Tag Archives: thrillers

Vigilante Dead is Live! (And other news)

cover for Vigilante Dead

 

I’m thrilled to announce that VIGILANTE DEAD is now live! You can get it for the super special launch price of 99c (ends 12/11). Here are the links:

KOBO

iBooks

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

And here’s the description:

Death. Lies. Revenge.

After years of running, Kate Jones is finally putting her past behind her. Between restoring ties with her younger sister, moving in with Sam, a cop-turned PI, and working as a PI herself, she’s learning to live life without looking over her shoulder.

Then Kate lands a case that changes everything: a young college student with no history of drug abuse dies of an overdose, and the parents come to Kate demanding answers. Soon, Seattle is reeling from dozens more deaths, all with the same chemical markers. At first, police assume that the victims are closet junkies who got hold of a bad combination, but after someone close to her becomes a victim, Kate believes something far more sinister is going on.

The deeper Kate digs, the more she uncovers about the deadly drug’s origins, forcing her to choose between doing what’s right…

…and getting revenge.

What are you waiting for? You could be reading this book right now  🙂

In other news…

cover for Thriller13‘Tis the season…I’ve joined forces with 12 bestselling thriller authors to bring you THRILLER 13, a set of 13 thriller novellas and short stories, just in time for the holidays. I consider it an honor to be a part of Thriller 13not only because of the fabulous writers who are involved but because we’re donating 100% of profits to fight the exploitation and human trafficking of children.

As most of you know, human trafficking (especially children) has figured heavily in the Leine Basso series, and is one of the main reasons I wrote Bad Traffick, The Body Market, and Cargo. All of the authors in this set are committed to fighting human trafficking, and I’m stoked to have been asked to participate. For a limited time, you can pick up the set on most retail sites for 99c (once this set is gone, it’s gone). Here are the links:

Amazon

iBooks

Barnes & Noble

KOBO

And, last but not least…

15 free thrillers banner

(*Edited link–it should work now!) How about some FREE ebooks? In another awesome collaboration, I’ve joined 14 other fantastic authors and Instafreebie to bring you 15 free thrillers. NYT & USA Today bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, you name it, they’re in here. Download 1 or all 15–they’re all free (just click on the image above). You’ll be asked to enter your email address so Instafreebie can send you the free books. The address is then given to the author, which will allow them to send you infrequent notices about new releases and such. A fair exchange for hours of free reading, I think, and a risk-free way to try new authors 🙂

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll be back on Friday with another post and a chance to win something. Until then, have a fabulous week!

DV

 

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Awesome Authors–Peg Brantley

Peg Brantley photoToday’s Awesome Author is thriller/mystery writer Peg Brantley. I met Peg while swimming around in the Guppies (Great Unpublished) pond of the writers group Sisters in Crime and have heard great things about her work. She currently has 3 novels out: Red Tide, The Missings, and The Sacrifice. Glowing comments on her work include, “engaging characters,” “grabs you from the first page,” and “a definite page turner.” Hmmm. Sounds like an author to put on my TBR list… 😀

Bio (from the author): A Colorado native, Peg Brantley is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Authors’ League, and Sisters In Crime. She lives with her husband southeast of Denver. Peg’s third book, The Sacrifice, is a finalist for two 2014 Colorado literary awards.

DV: Welcome, Peg! Please tell us about yourself and your latest release.

PB: This is where I wish I could tell you about my fabulous past—reveal something notorious or incredibly brave. The truth is I’m only mildly interesting and that could be a stretch.

cover of The SacrificeTHE SACRIFICE was released at the end of 2013. I’ve had more than one reviewer say they were surprised they liked the book based on the back cover copy. Obviously that’s not where my strength lies. TS is about a man who lost his family and is working through associated depression, and a missing young girl and the religious cult she thinks of as her new family.

THE SACRIFICE was a finalist in one Colorado literary award presented last month, and a second literary award to be presented a few days before this blog post airs. I wrote a guest post at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog about what it felt like to lose.

DV: The novels you currently have available are stand-alone thrillers, correct? Have you considered writing a series?

PB: Well, bless your heart for asking. (No, I’m not from the south, but this really works here.)

cover and link for Red TideDue to reader’s requests (and because it’s really easy to do) RED TIDE and THE MISSINGS will be turned into the first two stories of a series set in Aspen Falls, Colorado. There was some carry-over of the characters between the books and I’m excited to spend more time with them.

And as luck would have it, readers (and a particular endorser) for THE SACRIFICE have encouraged me to continue the series with the characters I developed in those pages.

