Guest Post: Colin Holmes – THUNDER ROAD

Good day, my bookish divas and divos. I’m currently wondering what in the world happened to Spring here in West Virginia. Temperatures fell into the mid-40s yesterday and there were actual snow flurries when I went out of town for a medical appointment. One of the good things about these cooler temps is that I don’t feel guilty curling up in my reading chair with my favorite blanket, a pot of tea, and a few good books. What can I say, I’m a book diva! And as a book diva, I enjoy learning as much as possible about the characters within the stories I’m reading, the settings, and especially why the author chose that time period, setting, etc. The more I learn about these things, the more pleasure I seem to derive from reading the story. As a result of this reading quirk, I’m pleased to welcome Colin Holmes, author of the historical noir, Thunder Road. Mr. Holmes will be introducing us to the main character of this book and I’m looking forward to meeting him. Thank you, Mr. Holmes, for joining us today. The blog is now all yours.

Meet Jefferson Sharp
by Colin Holmes

One of the things every novelist must know is the fictional background of our main characters. You have to know what makes them tick, to learn how they’ll react. So, here’s a little biography on the protagonist of Thunder Road as we meet the detective just west of Fort Worth in the Summer of 1947.

Jefferson Sharp was a child through the roaring ’20s and went through the Depression as a teenager. His dad held a job as a meat cutter at the giant Swift packing plant in Fort Worth, and his mother was a housewife. Sharp graduated from Paschal High School, where he played football and baseball with his childhood friend and neighbor Dave Latham. Dave’s little sister Veronica, younger by four years, was a frequent pest. Sharp was a “C” student not because he lacked the aptitude but because school bored him to death.

While job scarcity was real in the Depression, his father’s steady employment enabled Sharp to go as far with his true love—baseball—as he could. He played for a summer with the Brooklyn Dodgers’ AA farm team, the Fort Worth Cats, but he couldn’t hit a curveball and was told he didn’t have a future in the game.

With no real plan beyond baseball, he worked odd jobs. For a short time, he was a mechanic in his grandfather’s automobile garage. He worked as a pen rider, moving livestock through the enormous Fort Worth stockyards, but he found the romantic ideal of the cowboy was mostly dust, sweat, and manure. He made a friend of a Brand Inspector from the Stockman’s Association who encouraged him to apply to the police department as a first step to becoming a Stockman’s Ranger. He also introduced Sharp to the poker room at the 2222 Club and three years later, to Evelyn Lavelle at a party after the finals of the October 1940 Fort Worth Fat Stock Show Rodeo. They were married in June of 1941.

Police work appealed to Sharp’s curious nature. He was a diligent cop and a quick study, walking the Hell’s Half Acre beat with his partner William “Frenchy” Arquette. He learned how to deal with inquisitive newspaper reporters from old-hand reporter Leo Fuller of the Fort Worth Examiner.

Proving his mettle in the city’s red-light district and the saloons that catered to the cattle drive cowboys of the turn of the century, Sharp made Detective just as most of the illicit activities were moving north of the city limits along Thunder Road.

For a few months, life was great. Sharp had a detective’s badge, a new wife, and a small house on the west side of town. And then came December 7th.

Sharp enlisted on December 15th, after a week of arguing with Evelyn and her family about it. He did his boot camp in San Antonio, where, because of his police experience, he was made a sergeant, then to avenge the Japanese attack on Hawaii, he and his platoon were sent across the Atlantic to Tunisia and North Africa. Sharp fought across North Africa, then the Italian Campaign, and would have gone to Normandy but was still in the hospital recovering from battle wounds. He received the Purple Heart on three separate occasions, a Bronze Star, a battlefield promotion to Lieutenant, and just before the end of the war, another promotion to Captain. “Primarily,” he said, “for not getting all his men killed.

Sharp returned from the war to find jobs scarce. Evelyn was distant. She’d become involved with Elmer “Smitty” Smithson, a Ranger whose flat feet kept him out of the war. She was horrified when her father E.G. Lavelle, the Director of the Fort Worth and Western Stockman’s Association, gave her husband a job working with the Association and her boyfriend to ensure she’d be taken care of. Fortunately for Evelyn, most of the job had Sharp on the road doing long stakeout work at ranches rather than at home. And that is where we find Jefferson Sharp as Thunder Road opens around his cold morning campsite. ♦

Thunder Road

by Colin Holmes

May 1 – 26, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Thunder Road by Colin Holmes

In this gamble, more than a few poker chips are at stake.

When an Army Air Force Major vanishes from his Top Secret job at the Fort Worth airbase in the summer of 1947, down-on-his-luck former Ranger Jefferson Sharp is hired to find him, because the Major owes a sizable gambling debt to a local mobster. The search takes Sharp from the hideaway poker rooms of Fort Worth’s Thunder Road, to the barren ranch lands of New Mexico, to secret facilities under construction in the Nevada desert.

Lethal operatives and an opaque military bureaucracy stand in his way, but when he finds an otherworldly clue and learns President Truman is creating a new Central Intelligence Agency and splitting the Air Force from the Army, Sharp begins to connect dots. And those dots draw a straight line to a conspiracy aiming to cover up a secret that is out of this world—literally so.

Book Details:

Genre: Noir Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780744304978 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9780744304961 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9780744304947 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780744304855 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B09QRN82F2 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09RJLQS2S (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes and Noble | B&N eBook | B&N Audiobook | Goodreads | CamCat Books | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Praise for Thunder Road:

“This genre-defying and enormously entertaining romp is Mickey Spillane meets Whitley Strieber meets Woody Allen. I can’t remember when I’ve had so much plain old fun reading a book and just didn’t want it to end.”br>~ Historical Novel Society, Editor’s Choice


“Sparkling 1940’s dialogue, wry humor, an unpredictable yet coherent storyline, and a breezy style all his own, make Colin Holmes’ somewhat spooky novel, Thunder Road, a winner. I’ll be on the lookout for his next novel.”
~ Rob Leininger, author of Killing Suki Flood and the Mortimer Angel “Gumshoe” series


“[In this] intriguing debut . . . clear crisp prose . . . morphs from a western into a detective story with an overlay of conspiracy theories.”
~ Publishers Weekly


“. . . one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. The plot, characterization, timing, setting, dialogue, and tension was spot on. Love the noir feel of the past. Have to admit the ending twist caught me by surprise. Well done..”
~ Larry Enmon, author of Class III Threat, City of Fear, and The Burial Place

Author Bio:

Colin Holmes

Before the pandemic, Colin Holmes toiled in a beige cubical as a mid-level marketing and advertising manager for an international electronics firm. A recovering advertising creative director, he spent far too long at ad agencies and freelancing as a hired gun in the war for capitalism.

