Crashed by Timothy Hallinan


Timothy Hallinan

Soho Crime, 2012, 356 Pages

ISBN No. 978-1616952747

Reviewed by Patricia E. ReidTimothy_Hallinan_1

Junior Bender is a burglar but he has some rather unique ways of approaching his jobs.  Some of his methods will have you rolling on the floor laughing but they seem to work for him – at least most of the time.  There are a few moments when the reader wonders if Junior will survive to steal another day.

An LA crime boss is producing a porn movie starring Thistle Downing. Thistle is a former child star who was loved by her fans but time has taken a toll on Thistle and she is currently living in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable.  The movie would bring income to Thistle but would only send her further down her current path of destruction.

Junior is blackmailed into accepting the free-lance job of finding out who is sabotaging this movie.  His job is to keep the movie on track. The problem Junior is running into is that he likes Thistle and knows the movie is not the best thing for her even though she needs the money.  Junior sets out to fulfill his obligation but at the same time do right by Thistle and this isn’t an easy thing to do.  Junior has some very interesting friends who lend a helping hand  along the way.

I want to read more and more about Junior.  He is a character that is full of charm and certainly has some interesting escapades.   Crashed is written in a totally different style from the Bangkok series.  This novel proves that Timothy Hallinan can entertain us with more than one type of novel and I for one want to read everything he writes.

Yes! We Need Beta Readers by Kate Gallison

Kate Gallison You’ve worked through the last thrilling climax. You’ve typed, “THE END.” You’ve put your opus away for a couple of weeks and thought about something else. You’ve pulled it out again, read it through, shouted, “OMG, this really sucks,” fixed all the problems you noticed, and pronounced it cured. Perfected. Ready for prime time.

Now what?

Do you give in to your itch to fire it off to your agent? Or, having no agent, to fire off queries to a list of prospective agents, promising them a completed manuscript? Or, scorning the traditional publishing route, offer it to your eager public as an e-book, with no further tweaking?

No. Ten out of ten successful writers advise against this. You must give it to at least one friend or acquaintance, three would be better, people who normally read, and best of all who read in your genre. Otherwise you risk going out the door with literary spinach on your teeth.

What are they supposed to tell you about your book, other than that it’s great, riveting and compelling, absolutely the best thing they’ve read all year? (They are, after all, your friends. Otherwise you’d have to pay them to read it.)

First of all, your beta reader is not for doing line-editing or correcting your grammar and spelling. If you can’t spell or parse an English sentence by this time, you should probably take up the accordion. What you want to ask your beta readers to do is make note of any egregious howlers they may notice and any questions that arise in their minds about your book. Perhaps you have placed Seattle on the shores of Lake Michigan. Perhaps you have changed the heroine’s hair and eye color between Chapter Three and Chapter Four.  Perhaps some parts seem to lack energy, are in fact stupefyingly boring. Perhaps you have left gaping plot holes.

We get very close to our work, sometimes so close that it’s hard for us to see obvious things. We change things, too, as we go along, and we don’t always readjust the other things that are affected by our changes. Some of us have verbal tics that need pointing out. I once read an otherwise excellent suspense novel in which the author wrote, “He nodded,” and “She nodded,” something like five thousand and seventy-two times in the course of the book. By the hundredth instance I began to be irritated. When at last the writer said, “It was his turn to nod,” I cried, “No! No, it isn’t! Everybody stop nodding, already!” Unfortunately I wasn’t a beta reader. The EdgeofRuinCover 300x453thing was already in print.

Luckily I had beta readers for THE EDGE OF RUIN who pointed out to me that they could see no reason why the murderer committed the second murder. I was able to fix that before it went out. Plot holes are my personal weakness. If you know what yours are, you can get your beta readers to watch out for them. Then, when your book goes out the door, it will be the very best it can be.

Kate Gallison

Need a laugh today?

The Annual Bulwer-Lytton winners are always good for a laugh! Here are some of my personal favorites from the 2012 winners’ list. Be sure to go check them all out!

