Sunday, November 23, 2014

Playing Saint

By Kelly Bridgewater

Zachary Bartels debut novel, Playing Saint, hit the bookshelves on October 7th and has been getting quite a buzz around the book world. As an avid reader of suspense and interested in aspects of the darker side of Christianity, I was hooked when I read the blurb on Amazon,
which reads, “Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power. Today, he’s just trying to stay alive. Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until his life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim.

Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a mysterious relic, he realizes for the first time that the battle between god and evil is all too real—and that the killer is coming back   . . . this time for him.”

Playing Saint  -     By: Zachary Bartels
Bartel does a good job at creating a plot with dead bodies piling up everywhere with occult symbols carved into their skin. I couldn’t put the book down. I hated having to go to sleep. I wanted to finish the rest of the book because I had to know if the person who Parker Saint and the police allowed you to believe was the demon possessed man was actually the murderer. I enjoyed how Parker Saint doubted the megachurch he was creating. It helped tie the story to today’s megachurches and how the pastors appear to just want the fame and power. It was relevant to today’s culture.

I have seen very few writers outside of Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and Steven James, whose writings I love by the way, who venture into the area of demon possession in their plots. Bartel reminds the reader of the parts of the Jesus’ ministry where he touched on the object of demons. I wrote down the Scripture references, so I could go back and study them for myself.

I did have one tiny problem with the plot. Bartel tells you who the real killer is about eighty percent into the book (at least, that is where my Kindle tells me). Bartel uses flashback incidents to show how the demon possessed character became filled with demons, and in one of those moments, unveils the actual killer’s name. I would have enjoyed watching Parker come across the evidence to discover the real killer. As soon as Bartel “spoils” the story, the rest of the climax dragged on for me. The demon-filled killer kept chasing Parker around for the rest of the book and destroying Parker’s body until the final couple of pages, which disappointed me. I bet the ending would have been stronger if Bartel didn’t lay the cards on the table too soon.

This story was unique and well-written. I can’t wait to see what other suspense stories Bartel writes because I will definitely be lining up to purchase that book too. According to his Facebook page and his personal website, Bartel’s next book will be released in June 2015 and will be called The Last Con.

You can connect with Zachary Bartels through his website at
And look for Zachary Bartels, Author on Facebook.

I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson through Net Galley in exchange for my honest opinion, and the opinions above are completely my own.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blood & Lies - Release

Blood & Lies

Blood & Lies releases November, 21, 2014. To celebrate, I'm giving away an autographed copy of Down & Out (or an ebook if you live outside of the US). If you would like to be entered into the drawing, please leave your email address. You may spell it out. For example marcy (at) marcydyer (dot) com.
About Blood & Lies
While JD Miller is chaperoning a group of teens on a mission trip to Kherson, Ukraine, one of the boys vanishes from the group without a trace.
Leandra Davis hasn't seen her father in over twenty years when he shows up and asks her to fly to Ukraine to join the search for a brother she's never met. Anger at her absentee father compels her to walk out and ignore his pleas, but anguish at the thought of her brother all alone in a foreign country, at the mercy of kidnappers, convinces her to abandon her life in Odessa, Texas and join the search.
When she and her best friend fly to Ukraine to search for the kidnapped teen, she meets the passionate paramedic, JD Miller. Together, they search for the missing young man and begin to uncover deadly secrets Leandra's father wants to keep hidden.
A large, calloused hand clamped over her mouth and something sharp dug into to her side. "Meddlesome big sister," a gruff, male voice rasped in her ear. The stench of cigarettes on his breath made her want to retch, and her heart rate soared. What did this guy want? She jerked her head to the side, but the man's huge hand only clamped down tight enough to leave bruises, so she clawed at it. With her mouth covered, she couldn't get enough air. He was going to smother her--if he didn't stab her to death first.
"You'll stop struggling if you know what's good for you. Time to learn a lesson." A searing pain sliced through her side and middle, and she clutched at her abdomen--wet and sticky. "Tell Daddy if my boss doesn't get his property back, we'll send both of his children to him piece by piece."
The man removed his hand, and she turned, but he was already gone. She groaned in pain and held her belly. He'd sliced her skin from the left side all the way across to the outer right flank and blood soaked her clothes.
Author Bio:
Marcy G. Dyer is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age, but never took herself seriously as a "real" writer until about ten years ago when she began taking courses and learning the craft of writing.

She currently has two novels from the Desert Winds Series available: Down & Out and Out for Blood. Blood & Lies releases in November of 2014 and Lies & Alibis follows the next winter.

Marcy is an alumnus of the Christian Writer's Guild and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of EPIC. She hosts a small critique group for ACFW and is involved in two other critique groups. For anyone seriously interested in becoming an author, she recommends a strong, diverse critique group to help authors hone crafts. She has also been a judge for the Grace Awards and Olympia contest.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Bryan Powell


Interview Questions

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, my name is Bryan M. Powell, I’ve lived in Georgia for the last 36 years. Since moving to Georgia, I have served as a minister of music in several churches, sold real estate, composed over 80 choral works, written 16 novels and become the grandfather of seven wonderful grandchildren. Most recently, I purchased Hiram Bookstore, located at 5077 Jimmy Lee Smith Pkwy, Hiram GA. (on 278, two doors down from Cheeseburger Bobby’s).

Tell us about your most recent book/or the book we are focusing on. Why did you choose this particular genre?

All my books are considered Christian Fiction. However, I have written Mystery, Adventure, Sci Fi, General Fiction and a Creative Memoir. All the novels are plot driven with a strong sub-theme. Such themes deal with; Love, Hatred, Failure, Forgiveness, Salvation, Prejudice, Purity, Self-acceptance to name a few.

What was your journey to publication like?

My journey started with a search of publishers interested in producing a novel with a strong Christian message. My first publisher was Tate Publishing. As I developed my skill, I began to seek other publishers. I found Vabella Publishing for my third book, The Stranger Among Us. They are a traditional, small press with great service.

What is a couple of your favorite books and what are you reading now?

I have read most of Joel Rosenberg’s books, many by Frank Peretti, and Randy Ingermanson’s books.

What are you working on now and can you give us a little peek inside it?

I’ve just finished the second book in a detective series called The Trace O’Reilly Series. Book One is Saving Lily – The Case of the Missing Necklace. What does a Sixteen year old debutant, a million dollars, and a missing necklace have to do with each other? Nothing, until people started dying.

Book Two is Saving Lily – The Case of the Missing Key. What is it about the key that someone is willing to kill for? What does the ‘L’ and ‘W’ on the key stand for? Can Trace O’Reilly unravel the mystery before Lily pays the ultimate price?  Both will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out whodunit.

What advice would you give authors who are on their own journey to publication?

Do your own research. Familiarize yourself with publisher’s policy and genre. Know your target market and begin building your platform. Also, be prepared for rejection. Not every publisher will take your manuscript. But also know this, publication is not the end all, be all. The fact that you wrote a book should be gratification enough. Getting published is the icing on the top. However, once you’re published, the journey has just begun. You have to set your sights on selling it.

Do you have any books or websites that have helped you with your writing that you could share with us?

I have studied many books. One that stands out is Stress Free Marketing by Renea Winchester. Also, Randy Ingermanson has a great book on writing.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us we haven’t covered?

Hiram Bookstore’s website is

Please let us know where we can find you on the web.

Thank you Bryan for being a guest on Sleuths and Suspects. Can't wait to see your future projects.

For a chance to win a copy of one of Bryan's books, please leave a comment and your email address so we can contact you.