DWED Interviews Meredith Allard, Author of “Her Dear and Loving Husband” DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
When I’m not teaching or writing (which isn’t often), I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, and finding great vegetarian recipes since I love to cook. I also practice yoga, and I’ve been known to shake my stuff at Zumba classes. I have a special affection for belly dancing, and I may practice a shimmy or two while brushing my teeth in the morning. DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?
I began writing because I had always had these crazy story ideas floating through my head. Throughout my school years I was lucky enough to have teachers who used my writing as examples for the class, and that added to my feeling that I was a writer. I knew that writing was in my future, and I tried out journalism and screenwriting but neither felt right. Finally, I found my way to writing novels and I knew I found my home. DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?
It certainly wasn’t easy. Like a lot of writers, I had to deal with a lot of rejection letters along the way. I think it always takes a certain amount of stubbornness to go after your dreams, but it’s always worth it in the end. DWED: Who or what would you say inspired “Her Dear and Loving Husband”?
A student handed me Twilight
(this was in 2008) and though I wasn’t into vampires I read it because she raved about it. After I read the Twilight
books, I started watching True Blood
, and from there I started reading Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, and of course the standard in the genre, Dracula
by Bram Stoker. After I had a brain full of vampire, a story about a vampire still mourning his long-dead human wife occurred to me. I kicked the idea around in my head for about six months, and then I decided to see if there was anything to this crazy idea. From the moment I started writing I never looked back because the characters and the story took over. Originally, I didn’t have any intention to write a piece of historical fiction, but once I decided to set the story in Salem, Massachusetts I knew I had to incorporate the Salem Witch Trials somehow. The story travels back and forth between Salem during the witch hunts and present-day Salem. This isn’t a blood and guts vampire story. It’s a love story, and James is a very human vampire. DWED: How does “Her Dear and Loving Husband”stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?
One of the things that set the Loving Husband Trilogy
apart from similar books is that the point of view goes back and forth between James and Sarah. That’s one thing I found missing in some other vampire stories—you only got the human girl’s point of view. I always wanted to know what the vampire was thinking and feeling. In the Loving Husband Trilogy
we hear from both James and Sarah—what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, why they make the choices they do. I think it adds another layer of interest to their romantic story. DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for “Her Dear and Loving Husband”?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m very lucky because a lot of readers have really connected to the story of eternal love between James and Sarah. I’ve been sent some of the loveliest notes any author can wish to receive because they’ve been touched by the Loving Husband
stories. DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?
I don’t think I have a specific style, though I do like to incorporate elements of poetry into my fiction writing. I love to read poetry, and though I’m not wise enough to be a poet, I can use elements of poetry in my fiction. DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?
The underlying question in the novel is: what does it mean to be human? How is it that the vampire shows more human-like qualities in his ability to love when the humans can cast off or condemn others so easily? DWED: Who is your favorite character in “Her Dear and Loving Husband” and why?
Both James Wentworth and Sarah Alexander, the love interests in the Loving Husband Trilogy, are close to my heart. In a lot of ways James is my alter ego in the story. James and I have a lot in common—we’re both English teachers, we both read and write a lot, we both think about things probably too much for our own good. Sarah is a lot like me too. I think she gets her personality traits more from me than I care to admit. And hey, I wouldn’t mind meeting a hot vampire man. DWED: Who is your least favorite character in “Her Dear and Loving Husband”and why?
Definitely Kenneth Hempel. I didn’t like the way he relentlessly pursued James, trying to out James as the vampire he is. DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?
I’ve started the first draft of a new novella, and I have another story brewing, so I’ll be doing a lot of writing. DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?
Stay true to your dreams, and be patient. We live in a time when we want things immediately, but it takes time to learn the craft of writing. I agree with the 10,000-hour theory—the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at something. I would say that it took me at least that long before I wrote Her Dear & Loving Husband
. Allow yourself to grow into the writer you want to be. DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?
I’ve had many readers tell me that they don’t usually read or like vampire stories, but they were glad they read the Loving Husband Trilogy
because it was so different from other paranormal books they had read. For readers who do enjoy paranormal romance or urban fantasy with a good dose of historical fiction thrown in, I hope they will give Her Dear & Loving Husband
, along with Her Loving Husband’s Curse
and Her Loving Husband’s Return
, a try.
DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Tremayne Johnson. I’m 34 years young and I’m a National Bestselling Author / co-owner of TBRS Publications. I was born in New Rochelle, New York and raised by my mother. I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters. I started writing when I was old enough to hold the pen steady and ever since I’ve been creating. I started out with short stories and rhymes and it eventually evolved into novel writing. It wasn’t until 2006 when I became incarcerated that I had time to think about what I was going to do. I knew if I went back to the street life things would only get worse, so I wrote a story called A Drug Dealer’s Dream and let my friend take a look at it. She was amazed and suggested I get the title published. At the time I knew nothing about the publishing industry; I just knew how to write. Since I had nothing but time on my hands, I researched everything I wanted to know and with her help I decided to self-publish. A Drug Dealer’s Dream was released in 2008.
DWED: What is something that you would credit as an inspiration for your writing?
First and foremost, the Most High is the creditor to all things in existence. I also credit my mother who raised me with morals, values and principals. Beyond those two, the streets get all the remaining credit. My inspiration comes from not wanting to live in the projects for the rest of my life. As far as other works or authors, I have none to credit for my inspiration. Although I did read a lot of urban/street fiction while I was incarcerated, but I also read science fiction, historical fiction and a few other genres.
DWED: Tell us a little about My America, how was the concept for this book formed?
My America is a unique book. I developed the concept from real life issues. At the time of me writing it, I was in the middle of writing another book, but a close friend of my father, who is deceased, started sending me all this info on the Black Panther movement and that whole 70’s era with the Black Power and the Civil Rights movement. I was intrigued, very intrigued; so intrigued that I began doing my own research on that time period. The actual story just came to me; out of nowhere. I birthed the character Martin Jones from listening to Malcolm X speeches, Fred Hampton speeches, Huey Newton speeches, Martin Luther King speeches, etc… I wanted to do something different in urban fiction; something unexpected, something out of the norm. I say the shit nobody else is going to say, or put in a book. But that’s me. My America is some serious shit; for real.
