Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Guest Post - How to Start Your Book by Chris Malburg

Please join me in welcoming author Chris Malburg, whose book Man of Honor, I previously spotlighted on this post. Today he is providing a guest post on one of his steps towards writing a book.  Please leave a comment or question for Chris to let him know you stopped by. 

How To Start Your Book: First fall in love with your characters by Chris Malburg

As an author who is now beginning my 27th book project I'm now figuring out my characters. My novels are action-oriented thrillers, but rely on strong characters to carry the plot. In my latest thriller, Man of Honor, I wanted my readers to say, "Yes, I can see how she'd think or do that. Makes sense."
But equally as important in the case of Man of Honor, readers had to love Helen Schilling, the book's strong female lead. 

The first step in establishing that emotion is for me to love the character. How do I do that? I begin by imagining someone who actually possesses at least some of the strengths and weaknesses I know this character must have. In the case of Helen Schilling, I happen to know such a person in real life. I wrote a 25 page bio each on Helen Schilling and her husband/co-star Jack Schilling. Helen is the logical, planner of the two. She's pretty, smart as a whip, and a demon behind a sniper scope. Jack is an American patriot with a military background and more given to brute force tactics. Together they make a formidable pair. I give my characters personality traits that I respect and admire. I craft their appearances and demeanor in ways I am happy to spend the months dancing with them as I write the book. Bottom line, if I don't love these characters, my readers won't either.

Next, make them true to life. I always give my characters flaws—the heroes aren't all good and the villains have some redeeming qualities. This gives Li Yong, the Ivy-league educated cyber warfare villain in Man of Honor, multiple dimensions that readers can identify with and relate to. As the book develops if I need to change or add things to the characters I add that to the mix of traits. The most important thing is for my readers to care about the characters and what happens to them—even the villains. 

Now that Man of Honor was published on December 15, I've already moved on to my next project. Even though my four thrillers feature terror-based conspiracies on a global scale, they're actually character driven. So I’m again getting to know my characters. The image staring at you right now is my perception of Barbara Williams, the main character in my upcoming, Barbara Anne's Slider. Two of my books were inspired by songs. So it seems is Slider. The song is Surfin' Safari by the Beach Boys. The happy, summery, bouncy pace of this song epitomizes Barbara. It sets the tone of the book. I hear it often.

In Barbara’s case I want her history, her background, her family, successes, failures (especially her failures), I want to know her dreams and most importantly the flaws that make her human and relate-able. With this bio I can now predict her logical behavior in the variety of situations that she'll face throughout Slider.

Now I'm ready for story capture. I like organization; I work best with some sort of structure. So I identify the main scenes in the story. I write them down in outline form. With the scenes identified I can place them in the proper sequence that best tells the story. From the scenes comes the rest of the cast of characters. I create them as needed to move the story forward. For major characters I'll write their bio so I know them and how they'll logically behave in different situations. The supporting cast gets a few tells (maybe facial ticks, tats, verbal affinities, a partially torn off ear she keeps rubbing as if it were still there) in their character so readers will know them and place them in the scene.

All too soon it's decision time. I look at different points of view and first person vs. third person. Maybe I'll write one or two scenes both ways before making a decision. Who is telling this story and from what point of view is one of my biggest decisions. In Slider the story is about Barbara but it's being told in the first person by someone else who's close enough and so deeply involved with her that he provides credible narrative.
Now I begin writing the scenes. This is the creative part. It goes fast because I'm not worrying about literary perfection--just filling in the scenes. The literary part comes later.

So that's how I start a thriller. For me it's logical, organized, and ensures I don't waste time wondering down a wrong road that ultimately winds up on the cutting room floor. I was told in writers school that writing is not efficient. Nonsense. Time is precious. My goal is to be the most efficient writer I can be—one who meets his deadlines on time and on budget.

I hope you get a chance to see how this technique works by joining me for the ride that’s Man of Honor.

All the best,

Copyright©2018 by Chris Malburg. Content provided to Queen of All She Reads. Please do not copy without the written permission of Chris Malburg. If quoting please be sure to attribute the material quoted to the author.  

Promo Blitz for The Three Souls by Bill Thomas

Welcome to my stop on the Promo Blitz, presented by RABT Book Tours, for The Three Souls by Bill Thomas.  Please leave a comment or question for Bill to let him know you stopped by.  

The Three Souls
By Bill Thomas

Publisher: BookBaby
Published: June 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Fantasy

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Johnny Chambers is jailed in Texas in the early 1960's. He is falsely convicted of a crime and is sentenced to five years in prison. While is prison he meets two other inmates Vinny Le Pugh and David Madejas.

Both inmates have had near death experiences and yet both have shown new found talents in music and art. Johnny decides to talk to the warden about their ability in a way to help them find their freedom. The warden goes along with it for a while but then decides to pull the plug on the craft room. Johnny, fearing for his life, decides to plan an escape with the two inmates and their art.

About the Author

Bill Thomas grew up in Austin, Texas. Bill started playing drums at an early age and played in many local bands including The Rock Hounds and Primitive Moderns. Bill moved to guitar and released two original CD's on CD Baby. He performs with a stage name of Bill James. Bill has also written two full length screenplays.

