other Horror writer with a similar name...

This Stephen had the first book of his new trilogy released earlier this month: GLIMPSE: MEMOIR OF A SERIAL KILLER.

Yup, perfect fodder for Halloween! Welcome Stephen!

Thanks very much to Katie for inviting me onto her blog; I’m very happy to be here. I asked her was there anything she particularly wanted me to talk about, and she said no, whatever I like. Hmmmm, asking me to talk about anything I’d like is like asking a fat kid to watch the candy shop – dangerous. I never like to say the same stuff every time I’m invited, so I sat down and had a think about what to talk about. I came up with this, which I call:

“So, what’s it all about?”

Has there ever been a question designed to strike such fear into an author? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful when you’re asked when cornered at a party and you’ve gone to get your wife a drink because she is parched, or dining in a restaurant and you just know that as soon as you start explaining, your main meal is going to arrive.

We authors love adulation, and desperately want people to read our books, or better yet buy them and then read them – and dream upon dream post a wonderful review. But, it all starts with: “so, what’s your latest book about?” They look expectantly, waiting for a killer sentence or two that grips them and makes them want to go out and find a late-night book store so they can buy it and get a few pages in before midnight.

No matter how many times I’ve been asked, and it's lots, over the seven books I’ve had published, I think I’d rather run away and poke myself repeatedly with a sharp stick than sum up a hundred thousand work saga, in two sentences. I’ve found two sentences is just about right, by the way, any longer and I’ve noticed people tend to start yawning, and their eyes glaze over, and you just know they are regretting asking. It always reminds me of meeting a friend and asking how they are – and they spend fifteen minutes telling you about the upset tummy they had, the sprained ankle, their eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be……… you get the idea. But, they had to ask that particular question; they just met an author, and let’s be honest what else do you ask when that happens?

I’ve just come back from a short holiday to Adelaide (I live in Perth, Australia, about 3,000 miles away for my American friends) It was just five wonderful days visiting my daughters and granddaughter. While out and about we dropped in to see a dear friend who I hadn’t seen for years, and it was fantastic to catch up with her. We could only stay for half an hour as we were on our way to somewhere else, and about fifteen minutes in the conversation went something like this:

“So, Steve, I hear you are an author now, how many books have you published?”

“Yes Heather, I came to it late in life, but it’s given me so many more life experiences to write about. I’ve got seven published, with a further two contracted, one of which is in editing now.”

“How wonderful,” she finished the wine in her glass and stood up to get a refill, “what’s the latest one called?”

“Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer.”

“Ohhh, sounds intriguing. So, what’s it about?”

I groaned, silently, I hoped. I mean she was already on her feet to go into the kitchen to get herself another drink. If I told her everything she possibly die of thirst – it was a warm day after all. “Well, Heather, it’s actually book one of a trilogy, called Three Deadly Glimpses.” I picked my empty glass up, hoping she would take the hint and disappear into the kitchen, then I could be involved in another conversation when she came out, but no, no such luck.

“Ohhh,” (Yes, I know she says ohhh a LOT – but she does; honestly!) “Why a trilogy, Steve?”

Okay, harmless question, I thought, “Because I wanted to tell a story about desire, and its consequences on the relationships between four people, and I knew one book wouldn’t be enough, but three sounded just about right.” I emptied my glass, hoping that she would take the hint and get us both a refill. Nope, she wasn’t having a bar of that.

“Ohh, I see,” (see what I mean, she does say it a lot) “and is one of them the serial killer, and why does he write a memoir?” She changed weight from her left foot to her right, clearly getting impatient and desperate for another wine, but still wanting to know the answer to: so, what’s it all about.

“No, Heather, the desire is between a cop who is paired with a beautiful female criminal psychologist in the hunt for a serial killer, they are instantly attracted to each other, but are both married. Over the three books, they are thrust together, hunting three different serial killers, and the desire grows, and grows, hence Three Deadly Glimpses”

“Oh, I think I see.” She didn’t look like she saw though. “Why is it called Glimpse?”

“Because, when I write about a killer, I like to give the reader a glimpse into his troubled mind, and show why he became that way. Boy, it’s getting warm, isn’t it?” I said, hoping to steer the conversation back to getting a refill.

“Oh.” (Seriously, she does keep saying Oh, I promise.) “So, it’s not about the desire the murderer feels?” At last she reached for my wine glass and I noticed out of the corner of my eye my daughter, Tania, was yawning.

“Well, Heather, each book is about desire, in book one the killer desired fame, because all his life he has only experienced misery. In book 2, that murderer is addicted to beauty, because his life is the opposite, and in book 3, that killer desires to rid the world of people who tell lies, specifically on a dating website.”

