There was a time when I lived by the creed that you could never have too many invitations to dance. If too many people asked, just bring ‘em ALL out on the dance floor! In my younger years, when I wore shiny silver platform shoes and dance shorts under my dresses for those times when I was flung over someone’s head, a good disco evening was when most of it was spent under the glitter ball, leaving your sweat on the multicolored floor of flashing lights. Continue reading
Once again, I’m helping best selling author RR Haywood judge the semi-annual writing contest he conducts in his closed The Living Army or TLA Facebook group. The group, made up of a couple thousand mostly British, American and Australian fans of his Undead zombie horror series, has lately become populated with fans of his new best selling time travel series, Extracted.
His Undead series, which now numbers 26 books, each of them best sellers on their own, is the kind of series with which fans become obsessed and inevitably find themselves looking for like-minded readers. It’s that search for connection with others who share obsessions which spawned the TLA group, many of whom have read the entire series a number of times, have listened to them in audiobook and spend days and days arguing over who should be in the dream casts for hopeful TV and movie adaptations. (Hint, hint, movie and TV producers. This series is screaming for TV time.) I reviewed one of the books in the series here. Continue reading
Too often, authors create one dimensional super-killers in uniform who cold-heartedly carry out his or her duty like a robot. The character perpetuates the myth that the military is filled with people who mindlessly do what they’re told regardless of right or wrong. Orders are orders, in these worlds and service members shouldn’t think for themselves.
I’m convinced authors regurgitate the TV and movie style combatant because the number of people who know and understand real military life is minuscule compared to those who haven’t served. People simply make it up, call it creative license and do whatever they think makes for the best plot.
Often times, these are the books I want to throw across the room.
On the other hand, there are some who go the extra mile, do some research and present accurate portrayals of military members and veterans. They work at getting at the truth of what goes through the mind and soul of people trained to go to battle, why they do it, what their motivation might be, and how what soldiers do impacts them before, during and after their service.
Nicholas Sansbury Smith, while never having served in uniform, masterfully draws three dimensional characters in uniform in all of his books. Many readers are familiar with the soldiers in his bestselling Extinction Cycle series which features Delta Force teams up against a deadly threat and a world in collapse. Through the multiple books in this series, we watch a team of men who had fought side by side for years in hot spots around the world. They weren’t best friends. They didn’t all hang out together, but they knew each other professionally and, like most people who go into danger with weapons in their hands, their connections are visceral and organic. When they lose half their team in one encounter with a kind of threat they’d never seen before, it rips them apart. They drive on, they continue to function and Smith shows us what it takes to continue your mission even though you’re torn up inside.
If you haven’t found it already, ‘Book Reviews N’ Stuff is a public Facebook group started by R.R. Haywood as an offshoot of his The Living Army closed page. It’s a great place to read honest reviews on a variety of books in a wide range of genres. If you’re an author, it’s also a place where you can go to request reviews. Just be prepared for the reviewers to be honest. They are not about sugar coating and since they aren’t being paid for their efforts, their reading time is precious to them. If they didn’t like your book, they will tell you and anyone following the page, what they really think.
One of the intrepid reviewers, Lyndsey McDermott, had this to say about Rich Restucci’s book, Chaos Theory: The zompoc genre is very easy to do badly and it can be hard for an author to stand out amongst the crowd. The author manages to keep the action going, our interest held and aforementioned gripes aside, [Chaos Theory] was a good read which has the potential to be far better. It ends on a suitable cliffhanger leaving the reader eager for the sequel.
Lyndsey has a lot more to say about the book. You can read the entire review here. After reading Chaos Theory myself, I had a few questions for the author. In his bio, Rich Restucci describes himself as “a practicing chemist and writer. His stories have been published in Dead Worlds 7 and Feast or Famine. He enjoys drinking beer, stocking up on weapons and supplies, and reading/writing anything zombie related. Rich resides with his family in Pembroke, Massachusetts.”
Me: In the acknowledgements of your book, you thank people for encouraging you to publish. Did you write this story without the intention to publish? Has the experience of publishing this series been what you expected?
