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Audiobooks and America's War for Independence

Audiobooks have become an excellent resource for me. They don't cause eyestrain, and I can absorb quite a bit while listening, especially when a skillful reader animates a text. For example --

I've been doing some thinking ahead. If I can finish the novel I'm revising now and decide to start a new one, I'll likely take up a subject I've avoided so far -- the American Revolution. I've recently listened to three audiobooks that give accounts of this war, which has not only shaped the United States but has influenced peoples' minds all over the world.

Though I've studied a fair amount of history in schools, I had only a broad outline of the American War for Independence. During my listening, I've had more than one surprise.

  • Our Revolution wasn't a storybook war but was a nasty affair, with countless deaths and injuries. At times, American soldiers were so poorly supplied that they sometimes marched or fought in winter conditions barefoot and bloody. 2500 soldiers died of cold, hunger, or illness at their winter quarters from 1777-78 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The following winter in Morristown was worse.
  • I've learned that Americans weren't supposed to win the war, for the British navy had control of the sea and their army was disciplined and confident that they'd succeed in punishing colonists who acted like rebellious children. Americans soldiers, by contrast, were  mostly untrained and without experience. Persistence and determination carried them through.
  • Only three American generals served through the whole war: Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox, and George Washington, who was no figurehead. He brought discipline to the American army and held it together. The sight of him riding his horse among soldiers who'd fought more than one disappointing battle revived spirits and and kept tired men going.
  • Martha Washington and other women contributed to the American effort by tending to wounded soldiers and providing food and decent clothing.  
  • The French, who longed to defeat their British rivals, contributed enormously with money, soldiers, ships, and skilled leaders. It's not clear to me that Americans alone could have won the war without the French. Officers from Poland and Germany also provided substantial help. Baron von Steuben, for instance, brought invaluable training in drill and discipline. He shocked other officers by working directly with enlisted men like a sergeant.
  • American forces tried to take Canada. They held Montreal for a time but fared poorly when they reached Quebec City and retreated in defeat.
  • After indifferent success fighting the northern colonies, the British adopted a southern strategy. They thought they had supporters there and that they'd bring the rebellious colonists a neverending headache if they could detach the four southern colonies from the north. As it happened, the cruelty of British occupying forces turned people against them. Two hundred skirmishes and battles took place in South Carolina alone, more than in  any other state.
  • One South Carolinian, Francis Marion, contributed greatly to the British retreat from his state. He led fairly small groups of soldiers in what we now call guerrilla warfare. He fought at night, relied on surprise, and kept the enemy off balance. Still known as the Swamp Fox, Marion's methods make him controversial even today. A British commentator recently called him a terrorist who doesn't deserve honorable recognition. Maybe so, but he's part of the story, he fought well, and many admired him.
  • Even after Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, fighting continued, especially in western territory.
  • The years after the Revolution were filled with uncertainty. What kind of money would Americans have? How would the states pay their war debts? Would the new country have a strong or weak central government?  A tax rebellion took place in Massachusetts. Discussions in 1787 about a new constitution came with no clear direction or guarantee of success. How much autonomy would states have? Which was more important -- community or personal liberty? What about slavery?

Two issues came to mind during my hours of listening:

  • I heard a comment that America's elites at the time got the Revolution  going and made sure it continued. Leaders are important, of course, but if the people didn't see a benefit for themselves in the war, they wouldn't have fought and died and put up with extreme inconvenience. The leaders didn't create the spirit of dogged persistence that gained the Americans victory. I like to think of it this way -- that everyone's a servant, even the rich and powerful.
  • The turbulence that marked the War for Independence  and the years after has been an occasional feature of American life ever since -- later wars, years of economic trouble, times of protest, and when people hunger for political change.  The country grows as a result of periods of stress.     
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Sabotage at RKO Studio (the second James Murray Mystery) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

... his time was running out.  There were just a few days left until the Thursday night premiere of King Kong and still no sight of the missing spider scene.  Luckily for him, the studio was otherwise humming along, the seemingly innocent "accidents' pretty much over.  No more fires, no more shredded costumes, no more missing miniature dinosaurs.  But then, the damage had already been done, hadn't it?  All productions were back on schedule.  Now, if James could only figure out what happened to the missing scene, he'd be set.

James Murray has gone to work at RKO Studio to write the screenplay for his mystery "Murder at Eastern Columbia." The rights for the movie had been bought by the studio and it was up to him to get it in shape to start the movie.  This was all fine except for a few minor problems.  One - his mind just wasn't into writing a screenplay.  Two - someone was sabotaging activities at the studio and his boss 'Cooper' has instructed him to investigate.  And three - his mind is on writing his next book.  As it turns out the two and three are becoming combined as he writes his next book about the events that are taking place at the studio.

As I read Sabotage at RKO Studio I was lost as to the reason for the events taking place at the studio.  It appears that it sits on top of an oil field so that could be the reason.  Then James meets a woman on the  streetcar who seems to get upset when he talks about the 'accidents' and leads me to believe she may have something to hide but I could see no connections.  So yes, I was baffled by the outcome of this one.