As an adman, Holmes has written newspaper classifieds, TV commercials, radio spots, trade journal articles, and tweets. His ads have sold cowboy boots and cheeseburgers, 72-ounce steaks, and hazardous waste site clean-up services. He’s encountered fascinating characters at every turn.

Now he writes novels, short stories, and screenplays in an effort to stay out of the way and not drive his far too-patient wife completely crazy. He is an honors graduate of the UCLA Writers Program, a former board member of the DFW Writers Workshop, and serves on the steering committee of the DFW Writers Conference. He’s a fan of baseball, barbeque, fine automobiles, and unpretentious scotch.

Catch Up With Colin Holmes:
BookBub – @bycolinholmes
Instagram – @bycolinholmes
Twitter – @bycolinholmes
Facebook – @colin.holmes.1213

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Colin Holmes & CamCat Books. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post: Susan Ouellette – THE WAYWARD TARGET

Good day, my bookish peeps. I’ve attended a host of different author talks over the past decade, some in person and others virtual. The one question that seems to keep coming up is “where did you get your inspiration for…?” One of my favorite romance authors read a small article from a historical newspaper and then crafted an amazing historical trilogy based on one line from that article. Some authors find their inspiration comes from something they read in a newspaper or magazine. Others may see or read something that strikes their fancy while traveling. Inspiration seems to hit differently for each author, and as a reader, I find it absolutely fascinating that creativity works this way. I’m honored to welcome back Susan Ouellette, author of The Wayward Target, part of the “The Wayward Spy” series. Ms. Ouellette will be discussing her inspiration with us today. Thank you, Ms. Ouellette, for taking the time to come back for another visit. I can’t wait to learn more about your inspiration for this series. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

One Author’s Inspiration
by Susan Ouellette

One of the most common questions readers ask is what inspired me to write espionage thrillers. It all began with Nancy Drew. Nancy, as every fan knows, was an amateur sleuth, not a spy, but she started me down a path that led to The Wayward Spy series. As a child, I devoured every Nancy Drew book on the library shelf. I wanted to be her, to encounter danger and emerge safe (and victorious) on the other side of a solved mystery. The desire to live the sleuth life led me to the only thing I could think to do—watch my quiet suburban neighborhood for crimes and suspicious characters. I went so far as to keep a notebook filled with observations about the neighbors’ comings and goings. Alas, the closest thing to a crime I encountered was the time someone cut the stems of all the flowers in my neighbor’s well-manicured yard. (The crime remains unsolved to this day.)

After burning through the Nancy Drew series, I moved on to Agatha Christie books. With their international flair, her novels introduced me to a broader world of intrigue. My sophomore year of high school, I read George Orwell’s 1984, an allegory for life in the Soviet Union. And just like that, my passion for books full of intrigue, mystery, and danger coalesced around something new—Cold War spy thrillers. I started with Tom Clancy’s classic, The Hunt for Red October, and never looked back. Forsythe, Follett, Le Carre, Ludlum—you name it, I read it. But as much as I loved these books, I wanted more. I wanted in. I wanted to be part of the spy world depicted in my favorite novels. But I wasn’t sure how to go about getting there.

In college, I took every Russia- and Soviet Union-related class that I could. Hidden away in the dusty, hushed stacks of the campus library, I spent my spare time researching the KGB and the CIA. One day, I happened upon an ad in the employment section of the newspaper (back when there was such a thing). A federal government job fair? Would the CIA be there? Several weeks later, I had my answer and an application for the Agency’s college internship program in hand. The whole process took nine months and included a thorough background investigation, an even more thorough polygraph examination that stretched over two days, and a chat with a CIA “shrink” who told me the polygraph was tripping me up because of my “Catholic guilt.” At last, one June morning, I received a phone call informing me I was to report to CIA headquarters in two weeks.

I was a bundle of nerves that first day on the job. After a lengthy (and somewhat tedious) orientation session, I found myself in an office staring at a file labeled “Top Secret.” I’d finally made it—I was Nancy Drew! Well, not exactly Nancy, but I couldn’t have been more excited if I were. I spent three years at the CIA as a college intern and a graduate fellow learning more about the former Soviet Union than I could have in any classroom. As much as I loved my time at the Agency, I leapt at the chance to work as a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

I thought working for the CIA was cool (and it was) but working for the committee that oversees the entire intelligence community was beyond cool. Our office was tucked in a windowless space in the U.S. Capitol building’s attic. The atmosphere was a mélange of intrigue, secrecy, political power, and American history. I traveled, met CIA station chiefs, attended briefings from top government officials, and led an investigation into an intelligence matter I probably shouldn’t discuss. It wasn’t all excitement, of course. The most mundane part of the job was wading through stacks of intelligence agencies’ budget requests so I could recommend funding cuts or increases to congressional leadership. It was during those moments, with massive dollar amounts blurring on the pages before my eyes, that my mind wandered. I imagined the life of a fictional character with a background like mine who found herself embroiled in a dangerous political scandal. And that is how Maggie Jenkins, the protagonist in The Wayward Target, was born—in a windowless, soundproof, vaulted office in the Capitol building’s attic. It was a long journey from Nancy Drew to Maggie Jenkins, but I wouldn’t change a single step along the way. ♦

The Wayward Target

by Susan Ouellette

April 17 – May 12, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


The Wayward Target by Susan Ouellette

When a price is placed on her head, Maggie must face the terroristic mastermind to save her lover’s life without betraying her most loyal friend.

Evil Triumphs Only if Good Women Do Nothing

A year after hunting down the terrorist who killed her fiancé, CIA analyst Maggie Jenkins finds herself with a price on her head. In retaliation for chasing and killing an elite member of a terrorist cell, Maggie now is on the hitlist of the mastermind behind numerous terrorist attacks.

With Maggie’s movements severely restricted by the presence of a round-the-clock security detail, it’s up to her boss, Warner Thompson, and CIA officer Roger Patterson to find and eliminate the terrorist who stalks her. But when a shadowy Russian operative surfaces and presents Maggie with intel that might lead her to the man who orchestrated her fiancé’s death, she can no longer watch from the sidelines. Is she willing to risk her growing relationship with Roger, Warner’s career, and her own life to finally get justice and bring down a major terrorist cell?

Book Details:

Genre: Espionage Thriller
Published by: CamCat Publishing
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN13: 9780744308723 (Hardcover)
ISBN10: 0744308720
ISBN: 9780744308761 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780744308778 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B0BW2KVJMT (Audible Audiobook)
ASIN: B09XY44NWK (Kindle edition)
Series: The Wayward Series, Book 3 | Each is a Stand-Alone
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | B&N eBook | B&N Audiobook | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Susan Ouellette

Susan Ouellette was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, where she studied international relations and Russian language and culture at both Harvard University and Boston University. As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse, she worked as an intelligence analyst at the CIA, where she earned a commendation for her work done during the failed 1991 Soviet coup. Subsequently, Susan worked on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

It was there in the Capitol Building, during quiet moments, that Susan conceived of Maggie Jenkins, an intrepid female character thrust into a dangerous situation borne of tragedy. Next came the threads of a plot, and from that blossomed her first espionage thriller, The Wayward Spy.

