A Chance to Win

Hi everybody! I hope you all are having a fantastic August…I’ve been working hard on the next Kate Jones Thriller, Vigilante Dead, and will have some exciting news to share in the near future. Stay tuned🙂

Until then, how about  the chance to win 17 suspense/thrillers? Click on the link below for the opportunity to win exciting reads by Colleen Helme, Jinx Schwartz, R.P. Dahlke, Dianne Harman, and yours truly. Are psychological thrillers, action/adventure, or nuclear terrorism thrillers your style? We’ve got you covered! Or perhaps you’re in the mood for a cozy mystery, nautical thriller, or paranormal suspense? Look no further–this giveaway is for you! Click on the link below for your chance to win, and discover some fabulous, new-to-you authors!

What are you waiting for?

 

Win Up To 17 Suspense/Thriller Novels!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL 17 eBooks!

(15) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

 


The Theme of Your Life

Alphonse Mucha - Fate

Alphonse Mucha – Fate

Here’s a particularly interesting piece by Steven Pressfield about theme–specifically, what is the theme of your life? He posits that by looking at the books you’ve written, or the art you’ve created, that you should be able to make out a theme for your life, and/or understand your destiny. “…we discover who we are, not just by our actions … but, if we’re artists, by the works we produce.”

Pressfield’s blog post was sparked by watching a documentary on Tony Robbins of “Walking on Fire” fame. Years ago when I lived in northern California, I participated in a fire walk (on two different occasions. I never said I was sane…) although not as part of Robbins’s massive event. The workshop (for lack of a better word) was more personalized, and extremely powerful. Every participant walked away (pun alert) from the experience with the belief that they could accomplish anything.

And no, none of us had to go to the hospital🙂 I was working at a winery in the Dry Creek Valley at the time and mentioned it to some customers the day after. One of them, a big, burly dude who was obviously a skeptic asked if he could see my feet. I showed him. I’m not sure he believed me, but he was surprised there weren’t any blisters.

Anyway, back to theme. I’ve always been passionate about human rights, protecting the innocent, and choosing courage over fear, even when fear is the predominant emotion. I’m also interested in exploring forgiveness and unconditional acceptance, and why so many seem to have a problem with putting those concepts into play (myself included). And, when and why do people “do the right thing” over the most expedient thing. These themes have all emerged in my writing, and I’m even more committed to exploring my relationship to each. Part of this is certainly based on the way I was raised, and part is from what I’ve experienced so far in life.

Eleven years ago (give or take) I began work on my first novel. Since then, I’ve discovered more about myself through writing than I probably would have from a daily psychotherapy session. Let me tell you–it’s been an interesting trip.

Not all of it has been pleasant. But all of it has been valuable. I realized that I do my best work when something pisses me off, igniting a fire inside of me. Talk about having access to a LOT of raw material these days…

So my question to you is, what is the theme of your life? What’s important to you, and do  you bring that out in your work (whether you consider yourself an artist or not)? Do you believe you’re here for a reason? Or are we all just a bunch of random cells smashed together in this space and time and will all disintegrate when we die?

Remember: there are no wrong answers🙂


New Interview

I’m being interviewed on mystery author Carmen Amato’s stellar blog. Stop by and leave a comment–I’d love to see you there. And here’s a big plus, if you enjoy strong female characters, try her Emilia Cruz police procedural series set in Acapulco, Mexico–I have a feeling you’ll end up with a new favorite author!

http://carmenamato.net/mystery-author-dv-berkom/

Happy weekend!


Update on Kate and Another #Freebie

So I’ve been working away on the next Kate Jones thriller, and wanted to try something new and give y’all a taste of what’s coming. As of yet I don’t have a title or a cover, although I’m working on the first, and Deranged Doctor Designs is doing the latter. Since it’s from the first draft, it’s possible that this scene won’t survive the editing knife, but I thought I’d post anyway to see what you guys thought. Comments and/or suggestions are welcome🙂

One more thing: CARGO, the 4th Leine Basso thriller, is free through Monday. Here’s a link to the book’s page on my website where you can get the details: http://dvberkom.com/book/cargo-leine-basso-crime-thriller-4/ Enjoy!

Cover for Cargo

EXCERPT from the next KATE JONES thriller:

One

I stood in the dark hallway, going over what Angie had taught me. The knife blade had heft, a last-minute gift from my mentor. I knew all the moves, had practiced them with relentless determination, unwilling to make a mistake when I did the deed.

