What’s REALLY Thrilling About ThrillerFest: Fabulous Authors Weigh In!

“An artist cannot fail. It is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley

What do you get when you put a bunch of story lovers with dark imaginations together in one of the world’s most dazzling cities? Besides Sharknado. (Kidding. I have no idea what that is.) I’m sure some of you guessed right: ThrillerFest. “Thriller” may be intended to describe the book genre, but the biggest thrill of the annual conference is undoubtedly its people. I’ve honestly never encountered such a warm, supportive crew—and I’m not talking blood-curdling, criminal heat.

I first attended two years ago, namely for AgentFest. (Think speed-dating with agents.) I hadn’t read the “how to pitch” tips on the website or attended the pitching preparation panel. Sitting outside the agent-filled room, internal butterflies spasming, a fellow writer who’d done his due diligence voluntarily filled me in. I used a couple of his tips and ended up meeting my agent that day. Then last year, I met Lee Child for the first time. Thinking I would shake his hand and scurry off, letting him get onto whatever it is that super famous authors do, he shook my hand and said, “August McLaughlin. Now that’s an interesting name. What do you write?” (Huh?!?) We chatted for a bit, as though we were from the same planet! 😉 Whether a writing newbie, a volunteer or a librarian, bookseller or agent, ThrillerFest folks are truly that congenial.

I really should've offered him my smoothie.

I really should’ve offered him my smoothie.

Rather than share my own ThrillerFest experiences this year, I thought I’d give you a glimpse through the eyes of some of my favorite attendees. I’m so honored to share their thoughts, and hope you’ll not only read their words, but visit their websites. I suspect that you’ll be grateful you did.

*****

JOHN DIXON, Author of Phoenix Island (Simon & Schuster / Gallery, February 2014), inspiration for the upcoming CBS TV series Intelligence, starring Josh Holloway and Marg Helgenberger:

“This was my third and favorite ThrillerFest, partly because I came to it loaded with happy news—my first book deal and the stop-the-presses announcement that CBS TV ordered the show based on my debut novel—but mostly because of the people with whom I could share it: excellent friends, some old, some new, all of them smart and charming and practically glowing with good energy. That’s the magical thing about ThrillerFest; everyone, from bestsellers to aspiring authors, comes together in the spirit of celebration and support. I’m already looking forward to next July!”

Twitter: @johndixonbooks
Facebook: John Dixon

Left to Right: Todd Gerber, John Dixon, Kyle Steele and Peter Aragno

Todd Gerber, John Dixon, Kyle Steele and Peter Aragno

JON McGORAN, Author of Drift

“I didn’t get to many panels, but the ones I went to were excellent. The YA panel was particularly good. R. L. Stine did a great job moderating, hilarious as always, but he also managed to keep things moving and informative, with lots of great insights from Barry Lyga, Michelle Gagnon, Lissa Price, Kat Rosenfield, Linda Gerber, and Allen Zadoff. The best part, of course, was seeing old friends and making new ones. It’s not always easy being a writer, and you definitely make sacrifices, but once again I was reminded that one of the best perks of being a writer is being able to hang out with such amazing, smart, warm and hilarious people.”

Twitter: @JonMcGoran
Website: http://www.jonmcgoran.com

AUSTIN S. CAMACHO, author of the Hannibal Jones thriller series:

“ThrillerFest was one great moment after another. The highlight for me may have been seeing Ann Rice interviewed by her son (Christopher is the best interviewer EVER!) But my favorite memories are meeting with so many Facebook friends I’d never met in person before. Yeah, turning those electronic pals into 3-dimensional friends that was a series of favorite memories. And many will join me at the next great conference, Creatures, Crimes & Creativity.”

Twitter: @ascamacho
Facebook: Austin Camacho / Mystery Thriller Author

Austin S. Camacho

Austin S. Camacho and Maria Hudgins

D.P. LYLE, MD, ITW VP Education/Member Services; CraftFest Director; Author of the Edgar-nominated author of the Dub Walker Thriller Series:

“ThrillerFest was very special this year and I have many great memories including being ravaged, or is it savaged?, by a host off insane vampirettes, dinner with the wonderful R.L. and Jane Stine at their marvelous home and again at the Awards Banquet, and the opportunity to interview my friend and Spotlight Guest T. Jefferson Parker. And of course hanging in the bar with August as well as Heather Graham, Jennifer Hughes, Kathy Antrim, Twist Phelan and her husband Jack, Hans Watford, Phil Donlay, Bob and Pat Gussin, Tony and Tori Eldridge, and many others.”

Twitter: DPLyleMD
Website: www.dplylemd.com

D.P. Lyle and his throng! (Me, Amy Shojai, Carol Shenold, Twist Phelan)

D.P. Lyle and his throng! (Alexandra Sokoloff, Me, Amy Shojai, Carol Shenold and Twist Phelan)

 DANIEL PALMER, author of Delirious, Helpless and Stolen:

“Interviewing my father in front of a packed ballroom during his Author Spotlight appearance was a highlight, as well as an honor and a privilege.”

Twitter: @DanielPalmer
Website: http://www.danielpalmerbooks.com

Daniel and Michael Palmer

Daniel Palmer and Michael Palmer

BOYD MORRISON, Author of the Tyler Locke Thriller Series:

“Because the Yankees catcher Chris Stewart is a fan of my books, he arranged for me and my wife to get field passes and tickets to the game on Saturday. We had a fantastic time meeting him and watching the game from great seats. Not a bad perk for being a writer!”