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Cover Reveal & #Giveaway for Twin Sacrifice by Jennifer Lane

Welcome to my stop on the Cover Reveal, presented by Book Partners in Crime, for Twin Sacrifice by Jennifer Lane.  Please leave a comment or question for Jennifer to let her know you stopped by.  You may enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. Good Luck!

Twin Sacrifice
by Jennifer Lane
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Release Date: February 28, 2018

My twin brother is determined to kill himself, but I won’t let him. 

I just discovered the sacrifice he made for me when we were young.

Now it’s time I return the favor. This time I’ll be the one with the secret.

Psychologist Matthew Durante’s twin brother, Justin, has struggled with mental illness since their parents died in a house fire. After Justin is accused of setting off a bomb that killed an innocent woman, he lands in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

In the face of Justin’s unrelenting suicide attempts, Matthew grows frantic to keep him alive. And as the pieces of their past fall into place, Matthew decides bold action is his only choice, no matter the cost.

Set against the backdrop of weapons manufacturing, terrorism, and a dark family secret, Matthew and Justin fight for survival, redemption, and most of all, for each other.

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun.

Jen loves to create sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez finds her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Spiked (Blocked #3) features Lucia’s younger brother, Mateo, and completes the series.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good BehaviorBad Behavior, and On Best Behavior. Her current project is a psychological thriller, Twin Sacrifice.

Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for Murder Over Medium by Gilian Baker

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for Murder over Medium by Gilian Baker.  Please leave a comment or question for Gilian to let her know you stopped by.  You may enter the giveaway at my stop by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. You may also follow all of the stops on the tour by clicking on the banner above.

Murder Over Medium
By Gilian Baker
Jade Blackwell Mystery Series, Book 3

Publisher: MisterioPress
Release Date: December 31, 2017
Length: 216 pages
ASIN: B077T9D6Q5

Purchase Links Amazon 

Former English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium
as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.

Gilian Baker is a former English professor who has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder.

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Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for Monsterland by Michael Okon

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Book Tour, presented by Goddess Fish Promotions, for Monsterland by Michael Okon.  Please leave a comment or question for Michael to let him know you stopped by.  You may enter his tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You may follow all of the stops on the tour by clicking on the banner above.  The more stops you visit, the better your chances of winning.  Good Luck!

 Interview with Michael Okon

What group did you hang out with in high school?

          I hung out with everyone. I never had a group that was my go-to. I hung out with the jocks, the nerds, the theatre kids, the stoners, the greasers, the primma donnas, everyone. They all liked me, and I liked them.

What are you passionate about these days?

          My health. I started lifting weights and changing my body composition. I have not missed a lifting day in 6 months. I don’t overdo it, but I like sculpting my body slowly and steadily. The results are showing. I’ve never had a 6-pack in my life, and its slowly showing (in certain lighted rooms of course)

If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?

          Nothing. I’m in the middle of a Cinderella story, except I’m not meeting a prince at the ball, my carriage is not going to turn into a pumpkin, and my chauffeurs will not revert back to mice. I also don’t wear glass slippers. Okay, maybe Cinderella isn’t the right story, but going from a self-published author with a good book in hand, then two years later, getting a lit agent, an entertainment attorney, a film agent, a publicist, a two-book publishing deal, and a big-time producer who is interested in turning my book to film. I would change nothing.

Ebook or print? And why?

          Print. Nothing like holding a real book in your hands. There is something about ebooks that don’t feel real to me.

What is your favorite scene in this book?

          The Werewolf River Run. Think of the rides Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain and Jurassic Park River Ride. Now just add real werewolves chasing you.  It’s an absolute blastt! 
By Michael Okon

Publisher: WordFire Press, Llc.
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Genre: Horror
Length: 254 Pages
ISBN: 978-1614755944
ASIN: B0751F3B3S

Buy Links:  Amazon | B&N | Kobo

About the book:

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.

Wyatt Baldwin's senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.

But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?


The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.

The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.

A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.

The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Michael Okon is the award-winning and best-selling author & screenwriter formerly known as Michael Phillip Cash. His originally self-published book Monsterland was picked up in a two-book publishing deal by WordFire Press. Michael is happily married and writes full-time on the North Shore of Long Island with his two screaming monsters in the background.

For more information, details and updates, visit:

Email Michael at

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Release Day Blitz for Deadline by Jennifer Blackstream

Welcome to my stop on the Release Blitz, presented by Enchantress Design & Promo, for Deadline by Jennifer Blackstream.  Please leave a comment or question for Jennifer to let her know you stopped by.

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."

(Blood Trails Series, Bk 1)
By Jennifer Blackstream

About the book: 

As a witch with a dark past, Shade Renard knows the Otherworld isn’t always successful at policing itself. Humans don’t believe in magic anymore, and their ignorance renders them easy prey. So when an FBI contact hires her to consult on a possible haunting in a missing persons case, Shade seizes the opportunity to see justice done.