Susan lives on a farm outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband, three boys, cats, chickens, turkeys, and too many honeybees to count. In her spare time, she loves to read, root for Boston sports teams, and spend time staring out at the ocean on the North Carolina coast.

Catch Up With Susan:
BookBub – @susanobooks1
Instagram – @susanobooks
Twitter – @smobooks
Facebook – @SusanOuelletteAuthor
YouTube – @susanouellette-author6477

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Susan Ouellette and CamCat Books. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours 


Happy Friday, my bookish peeps, and welcome to Fall 2022. I know that there are plenty of good books, often excellent books, released throughout the year, but there’s just something about the cooler weather that calls for a comfy blanket, hot drink, and a good book. If you’re interested in something a little different, then please help me welcome Ash Bishop, author of Intergalactic Exterminators, Inc. The title and cover alone are enough to pique my interest. Mr. Bishop will be discussing with us characters and the importance of inner conflict. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to share. Thank you, Mr. Bishop, for taking the time to join us today, the blog is now all yours.

On Inner Conflict
by Ash Bishop

My debut novel, Intergalactic Exterminators, Inc is about a young man, Russ Wesley, who gets offered a job hunting dangerous aliens. A squad of ragtag misfits wants him to join their ranks. He’ll be a space exterminator tasked with removing displaced creatures that are doing harm to their new ecosystem. Remember the way Ridley Scott’s Alien laid its eggs in people’s stomachs and eventually the newborn critter had to burst its way out? That’s the kind of harmful cross-species behavior they want Russ to help them stop. It seems like an interesting, albeit dangerous, job. So why doesn’t Russ want to take it?

Russ is from Earth, and he doesn’t like responsibility very much. He struggled in school, probably due to a generous helping of undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. He doesn’t have much of a relationship with his father. Ironically, his mother was too busy working hard to reinforce any kind of work ethic. He begins the novel avoiding as much responsibility as he can. Instead of putting down roots anywhere, he drifts around the United States picking up temporary jobs and looking for ways to entertain himself. He uses disposable cell phones expressly so he can throw them away once too many people get his number.

There’s a sweet freedom to this lifestyle but there’s also a heavy cost. He’s avoiding all the complicated messiness of responsibility, but he’s also removing himself from the possibility of making deep connections, enriching other people’s lives, helping, mattering. Though it’s hard for Russ to articulate, he understands that up to this point, he’s been wasting his life.

When I was younger, I was really attracted to nomadic, lawless, emotionally distant characters. Puberty was complicated enough; I didn’t need my heroes to be navigating their own complex feelings. I was a big fan of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, with his acerbic wit and powerful indifference. Chandler never let anything get to him. He’d seen the worst of humanity and he knew that eventually, everyone would disappoint him. As such, he just muscled through the mess of mankind, searching for the elusive “truth.” I saw the same power in Batman. In the corniest of his comics, he palled around with Robin and Alfred, but the best stories were just Batman hunting for crime in the mean streets of Gotham, swinging from a bat-cable and being bat-ass. His aloof attitude and emotional distance made him virtually untouchable to the things that scared young Ash Bishop the most. I’m not talking about the Joker or Scarecrow. I’m talking about emotional connections, feelings.

Years later I’m now a father with two kids of my own who read Batman comics. A little while ago, on the recommendation of a friend, I picked up Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, thinking it would be fun to wade back into the fantasy of unobstructed freedom I’d so appreciated during my younger years. Reacher wanders around the United States, remaining loyal to his friends but only from a safe distance. He usually doesn’t come to their aid until they’re already dead. The books are clever and well written but I stopped reading midway through the second one. Despite his constant, violent altruism, Reacher’s emotional and physical distancing, didn’t appeal to me anymore.

So why does my main character begin the novel wandering the United States in a lifestyle so similar to Reacher’s? Because you don’t want to start your characters fully rounded. You want them to learn, and grow over the course of the story. You want them to have to fight against their own limiting impulses and become better people.

In the second chapter, Russ learns of his beloved Grandfather’s death. He drives from Louisiana to Wyoming to attend the funeral and his grandmother is very happy to see him. She’s been caring for her dying husband, alone, and she’s exhausted and her business is collapsing. Russ sweeps in, invigorated and ready to help her pick up the pieces. The other men in town admire Russ’s carefree lifestyle. They are shouldering so many burdens, paying their mortgage, running their own business, and doing their part to care for their complex families. As one tells Russ, “This is a gift, what you’re doing to help your grandma. But take my advice: avoid putting down roots as long as you can. Roots are just a fancy word for life-crushing responsibility. I didn’t have this gray hair until I had roots.”

Russ appreciates the compliment, but is it good advice? He’s sitting on an unsigned work contract of his own. One that will make him enough money to support his grandmother more permanently. Better yet, it will transport him to the farthest reaches of space and see him take incredible risks and make lasting friendships. If only he can muster the courage to walk away from the fantasy of Batman, Marlowe, and Reacher…

Pick up Intergalactic Exterminators, Inc after Sept 6th to enjoy the ride.

Intergalactic Exterminators Inc

by Ash Bishop

September 1-30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Finding work is easy. Staying alive is a little bit harder.

Intergalactic Exterminators Inc by Ash Bishop
When Russ Wesley finds an unusual artifact in his grandfather’s collection of rare antiquities, the last thing he expects is for it to draw the attention of a ferocious alien from a distant planet. Equally surprising is the adventurous team of intergalactic exterminators dispatched to deal with the alien threat. They’re a little wild, and a little reckless. Worse yet, they’re so impressed with Russ’s marksmanship that they insist he join their squad . . . whether he wants to or not.


Praise for Intergalactic Exterminators, Inc:

“This book is so much fun it ought to be illegal in all known galaxies. Ash Bishop has written a wildly imagined, deeply felt, swashbuckling page turner. I loved it.”

Jesse Kellerman, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning



Book Details

Genre: Science Fiction
Published by: Camcat Books
Publication Date: September 6th, 2022
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN10: 0744305616 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9780744305616 (hardcover)
ASIN: B0B75QDF4D (Audible Audiobook)
ASIN: B09RJMDDPB (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes and Noble | | | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Ash Bishop

Ash Bishop is a lifetime reader and a lifetime nerd, loving all things science fiction and fantasy. He has been a high school English teacher and worked in the video game industry, as well as in educational app development. He even used to fetch coffee for Quentin Tarantino during the production of the film Jackie Brown. Bishop currently produces script coverage for a major Hollywood studio, but he spends his best days at home in Southern California with his wonderful wife and two wonderful children. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. This is his debut novel.

