Friday, August 22, 2014

Meet Blake Sanders

I was tagged by the lovely and talented L.J. Sellers to participate in a blog tour/hop about the main character of my thriller series. L.J. recently posted hers, and you should check it out.

L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson Mysteries—a two-time Readers Favorite Award winner—as well as the Agent Dallas series and provocative standalone thrillers. L.J. resides in Eugene, Oregon where many of her 16 novels are set and is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Housing Help. When not plotting murders or doing charity work, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, and social networking. She's also been known to jump out of airplanes. You can find her any one of these places online:
FB Group, Jackson Junkies & Dallas Diehards:

Here we go.

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

My adult thriller series character’s name is Blake Sanders. Night Drop is Blake’s third outing. I introduced Blake in Night Blind, a story in which in the space of a few months, he’s lost his job, his only son to suicide, and his marriage. Mired in depression and grief, he can only face the world at night, washing dishes and delivering newspapers.
A year later, on a cold November night, Blake’s world is turned upside down again when an elderly woman on his newspaper route is brutally stabbed to death and Blake is charged with her murder.
In a desperate attempt to find the real killer, he learns that his friend had stumbled onto secrets that have been buried beneath Seattle’s Capitol Hill for 150 years. Secrets that are now being disturbed by digging for the new light rail tunnel. Secrets that will shake the city’s government. Secrets that foreign agents will kill for.
On the run from the police and murderers, Blake finds a chance to heal his grief and reclaim his life. But only if he can stay alive long enough to unearth the truth.

2) When and where is the story set?

Night Drop, like the first two books in the series, is set in and around Seattle, and takes place in present day. And, like the others, it also includes multiple points of view. Night Drop brings back naval intelligence officer Reyna Chase, but also introduces a secondary protagonist, Trip Macready, a former Navy SEAL.

Because of the multiple POVs I’m able to take readers farther afield than Seattle, and in Night Drop that includes Baja, Mexico, and the waters in and around the San Juan Islands from Canada south to Puget Sound.

3) What should we know about him?

Blake’s two distinguishing characteristics are that he’s very tall, a former college basketball star at 6’9”, and he suffers from ADHD. The former makes him both a large target and formidable foe, and the latter gives him a different perspective and motivation than most people. He often approaches problems laterally instead of linearly, making intuitive leaps of logic that most people find illogical. And he tends to leap before he looks, another tendency of people with ADHD.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

ADHD gets Blake into hot water lot because he tends to be impulsive, speaking or acting before he thinks. He’s also still grieving for his dead son and his lost marriage.

In Night Drop, the main conflict is that more than a year after Blake’s life fell apart he’s finally starting to pick up the pieces and put it all back together. But his ex-wife Molly is abducted, and he vows not to lose her, too. Her high-profile law firm calls in the FBI, which treats the case as a run-of-the-mill kidnap-for-ransom. To Blake, it’s personal. When the kidnappers demand that he deliver the ransom, he knows it is.
With Molly’s life hanging in the balance, Blake does the unexpected, setting off a chain reaction and a game of cat-and-mouse with the mastermind behind the abduction. The deeper Blake digs for answers, the more apparent it becomes that money is lowest on the kidnappers’ list of demands.
One of Molly’s clients is an ex-Navy SEAL, an expert dolphin trainer turned animal rights activist. When he disappears the stakes suddenly go up, and Blake asks naval intelligence officer Reyna Chase for help. As soon as Reyna gets wind of what’s happening, the game changes from saving Molly to saving Seattle from a terrorist threat that could wreak havoc on the city and kill thousands. The only way Blake can stop it is to pay the ransom—not with cash, but with his life.
And one of the biggest conflicts messing up Blake’s life in Night Drop is that he’s falling in love with Reyna, but still loves Molly, and he has to make a choice.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

Obviously, Blake’s primary goal in Night Drop is to get Molly back from the kidnappers alive.  But as with many of us his personal goals are finding happiness and trying to become a better person.

6) Can we read more about it?

