Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I try to learn something from everyone I meet—and every book I read. I’m apt to read a novel by a bestselling author followed by a self-published author and then one in between. In doing so, the elements that the best books contain jump out at me and those lacking in lesser works are glaring. Below is a list of some of the ingredients every story should have:

1. When the main characters are introduced, I need to be able to visualize them.

I recently read a six hundred page book in which I learned that the main character was 19 years old on Page 321. I knew he had blue eyes but beyond that I couldn’t visualize him. If I can’t see him in my mind, I can’t connect with your book.

2. Dialogue must be realistic.

If the dialogue is stilted or overly formal, it has the effect of keeping the reader at arm’s length. If you want the reader to identify with the characters and the plot, the dialogue must make them feel like the characters are old friends.

3. Every scene must propel the plot forward.

In certain genres, the main characters’ pasts help to complete who they are. But every time you mention something in the past, it must connect with something in their present or future.

4. If you’re going to use a weapon, I need to know it’s there before it’s used.

I read a book in which a woman was attacked while asleep in bed. Midway through the scene, she reaches under her pillow and pulls out a knife. The disappointment was acute because she’d been in that bed countless times throughout the book and the knife was never mentioned. If you’re halfway through writing the book and decide to use a knife, go back to an appropriate scene and mention that it’s there—and possibly why.

5. I need tension.

A book without tension is boring and bland. It’s the conflict that propels the plot forward.

6. Leave me hanging.

This goes hand-in-hand with tension. At the end of each scene, I need a reason to keep reading. I need to feel something big is in the works, something is building; something that will rock my world. After a few chapters if I don’t feel that drive to keep reading so I put down your book, I may not pick it up again.

7. Give me a love interest.

There’s a reason most blockbusters have both a male and a female lead. It’s another layer to the story; men and women respond differently to similar situations. Give me a story that is all men or all women and I lose that richness.

8. Make me believe it.

It can be science fiction or fantasy but it must be told in a way that is totally believable. Lay the groundwork, reel me in, and make me feel as though I have entered your world.

9. Give me props.

Watch any television show or any movie and you’ll very rarely see two people sitting in one place talking. In writing, there must also be movement; props such as pouring coffee, walking a busy street, petting a dog, sounds of neighborhood children, the aroma of restaurants… Give me something to hear, visualize, smell, touch and taste—and I will sense that I am there.

10. Show me your book has been professionallyedited.

I don’t need the lack of proper punctuation, the use of an incorrect word, inconsistencies with characters and glaring mistakes to take me out of your story. Get it professionally edited so it flows the way it should and it doesn’t shout at me that it was published on the cheap.

What makes or breaks a story for you?

p.m. will be awarding a Celtic Knot Necklace to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.


Dylan Maguire returns to his native Ireland with psychic spy Vicki Boyd. Their mission: to locate and extract a CIA Agent who disappeared in Dublin while on the trail of a known terrorist. But when Dylan receives word that his grandmother is dying, he is plunged into a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His mission and the dark secrets he’d sought to keep hidden begin to merge into an underworld that could cost him his life. He must now confront his past demons and the real reason he left Ireland—while Vicki harbors a secret of her own.

Suspense Magazine says, “p.m.terrell’s writing is powerfully written and masterfully suspenseful; you have to hang on for the ride of your life.” Midwest Book Review says the Black Swamp Mysteries series is “page-turning action, unforgettable characters, breathtaking descriptions and unexpected plot twists.” And syndicated reviewer Marcia Freespirit says the series is “riveting, spell-binding, sexy and intense!”


Brenda motioned for her to stand to the side. Then she parted the curtains.

Dylan had come around the back of the house while three men tumbled out of the pickup. They immediately converged at the truck bed, where they picked up pipes and headed toward the front door.

“So, Eoghan,” Dylan called. His voice was loud and heavy as he moved further from the house, drawing the largest man’s attention to him. “What’re wantin’ with me now?”

“What have they got in their hands?” Vicki whispered hoarsely.

“Lead pipes.” Brenda’s voice was husky and strong.

“You know what we be wantin’,” the largest one shouted. “We’re here to finish your sorry arse off; what we should’a done a long time ago.”

The men began to separate. They looked like a pack of wolves, Vicki thought, as one moved to Dylan’s left while the other moved to his right. The ringleader, Eoghan, stood his ground directly in front of him.