Rich: This book was written with the intent of publishing each chapter, one at a time, to a website in blog format. The website is zombiefiend.com. I did that for a while and the readers seemed to enjoy it. Several of the readers and many of my online friends told me I should self-publish it, which I researched. I compiled the blog posts and ended up going with Severed Press, who had already published my first novel, Run. Severed was excited to get a second story line from me, and their excitement got me excited. Insofar as my expectations, I really didn’t have any. I was hoping the book would be well received, and it seems to have been. I don’t think of myself as a professional writer, more of a hobbyist, so when the book began to sell, I was very happy. Continue reading
First, a whole bunch of the Lei Crime Kindle World authors got together for a Valentine’s Day Facebook hop. Some lucky person is going to win a $170.00 Amazon gift card. You don’t want to miss this contest.
The sweet part, aside from the fat gift card, is that each Facebook post features a unique Hawaiian recipe –Get it? The sweet part? Since most of the Lei Crime stories take place in Hawaii, the recipes get you closer to the world. I want to try them all. Hawaiian king bread, Kalua pork and cabbage, Hawaiian pineapple Cake… So many yummy and fairly easy ideas to bring to the table.
All you have to do is visit some Facebook pages, leave comments and move onto the next one. Lots of us are playing. You can start on my page (www.facebook.com/mldoyleauthor) and go get familiar with other authors who write in the Lei Crime world. It’s a talented bunch who write mystery, romance, fantasy and much more.
The second big thing is the Association of Writer’s and Writing Programs (AWP) is this weekend. I’m so excited to be going back again this year. I will be on a panel alongside some amazing veteran writers. I went to AWP for the first time last year and the experience had a lasting impact. I wrote about it when I got home and now I can’t wait to see some of the friends I made. Here’s a description of the panel I will be on. It would be great fun to see you there!
|Friday, February 10, 2017|
9:00 am to 10:15 am
Marquis Salon 6, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
F110. The Middle Americans: How Flyover Country Responds to War. (Randy Brown, M.L. Doyle, Kayla Williams, Matthew Hefti, Angela Ricketts) By various measures, rural Americans are more likely to enlist in the US armed forces. Despite isolation from traditional centers of publishing and military power, voices with Midwestern roots have sprung forth like dragon’s teeth to deliver clear-eyed, plainspoken views of war, service, and sacrifice. The civilians and veterans of this stereotype-busting panel of published writers offer their insights regarding themes, trends, and markets in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
When R. R. Haywood agreed to an interview for my blog, I did one of those crazy dances they say you’re supposed to do as if no one is watching. The cats flew out of the room like cartoon replicas of themselves. I’d scared the crap out of them since dancing is not an everyday thing for me. And there might have been some fist pumping.
The point is, it’s rare to get Haywood to do one of these and I’m gob smacked (an expression I’m using since he is very British which you will see clearly in his responses) that he agreed to comply with my wishes.
So, here’s a guy, who, four years ago, without much writing experience at all, sat down and wrote The Undead Day One. Then he wrote another book and then another one, and on and on. A couple months ago, he released The Undead Day Twenty. Mind you, there are more than twenty books, some days were broken into two parts and there are a couple of not-to-be-missed standalone books in the series, as well as other books that aren’t part of the series, short stories, some mystery … point is, from the time he started four years ago, he’s written a boat load of words. Not only has he written book after book, he’s also built a massive audience in the UK and a growing U.S. audience. That’s because the work is brilliant. It truly is.
Now listen. And this is the important part. The Undead series is in the much maligned, much ignored zombie apocalypse genre, BUT IF YOU DON’T GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE AND TRY A ZOMBIE BOOK ONE OF THESE DAYS, YOU’LL BE MISSING OUT ON SOME AMAZING WRITING!
Yes. That was shouting.
The Undead books are some of the best in the genre, not just because of the charming Britishness of it, but because the characters are amazingly realized and the suspense and tension are sustained throughout. The best part is that these books are hilarious. There are horrible moments. Of course. It’s about brain eating zombies and people die and it can be heartbreakingly sad. But when this group of people get a minute to relax, they will have you laughing out loud.
I made the mistake of starting this series when I was home sick with pneumonia. When you laugh and you have pneumonia, you break into massive, painful coughing fits.
Don’t read The Undead when you have pneumonia.
