TopShelf February 2023

Page 16

CONTENTS Publisher: Aimee Ravichandran Mickey Mikkelson Magazine Content Creator: Deena Rae; eBookBuilders Interviews: Danielle Urban Interviews Steve Berry ........................................................................................ 4 Erin Kelly 13 KC Grifant 16 Articles Guest Audio Book Review - Noir Reformatory: Second Offense .. 8 Industry Spotlight - Women in Publishing Summit 2023 .............. 9 From the Mind of a Reader - Out of Your Comfort Zone 10 Industry Spotlight - Jennifer Lieberman 15 Industry Spotlight Joe Goldberg — Rebellious Son 19 Learn 9 Conventional Things Publishers Love To Read First In Your Manuscript .............................................................................. 20 Hot New Releases The House Guest 22 Gothic 22 Monster Gunslinger ......................................................................... 23 The Shapes of Wrath ...................................................................... 23 Love's Call ........................................................................................ 24 Sheriff of Starr County ................................................................... 24 Episode Thirteen ............................................................................ 25 Book Reviews: Scribblesworth Seraphia B. The Book Trollop The Reviewbler Khanani Daniella Tripti Kandari Poetic Monologues Julio Carlos TopShelf Review Crew Deena Rae Pelican Freak A Small Town Second Chance 25 Backwater Mystic Blues 26 Dollybird ........................................................................................... 26 Her Alaskan Valentine's Day Matchmaker .................................... 27 Forever Broken ............................................................................... 27 Reviews Concrete Blonde 28 Sidney Sheldon's Mistress of the Game 28 Red Chaos........................................................................................ 29 Brazen Virtue .................................................................................. 29 Remaking of the Sorceress ..........................................................30 Peace in the Midst of the Storm ..................................................30 The Line Between 31 Nearly Departed in Deadwood 31 The Midnight Club 32 Executive Actions ........................................................................... 32 Flying Home.................................................................................... 33 Busy as a Bee ................................................................................. 33 Fortune and Glory ........................................................................... 34 The Late Show 34 3



Exclusive Interview

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of twentytwo novels. His books have been translated into 41 languages with over 25,000,000 copies in 52 countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists. Somewhere in the world, every thirty seconds, one of his novels is sold.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. To date, 3,500 students have attended those workshops with over $1.5 million dollars raised.

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I adhere to the philosophy never, ever write what you know. Instead, write what you love. If what you know and what you love are the same thing, great. But if not, always write what you love. I loved action, history, secrets, conspiracies, and international settings. So that’s what I started writing, and still do.


It’s the little known things that really grab my attention. Those nuggets from history that are forgotten, real and significant. But those nuggets have to remain relevant today. They must still matter, since I write modern day thrillers. The hard part is finding those nuggets. And there’s a catch. I stay about two years ahead of the reader, so I need to pick subjects that folks will find interesting in the future. So far, I’ve chosen wisely.


As I mentioned, my books are centered around action, history, secrets, and conspiracies. There are 17 Cotton Malone books and

each one in the series is ‘the same, but different.’ The same in that they have those four elements, but different in that each concerns a different nugget from the past, a different time period from history, and different antagonists with unique motivations. The same is also true for my 5 stand alone novels.


It’s an exciting tale that deals with one of my favorite places in the world --- Bavaria. It also concerns one of my favorite historical personalities – King Ludwig II. We’ve all seen the image of Neuschwanstein, first visited by Walt Disney in the 1930s and ultimately used as the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland. That magical place was imagined and created by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, an enigmatic figure who was deposed in 1886 and mysteriously drowned three days later. Ludwig was eccentric to the point of madness, and history records that in the years before he died Ludwig engaged in a worldwide search for a new kingdom, one separate, apart, and in lieu of Bavaria. A place he could retreat to and rule as he wished. But a question remains. Did he succeed in finding it?


This is a Cotton Malone story. He’s a retired Justice Department operative who now owns a rare bookshop in Copenhagen. After many months


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link to

Malone’s protégé, Luke Daniels, who works for the Magellan Billet, has managed to infiltrate a renegade group intent on winning Bavarian independence from Germany. Daniels has also managed to gain the trust of Stefan, the prince of Bavaria, a frustrated second son intent on eliminating his brother, the duke, and restoring the Wittelsbach monarchy, only now with him as king. Everything hinges on a 19th century deed which proves that Ludwig’s long-rumored search for a new kingdom bore fruit --legal title to land that Germany, China, and the United States all now want, only for vastly different reasons. So it’s a race across Bavaria for clues hidden within Ludwig’s three fairytale castles, Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee, with Malone and Daniels battle an ever-growing list of deadly adversaries who will stop at nothing to find the last kingdom.


Work hard and create the best story possible. There’s no substitute for a good story. Then produce a solid manuscript. A writer’s job is to learn their craft, then practice it --- every day.

countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists. Somewhere in the world, every thirty seconds, a Steve Berry book is sold.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation.

Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, 3,500 students have attended those workshops, with over $1.5 million dollars raised.

Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve its spokesperson for National Preservation Week. Among his other honors are the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work. He has been chosen both the Florida and Georgia Writer of the Year. He’s also an emeritus member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board. In 2010, a NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.

About Steve Berry

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen Cotton Malone adventures, five standalone thrillers, and several works of short fiction. His books have been translated into 41 languages with 25,000,000 copies in 52

Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of nearly 6,000 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.

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I embarked on this one after re-binging the prequel and First Offense. I swear, the more I read from this pair, the more I love them.

Reading book 1, it dawned on me that this series very much depicts those in power keeping those not in power enslaved—and the lengths to which they’ll go to keep them oppressed and unaware of the amount of power they actually possess. So … not so different than the real world, just depicted with angels. Absolutely epic, pulled off brilliantly. The reader knows more than some characters at any given moment, as we’re treated to multiple POVs, and it is FASTpaced and exhilarating. I

am fairly certain I will re-binge this series every time a new book comes out and then … still repeatedly in completion once it’s over. This book has no shortage of:

Amazing writing.

Scandal / betrayal / espionage


Found family


Action (of all types)

Dystopian vibes


A small, oppressed people actively working to rise above.

An extremely juicy twist that both First Offense and the prequel have led up to beautifully.

Ends on a wicked cliffie—

Don’t worry. For one thing, it’s absolutely juicy and worth it. For another, Third Offense is available in print, eBook and audio, so no need to die waiting for it.

And so much more. Highly recommend.


This entire cast & production team is AMAZING. The sound quality is high and the voices and performances themselves are perfection. 5-star performance and production.

ALL the stars.

About The Reviewer - Pelican Freak

Pelican Freak is the online alter ego of an author PA who works with authors in all genres, some of who are international best sellers. Pelican Freak reads all genres and is brutally honest in what is reviewed.

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1 - 4, 2023

The first online writing and publishing conference dedicated to women, the Women in Publishing Summit is the biggest online conference for women in publishing, featuring authors, publishers, editors, graphic artists, marketers, book sellers, mindset coaches, & more!

Over 40 workshops for Nonfiction/General, Fiction, and Children's book authors!

The biggest event for women in the publishing industry. Authors, editors, publishers, marketers – we cover everything from why to write a book to the how's, to the launch, and the business of being an author.