Twitter: @BoydMorrison
Website: www.boydmorrison.com

IMG_0598

AMANDA KYLE WILLIAMS, Author of the Key Street Thriller Series:

“No one understands the panic of blowing a deadline or the fear of dry days like another writer. This is one of my favorite things about conferences like ThrillerFest. It’s one big therapy session. Usually in the bar.”

Twitter: @AKyleWilliams
Website: http://amandakylewilliams.com

Amanda Kyle Williams, Carla Buckley, Julia Heaberlin and Stefanie Pintoff

Amanda Kyle Williams, Carla Buckley, Julia Heaberlin and Stefanie Pintoff

ANNE RICE, Internationally Celebrated, Award-Winning Author of the The Vampire Chronicles (and so much more!)

“What I loved most about ThrillerFest was the generous high spirits of the top flight professional authors who’d come there to host and to mingle with all sorts of up and coming and aspiring writers. I mean the whole atmosphere was hospitable and fun, from start to finish, and it gave aspiring writers a chance to connect with professionals, to learn from them about craft and to connect with top flight agents. It was a terrific event. I felt so welcome. I want to support the International Thrillers Writers in any way I can.”

Twitter: @AnneRiceAuthor
Facebook: Anne Rice Fan Page

This year Anne was awarded the International Thriller Writers Lifetime Achievement Award! Congratulations, Anne!

Christopher Rice and Anne Rice, holding her brand spankin' new award!

Anne Rice with her son and fellow author, Christopher Rice, holding her brand spankin’ new award!

I have chills thinking of how inspiring these folks, and many others who attended ThrillerFest, are. I could go on and on and on… Instead, I’ll pass the mic to you. If you attended ThrillerFest, what was your favorite part? Are you thinking of going next year? Any questions for me and/or other attendees? I always love hearing your thoughts. ♥

5 Things Writers Can Learn from Wall St: A Guest Post by Kourtney Heintz

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” — C.S. Lewis

Well before I met Kourtney Heintz in person, I knew that we shared much in common. We’re both compulsive about writing, for example, both adore dogs (especially our own) and both gave up “glamorous” gigs in the Big Apple for eventual happiness via the pen. Her previous career varied slightly from mine, however, and I figured we could all learn a lot from the recently published author. (Congrats, Kourtney!)

I read a sample of her new release, The 6 Train to Wisconsin, when she’d entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. (She was later named a semifinalist.) Man, was I upset when I ran out of pages; it was that good. Today, I’m honored to share my blog stage/living room with her. I’ll even let her hold my beloved mic. 😉 Take it away, Kourtney!

Kourtney Heintz

Many thanks to August for generously offering me a spot on her blog. She took me under her wing and taught me everything I know about social media. There’s a reason my blog hits and comments skyrocketed after I met her. (You’re way too sweet, Kourtney! Whoops, your mic!)

1) Deadlines Matter

Delays at any point in the process ripple through the entire project. If I let myself fall behind schedule, I was in trouble, my boss was in trouble, and his boss was in trouble. My actions spiraled right up the chain of command.

Even when you’re indie publishing, one missed deadline can snowball into an avalanche and derail your entire book project.

2) Getting to Yes is A Backbending Feat

Most people opened with “No.” “Yes” means more work. If someone agreed to an interview with me, it was time out of their day. I offered to come in early, meet during lunch, stay late. I’d promise to keep it to 30 minutes and be done in 29 minutes.

Any time an agent or editor request a manuscript, they are adding to their workload. Make sure you’re sending out your very best work. Research exactly how that particular agent likes to be queried. Invest time to understand what will make things easiest on them and then do it.

3) Stamp Out Flames Near Any Bridges

I had to build relationships with hundreds of people within my firm. Each interaction had to be respectful and courteous because all future interactions hinged on the current one. No matter how frustrated you get with someone, you never know how integral they may be to you down the road. And there is always more road.

4) Prioritizing Your Day is the Best Way to Stay Productive

I was usually involved in 3-6 audits on any given day–all in different stages of completion.

Everyday, I crafted my to-do list, ranking everything.  My “Top 7” items were mission critical. The rest I’d work my way through. Often a few items had to move to the next day. But I always knocked out what absolutely had to be done.

 5) No One Understands Your Process like You Do

No one knows how much testing and interviewing and digging it took to find an issue and make a recommendation to remediate it.

Same with writing. People will think you play on the Internet all day. They can’t imagine what revising entails. You can try explaining it to them, but the most important thing is that you know what you’re doing and you show up and do it everyday.

Author Bio: Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination. She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide. Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

One Sentence Summary of Novel: When Kai’s telepathy spirals out of control, her husband Oliver brings her to the quiet Wisconsin hometown he abandoned a decade ago, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future.

Connect with Kourtney Online:

Website: http://kourtneyheintz.com
Blog: http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KourHei
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomkourtney_heintz
Amazon Author Central Page: http://amazon.com/author/kourtneyheintz
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kourhei

Paperback available from:
Amazon  Barnes and Noble
Ebook available from:
Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Smashwords  Kobo  iTunes

Any thoughts or questions for Kourtney? What has a previous career taught you about writing? 

