About Me

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Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Lawyer | Romantic Suspense Author | Speaker | TV Junkie | Foodie | Sweet Wine Addict | Savvy Shopper You can visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. You can also connect with me online @ thewritepen (Twitter and Facebook). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Interview with Liza Brown, Author of Center Courtship

Author’s Bio: I am a stay at home wife (to Dan – the other Dan Brown) and mom of one girl (Lizzie), two cats (Max and Ruby), and two dachshunds (Nikita and Reggie).  My daughter has special needs and it’s much easier to get her to and from multiple appointments when I can be home.  I live in Massillon, Ohio and enjoy spending time with my daughter.  I enjoy listening to classic rock and going geocaching with Lizzie when we have the time.  I’m also a huge Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

What inspired you to write your book? 
I was inspired by my own imagination and for my love of the sport of basketball.  I continued to revisit this story in my mind and one day just decided to put it down.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? 
As a child my favorite books were Shel Silverstein’s books of poems.  I loved the humor of the drawings and the stories.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the genius of the man.  I’ve also spent a lot of time in the comfort of Dean Koontz and his stories.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
This is the first book I’ve written for publication.  I wrote when I was in high school for fun.  It took me about six months to write this book. 

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically? 
I have a mental outline.  I know where I want the story to go but have never written down a physical outline.  In editing the second book I am regretting that plan.  But since this is my first time I guess I must live by the mantra of ‘live and learn.’

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
I don’t listen to music as I write.  However, I find the sound of the TV show “How It’s Made” to be just enough of a background ‘sound’ to not distract me – but still let me know there are other humans in the world as I write.  Also, when I lift my gaze to look around me I learn about things like how tents and chocolate pudding are made.  Pretty much a win-win for all.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
Since I’m new to this whole thing I don’t know if I know what the actual keys are.  I do find myself reading a lot about the subject.  I have also learned I need to get more than one point of view for most theories. 

Also, talking to other authors who have gone before me has helped.  Most people have been so willing to share their knowledge and I am very grateful for that.

Listening to everyone at Intrigue Publishing has been helpful too, as I know they’re making suggestions based on their own background knowledge and on the fact that they are depending on my book doing well as much for their livelihood as mine. 

What advice would you give to new authors?
I still consider myself to be a new author but if I were to suggest anything I would say to just write.  Do it when and where you can.  Take your notebook/tablet/laptop with you wherever you can to take notes or just flat out write.  Write!  Don’t let anyone derail your imagination.  Don’t let anyone say you can’t. 

Listen to critics but also, don’t be afraid to say NO!  I’m going to do it my way because that’s the way I want it.  Stand up for your work.  Be proud of your work.

How about sharing an excerpt from Center Courtship?   
I looked up at him and saw that he had tomato sauce from his sandwich on the corner of his mouth.  Without asking, I reached up and wiped it away.  His skin was soft and warm.  We didnt have napkins with us and I now had a big glob of sauce on my thumb that I didnt know what to do with.  Elsu guided my hand to his mouth and put my thumb to his lips to lick the sauce off.  Electricity shot straight through me as I felt his wet tongue rub across the pad of my thumb.  I smiled and pulled my hand away quickly.

So, Mae.  Tell me something about you.  He must have felt my discomfort because he was changing the subject.
What do you want to know? I asked as I turned and faced him, crossing my legs between us.
Why isnt a pretty girl like you dating anyone? he asked.
I laughed openly.  A pretty girl like me?
What did I say that was so funny?
Girls like me dont get married.  Or date for that matter, I said.
What do you mean like you?
Homely, unattractive girls.  Our job is to wait for the pretty girls to sweep up all the eligible, virile young men to make babies with.  We get the leftovers if were lucky when were forty and shouldnt be having kids anymore.
What the f kind of nonsense is that? he seemed angry.  Who fed you that crap?
My mom, I said.
I dont much care for your mom, he said.
I rolled my eyes.  She doesnt much care for me. 

What’s next for you?
Book 2 (Point Guardian) is in the works and Book 3 is yet unnamed but partially written.  I look forward to continuing with these characters for as long as I can.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know them and introducing them to the world.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Liza-Brown
·         Facebook: www.facebook.com/lizabrownauthor
·         Twitter: @LizaBrownAuthor
·         Book buy Links: www.tinyurl.com/centercourtship

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.





Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ready. Set. Go. - Let’s Build Your Platform!

A lot of authors or writers in the making need to have a platform, a place for getting their message out about their works. There are so many ways to do this, but I find the most effective way is through content marketing. This is a strategic marketing tool which focuses on the distribution of consistent content that engages your target audience.
Here are 4 ways to get started:
1.      Blogging.
This platform is a great way for folks to find you when they are Googling topics related to your book. Also, the content you write about brands you as an expert in the topics you are writing about.  
2.      Video Content.
Videos are great whether you create them on Periscope, YouTube or your own website. It gives you an opportunity to show off your personality – so don’t be shy.
3.      Brand Your Images.
Folks are very visual. So, if you want to expand your readership on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc. then start creating images that contain snippets of your writing.
4.      Podcasting.
This gives you an avenue to voice your opinion on various topics you are passionate about. Although I haven’t set up podcast as of yet, it’ll definitely be on my list of things to include in my marketing arsenal.

NoteSo what are you waiting for? Let’s build that platform!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Interview with Austin Camacho, Author of the Hannibal Jones series, the Stark and O’Brien series and The Lost Art Assignment

Author’s Bio: I’ve written six novels about Washington DC-based private eye Hannibal Jones, five in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. My short stories have been featured in several anthologies including Dying in a Winter Wonderland – an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Top Ten Bestseller for 2008 - and I’m proud to be featured in the Edgar nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey.

I’m also the editorial director for Intrigue Publishing, a Maryland small press, so I work with our authors to improve their manuscripts. And I’m deeply involved with the writing community. I’m a past president of the Maryland Writers’ Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and I’m still an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

What inspired you to write your book?
My most recent novel, The Lost Art Assignment, grew out of my fascination with today’s gangs. Outfits like MS-13 are transnational criminal organizations that are evidently replacing the Mafia. How can they be so big and so successful if they’re run by uneducated kids? I wondered, what if in fact the leaders in such gangs are ambitious geniuses? With an impressive villain in place, the story just grew from there.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Many authors influenced me. I learned all I know about creating suspense from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books. Ross McDonald’s Archer novels inspired my plotting. Elmore Leonard inspired my characters. But it was Raymond Chandler’s perfect prose that made me decide I wanted to be a writer.

How long did it take to start and finish your book?
I’m usually a pretty consistent writer once I have the story idea firmly established. It takes me just about a year from working the original idea to the end of the third rewrite.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
I always outline, and sometimes that can be 15 pages of bullet points. I just try to get the events clearly stated in the right order before I start actually writing. Not that those things always go according to the plan, but at least I always know where I’m trying to go next.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
I’m not sure there’s a theme song for this book, but I did stay in the mood listening to a lot of Ludacris, TI and old standby Nas.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
The secret is, there is no secret.  I’ve had good luck contacting bookstores and setting up signing events. I think a consistent social media presence is important. I speak at writer events and attend conferences to keep my name and face in front of readers. But mostly, it’s all about building a platform – having fans who are waiting for your next book to come out. If I ever discover a foolproof way of doing that I’ll let you know.

What advice would you give to new authors?
Write every day, and know who your readers are. Try to picture the person reading your book, and it will come out more personal and more honest. Then go back and rewrite to make it the best book you can write.

How about sharing an excerpt from The Lost Art Assignment?

Gladly:

            While Morgan chewed a kosher Sabaret frankfurter, J.J. Slash visited a small candy store on a cross street off Amsterdam Avenue, just a few blocks from the projects.  The Towers, Morgan corrected himself.  Times change.  At midday, this street, lined with five and six story flat roofed tenements, was alive with small black kids with runny noses and women with mules on their feet, curlers in their hair, and nowhere to go.

            Morgan assumed Slash was on a business call.  He had watched Slash visit several small operators.  He assumed his purpose was to bring them onto his team.  Morgan knew a numbers runner when he saw one, and this candy store was probably the neighborhood three digit gambling palace.  The boy was ambitious, no doubt about it.  He worked a long day, networking and moving money.

            Since Morgan planned to make contact that day he hoped he didn’t look too intimidating.  He was black leather from boots to cap, wearing mirror shades with his jacket collar turned up.  He hadn’t shaved in three days, giving him a short brush of a beard and a mustache hanging over his lip. 