Committed the act.

Went off the rails.

What are you doing, Kate? Whispers from my good girl-self, long-buried all these years, echoed through my head.

Shut up and let me do what needs to be done. I’ll deal with the fallout later.

But isn’t that how you’ve always done things? Act first, ask questions later?

This is different.

How?

Be quiet. I’m in no mood to argue.

Angie had delivered her last lesson that morning. The memory came galloping back with a force that was difficult to comprehend.

I’d been lucky to survive.

My gaze cut to my right arm, as though I could see through the darkness and under the bandage, at the angry red wound it covered.

Angie didn’t dick around. I asked her to help me, had been shocked when she agreed.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Money dictated her loyalties. With no current contract connected to my death, she couldn’t have cared less if I was standing in front of her at point-blank range, handing her a gun.

In her world, Kate Jones had ceased to exist.

But wave a bundle of crisp, hundred-dollar bills at her? Why, yes ma’am, what can I do for you this fine summer evening? Her southern red-head turned so fast, I was afraid she’d get whiplash.

A relief, really. After all those years of running, of looking over my shoulder, waiting for Angie or one of the others to strike.

Gone.

Poof.

One minute I’m scanning restaurants and street corners for suspicious activity, and the next, nothing. Nada.

Zilch.

From what I understand, it’s a lot like giving up smoking. All of a sudden, you have so much extra time on your hands. You’re at a loss, really.

And so it is with normal life. No more running. No more death threats.

No more fear.

But then again, there’s all that muscle memory. The fight-or-flight response that’s hardwired into our brains.

Kind of like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Maybe exactly like PTSD.

What else would explain my over-the-top reaction to, say, a book falling to the floor? Or a backfiring car? Or my obsessive situational awareness? Put me in a room and I instinctively move away from windows to the best vantage point in the space, eyes on the exits and back to a solid wall, checking out every person present, wondering if they’re a threat.

That’s no way to live when no one’s trying to kill you.

The bedroom door opened, and I moved deeper into the shadows. Soft footsteps padded along the corridor to the bathroom. The silhouette confirmed my suspicions.

It was time.

My good girl had evidently left the building, her recriminating voice finally silenced.

I crept toward the bathroom, my feet whispering silently along the polished wood floor. I was glad I’d used the disposable booties like Angie suggested. Not only did they reduce evidence left behind by my sneakers, but they silenced my footsteps as well as if I’d worn only socks.

What if Sam finds out?

There she was again.

I thought you left. Good girls need their sleep, right?

Not gonna happen, Kate. You know me. I’m tenacious.

Yeah, probably because of that damned “Minnesota Nice” I could never quite lose. There’s something to be said for growing up in the Midwest, although I can’t remember what. Polite is my default—even when I’m up to my neck in it and can’t see daylight.

It does have its uses.

Kind of like Angie’s southern charm. She may be a paid assassin, but she’ll give you a sweet smile as she pulls the trigger.

Or knifes you in the back.

The idea of Sam finding out that this was my doing gave me pause. A cop-turned-private I, Sam Akiaq was a long-distance runner, martial arts master, and the most accurate marksman I’d ever met. He was also an enigma, as he lived by a spiritual code I couldn’t begin to understand. It most likely had something to do with his Native Alaskan heritage. Either that, or it was all a ruse to get me into bed.

If so, it worked.

Being involved with a private investigator was the reason I crouched in the dark hallway of a remodeled Craftsman in a funky Seattle neighborhood, holding a wicked-looking knife and about to commit an act that badly needed to be committed. Although, if you asked Sam, he’d never believe I was capable of going through with it.

Me either. Except…

At the familiar sound of a flushing toilet I snapped back to the present and sprinted along the hallway to the open bedroom door. I’d surveilled the house long enough to know that my target didn’t do sleepovers, and that no one else was inside.

At least not tonight.

My sister Lisa’s face sprang unbidden into my mind. My cheeks flushed warm and my respiration increased, tightening my chest and giving rise to a mini-panic attack. I took a deep breath and slowly released it, just like Angie taught me to do, and the bands around my chest loosened. The assassin’s ability to remain calm under pressure still astonished me, although I don’t know why. She was a stone-cold killer with the personality to match.

You shouldn’t be here. Go home to Sam, now.