 

A Peek Inside ‘Big 6’ Author Life: Amanda Kyle Williams

Thank goodness for books! Seriously. With all of the buzz circulating about Abercrombie & Fitch and its CEO’s damaging messages, I’ve had youth on the brain. Mysteries and thrillers helped me through countless teenage hardships, and I looked up to their creators long before I imagined becoming one. In a world with too many villains (*clears throat* Jeffries!), I’m particularly grateful to my author heroes.

Cup of coffee and book

Today, I’m stoked to bring you one of my favorites, Amanda Kyle Williams. Her Stranger series, starring former FBI profiler, Keye Street, is captivating, witty, spine-tingling and inspiring. Now through Sunday, you can nab its first installment, The Stranger You Seek, for only 99 cents. (Total steal!) I hope you’ll pull up a chair, and a cup of java. This author is one you don’t want to miss.

AM: I first had the pleasure of “meeting” your work, thanks to a serendipitous galley copy of your series premiere. Now, you’re about to release #3. (Time flies!) How different is it, being a further celebrated veteran?

AKW: I can tell you the writing process is very different now. It took me a couple of years to settle into my job. Sometimes just being still is challenging. Learning a new job is challenging. But I’m in the groove now. I have a routine. I’m fairly disciplined and I’m enjoying writing again, remembering why I love it. I lost that for a minute while I was freaking out. I just finished the third book, Don’t Talk To Strangers, and it’s the first time I’ve finished a book without secretly believing I’d never write another one. I hear I’m not unique in this way. Writers, as it turns out, are neurotic as hell.

AM: As a traditionally published, Big 6 (well, 5) author, are you flown around the world with an entourage who wines, dines and does all of your marketing for you?

AKW: [laughing] You’ve been watching “Castle,” haven’t you? Actually, I am treated very well thanks to a great agent, publicist and publishing house. But it’s more like I’m flown to a few cities with mystery bookstores. Great opportunity to develop relationships with booksellers and to meet readers. My books have a few translations now and that means foreign publishing houses so I was very happy to be invited to London last year to meet my UK publisher and attend the Harrogate Crime Writers Fest.

But here’s the truth, or at least my truth and my experience at my level: There’s a big push just before and after a release. Tours and publicity. It’s this crazy blast of activity in the middle of a writer’s solitary life. It’s fun and exciting. And then it’s over. And if you want to keep the buzz going, you pretty much have to do it yourself because publicists and publishers are on the next bazillion new releases. Not that they don’t work hard for me all year. They do. But their attention shifts. They have other authors. Now, if I have a marketing idea or need help, I can reach out and they’re there. The team at Random House has been incredibly available and willing. But it’s up to the author to learn how to promote, attend conferences, meet people, stay involved in the community, keep your name out there, develop social media relationships, visit book clubs, develop a website…

There’s a financial investment associated with conferences, of course. Travel is expensive. But I see it as just that—an investment in my career. A lot of authors blog, as you well know. I don’t. It’s fraught with dangers for a dyslexic writer. I’d have to employ a full-time freelance editor. It’s not something I have any interest in at this point. And honestly, I don’t have that much to say. Some days I can’t even manage a status update or something cute for Twitter so…

(Psst! She’s actually a great Twitter follow. Check her out: @AKyleWilliams.)

AM: What’s your funniest or zaniest fan story? (If your groupies are super normal, feel free to embellish.)

AKW: Oh sure. Everyone knows thriller fans are perfectly normal, right? All I will say is, my inbox gets pretty interesting. Funny story about my first tour: I went to Houston after the release of The Stranger You Seek. Murder By The Book petitioned hard for me to come to Texas and visit their store. My publicist was skeptical. First tour. No one knew who I was. Tours can be brutal anyway. It’s hard to get people out of the house and into a bookstore for a book signing even if they like the author.

So I go to Houston. Nice hotel. Good food. Published book. I’m feeling pretty important. Four people show up, including an older couple, white hair, sitting very quietly through my whole spiel. During the Q&A, I discover they’re only there because they think I’m a long lost relative from Mississippi named Amanda Kyle. [August falls over laughing.] Bless their hearts. More recently, I visited a local book club that chose one of my books as their monthly read and I was asked if I’d ever killed anyone. I took that as a compliment.

AM: Well they were lucky to meet you anyway. What lesson have you learned writing or career-wise, that you wish you’d learned sooner?

AKW: You know, I really wish I’d identified as a writer before I was a professional writer. I was writing on and off for 25 years before it was my full-time job. I think I would have found the confidence to go for it sooner. There’s value in speaking about things before they’ve materialized. It’s like looking like a success before you’re a success. Same principal.

When I began making lists of positive things to say to keep my mind for running negative loops, telling me I wasn’t good enough or talented enough, my life started to change very dramatically. It’s virtually impossible for your brain to get stuck on fear and worry when your mouth is saying something positive like, Everything I Touch Prospers and Succeeds. I’m creative. I’m talented. I have new ideas all the time. I write many books. I have these affirmations posted around my house—on the fridge, inside the medicine cabinet, over my bed on the ceiling with painter’s tape. Turning off that little voice that was holding me back infused my writing with some confidence.

AM: If you weren’t a writer, and could take on any skills/traits, what would your dream alternate career be?

AKW: Seriously, I have no skills except that I can write a little and I’m really good with animals.

AM: If you could have any celebrity endorse your book, who would you choose?

AKW: Um… Oprah. [August cheers too loudly.] I mean, come on. She sells the hell out of books. But seriously for me, for the big rush, I want one of the big boys. Right now Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Lee Child (Jack Reacher series) are my fantasy cover blurbs.

