My visit on the Horrorist Podcast

300x300_12283145I had so much fun being a guest on the Horrorist Podcast.  We talked about all those scary things that go bump in the night, and of course, my books.  It was a fun interview and I look forward to having him join us on the Deadly Reads Radio podcast later this month for Halloween.

Get ready for some crazy conversation where you’ll get a chance to learn about all the paranormal experiences I’ve had in my life.  I feel the hairs standing on the back of my neck already.  I do want to tell you that my voice sounds horrible the first couple of minutes because I forgot to pull my mic to my mouth.  LOL

Our Heroes in Blue

I was going to hold this to post until next month but with the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada today I thought I should share it with you now.

Last year, I interviewed Retired Detective/Author Robert Rangel on Deadly Reads Radio with my co-host Lisa Vandiver.  Robert has written an important book to help everyday Americans understand what our Law Enforcement Officers face while protecting us from those on the wrong side of the law who wish to do us harm.  Hearing the stories of Law Enforcement, Fire, and Medical first-responders who charged into the fray to save their fellow Americans made me realize how often we take them for granted until they are needed.

As I watched the news reports today and people remarking of how the Las Vegas police officers bravely put themselves in harm’s way to save those facing a barrage of bullets raining down upon them. I knew I needed to do this post now.

The Red Dot Club tells the true stories in the words of Law Enforcement Officers who looked death in the eye and somehow survived life-threatening injuries.  Their stories will rip at your heart, but they need to be shared.

First, I have a blog interview I did with Robert.  I also have Robert’s latest visit to Deadly Reads Radio.  He even brought some friends with him..and 2 of them share their stories in his upcoming release – The Red Dot Club: Victims Voices, book 2 in his Red Dot Club series.

Let’s get to know Robert Rangel

I’m so honored to have Robert Rangel joining us today.  Robert and I have been friends since he was a guest on the Deadly Reads Podcast, so I figured it was time to let him share with us here on my blog what makes him tick as an author, and what made him decide to enter the world of writing.

First, here’s a little background:

YouTube thumbnailRobert resides in Los Angeles, California. He has lived an interesting life before becoming an author.  He’s a retired Detective of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a former bodyguard for the Royal families of three different countries, and is currently a background investigator for police hires.  As you can see, we will have lots of fun stuff to chat with Robert about.

Robert has written an important book that needs to be read by the public.  The Red Dot Club is the first-hand account of Law Enforcement Officers who faced death at the hands of criminals and lived to tell their stories.  Having read his book myself, I must say it provides a rollercoaster of emotions for the reader.  With each word and knowing the stories are true as told by those who lived it, I found myself filled with a wide range of wrenching emotions.  From tears to anger, The Red Dot Club is a MUST read to fully understand what our Law Enforcement Officers face every day they put on that badge, and that they are people just like you and me.  They have families who pray every day they will come home after their shift.  Unfortunately, some don’t, and others are forced to overcome life-changing injuries.  Robert has written a book that takes you into the minds of those who have faced the unthinkable, and he did it in a way to pay respect for those who lived the nightmare of joining The Red Dot Club.

Hi Robert, I’d like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to drop by and allow us to get to know you better.

Thanks. It is my pleasure to share some of my experiences with you all.

You have quite an interesting resume.  Would you mind sharing with us why you decided to go into Law Enforcement?

I started my own business as a young man when I was 18 years old. By the time I was 24 years old I was making great money. But I was bored. I wanted to be outside and I wanted to help people. I also wanted a pension and yearly paid vacations, and I wanted to do something exciting. Hmmm…I thought and thought and it hit me. I could be a gunslinger, a racecar driver and still help people all in one job… I could be a peace officer! When I was hired I took a 50% pay decrease to be a peace officer, but to me, it was worth it.

One of the things on your resume that I find interesting is your time as a Royal Bodyguard.  Would you share with us what that entails and why you decided to take on such a job?

