The Devlin Deception, the Review

The Devlin Deception: An Anti-Political Absurdist Thriller

This past June (2016), near the end of our trip down the Florida East Coast and then over and up the Gulf Coast, my wife and I were trying to figure out how to pay for parking as we were getting ready to go out shelling on Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs (one of those parking kiosks that refused to cooperate) when a guy who looked like he’d lain out in the sun his entire life (could probably make shoes out of his skin) stopped and said, “It doesn’t like $1.00 bills.” We exchanged other words which I don’t recall and he went on his way. We shifted to a credit card, fussed until we figured out the simple instructions, and then returned to our car with the 2-hour parking receipt clutched in our hands. The helpful, well tanned, passerby was sitting in his car, right next to ours and I noticed a sign on the side of his door advertising that he was Jake Devlin, author of The Devlin Deception: An Anti-Political Absurdist Thriller, the first in the The Devlin Quatrology.

An author! I had to engage and I’m sure glad I did.

the-devlin-deception

Jake Devlin (not his real name, but I’ll not divulge) went on to describe his quatrology, which was both intriguing and, well, a little strange. I found Jake to be a character all in himself . . . or more clearly, he is the character, that is the main character in the book. Jake Devlin writes from the view point of Jake Devlin researching and writing the story about how Gordon Donne goes about buying and fixing America. Once home I researched Jake and his series and debated whether I should purchase The Devlin Deception, the first in a series that he calls The Devlin Quatrology. The concept of the story was so intriguing, I just had to.

It took a few chapters to get into the flow of the story, the scenes jumping back and forth between the writer and the story he is writing. Jake Devlin’s (the character Jake Devlin not the author, or maybe the author too… not sure who is actually on the beach with him) friends and acquaintances on the beach are a colorful mix of CIA, FBI, NSA, BSA, whatever (I got lost in all the XXX’s) and beach bums consisting of spys, kids and retirees. Hard to tell one from the other. At the time of this writing I am only half way through and I’m expecting a lot more surprises.

The bottom line is, though not all that realistic (I’m reading fiction . . . what can I expect? Has anyone read that series about some kid named Potter, Harry?) I am enjoying picking up my iPad and seeing where it goes next. Will Donne actually fix the country before one of the assassination attempts gets him? Will Jake and Pam stop dancing around the sexual tension building between them? Why are the Mimosa Twins listening in on their every word. Are they CIA, FBI, NSA, CBS, BSA, whatever, spies? Why does Sonya keep wanting Jake to smoke a cherry-peach cigar? They’re only ten bucks a carton at B2B Liquors, she says. She’s relentless.

Anyway, if you want something realistic, read non-fiction, maybe pickup a textbook on the history of America. Oh, wait a minute, I hear that’s pretty much fiction, too.

I am definitely being entertained. I highly recommend The Devlin Deception for anyone wanting a tongue & cheek answer to fixing America. Sometimes even tongue & cheek speaks a bit of truth.

DRIVEN BY DEATH is on Kindle Scout

Will DRIVEN BY DEATH get published by Kindle Press?

Driven-by-Death-profile

And what is this Kindle Scout business?

I’m sure many of you have seen Amazon’s new venture, inviting authors to present their new, never-before-published books of at least 50,000 words so that the reading public can vote as to whether it is worthy of being accepted for publication. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive a 5-year renewable contract with a $1,500 advance and will be featured in Amazon marketing.

Reader-powered publishing

Reader-powered publishing is a cute phrase, but is it really powered by the reader? Let’s face it, if that’s the sole criteria, all it would take is someone with exceedingly charming charisma to convince all his family, friends and distant acquaintances to click the nominate button. We’d suddenly have a ton of new eBooks with questionable quality flooding the market, Amazon paying up front $1,500 for each one of them. I would think that Amazon is too smart for that. They’re going to want some kind of return for the investment.