AM: Lee Child would totally blurb you! We shared smoothies once. I’ll put a word in. (Kidding—pretty sure he’s forgotten my name.) What aspect of the author’s life do you find most rewarding?

AKW: Besides typing The End? I guess reading back something you really struggled with, honed and revised, and discovering that you managed by some miracle to say what you wanted to say, or create the emotion or suspense you were going for. Because when I start a scene, it’s not like that. It doesn’t come rushing out of me, perfectly shiny and polished. It’s a painstaking process, word-by-word, building from the foundation up.

The other thing would be getting mail from a reader who really gets the character or was touched by something in a book. I talk a lot about addiction in the series. I hear from a lot of folks in recovery. I get mail from from former cops and private detectives and dedicated crime fiction readers. It’s really great when you’ve gotten it right for them. All the hours pay off in those moments.

AM: Beautiful. Tell us about your 99-cents promotion, and what we can look forward to next.

AKW: My publisher decided to run a nice little promo on the eBook edition of the first book in the series, The Stranger You Seek—$0.99 wherever eBooks are sold in the U.S. The promotion runs through May 19th.The 3rd book in the series, Don’t Talk To Strangers, is scheduled to release February 11th. We thought this would be a great way for new readers to discover the Keye Street Stranger series and jump in at the beginning in advance of the 3rd release.

*****

Great indeed. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll all race over to Amazon, B&N, or wherever else you e-book shop, and check out Amanda’s work.

Isn’t Amanda Kyle Williams fabulous? Any thoughts to share with her? Do you relate to her “neuroses” as much as I do??? Sure we’d both love to hear from you.

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In the sweltering heat of an Atlanta summer, a killer is pushing the city to its breaking point, preying on the unsuspecting, writing taunting letters to the media, promising more death. Desperate to stop the Wishbone Killer, A.P.D. lieutenant Aaron Rauser turns to the one person he knows can penetrate a deranged mind: Keye Street, an ex–FBI profiler and former addict who now picks up jobs where she can get them. But the last thing Keye wants is to be pulled into the firestorm of Atlanta’s worst nightmare. And then it suddenly becomes clear that the hunter has become the hunted—and the stranger she seeks is far closer than she ever dared imagine.

Available on Amazon, iTunes, B&N and more.

My Thriller and Folk Tunes: Gifts For You

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Do you remember the first time you were asked that? And your answer?

I do. I was in the kindergarten when my teacher, Mrs. Webster, asked us to draw the answer. I sketched a smiling, yellow-haired girl, clutching a microphone. I’m not even sure why—though I did have a thing for Barbie and the Rockers’ mega-hit “Born with a Mic In Your Hand.” And, I still have a thing for microphones…

It's kind of a sickness.

It’s kind of a sickness.

Regardless, the idea of using my voice has stuck with me through many shifted dreams and career paths. Now that I’m a writer, I feel as though some part of me knew where I was headed all along.

Since music is so precious to me, and my songwriting long preceded my book-writing, I’ve decided to give away MP3s of a couple of my originals. Why now? Because the Kindle version of my novel, IN HER SHADOW, is FREE today through Saturday. I’d love your support, if you’re so willing.

Here’s how you can participate:

1) Download IN HER SHADOW for Kindle today or tomorrow, and/or gift it to someone else. You can also purchase the paperback, which is currently discounted: $12.95, instead of $13.95.

2) Email a copy of your purchase confirmation(s) to: august at augustmclaughlin dot com

3) For one download/purchase, you’ll receive my song, “Cinderella.” For two downloads/purchases, you’ll receive “Cinderella” and “Solitude (Mr. Ground) – LIVE.”

You can also Tweet this giveaway event to your friends and/or post it on Facebook. Tag me, and I’ll add your name to a drawing for a $20 Amazon.com gift card. Feel free to use the sample tweet below, make it your own, or simply share my blog link.

Psych thriller IN HER SHADOW is #FREE on #Kindle – 3 days only: http://www.amazon.com/In-Her-Shadow-ebook/dp/B00APOODTA/ @AugstMcLaughlin

Easy, right? Thanks in advance for any support you’re inclined to share.

In Her Shadow cover_med

What did you first want to be when you grew up? Do you have more than one creative outlet? What projects are your working on or promoting? I’d love to cheer you on. ♥

MN and LA Book Events + BlogFest Reminders

Happy weekend, all! It’s not often I chat with you here on Saturdays. Are you in your PJs? Enjoying a lazy or lively morning with loved ones? Or is it another “typical” work-from-home/artist’s day? (Weekend? What’s that?!?) Regardless, I hope you’re well.

It’s been two months since my e-release, and one since we partied virtually here and on Facebook. While I’m a huge fan of e-books and social media, and had a ball e-festing with you all, I deeply value tangible books and in-person connections. So here’s what I’ve got cooking for March, in my childhood and current stomping grounds:

Tuesday, March 12th (Los Angeles)
Paperback Book Release Party – August & The Torn Out Pages (or maybe 1)
8:00 – 10:30pm @Los Globos 3040 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, California – $10 cover charge
I’ll be dusting off my gee-tar to sing from 8:30 – 9:pm.