Wow, what a loaded question! I worked for the Royal Family of Brunei, the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and the Royal Family of Malaysia. I had just retired as a peace officer as a result of numerous injuries. I had broken my knee, (a right tibial plateau fracture, you can look it up). I had and still have a bullet in my right humerus from a shootout.  So…I was looking for something to do. They say that in life it’s not what you know but who you know. In this case, it’s true, as one of my ex-partners hooked me up with the Director of Security for the Royal Family of Brunei and the rest is history. My first book, The Organ Grinder’s Monkey details what working for that royal family is like. To paint a picture, if you will, of a very highly paid slave, but he is still a slave. A slave is someone who is expected to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus, I was this man, a highly paid slave. I’ve actually had comments from several people that said they enjoyed reading The Organ Grinder’s Monkey better than The Red Dot Club but I disagree. However, The Organ Grinder’s Monkey is a fascinating read full of twists and turns, backstabbing, power grabs, laughs, unbelievable scenarios, and it’s all true.

I’m sure most of us would like to know what The Red Dot Club is.  Can you explain how you came up with that title and why?

When I was a patrol deputy, we, of course, handled every type of situation imaginable. Some of our calls were extremely HOT situations. When I say HOT, I mean dangerous. To give an example, in my first week on patrol we had six murders in my area. That is not counting the people who were shot, stabbed, or beaten who did not die.  One of my partners and I would say either before or after handling those situations that we could have made the suspect a member of The Red Dot Club. This, of course, meant that we could have shot them. The red dot is the mark a bullet makes at its entry site. I never forgot the saying and I thought it was an appropriate title for my book about officers who were shot in the line of duty.

1461276_10202824543277512_2405840041703207655_nWhen you asked me to read your book, I must confess that I had no idea what I would find in those pages.  Can you please tell us a little about what it was like to research and write The Red Dot Club?

I approached officers who were shot and asked them to be in my book. They were hesitant until they read the chapter detailing my own shooting. After that, they readily agreed to tell their story for the book. I think it is because they knew I understood what they went through. So many tears were shed in getting their stories and I am eternally thankful for their openness and bravery in sharing such an intimate event. It is an extremely private thing to share, sharing your feelings about a time when someone trying to kill you.

As a member of The Red Dot Club yourself, can you tell us how it affected you to write this book?

I am a pretty healthy guy. Writing this book almost killed me. I had stomachaches, I had headaches, I had sleepless nights and I could not eat. I found I had to sprint to write the book because I could not stay in the horror of the stories for too long. To write the book, and to tell these brave heroes stories, I had to live the shootings as I interviewed the officers, and then I had to live them again when I wrote them. I had to live their experience. I had to feel their horror, their loneliness, and their terror. It was an absolutely horrifying, terrifying and debilitating experience for me to have to do this over and over again. I still have nightmares.

9780990317357_p1_v4_s550x406I know the stories in this book are difficult to read.  Can you tell us what you hoped this book would do to those who read it?

I wanted to bring awareness to the public of what and who cops are. I want the public to understand that the little video of an officer-involved shooting is so much more than the five seconds of the shooting you see on your television screen. I want the press to understand that they do not understand what they are saying when they report on a shooting and give their opinion as to whether is was a good shooting or not. No one but the officer who went through getting shot understands what it is like to not know if you will live or die. The Red Dot Club tells it like it really is. No selective editing.  The stories are in their purest and raw form.

Can you share with us what kind of response you’ve received from others in Law Enforcement pertaining to this book?

I have had overwhelming thanks from everyone for finally telling the truth. Some of the officers in the book have thanked me for telling their account because they could not tell it themselves.

After reading this book, I found myself wanting to hug our daughter and keep her safe. She is also a Law Enforcement officer.  Can you tell us as family members the best way to help those who have faced the situations spoken of in your book?