ARCs are available on NetGalley (for those who are members), and from me.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Night Drop is slated for publication on September 8, 2014, and will be available on Kindle and in print.

Authors I tagged include the lovely Jo Chumas, author of The Hidden (; Paul D. Marks, author of the Shamus Award-winning White Heat (; Eyre Price, author of the Crossroads thriller series (; and Becky Masterman, author of Rage Against The Dying ( They’ll be blogging about their characters next week, on August 29.

Also, don’t miss Teresa Burrell’s blog post next Monday. Teresa has dedicated her life to helping children and their families, as a schoolteacher for twelve years and then as a lawyer. She focused her solo practice in juvenile court where she worked primarily with abused minors. She also received several awards from the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program for her countless hours of pro bono work with children and families.

Burrell writes legal suspense mysteries incorporating many of her experiences. Her “Advocate Series” consists of five books starting with The Advocate to the most recent, The Advocate’s Ex Parte. She can be found online at,

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Hop

by Michael W. Sherer, thriller author

Blog hops are sort of like the latest variation on chain letters—you hate to break the chain, yet wonder if all the hassle will really bring you good luck. But when thriller author Peg Brantley asked me to join this series on The Writing Process, I was delighted to take part. Talking (or blogging) about what we do is reminiscent of show-and-tell in second grade, an opportunity to contemplate and brag a bit about how we approach this business. It also gives me a chance to see how others whose work I admire practice their craft. (Who knows, I may end up stealing some terrific ideas.)

Peg posted her answers to four burning questions last week on her blog, which you can find here.  In turn, I tagged three terrific mystery/thriller authors—Timothy Hallinan, Paul D. Marks and KT Bryan—about whom you can learn more at the end of this post. They’ll be giving their own answers to these questions next week, on May 26, 2014.

These three authors were kind enough to agree to perpetuate this blog hop, but I chose them for a reason. Tim Hallinan writes the kind of books I wish I could write—tense, intricately plotted, with emotional heart and prose so beautiful it literally makes me weep. KT Bryan should be way better known than she is because her books fit neatly into the pantheon of women authors who write tough characters, and here I’m thinking Allison Brennan, JT Ellison, CJ Lyons, Alafair Burke and LJ Sellers. Her books are not for the faint of heart and her style propels her stories like a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter DOHC, 32-valve, direct- and port-injected V8 engine with variable valve timing, that is to say quickly and smoothly. Paul D. Marks is an under-appreciated author of Shamus Award-winning tough-guy novels in the best of the L.A. noir tradition.

So, here we go…

1. What am I working on?

I’m finally making decent headway on Night Strike, the fourth Blake Sanders thriller. Night Blind, the first in the series, was nominated for a Thriller Award by ITW, which was both an incredible honor and a challenge. My goal as an author is to write every book better than the last one, but ITW raised the bar for me with that recognition.

Even before the nomination, I knew that this book had to be bigger in scope, both geographic and thematic, than the three previous books in the series. A large part of what made Night Blind work is Blake himself. Though the plot involves large-scale thriller elements like a Civil War era secret involving nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in buried gold and a potential bio-weapon that could start a pandemic, it’s Blake’s story that keeps the book on a personal level.

To broaden the scope in Night Strike, I’ve brought back not only Blake’s romantic interest, naval intelligence officer Reyna Chase, but also Trip Macready, a character introduced in Night Drop, the third in the series, out this Sept. 8. And I’m giving larger roles to some supporting characters, which gives me the opportunity to tell the story from more points of view.

Thematically, the book borrows from current geopolitical situations and the rising tension between the West and Russia. What starts as a promise from Blake to a dying man ultimately leads to a confrontation between Russia and the U.S. in the middle of the Pacific, and only three people—Blake, Reyna and Trip—can stop it from escalating to war.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I can honestly say I’ve never read a book quite like this particular series. That’s not to say they don’t exist, just that I haven’t come across them. My Chicago-based Emerson Ward mystery series was likened by The Chicago Tribune, among others, to the Travis McGee books by John D. Macdonald. But the Blake Sanders thrillers are a little tougher to pigeonhole. They don’t fit neatly into any thriller subgenre though they do have elements of a military thriller, a techno-thriller, a conspiracy thriller, and more.