4 days:

Day 1: Writing Craft

Day 2: Editing, production, routes to publishing

Day 3: Marketing Extravaganza!

Day 4: Tools for business growth!

Networking, connection, publishers, agents, experts!

Meet the Host

Alexa Bigwarfe is an author, speaker, publisher, and author coach. She enjoys connecting authors and women in the publishing industry to the resources they need to progress in their journeys. She has worked with and supported thousands of authors through her conferences, training programs, webinars, podcasts, and publishing support services. The Women in Publishing Summit launched in 2017 when Alexa noticed a need for representation of women and diversity in the online publishing conference world. It is her goal to create an environment that not only provides top of the line training, but builds community for connections and creates a space to recognize the accomplishments of women in the publishing industry. Empower. Encourage. Support.

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As an old-school reader, having read tens of thousands of books I have a confession. Since the early 90s, my genre of choice has been Romance and all the subgenres of romance. Historical, rom-com, paranormal, explicit, name it, if it was romance, I was reading it.I am going to write a completely unbiased review. I am not going to pick the grammar to death (it would be hilarious if I did, as a friend — who often edits my blog posts so I don't embarrass myself —calls me a grammar vandal). I read for the joy of reading. I enjoy the story. I don't write a review as a favor. My reviews are

not a matter of 'I will give you a good review if you give me a good one'. And I am not alone. Once I got my first Kindle in 2009, it was even more pronounced. Rereading all my long time favorites, Johanna Lindsey, Virginia Henley, Judith Krantz, Susan Johnson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips;  finding new-to-me series by authors like Anne Conley and her Pierce Security series, the Love at Stake series by Kerrelyn Sparks...I was in heaven.

After the proliferation of all the FSoG-esque erotica I had to step away from romance. I guess I was suffering from smutfatigue. I took an extended break from reading, with

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the exception of re-reading J. D. Robb's In Death series each time a new installment was soon to be released.

Late last year, I decided to pick up my Kindle again, but I didn't want to get through another romance overdose so I decided I would, going forward read very few romance novels, instead focus on genres outside of my comfort zone.

Spreading my literature wings has been amazing. I have read so many wonderful and engrossing books over the last few months. Books I never would have picked up before due to my romance tunnel vision.

I started off with Michael Connelly's Bosch series, have picked up a Tyrus' memoir, Marie Powell's fantasy omnibus, geo-political thrillers by  Gary Grossman as well as those he co-wrote with Ed Fuller. I have been reading Hank Phillippi Ryan, James Patterson. I read my first ever cozy mystery by Dionne Lister,  a holiday novella with a magical twist by C. Streetlights.

Last night I finished up Tosca Lee's The Line Between. I will be honest, I was resistant because it's listed as Christian mystery, for personal reasons I choose to keep religion out of my reading choices. But I am so happy I took the chance because if I hadn't I would have missed out on one of the most engrossing storylines I have ever read.

I challenge everyone who has gotten into a reading rut or who reads one or two genres exclusively to step out of your reading comfort zone and spend a few months reading genres you normally don't. You won't be disappointed.

If you need some recommendations, be sure to check out my recent reviews or my read books on Goodreads.


Deena Rae was born and raised in Texas –home of bluebonnets, boots, beef and big hair – into a family that was in the printing and publishing industries.

With a total of 20 years in publishing, in 2010 she decided to branch out as eBookBuilders helping established & new authors, designing books, ebooks and websites.

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I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I think all first novels are a product of the books that we’ve read and loved as much as they the author’s own experiences. I grew up hooked on Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell,  Ira Levin and Daphne Du Maurier; characterdriven suspense rich in atmosphere. So it was those authors, rather than a particular genre, I wanted to emulate with my debut The Poison Tree.


It was the most joyful, rewarding experience of my career to date. The book is inspired by one of my favourite childhood books, the treasure-hunt phenomenon Masquerade, and I also researched literary treasure hunts, and the people who followed them, through the decades. There were so many interesting stories, so many ways to hide

clues, so many different theories out there. A writer’s worst fear is for the tank of inspiration to run dry but I had so much real-world material to work with that the challenge in the end became knowing what to leave out.


It took a while! The working title of the book was The

Golden Bones, the name of the picture book within the novel, but that felt like a kids’ book or maybe fantasy and we didn’t want to give readers the wrong idea. (I would say The Skeleton Key is not appropriate for children but I was reading Stephen King when I was nine so I don’t really have any moral authority here.) We tossed a couple of dozen names around before I came up with The Skeleton Key and it was like trying on the right wedding dress – we

all just knew.


Treasure hunts of course, and the human inability to resist a quest. My narrator Nell has a foster daughter, and she makes an effort to raise her right, to undo the mistakes of her own upbringing. It’s about what makes a family and whether family should always come first. It’s about perception, too – the way two people can see the same picture or read the same information and come to very different conclusions (this was inspired by the very different ways I saw people respond to the Covid pandemic). The main characters are all artists in one way or another, and it’s about male privilege and women as objects. What does it mean when a woman is painted by a man and her likeness takes on a life of its own?


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A little of both. I have a vague idea of where I want to go, then I write my chapters in sketches, focusing on plot, motivation and character rather than putting in the work at line level. When I have a story – which is not the same as a plot – I then shift my chapters around until I’ve found the most suspenseful way of revealing and withholding the information. Only when everything is in the right order can I move on to my favourite part – polishing the words, setting the story to music.


I hope I tell a good story with a strong visual, filmic element and I hope there’s something

going on at sentence level too. I don’t believe that genre fiction and good writing are exclusive. I think readers want to have their cake and eat it, and I’m happy to provide that.


What if? To a suspense writer, these are the most powerful words in the English language. My job is to imagine a strange situation and ask the question that will make it stranger still. My new book, Stone Mothers, is set a former Victorian mental hospital. I got the idea when a friend who's an urban explorer was in an abandoned asylum and found old patient records. She's a nurse, and knew what to do with this sensitive documents. But I thought: what if they had got into the wrong hands? And my story was born.

I'm best known for He Said/She Said, about a young couple who witness a rape and, after the trial, begin to wonder if they believed the right person. My first novel, The Poison Tree, was a Richard and Judy bestseller and a major ITV drama starring Myanna Buring, Ophelia Lovibond and Matthew Goode. I’ve written four more original psychological thrillers – The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind.

I had read scores of psychological thrillers before I heard the term: the books that inspired me to write my own included Endless Night by Agatha Christie, The Secret History by Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine. My books are atmospheric thrillers, always about people trying to atone for, escape, or uncover a past crime. I’m more interested in what happens before the police arrive – if arrive they ever do - than how murder is solved.

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JENNIFER LIEBERMAN is a multi-hyphenate actor/writer/ producerfrom Maple, Canada and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from York University. As a child she fantasized about being on popular TV shows and began writing herself into 'fan fiction' scripts at 8 years old. Now, that dream of writing and performing is her reality.

After years of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors with no success of breaking into the entertainment industry, Jennifer decided to take matters into her own hands and created her own solo-show. This show proved to be her break and the play went on to win the Audience Choice Award at the Frigid Festival in New York City and is now the #1 Amazon Best Selling novel Year of the What? Lieberman's debut novel was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2022 Global Book Awards for Coming-of-Age Books and the 2022 IPPY Bronze Medal for Romance/Erotica Ebooks among several other international awards.