Find Our Ash Bishop Online:
BookBub – @Ashlbishop
Instagram – @ashlbishop
Twitter – @AshLBishop
TikTok – @ashlbishop

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Guest Post: Michael Bradley – NONE WITHOUT SIN

Hello, my bookish peeps. Setting can be a crucial part of any story we read, whether the author has crafted a fictional city/country/planet or set the story in a well-known city. Can you imagine a story set in a pre-9/11 New York City that doesn’t mention the World Trade Centers, Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, or Times Square? Or a story set in San Francisco that ignores the Golden State Bridge? Yes, this might be nitpicking on my part, but the setting is important. If an author places his story in a known environment, then I want references to known features in that city. Of course, authors may and will take a certain amount of creative license with the settings in their stories, but real locations need to be recognizable (at least they do for this reader). Please help me welcome Michael Bradley, author of None Without Sin as he discusses settings and world-building. Thank you, Mr. Bradley, for joining us today. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on world-building as it relates to None Without Sin.

Welcome to Newark:
Building the World of None Without Sin
by Michael Bradley

Welcome to Newark, Delaware, home to approximately 34,000 people. If you were to pull up the city on Google Maps, you’d see that there isn’t much to the city; only a little over 9 square miles in size. Newark’s most notable feature is probably the campus of the University of Delaware, which is interspersed throughout the western part of downtown. Its quaint one-way Main Street is lined with shops and restaurants, which draw residents of all ages, races, and ethnicities.

Newark—the Newark of None Without Sin—is also home to the Newark Observer, a twice-weekly newspaper run by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Brian Wilder. The Newark of the book, in many ways, resembles Newark in real life. Many of the street names are the same, as well as the major landmarks, like state parks and historical sites. There is an old church on the corner of Main and South Chapel Streets which plays a prominent role in the book, although it has been renamed in the book. If you walk along Main Street, you’ll find a building clad in faded yellow brick that serves as the fictional home of the Newark Observer newspaper.

Why set my mystery novel None Without Sin in a real city? I could easily have created a fictional city with fictional streets and landmarks. But I’ve always been the kind of writer that likes to incorporate a bit of realism into my stories. The world that I see around me is far better than any world that I could create out of my imagination. Using the real city of Newark as a blueprint for my fictional one grounds the story in reality. It acts as a foundation onto which I can overlay my story with all its plot twists, characters, and dialogue.

I’ve used real settings in my previous books as well, so this practice isn’t new for None Without Sin. Two of the books were set in and around the Philadelphia area. A few readers have even expressed their excitement at the mention of a street or location with which they’re familiar. They spoke of the memories the book invoked as they relived their own experiences within the limits of the city. And that is what I’m trying to do with my stories, invoke feelings. That extra bit of realism can sometimes be just enough to heighten a reader’s pleasure while reading the book.

So, I say again, welcome to Newark. I hope you enjoy your stay. ♦

None Without Sin

by Michael Bradley

July 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


None Without Sin by Michael Bradley

Be sure your sin won’t find you out.

When a Delaware real estate mogul is murdered, newspaper journalist Brian Wilder wants the scoop on the killing, including the meaning behind the mysterious loaf of bread left with the corpse. Reverend Candice Miller, called to minister to the grieving family, quickly realizes that the killer has adopted the symbolism of sin eating, a Victorian-era religious ritual, as a calling card. Is it the work of a religious fanatic set to punish people for their missteps, or something even more sinister?

As more victims fall, Brian and Candice follow a trail of deceit and blackmail, hoping to discover the identity of the killer—and praying that their own sins won’t catch the killer’s attention.

“Loaded with twists, Bradley’s vibrant and gripping thriller will make readers eager for more.”
—August Norman, author of Sins of the Mother

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN10: 0744305950 (hardcover)
ISBN13: 9780744305951 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780744305517 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780744305982 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B09RJNQLS3 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B09WG5PB85 (Audible Audiobook)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | B&N Nook Book | | | | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley is an award-winning author from Delaware. He spent eight years as a radio DJ “on the air” before realizing he needed a real job and turned to IT. Never one to waste an experience, he used his familiarity with life on the radio for many of his suspense novels. His third novel, Dead Air (2020), won the Foreword INDIES Award as well as the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award.

Catch Up With Michael Bradley:
BookBub – @mjbradley88
Instagram – @mjbradley88
Twitter – @mjbradley88
Facebook – @mjbradley88

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Bryan Johnston – DEATH WARRANT

Good day, book people. Authors provide excellent advice on how to write. Many will simply say “read” in order to gain insight into what works and what doesn’t. Others may advise on studying the craft of writing, informally and formally. No doubt this is all great advice. However, today’s guest, Bryan Johnston, an accomplished writer and author of Death Warrant has some slightly different advice to give to would-be writers. He suggests you watch movies. Please help me welcome Bryan Johnston to the blog and let’s learn a bit more about watching movies and the craft of writing. Thank you, Mr. Johnston, for joining us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Watch movies to help you write your novel
by Bryan Johnston


I’m a huge movie fan. I even had the great good fortune to review films on television and radio for a decade. (Sweetest. Gig. Ever.) At first blush, one would think that writing a screenplay and writing a novel would be quite similar. It’s still storytelling, right? However, they are very different disciplines. An old colleague of mine, Mike Rich, who wrote the films Finding Forrester, Secretariat, and The Rookie, among others, told me recently that when he tried to write a book his editor was constantly on him to be more descriptive. He didn’t have the luxury of images on a screen to help the reader visualize something. In movies, characters are revealed through action and dialogue, while in novels the development of the players is brought to life through description and internal monologue. However, you can still learn a lot about how to structure your novel by watching movies. Case in point: scenes.

In a standard three-act movie that runs 120 minutes there will be, on average, between 40-60 scenes. About a dozen scenes in the Set-Up (the Hook), twenty-five scenes in the Confrontation (the Middle Build), and about another dozen scenes in the Resolution (the Payoff). 25%/50%/25%.

When I began writing my current work in progress, I started as I always do with a story outline and then began making short one or two-sentence descriptions of what took place in each scene. I wrote these descriptions on sticky notes and stuck them to my closet doors. I know that there’s actual software for this (Scrivener comes to mind) but I’m too tactile for that. I like to be able to stand back twelve feet from my wall of scenes and take it all in before invariably moving the sticky notes around as the story evolves.

And this is where it got interesting.

