Today I am homoured to have a guest post from an Author that I love. I have read many of his books, and given them all brilliant reviews. (I will link the reviews and book links below).
DJ Swykert is a talented Author who writes gritty novels involving criminals, drugs, prostitutes and gripping plots. His characters are always fully explored so I feel like I knew them properly. DJ Swykert’s books are page turning brilliant. So, as I started off saying, I am pleased to bring you today a guest post from this Author, where he describes how he writes his books.
One Way to Write a Novel
I’m pretty straight forward as a person and a writer. I’m a former 911 operator, and in 911 you don’t have the luxury of a lot of pondering, you need to get to the essence of a problem in a hurry.
It was good training for resolving conflict in a story. I also use a tip a literature teacher gave me:
“Never use a ten dollar word when a ten cent one will do.”
I’ve tried to do that, keep my writing direct, succinct, and understandable. Too many writers try to impress readers with their massive vocabulary, but few readers, including me, want to read a book with a dictionary on their lap. If I have to look up definitions to understand a sentence, it closes my interest in the story, and the book.
I don’t use detailed outlines to write a story. I have the character, conflict, and the ending in my head before I begin. I put the character into conflict, and since I know how it will be resolved, the chapters always move forward to that ending.
My idea for a first draft always begins with the characters. My protagonist Ray in Children of the Enemy was a man I saw who ran a salvage yard, which could also be described more simply as a junkyard. He was sitting on a chair outside of a house trailer, smoking a cigarette, with virtual mountains of scrap metal pieces and junk appliances surrounding him. I imagined in real life he was perhaps a cross between Dirty Harry and James Earl Jones. It was just how he impressed me. Once I have a few characters I like I put them into a situation,this is the conflict.The next step is I frame in my mind how I intend to resolve the conflict. The rest of the book consists of chapters that point toward the resolution.
I’ve had a lot of conversations about the best way to write a book. I have long believed there is no one system that works for everyone. It’s whatever process works for you; whether it’s outlines, daily word requirements, black boards, however you frame your story and get a draft onto paper. I write a story like you’d watch a movie, chapters being scenes, the end result being me as adirector, assembling the chapter-scenes into a coherent story consisting of characters, conflict and resolution. Then I edit it. Someone asked me once how do you write a poem? I told them I write it down and then I edit it for the next thirty years. This is a slight exaggeration, but there’s an elementary truth in it, good writing requires good editing. Your imagination creates the story draft, editing is where you shape it into a book. Working with a good editor is a real plus.
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator writing and living in North Carolina. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Coe Review, Monarch Review, the Newer York, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Sweat Street, Alpha Wolves, The Pool Boy’s Beatitude and Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, The Death of Anyone, Three-fingered Jack Davis and Nude Swimming.
Thank you very much DJ for that guest post. I think any insight into how Authors write their books is really interesting, and I quite agree that if you need a dictionary to read a book, then the enjoyment is taken out of it. I love the idea that the books are written as a film might be.
Here are the books I can recommend with my reviews and links to each book
Today, I am excited to share with you a guest post by a lovely and talented Author – Rebekah Louise. Rebekah has written two books. (both reviewed and loved here on ChocolatePages!). I reviewed ‘The Bulletproof Proposal’ yesterday where I told you that today the book will be available for a free download! It sure is, so get downloading now.
Thank you Rebekah for this guest post and offering us this free download.
I am very excited to share this post with you. As most of you will be aware, I have published my latest book ‘The Bulletproof Proposal’.
This is my second book and I decided to write a novelette. I love the idea of a short story, the reader can enjoy it in one or two sittings, fitting it in around their hectic lifestyles.
The idea for ‘The Bulletproof Proposal’ came when a close friend of mine was waiting for her partner to propose. I thought about what someone might do in that situation and I think most people would try and gain control, giving rise to the idea for my new book.
This story was an exciting piece for me to write. I took on Lisa’s character with ease as she was fun to write about (I think I could also see some of myself in her). Authors will tell you to write about a topic that you would want to read yourself and this is a book that I would want to snuggle up with.
I also love the cover, which I had great fun designing, and I am guilty of choosing a book by its cover, so I hope it will attract you too. My wonderful husband put together the book trailer and I think it is a wonderful teaser of what’s to come.
‘The Bulletproof Proposal’ was published in November 2017, and my hope is that you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it. Please leave a review if you liked it, on either Amazon or Goodreads, and tell your friends and family about it, it would be much appreciated.
After five years of dating Lisa is anticipating that all-important question, will you marry me? Impatient, Lisa decides to take matters into her own hands and propose to Matt, after all it is the 21st Century.
Only she takes it one step further and with the help of her best friend Mandy, she prepares the ultimate proposal.
What she doesn’t know is whether this will be the beginning of her happily-ever- after or the beginning of the end.
As followers of this blog will know, Caroline James is one of my favourite Authors. After reading my first book by this Author, I was hooked and have since read each book as soon as I could from when they were available.
Today, we are celebrating a year since publication of Jungle Rock, a brilliant story with characters that I knew and loved. (Perfectly fine to read as a standalone too though). So, with thanks to Rachel at RachelsRandomResources for organising this celebration, and huge thanks to Caroline for being the amazing Author of this book, lets proceed with the celebrations.
