Saturday, December 1, 2018

#Reader #Conversations Are Awesome #Inspiration - #amwriting

Writers find inspiration everywhere, and often, readers inspire us the most. I’ve had the pleasure of attending several book signings and writer talks, and have even hosted a book launch party at a local winery. Every event and every reader I've met has been a blast.

Most readers ask similar questions – where story ideas come from, whether my character Cass Elliot is named after the famous singer, or how long it takes to write a book. Some share story ideas – like the time a urologist was literally pulled out of bed to perform kidney surgery on a mafia boss while gowned armed guards stood watch in the operating room. How's that for inducing performance anxiety?

Occasionally someone comes to an event with a gleam in their eye and a detailed list of questions:

How could you end THE DEVIL OF LIGHT without bringing the old man to justice? I want him dead. Or at least in prison. (All I can say is, I’m writing a series. I know, I know. THE DEVIL OF LIGHT leaves the reader hanging, and maybe I could’ve ended that book better. All I know for sure is that the old man isn’t done with Forney County, and Cass isn’t done with him.)

Please don’t let anything bad happen to Hitch. I know he’s a horrible multiple murderer, but I kind of like him. (I kind of like him, too. Which worries me a bit. I’d like for him to hang around Forney County for a while, but we’ll see where the stories go.)

I really loved your writing style in A CASE OF SOUR GRAPES, but I don’t like Maxine. She’s too into her handbags and shoes. Couldn’t you write like that but use Cass as your main character? (I hear you, but it wouldn’t work. Maxine and her foibles are as key to the plot as is the search for the missing husband – Cass is too intense to bring that level of impulsiveness and misadventure to a story.)

But my favorite reader interaction to date occurred at church, which is a little weird given that I write crime novels with a certain level of violence. A lady with the sweetest disposition pulled me aside one Sunday and said, “I thought about you yesterday.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes. My son killed two deer and was processing them, getting ready to put them in the freezer. While I watched, I realized how hard it must be to actually dismember a human body.” Slight frown. “Or at least to do a neat job. It’s not easy to take a leg off at the hip without making a mess. It’s got to be even harder to saw through bone like Hitch did. What do you think?”

We spent the next several minutes, this gentle lady and I, discussing how one would go about cutting up a human body. Where would you do it? What about evidence? What do you do with all the parts? Dig a hole? Use a wood chipper? Where does one find a wood chipper in a rush? How much bleach would it take to clean up?

The fact that we were in the church foyer with congregants streaming around us didn’t bother either of us in the least.

“Well,” she said, patting my arm. “Just wanted you to know I was thinking about you.” And off she went to refill the coffee urn, leaving me to wonder if she would ever have thought about dismembering a human body before reading my books.

I certainly hope so.

I can’t afford that kind of therapy for my readers.

Where is the most unusual place you've had a discussion with a reader or writer?

photo credit: Alistair-Hamilton Bookshop 4 via photopin (license)
photo credit: PHOTOPHANATIC1 deer via photopin (license)

Monday, October 1, 2018

A New Kelsey Porter #Thriller from @elysesalpeter - THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT #artknb #amreading

I am excited to share my friend and bestselling author Elyse Salpeter's newest novel with you - THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT, available October 1, 2018!

This is the fifth installment in the Kelsey Porter thriller series, culminating the journey of the young woman who has come full circle in her quest to find her parent's murderers. THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT is also the final installment in the series, and Elyse promises that it answers all our questions from the series and offers a few surprises along the way.

She just needed to complete a simple errand... how hard could that be?

As soon as Kelsey embarks on the Emperor and Empress's request to locate a mysterious object and return it to them, her entire world is plunged into chaos.

Someone is following her, someone else has broken into her home, and now she believes the people she trusted most have all been lying to her.

As Kelsey unravels the truth, she learns that her journey to this moment has never been entirely her own. Until now.

Because THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT answers so many questions and includes a few surprises (right from the start!), I don't want to include any spoilers by sharing an excerpt. Instead, to whet your appetite for the Kelsey Porter series, here's an excerpt from the first book, THE HUNT FOR XANADU (on sale for only 99cents through October 31, 2018):

Present Day

Hidden in the security camera’s blind spot, she sucked in her gut, closed her eyes and listened intently. “Come on, already,” she thought, drumming her fingertips rapidly against the brick wall. She heard the dogs panting now. This sound had replaced the earlier frenzy of them tearing into the drugged, raw hamburger she had thrown over the fence just twenty minutes before. She’d crushed thirty-six Acepromozin tablets into the ground meat, reckoning it would be enough to knock out the four guard dogs, if not kill them outright.

