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Holly Kerr has written another engaging book, The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. Charlotte is a late 20’s young woman who, we discover a couple of chapters into the book, is a spy for a very top secret intelligence agency in Canada. She doesn’t even know she’s a spy!

Apparently, she agreed to have her memories wiped clean before going on a mission so that if she was captured, she would have nothing to divulge.  So she doesn’t know that she has been living with the man who is believed to be financing a counter agency of mercenary spies.

It’s fast paced. The entire 240-ish pages spans about 48 hours in Charlotte’s life…the weekend when she was told of her life as a spy then kidnapped by the counter spy agency then rescued then sent on a mission to free a fellow spy! Charlotte’s head is spinning, and so is that of the Reader…in a good way.

I truly enjoyed this one. It is smooth reading, well paced, and keeps the Reader on their toes to keep up with things. However, I will mention that there are considerable errors which should have been caught by a copy editor or even a proof reader. That doesn’t keep me from recommending it. Just be warned. I found a little over 30 errors where there were extra words that were not cleaned up during edits and/or words missing from a sentence. It didn’t keep me from liking the book, which is rare for me because I am usually a stickler for that sort of thing.

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Note: I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review.

 

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I normally run an indie author profile on the first Monday of the month but this month being NaNoWriMo and last month being the month to run around prepping for a month of concentrated writing, I don’t have one for you.  However, I do have some words on a new title published independently by Luther Siler, who I featured here. You may remember that aside from writing science fiction, Luther is a school teacher.  His latest book, released last week, deals not with fiction but with education.

In a recent interview, with writer James Wylder, Luther described his new book, Searching for Malumba: Why Teaching is Terrible…and Why We Do It Anyway: 

“I just basically want people more aware of the bullshit we have to put up with, and to be aware of the way education law over the last fifteen years (and, to be clear, this is ABSOLUTELY a bipartisan issue– I voted for Obama twice, but he is NOT on our side on this) has taken what was already a historically difficult profession and made it virtually impossible.  Standardized testing has polluted every aspect of the teaching profession and, worse, the teacher-student relationship, and it’s not going to get better until parents start picking up pitchforks and waving them at government officials.”

You can check the book out on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. It’s an important topic. We really need to educate ourselves on the state of education in America.

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introducingBLUE

Melissa Barker-Simpson

Melissa Barker-Simpson

Today, help me welcome author and fellow blogger, Melissa Barker-Simpson.  I hope you enjoy reading about here and her books and that you take a look at her novels.

It’s lovely to be invited to Corina’s place to visit with you all. I’ve been blogging for two years now, and I’ve met some incredible people along the way. It’s a vital online community and, as a writer, it feels like my second home! There is so much to learn, so much to share and experience.

I’ve been writing since Junior School, which in the US I believe is classed as Elementary (first grade). I loved nothing more than creating new worlds and sharing my adventures with others. When I left school and went to college, I spent less time writing, and more time studying. I couldn’t decide on a career and so, after leaving full time education I held a number of jobs. Although I couldn’t seem to make anything stick, I did have a passion for language, which led to my interest in British Sign Language (BSL). I eventually became an interpreter, and have been interpreting for ten years now.

It’s a job I particularly enjoy because I get to explore different settings; police, theatre, community, education, medicine. It’s a lot of fun and, though it can be challenging at times, the variety suits my fickle nature! BSL is a beautiful, visual language, with a rich and complex grammatical structure, one that never ceases to amaze.

One of my most important roles in life though, is being a mother. I have two teenage daughters, who are a great source of joy.

I didn’t begin seriously writing again until 2005, a year after I lost my father. It was a really difficult time, and I escaped my grief by remembering the stories I shared with him in my youth. The characters never really went away, even when life got too busy, so when I let them back in, it became impossible to deny the part of myself I had supressed for so long.

There are a number of things I could talk about when it comes to my writing journey. I recently published The Fallen, which is my ninth novel, and the first in a series. It seems I have a penchant for writing series, and thanks to my busy mind, I’m unable to concentrate on one project at once.

My work is always character driven, and Maddison, the protagonist from The Fallen has her hooks in me at the moment. When I sit down to write, whether it is a short-story, or my next work in progress, she invariably muscles her way in!

It’s the reason that, as well as working on my latest novel in the Morgan and Fairchild series, I decided to venture into serialised fiction. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I love the idea of creating monthly episodes like a television series, and pulling those together to create a season. There are different ways to approach serialised writing, but I aim to have an overarching theme while solving individual story arcs during each episode.