Handsome young chef Zach Docherty is feeling the heat. Following an exposé in a national newspaper, his fiancée Poppy Dunlop has broken their engagement. Heartbroken at the thought of life without Poppy, Zach drowns his sorrows and, when his agent suggests that Zach becomes a contestant in a reality TV show, Jungle Survival, he reluctantly agrees. Plunged deep in the jungle, into a bizarre mix of talent and trials, Zach meets glamour model Cleo Petra, and the cameras go crazy. Will Zach survive and be crowned Jungle King? Or will his latest exploits push Poppy further away…
Published November 21st 2016 by Ramjam Publishing Company
Caroline is not only a super Author, a lovely Lady, she is also a very talented baker. I am honoured today to have Caroline on ChocolatePages with a guest post, and a wonderful recipe.
I asked Caroline about the recipes she features in her books, and also if she could share one with us. Of course as a Chocolate Lover, I was hoping it would involve chocolate….
Why I Feature Recipes in my Books Plus Recipe.
It’s great to be back on Chocolate Pages blog and huge thanks to lovely Amanda for hosting me today.
My working life has revolved around food. From the early days of waiting table and washing pots to ultimately running my own hospitality businesses, I’ve always had a passionate interest in food and cooking. For many years, I ran a company that represented celebrity chefs, the cooks that you see on TV, and I sourced work for some very talented clients.
From TV and media work to product endorsement, appearances at festivals and shows to recipe development and research. I had a wonderful time working in an environment that centred around food and I travelled extensively meeting some fascinating folk along the way.
When I began to write seriously, about five years ago, I found that I naturally leaned towards placing my characters in the hospitality industry and as food became their life, if was fun to add in a recipe or two and readers often write to tell me how much they enjoy trying them out.
Here is one of my favourite cake recipes and as we are on Chocolate Pages, it must be something seriously delicious with chocolate!
Happy baking and happy reading, with love, Caroline
This chocolate cake is moist and very fudgy and best of all, easy to make!
200g dark chocolate
200g dark brown sugar
200g caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
85g self-raising flour
85g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 large eggs
200g dark chocolate
284ml double cream
Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin and preheat the oven to 140C/ 160C/ Gas 3.
Place butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl above a pan of simmering water and melt, stirring gently.
Mix flours, bicarbonate of soda, sugars and cocoa powder in a large bowl.
Beat eggs and milk.
Pour melted chocolate and butter and add egg mixture to the flour until
Spoon cake mix into cake tin and bake for 90 minutes (or until the top
Leave the cake to cool then turn out. When cold, slice the cake across into three layers.
Make the Ganache:
Lightly whip the cream until it just begins to stiffen. Melt the chocolate as before then combine with the cream mix, working quickly. Spread over cake layers and re-assemble, spreading remainder of ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate with chocolate curls or decoration of your choice. Store the cake in a cool environment, in an airtight container, for up to three days.
Thank you very much Caroline for that delicious sounding recipe, I will certainly be making that some time soon. Plus it does sound very easy to make.
Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry – a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK and spends her time writing, climbing mountains and running a consultancy business. Caroline has a great fondness for the Caribbean and escapes to the islands whenever she can. She is a public speaker, reviewer and food writer and loves cooking and baking, especially cake. Her next novel, The Best Boomerville Hotel is coming soon…
To stay in touch or contact Caroline, you can find her here:
Caroline is offering a very generous £20 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. (Will you spend it on books?)
All you have to do is sign up to Caroline’s mailing list, and then Caroline will announce the lucky winner by email. The competition is open internationally, and not only do you get a chance to win, you will also receive great bookish news from this lovely talented Author. Competition closes on November 30th, so join up now.
Thank you Caroline for the delicious sounding recipe, writing wonderful books, and for the generous giveaway. Thank you to Rachel for organising this birthday celebration. Don’t forget to visit the other blogs celebrating Jungle Rock’s birthday.
Welcome to my spot on the celebration month of Blogival. If you haven’t heard of Blogival, it is a celebration of all the Clink Street Authors. I participated last year too, and it is a wonderful way to celebrate all the brilliant Authors from this publishing group. Thank you very much to Rachel Gilbey for organising this and getting me involved. Last year during Blogival, I found an Author that I really liked – Lee Cockburn. Ms Cockburn writes very dark thriller stories, and I love them!
The first book I read by Lee Cockburn was Devils Demise. I have to say it was the darkest most disturbing book I have read in a while. Then I read her next book, Porcelain, Flesh of Innocents. This one was equally dark and equally brilliant. I have wondered what makes an Author choose to write about such dark and unsettling topics, so I was very happy when Ms Cockburn explained it to me. Today I bring you a guest post from this talented Author, whereby she explains to us, whyshe writes about disturbing topics!
You can read my review for Lee Cockburn’s first book ‘Devils Demise’
Lee’s latest book Porcelain, Flesh of Innocents was published by Clink Street Publishing on February 21st 2017. There are some bloggers who are writing reviews of her book especially for Blogival, so be sure to check them out too.
You can read my review for Porcelain, Flesh of Innocents
Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks is back and in charge of tracking down a sadistic vigilante, with a penchant for torturing paedophiles, in this unsettling crime thriller by a real-life police sergeant.