My goal will be to continue to write each novel as a stand-alone, with the added strength of a series and longer character development opportunities.

My challenge will be to write faster. Two series? Are you kidding me?

DV: LOL. Yeah, I know the feeling 🙂 When did you realize you were a writer?

PB: I think at some level I’ve always been a writer. But life and responsibilities made me more of a reader for a very long time. About ten years ago, family circumstances played a huge role in affording me both the time and opportunity to begin to learn the craft of writing when my bonus son suffered a stroke at a very young age. After we moved him back home for his recovery, I finally had the time to explore my writing options.

“After about eight years, I had blown my way through some horrible manuscripts and was finally beginning to produce something worth reading.”

DV: What was your road to indie publication like?

PB: My road was probably not too different from many others. Several years ago, indie or self-publication was not on the table for me. Vanity publishing, as much of it was at that time, had a horrible reputation for producing inferior products. I was determined to find an agent I could work well with and a publisher happy to take a chance on an unknown.

I took workshops, read books about writing, went to writer conferences, joined a critique group—all of those things we do to learn how to string together effective words.

After about eight years, I had blown my way through some horrible manuscripts and was finally beginning to produce something worth reading. That’s when a friend of mine, L.J. Sellers, encouraged me to jump in the game rather than to continue to sit on the sidelines like a good girl and wait. With her help, I learned the right way to put together a novel people enjoy.

DV: What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a specific word count? Plotter or pantser?

PB: As much as I’d love to write every day, my life often has other things in store. However, yesterday while I was in the chair at my dentist’s office I was considering a character and particular plot-point in the manuscript I’m writing. I guess in a way, I do write every day.

Generally, I aim for 2000 words a day, and feel pretty good when I’m consistently hitting that target.cover and link for The missings

While I’m neither a plotter or a pantser, I do have to have a plan in mind. Crime fiction doesn’t leave a lot of room for going off the rails. For me, it’s a lot like taking a road trip. I know where my story is beginning and I have a good idea where it will end, with some planned stops along the way. What I do allow, just as on a road trip, are those little spur of the moment side trips. If they’re interesting and fit the flavor of the trip, I’ll explore them a little more. If they’re to some place boring and potentially confusing, I’m outta there.

If you’re interested in a little more detail, I wrote a post about it on my blog.

DV: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

PB: Deadlines, definitely. But deadlines I set. I work backward from a targeted publication date, including time for self-editing, beta readers, professional editing, endorsements, and cover and interior design. From there, I know when I need to have the first draft completed and how many words a day I need to write to meet the deadline.

“Next up on my list is to attend an autopsy.”

DV: How much research do you do when writing your books?

A lot! I’ve often thought being a fantasy or science fiction writer would be heaven. Not only are you making the story completely up, but you’re making everything about the world up as well. Everything.

I use Google, reference books, contacts and friendships. I’ve attended the Writers Police Academy and the Citizen Police Academy for my city. Next up on my list is to attend an autopsy.

DV: Which writers have influenced you and why?

PB: Oh, my. One of the things I admire about L.J. Sellers’s books is that she often takes a topical social issue and works it into the story. I’ve tried to do the same. Her writing is tight and spare while still providing just the right amount of description and emotion.

Dean Koontz can extend tension with fabulous skill, as well as say volumes in as few as eight words. The right eight words.

Michael Connelly builds layers and layers of character and drops them into some of the best plots ever.

DV: In light of the huge changes in the industry, where do you think publishing is headed?

PB: I think that for the first time in the history of publishing, it’s headed exactly where readers want it to go. Readers are in the driver’s seat, not publishing company CFOs.

Readers, with their new power, recognized rather quickly that they could find some wonderful new authors for very little financial investment, and scoffed at the old publishing models. Having said that, I believe they are rapidly tiring of some of the mindless slush pile garbage “authors” are throwing out simply to see what sticks, and can appreciate that the old publishing models took care of that gigantic pile that’s now available to everyone. Still, the cream will rise to the top as it always has, but this time, readers are in charge.

“I think that for the first time in the history of publishing, [publishing is] headed exactly where readers want it to go.”

DV: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

PB: I hope I’m still doing what I love—writing stories. But I’ll be thinner I’m sure. And better dressed.

DV: 😀 What advice would you give to new writers?

PB: If you can, find a good writers group and learn from them. Attend writer conferences, read books on craft. Treat this time as your college education.

It’s okay to write a story that needs work. We all do. It’s not okay to publish a story that needs work, at least if you want to make writing a career.

Read the books you love to read like crazy and then write and write and write some more.