The Collective is an offshoot of the Fractured series, so readers will be familiar with some of the characters. I’m sure Maddison will make an appearance or two. It is a lot of fun developing this group of supernatural creatures, and to explore more of the world I created.

At the beginning of this month I published The Contract, prequel to the Fractured, as an introduction. One of the main players is a god, Orion Reece, and he seems to be a popular character. So I decided to share a scene with you from The Fallen, which incorporates Maddison and Orion.

The Fallen.jpg

The Fallen

*Background: Maddison Wood is a hunter, and a witch. Her instincts draw her to the city; trouble is coming and she wants to meet it head on. Donovan is her partner in crime. She rescued him from a particularly brutal clan of demons, and now owns his contract.*

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Maddison groaned, hackles rising.

“What?”

She didn’t look Donovan’s way, her eyes were glued to the street, to the ball of light which glowed like a beacon of tightly controlled power. “Orion Reece,” she said through clenched teeth.

Am I supposed to know who that is?’ Donovan asked, his voice a deep rumble inside her mind.

She could feel his eyes on her, but she didn’t turn.

When Orion appeared, he did so with none of the arrogance she had come to expect, and, for some reason, the lack of drama unnerved her more than his presence. He was a god, one who enjoyed flaunting his superiority every chance he got. The pale blonde hair, hanging to his shoulders like fine silk, still shone as a testament to his power, and yet alarm bells were ringing in Maddison’s head. Something was definitely wrong with the picture.

“To what do we owe the pleasure?” she asked, her voice and gaze steady. She would not give him an inch.

“Come now, Woody.” His dark eyes flashed, the gold at the outer edges drawing her in. “You can do better than that.”

Woody?’ Donovan asked through their connection.

Long story,’ Maddison replied. She took a step towards Orion, delighted when Donovan followed suit.

“We haven’t been introduced,” Donovan said, extending his hand.

Orion threw back his head and laughed. “My dear boy, if you want to know more about me, all you have to do is ask.”

As a hympe, Donovan had a unique gift. It was empathy based, so if he opened himself up to the connection, he could learn anything through touch.

“I’ll forgive the discourtesy,” Orion continued. “Because I have you at a disadvantage.” His eyes grew cold. “I’m the reason your current owner stumbled upon your sorry excuse for a-”

“Nobody owns him,” Maddison said, stepping between them. “And you’re not the only reason he’s free.”

Orion raised his hand, eyes flashing with challenge. Maddison’s hair slithered towards him, the long braid dancing in the cool night air, like he was a regular snake charmer.

“Is that so?” he asked.

Maddison shot magic into the wayward locks and regained the advantage. She knew Orion used the trick to test her, to steal her control. Given that her hair was her weapon of choice, it was an effective reprimand.

What’s he talking about?’ Donovan asked.

He sent me to the Firmani Caves, or at least set it up so I would be in the right place at the right time.’

Donovan’s shudder was involuntary. The Firmani Caves were home to the Nrikabat demons, the original proprietors of his contract – those responsible for his torture and abuse.

“How did you know?” Donovan asked, staring wide-eyed at Orion. “Why would you care?”

“I don’t.” Orion’s tone was bored. “But I owed your father a favour.”

Don’t listen to him,’ Maddison said, touching Donovan with her mind. ‘Even if he’s telling the truth, he will use the information against you. I’ll find another way to learn his secrets.’

She turned her attention to Orion. Everything about him was designed to entice – the tall, sculptured body, strong jaw, sinful mouth; he was quite a package. “Can we just get this over with? Why don’t you tell us what you want?”

“Oh, how you wound me,” he said, placing a hand over his heart. “Can’t I have the simple desire to visit with an old friend?”

He was stalling, she realised. Taunting them purposely, perhaps hoping they would lose the trail. She could almost feel her instincts curling up in her gut, retreating into silence. “If you’re here to shoot the breeze, we can do that as we walk,” she said, starting to move past him.

Orion sidestepped, putting himself in her path. His strong jaw was set, lips pressed into a hard line. “You need to get as far away from here as possible,” he said, his voice low and urgent.

She blinked, genuinely surprised by the concern in his dark eyes. “Something’s coming, isn’t it?”

