Category Archives: Work In Progress

Airplanes, Thrillerfest, Doing what it takes, RWA, and all things Hannibal

Neither Bob or I were planning on attending Thrillerfest this year. My spring and summer are filled with lots of change. My daughter joined the Peace Corps and is now living in Madagascar. My youngest son just graduated from high school and we’re getting ready to send him off to his first semester of college all the while the middle boy moved back home for the summer. He’s got one more year in college and now plans on going to graduate school. So it’s been hectic. Bob just became a grandpa for the second time, so they have been super busy as well. We can’t be everywhere at once.

2015-website_banner_final-RegOnlineThat said, as it got closer to Thrillerfest, it became apparent that one of us should go since our reps at Amazon and iBooks were looking to meet up with us as well as some of the board members of ITW. So, we decided I would go in for the day. Fly in first thing. Fly home last thing. Oy. That was a long day. Anyone who knows me understands that flying is not something I enjoy. Not even close. When Bob teaches his Write It Forward workshop, he always asks the group: what is the one thing you don’t want to do? He asks this question both in the context of writing and with your career. My answer: Fly. Then Bob says: that’s the one thing you have to do in order to succeed. So, I got on that plane.

Networking is so important. And not just with people from the platforms that sell our books, but other authors. You never know how the person standing behind you in line to register for the conference might turn out not only to be a good friend, but someone who might play a huge role in your career later on down the line. Who knew that Bob would end up chatting with me at a conference after his lecture about digital publishing, and then a year later, we’d be business partners.

But its not just networking at the conference. It’s also important to keep in contact via social media with some people that you have connected with. It doesn’t have to be every single person you met, but you know that feeling you get when you meet someone and you have an instant connection. And not necessarily the “big” name authors. You go to enough conferences, you start to see the same people over and over again. Publishing, for big business, is relatively small.

Jon Land, an ITW board member who just happens to be a good friend, reached out to Bob and I a few weeks ago, one of the reasons I got on that plane. I meet Jon years ago. He was kind enough to take me to breakfast and work with me on my pitch. I still frighten that poor man with my creepy story ideas. Anyway, he’s putting together a new track called CareerFest next year and would like Bob and I to come and give a workshop based on Bob’s book Write It Forward. We’re very excited about this because Bob and I are huge fans of author training. Craft is key and should always be the number one thing a writer focuses on. But as authors in today’s publishing climate, trad or indie, we are all running a business and often it is that part of being a successful author that is overwhelming and often hinders a writer from being successful. In order to succeed, we have to understand the business we are in, our choices, and then make the best decision for our career. Bob always talks about how no one ever taught him what it means to be a working author. Maybe back before the internet, an author could just write. But that isn’t the case. We have to market. We have to engage with our readers on a different level. The business is constantly changing and for the new author, or the midlist author, it can be very difficult to manage it all.

For those of you going to RWA this coming week, here are mine and Bob’s top ten checklist for attending a Conference take from: Writer’s Conference Guide: Getting the Most of Your Time and Money.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. Ones you know will treat your feet right.
  2. Dress like a professional. You don’t have to wear a suit, but the normal writerly attire of sweats, T-shirt and bed hair is not acceptable.
  3. Don’t sit by yourself, ever.
  4. Say hello to whoever is next to you in line, at lunch or in a workshop.
  5. The best ice breaker ever: Ask authors what they are writing. Or what they are pitching to an editor or agent. Works every time.
  6. Never bring query letter, synopsis or manuscript unless it’s to red pen it while you’re in your room…except you won’t be in your room because you will be networking.
  7. Remember everyone there is a person before they are a best-selling author, an agent or editor.
  8. Take notes. Not just in a workshop, but when you are in your room after the day is done. Make a list of things you wished you had done, wished you hadn’t done, and write a summary of your overall experience. Makes for a good blog post if nothing else.
  9. Don’t ever tell an author you read their book when you didn’t.
  10. Most importantly, have fun.

TamingEvil(2)So that takes care of everything but all things Hannibal. One of the great things about writer conferences is we can talk about our books without anyone thinking we’re nuts! Okay, well not entirely true as I was talking with Allison Brennan about my current problem with the book I’m working on titled: Taming Evil. I’m moving from the romance genre to straight suspense and I was telling Allison how hard that has been and how my pacing in my story is all off and I’m frustrated. So she started asking me questions, specifically, what is the story? My one liner right now is: Total Recall meets Hannibal in the female edition living like a Stepford Wife. I explain it a little bit more and tell her about one scene where the character who doesn’t know she’s a cannibal is serving up this fabulous meal at the neighborhood barbeque and well, she’s serving up the missing neighbor. Yeah. This is why Jon is a tad freighted of me and Allison loves me anyway.

Nothing but good times!

Nada’s Nightstalker Protocal–Send Lawyers, Guns & Money

Current contest: Tell us your favorite Alien from any book or movie and be entered in a drawing to win a free Audio book from the Area 51 Series.

