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5Ws with Austin Williams

Don’t miss my review and giveaway of Austin Williams latest, Misdirection,here. And today get to know a bit more about Williams and being a writer.

There’s also another chance to win a copy of Misdirection — print or e-book — your choice.

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Who would you have dinner with if you could pick five mystery/thriller writers (and of course feel free to bring someone back from the dead)?

In no particular order: Arthur Conan Doyle, Elmore Leonard, Agatha Christie, James Ellroy, and John le Carré. I think that group would make for some pretty lively conversation, though Ellroy might feel restrained from using too much profanity in the presence of Dame Agatha. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing thrillers?

I’d most likely be involved with writing and/or editing of some sort. I’ve done quite a bit of freelance work in the SEO field, creating online content for clients in the travel and tourism industries. It’s an enjoyable way to earn a paycheck but obviously not as challenging or satisfying as working on a book.

Why did you decide to set your novel in my favorite vacation spot — Ocean City? Are you a native or a vacationer?

I grew up in Baltimore and spent summer vacations with my family on the Delaware Shore, which included trips to Ocean City. I’ve always been impressed by the sheer scale of the place; its famous boardwalk is three miles long and certain sections are lined with condominiums the size of Manhattan skyscrapers. It struck me as an ideal location for a thriller, especially one that takes place in late fall, when all the tourists have packed up and gone home. A weird atmosphere takes hold in a resort town during the off-season. You’ve got street after street of vacation homes standing empty and abandoned for the cold weather months, creating an eerily calm and slightly ominous vibe that lends itself to all kinds of shady activity. Great place for a crime spree, at least in the pages of a fictional book like Misdirection.

Where do you do your writing?

I have a home office that suits the purpose well. Nothing fancy, but it has a few essential features. It’s quiet, my desk faces a window allowing for fresh air and sunlight (though overcast days are the best for writing) and I have easy access to any research materials I might need, either online or in a bookcase close enough to reach from where I sit while typing.

When did you decide you were going to be a writer?

There was no specific moment of decision. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood and enjoyed any kind of creative writing assignments in school. My original career interests lay in filmmaking, and, like pretty much everyone in Los Angeles, the first writing project I managed to complete was a screenplay. A pretty bad one. As it became clear screenwriting wasn’t going to pan out for me, I started writing short stories just for the fun of it. From there, taking a stab at a full novel seemed like the next logical step. I’m just a fan of good storytelling, whether in prose, on film, or any other medium.


The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

by Austin Williams

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours October 17 – November 21, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Published by: Diversion Books

Publication Date: June 24, 2014

Number of Pages: 266

Series: 1st in The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

ISBN: 9781626813557

Purchase Links:


A street magician needs more than sleight-of- hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.


OK, truth be told I wanted to read Misdirection because it takes place in Ocean City and that’s where my family has gone on summer vacation since…well, since we were a family. So a thriller that takes place at my beach getaway was irresistible. What would it take for you to try and get justice for a murder? for Rusty Diamond it seems cookies and eggplant casserole will do it. His landlady is dead and he’s out for justice armed with…well, magic. Magic and a lifetime’s knowledge of Ocean City.

Austin Williams has created a complex character with Rusty. He’s living with two pasts: his Ocean City past and his Las Vegas past. And people are popping up from both pasts. Rusty seems stuck between his past and his future…treading water in Ocean City wondering what to do next. And while he’s wondering he decides to help bring his landlady’s murderer to justice. But is the person who killed her enough? Williams gives us an interesting look at murder, not just at the person who “pulled the trigger” but at the entire culture that made the murder possible, even inevitable.

Read an excerpt:

The bloodstain was shaped like Florida. Rusty didn’t know much about geography, probably couldn’t point out more than a handful of states on a map. But he knew what Florida looked like, even though he’d never been there. And the mass of drying blood stretching across the hardwood floor, coming to a rounded tip a few inches from his leather boots (this tip just slightly darker than the wide stream comprising most of the stain) was a dead ringer for the Sunshine State.