There was a long beat of silence. “You don’t want to get tangled up in this, Maddy.” He squinted, assessing her reaction. “Don’t force my hand.”

Donovan moved so he was shoulder to shoulder with Maddison. “That sounds like a threat.”

She almost smiled. Donovan had no idea who he was dealing with; either that or he had a death wish. Orion could squash him like a bug; though, granted, Donovan hadn’t been crushed yet.

“If he was going to do something, he’d have done it already,” she said. “He either can’t interfere, or the focused use of his power will give him away.” That was it. She knew it as soon as the words left her mouth. Why there had been no fanfare when he arrived, why the light of his power was subdued. “It’s big, isn’t it?” she said, more to herself than Orion, because she knew he wouldn’t answer.

I hope you enjoyed the snippet. Thanks again to Corina for inviting me, and to you all for reading.

Mel

LINKS

The Fallen

Author Website

Blog: http://www.mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com

Email: info@mbarkersimpson.co.uk

Twitter handle: @mbarkersimpson

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/melissabarkersimpson

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/mbarkersimpson

Changing Worlds 2

Changing Worlds

Fifth Watcher - Cover for Createspace

The Fifth WatcherHands_of_Evil_Cover_for_Kindle

Hands Of Evil

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introducingBLUE

JANET CHRISTIAN

JANET CHRISTIAN

Janet Christian began her adventure in writing in second grade, with a book of fanciful poems about cats. She later became a professional technical writer, creating complex but boring computer manuals. To escape the drudgery of describing hardware circuits and software routines, she returned to writing fiction.  She served as 2003 President of the Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime in Austin, and became a published author in 2012..  She now also maintains a weekly blog at http://janetchristian.com.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

These days I live with Eric Marsh, my husband and best friend since 1989, on a 100 acre ranch in Lockhart, TX – 30 miles south of Austin. We have four goofy dogs, an ever-changing population of cats (usually around ten… or so), and a small herd of four-horned, spotted Jacob sheep.

Q: What do you do for fun?

When I’m not writing, I create art pieces in my combination pottery studio and tiki bar. I don’t throw (an odd term for making pottery, for sure). I have a slab roller, which looks like a giant lasagna noodle maker. There’s nothing quite like working big flat pieces of wet clay into fun shapes while also sipping on a fresh, cold Mai Tai.

My husband and I also travel, which is incredibly inspiring for a writer. In the past three years we’ve been to 18 countries in Europe and Asia. In the fall we’re going to Portugal.

Q: What genre do you write in?

That’s a trick question for me. I’m mostly attracted to murder mysteries, but you couldn’t tell that from my track record. I write what shows up in my head. Stories come to me in a flash, like a “blipvert” fromMax Headroom (I guess I just dated myself). It usually happens at three in the morning and I have to get up and capture it right then or I’ll lose it. I’ve written a children’s novel, a murder mystery, a dystopian science fiction, and I’m currently writing a speculative fiction. I’ve written short stories in all those genres, although most of my short stories seem to end up with a horror twist in them.

Q: Tell us more about your books

My first was a coming-of-age children’s novel called Wanda’s New Eyes. I originally wrote it before cell phones, so I’m busy rewriting it for a contemporary audience. I already have a great cover design, thanks to Karen Phillips, who now designs all my covers.

After Wanda, I wrote and published The Case of a Cold Trail and a Hot Musket, which is, hopefully, the first of a series of murder mysteries featuring Private Investigator Marianna Morgan. My next novel was a dystopian science fiction called Born Rich. I still love that story, but I pulled the book off Amazon after rereading a Frank Herbert novel. I couldn’t stop thinking of ways to improve and expand my first effort at creating a new world, or at least a new future for this world. There is so much more potential in Born Rich than I originally envisioned. I’d never really pushed it, so sold few copies. I’ll be offering anyone who bought the original version a free copy when the expanded one comes out.

These days I’m finishing up a speculative fiction novel called Virgilante. It can best be described as Dexter-lite. Virgil takes karma into his own hands; he just doesn’t use plastic sheeting and large knives. And his victims don’t end up in small pieces.

Q: How do you tackle writing in such diverse genres?