            He turned when, across the street, Slash's massive driver stepped out of the building.  Slash followed, reminding Morgan of the cartoon version of Bill Cosby as a kid.  The tall, light skinned guard followed him.  Morgan wondered why the security men always wore dark colored business suits, while Slash looked like he was going to the studio to film a hip hop video.  Today he wore the silly trousers with the crotch hanging almost to knee level.  Oh well, Morgan thought, even in this game image was important, and you can't knock success.

            Morgan straightened and turned to step into the narrow street.  He had the bodyguards' attention right away.  No harm there.  He would simply cross the street slowly with his hands in plain sight.  He knew what to say to worm his way onto the team.

            Scraping noises drew his eyes left.  Two Puerto Rican teens on skateboards were weaving back and forth down the center of the asphalt.  They had their white iPod speaker wires running up to their ears and wore identical denim jackets.  Morgan stopped to let them pass.  Then he saw the nearest one reach to his side and pull out a small object.

            A gun.  Both kids had guns, and their bodies hid them from Slash's side of the street.  They planned a quick hit, smooth and neat.  With luck they would kill Slash and disappear before anyone knew what was happening.  At worst they would eliminate one or two of his close guards.

            “Down!”  Morgan shouted before he even realized he would.  He dived forward into the oncoming skaters' path.  One boy collided with him, his board continuing on under Morgan, his gun flying over, as he folded across Morgan's body.  The other managed to weave around Morgan's outstretched arms, but it cost him a precious second.  He had time for one shot, and took it.

            When Morgan yelled, the giant stepped in front of Slash.  The thin guard leaped into the air.  Morgan heard the crack of pistol fire and looked up in time to see the big man absorb the shot.  The thinner man hit the limousine's roof with one foot and continued forward.  His other heel thumped into the side of the gunman's head.  The skateboarder dropped to the street, rolled, and sprawled still on the black surface.  His attacker landed on his feet in a relaxed tae kwon do ready stance.

            Morgan lay sandwiched between a teenager's upper and lower body.  A car, at first headed into the block, was cautiously backing out.  The gunshot had emptied the sidewalks, but cautious faces began to appear in windows and doorways.  Morgan had just gotten to his hands and knees when a fist as big as a twelve pound ham wrapped around his left arm and he was yanked to his feet.  With no words exchanged, Morgan was flipped into the white limo's front seat.  The giant squeezed in behind the wheel, pushing Morgan against his thinner counterpart.  Morgan turned just enough to see Slash in the back seat before the car roared to life and surged forward with a squeal of tortured tires.

What’s next for you?
After putting together the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity Con in September 2016, I’ll get back to work on the next Hannibal Jones novel. I have the outline, just need to sit down and put the words together.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
Twitter: @ascamacho

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.
  






Saturday, August 13, 2016

Work, Work, Work, Work, Work, Work!

If you truly love something you are passionate about wouldn’t you put the work in? Absolutely YES! But sometimes when there are so many things competing for your time, it’s not always that easy. I can certainly attest to that.

For me, the competing things include volunteering, mentoring, other non-writing projects, etc. So, I’ve been seriously lagging in getting my next writing projects off the ground. Right now, my characters from Gotta Get It Back are just about sick of me and have been clamoring for me to work, work, work, work, work. Yep, they have been neglected enough. I hear them loud and clear as they are very anxious for my readers to get into their drama and either fall in love with them or not. 

Well, off I go to put the work in so my next novel can be done, done, done, done, done! So, how much work do you put into your writing or anything you’re passionate about?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Interview with Juli Monroe, Author of Buried But Not Gone

Author’s Bio: I've been writing fiction almost as long as I can remember, starting with fan fiction at 13 (before I even knew there was a term for it). In my late teens, I tackled my first novel: a thriller from the most sedentary kid you'd ever known. It was every bit as bad as you're thinking.
A few years ago, I decided it was time to finally make my dream a reality. Inspiration for the characters in my Warlock Case Files series hit, and I started writing. I've published three books in that series with more to come. My most recent book is the start of a spin-off series, introducing a new warlock character.