High-powered businessmen are turning up tortured around the city of Edinburgh with one specific thing in common — a sinister double life involving paedophilia. Leaving his‘victims’ in a disturbing state, the individual responsible calls the police and lays bare the evidence of their targets’ twisted misdemeanours to discover, along with a special memento of their own troubled past — a chilling calling card. Once again heading the investigation team is Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks, along with her partner Detective Constable Marcus Black, who are tasked not only with tracking the perpetrator down but also dealing with the unusual scenario of having to arrest the victims for their own barbarous crimes. But with the wounded piling up the predator’s thirst for revenge intensifies and soon Nicks discovers that she is no longer chasing down a sinister attacker but a deadly serial killer.
Vivid, dark and deeply unsettling Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents is the perfect next read for serious crime and police thriller fans.
Published February 21st 2017 by Clink Street Publishing
I am happy to welcome Ms Cockburn to ChocolatePages where she explains to us why she writes about disturbing topics. It is a question I have wondered about, so thank you and I hand you over to the talented Author of Devils Demise and Porcelain Flesh of Innocents, Lee Cockburn.
Why I write about disturbing topics?
This is actually very hard to answer, as I find myself recoiling a little when I read my own work, just at the level of violence and the graphic detail involved. I suppose I wasn’t prepared to leave it to the imagination of some people, because that might not stretch far enough to reach, what is the harsh reality of the crimes portrayed in my first two novels.
I actually regret the first chapter of my first novel Devil’s Demise being quite so brutal, taking the advice of a female colleague that it wasn’t brutal enough and that I hadn’t explained what was going on in full detail. So me being me, I had to prove a point and I think I took it too far, as it makes me uncomfortable reading it, and I wrote it! However, I always knew she was going to live and the book is about her strength and will to live and her fight against the perpetrator.
The sequel Porcelain Flesh of Innocents is equally harrowing, another uncomfortable read, but again highlighting the crimes that go on on a daily basis against the most vulnerable amongst us, the victim’s silent in their torment, trusting, fearing the threatening lies they are told, to ensure their silence. However again this is another story of the victims taking back control of their lives, and the consequences of the crimes committed against them and the lasting damage they have to live with.
Book three, the title a secret I’m afraid, I promise to try and bring some happiness to the main characters, although the first chapter is another hard hitting and terrifying start to the book, with graphic scenes and more tragedy to endure (apologies).
I may write brutal and graphic books, but I think I am genuinely a kind, humorous, fun loving decent person and don’t know where the dark side I write about comes from, I presume fear of the topics I have chosen.
I set out to write an exciting, gripping and slightly scary book, with tension and suspense throughout, and love scenes that don’t end after one line, as this is something that annoys me when I am reading, as a little titillation goes a long way to the enjoyment of a book for me (although I might take this a little too far sometimes too!).
To some people my books will shock, to others they seem to love them, the more graphic and violent the better, and I am well aware that you will never please everyone, although I do try. The erotic scenes are probably an indulgence on my part, some people say it detracts from the story line, and they may be right, but I think a little personal interaction and passion is an exciting little interlude from the suspense and horror of the actual plot.
One critique given, suggested that officers would never think of lust and desire when they are on a case, I disagree, because if they are on cases all the time, then there would never have time to think about things like that? The officer’s work is high pressure, full on and you practically live in each other’s pockets day in and day out, and of course there would be attractions and liaisons between colleagues, the nature of the job would lead them to steal away precious moments together, as all they ever seem do is work!.
I digress, I hope this has explained a little why I write what I write, and you will either like it or not, happy reading, and make sure you lock the door.
Thank you very much Lee for explaining that to us. I am very happy that there is a third book on the way, and I am intrigued as to the title and plot this time. I guess we will have to patiently wait and see.
Here are the links for Lee’s books and for Lee herself. Take a look at these and remember to check out all the rest of the posts for this summer’s Blogival.
I have been a fan of Clare Chase since I read her first book ‘You Think You Know Me’ back in 2014. So I was very pleased to hear that Clare had written another book ‘AStranger’s House‘ which has just been published in paperback. (February 7th 2017). I reviewed this book previously and you can read my reviewHERE!
Today, I have the honour of asking the very talented Clare a few questions. So I cordially introduce to the the wonderful Clare Chase, Author of You Think You Know Me. A Stranger’s House and One Dark Lie.
Check out these other blogs on the book tour.
Hi Clare, Can you tell us a little about your book ‘A Stranger’s House’?
Hi Amanda – thanks so much for having me on your blog today!
A Stranger’s House opens just after the heroine, Ruby, has walked out on her unfaithful partner. With nowhere else to go, the house-sitting job she’s offered in Cambridge seems like a godsend: a way to escape the gossips in her village and earn some extra cash at the same time. But it’s not long before she starts to feel uneasy. The signs of the absent-owner’s dysfunctional life are everywhere, from the unsettling paintings on his bedroom wall, to the bloodstain on the rug in his sitting room. As Ruby pieces together clues from his home, she feels closer and closer to a man she’s never met, and would rather be distanced from.