Don’t quit. It’s only if you quit that you fail.

DV: What’s next for Peg Brantley?

PB: FLAME GAME will be out in late October (with a little luck) and then I’ll begin getting my characters in THE SACRIFICE in deep trouble once again.

Thanks, D.V., for allowing me to spend a little time with you and your readers. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

DV: Thank you for stopping by, Peg! I’ll definitely be checking out your books. They sound like they’re right up my alley 🙂 (For more information about Peg and her work, I’ve included links at the end of the post.)

Below is an excerpt from THE SACRIFICE:

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Dia woke with a start and listened hard. She’d heard a noise. Where had it come from? What was it? There. A thump and voices. Outside. She pushed the light blanket off, pushed aside the mosquito netting and stepped to look out the window.
Pilar, Luis, and Hector were swaying and chanting. Sparks from the fire they stood around flew off into the night. What were they doing? If this was a Santeria ritual Dia wanted to be there.

Where did she leave her shoes? Come on, Dia, she thought. You would think in this small room she wouldn’t lose anything. She dug around in her clothes bag. Nothing. Maybe if she stood on the deck it would be okay. She wouldn’t need shoes if she didn’t go down by the fire.

Dia padded barefoot to the door that led from the main area to the back deck and eased the screen open. She tried to be quiet, not because she was trying to be sneaky, but because she didn’t want to interrupt a religious ritual. Softly closing the door behind her, she moved to the edge of the deck where she could more clearly see and hear what was going on.
It was a ritual all right. But the words were different from any she’d ever heard before. She’d have to ask Pilar what they meant.

Luis held something in his hand and raised it over his head. Dia gasped out loud when she realized it was a dead rooster. The man spun in her direction, the firelight carving angry lines in his face as he looked at her.

“You! Leave at once!” The venom of the words stung Dia and pushed her back from the deck rail. She knew Luis had mostly just put up with her, but now he sounded like he hated her. She sought Pilar. Their eyes met and Dia could not understand the expression on her nanny-turned-friend’s face. Then Dia dropped her gaze down to what Pilar held in her hands.

My shoes.

END EXCERPT

You can learn more about Peg at her website or meet up with her on Facebook  or follow her blog. Her Amazon Author page is here.

 


A One Way Ticket to Dead is NOW LIVE

cover for a one way ticket to deadIT’S ALIVE! The latest Kate Jones Thriller, A One Way Ticket to Dead is now LIVE. This book has been a loooong time in coming and I am really stoked.  It will be available March 7th-15th for the special price of $2.99 at all your favorite etailers. (After March 15th, the price changes to $4.99.) Here are the links: Amazon, BN. The Smashwords version will be available either later today or tomorrow (The print version will be available later this month. Look for it at the iBookstore, Diesel, Kobo, et al.) **UPDATE** Here is the Smashwords link.

There’s plenty of action and suspense in A One Way Ticket to Dead, and some of your favorite characters are back: Sam, Cole, Angie, and the commandos from Yucatan Dead all make an appearance in this high-octane, edge of your seat thriller. To celebrate (and because I can’t wait, either) here’s a taste:

Chapter 1

 I NEVER DREAMED I’d come back.

I shouldn’t have.

Even though I told myself things were safer compared to when I’d passed through all those years ago, deep down I knew I was only kidding myself.

The deepening shadows brought scant relief from the blistering heat, although the lower the sun dipped on the horizon the more bearable it became. The sun set early in this part of the world. I took a deep drink from my water bottle and wiped the sweat from my face with the back of my hand.

And waited.

I’d changed my hair for the umpteenth time and wore brown-tinted contacts so I’d blend, but there’s only so much a girl can do to change her appearance short of surgery. Thanks to Quinn and his lies, the men who had tried to kill me thought I was dead. For now. The ruse wouldn’t last long, not if someone from the old days got curious about the new American woman in town.

No sense lingering longer than I had to. Find the stash if it was still there, then get the hell out of Mexico.

The tiny house on the even smaller lot looked like the owner had lost interest and decided to let nature take its course. Dirt-green vines strangled the walls as if they were trying to squeeze the last drop of moisture from the filthy stucco. The cracked and faded flower pots flanking the walkway grew dirt in profusion, their long-dead occupants a distant memory. Two lime trees in the side yard still shaded my target. The ground looked like it hadn’t been disturbed in all the time I’d been gone.

If my luck held.

I’d spent the day and evening before casing the place, watching for signs of life. The house appeared abandoned. How much longer could I stay without arousing suspicion? More time than absolutely necessary in Los Otros made me nervous, and I itched to get the deed done.