Since deciding to make her own break Lieberman has appeared in over 30 international stage productions, produced over 40 independent film & theatre productions and has helped over 100 creatives make their own break through her coaching and consulting work. She has penned a number of screen and stage plays and her short films have screened at the Festival de Cannes Court Métrage among other international festivals.

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There are two parts to being an author I especially enjoy. The first is how paradoxically simple and complex the art of writing is. It’s simple in that you can do it anywhere with minimal tools, like a notebook or electronic device. Many other forms of art require teams of people (e.g., filmmaking), or specialized materials (e.g., painting). While these kinds of creation can be extremely rewarding, there is something about being along with the page that I find irresistible.

The other thing I love about being an author is connecting with readers. Nothing is quite like the feeling of a story or character hitting home and resonating with a reader.


It’s gratifying and exhilarating, but also an interesting challenge, especially since I work full time and have two small children. Overall, I love the variety of creative writing outputs, from connecting with other authors as part of an anthology or magazine launch, to having fascinating conversations with podcasters on topics ranging from writing to horror. I also run a “weird west” website, where I get to interview and spotlight

fellow authors, which is a lot of fun. Participating in a variety of writing mediums like these helps me to stay inspired and energized. To prevent burnout, I use calendaring and basic project management systems to streamline and prioritize tasks and deadlines. Family time and protected writing time are always the top priorities.


I’ve been a guest on podcasts ranging from local ghost stories; the horror genre; short stories; books; the writing process; and more. Generally, I chat with two types of podcasts: general interest (where the audience is not necessarily focused on writing or genre fiction) and topic-specific shows. Both types of conversations are very rewarding. I love introducing an overview of horror or other topics to a broad audience, but it’s also fun to go into deeper dives with specialized podcasts about sci-fi horror, “weird westerns,” writing tips, and more.


I started creating fantastical stories pretty much as soon as I learned to write. The first stories I wrote in grade school focused on “what if” scenarios, including one about a girl who shrunk in size to pilot a paper airplane. I drafted (unpublished) novels later in grade and middle school by longhand, all with speculative twists: about a girl who accidentally created too many clones of herself, or a Body Snatchers-like alien invasion.

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Growing up, I gorged on the horror works of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike. I also obsessed over the X-Files and X-Men shows, to the point where I wrote quite a bit of fan fiction before that was a thing. I always liked the thrill and creativity of adventure, fantasy, horror and sci-fi tales and tried to emulate stories that had high stakes, sympathetic characters, and satisfying twist endings.


My debut horror western novel, Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger (Brigids Gate Press, February 2023), is described as a blend of Bonnie & Clyde meet The Witcher and Supernatural. Reviewers call the book “a fun, fast-paced, monster-filled joy ride,” “genre-blending,” “a story that is fascinating and irresistible,” and a “massive crowd-pleaser.”

The book takes place in an alternate history where a fission in the Old West released a menagerie of monster species onto humanity, leading people to band together and fend against ongoing attacks. The main character is stoic sharpshooter Melinda West, 29, who, with her charismatic partner, Lance, offers their monster-

exterminating services to desperate towns. They fight everything from giant flying scorpions to psychic bugs until they accidentally release a vengeful demon that steals their friend’s soul. They must travel across treacherous lands to track a dangerous outlaw and battle deadly creatures—all before an army of soul-devouring demons descend on Earth.


One of the most critical elements in a good story is what I think of as intrigue. Whether it’s through plot or character (ideally both), there needs to be a hint of a tantalizing mystery or question that make you wonder how on earth a character will deal with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, or how a situation can possibly resolve. This intrigue is what makes a story unique and creative; it is what the storyteller evokes when they push beyond stereotypical writing. Without intrigue, you bore the audience, which is one of the worse crimes in movies or books.

However, it’s not enough to only introduce intrigue; the story has to live up to its promise. This is usually done through two other critical elements: solid plot and a compelling character. Both don’t need to be complex. For example, there are lots of fascinating sci-fi books that feature cardboard-cutout characters, but they rise

to the level of a good story because the plot and concept are so fascinating. Conversely, there are plenty of groundbreaking books with minimal plot whose complex, wellrounded characters make the story a joy. But in all these cases, that creative intrigue introduced through plot and/or character makes the tale worth the audience’s time.


KC Grifant is a Southern Californian author who writes internationally published horror, fantasy, science fiction and weird west stories for podcasts, anthologies and magazines. Her writings have appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, Unnerving Magazine, Cosmic Horror Monthly, Tales to Terrify, the Lovecraft eZine, Siren's Call Publications and many others. She’s also contributed to dozens of anthologies, including: Chromophobia; Musings of the Muse; Dancing in the Shadows - A Tribute to Anne Rice; Field Notes from a Nightmare; The One That Got Away - Women of Horror Vol 3; Six Guns Straight From Hell; Trembling with Fear Year 1; Shadowy Natures - Tales of Psychological Horror; Beyond the Infinite - Tales from the Outer Reaches; and the Stoker-nominated Fright Mare: Women Write Horror. A member of SFWA and a cofounder of the San Diego HWA chapter, she enjoys chasing a wild toddler and wandering through beachside carnivals. For details, visit or @kcgrifant on social.


Twitter: @kcgrifant





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Rebellious Son


Caught between an infamous bomb maker and a dying CIA spy, Bridger and the Spy Devils fight for their survival while preventing a radioactive disaster.

After bombs explode across Europe, the evidence proves Specter—the infamous and legendary bomb maker—has come out of retirement. The CIA’s former terrorist-hunter Wes Henslow pleads with Bridger to help find the only terrorist he never caught. Bridger agrees, but May, his mother and CIA handler, orders Bridger not to assist their friend. Why?

Suspicious as always of May and wanting to help his mentor, Bridger ignores her. A ruthless game of cat and mouse begins that leads Bridger to Specter’s stunning niece Lena. Bridger’s urgency

increases as he discovers Specter has access to radioactive materials. Unfortunately, Bridger doesn’t know that the Spy Devils are also being hunted by a deadly adversary seeking vengeance. Battling a Chinese drug cartel, old hatreds, and the CIA, Bridger’s every decision will determine who lives or dies.

Joe Goldberg is a best-selling and award-winning author. He has been a CIA covert action officer, corporate intelligence director, and international political campaign consultant. He is currently a college instructor, podcast guest host, and writer. A native of Iowa, he loves cooking, the Iowa Hawkeyes, and his family. He resides in a suburb of Chicago, most likely listening to Jimmy Buffet music.

Joe Goldberg
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1) State the name of the protagonist.

Many have said otherwise, stating that it is boring and not creative, however, I have found that if you're trying to get past the slush pile, there is nothing more irritating to the agent or publisher reading your manuscript as to not knowing who the protagonist is, and much worse, not knowing if it is a male or female.

2) Introduce all the main characters (or make a reference to them) by pages 6-10.