Blake is, in most respects, an fairly ordinary fellow, with no special training and no special skills to help him in his battle against better equipped foes. Three things do set him apart, however: his ADHD, which influences both his behavior and the way his thought process works; his extraordinary height, which is both a help and a hindrance; and his tenacity. He fights not just for his life and that of those he loves, but also for his own set of moral values.

And, for me, the writing is as important as the story. In that I try to emulate authors whose work I admire—Hurwitz, Crais, Hallinan, Unger, Huston, Parker, Flynn, Sakey, Winslow, etc. All too often I’ll pick up a book and start reading a fast-paced story with interesting plot twists only to finish feeling vaguely unsatisfied, as if I’d just eaten Chinese food, knowing that I’ll be hungry again in an hour.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write books I’d like to read. Though I enjoy a wide range of fiction, I’ve been drawn to mysteries and thrillers ever since I discovered a Judy Bolton mystery on the shelves of our “library” at home. Our ranch-style home on the farm where I grew up had a small study that contained a small spinet piano and nearly a wall of books. The few Judy Bolton novels on the shelves had been given to my mother when she was a young girl. I went on to devour Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Dick Francis and many others on my way to becoming an author myself.

I like stories, particularly stories that move, stories with pace and action. But I also want to learn. Genre fiction is story-based, but also can deliver the same lyrical beauty of “literary fiction,” the same moral dilemmas, the same depth of character. (For a terrific take on “genre” vs. “literary” fiction, see Tim Hallinan’s two-part blog at “The Blog Cabin.”)

Mysteries and thrillers also gives me, and the reader, a few things that other fiction sometimes does not. Usually, they have definitive endings as opposed to the nebulous, indeterminate conclusions of literary fiction, especially. They may not always end happily, but most of the time, the good guys win and justice is served. When nothing in life is certain, I think mysteries and thrillers offer readers a sense of order in a world of chaos.

4. How does my writing process work?

Most authors fall into one of two camps—“pantsers” and “plotters.” The former jump into each book feet first with no idea what it’s about or where it will end up. The latter rely on a carefully crafted story with a beginning, middle and end, usually noted on paper somehow (outlines, sticky notes, white boards are some tools writers use).

I’m a “plodder,” which is to say I not only rely on detailed notes and an outline that serves as my roadmap, but I work slowly and methodically. I have to know the beginning, middle and end of a book before I can start writing. And unlike writers who can jump around, writing a scene here and another there and eventually assembling them all into a whole, I write linearly so I know how the story develops, and don’t forget things when I come to later scenes.

However, having a roadmap doesn’t mean I don’t get sidetracked and take the scenic route on occasion. These diversions are part of my creative process and often are the most delightful surprises of writing every book. Last week, for example, as I was writing a chapter, a character that I’d designated as a Chechen mole aboard a Russian destroyer turned out not to be the mole at all, and the book will be better for it.

I use what I call the A.I.C. writing method—ass in chair. Unless I’m on deadline with another project, I try to write every day. I keep regular office hours, and have my latest chapter open on my laptop even if I’m not working on it. Every day that I devote to writing, I start by rewriting what I wrote the day before, which gets me into the story, and I go from there.

I research heavily, even more than I used to, because it’s easier now with the Internet and because it’s easier for readers to catch me in a mistake than it used to be. I do a lot of my research during the plotting phase because I need to know how things work in order for the plot to work. But I research while I write, too, using Google Maps, Street View and satellite views to work out logistics and get a sense of places that I can’t get to in person.

For me, writing is slow work. Typically it takes me a year to 18 months to research and write a book. In the seven years since I started the Blake Sanders series, I’ve written five complete novels—three in that series and two in a YA thriller series—and part of the book I’m working on now. It is often, as Tom Clancy once said, “like digging dirt.” But because there are gold nuggets and precious gems in that dirt, for me writing is the most rewarding career I could have chosen.