My stomach growled as I walked back to the rental. With a loan from Luis, my contact in the Drug Enforcement Administration, I’d chosen an unassuming Nissan Versa with plenty of dings and scratches. I told him I needed to find someone before going back to the States now that Roberto Salazar was dead. At first Luis had argued, asking why I’d even consider staying in Mexico, but finally relented when I told him I owed my life to this person. Nothing he said would change my mind.

Memories of the old man who’d saved me from being gunned down in the street eleven years before flooded my mind. Oggie. Vincent Anaya’s right-hand guy, Frank Lanzarotti, put a bullet in him as we left Oggie’s house. I’d never forgiven him and felt grim satisfaction when Frank had been shot. This final trip through cartel-country wasn’t only about the money.

I got in the car and turned on the air while I ate the now-cold tamale I’d bought earlier. I could have gone back into town and gotten something else, but wanted to keep my visibility to a minimum. Old friends would not be a welcome diversion and I’d already risked discovery by staying the previous evening at a nearby hotel.

Hours later, after I’d moved the car twice and taken a fitful nap, I parked in the dirt-track alley behind the house and cut the lights. From behind, the abandoned house took on a miserable, thoroughly depressive mien. I could almost make out the dark windows and back door, all three of which appeared as though they hadn’t been seen to in years. The backyard where Lana served me dinner so many lives ago was grown over with tenacious vegetation, the kind that could survive drought-ridden, remorseless summers.

What had finally prompted Lana to leave? I tried to imagine her happy, dragging her sadness and the fallout from the choices she’d made to wherever the wave of her life deposited her. All that came to mind were bottles of cheap tequila on a beat-up nightstand and dark, lonely sojourns with men who didn’t care.

Bad choices put me in this backyard of a tiny, run-down two-bedroom casa at the end of an unpaved street in a one-horse Mexican town. I hoped this wasn’t another of those.

Bad choices, I mean.

I popped the trunk and walked around to grab the pickaxe and shovel I’d purchased the day before, along with a large backpack. My idea was to work as quickly as possible until I’d unearthed the stash of gallon-sized plastic bags, backfill the hole and leave. I glanced through the rear window at the glowing clock on the dash: a quarter past three. The post office wouldn’t be open for hours. I’d have a long wait.

I walked along the back of the house to the side yard, picking my way past rampant prickly pear and creosote and paused in the shadows to listen. The wind slid past me, circling my bare legs, churning the dirt at my feet into a dust devil that swirled and crested, and then disintegrated into the night. The breathy hoo of an owl nearby assured me I wouldn’t work alone.

The three other homes on the street remained dark, signifying no one on the block suffered from insomnia, at least not tonight. The houses were far enough apart and on the opposite side of the unlit street from where I’d be working so it was reasonable to assume my efforts would go unnoticed. One of the three boasted a noisy swamp cooler that clanked in protest at the stifling night air, helping to further disguise my activities.

I proceeded to the lime trees and leaned the shovel against the house. The new pickaxe broke through the caliche easier than I remembered and soon the earth resembled a miniature plowed field. Afraid I’d damage the plastic bags or wake up light-sleeping neighbors I reined in my enthusiasm a few inches deep and switched to the spade.

Though not as noisy, the shovel took much longer to dig the remaining depth of the hole. About an hour later, when I still hadn’t hit what I was looking for, worry crept in like a feral cat scrounging for food. What if it’s not here? What if Lana somehow found it, dug it up, and is now living large somewhere in South America?

Well, then I’d have to figure out something else. If it was gone, I’d be shit out of luck. I straightened and took a deep breath, collecting my thoughts. Panicked and wired from dodging death that night so long ago, I thought I’d be back to retrieve the stash long before now. A faulty memory could be the reason I hadn’t found it yet.

Or Lana was dancing the tango in Argentina.

Discarding the tango possibility, I stepped past the freshly dug hole to survey the yard. Closing my eyes, I thought back to that night, the memories resurrecting long-buried emotions. So many years of running, of looking over my shoulder, never being able to live a normal life.

So many friends lost.

Fallout from a bad choice made long ago. Payback, I supposed, for being stupid and young and attracted to shiny things. My fingers curled around the onyx jaguar figurine I wore around my neck. Now that Salazar was dead, I hoped my life could get more or less back to normal.

Then again, what the hell was normal?

I opened my eyes and took in the lime trees, the house, the surrounding vegetation. The yard had looked different back then. Well-tended. Then it hit me.