3) State the age of the protagonist. (Especially, if you are writing YA. Publishers and Agents want to know right away the age group of the target audience. For YA, it is 12-18)

4) Reveal the ghosts of protagonist. What pains the character? This information is not only good to allow the reader to empathize with the character but also allows the reader to relate to the character's pains. Needless to say, the pain must be an emotional one that most people in your target audience can relate to. Remember: The thought process that many publishers and entertainment producers have is, "Show me something I've seen before, but differently." Also, you must insert, masterfully (or as best as you can), the internal/ external conflict of the character, thus showing the beginnings of the arc, which sets up the arc's path and destination.

Before page ten, we should know some of the demons that plague the protagonist, and show things that makes the character likable. Unless you want your protagonist to be an unlikable character, which is probably not the best idea (unless she is an anti-hero, even then, be cautious). Also, writing an action(s) which make the reader, in this case, the Publisher or Agent, like the character is also key. For example, when the hero helps his neighbor get a cat out of a tree even after telling the neighbor about his allergies to cat fur. The reader can't help but like your hero. See how powerful that tool is?

Note how long this point is—that's because I feel it is Very Important!

5) Setting. The setting is more than the place, it is the environment, the weather, time of day, and date. You can barely get through the first paragraph of any good novel and not know if it is hot or cloudy, cold, or windy.

The weather, as well as your descriptive word choices, will help set the tone whether you want the mood to be dark, or sarcastic, colorful, humorous, or Gothic.

The time of day is simply letting the reader know if it is day, or night, morning, or midnight. The date can be literal: On October 29th, 2008, I helped my mother kill her abuser; dad.

Or it can be more ambiguous: Long, long ago, in a world where zombies were as common as the cold, I'd finally learned how to throw a curve ball.

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6) Inciting incident/Call to Action. Sometimes, these are two different occurrences, many times, they are the same. In either case, this is where your plot truly begins, letting the Agent or Publisher know what your story is about. Wait until after page ten to do this, and it is highly plausible that your story will not catch their attention.

7) Use the 5 senses, thematic elements (many first time authors simply have the character state the theme), mold the tone, and have the opening images set up the mirror images of what the character will have to walk into upon his/her adventure--the normal world before they enter the STRANGE NEW WORLD.

8) If it's a Science Fiction story, technology must be introduced immediately. If the character is a bad-ass, show the reader why within the first six pages, but also remember that it is so important to integrate the ghosts, and characteristics that the reader can relate to, as well, or you chance making the reader not care about your numero uno character. Not good.

9) Lastly, if the character is employed, either use an immediate reference to what their job is, or allow the reader, in this case, the Agent or the Publisher, see the protagonist in their workplace immediately. For example, a witch bewitching, a vampire feeding, a teacher instructing a class, an agent on a mission, an athlete in a competition, etc.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps.

Create a conflict that shows high stakes so that if the main character doesn’t succeed, death or perhaps something even more haunting is imminent.

Reveal the ghosts of protagonist. What pains the character? This information is not only good to allow the reader to empathize with the character but also allows the reader to relate to the character's pains. Needless to say, the pain must be an emotional one that most people in your target audience can relate to. Remember: The thought process that many publishers and literary agents have is, "Show me something I've seen before, but differently." I always say during my keynote speaking addresses at writing conferences that if you’re going to create a chocolate chip cookie, just do it so that when we taste it, it’s like thing we’ve ever tasted before—familiar, yet spectacular. Also, you must insert, masterfully (or as best as you can),

the internal/external conflict of the character, thus showing the beginnings of the arc, which sets up the arc's path and destination.

Use the 5 senses, thematic elements, mold the tone, and have the opening images set up the mirror images of what the character will have to walk into upon his/ her adventure—the normal world before they enter the STRANGE NEW WORLD.

Be careful of info dumps. Unless, you’re writing hard science fiction, spread the information out into the plot as smoothly as butter on toast—not all in one spot but evenly throughout the chapter or story. This can help tie up each chapter together. The more the plot moves (but there are strings tying each scene together) the more fluid your story will be, even if you change up the pacing of your writing to create suspense and mood.

Be bold. Write bold new imaginative ideas. Create new worlds and astonishing beings we’ve never seen before but do the homework: make sure the cultural, social, political, and moral/ immoral attitudes have an unseen backstory that glues their ‘why, how and where’ of the situations to


Ace Antonio Hall (born July 4th, 1966) is an American urban fantasy and horror writer. His novel Oware Mosaic won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Young Adult fiction.

Among his many short stories that were published in anthologies and print magazines, Hall’s short story, “Raising Mary: Frankenstein”, was nominated for 2016 horror story of the year for the 19th Annual Editors and Preditors Readers Poll. Additionally, three of his short stories were on the Horror Writers Association Reading list for the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards.

A former Director of Education for NYC schools and the Sylvan Learning Center, the award-winning educator earned a BFA from Long Island University. Hall currently lives bicoastal in New York and Los Angeles. Follow Nzondi on his social media platforms @Nzondi3 on Twitter or as Ace Antonio Hall on Instagram and Facebook for news, books, updates and appearances for keynote speaking events at writing conferences.

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After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they're smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she's dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who's running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others' problems.

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can't always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.

"The House Guest is great! Twists, turns and backflips--and


On his 59th birthday, Tyson Parks—a famous, but struggling, horror writer—receives an antique desk from his partner, Sarah, in the hopes it will rekindle his creative juices. Perhaps inspire him to write another best-selling novel and prove his best years aren’t behind him.

A continent away, a mysterious woman makes inquiries with her sources around the world, seeking the whereabouts of a certain artifact her family has been hunting for centuries. With the help of a New York City private detective, she finally finds what she’s been looking for.

It’s in the home of Tyson Parks.-

Meanwhile, as Tyson begins to use his new desk, he begins acting... strange. Violent. His writing more disturbing than anything he’s done before. But publishers are paying top dollar, convinced his new work will be a hit, and Tyson will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound success. Even if it means the destruction of the ones he loves.

sticks the landing. What a pleasure to read."

Hank Phillippi Ryan

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the USA Today bestselling author of 14 psychological thrillers, winning the genre’s most prestigious awards: five Agathas, five Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She’s also investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs. National book reviewers call her “a superb and gifted storyteller.” Her newest is the page-turning standalone THE HOUSE GUEST – a story of psychological manipulation exploring the dark heart of marriage and friendship—it’s Gaslight meets Thelma & Louise! Publishers Weekly says, “Ryan is a master of suspense!” and the Library Journal starred review calls it “Binge-worthy.”

Visit Hank at,


Philip Fracassi is the author of the story collections Beneath a Pale Sky (named “Best Collection of the Year” by Rue Morgue Magazine and a finalist for the Bram Stoker award) and Behold the Void (named “Best Collection of the Year” by This Is Horror). He is also the author of several novellas, including Sacculina, Shiloh, and Commodore.

His novels include Don't Let Them Get You Down, A Child Alone with Strangers, Gothic, and Boys in the Valley.

Philip’s books have been translated into multiple languages and his stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best Horror of the Year, Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, Southwest Review, and Interzone.You can follow Philip on Facebook, Instagram (pfracassi), and Twitter (@philipfracassi), or at his official website at

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In an Old West overrun by monsters, a stoic gunslinger must embark on a dangerous quest to save her friends and stop a supernatural war.

