Monday, April 23, 2012

Killer Thrillers and Why I Write Them

I thought I would write a bit about one of my thrillers today and why I wrote the book that I did. MOMMY, MAY I? is a book that either readers seem to love or hate. There aren't too many who are in between about it. I think those who love it are fascinated by the development of a serial killer, and those who hate it abhor such a topic. I do warn readers that it is graphic and disturbing. It is about a serial killer!

When I wrote the book I had recently finished a handful of thrillers that focused on the killer, but the thing that left me questioning always was; WHY? How does someone become so heinous, so evil? Are they born that way? Does their environment create them? I didn't know the answers, so I started doing a ton of research. It was disturbing research and the answers were equally disturbing. Environment seemed to play a lot into what creates a serial killer.

I read books and essays, watched documentaries and even discovered there was a serial killer in my family's genealogy, who I don't really want to name as the guy is still alive and has tried to contact my uncle several times. YUCKY SCARY!

Anyway, after all of this I decided to write a book that intertwined the lives of some good characters with this horrible killer. The most important aspect for me was to detail out how this killer grew into what he did. It is disturbing. It is compelling form my point of view. It is a combination of research and imagination that make up the bulk of the book. It is certainly not a book for everyone. There is some animal cruelty in it, which was extremely difficult for me to write because if you know me then you know that I am a huge animal lover and have a bunch of animals who I treat like family. However, many of these types of killers begin their spree on innocent animals. That is the reality of it. There is a reference to incest. Again--not easy to write but a reality that many of these killers were abused as kids. And, I am certain what is most offensive is the fact that the killer in the story is a necrophiliac. Yes--disturbing, but not something I just pulled out of a rabbit hat.

Serial killers are sick, disturbed and completely heinous individuals. Writing a book with a character like this was not easy, but the story did come to me and the good characters in it are heroic and show the other side of humanity. There is plenty of evil in the world, but I also believe it to be true that there is more good.

I hope you have a wonderful week.For anyone who wants to read Mommy, May I? it is FREE for Amazon Kindle right now. http://www.amazon.com/Mommy-May-I-ebook/dp/B004L2LJCG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335206433&sr=1-1

Cheers,
Michele

Friday, April 20, 2012

Interview with Bestselling Author Tracey Garvis Graves

One of the things that I really love about the new world of Indie publishing is the support authors give one another. We have come together to help each other get good books into the hands of the readers. The other thing that I really love is that good books that the Big 6 or agents overlooked are getting into the hands of readers and heading up the bestseller lists!

I am happy to have been one of the authors to experience this, and I am also happy to share great books with other readers. I have a diverse taste in my reading. I read everything from R.J. Parker's non-fiction serial killer stuff, to a good old fashioned Nora Robert's romance. Speaking of fantastic adult romance...

Today I want to share with you a beautiful book written by a talented author who has also become a friend of mine. Tracey Garvis Graves' book ON THE ISLAND has hit that top 10 Amazon list and has been strong there for weeks now. With 327 five star reviews you can't go wrong with this one!

I had the pleasure to interview Tracey. I hope you enjoy and please check out her books.

Cheers,
Michele
 
Tracey Garvis-Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. On the Island is her first novel. She blogs at www.traceygarvisgraves.com using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood. She is hard at work on her next book. You can e-mail her at traceygarvisgraves@yahoo.com. She’d love to hear from you.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a new author and On the Island is my debut novel. When I’m not writing I like to curl up with my Kindle; it’s one of my most prized possessions. Add a glass of wine and I’m instantly in my happy place.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve always been interested in writing and took a few fiction writing classes in college. I started blogging in 2008 and decided to try my hand at novel writing in 2010.
Do you write during the day, at night, or whenever you can sneak in a few moments?
I prefer to write early in the morning. I get up at 5:00 a.m., take a quick shower, pour a giant cup of coffee, and power up my laptop. I write until about 7:00 and then finish getting ready so I can be at work by 8:00. I also try to sneak in as much writing time as I can on the weekends.
What is this book about?
Here is the description from Amazon:
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments - instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

On the Island is a full-length adult romance novel. It explores the human need for more than mere survival, the meaning of bonds formed in isolation, and the ways those bonds are bound to change.
 