August & the Torn Out Pages

Thursday, March 21st (Minneapolis)
Book Reading/Signing – Free admission
7 – 9pm @ The Coffee Shop NE: 2852 Johnson St. NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Saturday, March 23rd (Bloomington, MN)
Bloomington Writers’ Festival and Book Fair
9:30am – 5pm @ The Blooming Theater and Art Center: 1800 W Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington, MN 55431

Saturday, April 20th (Los Angeles)
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
10am – 4pm @ USC Campus

If you happen to be in the Los Angeles or Minneapolis area next month, I hope you’ll join me.

What events are you anticipating? Do you prefer events online, in-person or both? Will I see you in March?

Speaking of online functions, don’t forget to pop by next Friday, February 22nd, for the 2nd annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest! Whether you join as a blogger, reader or both, you are in for a treat. You may even win a Kindle.

To sign up or for more details, visit the BOAW blog-fest page. If you’ve already signed up, remember to post your installment on your blog this coming Thursday, by 7pm PST, along with this year’s badge and a link to my blog so your readers can check out everyone’s beauty-full links. I can’t wait to fest with you!

BOAW 2013

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” — Sam Levinson (quoted by Audrey Hepburn)

Criminal Cupid: A Thriller Threesome

There’s nothing quite like a threesome to turn the mundane, plain or pleasant into pure excitement, making the stress and monotony of everyday life irrelevant, if even for a few adrenaline-soaked hours.

Forget roses, greeting cards and candy hearts this Valentine’s Day. You deserve a threesome!

Wait. Put your clothes back on! You knew we were talking about books…right? Okay, good. Because Kristine Cayne, CJ West and I have a sweeter-than-chocolate treat for you. For two days only, February 13th and 14th, we’re offering three thrillers for 99 cents each. Purchase three books for a chance to win an I Survived A Thriller Threesome t-shirt (a $20 value). Purchase one of our books for $10 off of a t-shirt (payable to me via PayPal).

How to play:

Purchase the following for yourself and/or others via Amazon. You must purchase three e-books for a chance to win a threesome tee. Though it’d tickle our frisky fancies if you purchased all three, any combination works. In other words, if you’ve read CJ’s book and loved it, you’re welcome to gift it to three friends. Or you could gift two of Kristine’s book to friends and nab mine for yourself. You get the idea. Then in the comments below, let me know that you’ve made three purchases. (How often do you get to say things like, “I ordered my thriller threesome!” ???) If your name is drawn, I’ll request proof of purchase. We’re giving away six shirts, so your chances are good!

The playmates:

Threesome t-shirt back

Addicted to Love, by CJ West:

Wes Holiday sells his landscaping business and retreats to a quaint mountain town to heal after ending a ten year relationship with a woman he couldn’t bring himself to marry. In three weeks he is so captivated by a hair stylist that he deprives himself of food and sleep to be near her. When the local sheriff is murdered, Wes is recruited to keep the peace in the town his parents built, but he knows nothing about law enforcement and he’s struggling to understand how a woman he just met can dominate his every waking thought. Soon the idyllic town with a penchant for romance is rocked by a bizarre series of murders that defy explanation and it is up to Wes to stop a raging epidemic of violence. Purchase via Amazon

Deadly Addiction, by Kristine Cayne:

When beautiful police sergeant Alyssa Morgan enters his life, Rémi Whitedeer never expects her to upend it. Not only does she have his hormones in an uproar, she’s also threatening to take the position he wants–Chief of Police for the Iroquois Blackriver Reservation. But Alyssa is more than a Barbie cop. Her ends-justifies-the-means philosophy, so different from his own, challenges Rémi on every level. With her sharp investigative skills and her fearlessness, she leads Rémi to confront bitter truths about his family and his standing as a man of mixed race within his tribe.

Tall hunky Rémi Whitedeer, of the panty-melting grin and the smoldering green eyes, flips Alyssa’s world ass over teakettle. She’s always had a laser-like focus on the job, but Rémi proves a constant distraction. His inner strength and sense of purpose strip away the winner-take-all attitude Alyssa wears like armor. Soon she’s longing for more–a more that terrifies and intrigues her. If he finds out the fine line she’d walked while undercover, will he still want her? And will she ever find the courage to let him–or anyone–that far in?

When Alyssa and Rémi uncover a drug-fueled scheme involving a biker gang from Alyssa’s past and a militant sovereigntist group led by Rémi’s cousin, they are forced to choose between their growing love for each other and the lives they’ve worked so hard to build. Will Rémi and Alyssa have to leave everything behind–even their identities–for the chance of a future together? Purchase via Amazon

In Her Shadow, by August McLaughlin:

One woman locked in a basement, nearing death and longing for escape. Another baffled by the inexplicable symptoms wreaking havoc on her life. Both are lost and alone, yet somehow connected. And time is running out…

Near the tenth anniversary of her parents’ unexpected death, Claire Fiksen, a lovely young Harvard-grad and gifted psychologist in Minnesota, develops bizarre symptoms of an eating disorder that threaten her fledgling career, her relationship with a handsome young medical student, her grasp on reality and, soon, her life.

When her beloved grandfather reveals that there may be more to her parents’ death than she’s realized, Claire’s pursuit of healing becomes a desperate search for answers as she delves into her family’s sordid past. Meanwhile, someone is watching her every move, plotting to draw her into her own twisted web of misery. Claire has something he needs, and he’ll stop at nothing to obtain it. Every step Claire takes brings her closer to the truth and danger. And her life, she discovers, isn’t the only one at stake. Purchase via Amazon

Thriller Threesome shirt

For more more writerly, book and threesome fun, pop by my fellow playmates’ blogs:

Blogging with Kristine Cayne  ♥  C.J. West: Suspense. Creativity. Action

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day and, if you choose to play, a very thrilling threesome. 🙂

August, Kristine and C.J.