Let them talk. Let them vent. I think it’s impossible to understand what it’s like to be forced to shoot someone else. We are peace officers for a large part because we view life as precious and we promise to protect it. Then sometimes to save a life we have to take a life. This is more difficult for most officers than people realize. Officers who shoot others probably think about the event almost every day…forever.  I have no problem talking about my shootings. Other officers might. I think it’s good to talk about it in a safe environment. Encourage them to do so. And if they cuss while doing it, understand that there is a lot of anger about being forced to do the unthinkable. It is just coming out as a forceful voice. Don’t judge, let it be.

I understand that you are now working on the second book of this series.  Can you tell us a bit about it?

The title is “The Red Dot Club, Victim’s Voices”. It’s a phenomenal book. Again, we have officers who fight for their lives in real life shootings, but I have included other officers who lived through horrifying on the job experiences. The point is that most officers are victims also.

When do you expect its release?

It’s done. I’m waiting to see if a major motion picture/television studio I met with is going to do a television series. If so, then I’ll release the book and market it with the, ‘Soon to be a television series’ slant to it.

Where do you see these books going in the future?

I think every American should read this book. One of my reviewers on Amazon said this and I agree. To quote, “Our society needs to read these stories and learn from these heroes that we civilians do not understand what we ask of those who volunteer to protect the rest of us. Democrat, or Republican, liberal or conservative, every citizen should read this book.”

I’m sure everyone would enjoy reading some short snippets from your book. Would you mind sharing a few with us?

Here are three that stand out to me:

“The pain in my stomach then hit me hard…I felt wetness on my stomach…I put my hand there and then pulled it away looking at my fingers. I was horrified. It should have been blood…It was a clear gooey fluid with flecks of red in it. Oh my God, what is that?”

“It’s just like I’m standing here talking to you…Fudge, I see the bullet leave the gun and fly at me. I could see the copper tip of the bullet with the muzzle flash of the gun behind it, and it was spinning straight toward me.”

“I was thinking I was going to die. I was thinking Puppet was going to die. I was scared and sad. It was going to happen. I was going to die.”

Okay, last question.  What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

I would like to raise awareness by telling truths, the experiences that people live through. I would like to do this in a variety of areas and situations. Would it not be so cool to be able to understand others and what they have gone through?

I’d like to thank you for spending this time and allowing us to get to know you better.  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

My books will make you laugh. They will make you cry, and rip your hearts out. They will be the unfiltered truth. If I ever fail to do this I will no longer write. God bless each and every one of you!

Amazon              iTunes               B&N

As you can see Robert is not only a talented author but is an all-around nice person.  I hope you will not only check out his book, The Red Dot Club but also follow him on social media. Also, don’t forget to check out Robert’s interview on the Deadly Reads Radio podcast on the Deadly Reads YouTube channel below.

Writing heals your Soul

As a writer, I’ve had fun developing exciting characters for my books.  In my Next Move, You’re Dead trilogy, I had fun with Erebus, the diabolical villain who toys with people’s lives.  I’ve had fun writing about dragons, vigilantes, and paranormal entities.  However, the one story that was difficult for me to write was Hellfire’s Judgment.  So often as writers, we are able to separate ourselves from our stories.  But every once and a while we have a story that strikes a little too close to home.  Hellfire’s Judgment is that story for me.

When I first published this book, it was a short story.  I wanted to tell the story of a girl who is brutally raped and the rapist get’s away with his crime because of his powerful family.  While it was a decent short story, the readers let me know they wanted more.  I really didn’t want to dive back into it, but I figured if the readers wanted more I should give them what they wanted.

You are probably wondering why I was so reluctant to go deeper into this story.  It’s because I would be forced to revisit my own painful memories of being a rape survivor.  While I was not a child when I was violated, I still remember the feeling of helplessness and anger.  It was those feelings I knew I would have to relive when making Hellfire’s Judgment into a full-length novel.