This book turned out to be a different, yet fun read.  You read the story as the events take place but you also read it in the novel form as James writes his next book.  Interesting, especially the end.

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Death Overdue - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

 

Carrie Singleton is back in Clover Ridge, Connecticut, spiked purple hair and all.  She’s staying with Great Uncle Bosco and Aunt Harriet, who offered her a home when her own mother wouldn't. As for her father—for all Carrie knows, he might be back in jail. But it’s time to move on. The job Uncle Bosco has wrangled for her in the Clover Ridge Library is boring and makes no use of her library science degree. Besides, much as she’s grown to love her aunt and uncle, she simply can’t stay in one place very long. She’ll soon turn thirty, and she’s held five jobs in as many states. it’s time to go.

 

The library director’s offer to be Head of Programs and Events comes as a shock. It would mean drastic changes in Carrie’s lifestyle. No more purple hair. No more black Goth outfits. No more running carefree.  She would have responsibilities. Others would be depending on her. She would have to grow up and fast.

The ghost of Evelyn Havers appears and urges Carrie to take the job. Evelyn worked in the library until her death a few years ago. At Carrie's first scheduled event, a retired homicide detective is murdered while talking about a cold case he claims to have solved. Carrie believes the two murders are linked. With Evelyn’s help she sets out to find the murderer.

 

Allison Brook is one author that I can't get enough of.  I've read everything she has written, I think, and have enjoyed them all.  When I started Death Overdue, I decided I knew who the murderer was after about 60 pages.  Yep, I was wrong.  I wasn't surprised when the truth finally came out, but by then I had about 6 suspects.  Finishing this book has left room for many more books to come. I can't wait to read them.

 

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What's New with Marilyn Levinson

I'm happy to announce I've a new book coming out in October with Crooked Lane Books written under the pseudonym Allison Brook. DEATH OVERDUE is the first in my new Haunted Library Mystery series. My sleuth, Carrie Singleton, forgoes her purple hair and Goth attire to become head of programs and events at the Clover Ridge Library. She finds herself embroiled in solving a cold case and a new murder with the occasional help of the library’s sixty-something ghost amid family squabbles, romance and discovering her place in life. Those who have already read DEATH OVERDUE find it fun read.

DEATH OVERDUE can be preordered on Amazon at: http://tinyurl.com/ksydz3s

Untreed Reads has made an audiobook of A MURDERER AMONG US, the first in my Twin Lake Mysteries, awarded a Suspense Magazine Best Indie and on BookTown's 2014 Summer Reading list!! Here are the links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ohYlcP
iTunes: https://goo.gl/kXtCGO
Audible: https://goo.gl/f84I1x

The ebook is still only 99 cents.

And audiobook of MURDER IN THE AIR, the next in the series, will be available soon.

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The Rebel Series was inspired by the stories of the patriots who fought to be free from the dictatorship and tyranny of a king. Liberty is something that we all cherish. It’s a precious gift given to us by those who fought so valiantly. The miracles that happen during times like these help us realize that God is watching over us.

 

The Rebel Series is a mixture of romance and adventure. Each book is a love story with mystery and suspense as a young couple and their rebel friends strive to help their country. Most romances have a bit of drama between the man and woman but that’s not so with this series. Even though there are trials along the way, they never give up on each other. For those who enjoy strong women characters, all three books have this in common. They are independent women who don’t sit back and watch. They have an opinion and are not afraid to express it. The adventure and romance in each book can be appreciated by young and old alike.

 

This is a historical mystery/adventure romance set in the late 1700s. It’s during a time when men defended a lady’s honor and treated women with respect. The women, on the other hand, were not weak by any means. These courageous men and women were looked up to because they defended the people. This series does not involve any battle scenes, but is more about a people and their values—sort of like a new take on Robin Hood.

 

“This creative take on a Robin Hood-like story is charming and touching, and teaches some great morals about agency and choice. It reminded me of childhood fairytales of good versus evil, with a nice romance weaved into it.” --Author Charissa Stastny

 

The heroes in this series are rebels with a sense of justice. They help the underdog and fight for the right to be free. The men are chivalrous. But at the same time, their feelings run deep for the young woman they’re in love with.

 

In book one, The Rebels of Cordovia, a group of men and women who called themselves Robin’s Rebels realize they must help the people survive this oppression. In this battle for freedom, a love story begins to blossom. Daniel, a rogue and a leader of the Freemen, does not realize that the sweet feminine woman he has met and is falling for happens to be the leader of Robin’s Rebels. Realizing the importance of uniting all the rebel groups, Daniel tries to recruit Robin’s Rebels but they refuse. Now he has to find a way to convince them. When he finds out the leader is actually a woman, what will his reaction be?

 

In book two, The Highwayman of Cordovia, the people enjoy their new-found liberty but all is not well. One year after Cordovia gains its freedom, a group of powerful men plan to take over the small country and replace the leader with a king.