DWED: What is your favorite Genre and Why?
My favorite genre to read is social science. I love information and knowledge. You can never get enough. My favorite genre to write in is street fiction, but I’m really digging this historical fiction genre. My America may have sparked something in me that I had no clue of.
DWED: Is there any reference to your life in your books?
There’s always reference to my life in my books. I know no other way. It comes out even when I don’t know it, it’s there. DWED: You have done a few collaborations with David Weaver, How has it been working with him?
As far as books go David and I wrote Blood Bitches together. It’s a short story series. It’s been amazing working with him. That’s my brother. Our relationship goes further than books and this publishing industry. All we got is our word, when you live up to your word, I can do nothing but respect it. DWED: What would you say is the most difficult aspect of collaboration with another Author?
Well, Blood Bitches is my only collaboration and working with David was as easy as it can get. I think we have similar processes when we write. DWED: Will you be working with him on more publications?
Definitely.DWED: Have you always aspired to be a published Author?
Not at all, I aspired to be a football player as a kid, a rap star as an early teen and then a drug kingpin in my late teens. Writing books was the furthest from my mind, but like I said… I was writing. Writing was always a release for me; an escape.DWED: Would you say you are at the place you wanted in terms of promoting yourself and your work?
I’m blessed, and I’m thankful for that, but I’m my hardest critic. I haven’t done anything yet. This is just the beginning.DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2013-2014?
My next release is The Union 3 - The Finale (SBR Publications). That is being released on August 27th 2013. Three days after that I’m releasing a story called POP August 30th 2013 (BME Publications) which is a hip hop fiction novel. Thanksgiving Day I’m releasing King 3 (BME Publications) and before the year end maybe A Drug Dealer’s Dream 2 (BME Publications).DWED: What would you say to any aspiring Authors who are struggling with taking that leap into publication?
If this is what you want, go for it. Go for it and don’t let ANYBOY tell you that you can’t do it. Do your research and write your ass off. You can never write enough.DWED: Is there anything you would like our viewers to know that we haven’t covered?
If you’ve never read any of my books, I encourage you to go out and read one. My website is: www.tremaynej.com
and all of my books are on Amazon.com available in paperback and Kindle. Thank you… Love… #KING Check our Review of Tremayne Johnson’s My America- http://krystalmilton.weebly.com/1/post/2013/05/dwed-reviews-my-america-by-tremayne-johnson.html
DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
I wrote my first story when I was in high school—seventeen hand-written pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel I read. I earned a degree in accounting, giving me some nice skills to earn a little money, but my passion has always been writing. I have written numerous short stories and more than a few full-length novels. My favorite pastimes when I’m not writing are spending time with my family, traveling, reading, and scrapbooking. I live in Louisiana with my husband and two children. DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?
No. When I first started writing, it was for my own amusement. I didn’t begin to seriously write for publication until about ten years ago. DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?
Well, kind of a mix. It was difficult to get my first publishing contract because I didn’t know what I was doing. Most of what I’ve learned about the art and craft of writing has come through trial and error and a lot of critical feedback, some of it from publisher’s who rejected my first submissions. Once I signed my first contract, things got a bit easier. My skills have steadily improved over time, and now that I’ve been published, I know what publishers are looking for in a manuscript. DWED: Who or what would you say inspired “Crisis of Identity”?
I was watching the coverage for Hurricane Ike that made landfall near Galveston, Texas. The news reporter said that Texas authorities had advised those who intended to ride the storm out to write their social security numbers on their arm just in case they needed to be identified after the storm. The premise jumped out of the news report at me. What if a fugitive used a hurricane as an excuse to highjack someone else’s identity? DWED: How does “Crisis of Identity” stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?
Although Crisis of Identity is suspense with a romantic element, the book is also about forgiveness, personal responsibility, and redemption. The main character develops more than just a romantic relationship with a man, does more than escape her past. In the act of rescuing her niece from a horrible life, she transforms from a selfish live-for-the-moment individual into a selfless woman who wants to nurture and protect another person. She grows and realizes that not everything is always about her. DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for “Crisis of Identity”?
I’ve received mixed reviews. Some people love the book and some people absolutely hate it.
Most people who like the book, adore Tess. The reviewers mention the fast pace of the book, the moments of humor, and the impulse to smack Tess for her stubbornness. Obviously some readers identify with the heroine. But… The book doesn’t give the reader a nice mushy happy ever after. Tess and Trevor leave the scene with a happy for now moment. The book ends with questions unanswered. This wasn’t sloppy writing or an oversight. The open ended feel of the book was intentional. The pivotal moment in the book isn’t when Tess finds “true” love or the mystery of the murder is resolved. Those elements are intentionally left without complete and tidy resolution. Life is messy. Tess’ life was really messed up before she rescued her niece. The final scene of this book was only the beginning of her journey into a new life. Her growth comes not from finding a man or solving a murder, but from evolving as a human being. DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?
Yes. It’s taken many years to develop my own style. Each of my characters has to jump from the pages of my books with their own voice. Otherwise, all my characters would read alike. Not only is that redundant, but boring. I believe I’ve developed a narrative style than resonates in my books no matter the voice I’ve written for my characters. I hope that my faithful readers would recognize my style no matter which of my books they chose to read. DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?
Forgiveness. I try to instill this message into everything I write. Life is too short and fragile to carry unforgiveness in one’s heart. Hatred, bitterness, anger. These things are the poison one sometimes swallows in an attempt to harm someone else. I want the positive effects of letting all that toxic emotion go come through by the end of the book. DWED: Who is your favorite character in “Crisis of Identity” and why?
This is Tess’s story. She is one of my favorite characters that I’ve written. She’s smart, sassy, and strong. I wish I were as fearless as she is. She doesn’t shrink from a difficult situation, but uses her available resources to get herself out of jam. When confronted with her flaws, she resolves to change. She is no damsel in distress. She can handle just about anything.DWED: Who is your least favorite character in “Crisis of Identity” and why?