So, I opened my word doc and started typing.  It was an overwhelming experience for me With each click on my keyboard the words seemed to flow from somewhere deep inside of me.  I cried as Sherry had to face her attacker in court.  I cried as her family faced the threats from those tied to the attackers powerful family.  However, with each word, I felt my own pain and anger steadily losing its grip on my soul.

By the time I had written the last paragraph, that dark stain on my soul, though not completely erased, was no longer controlling my emotions.  I felt empowered and free.  The image of the man who had attacked me was no longer haunting me in my dreams.

I’ve always read how we should write of things we know.  I just never realized how by doing so, it can also heal a pain we have shoved down deep inside of us.

I was thrilled when after I released the full-length version of Hellfire’s Judgment as seeing the reaction from the readers.  It always makes you feel good as a writer when you’re able to bring the reader into the story and let them feel your pain.  If you think Hellfire’s Judgment would be a book you’d like to read, you can find it on Amazon.

Here is a book trailer video I made for Hellfire’s Judgment

Advice for First-time Authors

You’ve worked for months, or maybe even years to finish your first book. As you stare at the words you just typed on the last page, a frightening thought enters your mind…now what? I remember that feeling. I remember the excitement I felt to finish writing my first book, but I also remember the fear of not knowing what I would need to get my masterpiece published.

Many of us dream of being a famous author.  We wonder what it would be like to have people reading the words we struggled to put on the pages.  We’ve come to love the characters in our story as they came to life in our minds, and we’ve enjoyed taking them on their journey.  However, the time has come to let them go and give them to the world.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to find a good editor.  While you may believe our book is perfect, an editor can give you a good healthy dose of reality.  Surviving your first edit is a growing experience.  Nothing makes you realize you don’t have a firm grasp on the English language quicker than to receive your manuscript back from the editor with those dreaded editing tags with suggestions for you to consider changing in your book.

When I saw the right-side of my document filled with those tags, I nearly closed the file and walked away from my computer.  Surely, someone with that many suggestions could NEVER be a professional writer.  Apparently, I didn’t have the firm grasp on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and reading flow I thought I had.

The important lesson I learned that day was writing is not only a creative endeavor but is one of learning and tossing aside all those bad habits we’ve all picked up over the years on social media.

So, you’ve survived the editing process and now it’s time to make that important decision… do I shop my book around to traditional publishers or do you take the Indie Published route.  That’s an important decision.  However, since I chose the Indie Published route that is where my knowledge is, so let’s get started.

I’m sure most of you have bought an ebook from one of the many distributors such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes just to name a few. Well, in order for those books to look good on your e-reader they must be properly formatted.  You ask, what is formatting?  Formatting is preparing your document for publishing as an ebook.  There are several technical things done during the formatting process such as preparing a working Table of Contents with links to each chapter, setting each page to fit properly on whatever device is used, and there are other features that can be added to give your book that ‘special look’ we all want.

Of course, while our book is being formatted, we need to decide on a book cover.  The book cover is more important than most of us realize.  You see, the cover gives that first impression a potential reader will have about your book.  Does the cover image catch their attention? Does it give them a feeling about your story?  Will it look good as a thumbnail? If you can answer YES to those questions then you have chosen a good cover. When I published my first book, I had no idea how to create a book cover.  After talking to other authors and doing some research, I found a cover designer to make the perfect cover for my book.  However, over time, I decided to learn how to make my own. It was a long learning process but well worth it to me.  If you want to see my covers go to the My Books page.

Now, you’re ready to publish.

ebook_logosThere are several distributors to choose from.  Of course, Amazon is the big guy on the block.  Amazon, by far, corners the market on ebook sales, but Barnes & Noble and iTunes are also popular sites for readers to find their next favorite book. I know as a first-time author it can be overwhelming, but it’s really pretty easy.  First, always offer your book on Amazon.  Next, I would recommend putting it on Smashwords.  For those of you who have never heard of Smashwords, it will get your book on several of the popular outlets thus saving you the time and headache of managing different accounts. Pricing your book is also something important to consider.  According to most retailers, $2.99 seems to be the ‘sweet spot’ price for a full-length novel and 99 cents seems to be popular for short stories or novellas.  I have my full-length books priced at $2.99, but I offer my novellas for FREE.  Some may not agree with this practice, but I consider them to be advertising for my writing.  You may not want to do this at first, but over time, I find it a valuable thing to offer readers who don’t know who I am.