Ignoring the good girl and wondering where the hell my bad girl had gone—because I really could have used her at that moment—I crossed the room, skirted the queen size bed, and slipped inside the closet, leaving the door cracked open while I waited. The smell of cedar laced the air as I kicked a pair of shoes out of the way.

The bathroom door creaked open, followed by the sound of feet scuffling into the bedroom. I gripped the hilt of the knife and waited as the occupant kicked off their slippers and sat down heavily on the bed. The sound of covers being thrown back and a faint sigh as they settled in told me it was time.

Knife in my right hand, I stepped into the room.

END EXCERPT


#Read #Free

Wattpad Thriller/Suspense Logo

Thrillers, Suspense & Mysteries, Oh my!

Hugely popular writing site Wattpad and pioneering e-Book distributor Smashwords have joined forces with 127 bestselling thriller, mystery, and suspense authors to offer murder, mystery, and thrills, all #free! For my part, I’m serializing the latest Leine Basso thriller, A Killing Truth. I’ve posted 5 chapters so far and will post a new section each day or so. (To introduce new readers to both Kate and Leine, I’m doing the same with Bad Spirits) Come on over and join Wattpad (it’s free) and discover a multitude of bestselling authors!

https://embed.wattpad.com/story/72446475

A Killing Truth on Wattpad (***follow me on Wattpad for automatic updates. You’ll be able to share on Twitter, Facebook, etc., and, if you like what you’ve read, you can vote at the end of each chapter to help with the book’s visibility***)

https://embed.wattpad.com/story/71268662

Bad Spirits on Wattpad

List of bestselling thrillers on Wattpad

List of bestselling mysteries on Wattpad

***NOTE: I realize posts have been sketchy (non-existent?) lately, but I’ve been immersed in writing the new Kate Jones thriller and am finding it hard to turn it off at the end of the day…that being said, I’m going to try to post a bit more regularly in the future. Thanks for sticking with me🙂


5 Tools To Help Promote Your Book

The other day I was asked by a fellow author what programs/websites/etc. I used in my promotional efforts (not including paid advertising), and realized that it might be a good post for the blog. I think that as indie authors, we just assume that other indies use the same stuff and know all about the latest and greatest.

So, in the hope that there might be something useful to you writers out there, here are 5 promotional tools I’ve been using:

bookfunnel logo

BookFunnel: First off, I want to give a huge shout out to BookFunnel for making life soooo much easier. Bookfunnel is the website to use if you give out free books like ARCs (Advance Review Copies), or lead magnets for your email list. For a small annual fee, they will host your EPUBs, MOBIs, and PDFs, and—best of all—give readers download instructions. They take over when a reader has trouble getting the book onto their Kindle, Nook, other e-reader, or tablet. I’ve heard nothing but good things from folks who use the help function, and it’s freed up a lot of writing time for me. You can create as many expiring links as you need for your books, and they’re working on all sorts of cool stuff for the future. They have also been incredibly responsive when I had questions. Highly recommended.

calibre logo

Calibre: There are a few places online that you can use to create different e-book formats for giving out to reviewers or if you have a contest with an e-book as a prize–not the least of which is your KDP dashboard to download a MOBI, or your Nook, Smashwords, or D2D dashboard for EPUB files. But if you want to be able to tweak the end matter and links and have a way to keep track of your files, I would recommend using Calibre. Calibre is free, downloadable software that allows you to convert your source book file from a .docx, HTML, EPUB, or MOBI into whichever format you need. Pretty darned handy.

bigstock logo

Bigstock/Pixabay: I’ve used BigStock for royalty free (but not free) images for years. There are scads of others, but for some reason I usually find what I’m looking for on BigStock. For free images, I use Pixabay. (Be aware that the top line of photos on Pixabay are sponsored imagespixabay-logo that aren’t free.) You can easily find something to use, as they have an extensive, searchable database of free photos.

 

DesignFeedLogo

DesignFeed: I’ve used Canva before, but I didn’t like having to cough up $1 for every image I wanted to use—and not just because I’m cheap frugal, although there’s that. Mainly because I don’t like giving my credit card number out to every Tom, Dick, and Harriet. But that’s just me. Luckily, I stumbled onto a cool new site called DesignFeed. Although still in beta, it’s pretty easy to use. All you need are some quotes from your book, an idea of what you want the background to be, and DesignFeed will create your chosen promo card in the correct dimensions for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. They even give suggestions, in case you’re stuck. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a huge time saver. And best of all, for the time being it’s free🙂 Here are a couple I did for A Killing Truth:

It wouldn't be long now...FBAKT_bw

 

 

 

 

 

Free Advertising: Although free and bargain books don’t garner the number of downloads/sales like they used to, when you’re having a sale it’s always a good idea to list with as many free promo sites as you can. Here’s one list to get you started. It’s been compiled by fellow author Martin Crosbie, who writes for Indies Unlimited. Not all of the sites he mentions have free options, but if you do your homework you should be able to submit to a large number of them for low or no cost.