Have you ordered your Thriller Threesome? Do tell! Spicy details and creativity welcome!

IN HER SHADOW Paperback Release and Giveaway

As a kid, my mouth seemed to house only sweet-teeth. I’d eat sugar cubes by the handful, given the chance, and once trick-or-treated in the heat of July (dress up plus free candy: a total sweet-o-holic win-win). Years later, when disordered eating set in, sweets became the bad boyfriend I had to resist, or face punishment. It’s a beautiful thing to be past all of that, particularly since it’s allowed me to recognize and pursue my writing dreams.

Good thing nature makes "candy," too.

Good thing nature makes “candy,” too.

In his book How to Write a Damn Good Thriller, James Frey describes concern over social injustice as the reason authors write certain thrillers, such as Blood Diamond, Dr. Stangelove, Serpico and The Constant Gardener. The authors feel compelled to shed light on and perhaps help correct these injustices, he says, thereby improving the world. I certainly relate to that motivation, and in my own meager way, that’s one of the things I’ve tried to do with In Her Shadow: shed some light into what eating disorders feel like from the inside. From understanding stems growth.

Since my e-book release last month, there have been exhilarating highs and proverbial dips. One day after I received praise from Kirkus Reviews, a reader called my novel unedited, and my use of the acronym  E.D. “lazy” and mistakable for erectile dysfunction. (You can laugh. I have. :)) Like all books, mine is not for everyone, nor is the rocky ride known as publishing. When our work resonates with readers, though, WOW. It’s a remarkable feeling that makes bumps seem bearable and sitting down to the empty page again and again a near given. (Every one of you who posts reviews for books you enjoy, give yourself a big ol’ hug!)

I thought about sharing the worst and best reviews today, but Mr./Mrs. Erectile Dysfunction included spoilers. Instead I’ll share two of the most touching:

I was breathless from the first word I read!, January 28, 2013

This book touched my heart before I even turned the first page.

Ms. McLaughlin’s writing is elegant, gentle, subtle, and drew me into her story by the heart, stirring concern and compassion for her exquisitely vulnerable characters. She writes about pain without assault or brutality. Whereas the stories of many authors leave one feeling bruised and hurting, August evokes caring, tenderness and a deep empathy.

Of special note is the sensitivity with which she dealt with the dynamic of an eating disorder, bringing me into the experience in such a vulnerable way that I was allowed to live it, sharing the anguish of it, not just looking at it and “understanding” as an observer. This is not only incredible writing, but a gift to those who struggle with eating disorders, unable to find the words to describe their torment to a culture that cannot comprehend the “illogic” of their behavior. — Psychologist/Author, Jan Harrell

The other came via email from a woman who’s struggling with bulimia. With her permission, here is an excerpt:

I’ve read lots of books about eating disorders, but this is the first time I was like, “Yes. The author gets its.”  I gave it to my boyfriend to read. I think it’s helping him understand it, and me… Thanks for writing In Her Shadow. It gave me strength. I also had fun reading it, which is saying a lot. (It must be good to distract me from my freaking disease. :)) I hope you always keep writing. — J.

And here is the brand-spankin’ new back cover, by the ever-fabulous Steena Holmes:

IHS back

In celebration of my paperback release and in honor of J. and her courageous battle, I’ve decided to offer a fun little giveaway. To qualify, follow these two steps:

1. Pop over to Amazon between now and February 2nd—and order In Her Shadow.

2. Email me your purchase confirmation (august at augustmclaughlin dot com) and where you’d like your LOVE YOUR BODY affirmation magnet sent. Yep! Everyone who orders within the first two days can claim one.

Thanks so much for the continual support, all. It means more to me than healthy or sugary sweets ever could.

What’s your main writing motivation? Any funny/horrible or rave reviews of your work you’re up for sharing? What feedback or compliment has taken you by surprise?

Lutefisk and Happy Hangovers: A Thrill-Fest Release Party Wrap Up

Have you ever partied so hard that the next day your head feels like a bowling ball and your energy, the pins it knocked down? I have, a few times. My last round was unlike any other, only partly because I spent the party home alone, sipping cyber cocktails. Who knew a virtual release party could be so A) fun B) laugh-inducing C) intoxicating or D) draining? Last Thursday’s IN HER SHADOW Thrill-Fest Release Party on Facebook was a rip roarin,’ lutefisk-lovin’ good time.

My non-virutal hangover was beyond worth it. Joy from the party carried over, and lingers still. THANK YOU, all who participated. Whether you were dancing your cyber-butt off with Concepción, gossiping behind my back with Mike and Janelle, feasting on virtual treats, playing trivia with trivia goddess Karina or simply lingering in the background, your positive vibes were felt, and means more to me than lutefisk is stinky.

A few highlights:

Before the party even started, early birds helped choose my outfit. Thank goodness they chose Cat Woman. I wasn't feeling the tundra look...

Before the party even started, early birds helped choose my outfit. Thank goodness they chose Cat Woman. I wasn’t feeling the tundra look…

One of my favorite blogging pals, Coleen, got the disco ball rolling—with her FEET!

One of my favorite blogging pals, Coleen, got the disco ball rolling—with her FEET!