She glanced at her watch and waited. This is taking so long. Five more minutes passed, with nothing sounding except the soft, rotating click of the camera. Abruptly, she yanked down the protective goggles resting on her head and placed them over her eyes. The clicking now echoed loudly, indicating the camera was once more faced in her direction.  Brazenly she stood, aimed her laser gun and pointed it directly into the lens. The high tech, silicon-based CCD camera had an impressive wavelength sensitivity. The laser's high-powered emitter instantly saturated the pixels of the camera's CCD sensor and burned the chip out instantly.

Ricardo Perez thought he protected himself with the best of everything. He’d under-estimated meeting an assassin so invested in seeing him dead.

Still undecided about starting a series by a new author? Check this out. If you, like me, are a fan of the Agent Pendergast series, this review of THE HUNT FOR XANADU should give you comfort that you're in for a great read:

The Hunt for Xanadu by Elyse Salpeter is a remarkable novel, a fascinating and fantastical journey in time and space, and one of the most gripping novels I've read in a long time. It flies along at the pace of a thriller, with plenty of murder and mayhem along the way. But behind the thrill-ride is a spiritual story, an archetypal tale of mystery and darkness, riddled with fascinating and esoteric concepts in Tibetan Buddhism. Vivid characters, a truly appealing protagonist, unexpected twists, and crisp writing complete this unforgettable book. I can't wait to read the next one in the series!
Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author and co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Pendergast series

Grab a copy of THE HUNT FOR XANADU for 99cents through October 31, 2018 and dive into your next favorite thriller series!

Meet Elyse

Elyse Salpeter is an author who loves mixing "the real with the fantastic" in her books. She likes nothing better than taking different scenarios and creating worlds where things just aren't what they appear to be.

Her 5 book thriller series, THE HUNT FOR XANADU, THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB, THE CALL OF MOUNT SUMERU, THE HAUNTING OF CRAGG HILL HOUSE, and THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT are about a brilliant and fearless young woman named Kelsey Porter, whose life is steeped in Buddhist spiritual mysteries. She is constantly discovering the world around her is not what she believed it to be.

Her Dark Fantasy Series, THE WORLD OF KAROV and THE RUBY AMULET take us to other realms filled with magic and evil as a dark presence is seeping through the dimensions.

Her YA novels, FLYING TO THE LIGHT and FLYING TO THE FIRE are about a young deaf boy who knows what happens to you when you die and now people are after him for the answers.

Lastly, her horror novel, THE MANNEQUINS, is about a film crew that enters an abandoned mansion and disappears, while her horror anthology, RICKET ROW is filled with creepy tales, guaranteed to keep you up at night.

When she's not writing, she's cooking, gardening, running around with her twins and eating shock food in her Gastronaut Club.

Connect with Elyse

Check out her website:
Find her on Twitter @elysesalpeter :
Find her on Facebook:

And of course, you can find all of Elyse's hard copy and ebooks on Amazon!

Monday, May 21, 2018

#Quote of the Day: Viktor Frankl on Change #ViktorFrankl

A reminder from the amazing Viktor Frankl that we always have some control, even if it is only over ourselves. Indeed, perhaps that's all the control we ever really have.

MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING is one of my favorite non-fiction books. If you need hope right now, check it out. His story is heartbreaking but truly inspiring.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

An Unexpected Antagonist - The Character We Love to Hate #amwriting #amreading

A reader recently asked me which of the baddies in my books has been my favorite - which did I have the most fun writing about and making readers love to hate.

That made me pause, because I don't view my characters in terms of good or bad. My characters just are. They each develop the role they play, and each has their own personality. But with a little prodding, I realized that the character I get the most feedback about as detestable is a police officer named Hugo Petchard. He showed up completely unexpectedly as I wrote THE DEVIL OF LIGHT, but as with all of my characters, he popped up at just the right time. I thought he would be a minor character and perhaps come and go quickly, but without fail he has turned up in all three Cass Elliot novels. Although he does play a minor role most of the time, he and his love interest ended up dramatically impacting the plot in AVENGERS OF BLOOD.

