Saturday, December 8, 2018

What's in a Word? - The Party

It's been a while since I've posted as part of my "What's in a Word?" series, but a few recent conversations with my crit partners inspired this post. We were discussing how to successfully introduce a large cast of characters without throwing them at the reader all at once with brief explanations of who they are.

Explanations the reader might not remember by the next time we see this person, five or six chapters later.

Imagine you are going to a party where you don't know anyone. Scene one: Your host meets you at the door, blurts his name, then drags you around the room, saying, "Oh, this is Jane. She's Sue's next door neighbor. That's Sue. She owns a dog-walking service. That's Bill, he has four dogs, but he doesn't use Sue's service, he uses Jim's..."

Get the idea? How many of you have found yourself in just such a situation? Did you remember a single person five minutes past introductions? Especially if you never interacted with them again?

Now, scenario two: When you arrive, your host introduces him or herself, welcomes you warmly, and eases you into the environment. He or she will show you around, just what you need to know right now, get you a drink, and tell you a little bit about themselves, get to know you.

You're now enmeshed in the setting.

Next, they'll introduce you to the next most important person there: their partner. Could be a business partner, could be a romantic interest. You come to understand a lot about the partner by how fondly, or not, your host speaks of them.

There, now you know the two key players in the game, and hopefully, a bit about what's going on and why you were invited. Are you there to meet coworkers? Is this a social event like a birthday party?

Setting, characters, purpose have now been named. Only when you have grasped these basics does your host show you around.

First you meet Barbara, and engage in a conversation. Oh! Barbara went to the same university! Cool. You chat a few moments about what you have in common. You remember Barbara's name, and associate her with your alma mater.

Next you meet Brian, who has the cutest Southern accent. You chat for a few minutes, you enthralled by his charm, and he laughing at your sense of humor.

Not only are you more likely to remember these to people when you meet again, you will eagerly anticipate that moment.

And that, folks, is how someone with my somewhat less than stellar memory likes to meet the characters in a book. If you throw them at me all at once, I'm not going to know who is important and who isn't. If you call her "Mary Jean Simmons", the appearance of her full name says, "Remember her, she's important!" Well, then you try to commit her to memory, totally skipping past, "the man in the red sweater", who turns out to be the catalyst for the whole story.

In story setup, like real life, the most important details should come first. Now, if the guy in the red sweater turns out to be the killer, who shall remain unnamed until the right moment, it's great when he's woven into the plot, not enough to give away the big reveal, but enough so that when the "A-ha!" moment comes, the reader can look back over the story and piece together the clues.

Nothing is more satisfying for a reader to reach then end and triumphantly say, "I knew it was him!" Especially if they had to work for that conclusion, but it made total sense in the end.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What I've Been Reading.... Sinners Series by Rhys Ford

First off, I have to say hat's off to Rhys Ford for the clever, clever names of the installments in her Sinners series:

Sinner's Gin
Whiskey and Wry
Tequila Mockingbird
Sloe Ride
Absinthe of Malice
Sin and Tonic

In the very first installment we meet Miki St. John, the lone survivor of the car crash that claimed the lives of his Sinner's Gin band mates. He's living a half-life, barely existing, and is only holding on for the scrappy terrier (and furry little scene-stealer) who's decided Miki is home. 

It's the terrier, later dubbed "Dude", who starts Miki on the path to redemption. Miki's backstory will break you heart and make you want to hurt characters that are, thankfully, fictitious, but still. You really want this guy to get his happy ever after from page one. (Or, in the first ten minutes in my case, as I enjoyed this series in audio book.) 

Throughout the series we get to know more people, hear more POVs, but the entire series arc encompasses both Miki's band(s), it's members, and a large boisterous family of Irish descent. The Morgan's provide the comfort and security missing from his own past, and like any too-good thing, he's suspicious, waiting for the other shoe to fall, feeling he's not good enough for love. 

My heart broke time and time again for this haunted, world-weary-yet-young man. He wears his pain as a shield from the world, was never taught how to love, to be loved, or even to be touched without ill intent. 

Slowly, slowly his story unravels, and we don't get all of our questions answered until Sin and Tonic, but it's a riveting journey. 

One thing that make this series really shine is the interactions between the characters, the good-natured bickering amount siblings, whether the siblings one was given or collected along the way. Such awesome dialog that I found myself hitting the back button just to hear a marvel of impressing phrasing again. 

Each character is so distinct, so real, which is quite an accomplishment with a cast of this size. 

You make judgments one minute, only to have them turned on their heads the next. But what a ride. My three-hour daily work commute suddenly wasn't long enough as I wished to remain in the car and listen to JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER!!!

This isn't a light, fluffy story by any means. There is mention of severe child abuse in some of the characters' pasts. There is also violence, and some of that violence is gruesome as many of the Morgan family are cops in San Francisco and privy to some of the terrible horrors life has to offer. 