 

“This sequel to the Rebels of Cordovia takes a pastor’s daughter and mixes her in with a rogue highwayman. The results will surprise you in this continued battle for freedom and justice. This sweet romance had action and intrigue, mysteries to solve, and villains to thwart.” --Author Charissa Stastny

 

With the help of a bold highwayman and a pastor’s daughter, they try to save their country from being taken over by a power-hungry leader. As they strive to stop the Kingmen and thwart their plans, Christine finds herself falling in love with Austin Knight. The only problem with their relationship is that she thinks he is her knight in shining armor instead of a highwayman. If she finds out his trade, what will her reaction be? As a pastor’s daughter, will love override her values?

 

“Christine and Austin’s story is truly amazing. When Austin and Christine meet again, the feelings they had as kids is still there. Christine is truly a remarkable person. When Austin starts to protect her, their relationship starts to grow. The characters in this book will have you on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what happens next. God is working throughout this whole book. You won't be able to stop reading it.” –Debbie Jamieson

 

In book three, The Fox of Cordovia, a sinister plot has just been uncovered and its up to a former patriot and a young nurse to discover who is behind it. Caroline is engaged to the future mayor of Laketown, a man of influence and greatly respected. But all that changes when she overhears a conspiracy behind closed doors. After being discovered, she runs for her life. Caroline needs to report her findings, but whom can she trust? When she asks Jesse Conover for help, the adventure begins.

 

Cindi Clubbs, from Mommasez Reviews, wrote: “Linda Weaver Clarke has a storyteller's talent for enchanting and mesmerizing the audience. There are also some exciting surprises and twists that will delight the heart.”

 

All three of these books are available at Audible and iTunes.

About the Author

Linda Weaver Clarke is the author of historical romances, a mystery/adventure series, a romantic cozy mystery series, and a children’s book. All her books are family friendly. Read sample chapters and buy her book at http://www.lindaweaverclarke.com.

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Writing dialogue

A few words about writing dialogue, folks.  First, I am by no means a professional editor, but what I am is an avid reader and author of five books.

I know writing dialogue is difficult but, if we are to be good writers it takes a lot of effort to keep the story moving smoothly, logically, and continuously.

So here's the rub;  if the dialogue is stinted, overly verbose, or not natural sounding it slows the pace of the story while the reader (me) fights his way through it. Sometimes I have to read it a couple of times to make sense out of it. 

That is definitely a main reason why I lose interest and tend to stop reading the book.

When I write dialogue I picture the scene in my head and put myself in the place of the character speaking.  I think "How would I say this?" then have an out loud conversation with myself and hear how it sounds.  Does it run on?  Is it realistic, common speech?  Are there contractions needed? Does it help the flow of the plot?

If the answer to any of those questions is no,  I will rewrite it until it meets that criteria.

Don't forget-It is OK to use common slang and curse words, as long as they fit the scene and are not just gratuitous. Instead of saying "I am going to go to the crime scene" why not say "I'm gonna go to the scene," thereby eliminating the excess verbiage and keeping the story moving at a good pace.  The reader will easily be able to figure out where the character is going. Besides, not many people talk without using common contractions.

When using curse words, keep in mind the who are the readers of your work and make those words age appropriate to the reader AND the speaker. The words should provide emotion to the dialogue and scene and not be gratuitous.

Last point:  You do not have to identify the speaker by name EVERY time he or she talks! If it is a somewhat long or complicated conversation, remind the reader who is speaking by using an identifying phase, such as "Detective Jones took a deep breath and said..."

In conclusion, remember, you may have a great plot and great characters, but without writing good dialogue you just might lose your reader, who might write a poor review of your work, and none of us want that.

Comments?

Thanks for reading my dialogue rant!

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Writing in the Moment

 

A few years ago, I discovered the term “mindfulness” and incorporated it into my everyday life.  It has help me to combat my anxiety issues.  It basically means what it implies.  On one level it means paying attention to details of what’s going on around you at any given time, but on a much deeper level it brings your conscious awareness to a “moment-by-moment” basis.  It’s where you pay attention to what’s happening right now, but in a non-judgmental way and allowing things to be what they are to you.

Writing is a demanding, but absolutely a fulfilling profession.  I’ve found myself taking part in standard Yoga stretches to ground myself and begin my day.  I’ve recently taken it a step further by using the meditation technique to mindfulness to de-stress and balance my mind and body.  It’s been quite effective and I look forward to it several times a week.  I highly suggest checking out Mindful Yoga on a CD or DVD.

I wanted to take the “in the moment” or “mindfulness” into my writing.  I’ve finished my fifth Emily Stone Novel, where the term “thriller” is taken to new levels as she chases after serial killers and she sometimes gets too close to them, almost feeling their breath or touch.  By taking an experience along with emotion and observation, you can build a thrilling scene.

As I’ve briefly outlined my chapters and scenes, I’ve found myself creating the suspense and tension of the storyline.  I take a moment to view things from Emily Stone’s perspective of “in the moment” techniques.  It gets the writing juices flowing.

