Book Spotlight – Addict (The Cassie Tam Files) #Sci-fi #Crime #Lesfic

Title: Addict (The Cassie Tam Files #1)

Author: Matt Doyle

Genre: Lesfic, Sci-fi, Crime Noir

Main character description (short):

Born in Vancouver, Cassie Tam is the daughter of a cop and an out lesbian. Now situated in the technological haven of New Hopeland City, she plies her trade as a Private Investigator, taking on odd job cases that the police either don’t care about or won’t touch. She’s built up a good reputation over the years and tends to solve cases with a healthy mix of the three S’s: smarts, snark, and sheer stubbornness. Oh, and the odd assist from her robo-gargoyle pet, Bert. Despite her tough exterior though, Cassie is prone to keeping stuff in, and is more than capable of finding social awkwardness when faced with the unfamiliar. That combined with her compulsion to keep digging, even when she knows she shouldn’t, can often leave her biting off more than she can chew.


New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. To make matters worse, Cassie’s client, the deceased’s sister Lori, is a Tech Shifter – someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with her ex.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

Brief Excerpt 250 words:

I ALWAYS DID like Venetian blinds. There’s something quaint about them in a retro-tacky kinda way. Plus, they’re pretty useful for sneaking a peek out the front of the building if I feel the need. That’s something that you just can’t do with the solid, immovable metal slats that come as a standard in buildings these days. That said, a thick sheet of steel is gonna offer you a damn sight more security than thin, bendable vinyl, so I keep mine installed. Just in case.

Another round of knocking rattles the front door, louder this time than the one that woke me.

The clock says 23:47, and the unfamiliar low-end car out front screams “Don’t notice me, I’m not worth your time,” which makes for the perfect combo to stir up the paranoia that the evening’s beer and horror-film session left behind. This is my own fault. My adverts are pretty descriptive in terms of telling what I do: lost pets, cheating partners, theft, protection, retrieval of people and items, other odds and sods that the city’s finest won’t touch…I’ve got ways to deal with it all. That’s right, I’m a real odd-job gal. The one thing that I don’t put in there are business hours. The way I see it, even the missing pet cases usually leave me wandering the streets at half-past reasonable, so what’s the point in asking people to call between certain hours?

More knocking, followed this time by the squeak of my letterbox.


Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)? Described as Sam Spade meets Blade Runner, Addict throws an old-style PI into a near future world and blends sci-fi world building with noir corruption. If you want a speculative fiction title with an LGBT lead that isn’t a coming out tale or erotica, this is the book for you!


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Links etc.

Purchase Links 

Ninestar Press


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Reviews 2018 – Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes

Victorian Murderesses: A True History of Thirteen Respectable French and English Women Accused of Unspeakable Crimes

3.5 stars

This is not a bad book, but it’s not particularly good either.

The cases included in this text are:
– Marie Lafarge and Euphemie Lacoste;
– Madeleine Smith and Angelina  Lemoine;
– Celestine Doudet and Constance Kent;
– Florence Bravo and Henriette Francy;
– Gabrielle Fenayrou and Adelaide Bartlett;
– Florence Maybrick and Claire Reymond.

Good points:

  • The French cases were largely unknown to me and that aspect was interesting. The comparisons between French and English middle-class society and the position of women were fairly well discussed.
  • There was a mix of cases, although all were ‘respectable’ women from the time. What was expected of middle-class women, and her own expectations – marriage, children and running the household – were discussed at length.  Many had arranged marriages – often to men much older, or totally unsuitable. Divorce was not a viable option, especially as the father would have maintained control of any children, and the money. Thus most of this women were stuck in relationships, not of their choosing (with the exception of Madeleine Smith – who was in a relationship with a man below her station and disapproved of by her family).
  • Although the cases were discussed fairly sympathetically there was a lot of the authors own views on whether the particular murderess was guilty of the crime she committed. Not all were, and those who were found guilty may not have been. At least one was judged on her moral crimes (adultery) as much as the actual murder.
  • The author had done her research and it showed. The social comparisons were good and I think the most interesting aspect was the emerging position of women in both France and England during the 19th century.  There was good focus on the societal aspects of what may have caused these women to take, or consider taking, the ultimate solution to their woes.

Bad points:

  • The book jumped around a lot. All the time. It became hard to follow and sometimes wasn’t clear which case was being discussed. References to other cases made things more confusing.
  • The accounts were long and meandered. They became stories in their own right. Why is this bad? For a book that is meant to be a non-fic there was too much of the ‘newspaper’ style telling. Give me the facts – if I want a fiction on the subject I’ll read historical fic about the cases.
  • There were quite a few formatting issues.

I just couldn’t really get into the long, often dry accounts of the crimes. It’s a shame because the sociological side of the book was interesting for the most part. If the book had been more structured then the rating would have been higher.