Sharpshooter Melinda West, 29, has encountered more than her share of supernatural creatures after a monster infection killed her mother. Now, Melinda and her charismatic partner, Lance, offer their exterminating services to desperate towns, fighting everything from giant flying scorpions to psychic bugs. But when they accidentally release a demon, they must track a dangerous outlaw across treacherous lands and battle a menagerie of creatures—all before an army of soul-devouring monsters descend on Earth.

The Witcher meets Bonnie and Clyde in a re-imagined Old West full of diverse characters, desolate landscapes, and fast-paced adventure.


A demonic surgeon. A haunted hospital. And the doctor caught between them.

Dr. Hope Sze launches into her general surgery rotation with Dr. Vrac, the scourge of operating room #3, also known as the death O.R.

Dr. Vrac screams at the resident doctors suffering under him, the nurses who don't move fast enough, the anesthesiologist, his auto mechanic, and even a garbage can.

Patients begin to die under Dr. Vrac’s scalpel.

This morning, Hope discovers a dead man in the back of the O.R.

Next, a ghost lingers outside of Montreal's St. Joseph's Hospital. a) WTF and b) can Hope outwit the enraged killer before someone slices her throat?


KC Grifant is a New England-to-SoCal transplant who writes internationally published horror, fantasy, science fiction and weird western stories for collectible card games, podcasts, anthologies and magazines. Her writings have appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, Aurealis Magazine, Unnerving Magazine, Frozen Wavelets, Tales to Terrify, The Macabre Museum and Colp Magazine. Her short stories have haunted dozens of collections, including We Shall Be Monsters, Beyond the Infinite: Tales from the Outer Reaches, Shadowy Natures, Six Guns Straight From Hell, and the Stoker-nominated Fright Mare: Women Write Horror.

In addition, she is the co-founder of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) San Diego chapter, an organization that helps to connect writers and fans of horror literature.

Melissa Yi is an emergency physician who writes medical thrillers starring Dr. Hope Sze, a resident physician bone-deep in murder. Yi has been a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Best Thriller, the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence, and the Derringer Award (best crime story in the English language). She writes award-winning speculative fiction and memoir as Melissa YuanInnes. Sometimes, she sleeps.

Sign up for her mailing list and receive a free novella at

Twitter: @dr_sassy

Facebook: facebook. com/MelissaYiYuanInnes/

Instagram: @melissa.yuaninnes

TikTok: @myi_books





KC Grifant
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Denipia Leron, a beautiful young painter and visionary from the country of Usmerim, has just won the coveted Innovation Awards in the Arts. During her trip to the award ceremony, she learns that President Nichamir Linput of the enemy nation of Sorusvia is a primary patron and has expressed special interest in her. Fearful of what this could mean for her burgeoning company and artistic career, she vows to be polite, but keep the would-be dictator as far from her as she can.

Nichamir is used to getting what he wants, both personally and politically. Having saved his nation from a Calvernsin invasion, he believes himself justified in how he rules Sorusvia. In spite of the propaganda against him, Nichamir works hard to bring prosperity to his people. Yet the powerful ruler finds himself unprepared for his first meeting with the strong-willed and wary Denipia.

But Nichamir is not what he seems. He is dragonborn, a secret he has carefully hidden his whole life. He knows Denipia is his fated mate from the first moment he catches her scent. For Denipia, the strength of the attraction she feels for a man she should deeply despise is


When Texas becomes a newly-minted state, good men and women work hard toward progress and peace. Texas Ranger Will Smith travels to the borderlands of the Nueces Strip to become the first Sheriff of Starr County. He’ll do what he must to bring justice to the frontier, including wrangling outlaws, navigating political intrigues, fighting Indians, and keeping the tenuous peace between the Tejano and Anglo residents. He encounters influential statesmen and entrepreneurs of early Texas, assists the US Army, and falls for two very different women. This is exciting and authentic fiction based on the author’s own ancestors. It’s a compelling story in readible format for anyone who appreciates Texas history.

disconcerting, yet undeniable. She wants Nichamir as she has never wanted any other man.

Can Denipia risk giving her heart to this powerful man? Will Nichamir be able to win her trust? Can Love’s Call help them overcome the many obstacles in their path and forge the bond they seem destined to fulfill?

Fern Brady

Fern Brady is the founder and CEO of Inklings Publishing. She holds multiple Masters degrees and several certifications. She began her professional life as a foreign correspondent, and taught for 15 years in Alief ISD. She has published numerous short stories, two children's picture books, and a couple of poems. Her debut novel, United Vidden, which is book one in her Thyrein’s Galactic Wall Series, was given a glowing review by Dr. Who Online, the official site of the fandom.

She co-hosts on the popular podcast Author Talk. Besides being active in WIVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts), she is also a member of Blood Over Texas, Romance Writers of America, and American Booksellers Association.


David A. Bowles is a fifth generation Austinite. Both parents from early Travis County pioneers. His great grandmother Elnora Van Cleve, is recorded as the first birth in Austin, Texas during the days of the Republic. The author and his dog Becka travel in a class A motor-coach they call home, telling and writing the stories of the Westward Sagas. David grew up listening to stories of his ancestors told by his elders. Their stories so fascinated him that he became a professional story-teller, spinning tales through the Westward Sagas as well as the spoken word. He is a member of the National Story Telling Network and the Tejas Storyteller Association. David entertains groups frequently about his adventures on the open road and the books he has written. All four books in the Westward Sagas series have won awards. He is presently writing the sequel to Comanche Trace which won 1st Place at the North Texas Book Festival.

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From the macabre mind of a Bram Stoker Award-nominated author, this heartpounding novel of horror and psychological suspense takes a ghost hunting reality TV crew into a world they could never have imagined.

Fade to Black is the newest hit ghost hunting reality TV show. Led by husband and wife team Matt and Claire Kirklin, it delivers weekly hauntings investigated by a dedicated team of ghost hunting experts.

Episode Thirteen takes them to every ghost hunter's holy grail: the Paranormal Research Foundation. This brooding, derelict mansion holds secrets and clues about bizarre experiments that took place there in the 1970s. It's also famously haunted, and the team hopes their scientific techniques and high tech gear will prove it. But as the house begins to reveal itself to them, proof of an afterlife might not be everything Matt dreamed of. A story told in broken pieces, in tapes, journals, and correspondence, this is the story of Episode Thirteen— and how everything went terribly, horribly wrong.


From USA Today/Amazon bestselling author

Melinda Curtis comes a heartwarming romance about homecomings, the courage to let go and risk loving again.

It takes more than a new town to start over.

Widow Becca MacKenzie's career as a temporary caregiver for the elderly suits her just fine. Help them recover from surgery or a fall, hop back in her motorhome and move on, caring without lasting commitment or heartbreak. The ideal life for someone trying to outrun her memories.

It takes courage to stay.

But her new patient and his handsome grandson Flynn are weakening Becca’s resolve to stay detached, not to mention the kind and quirky folks in small town Harmony Valley seem ready to adopt her. But in order to stay and build something real with Flynn, Becca must let go of the past and her tangle of secrets.