For example, she’s found a new clue that can track down the killer.  What does she do?  How will she move forward in a moment-by-moment way?  I break down the scene into action/reaction from beginning to end.  The beginning is when she finds the clue and the end is the result I want her to accomplish.  What are some of the observations, emotions, and details she can accomplish in this particular task?

Take this writing task a step further into your own day.  Write the “in the moment” observations of a typical day for you.  Create a scene when you run errands, watch your favorite movie, or take a lunch break with a friend.  Write everything down that you observe.  What are the moment-by-moment actions that happen?

I’ve found that by writing in the moment, you discover not only things about yourself but also about your characters in your stories.  The next time you feel that little procrastination bug nipping at you, pull back, and write in the moment.

***

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 Author Blog: http://authorjenniferchase.com/

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Books: Compulsion  Dead Game  Dark Mind Dead Burn Silent Partner  Screenwriting
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Ten Books About the Vietnam War

The hard-copy proof of IN THE WEEDS is in the mail right now, heading toward me. I’ll have this final piece of the editing puzzle next week – pending publisher and my approval, WEEDS goes straight to print from there. To keep interest up until the literary tap opens, here's another listicle for y’all to contemplate: Ten Books About the Vietnam War.

Listicle: www.bookglow.net/10-books-about-the-vietnam-war/


Buy Link: www.open-bks.com/library/moderns/in-the-weeds/order.html

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Filling Empty Spaces: On Audiobooks

For centuries, the printing press has been our main source for written public communications. Now we have alternatives -- the internet, ebooks, mobile phones, and also audiobooks.

I've listened to novels and short stories on audiobooks for more than 25 years. I began when I worked in central Ontario, and needed to drive at least four hours for meetings or to visit a colleague or to fill in at a congregation as preacher or drive for a few vacation days off.

Abridged versions of novels by Dickens, George Eliot, Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Victor Hugo, and others helped me pass the time and get reacquainted with classic works of fiction. Technology had created a way for me to enhance what might have been tiresome hours.

I also had and still have complete versions of Mark Twain's two most famous novels, "Alice in Wonderland", two by Hawthorne, and one each by Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Willa Cather, and George Eliot. Besides that, I've been able to get to know better epic works by Homer and Virgil.  

I recall two highlights from my times of driving and listening. Reaching home territory after a four hour drive and coming to the end of a shortened version of Hardy's novel "The Mayor of Casterbridge", I realized that the problems of middle-aged people was a main theme of the fiction I've written and decided to continue with that motif. Another time, while driving on a southern Ontario highway, I heard a narrator read John Steinbeck's description of the same spot of earth in "Travels with Charlie".   

So audiobooks have helped to make what could have been empty spaces full of interest. Now, in retirement when I live without a car, audiobooks perform the same service in another way. After I began physio exercises for my upper back and stiff neck, my therapist said I should lie on the floor at least fifteen minutes a day with my head lifted up. I could never succeed at that without something to focus my thoughts on. Ah-ha! Audiobooks.

My appreciation for audiobooks moved to a new level as I lay on the living room floor of my apartment for 15-20 minutes for most nights over several months and listened to the English actor Neville Jason read Marcel Proust's seven volume masterpiece without faltering once or confusing the voices he chose for Proust's characters. He brought the work to life for me in a way that reading it silently to myself didn't. An amazing achievement for a man still working in his late 70's.

I'm now listening to an unabridged reading of Henry James's late novel, "The Wings of the Dove", which I'll have to listen to again, since I miss a few things at first hearing.

The point is that present-day technology, which brings challenges and obstacles to non-technical folks, can also fill empty spaces and significantly improve our lives.

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Hide and Seek - Richard Parker, Author

Hide and Seek Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish


Lana heard her boy scream and shot to the back door.  The'd taken her eyes off him for only a few moments but when she entered the sunny yard there was no sign of her child.  She bolted to where he'd been sitting and found the stranger's bare legs scrambling over the fence with a sack containing Cooper dangling from his fist.  She could see Cooper twisting inside.  He was hoisted up and out of reach and her panicked wail energized is.  If she didn't act fast, the stranger would drop over the fence to the private lane on the other side.  She restrained his ankle firmly with both hands and started trying to lug him back.  Lana grabbed his clammy calf and then slammed her body against his shoe to trap him there.  Digging her nails in, she bit the skin above his heel.  She heard him cry out and she clamped her teeth down as hard as she could.  She wanted to shout that she'd murder him before she'd let him take Cooper but she wasn't about to loosen her teeth on his ankle.

Lana saved her son that day but the fear that wouldn't leave her took it's tolls on her, changing her life forever.  No longer did the home she and Todd had scrapped ends to buy seem safe.  Their move to a fourth floor apartment helped some but she still checked every window and every door at least three times before going to bed.  Her obsession also took her to an internet site called Right Where You're Standing.  It used GPS to direct you to local murder scenes.  Here she did a search seeking only those where children had been taken and murdered. She had high hopes that site would find her find the perpetrator who tried to take her son.  It's now almost a year later and the police appeared to have given up their search leaving her to be the only one to pick it back up.  What she didn't know was the involvement her husband Todd had taken on with his own investigation.  His form of involvement was one that could prove to be very deadly, not just for himself but for Lana too.