Oh, no doubt, my least favorite character is Mark Padget. If there is anything worthwhile about this character, I failed to write it into him. What he tries to do to Tess is heinous. He is the ultimate in selfishness and greed. I wrote him with as ugly a heart as I possibly could. DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?
The Wild Rose Press just rereleased two of my books, Deceptions of the Heart
and An Impostor in Town
. Deceptions of the Heart
is about a woman who wakes up in someone else’s body. An Impostor in Town
is the first book in the Colorado series. It’s about a woman who is hiding from her past by using her dead sister’s identity.
5 Prince Publishing will release my next book entitled The End
in September 2013. The End
is Ellie’s story. She discovers her husband’s nearly finished manuscript on his computer after his death. The suspense builds as she realizes his final manuscript was a true crime story.
I also have an upcoming release with The Wild Rose Press entitled Purgatory,
the second book in the Colorado series. This book is a man who discovers his missing wife after five years. Unfortunately, the woman can’t remember him.
I just finished a manuscript entitled The Memory Catcher
about a woman who can see other people’s guilty memories and I’m in the process of submitting this to publishers for consideration. My current work in progress is a ghost story set in south Louisiana with the working title The Unmistakable Scent of Gardenias
. Yeah, this will be a busy summer and fall for me. DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?
Don’t give up. Every rejection is one step closer to that first publishing contract. The first publisher who rejected my work gave me some solid advice. He suggested I attend a writer’s conference to sharpen my writing skills. Study the craft of writing. Read writing blogs and books. Attend seminars. One of the things that helped me was joining a writer’s critique site. Some of the reviewers on those sites can be vicious, but the feedback helps sharpen writing skills. You develop a base of knowledge about what readers don’t like. When you’re through with your manuscript, first hire an editor to polish it until it shines, then ask other writers to read it with both the eye of a writer and reader. DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?
I’ve only just begun to write. Over the last ten years, my writing has developed and evolved. I truly believe my best work is yet to come. Synopsis:
Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good a con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.
Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?Links: http://www.denisemoncrief.com/http://www.amazon.com/Crisis-of-Identity-ebook/dp/B00B5L0I7Shttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crisis-of-identity-denise-moncrief/1114223396Excerpt:
I dropped onto the cot at the far end of the locker room, struggling to remove the stained smock the state so generously provided. Forget about sleep; it wouldn’t come. I had too many memories that begged to become nightmares. I closed my eyes anyway.
The springs in the cot next to mine creaked. “I’m Jake.” Why had it taken him so long to introduce himself?
I released an internal sigh. “Tess.” I told the truth, because I had to say something and I was out of lies.
“Yeah.” I wanted him to shut up and leave me alone.
“Why would someone like you
volunteer for this?”
I opened one eye and glared at him. “I didn’t volunteer. I was strongly encouraged to help. Why are you here?”
He hesitated. “I’m a U.S. Marshal. It’s my job. Part of the oath and all that.”
I opened the other eye and assessed him. “Why would you move here—” He smiled, cutting off my question. “I can tell from your accent you’re not from Texas.”
“I followed a fugitive here from Illinois.” He leaned forward, his knees not quite brushing mine. “She’s accused of murder.”
“Stabbed her boyfriend…in the back…in cold blood.”
My reaction gushed from my mouth. “How can you be sure it was cold blood?” I sucked back a gasp at my gaffe. My question probably seemed strangely timed and oddly constructed. “I mean…it could have been self defense.”
He offered me a cold, hard stare with unblinking eyes. “I just know.”
“I guess I followed my lead at the wrong time. I got trapped riding out the storm…just like you.”
“What makes you think I got trapped?”
“If you’d had any choice, you would have left.”
My brother Tony forced me to stay, but he left me. A storm surge so strong it pulled the house out from under us knocked him into the sea. The Gulf of Mexico spit me back onto the beach as if the ocean didn’t like the way I tasted.
I survived, but I had no time to grieve. The realization impaled my heart.
Jake stretched out on his cot. “There’s a boat out of here tomorrow. It’s taking volunteers back to the mainland.” Galveston was in ruins. The thin strips of concrete that once connected the island to civilization lay scattered on the beach looking somewhat like a child's building blocks.
“There is?” I tried not to appear too interested.
“You didn’t know?” A different question danced in his eyes—a challenge of sorts. “So how long have you lived in Galveston?”
“Not long. My brother found a job. So I moved here a few months ago to be with him.”
“Where’s your brother now?”
I blinked at him. “He’s gone.”
His stern countenance wavered, but before I could embrace his presumed compassion, his expression settled into severity once again. “Now you’ll have to start your life over…again.” His eyes captured mine. A shiver of dread slithered down my spine. It was as if he knew
me, even though he didn’t seem to know
me. “Are you going to sleep?” He nodded toward my pillow as if he didn’t think my conscience would allow rest.
“I never sleep.”
Within minutes, he emitted soft puffs of breath, in and out, obviously lacking any guilt to keep him awake.
The shadows lengthened and receded over the locker room, drifting in and out of the grimy, shattered windows as if the world was still revolving around its axis on schedule. But I was sure it had stopped turning. I was the fugitive he sought.
The unrepentant sunshine streamed through the cracks, jubilant in its victory over the storm. Only five days since the devastation of Hurricane Irving and the sun acted as if nothing had ever happened. I turned away from the brightness with an ill-tempered snort.
Jake caught up with me on the gym floor. “Did you get any sleep?” His question hit me as a trifle vindictive.
“No. But you did.”
“I snore.” He grinned. Then his smile faded. “I thought you’d be gone this morning.”
“Why? I have to finish the job.”
The thought that pestered me all night erupted from my mouth. “What happens to that woman when you catch her?”
“She’ll go back to jail.” He stopped by the double doors and folded his arms over his chest, blocking my path. “Then she’ll go to trial.”
“What if she did what she had to do?”
“There was no evidence it was self defense.”
I stared hard at his implacable façade. How could the man be alternately warm and cold, compassionate and hard, flexible and unyielding? I stepped around him and entered the gym. There were already bodies lined up waiting for our initial inspection, so I began the task of collecting information from my column of the dead. The hours passed as I searched pockets and noted identifying characteristics on those with no papers or markings. I glanced toward the open door as two men begin loading the last group onto a waiting truck.