Next week, be sure to find out how these amazing thriller authors approach The Writing Process:

Timothy Hallinan has lived, on and off, in Southeast Asia for more than 25 years.  He wrote songs and sang in a rock band while in college, and many of his songs were recorded by by well-known artists who included the platinum-selling group Bread.  He began writing books while enjoying a successful career in the television industry.  Over the past fourteen years he has been responsible for a number of well-reviewed novels and a nonfiction book on Charles Dickens.  For years he has taught a course on “Finishing the Novel” with remarkable results – more than half his students complete their first novel and go on to a second, and several have been, or are about to be, published.  Tim currently maintains a house in Santa Monica, California, and apartments in Bangkok, Thailand; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  He is lucky enough to be married to Munyin Choy-Hallinan.

KT Bryan is an action, adventure, romantic suspense novelist who enjoys good wine, great art, Tuscany, and a touch of mayhem. (You never know what you might see when you wake up suddenly in the dark.) She's the author of the TEAM EDGE series. KT currently lives in Georgia with her family, one overweight German shepherd and two very spoiled cats. She has a varied background in the military, the airlines, antiques, and medicine. Her favorite career is writing and sharing stories with readers and fellow writers. Find her at or on Twitter @KTBryan1.

EDGE Of TRUST Amazon Bestseller 

Paul D. Marks' novel WHITE HEAT is a 2013 SHAMUS AWARD WINNER.  Publishers Weekly calls WHITE HEAT a "taut crime yarn."  Paul is also the author of over thirty published short stories in a variety of genres, including several award winners – and LA LATE @ NIGHT, a new collection of five of his stories.  And he has the distinction, dubious though it might be, of having been the last person to film on the fabled MGM backlot before it bit the dust to make way for condos.  Find out more at: , 

Michael W. Sherer is the author of Night Tide, the second novel in the Blake Sanders thriller series. The first in the Seattle-based series, Night Blind, was nominated for an ITW Thriller Award in 2013. His other books include the award-winning Emerson Ward mystery series, the stand-alone suspense novel, Island Life, and the Tess Barrett YA thriller series.

He and his family now reside in the Seattle area. Please visit him at or you can follow him on Facebook at and on Twitter @MysteryNovelist.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CFC Says Goodbye

by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers

With a great sense of sadness, and a tiny bit of relief, Crime Fiction Collective is saying goodbye. It's been a terrific three years, and the bonds we've formed as friends will last a lifetime. Our core group of bloggers got together at Left Coast Crime in March, 2011, and said, "Hey, we should form a blog."

It's a little ironic that my decision to co-chair LCC 2015—and take on those huge responsibilities—finally led me to realize I didn't have the time and energy to support the blog the way I used to. My fellow bloggers have been feeling the same pinch. The fiction market is insanely competitive, and almost everyone feels like they can't write novels fast enough to make a living or spend the time they should to make their books visible.

So something had to give for most of us. But we plan to stay in touch with each other and our readers. You can find us all online, blogging at our own websites and interacting on Facebook and other social media.

Thanks, everyone, for your terrific support of Crime Fiction Collective. We've enjoyed all the comments and discussions, and have learned a lot from you along the way. Our lives are richer because of the new friendships this blog brought us.

We hope you'll all stay in touch. Happy reading!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Has the FCC Lost Its Mind?

By L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers

Net neutrality is a simple concept—we all have equal access to the internet. Yet the underlying structure is complex, and recent FCC proposals could negatively affect us all. Particularly authors who depend on internet exposure to make a living.

The latest proposal: The FCC wants to allow networks and carriers (Comcast!) to create fast lanes, in which certain content providers who pay for the privilege are given preferential treatment. Internet service providers (ISPs) have wanted this for a long time because it gives them the ability to speed up or slow down traffic to certain websites and increase their profit.

Essentially, those who can pay (Google, YouTube, Amazon) will get faster service and more internet visibility, and those who can’t (individuals, startups, artists) will be left with crumbs. Even without digging into specific examples, this seems inherently wrong. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “the net effect will be to tie creators to a small number of large platforms, reduce the choice and leverage of independent artists relative to corporate media, and make it harder for new or marginalized voices to be heard.”