Her case takes an unexpected turn when an undead crime lord shows up on her doorstep. A bold thief stole the vampire’s little black book of secrets—and he’ll pay a lot more than an FBI consulting fee to get it back. To collect, Shade will have to confront a rogue sorceress, a vengeful wizard, and a lethally seductive fey, with only her wits, her growing magic, and a sarcastic pixie familiar.

Success means bringing a killer to justice and taking the first step to redemption. Failure means a war between humans and the Otherworld.

No pressure.

Available for purchase at 


“Didn’t you say you weren’t drinking soda anymore?”

I popped the top on the can of Coke and took a defiant swig, more than a little satisfied at the squeak of dismay that came from my judgmental familiar as she wavered on her perch atop my head.

“I earned this. I killed a eurypterid before breakfast. Two eurypterids. And I almost died. Not to mention, Mrs. Harvesty kept me on the phone for ten minutes talking about that cat.”

“I hate cats.” Peasblossom clung to my head like a living barrette. “Nasty beasties, always try to eat me like I’m a flying snack. Barbaric.”

“I love cats. I just don’t want to drop everything because Mrs. Harvesty claims her furry little child is having an emotional crisis.”

“Emotional crisis?”

“The kitten is refusing to come out of his mummy’s boot.” I held a sip of Coke in my mouth for a moment as if I were sampling fine wine.

Peasblossom snickered. “Puss in Boots.”

I snorted, then swore as carbonated soda shot up my nose, burning like fire. Peasblossom careened off my head in a fit of mad giggles as I ran to the stove and the faded blue hand towel hanging there.

“Blood and bones, that burns,” I wheezed, squeezing my eyes shut as I pressed the towel to my nose.

More laughter made me open my eyes in time to watch Peasblossom fly in a semi-drunken bobbing path to land on the counter beside the stove. Tears of mirth glittered in her pink eyes, matching the iridescent sparkles on her insect-like wings. “Serves you right for drinking a second soda.”

I glared at her for a few minutes as I waited for the burning to stop. When I’d recovered, I replaced the wet towel with a clean one and deposited the soda-and-snot-spotted cloth in the hamper. 

“If you’re quite finished, perhaps you could run me through today’s to-do list? I want to make sure I didn’t forget anything.”

Still giggling, Peasblossom flew to the large desk in the dining room and picked up a sheet of notebook paper tucked beside the laptop. “Settle dispute between the hamadryads over who’s the eldest,” she read.

“Done. Once they realized the only way to age a tree is to lop off a piece of it, they were happy to call it a draw.”

“Find out if a goblin ate the Roberts’ dog.”

“No. Sgt. Pepper was hiding under the neighbor’s house again. Mrs. Barns just didn’t want to admit it because she didn’t want to hear Mr. Roberts accuse her of trying to steal his dog for the tenth time. Sgt. Pepper went home when he got hungry.”

Peasblossom peered at me over the top of the list. “Find an office.”

I took a long swig of the soda, avoiding eye contact. “Move it to tomorrow.”

“Again,” Peasblossom said under her breath. She put the paper down and hefted a miniature pen she’d taken from a child’s art kit. Sticking out her tongue in concentration, she made a notation on the to-do list.

Aluminum groaned as I tightened my grip. “I will do it.”

“Of course you will. Because you’re going to be a real detective.”

“Private investigator. And yes, I am.”

“Mother Hazel won’t like it.”

I clenched my teeth. No, my mentor wouldn’t like it. I could hear her voice now, telling me to leave the battling to the wizards—witches had more important things to do.

Like play psychiatrist to a cat.

I strode over to the desk, put the can of soda down with a determined thunk, then snatched up a stack of Post-its and a black fine-point marker. Peasblossom watched as I scrawled, “Find an office today,” and underlined today three times. I stuck the reminder to the frame of my computer screen.

“You used a hot-pink Post-it. You must be serious now.”

I ignored her sarcasm. I would find an office tomorrow. It was time.

About The Author

USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Blackstream is…odd. Putting aside the fact that she writes her own author bio in third person, she also sleeps with a stuffed My Little Pony that her grandmother bought her as a joke for her 23rd birthday, and she enjoys listening to Fraggle Rock soundtracks whether or not her children are in the car.

Jennifer doesn’t have spare time, but she makes it a point to spend at least one night a week with her sibling binge-watching whatever show they’re currently plowing through (currently Numbers on Netflix), and she ferociously guards quality time with her son and daughter. She cooks when she has the sanity for it—adding garlic to the recipe whether it calls for it or not—and tries very hard not to let her arachnophobia keep her out of her basement on laundry day.

Jennifer’s influences include Terry Pratchett (for wit), Laurell K. Hamilton (for sexual tension), Jim Butcher (for roguish flair), and Kim Harrison (for mythos). She is currently writing the series of her heart and her dreams, the series that has been percolating in her brain for the last decade…Blood Trails. An Urban Fantasy Mystery series that will combine the classic whodunit spirit with a contemporary fantasy setting. Expect mystery, magic, and mayhem, with characters that will make you laugh, cry, and probably stare at the screen with your jaw hanging down to the floor. Well, that’s how they affect Jennifer anyway…

You can find Jennifer at 

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