Scams and Cons in Fiction by Terry Ambrose

001_Terry-bio-2012-202x270In 1848, James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, CA. The gold rush brought 300,000 people to California, all in search of instant riches. This new world of publishing, in a sense, is very similar. In 2003, 300,000 books were published in the US. By 2011, that number had risen to over three million. Along with the rising number of new titles, the business of writing services, i.e., book editing, book creation, and promotion, is also booming. But, even though the number of books purchased each year has increased dramatically, it has not maintained the same breakneck pace. It’s easy to be caught up in the advertising and promotion offers “guaranteed” to make authors a big success when they are desperate to be found in the midst of all the chaos.

I’ve dealt with scams and cons throughout my working career and I write about them for an online publication. In a sense that makes me jaded and a bad target for those temptations. As I look at the chaos in the industry, I believe that it’s up to me to make my own breaks, and that means I follow multiple paths to increase my name recognition, hopefully without falling for someone’s scam.

Most authors, at least before they publish a book, believe that they’ll have to do nothing more than write and publish their masterpiece and then begin cashing their royalty checks. But, what was once the dirty little secret in publishing, the issue of promotion, is being talked about a lot these days. Despite all that talk and having the deck stacked against us, most authors hold out hope that theirs will be the exception to the rule and sell big. Even the authors who become that rare exception admit that there are no magic bullets and what works for one author may not work for the next. Each case is unique to forces that include the genre, writing style, name recognition, personality, and perseverance of the writer.

One of the paths I’ve chosen is writing book columns for an online news source. I began my San Diego Fiction column about two years 000_SoftCover6x9_300_cover_onlyago, long before I published my debut mystery, “Photo Finish.” I’ve done countless author interviews, covered book signings and other events, and written book reviews for authors—some of whom I admired greatly. In December 2011, I began writing Crime Fiction, a national column that allowed me to expand my range of contacts and coverage.

Writing about other authors has done several things for me. First, it gave me practice in meeting deadlines and writing under pressure. This was a good thing because it’s made me more efficient in my fiction writing. Second, it has given me name recognition I never would have had if I had not written the columns. This, too, is a good thing because it does transfer into some traffic on my website. Third, and most importantly, it has put me in contact with extremely talented writers. Basically, every time I write a column, I’m helping some other author promote his or her book.

Given that name recognition really translates into a game of repetition, I find this approach offers me a way to get my name in front of readers on a regular basis without being one of those authors who stands on the social media corner yelling, “Buy my book!”

Is this approach for everyone? Absolutely not. However, if you don’t mind doing favors for others with no guarantee that they’ll ever want to return the favor or that the wheels on your karma bus will ever turn fast enough to make up for all the hours you put in, then consider writing for an online publication about books or another subject you are passionate about. You may find it a rewarding experience and a good way to gain name recognition.

What do you think? Is this a good approach for you? Do you have questions about how to get started? Let me know.

Author Bio: Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark when “negotiations” failed.

A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons including—always keep your car in the garage.

An archeologist’s take on book promotion

doonanphotoBWHello, I’m William Doonan. My archaeological mystery, American Caliphate, has now been out for about six months (see blurb below). I do the regular blogging and promoting, but I thought I’d try something new. I’ve turned my own blog into a forum for serialized novels. Each week, a new chapter comes out, and I publicize it on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, etc.

Does it work? I don’t know, but minimally it gives readers exposure to my writing and my books. Stop by and have a look at

My current serialized novel is called MedicineLand. Here’s what it’s about:MedicineLand

2010 – California’s Central Valley becomes the nation’s methamphetamine production hub, unleashing a wave of addiction and crime. Prison populations soar.

The state bleeds money and resources as two formidable players ascend – the ruthless drug cartels, and the powerful prison guards union. There’s a fortune at stake as the world’s eighth largest economy becomes a battlefield.

It’s up to the governor now to keep everything from boiling over. Unless the governor has other ideas.