And when you consider that Comcast is about to merge with Time Warner to become a major ISP and is the only ISP available in certain areas, the idea of giving Comcast even more control of the internet seems like a really bad idea. Concentrating power in the hands of a few is always dangerous.

This isn't just about myself as an author/entrepreneur, but as a consumer with a curious intellect who wants to be able to access a vast array of ideas on the internet—with equal speed.

The FCC seems to have lost its mind on both decisions. My personal opinion it that it should block the merger and drop the fast-lane idea. Consumers, who depend on the internet for information, social networking, and many purchases (books!), need a choice of providers and a level playing field.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Taking bets on horses

By Gayle Carline
Mystery Author and Horse Show Competitor

While you are reading this, I am in Burbank, California at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. I've been there since 6:30 in the morning, which meant I had to get up at 5 a.m. to dress and make the hour-long drive from my house.

Have I ever told you I'm not a morning person?

Me before coffee.

As much as I hate getting up early, I love showing my horse. It's a kind of quiet excitement at the show. You wait for your class, then you hurry up and get you and your horse ready, then you get to the arena and warm-up. Then you wait until your number is called and you perform for the judges.

Me and Snoopy at the Del Mar Arena

It's about two hours' worth of work for a three-minute ride.

Many people have a narrow vision of horse riding. They think jumping is the only equine sport (not true), and that everyone wants to ride their horse in a parade (also not true). When I told one woman that I show my horse, she actually said, "Like in the circus?"

Really not true.

Not jumping, not parading, not in the circus.

There are two types of horse shows. One is a breed show, like Arabian or Quarter horses. At breed shows, there are many types of events, and you can show your horse in any of them. Your only requirements are that you have proof that your horse is registered as that breed, and that you are a member of the breed's organization. The other kind of show is purely an organization show. You must belong to the organization, but they don't care what kind of horse you have. These shows are typically, but not always, event-driven, like jumping or dressage. Think Olympics.

MURDER ON THE HOOF, my latest mystery/romantic-suspense is set at an American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) horse show. It will be released in May and I am both excited and frightened. Not a lot of folks are into the equine world, and maybe a romance combined with murder and mystery and secrets galore will not be enough to coax non-horsey people to enter my world.

Still, I am in love with the story and I will remain its loyal servant. I think it's the perfect horse story for people who aren't into horses - all the excitement with none of the smells.

Here's a snippet to whet your appetite. You can read more on May 21 (for Kindle), or order it in paperback on May 24.

* * * * *

Willie felt the push of the mare’s rising back end, then the upward roll of her shoulders. In a few strides, Belle settled into a gentle rocking-horse rhythm. Willie kept her butt digging into the saddle, her left hand trying not to pull up on the reins, and her right hand trying to stay on her leg. Every four strides or so, she reminded herself to breathe.

It takes a lot of work to look this relaxed, she thought.

There was a cluster of young riders at the end of the arena, sitting around on their horses and talking. Not certain if there was room to pass, and not wanting to disturb them, Willie turned across the arena early.

“Hey, watch out,” a man’s voice barked at her.

She looked up to see the same man who’d nearly run into Emily, now barreling toward her like a freight train. Her first impulse was to stop. She raised the reins and breathed, “Ho,” but saw that she was stopping in his direct path. Her second reaction was pure adrenalin—she kicked the mare, who leaped forward and took off running.

All thoughts of how to ride disappeared from Willie’s brain. She braced her weight into her stirrups and pulled on the reins. The effect was not what she wanted. Belle raised her head and yanked forward, adding a hopping motion to her gallop. Willie grabbed the horn, trying to push herself back into the saddle. Her body shifted to the right with each bump. The rapid jostling kept her powerless to either stop the horse or get back in the middle of it.

