Sunday, January 19, 2014

Brief Break

See... LOTS of ducks.
I hate to do this. I feel like the blog keeps me attached to so many of you, but for months now, with my job transition, I've done it VERY badly. Well now I've reached a real crunch time at work, where things would, should I try to continue, get even worse, so I am taking the rest of January to try to align my ducks, so to speak.  The hopefully I can come back at a reasonable pace in February and get back to dropping in on all of you... So... Until February, if you need me, I will still check email and Facebook, so you can reach me...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: The Last Dead Girl

I am tardy on this... I should have posted LAST week so you could have been appropriately tempted to go buy the book the first day it was out.  I ALSO went to Harry Dolan's Launch at Nicola's and I should have got a picture with him, but I was having an ugly day... I have those more and more often as the skin under my eyes gets looser. I just think.... Nope... no pictures. you just look TOO TIRED...

And I ALSO am suffering from the procrastination caused by overwhelmingsomeness... erm... surely I am so overwhelmed my word needs multiple endings, yes?

BUT, this was such a FABULOUS book and I REALLY DID want to get the review posted, for you, and because I like to post it HERE before I paste it over to Amazon and Goodreads.  So without further ado... my review of Harry Dolan's The Last Dead Girl...

[Isn't that title brilliant... my first thought was, you mean there were more before her?]



Compelling Mystery, Rich Characters

I loved Harry Dolan's first two books, Bad Things Happen and Very Bad Men--five starts loved them. But I see this one as hand and fist over the others. I'd give it six stars if they let me. I don't want to go back and give the others fours because they are fives in the grand pool of books I've read in recent years, but this one really IS better.

The difference to me is in the connectability to all the characters. Older Loogan (David from the first two books) is reserved and the tone carries to the story telling. Younger David (Daryl David Malone), before his name change that we knew was coming from the first book, has not yet learned the same reserved caution (learned it the hard way, beginning in this book) so I found him easier to know and relate to.

But more than that, Dolan's other characters are rich and shining, even his villains. Yes, villainS. There are more than one or two people doing rotten things. But Harry does a brilliant job of showing them as complex reasons with rationales that may not be good enough for us, but you can see how they justify the actions for them. We get to understand why they do what they do and see a peek at their humanity, however limited.

I finished this in December and probably rank it the top book I read in 2013.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Geekisborg, Just for You...

Shun-SHENG duh gao-WAHN! It has been WAY to long since I just indulged you in a good old time, so I have a few treats for you. Most of these came to me through Facebook shares. There are some perks to having a reputation as a nut. People share vast silliness with me all the time. First... your tutorial on what the above phrase...

Fifteen Best Firefly Chinese Phrases

Any of you who have not yet watched Firefly really should get on that. It's fabulous. And until then, Holy Testicle Tuesday to you!!!

ALSO in the meantime... Let's revive some old phrases, shall we?

20's Phrases that need Reviving:

And HEY Game of Thrones Geeks!!!

The Season 4 Trailer is OUT!!!:

And when My buddy Joshua shared the above, Matthew McNish shared the first Complete History and Lore For Game of Thrones:

There are two of these, more than an hour a piece, but an EXCELLENT education for those of you who haven't read, and reminder for those of us who have.

And HEY, because I can be useful too... this video could save a life (watch to the end for specifics) but it's delivered beautiful:

So there!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Jade Jamison and Fully Automatic!!!

Jade is one of my writing buddies and seriously awesome, super reliable beta partners and her latest book, Fully Automatic is COMING!  She writes erotic fiction, which I know isn't for all of you, but some of you love this stuff and I think some of you who have been afraid to try might find Jade's style of it more appealing... her common theme in her Bullet series is Rock Stars, and who DOESN'T want to dive into something hot with a rock star, eh? And more than that, her characters are fully developed, three dimensional, and face some true-to-life demons that I find missing in some romance, let alone erotic fiction.  So here is the scoop!