“Your eyes are like deep blue pools that I would like to drown in,” he had told Kimberly when she had asked him what he was thinking; but what he was actually thinking was that sometimes when he recharges his phone he forgets to put the little plug back in but he wasn’t going to tell her that. — Dan Leyde, Edmonds, WA

Corinne considered the colors (palest green, gray and lavender) and texture (downy as the finest velvet) and wondered, “How long have these cold cuts been in my refrigerator?” — Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE

The stifling atmosphere inside the Pink Dolphin Bar in the upper Amazon Basin carried barely enough oxygen for a man to survive – humid and thick the air was and full of little flying bugs, making the simple act of breathing like trying to suck hot Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup through a paper straw. — Greg Homer, Placerville, CA

As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta’s face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows. — David Pepper, Hermosa Beach, CA

The syncopated sound of the single-cylinder steam motor, designed by Mier Vander, reminded Mier of the time his father took him to the Mollen Bros travelling circus to see the “Corpulent Lady” and to sit upon her lap immediately following her lunch of sauerbraten and ale. — Jim Tierney, Murrieta, CA

Her fixed gaze at dinner reminded him so much of an owl that he found himself wondering when she would regurgitate her meal into a pellet and told the waitress they didn’t need a dessert menu. — Leah Sitkoff, New York, New York

Her skin was like flocked wallpaper and her eyes had seen better days, but when her bloodless lips murmured “Hi, Sailor,” my heart melted from the inside out like one of those chocolate-covered ice cream bars on a summer day that runs down your arm and gets all over your new shirt. — James Macdonald, Vancouver, B.C

Many years have passed since the events related here, but I remember them almost as well as if I had really been there, because I think about them frequently, turning them over and over in my mind, changing the facts to make me into more of a hero than I actually might have been, had I been there to do half the things I claim I did. — Thor F. Carden, Madison, TN

He got down from his horse, which seemed strange to him as he had always believed that you got down from a duck or a goose. — Terry L. Johnson, Tularosa, NM

Milton’s quest for the love of Ms. Bradley was a risk but no sorry trivial pursuit yet he hadn’t a clue why she had a monopoly on his heart’s desires – in fact, it boggled his mind and caused him great aggravation because, in his checkered and troubled careers, he had always scrabbled hard and it drove him bonkers that she considered life just a game. — Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE

As I gardened, gazing towards the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug – innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons – and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me. — Mary E. Patrick, Lake City, SC

Tucked in a dim corner of The Ample Bounty Bar & Grille, Alice welcomed the fervent touch of the mysterious stranger’s experienced hands because she had not been this close with a man in an achingly long time and, quivering breathlessly, began to think that this could be the beginning of something real, something forever, and not just a one-time encounter with a good Samaritan who was skilled at the Heimlich Maneuver. — Mark Wisnewski, Flanders, NJ

Haley’s crystal eyes surveyed the vista that stretched in front of her like a vast comforter tossed over the form of a slumbering giant to the hills that arose abruptly like the hastily drawn up knees of the giant when he has to reach down and rub the cramp out of his foot that he experiences when he’s stretching underneath his vast comforter. — Robin Siepel, Bakersfield, CA

Wrong Hill To Die On by Donis Casey

Wrong-Hill-to-Die-on-Casey-Donis-9781470817558Wrong Hill To Die On

Donis Casey

Poisoned Pen Press, 2012, 250 Pages

ISBN No. 978-1464200465

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

Donis Casey

Donis Casey

In 1916 Alafair and Shaw Tucker’s ten year-old daughter Blanche is suffering from a disease of the lungs.  No matter what Alafair or the doctors tried Blanche did not improve.  Alafair’s youngest sister Elizabeth lives in Tempe, Arizona.  Alafair cannot pass up the opportunity to see if the dry air will cure Blanche’s health problems while visiting her sister.  Shaw decides that the older children are capable of handling the farm and all the responsibilities while he accompanies his wife and daughter on their trip.