“Oh, why?”

“Why what?”

“Why does he want to rid the world of liars?”

“Heather if I told you that, there would be no point in you buying the book. Suffice to say he suffers situational schizophrenia, and is riddled with guilt over his sister’s death.”

And then, she did it, people, she asked the second most common thing we writers get asked and dread:

“Ohhhhh, I see. So, where do you get your ideas from?”

We were late for our next appointment, and I didn’t get that refill.

~ * ~ * ~  * ~ * ~ * ~

For anyone who would like to know more, Stephen's website is: and his email is He does seriously welcome questions, even those dreaded ones.

Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer 
(Book 1 of The Deadly Glimpses Trilogy) 
is available from AMAZON

Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday Book Review: Six Months, by Mona Sedrak

Six Months, by Mona Sedrak
Published October 2018 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
For twenty years, Mikala Jacobson had it all: loyal friends, a precious little girl, and a man who adores her. Then double tragedy strikes and her perfect world shatters.

Good friends, Rena and Jake are instantly by her side, protecting her from her husband David's sordid secret life and his final drunken confession.

With their help, Mikala finds strength to rebuild and redefine her life. As her spirit and heart heal, she not only finds closure, but the beauty of a new love built upon an old friendship.
My Take:

The dramatic tale of loss, sorrow, and redemption tells a powerful story of second chances, mostly through the eyes of a mother who's spirit and soul have been broken by the ultimate loss - the death of her daughter and the subsequent suicide of the guilt-ridden husband who'd been driving the car. A bleak premise for sure, but also raw and real and heartbreaking in its lyrical telling.

The first chapter of this story weaves disjointedly back and forth, from a remembered good day to the frozen bleak cemetery to the fateful day of the car crash that took a child's life and shattered her mother. Not an easy breezy start to any story. Take it slow, and don't let it stop you. Seriously. This is the author's debut at fiction, and while the first pages are not smooth the story will slowly suck you in until you're turning pages in spite of yourself.

As the main character begins to slowly heal, so does the prose, becoming more orderly in its storytelling, trying to make sense of the tragedy instead of throwing it scattershot at the reader. And as the main character, Mikala, puts her heart back together and lets her friends back into her life, the words on the page become lyrical and flowing. By the end you won't want to put it down, eagerly wanting the happy ending that Mikala so desperately deserves.

This is not a romance novel, per se. Told in various voices and points of view, this is a story of loss and love and second chances for all the characters involved, in the most basic senses of the words. This is also not a fast read, or a pick-it-up-when-you -have-a-second kind of book. Grab a cup of tea, a box of tissues, and curl up on the couch for a good cry. I think fans of Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this story, and this new voice in fiction. I look forward to the next book, which I hope has a smoother first chapter but just as much emotion packed in its pages.

Grab your copy on AMAZON

Monday Book Review: Remedial Rocket Science, by Susannah Nix

Remedial Rocket Science, by Susannah Nix
Published 2017 by Haver Street Press

About the Book:
Opposites attract when a computer geek meets billionaire bad boy.

The last thing Melody expects when she accepts a dream job offer is to run into her college one-night stand again. Not only does the hunky blast from her past work at the same aerospace company where she’s just started in the IT department, he’s the CEO’s son.

Jeremy’s got a girlfriend and a reputation as a bad boy, so Melody resolves to keep her distance and focus on building a new life for herself in Los Angeles. But despite her good intentions, she can’t seem to stay away from the heavenly-smelling paragon of hotness.

As the two begin to forge an unlikely friendship, Melody’s attraction to Jeremy grows deeper than she’s ready to admit. Can the woman who always plays it safe take a risk on the man who’s all wrong for her in all the right ways?

This slow-burn sweet romance is the first in a series of standalone rom-coms featuring heroines who work in STEM fields.
My Take:

I admit that I had a hard time getting into this story for the first few pages, and put it down once or twice. Once I sat down and gave it a chance, it sucked me in and didn't let me stop until I'd binged the entire thing and was looking up the author online to find more.

Susannah Nix writes with heart and humor, and gives us a smart heroine (MIT smart) who needs to develop her sassy side - which she does. And it's awesome. The rich boy hero starts out as a bit of a cardboard figure, who also develops emotions over the course of the story. Also quite awesomely accomplished. So yeah, awesome is probably the most apt adjective to use to describe this book.

Simply awesome.

There's a whole lot of twisted relationships (who's friends with whom and whatnot) but throughout the story, the friendship between Melody and Jeremy develops passed their one night stand into friendship into something more. My only beef with the story is that it's all in Melody's third person POV. I really would've enjoyed some he said/she said back and forth, but staying totally in Melody's head also leaves the reader as unsure about Jeremy's motives and actions as the heroine herself. So yeah, the pages were turning faster and faster trying to figure out where it was all headed.