What inspired you to write it?
I love, love, love the desert island premise. I’m a big fan of the T.V. show Survivor and I’ve seen every episode of Lost. I have fond memories of my mom taking me to see The Blue Lagoon when I was thirteen. I enjoyed the movie Castaway but felt the premise was underutilized by placing Tom Hanks on that island all alone. Think of the possibilities if they’d put someone else there with him (I’m not sure I ever really bought the attachment to the volley ball). When the idea of writing a desert island book first came to me, I thought it would be interesting to put two people on it that shouldn’t be together and then see what would happen.  
Who is your biggest supporter?
My husband, without a doubt. He’s a great sounding board and he’s wonderful when I need the male perspective. I think he thought I was crazy when I first told him what I was going to write about. Actually, everyone probably thought I was crazy but they were too nice to say anything. My other biggest supporter is my friend Elisa Abner-Taschwer. I refer to her in my acknowledgments section as my de facto publicist. We used to work together thirteen years ago and even though we don’t live in the same city anymore, she works tirelessly to promote On the Island. She’s absolutely wonderful. My critique partner, my twin sister, and my dad are also infinitely supportive.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
There are way too many to list, but if there’s one author who influenced me the most it would be Stephen King. Although I’m not a huge fan of horror novels, his book The Stand is my all-time favorite book. Once a year I reread the same beat-up paperback copy that my dad gave me when I was twelve. It’s just an epic book. My favorite genres to read are contemporary women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and most commercial fiction.  
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Amazon (the e-book and paperback are available now and the audiobook will be released in the next week or so), Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (which distributes to Apple, Sony, Kobo, and Diesel).
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?
April Haug, one of the bloggers that hosted a stop on my A Tale of Many Reviews blog tour made a trailer for On the Island which was incredibly nice. I certainly don’t have the knowledge or skill to do it myself, so I think it’s great that she did it for me.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nBGwLTXEHw&list=UUZeC4NxXpGoo3zTTxx02Cnw&index=1&feature=plcp 
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
If you want to write a book you’re going to have to sit down and write. Don’t worry about it being perfect right out of the gate (that’s what multiple drafts and revising are for). You can’t edit a blank page so just get the words down. It took me twice as long to revise On the Island as it did to write it. And the most important advice of all: write the book you want to read. Forget about trends because they’re constantly changing.
What is up next for you?
My next book, Covet, is a contemporary women’s fiction novel although it will be heavy on the romance. Here is a brief description:
What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire.

Daniel Rush had it all, until a tragic accident took away everything he cherished. A chance meeting with Claire sets in motion a chain of events that will leave three people questioning their choices and dealing with the aftermath of their decisions.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes. I’d like to thank readers everywhere for embracing On the Island, taking the time to review it, and telling their friends and family members about it. It’s a word-of-mouth book and I feel strongly that without these positive reviews and personal recommendations, it might never have found a wide audience. I’m eternally grateful and blown away by the readers and wish I could thank them all personally. 

Tracey Garvis-Graves lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. On the Island is her first novel. She blogs at www.traceygarvisgraves.com using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood. She is hard at work on her next book. You can e-mail her at traceygarvisgraves@yahoo.com. She’d love to hear from you. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Three Days to Die


I've been getting a ton of e-mails regarding the next Michaela book. I promise it is in the works and will be out this summer. Here is a sneak preview. Also, be sure to check out my new book The Grey Tier: A Dead Celeb Mystery. http://www.amazon.com/Grey-Tier-Celeb-Mystery-ebook/dp/B007R98NYM/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2
Have a great day and enjoy!


