D. Wallace Peach: Liars and Thieves

My first thoughts in reading D. Wallace Peach’s novel Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil: Book One) was how fluent the author is with the English language. I was grateful to be reading it on my Kindle if only for its instant dictionary as I searched for the meanings of Middle English Words.

After my initial struggle with the language, I found myself immersed in the story and invested in the characters:

Alue — an elf soldier,

Talin –a changeling

 Naj’ar — half-elf, half-goblin.

Together they try to keep peace but are confronted with the Force of Chaos.

For photos and detailed descriptions of these three main characters click on their names above. I only came across these descriptions (given by the author) of her characters after I had read the book. I was pleasantly surprised. They were not at all how I had envisioned elves, goblins and changelings!

Liars and Thieves is a character driven novel in which the setting also plays an important role. In Part One of this three-part series D. Wallace Peach creates a world where goblins inhabit the mountains, the elves the river plains, and the changelings the jungle. As I continued into the author’s world of transitional powers, racial conflicts, clans and crystals, I was transported into the political world of a legal thriller, its pace picking up as the novel progressed into a court case.

The story is narrated in third person from different perspectives but mostly from that of the three main characters. At times, the writing style reads like stage directions for a screenplay, and other times her descriptions are so deep and visual that you are magically transposed into her world of fantasy.

D. Wallace Peach possesses the gift of imagination and the talent to express it.

Writing Under A Pen Name

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of having an impromptu interview with Carrie Rubin about her usage of a pen name for her cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter.

Carrie isn’t alone in using a pen name. In fact, she is in good company. Can you identify the well-known writers who wrote under these pen names? (answers are at the end of the post – no cheating!).

Robert Galbraith

Richard Bachman

Dan Kavanagh

Benjamin Black

Mary Westmacott

Claire Morgan

Back to Carrie and her pen name. Here are some questions which Carrie so graciously accepted to answer.

What made you write this book under another name?   

I decided to use a pen name for the cozy mystery because it’s a different genre than what I normally write. Readers develop expectations from a writer in terms of style and plot elements, and using different names for different genres can be helpful to avoid steering a reader down the wrong path. For example, while someone might enjoy the light and clean style of my cozy mystery, they might be put off by one of my thrillers, which tend to be dark and sometimes contain violence and profanity. So, I thought it made sense to differentiate the two genres by using different names.

Has this led to any confusion or marketing difficulties? 

Marketing is always difficult and definitely not my strong suit, but I think it’s actually made it easier in the sense that my website still presents me as a writer of genre-bending medical thrillers. If I add a humorous cozy mystery to my banner of books, it might be an odd contrast. That being said, my various profiles across the internet (e.g., on Amazon, on Goodreads, on my website) mention that I also have a cozy mystery written under a pen name, and Morgan Mayer’s profile mentions she also writes thrillers under my name, so hopefully any interested readers will find their way from one author name to the other.

Are you planning to write other books under Morgan Mayer? 

I’d love to, but I’m not sure how soon because it’ll depend on what happens on the traditional publishing front. Although my agent was wonderfully accommodating and accepted my desire to go indie with The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter (much quicker path to publication than the traditional route), she currently has one of my unpublished manuscripts on submission and she’ll put another one on submission soon, so if they get deals, I’ll be busy with that for a while. Plus, I’m currently working on the third book in my Benjamin Oris thriller series. But if I get some downtime in between, it would be a lot of fun to write another cozy mystery!

What are advantages to writing under two names?

Aside from what I mentioned above, writing under different names gives an author a chance to experiment a bit. Allows them to write something they haven’t before without clouding the image of their usual line of work.

Here’s what to do if you’re thinking of using a pen name?

Here are the answers to the famous authors pen names.

JK Rowling – Robert Galbraith

Stephen King – Richard Bachman

Julian Barnes – Dan Kavanagh

Agatha Christie – Mary Westmacott

Patricia Highsmith – Claire Morgan

Toni Pike: Desolation Bluff

I recently came across a post on Derek Murphy’s website titled Best Self-Publishing Companies for Indie Authors (that aren’t scams).

You can go to his website to read the entire post (which I found interesting and informative). Since this is a post about Toni Pike’s novel Desolation Bluff I want to draw your attention to a section of Derek Murphy’s post that I find fits perfectly with Toni Pike’s novel.

When you put your book cover, your hook, tagline or teaser in front of the right readership, they understand it’s the kind of book they enjoy reading. The benefits are obvious. They click on the cover and read the blurb. Sounds good. They check out the reviews. If they trust the positive ones, they’ll consider buying it and check the price.

