Sleuth on Safari

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author A.R. Kennedy and her cozy mystery novel, Sleuth on Safari.

Author’s description:

Naomi and her estranged sister are off on a trip of a lifetime—an African safari, a bucket list trip for Naomi on which she got a last-minute deal. Naomi thinks traveling with her sister will be the worst part of her African safari until she finds one of their fellow travelers, the unlikable Dr. Higgins, dead. She gets more adventure than she bargained for when she starts investigating what she thinks is murder but the luxury lodge says was a tragic accident. She only has a few vacation days, and a few game drives, to find the killer.

My Review:

In, Sleuth on Safari A.R. Kennedy has written a fun and easy-to-read amateur sleuth novel that will have you turning the pages to cheer on its rookie crime solver, all while enjoying the excitement of a safari.

I’ve been lucky enough to go on a trip similar to the one in the book* (without the murder, of course) and I can assure you Kennedy does a fine job of capturing the wild beauty of nature in sub-Sahara Africa as well as some of the less story-book aspects of such a trip.

She does it while presenting a likable sleuth, an adequately complex cast of suspects, and a satisfying ending.

My most significant complaints all occurred early on, when the two sisters in questions seemed more like they were squabbling preteens, not young women in their twenties. As other characters were introduced they came across as stereotypes. However, Kennedy was just getting started. Most of the safari guests became more complex as the trip went on, and the protagonist Naomi and her sister began to act their age after the first few chapters.

One the things I enjoyed most was the ongoing humor regarding the lack of internet access. Her description of other little things like the ubiquitous safari-themed decor, lavish meals and five a.m. game rides were all right on the mark, too. And anyone who has ever spent a night alone in the wilderness (yes, I have) will love reading about Naomi’s night alone in the tree house.

I recommend this book to those who like cozy mysteries, and to all who enjoy travel, whether they’ve been to Africa or not. This novel is a fine way to take a memorable armchair trip.

About the Author:

A R Kennedy lives in Long Beach, New York, with her two pups. She works hard to put food on the floor for them. As her favorite T-shirt says, ‘I work so my dog can have a better life’. She’s an avid traveler. But don’t worry. While she’s away, her parents dote on their grand-puppies even more than she does. Her writing is a combination of her love of travel, animals, and the journey we all take to find ourselves.

Find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, Bookbub or on Twitter. 

Buy Sleuth on Safari on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

A. R. Kennedy will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt:

I returned my attention to our current view. The lush green landscape in front of us. For over a mile, the varying shades of green spanned in front of us. Nothing man-made in sight. Even if you looked to your right or left, you couldn’t see the other lodgings. All you saw was nature.

Some of the greens started to sway. Initially, I thought it was the wind, but the movement was just in a small area. I pulled my binoculars out of my backpack for a closer look and gaped at what I saw.

Our phone rang and Charlotte ran to get it.

Now in full view, I watched a herd of elephants appear in the field. The twenty-plus elephants varied in age and sizes. The wrinkled gray bodies, with white curved tusks, marched along the land, spread out from each other. Their tails gently swung back and forth. Some stopped to graze. Their elongated trunks reached into the trees for leaves.

“It was Geri, from next door,” Charlotte told me as she returned. I pointed to the field. “Wow,” she gasped.

In silence, we watched the herd traverse the field. I snapped a few photos but spent most of the time just watching them. They walked slowly across the land. I smiled as a calf—that’s what Sonny told me a baby elephant was—trotted to keep up with his mother after he had fallen behind. The elephants’ trunks swung slowly back and forth as they plodded along. Occasionally, they stopped to graze a few leaves from the trees before resuming their journey together.

The herd now gone, I asked, “Why’d Geri call?”

“Wanted to let us know about the herd of elephants.”

I rested my head on the lounge chair. “That’s nice.”

“Ulterior motive, I’m sure.”

* A Personal Note:

I do love cozy mysteries but I picked this book primarily for its connection to travel in Africa. It did not disappoint. You can read about and see photos from my own safari at Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59 and Smiling my way across Kenya.