Supper

After several rounds of snow-tinis, we feasted like thriller-loving Minne-snowtans…

Laughed until we cried, thanks to Lynn Kelley's fantastic review. (Way to "show, not tell," Lynn!)

…then laughed until we cried, thanks to Lynn Kelley. (Way to “show, not tell,” Lynn!)

And wrapped up the night with after dinner drinks and, uh, snow globes.

After loads of dancing, laughing, game playing and chit chat, we wrapped up with after dinner drinks and, uh, snow globes.

Last but not least, who could forget the randy pirate who promised to star in the film version one day, the book-pimping rappers or the...interesting sequel title coined by a Hollywood starlet? Not ringing a bell? Take a look at the video my friend, John Chang, helped me create. We hit the Hollywood streets with an iPad, iPhone, a Kindle and my eager, book-blabbering mouth:

Added thanks to all who entered the Thrill-Fest Giveaway raffle. The winners are…

IN HER SHADOW – signed copy + author interview: Jenny Hansen, Cora Reidenbach and Scott McAllister
FANGS OUT by David Freed – signed advance copy + author interview: Tim O’Brien
RUN TO THE GROUND by D.P. Lyle – signed copy + author interview: Andrea W. Hunt
A HUMAN ELEMENT by Donna Galanti – signed copy + author interview: Gloria Richard
INTO THE DARK by Stacy Green – signed copy + author interview: Ellis Shuman
LOST AND FOUND by Amy Shojai – signed copy + author interview: Kourtney Heintz
THE STRANGER IN THE ROOM by Amanda Kyle Williams – signed copy: Andrea W. Hunt
THE STRANGER YOU SEEK by Amanda Kyle Williams – signed copy: Lynn Kelley
IN HER SHADOW – signed book cover print: Kristine Parker—the trivia tackling queen!

Congrats, winners! Keep an eye out for an email from the author or me, standing in as his/her virtual assistant. 😉

For more party shenanigans, visit IN HER SHADOW Thrill-Fest Release Party on Facebook. I’ll leave it open until the paperback releases, by February 1st. Thanks again, all!

I’d love to hear from you. If you attended the party, what stood out most? What other virtual events have you enjoyed the heck out of? Any highlights from one you’ve thrown? How do you feel about lutefisk???

IN HER SHADOW Thrill-fest and Release Party!

When I finished the first draft of my novel, I called my mom, sniffling. “You should rest,” she said. “You just birthed a novel.”

baby book names

Yes, as a parent and poet, Mom gets it. I hesitate to draw many parenting/writing comparisons, not having kids myself. Judging from what others who do have shared, however, numerous parallels fit. “Birthing” a book is intense, exciting, gratifying, sometimes painstaking and frustrating work, all made more enjoyable, manageable and profound by the support of others. So I suppose I should now welcome you all to my “baby” shower. May the diaper games begin! 😉 Kidding. As bizarre fun as that sounds, I think we’ll venture elsewhere, starting with what matters most at this party: you all.

I can’t thank you all enough for joining me in my journey this past year-plus, in whatever capacity you have. I wish I could list everyone I’m grateful to by name, but that would be about as breezy to read as one of those “old fashioned” phone books. Here are the highlights:

I’m particularly grateful to my parents for never saying “don’t” and always saying “dream;” my husband, for reading nearly every word of my every draft and tolerating my maniacal writer-dom in ways even I sometimes can’t; my friend and mentor Mike Sirota, for running my pages through the Simon Cowel-like ringer and being there through days dark and bright; my agent John Rudolph for believing in me, thinking outside of the box and helping me become a stronger writer; digital publishing manager Yassine Belkacemi for uploads, formatting and fielding my endless questions with considerable patience; Steena Holmes for her beautiful work on my cover and tireless support; and my furry and feathered office pals, Zoe and Wombley, whose animal-love I thrive on.

To my blogging friends, the WANA crowd and Jedi master Kristen Lamb, fabulous folks I’ve met through Bouchercon, ThrillerFest and the Southern California Writers Conference and friends I’ve fallen in writer-love with through words and pages, THANK YOU. I hope you know you’re like permanently implanted in my heart. 😉

Now for the FUN STUFF!

I’m stoked and honored to invite you all to the IN HER SHADOW Thrill-Fest Giveaway raffle. Some of my favorite thriller authors have joined in by offering up some spectacular prizes. Up for grabs include signed books by Amanda Kyle Williams, David Freed, DP Lyle, Donna Galanti, Stacy Green and Amy Shojai. I’ll be giving away three copies IN HER SHADOW, hot off the presses in a couple of weeks, each accompanied by an interview with me.

A lowdown of the prizes:

Each prize includes a signed book and, in most cases, an interview with the author. The interviews may be conducted by phone, Skype or email and, potentially, shared on your blog or website. You can also gift your prize to a thriller-loving or “writerly” friend. The interview details will be worked out via email, based on the author’s preference and what works for you, at the raffle’s end. Check out these tantalizing covers:


raffle books

How to enter:

Hop over to the GIVEAWAY tab on my Facebook page, using this link. The raffle widget will guide you through a variety of simple ways to support participating books and authors. While not necessary for the raffle, I hope that when you visit the authors’ Amazon pages, you’ll click that little “like” button if you indeed like what you see. You can also gain raffle points by commenting on this post. (See below.)

The raffle ends this Saturday, January 12th at midnight. You can utilize every raffle option once daily, today through Saturday, for a maximum of 50 raffle points per day. Not too shabby, right?