As they say, “Research, research, research.” I do a lot of online research and even face to face interviews and site visits. I’ve found most experts love it when you ask them questions. I’ve interviewed police chiefs in two small towns, the Historian and Curator of the Alamo, head librarian at the San Antonio Public Library, the owner of the Snake Farm (a roadside attraction north of San Antonio), bicycle police who patrol the San Antonio River Walk, the Ford Mustang Vintage Car Club, a former professional motorcycle racer, a database specialist, a psychiatrist, a veterinarian, and a realtor. They were all thrilled to be asked for their expertise.

I also belong to an awesome critique group called the Lockhart Writers. In spite of the unimaginative group name, everyone is incredibly creative, knowledgable, and capable, not just in the mechanics of good writing, but across many areas of expertise.

Q: What was your favorite research effort?

Hands down, my visit with Dr. Richard Bruce Winders from the Alamo. My murder mystery was inspired by a news article. Someone had donated a Brown Bess musket to the Alamo. There were thousands of these muskets used at the battle of the Alamo — most every Mexican soldier had one. What made the one in the news article unique was that its triangular bayonet tip had an unusual bend in it. My brain thought, “It could be identified years later!”

The problem was, I knew nothing about Brown Bess muskets, so I arranged an interview with Dr. Winders. First, I told him I’d never seen one other than pictures and was wondering how a wooden-stock musket could be hidden for 35 years without damage or deterioration. He got up from his desk, crossed to a closet, and handed me an actual Brown Bess to hold. I then told him about the article that inspired my story, and about the bent bayonet tip. He pulled open his desk drawer and said, “You mean this one?” He had the ACTUAL TIP! He let me hold it, too. Definitely the most awesome book research I’ve ever done.

Q: What’s next?

Finishing Virgilante, of course. Karen is working on the cover and my new editor, Crystal Hubbard, is waiting for the final draft. I have three different beginnings for sequels to my Marianna Morgan series. I want to get back to one of them. I love all the plot ideas, so I’ll probably have to flip a coin. Also I want to tackle expanding Born Rich. I’m honestly not sure which I’ll do first, the murder mystery or the science fiction. I’m not good at writing simultaneous stories. When I’m writing, it feels as if I’m living in that world. Writing two stories at the same time would be like jumping between parallel universes. Plus I think both stories would suffer.

Janet’s book (soon to be books):

FrontCover

The Case of a Cold Trail and a Hot Musket

Private Investigator Marianna Morgan finds she has more than she bargained for when Stephen Davidson hires her to tail and identify a woman he believes is his long lost sister Stephanie. There’s just one problem: Stephanie was kidnapped and presumed murdered 35 years ago.

The twins were seven when the Davidson home near San Antonio was burgled, their father was murdered, and one item, an Alamo-era, Brown Bess musket was stolen. Now, 35 years later, if the woman in question is Stephanie, why has she suddenly resurfaced, where has she been all this time, and why hasn’t she contacted her brother? If it isn’t her, why is the woman in question searching for the musket and attempting to stop Marianna via death threats… and worse?

Marianna must use all of her investigative skills to figure out what is really going on and resolve the decades-old mysteries.

Amazon print and ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Cold-Trail-Hot-Musket/dp/1477699597

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I had gotten in the practice of posting about an indie author here on this blog on the first Monday of the month. I did three then in May, because of my surgery, I dropped the ball on it and didn’t have that feature. Today I have to admit that I don’t have one for you this month, either. I did try to contact a couple of indie authors through their blog “contact me” option but haven’t heard back from either. I have a list of about six names besides them so today I am sending out emails to those people to see if I can start this back up for July.

In the meantime, let me tell you about one blogger who has published a novel which I loved so much that I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for her next novel. She is Rebecca Bradley and has written Shallow Waters, a detective novel which features Hannah Robbins as the chief detective in this case. Rebecca is a former detective in Nottinghamshire where she lives. Her experience and knowledge of the police investigative in Nottinghamshire give her writing an informed and genuine feel. When I read Shallow Waters I was captured by the time I had read the first paragraph and read every page closely and quickly so I could find out if they caught the criminal or not. It is by far one of the most engaging police procedural/detective novels I have read in a long time.

I invite you to check out Rebecca’s blog and Shallow Waters. You will find Rebecca to be quite approachable and engaged with her blog followers. She is a delight to know, even if only in the blogosphere! By the way, she is currently involved in BritCrime Online Festival coming up in July in which followers will be able to interact with a number of British Crime writers. It sounds like fun!

And if you care to check out the posts I wrote introducing you to indie writers, you can find them here:
Larry Brill
Joanne Huspek
Zoe Ambler

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