What inspired you to write your book?
I’ve been working on The Warlock Case Files for several years, and the series is going well, but I had this book I wrote several decades ago that I wanted to get back to. My initial idea was to rewrite it as a Warlock Case Files, but I liked one of the characters in the original draft so much that I wanted to make him the main character instead. I changed the setting from the Mid-west, where it had originally been set, and made it Northern Virginia so I could use the main characters from my other series in a guest starring role.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I love the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher. When I decided to start writing urban fantasy, he was definitely an inspiration. I wanted to make my characters different, though. Harry uses flashy magic to defeat his opponents. I wanted my characters to be more subtle, so I did my magical world building with a simple philosophy. No fireballs!

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
No, not my first book. It was actually the third one I wrote, several decades ago, and the only one that had a strong enough plot to be published. That said, after rewriting it and changing the main character, it’s so different that I estimate only about 10% of the original text is still there. It took me about a year to write the first time and roughly the same length of time to rewrite. In hindsight, I should have just scrapped all the original text and started over from scratch. The rewrite was brutal and much harder than just writing fresh.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
This one was a special case, so I’ll answer this question about my other books. I do not use an outline. I usually start a book knowing roughly how it begins and ends and with some ideas of a few scenes in the middle. Other than that, I just let it flow. I like it when my characters do something unexpected, which often happens several times in a book. Some of my best scenes happen that way.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
I do listen to music, although I don’t have a theme song for my books. My writing playlist is heavily made up of soundtracks (mostly Marvel movies and TV shows) with a few alternative and classic rock songs to round it out.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
Word of mouth, mostly. When I get a chance to talk about my books, if people enjoy urban fantasy, they often go out and buy at least one. My non-fiction book was featured on Lifehacker earlier this year as one of the best business books to read in 2016. That was a big boost to the sales of a five-year old book. It’s great when things like that happen!

What advice would you give to new authors?
Keep writing. Don’t give up. Sales from a first book might be disappointing, but remember that you can be in this for the long haul. If you work with a publisher, be careful of what rights you sell and get an attorney to review the contract. A bad contract can hamstring an author. I prefer self-publishing because I retain control, but a small press can be a fantastic publishing partner if you find a good one.

How about sharing an excerpt from Buried Not Gone?
John stood outside, staring at her. Denise felt her world narrow down to just his eyes. She dimly heard Kevin ask her what was wrong, but she couldn’t look away from the hurt and the pain and the despair outside the window.

Part of her noticed the deeply-etched circles under his eyes, and she thought he must not be sleeping much. The circles made his brown eyes seem like deep wells of sadness, and his face was slack, as if all the spirit had left the man whom she had once loved. The moment seemed to stretch into hours. Raindrops dripped down his cheeks, pooling in his slightly open mouth. He was still dressed as he had been earlier, in one of the sensible, off-the-rack suits he wore when he taught his classes. John’s throat moved, as if he were about to speak, but then he shook his head and turned away and started walking toward the street. Water slicked his dark hair to his head, making him look smaller and less threatening than he had earlier.

Denise wanted to speak, to say something to break the spell, but her shock held her paralyzed, and she couldn’t force words past the heavy dread sitting on her chest. Without words, she couldn’t turn away. Dimly, she felt someone shaking her, but even that seemed far away, like it was happening to another person.

She watched John cross West Ox Road, the traffic seeming to part to let him pass. He got into his car, and even through the rain and the distance, she could see him clearly, see the droop in his shoulders and the halt in his step as he opened the door and got in.

His car door closed, and she could hear the “clunk,” even from that distance. She prayed the sound would end the spell, but still she could not look away. Her heart lurched, and she knew deep inside that the horror was just beginning.

From across the street, she saw John look at her again. It was impossible that she could have seen him at that distance, but she did. She never forgot those eyes: dead and yet filled with a terrible black light. She wanted to scream. She wanted to cry. She even wanted him back at that moment. Anything to appease the accusation in those horrible eyes.

It didn’t end. Maybe it would never end, and the two of them would be locked here forever, until the world stopped and everything crumpled around them. She watched him turn the key in the ignition. The engine roared to life, and he pulled out of his spot. From the prison of her mind, she screamed at him to “Stop! Don’t do this!” But his mouth stretched into the rictus grin of a corpse, and he locked his gaze with her.

Then he drove straight through his red light, heedless of the oncoming traffic. For a dreadful moment, Denise thought the car would leap across the street and into the window, swallowing her up in that chasm of pain.