 

I Know When You’re Going To Die

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Michael J Bowler and his Mystery/Thriller novel, I Know When You’re Going To Die.

Author’s description:

Leonardo Cantrell is a painfully shy sixteen-year-old who cannot look people in the eye. One night while he’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, an old man forces eye contact and gives Leo the power to see Death.

 

His best, and only, friend—J.C. Rivera—thinks this new power is cool until Leo accidentally looks into J.C.’s eyes and “sees” his murder, a murder that will occur in less than two weeks. Stunned and shaken, the two boys sift through clues in Leo’s “vision” in a desperate effort to find the killer and stop him before he can strike.

 

Aided by feisty new-girl-at-school, Laura, the boys uncover evidence suggesting the identity of the murderer. However, their plan to trap the would-be killer goes horribly awry and reveals a truth that could kill them all.

My Review:

In the cleverly titled I know When You’re Going to Die, Michael J Bowler begins with a fascinating premise and delivers a taut and unpredictable tale. I raced through it.

What I liked best:

  1. The concept of needing to solve a murder before it happens is an interesting one. I’ve seen it elsewhere in science fiction, but the idea of having a “superpower” to know when others will die is unique, as far as I know, and the whole idea of solving a crime to prevent it is well executed here.
  2. The pacing is perfect. The suspense builds throughout the story and Bowler keeps the reader turning the pages without overloading or exhausting them.
  3. Leo, Bowler’s clinically shy good-guy protagonist, is a hero for all. Seriously, if you can’t cheer this guy on, consider seeking professional help.
  4. It’s a genre crime novel, so the reader knows the mystery will be solved just in time, but the ending is sufficiently convoluted and unexpected. It feels worth the wait.
  5. The underlying messages of friendship, tolerance and kindness are a refreshing bonus.

What I liked least:

I enjoyed this book a lot, and I think my minor issues with it stem from it being a young adult novel, one in which all of the protagonists are high school students. So, my recommendation comes with the caveat that the reader should not expect the story to go outside the scope of a young adult novel.

  1. I felt too many of the adult characters were not well-fleshed out. For example, the story included not one, but three moms who cared little about their teenage children. Hard for me to believe, but maybe not so hard for a teen-aged reader.
  2. The complicated relationship between close same-gender friends during the teen years and early sexual attraction and exploration is central to the story, and yet the author shies away from resolving issues. Again, I suspect the young age of the intended audience is the reason, so I gave him a pass on this one.
  3. The premise behind the plot brings up major philosophical questions about predetermination, death and even cause and effect. I’d have loved to see some of this stuff tackled … but again…..

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good crime story, or a good superhero story. You absolutely have to read it if you enjoy both.

About the Author:

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author who grew up in Northern California. He majored in English/Theatre at Santa Clara University, earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and a master’s in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills. Michael taught high school in Hawthorne, California, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities.

When Michael is not writing, you can find him volunteering as a youth mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and raising his newly adopted son. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, and hopes his books can show young people they are not alone in their struggles.

Find Michael J Bowler on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram or on Twitter. 

Visit Michael J Bowler on his website.

 Buy I Know When You’re Going To Die on Amazon

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Michael J Bowler will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt:

I’m not sure how long I lay curled up on that beach before I hear someone huffing and puffing above me.

J.C.

I crack open my eyes. He’s doubled over, clutching at his sides and fighting for breath. Sweat streams from his wavy black hair down onto his face. “What…” he wheezes, struggling to breathe, “did… you… see?”

I unravel myself and sit up, pulling my knees in and clutching my legs tightly. I don’t look at him, instead scanning the surrounding beach. It’s a weekday and there’s nobody around except the lifeguard in his station, and he isn’t very close.

“Leo!”

I look up as he collapses to the sand and gazes at me with wide, terrified eyes.

Still, I can’t bring myself to say it.

He grabs me by both shoulders. His grip feels like iron. His panting has lessened, but not the fear on his face. “Tell me. Please.”

I lower my eyes again. “You’re…” I force myself to breathe. “You’re going to be…” I can’t say it.