Craig DiLouie

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA. At, you can find all of Craig’s major works, interviews, and hundreds of interesting blog posts. Be sure to sign up for Craig’s mailing list so you can stay tuned on new releases.

Fans of caregiver movies like Me Before You will love this gripping, emotional, heartwarming romance with a happily-ever-after.

Previously published as Summer Kisses.


Prior to writing romance, Melinda was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when she flew on the private jet she was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty. After grabbing her pen (and a parachute) she made the jump to full-time writer. She recently came to grips with the fact that she’s an empty nester and a (very young) grandma, concepts easier to grasp than jet-setting on a potty.

Check out and sign up for her newsletter (there may be free reads involved). "Like" her on Facebook

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to follow.


"Between the voids at the deepest and farthest reaches of our science, there is this eternal now...”

In this second suite of intimate essays, Lloyd Ratzlaff summons the secret hiding spots, makeshift rafts, and uncomplicated childhood joys that lay the foundations for adult philosophy. In tune with the vivid simplicities of the sensuous world and the honour of unassuming people, Ratzlaff explores the disguises shaped by religion, family, and memory as he recreates the discovery and illumination that his past has offered.

Whether you sit back and savour the ribald yarns of Sandra Dee or pick up a bit of Christian dating advice circa 1950s, remember, the tombstones are talking, and the child’s cookie box found in the river may contain miracle or misery—but you won’t know until you open it.


Housekeeper—or whore?

Twenty-year-old Moira, the daughter of a Newfoundland doctor, dreams of becoming a doctor herself; but when she becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she is banished to the bleak landscape of southern Saskatchewan in 1906. There, she must come to terms with her predicament, her pioneer environment, and her employment as a “dollybird,” a term applied to women who might be housekeepers, whores—or both.

A saga of birth, death, and the violent potential of both men and the elements, Dollybird explores the small mercies that mean more than they should under a vast prairie sky that waits, not so quietly, for people to fail.

Winner of the Willa Award for Historical Fiction

Saskatchewan Book Award Finalist

Lloyd Ratzlaff is the author of a triptych of personal literary essays, the editor of an anthology of seniors’ writings published by READ Saskatoon, and a monthly columnist for Prairie Messenger Catholic Journal. He has served on the boards of several writing organizations and has taught writing classes for the University of Saskatchewan Certificate of Art & Design (USCAD) and the Western Development Museum. Both his creative non-fiction and professional pieces have been widely published throughout Canada and the United States. Ratzlaff lives in Saskatoon.

Anne Lazurko is an award-winning novelist, a no-awards farmer and a sometimes poet. As the youngest of six daughters born to Dutch immigrants, she grew up with a nuanced view of people and their stories.

'What Is Written on the Tongue' (April/22 ECW Press) was shortlisted for the Glengarry Book Award. Her first novel 'Dollybird' won the Willa Award for Historical Fiction and Anne received a 2018 Saskatchewan Foundation for the Arts Literary Award.

A graduate of the Humber Creative Writing program, Anne is published in literary magazines and anthologies. An active editor, mentor and teacher in the prairie writing community, she writes from her farm on Treaty 4 territory in Saskatchewan.

Lloyd Ratzlaff ANNE LAZURKO
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A fun, matchmaking, sweet romcom set in Alaska from a trio of USA Today bestselling authors.

This trio of jaded, bearded bachelors in Alaska just made a bet that they could become matchmakers!

Coop, Gideon, and Ty are bar stool quarterbacks when it comes to love…or should we say scorekeepers on the ice hockey rink of love? A rink they don’t skate on. In a small town they take for granted.

And now they need to put up or shut up.

There’s no harm in placing a bet with a hockey team owner – make 6 love matches in the small town of Kenkamken Bay, Alaska, by Valentine’s Day to earn jobs in his hockey organization in the Lower 48. A bet that could finally get these bearded, hockey-loving bachelors a chance at the good life. If they don’t foul it up.

Love isn’t always where you expect to find it.


They say to get over one woman, you have to get under another one... And that exactly what Liam does. Finding a woman is easy, but having the woman of his dreams is a fading memory.

Helping Jade keep the illusion of happiness is all he can give. When Ashton's past comes to the light, Liam will do anything to keep Jade safe. Even helping the man that stole his future.

Ashton has everything he wanted, but the past won't stay buried. With his life being threatened at every turn he needs the help of the man that he is not sure he can trust to keep him safe.

Memories are a funny thing, but when the truth surface everything changes...Fans of caregiver movies like Me Before You will love this gripping, emotional, heartwarming romance with a happily-ever-after.

Fans of movies featuring amateur or budding matchmakers, like Emma, A Perfect Match, or Matchmaking Mysteries, will love this fun, first installment of the Alaskan Matchmaker series, featuring bearded, hockey-loving heroes and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.



USA Today Best Selling author Mariah Kingsley, was a stay at home mom that wrote while her family slept. She wrote about dirty talking alpha males who had a thing for spankings and handcuffs.

Now Mariah Kingsley writes about love, life, murder, and toe curling sex. The concept of what happens after “Happily Ever After” changed her life.

Now a blushing mom who never imagined she would run across her work on her mothers kindle loves the life. The author, blogger and avid reader now there are several books that she is proud of. Don't let the titles fool you, the stories will change your idea of life and love.

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Again, although a majority of the characters in this book were in the Prime series, it is by no means the same. The storyline is complex and engrossing.

This storyline was amazing. Just when I thought I knew who the killer was all of a sudden, there's another person it could be.  Totally engrossing.

In this third installment of the Harry Bosch series, Michael Connelly finally introduces Honey (Money) Chandler into his cast of characters. She is the legal representative of  the widow of the man Harry killed before the first book started. That serial killer was known by the moniker The Dollmaker.

We get more background on Harry's growing up who is father is his mother. Harry Bosch is fleshed out as a main character. We see that a relationship he had just started at the end of book two - The Black Ice - is now a full blown relationship. As with other books, the sex is either alluded to, implied or off the page.

I cannot say enough about this storyline. I kept guessing and kept guessing and about the time I thought I had it figured out I was completely wrong. The conclusion was definitely unexpected, and for those of us who watched the series before reading the books it was both heartbreaking and astonishing.


I do recommend reading the Bosch books if you loved the Prime series and even if you didn't. The intricacies and different threads have to be followed to unravel the mystery that is expertly tangled and then followed.


Mistress of the Game is the continuation of family saga of the Blackwells, first brought to life by Sidney Sheldon. Tilly Bagshawe does a good job of weaving ambition, psychosis, incestuous relationships, and criminal actions in a “Winner take all” fashion. Her characters were flawed and heroic, in other words, they were human.

Ms. Bagshawe does a wonderful job of bringing to life the uber wealthy in the same manner that Sidney Sheldon did, giving them personalities, faults and frailties. I will be honest, I did not know if Ms. Bagshawe would be able to write the character of Eve as evil as Mr. Sheldon did, but I was pleasantly surprised that she was able to make the character even more despicable. Its always refreshing to have a character’s faults be represented by their appearance. Kudos to Ms. Bagshawe for conveying a character who could withstand Eve’s machinations and familial hatred.


Highly recommend to those who wish to read a tight storyline with no unnecessary fluff.