This fall will be two years since Kindle Scout was launched, so I started researching to determine what their track record has been, how authors who have been selected, or rejected, feel about the entire process, and I was surprised. Those who have been selected appear to be quite happy with it all. Those who were not still seem okay with it, saying things like, “I got a ton of exposure, so it was worth it.”

My final assessment is that the nominations are the first flag in catching the Kindle Scout team’s attention, a heads up to take a closer look—or not—at the book. In other words, no nominations converts to ‘Don’t bother.’ A ton of nominations converts to, ‘Let’s see how many typos and plot holes there are.’

As it is stated in the ‘How it works’ on the Kindle Scout website:

“Nominations give us an idea of which books readers think are great and ready to be published; the rest is up to the Kindle Scout team who then reviews books for potential publication. You can increase the likelihood of selection by … submitting a fully finished, professionally copyedited manuscript.”

That’s the rub, of course. The book has to be in as pristine shape as possible . . . professionally copyedited would certainly up the odds.

Bottom line . . . I’m not seeing a downside. If James Paddock was a household name, I’d be turning my nose up at it, or my agent would be. As a lowly indie-author, why not? What’s an agent again?

Free exposure!

I’m thinking I’ll like it because when someone stops by my Kindle Scout page to read the excerpt for my book, they’ll also see information about me, the author, as well as links to other titles I already have to offer on Amazon.

What’s in it for the reader?

So, what’s in it for the reader who clicks that “Nominate” button? How about the opportunity to read the book for free if it’s selected for Kindle Press Publishing. That’s right. If you, the reader, were to click on (let’s use my new mystery for example) the nominate button for Driven by Death and then at the end of the 30-day nomination period it got selected, you’d get your own eBook copy to read and, hopefully, review.

A FREE BOOK!

Okay. Hold on. You can’t just go out and click nominate on everything you see. You’re only allowed to have three nominations in play during any 30-day rolling period. I went out and perused through all the listings of books up for consideration, chose genres in which I’m interested (I’m not going to nominate a book I’d have no interest in reading or reviewing), read the excerpts and finally chose three that I thought were worthy of being published.

Is Driven by Death worthy?

Driven by Death waiting for nominations on Kindle Scout

Driven by Death is ready for nominations on Kindle Scout

It is you, the reader, who will determine if Driven by Death is worthy of consideration by the Kindle Scout team. Please read the excerpt and find out if you take a fancy to Parker DuPont, the new St. Petersburg Private Eye. Who is this DuPont guy, you ask? Remember when CJ and Stella headed off to St. Petersburg, Florida on two different cases (Volumes 2 & 3 of the CJ Washburn mystery series) and got wrapped up with Detective Parker DuPont? Volume 1 of this new series, dedicated to Detective DuPont, has him leaving the force and heading off on the P.I. adventure himself, a spinoff you might say, from CJ Washburn. You get to know Parker, his wife Gracie, and the young DuPonts, Blake, Tracy and Scott, as well as Parker’s fire cracker of a sister, Randi Leigh. And how about that ex-secret service agent grandmother, Stormy Stine and the sheriff’s detective, Logan Sauer? It’s a riveting story that takes you on a ride across Hillsborough County in West-Central Florida trying to find out how Charlie Porter was murdered with a golf ball. Of course, no James Paddock mystery is complete without at least one (or is there two?) I-didn’t-see-that-coming shockers at the end. As I said, it all depends on you. Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books, and it depends–partially–on nominations from Amazon Kindle readers. Check out the excerpt on Kindle Scout and if you like it, please hit the nominate button. It’s easy and the best part is if it’s selected for Kindle Press publishing, those who nominate it will receive a free copy. Nominations will be taken until midnight, August 5th. But don’t wait. Do it NOW! and tell your all your family, friends and distant acquaintances. Click HERE to view the excerpt.