Review – Poisoned Lives: English Poisoners and Their Victims – Crime/History/English History

Poisoned Lives: English Poisoners and their Victims – by Katherine Watson


From Mary Ann Cotton, the Victorian serial murderess, to Dr Crippen, poisoners have attracted a celebrity unmatched by violent killers. Secretly administered, often during a family meal, arsenic (the most commonly-used poison) led to a slow and agonising death, while strychnine (with its characteristic bitter taste) killed very quickly. Poisoned Lives is the first history of the crime to examine poisoning and its consequences as a whole. Unwanted husbands, wives or lovers, illegitimate babies, children killed for the insurance money, relatives, rivals and employers were amongst the many victims of these calculating killers. Difficult to detect before 1800, poison undoubtedly had its heyday in the nineteenth century. In response to many suspected cases, forensic tests were developed that made detection increasingly likely, and the sale of poisons became more tightly controlled. Because of this, twentieth-century poisoning has become a crime largely associated with medical professionals including, most recently, Dr Harold Shipman, the world’s most prolific serial killer.

5 stars

Many of the true crime books focus solely on the murders themselves, as one would expect. Usually the same twenty or so crimes are discussed and not often in detail. This book is different. Over 500 cases from 19th century to the early 20th century are included, although many as comparisons and not in detail. That said the author does a great job of discussing the ‘whys and wherefores’ of the crimes – the societal aspects, how they changed, the rise of the police force, and the increased awareness of poisoning as a crime. Before the 1900s sanitary conditions amongst the poor were dire, life expectancy short and infant mortality high. Many of the cases discussed, and the situations covered reflect this – people poisoning as to not have another mouth to feed, to get a few pounds from the ‘burial clubs’ which sprang up, ostensibly to help the poor, and the new ‘life insurance’ schemes which abounded. Poisoning is viewed as the most despicable of crimes; usually it is a slow and very painful process, and often the perpetrator is well known to the victim – spouse, parent, servant, nurse/doctor. It’s easy to judge by the modern standards when life expectation is relatively high, health provision freely available (in the UK at least), a social security system, divorce attainable, much less stigma on illegitimacy and very few people are truly desperately poor. Oh and poison is much harder to get. But one must realise that sometimes disposal of an unwanted, violent spouse, was the only way out some people could see. There were simply no viable alternatives.

Watson discusses the changing views and social ideas – the emerging rights of women; ideas pertaining towards mental illness; religious and moral ideology and the rise of the forensic scientist, the role of the coroner and much more. It’s a potted history which changes vastly over time.  This, I think, is the most fascinating aspect. There is no sensationalisation of the cases – which sometimes appears in books on true crime – the subjects are dealt with in a sympathetic way. It’s a book of tragedy – lost lives, destroyed lives, desperation and the depths of human misery, but there is also hope. Murder by poison is rare now and more easily diagnosed. And society is not as brutish, or terrifying as once it was for the common person.

Well researched, well argued and highly interesting I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime, 19th Century history, the rise of science and the social reasons for crime.


Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Marcelle Dube – Mystery – Winter Warmer Bundle

Author name: Marcelle Dubé / The Tuxedoed Man

Winter Warmer Cover Fan

*Please tell us about your publications.  I’ve written and published many short stories, much to my surprise. I always thought of myself as primarily a novelist, but in recent years, I’ve written more and more short stories, sometimes at the request of a publisher or to meet a thematic need, but more often because an idea got caught in my head and wouldn’t shake loose until I wrote it down.

My novels range from fantasy to mystery to modern gothic to “women’s thrillers.” I find that no matter the flavour of the novel, most of my stories end up with a mystery at their heart. For instance, Backli’s Ford features an alien species trying to fit in on earth, but really the story is a murder mystery at the heart of a greater conspiracy. Then the Mendenhall Mysteries (including The Tuxedoed Man) are straightforward mysteries

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? Definitely a pantser. I’ve tried many techniques for writing novels and learned that plotting is not for me. I’ve written beautiful plot outlines and never wrote the novels because I didn’t see the point. I’d already written the story. As a pantser, I never really know what’s going to happen next, and that keeps me on my toes. Of course, it also means a lot of backtracking to take a different path.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Don’t do it. Step away from the keyboard. Don’t freak out the reviewers. They’re entitled to their opinions, whether they love your story, or hate it.

How do you deal with bad reviews? ::big sigh::  Every time I see a bad review, I have to go find my big girl panties and put them on. Then I get over it.

Sort these into order of importance:

  1. Great characters

Character is all. Period.

  1. Good plot

A close second to great characters. You need great characters, in a good story.

  1. Awesome world-building

Setting matters. Your reader has to be able to see, smell and hear the setting, whether it’s a house in a Canadian suburb or a generation ship heading for a new planet.

  1. Technically perfect:

Well, what the heck is that? I’ve never seen it and doubt I’ll ever achieve it. As long as I write a good story that resonates with my readers, I’m happy.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I don’t really like to research but I am driven by insecurity. When I wrote Ghosts of Morocco, I did a *ton* of research. I’d never been there, was unfamiliar with the geography, politics, culture, languages… I have no idea why I set half the story there, but that’s where it had to be, so I researched.