Hide and Seek is a book that will not only have you watching your own children but it will also become a book that you'll keep telling yourself "just one more chapter."  Well, that "just one more chapter" turned into another and another for me.  It takes you on a very winding road that is actually full of surprises!  The trials that Lana goes through are more than most of us could endure.  And no, I'll not give you clues, other than to say that if you like a book that will keep you on the edge of your chair, you'll want to get your hands or Kindle on this book ASAP.

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The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Series Book 2)- Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

Ellis leaned an arm over the back of the couch.  "I need your help, Verity."  Oh my.  "This isn't a habit I want to encourage," I said even if I could talk Frankie into helping me.  It took a lot of his strength to show me the other side.  "I'm not a professional ghost hunter."  "You're good at it," he pressed.  "I almost got us killed last time."  He'd hired me to clear out some ghosts in a property he was renovating.  It hadn't exactly gone smoothly.  "I've never talked to such a new ghost."  I didn't even know if she could be found.  "And aren't you the one who agreed I shouldn't be doing this?"  He shook his head.  "You're right," he conceded.  "At some point, this has to stop.  But not tonight.  We need to know what happened in that library.  You don't have to talk to her.  I'll take any witness you can find.  The building has got to be haunted,:" he said.  "I've heard stories since I was a kid."

There has been a death at Sugarland and Ellis Wydell, who just happens to be a policeman, the older brother of Verity's ex-fiance and her new love, needs her help again in solving the murder.  Verity, along with the help of Frankie, has helped Ellis in the past and is apparently in need of her abilities to see ghosts and her ghostly contacts again.  Oh yeah, Frankie "The German" is the spirit of a 1920s gangster that was tied to Verity's land after she emptied his funeral urn out onto her rose bushes and soaked them down with water.

Sugarland is noted for it's Civil War battle where a cannon ball was fired into the wall of the library but never exploded.  Each year the 'Jacksons and the Wydells put on displays and reenactments of the battle.  This year Ellis' mother decided to have the events filmed by an historical productions company so the world would know the city's true history.  But what is the truth?  Who were the victors - the Jacksons or the Wydells?  Getting to the truth will put Verity and Ellis' lives in danger and make Verity's almost-mother-in-law hate her even more, if that's possible.

I recommend that you read Southern Spirits - Book 1 of this series first.  I did and am glad I did.  Not only was it a unique book and story but it also gave me insight as to what happens in book 2.

I read a lot of books and once in a while I run across an author like Angie Fox who writes a story that you not only read but you also hear and see everything that happens.  I felt like I was 'reading a movie.'  I could actually see the events at they took place.  I could see the characters and feel their feelings.  This is the work of a very well written story that has murder, mystery, suspense, ghosts, and yes, a bit of humor.

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This book will be released 8/14/2017.  You can pre-order at all major online retailers for just $.99 but on 8/21/2017 the price will go up to $4.99 so get your order in now!

Diamonds Aren't Forever - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

The whole story spilled out.  The necklace going on loan to the Philpont Museum for a show on the royal jewels of Europe, the robbery six months ago where three armed men took the night guards by surprise and were able to bypass the museum's supposedly state-of-the-art security system.  The police working the case for the few months but leads petered out quickly.  Penelope's desperate hope that the private investigator might have better luck, not being constrained by the complexities of a bureaucracy.  Dick Stone's call yesterday that he had located her piece and would deliver it today.

Penelope Fitzpatrick put all of her faith in Dick Stone.  He has found the necklace that her grandfather had made many years before for the last tsar of Russia.  He has now returned it to Pen who decided the best place for this million dollar necklace was in her safety deposit box at the bank.  That was the day that she thought this nightmare would end only to find that it had just begun.

Author Connie Shelton held my attention as 72 year old Pen is joined by 3 other ladies that became the 'Heist Ladies.'  Their travels to find the man known as Dick Stone, which is only one of his many names, takes them to the Cayman Islands where 'Mr. Stone' posing under another alias is working his next mark.  They follow him to Zurich where he is to meet with a shady jeweler.  And on to Nice where one of the largest jewelry exhibits was to be held.  It was also the location where plans for one of the largest jewelry heists were being made.

As I read Diamonds Aren't Forever I pictured this little 72 year old lady and her 3 companions in my mind.  I admired her spiff and determination.  This was a book that was entertaining, humorous at times, and very enjoyable.

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For the 55 years that I knew him, my father loved classical music and passed his love on to me. He collected LP recordings diligently and after he died in 1996, I received about half his collection, which I added to mine so that I have several hundred vinyl recordings in the living room of my apartment.

