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DJ Donaldson is Visiting!

Louisiana Fever

“Louisiana Fever” by DJ Donaldson

Published on… 5 March 2014
Published as… Mystery

DJ Donaldson’s Guest Post

What inspired you to start writing, and when?
Oddly, the thought that I wanted to become a novelist just popped into my head one day shortly after my fiftieth birthday. Part of this sudden desire was a bit of boredom with my real job. I was an anatomy professor at the U. of Tennessee and had accomplished all my major professional goals: course director, funded NIH grant, teaching awards, and many published papers on wound healing. So I guess I needed a new challenge. And boy did I pick a tough one.

I wondered, how does a novice like me learn to write fiction? Taking a few writing courses is an obvious answer. But I had the vague feeling that there were a lot of unpublished writers teaching those courses and I worried that all I’d learn was how to fail. I’m not saying this was the best way, but I decided to just teach myself. I bought ten bestselling novels and tried to figure out what made each of them work. What tricks were the authors using to hold my attention? What made these books so popular? In a sense then, maybe I didn’t teach myself. Maybe Steven King, Robin Cook, Pat Conroy, Michael Palmer, Larry McMurtry, and James Michener did. In any event, eight years later, I sold my first book. So, it took me about as long to become a published novelist as it did to train for medical research and teaching.

What is your preferred genre?
My first book was a mystery. As a beginning writer, that seemed like the best genre for me because mysteries have a classic structure that guides the behavior and direction of the main characters. In a very general way that structure provides those characters with goals and motivation: Goal: find the killer. Motivation: It’s their job. The genre also provides a structure for conflict: The killer doesn’t want to be found, so he will try to thwart the investigation. I had no idea that my first book would lead to six more with the same characters.

After six series mysteries I took a break to try my hand at writing stand-alone thrillers. (Stand-alones have a different cast of characters in each book.) Someone once asked me what the difference is between a mystery and a thriller. There can be a lot of overlap in the two, but generally thrillers put the main character in danger throughout the book. In mysteries, the danger often arises only when the protagonist begins to close in on the killer.

I have to say I like series and stand alones equally well. If you look at my list of published novels (seven forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers), it’s obvious that I’ve drawn on my academic background to write both kinds of books. They say to “write what you know”, and I have. Except that for every book, It’s taken about six months of intensive research to learn a lot of necessary material, both scientific and otherwise, that I didn’t know when I started the book. That research has been a lot of fun. For one book, I spent a week in Madison Wisconsin, visiting dairy farms… even had a milk cow poop on my shoes. (Okay, I didn’t like that part much.)

What was the hardest part of writing LOUISIANA FEVER?
Did you learn anything from writing that book and what was it?
My intention in each book is to reveal more about my two main characters, Andy Broussard and Kit Franklyn by putting them in situations that cause them to change and grow. And the more books I write about them, the harder it is to develop these little character arcs. LOUISIANA FEVER was number four in the series, so my two protagonists were already fairly well fledged out when I began work on the book. At that time, I had no idea what would face them in the new story, or how they would react. But as pieces of the project took shape, opportunities appeared, as they always seem to do. In fact, those arcs for Andy and Kit turned out to be more significant than I ever expected. Strange as it sounds, in each book my characters teach me something new about themselves.

Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?
I do a lot of planning and thinking before I start writing. In my mysteries I always know who the killer is and why he did it. Knowing who he/she is establishes a lot of the story and tells me who some of the other characters should be. If I didn’t know who did it when I started writing, it would be impossible to scatter the appropriate red herrings and real clues throughout the book. Even my medical thrillers all have a surprise reveal at the end. Those revelations have to be carefully set up. Having done all that planning, I then have to be sure I don’t make it all too obvious. Many of my readers who write Amazon reviews say they were surprised at the end. Occasionally though, a reader will think the story was too predictable. I’m never sure exactly how to take that. If they mean all the loose ends were tied up and everybody got what they deserved, fair enough. Because that’s exactly my intent. Our real lives are full of unresolved conflict and irritation, including hearing about killers and rapists who get off on technicalities. I think people read to escape that world. I want my readers to smile with satisfaction at the end of my books.

Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
I’m sure my characters contain parts of many people I know. At first I was worried that they might recognize themselves and not like what they read. But I soon discovered that no one sees themselves as others see them, so any similarity goes completely unnoticed even when it’s there.