He knew it was a strange thing to consider, given the circumstances. Hardly an appropriate mental response to such an intensely disturbing situation. He wasn’t in shock, exactly, but he had no idea what to do with himself. There was nothing he could do until the police arrived. Which should be any minute now. In fact, he was starting to wonder what the hell was taking so long.

Rusty wasn’t sure of how much confidence to place in the Ocean City Police Department. When it came to traffic stops and busts for disorderly conduct, open containers, public nudity and the like, the OCPD was surely qualified.

But murder? That had to fall well outside the parameters of what the local law was accustomed to handling on a regular basis. Or so Rusty mused, mainly to occupy his mind and not keep checking his wristwatch every ten seconds.





Rusty stared at the bloodstain’s surface congealing in the reflection of an overhead lamp. About two feet in width at the center, it grew wider near its source. That source was the throat of a frail silver-haired woman who lay crumpled on the floor. The upper half of her body reached into the living room while her legs protruded onto the dull yellow linoleum of the kitchen. One orthopedic shoe lay on its side next to the stove, the other still on her left foot.

Two more minutes and I’m calling 911 again, he told himself.

This house in which he was currently the sole occupant—not counting its recently deceased owner—wasn’t technically located in OC proper but in a remote enclave called Ocean Pines, separated from the main town by eight miles of salty bay water. A quiet upscale community, Rusty had a fairly complete knowledge of its character, having spent the first eighteen years of his life here and moving back ten months ago.

Next Thursday would be his thirty-sixth birthday. He had little awareness of that fact, and less interest in it.

For all Rusty knew, this was the first murder to darken the Pines’ suburban pastoral facade since the town was incorporated in 1958. And it definitely was murder, of that he had no doubt. No one could conceivably take their own life in such a manner, and certainly not a frail seventy-eight-year-old spinster.

The opening in Ms. Garrett’s throat was not long, maybe three inches at most. It looked like more of a gouge than a slash. There was no knife or sharp implement anywhere in the room, and Rusty didn’t dare step over the body to take a look in the kitchen.

The skin around the gash didn’t appear to have been torn with a blade, but hacked away by a cruder implement.

Fingernails? Teeth?

Rusty shuddered as he pondered the options, and forced himself to stop thinking about it.

The hum of a car’s engine and pebbles crunching underneath a set of tires claimed his attention. He walked to the front door, pulling aside a sash by the adjacent window to look outside into the hazy afternoon light.


An Ocean City Police Department patrol unit sat in the driveway, engine idling. Rusty saw the door swing open, and a powerfully built officer stepped out. He grimaced. The cop didn’t appear to be much older than a high schooler. Probably fresh out of the Academy with plenty to prove behind the badge.

Why didn’t they send a detective, Rusty wondered, unlatching the door and opening it slowly so as not to make a surprise appearance on the front porch. Well, it was possible the OCPD’s homicide unit didn’t keep more than one ranking detective on any given shift. They probably didn’t need more than that.

The young patrol cop was taking purposeful strides toward the house, fleshy face set tight as he spoke into a shoulder mic, confirming with a dispatcher his arrival at the location. His eyes widened just slightly before narrowing as he made a quick appraisal of Rusty Diamond.

“You’re the one who made the call?”

Rusty nodded.

“She’s in there,” he said, stepping aside to let the patrol officer enter the house.

The cop had not taken two full steps into the living room when he stopped abruptly, one hand falling onto the service revolver holstered on his right hip.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Yeah,” Rusty said. “That was pretty much my reaction.”

For a moment they stood there, two tall male shapes looming over a plump female form in a spattered floral dress.

“Found her just like this?”

“That’s right. I didn’t touch anything.”

“How long?”

“Can’t be much more than fifteen minutes. I called right away.”

“You know her?”

“Her name’s Thelma Garrett. She’s my landlord.”

