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?

Flying High with Thriller Author David Freed

David Freed is a screenwriter, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, pilot, father and dog lover with a passion for Mexican food and “virtually all things with wings”. He’s also one of my new favorite authors. David’s debut thriller, Flat Spin, is a witty, entertaining tale chock-full of captivating characters that never lets go. The Library Journal called it “a delightful romp” and “highly recommended.” Kirkus Reviews said it’s “full of interesting episodes and feels authentic…” TRUE THAT, says me.

Flat Spin overview:

Based in sunny Rancho Bonita – “California’s Monaco” as the city’s moneyed minions like to call it – Cordell Logan is a literate, sardonic flight instructor and aspiring Buddhist with dwindling savings and a shadowy past. When his beautiful ex-wife, Savannah, shows up out of the blue to tell him that her husband has been murdered in Los Angeles, Logan is quietly pleased. Savannah’s late husband, after all, is Arlo Echevarria, the man she left Logan for.

Logan and Echevarria were once comrades-in-arms assigned to a top-secret military assassination team known as “Alpha.” The only problem is, the LAPD can find no record of Echevarrias ever having toiled for Uncle Sam. Savannah wants Logan to tell the police what he knows. At first he refuses, but then, relying on his small, aging airplane, the “Ruptured Duck,” and the skills he honed working for Alpha, Logan doggedly hunts Echevarria’s killer.

His trail takes him from the glitzy Las Vegas Strip to the most dangerous ghettos of inner-city Oakland, from darkened, Russian Mafia haunts in West Los Angeles to the deserts of Arizona. But that’s the least of his problems. It is his love-hate relationship with Savannah, a woman Logan continues to pine for in spite of himself, that threatens to consume him.

Sounds thrilling, right??? Well, I have more good news. David is here with us today, in the form of his insight. Grab your favorite beverage and take a seat. I suspect you’ll want to take the time to savor what he has to say. 😉

AM: First, congratulations on your book release! How does it feel to have your first thriller published? What was launch day/week like for you? 

DF: Thanks, August. The experience has been thrilling, no pun intended, and surreal. As you know as a writer yourself, you spend many months or even years in a room all by your lonesome, filling one blank page after another with words conveying fanciful ideas from a world you’ve concocted in your head. Then, one day, if you’re incredibly fortunate, some publisher says, “I like the way you’ve arranged those words enough that I’m going to pay you—though not very much–to put them in the form of a book.” A year or so later, your friendly UPS delivery driver dumps a cardboard box on your doorstep and there you stand, hefting in your hand that very book, many copies of which you hope will find favor across the land.

All hyperbole aside, opening that box certainly rated as one of the great moments of my life to date. However, my ego balloon was quickly shot down by the handful of good friends I invited over to help me celebrate what a huge honking success I am. They quickly reminded me that I’m still the same guy who picks up the dog poop in his backyard, prefers turkey burgers over fine dining and wears his T-shirts into the ground.

AM: Not to re-inflate that balloon or anything, but I think all of that makes you cooler. What inspired you to write Flat Spin?

DF: I’m a journalist by background, and I don’t think there’s ever been a journalist born that didn’t secretly aspire to write a novel. My goal, having reported more than my share of stories exploring the dark side of humanity, was to write a book that would be fun to read while incorporating into the plot subject material of which I was at least somewhat familiar. I also wanted to write something that I could claim at the end of the day was truly mine. When you’re hired as a writer in Hollywood, which is another hat I’ve worn, you sign a contract that literally states the studio is the author of your work. I cannot tell you how my scripts I’ve cranked out that ultimately and absolutely bore no resemblance to what I wrote.

AM: You really put the reader in Cordell Logan’s head. I felt like I was the secret military assassin turned Buddhist flight instructor. (I mean that as a compliment.) How similar is Logan to you?

DF: Thanks for the compliment. Hey, I’ll take all I can get! You’ve asked a tough question. In terms of life’s experience, I’d say that I’ve traveled on the periphery of where Logan’s gone—though, certainly, he’s led a much more bombastic life than me. For example, I didn’t played football for the Air Force Academy, as Logan did, but I did play football. I never flew Air Force A-10s during Desert Storm, but I did help cover Desert Storm for the Los Angeles Times. Like Logan, I’m an instrument-rated pilot. Unlike him, I am not a flight instructor. Nor am I an aspiring Buddhist, though I am intrigued with the religion. One more thing: Logan is a former member of a covert, since-disbanded government assassination team. I can assure you I have never worked for such a team, though I have done work in the intelligence community. If Logan and I share any undeniable similarities, it is that we both really enjoy flying airplanes and eating really good burritos, though not necessarily in that order.