I had my sticky note scenes broken out into three acts, but I’d done it purely on instinct. I thought, hmmm, this scene wraps up the first act nicely, this scene wraps up the second act nicely, and this scene makes a strong conclusion. I hadn’t counted scenes, I hadn’t figured out the 25/50/25 percentages, I wrote it how I saw my story play out like a movie.

Here’s how the scenes are numbered:
Act 1—13 scenes
Act 2—24 scenes
Act 3—13 scenes

None of this was planned. It was completely instinctual. And if you ask me, I’d say it probably had something to do with the fact that I’ve watched a gazillion movies and the structure had ingrained itself in my head purely through osmosis.

Some writers feel flopping on the couch and binge-watching Netflix or watching a Quentin Tarantino marathon is time you could be spending writing the next great novel. I say don’t feel guilty in the least. Watching stories on the screen is a great way to see how a narrative arc is structured and carried out. As a learning tool, I’d give it two thumbs up! ♦

Death Warrant

by Bryan Johnston

June 1-30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Death Warrant by Bryan Johnston

Death Makes Great TV.

Frankie Percival is cashing in her chips. To save her brother from financial ruin, Frankie―a single stage performer and mentalist who never made it big―agrees to be assassinated on the most popular television show on the planet: Death Warrant. Once she signs her life away, her memory is wiped clean of the agreement, leaving her with no idea she will soon be killed spectacularly for global entertainment.

After years of working in low-rent theaters, Frankie prepares for the biggest performance of her life as her Death Warrant assassin closes in on her. Every person she encounters could be her killer. Every day could be her last.

She could be a star, if only she lives that long.

Praise for Death Warrant:

“I absolutely loved Death Warrant! This will definitely make the ‘Best of 2022’ list.”
—Elle Ellsberry, Content Acquisition & Partnerships, Scribd

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: June 21st, 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 074430508X (ISBN13: 9780744305081)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Bryan Johnston

Bryan Johnston takes tremendous pride in being an eleven-time Emmy award-winning writer and producer during his 25 years in local network television. Following his career in broadcast, he became the Creative Director for a Seattle-based creative agency, developing concepts and writing scripts for companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Amazon. He has authored several books and written for numerous magazines and websites. Bryan lives in the Seattle, Washington area with his wife, two kids, and one large Goldendoodle. He is a devout movie lover, sports fan, and avid reader. His one great hope is for the Seattle Mariners to make it to the World Series before he dies. He’s not holding his breath.

Catch Up With Bryan Johnston:
Twitter – @BryanRJohnston
Facebook – @bryan.johnston.370

Join us in the InstaChat at #bryanjohnston

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Susan Ouellette – THE WAYWARD ASSASSIN

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Good day, my bookish peeps. I’ve got to admit, I hate admitting I’m getting old, if not old-er! Remembering events that took place in the 1960s and 1970s is daunting (and aging). Then I hear my nieces and nephews refer to events that took place 20-30 years ago as a long time ago just feels wrong on so many levels. But then I remember that they’re between the ages of 14 and 27 so it is a long time ago for them. Susan Ouellette, author of The Wayward Assassin, stops by today to discuss just that, passing time and writing about world after a significant event. Thank you, Ms. Ouellette for taking the time to join us today and sharing with us. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. I hope everyone will enjoy your words of wisdom, follow the blog tour, and add The Wayward Assassin to their TBR lists. The blog is now all yours.

Writing about the Post-9/11 World
by Susan Ouellette

Since the publication of my first book, The Wayward Spy, which takes place in 2003, I’m often asked why my stories take place “so long ago.” The same holds true for the sequel, The Wayward Assassin, which takes place in 2004. Hey, wait a minute, I think. It wasn’t that long ago. Then I do the math . . . oh, right.

So why do my stories take place when they do? Well, I started writing this series in early 2001. At the time, the books took place in the future, albeit by only a few years. The villain in my books was a terrorist named Osama bin Laden. Of course, everyone over the age of thirty knows who he is. But when I first began thinking about writing spy thrillers back in the late 1990s, few Americans had ever heard of bin Laden. The only reason I was familiar with him was that it was my job to understand the threats facing the United States. At the time, I was working on Capitol Hill for the House Intelligence Committee, where we received numerous briefings about bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. Fast forward to September 11, 2001. When the second plane hit the second tower in New York City, I knew immediately that bin Laden and al-Qaeda had to be responsible.

In the dark days after September 11th, I decided to cut bin Laden from my stories. I didn’t want to give him any more publicity than he’d garnered as the mastermind of the most deadly attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. So, I changed the story’s villain to a female terrorist named Zara, who, if I do say so myself, is a far more interesting character than bin Laden would’ve been. And having my protagonist, Maggie Jenkins, square off against another woman? It added so many layers to these stories that I knew right away I’d struck fictional gold.

When I decided to take another shot at getting published a few years ago, I considered updating the first book (The Wayward Spy) so that it would take place around 2018. But I soon realized that doing so would present a problem for the second book (The Wayward Assassin). ASSASSIN’s plot is anchored by an actual event that took place in 2004 (no spoilers!). If I catapulted The Wayward Spy setting ahead by fifteen years, then I would’ve had to remove the 2004 event and rewrite The Wayward Assassin entirely. I decided I couldn’t do that because that particular real-life event made such an impression on me that I simply had to write about it. I had to try to make sense out of a senseless act. I had to insert Maggie into that world and have her fight the evil she encountered. And whether it’s 2004 or 2022, Maggie Jenkins is the everyday hero that thriller fans crave. She’s bold, clever, unpredictable, vulnerable, and stronger than she knows. ♦

The Wayward Assassin

by Susan Ouellette

March 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Revenge knows no deadline.

Although told to stand down now that the Chechen rebel who killed her fiancé is dead, CIA analyst Maggie Jenkins believes otherwise and goes rogue to track down the assassin. Soon it becomes clear that failure to find Zara will have repercussions far beyond the personal, as Maggie uncovers plans for a horrific attack on innocent Americans. Zara is the new face of terrorism–someone who doesn’t fit the profile, who can slip undetected from attack to attack, and who’s intent on pursuing a personal vendetta at any cost.

Chasing Zara from Russia to the war-torn streets of Chechnya, to London, and finally, to the suburbs of Washington, D. C., Maggie risks her life to stop a deadly plot.

