Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dog Tags Giveaway

We recently gave thanks for our veterans on Memorial Day, so I'm giving away an e-copy of Dog Tags, which features a fictional veteran.

About the book....

When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe. Will terror win or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

Book Trailer

About me....

What am I working on?

My first book was a suspense novel from Pelican Book Group, so I’m definitely working on something different this time.

I’m currently co-authoring an infertility devotional for Chalfont. My fellow co-authors include Donna Winters, Julie Arduini, Paula Mowery, Kym McNabney, and Elizabeth Maddrey.  

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

The devotional is written by six authors, and before we started the project, we looked at the available devotionals and discussed how ours should differ. We definitely wanted to provide readers with encouragement and to avoid sounding patronizing.

Why do I write what I do?

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 tells us God comforts us so that we can comfort others. I’m co-authoring this devotional with the hope of sharing comfort and encouragement with women experiencing infertility.

How does your writing process work?

For this project, the group of co-authors divided the work into sections, and we’ve edited round-robin style. 

Author Bio

Heidi Glick has a B.A. in biology, a minor in Bible from Cedarville University, and a passion for writing Christian fiction. Additionally, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and has written two articles for Intercom. Heidi’s debut suspense novel, Dog Tags, was released in June 2013. 

Author Interview

Link to interview by Fay Lamb in which I discuss the grief experienced by the characters of Dog Tags, as well as my own.

E-book Giveaway

1. Leave a comment about this blog post. 
2. Leave your email address. If you are concerned about spam, please spell out your email address, for example, yourname(at)gmail(dot)com. 

A winner will be announced on June 14, 2014. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

FINAL TRIMESTER by Dianna Benson

I'm so excited today to welcome Dianna Benson to Sleuths and Suspects.

Dianna Torscher Benson is a 2011 Genesis Winner, a 2011 Genesis double Semi-Finalist, a 2010 Daphne de Maurier Finalist, and a 2007 Golden Palm Finalist. In 2012, she signed a nine-book contract with Ellechor Publishing House. She’s the author of The Hidden Son, her debut novel. Final Trimester is her second release.
After majoring in communications and a ten-year career as a travel agent, Dianna left the travel industry to earn her EMS degree. An EMT and a Haz-Mat and FEMA Operative since 2005, she loves the adrenaline rush of responding to medical emergencies and helping people in need. Her suspense novels about adventurous characters thrown into tremendous circumstances provide readers with a similar kind of rush.
Dianna lives in North Carolina with her husband and their three children.

Dianna was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me.

Hi Dianna,

Let's start with...

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? Why suspense?
For the best answer…view the WRITING page on my website:

I noticed Final Trimester is set in Myrtle Beach. I love coastal Carolina. How did you pick this setting? (We try to vacation in NC every year. We love Holden Beach.)
Myrtle Beach, SC is only three hours from my house in North Carolina, so we often visit the area. I love Holden Beach, Carolina Beach and Sunset Beach, which are all in the same area at the southernmost tip of North Carolina, but Final Trimester needed a large beach city setting and Myrtle fits that description. I know a few people who grew up in Myrtle (they now live in NC), and I learned from their personal perspectives what life is like as a Myrtle Beach resident. I enjoy Myrtle’s diverse options for dining, activities, etc., especially Broadway at the Beach. July 2001, while my husband and I (along with our three small children) were enjoying Broadway at the Beach with another family for the evening, a tornado formed over the ocean in the near distance. Ridiculous, but we four adults – and hundreds of others – stood there watching the funnel grow while it barreled on the beach, heading inland. The destructive nature was so beautiful it was easy to ignore my inner terror recognizing the danger. So we tagged-team with our friends, taking turns: Two adults stayed with our five kids inside a safe area in the IMAX Theater, while the other two adults watched the tornado outside. When a bolt of lightning struck the ground nearby, the hundreds of observers – us included – took cover inside. Myrtle sustained minimal damage from that tornado, but the events of that day inspired me to write a book with Myrtle as the setting.

Tell us a little about Final Trimester, Book One in the Quigley Triplets Series:
Paramedic Jodi Duncan recognizes the work of a serial killer before the Myrtle Beach PD even suspects a connection between the deaths of two pregnant women. Despite the vast differences in the two cases, Jodi urges Detective Nate Quigley to think outside the box. After digging deep into the separate investigations, Nate finds no evidence to support a serial killer theory, and he warns Jodi to back off police business, which only fuels her passion for the cases.

When a third pregnant woman is murdered, Nate is named lead detective on the case and works to link the deaths in order to unmask and stop the serial murderer, a disturbed man who believes God and the devil battle inside his head to bend him according to their wills. As he fights both voices, his interest fixates on Jodi when he discovers her obsession with ending his rampage.