In an effort to take control, she starts to dig for information, but Nate, who owns the house-sitting business, is dead against her sleuthing. It leaves Ruby wondering what he has to hide. When she finally unearths his secret, it knocks her for six.
Where did your inspiration come from for the plot and characters? Did you take inspiration for characters from anyone you know?
I’ve always been fascinated by what you can glean about people from looking at their home environment, and it was this that gave me the idea for the book.
When creating characters I sometimes pinch aspects of people I know, but in the main they develop inside my head and are almost entirely made up!
Do you have a favourite place to write? And is it tidy or a mess of papers?
I’m happy to write pretty much anywhere, and have a nice, light laptop with good battery life! When I’m at home I frequently avoid our study (which is messy and currently home to things like an old chemistry set, some woodwork tools and a cuckoo clock, all waiting to be freecycled)! My favourite place to work is the kitchen, which is nice and light with a view of the back garden.
I don’t tend to have too many papers around since I mainly work on my computer, after an initial stage of scribbling ideas into notebooks.
Did you have to do much research for this book? Do you have any amusing tales of while you were ‘researching’?
A lot the background knowledge that went into A Stranger’s House was gleaned through living in Cambridge for over twenty years, so effectively I’ve been absorbing information as I go along. I find it’s the perfect setting for crime fiction. Despite being a city, it’s fairly small, so inequalities are concentrated. You get millionaire Nobel laureates living cheek-by-jowl with squatters, and while there are college choirs singing Elizabethan madrigals by the river, there are also drunks dealing drugs on the commons. The contrasts can be stark and I imagine life must seem very unjust to some of the city’s residents. Cambridge’s size means news travels fast, too. A high proportion of the locals work for the university, and if you want to keep a secret you have to be careful who you talk to! And then there are the rivalries which abound in both academia and industry, which can lead to tensions too. The stakes are high, and when people have a lot to lose, there’s potential for conflict.
I used to work at the university and also one of its colleges, and I’ve overheard some interesting things, but I probably shouldn’t repeat them here!
You have two great characters, I found Ruby to be so developed in your writing that I could understand her thoughts and actions. Did you know the characters Ruby and Nate before you wrote them or did they develop as the book did?
Thanks, Amanda! I did a lot of thinking about both Ruby and Nate’s back stories before I started writing, and that dictated their main character traits. So I feel I knew them pretty well before I began the book. Having said that, each time they were faced with a new situation I got to know them that bit better as I realised exactly how they’d react in that particular circumstance.
Were there any ‘deleted scenes’ that we might be intrigued about?
In the original version of A Stranger’s House, Ruby was pregnant. As you can imagine, the reworked version involved quite a few tweaks!
What book are you reading now and who are your favourite Authors?
I’ve just started The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths, which is the first in her Stephens and Mephisto series set in Brighton in 1950. I’m a massive fan of her Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries, and having read them all I’m delighted there’s another set of books to immerse myself in! As for my favourite authors, I could list hundreds! Can I cop out and tell you my main influences instead? Alongside Elly Griffiths, these would be Liane Moriarty, Kate Atkinson and Sophie Hannah!
What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?
When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.
But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…
But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?
About the Author:
Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries set in London and Cambridge. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University.
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Here is where you can buy A Strangers House and find out more about Author Clare Chase:
Today I am very happy to be able to share with you an Author interview with RicoLamoureux, Author to fantastic new crime thriller ‘Riker’s Calling’. Rico’s new book is available for pre-order now. His publication day is August 4th. I shared my book review of ‘Riker’s Calling’ here on ChocolatePages. If you read my review, book description and Rico’s thoughts here, I’m quite sure you will be interested in the 25% offprice that you can get the book for if you pre order.
Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself?
Sure:) In a nutshell, I’m an American author who has been living in the Philippines for fourteen years now. Very long story short, I met the girl of my dreams and we fell in love. After knowing each other in person for only two weeks, (and a few letters over six months as pen pals) we got married. I was unable to acquire a marriage visa for her due to income restraints, and so unable to leave her for who knew how long, I decided to stay.
My whole life ended up turning upside down, losing the comforts of a First World country and having to adapt to Third World harshness, but for true love, I did it. (Yeah, just as dramatic as one of my books, only this story is true!)
As an indie author I’m still trying to write my way back home. I don’t know if I’ll ever meet that income limit to reach such a goal, but I have no regrets, my main priority now being to at least be able to make enough as an author to where we can finally have the priceless gift of a child. I think after fourteen years of perseverance and patience we deserve such:)
I’ve read that you are classified as legally blind this must make writing much more difficult, but perhaps much more satisfying?
Yes, VERY difficult. And this is why I couldn’t get a ‘normal’ job back in 2002 to get that visa. I’m totally blind in my left eye and legally blind in the right due to Acute Retinal Necrosis. I just know that if I had 20/20 I’d feel like I had a super power, and be at least 100% more productive than I currently am capable of, but this was the card I was dealt, so I just have to make the best of it, pacing myself so as not to strain my remaining sight as I read and write with a magnifying glass held up to my eye.
Riker’s Calling must have taken some imagination! to portray the mind of a serial killer. What was your inspiration or thought process for this novella?