Excerpt from Area 51 Nightstalkers, released 11 December 2012

Nada sat back behind his desk and pulled out his own team Protocol. “Moms’s Protocol is page one. Mine is page two.” He hummed something as he scanned the list. “Let me give you some of the more important ones.” His finger slid down the page. “Nothing is impossible to the man who doesn’t have to do it.” He looked up. “Ms. Jones usually keeps the politicians and the press and the various government agencies off our backs during a mission. But every once in a while someone sticks their beak in. Gotta ignore ’em or they’ll get you killed.” He looked back down.

Smith and Wesson beats four aces.”

Kirk smiled, having heard Uncle Ray say the same thing.

Nada wasn’t smiling. “We go in packing heat and we’ve got heavy stuff on call. We can bring hell down if we need to. Don’t hesitate. Err on the side of containment rather than collateral damage. You ever see those movies where that couple manages to escape those nasty government agents trying to contain a government screw-up because they’re so fucking special?”

Kirk nodded.

“They ain’t special. If we’re containing something, there’s a reason. We kill those people if we have to. No one gets out alive. Got it?”

Kirk nodded.

“We’ve never had to nuke anything to contain it,” Moms added.

“Yet,” Nada said.

“It’s a miracle we’ve made it this far without another nuke having to be used, one way or the other,” Moms said. “But we can call in a nuke strike if the problem warrants it and Ms. Jones concurs with her superiors.” She nodded at Nada. “Please continue.”

The latest information hasn’t been put out yet. What I mean by that is we rarely get a chance to plan a mission like most Spec Ops do. ST-6 ran rehearsals for the Bin Laden hit for months before going in. Neato and nifty keen if you can. But when we get Zevoned, it’s wheels up in thirty minutes and then it’s Moms on the sat link with Ms. Jones and we develop the plan en route. We almost always HAHO or HALO”—he paused, glanced at the badge on Kirk’s fatigue shirt, and nodded—“a recon man in first. Because even with the best intel, we usually have no clue what we’re dealing with until we get eyes on the target and then boots on the ground. So you’ve got to be prepared to adapt quickly or die.”

He read on. “There are two types of scientists: the steely-eyed killer and the beady-eyed minion and it’s hard to tell them apart. The latter can get you killed. I don’t think I’m paranoid”—it was Moms’s turn to snort—“but keep as close an eye on any Acme Asset as you do the problem. Sometimes they can dick it up even worse than it is.

“We love Doc as one of us,” Nada said, “but even his brain starts thinking of the wonders of science sometimes before he faces the reality of the danger. He got snake-bit in the shoulder on our last op and didn’t even notice until we told him.” Nada raised an eyebrow. “The snake had a Firefly in it.”

Nada slid his finger down the page, reluctantly skipping some of the ones he’d accrued over the years for sake of expediency and focus. “They give these people guns? Besides the scientists, sometimes you got locals on scene. Their guns don’t know the good guy from the bad guy. We parachute in and then come in on the Snake—you’ll meet the Snake later, it’s pretty cool—we scare the shit out of people. We’ve been shot at by supposed friendlies. So no one is friendly except another member of the team until we have containment.”

Nada snapped the Protocol shut with a snap and put it back in his pocket. He looked Kirk in the eyes. “This last one is key. No matter what Doc or an Acme says, my bottom line is this: Just tell me how to kill it.” Nada smiled and stood, along with Moms. “Well, I think that’s a pretty good introduction, don’t you?”

Kirk staggered to his feet, burdened with binders. “Uh, yeah. I’ll get to work—”

He was cut off as the phone on Moms’s desk starting playing a tune:“Lawyers, Guns and Money.”

“That’s a Zevon,” Nada said as he ran toward the door, his phone also now playing the tune and the PRT chiming in a second later.

Despite the very slight time delay, they were all in sync.

Warren Zevon:  Send Lawyers, Guns & Money

Area 51 Nightstalkers: Containment, Concealment, Control

Enjoy an excerpt from Area 51 Nightstalkers released 11 December 2012.

Moms sat back in her seat and gestured for Nada to begin.

The team sergeant got up and picked up the top binder. “Nuclear Protocol, including facilities, materials, weapons, etcetera.” He tossed it to Kirk, who caught it. Nada picked up the second binder. “Biological Protocol. There are some nasty bugs out there, and hard as it is to believe, there are people in labs trying to make nastier ones. It’s not like Mother Nature can’t be quite the motherfucker by herself.” He tossed the second binder. Third binder: “Chemical. Really, you do need to read all this stuff, cause Doc or an Acme might not be by your side. Pretend you’re in graduate school for things that can kill. Learn which ones kill quickest and fastest.” He paused. “You know your three Bs right?”

“Breathing, bleeding, broken,” Kirk said, listing the priorities for triage.