If you decide you want to have your book in paperback, Amazon has a wonderful service called Createspace.  I use it because it’s easy to get my books set up for paperback, and if I don’t want to worry about creating an extra cover for print you can use their cover creator using your ebook cover image. However, you will need to have your book formatted for print because your ebook copy will not work. Yeah, I know, more work.

I do want to warn you about the Smashwords Meatgrinder.  It’s not as scary as it sounds.  Since Smashwords converts your book to work on several different devices, it’s a little picky on how your book needs to be formatted.  They do offer instructions, but if you don’t want to deal with it, be sure you have someone format your book who knows how to get a book through the dreaded Meatgrinder. LOL

So, you’ve done it. You are now a published author.  Take some time to enjoy the feeling. Pour yourself a drink, and relish the feeling.  However, once the celebration is done…the real work begins… marketing. YIKES!  I’ll leave that for another post.

If you want help getting your book ready to publish, I can help for a reasonable price. 

Deadly Reads Author Services

I hope this post has answered any of those nagging questions on how to get your book out to the reading public.  I wish you much success, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Now, get started on your second book.

 

 

 

Are Fairies Real?

I must admit that I love a good fantasy as much as the next person.  I enjoy escaping into a mystical world with endless possibilities and heroes of all types.  However, as a writer, I’ve only written one fantasy, The Dragon’s Blood Key, which grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I had written the entire story… and in two short weeks.  That’s right.  From the moment I sat up in my bed with the characters screaming in my mind, until I sent it off to the editor it was only two weeks.  I have never written a full-length novel that quickly and I haven’t since.

So, you ask, “Why this post?”  No, I’m not going to promote The Dragon’s Blood Key; I want to talk about all those mythical creatures we’ve all come to love.

I’m currently working on another fantasy.  Unfortunately, this one hasn’t possessed me like The Dragon’s Blood Key did but I will say I am enjoying the journey as the story comes to life.  When I was doing the research for this book I came to realize how many cultures have told stories of strange creatures living among us.  Some are evil, while others are good and only want to help us. 

Malora Danning cover for blogWhen the idea for this new book popped into my mind, I had thought it would just be a stand-alone book;, however, with all the exciting legends I’ve found about mystical creatures, I believe this will end up being a series of several exciting adventures for our hero, Malora Danning.   You see, Malora is an Aos Sí, of an ancient and powerful people who once controlled Ireland known as the Tuatha Dé Danann. (“People of the Goddess Danu”)  They were known to be tall, fair-skinned, with red hair, light eyes, and of great beauty. But like any great people after their banishment, over time they became mere objects of children’s stories; the fairy people of Irish folklore said to live beneath the hills. 

During my research, I found several interesting stories of amazing beings and creatures that I plan to use in this series.  Here is a blog post that has an AWESOME list.  She is a wealth of information and worth a follow.

A Writer’s List of Mythical Creatures and Beings!

When I read her list of mystical creatures and beings, I knew I could have some fun bringing them to life in my series.  Here are a few of the ones that seem to stand out to me.

Brownies are from England and Scotland, these are little people who are loyal to human households and will sometimes help out with the chores. You don’t want to make them mad, though. Harry Potter fans, take note: a dobbie or dobie is a kind of brownie, and an angry brownie can turn into a boggart.  This character will always be a fun character to put in a fantasy.

Firebird is described as a large bird with majestic plumage that glows brightly emitting red, orange, and yellow light, like a bonfire that is just past the turbulent flame. The feathers do not cease glowing if removed, and one feather can light a large room if not concealed. I can have a lot of fun with this fascinating creature.  It is beautiful but dangerous showing no sign of friendliness.