I've recently been listening to to LP's -- and CD's, too -- of music by the American composer Elliott Carter, who died in  2012, almost 104 years old. When I got to a Boston Symphony recording of his piano concerto with the pianist Jacob Leteiner, I rediscovered a Manila envelope my father put in the sleeve containing reviews and news items about the work that he'd cut from Boston and New York papers.

The concerto is a vigorous, atonal, demanding piece that received high praise when the Boston Symphony gave the premier in 1967. One critic said it was the strongest new music he'd heard in a long time and nothing he knew about from Europe could equal it. Another compared it favorably with the violin concertos of Berg and Schoenberg. In the world of contemporary classical music, there is no higher recommendation.

At the same time, another writer -- and his remarks lead me to the main point of this brief post -- acknowledged the greatness of the work but feared that because of Byzantine financial arrangements in the world of classical music and the dominance of pop culture, Carter's concerto would fade away quickly, no one would play it again, and no composer would take up a similar challenge.

Most everyone understands this writer's fears. The media today is replete with similar concerns. It's not hard to find someone expressing a fear that something good that people have worked hard to build up is under threat and may pass away.

It's natural to think and talk in that vein. No one is perfectly strong: defeatist attitudes are tempting, negative thoughts are common enough to be a plague. No active person needs to give way, however, to the bad side of life. We can usually find a way to stand up for what's good.

Back to Elliott Carter. He knew what he faced. He understood the situation in 1967. He said that when he began to write music, he followed current trends. That practice didn't get him very far. After he discovered what was unique and special to him, people started to pay attention. Experience taught him that he would never make much money from writing music and he didn't want to conform to stale patterns so he did what was right for him and wrote music that he liked and that many people came to respect.

We know what people writing in 1967 couldn't.  For one thing, Carter's music is well-represented on CD and available on Amazon and from other retail outlets to anyone who wants it. In fact, I have a CD from the Nashville symphony with a newer performance of the piano concerto.  Furthermore, he didn't give way to the pressure to fit in and compose music he considered inferior. He kept on going and published 40 works between the ages of 90 and 100 and more than  20 after his 100th birthday in 2008.

Carter set an example. Everyone passes through bad times and contends with obstacles. Beethoven lost his hearing; Mozart endured spells of poverty and illness; Shostakovich and others faced the oppressive tactics of Stalin's government. Carter was another who carried on and contributed to our long-standing tradition of creating brave and sometimes difficult work.

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5 Star Review– DEAD COLD

Reviewed by Darryl Greer for Readers’ Favorite

 

Jennifer Chase’s Dead Cold is the sixth of her Emily Stone thrillers, with a seventh in the pipeline. Emily and her partner, Rick Lopez, are ex law enforcement officers who’ve decided that rather than deal with the humdrum of everyday law enforcement, with its highs and lows — thrills and spills one minute, acute boredom the next — they’d ditch the routine and become 24/7 thrill-a-minute good guys superheroes almost, tracking down villains, solving crimes, leaving the local cops to claim the glory of yet another mysteriously solved felony.

In this episode, a Californian community is beset by a disturbing spike in gruesome homicides. There’s a serial killer out there who not only ensnares and tortures victims, but cuts them into neat sections and displays them in a macabre formation for all to see. The local police are flummoxed, with Detective Danny Starr doing his best, but being thwarted at every turn by one of the cleverest killers he has ever come across. Enter Emily Stone and her partner, Rick, and this time they enlist the assistance of a friend, Jordan. Together the intrepid trio sets out to track down the killer. And this time it’s easier said than done.

Dead Cold is not for those with weak hearts or nervous dispositions. Every page will have your heart pumping so much you’ll feel like you’re running a marathon. The story gets off to a cracking start in the prologue with high speed action from the first line. Jennifer Chase introduces us to real, three-dimensional characters, those with whom you can empathise, those you can love, hate, root for. Chapters aren’t numbered but rather they are headed with a date and time, a device which helps to keep up the frenetic pace throughout the story. The writing is visual so, as you flip through the pages, it will feel like you’re watching a movie and as the story is multi-layered, you won’t lose interest. The concept itself is unique. Most American thrillers involve police officers, FBI agents, spies, or private detectives, not people working clandestinely and happy to allow regular law enforcers to take all the credit. So, if you’re an adrenaline junkie, put on your seat belt and start reading. When you get to the end, if you’re not already familiar with this author’s work, you’ll be taking note of her name and reaching for another Emily Stone adventure.

Purchase DEAD COLD at Amazon


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Books: Compulsion  Dead Game  Dark Mind Dead Burn Dark Pursuit

Silent Partner  Screenwriting

 

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Photo courtesy of detectivescene.com.

For many police officers, acquiring the title of detective is quite an accomplishment. And the reason is simple. As a detective – you have the opportunity to take charge, break the code, and piece together the puzzle of the crime.

But, not all detectives are created equal. Some are more gifted at gathering all of the relevant evidence, and solving the mystery. And those detectives who excel at their vocation, all possess a certain set of common characteristics.