Do you use some of your experiences as an EMT for your stories?
Being an EMT and a Haz-Mat and FEMA Operative for nearly a decade, I naturally integrate my firsthand medical and rescue knowledge and experience into all my books. The medical and EMS scenes I write are a combination of fictional and a ton of real-life EMS scenes I’ve worked throughout the years. The idea for the killer’s character in Final Trimester sprouted to development the first month I worked in EMS due to something I’d seen on an EMS call.

What would you like the reader to take away from this story?
Life is hard; relationships are super hard, but that’s that point – through our trials and tribulations, God is building our souls so when our flesh dies, our souls are developed to where God wants them to be for our life in eternity. In Final Trimester (and in all my books), I want readers to see how my characters don’t just “get through” or try to “get over” the difficult stuff in life; instead, my characters accept the pain difficult events in their lives cause and they move forward with a renewed sense of understanding in themselves, in life, and in God.

I saw you got a nine book contract with Ellechor Publishing House. Congratulations. What can we expect next from you?
I signed a nine-book contract in 2012. The Hidden Son, Book One in the Cayman Islands Trilogy, released March 2013. Final Trimester is my second release. Persephone’s Fugitive, Book Two in the Cayman Islands Trilogy, will release this November. Illusion of Safety, Book One in the MCI Series (Mass Casualty Incidents) will release in 2015. My fifth release will be the third and final book in the Cayman Islands Trilogy. I will release a new book once to twice a year from there.

What unique things can you tell us about yourself?
As a scuba diver, I’ve dove nearly 150 feet in the Caribbean Ocean in Grand Cayman. As a climber, I’ve reached the summits of thirty-three Fourteeners (in Colorado there are fifty-four mountains over fourteen thousand feet in elevation). In addition to scuba diving and climbing, I love to cycle and run. My father was a triathlete; he was killed in a bicycle accident when I was in high school. My oldest daughter competed at the 2012 US Olympic Swim Trials for a spot on the team that went to the 2012 Summer Games in London, but the Trials were only seven weeks after she endured scoliosis surgery (thirteen-inch spinal incision to insert two titanium rods and twelve screws), so she was unable to swim anywhere near her best.

Here's a blurb on Final Trimester:

Paramedic Jodi Duncan recognizes the work of a serial killer before the Myrtle Beach PD even suspects a connection between the deaths of two pregnant women. Despite the vast differences in the two cases, Jodi urges Detective Nate Quigley to think outside the box. After digging deep into the separate investigations, Nate finds no evidence to support a serial killer theory, and he warns Jodi to back off police business, which only fuels her passion for the cases.

When a third pregnant woman is murdered, Nate is named lead detective on the case and works to link the deaths in order to unmask and stop the serial murderer, a disturbed man who believes God and the devil battle inside his head to bend him according to their wills. As he fights both voices, his interest fixates on Jodi when he discovers her obsession with ending his rampage.

Where can we find Final Trimester?
My releases are available wherever books are sold. Below are the links to Final Trimester at the three biggest booksellers:
Barnes and Noble

Here's a review by Heidi...

Grab your oxygen mask, you just might need it as you turn the pages of Dianna Benson’s latest novel, a fast paced and psychologically thrilling suspense story with an unexpected twist. In Final Trimester, a pregnant woman dies from an unknown cause, but this doesn’t sit well with EMT, Jodi Duncan. So she contacts Nate Quigley, a local police officer, with her concerns. Together, Duncan and Quigley unravel a sordid string of serial slayings of pregnant women. With a hurricane looming, Duncan races to stop the serial killer—a twisted villain with an arsenal of disguises at his disposal—before he can claim Duncan as his next victim. Though a dark tale at times, the story contains elements of hope and faith and points readers toward the Light (of the World).

This book should appeal to fiction readers of all ages, especially those who enjoy suspense novels and thrillers.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review; however, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own.