Nada nodded. “For us it’s the three Cs. Containment is the first priority. Nothing else matters if whatever shit we’re trying to deal with spreads. Then concealment.” He noted Kirk’s surprised look. “Panic can kill as much as the actual problem. Word of some of the things we’ve had to squash gets out, people will go bonkers. The people out there in the world got twenty-four-hour news channels. They’re hungry for bad shit, like the way weathermen pray for hurricanes to hit so they can stand on that pier with the wind howling around them. The news would eat up the stuff we deal with and the public would panic. War of the Worlds–type shit. The third C is control. That one is regulated by Ms. Jones’s directive whether it’s dry, damp, or wet. Got it?”

“Containment, concealment, control.”


Nada picked up a stack of three more binders. “This is just a bunch of stuff. And some of it is pretty weird. They list every single mission the Nightstalkers have been on since it was founded in 1948. Makes for great late-night reading.”

Moms cut in for the first time. “Don’t concern yourself so much with the problems, because some of them won’t happen again, but look at the way the team dealt with it and consider possibilities.”

Nada dumped the three binders on top of the ones already in Kirk’s lap.

He grabbed the thickest one off the desk. “This is the one I call the Dumb Shit Scientist Protocol, but don’t ever let Doc hear that. This lists all the incredibly dumb things scientists have done that damn near wiped out the human race.” Nada’s eyes shifted to the wall between the CP and Ms. Jones’s office, as if she could hear through two feet of steel-reinforced concrete. “Pretty high up on that list is what happened at Chernobyl.”

Last, Nada tossed a pocket-sized team Protocol. “That’s your first priority reading. You’ve got forty-eight hours, then anyone can ask you anything in it and you’d better know it and your place in whatever it is.

Here is an overview of the entire Area 51 Series.

Tell us who your favorite Alien is (from any movie or book) and be entered in a  drawing for a free audio book from the Area 51 Series.



Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Welcome to the Next Big Think Blog hop. I saw a post on an indie loop from Zoe Dawson ( about this blog hop and I thought the concept was intriguing, so I contacted Zoe and asked if I could be part of it. At the end of the post are links to all the other participants in this portion of the blog hop. We were all given a set of questions to answer, so it will be fun to see how other authors answer them. So here goes:


1) What is the working title of your current/next book?

The working title of my current WIP is Deadly Secrets. It’s the 3rd book in the NY State Trooper Series.

2) Where did you get the idea for that book?

Available Now!

Available Now!

I got the idea for the book while writing Book 2 in the series, Dark Water. I have this character Reece McGinn. He’s a State Trooper and I keep thinking when I was writing him in Dark Water that he wasn’t who seemed to be. That he had a secret. A secret that could potentially put everyone he has ever cared about in danger. I didn’t know what this secret was until I wrote the end of Dark Water an realized I had already planted seeds for the third book. And now, 25k words into it, I have found the idea for the 4th and final book in the series, Wanted for Murder.

3) What’s the genre of the book?

The book is a Romantic Suspense Novel, but heavy on the suspense. I have a fascination for the darker side of human nature and tend to push my characters to extremes. I like to find out what they are made of!

4) If you could pick actors to play the lead characters in your story, who would you pick?

This is always tough because often times I have a look from one person, but a personality from another character. Also, my ideas of my characters are not always what the reader pictures. I did use Val Kilmer’s character in Thunderheat as a placeholder in away for Reece.

Here is a storyboard, dealing mostly with setting, on the first book in the series, In Two Weeks.

5) How would you describe your book in one sentence (10 words or less)?

What if the past you thought had been erased has been rewritten and now threatens to erase you, permanently?

5) a)  How will your book be published, submitted through the traditional route to a traditional publisher or will you be handling it yourself through Indie Publishing methods?

This book will be released through my partnership with NY Times Bestselling author Bob Mayer and Cool Gus Publishing.

B.  If you’re an Indie Author, will you be publishing through your own Indie Publishing Company or in a collective with other Indie Authors?

Bob and I created Cool Gus Publishing in 2010 and we currently have over 100 books and 14 authors.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of this book?

Still writing it. It generally takes me 2 months to write a draft if I’m writing full time and 4 months to edit and rewrite. I really prefer the rewriting process to draft writing.

8) What other books within your genre are similar to yours?

This is one of those questions that has always been difficult for me to answer. One of my all time favorite books is Hello, Darkness by Sandra Brown. Its one of those books that I go back to time and time again for inspiration.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I do what the voices inside my head tell me to.

Bob Mayer, my business partner, is a great source of inspiration and I often go to his teachings when I’m stuck.

10) What about your book will pique the reader’s interest?

I tend to put my hero’s in situations where they often have to do things that are out of their character. Things that might be considered bad, but I have to make them redeemable. This book is about a character who has a past in which he had to make a difficult decision, one that not everyone would understand and how it affects his present position as a New York State Trooper and his relationship with a women who believes that things are simply black and white…or are they?

Available now!

Available now!

What I want to know is what about any book pique’s the reader’s interest? What are you looking for in a book and what makes you decide to pick it up? Anyone who comments on the blog over the next couple of weeks will be put into a drawing for an autographed copy of In Two Weeks. You have to be in the US/Canada for the physical copy, but I’ll also giveaway an eBook edition to those outside the US/Canada.

Here are the other participants of this blog hop:

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