Damned if I’m gonna come off. With one final thrust, she shoved her body left and down. Belle slowed for a moment, allowing Willie to bend her knees and sit back. The pair settled to a stop. What felt like a ten-minute nightmare was probably not even worth a rodeo’s eight seconds.

Willie let out a deep sigh and looked down at Belle’s head. Tyler and Emily were already at her side.

“I’m so—” Willie began, then choked on the word “sorry.” I’m such an idiot.

“It’s not your fault,” Emily said, helping her off the horse. “Bobby Fermino is a horse’s ass.”

The golden horse trotted over to them, carrying the smiling Bobby. “I’m so sorry. Are you okay, Miss…?”

Unlike Tyler, his dark eyes bored into her with an intimacy she did not welcome. “Willie,” she managed to force out.

Emily scolded him. “Bobby, you’ve really got to be aware of other riders. My client is a novice, trying out a new horse.”

“Again, my apologies, Willie.” Turning to Emily, he added, “Perhaps you should find a quieter arena for your less experienced riders. Are you horse shopping? I have a little gelding with me that might be more suitable for such a petite lady.” He looked at Willie again and smiled, then called out, “Denny, get the roan out.”

She glanced over at the side of the arena. A dark-eyed, tanned young man in skinny jeans and a fitted olive green T-shirt nodded, then hopped into a golf cart and headed toward the barns. Denny, no doubt.

Bobby wheeled his horse around and galloped across the arena, cutting off another rider. Willie turned to Emily.

“I feel so stupid.”

“Don’t. He took you by surprise. Yeah, you could have done a lot of things better, but at least you stayed on.”

“Barely.” Willie sighed. “I just didn’t want to come off, not in front of these people.” Especially not in front of Tyler Handsome.

Emily put her arm around Willie’s shoulder and gave her a squeeze. “There’s a Mexican proverb—‘It’s not enough for a man to know to ride; he must know how to fall.’”
* * * * *
BeeTeeDubs, the show I'll be at is called the Hollywood Charity Horse Show. Bill Shatner will be there - it's cool!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thank Goodness For The Fairer Sex

by Michael W. Sherer, thriller author

There are hundreds of reasons I love women, but one of the most important is how much smarter they are than men. (Unfortunately, too many women don’t give themselves credit for it, and more unfortunately most men will never admit it.) I believe one of the reasons they’re smarter is because they read more than men do.

The statistics are out for 2013, and once again women surpassed men in the number of books they read. According to Pew Research, 76 percent of all adult Americans (18 and over) read at least one book last year. But that breaks down to about 69 percent of men and 82 percent of women.

Not only are more women reading than men, they also read at greater rates than men do. The average number of books read by all adults last year was 12, and the median number was five (meaning half of all adults read more than five and half read less). Both numbers are higher if you include only adults who read at least one book—a mean of 16 books and a median of 7. But here again, women outpaced men by a substantial margin. Women read an average of 14 books, compared to 10 for men. 

And all the talk about readers forsaking print books for e-books is just that—talk. The research says that 69 percent of adults read a book in print form, 28 percent read one in e-format, and 14 percent listened to an audiobook. But while the number of books read in e-format increased last year, people are still reading books in print; only five percent of people who read a book last year said they read an e-book without reading a print book. At least 87 percent of those who read an e-book also read book in print, and 35 percent of print book readers also read a book in e-format. 

Some authors are also voracious readers. I’m one of them, so I wouldn’t be one of the “typical” Americans surveyed by the research company. But I know that my reading volume pales in comparison to that of many women, particularly fans of the mystery and thriller genres. And though the research doesn’t touch on genres, I’d be willing to bet that women’s reading interests are much broader than men’s, too. No wonder they’re smarter than we are!

Obviously, building readership is important to authors like me. Sometimes I wonder if that’s an uphill battle because of the way reader numbers skew by gender. With fewer men reading books than women, it’s more difficult to “acquire” a male fan. I think men are more likely to read books written by men (again, I think I’m atypical in that I enjoy books by women with female protagonists as much or more than the opposite). On the other hand, because women are more willing to read a broader range of books from different points of view, perhaps that offsets the lower number of male readers there are from which to draw.