Blanche begins improving almost immediately when they arrive in Arizona.  Elizabeth is married to a lawyer and has a six-year-old son Chase.  Chase is a terror and Elizabeth seems to have no control over him whatsoever.

Elizabeth plans a welcome party for Alafair and Shaw.  The Tucker’s are introduced to Elizabeth’s neighbors and friends.  The party is okay, but Alafair soon realizes that all is not well with her sister.  Elizabeth’s marriage does not appear to be in the best of shape, the community is talking constantly of Pancho Villa’s raids, and tensions are high between the Anglo and Latino communities.

The morning after the party Alafair discovers a body in a ditch.  Most of the community knows the victim but no one knows or will admit to knowing the reason for his murder.  Alafair’s detective instinct moves into high gear and in spite of warnings from Shaw she immediately begins her own investigation.  The fact that there is a movie company from Hollywood in Tempe making a film adds another element to the puzzles Alafair is trying to solve.

Wrong Hill to Die On is a great addition to the Alafair Tucker series.  It is not necessary to read the previous books to enjoy this current novel.

Working With What You’ve Got: How To Promote Yourself Naturally

Natalie Buske Thomas and Cassandra Thomas discuss using natural talents to promote yourself and your business.

Natalie Buske Thomas

Natalie Buske Thomas

Natalie: I gave it my best shot, but I discovered that I’m not a natural blogger. I’ve never been

good at sticking with journals. I remember the pure joy of receiving my first diary. It had a pretty picture on the cover and it came with a tiny padlock and key. I was so excited! I named my diary Taffy. She would be my friend and I’d write in her pages every day! My nine year old self kept up with that pledge for less than a week.

Sadly, my adult self never took to journaling either. So when I read one article after another about how one “must” blog as a part of a successful marketing plan I felt nothing but despair. What would I blog about? I didn’t enjoy reading blogs, let alone writing them. I simply couldn’t see the point of it. I gave it a good try, in fits and starts. My career as a blogger ended the same way poor Taffy did – within a week I had forgotten all about my blog.

Today my blog serves as an announcement board for all the other things I do to promote myself, things I am naturally interested in. And unlike the dismal failure of my blog, the things I’m naturally interested in work! For example, my “Does your pet have what it takes to be in a mystery novel?” pet contest has been popular from day one. The animal photos are wonderful and their stories make me happy. Their human owners are campaigning for their pets by sharing my website on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The winner will be decided by the highest number of votes.

I’m promoting myself by doing what comes naturally to me: bringing people together. I’ve always loved organizing events – anything from a small open house party to a live show involving hundreds of people. Staging interactive events plays to my natural interests and talents, whereas blogging, while it works so well for many people, has never worked well for me. Ironically, ever since I quit blogging I get asked to write guest blog articles for others! This is a good fit for me because it is interactive: someone contacts me to write the article and because I’m a guest, there is usually feedback of some kind. Also, unlike my own blog, there is no commitment to keep doing it.

Other examples of how I promote myself naturally:

– I’m also an oil painter. I realized that I should be painting my own book covers. Posting the progress of my paintings gives me Covert_Coffee_Cover_for_Kindlesomething to share and interact with my fan base.

– When I couldn’t combine my talents or interests in an obvious way (like painting the book covers) I found other ways to draw upon what comes naturally to me. I gave my fictional characters some of my own interests. This allows me to wrap my interests into the promotion of my books. Even something as simple as a love of flower gardens has opened the door for promotion. I have a Pinterest board for gardening, and now that a garden scene has been written into my latest mystery Covert Coffee, I can promote the novel when I share my flower photos and indoor gardening tips.

– I also enjoy meeting new people, celebrities, and going behind-the-scenes at shows. When I did a recent author interview I told radio talk show host Bob Krejcarek about how I sometimes ask my friends if they would like to be a character in my Serena Wilcox mysteries. Bob volunteered himself (live on air!) to be a fictional character in my next mystery, Bluebird Flown. It was a fun moment, and I’ve already written him into my work in progress. A few weeks later I saw America’s Got Talent semi-finalist Eric Dittelman’s show at my daughter’s college. Afterward, I was able to talk with him for a few minutes and I asked him if he would be willing to be a celebrity character too. He agreed. It’s been an absolute blast writing Bob and Eric into Bluebird Flown.