Unchecked catclaw choked the tree trunks, creating an optical illusion. I’d misjudged the distance of the stash from the base of the tree and had dug too far out. Once again working the pickaxe, I hacked away with new purpose at the base of the overgrown shrub until I cleared a space where I gauged the target should be.

Rinse, repeat. Switch to the shovel.

Focused on digging, I didn’t realize I had company until it was too late.

“Hey,” a voice demanded in slurred Spanish. “What’re you doing?” The rank smell of cheap tequila accompanied the words. Slowly, I turned.

His features semi-distinct in the darkness, the man swayed on his feet, his thick torso and muscled arms reminiscent of a man who worked long hours lifting heavy things. I gave him a half-smile and tightened my grip on the shovel.

“My friend Lana asked me to stop by her house and pick something up for her. I noticed the vines were choking the tree.” I glanced over my shoulder at the offending catclaw. “She’d be very upset if one of her trees died, so I thought I’d clear some of it away before I left.” Not a great story, but the man was obviously drunk, so I didn’t think I’d have to be too convincing.

With a puzzled expression, he swiveled unsteadily on his feet, glancing first down one side of the street, and then back the other way before returning his bleary gaze to me and the shovel. His expression morphed from perplexed to concerned, transitioning to a leer.

“You’re a liar,” he slurred as he lurched toward me. “No one lives here.” He took another step closer. “You do somethin’ nice for me, an’ this’ll jus’ be our lil’ secret, yes?” he stage-whispered, reaching for his fly. I hoisted the shovel over my head. I couldn’t afford to wake the neighbors.

“One more step and you’re going to have one hell of a headache come morning,” I said, my voice low.

“Huh?” He gaped at the shovel in my hands, incomprehension clouding his face. Frowning, he wiped his hands down the front of his shirt, his confusion obvious. He closed his eyes for a moment but lost his balance and stumbled to one side, barely catching himself before taking a header onto the street.

Aye carumba,” he muttered, shaking his head. Obviously unhappy with the way things were turning out, he waved me away, mumbling incoherently to himself as he zigzagged a path down the street.

I lowered the shovel with a sigh. I’d have to work faster, in case he came to his senses and raised an alarm.

Forty-five minutes later the muted clang of metal against dirt changed to a dull thud. I cut in around the spot with the edge of the shovel and then scooped out the rest by hand, revealing a dirt-encrusted bundle. My heart beat faster as I slid the tip of the shovel underneath the plastic bag and pushed down on the handle, leveraging the first package out of its resting place.

Eight gallon-sized bags later, I stopped to take a breath. I leaned the shovel against the tree and knelt down. The outer bags had become stiff from the dry and the dirt and the heat, but remained intact. I grabbed one and opened it, removing the inner bag, which was surprisingly flexible. I flashed on how long it would take for plastic to degrade when it wasn’t subjected to light, like in a landfill. Our civilization would be long gone before that ever happened. For now, I had immense gratitude for the durability of plastic.

I slid open the plastic zipper holding the bag closed and reached inside for a stack of bills. Money in hand, I flipped through the hundreds with my fingers, fanning my face.

Still there. Still intact.

Yes.

Once all eight bags were safely inside the backpack, I zipped it closed and stood, kicking some of the dirt back into the hole to make it look less obvious. Since the house had evidently been abandoned and my visitor had been quite drunk, I doubted anyone would take notice, at least long enough for me to disappear. I picked up my tools and the hefty pack and returned to the car, my heart light. With Salazar dead, even if the home had been on a cartel watch list, it wouldn’t be now. They were tenacious, yes, but that would be too obsessive, even for cartel thugs. Besides, they thought I was dead.

I threw everything in the trunk and climbed into the driver’s seat. One more errand and I’d be long gone.

Goodbye, Mexico. Hello, freedom.


Awesome Authors–T.D. McKinnon

Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview TD McKinnon,  author of multiple genres including speculative fiction, sci-fi and adventure-thrillers. Along with his eclectic writing interests, TD is a fellow Indies Unlimited contributor, an expert martial artist, and all around lovely human being.

Photo of TD McKinnon

TD McKinnon

(From his bio):

Born in Scotland in 1950 and raised in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England, T.D. McKinnon joined the British Parachute Regiment when he was just fifteen years old.  After spending five years in the British army he worked at a number of occupations, but for many years he was in high risk security.  A martial arts master in several forms he represented at national level, both in Scotland and Australia, and became a national referee.  Among many high-profile clients, his close personal protection company was responsible for the protection of a member of the Spanish royal family, and was also part of the local contingent, anti terrorist, security team for President George H W Bush’s Australian visit. 