With writing, as with anything else in life, I feel it’s important to be in alignment with truth, so as far as writing a serial killer, this means lots of research– to know their thought process, impulses, etc. And yes, then there’s the writer’s best friend– imagination.
I believe a great story requires being true to all the characters. In other words, an author needs to care enough for each to understand them and do them justice. For example, an antagonist doesn’t see themselves as bad. In their mind they’re doing what’s right, so one has to capture such when writing. Walking that thin line between serving all involved and story is what’s crucial to great storytelling.
I can imagine that ‘Riker’s Calling‘ would make a great film, would this be something you would be interested in?
I’m glad you were able to pick up on that! I have a number of publications out, but I believe the two most cinematic are Riker’s Calling and my dramatic horror story, The Mirrored Staircase. I studied screenwriting in film school, (one year before my eye condition affected my right eye, the left one having been affected eleven years prior and left totally blind.)
I take an organic approach to writing, which is why each one of my novellas is truly different, the story idea of each telling me how it wants to unfold. So yeah, with Riker’s Calling, it really did come to life like a film, and if given the chance, I really believe it would do well up on the big screen.
Riker could be next!
There is a nice quote from Riker’s ‘Niece’ Jaime in the story:
“Treat your passion like a pastime, you’re a hobbyist. Treat it like it’s your life, you’re an artist.”
Is this how you see your writing, as an artist?
Absolutely! I studied a number of arts during my younger years, including a combat-oriented martial art, acting, and music. But the art of words is what I have been a practitioner of since childhood, and continue to be. Any artist knows that magical feeling of creation, and for me it’s writing.
What’s next for you?
If Riker’s Calling does well out in the wide vastness of cyber space, which would be a feat in and of itself, I plan to release a companion book for it, revealing a lot of things behind the story, including a secret within the cover.
I’ll also be releasing my autobiography soon, and maybe even a few more surprises no later than Christmas:) This will all be shared on my social media, and when it comes to twitter, I follow all who follow me, as I feel it’s the right thing to do.
And whats next for Riker?
Riker has a natural instinct to protect, and with that kind of warrior’s heart he’s going to have to face The Ghostwriter, a disenfranchised writer who snapped and is now wreaking deadly havoc on the publishing industry. (His origin is told in the short story The Ghostwriter, which is now up on Amazon).
This is going to get really personal for Riker, because for the first time in a very long time he will open his heart to someone, The Ghostwriter a looming threat to such happiness.
As a writer, I imagine that you enjoy reading too? Who are your favourite Authors?
I like to say that my four indirect literary teachers were Stephen King, Robert Cormier, Anne Rice, and Ken Follett. I’ve been trying to get King’s attention to see if he’d be a hero that would blurb The Mirrored Staircase, so if anyone out there knows him…LOL!
You’ve also been on another mission, haven’t you? One involving a tattoo?
Yep! If Riker’s Calling becomes my first bestseller, I’m going to get the cover of it tattooed to my forearm. (Prime real estate, as Jaime would say!) It’ll be my first, and I’m not a fan of needles, but such a milestone would be very important to me:)
This is a book that I have been intrigued about, I love crime and legal thrillers. I was excited when the Author D J Swykert asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing his book. Of course I did! Thank you DJ. And guess what…..
I was so intrigued by the main discussion point of this book that I asked the Author to write me a guest post on familial DNA and what the legalities are and how this influenced his creativity and inspiration for this book. You can read this at the end of my post, after my review. Its really interesting!
Detroit homicide Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from narcotics for using more than arresting and is working the case of the killer of adolescent girls. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, which has not been detected on the other victims. But no suspect turns up in the FBI database. Due to the notoriety of the crimes a task force is put together with Bonnie as the lead detective, and she implores the D.A. to authorize an as yet unapproved type of a DNA Search in an effort to identify the killer. Homicide Detective Neil Jensen, with his own history of drug and alcohol problems, understands Bonnie’s frailty and the two detectives become inseparable as they track this killer of children.
Published February 25th 2013 by Melange Books, LLC
This book interested me straight away from the blurb when the Author told us that an ‘as yet unapproved type of DNA search’ is requested to be used. I really enjoy legal / criminal /mystery type books, especially when you know the Author knows his stuff. DJ Swykert really did his homework with this novel! This book is filled with gritty crime scenes, detectives trying to work out what was going on and who was the criminal despite there seemingly being no leads. But what about this ethical DNA evidential dilemma? Bonnie has to convince her boss’s that is it a good idea, but is it ethical? and does the end justify the means?
“They do this as policy in the UK, but it’s not common practice here in the states. There are only two states, California and Colorado, that even have a policy on it…..”
We follow Bonnie as the hardcore detective on this case, and Jensen who becomes more than just a cop to Bonnie! We also have Lagrow who is Bonnie’s partner. Bonnie’s character is really well developed, we get a great insight into her mind and why she does the things that she does. She has had her challenges in life, but this just equates to the reader seeing her as a ‘real’ and believable character.
“Knowing something and accepting something are two different things.”