The sound of that didn’t sit right with Rusty; it was too removed and devoid of any kind of feeling. He almost added something like, ‘She was kind to me’, but figured that was bound to come out wrong.

The cop finally looked up from the old woman’s body, seeming to peel his eyes away by an act of will.

“You live here?”

“No. She owns … owned a second house not far from here, on Echo Run. I’ve been renting it.”

Those words brought on a sudden rush of memory. Rusty could see with total clarity in his mind’s eye the day he first met Ms. Garrett. Just over ten months ago, on a frigid January morning. The meeting didn’t happen here but at the rental house he’d occupied ever since.

At the time Rusty was so disoriented at finding himself back in Ocean Pines after such a prolonged absence that he had some difficulty maintaining a conversation with the chatty spinster. He agreed to her proposed rental fee, which seemed low for a three-bedroom furnished property overlooking Isle of Wight Bay. Location alone must have made the house a highly desirable piece of real estate, and he couldn’t figure why she was willing to rent it out for such a reasonable sum.

Speaking in the kindly, crinkly voice he’d come to associate with her in all moods, Ms. Garrett replied she had no use for the property or a large boost in income. Once shared with her husband and the scene of many festive gatherings, it was too big for her current needs. And too lonely. Living as a childless widow in a modest two-bedroom tract house on nearby Heron Lane was much more comfortable.

Thelma (she’d insisted Rusty use her first name) didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to sell the larger house in a lackluster market, and was glad to simply know it would be occupied after many dormant years. It depressed her to think of the house where she and her family had shared so many good occasions sitting dark and forlorn all this time. Rusty signed the lease, feeling halfway guilty for paying so little.

“How’d you happen to find her?” the patrol officer said, yanking Rusty back from his reverie.

A slight whiff of something Rusty didn’t like crept into the cop’s voice. A taunt, almost, most likely the by-product of youth and rattled nerves. He scanned the badge pinned to the kid’s chest.

“Tell you what, Officer Neely. Why don’t we go through the whole thing when a detective gets here. Someone’s on the way, right?”

“I’m the one you need to talk to now.”

“Officer, trust me. I’m going to give my full cooperation. Whoever did this needs to …”

He stopped. The cop was looking at him with a new kind of scrutiny. Now that the initial shock of seeing the dead woman was fading, he seemed to take a full view of Rusty for the first time. The expression on his face didn’t make much of an effort to hide a sense of disgust.

Rusty suddenly wished he’d kept his leather jacket on, but the living room had become stifling as he stood here waiting for the cavalry to arrive. The jacket lay draped on a sofa and he was wearing a black tank top, leaving his shoulders and arms open to easy view. Perusal would be more accurate, given the snaking tracks of words and symbols tattooed across much of his upper torso, coiling around the back of his neck and splitting into two vines that reached down both arms almost to the wrists.

“Latin, for the most part,” he said with a self-deprecating shrug. “Just for looks, really. I don’t know what half of it means myself.”

Officer Neely’s posture tensed visibly. His fingers once again found a place to rest on his gun.

“Turn around slowly, and show me your hands.”

Rusty tried to pretend he’d misheard.

“Sorry, what?”

“Come on, do it.”

“You’re going to cuff me? I’m the one who called this in, remember?”

“Just turn around. We’ll keep you nice and snug till backup gets here.”

“Look, I’m as freaked out as you are. But I didn’t do anything to this poor woman.”

“You’re resisting? I said let’s see those hands.”

He unsnapped the button on top of his holster. It seemed like a good moment to do something.

“For the last time, turn around!”

Rusty knew he could disarm this uniformed frat boy in just about 2.7 seconds. The task wouldn’t present much of a challenge. He could easily divert Neely’s eyeline with a lateral, non-aggressive movement of his left arm.
Momentarily distracted, the cop would never see the fingers of Rusty’s right hand extracting a one-inch smoke pellet from a customized hidden pocket in his jeans. Pinched at the proper angle, the pellet would explode in a blinding flash followed by a plume of gray smoke. Utterly harmless but highly effective for misdirection.