One more victim to notate. I squatted next to her. Even in partial decay, her features were enough like mine it pushed me back on my heels. I lifted her arm. My breath hitched. Her Social Security number was so nearly like mine. I scanned the gym. Jake, the one man who might care if she became me or I became her, was absent. With a few strokes of the pen, I could die and live again.
My heart pounded with the possibility I might get a chance to start over without the baggage of my past dragging me down. I changed her identity with a few swipes of a permanent marker. The number went onto my log with an unshaken hand, and I was free to escape the woman I used to be…the woman I didn’t want to be any longer.
“You think me daft, do you?” the girl in the refuse pile says. “You’re from the future.”
Living the last hour in a high-budget documentary has made me a time travel believer, so I’ll take her word for it.
“How do you know?”
“Boys always be from the future. What’s me name?”
“Yvaine?” I say.
Her smile is so genuine it startles me.
“There you go. I haven’t never heared that since I was a wee bit.”
I know how she feels even if I only mostly
understand what she says.
“Help a lady up, Charlie.”
I take the hand she extends, pull her upright, then kick my feet into the dirty pair of shoes I took off when I ran after her. Her scruffy outline stands out with unnatural clarity.
This cinches it. I know how to spot the historically homeless!
Dad’s history books, all his lessons, swirl in my head. He totally knew! If us extra-in-focus-no-names are time travelers, and he and Sophie have been off visiting the Crusades or whenever, why’d they wait till right before the clockwork cop showed up before trying to tell me?
“Are you from the future too?” I ask.
“You know nothin’, dinna you?” Yvaine cuffs me on the arm. “Boys are from the future, girls are from the past.”
“Where? I mean when? And when is now?”
“Let’s cosy someplace warm.” She tugs me toward the alley entrance. “We’ll be lucky not t’catch cold.”
“That’s what my mother would say.”
“I’m not your mother.”Synopsis: Untimed
is an action-packed time travel novel by Andy Gavin, author of The Darkening Dream
and creator of Crash Bandicoot
and Jak & Daxter
Charlie's the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can't remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don't take him seriously. Still, this isn't all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there's this girl... Yvaine... another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine's got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history -- like accidentally let the founding father be killed -- they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.Online Reviews"A twisty-turny, swashbuckling adventure through time and history. I can't wait for the next book in the series!." -- R.J. Cavender"What a super-engaging and exciting time travel romp!" -- Bookish Whimsy"Like science class in Las Vegas!" -- Fantasy Literature"Highly recommended to anyone who appreciates a well-written, suspenseful tale packed with colorful characters, witty dialogue, and interesting and well-researched settings." -- Amazon reviewerDWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There I created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. I sleep little, read novels and histories, watch media obsessively, travel, blog (a million hits last year!), and of course, write. DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?
I’m a lifelong creator and explorer of worlds. As far back as first grade I remember spending most of the school day in one day dream or another. I had a huge notebook stuffed with drawings, story bits, and concepts for an elaborate Sci-Fi/Fantasy world I cobbled together from bits of Star Wars
, and Battlestar Galactica
. By fourth or fifth grade not only was I loosing myself in every fantasy or Sci-Fi novel I could, but I was building Dungeons & Dragons castles and caverns on paper. Then from 1980 on the computer.
Since third grade I’ve read rather obsessively, so I was naturally interested in writing. I began fairly seriously in ninth grade. In high school, I won several national literary awards for my short stories and I was an editor and contributor to our high school literary magazine. In college, despite being a diehard science guy, I took creative writing classes (sometimes I was the only guy) and submitted stories to Science Fiction and Fantasy magazines (not that they ever bought any!). I co-wrote the stories for many of my best selling video games. But video games aren’t as story driven as novels, so don’t judge these in the same light J. DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?
I never do anything halfway. So in 2010 I read about 20 books on publishing and query writing and spent hundreds of hours researching and querying agents. But the return on time investment was horrible. You wait and wait and barely get any feedback at all. The process is entirely structured on the assumption that there are vast supplies of manuscripts and so the agents maximize their own time investment. If they miss some good ones because of it… there will always be more. And while this makes sense for them, it doesn’t for me.
And then I kept reading about publishing.
I’ve published dozens of projects myself (40+ million games sold!) and the overall process isn’t so dissimilar. Nor is the role of publisher. But as bad as game developer / publisher relations and contracts sometimes are… they are paradise compared to their literary equivalents. Book publishers prefer to preserve the status quo and monopolistic collusion over profits. They always offer the same basic deal and are not generally open to new structures.
Now indie-publishing isn’t necessarily easy or anything. For me, the production part was fairly straightforward after having done so many previous projects. I hired great contractors and the result looks fantastic. The book was line edited by two world class pros. Proofread extensively. Typeset by New York talent. The cover by award-winning fantasy artist Cliff Nielsen is gorgeous and looks every bit as good as the best New York books. The whole package appeals. When I ran a free day on Amazon it surged rapidly to number 4 on the whole Amazon store, number 2 in fiction, and sat there for nearly 24 hours. Reviews have been stellar too. But marketing in this new world of online publishing is a black art and very time consuming. For each thing I try that works, there are five that don’t.DWED: Who or what would you say inspired “Untimed”?
began from a fusion of ideas. Lingering in my mind for over twenty years was a time travel story about people from the future who fell “downtime” to relive exciting moments in history (until things go wrong). I worked out a time travel system but had no plot or characters. Separately, in 2010, as a break from editing The Darkening Dream
, I experimented with new voice techniques, especially first person present. I also read various “competition.” One of these was The Lightning Thief
(the first Percy Jackson novel), which has an amazing series concept (if a slightly limp execution). I love mythology and history, and liked the notion of something with a rich body of material to mine. I wanted an open ended high concept that drew on my strengths, which brought me back to time travel.