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Full disclaimer, I have never picked up a geopolitical thriller so I really had no idea what to expect. The closest I ever came was some of the Sydney Sheldon's with his globetrotting jet set. This book is a great introduction to the genre.

Yes, Red Chaos is the third book in the Red Hotel series by Fuller and Grossman. Don't let that scare you. It is stand alone. It doesn't matter if you haven't read books one and two you still will have no problem jumping in to the stories. Of course, at this point, because I did feel a connection with the book's characters, I want to read the previous books in the series.

The characters for the most part were well developed, one female character's interaction hit a false note but her portion was only a few paragraphs so it was not too distracting. Other than that tiny scene, the charachers were well rounded and believable.

The authors did an excellent job of intertwining events, locations and characters to write an engrossing and thrilling novel. With the current events taking place in real-life right now, it was so easy to imagine this novel's storyline being 100% believable. World powers' engaging in assassinations', terrorism and financial espionage. Great plot!


I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery and able to believe some of the unimaginable.


This was the second book in Nora Roberts, D.C.  Detectives series. It was a romantic thriller that had many of the same characters as the first book.  However, as opposed to Sacred Sins (Book 1) this story, while a good read, felt rushed.

This story deals with his partner, Detective Ed Jackson, a health food eating throwback  to simpler times. He's not a bad guy, he's just a protector without being a mysognist.  Ed during book 1 bought a house and in the interim between book 1 and 2 has been fixing the house up. One of his neighbors is Kathleen. Kathleen is a school teacher, going through a divorce whose sister, Grace McCabe is a bestselling mystery novelist. Grace comes to D.C. to reconnect with Kathleen. Within days of reuniting, Kathleen gets killed  and Grace is the one who finds her after coming back to the house from her first date with Ed. Grace is determined to help the police find her sisters killer. She initially thinks its got to be a hit set up by Kathleen's exhusband, but soon comes to the conclusion that it has to do with her sister's side job as a phone sex operator when other women are killed who work for the same service.

The character action and dialogue was spot on, but I expect nothing less from Nora Roberts. She is the best at romantic suspense and thrillers.

Read the complete review on the eBookBuilders site.

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Imagine being one of the most powerful beings in existence, the most feared witch, a goddess that was adored and hated for thousands of years, to the point that your name spread chaos and panic, and you suddenly lose your powers and mortal.

How are you going to recover them? IF you ever do so? Easy! Just face challenges against all gods that you did wrong, all witches that want you dead, and yes , you will have to fight them, a mortal. A walk in the park

There are lots of secrets, twists, and even backstories at the end of the book that will make you go ahhhhhhh . This is a well thought-out book , and the fact that the mythology was well researched adds a lot to this title, not only for being extremely creative, but also for introducing us to many gods, and magical beings that normally get a lot of attention such as the Horned God, The Lame God, and the Golden Fleece. It’s surprising, enlightening, and oh you will want to punch Aphrodite on the boobs, trust me .

This is a title that I am sure everyone will enjoy, except those that think that sex is / should be . Once again, I repeat , do not read this book if you like puritan stuff, there is nothing here for you. Other than that , I recommend this book to anyone that is looking for a quick, entertaining, funny, sexy, and extremely creative read about Greek Goddesses, Vampires, Dragons and very horny Fae. Book


This is one of those books that the title makes you curious and the relevant first words you read captivate you.

The title: “Peace At The Midst Of The Storm” creates images that invite you to think upon it. How can we be peaceful when battered by a storm? When chaos rules our lives? How can we be peaceful at those moments? Is it possible? We will surely find out in this book, because it seems like the author, Kaleb Thompson has been through some whirlwinds and has got some answers that were blowing in the wind.

Not only Kaleb’s words are inviting, but also gripping due to their honesty, vulnerability, which, we assure you dear reader, that it will touch you as you relate them.

There is the sharing of experiences, sensations and even moods on each poem, to which readers will find intriguing, not only because we will be, at first, instinctively looking for rhyming verses, finding them scattered throughout the book but also because Kaleb Thompson invites reflection upon how we feel, think and see things This will be both surprising and mindopening, as it will invite you to enjoy a different and oddly comfy style of poetry, that sounds like a “melodic versed narration“. This gives this book a vibe of its own, and to the author, Kaleb, another reason for readers to remember him. Well done!

This book soothes, motivates, strengthens the relationship and admiration to the Christian god, and it also encourages growth, personal growth, through its soft and well-thought words.

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In 2022 I decided to step out of my normal reading comfort zoneromance, romantic suspense - to read genres I haven't even considered before. I will be honest, The Line Between was a book in a genre that I was resistant to.  Nothing against Ms. Lee, but when I read I stay away from anything religious or religion based. As The Line Between is categorized as Religious Mystery I was quite hesitant.

I am SOOOOOO happy I took the chance and read this book. It was amazing, probably one of my top reads EVER.

Yes, Christianity is in the book; yes religion plays a major part in one character's life but this was not a book focused on religion.

This book was published in 2019, well before the start of the COVID pandemic of 2020-2022 that paralyzed the world with lock-downs, shortages and all the craziness that the US and the world have been dealing with. BUT IT IS SO EERILY SIMILAR to what we have been dealing with, what we could have been dealing with it's a little spooky.

The book features Wynter Roth, who has been expelled from the doomsday cult she and her sister have grown up in. Through flashback chapters we get glimpses of how the "Select" (what the members are called) live their lives.

In The Line Between we see Wynter grow from a timid, frightened woman, to a strong hero. She reconciles her past with the new world and because of her upbringing is uniquely qualified to survive the apocalypse she finds herself in the middle of.

Read the complete review on the eBookBuilders site.


First let me say, the cover for this book an the entire series is freaking amazing. The cover was the reason I took a chance on this new-to-me author. The use of color, as well as objects that are in the storyline was truly excellence in design and marketing.

Now, on to the story. Ms. Charles’ ability to bring Deadwood South Dakota alive in the mind of readers was spot on. Her use of characters, humor, history and mystery was masterful. Think Stephanie Plum goes middle America.

In Nearly Departed, Ann Charles’ protagonist, Violet Parker is a single mom of twins starting over in a smallish town where she spent loads of time as a child. Her “do-over” is impeded by her ability to sell houses and a child abductor.

With a cast of characters to bring spice, irritation, humor and thrills to the story, Violet sets out to protect her daughter who is the exact image of one of the missing girls in Deadwood.

Violet spends the book trying to find a house for her client Doc, while trying to get 2 other client’s – Wolfgang Hessler and Old Man Harvey – houses ready to sell or sold. Sparks fly with Doc, while skin crawls at the thought of Violet’s secret admirer. Quickly in the story, Violet draws secondary characters within her circle adding the perfect mix of laughs and snappy dialogue.

This is a great start to a multi-book series that I plan on reading more of.


If you like Janet Evanovich’s writing style, and character development, you will find the Deadwood series worth the time to read.

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For years, I have heard of James Patterson's wonderful books and have watched a couple of the movies based on his books - Along Came A Spider and Kiss the Girls were amazing. However I wanted to start off with one of his stand-alone books rather than get involved with yet another series at the moment.