“He doesn’t stand a chance with the three of them,” Vicki gasped. “Not spread out like they are, not even with the gun.”

“Killin’ me won’t bring ‘er back,” Dylan called. He continued backing away from the house.

“No, but it’ll put you in ’ail that much sooner,” one of the others shouted.

“Kill me and you’ll spend your life in a prison cell, Aidan,” Dylan said to him. “I’m not worth your freedom.”

“Why should we spend our lives in prison for killin’ a man?” the third shouted. “You didn’t spend a day in the clink for killin’ our sister!”

Vicki gasped. “My God!”

Brenda grabbed her shoulder, forcing her to look her in the face. She hadn’t realized that her sister had disappeared from the window. But now as she stared at her amber eyes burning hot, she began to take in the pistols in each hand. “Slip on a coat and your shoes,” she hissed. “Fast.”


p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books. Vicki's Key, one of the first books in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, was one of five finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense) and 2012 USA Best Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense.) River Passage, an historical work based on her ancestor's migration to Fort Nashborough in 1779-1780, won the 2010 Best Fiction & Drama Award. The Nashville (TN) Metropolitan Government Archives determined it to be so historically accurate that they entered the original manuscript into their Archives for future researchers and historians.

Prior to becoming a full-time author in 2002, terrell founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her clients included the United States Secret Service, CIA, Department of Defense and federal and local law enforcement. Her specialty is in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence. Her experience in these areas have greatly influenced her books' plots.

She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation, whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and whose mission is to raise awareness of the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She founded Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, an annual event to raise money to increase literacy and reduce crime.

For more information on Book 'Em North Carolina, visit www.bookemnc.org and www.bookemnc.blogspot.com.

p.m.terrell's website is www.pmterrell.com and her blog is www.pmterrell.blogspot.com.

She can be found on Twitter @pmterrell

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/author.p.m.terrell and https://www.facebook.com/pages/pmterrell/129318810431554.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


The Best Advice I Ever Received

Over the years I've received a lot of great advice about writing, editing, publishing and marketing, so when Chris first invited me to share "the best advice I ever received" I wasn't sure how I could pick just one. Until I remembered what really started everything for me, what set me on the most wonderful journey in my life and has given me my dream…to be a published author and to be read by thousands of people worldwide.

Before I tell you what that advice was, let me share where I was "at" at the time. It was back in 2003, when I was becoming very dissatisfied with the business I was running—a private dayhome—and was stressed out from dealing with demanding parents. Since I was a teen my dream had always been to be a published novelist, but though I'd tried at times to get published, I hadn't realized my dream. And I had basically given up on it.

But giving up didn't mean the story ideas in my head stopped! No! They continued to grow, one story in particular. Disillusioned by past attempts to get published, with enough rejection letters to wallpaper my office twice, I tried to ignore the plot and characters that kept popping into my mind.

One day a non-writer friend came to visit. We were doing Pilates, and the next thing I knew I was telling her my dream to become a published author. I told her the story that had haunted me for two years, the entire plot, twists and all. When I told her how the story ended, I looked at her and saw tears in her eyes. And then she gave me the best advice anyone has ever given me.

She said: "Cheryl, don't worry if it gets published. If it's meant to happen, you'll find a way. Write this story for yourself. Write it because you have to!"

Three and a half months later that novel was finished, edited and published. The novel? WHALE SONG. My "heart book. Now eleven ebooks and nine paperbacks later, I am living my dream, which continues to grow every day. The possibilities are endless. Dare to Dream…and Dream BIG!

And now, here's a small appetizer about my new psychological thriller, SUBMERGED…

From Cheryl Kaye Tardif, the international bestselling author that brought you CHILDREN OF THE FOG, comes a terrifying new thriller that will leave you breathless…


"Submerged reads like an approaching storm, full of darkness, dread and electricity. Prepare for your skin to crawl." —Andrew Gross, New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds

Two strangers submerged in guilt, brought together by fate…

After a tragic car accident claims the lives of his wife, Jane, and son, Ryan, Marcus Taylor is immersed in grief. But his family isn't the only thing he has lost. An addiction to painkillers has taken away his career as a paramedic. Working as a 911 operator is now the closest he gets to redemption—until he gets a call from a woman trapped in a car.