And there you have it. Five tools to help you when promoting your books. Do you have any favorites? Share them in the comments below!


Writing a Prequel, or, What the Hell Was I Thinking?

It wouldn't be long now...

 

So A Killing Truth is out (yay!) and early feedback is encouraging, which is a huge relief. Why, you ask? Because the book is a prequel and had two enormous tasks:

1: it had to hew closely to everything I’d written about Leine’s early life in the other books (my thoughts of which tended to be along the lines of Oh, holy crap, what was I thinking???), and

2: it had to strike the right tone and not be just a rehash so that readers of the series would still be intrigued enough to read it. Aka: Reader Expectation.

Okay, so let me dig a little deeper into the first, seemingly insurmountable task. As many of you know, my writing process is a hybrid of sketching out a rough outline combined with a seat-of-your-pants, cross your fingers and hope for the best, kind of style.

But I wasn’t always that organized :-)

For example, when I wrote Serial Date, most of that novel came out in a torrent of mad writing sessions with a freaky dream as the catalyst. It’s filled with all sorts of, “Hey! Let’s make Leine loath tattoos. Why? Hell, I don’t know, maybe something happened in her past.” Followed by, “Well, what happened? I know! It should have something to do with an old target named The Frenchman, who of course almost killed her.”

And do you think I left it at that? Nope. Then I had to think of a reason that Leine and her old boss were no longer on speaking terms-the reason she left the Agency and ended her career as an assassin. What could Eric (her boss) have done that was so heinous that she should have killed him off? And why didn’t she? So I created what I thought would be a good explanation and left it at that. But I hadn’t thought through the logistics because I didn’t have to.

You know, because the book was going to be a standalone.

Bonus writing tip: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series, even when it’s not. Because dollars to donuts, if you don’t, it will become one, guaranteed.

Female showing on map vintage photo

Must. Plan. Next. Time.

 

Okay, so readers wanted more Leine and I was happy to oblige, but I wanted to tackle current issues. Although the subject of Serial Date is reality shows, which is a current phenomenon in our culture, the book has an irreverent, satirical tone and I couldn’t figure out a way to satirize human trafficking without coming off as an asshole.

You see my dilemma.

So, I changed the tone of the second book (Bad Traffick) to hard-hitting, traditional-ish thriller and we were off! (Bonus writing tip #2: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series. This includes consistency in tone.) I added a few more details to Leine’s backstory throughout the next three books, this time with the idea that I would someday write a prequel.

And here’s where it gets gnarly. The horrible transgression Eric committed was having Leine do something she would never, ever do if she knew all the details.

Leine’s a smart woman. In A Killing Truth, she’s at the top of her game as an assassin and takes pride in eliminating the worst of the worst. Eric had to make sure she was off-balance and would more likely make a mistake, or at least not be aware of his duplicity, which could royally mess with his plans.

Luckily, after much tooth-gnashing and pulling of hair, I was able to craft a realistic scenario that would incorporate all the little clues my subconscious had deposited throughout the series. I even had a couple of aha! moments that I surely didn’t see coming. Which brings me to Task #2.

Reader Expectation.

The only way I knew to be sure the story matched or exceeded reader expectation was to write a fast-paced, explosive plot, with Leine as the central character. Yes, she’s younger and a bit less damaged (until the end), but the narrative tone is still vintage Leine, ensuring that longtime readers of the series won’t be disappointed.

I refuse to post spoilers here but if you’ve read Serial Date, you’ll have an idea of the heinous thing Eric has Leine do in A Killing Truth. And since I’m not a fan of back story in my novels you’ll also learn a whole lot more about her early life. And, as promised, I reveal why the hell Leine hates tattoos.

Go ahead and read A Killing Truth and tell me what you think. It’s on sale everywhere for the super-special launch price of $0.99. (see links above, on the right).

Do you enjoy reading prequels? If so, which ones really nailed it in terms of story and tone? If not, why not? Inquiring minds want to know.


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