Let me tell you a little about him, and then you can tell us what you think about his detest-ability:

Officer Hugo Petchard is an absolute snot, a big fish in a small pond. (In his own mind, he pronounces his name PetCHARD, with a kind of French flair. But when readers speak about him, they call him PETcherd, with a bit of a redneck twang - he really hates that.) Despite having been given the grand name of Hugo, he’s small in stature, which bothers him mightily. Petchard has his job because his daddy has money and the Forney County Sheriff, Bill Hoffner, owes Daddy for making significant campaign contributions. Deep down, Petchard suspects that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a real police officer. That unacknowledged insecurity makes him show off in ways that inevitably lead to embarrassment for himself, his fellow officers, and occasionally the entire sheriff’s department.

Petchard is the kind of person we’ve all worked with who thinks he’s important / intelligent / gorgeous / witty / and dead sexy - why wouldn't everyone adore him and why isn't he already in charge around here? In reality, he's a bumbling buffoon and totally incapable of self examination. Petchard is the guy who raises your blood pressure with a single superior snort. He’s that co-worker: the one the boss tolerates despite his incompetence, the one the boss refuses to fire. It’s a blast to put Petchard in positions where he has the potential to succeed, but because he can’t contain his ego, he ends up falling on his face. It’s also fun to put Sheriff Hoffner in the position of having to defend Petchard’s stupidity to keep the campaign dollars flowing.

Writing scenes where Petchard appears makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. I love and hate him in equal measure. My other characters seem to simply despise him.

What do you think? Is Hugo Petchard the kind of character you could love to hate?

Friday, March 16, 2018

New #Mystery from @ScottTheWriter - WILDFIRE: A Wine Country Mystery #excerpt

I’m delighted to introduce a new mystery by my friend and bestselling author, Scott Bury! Scott's talent and creativity spans genres and generations - from books for kids to a memoir in novel form about his father-in-law's experiences in World World II.

His latest novel is WILDFIRE: A Wine Country Mystery.

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Check out the excerpt below to whet your appetite!


WILDFIRE: Harassment

Mid-afternoon is typically a lull in a restaurant’s daily activities. The lunchtime crowd has left, and everything that can be prepared ahead of time for the supper crowd is complete.

Greg and Miguel stepped outside to smoke. Alex carried her book out to read in the foyer. From the kitchen window, Tara saw Antonio’s car driving out of the parking lot.

She jumped when a hand reached around her to place a tall stem glass on the counter. She turned to see Chef Donald almost nose-to-nose. She leaned back, and he lunged closer, picking up the glass before she knocked it over. He smiled and put the glass in her hand. He held another in his other hand. “Take it easy, there. It would be a shame to spill wine this good.”

“You startled me.”

“I didn’t mean to. I just thought you deserved a little glass of wine for your hard work today.”

What is this about? The chef who berates and belittles the rest of the staff is praising me?

“The sauce is especially good—almost as though I made it, myself,” he continued. He smiled even more. “Talented, and gorgeous, to boot. This is a trend that I hope Alan continues. Drink up.” He drank half his wine.

“Uh, is it ... I mean, are staff allowed to—”

“I run this kitchen. Staff do whatever I say.”

“Oh. Oooh—kay.”

Donald put his hand on the counter, bringing his face even closer to Tara’s. “Whatever I say.” His hand came up to her face then, to move a stray lock of hair away from her eyes. His touch was light and so gentle.

Now I know what this is about. She squirmed away from the trap between Donald and the counter. “Good to know. I have to do something on my break. Thanks for the wine.” She strode out the back door and forced herself not to walk too quickly to the guest house.


WILDFIRE releases on March 22, and is available for pre-order on on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers) and Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers). You can read the first two chapters for free on Wattpad now!

Be sure to check out all of Scott's work on Amazon.



After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury turned to writing fiction with a children’s story, SAM, THE STRAWB PART, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller: DARK CLOUDS. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller THE BONES OF THE EARTH. His next book, ONE SHADE OF RED, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War: ARMY OF WORN SOLES, UNDER THE NAZI HEEL and WALKING OUT OF WAR.

Scott was invited to write for three Kindle Worlds, where authors base novellas on the fictional worlds of bestselling series. For Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World, he wrote TORN ROOTS, PALM TREES & SNOWFLAKES, DEAD MAN LYING and ECHOES.

For Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, he contributed JET: STEALTH, featuring the explosive duo of Van and LeBrun.

And for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World, he brought Van and LeBrun back for THE WIFE LINE and THE THREE-WAY.

Now, he is beginning a new mystery series with WILDFIRE, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck. Learn more about Scott and his writing on his website,