CHAPTER ONE

Michaela Bancroft had to be crazy. What in the world had she been thinking? Who decides to get married during the holidays?! Oh yeah, she and Ethan, that’s who. “Let’s get married on New Year’s Eve,” she’d said. “It’ll be like starting over, with a clean slate.” He’d happily agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history. But now, just a few weeks before Christmas and up to her neck in holiday planning, it didn’t seem like such a great idea. Michaela smacked herself in the head. Brilliant, Michaela. Just brilliant.
The baby monitor suddenly crackled to life as Josh whimpered softly in his crib. She set the box of Christmas ornaments aside and headed toward the nursery. “I’m coming, little man.”
Truth be told, her best friend Camden was to blame for this whole mess. If she hadn’t insisted on having a mai tai bar for her Hawaiian wedding and if Michaela hadn’t caught the bouquet…although in retrospect, she was damn glad she had and even happier at the grin on Ethan’s face when she turned to look at him. Then there was the slow dancing and the kissing, and the passionate interlude back in their suite at the resort. Well, after all that, a New Year’s wedding seemed to make perfect sense. Until now. Why hadn’t she suggested a good old-fashioned elopement? To Vegas? But Ethan had already been there, done that with Summer, his ex-wife and Josh’s mother. And that ended with Summer ditching Ethan and her infant son for another man. Apparently being a wife and mother wasn’t her forte.
Michaela opened the nursery curtains and lifted Josh from his crib, cuddling the toddler to her chest. As hard as it had been to watch Ethan deal with Summer’s abandonment, she couldn’t help but be glad things turned out the way they did. She now had Ethan—her childhood friend and lifelong crush—and Josh, who was by every standard (except biological) her son. Life was good. So, in reality, when she thought about it, a New Year’s wedding wasn’t such a bad idea after all. The holiday trappings would go along nicely. Everything would be perfect. Sure. 
 “Hello? I’m here,” Camden’s voice rang out from below. “Where’s my god son?”
Michaela carried the drowsy, blue-eyed boy down towards the open arms of his godmother. Camden’s latest hair color was bleached blonde and she’d pulled it straight back into a high, tight ponytail. She’d taken to wearing Wranglers, cowboy boots, and a silver belt buckle. Being married to Dwayne, Michaela’s right hand man at the ranch, had obviously turned haute couture Camden into a true blue cowgirl. She even rode on a regular basis—something Michaela never expected to see.
Josh adored Camden as much as she did him. He reached his pudgy arms out to her as she cooed his name, “Joshy, Joshy boy, come to Auntie Cam.” The little boy almost leapt into his godmother’s arms and snuggled into her soft denim shirt.
            It never ceased to amaze Michaela just how much Camden loved Josh. Yes, he was an adorable little guy, but Camden wasn’t exactly known for her maternal ways. Her idea of a home cooked meal was Hamburger Helper, packaged salad, and a frozen margarita. All Michaela could figure is Dwayne had something to do with it. Since she’d married him, Camden had started cooking (real, albeit not gourmet, food) and had fallen hard for little Josh.
            “I’m feeling a little second fiddle here,” Michaela said wryly.
            “Don’t be silly. He knows who his mommy is.” Camden’s eyes locked on Michaela’s. Neither one said what they were both thinking. Michaela was hoping to adopt Josh after she and Ethan married. It was clear to all involved that Summer didn’t want to be his mother. She’d abandoned him as completely as she’d abandoned Ethan. But all the same, when it came to signing away any rights to the little boy, Michaela wondered if Summer would go through with it.
“He knows exactly who his mommy is.” Camden tickled Josh’s tummy and he let out a squeal of delight.
            Michaela smiled and glanced down at her watch. “Okay, I should be home by lunch time. I’m going to run over to Winsor and take a look at that horse Devon called me about, and then swing by the florist. If I have time afterwards, I may try to squeeze in some more Christmas shopping.”
            “Oh honey, it’s eight already. You’re going to need more than four hours to do all that!”
            Michaela raised an eyebrow. “I thought you knew me better than that. I don’t need four hours to decide whether or not a horse will fit in my program or choose flowers for my wedding. As far as Christmas shopping goes, I already know what I’m buying everyone. I’ll be in and out in a jif.” She snapped her fingers. “Now if it was you, it’d be a whole ‘nother story.”
            Camden shrugged. “What can I say? Auntie Cam likes to shop. Josh doesn’t think it’s a problem. Do you Joshy?”
            The little boy giggled.
            Michaela kissed him on the cheek. “Okay, be back in a bit. And remember, do NOT let him watch those reality TV shows.”
            “Oh come on, he loves The Housewives of OC! Those L.A. broads are crazy!” She circled her index finger by the side of her head.
            “No. I mean yes, they’d have to be crazy to be on that show. But no, I don’t want him watching that stuff,” Michaela replied. “Nick Jr. or Discovery Kids if you have to. Actually, I’d prefer no TV time. Play with him.”
            Camden rolled her eyes. “You know I will.”
            “Ok, ok. Be back soon!”
            Michaela headed out and did a quick walk through the breezeway of the barn. Her three-year-old, Leo, had cast himself the other night in his stall. She’d had to poultice and wrap him to help sweat out the swelling. Dwayne would have already checked him and likely rewrapped him when he fed Leo that morning, but it was rare for Michaela to leave the house without a quick hello to her horses. Today was Monday—a day off for everyone: the horses, Michaela’s students, and herself.
            Michaela trained horses with an emphasis on reining, but she’d ventured out her comfort zone recently when one of her clients had brought over an appendix filly she wanted trained as a hunter jumper. Michaela had done some jumping throughout the years but explained that it wasn’t her strong suit. The owner didn’t care. She’d heard wonderful things about Michaela, going so far as to call her a horse whisperer. Michaela still cringed a little when she thought about that. She just did what she did best—train using empathy and kindness, setting boundaries where needed.