Rebecca Kingston yearns for a quiet weekend getaway, so she can think about her impending divorce from her abusive husband. When a mysterious truck runs her off the road, she is pinned behind the steering wheel, unable to help her two children in the back seat. Her only lifeline is a cell phone with a quickly depleting battery and a stranger's calm voice on the other end telling her everything will be all right.

*SUBMERGED has a unique tie-in to Tardif`s international bestseller, CHILDREN OF THE FOG.
Get SUBMERGED today.

Learn more about Cheryl Kaye Tardif at http://www.cherylktardif.com and follow her on Twitter. Enter Cheryl’s March Giveaway – 59 Prizes! http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ExcerpTuesday: Teresa Carpenter



Chef's Delight

by Teresa Carpenter

Ex-SEAL and next-door neighbor Joss Stone has taken everything from diner-owner Heather—and he’s the one man who can give it all back…and more.

Heather sighed as she watched Joss jog away, his fine tush showed to advantage in thin knit shorts. She was so hot for his bod and all she got from him was a peck on the cheek. Wasn’t that the story of her life? Men thought of her as a friend or sister, rarely as a lover.

Maybe he was right. Maybe she was too nice.

And maybe she needed to do something about that.

A few weeks ago she wouldn’t have done it. She’d be too timid, too nice to contemplate such a bold move. But the hurt she’d suffered and the resulting anger gave her an edge. She didn’t really care if she provoked a little anger in exchange.

She climbed into her car, drove ahead of Joss, and leaned against her car waiting for his arrival. As she anticipated, he stopped when he reached her. Lord, he wasn’t even breathing hard. But he had removed his shirt and his broad chest glistened with sweat.

He had a light dusting of dark hair on his pecs that narrowed into a thin line bisecting his abs. She licked her lips. Sometimes a girl had to go after what she wanted.

“What?” he demanded.

“This.” And she threw her arms around his neck. Dragging his head down to hers, she plastered her mouth to his running her tongue along the seam of his lips.


Teresa Carpenter believes with love and family anything is possible. The author of twelve romance novels for Harlequin Books, Teresa's books have rated a Top Pick by Romantic Times and Her Baby, His Proposal was nominated for Best Harlequin Romance of the Year. She lives in San Diego surrounded by her large family. Her day job is in the exciting world of banking. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or attending one of her nieces or nephews sporting events. Her new Princess Camp trilogy is based on fairy tales.

• Website www.teresacarpenter.net
• Facebook www.facebook.com/teresa.carpenter.526

Friday, March 15, 2013

Diane Saenger


Deadline: Romance

by Diana Saenger

Emma has met Mr. Right, but dotcom millionaire Daniel first has to learn how to let go before he can lead Emma out of her fear of the future and into the miracle of the moment.

Expecting Daniel to be ready to leave, Emma came to a stop when he exited his bedroom door. She gulped and forced her focus away from the towel that hung low around his abdomen. Slowly she raised her eyes to the six-pack abs, moving up to his tan bare chest, not missing those muscled forearms. His dark wavy hair was bedroom messy and set off his alluring blue eyes. And there was that huge smile she loved.

“Girl, you turn me on just the way you look at me.” Daniel remained perfectly still. “I want to touch you, but we’ll be late to your parents if I do.”

Adrenaline pumped through her veins. She was ready to take this relationship to the next level and nothing was going to stop her now. Emma walked slowly toward him feeling seductive in the peach flowered sun dress that flowed around her knees.

Daniel took a step backwards. “Honestly, Em, you look so beautiful. I can only take so much.”

“Just a kiss. Honest.”

They stepped forward and fell into each other’s arms.

Daniel pulled her tight and she reveled in the feel of his abs, the hardness that pressed against her thighs. As he lavished her with kisses and sweet whispers of wanting her, Emma reached her hand between them and grasped the top of his towel.


Diana Saenger is the entertainment editor of the East County Gazette, theater critic for 10 other San Diego newspapers and operates her own entertainment syndicate, Saenger Syndicate and online sites www.reviewexpress.com and www.classicmovieguide.com. She has sold more than 1,000 short stories, articles or features to newspapers and magazines such as Good Times, Hispanic Outlook, Life After 50, Indian Country, McCalls, Romantic Times, and more.