Cassandra: I use Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter and other social media to promote my work, but I too find that promoting myself

Cassandra Thomas

Cassandra Thomas

naturally is less stressful, more effective, and even fun.

– I collaborate with my mother (Natalie) on “Dramatic Mom“, a cartoon series written by my mother and drawn by me. My talent for drawing cartoons makes this an enjoyable and natural side project for me to promote my graphic novels. Since “Dramatic Mom” is about our real life family, it’s also a way for fans of my work to get to know me better. Also, working with my mom is a way for us to help each other. Focusing on partnering with someone else can take the focus off of self-promotion.

– I enjoy knitting and crocheting. My first project I used for promoting my graphic novels was a crocheted doll of one of my characters. I set the doll on my display table at a convention to draw attention to my display. Currently I’m creating clothing designs based on the clothing and accessories that my characters wear in my comics.


– I don’t get nervous public speaking, so I am comfortable giving live drawing demonstrations in front of an audience. I can record these demonstrations and maximize their promotional value by sharing them online as well.

Natalie: Working with what you’ve got is a genuine and enjoyable experience, and isn’t that what life is all about?

Things every author should know

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

In its truest definition, only one book ever written –  past, present or future –  can be the best book of all time. Odds are yours probably isn’t the one. Your promotion efforts will be more readily received when you understand that.

Effective communication in whatever form involves a two way exchange of information. Words are only effective when comprehension is involved. So writing and promotion are most effective when you know your audience. Research and feedback matter.

A writer who never reads what someone else writes is like a chef who never eats what someone else cooks. Where’s the point of comparison that challenges you to grow and improve?

If you only write when the muse strikes, isn’t that similar to only eating when you want to eat? And if that’s true, is it possible the end results are similar? Either scrawny and weak or overfed and out of shape? Knowledge and discipline, when consistently applied, can change anything for the better.

Much of the chatter on internet social media, even in writing groups, is repetitive parroting and often incorrect or incomplete. Take time to know the source and do due diligence before accepting advice – however popular it might be – and implementing it.

It’s unlikely that any publisher will ever do more to promote your books than you will.

No author is spontaneously clever all the time. Trust me, even with practice some never get there.

There are more people on the internet who are aware of what you say and do than you know. Be careful what discussions you take part in and what you allow your name to be associated with.

A single drop of water falling on a rock soon evaporates and leaves no trace.  The same is true for several drops in a short period of time. But the subtle, consistent dripping of drops over an extended period of time begins to make a mark that becomes permanent. Think of effective book promotion like that. Don’t go for the flash in the pan that won’t be remembered, but the slow-and-steady effort that etches your name in the minds of those who see it often enough.

The Good, The Bad and The Murderous by Chester Campbell

Good,%20Bad%20cover%202The Good, The Bad and The Murderous

Chester D. Campbell

Night Shadows Press, LLC, 2011. 257 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0-9846044-4-9

Reviewed by Patricia E. ReidChester

At the request of Jaz LeMieux, private investigator Sid Chance agrees to help Djuan Burden, who is accused of murder.   Djuan’s grandmother is a long time friend of Jaz’s live-in housekeeper, Marie Wallace.  Djuan has only been out of jail for about six months and now he is back in jail on a murder charge.   His grandmother is convinced that he is innocent and Jaz wants to do everything she can to help a friend of Marie’s.