Hot Roast Beef on Audio, Warm and Inspirational

A Yummy Story

Inspirational and heart-warming–Narrated by the wonderful Voice Actor, Hollie Jackson–Hot Roast Beef with Mustard will leave you full of hope and promise, with the courage to step out and change your life or be glad with the changes you have made. Whichever the case, you will know that the power is within you to make the changes. Select play and listen to a short sampling of the 1 hour, 48 minute novella. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s a day like any other, except for the money, and the hot roast beef with mustard, chocolate shake, and hot apple pie at Charlie’s. Naomi Wilcox’s life is in limbo before that Saturday when she finds herself driving too fast on a two lane blacktop in Nevada, a bag stuffed with bundles of hundred-dollar bills next to her, and a new life ahead. And then there appears a truck, a bull, and a slow-talking cowboy. And still she runs until there is nowhere to go except to Charlie’s where the cowboy teaches her more than she would have ever imagined, that she has the power to make her own choices. Available on Amazon, Audible or iTunes.

Smilodon (Sabre-Toothed Cat Trilogy, Volume 1)

Welcome to the world of the sabre-toothed cat…

Imagine recreating the saber-toothed cat for fun? The possibility sounds exciting, but the reality could be nightmarish. Within these pages you are drawn into in a world where man becomes the hunted. It is fast-paced fiction where cats change the rules and people run for their lives. “Tigers in the Wild” and a lucrative fee lure freelance writer, Zechariah Price, into the frozen mountains of Montana. The assignment drops him into a world of Bengal tigers, illegal aliens, prehistoric sabre-toothed cats, psychic premonitions and babies. As death by man and animal surrounds him, he quickly learns that he, too, is destined to become food for the cats. Trapped between man and beast, his assignment turns into that of survival. Welcome to a world where cats call the shots.

First Breath…
a story that will leave you breathless

Who are they, these Indie Authors of the world; specifically, who are they who write fiction… the story tellers? With simple words on paper they manage to create entirely new worlds into which readers can escape to discover great friends, unbeatable heroes and fantastic lovers, where another entire parallel universe comes alive. What is it that keeps them going, these writers? As one who fits the description, I can attest that it sure isn’t the big sales or the dream of hitting the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. It is the recognition from readers that keeps us returning to our reams of paper or our computer screens, me and all my Indie Friends. One day I got to thinking about those Indie Authors and wondered what I could do to increase our visibility… so began FRIENDS WITH BOOKS on DesertBookshelf.com.

Author, Maureen TurnerFRIENDS WITH BOOKS was launched on September 4th of this year. It has since turned into a daily ritual of scouring Twitter and Facebook looking for Indi Authors with interesting stories. One such gem of a writer was Maureen Turner of Gloucestershire, England, a stone’s throw across the big pond from here in Florida, USA. She appeared to be a perfect fit as a featured author with her books of fantasy romance and fantasy/sci-fi romance. After taking a peek at her photo and reading through her bio I came away with a picture of the lovely Maureen–a Jack Russell rescue dog, Woody, by her side–whipping up out-of-this-world stories with some rather bizarre plots. The question I have to ask is, does Woody contribute or just give moral support? I envision her writing sessions going something like this:

Maureen: “What do you think, Woody? The Warrior Angel… How about I describe him as a tanned golden haired surfer by the name of Malchediel?”

Woody: Tilts his head and then sighs and drops his chin to his paws.

Maureen: “Really? I’m glad you agree. His job will be to protect Amy, a Nephilim girl on Earth. Next question… Wings or no wings?

Woody: Lifts his eyebrows and rolls his eyes until they almost disappear.

Maureen: Laughs… “You’re such a clown.”

I completely understand Woody. My cat, Squirrel, is the same way. We all need our muse.

So I started perusing through Maureen Turner’s titles…

There was a Fantasy/Sci fi Romance called Do Androids Dream? The title alone was enough to get me reading further about Sarah and an android named, Nick. At first reluctantly, Sarah takes on the challenge of re-defining the speech of the prototype of a new range of Androids only to wonder later if she could be falling in love with one of them, Nick, or is it the other way around? In manufacturing, Nick was contaminated with human DNA. Would there be no end to her husband’s fury?