The book was fast paced, a real page turner that I just wanted to keep reading. You know the kind whereby, you think I’ll just finish this chapter, but as you finish it another twist of excitement, wonder, intrigue happens and then you just need to read another one! Swykert is very vivid and descriptive in his words, I would say this book is not for the timid types. His descriptions of the victims of these crimes are beyond my imagination in the evilness of humans! How somebody can do these awful crimes is beyond me, and it is a comforting thought (for me to believe) that this is only fiction! However saying that, the crime force that are working to find and capture this criminal are bad assed, tough guys! Bonnie makes a great point when she says:
“Maybe that’s why we’ve never had any contact with aliens, they take one look at what’s going on down here and head back into outer space…”
Aside from reading the book, I was really interested in the facts of familial DNA, and through a few emails, the Author explained to me how he came across it and how it came as inspiration for his book. I am very pleased to be able to share this information with you all, and hope that you will find it as interesting as I do.
From the Author about familial DNA and his inspiration for A Death of Anyone
Unique DNA Search Catches the Grim Sleeper
By DJ Swykert.
The underlying theme in The Death of Anyone, Melange Books, poses the Machiavellian question: Does the end justify the means? Bonnie Benham, the lead detective in my story, has her own answer. But the legality of this question will be answered in a real life courtroom in the California trial of a serial killer dubbed by the media: The Grim Sleeper. Lonnie David Franklin, the Grim Sleeper, was caught because his son’s DNA was the closest match to DNA collected at the crime scenes in the database.
Investigating Franklin’s son led them to investigate Lonnie Franklin. But there was no direct DNA evidence that linked Lonnie to the crime scene until they obtained a sample from him after his arrest. Lonnie Franklin will be the first person in the U.S. to ever stand trial for murder based on this type of evidence, and its admissibility issues will be thoroughly tested by defense attorneys.
Only two states at this time, California and Colorado, have a written policy concerning the use of Familial DNA in an investigation. The admission of Familial DNA, with its potential Fourth Amendment violations, has never been tested in court. The California trial of Lonnie David Franklin will become a landmark case for the future use of Familial DNA Searches by law enforcement agencies nationwide.
This is an update on the legal progress of the trial. Franklin was arrested on July 7, 2010, The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office charged him with ten counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and special circumstance allegations of multiple murders in the cases. A grand jury indictment was issued on March 23, 2011. The Grim Sleeper has been resting comfortably in jail since his arrest awaiting trial; the large quantity of evidence in this case, some dating back thirty years, has caused a lengthy pretrial discovery.
The trial was originally scheduled to begin the summer of 2014, but was put on hold. It was rescheduled for June 30, 2015, but that didn’t happen. On Monday August 17, 2015, at a pretrial hearing, the trial was rescheduled for October 14, 2015, which also didn’t happen. The trial finally began on February 16th, 2016 and is currently in the defense phase.
I first heard of the technique while working as a 911 operator in 2006. It came up in conversation with officers.I thought at the time it would make an interesting premise for a book. I began writing the mystery some three years later after leaving the department. I had just finished editing a first draft of The Death of Anyone in the summer 2010 when news of The Grim Sleeper’s capture in Los Angeles was released. I read with interest all the information pouring out of L.A. regarding the investigation and the problems confronting prosecutors. All of which are explored in The Death ofAnyone.
In my fictional story Detroit Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from working undercover in narcotics to homicide and is working the case of a killer of adolescent girls. She is a straight forward investigator who describes herself as a blonde with a badge and a gun. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, which had not been detected on the other victims. But no suspect turns up in the FBI database. Due to the notoriety of the crimes a task force is put together with Bonnie as the lead detective, and she implores the D.A. to use an as yet unapproved type of a DNA Search in an effort to identify the killer.
The Death of Anyone is available on the Melange Books website and also on Amazon.com in Kindle and print formats.
DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator writing and living in the Cincinnati area. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Coe Review, Monarch Review, the Newer York, Lunch Ticket, Gravel, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Sweat Street, Alpha Wolves, The Pool Boy’s Beatitude and Maggie Elizabeth Harrington. You can find him at:www.magicmasterminds.com/djswykert. He is a wolf expert
Welcome my fellow chocolate and books lovers, today I have a treat for you!
I have Andrea Lochen on ChocolatePages with a deliciously inspired guest post. Andrea is going to share with us some tempting deserts which have been inspired by books. Welcome Andrea, and lets get our sweet teeth tempted.
Ten Most Delicious Desserts Inspired by Novels
by Andrea Lochen
As an avid reader with a major sweet tooth, I love when authors include the recipes for the yummy desserts they’ve made me drool over throughout their book. It’s a marriage of two of my favourite activities—reading and baking! And if you’re a book club member, what better treat to bring to your meeting than a dessert straight out of the novel? Here are ten of my favourite book-inspired desserts!
1) Southern Caramel Cake from The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Who hasn’t wanted to try a bite of the scrumptious-sounding caramel cake that Minny makes in The Help? (Maybe not so much her chocolate pie, however!) Though Stockett didn’t include the recipe in the back of her book, this food blog has the The Junior League of Memphis Cookbook recipe that supposedly inspired her.
2) Coconut Cake from Amy E. Reichert’s The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
The titular coconut cake in Reichert’s The Coincidence of Coconut Cake earned its place on the cover of this heartwarming book. To the main character, Lou, baking her grandmother’s cake is the ultimate expression of love. In the book, those who get to eat it earned their slice, which certainly made me crave a piece all the more!