Here’s eight of those traits –

Sense of humor

That’s right. A sense of humor. No one is expecting a detective to be the next Dave Chappelle. But, in order to overcome the intensity of the job, a detective needs to make light of their work. Every once in a while.

As a detective, your job is to investigate the dark and dastardly deeds of society’s sociopaths and psychopaths. So, it makes sense that your psyche can take a beating. And that’s where the humor helps. When you’ve seen the worst of humankind, sometimes all you need is a good laugh with a few pals. It won’t erase what you’ve experienced, but it will certainly help alleviate the stress.

Ingenuity      

Technology is moving at a rapid pace. This gives criminals the opportunity to use a plethora of tools to carry out their illicit goals. And because of that. Detectives need to be one step ahead of their counterparts.

A skilled detective has always needed to think outside the box, and be clever. But, nowadays, detectives must possess a great deal of knowledge concerning hi-tech gadgets, social media and the dark corners of the internet.

For detectives to truly succeed in today’s world, they must exercise ingenuity in accessing the ever growing world of digital technologies.  

Honor

When you’re a detective, you must act with integrity, loyalty and honesty. Otherwise known as honor.

When you wield as much authority and power as a detective does. You need honor to guide you through your good and bad days. Because without honor, a detective can ruin lives. Destroy families. And wreak havoc on society.

But, a skilled and effective detective understands and appreciates the great responsibility of  the detective’s shield.  And they act with honor towards a just outcome.

Composure

Detectives are under a great deal of stress. Whether it’s their commanding officers. The prosecutor. Or the victim, and their family. The fact remains. The investigator has to solve the case. And quickly.

As a result, skilled detectives must be able to work under tight deadlines and extreme stress. And that’s where proper training comes into play. If an investigator has been trained to deal with, and adapt to fluid situations, then the chances of success increases drastically.

A truly effective detective must be cool, calm and collected.

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Photo courtesy of pinterest.com.

Courage

Let’s not forget courage. That’s a trait which separates the gifted detective from the pack. Not everyone has the guts to take on the biggest cases, and work them until the end. Even when the odds are unfavorable, and the foes are great.

Courage does not mean that the detective is fearless. It simply means that they are able to find the inner strength to do what needs to be done. Having that extra bit of courage enables the detective to dig deep into the case, and not stop until the case has been resolved. Even if the detective is put into situations of great peril.

Meticulous

Unfortunately, real crime scenes are nothing like those found in movies. In real life, detectives have to sift through mountains of irrelevant things, in order to find the pertinent evidence.

True attention to detail is a necessary attribute for an effective detective. They are required to see the big picture, and then be able to zoom in on the little pieces that lead to the resolution of the case. Detectives must have the uncanny ability to view nine things at once, and then determine which of those nine things has any relevance – if any.

If a detective has a methodical approach, it will often lead to clean arrests and successful prosecutions.

Empathy

When a detective is called to a crime scene, they are entering a world of tragedy and chaos. There will be those who lost loved ones, victims who have been attacked, and people who have had their lives turned upside down.  In those situations, compassion is required.

It is easy to lose sight of sympathy for the victim when engrossed in the search for the perp. But, a great detective will always maintain a level of empathy for those who suffered at the hands of a criminal. The detective must be a symbol of sympathy and strength.

Tenacity

When it’s all said and done, it is usually the detective’s tenacity that solves cases. Working long, odd hours. Dealing with the underbelly of society. And having a tremendous workload. These are just some of the obstacles put in front of a detective.

But, a truly gifted detective will overcome the burdens. And through sheer grit and determination, they will solve the crime. And put the perp behind bars. 

These are all noble characteristics. And they all contribute to the makeup of a highly effective police detective. What do you think – any other traits that belong on this list?

***

Please join me:

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 Author Blog: https://authorjenniferchase.com/

Book & Crime Talk:  http://blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase

Books: Compulsion  Dead Game  Dark Mind Dead Burn Dark Pursuit

Silent Partner  Screenwriting

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 JUST RELEASED! GRAB A COPY FOR ONLY 99CENTS DURING THE PROMOTIONAL TOUR!

DEAD COLD, An Emily Stone Thriller

DeadCold

 

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Book release!

Tunnel Rat is now available on a wide range of outlets in both print and digital versions. Bobbie Crawford prepared a PRESS RELEASE and a BOOK PROMOTION to spread the word. The price of the book has been reduced to the minimum Amazon allows so that readers will be encouraged to check it out. As a further encouragement, we are also having a contest! Winners will receive signed print versions of the book, Amazon Gift cards, or, the grand prize, a new Fire tablet. I use one of these myself and absolutely love it. I hope you will try the book, and let me know what you think.

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Sex, Lies, and Snickerdoodles - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

'Steve's cell phone rang and he stopped and pulled it from his pocket.  "Hey, Captain."  His gaze sharpened, then he turned his back to me.  Steve had kidded me about being a human lie detector ever since I participated in a university study as a favor to my former sister-in-law, the clinical psychologist.  Even before my perceptive abilities had been documented, he'd made a point of sheltering his face when he didn't want me to read his body language.  But since the Port Merritt PD captain was calling his one and only detective on his day off, anyone in the room should have been able to see that something very bad had happened.