Fully Automatic Cover


You might think you know Brad’s story, but think again. There’s so much more to his story than what Valerie told. See Brad before Valerie came into his life and, when he was playing back burner to Ethan, see what Brad was up to when no one else in the band was looking.
Valerie might have thought she and Brad were inevitable and maybe, in the back of his mind, Brad might have felt that way too, but he didn’t just sit around waiting for her. See the secret side of Brad that you had no idea existed. What kept the driving force behind Fully Automatic focused even while his heart was breaking?
When Brad caught Nick outside the apartment after work, he asked him to take a walk. “How you feeling?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the past few weeks have been pretty emotional. You holding up okay, man?”
“Yeah.” Nick shrugged. He was quiet for a little bit but then said, “Things have been a little weird, though.”
“Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “I was thinking about calling a meeting.”
“You think that would help?”
Brad took a deep breath. “Honestly? I have no fucking idea. But…I hate the idea of waiting for the next time, you know? I’d like a promise from Ethan that we’re done with this phase of our lives.”
“You don’t really think he’d make a promise like that, do you?”
“No. Wishful thinking.”
They walked in silence for a minute and then Nick said, “You know what’s going on with Val and Ethan, right?”
A ringing started in his ears, and he felt dread as a shiver tickled his spine. He knew he wasn’t going to like what Nick had to say, but he needed to know. “What?”
Nick stopped walking and Brad turned to face him. “I’m only telling you this because it’s only fair to you. I’m not sure what all is or was going on between you and Val, but I don’t want—anyway, uh…Ethan proposed to Val.”
It felt like the air had been knocked out of his lungs. When he got his bearings, he sucked in a deep breath of air. Had he heard Nick right? “What?”
“Ethan asked Val to marry him. I, uh…don’t know if it’s totally official yet, but…”
Brad couldn’t hear him after that, and it felt as though the world turned black. He already knew. If Ethan proposed, he knew Val accepted. He felt numb.
Somehow he had the presence of mind to say, “Don’t say anything about me and Val to Ethan. That shit’s over.”
“Yeah. No way. It’s not like she was cheating on him.”
Brad felt like he was going to throw up. He grew quiet, walking back to the apartment with Nick, but his mind was trying to find a way to deal with the worst news it had ever received.


Jade Author Pic

Jade C. Jamison was born and raised in Colorado, moved from one city/town to the next, and she’s decided she likes it so much she wants to stay…although travel is not out of the question. She lives in a big town in Colorado (not unlike Winchester!) with her husband and four children. She is working on becoming a crazy cat lady. Okay, so maybe not.
Still want more? Jade has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Theater, a master’s degree in English, and a master of fine arts in Creative Writing. Obviously, she loves school and the student loan folks love her. She works in human services by day, teaches English and creative writing at night, and—in between playing soccer mom and community leader—writes like a fiend. Someday soon, she’ll narrow it down to just writing, but let’s get all those kids off to college first.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Insecure Writer's Post

IS COMING... Time seems to be dumping on me, so mid-day--you are not forgotten,

Or not... my day totally got away from me... had to WORK the entire work day!!! Not even a real lunch break. So I am insecure about not being able to manage it all!!!


I have heard from my agent... she likes the premise and location for What Ales Me, but a ton of work to do...

I STILL need to write books 10, 11 & 12 for my serial (that is about 300 pages)...

And I have an ABNA novel to polish!!! (going to submit Medium Wrong again--with some editing, but I never even passed pitch round with it last year, so I'd like some actual feedback on it)... or maybe I should get back to the already seriously revised Kahlotus Disposal Site... Not sure... feeling insecure about BOTH these days and that's no good...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Three Things

1)  Nothing else I post this week will be as cool as hosting Harry Dolan yesterday, so you should go read THAT.

2)  The New Normal has released!!!

3)  Laurel Garver is hosting me today at Laurel's Leaves.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Interview with Harry Dolan for The Last Dead Girl

I WIN!!!

And by I win, I mean Harry Dolan agreed to do an interview with me for the release of The Last Dead Girl, his third book, which releases Thursday!!! Both Harry's other books have been best sellers (deservingly so) and you know what? This is my favorite of the three!!! It's really fantastic! I am working up a better review, but FOR NOW, I am just going to let you watch me talk to the Fabulous Harry Dolan--hows's THAT!?

1)  This book is a prequel, rather than a sequel (earlier even, than David changing his name). What made you decide to head into David's past instead of going forward?

The idea for this book evolved over time. It began with the story of the victim, Jana Fletcher, an idealistic young law student who’s involved in an Innocence Project—she’s working to exonerate someone she believes has been imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit. And her involvement in this project leads to her death. Originally, I intended to set the story in Ann Arbor, and Jana was going to be an intern at Gray Streets magazine; I thought that would be how David would get drawn into the story. I tried to work out the plot along those lines, and it wasn’t working. I wanted to introduce another character, a fellow student who would be Jana’s lover and would be driven to uncover the truth about her death. But then there were too many characters and things got too complicated. And I realized that if I set the story in David’s past, then he could be the one who was romantically involved with Jana. And then everything became much simpler.

2)  This book showed a David who was more candid than he is in later books—he is more open with the reader about his thoughts and emotions. Was that a conscious decision? And if so, what was your decision process there? (It made sense to me, but I want to see if I am following your thinking or making stuff up.)