Cover

 Blurb

Reviews

 Price

COVER AND BLURB

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Vanessa to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.
A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

REVIEWS

More than 30 reviews on Goodreads . Most of them 5 Stars. Here are some of them:

Fast moving and suspenseful from start to finish (Peter Springer)

Packed with Suspense and Action (Sally Cramer)

Quickly engaging and a page flipper (Terri Schrandt)

From the first paragraph, I could sense something ominous in the atmosphere, which stayed all through the background (Sherry H.)

This book was a thoroughly enjoyable read with interesting characters and great plot twist to keep me hooked all the way through to a most satisfying ending!  (D.G. Kaye)

PRICE

$2.99 Canadian which is pretty inexpensive for three and a half hours of enjoyable entertainment.

As for the content, I was not disappointed. The cover, blurb and reviews delivered. It was a fun ride where justice is rendered by a shrewd blind man who accidently regains his sight and discovers that his wife is engaged in a love affair with his assistant. A story of betrayal between good and bad. Definitely a page turner.

Noir Fiction’s “little black dress”.

Carrie Rubin: The Bone Hunger

I received a copy of The Bone Hunger as part of Carrie Rubin’s recent give-away. Thank you, Carrie.

Imagine going for a walk in the park with your young son, his mother and a yellow lab and you come upon a leg. Not just any leg but a chewed-up leg that you recognize as one you helped place an orthopedic implant into.  

Such is how The Bone Hunger begins and once again, Benjamin Oris is the protagonist of Carrie Rubin’s second medical mystery thriller. Oris first appeared in The Bone Curse.

Rubin, herself a physician who has turned novelist, brings credibility to the detailed medical aspects of the novel from the tense, focused staff during surgery; the oversized egos of power hungry surgeons; the conflict for recognition; the pressures that lead to drug addiction and a front seat view of orthopedic surgery.

Benjamin Oris is a second-year resident orthopedics surgeon filled with career ambitions but this finding of one of his patient’s legs places a hamper on his drive to win the Conley Research Grant.  When another severed leg is found in another park and then another, it is obvious to the orthopedic team that they are looking at a serial killer. Could this killer be one of their own? There are many suspects in this terrifying whodunit novel, each with credible motives.

Besides the medical viewpoints of the novel there is also a personal and dramatic side to Dr. Oris. Oris is a likeable character with integrity and modesty. Here we see the tenderness and concern that Oris has for his son but also for his mother who is in a coma, his father who has recently lost his partner and his relationship with his companion Laurette, a public health student from Haiti who adds a touch of paranormal to the novel.  

Carrie Rubin seamlessly juggles many characters in this novel (from the hospital staff, to Oris’ personal relationships and family). The unique plot is both action oriented and character driven. The conflict is high in tension while the writing style is fast paced.

The story is mainly told in the third person but Rubin uses the first person as she lets us get into the head of the killer and his eerie obsession for flesh and blood.  

An interesting read about orthopedic surgery but also a compelling thriller.

Carrie Rubin is also the author of an entertaining cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter under the name Morgan Mayer. You can read my Amazon review here.

Margot Kinberg: A Matter of Motive

Two things which kept me this week from spending time on a current novel I am trying to write were President Joe Biden’s inauguration and Margot Kinberg’s latest novel and the first in her new Patricia Stanley series, A Matter of Murder.

A man is dead in his car, slumped over the steering wheel. But who killed him? Ron Clemens is the last person you’d think would be murdered. His wife and son love him. His employees respect him. His business is doing well. His clients seek him out. But someone wanted him dead. The Clemens case is a golden opportunity for newly minted police detective Patricia Stanley to prove herself. It’s her first murder investigation, and she wants to do well. But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, she has plenty to learn about handling a murder. And nearly everyone involved in this one is hiding something. Patricia faces her own challenges, too, as the investigation brings back the murder of an old love.

Margot Kinberg (also the author of the Joel William series) is very knowledgeable when it comes to crime fiction and, in particular, Agatha Christie. Go to her select month box in her crime-fictional website and click on any date. You are bound to find something on Christie.

In The Creative Brain (a very interesting documentary which I recently watched on Netflix written and produce by Dr David Eagleman based on the book: “The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes The World” by Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman.) there is a section by the Pulitzer Prize winner and much regarded novelist Michael Chabon: “I’m going to allow my knowledge of my predecessors and their work to inform and help shape what I’m doing not because I’m trying to copy them but because I know my unique experience is going to help me intervene to help produce a work that is not like its antecedents in some way.” 

