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Monday, March 31, 2014

Exit 22 Gets a Makeover...

With the continued success of the Black Swamp Mysteries series, it was decided to give the first book, Exit 22, a makeover.

Here's the original cover:



And here's the new cover:



Which one pulls you in more, and why?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Will cable TV soon be dead?

I remember when I first got Cable TV. I was living in the Washington, DC area and it took a lot of thinking and reflection before I was ready to commit to $19 a month for top-of-the-line service. Flash forward 30+ years and I'm paying over $160 a month.

Each weekend I spend hours cleaning angelfish tanks (I breed angelfish; check out my blog at www.vickisangelfish.blogspot.com, named after Vicki Boyd of the Black Swamp Mysteries series) and I like to have a movie on in the background while I work.

My epiphany came when I could not find a movie on television that I hadn't seen before - even though my Cable TV subscription boasts more than 1,000 channels. There are hundreds of sports channels (I deplore sports) and hundreds of music channels (I have iTunes, so what's the point). I started flipping through the channels and really paying attention to what I was paying for: HBO rehashes the exact same set of movies throughout an entire month - something that began when they stopped paying for each viewing of a movie and started paying for the use of the movie throughout an entire month. There are old, Old, OLD movies that I've seen before - and they weren't that good the first time. Television series on all but a handful of channels are shows from decades earlier. Some were great (such as Friends) but they've been off the air for so long that I know each episode by heart.

So I bought Apple TV. A small box approximately three inches square, it opens up the world of the Internet. I already had a Netflix account - unlimited movies for one low monthly price - and now I can choose from thousands of movies as well as some great television series. I signed up for Hulu Plus for $7.99 a month, and now I have countless television series, television specials, and more movies at my disposal.

For around $20 a month, I have more viewing options than I could ever have with $160+ a month Cable TV.

And lest you think the television series are old, they are not. I can view them on Hulu Plus just one day after their original airing. Since I never watched anything live - I always recorded shows ans watched them on my timetable - waiting one day is not a big deal.

There are some shows - such as NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams - that were not available on Hulu Plus. But guess what: I can now use my television as a computer monitor thanks to Apple TV and a free downloaded app on my iPad and iPhone. So I can watch Brian every night live on their own website.

I also have YouTube available, the Smithsonian Channel, and a whole lot more.

It got me to thinking: why is anyone paying such high monthly bills to Cable TV anymore? If you've stayed with Cable, what is it that keeps you there? If you switched to something else, what are you using instead? Are you satisfied with the amount of programming available at low monthly fees? Or do you miss the expensive Cable TV?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The sexiest family man

I'm writing the sequel to The Tempest Murders, the first book in the Ryan O'Clery Series. The book is entitled The White Devil of Dublin and it's scheduled for release this coming fall.

Detective Ryan O'Clery was born and raised in Dublin, as countless generations of the O'Clery family had been before him. Law enforcement is in his blood. When his sister Claire wanted to attend the University of North Carolina in America, he moved with her - though it turned out she didn't need his protection; she met and married her sweetheart, a military man stationed at Fort Bragg.

Ryan stayed and became a detective with the Lumberton Police Department, a job he does quite well. He meets his soul mate in The Tempest Murders and he displays the ultimate in a sexy family man. He can work a homicide case by day, including chasing after killers, climbing fences, getting into fights, and even stealing a boat to get to a killer before he murders again... But when he is home, he is every woman's fantasy: passionate, strong, confident, loving... And when his wife bears twins (because of course he will stop at nothing to marry his soul mate) he even delivers them in the back seat of a minivan when they're not able to make it to the hospital in time.

What's not to love?

If the series was made into a film, I would love to see real-life Dubliner Kevin Ryan play the role of Ryan O'Clery.

Hey, and he's even got the accent down pat!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why do we love the bad girl?

It's happening again: with the release of The Pendulum Files, more people are saying that Brenda Carnegie is their favorite character in the series.

Brenda is the ultimate bad girl. No, she doesn't drink until she passes out and she isn't known as a party girl. If you spotted her in Real Life, you might think she's pretty normal.

It's what she does behind the scenes that has gotten her in trouble... repeatedly.

Brenda is incredibly intelligent. So intelligent that she can hack into computer programs and websites without a second thought. She enjoys Life on the Dark Side; she thinks nothing of forming off-shore shell corporations and moving commodities on paper only, and each time raising the price until she's become a millionaire (Exit 22).

She enjoys keeping lists of politicians and their shady deals and then selling the information to the highest bidder - which could be the opposing political party or another country - or even a terrorist country (Secrets of a Dangerous Woman).

She packs a pistol even in countries where such weapons could result in serving hard time, and she is not afraid to use it. (Dylan's Song)

She is passionate to the point of being pertpetually oversexed, whether it's with Christopher Sandige, the political strategist who lived life between the lines until he stumbled upon Brenda... Or sizing up the local Catholic priest (Dylan's childhood friend) or even flirting with Dylan Maguire, her sister's lover.