I think you’re right that he’s more open in this book, but that wasn’t a conscious decision on my part. It probably has to do with the nature of the story. In my first novel, Bad Things Happen, part of the mystery revolved around David’s identity: What sort of person was he? Where did he come from? So in that book I didn’t always reveal what he was thinking and feeling. And the book was written entirely in the third person, which lends itself to the keeping of secrets. The Last Dead Girl, on the other hand, is mostly written in the first person, and David is much more emotionally invested in the victim than he has been in my previous novels. So that’s probably why I wound up revealing more of his thoughts and emotions, even though that’s not something I deliberately set out to do.

3)  And as a follow up—do you plan to give readers a bit more about how David changes to become a much more cautious man that he is in your earlier books? And if it ISN'T going to be in the books, could you maybe share what you see as the impetus for the change?

I think the change is probably a natural result of age and experience. In The Last Dead Girl, David is twenty-six years old; in Bad Things Happen and Very Bad Men, he’s in his late thirties. If David is more cautious and more guarded in the chronologically later books (and I think he is), it’s because he’s learned to be that way. You could think of The Last Dead Girl as the story of the first really bad thing that happened to David: his first serious encounter with violence and loss and grief. And I think that definitely shaped his character.

4)  You are also in a new (old?) location. Rome, New York. I know you did your education in rural New York. Is this the city? Is this a place you know as well as Ann Arbor? And did you go to visit, or did you rely on memory? Any challenges to writing about a location that isn't your current home town (compared to the two books set in the one that is)?

I grew up in Rome, New York, and I still have family there, so I visit at least once a year. It’s a small city located in the central part of the state. It used to be the home of an Air Force base, but the base shut down in the 1990s and the population has declined since then. The version of Rome in the novel is slightly fictionalized: it’s a bit bigger and more prosperous. And the real Rome doesn’t have a university with a law school, so I invented one for the sake of the story. But apart from that, I use a lot of real street names and locations. Much of the action is set on the back roads on the western edge of the city, not far from where I grew up. We lived in a house on a rural highway, near an old section of the Erie Canal. I used to go for walks alongside the canal, so I couldn’t resist setting a scene there. It’s a perfect place for a murder: isolated, remote, and if you need to dispose of a body, the water’s right there.

5)  You have a couple really rotten people and a couple murders (including some overlap, obviously), but I felt like you did a really fantastic job in making us 'get them'. I didn't always sympathize, but I could at least understand how THEY saw it. Did you use any tricks or rules or make a plan to ensuring your antagonistic characters were three dimensional and that their actions had a certain historic sense?

Villains are always tricky to write, because you want them to come across as real people, not just as devices to move the plot along. I try to keep that in mind. As I’ve mentioned, most of the scenes in The Last Dead Girl are written in the first person, but there are also scenes scattered throughout in the third person—scenes that reveal the thoughts and actions of the main villain in the book, whose identity is disguised until the end. (I refer to him only as “K.”) I’ve used this first-person/third-person structure in my last two books, and I find it’s useful for revealing the killer’s motives. In this book there are several scenes near the beginning that pair K with a young woman named Jolene. Jolene is just someone who stumbles across K as he’s staking out one of his intended victims, but I found that K seemed to come alive when he encountered her. They’re together only briefly but they have an interesting rapport, and I think that goes a long way toward humanizing him.

6)  I'm wondering if there are any details in this book that come from a real life experience worthy of a story. What brings up the question is the incredible detail and quirk to the landlady, Mrs. Lanik—the food, the drink, the sour temperament but brief shots of kindness. She just seemed like someone you may have known or at least drawn from someone. If not, though, any other people or events inspired from real experiences will do...

Sometimes you get lucky and a character shows up fully formed. Agnes Lanik was one of those. She’s a woman in her seventies, Jana’s landlady who lives right next door. She’s originally from Czechoslovakia, so she speaks with an accent and cooks food from the old country and drinks Becherovka, a bitter liqueur which is supposed to taste like a cross between cinnamon and mouthwash. She’s not really modeled after any real person, though some of the food she cooks is based on personal experience. I’m thinking especially of holubky, which are cabbage rolls stuffed with ground beef and rice and covered with tomato sauce. I had an aunt who used to make those—though she was Polish and called them galumpkis.

7)  And finally, what are you working on now? Same MC? If so, early, or later? Maybe give us just a little teaser!

I’m working on a new book now, and all I can tell you is that it’s a stand-alone novel with a new main character. It’s liberating to step away from David Loogan temporarily—and also a bit scary. But I fully expect to come back to him in the future, and to catch up with Elizabeth Waishkey and her daughter Sarah as well.

Thank you so much, Harry! You've been fantastic! And for anyone even a little local to Ann Arbor, Harry is doing a reading/signing at Nicola's on West Stadium Thursday night! If you have a chance to be there, you won't be sorry! (and you'll see ME, besides!)