Called a Roving film historian by Fox Studio Classics, Diana has been a guest panelist at the Robert Osborne Classic Film Festival in Athens Georgia for four years in a row and has been a judge for several screenwriting competitions, was a script reader for King Productions and has served as one of the press coordinators of the San Diego International Film Festival.

• Website http://www.reviewexpress.com/ • Facebook https://www.facebook.com/diana.saenger.332

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Authorsday: Amy Gamet

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I plot everything out in neat little charts and diagrams, then change my mind on the fly and write myself into a plot corner. I do it time and time again. It takes some work to get out of it, and I promise myself never to do that again, which lasts a few days until I do the exact same thing.

If you have a day job, what is it?

I was a math teacher until my second child was born, then I became a stay-at-home mom. I loved working with kids, but I love writing more than I ever loved geometric proofs or the Pythagorean Theorem.

What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

In real life, I’m very direct and to-the-point. That carries over into the first draft of whatever I’m writing. When I read it, I can spot the areas that could be expanded, but it’s a little counterintuitive to me. Several reviewers have commented that I’m very good at painting a picture with very few words. If they only knew!

What’s your writing schedule?

I keep trying to schedule my writing, but it rarely seems to work out the way that I plan. With three young children and a husband who travels frequently, I spend much of my time taking care of everyday things and putting out the fires that go with the territory. I write when I can write. And when that doesn’t work, I try again tomorrow.

What’s your favorite quote?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

What authors do you admire?

All of them. No matter whether the book is good or bad, long or short, tasteful or crass. It is an act of courage to write a book. An attempt to create an entire world out of nothing. That’s admirable in its own right.

What three things would you want with you on a desert island?

My kids, my husband and my computer! I feel decidedly naked without any of them. The kids are like my shadow--even when we have a babysitter and go out for date night, I keep thinking we accidentally left someone in the minivan. It can be hard to relax. The computer is my most useful tool, from writing to everyday life. Do you think there’s wi-fi in the middle of the Atlantic?

What is your favorite word?

I don’t have a favorite word, but the question reminds me of my best friend. Back in college, she got hung up on the words “peppercorn ranch”. She said them constantly, and usually laughed hysterically when she did. She’s a funny one, that woman. As I write this, I’m on a family vacation in sunny Florida, and she is dog-sitting for my big goofy yellow Lab, Gus.

What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?

An old friend posted pictures of herself on the top of a mountain in France, about to ski down through the clouds. I don’t know how to ski, but I’d like to learn and go there. What an experience! Next winter I plan to sign up for lessons—something I’ve been considering for years. My town has a small hill with a tow-rope and lessons for a reasonable price. I’m going to do it!

Who is your greatest cheerleader? My husband. He thinks I can do anything, despite heaps of evidence to the contrary.

Book Blurb:

Fire consumes a Florida hotel room, leaving behind a mystery man and the key to a safe deposit box. What’s inside leads to Julie Trueblood, a woman who is not what she seems, and a secret that only she can decipher. Hank Jared is the Navy investigator on the case. When passion erupts between them, will Hank choose the woman he doesn't completely trust or the career he has worked so hard for?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

James Reilly Intereview

In the fractured world we live in, conflict is our biggest problem. Read the rest of the interview of James Reilly author of Evolution. http://www.kimberlyshursen.com/#!jim-reilly/c1bea

Sunday, March 10, 2013


James Connor discovers an alien spacecraft buried along with the remains of early human ancestors Evolution by Jim Reilly http://www.kimberlyshursen.com/#!jim-reilly/c1bea

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sarah's Cowboy


Sarah's Cowboy

by Terry Irene Blain

Looking for thrills, practical Sarah signs up to be a schoolteacher on a western movie set and gets more than she’s looking for with cowboy stuntman Kit Stewart, adventure with a capital A.

A hand touched Sarah’s arm. “Yes?” she turned and there he was. Kit Stewart, the man who saved her from certain harm her first day on the film set. The man who continued to intrude on her thoughts. At least this time he wasn’t mad.

Darn if his half-smile didn’t make her heart thump just as hard today as almost being run down by galloping horses had that first day.

Still in cowboy garb, he thumbed back his hat in a gesture she’d seen a million times in the movies. “I wanted to say I’m sorry for yelling at you the other day.”