The wildest subject I’ve looked at? To date, artificial bovine insemination. You wouldn’t believe how they go about it…

What’s the best piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Apply seat of pants to seat of chair. As in, don’t wait for “inspiration.” Write every day and exercise that writing muscle.

What is your writing space like? I have a ridiculously large bedroom, so I use a corner of it for my writing space. I use a long, narrow table and prop my laptop up on the Canadian Encyclopedia. On the wall in front of me are small cork boards with various cards, sayings and photos that inspire me. From the vantage of my writing chair, I can see the roofs of the houses across the way, and above them, Haeckel Hill and its windmills.

Tell us about your latest piece? I’ve just published The Forsaken Man, the fifth in my Mendenhall Mystery series featuring Chief of Police Kate Williams and her intrepid band of constables. I’m not really sure how I ended up with a series. It started with The Shoeless Kidand I found that I really liked the characters of the small police detachment in Mendenhall, Manitoba. Technically, the series is a police procedural, but it is very much character driven and feels “cozy.”

What’s your next writing adventure? Right now, I’m working on my second A’lle Chronicles mystery. The first one, Backli’s Ford, introduced the reader to Constance A’lle:

In the early 1700s, an A’lle generation ship crashed in the woods of Lower Canada. Survivors stumbled out of the wreckage to find French settlers working the land. While many of the colonists sheltered the injured A’lle, some reacted with fear and loathing. Two centuries later, nothing much has changed.

This is the world Constance, first A’lle investigator for Lower Canada, must deal with when she investigates the beating death of an A’lle boy in the small village of Backli’s Ford.

Set in 1911, Backli’s Ford follows Constance as she survives an ambush that would have killed a human, fights prejudice in the constabulary, and discovers a terrible secret that risks destroying the delicate balance that has endured for two centuries between A’lle and humans.

The second book, tentatively titled Plague, follows Constance and her sister Gemma as they work to discover who is murdering A’lle, and try to prevent a smallpox epidemic.

What is the last book you’ve read? Glass Houses, by Louise Penny—one of my favourite mystery writers. Right now, I’m halfway through Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck and while I’m getting a little freaked out, I can’t seem to put it down…

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? I don’t think readers care if an author is indie published or traditionally published. As long as the cover is well designed and the story well written and well edited, why should they? Nobody buys their books based on who the publisher is. At least, I don’t.






Marcelle Dubé grew up near Montreal. After trying out a number of different provinces—not to mention Belgium—she settled in the Yukon, where people still outnumber carnivores, but not by much. Her novels are published by Falcon Ridge Publishing and Carina Press, and her short fiction has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies. Learn more about her and her published work at

The Tuxedoed Man appears in Winter Warmer Bundle

Tales of the Seasons – volume 1

Winter Warmer on Bundle Rabbit

Winter Warmer on Amazon

Winter Warmer on Nook

Winter Warmer on I-tunes

Winter Warmer on Kobo

Swift Six Author interview – Louisa Swann – #HeroicTales #SFF #Paranormal


Heroic Tales - Fan setName: Louisa Swann

What attracts you to the genre in which you write?

I tend to write in three genres: mystery, science fiction, and fantasy. I’m drawn to these genres as I’m drawn to the same things in real life: I love a good mystery, am fascinated by science and inventions, and am enthralled by magic and magical creatures.

What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?

“Go where your obsessions take you.” (Neil Gaiman)

I still have difficulty with this one. Writing about my obsessions in whatever form means stepping outside my comfort zone, but my best stories come from doing just that.

If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you choose?

Neil Gaiman. Not only do I love his writing, he’s had some really interesting “adventures” (i.e. visiting refugee camps). Would love to pick his brain!

 Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?

Dr. Seuss J. Not only did I devour Dr. Seuss books as a child, I channelled that writing style when I wrote my first poems and stories!

 Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?

I think ebooks will coexist side by side with print and audio for the immediate future. Personally, if I really like a book, I end up with all three versions. As our dependence on non-renewable resources decreases, however, I believe ebooks and audio will become more prevalent, though I think print books will always be around.

Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?

Stephen King’s Duma Key. I love the visuals King evokes in this book as well as the way the main character transitions after his accident.

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival. Might as well have a book that’s practical as well as being interesting to read!

One of Patrick F. McManus’s books, probably The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw. Love this author’s sense of humor regarding everything outdoors and being on a desert island would probably need a touch of humor or three!

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Author bio and book synopsis

Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):

I grew up in the wilds of the Sierra Nevada mountains, surrounded by deer and beaver, muskrat and bear, all of which provided ample fodder for my equally wild imagination. As an adult, I spin those childhood experiences into tales that span multiple genres, including fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and my newest love—steampunk. My short stories have appeared in Mercedes Lackey’s Elementary Magic and Valdemar anthologies; Esther Friesner’s Chicks and Balances; and several Fiction River anthologies, including the newest Reader’s Choice. I have a new steampunk/weird west novel series, Abby Crumb, debuting this summer.


Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)

A little background: I am not a vampire fan. Vampires give me nightmares. But another word of writing advice from David Morrel (and Stephen King) has to do with writing about what scares you. So I tried to figure out how I could write about vampires. As often happens to me, my mind went to humor and the ridiculous: What if a bicycle cop was stalked by a vampire dwarf with a fetish for muscular calves? “The Girl With the Candy Cane Legs,” an urban fantasy, is the result!


Three months ago, the gates to the Otherside failed, flooding the normal world with creatures both supernatural, demonic, and just plain weird.

Diane Swift, a bicycle cop with thighs of iron, calves of steel, and the ability to see the strange monsters infiltrating her world, keeps the beaches and her city safe from scumbags. Then someone steals her patrol bike along with a bag of fossilized fairies.

And Diane ends up patrolling the beach with a partner straight out of a lunatic’s nightmare.

Fast and furious, wet and wild, “The Girl with the Candy Cane Legs” delivers a rollicking adventure where almost anything goes.




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 The book also appears in Heroic Tales – Bundle



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Review – 1888 – London Murders in the Year of the Ripper

1888 – London Murders in the Year of the Ripper by Peter Stubley

#truecrime #LondonHistory #JacktheRipper

1888 is a year that entered history for all the wrong reasons – the Autumn of Terror was the time the unidentified serial killer known as Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of London. But these were not the only crimes in what was then the capital of the British Empire, and the primary trading port of the world.

This fascinating book recounts a whole year of killings; some were done in pitiful desperation, some for the usual reasons – greed or love, some were done on the spur of the moment, some were done in madness but all were tragic in their own way. In part this is a social commentary – almost all the killers and the majority of the victims were poor. This was a time without many rights for women or children, domestic violence was very common, families were often large and money was scarce. In, what was arguably, the most civilised city on Earth, life was cheap and crime was rife.

Most of these tragic tales are little known – forgotten by time, and overshadowed by the Ripper’s crimes. This is the first time I have seen some of these outlined, and I read a lot of true crime. The author deals with the subject sympathetically, non-judgementally and references particular articles, laws, biographies etc. It’s obvious a lot of research was done to select these accounts and to present them accurately, and in the context of the time. In the case of the Ripper, the author does not speculate on a possible perpetrator, as many crime writers do, he simply presents the facts and states that no one was ever identified as Jack the Ripper.

Overall I’d recommend this to readers of Victorian history, true crime, British history and those interested in the social commentary of the time.

5 stars



Author Interview 107 – Dean Mayes – Paranormal/Thriller

Welcome to Dean Mayes.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born and raised in country Victoria, Australia. In the mid 90’s, after I completed my degree in Nursing, I moved to Adelaide in South Australia and I’ve been living there ever since.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. My writing has crossed genres since I was first published back in 2010. My debut, “The Hambledown Dream” (2010, Central Avenue Publishing) was a romantic fiction novel with a paranormal undercurrent that explored reincarnation. My follow up novel “Gifts of the Peramangk” (2012, Central Avenue Publishing) was a more literary fiction/coming of age story about an Aboriginal child prodigy living here in Adelaide. For my upcoming novel “The Recipient” (2016, Central Avenue Publishing), I have gone in the direction of an action oriented psychological thriller but I have reintroduced a paranormal theme relating to organ donors and their recipients.

Where do you find inspiration? Inspiration comes from many places and it is usually unexpected. I find that if I go looking for inspiration, it is rare that I find it. “The Recipient” was actually inspired by a very intense and vivid nightmare where I was witnessing a violent assault and then, at one point, I couldn’t discern between whether I was witnessing it or whether I was actually experiencing it myself. When I woke from the nightmare, I madly began scribbling as much as I could remember down in a notebook I keep beside my bed. Before too long, I had the rudimentary beginnings of what has become “The Recipient”.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I think that all my characters have been favorite – especially when I have been in the thick of writing them. Casey Schillinge, my protagonist in “The Recipient” has definitely been the most interesting character to write because there are several facets to her persona that make her complex. She is highly intelligent and technically savvy and she is also stubborn and dogged. When she latches onto something – a suspicion or a gut feeling – she will follow it through to the end, despite encouragement from others to slow down. She is also pragmatic and empirical which makes the nightmares she experiences at the beginning of the novel so frightening for her. She cannot quantify them so they knock her off balance.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I actually don’t. All of my characters are created in service to whatever story I am telling and their roles are important. If I infuse my characters with a certain level of evil or “badness”, there is a context to that which I value.

Are your characters based on real people? Some of them are. Over time, I have infused some of my characters with the qualities and mannerisms of people who have been and are important in my life. I like to be able to do that because I think it gives them more gravitas, it makes them more real to life and tactile.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?Maybe peripheral characters but, in the main, all of the characters I have created have remained integral to my works.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I do! Even with the more fantastical story writing I have done, the importance of creating a real world feel cannot be understated.