Whilst at school, T.D. Mc Kinnon displayed a natural talent for writing, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, after moving to Australia, that he began writing again; submitting articles and short stories to various magazines, including Impact, Blitz and Combat, martial arts magazines, The Green Earth, an environmental newspaper, and  Cosmopolitan, to name a few.  However, it wasn’t until semi-retiring and moving to Tasmania in 2004 that he began writing seriously. Since then, writing prolifically, he has published five books, contributed to a children’s story book, has several projects currently in progress, and is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.

D: Hi TD! Thanks for being here 🙂

T: It’s my pleasure entirely, DV.  Thank you for the opportunity.

D: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

T: I’m originally from Scotland, and I now live in North West Tasmania with my wife, Zoë, where I moved in 2004 to concentrate on my writing.  Since then I have completed five books.

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

T: Many things can inspire me to write; usually it’s an idea that just won’t leave me alone.  My natural inclination has always been to write: to express myself, to work out a problem or look at an idea that has sprung to life in my head.  For instance, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood was something I had to get out of my system; it wasn’t until I wrote it that I was truly cured of my childhood devils.Cover for Surviving the Battleground of Childhood

 “…In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified…”

Ideas come to me (sometimes in the dead of night) and, soon there after the characters speak to me, the story just cries out to be told.  It’s not like I have a choice.  I am quite an emotional person, and so I might be motivated by something that makes me angry, like injustice, for instance.  The outrageous injustice of a half buried, half told story about a chapter of Tasmania’s past inspired me to write Terra Nullius.

Injustice also inspired Utrinque Paratus; the story has a lot of truth wrapped up in it you see – some mine and some of several other people I know.  In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified.

cover for Utrinque ParatusEach of my stories has enough truth in them for me to believe, to be involved and be totally invested in them.  Inspired by hope, Psychic Warrior is one of those stories that would wake me in the night; some might call it dreams but to me it’s a very personal story, containing a large portion of personal truth.  Lynne Cantwell said of Psychic Warrior:

I would put it squarely in the sci-fi quadrant of the speculative fiction roundhouse, except for a ‘whoa!’ twist at the very end that kind of made me wonder what McKinnon was on when he wrote it.  And I mean that in a good way.  And when you get to the last few pages of the book and go, ‘whoa!’ let me know what genre you think it ought to go into.”

D: Now, that’s an intriguing review! When did you realize you wanted to write?cover for Heathy Skye Wilson is the Psychic Warrior

T: I was seven years old and after coming first in my school year’s writing competition I was given pride of place at the school open-day.  After reading my story, Snowdrop the Polar Bear, the headmistress smilingly announced, “I do believe we have a budding author in our midst.”  Even though it would be fifty years before I published my first book; I knew from that moment that I was a writer.  By the way, I remember being motivated to write that story after first hearing about animals being killed for their skins.

D: What has your road to publication been like? What made you decide to ‘go indie’?

T: I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of rejections I received for my first book – firstly by the Big Six, and then by every major authors agent I could find to apply to; and that was at a time when most of them required hard copy submissions.  Eventually, my first book, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood, a memoir – the title gives a broad indication of the subject matter – was traditionally published by a small, UK publisher in 2008.  I traveled to the UK to do a four-week book signing tour at the Waterstones book stores, in and around the places I grew up; and although the tour went well, sales began stalling as soon as I returned to Australia.  Returning to Australia I did the same thing, with the same results.

cover for I was a Teenage Devil-But I'm alright Now!During all of that time, you can imagine there wasn’t much writing being done; having had enough of the getting published game, I went back to writing.  During the following three years I completed the sequel to Surviving: I was a Teenage Devil – But I’m Alright Now! which covers my time in the British Parachute Regiment (the infamous Red Devils).  I also wrote John Farrell is Utrinque Paratus, an adventure/thriller; Heather Skye Wilson is The Psychic Warrior, a speculative fiction; and Terra Nullius an historical fiction.  Along the way I was hearing more and more about the ePublishing scene and when I had five completed works, I finally decided to take the plunge.  That was at the beginning of 2012.

D: You write in several different genres: speculative fiction, memoir, historical fiction, action-thrillers. Which genre do you prefer?

T: Just as I don’t have a genre preference for reading, I don’t really have a genre preference for writing, and the best way I can answer that question is to say…  The one I am invested in at the time; if that makes any sense to you.

D: More than you know 🙂 What are you working on now?