“What?”

“Murdered!” I blurt, glancing at the stunned look on his face.

His mouth opens, but nothing comes out for a long moment. “When?” His voice is a choked whisper.

I don’t want to say it, but I have to. “A week from Friday.”

He gags, like he’s gonna throw up all over me. I’ve never seen him so vulnerable, so small and afraid, and that scares me more than what I saw in his eyes. He collapses onto the sand and cries.

 

Heroes in Love

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author David C. Dawson and his novel Heroes in Love.

Author’s description of the book:

NOT EVERY HERO WEARS A UNIFORM

Can love last a lifetime? Billy Walsh and Daniel Richards never intended to be matchmakers. After all, they’re only at the start of their own love story. When Billy uncovers a failed love affair, he learns it lasted more than fifty years until it fell apart. He and Daniel see their own fledgling relationship through the lens of the now estranged couple, and they vow to reunite the elderly lovers. But as they set about their task, the pressure of modern life threatens to tear them apart.

About the Author:

David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers featuring gay men in love. He’s an award winning author, journalist and documentary maker. His debut novel won Bronze for Best Mystery and Suspense in the FAPA awards, and he has published two books since.

David lives in London with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

Find David at his website or on his blog. You can also find him on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn or on Twitter.

Purchase his book here at the U.S. Amazon link for Heroes in Love.

You can also find the book at these international Amazon links: U.K., Australia.

You can also purchase the book at:

http://www.boroughspublishinggroup.com/books/heroes-love

https://books2read.com/u/3G28pL

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/999639

Yes there is a giveaway!

David C. Dawson will be awarding $10 Boroughs Bucks to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

Billy was nearly an hour late when he finally rushed down Fulham Road and into the entrance of the Royal Marsden hospital where he ran into a black haired, brown-eyed vision of masculinity. Literally ran into. Publicly crashed into a stunning man wearing a white fitted t-shirt, a linen suit, tan loafers, and stood tall like a catwalk model. Too late Billy skidded to a halt, and into the arms of the handsome stranger.

“I’m so sorry,” Billy blurted out.

The vision of masculinity reached forward and grabbed his shoulders to stop him from falling.

“No problem.” The man looked directly at Billy and held on to his shoulders for a moment or so longer than was probably necessary.

Billy wanted to crawl away and hide in a corner. He had never considered himself a cool guy. The roles he played in soap operas as a sensitive-looking young man with an apologetic, hesitant manner were in truth no more than an extension of his own personality. He was uncomfortable in large social gatherings, and preferred his own company.

But this man with wavy black hair, deep brown eyes, and strong arms was someone he would dearly like to spend more time with. Billy struggled to find a witty phrase, a bright piece of banter to rescue the moment.

“Sure.”

Sure? Billy shook his head at the crassness of his response. The man smiled, dropped his arms, and strode off.

Shit.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

Gratitude

raising 3I’m getting ready to do several blog tours over the next few months, hoping to gain readers for my two most recent books z2 and c3. Part of the process is a series of interview questions, and part of answering those questions is having to reflect on personal choices like “why do you spend so much of your free time writing?” Good question.

I think often about the power and joy of realizing that writing is what I am meant to do. This is usually followed by a litany of complaints. I don’t have enough time to write. I can’t possibly concentrate with that damn leaf blower going next door. Why is my shoulder so sore. You get the idea.

Today, I’ve decided to focus on the things that make it easier for me to write.
1. I’m grateful I have a job that pays the bills well, and even more grateful that these people let me work just four days a week.
2. I’m thankful that my husband thinks it is incredibly cool that I write, as opposed to tolerating or even resenting it.
3. I’m grateful I’ve got the reasonable good health that I need to do this, and I appreciate the things in my life that keep me healthy. (a shout out here to qigong and my husband’s relentless efforts to feed me a healthy low carb diet)
4. I appreciate that all three of my children, my only sibling, and a fine smattering of other friends and relatives, have encouraged my writing, proofread for me, offered ideas and provided whatever publicity they could for my efforts.