Tell us your latest news?
I’ve always wanted my books to be available on audio. I’m excited to tell you that my entire New Orleans forensic mystery series is now in production with Audible books. I haven’t yet heard any of it, so I’m really looking forward to listening to what they’ve done. The narrator is Brian Troxell, who has narrated about 75 other books for Audible. I’ve listened to some of those and I think he’s going to do a great job. When he asked me for some hints about how to portray Broussard, the greatly overweight New Orleans medical examiner, I told him to think of the character actor, Wilfred Brimley. From the moment I wrote the first words about Broussard I pictured him being played in film by Brimley.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t write for wealth or fame because most writers in the world, even those who have sold books to major publishers, can’t claim either of those status symbols. There’s an old quote that says, “You can get rich in this country by being a writer, but you can’t make a living.” Write because you love it. If you don’t love doing it then you can be crushed by the difficulties inherent in the pursuit.

About the Book

When Kit goes to meet an anonymous stranger—who’s been sending her roses—the man drops dead at her feet before she could even get his name. Game on.

Andy Broussard soon learns that the man carried a lethal pathogen similar to the deadly “Ebola”—a highly contagious virus, feared worldwide for killing its victims (grotesquely) in a matter of days. When another body turns up with the same bug, widespread panic becomes imminent. The danger is even more acute, because the carrier is mobile. The man knows he’s a walking weapon and… he’s targeting Broussard.

And when Kit Franklyn investigates her mystery suitor further, she runs afoul of a cold- blooded killer, every bit as deadly as the man searching for her partner.

Louisiana Fever is written in Donaldson’s unique style: A hard-hitting, punchy, action-packed prose that’s dripping with a folksy, decidedly southern sense of irony. Mix in Donaldson’s brilliant first-hand knowledge of forensics, along with the sultry flavor of New Orleans, and readers will be fully satisfied with this irresistibly delectable mystery.

Buy the Book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

About the Author

DJ Donaldson's Author Photo
D.J. Donaldson is a retired professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology. His entire academic career was spent at the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center, where he published dozens of papers on wound-healing and where he taught microscopic anatomy to thousands of medical and dental students.

He is also the author of seven published forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his wife and two West Highland terriers. In the spring of most years he simply cannot stop buying new flowers and other plants for the couple’s prized backyard garden.

~* Website *~

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Ned Hayes is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Sinful Folk

“Sinful Folk” by Ned Hayes

Published on… 22 January 2014
Published as… Historical Mystery

About the Book

A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.

In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.

Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.

The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.

Buy the Book at Amazon, Amazon (Print), Audible, Barnes & Noble, Barnes & Noble (Print), Books-a-Million, iBooks or IndieBound

About the Author

Ned Hayes Author Photo
Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.

Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.

Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.

~* Sinful Folk Website * Ned Notes Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Booklikes * YouTube * Google+ * Goodreads *~

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Yvonne Walus is Visiting! [Book Blast]

Operation: Genocide

“Operation: Genocide” by Yvonne Walus

Published on… September 2013
Published as… Thriller/Murder Mystery

About the Book

An inhuman agenda…

In 1982, Annette Pretorius lives a life of privilege afforded to those of European descent in South Africa, but when her husband is murdered, she discovers a shattering secret: he’d been commissioned by the whites-only South African government to develop a lethal virus aimed at controlling the growth of the black population–already oppressed under the cruel system of apartheid.

A clandestine organization…

The murder came with a warning to Annette from a secretive organization: keep our secrets or you too will die. Captain Trevor Watson, Annette’s former boyfriend, is appointed to lead the investigation. Watson’s loyalty is tested as the evidence stacks against his high school sweetheart.

And the killing isn’t over yet…

When the investigation points in a terrifying direction, Annette and Watson face a wrenching choice: protect those they love or sacrifice all to save innocents from racial extermination.

Buy the Book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Yvonne Walus Author Photo
A refugee from communism and the bitter cold of Poland, I lived in South Africa for 16 years. It’s certainly not a trendy setting for a novel, and I know people on either sides of the political spectrum will find OPERATION: GENOCIDE controversial. By trying to portray what South Africa was like at the height of its apartheid era, by inspecting both sides of the coin, I’m sure I’ve managed to offend all parties.

Still, I’m not sorry. South Africa means a lot of things to a lot of people: lions in long yellow grass, diamond mines, apartheid, Nelson Mandela, rugby. All of those images are right, yet none of them – in my opinion – are representative of the misunderstood country or its people. None of them describe what it’s like to live in South Africa, both in the 1980s and today.

I’d like my readers to smell the red dust of the continent and to fall in love with Africa the way I did when I first set foot there as an impressionable teenager. I left my heart in Africa, and I invite you to do the same.

~* Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads * Blog *~

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Eden Baylee is Visiting! [Book Blast]

Stranger at Sunset

“Stranger at Sunset” by Eden Baylee

Published on… 30 June 2014
Published as… Psychological Mystery/Thriller

Eden Baylee’s Quote Art

Eden Baylee's Quote Art

About the Book

A vacation can be a killer.