It A Matter of Murder Margot Kinberg uses motive as the driving force of her novel. Taking what she’s learnt from studying Christie, Margot Kinberg’s novel is a unique whodunit.

The main character, Patricia Stanley, a gay woman who is trying to juggle the difficulties which being a cop poses on her relationship along with her investigation in her first murder case, is a delightful character full of good intentions and many missteps. Besides being a whodunit, this is also a novel about how police go about investigating a murder. This investigation kept me reading way into the night. I was not only curious about finding who the murderer was but was also interested in the process of the investigation itself.

I have a feeling that we will hear more of Patricia Stanley and her side kick Luke Enders. I for one, hope so. This is a fun read with an interesting cast of characters.

Sally Cronin: Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Life is Like A Bowl of Cherries, Sally Cronin’s latest book, displays “the complexities of life, love, and loss.” 

Composed of a series of well written short stories, poems and photos, the book begins on a humorous and ironical note on how a woman’s weight loss is cyber controlled – be careful what you put on the internet, folks.

 In keeping with her technology theme, the author shifts course in a sweet, touching story about Jenny – a lonely divorcee who finds a family across the globe thanks to DNA testing.

Sally Cronin’s characters are ordinary people doing ordinary things but in an exquisite way. Take for example, Molly who is interested in horticulture where “not everything you plan will turn out the way you expect.” Alice, a florist who developed “a flare for elaborate floral displays.”  Spunky Elsie Windsor, 93 out on a date with a teenager. Women who fight for their rights such is the case of a woman in the midst of a marriage filled with abuse, patriarchal control and violence.

Romance has many twist and turns. Romantic love can be tragic as Elaine and Tom learn the truth about how their parents kept them apart.

The characters in Sally Cronin’s stories reflect real people. Kind people. Charitable women. Women with big hearts. Courageous women. Loving husbands. Generous women who help a young homeless young man with his own story to share about hunger.

This is a very positive book where love, courage and charity are the winners.

A book to lighten us as we go through these dark days.

The book is also sprinkled with poetry. Here’s one I chose because it’s shaped as a Christmas tree and well, ‘tis the Season. 

Two Hearts

When

You meet

The someone

Who sparks a flame

In your heart and mind

Passion is ignited.

Even when the years have passed

The rapport that has developed,

Energized with a sense of humour,

Binds your two hearts together forever

Visit Sally Cronin’s Blog Magazine for some Christmas cheer

Ellie Marrandette: Restoring Hope

Through golf the student learns discipline, integrity, patience and the joy of accomplishing a difficult task.

Restoring Hope takes off where Ellie Marrandette’s last novel, Casey’s Journey ended. Casey at the age of five was abducted and adopted.

Adoption is a complex issue. There is the adopted child to consider as well as the adoptive parents and the real parents. The search for one’s child or mother and the fear this brings to the adoptive parents is all part of the dynamics of adoption which the author addresses in this novel.  

In Restoring Hope, Casey – one of the central characters of the novel – is searching for the child she gave up for adoption while in the process of setting up a non-profit Golf Academy for underprivileged young girls.

Golf, as Casey explains, is a rich man’s sport and so her motivation in setting up the Restoring Hope Golf Academy is to offer golf scholarships to girls coming from unhealthy environments: gangs, poverty, racial inequality and abuse among other disadvantages. The Academy’s goal is to teach these at risk young women life skills through golf and provide them with opportunities to succeed.

Hope, one of the students in the Academy,  does not fit the mold of being brought up in poverty or gangs. Yet, she is a disturbed child filled with the sense of not belonging, guilt for her adoptive mother’s death, and fear of being abandoned by her father.

Level-headed pro golfer, Casey, is not naïve to believe that all her students will end up playing on golf tours but she is wise enough to know that some of her students will exhibit business skills and that golf will help them in the competitive world of men doing business on the golf course. 

Even if you don’t play golf or, for some reason or another, don’t like the game, Restoring Hope will make you gain appreciation and respect for it. As a Christian faith oriented novel, the game of golf is used as a means to provide positive guidance through an ethical and moral compass. Plus, if you are a golf fan, as I am, I picked up some interesting golf tips.