T: I’m just finishing off a sci-fi novelette, which I’ve been going back and forward to for some time.  I am also in the process of writing an historical fiction based on the true story of the tragic events following the Battle of Culloden Moor (the last battle between the Scots and the English in the 18th century), which is redolent with history, mystery, deception and atrocities committed by the marauding English troops of the Duke of Cumberland; the real reason why, even to this day (just under the surface), the Scots despise the English.

D: I know of several friends who are interested in the Battle of Culloden Moor. Most are of Scottish ancestry. I’ll let them know when it’s released 🙂

What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a certain word count? Do you have a ritual that you enjoy doing before sitting down to write?

T: After helping Zoë with the cats, I meditate and stretch most mornings, but truthfully, DV, I am not a very disciplined writer.  I can write up a storm when the mood, or rather the muse, takes me.  However, too often life gets in the way.  Unfortunately I still need to earn a crust doing things nonliterary, and along with one or two other commitments, as well as no longer being a young man, I am bound by certain physical limitations.

“…I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, if you don’t know it, research it!”

D: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

T: I must admit that a deadline does make me perform; I don’t like them… but sometimes they might be necessary to make me shake a leg.

D: How much research do you do when you write your books?

T: That very much depends on what I’m writing; sometimes a lot of research is necessary, while at other times I need to do a damn sight more.  Seriously though, there is research to do no matter what the genre.  I have a good general knowledge in the areas I write, and we all have (what might be termed) specialist areas; I certainly utilise mine accordingly.  I also know my shortfalls (in terms of knowledge base) and do the applicable research.  This subject gets touched upon all the time at Indies Unlimited and I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, ‘If you don’t know it, research it!’

D: In light of the huge changes in publishing, where do you think the industry is headed? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

T: For the industry: I see hard copy books always being there, but as a niche market.  I see the big publishers scrambling for a place in tomorrow’s (into the future) market.  I see the independents dominating for a while but, as will always happen in a capitalist, structured society, someone will find a way to take control, capitalise and profiteer.  Hopefully, it will still be a better environment for serious authors, than the one we are currently leaving behind and, hopefully, a discerning, reading public will be the ultimate decision makers.

 On a personal level: over the years, as I was (honouring my commitments) doing what I was able in respect of supporting and bringing up a family et cetera, I was squirreling away ideas, concepts, story outlines (I have more than fifty projects at various stages) and basically preparing to do what I really wanted to do; and that is to write stories until I shrug off this mortal coil.  In real terms I have only just begun, I have confidence in the quality of my writing and I am counting on that discerning, reading public I mentioned to continue to take me, more and more, to their hearts.  As far as career goals, if that’s what you’re talking about (five-year plan); I will continue to ePublish, and if someone taps me on the shoulder and offers to do hard copies I’ll consider it.  I will always be open to movie offers of course… ha ha.  For various reasons, since the ePublishing move, I’ve been a bit slack in terms of completing another writing project (publishing another book) but I see for the future, on average, one or two books per year.

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

cover for Terra NulliusT: Writers write; what I’m saying is, if you are a writer, new or otherwise, you really have no choice about whether you will write or not.  You can choose how much and what direction you might take.  I believe you should write what pleases you most, what gives you the most value fulfillment.  Learn your chops, of course, by whatever means is available, and give some thought about what you want to achieve from your writing.  I would also advise that your incentive not be money.  If you, by your writing, happen to make money that’s excellent, but if money is the motivation you could be looking at a whole lot of misery; you would be better advised to seek your fortune elsewhere.  There has never been a better time for writers to get their work to an audience; however, you will be competing for readers in a saturated marketplace.

D: If you could time travel, either to the past or into the future, where would you go?

T: Hmm… interesting question, DV, and I would answer with a definite, ‘it depends on the rules!’ I know, I know… as it is not technically possible to time travel, the rules are what you make them.  OK, I was a collaborating author on a time traveling children’s story book, A Tumble in Time, in which I wrote the concluding two chapters.  When you write about time travel there has to be rules, they can be loose or they can be tight, but there has to be rules.  This was a children’s book (aimed at primary school children) and so the principles had to be fairly simple: you could not time travel to a time/space coordinate where you already existed, so you could go forward to anywhere because once you disappeared from this time you weren’t anywhere in the future until you turned up there; however, going back, the fabric of time would not accept you between your birth and the moment you disappeared.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?