But then a Chevy station wagon broadsided him, smashing his red Accord and almost knocking him into the passenger seat. Horribly, he still came on, the eyes accusing her with every passing breath. A pickup hit him next. Denise heard the horns blaring as cars swerved to avoid him. And yet, he still came. Until a BMW convertible swerved wildly to avoid him, plowing into the side of a minivan in the next lane. The van crashed into John’s car, smashing him again into the pickup. Only then did the eyes close and release her. Finally, Denise could scream.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on my next Warlock Case File. I’m roughly half-way through the first draft, and I’m loving where this one is going.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Website: http://warlockwriter.com/
·         Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006UECFFI
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/warlockcasefiles/
·         Twitter: @1to1Discovery
·         Blog: http://warlockwriter.com/blog/
·         Book buy Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.




Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Review of Home by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is a profound writer who that takes you on a journey of self-discovery in her novels. Her writing evokes questions about life, the choices you make, the heartaches you experience, the pain you feel, the joyous moments that uplifts you, the tragedies that plague your family, the regrets you ponder, and the list goes on.

In her novella, Home, Toni Morrison pulls no punches when she writes about Frank Money's journey back to Lotus, Georgia. Frank aka "Smart Money" is a Korean war veteran who is angry, broke, occasionally delusional, suffers from nightmares,  hates where he grew up, but would risk everything to go back home to save his medically abused younger sister.  Life hasn’t been easy for this man who loses himself in a bottle of whisky and the occasional warmth of a woman’s bosom. All this would take a backseat once he receives a letter to come rescue his sister before it’s too late.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novella. It was chock full of great dialogue and descriptions that pulled you into the scenes with raw emotions.  I was right there walking next to Frank as he stumbles in and out of his war memories, his delusions of the man in the Zoot suit, his inability to really show his feelings for the woman who showed him love, etc. I felt his pain and also his love for the one person he felt needed protection…his sister, his only family.

Although this story was set in the 1950s, the same struggles that plagued Frank still applies today to soldiers who have faught in more recent wars. The feelings of isolation, abandonment, destruction, and being fragmented from society were all things that Frank dealt with and Toni did an excellent job in showing readers how he made peace with it all. 

Overall, this was a story about introspection, forgiveness, strength, courage and love of family. But more importantly, it was about starting over with a new appreciation for life! Two thumbs up!

Some of my favorite lines:
Lotus, Georgia, is the worst place in the world, worse than any battlefield. At least on the field there is a goal, excitement, daring, and some chance of winning along with many chances of losing. Death is a sure thing but life is just as certain. Problem is you can’t know in advance.

In Lotus you did know in advance since there was no future, just long stretches of killing time. There was no goal other than breathing, nothing to win and, save for somebody else’s quiet death, nothing to survive or worth surviving for. If not for my two friends I would have suffocated by the time I was twelve. Thy, along with my little sister kept the indifference of parents and the hatefulness of grandparents an afterthought. Nobody in Lotus knew anything or wanted to learn anything. It sure didn’t look like anyplace you’d want to be. Maybe a hundred or so people living in some fifty spread-out rickety houses. Nothing to do but mindless work in fields you didn’t own, couldn’t own and wouldn’t own if you had any other choice.


Product Details

Rating: 5 stars

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Empower Your Writing!

So you want to enhance your writing skills, but don’t know where to start? Well, here are some pointers that will help get you started:

1.      Read something that is well written.  To be a better writer, you have to read what others have written, preferably, high quality content. Why? Because this helps to improve your writing style tremendously. Some places you can look to include Harvard Business Review, New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.  

2.      Read something funny. Most of my writing is relatively serious. However, I find that when I read something humorous it shakes up my brain and loosens up my creativity. So, every now and then I check out Buzzfeed and others.

3.      Read something outside your niche. As a romantic suspense writer, I expand my reading to include books on a wide variety of subjects including non-fiction books. I find that the style and the author’s approach helps me within my own writing niche.

4.      Read something you wrote in the past. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from reading something you’ve written in the past. Every now and then I re-read some of my past blog posts and compare them to my current blog posts. After assessing what was good, not so good and what worked, I’m amazed how much better I’ve become as a writer.

5.      Speed writing. Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, typos, etc. – just write and see some of the good stuff you can come up with. You can always edit later.

6.      Google any grammar questions. If you don’t have a good book about grammar at your fingertips, then do a Google search to make sure you’re not breaking any grammar laws.

Note: Remember writing is a journey…so keep empowering your skills!


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