This manuscript started off with a bang, literally, the main character gets shot by the antagonist.

The protagonist is John Stefanovitch and he is an NYPD Lieutenant, and the opening chapter starts with John being part of a task force tasked with taking down "The Grave Dancer".

This story has twists and turns, some believable if you are one of those who believe it is possible for a Criminal Cabal that has their fingers in the underworld around the globe.

One thing I had a problem with was that after Stefanovitch is shot, he does not take disability, he continues to be a police detective. Suspending belief in this took a little work on my part. But while the Detective is physically impaired he is still able to investigate and use his mind and connections. This plot device was years ahead of its time as it showed the physically disabled are still able to contribute to society.

I did love that while this is not a romance or a subgenre of romance, there is a romantic element to the storyline.


If you like your police procedurals hard, your characters fully fleshed out and your criminals truly evil, this book is for you!


What a heart-pounding, keep you guessing wild ride.

I grew up under the ever-present scenario of war with Russia, I watched as Reagan said "Trust, but verify", I watched communism slowly crumble and Mikhail Gorbachev cause "Gorby-lock" in NYC when he came to visit. There was always whispers of the KGB/FSB having a school devoted to teaching young children/young adults to become Americanized to infiltrate our society and bring it down from the inside.

Executive Actions takes this premise and explores what could happen if that actually happened. Mr. Grossman's story is terrifying in its ramifications.

Bad guys abound, good guys trying to keep up and legal knots all make this an exhilarating and horrifying read.

From the Oval Office of the White House, commuter trains of the Northeast, law offices of Boston, beaches of Florida, mosques of the Middle East, CIA headquarters, to the newsroom of the New York Times, this story hops the globe bringing to life how fragile our democracy could be.

What a heart pounding read and a heart stopping climax. Bravo Mr. Grossman.


I recommend this to everyone! Boomers, Gen X, Millennials - everyone will get something from this geopolitical thriller.

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As someone who is typically not overly emotional—maybe even aloof—I do not say this lightly or much. But wow … to say this was an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement.

This was a much-anticipated read afterFlygirl and Angel Flight—I might have to re-read them, indulge in a full trilogybinge now. Despite the wait for book 3, and the high expectations I held for it, still, I was blown away at times.

Early in, I had to appreciate that this book put me right back into the 1990s/early 2000s—mix-tapes, “high-end” Fossil watches��. etc. I also enjoyed ‘traveling’ into Boston during the ‘Big Dig’ era; as this is when/where I grew up, I found it to be hilariously accurate.

For maybe about halfish of the book, there was so much drama, it sucked me right in and I noticed that I missed it when I put it down. It had me up reading till 9 a.m. on more than one occasion. Yes, I said nine. I can’t even be mad at the author though—totally worth the sleepless days.

There’s all different types of drama, and at least one is likely to invoke some sort of feeling from every reader, whether it’s the family drama, the couples-drama, the scandalous bits, BFF drama, work drama … arrogant ‘boys club’ attitudes women are subjected to in the workplace … the absolute injustice(!), or another aspect.

Read the complete review on the BookBub.


I’m a huge fan of Terelst, so when I say this might be her best one yet, that’s saying something. All of her books have been 4- or 5-star reads for me. What I love about this author is she manages to introduce extremely likable characters off the bat, while sucking me right into their world, their drama, etc. As her books go on, I only become more invested. The next thing I know, I’m learning something new or getting a sort-of tour of Australia, while indulging in the story and loving every minute of it. Absolutely brilliant and with some fantastic writing along the way. I expect I’ll fail at recording everything I loved about this read, but I’ll list as many as I can:

Completely relatable male and female leads. Relating to both of them, completely understanding both of their respective sides and rooting for both of them was fun.

Real feels.

Laugh-out-loud moments.

Lots of witty banter.

Business operations management details (What can I say, I’m a marketing geek).

Farm life—apple orchard to be specific.

One very lovable feline character.

Awww, a plausible dog rescue.

Family drama.

Important spotlight on mental illness and individual coping mechanisms and the stigmas one faces.

So much angst.

Read the complete review on the BookBub.

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I usually fan-girl over any Stephanie Plum book. I mean the dialogue is snappy and funny, the storylines are usually overthe-top in a good way. That said, about half-way through this book in the series, I was waiting for it to wrap up and come to a conclusion.

The writing was still good, the storyline was right on par with earlier books, but I just wasn't feeling it.

A lot of it has to do with while Stephanie's antics and shenanigans were laugh out loud in the first 20+ books, now I just want to know why she hasn't grown as a character. Yes, the ping-ponging between Morelli and Ranger add heat and tension but its now feels forced (hence the reason it took me so long to read, for me, it just wasn't engrossing.)

Don't get me wrong, Ms. Evanovich writes some of the most hilarious characters in fiction today, how she can have Lula, Grandma and Stephanie interact is a treat to read, the situations they end up in and Lula's always positive spin on anything is a great lighthearted escape. Its just that this installment of the shenanigans of Stephanie Plum, enforcement agent fell flat with my reading tastes. But if truth be told, I would still raise a glass with any of the characters except Vinnie.


If you are a die-hard Stephanie Plum/ Janet Evanovich this book is for you. If you are new to Stephanie Plum, start with book 1 - "One for the Money".



I finished The Late Show by Michael Conley last night. Stayed up late on November 30th to finish it because I once it got going I couldn't put it down.

It took me a while to warm up to these characters. I think because I was more invested in Bosch as that was the last book that I read before this one. I know that the characters in this book will eventually overlap with the Bosch books. There's already been mentioned of Bosch in this book.

This series main character is Renee Ballard. She has multiple years on the LAPD but like Bosch she is targeted by higher ups who want to boot her out. Mr. Connelly really writes female characters well so I was able to develop an affinity for Renee and become interested in her story.

There are multiple storylines working in this novel, unlike other times that Michael Conley has dealt with that, they that where they all intertwined,  none of these cases are intertwined. Each line of the story was wrapped up without feeling rushed or events skipped over.

I did enjoy the characters and of course the writing style and will be reading book two in the series after I read more of the Bosch series since he is a character in the series going forward. After getting caught up chronologically, I will come back to this series to read book 2 before I decide if I will stick with this series or not.

Read the complete review on the eBookBuilders site.

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Reviews Team:

Seraphia B.

The Book Trollop

The Reviewbler

Khanani Daniella

Tripti Kandari

Poetic Monologues

Julio Carlos


Danielle Urban lives in North Central Arkansas with her family. She started by blogging about her favorite books, short stories, and writing prompts. Soon her blog became something more than just that. Writers needed more than just reviews. That's how Urban Lit Magazine came to be. It features reviews, interviews, news of new literary agents and more. Her goal was to help readers connect with writers from all over the world.

Deena Rae

Pelican Freak

Danielle has worked as an article writer, editor, journalist, and interned as a senior publisher for romance novels. In addition to that, she started the journalism club at ASUMH and it's very first digital and print publications. From there, she continued her studies in Arkansas and graduated with an M.A. in English. Today, Danielle continues to inspire writers and encourage readers to try something new. When she's not subbing at school, she is busy writing.

35 REMINDER: This is an interactive magazine. Click on book cover or link to follow.
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