Jaz is an ex-cop and wealthy business owner but enjoys being a sidekick on Sid’s investigations.  When the two visit Djuan’s grandmother, they discover that Djuan went to a small medical equipment store in Nashville’s Green Hills section. The purpose of his visit was to complain about charges on his grandmother’s Medicare account.  Djuan’s grandmother, Rachel Ransom, had not paid a lot of attention to the many notices she received from Medicare but when Djuan saw that she had been charged for items such as a power wheelchair he decided to complain.  Rachel has never owned a wheel chair and has no need of one.    When Djuan went to the equipment store to complain, he found a dead man behind the desk.  Frightened that he would be accused of murder because of his prison history, he ran.  A witness spotted Djuan leaving the scene of the crime and the police immediately charged him with murder. A crooked cop who had no qualms about planting evidence didn’t help Djuan’s case one bit.

Besides trying to assist Sid in the murder investigation Jaz was also dealing with a problem of her own. Jaz’ company has been accused of racial discrimination.  There was no basis for the accusation, but the fact that it had been made brought about a lot of bad publicity for Jaz and her company.

Before Sid can prove that Djuan did not commit murder, Jaz finds that she is in trouble with the police.  As the two work together to clear both Djuan and the false accusations against Jaz, it becomes obvious to Sid that there is a professional hit man in town and it would appear the hit man has decided that Sid will be his next victim.

This is a great addition to the Sid Chance series.  The problem of Medicare fraud needs to be addressed because so many older people like Djuan’s mother don’t take time to analyze all the information they receive from Medicare so phony charges many times are paid and go unnoticed.

Chester Campbell’s books always make good reads but the Sid Chance series is special.

10 Ways to Promote Your Ebook by Cheryl Bradshaw


    Cheryl Bradshaw

    Cheryl Bradshaw

There are several things a writer can do prior to their book coming out.  A month or two before the release, I begin putting things in place that will create a steady momentum once the book is out.  One of the first things I do is to create a press release that my publicist can send to potential reviewers, newspaper agencies, press agencies, etc.  I also create some kind of giveaway on my blog to kick things off.  I give away things like Amazon gift cards and other goodies for any reader who purchases the book in the first month.

This is also the perfect time to schedule your promotions on the internet.  New sites go up daily, it seems, but my favorites right now are BookBub, Digital Book Today, and Ereader News Today.  Some sites are more expensive than others, but you should easily earn your money back on the day your book is promoted, not to mention the boost your book will get several days after the promotion.


When I put out a new book, I do a “soft release,” promoting it to my fans and followers at the beginning to get things going.  I’ll send out a newsletter to let them know the new book is out and then run some kind of promotion for anyone who buys it or buys it and leaves a review (NOTE: I never, ever ask my readers to give me a specific kind of review—all I ask for is an honest review).  Many of my fans read the book within the first few days, and if I am lucky, they will like it and leave a review.  This is what I am hoping for—to get some reviews and initial sales before I push for the hard launch.


Writers have strong feelings and opinions about the KDP Select program on Amazon.  For me, personally, it works, and I am a big supporter of Amazon and all they have done for writers today.  I believe the best time to enroll in KDP Select is when your book first comes out.  The more visible a book is, the more it gets noticed in the program, and the more lends you will receive.

I entered the first three books in my Sloane Monroe series one year ago, and I can honestly say, the program has changed my life.  I was doing well prior to enrolling, but the program took my books to the next level.  I highly recommend using the five free days you are offered each time your enroll/renew, and here’s what I suggest doing:

  • When your book is new, enroll in the program.
  • One month after you publish your book, schedule and use your free days.  To be successful on your free run, you MUST prepare beforehand.  You can learn more about this HERE.   The more free books you move during the promotion, the better your ranking will be when your book comes off the free list.  Amazon uses algorithms (which is a topic I’ll save for another day).
  • I keep my book free for two or three days.  As long as it keeps climbing in the free store, I keep it up.  But if it slips past the top twenty, I take it off.  And after a few months, take your book out if you want and then you can sell it everywhere else.  Trust me when I say that it’s a lot harder to enroll your books in the program if you have to go around taking them off all the other sites first.


There seems to be a lot of confusion about blog hops.  I organize two or three a year in my writers group, and I always get emails from new writers complaining about the fact that during the hop, they didn’t see an increase in sales.  Why?  Because blog hops aren’t about sales—they’re about exposure.  They’re about people seeing your name and your books.  Most people need to see a product (and your book is a product) several times before they decide to purchase it.