I’ll stop blathering on now. Here’s the interview… Continue reading
You know that hopeful feeling you get when your pages come back from an editor, but then you open it up and all you see is red? It feels like a jab to the guts when you realize it looks as if someone killed a chicken and sprayed their sacrificial blood all over your pages. And then you understand it’s not blood. Those are edits. Hundreds and hundreds of the bloody things and you feel as if it’s not a chicken’s blood, but your own ripped out insides someone has danced on and smeared all over your work. Continue reading
When I look back on 2015, I have to say, the best books I’ve read in the last twelve months have been the ones I read for free, before anyone else got to see them. Whether for a review or to beta read, I can’t help but see the opportunity to read these manuscripts and to help the authors in some way, as gifts, and feel lucky as hell to have been entrusted with the work of such talented people.
Grateful for authors like, DJ Molles, who gave me his latest book, Wolves to provide an early review. It’s an amazing story that will be delayed for publication because a smart publisher decided to pick it up. Trust me. It will be well worth the wait. Continue reading
Every book I’ve written has had its own set of ups and downs. The initial idea, the first attempt at getting it on paper, the hair-pulling brain obstructions that seem to stretch to infinity, the first reaction from readers, the close editing and rewrites and the horrifying look of cover designs that eventually turn into something that will reflect the pages inside. At some point you smack an ISBN and other book matter on it and after checking off a bazillion more items off the task list (like a marketing plan, mustn’t forget a marketing plan) you hold your breath, cross your fingers and hit publish. At each stage, you can’t help but feel a jumble of emotions that tumble like balls in a bingo drum. Continue reading
Since the Lei Crime Kindle World launch in April, Christine Nolfi’s, The Shell Keeper has spent much of that time in the number one spot of the Kindle World Contemporary category. The only book that has moved The Shell Keeper from that top spot, (which is on sale right now for less than a dollar!) is her second Lei Crime Kindle World novella, The Shell Seeker.
There’s a good reason Christine’s work has been hugging the top of the charts. Great settings, rich and lovely characters and an intriguingly magical story that takes Toby Neal’s vibrant character, Lei Texeira, to places Lei has never been. Here’s a description of The Shell Seeker.
In South Carolina, there’s more than magic in the air. Now policewoman Lei Texeira must solve the case of the Pirate Necklace.
The famed emeralds, spirited in the 1700s from the pirate Blackbeard’s ship, have been snatched once again. This time, the bling was taken from Marie-Therese Belvedere, a woman whose cruelty is only topped by her arrogance.
Lei doesn’t care for the icy socialite, but she feels an instant connection with the woman’s stepdaughter. An unlucky star has followed Sydney Belvedere her entire life. If the necklace isn’t found, she’ll lose a treasure more dear than the finest gem.
Only the magic of Lei’s intuition stands between Sydney and unspeakable loss.
Like many independently published authors, when I finish a writing a book, I send it to a group of beta readers to get their feedback. Once the book is published, after several rewrites and line edits and the like, I’ll send it to several more people to request honest feedback and an honest review. I’ve never paid anyone a single penny for a review. At most, like giving a gift to a friend, I’ve given titles away.
I have gifted books to people and received no reviews in exchange. I can only assume those folks either didn’t think the book was worth a review or simply didn’t like it. Rather than give me a bad review, they didn’t review it at all. Continue reading
It’s hard to believe it was less than two months ago that one of my indie publishing idols, bestselling author Toby Neal, asked me to be a part of an incredible project. Amazon intended to launch a Kindle World, featuring Toby’s Lei Crime Series. Part of Toby’s Amazon launch involved convincing nine authors to write the first stories that would populate the new World. What an honor for Toby and what an exciting opportunity for me and eight other authors.
While the amount of time available to actually write the piece made my heart seize up in fear, I knew there was no way I could let the opportunity slide. Besides, there were eight other authors in the same short timeline boat and if there’s one thing I learned from my time in uniform, a challenge is best faced with a team at your back. Continue reading
Sometime ago, a friend of mine asked me to read her book Ladyboy and the Volunteer. From the first page, I knew I was reading something special. Her unique style and playful view of intense topics surprised me at every turn. That this was her first book astonished me.
Susanne Aspley and I served in the Army Reserve together. She’d been an Army journalist then, so I knew she could write. I had no idea she could write in a way that made me throw back my head in laughter one minute, and wipe a tear from my eye the next. She writes boldly, as if completely unaware of how penetratingly personal her words are. I simply could not put the book down. I admit, I’m one of those annoying people who sometimes talk to the screen when watching a movie or TV show. Susanne’s book had me talking to the pages, encouraging her, in shocked disbelief and in plain admiration. She’d written a dazzling tale that I knew would blow readers away. Continue reading