“The Hambledown Dream” featured the dual settings of Chicago in the United States and the South Coast of New South Wales here in Australia. I’m familiar with the South Coast because I spent a lot of time there growing up so it wasn’t a stretch to recreate that in the novel. For Chicago, I did a lot of visual research into things like the architecture and the socio-economics of the inner northern suburbs which is where a lot of the early part of that novel takes place. I also have friends living in that part of the city so I had eyes and ears on the ground there and they were great in helping to visualize the feel of the city. And then there were subjects like cancer which required me to refresh my knowledge about disease process and treatment modalities. I have been an Intensive Care Nurse for over a decade now so I was able to tap into a lot of resources in order to bring that to life in the novel.

For “Gifts of the Peramangk”, I spent about a year on pure research into the White Australia policy and the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Australians. These remain sensitive subjects in our national conversation and I didn’t want illustrate anything in the novel that would disrepect the gravity of those issues. Additionally, I spent a lot of time researching the Peramangk people. This is a nation state in our Aboriginal nation for which not a lot is known, so I needed to ensure that I could present them in such a way that was respectful and authentic.

In “The Recipient” I have returned to a more medically oriented story so here I tapped into a number of resources in the field of transplant surgery and after care. Getting that aspect of the story right was important because it allowed me to introduce the paranormal elements seamlessly. Some of the early feedback I’ve had from medical professionals has been really positive in that they were totally convinced of the possibilities of what I was throwing up. Police procedure also featured heavily in the novel and so here I talked to a number of law enforcement agencies here in Australia and they were really grand in helping me to portray procedures accurately.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I don’t set out to convey a message in my writing. I am more compelled to create a really good and satisfying story. If I were to consider it though, “Gifts of the Peramangk” probably contains the most powerful message that says no matter who you are, if you apply yourself and you work hard, you can achieve anything. It’s not a conscious message on my part though. I think it depends on the topic and the motivation of the writer as to whether a message is important to impart in a work of fiction.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) For me, great characters are the kernel of great story writing. If I can believe in the characters then I can believe in the story. How they see the world influences the world building aspect so I guess world building is the next most important aspect. The plot has to be solid of course. For me, the plot of my stories is set out in a rudimentary fashion when I begin and I allow my characters and their motivations – to an extent – to drive the story forward. Technical perfection comes afterwards but it is no less important for me than any of the others. It is just that this is how I write and how I edit so I guess I am setting out my process in the steps that I follow. I won’t release a product until I know that it is technically perfect.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Presently – print and digital. My publisher and I have focused on these two branches of the market primarily because of production costs and the obvious reach of those branches. Audio is attractive to me but the production costs are prohibitive right now. If I were to attain significant success that would allow me to invest in audio production, I would definitely consider it.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do! It’s one of my OCD quirks! I have gotten better at focusing on pure writing, getting the words and the ideas onto the page but I still go back often and review and refine. I really enjoy the editing process and regard it as one of the most important aspects of writing. Professional editing is essential to a good end product and I do believe a book that has not been professionally edited suffers in the long run. That is a lesson I have learned through experience.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think they are. It comes down to the sad fact that, with the explosion in self publishing, we’ve seen all manner of people producing works featuring varying levels of quality. It is a sad fact that many of those works have come from self published authors who have not invested the time and the money in having their work professionally edited and proofed before proceeding to publication and they do themselves a disservice because of it. That said, poor editing and proofing is not confined to self published authors. I was reading a book just last month (January, 2016) from one of the major publishing houses and I came across several instances of grammatical errors, poor sentence construction and confusing paragraphs. So poor editing is not confined to self published authors by any stretch.

Do you read work by self-published authors? I have. There are several self published authors whose work I really admire and have returned to subsequently. It is clear to me that they have invested in their work to ensure they have produced the best product possible.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? When I started out, I did read and comment on reviews but I don’t anymore. I think an author runs the risk of being misinterpreted in their responses to reviews and I have seen cases where and author has responded in a respectful manner to a review and it has been totally taken out of context. I keep myself at arms length from reviews now.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? No. I usually pick up a book based on a recommendation or if something about the title or the liner notes strikes me as interesting. I’ll avoid reviews because many of them will contain spoilers and that it definitely a killer for me.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? I’m really not sure about that one so I’ll just say that I don’t have a view.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books work on a subconscious level and they fire our imagination in ways that a video game or movie can’t. I requires effort and engagement to ‘see’ the world an author has created whereas a game or movie presents it to you in all its technicolour glory. That said – I am a casual gamer and I love movies  soooo…does that cancel my answer out?

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Keep a notebook with you to jot down ideas and notes as they come to you – and only write in pencil. Forget about social media, word counts, group discussions and marketing advice and just write.

Have a basic story structure but don’t be dictated by it. The is more than one way to get from Point A to Point B.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Marketing should be all about the Pull. In the first instance, you should a have product that is professionally edited and proofed. You should have a website that is simple but engaging. It should reflect a little bit about you and the information there should be concise and easy to find. Pick three social networking platforms and stick to those. Don’t allow yourself to be overrun by the false notion that you have to be everywhere and across everything. It will not make you happy and you’ll end up resenting it.