But now back to blog hops.  If you get the chance to be included on one that’s organized and has quite a few authors participating, do it.  It usually requires very little effort on your part.  The organizer does most of the work for you.  You create a blog post, give away a signed copy of your book, maybe donate to the grand prize, and you’re done.  For my hops, when a reader visits my page, I ask them to either follow me on facebook, twitter, or sign up for my newsletter.  This is free for them, but it benefits me as well.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen authors create Twitter accounts for their novel or their series, and not for themselves.  I always hear a noise in my head—that “X” sound from the game show “Family Feud.”  Why?  Because the author is going about it all wrong.  Your name is your brand.  Let me say it again.  Your NAME is your brand.  Not your series.  Not your book.  Not your character.  YOU.   Get your name out there in every way possible.


There is a right way and a wrong way to tweet.  But first, I want to say this: if you don’t have a twitter account, now is the time to create one.  Right now.  Well, after you finish reading this post, of course.

I avoided twitter for a long time.  I didn’t want a twitter account.  I convinced myself that having an account wouldn’t benefit me.  But then a few of my fans said they were disappointed that I wasn’t on twitter.  See, your fans feel like they connect with you through twitter—like they have some special insight into your life and what you’re doing.  But that doesn’t mean you need to get personal or reveal too much.  I don’t.  I keep it light.  I ask my fans questions.  I interact with them.  And I love it.

In one year, I’ve grown to almost 30,000 followers, and in August of 2012, I was named one of twitter’s seven best authors to follow.  It was such an honor.  And to think, I almost never joined.

Now let’s move on to the wrong way to tweet.  I tweet about my books:

  • When I put a new book out
  • I run a promotion
  • My book is free on KDP Select
  • I offer some kind of giveaway/incentive

This is the ONLY TIME I tweet about my books.  My fans don’t want to get tweets from me all day, every day that shout “buy my book!”  It’s irritating, and it’ rude.  I follow the 90/10 rule.  90% of my tweets are non-book related.  I save the other 10% for my promotions.  Otherwise, you’ll lose followers.  No one will retweet you if you keep saying the same thing all the time.  And during an incentive, you need those retweets.  They sell books, and they spread the word about you and your brand.  Long story short, don’t abuse twitter, and don’t abuse your fans.  Interact with them.  It’s actually a lot of fun.


I created a facebook author page soon after publishing my first novel.  Some of my friends and family liked the page, but in six to nine months, I only had a couple hundred followers.  To me, this was nothing.  I had thousands of friends on my personal page.  So I almost deleted it.  Then I published a boxed set which included the first three mysteries in my Sloane Monroe series.  And it took off.  I started getting up to ten new followers on my author page a day, none of them being friends or family.

You can now promote yourself on Facebook too.  I like their ads because they’re cheap.  If you have less than 1,000 followers, you can run an ad for three days that posts not only to the side of the pages of your fans, but to their followers sidebar as well.  All for around $15.00.


What does having author friends have to do with promotion?  Everything.  When I was writing my first book, I interviewed traditionally published authors on my blog.  I asked them for their advice for new, up-and-coming authors, and many were happy to oblige.  Some of the biggest names in the business offered tips on getting started, and I learned that making author friends was pivotal to success.  It IS who you know.

I created an author group on Facebook in 2010 and have almost 1,600 authors to date.  We share our books, help one another promote, and offer tips and a helping hand to the newbies.  Many of the authors have become life-long friends.  The group also helps me stay in the loop.  Whenever there’s new news in the industry, I’m the first to hear about it.


When you’re first starting out as an author, you might only have a newsletter that consists of friends and family, and that’s okay.  It doesn’t grow to thousands overnight.  It’s more like a slow trickle.  The main thing is to have a way for readers to contact you, and it should be on everything—your blog, website, author product pages, in your books, etc.  Keep it consistent and keep it the same.  When a fan emails you, add them to your newsletter list.  I send out an email quarterly and try to match it up with a book release, especially when it’s in the soft release phase.  Your most devoted fans will buy the book as soon as it’s released, as long as they know about it.