Whew. That is a lot to be thankful for. Time to stop complaining and get back to writing. It is amazing what gratitude can do.

(speaking of gratitude, please drop by the Facebook page Raising Ecstasy and drop off a like for the cool image shown above.)

Knowing where you are going

signWhen I start to write a book I have a general idea of how it is going to end, but the specifics have surprised me every time. I’ve recently finished the first draft of my fourth novel, c3, and I am still enjoying some of the  unexpected twists and turns. The good news is that I always know exactly where I am going once I have finally gotten there. 🙂

A few months ago I wrote a guest post answering the question of whether I used an outline or not. My answer was yes I did and yes I didn’t. That seems to have become more true with each story I’ve written, and I’d like to share the post with you.

catWe’ve gotten very into particle physics at my house lately, mostly because my husband is reading about entanglement.  We are household of geeks, and the three of us and my older daughter who is visiting are fascinated by Schrödinger’s cat, hidden in its box simultaneously both dead and alive. For until you open the box, every possibility exits. It’s not a case of an “or”, it is an “and”. Dead and alive, simultaneously, as impossible as that seems.

And so it goes with my writing. In my twenties I thought planning was evil and that true creativity would spring forth from my subconscious only if it was unfettered by something mundane as an outline.  I still have pages of long hand creative brilliance that go on and on in a fascinating if somewhat illegible fashion and then go nowhere in various interesting ways.

My thirties brought children and a real job and a need for order, and my attempts to write went with it. Carefully planned lists and plot outlines filled neat folders on my computer, and my first book was outlined so many times it got ridiculous.  I didn’t write, I just made outlines, but they were really spectacularly thorough ones.

Today I do both, or neither. My fourth book started just like my first, with a series of chapters each defined only by four to six bullet points that got me from where I wanted the story to start to where I wanted it to end and provided a sense of pace for getting from here to there in about twenty chapters. No details.  Each time I have written the first few chapters with no further constraints and watched to see what happened. Each time, there were surprises, mostly in the subplots and additional characters that emerged.

outlines 1

research and outline in progress

Then for each chapter after the first couple, before starting  that chapter I expand the bullet points out to maybe ten to twenty items for just that chapter, so that I can now make sure that all the growing complexity is getting moved along in a timely fashion.  Every few chapters from then on I stop and look ahead, adding a bullet point or two to my later chapters to make sure that all emerging subplots will get carried through to conclusion. But I never plan details, leaving room even in the current chapter for my characters to surprise me.  They do that a lot, and I think that is the most incredibly fun thing about writing fiction.

So it is a little like Schrödinger’s cat.  It is both outlined and it is not. Only in the cat’s case, the probability function collapses when you open the box, and it becomes one thing or another, dead or alive.  My novel’s probability function collapses when the book is done, when it becomes both a story with form and structure and yet a tale full of events I could not have predicted when I started.

This appeared as a guest post at
Bunny’s Book Review
on June 8, 2013
Kindle Nook Books on June 13, 2013
The Book Connoisseur on July 28, 2013

Check these blogs out for a wealth of information on reading, writing and publishing as well as leads for many fine books you aren’t that likely to hear about elsewhere.

Orangeberry picks up the slack

new cover

new cover

I’m stretched too thin right now.

My third novel, z2, has just had a mild cover redesign and a very light edit after finishing its first  90 days of life as part of Kindle Select. It appears now on Kindle in its mildly improved form and it is newly available at smashwords as well.  In a few days I hope to be able to approve the final proof for the create space paperback version.  So,  as of yesterday I am delighted to be offering a Goodreads giveaway of 15 paperback copies of z2 and it is so exciting for me to to watch folks sign up for my giveaway and to add my book to their to- read shelf. Wahoo!  My third creation is talking physical form.

x0_sw final mediumMeanwhile x0 is having quiet behind the scenes excitement of its own. A reader has contacted me with her suggestions to improve the flow of the writing in certain parts of the book and I am excited to be working with her and learning of her ideas. From the beginning I considered putting out a second edition of x0 once all six books were finished, and now I certainly will. The story will not change a bit, but some of my more difficult to explain concepts will hopefully come across more clearly thanks to her expertise.  The problem is that she is providing input NOW and this collaborations requires my attention.