3) Crème Caramel Flan from Anita Hughes’ Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story
In Hughes’ newest novel set in Spain, she describes how Majorca’s restaurants serve a mouthwatering variety of delicious fresh fish and locally grown vegetables and how many diners like to end the meal with a dessert that satisfies any sweet tooth while not being heavy or cloying. This creme caramel flan recipe certainly does the trick!
4) Lemon Cream Cake from Juliette Fay’s Shelter Me
Fay introduces the concept of “pology cake” in her first novel, Shelter Me, as something you bake for someone you’ve wronged in the hopes of that person forgiving you. Though according to Fay, it doesn’t need to be a particular kind of cake, her recipe for lemon cream cake in the back of the book and on her author website sounds fabulous!
5) Peanut butter bars from Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
Though there are several delicious dishes described in Stradal’s debut novel about Midwestern foodie culture, it was the blue-prize winning peanut butter bars recipe from Lutheran church lady, Pat, that caught my eye. I made this for my book club and these chocolate-frosted bars are just as decadent as they sound
6) Thumbprint Cookies with Jam from Kelly Simmons’ One More Day
Baking figures prominently in Kelly Simmons’ book because in One More Day, the main character, Carrie Morgan, bakes with her grandmother, as she did when she was a little girl. However, it’s not clear whether her grandmother is dead or alive! These thumbprint jam cookies look like just the thing to bake when you’re in a nostalgic mood (or simply in the mood for something buttery and sweet)!
7) Mantecadas from Tina Ann Forkner’s Ruby Among Us
In Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner, Kitty and her granddaughter Lucy spend a lot of time together talking over cookies and tea. Lucy even has a special tea cup that she drinks out of with her grandmother Kitty who is keeping a lot of secrets about Lucy’s past. Below is a link to Kitty’s secret recipe for Lucy’s favorite cookie, Mantecadas. Yum!
8) Nanaimo Bars from Miracle Beach by Erin Celello
Nanaimo Bars are served in the cafeterias of the ferry boats between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada. In Miracle Beach, when main characters Magda and Jack come to the Island, they fall in love with the sinfully sweet bars. Author Erin Celello testifies that they’re amazing!
9) Damascus’ Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake from TheRiver Witch by Kimberly Brock
In The River Witch, a family feast brings an estranged southern family together. When ten-year-old Damascus Trezevant’s summer ends with a bounty of pumpkins, she sets out to heal deep wounds with a sweet, old recipe for Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake and faith in the magic of a mother’s love. You won’t be sorry you tried this recipe!
10) The Best Chocolate Cake Ever from The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen
What dessert list is complete without a delectable chocolate cake? In The Repeat Year, main character Olive is named after her maternal grandmother who passed away the week before she was born. In addition to her grandma’s name, Olive also inherited her recipe for the “best chocolate cake ever” which her mom bakes as a peace offering for their family in a time of major transition.
Andrea Lochen is the author of two novels, Imaginary Things and The Repeat Year. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and her BA in English at the University of Wisconsin. Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. When she isn’t teaching, reading, or baking, she is hard at work on her third novel. To learn more about her, visit her website:www.andrealochen.com.
Thank you very much Andrea for that delicious post. We have the books, the cake, all that is left is the cup of tea. Andrea and myself would love to hear what books you have found divine deserts or any kind of food love in? Let us know below.
Today, I am bringing you an interview with Author Caroline James whose book ‘Coffee,Tea, The Caribbean and Me’ has just been released. I also have a brilliant book trailer to share with you.
AUTHOR CAROLINE JAMES
I have read Caroline’s book, my review will follow this post. I loved the book, and recommend it to all who enjoy a good hearty book of comedy, romance, food and laughs.
Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean and Me’ by Caroline James.
February 12th 2016 by Ramjam Publishing Company
I loved that clip, and if you read the book you will really want to go to the Caribbean! Now onto my questions for Caroline.
Hi Caroline, thank you for answering my questions. I was unsure whether to have Tea,Coffee, Champagne or Rum punch to drink during this interview! 😉
1. I love that your book is based in the Caribbean, the West Country (UK) and London. Did you spend time in all 3 places for ‘research’?
Yes I did. I lived in Cumbria for several years and visit as often as I can. I am very
fond of the Lake District and the beautiful countryside and it is a great pleasure to
write about it. I have family in the Caribbean and have been travelling there for many
years. Barbados is a stunning island and life there is very different from the one I
lead here. It seemed natural to send my two Cumbrian characters, Jo and Hattie, to
a place that I know well and let them, through the pages of the novel, feel the warm
restorative glow of a welcoming Caribbean holiday.
2. It was great to find out what all the characters that I love have been up to. Do you have a favourite character and did they come from a certain inspiration (e.g a person, or people)?
Hattie is probably my favourite character. She is a no-nonsense sort of person who
has a heart of gold and in her own way is very funny without trying to be. She’s not
based on anyone but an amalgamation of characters that I’ve observed in the past. I
would like us all to have a Hattie in our lives – a true friend and supportive rock when
you need her.