I mess around with my prices several times a year.  I also mess around with different genres.  But let’s start with price.  It’s fun to find a reason to change the price.  One that I use is my birthday.  On my birthday, I lower the prices of most or all of my books, just for the day.  I also run a promotion to go along with it.  Another time I lower the price is after Christmas when all those readers have a brand new kindle in their hot, little hands.  I don’t lower the price for a long time—usually no more than three days.  The benefit of this if you do it right is that you’ll sell more books than you were and your rank will lower.  The lower the rank, the more your book is seen.  The more it’s seen, the more copies you’ll sell.

Now let’s talk about genre.  I don’t move around too much, but there are a lot of different options you can try with your book.  Most of my books are in the mystery/thriller genre.  But, they have just a touch of romance.  While not the main theme, I can still put them in romantic suspense.  I can also put them in action & adventure.  I can also put them in genre fiction.  Sometimes it’s nice to shuffle things around a bit.  After all, lettuce is best when it’s fresh and new.  So, too, are books in categories that attract an entirely new StrangerinTown400x600audience.

Well, there you have it folks – suggestions from someone who’s been there and done that and knows what she’s talking about. If your New Year resolutions include leaping up into the 5 digit range in monthly sales, this is advice that will help you get there. Thank you Cheryl, for sharing with us. I hope lots of new readers head your way as a result! Cheryl’s latest title is STRANGER IN TOWN. Get one!

Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham

Untitled-2Say You’re Sorry 

Michael Robotham

Mulholland Books, 2012, 448 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0-316-22124-5

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

Say You’re Sorry is a gripping story of two young girls who became known to the public as the “Bingham Girls”.  Bingham is a small English village and the girls had attended a local funfair the night of their disappearance.  There are rumors that Piper Hadley and Tash McBain ran away.  Although hundreds of people were searching for Piper and Tash it seemed as though the girls just vanished into thin air.  Eventually the public eye moved on to other news.

Piper Hadley tells the girls’ side of the story.  Piper reveals to the reader the horrors faced by the two girls, as they are held captive in an unknown location.  The horrors suffered by the girls are so bad it is a wonder that they were able to hold onto their sanity.  They are convinced that working together at least one of the girls can escape and bring help back for the one left behind.

Three years later, after a blizzard hits the town, a husband and wife are found murdered in a farmhouse.  The farmhouse is where Tash McBain had lived at the time of her disappearance.  Her family had moved away and the murder victims had no connection to Tash other than the fact that they lived in Tash’s former home.

When Joe O’Loughlin, clinical psychologist, is asked by the police to help in solving this double murder he gets the feeling that the murders are connected in some way to the missing girls.  Joe and ex-cop Vincent Ruiz persuade the police to reopen the investigation into the disappearance of the two girls. Michael Robotham

The book skips back and forth between the current investigation and the thoughts of Piper Hadley still being held captive.  The characters are strong, the story moves swiftly, and keeps the reader’s interest every step of the way.  I can’t wait to read more books by Michael Robotham.

An interview with Hallie Ephron

Nadia Gordon, Hallie Ephron, Mary Higgins Clark, and Hank Phillippi Ryan - taken at the reception announcing the winner of the 2011 Mary Higgins Clark Award

Nadia Gordon, Hallie Ephron, Mary Higgins Clark, and Hank Phillippi Ryan – taken at the reception announcing the winner of the 2011 Mary Higgins Clark Award

Hallie Ephron is one of those authors who always stands out in a crowd – for all the right reasons. I met her years ago, but didn’t read her work right away. When I finally did, I found that same memorable quality, a recurring thought or lingering question. It’s hard to put a finger on, yet I know I’ll read anything that has her name on it. I hope you enjoy learning more about Hallie and her work.
PJ: How long have you been writing?