For even MORE fun, join me and my friend Karina, the Goddess of Terrifying Trivia, tonight for a virtual launch party on Facebook. We’ll be giving out more prizes and having a heck of a lot of goofy, thriller-related fun. The party goes from 5pm to 9pm PST, and you’re welcome to pop by for a virtual drink or linger all party long. You can also join us on Twitter: #InHerShadow. For further details, visit:

IN HER SHADOW Thrill-Fest Launch Party on Facebook

In Her Shadow - Finalx2

I hope to see you there! So much love and gratitude,

August

*Using the following prompt, post a comment below between today and Saturday for another chance to win. I’ll give 10 extra points for the most creative comment. Ready…set…GO!

How is writing like or unlike childbirth or parenthood?

My Birthmas Wish and E-Release NEWS!

Dreams shouldn’t have ceilings. Lucky for me, my parents never imposed them.

Some things haven't changed since I was 6.

Some things haven’t changed since I was 6.

This Sunday marks my 34th birthday—birthmas, as I like to call it. Each year for as long as I can remember, I’ve asked myself whether I’ve earned the numerical upgrade. If I’ve prodded further toward my dreams, the answer is yes, this year being no exception. With the release of my first novel underway, I’m feeling exceptionally grateful, particularly since a few months ago, publishing seemed far off.

When I was deciding whether to go the indie-with-an-agent publishing route, my dear friend Bill posted a blog comment that struck me straight in the heart:

Remember the big benefit concert you and your band mate put on, oh, 16 years ago, with a bunch of different local bands? I remember it because that was the first time, out of very many, that I was like, “holy ****, this person is my age, and she decides she wants to do things and just goes out and…like…DOES them!” So, yeah. I don’t know whether I could ever have the willpower or drive to do everything a self-publisher needs to do, and I know for a fact that most people don’t, but I’m pretty sure you’ll rock it in your usual way.

While I was already leaning heavily toward self-publishing, Bill reminded me of a vow I made at the ripe young age of 15. My mother was enduring a brutal battle with depression related to horrific abuse she experienced as a child. A friend in my church’s youth group had been kicked down the stairs by her abusive mother. And my best friend, Kellie, and I had recently learned to play guitar.

These events collided when Kellie and I took a dream I’d had about a song called Matarrah Taray as a sign. The otherwise nonexistent phrase quickly became a real song, the names of our beater guitars (mine Matarrah, hers Taray) and the title of a regional benefit concert to spread awareness regarding child abuse.

Matarah

Matarrah

Many people deemed our mission sweet, but unrealistic. Fueled up with others’ skepticism and passion for the cause, we worked harder, producing press kits, a pasta charity dinner and local coffee house gigs featuring none-other-than us, while talking non-stop about all of it. Gradually, people started paying attention, and no longer in “That’s so cute!” type ways. We were featured in the morning news, a PBS documentary and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and sang the national anthem at a Minnesota Twins game dedicated to non-violence. Matarrah Taray became a two-year anti-child abuse campaign, culminating in a 16-band concert. In 1996, Kellie and I were awarded the Minnesota Peace Prize for our efforts.

You know what strikes me the most about the experience to this day? The vast number of people who described our “youthful” enthusiasm and belief that anything’s possible, notions they seemed to believe that everyone inevitably outgrows. At one point, I borderline scolded a reporter for referencing our “childlike fervor.” We’ll NEVER stop believing, I told her. Ever. Growing up doesn’t necessitate settling for non-starry skies. I still believe that.

While the accolades were lovely and we raised valuable funds and awareness for a worthy cause, Kellie and I benefitted most. Of the lessons I learned, my favorites still apply today:

  • Genuine goals and dreams are never foolish.
  • Goals and dreams are only meaningless if we withhold them.
  • People will listen (and stuff happens) if we speak up loudly and long enough.
  • Passion trumps know-how, though both are important.
  • Support and skepticism can function as high-grade fuel.
  • Music and words can change the world, if not the whole world, someone’s.
  • There’s no point in stopping dreaming and endless promise in keeping on.

Creating fiction, poetry, music, performance or visual art when our hearts say DO is among the most admirable and important work anyone can accomplish. Publishing our work traditionally or independently when our hearts say DO can turn “childlike” dreams into reality. Dreams are only meaningless when we withhold them.

My birthmas wish is that all of you reading this will take a step toward your wildest dreams. Step into your authentic self and do something awesome. (If you report back later, I’ll bake you a healthy cake.)

I’d also like to extend special thanks to my friends, family, mentors and readers for helping my most recent dream come true. My first novel hit the e-shelves this week! Talk about surreal…

If you’d like to purchase or otherwise support In Her Shadow by sharing links or “liking,” visit:

In Her Shadow on Amazon.com (Kindle version)
August McLaughlin on Amazon.com (my author page)
In Her Shadow on GoodReads

Thanks in advance for any support. ♥ If I can cheer you and your ventures on, please let me know.

***My official release, including the paperback, will take place in January. We’re going to party hardy!***

I’d LOVE to hear from you. What dream are you striving for? If you have trouble conjuring an answer, complete one of the following sentences: If I weren’t afraid (or alternate negative adjective), I would ______________________. If I could take a magic wand to my life, I would _______________________. What extra dream-seeking step are you willing to take? If still nothing pops to mind, I hope you’ll stay open to the possibilities.