3. I love your quote ‘ The time to be happy is now’, do you want to tell us where you got this from?
My mum always said this to me. What she meant was that we should be happy right
now, in the moment, no matter what is going on around us. I think it is a lovely quote
and say it often to myself. She had a very positive attitude towards believing that
living life in the positive not the negative enables good things to happen. I think she
4. Do you have a specific or special place to write?
Yes, I do. I have a small oak desk that I bought at an auction a few years ago. I use it
just for writing and writing paraphernalia. This is in a corner of the room with a high
ceiling and vermillion painted walls, it is very atmospheric. I tuck myself away with a
favourite chair and cushion, light a fragrant candle,sip from a big mug of coffee and
nibble on a packet of biscuits and then when everything is just right, I begin to write.
5. What book are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. It is a short novel,
beautifully written and I read it very quickly as the tale gathered tension. It is an
interesting analysis of the state of the world we live in today. I really enjoyed it.
6. I love that your books and characters love their food, especially cake! I understand that you love to bake too. What is your favourite cake or recipe and do these help your inspiration in your books?
My background has always been in the hospitality industry. I loathed school and the
only two subjects I ever took an interest in were English and Cookery. Cookery has
always been a part of my working life and I love to bake and nurture my friends and
family through baking. A visitor will always get a slice of cake with their cup of tea.
My favourite is probably salted caramel brownie – so easy to do but so scummy, but
I made baklava for the first time recently and experimented with the spicy filling, it
7. Are we going to hear more from Hattie, Jo and the rest of the ‘Coffee, Tea’ crew? I hope so.
Yes, I am afraid you are! Coffee Tea The Boomers & Me will be published later in the
year and introduces some new characters into the mix. We have an aging Major who
is sozzled most of the time and Kate, an IT specialist who has sold her successful
business and is looking for love and finds it in the arms of the irresistible Andy Mack.
The all come together when they stay at Boomerville – Jo’s new business. The book
is about having a blast in middle and later years when most folk think they are over
the hill. With Hattie’s help and hair-brained schemes, life for our boomers most certainly begins again.
About Caroline James.
Caroline James was born in Cheshire and wanted to be a writer from an early age. She trained, however, in the catering trade and worked and travelled both at home and abroad.
Caroline’s debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me shot to #3 on Amazon and was Ebook of the Week in The Sun newspaper. Her second novel, So, You Think You’re A Celebrity… Chef? has been described as wickedly funny: ‘AbFab meets MasterChef in a Soap…’
Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was a Finalist at The Write Stuff, London Book Fair 2015 and the judge’s comments included: “Caroline is a natural story-teller with a gift for humour in her writing.” The book will be published February 2016.
Caroline has owned and run many catering related businesses and cookery is a passion alongside her writing, combining the two with her love of the hospitality industry and romantic fiction. She has published short stories and is a member of the RNA. Caroline writes articles on food and celebrity based interviews and is Feature Editor for a lifestyle magazine. When she’s not running her hospitality business and writing, Caroline can generally be found with her nose in a book and her hand in a box of chocolates, she also likes to climb mountains and contemplate life.
I have just finished an amazing book called Tremor by Ryan Mark. I will share my review with you tomorrow, but today I’m sharing the video trailer of this brilliant book and a question and answer from Ryan Mark himself.
The Author was kind enough to offer my readers a signed copy of his book, the giveaway will start tomorrow, so keep your eyes out for it.
Have a look at this video trailer for the very exciting book Tremor.
Thank you very much for my copy of your book ‘Tremor’, and let me first say how much I enjoyed it! It was an exciting, page turner. I loved it, but my review will be tomorrow. I just have a few questions for you today.
1. You write with amazing imagination, can I ask where the ideas came from?
The Dystopian and Post-apocalyptic genres have fascinated me for a long time. I believe these are the most frightening and potentially life changing genres around at the moment. I’ve always wondered what would happen if the world we knew changed forever, if society fell and the human race had to start again. How would this change the world, and what would we be left with? This led me to the question: What if? What if the world you knew was destroyed? If the life you knew was torn apart? And it was from these thoughts that the imaginings of a story formed, which became ultimately became Tremor.
2. I loved the book so much, I hope there is more coming from you and the Tremor characters?
The characters will be back! The sequel to Tremor will be released later this year. Fracture is scheduled to be released on the 1st of October and is now available to pre-order. Here’s the blurb:
The Earth is starting to recover from the destruction left behind by the tremors and Terrafall. William’s life is settling and he has finally found a place where he feels he belongs. With the opportunity to flourish, the Haven Development has been able to secure the future of its lands and people, bringing forth a period of peace and stability.
Yet something sinister quakes beneath the surface, hiding in the shadows, unknown to William and the Haven Development. Not a tremor, but a new enemy who threatens to tear apart everything William and his friends have fought so hard to protect. The peace is about to fracture…
About the Author, Ryan Mark.
Ryan Mark lives in the rural county of Cumbria, on the outskirts of the Lake District. He is the author of The Tremor Cycle, a Dystopian series that takes place in a world devastated by war. Ryan has worked within the education sector for several years, with his most recent position being in a pre-school, caring for children before they take their first big leap into primary school. He enjoys creating different worlds through his writing, and draws inspiration from his family and historical hometown.