Please, leave your name and email if you'd like to be entered in a drawing. Thanks!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bonnie Doran Interview by Deborah Malone, Review by Heidi Glick

  1.               Tell us a little about yourself.  Got a few hours? Here's a short bio: I live in Denver, Colorado. My hubby and I have been married for thirty-one years and are owned by two Siamese cats. John is an electrical engineer who works with lasers for a living. He’s also a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet.
                    My interests besides writing include reading, cooking, and Sudoku puzzles. I volunteer one afternoon a week at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I attend a local science fiction convention as well as various writers conferences each year. I'm a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, its North Denver Chapter, and the Denver Area Science Fiction Association.  
  2. Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on.
    Dark Biology, a faith-based science thriller, is my debut novel. It released October 2013 by Harbourlight, and imprint of Pelican Book Group.
  3. Why did you choose this particular genre?
    I've enjoyed science fiction since sixth grade when I read Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein. I also read thrillers, so combining the two seemed natural.
  4. What was your journey to publication like?
                    Long! I started with school papers. When  working at my first full-time job in 1972 as a secretary, I approached the editor for a neighborhood newspaper and wrote a weekly column for 18 months. It was actually a devotional, but I didn't know that term at the time. I also wrote a couple of magazine articles.
                    In 1974, Far East Broadcasting Company offered me a short-term missionary assignment on Okinawa, Japan. For two years, I worked as a secretary and wrote public service announcements and inspirational pieces for the announcers. Eventually I hosted my own program.
                    When I returned to the States, I moved to the Central Coast and learned bookkeeping. I met my husband, married, and moved to Denver in 1983. A few years later, I heard about and attended Colorado Christian Writers Conference. My connections there over several years resulted in a few magazine articles and a number of devotional assignments.
                    A workshop leader challenged me to write science fiction novels. I wrote a YA sci-fi novel which will probably never see publication. At my fifteenth CCWC conference in 2012, I met my agent and my editor.    
  5. What is a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?
                    I enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I'm also fond of the Bug Man series by Tim Downs. At the moment, I'm reading a secular novel series by Jonathan Kellerman.
  6. What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?
                    My working title is Terror on Targus Three. In this science fiction novel, a Christian agoraphobic linguist travels to a distant planet to translate the language of the first-discovered alien race. Blasting into space is not her idea of fun. Her blunders with the Targ result in a declaration of interstellar war. Before she can learn the correct ritual to appease them, the villain tries to kill her. So far, I haven't been able to get rid of him.  
  7. What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?
                    Persevere! Take time to learn the craft. Don't seek an agent, editor, or self-publication before you and your manuscript are ready.
                    I recently realized that my jealousy over other writers' successes was really a lack of trust that God will lead me on the right road. Trust God to direct you to the right path for you.
  8. Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?
                    Plenty! For an overall look at structure, I recommend Story by Robert McKee. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is a great resource if you suffer from writer's block. Yes, it exists. For help in finding the right word, I use The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale.
                    Lately, I've learned craft and inspiration from a number of blogs by literary agents, including Chip MacGregor's agency and Books and Such. For tips on using social media, I like the Social Media Examiner.  
  9. Is there anything you’d like to tell us we haven’t covered?
                    There are so many good conferences that are wonderful ways to connect with fellow writers, editors, agents, and other professionals. We can't learn the craft in a vacuum. I regularly attend Colorado Christian Writers Conference, ACFW Conference, and Writer's Workshop at Glen Eyrie in Colorado. My wish list: Mount Hermon, Blue Ridge, and Pike's Peak Writers Conference (secular). 
  10. Please let us know where we can find you on the web.
    Here are a few links:

    Dark Biology is a science-fiction themed thriller. In this suspenseful tale, author Bonnie Duran takes two popular fears—being trapped in space and a pandemic—and weaves them into the same tale. Think Apollo 13 meets Contagion.

    Hildi Hildebrandt, a vaccinologist, leaves her work at the CDC to complete a project for NASA at the International Space Station (ISS). There, she is paired with two men from her past, which complicates things, romantically speaking. At the same time, Hildi’s brother, Chet is upset at their father, a Christian marriage seminar speaker with a checkered past, and decides to unleash a relatively harmless flu strain at an upcoming conference. Conflict ensues as the virus strain turns out to be different than expected, and things on the NASA/ISS mission go haywire.

    What I really liked about the book is that it is fast paced, and it keeps your attention. This book will have you turning page after page and keep you up late into the night as you follow the large cast of characters as they overcome one obstacle after another. This book should appeal to those who enjoy suspense, thrillers, and/or science fiction.

    Please note that I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion expressed here is my own. 



Monday, May 5, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway With J. P. Leck

by Jeff Reynolds

I have the honor of interviewing a personal friend, J. P. Leck. There will be a giveaway for his first book, The Merely Mortal. Details for the contest are below, including a question that was inspired by a theme of Leck's novel -- I'm looking forward to seeing your answers.

One note of interest. In the interview, he refers to Irvington, which has become part of Indianapolis. The town is named after Washington Irving, author of many stories including "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  I mention this now because it fits his description later on.

Jeff Reynolds:  Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects. What got you interested in writing in general, and what inspired your first book?