Some of the mechanics from my earlier concept merged well with a younger protagonist, voiced in a visceral first person present style. I started thinking about it, and his voice popped into my head. I pounded out a chapter not too dissimilar from the first chapter of the final novel. Then the most awesome villain teleported into the situation. I can’t remember how or why, but it happened quickly and spontaneously. Tick-Tocks were born (or forged). DWED: How does “Untimed” stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?Untimed
is aimed at anyone who likes a rip roaring adventure in the tradition of the great 80s adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Arc
. I wanted a lightning paced romp that showed unfamiliar takes on familiar places, times, and people. Charlie is 15, but slightly younger readers will probably appreciate the action, and adult readers enjoy the well thought out time travel system and carefully worked historical implications. Charlie’s voice is frank and compelling, but light hearted with an edge, and I dance across serious themes without getting too heavy. It’s PG-13, no racier than today’s network teen shows.
One of my major agenda’s was to show the past in a fun but accurate manner. History doesn’t have to be boring, and while situations and society changes, people stay the same. People in the past are just as human, but things really have improved in many ways. Charlie, as a contemporary kid, serves as our representative, experiencing different times first hand –up close and personal with chamber pots. DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for “Untimed”?
Reviews for Untimed have been fabulous. It has a 4.6 average on Amazon with 128 reviews! It’s not at all uncommon for book bloggers to call it “the best book I’ve read in years” or something similar. DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?
I’m a very visual writer. I see each scene in my head like a movie and I try to paint it for the reader. I also like to think that my style is very descriptive, yet rapid and compact. I’m very conscious of all the things that need to be conveyed coming into a scene, and I try to dole them out in rapid splashes. I don’t open with a big block of description, but jump right into things and tease out the information and descriptions bit by bit as part of the action. In editing, I try to remove anything non-essential or redundant. Untimed
is only 75,000 words, yet a tremendous amount of stuff happens. It’s very spare and efficient.
I like dialogue and action, and I think I’m very good at both. I try to keep the banter snappy and rapid fire, and I like to think I can handle pretty complex action scenes with multiple simultaneous goings on.DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?
I wanted to show people that the past didn’t have to be boring, and that while situations and society changes, people stay the same. I also wanted to illustrate that while people in the past are just as human, things really have improved in many ways. By having Charlie, who as a contemporary kid is our representative, experience different times first hand, it’s easy to contrast them. DWED: Who is your favorite character in “Untimed” and why?Untimed
’s single first person POV is Charlie, and he was very fun to write. He calls things as he sees them, and given his basic naiveté, that’s pretty funny. We’re inside his head, and nothing is really sacred there. This can also be contrasted with what he does and says, which is sometimes not as bold as he thinks. Dialog-wise, his love interest, Yvaine, is also a blast because she’s incredibly direct and not afraid to work it
.DWED: Who is your least favorite character in “Untimed” and why?
There are two ways to take that question, but I’ll choose who is the most “despicable” (as opposed to which character do I think I failed at). Donnie, as the human villain, is a nasty bastard, very self centered and temperamental, but at the same time I wanted to make him likeable, or at least charismatic. Guys like him would have been charming – some of the time. But the Tick-Tocks are cool tool in their more archetypal way. Rapier is like a kind of Boogie-man. He’s always in the wrong place at the right time (for him!). DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?
Right now, I’m writing two more and adapting Untimed
into a screenplay. DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?
Read, read, write, write, edit, edit, edit. And hire good professional help too. Friends and family can give you a sense of how the book reads, but they can't usually tell you how to fix anything serious. I've read a lot of half-decent Indie books on my Kindle that are at their core good, but just need some serious tightening and polish. Hell, I've read plenty of big-six bestsellers you can say this about.DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?
I’ll just throw in the blurb for Untimed:
Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can’t remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously. Still, this isn’t all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there’s this girl… Yvaine… another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine’s got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history — like accidentally let the founding father be killed — they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.Buy Links:
DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
My name is T.P. Miller and I’m from Birmingham, Alabama. I’m the mother of two children, aged 5 and 6 and married for 6 years. I’m the author of the Chosen Ones Series along with being featured in a few anthologies. DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?T.P. Miller:
I’ve always been a writer. I started out with short stories passed around with friends and eventually started my own. I wouldn’t say that I aspired early on, but soon I started thinking about what I really wanted to do and what made me happy. Writing has always been that profession. DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why? T.P. Miller:
A little of both. I think that as a fairly new author, that getting that word of mouth and interest has been a hard thing for me. But I love the connection with the readers and that’s what makes this all the better. I was lucky when I first started to get picked up by a company and my first book, Out for Blood to be released the following year. Now that I’m self-published, I’m really getting the chance to see the ins and outs. DWED: Who or what would you say inspired “A Woman Scorned”? T.P. Miller:
A Woman Scorned started out as a short story for an anthology that was going to be featured with my company. When it didn’t fall through, I decided that I wanted to put it out. I’m a paranormal writer and I wanted to show the readers that I can be versatile and dip my pen into other genres.DWED: How was the concept of “A Woman Scorned” born?T.P. Miller:
It was supposed to be about a woman that is so angry that her boyfriend cheated that she gets some revenge. The model for the anthology was the seven sins and I was given wrath.DWED: How does “A Woman Scorned” stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?T.P. Miller:
I think with the character of Zena you see the other side of being cheated on. You see the real angry and betrayal behind the actions and the emotions that we woman go through. Also, I think that Zena does a few things that we women would love to do. DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for “A Woman Scorned”?T.P. Miller:
The feedback has been great! I’m amazed that people are enjoying it as much as they are. It definitely makes me feel better about stepping out and doing more things. DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?T.P. Miller:
I think that every writer has their own style. It’s like their fingerprint. I don’t think that I have a specific voice but I’m always working on it. I’m always working to be better and to have my own unique style. DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?T.P. Miller:
I think that the main thing that I like to instill in my books is strong female characters. In Out for Blood, you had Nef that was searching for the person that killed her family and basically left her for dead and in A Woman Scorned, Zena is basically standing up for herself after a broken relationship.DWED: Who is your favorite character in “A Woman Scorned” and why?T.P. Miller:
My favorite is probably Zena. Like I said, she’s strong. DWED: Who is your least favorite character in “A Woman Scorned” and why?T.P. Miller:
My least favorite is probably Malik. I always have fun writing the “bad” guy. He’s just your typical guy that thinks that he can have his cake and eat it too. DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013? T.P. Miller:
I would love to get the revised copy of Out for Blood back out for the readers. I’m going to be adding new scenes and I definitely have the cover done. I’m also working on the sequel and got other projects that I want to put out really soon. DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?T.P. Miller:
Don’t give up and keep writing. Never let the pen stop and then when you’re done…research, research, research. Good luck! It’s fun and be prepared to work. DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?T.P. Miller:
The only thing that I can say is that I don’t have words to describe the appreciation that I have you each and every one of you. I hope that I don’t disappoint any of you and I hope that you’ll be picking up my books in years to come.http://thevampyrequeen.wordpress.com/
DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
We are 34 year old twin brothers from Ohio. We are very identical (in looks and interests) and have taken very similar paths in life. We went to the same college and both went into private education. We’re both married with kids. Our interests (outside of writing and reading) are fitness, extreme races, and hanging out with family and friends.
DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?
We’ve both always been natural writers and creative. However, we’ve never had the inspiration or motivation to sit down and actually do it. Fortunately, we had several events that gave us the inspiration to write and publish our recent books.
DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?
It was quite a journey! We wanted to do it right, so the whole process took about a year. That includes the writing, design, and working with others. Fortunately, we had previous business experience with some online projects and we had great help along the way. Since we went the indie, self-publishing route, we tried to help other “up and comers” along the way. We hired graphic designers who were just getting in the industry, for example.
DWED: Who or what would you say inspired “Be Popular Now” & “Say it like you mean it”?
We had both gotten into some serious ruts around the time we hit thirty years old. And, we both decided we had to break out. We began to research positive affirmations and explored the science behind them. Then, we started thinking about what really drove us as individuals, i.e. what made us excited to wake up in the morning. We discovered that it was to go out and make the lives of others better. And you do that by meeting their needs. And when you do that, you’re…popular.
DWED: How was the concept of “Be Popular Now” & “Say it like you mean it” born?
We saw how our interactions with others made their day better. We were making people laugh, helping them through tough times, and making their lives more exciting. We’d walk into a coffee shop and leave with two new friends, for example. Also, on a professional level, students loved us and learned from us, even ones that other teachers couldn't reach. We felt our lives had become so amazing and fun and we’d impacted so many people, that we had to share these techniques with others.
DWED: How does “Be Popular Now” & “Say it like you mean it” stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?
“Say It Like You Mean It” offers readers easy tips grounded in brain science that can help them change their mindset. Whatever their self-limiting attitudes, our affirmations guide can help. “Be Popular Now” stands out because I don’t think there’s anything like it out there, even though being popular is pretty much a basic social need all people have. While there are dating books, social skills books, meeting people books, etc. we tie it all together to help people become attractive and popular in a well-rounded way. Also, we researched the latest in brain science, psychology, evolutionary biology, and other fields to find our techniques. While being popular is an art, there is a science behind it.
DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for “Be Popular Now” & “Say it like you mean it”?
The feedback has generally been positive on both. We’ve also gotten some valuable criticism that has allowed us to make the books even better. A lot of it dealt with making our tips more practical. Sometimes we can be very philosophical and scientific, but we needed to translate that theory into very practical tips. We’re grateful for that feedback because it made the book much better.
DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?
Yeah, we do. In fact, we follow a specific model based on our teaching skills, that we feel is effective. We tell stories that illustrate our point, discuss the point, deal with possible objections, then give real world advice (and even homework). We also write clearly and concisely, but in an accessible way. DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?
We try to help people be their absolute best, then go out and bless the world. A rising tide truly lifts all boats. We believe the world needs more popular, attractive, and confident guys. Their impact on their family, friends, community, and culture is significant and positive. The more, the better. Plus, it's a blast to be popular. Every day is an adventure.DWED: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Since we’re non-fiction, we don’t have characters. But, we tell a true story about Michael Phelps (the Olympic swimmer) and how he was mocked as a kid. And, it only motivated him to be more excellent. The guy is rich, popular, and successful and he was bullied. It should give everyone hope.DWED: Who is your least favorite character in your book and why?
We tell a lot of negative true stories in our book to illustrate what not to do on occasion. Like a “villain” in fiction, they’re necessary to clearly show the right and noble way to act. Many of the negative stories are about us and our mistakes. We're not afraid to admit that our past setbacks are great lessons for us and our readers.DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?
We are currently speaking and consulting in conjunction with our book. Also, we’re releasing a popularity book for teens around June. It’s about navigating the difficulties of school, bullies, etc. We’re excited about that because we know, through our teaching, that kids have a really hard time.DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?
First, learn how to write well. Read a lot, and write a lot. Become as concise, accessible, and clear as possible. Second, find your passion, then run with it. Really look inside and do some serious self-reflection. I (Jonathan) tried to write a book since I was fourteen. It wasn’t until I discovered my core purpose in life that I was able to actually write a book (that was eighteen years later). Then, it flowed so naturally. We were essentially “in the zone.” DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?
I would just like to talk more about our definition of popularity. Unfortunately, in high school and other places, some people are labeled "popular" because they cause others to fear them. This is not true popularity. Many people are rightly suspicious of this type of "popularity.” Being truly popular is about being attractive and meeting the needs of others. We give people what they want (friendship, laughter, excellence, etc.) and they give us popularity in return. It really is a positive thing. Links:http://thepopularman.com/http://www.amazon.com/Popular-Now-Confident-Attractive-Successful/dp/0615753841/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373294694&sr=1-1http://www.amazon.com/Say-Like-You-Mean-Affirmations/dp/0615533957/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_2
DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Southern California boy who joined the US Marines out of high school and ended up in Vietnam in 1966. In 1968, honorably discharged from the Marines, I attended college on the GI Bill and earned a BA in journalism, a teaching credential and then later an MFA in writing. I took my first creative writing class in 1968 and have never stopped writing.DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?
It was in 1968 when I decided I wanted to be a published author, and I have worked toward that goal since.DWED: Would you say the journey to publish was easy or hard? Why?