The span of time Officer Neely would need to recover from his surprise would offer Rusty ample opportunity to relieve him of the gun. Using his fingertips, he’d grab the wrist and isolate pressure points causing Neely’s hand to open involuntarily. From there, Rusty would simply reposition his body at a 45-degree angle and use his left hand to retrieve a sterling set of monogrammed handcuffs tucked in a different hidden pocket. One more second would be sufficient to cuff the young patrolman to a column of the bannister directly behind him.

They were only trick cuffs, but Officer Neely didn’t know that. And unless he could perform with great precision, the sequence of twisting wrist movements needed to unlatch them, the knowledge wouldn’t do him any good.
So, yes, the maneuver would surely come off. Just as successfully as it had in a thousand performances, even if those all occurred some time ago and Rusty’s reflexes were no longer quite what they used to be.

But what would any of that accomplish other than to greatly amplify a sense of suspicion for his role in a brutal murder he had absolutely nothing to do with? Plus bring on a raft of other charges for failing to comply with orders, impeding police business, assault, et cetera. Obviously it was a bad play all around, however tempting.

So Rusty slowly turned 180 degrees and lowered his hands. Audibly relieved, Officer Neely stepped forward and bound them with a pair of un-monogrammed OCPD handcuffs. They closed around his wrists more tightly then necessary, pinching hard on the skin.

Hearing the cuffs snap shut, Rusty glanced up and was startled by his reflection in a mirror above the sofa. He’d deliberately removed all mirrors from his own residence the day he moved in, and hadn’t gotten a good look at his face in many months.

Given his appearance today, he could hardly fault this overeager junior lawman for wanting to lock him in restraints. For a guy who’d once placed such a premium on maintaining a well-cultivated exterior, it was shocking to see just how unkempt he was. Had he really let himself go that much in the past year? Evidently, if the mirror was to be believed.

His long black hair, once treated daily by a personal stylist, was now a ratty mane. The two-pointed devil’s goatee, formerly a key visual hallmark of his stagecraft, looked no more than an uneven graying scrub. And all that ink: pentagrams, death’s head skulls and weird incantations etched up and down his sinewy arms.

Hell, anyone with a working pair of eyes would find Rusty Diamond a more than credible murder suspect.


Author Bio:

The new thriller by Austin Williams, Misdirection, is now available from Diversion Books. It is the first novel of The Rusty Diamond Trilogy.

Williams is the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.

He lives in Los Angeles.

Learn More:

Stop by tomorrow for an interview with Austin Williams.

Tour Participants:

Win Your Own Copy of Misdirection by Austin Williams:

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I Once Was a Princess by Stacy Verdick Case

Stacy Verdick Case PhotoWhat made you want to be a writer? It’s a common question for me and I never know what to say. Then the other day I watched my daughter playing dress up, which is something she does on a regular basis. I admit that sometimes I join her. As I watched her parade around in all her princess grandeur I realized that I’m still playing make believe, except now I do it on paper instead of in front of a full length mirror.

When I sit down to write I can be anyone I want to be including a princess. During the course of writing An Intimate Murder I became every character I put on the page, all of them from a Police Detective to a murderer, slipping on each persona as easily as putting on a tutu and crown to be a princess.

I have laughed as my characters and cried as them too. I’ve even held the knife of my killer and felt justified when I used it to take another character’s life.

Sometimes writing can be a very uncomfortable form of make believe. It’s a scary place to be when you can justifyprincess killing someone even if they are fictional, but that’s what writers do. We tap into parts of ourselves that everyone has buried inside, but thanks to impulse control we don’t act on. Everyone can be a killer if properly motivated. Likewise, we can all be heroes if properly motivated.