J. P. Leck: 
Well, here in my 30th year, I've now been writing for longer than I have not. Storytelling started for me as a boy and I simply never stopped. I actually have a rather sizable box of manuscripts spanning two decades—none of which will ever see the light of day. Nothing in my past work reached the ludicrously high standard of literary value that I set for myself. I always knew that I wouldn't begin to publish until my skill caught up to my taste. And only now do I feel that I am there. 

Hence the emergence of The Merely Mortal. I remember when I decided to write it. I was on a late night walk through my then town of Irvington which, for those unfamiliar, is equal parts antiquated and atmospheric. Especially with an eerie fog lingering about. While on this phantasmal jaunt, I was inspired to do a historical, gothic novel and so I did. It is kind of a strange book, certainly as the opener to a series. I often assure readers that the novel is at its most appreciable in the greater context of the overall story, which is to span several books and leak out into some other mediums of storytelling, such as short films and radio plays.

JR:  I believe the sequel to The Merely Mortal is off the presses. Could you tell us about it? And will there be another installment of this series in the future?

The next book, The Strangely Undying, will actually go to print later this summer. And, yes, more are to follow in what promises to be a lengthy series. Whereas The Merely Mortal was my take on horror, The Strangely Undying will be more in the fantasy realm. It’s been a delightful challenge to have a single story bound from one genre to another.

JR:  What is the target audience for your book, and what kind of response have you had so far?

Though I've been told this isn’t completely true, I feel that my stories are very niche. I write for those increasingly few old souls like myself who enjoy the stories and styles of yesteryear. Moreover, if you've found yourself repeatedly disappointed with the vapid, uninspired twaddle that seems to pervade the whole of modern storytelling, I may have an alternative to offer you. As for the response, it has been great. I keep hearing from people who state that they actually hate to read, but really enjoy my work. That is supreme among the compliments I have gotten so far.

JR:  When you write, do you have a detailed outline? Or are you a blank pager, not knowing what will happen till you finish writing?

A little of both, I think. I always have a list of important plot points, but some of my best material comes when I simply make it up as I go. This is also the part of the process that I enjoy most, because it’s when everything is new to me. By the time a book of mine goes to print, I have most of it memorized, having slaved away on it for so long. 

JR:  I hope I'm not spoiling The Merely Mortal by saying one of the themes is that what makes a hero is his/her willingness. (In other words, I just revealed something that appears on page one of the novel.) Who are your heroes, both other authors you admire and the heroes in everyday life, and how have they shown the willingness you mentioned?

There's some pretty heavy philosophy in all of my books. One of them concerns choice. Choice is a gift that we've all been given. What people decide to do with their free will is of profound interest to me. Both in fiction and reality, the paths taken by individuals can make of them heroes or monsters. In regards to my personal or literary heroes, I try not to have them. A person will always fail you. But there is One who will never fail. He is my hero. And His willingness was, and is, without equal. 

JR:  How do you find time to write and market your books with your "day-job" and other responsibilities? What approaches do you take to marketing? And speaking of other responsibilities, would you like to tell us about your family?

My work is my storytelling, of course, but I do have a job as well, and it's not an undemanding one. However, I've been blessed with a madman’s work ethic. For one to say that he or she hasn’t the time to write is an excuse. Of course, not everyone has my indescribably selfless wife. I would accomplish nothing without her. Lindsay is my support structure and greatest advocate. We have two young children, Liberty and Hudson, who are as inspiring as they are motivating. As for marketing, I'm only now preparing to do so. Since the first novel went to print until now, I have been toiling over the second book, my website and other related projects. But I'll start spreading the word this summer, doing signings and possibly some readings.

JR:  If an aspiring author asked for advice, what would you suggest? Would you recommend them following your footsteps into self-publishing, or suggest they try a more traditional route?

That would depend upon the author and what he or she wanted to accomplish with their work. I chose to take the independent route because it meant that I maintained ownership of all my intellectual property and full, creative control which is of the upmost importance to me. Fortunately, we now live in a time when a storyteller no longer has to get around the so-called gatekeepers of the industry to make their work available to the world.

JR:  Thank you for your time. How could the readers keep up with your writing exploits?

For novels, short films and radio-plays, I have a burgeoning website: Thank you very much for having me.

Jeff to the reader: As promised, we're giving away a copy of J. P. Leck's book, The Merely Mortal. Three steps for getting into the drawing:

  1. Leave a comment. (But you knew that, didn't you?)
  2. Include your e-mail address, which can be spelled out like AuntDotKahm (at) Ant (dot) com. (I'm sure you expected that as well.)
  3. Tell us who in your life has been a hero or, if you prefer, a mentor/influence in your life, and how have they shown the willingness to be one?