AM: Nice. I liked the fact that you didn’t go overboard in describing characters’ appearances. I envisioned Savannah like Anna Nicole Smith for some reason… Way off? 

DF: Waaay off! [*August laughs, LOUDLY.*] But that’s cool. As a reader, you should have the right to imagine fictional characters however you wish. If you see Savannah as Anna Nicole Smith, you’re not gonna wreck my day, even though I may have conjured her with a completely different image in mind.

As a screenwriter, I learned that movie casting options dwindle proportionately to the degree of description you write into a script when it comes to your  characters’ physical attributes, or lack thereof. The perfect dilemma of too much detail can be found in the upcoming Jack Reacher film. Author Lee Child describes Reacher, a former military police officer, as a big, brawny guy, well over 6 feet. Who’s purportedly going to play Reacher?—5’-7” Tom Cruise. Not that Cruise wouldn’t do a great job with the role. But fans of Child’s books are already grousing about how casting Cruise will absolutely ruin the franchise. I’ve heard that author Sue Grafton refuses to sell the film rights to her wildly successful Kinsey Millhone series simply because she doesn’t want her readers equating Kinsey with the likes of a real life actress.

AM: What was the toughest part of the process, from beginning your first draft to publication?

DF: With Flat Spin, it was having no choice but to set aside the draft to work on gigs that paid. By the time I’d get back to the novel, weeks and sometimes months would have gone by; I would’ve forgotten major plot points and even characters’ names. It’s much easier to build a head of steam and maintain a daily momentum, writing a book start and finish without distraction.

AM: I imagine many writers can relate to that. Anything you’ll do differently next time around?

DF: I already am. I’ve turned down or postponed several other writing assignments to devote myself full-time to Flat Spin’s sequel.

AM: Love that. Your career background is extremely  intimidating impressive. How does thriller writing compare to your work as a journalist?

DF: They’re two distinct animals. A journalist is married to facts. In both reporting and writing a news story, you go where those facts take you. Writing a fictional thriller can be vastly more exhilarating and intimidating if for no other reason than the immensity of the potential creative landscape you, as a novelist, look out upon. You must make myriad creative choices that you don’t typically make in a news story. The process can be analogous to feeling your way through a minefield: every step bodes potential success or disaster.

Writing a thriller versus a journalistic story is also different because of the much more subjective nature of the final product. When you’ve published a first-rate piece of journalism, there is usually broad agreement you’ve accomplished something significant. With fiction, a writer rarely achieves that kind of consensus, if only because of the disparate tastes of individual readers. It’s like a Jackson Pollack painting. Many people will see genius in it; others will see it as one huge paint splatter.

AM: How many secret sources have you met in smoky bars? Has the work put you in danger? Do I watch too much crime TV? (If yes to that last bit, feel free to make up something saucy.)

DF: Meeting sources in bars is not nearly as sketchy as meeting them in underground parking garages or empty parks at night, where there are fewer witnesses to identify your body. I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been a few occasions when I felt like things got a little gnarly in such places. I remember once making arrangements to rendezvous in a bar with a really sketchy dude who’d called me, claiming to have direct knowledge of the alleged second gunman in the John F. Kennedy assassination. He insisted after we met that I come with him to his apartment where he had all of the “evidence” in safekeeping. I went to the men’s room, called my editors, and gave them the address, so that if I didn’t show up for work the next day, they’d know where to send the coroner. Turns out the guy, who proved to be a totally harmless whacko, had devised some theory that the second gunman was secretly hidden in the trunk of JFK’s limo. Yeah, right.

On another occasion, I was working on a series of stories targeting members of organized crime in a major land fraud scam. I came home late one night and my phone started ringing immediately. The anonymous caller proceeded to spent about 30 seconds telling me where things were in my cabinets and drawers that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about unless you’d been inside my apartment—and I lived in a secure building. The next morning, I went out to my car and discovered somebody had put a screwdriver through the fuel tank. There were was gas all over the parking lot. I carried a pistol for several weeks after that. For the most part, however, investigative reporting is incredibly tedious. You spend vast amounts of time interviewing boring bureaucrats, and hours sifting through government archives where you are much more likely to catch some obscure respiratory disease than you are a bullet.

AM: Yipes. Aside from staying healthy and bullet hole-free, what’s next in the pipeline? 

DF: I’m hard at work on the next Cordell Logan mystery. If all goes well, it’ll be out next year. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed this!

*****

He’s GREAT, right??? To purchase Flat Spin, zip over to Amazon.com or David’s website for more options. In the meantime, or after, any thoughts or questions to share with David?