Praise for The Wayward Assassin:

“Ouellette, herself a former intelligence analyst for the CIA, imbues the exciting action with authenticity. Readers will want to see more of the wily Maggie . . .”
Publishers Weekly

“Every once in a decade you read a book like The Wayward Spy, which is thrilling, addictive, and sends you reading more thrillers, but you’ll go back to this stunning book by Susan Ouellette and reread this tour de force.”
The Strand Magazine, a Top 12 Book of the Year

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 0744304784 (ISBN13: 9780744304787)
Series: The Wayward Series, Book 2 || Each is a Stand Alone Book
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound.Org | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Susan Ouellette

Susan Ouellette is the author of The Wayward Spy, a thriller that Publishers Weekly calls a “gripping debut and series launch.” She was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, where she studied international relations and Russian as both an undergraduate and graduate student. As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse, she worked as a CIA intelligence analyst. Subsequently, Susan worked on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Since her stint on Capitol Hill, she has worked for several federal consulting firms. Susan lives on a farm outside of Washington, D.C. with her family.

Catch Up With Susan Ouellette:
BookBub – @susanobooks1
Instagram – @susanobooks
Twitter – @smobooks
Facebook – @SusanOuelletteAuthor

Tour Participants:

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Guest post: Joanna Elm – FOOL HER ONCE

Hello, book people. I don’t know about you folks, but I’m heartily tired of winter. We’ve been having 40, 50, and even 60 degree days followed by 20 and 30 degree days with either snow or ice. Although I enjoy snuggling up on my reading chair with a blanket and cup of tea to read, I’m sick of the inclement weather (and clearing off snow and ice, not to mention washing my car because of the salt). Even though I’m not a fan of the colder, darker weather, I seem to gravitate towards darker themed mystery and suspense thriller reads during this time of the year. I’m always amazed at how authors depict their villains in these books. How do they get inside these character’s minds and make them not only believable but terrifying? I’m very pleased to welcome Joanna Elm, author of the soon-to-be-released Fool Her Once. Ms. Elm will be providing us with a glimpse into crafting a believable villain. I hope you’ll enjoy her presentation, add Fool Her Once to your TBR list, and follow the tour to learn more about this book and author. Thank you, Ms. Elm, for joining us today, I can’t wait to learn more about your take on “the antagonist.”

The Antagonist
by Joanna Elm

The antagonist or villain of a psychological thriller is probably the most important character in the novel. As Bob McKee, the screenwriting guru, says: “The antagonist, and his negative energy drive the story.”

When I set out to write my third thriller, Fool Her Once, I knew who the antagonist was and what he was going to do in the plot which involved Jenna Sinclair, a female investigative reporter. Jenna had outed the secret, illegitimate son of a notorious serial killer, and her tabloid article had tragic consequences.

So, when bad things start happening in her life a couple of decades later, Jenna fears that the son is still out for revenge. She decides she must track him down and stop him before he harms her daughter.

Initially, in early drafts, my story focused on Jenna’s quest to find the serial killer’s son. I had plotted some of the bad happenings that Jenna attributes to him and the sort of leads she could pursue to find him. I focused on her reactions to what she perceived as his stalkings and vengeful actions.

But he was still mostly a fuzzy personality in my outlines. Very quickly, after attending seminars, workshops, and writer bootcamps, I realized that I needed to know a lot more about him. It just wasn’t enough to say that his motive was revenge.

At one writer workshop I attended, I outlined my story for Fool Her Once to Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler, a mentor at the workshop. He immediately responded: “Your story is really about the antagonist isn’t it? Who is he? What does he really want? Is he a psychopath like his father?”

I realized those were key questions I had to answer before proceeding with my thriller. I had to be clear in my own mind exactly what my antagonist wanted/expected to gain from his misdeeds, and how far he’d succeed in getting what he wanted.

I was also well aware of the generally held view that an antagonist cannot be all evil without becoming a cartoon character. The antagonist must be a well-rounded, 3-D character to be credible. Think Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Yes, he was a repulsive killer, but his relationship with FBI agent Clarice Starling made him a little more human and acceptable. And, did we really want him recaptured at the end of the movie???

In other words, an antagonist, however brutal, must have some redeeming features. Especially because at some point in a psychological thriller, the antagonist usually draws the protagonist into danger by earning her trust.

In one of my earliest drafts for Fool Her Once, therefore, I decided to write the antagonist’s chapters from his first-person point of view. It allowed me to get to know him and to dissect every move he made. I needed to establish why he was doing what he was doing, what he wanted to achieve by pursuing the heroine, and how he was going to earn her trust.

So, I gave him some likable and charming traits. Of course, since the heroine believes that the serial killer’s son has inherited his father’s psychopathic gene, the reader should wonder if my antagonist’s personality really is charming or if he’s like the majority of psychopaths, and knows how to fool people by “walking the walk and talking the talk” of normal individuals.

In one recent book club meeting I attended at which the group discussed Fool Her Once, a reader remarked about my antagonist: “He always has an explanation or a justification for what he’s done.” She pretty much hit the nail on the head. As Bob Mckee states, antagonists in thrillers never believe they’re evil or wrong. “Do evil people think they’re evil?” McKee asks rhetorically in his “How to Write a Thriller” webinar. “No,” he responds. “They have their reasons, their justifications.”

In other words, an antagonist in a thriller usually believes he’s absolutely justified in committing whatever horrible deeds he commits.

Readers of the final published version of Fool Her Once will not meet the antagonist as a first person character. I was advised to revise him by rewriting all his scenes in a third-person POV. Which I did—although I found it very useful and more than a little chilling to inhabit my antagonist’s mind so intimately for a little while. ♦

Fool Her Once

by Joanna Elm

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Fool Her Once by Joanna Elm

Some killers are born. Others are made.

As a rookie tabloid reporter, Jenna Sinclair made a tragic mistake when she outed Denny Dennison, the illegitimate son of an executed serial killer. So she hid behind her marriage and motherhood. Now, decades later, betrayed by her husband and resented by her teenage daughter, Jenna decides to resurrect her career—and returns to the city she loves.

When her former lover is brutally assaulted outside Jenna’s NYC apartment building, Jenna suspects that Denny has inherited his father’s psychopath gene and is out for revenge. She knows she must track him down before he can harm his next target, her daughter.

Meanwhile, her estranged husband, Zack, fears that her investigative reporting skills will unearth his own devastating secret he’d kept buried in the past.

From New York City to the remote North Fork of Long Island and the murky waters surrounding it, Jenna rushes to uncover the terrible truth about a psychopath and realizes her own investigation may save or destroy her family.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller (Domestic)
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: March 1st 2022
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 0744304938 (ISBN13: 9780744304930 – Hardcover)
ISBN: 9780744304923 (paperback – large print)
ISBN: 9780744304817 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780744304794 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09QRFG5QR (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09RJR3WGW (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Barnes and Noble | | | CamCat Books | | Goodreads | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Author Bio:

Joanna Elm

Joanna Elm is an author, journalist, blogger and an attorney. Before publication of her first two suspense novels (Scandal, Tor/Forge 1996); (Delusion, Tor/Forge/1997), she was an investigative journalist on the London Evening News on Fleet Street in the U.K. She also wrote for British magazines like Woman’s Own.