Don’t Push! Don’t Facebook or Tweet or G+ incessantly with “BUY MY BOOKS” You will find yourself muted or blocked or even reported. Social Networking/Marketing should be all about building relationships and, in the first instance, you shouldn’t even mention your works. If you’ve structured you platform correctly, you’ll have relevant links that are easy to see and find. If your connection wants to discover more about you, they will.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just finished a gorgeous romance novel set here in Australia called “Summer Harvest” by Georgina Penney. It was just a joy to read.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? I keep returning to the works of John Jackson Miller who has writted a lot in the Star Wars universe. He is a really great author. I don’t have a favorite indie but I do read a lot of them.

What are your views on authors offering free books? I think it is an essential part of an author’s marketing strategy and I will often do giveaways. This should be dictated by cost/benefit considerations as each author will have flexibility in what they can offer as to what they can’t.

Do you have a favourite movie? Two words = Star Wars.

Do you have any pets? My writing partner is a spaniel named Sam.

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I’m not sure if I should answer that question. I will say that I did learn a lot from it and I did use it in my writing.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I love romance novels.

Links to Dean Mayes:


Official Website:

Publisher’s Website:





Author and Audio Book Producer – Lorna Collins

Today I welcome author and audiobook produce Lorna Collins.

My husband, Larry K. Collins, and I write both together and alone. After fifty years of marriage, we figured out how to do it.

We were both members of the team that helped to build the Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka. Our memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and chosen one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books.

We have also co-written two cozy mysteries set in Hawaii: Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, the latter a finalist for the EPIC eBook Award for mystery. We are currently working on more in the series. The Memory Keeper, is our historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano.

I co-authored six sweet romance anthologies set in the fictional town of Aspen Grove, CO: Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, An Aspen Grove Christmas, The Art of Love, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe, and Directions of Love, 2011 EPIC eBook Award winner.

My fantasy/mystery/romance, Ghost Writer, launched Oak Tree Press’s Mystic Oaks imprint. It combines elements of fantasy, romance, and mystery. It’s a beach read with a dog, and a ghost.

In addition, I am a professional editor.

How did you become involved with audiobooks?

A friend and fellow author had one of his books made into an audiobook. I was very impressed with the result. When I looked into the details, I decided to see about our books recorded.

Tell us about your the titles you’ve had narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? 

Our first audiobook was Ghost Writer. This is my solo “beach read.” It was published by mid-level independent publisher. The contract with her did not include the audio rights. However, I checked with her to be sure I could convert it and also for permission to use the cover art. She was enthusiastic and said she’d hoped one of her authors would try audio.

I must confess my favorite to date, however, is The Memory Keeper. This is our historical novel set in the 1800s in San Juan Capistrano, California. The story is told in the voice of a Juaneño Indian. We spent nearly three years researching and writing this book, so we were very particular about how it would be presented. The voice actor we chose, Aaron Miller, was nearly as much of a perfectionist as we were. He struggled through the Indian words as well as the Spanish ones. (He was born in Wisconsin and now lives in Tennessee where Spanish is not a common language.) The final book perfectly captures the voice of our protagonist along with all of the other characters in the story.

We liked him so much, he is now creating the audiobook for Larry’s short story collection, Lakeview Park.

The gal who did Ghost Writer, Jean Ruda Habrukowich, is now doing one of the sweet romance anthologies I was part of, …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe.

How did you choose your narrators?

For an author, the process is quite simple. I uploaded an audition text. I chose a section of each book with several characters so I could see how the actor would interpret their voices. For Ghost Writer, the narrator had to be female since the story is written in the POV of a young woman. However, the other major character is a very proper British ghost, who is male. I wanted to be sure the actor found the right tone of voice for both. Jean nailed it.

For The Memory Keeper, we needed a male voice. Aaron had me as soon as he pronounced San Juan Capistrano with just the right touch of Spanish accent. He also indicated he would work with us on getting all the voices and pronunciation correct. A few of the words (like alcalde, noshuun, and Elena) gave him problems, but in the end, the book sounds better than we could have hoped for.

Are you planning on having more books made into audio?

Yes. We can only do the ones for which we have the audio rights, so we are limited. For some of our fourteen titles, the publisher’s contract gives them the audio rights. However, Larry has written a sci-fi series, The McGregor Chronicles. So far he has two books published in the series with the third due out before the end of the year. As soon as Aaron finishes Lakeview Park, we’ll get him started on the sci-fi books.

We also would like to have our memoir, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, done in audio. We have had a couple of auditions for it, but the people had no knowledge of Japanese, and one had a New York accent. We have helped several friends embark on the audio process, and one of them is currently using a husband and wife team for their book. We have spoken to them about their doing ours when the other one is finished. Since our memoir is written in two voices, this will be the perfect solution.

*Tell us about the ACX process.

This turned out to be much simpler than I had imagined. Our last few books have been published through KDP and CreateSpace, so I was familiar with those processes. Amazon now owns ACX, so they have made it much simpler for everyone involved.

  1. Make sure you have the audio rights for your book.
  2. Choose a chapter or section for the audio audition. This should be a short section with multiple characters. (We did not want to have our books read, we wanted them to be acted out.)
  3. Upload the book details. (ACX guides you through the process and links the book to its Amazon listing.)
  4. Upload the audition text.
  5. Wait for auditions.