I won't go into the plot of each installment as that might give spoilers, but what I can say is this series was time well spent, gave me a whole lot of new characters to love, and left me with a major case of book hangover. 

This is an unsolicited review, merely me gushing about a series I love, but I'll still include links to the Audible page and encourage you to enter the world of Miki St. John and Kane Morgan. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Collusion on Audio Book!

I've got great news! Bo and Lucky's store continues on audio book, performed by the talented Darcy Stark:

Dead men can’t love.  

Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter “died” in the line of duty while working off a 10-year sentence in service to the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, only to be reborn as Simon “Lucky” Harrison. The newbie he trained, former marine Bo Schollenberger, is now his partner on (and maybe off) the job. It’s hard to tell when Lucky doesn’t understand relationships or have a clue what any sane human is doing in his bed. Bo’s nice to have around, sure, but there’s none of that picking-out-china-together crap for Lucky.  

While fighting PTSD, memories of a horrid childhood, and a prescription drug addiction, Bo is paying for his mistakes. Using his pharmacy license for the good guys provides the sort of education he never got in school. Undercover with his hard-headed partner, Bo learns that not everything is as it seems in the world of pharmaceuticals.  

When a prescription drug shortage jeopardizes the patients at Rosario Children’s Cancer Center, it pits Bo and Lucky against not only predatory opportunists but also each other. How can they tell who the villains are? The bad guys don’t wear black hats, but they might wear white coats.

Check out Collusion on Audible!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Looking for a Holiday Romance Short?

The holidays are once more upon us, and what better way to get into the spirit than a holiday romance?

Candlelight, mistletoe, gaily wrapped packages beneath a trimmed tree, and someone to share it with. That’s all Barry Richards wants for Christmas. Desperate for a traditional holiday, he creates a profile on “,” in hopes of finding the perfect man in a matter of weeks. One date after another goes sour, while all around him friends are falling in love, and Barry starts to lose faith.
The first snow falls and the world fills with seasonal cheer, all except for Barry, for whom time is running out. Facing the prospect of a lonely holiday, he tries just once more to make The Match Before Christmas.
Find The Match Before Christmas at Rocky Ridge Books.

The last time Tony danced, he wore the spangles and tights of the Nutcracker’s Prince and the audience threw roses at the stage. One career-ending accident later, he’s dancing again, and he’s not proud of hoping that the audience will reward him with twenties.
Frost, the big, pale bouncer, has reasons of his own for keeping a watchful eye on Tony. He keeps his distance, too, until he has to bounce an aggressive customer who takes things with Tony too far. They have a short, shared walk home but a huge divide between their lives. Do Tony and Frost have more in common than they believe?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Diversion in Audible

Some folks have been asking me if the Diversion series is every going to be made into audio books, and the answer is: definitely.

Diversion (Diversion Book 1) is currently available at Audible, with Collusion (Diversion Book 2) following sometime this month.

The super-talented Darcy Stark has brought Bo, Lucky, Walter, and the rest of the characters to life. He's currently hard at work on Corruption (Diversion Book 3).

For those of you looking for something shorter, check out Family Man, also narrated by Darcy Stark.

The entire Diversion series, and Highway Man, is brought to you by Rocky Ridge Books.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Suspicion Cover Reveal

It's taken a lot longer than I'd hope to get to this point, but I'm thrilled to finally reveal the cover for Suspicion (Diversion Book 7), created by the super-talented L.C. Chase.

Isn't it purdy?

Lucky “Simon Harrison” Lucklighter left behind his criminal past to become one of the best agents in the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. He’s found a committed partner in fellow agent Bo Schollenberger and built a life.

Now, enemies within the SNB and a friend’s betrayal leave him nowhere to turn—not even to his mentor.

His boss’s life, the future of the SNB, and Lucky’s career depend on him. With the help of his lover, an old enemy turned ally, and a man Lucky thought he’d seen the last of, he must stand and fight for what he believes in.

Even if he has to step outside the law. 


I'd hoped for a November release, but it looks like it'll release in December. I'll keep you posted. 

The things in my office...

I'm still getting used to my new office, but one of the first things I did upon moving in was fill the space with things dear to me.

One of the most noticeable is a framed print by Paul Richmond entitled "Sanctuary."

As a child and teenager I never quite fit in. I felt awkward, unaccepted, and out of place most of the time. The one place I could hide from the world and the bullies was my bedroom, where I kept treasures dear to my heart that others might throw out as trash.

My little corner of the world, where I could be myself, lose myself in thought and ponder the big questions of life, and become who I was meant to be. There I didn't have to explain myself, didn't have to keep quiet, didn't have to pretend I was something I wasn't.

Didn't have to work twice as hard to be thought half as good.

For those reasons and many more, Paul's painting spoke to me. Looking at the image I feel a sense of peace.

I'd like to share this with you. May you find the same restfulness that I do.

For more of Paul Richmond's incredible work, visit his studio website