It’s so much easier to be a princess or in my case a goddess (hey, all princesses have to graduate at some point). The days that I have to dig down inside me to the dark side of my personality exhaust me and make me tense.
Then there are the days when I’m able to experience joy as my character. Or the days I get to relive something from my past like my first kiss, the day I met my husband, or the birth of my daughter. Ah, those days are worth the discomfort that comes along with writing.

I guess training for being an author starts with playing make believe. Author’s just never grow up. We are really committed to our lands of make believe. Or perhaps we just need to be committed. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. It all depends on your perspective. Either way, I was once a princess and I might be again if motivated enough.

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Review: An Intimate Murder

Are you ready for a double dose of Catherine O’Brien? Today I review An Intimate Murder, the third book in the Catherine O’Brien mystery series and tomorrow I have a guest post from author Stacy Verdick Case and a chance to win a copy of An Intimate Murder. And if that isn’t enough you can also stop by Goodreads to win a copy today — but today’s the last day!

An Intimate Murderaim cover Web Large

Author: Stacy Verdick Case

Paperback: 284 pages (also available in e-formats)

Publisher: Before the Fall Books (October 7, 2014)


When Jonathan and Susan Luther are murdered in their home, St. Paul homicide detective Catherine O’Brien and her partner Louise discover this isn’t the first time the Luther family has been visited by tragedy. Is it a case of bad family luck or is there something more?


Catherine is not a super hero, all-knowing crime solver. She can’t hold her tongue (with suspects, the press or fellow cops), she forgets to call her mother (and her husband), she’s grumpy, she wants to always be right (and is even grumpier when she isn’t), she’s addicted to coffee and in her own words, “short, pale, and too round in certain places to be considered slim. I’m more bumpy than curvy, and more dorky than graceful.” In other words, Catherine is me — with a gun and coffee instead of chocolate. Maybe that’s why I enjoy reading Catherine O’Brien mysteries.

This is definitely a crazy family. It starts out with a husband and wife getting murdered for seemingly no reason. And every time Catherine and her partner Louise (cheers for two female detectives as partners) turn around another crazy family member is turning up. Got to love those crazy families. Are they just garden variety crazy family or the type that resort to shot guns and ice picks?

This book is low on action and high on investigation. But that makes the few scenes of violence even more impressive. There are a few clues that I felt we readers didn’t get a fair chance at considering but for the most part you got to follow Catherine and Louise (along with a cast of humorous assistants) through their investigation and learn what they learned, as they learned it.

Need to play catch up with Catherine O’Brien? You can learn about her debut in my post about A Grand Murder and an interview with author Stacy Verdick Case here.

Review: Never Too Late

Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Revinvention (without getting lost along the way)

Author: Claire Cook

Paperback: 124 pages (also available in e-books)nevertoolate

Publisher: Marshbury Beach Books (July 16, 2014)


Wondering how to get to that life you really thought you’d be living by now?

Claire Cook speaks to real women—our fears and obstacles and hopes and desires—and gives us cutting edge tools to get where we want to go.

Bursting with inspiration, insider stories, and practical strategies. Filled with humor, heart, encouragement, and great quotes.

Claire Cook shares everything she’s learned on her own journey— from writing her first book in her minivan at 45, to walking the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of Must Love Dogs at 50, to becoming the international bestselling author of eleven novels and a sought after reinvention speaker.

You’ll hop on a plane with Claire as you figure out the road to your own reinvention. You’ll laugh a lot and maybe even shed a few tears as Claire tells her stories and those of other reinventors, and shares her best tips for getting a plan, staying on track, pulling together a support system, building your platform in the age of social networking, dealing with the inevitable ups and downs, overcoming perfectionism, and tuning in to your authentic self to propel you toward your goals.

Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) is real, grounded, and just the book you need to start reinventing your life.


It’s easy to feel we are too old, too busy, too ignorant, too…something to become that person you always wanted to be. Claire Cook swipes away all those excuses in Never Too Late not because she is some super inspirational speaker, some psychology expert or some super success (although she is, in my eyes a super success). the reason she makes you believe maybe you can accomplish your goals and become that person you always wanted to be is because she was once in your shoes. She was once the person wondering, Can I really do it? Reading Never Too Late is like talking to an old friend.