And then there is the current love of my life (well except for the real love,  but fortunately he waits patiently while I write). This love is the half created story c3, with Teddie Zeitman far from home and struggling for survival in a world far more frightening than anything she has ever imagined. I just want to be in this world day and night and of course I cannot be and it frustrates me to the very core of my being.

This explains why y1 is getting so very little of my attention right now. Fortunately the fine people over at Orangeberry are picking up the slack for me. They are trotting y1 hither and yon and folks are taking me up on my free y1 smashwords giveaways so I am pleased. The schedule for this coming week’s trotting around looks like this:

11th June – Guest Post st at Blog-A-Licious Authors 

12th June – Book Review & Author Interview at Author’s Friend

13th June – Guest Post at Kindle Nook Books 

14th June – Book Review at Everything for Books 

15th June – Author Interview at My Reading Problem 

16th June Book Feature at Just My Opinion

17th June – Guest Post at UnEnding TBR Pile

18th June – Author Interview at My Life in Books

Please come check out y1 at any of these sites.

The give-aways end (sob) and I turn in my hour of need to my first blog tour

I little over a year ago I thought I was writing books to entertain and express myself, and creating a novel from little more than my imagination certainly did that. It was tiring and sometimes frustrating, but dammit is was also FUN.

Soul searching confirmed for me that neither money not fame were the object, especially given that I am incredibly introverted and already work in a fairly well paying profession that I enjoy. But days after I hit that first publish button for x0 on Kindle, I discovered something that surprised me totally.  I wanted people to read my book! It was even better if they liked it of course, and I had absolutely no objection to them paying for it, but basically I wanted it to be read.

megaphoneSo suddenly I had two hobbies. I was writing away on y1 and loving it, and I was trying to come up with ways to get total strangers to open x0 up on their kindle and read it instead of the (gulp) million or so other books available electronically.

This second hobby has been more frustrating than fulfilling for me, and clearly there are reasons that I did not end up working in advertising. I tried getting bloggers to review my book (most never answered my queries.) I discovered that producing a paperback book on Create Space was both free and rather easy, and after that I discovered that I could give away copies of my paperback on Goodreads.  Oh boy!

Suddenly my day job was providing the pocket money for me to mail copies of x0 and y1 (which author (2)came out in paperback about the same time) to Romania and New Zealand and Brazil. I don’t even know if most copies made it to their destinations, but slowly responses to both books have begun to pour in. Some people gave me 5 stars (an A) and others two stars (a D) with no comments either way.  Some people praised my book and gave it a poor rating while others did little more than complain then rated it high. I could only scratch my head and wonder. But in other cases, other wonderful cases, I could tell from the review that the reader “got” my book. And whether they loved it or just kind of barely liked it, their understanding, and the sense of that connection that came with it, was a high almost as strong as writing the book itself.

And now all that has come to an end.  Goodreads only allows give-aways on books published within the last 6 months, and my time has run out for both x0 and  y1.  What to do, what to do?  I think I am addicted to reviews. Luckily, I have two solutions

One, my third love child, z2, will be out in paper back next week. Hurray.  I have six glorious months in which to give copies away. Two, I discovered fine people on the internet who will get my 6-month-olds out there onto people’s blogs for me. I elected to try my first blog tour with y1, and to use a group called Orangeberry.  My blog tour officially starts today, and the schedule for the first week is as follows.

4th June – Book Feature at Peace from Pieces

5th June – Twitter View with OB Book Tours

6th June – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

7th June – Book Review & Author Interview at Mommy Adventures

8th June – Guest Post at The Bunny’s Review

9th June – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

10th June – Book Review & Author Interview at The Reading Cat

Please check me out at these venues, and I’ll post the rest of the tour next week.  Ahhhh …. I think everything is going to be okay.