            Leo stuck his head out of the stall as he heard his “mom” approaching. “Yes, I have a treat for you.” She rubbed his face and kissed his nose, his hot breath puffing on her face and hands as he sniffed for the treat. Michaela reached into the front of her jeans pocket and took out a handful of carrots. He nuzzled the palm of her hand as he sucked them up. “You’re not a horse. You’re a vacuum cleaner.” She undid the latch on his stall and went inside. The woodsy smell of shavings mixed with earth and horse smelled better to her than any perfume ever could. She bent down and checked Leo’s wraps. As suspected, Dwayne had beat her to the job.
            Speaking of Dwayne, he was probably back in bed. He also took Mondays off and, according to Camden, typically spent them watching reruns of old shows like Gilligan’s Island, Three’s Company, and I Love Lucy. 
            Michaela closed Leo’s stall door behind her and continued down the breezeway. Immediately the young horse started banging against the door of his stall with his hoof. “No more. Knock it off,” she scolded him. His ears pricked forward and his eyes widened. She shook a finger at him. “You heard me.”
            There were twelve more horses to kiss and hand treats to. Some were there for training and some for her lesson program. Michaela gave lessons to kids. She’d also developed a program for autistic children. Nothing gave her more joy than the moment when a kid had a breakthrough because of a horse. Horses were gentle souls who, for the most part, seemed to understand how to help a person grow, heal, and be nurtured.
            After her brief visit with the horses, she headed out to Winsor. Winsor Riding Academy was a nearby high school prep academy and riding school that educated both local and out-of-state kids. It definitely wasn’t for families short on cash. Most of the kids at the school trained in three-day eventing, which Michaela loved to watch, especially the cross-country jumping. Those riders had some serious cajones! Galloping through a course, jumping over stationary obstacles—usually wooden logs that jarred both horse and rider if they hit.
            Devon Winsor, one of the owners, was an acquaintance and had given Michaela a call the other day about an older gelding in their stable. Apparently he was also an appendix—half Quarter horse, half Thoroughbred—and although he’d been an excellent eventer and a good school master, he was at an age where he needed to be taken off the jumps. Devon felt the horse would be a perfect fit for Michaela’s program. Michaela liked the idea of adding a gentle soul to the barn, one who could teach the beginners and also be great for her special needs kids. This horse sounded like a good fit, but she wanted to see him up close and personal—preferably without Devon hovering—to make sure. She didn’t know Devon that well and before Michaela plunked down a few thousand dollars on a lesson horse, she needed to take a peek at him. His name was Silverado and per Devon, he was stabled in barn three. The horses had name tags on their stall doors, so she figured it wouldn’t be a problem finding this one.
            Cruising slowly down the long driveway leading up to the academy, Michaela noticed how empty the place was. Most of the kids had gone home for the holiday break. And while there were a few local boarders around, the place was pretty deserted.
            Michaela smiled as she pulled up in front of the barns. Dr. Grace’s truck was parked out front. Grace Morgan was Ethan’s business partner. He’d recently bought into her veterinary practice when he’d decided to make a move from his old partnership. Ethan’s former partner wasn’t willing to learn new techniques and his bedside manner was far from pleasant. That was enough for him to buy the guy out and find a new partner. When Dr. Grace mentioned an opening at her practice, Ethan jumped at the opportunity.
            Grace was well respected and renowned for her veterinary skills in Indio and beyond. She was cutting edge and did a lot of lab work and looked deeper than most to get to the bottom of a number of horse ailments. She cared deeply for the animals and it showed.
            Maybe Grace could vet Silverado for her. She called out the doctor’s name as she entered barn three. No answer. She called again into each of the barns. Still no response. Maybe Grace was up at the main house with Devon? Michaela checked her watch and realized she only had a few minutes left to check out Silverado.
            She found the grey gelding down the aisle of barn three. He stuck his nose out to greet her. “Oh you are a cute guy, aren’t you?”
            The horse in the opposite stall banged against the door just like Leo had done earlier that morning. “Ah, another begger,” she said, turning around to see what she guessed was a Dutch Warmblood. He was huge. At least seventeen hands, and had a wild look in his eye. He snorted, weaving his great head back and forth.
            Michaela turned back to the grey gelding. “Looks like your friend has some issues to work through. But you, on the other hand look very sweet.” She liked his soft, kind eyes. Devon said he was eighteen, but there was no sway to his back. He had great muscle tone and a very pretty face. She’d have to ride him to see how his disposition was. But so far, so good.
            The wild guy across the way though—he was something else entirely. He became more agitated as she stood there talking to the other horse. She finally took a step toward the large animal and spoke in calm tones. “Hey, hey there.” She squinted to read his name plate. Geronimo. Should’ve known. “Hey Geronimo. It’s okay. It’s alright, bud.”
            The horse blew out another snort and held his head high and out of reach as she went to try and stroke him on the neck. It was then that she caught a glimpse of what was making him crazy. She took a step closer and the horse backed away. She closed her eyes and shook her head. This could not be happening. She swallowed hard.
            “Oh my God.” Her voice came out in a croak. It didn’t sound like her at all. She stared down at a sight she was certain she’d never, ever forget. Dr. Grace lay sprawled on the floor of Geronimo’s stall—dark patches of dried blood all around her.