You can also download a free Never Too Late workbook as a companion to the Never Too Late book here. It’s a short little booklet but it is a great help pulling what you want to remember from her book and gathering it all in one place.

Review and Giveaway: The Corpse Who Walked in the Door


The Corpse Who Walked in the Door

by Jackie King

on Tour September 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Published by: Deadly Niche Press

Publication Date: June 2014

Number of Pages: 206

ISBN: 978-162016-112-8

Purchase Links:


Former society wife Grace Cassidy is learning to live on the minimum wage she earns as a bed & breakfast inn-sitter. Grace finds her cat’s bloody paw prints leading away from a bathtub and wants to run for her life. But she can’t. Her 19-year-old son is accused of pushing his pregnant girlfriend down a flight of concrete steps and she won’t abandon him.


In the beginning I thought Grace was just too…accommodating…for her own good. She needed to pipe up and start standing up to the difficult people in her life. Thankfully, as the book went on Grace became spunkier. Happily, she surrounds herself with some interesting people, particularly the folks who have “fallen on hard times” and live in the lower quarters of the B&B where she works.

This was a fun, light-hearted romp of a mystery made memorable more by the people who live in Grace’s life than by the people who die in it. It’s very easy to picture yourself as Grace, juggling all the everyday minutiae: bosses, families, employees, catty women, secrets and just for good measure, throw in a dead body!

Read an excerpt:

Blood colored paw prints trailed from the white tile bathroom onto the faux Oriental rug in the bedroom where Grace stood. The cat-feet marks immobilized Grace. She closed her eyes and prayed that she had been claimed by stress-induced insanity, that there were no dark-red blots before her eyes, but a hallucination. A nice long rest in a mental hospital didn’t sound too bad. Anything except another dead body in this inn where she worked.

Author Bio:

Jackie King loves books, writing tall tales, and murdering the people she dislikes on paper. Her latest mystery The Corpse Who Walked in the Door is available in ebook format. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa NightWriters.To learn more about Jackie, check out my 5Ws interview yesterday here>.

Catch Up With Jackie:

Tour Participants:


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Free Book: Love Gone to the Dogs

It’s the dog days of summer. So what’s an author with a book featuring neighbors and their battle over their dogs supposed to do? Give away e-copies for the month of August, of course! Don’t miss out on your last few days to download Love Gone to the Dogs. So you’ll have something fun to read on Labor Day after you finish your grilled chicken, corn on the cob and watermelon. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? This book is too.

Love Gone to the Dogs (Second Chances Book 1)

Author: Margaret Daleymargaretdaley

E-Book: 166 pages

Publisher: Amazon Digital (July 4, 2012)


Single mom, Leah Taylor, has her hands full with a grandfather, an inventor, who lives a bit risky when it comes to his job and two sons, one a rambunctious genius. But it is her free spirited beagle who gets her into trouble with her new neighbor, Dr. Shane O’Grady, when her dog makes a move on his champion bichon that he wants to breed.

Leah and Shane clash over their dogs that clearly like each other. Leah is determined to ignore her neighbor, but when her youngest son who tries to defy gravity and fly ends up hurt, it is her neighbor, the doctor, who takes care of her son. Can Leah and Shane find love or has love gone to the dogs?

Read an excerpt here.


If you’re looking for a light-hearted romance you can enjoy on a hot summer afternoon, Love Gone to the Dogs is it. It’s a classic romance novel boy meets girl, obstacle, obstacle, obstacle and finally, success. The humorous family in this book will make you smile. Actually, it’s the story of three unlikely romances: Leah and Shane, Albert and Princess (their dogs) and a third one I don’t want to spoil for you.