Then, she moved to New York where she worked as a writer/producer for television news and tabloid TV programs like A Current Affair. She was also the researcher/writer for WNEW-TV’s Emmy-award winning documentary Irish Eyes. In 1980, she joined the Star as a reporter, eventually becoming the magazine’s news editor and managing editor before moving to Philadelphia as editor of the news/features section of TV Guide.

After completing her first two novels while living in South Florida, (Nelson DeMille described Scandal as “fresh, original and unpredictable”) Joanna returned to New York, enrolled in law school, graduated summa cum laude, passed the NY Bar exam and worked as principal law clerk for an appellate division justice in the prestigious First Department. She has been married to husband Joe for 35 years, and has one son.

Catch Up With Joanna Elm:
BookBub – @authorjoannaelm
Instagram – @authorjoannaelm
Twitter – @authorjoannaelm

Tour Participants:

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Guest Post: Emily C. Whitson – BENEATH THE MARIGOLDS

Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. We’re almost at the end of another week and I hope you have great plans to get in some reading this weekend. Have you ever wondered why some readers are only attracted to fiction vs. nonfiction and vice versa? Or why some readers only want to read stories with a HEA (happy ever after) and others want blood, guts, and lots of fighting in their stories? I’ve often pondered this query and then took it a step further and asked myself, why are some authors drawn to writing romance and others horror? I’m incredibly honored to present to you, Emily C. Whitson, author of Beneath the Marigolds today. Ms. Whitson will be answering one of my questions today from her perspective, writing what you like. Thank you, Ms. Whitson, for taking the time to join us today. I hope your graduate studies are going well. So readers, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and visit with me and Ms. Whitson for awhile. (Psst…I hope you’ll take some time to follow the blog tour and add Beneath the Marigolds to your TBR list!)

Write What You Like

By Emily C. Whitson

You’ve probably heard the phrase “write what you know.” It’s a popular adage for new and aspiring writers. Yet, while writing about personal experiences does remove the research aspect of writing, I don’t always agree with it. In my experience, it’s more helpful to write about what I like. What do I find interesting? What do I want to learn more about? What lights my fire?

The truth of the matter is: I love pop culture. In particular, I love reality dating shows, like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. What a fascinating idea to let one woman date twenty-five men and pick one to marry in six weeks — that is insanity!

I think a lot of people assume I don’t like reality dating shows, as my book critiques some aspects of the experience, but I really enjoy them. I don’t always agree with the end goal and the means of getting there, but I think it’s a fun and entertaining idea — a perfect setting for a writer’s imagination. I mean, is it just me, or has anyone else ever watched a reality dating show and thought: that girl’s gonna get murdered? The stakes are high, the emotions are high; the characters drink too much and eat too little. It’s a perfect recipe for conflict, which is at the heart of every good story.

And this leads me to my next interest: crime. I love crime stories. I can talk to you all day about true crime podcasts and Law and Order: SVU. At one point in my life, I may have been embarrassed to say this. What sane person is intrigued by murder?

Luckily for me, others seem to share in my fascination, so I feel more comfortable discussing it. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I believe part of the interest is due to the human psychology behind crime. Why do people act the way they do? What drives them to the edge? What forces in society contribute to crime? I think we’re drawn to what we don’t understand, and for me, that’s unforgivable acts of violence, like murder. Storytelling helps me better comprehend and explore that topic.

While writing can be a tool for self exploration, it’s a fallacy to only write what you know; that’s like only reading books about yourself. Part of the magic of storytelling is the human connection it builds — the ability to learn about other experiences, other lives, other viewpoints. Intelligence, to me, is not the ability to steadfastly and single-mindedly argue a point. Rather, I believe true genius is being able to hold two opposing ideas in one’s head and see both sides of the coin.

So forget about the old adage, and write about what interests you. For me, I’ll continue to explore the intersection of pop culture and crime, the dark side of celebrity and Hollywood glamour. And I’ll have a great time doing it.

Beneath the Marigolds

by Emily C. Whitson

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour


Beneath the Marigolds by Emily C. Whitson

Playing on our universal fascination with reality TV, Emily C. Whitson’s Beneath the Marigolds is The Bachelor(ette) gone terribly wrong.

When her best friend, Reese Marigold, goes missing after attending Last Chance, an exclusive singles’ retreat on a remote island off the coast of Hawaii, no-nonsense lawyer Ann Stone infiltrates the retreat.

Ann quickly realizes there’s more to Last Chance than meets the eye. The extravagant clothes, never-ending interviews, and bizarre dates hint that the retreat is a front for a reality dating show. Could Reese be safe, keeping a low profile until the premier, or did something sinister occur after all?

Torn between the need to uncover the truth and her desperate desire to get off the island, Ann partakes in the unusual routines of the “journey to true love” and investigates the other attendees who all have something to hide. In a final attempt to find Reese on the compound, she realizes that she herself may never get off the island alive.

Praise for Beneath the Marigolds:

“Cleverly plotted…Whitson’s debut novel is an intriguing new entry in the women’s suspense genre, driven by dual first-person narrators and tension-filled parallel timelines.”— Carmen Amato, Silver Falchion Award Finalist and author of The Detective Emilia Cruz Mystery Series

“Exhilarating twists and turns…a fast-paced psychological thriller that mashes up the reality series The Bachelor with Gone Girl.” — Helen Power, author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

“A fun, propulsive read…this book cleverly combines the archetypes of “reality TV” and the “trapped-on-a-remote-island” mystery that will perpetually keep you guessing.” — Marcy McCreary, author of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Psychological
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: September 21st 2021
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0744304202 (ISBN13: 9780744304206)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Emily C. Whitson

Emily Whitson received a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a marketing copywriter for six years before pursuing a career in fiction and education. She is currently getting her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt University, where she writes between classes. She is particularly passionate about women’s education and female stories. This interest stems from her time at Harpeth Hall, an all-girls college preparatory school in Nashville, Tennessee. When she isn’t volunteering, writing, or in the classroom, Emily can usually be found with her dog, Hoss, in one of Nashville’s various parks. Beneath the Marigolds is her debut novel.