Hallie: Fiction? For about fifteen years.  I started to get serious when my kids moved out and I finally had that proverbial “room of one’s own.”
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Hallie: A famous writer once told me that being a writer is like flying — there’s always someone in a class ahead of you. So I try to grab every milestone and embrace it as “success,” drink a toast, and savor the moment. From sitting down that first day to write, to finishing my first manuscript, to getting an agent, to holding my first published book, to finishing my 12th book (three weeks ago)… Celebrate! I recommend it.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Hallie: When we I sold “Never Tell a Lie” to the Lifetime Movie Network, my daughter asked me if we were rich yet. I told her no — it was a car, not a house.
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Hallie: It’s too darned hard and takes too darned long to write a book, so I’m always writing about themes and characters that I really really care about.
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Hallie: Two years to get the manuscript ready to send to agents; two MORE years to find an agent and publisher, revising endlessly along the way; another year to see it in print. Five in all.
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Hallie: Deadlines help. I keep a spreadsheet with word count plotted against a calendar, and ever few weeks I update it to see if I have to pour on the gas or if I can afford to ease up a bit.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Hallie: The response to “Never Tell a Lie” was a fantastic ride. Lots of foreign sales and a sale to the Lifetime Movie Network (they made “And Baby Will Fall”). Then, to ice the cake, it was nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

PJ: That is so fabulous! What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Hallie: You’ll need dogged determination and intestinal fortitude to stick with it, through first draft and endless revisions, until your words are polished to lapidary perfection. It wouldn’t hurt, either, to have the hide of a rhinoceros to withstand the inevitable rejections. Talent being equal, what separates many a published mystery writer from an unpublished one is sheer stamina and blind luck. Only gluttons for punishment need apply.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Hallie: I combine teaching with writing. I love going to groups and conferences and teaching ABOUT writing, meeting writers, helping other writers get a leg up — and along the way getting my name out there and building readership.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Hallie: Writing the dreaded synopsis. AKA book pitch. Feels like it takes out all the complexity and nuance and leaves behind raw sales pitch. Worst thing is, it’s so hard.
Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

You would ask…
Reformed hacker Diana Highsmith is a recluse who works and lives online. She has not ventured beyond her home for over a year – not since that fateful climbing vacation took Daniel’s life. But when her sister disappears, Diana is forced to do what seems impossible: brave the outside world. By assuming the identity of her alter-ego, an avatar who is as fearless as Diana herself once was, she finds the courage to set out.

Where can we buy it?
Just about anywhere. Amazon, B&N, Books-a-Million, and independent bookstores. The paperback edition came out in March 2012.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:ComeAndFindMePaperback

Come and Find Me (Wm. Morrow, March, 2011)
Never Tell a Lie (Wm. Morrow, 2009)
The Bibliophile’s Devotional (Adams Media, 2010)
1001 Books for Every Mood (Adams Media, 2008)
Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel: How to Knock ‘Em Dead with Style (Writers Digest Books, 2005

And the Dr. Peter Zak mystery series by G. H. Ephron written with co-author Donald Davidoff
Guilt (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2005
Obsessed (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2003)
Delusion (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2002)
Addiction (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2001)
Amnesia (St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000)

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

Hallie: I’m suspense writer, and I’m always going for what I call the “lightbulb in the glass of milk” moment. Think of the scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion. The Joan Fontaine character believes that her charming, wastrel husband, played by Cary Grant, is an embezzler and a murderer. As Grant mounts the stairs, the camera zooms in on what he’s carrying: a tray with his wife’s nightly glass of warm milk. That milk seems to glow, and we’re wondering: Is it poison?

EphronTherewasanoldwomanlowresfinalHitchcock placed a light bulb that glass to give it an eerie glow, and I’m always trying to do the literary equivalent, building dramatic tension by making the ordinary seem menacing.

Hallie, I think you do it very well. You’re one of the few authors I’ve read that can make me think “I wish I’d written that!” Thank you for taking time to talk with us today. I hope we can talk with you again sometime in, say, April when you have a new surprise for us!

You can also visit Hallie between books at