Giveaway and 5Ws with Elizabeth Maria Narnjo

The Fourth Wall

Author: Elizabeth Maria Naranjonaranjobook

Paperback: 235 pages (also available in e-formats)

Publisher: WiDo Publishing (June 10, 2014)


When Marin was little and monsters chased her through nightmares, she learned to weave her own dreams. Her mother called the lucid dreaming a gift, and when an accident takes her mother and leaves her baby brother an empty shell, Marin uses this gift to spin a new reality for herself. One without time or sorrow. A world without memory.
But just when Marin thinks she is safe in her make-believe fantasy world, the monsters come back and her dream turns to a nightmare. Something in the dream doesn’t want Marin to wake up.

In order to heal herself and her family, Marin must face the truth she’s forgotten and conquer what lies behind the fourth wall.

5Ws with Elizabeth Maria Naranjo :

Who came up with your marvelous book cover? The girl on the cover looks so familiar…is it you? And if not did you purposely choose someone who looked like you?

by Evie Carpenter

by Evie Carpenter

It sure is a beautiful cover, and I’d love to take credit for the photo, but the girl is not me. WiDo Publishing’s talented cover designer, Steven Novak, chose the picture. I was asked for input on the cover, with the understanding that the graphic artist could choose to use my ideas or not. I wanted a simple design and in mostly black, with perhaps an image of shattering glass. I was so pleased when I saw what Steven came up with.

What do you dream about?

Most of the dreams that I remember are related to fear. I wonder if that isn’t the case for most people. It could be that since those dreams are more disturbing, they tend to wake me up and that’s why I remember them. I’m sure I have all sorts of nice dreams, but why would I want to wake up from those, right? And the ones you sleep through are harder to recall. That’s why people who keep dream journals start by setting their alarm an hour or so early to interrupt their dreams. Then they write them down. Which is actually the first step toward becoming a lucid dreamer—people who can recognize when they’re in a dream.

Where did you get the idea for a book that hides the truth behind dreams?

Marin came to me first; I could picture her and I knew that she was dealing with something terrible. I thought, imagine if a girl that age and in that situation had the ability to lucid dream. She could use her dream to compartmentalize, leaving the conflict in one part of her mind and taking refuge in another. And what would be the cost of splitting yourself that way?

Why did you decide to abandon poetry and focus on fiction?

Poetry seemed so tightly structured that it was intimidating; there are lots of ways not to do it, and I felt inadequate trying. And I love the flow of prose. The enjambed lines in poetry are difficult for me—I hate trying to break up sentences that way. It’s gorgeous when done right, and I admire poets very much; it’s just not my form. What I do love about poetry is stripping an idea down to its essence, and I try to do that with flash fiction.

When will we be reading another one of your novels? Can you give us a sneak peek?

Sure! I’m working on a novel about a 12-year-old boy who runs away with his best friend on a search for the friend’s father. The father is a volcanologist who goes missing in the field. There’s also a light paranormal element to that one. I hope you’ll be reading it in 2016; I’m not a very fast writer and I’m a little obsessive/compulsive about editing, so it could take some time.

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Go Cubbies! Go Margo!

All-Star Game and Break CONTEST and BOOK SALE
Busch Stadium by Phil
It’s the middle of July. Baseball fans everywhere know that means it’s time for the All-Star Game and short break from regularly scheduled baseball games across the United States. For non-loving baseball peeps, you can just keep on enjoying your summer as you have been: curled up with your favorite book, sipping cold lemonade, and relaxing by the pool. However you want to celebrate this week, please also join in the fun with young adult author Margo L. Dill as she holds a contest and book sale! 
Why during All-Star Game Week?
Great question! Margo’s young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses (Rocking Horse Publishing, March 2014), is the story of 17-year-old Julie Nigelson, who is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular
curse, either—it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy
Goat” on the Chicago Cubs, hence the All-Star baseball week celebration.

Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma
and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring
her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive
to her all the time.
Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life—and time is running out! 