An apology. How gentlemanly. And unexpected. She supposed it was her turn.

“I wasn’t watching where I was going. I’m, ah, new to all this.”

His smile got even bigger drawing an answering grin from her.

“I’m Kit, the stunt coordinator.” He held out his hand.

She accepted his gesture, allowed his fingers, warm and just a little rough, to wrap around hers. “I’m Sarah, the school teacher.” She winced, “That sounds so, I don’t know.” She usually wasn’t at such a loss for words. But standing here with a low grade current running from his hand to hers caused her thoughts to scatter on the pine scented breeze.

He grinned. “I’ve always liked school. And school teachers.”

Wow, her heart kicked up another beat. She could actually feel the sparks flying between them. Were his nerves sizzling like hers? She took a breath and withdrew her hand, hoping to regain her composure. “I accept your apology and I hope you accept mine.”

“Of course.” He smiled then winked at her. “See you around.”

Oh lord, she hoped so. He turned and walked away giving her a view of leather chaps outlining one fine butt.


Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow up in a large Midwestern family with a rich oral tradition. As a child she heard stories of ancestors’ adventures with Indians, wildlife, weather and frontier life in general, so she naturally gravitated to the study of history and completed a BA and MA then taught the subject at the college level. Married to a sailor, now retired, she’s had the chance to live in various parts of the U.S. and has traveled to Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland.

• Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BoroughsPublishing
• Twitter https://twitter.com/BoroughsPubGrp

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cool author interview

Author Jim Reilly adds a sci-fi twist to the question "how did the human race begin" in his book "Evolution." http://www.kimberlyshursen.com/#!jim-reilly/c1bea

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Code of Silence

Code of Silence

by Sally Wright
A Kindle e-book
released in February, 2012

I found this prequel to the Ben Reese series to be an odd book for the genre in a couple of ways. First, the author’s style. It’s pretty far from being similar to Agatha Christie. I like the style. It grew on me. What’s more, it changed in subtle ways from beginning to the end. At first, the rhythms are abrupt, blunt-edged. There are few compound sentences and any number of sentence fragments. Second, while the author is celebrated as a top mystery author, and has several fine mysteries to her credit, this novel has little mystery, being more of a taut suspense-laden thriller. The tension rises and becomes more intense as the novel progresses until we arrive at an excruciating and satisfying climax.

This is the 6th Ben Reese mystery, and is set in a time frame before the others in the series. It is a historical novel with roots in the relationships between the US and European nations, principally the Soviet Union during and after WWII. The novel begins with a murder that occurs in 1947 in Washington, D.C. As an aside, it feels a bit odd to this reviewer to refer to a book as historical that deals with an important part of this reviewer’s life.

A decade later a second murder occurs near a small university town in Ohio. Several troubling events with no initial connection to the murder have happened to an Alderson University academic. Ben Reese, who trained as an Army Ranger and then served in WWII as a scout behind enemy lines in Europe has joined the staff of the university. He served with various units, including Canadian soldiers at the invasion of Fortress Europe. Now, this talented archivist and ex-military scout, Ben Reese, steps out of the shadows of his wartime career to locate and stop a man who seeks to eliminate all evidence of his previous espionage against the United States by murdering those who know the truth.

The novel is distinguished by the author’s meticulous and extensive research which buttresses the authenticity of conversations between various characters. As always one of the hallmarks of Wright’s writing is her development and presentation of the contextual basis for the actions that take place in her novels. If this novel is flawed it may be, for some readers, the sometimes rambling if thoughtful dissertations on the ever-shifting geo-political realities and the secrecy that surrounded events and decisions that were made at the highest levels of governments.

The novel bears the stamp of a careful writer who doesn’t shy away from descriptions of more brutal aspects of war and their aftermath. For fans of Ben Reese this novel reveals much about the experiences which shaped the character’s attitudes. And, as with other novels in the series, readers will be left with deep appreciation for marvelous character descriptions as well.

-- Carl Brookins Reunion, Red Sky, Case of the Great Train Robbery www.carlbrookins.com carlbrookins@comcast.net

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Author Interview

A new twist on how the human race evolved in Jim Reilly's "Evolution." http://www.kimberlyshursen.com/#!jim-reilly/c1bea