Catch Up With Emily C. Whitson:
BookBub – @emilycwhitson_author
Instagram – @emilycwhitson
Facebook – @emilycwhitson

Tour Participants:

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The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power Banner

Happy Tuesday, my bookish peeps. Do you have any idiosyncrasies related to reading? I know some people that will only read print books and others that will only read a story that has a happy ending. I’m willing to give pretty much any genre a try, but I have a strong preference for digital reading, namely ebooks. Yes, I know these might simply be called preferences, but we readers also have our rituals, such as no reading while the television is on, only reading in the morning/night, preferring a certain cup or beverage while we read, etc. Well, authors have their idiosyncrasies and rituals when writing as well. I know some authors that will only write in longhand with a certain type of pens. Other authors only feel comfortable writing using a typewriter, manual preferred, and others that only feel comfortable writing in the morning or late evening. Today’s guest, Helen Power, is the author of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place and she will be discussing with us the importance of ritual with regards to writing. Please help me welcome Ms. Power to the blog. Thank you, Ms. Power, for taking the time to visit with us today, the blog is all yours.

The Importance of Ritual

Whenever I get the interview question, “Do you have any rituals?”, my brain immediately conjures up images of pentagrams and flickering black candles. Then I realize that the interviewer is asking about writing rituals, not satanic rituals, and I sheepishly provide a dry answer.

Sometimes I think that a satanic ritual would actually be a lot easier. There’s a specific formula to follow in order to summon a demon, but one in order to summon your creativity? There’s a lot more to it than dressing in black from head to toe, gathering your closest friends in a cemetery at midnight, and slaughtering a goat.

Creating a writing ritual is both easier and more complex. No, you don’t need to know how to read Latin, but you do need to know yourself: what inspires you, what makes you more productive, and what distracts you.

For those of us who have a full-time job that’s not at all related to writing, it can be difficult to switch gears to embrace your creative side. Sure, I’m a librarian—but I’m an academic librarian, which means that I rarely see a fiction title during work hours, and most of my day involves research consultations, teaching, managing the engineering collection, and scholarly writing. I’ve discovered that developing little tricks and routines are infinitely helpful in wrapping my head around the seemingly insurmountable task of finding the time to write a novel.

There are many different ways of getting into the right mindset for writing. For some people, it’s as simple as brewing a cup of tea and sitting at their laptop. For me, I like to storyboard. I know what you’re thinking: Most writers storyboard. But for me, I’m both a planner and a pantser, which means I rarely stick to what I’ve planned. While I usually write mysteries and I know how my stories will end, it’s the journey that constantly changes for me. Storyboarding has become a bit of a compulsion. Every time I go to write, I plan out what the next third of the book will look like. That planning process makes what could be an overwhelming task feel a lot more doable. It even gets me eager to start putting pen to paper. Usually, my first couple of scenes stick to this new plan, but then I start to deviate. New ideas and opportunities present themselves to me within those pages. For instance, I might realize that one of my characters’ personalities suggests that what I had planned further down the line doesn’t quite mesh with what they would really do, since by writing that character, I’m getting a better grasp of their internal conflict. The next time I sit down to write, I take a look at the new scenes, the notes for changes that I’ve jotted down, and create a new storyboard and a new plan of action accordingly.

But what about defeating writer’s block? Usually the storyboarding approach helps me, but I have other tricks up my sleeve. I often use the Pomodoro technique, which is a productivity hack that can be used for anything, not just writing. I set a timer for twenty-five minutes of uninterrupted writing. Even when you’re incredibly busy or extremely distracted, fitting in twenty-five minutes should not be too daunting of a task. I’ll do what I can during that time, and once the alarm goes off, if I’m still not inspired, I’ll try another tactic or give up for the day and tackle the household chores that have somehow piled up during that twenty-five minutes.

I also use music to help me get into the right mindset. I’ve curated playlists for different characters, stories, and moods. I, personally, like to go for walks when I have a bit of writer’s block, and I listen to these playlists and keep a notebook handy. I think my neighbours all either know I’m a writer or they think that I’m spying on them. Either way, it makes for some awkward eye contact after they catch me outside their house at dusk, notebook in hand, scribbling vigorously.

And then, of course, there are times when inspiration strikes. Usually, it happens to me right in those moments when I’m falling asleep or when I’m relaxing in the shower. My eyes fly open and words start flowing. Sometimes, when there’s a thunderstorm outside, I feel compelled to drop everything I’m doing because the atmosphere is perfect for weaving a spooky yarn. I find it’s important not to ignore when the mood strikes, but it’s not always a convenient time to write. Nevertheless, keeping a notebook with you at all times so you can jot down those brilliant lines or ingenious plot twists is critical. You can’t guarantee that you’ll remember them later, when it’s actually an appropriate time to write.

There are a lot of different approaches to creating a writing ritual. Some people will disconnect from the internet or hide their cell phones, because the siren call of Writing Twitter is too enticing to ignore. Others will have a designated “writing spot,” a special armchair or a desk where they do nothing but write, which tricks the brain into being more productive when they’re in that location. Ultimately, what works for one person won’t work for another. It comes down to experimenting with different types of rituals to see what works best for you, whether it’s curated playlists, meditation, or dancing naked under the moonlight.

The Ghosts of Thorwald Place

by Helen Power

October 1-31, 2021 Virtual Book Tour


The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power
Trust No One. Especially your neighbors.

Rachel Drake is on the run from the man who killed her husband. She never leaves her safe haven in an anonymous doorman building, until one night a phone call sends her running. On her way to the garage, she is murdered in the elevator. But her story doesn’t end there.

She finds herself in the afterlife, tethered to her death spot, her reach tied to the adjacent apartments. As she rides the elevator up and down, the lives of the residents intertwine. Every one of them has a dark secret. An aging trophy wife whose husband strays. A surgeon guarding a locked room. A TV medium who may be a fraud. An ordinary man with a mysterious hobby.

Compelled to spend eternity observing her neighbors, she realizes that any one of them could be her killer.

And then, her best friend shows up to investigate her murder.

Praise for The Ghosts of Thorwald Place:

“[An] enticing debut . . . Distinctive characters complement the original plot. Power is off to a promising start.” —Publishers Weekly

“A creative, compulsively readable mystery—haunted by strange entities and told from the unique perspective of a ghost. I couldn’t put it down.” —Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Supernatural
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: October 5th 2021
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0744301432 (ISBN13: 9780744301434)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Helen Power

Helen Power is obsessed with ghosts. She spends her free time watching paranormal investigation TV shows, hanging out in cemeteries, and telling anyone who’ll listen about her paranormal experiences. She is a librarian living in Saskatoon, Canada, and has several short story publications, including ones in Suspense Magazine and Dark Helix Press’s Canada 150 anthology, “Futuristic Canada.” The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is her first novel.

Catch Up With Our Author:
BookBub – @helen_power
Instagram – @powerlibrarian
Twitter – @helenpowerbooks
Facebook – @helenpowerauthor

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This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Helen Power and CamCat Books. There will be Five (6) winners for this tour. Each of the winners will each receive 1 print ARC edition of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place by Helen Power (US, Canada, and UK shipping addresses Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends on November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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