Kitsune is Japanese for fox. In some Japanese tales, foxes have magical powers and can shapeshift into women. The more tails a kitsune has, the older and more powerful she is.  I already have an idea of how to introduce this character to Malora.

Selkies (also spelled silkies, sylkies, selchies, Scots:selkie fowk) are mythological creatures found in Irish, Scottish, Faroese, and Icelandic folklore. Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. I had never heard of these, but I think they’d make a great addition to the story.

Valkyries

Valkyries  Their name means Choosers of the Slain.  Valkyries show up at battles to decide who will die. Then they escort the souls of the chosen back to Valhalla, where everyone has a good time.  I must admit they are one of my favorites, as I’m sure they are one of yours, too.  I mean, heck, how cool is it to have such powers?  I can see these exciting beings meeting Malora. LOL

There are far too many interesting creatures and beings to list here, but I’m sure you can see that I’ll have fun bringing them alive in my series, Malora Danning. I wish to give a shout out to blogger, Bryn Donovan for all her wonderful information.

So, I asked at the beginning of the post, Are Fairies Real?  I think so, and I choose to believe our world is full of creatures and beings who live beyond our perception.  Doesn’t that make things more interesting?

 

 

 

 

 

Another FUN show on Deadly Reads Radio

downloadI was thrilled to have Screenwriter/Author Doug Richardson return to Deadly Reads Radio.

Doug Richardson is an American Screenwriter and Novelist who specializes in Action Movies and Thrillers. You can learn more about Doug by visiting his website. 

Doug returned to talk with us about his latest installment of Lucky Dey Thriller series, now available at Amazon.  As always, we shared lots of laughs while we caught up with him.

You can listen to our show with Doug and other great guests on our YouTube Channel.

 

 

Why do I Write?

Why do I write, you ask?  I’ve often asked myself that very same question.  The other day when I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a post by a fellow author.  She had announced that she was no longer going to write because she felt as though her career was going nowhere.  I cannot begin to tell you how sad that made me feel,  However, I must confess, I’ve felt that same sense of utter failure before myself.

Writing is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.  You spend long hours sitting at your computer, creating what you hope will be the next great masterpiece. You then spend endless hours of rewriting, editing and rewriting some more before you feel it’s ready for the REAL editor.  Of course, while the Editor has your manuscript, the story haunts your mind with questions of the plot twists you should have added or deleted before handing it over to someone else.  No, writing is not for the weak of heart.

I know that each Author has their own stories of mistakes they’ve made.  We just need to realize that anything stupid we may have done will not be the death-nail for our writing careers unless we allow it.  When I had my meltdown over a huge mistake I made early in my writing career, my husband gave me to best advice.  He said to go on the reviews of a few famous authors and read their 1-star reviews.  He said if they can survive their mistakes, then so can I.  You know something, he was right.

I now live by the motto… My writing career is going to have highs and lows.  I will learn from the lows and enjoy the highs.  So, whenever I feel like the publishing world has kicked me in the teeth, just brush it off and soldier on! 

I now write for my MY enjoyment, and should others discover my books and enjoy them as well then that’s just the icing on the cake.  If the day ever comes where my books are read by millions I’ll enjoy the ride.  However, if my books are only read by a few I’ll still enjoy the ride.  You see writing is my personal enjoyment.  I love developing characters that come to life on the pages.  I also love to invoke a wide range of emotions on the pages of my books.  I guess you can say that writing is my drug of choice.

So, back to where I started this post.  Several people commented on the Author’s Facebook post, trying to convince her not to give up.  I, for one, wish she just takes a little time off to recoup and try to remember what she LOVES about writing.  If her only goal was to be picked up by a publishing company and become a famous author then maybe her decision was the correct one.  However, if she started writing for the LOVE of writing then her decision should be easy.  Just write and not worry about anything else.

If you want to know more of what I do, I invite you to go to my website.