"Tell him not to touch anything," he said.  "I'll be there in ten."  "What's happened?" I asked the second Steve disconnected, my voice a squeaky blend of breath and apprehension.  He pocketed his cell phone.  "Russell Falcon has been found."

In Trudy, Madly, Deeply (Book 1) of the Charmaine (Char) Digby series, we followed her as she became an investigative assistant for the coroner's office.  We got to know Detective Steve Sixkiller as she solved the suspicious death of a family friend and several other elderly patients whose hearts mysteriously stopped.  And who could forget Char's mother the 'actress' who is in the market for her next husband.  Author Wendy Delaney brings all of them back plus a few more in Sex, Lies, and Snickerdoodles (Book 2).

In this episode Char argues with Steve, insisting that the death of Russ Falcon was a murder.  Steve isn't saying it was or it wasn't.  Actually, he isn't saying anything leaving Char to come up with the evidence and motive on her own.  Her main target is the husband of one of Russ' flings.  But did he do it?  She believe so, even if Steve doesn't seem to think she is right.

Reading Book 2 in this series I wasn't sure who killed Russ or even if it was a murder.  I knew who I suspected but had no motive, which lead me to think that maybe his death really was an accident.  I have to admit that I had the correct character but never did have the motive until the end.  So, read this book and let me know if you came up with the same suspect that I did.  Now I'm looking forward to reading There's Something About Marty - Book 3 in this series.

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All By Myself

People sometimes ask me how I deal with the isolation of writing. I’ve recently been in touch with a former co-worker from my days as a hospital social worker and communicating with her reminds me of what it was like to work with other people. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that! The hospital had a large social work department and my memory is of a deep bond between all of us. We did some emotionally difficult work, but we had each other to turn to for advice, support and—often–laughter. The work was so rewarding, and being part of a family of fellow social workers made it even more so. Nevertheless, during the years I worked there, I was writing my first novel in every speck of my free time. I adored my job, but I had a passion for storytelling that wouldn’t leave me alone.Alone. That word brings me back to the question of isolation. One writes alone. It’s certainly true that most writers tend to be more introverted than extroverted. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re shy or that they can’t be outgoing. Rather it means that their minds and spirits are fed by that precious time alone. They need it. They can’t create without it. That is certainly true of me, but I also need frequent doses of other people in my life. On the Myers-Briggs Personality Type scale, I fall smack in the middle between Introversion and Extraversion. While great chunks of time alone are necessary for my writing, they’re also. . . well, lonely.I’m lucky that I live with someone who is also self-employed, so it is a bit like having a co-worker. John and I work in different parts of the house, but we stop to chitchat occasionally or to gripe with each other over computer problems or talk about our work. It also helps that we’re both in creative fields and seem to have similar requirements for alone and together time and that we’re both committed one hundred percent to what we’re doing. There is never the temptation to just goof off during the day.So while it’s great having John nearby, the thing that really saves me from a sense of isolation is having friends who are also published novelists and who are as serious about their careers as I am. I’ve been lucky to have always had this outlet. When I lived in Virginia, Emilie Richards and Patricial McLinn and I got together frequently to brainstorm and talk shop. And I’ve blogged often about the retreats I go on with my group of writer friends here in North Carolina. We stay in touch by email and between our getaways, we meet for lunch whenever we can. I go home from those meet-ups renewed and ready to get back to work. When you work alone, it’s critical to find a way to connect with other people, not only to avoid insanity but to help you feed the creative well.It’s hard for me to remember what it was like to have genuine co-workers. . . and to work for someone else. What I miss most about it is, frankly, the financial benefits of a “real” job: The security of a regular paycheck, help with the health insurance premiums, and most of all, an employer to pay half of that killer 15% FICA payment. (Do not quit your day job until you’ve thought all this through!)Yes, it’s costly( and sometimes lonely) to work all by myself. But getting to work at something I love? Priceless.
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Greetings Booktown Members,

I took a good look around BookTown and even though there are a ever growing number of members, I've noticed something.  There aren't as many profile pictures posted as there should be.

Why is this important?  

You're online footprint, that's why.

You want to draw a readers attention, you want to pull someone into you and who you are and what you're about.  Even something as silly as a hat or a you holding your dog, or you standing with your wife in front of the Mayan Pyramids, through a teeny tiny profile picture you are telling a story about yourself, thus connecting with a potential customer.

But don't take my word for it.  See what this article has to say about it, there were some things in it that I didn't realize.

Why Your Twitter Profile Picture is More Important Than You Thought

Delaney wrote in his Vice magazine column that he selected the worst possible picture of himself he could find when he started his Twitter account, a picture a friend took at the beach after saying, “You look awful, let me take a picture.”

Well, it worked.

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