What is it about this bad girl that people love her for? Is it her ability to tramp through alligator-infested swamps, remove a bullet and patch up the wound, out-maneuver her enemies?

Or is it that she does things we'd never do in real life but would love to experience that level of adventure, sex and danger within the pages of a book?

If the Black Swamp Mysteries Series was turned into film, I would love to see Lindsay Lohan play bad girl Brenda Carnegie.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Top ten things I love about being an author...

In case you missed it on Saturday, fellow author Maggie Thom hosted me on her blog. She asked me what I like best about being an author. I hope you'll pop in and read my answer (follow this link) and then let me know - if you are a writer, what do you like best about writing? If you're a reader, what do you think a writer should love about their job?

Maggie also reviewed The Pendulum Files, the fifth book in the Black Swamp Mystery Series. In her comment, she said she enjoyed this one more than any of the others (though she liked them all). That is what an author always loves to hear - that each book is better than the last. When readers begin liking the earlier works the best, it might be time to take a break and assess where the writer is moving in his or her career.

I have to admit that I love this cover. There's something about the sunset, the colors, and the pendulum that pull me in - and hopefully pulls in the reader.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Can you think of a cover that wasn't up to par but the writing was superb? Or a cover that drew you in but the writing left something to be desired?


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The words no author ever wants to hear...


I was running errands about a week ago when I encountered a fan of my books who told me she'd tried to purchase one of my earlier works and was told by the book store that it was "out of print".

Now, there are fewer phrases that can reach an author's ears that will create more gut-wrenching emotions than hearing their books are "out of print", particularly when nobody told the author and they found out through a third party.

I returned to my office and promptly phoned the book store, who told me that all but two of my books - the last two published - were listed as "out of print". Taking a deep breath, I made another phone call to the editor responsible for distribution.

You see, an author sells their work to a publisher, who sells it to a distributor, who sells it to the wholesaler, who sells it to the warehouses who supply the book stores. Yes, it's convoluted.

Two days later, I learned that the publisher, the distributor and the wholesaler all agreed that none of my books had been taken out of print at any time. They were all available for sale in all venues.

Only two of the largest book chains (which might be about the only book chains still left in America) insisted that my books were out of print.

No one knows where they got this information or why, but the short story is: it will be remedied. It might take another week for things to be ironed out, but they will be. When the books are re-listed in the book stores, they might show them as a "Second Edition" but they will be there.

In the meantime, they have always been available on amazon in both trade paperback and as eBooks. There's something to be said for amazon's steadfastness. And the truth is, the strong sales on amazon were the reason no one seemed to notice along the chain that they were not available in book stores. It's going to be interesting to see what happens when the stores show they're available again!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What can mere words do?


What do you think mere words can do?

It turns out, quite a bit.

Whether the words are sent in an email, a text message, a letter or within the pages of a book, words evoke emotions: anger, sadness, happiness, stress, elation, depression... They can motivate us or deflate us. They can raise us up or tear us down. They can help to propel us forward on our life's journey, or they can kick us back and dare us to rise up again.

With every word a person writes, they leave an imprint in this world. Sometimes it's just on the person to whom they were personally writing; but often the result of those words spiral outward and touch more lives than one individual.

Sometimes the words touch hundreds or thousands, and sometimes they have the weight to change the world. Consider books like Uncle Tom's Cabin and the affect it had on so many. The emotions it evoked depended largely on whether it was read in the North or the South or overseas; whether the reader was white, black, male or female... But it served to point a glaring spotlight in a particular direction.

What book have you read recently that changed your mind, your attitude, or even one day in your life?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What keeps you turning the pages?

This week, my latest suspense has been released. The Pendulum Files is the fifth book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series. It is a political thriller, and as part of the book's launch I am on a virtual book tour around the world.

At one of my first stops, I was asked what the Top Ten Most Important Characteristics of a Romantic Suspense are. I'd love to you to drop in (follow this link) and weigh in on what keeps you turning the pages!

And as part of the book's promotion, I will be giving away a beautiful Celtic Butterfly Necklace so be sure to register to win! The link is on this page.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Proof of the Golden Age of Science and Technology

I've often said this is the Golden Age of Science and Technology. It is so exciting to me to see the two come together to discover entirely new worlds. With the invention of an amazing new telescope that can magnify to an incredible degree, whole new galaxies are being discovered at a rate never before experienced. Watch the video below for more information.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Black Swamp Mysteries: The Movie

I am often asked who I'd want to play the lead roles in my Black Swamp Mysteries series if they were made into a series of movies.

I've always had the same characters in mind as I've been writing my books:

My choice for Vicki Boyd would be Amy Adams.



My choice for Vicki's sister Brenda, who is always on the wrong side of the law, would be Lindsay Lohan.



Vicki's boss, Sam, could be played by none other than Robert De Niro.



Eduardo Verastegui is a dead ringer for Dylan Maguire:


And Christopher Sandige would be terrific if played by Tom Weston-Jones.