In 2011 I worked as a volunteer at the Women’s Canadian Open outside of Montreal. Reading this novel brought back memories of that week which I spent watching some of the best women golfers in the world, how they focused on their game and the smooth, confident intensity of their shots. In reading the scenes in Restoring Hope of preparing for and taking part in a golf tournament, I was brought back to these behind the scenes of pro-golf from the resources it takes to put a tour together, to the practice before the tour and the joys of accomplishment which follow.

Restoring Hope is also full of romance with its twists and turns, which adds an endearing and suspenseful touch to the novel.

In the end, this is a novel about integrity, love and purpose.

It’s a hopeful novel.

Which is something the world needs these days.

Joanne Guidoccio: No More Secrets

This is a multigenerational story and Joanne Guidoccio does a flawless job of describing the characters in each of the three generations. The author smoothly shifts from past to present without the reader feeling lost keeping up with three generations of characters.

First there is Angelica, along with her sisters and their husbands who immigrate from Italy to Canada. Although sisters, each adapts differently. And then there is the sisters’ daughters. Discovering that she has cancer and has limited time, Angelica has invited her three nieces for a weekend at her home where each is asked to reveal a secret.

Although all of the characters are memorable and well drawn, it is Angelica who is the star of this novel. I truly enjoyed the interaction between the characters and especially Angelica’s forbidden love story. No More Secrets is fundamentally a beautiful but heartbreaking love story filled with passion and regret, full of emotion and depth.

Joanne Guidoccio tells her story through the lenses of warmth and tenderness for her characters and also for the immigration experience. The author is very talented at storytelling. She kept me up reading her novel late into the night.  

If you are interested in novels about women and their issues with romantic love and mother/daughter relationships I think you’ll enjoy No More Secrets.  

 Joanne is currently doing a book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions until December 3.

Anneli Purchase: Reckoning Tide

Two men want the same woman but for different reasons. Jim wants to love Andrea while for Robert she is a possession for him to do whatever he wants with her.

Anneli Purchase portrays a realistic picture of the lasting fear and degradation which victims of domestic violence endure.  After escaping an abusive marriage as shown in Anneli’s previous book The Wind Weeps,  Andrea finds herself, along with Jim, continuing to run from Robert’s violence and cruelty. He is determined to bring Andrea back to live with him.

Think of a book or film with a car chase in it. Now think of this chase being not in cars but in boats as Andrea and Jim try to stay a step ahead of Robert as they go through the many inlets, bays and arms off Vancouver Island on their way north to fish. The setting plays a major role in the novel as Anneli Purchase immerses the reader through the various channels and sounds.

Fitzhugh Sound was like a freeway, a huge, wide water highway.

The setting is also used as a metaphor for the novel’s plot where at times it is smooth sailing and calm while other times there are obstacles to face:

The tide would run into flats so quickly.

I got swiftly carried into this book. I particularly liked that the romance in the book was told from one of the male character’s perspective and the sex scenes between Jim and Andrea were absolutely enjoyable and surprisingly sizzling.

Jill Weatherholt: A Home For Her Daughter

It’s so comforting to read about good, honest people who care about each other.

A Home for Her Daughter is the fourth novel in Jill Weatherholt’s Love Inspired Series. The novel is character driven with the three stars Janie and her joyful, whimsical daughter Riley and Drew, a man Janie once had a high school crush on. I found it easy to get into the story and Jill made her characters come alive in a calm setting that I could easily visualize.

Both Janie and Drew have been hurt by love. For Janie hers was by an abusive husband and Jill Weatherholt shows the realistic long lasting damaging effects which abuse can have on a person. Not just physical abuse but psychological abuse. Janie believes that she is good at nothing while Drew carries with him the guilt over his wife and young daughter’s deaths.  

After her divorce from her abusive husband, Janie moves with her daughter to her home town, a beautiful place where everyone helps each other.  There she meets up with Drew, of all places, in a notary’s office, where they are both mentioned in a will. The catch: they must work together to build a camp for young children.

Although there are obvious sparks and chemistry between Janie and Drew their past pain keeps them from going there. Neither feel worthy of having a relationship. And neither is willing or ready to share the cause of their pain.

This is a very tender romance story which I found pure pleasure in reading. It’s compelling how three people can have such a strong loving bond together. This is a story about hope and how the world is a soft place when inhabited by kindness, caring, loving and the unwillingness to hurt anyone.

I’ve read two of her novels in this series (A Mother for his Twins and Second Chance Romance). After reading  A Home for Her Daughter I think it’s safe to say that you can count on Jill Weatherholt to deliver a story filled with tenderness, hope and a longing for goodness.