I've found another author of strong women/smart romance to add to my growing list of recommended authors, along with Julie James, Penny Reid, and my original favorite, Jennifer Crusie.

And on the plus side, there are a few more of these standalone smart romance stories by Susannah Nix already published, so you can totally spend a weekend binging. Or hide under your desk at work with your e-reader. Not that I've ever done that. But, you know, I've heard it works.

Grab a copy on AMAZON    ...and as of this writing the book is free so grab it now!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Writing Wednesday: Two Words to Remember... Backup Drive

Some days I feel like I've got this adulting thing down, and then there are days like... well... like all of October so far, when I wish there was a playbook. And I really wish my mom were still alive, if only to laugh with me at my mistakes.

When was the last time YOU backed up your computer?

If you can't answer off the top of your head it's been too long.

When was the last time you made a backup of the manuscript you're currently working on? And I don't mean the autosave feature, or hitting the save icon at the top of the page. I mean, creating a backup document separate from your original.

Again, if you can't answer it's been too long.

If you don't have an external backup drive, you know what you should ask for this holiday season. Not sexy, but very important.

If at least one person reading this blog gets an external drive for Christmas or Hanukah, I will be thrilled. Full disclosure, I got one last Christmas. I hadn't used it yet. So get it - AND USE IT.

Okay, rant about over. Except for the iPad trauma that coincided with my computer crash. I only use my iPad as a reading device, occasionally for email... and I use the notebook feature to write all my reviews. Makes it easy to slip back and forth between the book and the review, and it's portable. And - I thought - pretty safe.

Except. When I went to transfer all my finished - finished - reviews to my blog the other day (also part of my October surprise) ALL OF MY NOTES WERE GONE. DELETED. MISSING. Except for the very last one I wrote, Out of Bounds, by Julia Quinn, which is the last post on this blog before this current post. That one didn't get erased. WTF???

If anyone has an answer to how I might recover those, please please please post it in the comments.

I'm back up to speed with my (overdue) WIP and next will be all the reviews I promised and now need to rewrite.

Happy Writing (and Re-Writing) to All!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Monday Book Review: Out of Bounds, by Jillian Quinn

Out of Bounds, Love in the End Zone, Book 1, by Jillian Quinn
Published August 2017 by Penn Publishing

About the Book:
A misunderstanding cost them everything. Now, they have a second chance...

Sebastian Prince has it all—money, looks, women, and The Heisman. But he can’t get the one thing he wants. Two years ago, Bash lost the only girl who ever made him feel something. And he wants her back.

Tori Reynolds hates football. She hates Bash even more. After a not-so-chance encounter at a game, Bash has another shot with the girl who got away. While Bash might be a different person than before, Tori is hesitant to let him back into her life. But Bash has never turned down a challenge. This time, he’s not just looking to score.

Are you ready to meet Bash? One click to discover why readers are calling Out of Bounds their favorite second chance football romance.

My Take:

This is the first book I've read from this well established, international best-selling New Adult author, and highlights both the best and worst parts of this genre. The story is told he said/she said in first person POVs, with an awful lot of thought repetition from chapter to chapter, almost as if the story first appeared in serial form and needed to remind readers of the salient points each time the POV was onstage.

The sex scenes sizzle off the page, with the confident alpha male acting well beyond a college senior... But the self absorbed and somewhat whine-prone heroine kept rubbing me the wrong way. I understand that the author was trying to show her as "strong" but strong shouldn't always have to equate with prickly or bitchy.  To the point where she makes it hard to understand why the hero puts up with her shit or why he's been pursuing her for so long.

The backstory was thin at best, and if you are going to actually go there and have your main character be diagnosed as bipolar, you need to do more with it than use it for an excuse to miss two months of school. Bipolar is manageable with medication, but it's a constant, and also should mean the girl is more aware about drinking, partying, her mood swings, etc. I was not only disappointed by the one and done reference, but also by the casual portrayal of a serious medical condition.

The secondary characters were stereotypes instead of fully fleshed out, including the best friend and the main antagonist, the bitchy rich cheerleader who wants the hero for herself. But with NA this isn't unusual and works fine if done well. Or if you get so invested in the main characters that the rest are just background anyway. Which I didn't.

But the sex scenes are pretty hot.

I'd be willing to try another book from this author, because I do understand that the bipolar thing might have been the main reason I disliked this story and these characters. If you want to check it out for yourself, grab a copy on AMAZON