Some books garner more auditions than others. Some genres attract more actors. Within two days of posting Lakeview Park, Larry had three auditions. Since one was from Aaron, we decided to stay with him. However, either of the other two would have been terrific.

During the actual recording, the author and actor are in communication. When the chapters are completed, the actor posts them to ACX. The author can then listen and send back comments or corrections.

When the entire book is completed, the actor closes the file and the author approves the book for publication. It appears on ACX and Amazon in about ten days to two weeks.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?

We were fortunate to find two excellent actors for our books. Both of them were nearly as picky as I am! Both were willing to make as many changes/corrections as necessary to ensure a quality product.

Hearing our books read added a whole new dimension to them. We knew what we thought they should sound like, but the final interpretations were far better than we could have hoped for.

Did you choose royalty share for your books? Why is this?

Confession: I’m essentially cheap. We have done (and plan to do) all of our books with a royalty share agreement. It is a win-win for both author and voice artist. From the time the book is listed for sale, passive income is generated for both parties.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Yes. I have listened to more of them since our books have become available. They are great for long car trips. Larry used to listen to the text-to-speech feature on his old Kindle on long commutes for work. The actual audiobooks are much more enjoyable.

*With many people owning MP3 players, do you think this is the future of storytelling?

I don’t think books—ebooks and print—will ever go away. But many people enjoy the listening process. We are at an age where many of our friends have developed vision issues, including macular degeneration. They can now enjoy our books.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular?

They are now much more accessible, and more people are commuting. In addition, the actors producing them are getting better and better. The sheer competition is improving the quality.

Did you consider producing your own audiobooks, or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice?

We had talked for years about producing our own books—especially our memoir. But the cost of renting a studio and the time required to get the task done seemed daunting. We have been very fortunate to have found exceptionally good actors who understood our books.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?)

So far, it has exceeded our expectations. We had anticipated having to work with the actors, monitor the completed chapters, convey our expectations to them, and the process was very satisfying. Of course, we were blessed with terrific actors. It made all the difference.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

My husband, Larry, says I collect friends like other people collect stamps or coins. Very true. I strike up friendships in the supermarket line. I’m still in touch with nearly all of my friends from childhood, grammar school, high school, college, and nearly every place I’ve ever worked. I actually know who every one of my 1500+ Facebook friends is and how we met.

Where can we learn more about you?

You can find out more about me at our website:

Follow my blog at:

Social Media links:


Twitter: @LornaCollins


LinkedIn: Lorna Collins

Returning author Juliet B Madison – Crime/Thriller

Today I’m pleased to welcome back Crime Author Juliet B Madison to talk about her latest DI Frank Lyle related project Alternate Voices.  Over to you Juliet.

Last year my friend and fellow crime writer, Andrew Scorah put together an anthology to raise money for the UK charity Women’s Aid and to raise awareness of the thorny issue of domestic violence. In this day and age, where same sex marriage is legal, domestic violence is not necessarily confined to heterosexual relationships. I contributed a story to Andrew’s anthology, Shadows and Light, and am pleased to have been associated with the project.

Those who know me well will be aware that my long term partner, David, died of renal cancer in 2008. Taking care of him was tough, both emotionally and financially, but we had a Macmillan nurse who gave us both tremendous support and enabled us to get access to resources we could not use ourselves given that we did not have a computer or internet access. I decided to try and collect stories for a similar anthology and donate some of the proceeds to Macmillan to enable them to continue their great support of people living with cancer as well as their relatives and carers.

You can learn more about Macmillan cancer support and the work they do here

I launched an online appeal for stories, but this is the twist, the stories are not run of the mill. I wanted to set people the challenge of writing a DI Frank Lyle story of their own. The story does not need to be crime based, it can be in any genre as long as it utilises characters from the main DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series. All stories, as long as I’m not inundated with responses, will find their way into the anthology, which I have titled Alternate voices as this does not only echo the fact that the contents are written by other authors, but it also reflects the multiple first person POV of the series itself. You can write in British or American English and use first or third person.  You can read more about the requirements here.

I have to admit that the entries I have received thus far have really captured and done justice to the fiction series I have created. It’s quite fun to see what people have done with my characters.  The closing date for submissions is 1st July 2015 so still plenty of time. Even if you have never read a DI Frank Lyle book before you can get plenty of fan fiction scope from my DI Frank Lyle efanzine and my website

I am extremely impressed with the calibre of stories received so far and look forward to reading many more DI Lyle fan fiction pieces in the next few weeks.

At present the provisional release date for the anthology is 23rd September 2015. I chose this date because it’s the seventh anniversary of David’s death and as such a bad day for me. I thought I would give myself something more positive to focus on to help me through. The anthology will be dedicated to David’s memory.