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.

Buy the Book at Amazon

About the Author

Eden Baylee Author Photo
Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as: travel; humor; music; poetry; art; and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

~* Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads *~

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D. J. Swykert is Visiting!

The Death of Anyone

The Death of Anyone

Published on…25 February 2013
Published as…Mystery/Suspense, Crime Fiction
Published by…Melange Books

D. J.’s Boom Baby Blast

1. One Random Fact: I used to tell fortunes on the internet.

2. Fictional Character You’d Really Like to Be: Robin Hood. I like Hood because he was a real activist for social reform.

3. Your Authorial Theme Song: These Are the Days — Van Morrison.

4. Favorite Part of Being a Writer: I like writing fiction because, unlike reality, I can have everything end the way I want it to.

5. Name of Your First Pet (Can include family or significant others…): I’m going to go with my first dog, Zippy. I wouldn’t dare go with my listing my significant other as a pet. I’d end up being her insignificant other.

6. Music, Television or Silence While Writing: Music. I don’t need quiet when I write. Actually, think I’m more prolific and in better touch with my own voice when there is music playing.

7. Early Riser or Night Owl: I can stay up late, I was a 911 operator. But lately seem to have turned into more of just a regular person, sleep in the dark, walk around in the daylight.

8. Favorite Season: Spring, as it is for beginnings.

9. Did You Always Want to be a Writer: I don’t know. I wanted to be the conductor on a train when I was a kid. Second choice was a banker, it was originally my first choice, but slipped to second when I found out all the money wasn’t mine.

About the Book

Detroit homicide Detective Bonnie Benham has been transferred from narcotics for using more than arresting and is working the case of a killer of adolescent girls. CSI collects DNA evidence from the scene of the latest victim, which had not been detected on the other victims. But no suspect turns up in the FBI database. Due to the notoriety of the crimes a task force is put together with Bonnie as the lead detective, and she implores the D.A. to use an as yet unapproved type of a DNA Search in an effort to identify the killer. Homicide Detective Neil Jensen, with his own history of drug and alcohol problems, understands Bonnie’s frailty and the two detectives become inseparable as they track this killer of children.

Buy the Book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords

About the Author

Swykert Author Photo

DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Lunch Ticket, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, Alpha Wolves, The Death of Anyone and The Pool Boy’s Beatitude. You can find him at: www.magicmasterminds.com/djswykert. He is a wolf expert.

~* Website *~

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Review: “Bubba and the Dead Woman” by C. L. Bevill

Bubba and the Dead Woman by C. L. Bevill. I purchased this on my own from Amazon.

Description: Bubba Snoddy is a good old country boy with a big problem. Although he’s personable, handsome, and lives in a historical Southern mansion in a small Texas town, he has just discovered the dead body of a woman to whom he was once engaged to marry. His ex-fiancée was responsible for Bubba being thrown out of the military which in turn caused his shameful return to the tiny town of Pegramville, where everyone is a consummate gossip and no one has any secrets. Sheriff John Headrick believes Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. The townsfolk believe that Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. Bubba’s own mother believes that Bubba killed his ex-fiancée in a fit of vengeful rage. To top it all off, there are some mighty strange goings-on at the Snoddy Mansion, where ghosts walk the halls rattling chains in the midnight hour, and Bubba’s own sainted mother, Miz Demetrice, runs an illegal gambling ring. Rumors run merrily rampant about Bubba, decadent Snoddy ancestors, missing Civil War gold, a to-die-for sheriff’s deputy with the greenest eyes Bubba’s ever seen, and a Basset Hound named Precious who likes to nip first and ask questions later. Bubba has to find out exactly who did murder his ex-fiancée and quickly before he goes to jail for the crime, or before someone murders him.

Review: Are you shocked? It’s finally a new review!

This book was very funny. Obviously and knowingly filled with over-drawn stereotypes, that’s where much of the funny came in. The author had a very humorous way about situations and it was a quick, amusing read.

But… you know, it just didn’t grab me that way. A lot of things were repeated, over and over, through out the story, but I think this was less of an editorial oversight and more of an attempt at style/inside Bubba’s mind. However, it fell flat for me and was kind of just annoying after a while. The story also dragged through the middle, I found, and the mystery’s ending wasn’t much of a surprise. But it did get funny and pick up towards the end.

This is the first book in the series, but the “schtick” isn’t something I think will carry well past this book (for me, at least) given this one’s scenario. So while this did amuse me, I don’t think I’ll be reading any more Bubba books. This is a 3 Fireball tale for me.

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