What have people been saying about Margo’s book?
Here are a few lines from a couple reviews on
“This book is one of the best I have read in a long time. Once I opened it up I could not stop until I was finished.”  ~Janet Cannon
 “A baseball mystery and a contemporary, heartfelt romance, CAUGHT BETWEEN
TWO CURSES is sure to score big with the young teen audience!” ~Cathy C. Hall

“I definitely recommend this to young adults, but
really any adult because it’s a story that keeps you interested and
will stay with you long after you finish.” ~Amie Merz
Okay, so what is the contest and the sale???
photo by DonkeyHotey
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for.  First the sale: 
The Kindle ebook is…99 cents July 14/15, $1.99 July 16/17, $2.99 July 18/19, and back to $3.99 July 20.
The print copy is for sale ON MARGO’S WEBSITE ( and is $5.00 off the cover price, so only $6.95 (+$3.00 for shipping and handling). She will autograph it and gift wrap if it’s a gift, plus include a bookmark for free. More details at the link above. (The print version is also on sale for $10.76 (10 % savings) on 
 If you are an Amazon Prime Member, you can check out the e-BOOK for free at anytime!
The contest:
Go to the Rafflecopter form below this post–all you need to enter is your name and e-mail, which is how I contact you if you win one of the prizes. Do at least one of the tasks below and then click on the entry button to enter the contest. You can do as many tasks as you want! If you are confused or have any questions, please feel free to e-mail Margo at margo (at) Tasks range from leaving a review of Caught Between Two Curses to announcing the contest and sale on a social media page to uploading a photo of you in baseball gear. See below for more.
Margo L. Dill
The prizes:
One winner with a United States mailing address will win a $25 gift card to either Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, Starbucks, Panera Bread, or Olive Garden (winner’s choice). One runner-up winner will receive a free 3000-word critique from Margo (Editor 911)–this can be anywhere in the world as long as the document is in English. The contest goes from July 14 to July 20. Winners will be announced on July 21! 
What are you waiting for?

So, join in the fun and while you’re entering the contest or buying a sale copy of Caught Between Two Curses, join in a rousing rendition of  “Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. I don’t care if I ever get back. . .” 

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Review and Giveaway: The Author Training Manual

The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish EffectivelyThe Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively
by Nina Amir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stop by The Muffin to enter to win a copy of The Author Training Manual here.

Last week my husband painted our living room with nary a grumble. How did I manage this miraculous feat?

Well, I promised to go through my bookshelves and weed out some of the books. Like most writers I am slightly addicted to writer how-to books. Reading them, jotting notes in the margins, marking pages with Post-It notes. Because one of those books will contain the magical advice that makes me an award-winning author. Due to the deal I made with my husband I did donate a few of my writer books to a used book sale. But I couldn’t part with Nina Amir’s How to Blog a Book and her latest The Author Training Manual.

One of the best things about The Author Training Manual is that Nina manages to be both friend and teacher. One the one hand she’ll telling you “here are the things I did wrong,” “here are the things I thought” and most importantly, “here are the changes I made.” As I read I’m saying, “OMG, I felt that same way! I did that same thing!” So you look at Nina, now a successful author, and say “Hey, if I do what Nina did I could become a successful author too!”

But Nina isn’t all about being a friend. She’s a tough teacher too (reminds me of a few nuns I had in years past). Happily, The Author Training Manual is very specific. She doesn’t just tell you to check out the competition. She tells you step by step how to do it. Nina doesn’t leave you to your own devices (writers do tend to procrastinate). Set deadlines! Answer these survey questions! Follow this book planning outline. It’s like writer boot camp! Perhaps it is more accurate to call it an author boot camp. The Author Training Manual helps you to plan both how to create the best book possible and how to become the most effective author. It helps you plan in an orderly way while your book is still just an idea. In fact, it way help you decide which of your ideas should become a book.

The Author Training Manual is crammed with extras: planning exercises, sample book proposals, questionaires, and additional reading lists for each chapter. Trust me, The Author Training Manual is one book I will never get rid of–even if my husband promises to paint the entire house!

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