If you feel like checking out a DI Lyle book or two then please visit Amazon’s Juliet B Madison page

Anthology test copy[1]

Character Interview Number Nineteen – Jo Sullivan – Suspense

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Name (s): Jo Sullivan.  That’s what I go by now, anyway.  Anyone that calls me Jody these days better be prepared to piss me off.  It brings back too many memories.

Age: A girl never tells.  Let’s just say old enough to walk around with my eyes open about what life is really like, but not so old I don’t still occasionally hope it’s possible to make a difference in this world if you try.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was in pre-school, I think. So when I got an internship at the Chicago Tribune straight out of college, I thought I’d made it.  That was until the reality of a male-dominated industry was made clear to me when my editor tried to grab my ass and take credit for stories I did all the work on.  My career aspirations these days probably look like they’re on a smaller scale, but the implications are much more broad and satisfying.  Winds of Change may only be a weekly rag, but they aren’t afraid to point out social injustice and try to make it right.  Letting me write my Street Stories column about the homeless individuals I meet is one example. Also, except for one annoying employee, all the paper cares about there is that you write a good story and get your facts straight, not how big a booty you’ve got.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Boy, you do like to ask the tough questions.  Sure, I like to believe I have a moral code.  Don’t screw people over, don’t cover bullshit with fluffy pink frosting, and own up to your mistakes and make them right. Is that a moral code or just three of the rules I try to live by?  I don’t know.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? When I was in seventh grade, my father was accused of molesting and murdering a young boy.  He was arrested and tried, but never found guilty. My mother likes to say that proves he’s innocent, but what really happened is that the DNA evidence was contaminated by a rookie cop. They may not have been able to convict beyond a reasonable doubt, but reasonable doubt is enough for me to want him to stay the hell out of my life.  My friend Keisha thinks the reason I get so wrapped up in helping these homeless kids I come across is because I’m trying to atone for what my father might have done.  She may be right.  It doesn’t matter to me why, it just matters that somebody takes the time to listen and care, because there sure aren’t very many others who do.

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. You might not believe this, but the Chicago streets the homeless navigate are as alien as any dystopian sci-fi world you might read about. Walk around in the shoes of a kid who’s been kicked out of his home because he refuses to be abused anymore and you’ll see what I mean. You’re like a spectre floating aimless and ignored until the “real world” needs someone to blame for the darkness that happens in their lives. Then you stand out like a two-headed green Reever. Sometimes I feel like a shaman or a psychic, able to see through to this other dimension they live in, the Twilight Zone of homelessness. Is it a good thing to pull them back into the same place the corrupt politicians and so called “Christians” live in?  I don’t really know, but until someone discovers another layer of life, one where we care about each other and treat ourselves and our neighbors with respect, this world will have to do.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where? I’ve travelled all over Chicago in the last five years, and have discovered I don’t need to go anywhere else to experience the world. From Little Italy to Chinatown then on to Greektown and Little Vietnam.  Devon Avenue is like a miniature India and the Pilsen neighbourhood has a distinctive neo-Bohemian-Baroque architecture from the Czech and Bohemian immigrants who settled there. There’s a strong Ethiopian community in the Uptown area and if it’s food I’m looking for I don’t think there is any culture not represented somewhere in the city.  Why fly when a quick “L” ride can get me anywhere I want to go in the world?

Name and describe a food from your world. Have you ever had a Chicago dog?  If not, then you’ve never tasted a hot dog. When I was a kid, my mother used to feed me a water-logged wiener on a saucer with no bread, just a puddle of ketchup on the side to dunk the meat in. I didn’t know what I was missing till I lived here.  You take a perfectly steamed dog and nestle it in a soft poppy seed bun. Squirt some tangy yellow mustard on there and cover it with relish, tomatoes and a pickle spear.  The best part for me is the onions and peppers, sweet and juicy.  You top that all off with a sprinkle of celery salt.  Trust me.  You will never eat any other style of hot dog again.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.) Stupidity, plain and simple. Lacking in reason and compassion, weighted down with red tape and pork fat.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people. Myths surround the street culture homeless people live every day. The most common and most damning is that “these people are just lazy and should go out and get a job.” Walk the streets for one night with Night Moves counsellor Jack Prescott and see how many people have two and sometimes three jobs and still can’t afford to pay rent in a safe neighbourhood. Volunteer at a service agency that educates people on how to write a professional resume and find out how often people get turned down despite their qualifications simply because they don’t have a home address.  You can’t get a job unless you prove you are stable and reliable.  You can’t have stability until you earn enough money to afford a place to live and food to eat and transportation to get back and forth to work. Learning disabilities, lack of education, and mental illness are often additional factors that prevent someone from being hired.

Another myth is that this can’t happen to you. Don’t fricking fool yourself. Imagine you get sick or suffer a disaster that depletes all your resources. The economy is in the toilet and you lose your job.  You’re over fifty, maybe, or your experience is limited. What if your family is gone or you fall out with them and you have no one left to help you out? The face of homelessness is changing. The fastest growing segments of the homeless population are women and families with children.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Painted Black

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Bend Me, Shape Me
Box of Rain

Author name

Debra R. Borys
Website/Blog/Author pages etc.