Dr. Julia Beltran is a geneticist searching for the master control gene for human aging. If she finds it, you’ll never die.

Adam LaPorte is a former methamphetamine super-lab cook. Why is he now being paid a small fortune to bake snack cakes for the California Department of Corrections?

Ruth Black runs a private holistic medicine facility. Her patients shouldn’t even be alive. Maybe they aren’t.

Governor Schwarzenegger doesn’t like to lose.

Author Bio

AmericanCaliphatecoverMEDIUMWilliam Doonan is an archaeologist and professor of anthropology in Sacramento, CA. He has spent many years conducting excavations in Central and South America. He is also a veteran cruise ship lecturer, traveling the world and speaking on topics as diverse as the Trojan War, piracy in the Adriatic, and the peopling of the Americas.

Doonan is also the author of four mystery novels. Grave Passage, Mediterranean Grave, and Grave Indulgence recount the adventures of an octogenarian detective who solves crimes on cruise ships. His new archaeological mystery American Caliphate was released by Dark Oak Mysteries in April 2012

Bone Shadows by Christoper Valen

BoneShadowsCover72dpiBone Shadows

A John Santana Novel

By Christopher Valen

Conquill Press, 2012, 344 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0-9800017-5-4

Once Upon A Crime

Once Upon A Crime


Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid



John Santana is a homicide detective in St. Paul, Minnesota and is very good at his job.  However, there is a lot more to Santana than just his job.  Born in Columbia, Santana lives under a cloud knowing that at any time his deeds in Columbia prior to fleeing the country can come back to haunt him and seek revenge.


When the body of Scott Rafferty, age 23, is recovered from the Mississippi river, the initial reaction is death by suicide.   Santana is not immediately buying into the fact that Rafferty’s death is a suicide.  Santana’s past experience with suicide by drowning has been that of an orderly scene with the victims clothes removed and neatly folded. This is not the case with Rafferty’s body.


Rafferty’s father, Hank Rafferty, is a police officer and his wife, Rachel Hardin, is a Ramsey County Judge.  Hank informs Santana that a drowning simply does not make sense.  Hank states that Scott saw his mother drown and Scott has never liked water.  Rachel Hardin, Scott’s stepmother, explained that Scott was seeing a psychiatrist.  Hank explained that the doctor was treating Scott for PTSDA (post traumatic stress disorder).  Hanks said that Kimberly Dalton, Scott’s girlfriend, had contacted him a few nights ago concerned that she had not heard from Scott.  Hank suggested that she file a missing persons report.


As Santana is attempting to determine how to proceed with the investigation, he is approached by Jack Brody.  Brody is a freelance journalist.  Brody was once an award-winning reporter but he hasn’t had a good story for awhile.  He offers Santana a theory that there is a serial killer operating along the I-94 corridor.  Jordan Parrish, a private investigator, hired by the parents of another victim tells Santana that she is in agreement with Brody.


The case becomes even more confusing when Santana is approached by Ed Kincaid of the FBI.

Kincaid tells Santana it would be best if he closed the Rafferty case as a suicide by drowning.  In order to back up his suggestion he begins questioning Santana regarding Santana’s last trip to Columbia.  Santana is having none of Kincaid’s veiled threats and makes no bones about telling Kincaid.


As Santana digs deeper into not only the death of Rafferty but also other deaths by drowning, he discovers the story gets more exciting and complicated.  “Bone Shadows” is an exceptionally good read and a great addition to the John Santana series.  The series can be read out of order without a problem but to really get to know Santana it is best to start at the beginning.