My personal beliefs concerning time are far more complex: there are an infinite number of probable moment points – in the present, past and future – and, hypothetically, we slip seamlessly from one to another in our present all the time, depending on the choices we make.  So, if I could time travel, there would be no restrictions except perhaps that I could only visit a recent probable past in which I wasn’t currently taking part.  Seriously though, the simple answer to your question would be that I wouldn’t mind a peek at one million years in the future; it would be interesting to see if the human race is still around; because if it is, it will have had to evolve somewhat, both ethically and psychically.  Of one thing I’m sure, should we survive, we will still be telling stories and writing books in some manner.

D: Great answer 🙂 Thank you again for being here today, TD, is there anything you’d like to add?

T: Just that, as an independent author, there is a vast amount of work involved outside of the writing part; that can be said to be (for a writer) the easy part.  There is so much more to do, and I know that some independent authors manage it all by themselves; however, the majority of us have a lot of support from various sources.  You need the support of people who care.  I am very fortunate in that my wife, Zoë Lake, is an extremely talented individual, who handles most of the tasks and responsibilities, outside of actually writing my books, including proof reading and editing everything I write, book cover designs and artwork.  Zoë designed and constructed my website: http://www.tdmckinnon.com/ and she is my strongest advocate, my harshest critic, and my inspiration.  She also produced, directed, wrote my introduction speech, and did the voice over, on my recent YouTube promotion for Terra Nullius:

 So, for any writers out there thinking of going the Indie route, there is a lot to consider.  A good support group of people in a similar position is a wise idea too: for ideas, tips, general guidance and just to know that you are not alone.  I’ve looked at a few and rejected most; I was extremely fortunate here also to stumble across the best bunch of online, fellow independents you could wish to meet: at Indies Unlimited.  Being an independent author is not an easy route, but it is a very liberating road.

Thank you again, DV, for the opportunity to be here today.

D: Here’s a short excerpt from TD’s adventure-thriller, John Farrel is Utrinque Paratus:

EXCERPT

Breakfasting with MacGreggor and Bell, while making our training arrangements for the day, I slip in a casual, “I wonder what makes winning a relatively unimportant, unofficial competition so important to your boss?” In my peripheral vision, I observe the effects of my apparently casual comment, while seemingly focussed on my steak, eggs and mushrooms.

Dinga Bell seems to be sneering, and I don’t get the impression it’s directed at me; Alec MacGreggor shoots me an anxious glance before bringing his demeanour under control. But it’s Bell who, after a moment, says, “Fuckin’ stupit, if y’ ask me!”

“Naibdy’s askin’ you!” snaps MacGreggor, “An’ A’ve telt ye afore… A bit o’ respect!”

“Fuck you!” snarls Bell, defiantly, giving MacGreggor a full blast of those malevolent, cold eyes.

What happens next takes me completely by surprise as MacGreggor, moving extremely fast for such a big man, knocks the breakfast table across the room with a sweep of one brawny arm while reaching for Bell with the other. Bell is on his feet in an instant, a bone handled, open bladed razor suddenly in his hand. Flashing twice, the wicked blade lops three fingers from MacGreggor’s reaching right hand and opens up his face in a diagonal slice, like a ripe melon, from the corner of his right eye to the left-hand corner of his big, lantern jaw!

Instinctively moving back from the mêlée, I observe with a vague feeling of detachment as MacGreggor, initially not realising the extent of the damage, attempts to say something, but of course his mouth won’t work. Then the bleeding starts and, stunned, he looks down at his hand.

Bell, showing no emotion at all, backs off a step, glances briefly at me and wipes his razor on the white tablecloth from the next table; folding and putting away his blade, he casually turns and walks out of the dining room.

Ten minutes later, the hotel staff assisting throughout, I have a tourniquet on MacGreggor’s right wrist, his fingers are in an ice bucket, and with the help of a tablecloth I’m making an effort to hold his face together until the ambulance arrives. Had we not reacted promptly MacGreggor would probably have died from loss of blood. It’s going to be touch and go as it is.

 It’s at this point Sandy Campbell walks in. Giving me a perfunctory nod, he sits down and puts a gentle hand on MacGreggor’s shoulder.

“Oh… Alec… I told you to be careful of that wee boy,” he says soothingly, and as MacGreggor tries to respond he adds. “Hush now… don’t try to speak, I’ll hear all about it from Mr. Farrell here, later. You just relax, the ambulance will be here any second now, and they’ll have you fixed up in no time.” As if on cue the double doors to the dining room burst open and the ambulance men come rushing in.

END EXCERPT

To find out more about TD, check out his links below:

http://www.tdmckinnon.com

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/author-bios/

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/t-d-mckinnon/29/80/14a

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5360776.T_D_McKinnon

Mobile site QR code or type this address: m.tdmckinnon.com

 qr code for TD's website

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