I’m not sure if I would call it hard. For sure, it wasn’t easy. It was just a long trek and I think the journey is often more important than the destination. I wrote my first book length manuscript in 1968 and when I finished it, I found an agent to represent me. Forty years later, I had written more than a dozen book length manuscripts, attended writing workshops out of UCLA for several years driving 135 miles round trip once a week, and was represented by other reputable, established literary agents but the publishers did not come knocking. If you think the journey is worth it, you don’t step off the road.DWED: Who or what would you say inspired “Running with the Enemy”? How was the concept for “Running with the Enemy” born?
One writing teacher out of UCLA’s extension program was named Marjorie Miller, and when I joined her class I was working on a memoir of my tour I Vietnam. She convinced me to fictionalize the story and for more than five years in her writing workshop I wrote and revised the chapters that became “Running with the Enemy”. That Marjorie Miller died of lung cancer a few years ago but the novel she inspired lives on. She was a tough task master and I still recall thinking I would be writing one of the chapters for the rest of my life, because she refused to accept it until I got it right—thirty revisions later.DWED: How does “Running with the Enemy” stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within its pages?
I’m not sure if I’m the right person to answer this question. Each reader may experience the novel in different ways. The story may stand out because it covers several areas that most people haven’t heard of about the Vietnam War. For example, it has been reported that a few hundred Americans fell in love with Vietnamese women and went AWOL to vanish into the rain forests and go native in remote rural areas of the country—some of them may still be there.
The idea that someone in the US military was selling weapons to the Vietcong actually happened in my unit. The armorer for C Company of the 1st Tank Battalion was caught selling weapons to the enemy and he ended up being court-martialed and sent to prison for twenty years.
In addition, the character that is accused of raping a Vietnamese girl and killing her father was modeled on one of the men in my communication platoon who was caught and court martialed for rape and murder and sent off the a federal prison in the states.
The CIA connection with drugs from the Golden Triangle has also been documented. All of this and more is within this novel’s pages.
At length how would you describe the feedback for “Running with the Enemy”?
As I’m writing this, the novel has sold less than ten copies and there hasn’t been much feedback yet. However, the feedback I received for more than five years from Marjorie Miller and several other published authors attending the same writing workshop out of UCLA was positive, and Miller found a literary agent from a reputable agency to represent the novel. The novel even reached a senior editor at Random House who said he enjoyed reading it but the market for Vietnam novels was glutted and they weren’t selling. That agent represented me for about two years and we heard the same thing from several editors. I moved on to new projects and shelved this novel for about twenty years.DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?
I have no idea what my style of writing is. I’m too close to it. DWED: What kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?
If anything, I think the theme of loyalty appears in my work. The main characters are human and they are flawed but loyalty and trust are very important.DWED: Who is your favorite charter in “Running with the Enemy” and why?
I think Ethan Card, the main character because he is willing to risk his life out of loyalty to those he trusts and loves the most. He’d rather die than run out on someone that puts their trust in him.DWED: Who is your least favorite character in “Running with the Enemy” and why?
I have to say that title is shared by two characters: Victor Ortega, the rouge CIA agent who is a sociopathic serial killer who enjoys tormenting and torturing his victims. The second least favorite character would be Giap, because he obsessively molests and terrorizes his half-sister, Tuyen, Ethan’s lover, and he wants to murder his own mother.DWED: How is the tour for “Running with the Enemy” going?
I’ll have to answer that in a year or two, because it seems promoting one’s work never ends. I published my first novel in December 2007, and I’m still promoting it. In addition, it took more than two years before the sales of that book started to pick up as word of mouth slowly spread.DWED: Where will you be stopping next for your tour?
Krystal, I’m looking at the schedule and see that my next stop will be June 24 and 25th with Marianne at Reviewing Novels on line.DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you through 2013?
Thanks for asking. Besides keeping up my Blogs, I’m working on a teacher’s memoir called Crazy Normal, a classroom expose,
and I’m planning to publish before the end of the year. During the 1994 – 95 school year, I kept a daily journal that ran more than 500 pages, and I’m using that journal to take readers into the classroom of a public high school like they may have never experienced it before unless they were a teacher.DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?
Don’t expect fame and fortune. Instead, write passionately for the love of it and write what you want to write—not what the market is buying.http://lloydlofthouse.org/
DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.
To start, I’d like to thank Krystal for featuring me on her blog. It’s very much appreciated.
I grew up in English boarding schools where we were always very cold and very hungry. We awoke and went to sleep with bells, our lives a humdrum existence of rules, regulations, church, chapel, classes, chores and prep. Books were my escape and although that is a cliché, it’s one that’s true. When I was twenty, I moved to the States to go to journalism school and after I graduated I immediately started working on newspapers. It was a very happy moment for me because I found I could read and write all day and get paid for it.DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?
Not consciously, and I am surprised every day that I have, but it seemed a logical extension from my career as a journalist. I wrote two other novels before this one and they just weren’t working, and then, one day in July 2010, I found myself in front of my computer looking at a blank screen. Three weeks later, The Blasphemy Box was written. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t plot it out. It just appeared before me on the screen as I typed madly away. DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?
I would say it was exceptionally hard for so many reasons, not the least of which was having to foster, over time, the necessary self-confidence to write a book and sell it. DWED: Who or what would you say inspired “The Blasphemy Box”?
To some degree, it was seeing myself aging, and all that came with that. And I didn’t like any of it, one bit! I was seeing how, on the march towards 50 and with their physical appeal waning, women in our youth-obsessed culture can become almost invisible. And perhaps I was just writing the novel I wanted to read, a book showing how there are a million Maddys out there struggling away, but not done and over with just because they’re fifty, not useless and used up just because they’re fifty, not unattractive and unalluring just because they’re fifty. There are so many novels out there for young, hip women, but so few for the women they become, their older, (better?!) selves. DWED: How does “The Blasphemy Box” stand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?
The story of a husband leaving his wife in middle age is not at all uncommon. You hear about it all the time. What makes my take unique is the way I have treated the subject: in a humorous yet heartfelt way. Though we feel my heroine Maddy’s pain and identify with her everywoman struggles, she never becomes a mawkish or maudlin figure crying into her teacup or a bitter person wracked by rage. Her dry British wit, her acute sense of humor and her wacky observations about her world and her current situation all contribute to make this an uplifting story about a devastating situation called middle age divorce. DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for “The Blasphemy Box”?