Things could be worse—a lot worse. A Reading Agency study in Britain conducted by OnePoll found that 63 percent of British men don’t read asmuch as they think they should, and 46 percent said they read less than they did in the past. Worse, 75 percent would rather see a film or television adaptation than read the book. (The numbers for women were the opposite—75 percent said they’d rather read a book than see a movie or TV adaptation.) Worst of all, 30 percent of British men admit they haven’t picked up a book since required to in school.

Readers, how do you stack up against these numbers? What types of books do you like to read, and in what formats?

Personally, I’m raising a glass to women everywhere. Keep reading, ladies.

Michael W. Sherer is the author of Night Tide, the second novel in the Blake Sanders thriller series. The first in the Seattle-based series, Night Blind, was nominated for an ITW Thriller Award in 2013. His other books include the award-winning Emerson Ward mystery series, the stand-alone suspense novel, Island Life, and the Tess Barrett YA thriller series.

He and his family now reside in the Seattle area. Please visit him at or you can follow him on Facebook at and on Twitter @MysteryNovelist.

Monday, April 21, 2014

When multitasking is not your forté

by A.M. Khalifa, thriller writer, Google+

This is my last post as a regular contributor to Crime Fiction Collective for now. Thank you L.J., Peg and others for hosting me, and Jodie for inviting me in the first place. The experience has been tremendous, and I would strongly recommend group blogging as a fun and interactive way to engage with savvy readers and talented writers. But being the great multi-tasker that I am not, I am stepping aside to focus on reigning in my numerous wayward writing projects. I am working on the last installment in a collection of romantic suspense shorts about strong women struggling to find their place in life. And not one but two full length novels this year, one of which is the sequel to my critically acclaimed debut, Terminal Rage. I will be blogging erratically on my site, so you can join the conversation here. And you know how writers love seeing their email list swell, so do sign up below to my newsletter for periodic updates on my writing adventure.

I leave you with two short clips from London and Sydney exploring with members of the public what the title Terminal Rage conjures up in their mind.

Goodbye for now, but I am sure you will be seeing me around these parts, popping up every now and then. Thank you again for a wonderful run!

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My romantic suspense, The Italian Laundromat is currently discounted at 99 cents on Amazon!

A.M. Khalifa's critically acclaimed debut novel, Terminal Rage, was recently described by Publishers Weekly as "dizzying, intricate, and entertaining." 

Foreword Clarion says, "Khalifa manages to pull off something that is often difficult to do in the crime-thriller genre—he keeps the novel unpredictable and lays out a plot so twisted that the puzzle picture morphs as more pieces are added."

The ebook version of Terminal Rage is available for $2.99 on Amazon.

Ruthless People

Blood Always Tells  by Hilary Davidson (Forge hardcover, 15 April 2014).

Dominique Monaghan finds out that her married lover is cheating on both her and his wife, and decides to get even by blackmailing him.  Her plan is to confront him when they are at Gary's country home for the weekend, but before she can do it, they are both kidnapped.

The kidnappers load them into the back of a van and drive for a few hours.  They end up at an isolated house that looks creepy enough to be haunted.  Dominique and Gary are forced inside and shut in separate rooms.  But Dominique is nothing if not resourceful, and she manages to steal a cell-phone long enough to call her big brother Desmond.

Desmond is the quintessential Good Guy and spends a lot of time volunteering for Causes. He feels like he's been cleaning up Dominique's messes forever.  He happens to be on a date when he talks to his sister, and when he hears her convoluted tale he rushes off to find her.

But what he discovers when he arrives creates more questions than answers, and he ends up on a lengthy quest that involves multiple law enforcement agencies, a couple of shady lawyers, and Gary's wealthy socialite wife.

The plot of this standalone contains many twists, but it's not unwieldy.  It's a different type of novel than Davidson's Lily Moore series, but still gripping and suspenseful.  You may find yourself reading long into the night rather than put this book down.

FTC Full Disclosure:  Many thanks to the author for the Advance Reading Copy.