Who would you like to see play in the Black Swamp Mysteries series?

or ask for it in your local book store! It is sold at all fine book stores, worldwide!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Discovery of New Worlds

I've often said that this is the Golden Age of Science and Technology, and I get excited when I learn of new discoveries - especially those that rock our world.

NASA announced last week that they have discovered more than 700 new planets. Some of them are very Earth-like, with water and atmospheres that sustain life.




Why is this so exciting?

In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before this planet runs out of resources. The stuff of science fiction - leaving a home planet in search of others - is actually coming true right before our eyes. There are plans to send people to Mars in the near future to colonize it, and with the discovery of other planets that can sustain life, it means that perhaps our grandchildren or their grandchildren will someday be able to travel to another world as easily as we hop a plane and fly around the world.

Is this too far-fetched to believe?

I am reminded of my grandfather's saying every time he thought someone wanted to accomplish the impossible. He'd say, "You can no more do that than send a man to the moon!"

Hhmm...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The White Devil of Dublin

I am nearly finished with the sequel to The Tempest Murders, and my publisher has registered the name for it: The White Devil of Dublin.

If you've read The Tempest Murders, you'll recall that Detective Ryan O'Clery is investigating a string of murders that bears a striking resemblance to a serial murder case a distant ancestor worked nearly two hundred years earlier and half a world away - in Ireland.

The suspect in Ryan's case is described as a South African native named Diallo Delport. He is six feet, four inches tall and weighs 245 pounds. He is an albino with alabaster skin, white hair and eyes a light periwinkle color. But perhaps the most startling physical characteristic is the scar that begins just below one eye. It is raised and prominent, and ends on his cheek in another, teardrop-shaped scar.

Each of the women killed had her throat slit cleanly from one ear to the other. There was no sign of a struggle, but each woman's eyes were open and filled with horror and terror - expressions that remained after their deaths.

Ryan O'Clery's great uncle five generations back was Rian Kelly, a man for whom he was named. In 1839 Ireland as Rian tried to solve the serial murder case, he lost his own lover and soul mate to the killer. His case was never solved... or was it?

In The White Devil of Dublin, due to hit the bookstores this fall, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian contacts Ryan with information regarding his ancestors - and a mysterious albino from the 12th century. When Ryan shows up at their agreed-upon meeting, he finds the historian murdered, her throat slit from one ear to the other.

The case takes Ryan on a whirlwind investigation that leads not only to the present-day killer...

But to 12th century Ireland, where it all began.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Release of The Pendulum Files

My latest release, The Pendulum Files, will hit the bookstores on March 17, 2014 - St Patrick's Day.

It's the fifth book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series (after Exit 22, Vicki's Key, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, and Dylan's Song) and it's an international political thriller. For those of you who are counting, it is my 17th release. My 18th is due out this fall, and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

In The Pendulum Files, CIA operative Dylan Maguire is back and working with psychic spy Vicki Boyd to determine who is bombing merchant ships en route from China to the United States. The ship bombings are resulting in massive shortages in an economy that is fragile to begin with, and with a sitting president campaigning for a second term, he doesn't need terrorist activities on the front pages of every newspaper.

Add to that an escaped hired assassin - Joseph Gabucci from Exit 22. He's back to finish the job he started - finding and killing Brenda Carnegie. Only this time, the reasons are more urgent, placing Vicki's and Dylan's lives - and that of their unborn child - in jeopardy.

As their CIA missions begin to intersect with personal danger, they are led into some explosive realizations.

The result will have you thinking... and wondering... and pondering... our own world.

The book is for sale now at amazon: get the paperback at http://www.amazon.com/Pendulum-Files-Black-Mysteries-Volume/dp/1935970097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393880280&sr=8-1&keywords=the+pendulum+files or the eBook here: http://www.amazon.com/Pendulum-Files-Black-Swamp-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00INC34Z0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1393880280

Monday, March 3, 2014

I'm Back!

I haven't posted anything on this blog over the past month, because I've been swamped with the Third Annual Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. It took place on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at Robeson Community College in Lumberton, North Carolina.

The event brought together about 75 authors, publishers, a Hollywood producer, and two rock star legends to raise money for literacy campaigns in Robeson County, North Carolina. I founded the event four years ago, and I've chaired it each year. I spend anywhere from 10 hours a week (during the slow periods) to 40+ hours a week on the event, year 'round. I don't get paid for it; it's entirely a volunteer activity, and it's a labor of love. I love reading as much as I love writing, and I can't imagine a world without the written word. Yet there are many in the world - and even in our own communities - who can't read at all, or who are unable to read past a third grade level.

Reading has always opened new worlds for me. It has allowed me to climb Mount Everest, be on a ship in the middle of The Perfect Storm, discover countries around the world, explore lives in ancient civilizations and times past, present and future... and fall in love over... and over... and over again. All without leaving my chair.

Where has reading taken you? Which world, scenario, or time period is your favorite?