It has been overwhelmingly positive with a slew of five-star reviews.DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?
I have always been told that I have a “voice” and that when people read what I write they can hear me speaking. DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?
I am not trying to instill any message, really. I am just telling a story, and the human race will never tire of stories because they tell us who we are. Or who we can be. DWED: Who is your favorite character in “The Blasphemy Box” and why?
I would have to say Maddy, the protagonist, is my favorite character. She shows a lot of dignity in a very trying, humiliating and terrifying situation, while simultaneously managing to take care of and to protect her kids. That’s a good mother. DWED: Who is your least favorite character in “The Blasphemy Box” and why?
I would say I dislike Anita, Maddy’s mother in law, and Steven, her soon-to-be-ex-husband, equally.DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?
I only wish I knew!DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?
I would say something very simple: writers write, so if you’re a writer, write. DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?
Just that I would love to hear from anyone and everyone who wants to engage. I love making new friends and learning new things and the internet is a wonderful place to achieve both.Author Links:http://amzn.com/0615736 https://www.amazon.com/author/mandybehbehani www.facebook.com/pages/Mandy-Behbehani/160373794122565
twitter handle: @mandyscribeista
DAY 1 OF SEPARATION
Marriage is the chief cause of divorce
— Groucho Marx
You know that nightmare you’ve always had?
The one where you wake up one day to find yourself fat, frumpy, fifty, and alone?
I’m living it.
It’s barely nine on a frigid January morning. The three children have gone off to school, and I’m in the kitchen in my pajamas on my laptop working on my novel when Steven comes lumbering through, toward the front door of our Victorian house in San Francisco, dragging two of my large Louis Vuitton suitcases.
It’s been only a week since he said he was leaving. Not even a week. Six days. We’d only just celebrated the kids’ birthdays. After twenty years of marriage, I just didn’t believe it. I thought maybe he had a cold and was feeling out of sorts. Sure, we’d been bickering a lot lately, mostly about how he was working until all hours of the night with no convincing explanation. And about how he was sick and tired of seeing my nose in a book and that I should take it out and pay more attention to him. And about why he hadn’t touched me for several months. And about that wooden box with a slot on the top, which suddenly appeared on the kitchen table to remind me not to curse. Steven called it the Blasphemy Box, and I was to insert a quarter into it every time I swore. (I’m from England where cursing is the second language.)
He told me he was leaving while we were perusing the baking aisle at Whole Foods. It was the first time he had been grocery shopping with me in a long time. All I could see through my tears was a row of boxes of “No Pudge Fat-Free Fudge Brownie Mix.” I kept asking him if he was joking. He said it was no joke. I blinked the tears away and tried to maintain my British cool—public grief is just not done in England after all, where I come from. I babbled about needing bitter cocoa powder, mascarpone, and ladyfingers for tiramisu. I asked him if he wanted something other than tiramisu. But he just stood silently next to me, not looking at me, far away, already gone.
Had I seen this coming? No! (Well, not exactly.) I thought we were just used to each other, just comfortable with each other, the spark gone, the flame tamed, but still together as one. I guess not. We didn’t talk about it again in that intervening week. I couldn’t. It’s called denial. I thought if I didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t happen. But it has. It is. Happening. Now.
As he lumbers toward our front door, I look up. “So, that’s it. You’re really leaving.”
“Maddy, don’t start…We’ve been through this. It’s over. ”
No matter how many times he says it, I still can’t believe it.
“Because of some bimbo half your age?”
“And half your size.”
“Her name is Gabriela, Madeleine.”
Gabriela. I want to skin her and wear her like last year’s Dior.
“Yeah, right,” I say, furious, then numb as I get up, pull my stomach in and try to stand straight. I am trying to hold back my tears. I really am. I dig my finger into my thigh, hoping the pain will distract me from the other pain and humiliation. Of course it doesn’t. I just feel the cellulite growing there like kudzu.
Genre: Action/Adventure, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, Crime Thriller
Synopsis: Working Tokyo nightclubs is easy money for beautiful and troubled American Val Benson - until a client with a rather unusual hobby - painting the private parts of his female liaisons - reluctantly gives up a map to a stash of Japanese war loot and tempts his favorite girl into a dangerous treasure hunt.
The Congressman's daughter is not the only one interested in the map: yakuza, bent cops, human traffickers, rogue CIA agents and her father are hot on her trail, snapping at her high heels.
So begins the dark, epic journey of a new anti-hero of Asian Noir, a protagonist both ambiguous and courageous, and utterly unreliable. From comfort women and tomb-raiding in Japanese-occupied Burma to the murderous echoes of the Vietnam War, long forgotten crimes come roaring back to life, as Val leaves a trail of destruction and chaos in her wake.
Together with her best friend, the equally unreliable nightclub hostess Suki, Val travels through Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok to the Thai-Burmese borderlands for a dramatic showdown with her pursuers. Finding the treasure before everyone else does is her only hope for survival, and perhaps redemption.
Rating: 5 stars *****
My first thought when reading the title, was that this book was going to be weird, maybe even funny or comical in some way. I know I judged wrongly before even reading. Gaijin Cowgirl is a mixture of historical fiction, vividly packed scenes and a bite of suspense that will leave the reader on edge.
We follow Val Benson as she peruses through Tokyo connecting with old friends all the while making new ones. It is here that she gets her hands on an old map that leads to unspoken treasures. While I don’t agree with her methods of retrieving the map, I was a little bit peeved with the artist who made a habit of painting female genitalia; I thought this act of thievery gave the novel a more sinister appeal.
And it didn’t stop there.
Val finds herself hunted by others as she uses the map to seek the treasure in the Thai Jungle. As I do not want to spoil the thriller packed suspense of this novel, as going into more detail will do, I will tell you this. If this had been a movie, it would definitely not disappoint.
Jame’s writing style is fascinating; he gives the reader a thrill ride type story line before packing them with a heavy punch. He doesn’t leave anything left unturned and his book was very satisfying.