An interview with Karen Daniels

GlassesI first met Karen several years ago when she’d just released her first novel. It’s wonderful to reconnect with her now and to see how much she’s grown as a writer and to enjoy the success she’s achieving. I hope you’ll take the time to acquaint yourselves with her work!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Karen: I took my first writing official writing class 15 years ago. Always an avid reader, I had reached a point in my life where I wanted to express myself artistically.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Karen: Everyday that I write a I feel a certain amount of success and accomplishment.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Karen: What surprises me the most about the writing life is writing the novel is technically the easy part – marketing is the difficult part for me.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Karen: Hold on a second, I need to get up from the floor. Laughing so hard caused me to fall.

PJ: LOL I hear ya! Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Karen: Imagine a pie sliced into three large pieces. The first piece is completing the novel. The second piece is finding a home for the novel. And the third piece involves creating buzz about the novel.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Karen: The first time, one year and roughly 80 rejections, I took matters into my own hands and self-published. The second time, six months and roughly 70 rejections, an epublisher signed me. Be creative and find other ways to get your writing out there. Maybe next time it’ll be with the one of the Big 6.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Karen: I would have chosen a different self-publishing company, but there weren’t as many as there are today.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Karen: Word of mouth. It’s slow, but a good review from a reader has power.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:Cover Art AR2R 2nd version

Three Days in Purgatory

A Reason to Run

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

A Reason to Run tells the story of three women whose paths cross after each makes the decision to run. A plane crashes in west Texas. Robin’s husband was supposed to be on the plane, but missed his flight. Marissa’s husband should have been camping in the area, but lied about his plans. And Autumn’s teenage daughter witnessed the crash landing, after she ran away. With nothing in common except their life-altering problems, the women will have an opportunity to help one another when their paths cross. If they do, they will earn a trait they are lacking to solve their problems. If they don’t, they will be forever stuck. The reasons they run, the decisions they make along the way, takes them in directions they never imagined.

Where can we buy it?

Of course Amazon, but any eformat book source like Barnes and Noble and Pinterest, but also at my website

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

I love storytelling and suspense. I also like to perfectly balance the character driven novel and plot driven novel, giving both equal attention. Who says a novel needs to be one or the other?

Thank you, Karen, for taking time to talk with us today. I hope everyone who reads this will find a way to read Karen’s work!

Hand for a Hand by T. Frank Muir

hand for a handHand For A Hand 

T. Frank Muir

SoHo Press, Inc., 2012, 336 Pages

ISBN No. 978-1616951818

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

T. Frank Muir

T. Frank Muir

DCI Andy Gilchrist became a new favorite for me just a few pages into “Hand For A Hand”.  A dismembered hand is found on the golf course in St. Andrews, Scotland.  The hand grips a note addressed to Andy.  This first note is only the beginning of the terrors that Andy must face as the body parts and the notes with the strange messages continue to make their appearances.

Andy is divorced with two grown children, Jack and Maureen.  It is a puzzle as to why the murderer is targeting Andy with a personal note.  Andy realizes that the victim could be someone close to him.  He leaves an urgent message for his daughter Maureen requesting that she contact him immediately.  When he reaches his son, Jack, Andy learns that Jack had a disagreement with his girlfriend, Chloe, and doesn’t know where she is now.

To make matters even worse, Ronnie Watt is assigned to the case.  Because of an incident in the past involving Ronnie and Andy’s young daughter Maureen, Andy despises Ronnie, doesn’t trust him, and feels that Ronnie will be a detriment rather than an asset in the investigation.  Although Andy complains to his superior, he is told that Ronnie will remain on the case in spite of Andy’s feelings.

When what appears to be paint on the severed hand Andy’s fear increases.  Jack’s girlfriend Chloe is an artist.  When the next body part is found along with a message for Andy, Andy becomes convinced that the victim must be Chloe.

With the assistance of DS Nancy Wilson, Andy works to decipher the meaning of the notes addressed to him but before he can come up with the answer his daughter Maureen disappears.  So begins a race to find Maureen before the killer can deliver the final blow to Andy and his loved ones.

Any reader who enjoys Police Procedurals will instantly become a fan of T. Frank Muir.  I am looking forward to the next book in this series.