Maureen also has a Wings Unfurled Series where Malchediel (Malchediel Warrior Angel – Wings Unfurled Book 1) is tasked to protect Amy, a Nephilim girl on Earth. Does he forget that angels are not allowed to fall in love with Mortals? In Wings Unfurled Book 2, Amy, Nephilim Freedom Fighter, will Amy ever forget Malchediel? Are they destined to find each other?

And of course, no writer is complete without a series of short stories to wet the literary appetite. In Maureen’s case the book of short stories is entitled, Purgatory. It is a wonderfully diverse collection of a dozen shorts, some from a perspective that you would never imagine (Corona) some thought provoking (Purgatory) some very moving (Halloween); all captivating.

And then I found First Breath, Maureen Turner’s story that garnered most of my attention and urged me to click the buy button. With so many books already on my reading list, I, sadly, can’t purchase them all. For some reason, however, First Breath found its way to the top.

And so, here is my take on First Breath by Maureen Turner…

First Breath by Maureen TurnerJo, a young woman barely beyond a girl, following a night of depression, awakens to discover the pencil drawing of a handsome man she’d created as a teenager, gone, leaving behind a blank sheet of paper still attached to her bathroom door, the image itself having morphed into a three-dimensional pile on the floor of her bedroom. The man, no longer a drawing, was very much alive, trying to pick himself up off the floor, confused and disoriented and, like she, panic-stricken.

After getting beyond the terrifying discovery of this man in her bedroom, Jo begins to realize he is everything she ever imagined: her creation; a real-life figment of her dreams. And because she’d created him, all his history, his memories that is, are her memories. He could recall things about her childhood that she had long forgotten.

Could she have really wished this hunk into existence?

Head librarian at the local library in the town of Marlham, England, Jo finds it a challenge to explain this handsome man’s sudden appearance in her life, but between the two of them they concoct a name, James Smith, and an amnesia story that gradually becomes accepted among her friends and colleagues, and eventually, the community, even to the point of securing a driver’s license and passport.

And of course, he becomes her lover and all is well and beautiful in Jo’s life… until…

Jo has come to believe that James entered her life as a result of her unhappiness which gradually faded away until all that was left was total and unmitigated bliss. Then one day she notices the drawing paper from which James took his first breath, until then completely blank, still attached to the back of her bedroom door. The image is returning, starting with the feet, and she becomes convinced that because she is happy it’ll continue to return until one day the real life James will cease to exist, that he came into her life only long enough to pull her from her depressed state. She is so certain of this that she convinces him to move away, to London, to continue on with his life, his education and career, without her, to break all contact with her. It’ll devastate her but he will be alive, a sacrifice she has no choice but to make.

And that is where First Breath really finds ground and where I kept wanting to pick it up to find out what was going to happen next. Were they ever going to get back together, would he ever find out that when he left her behind she was with child, that he was to become a father, this figment of Jo’s wish for the perfect man? Months go by and then years and I hold my breath from chapter to chapter.

Could this ever have a happy ending? I dare not reveal anymore.

I wonder if Maureen knows how close to her own life, the lives of fiction writers, she has come in the creation of James? Novelists create characters out of pen and paper (digitally in recent time) and before they know it, the characters become very real. The authors live with them, eat with them, sleep with them until one day it comes time to release them into the world so that they may truly live. James’ appearance from Jo’s drawing is, really, not too much unlike a full-fledged novel coming to being from the imagination of a writer. Maureen Turner created Jo and James and then a bizarre story around them. She made it all believable and then she released it to the world.

Maureen Turner lives in Gloucestershire, England with her husband and her Jack Russell rescue dog and is a member of the Dean Writers Circle. She writes fantasy romance and fantasy/sci-fi romance.

To find out more about First Breath and Maureen Turner, check out her listings on FRIENDS WITH BOOKS.

 

Steel Walls and Dirt Drops
Where the APES go to play

Alan Black – author, writer and publisher

Alan Black – author, writer and publisherAlan Black is a #1 bestselling author on Amazon and Kindle for Metal Boxes, a young adult, science fiction, military, action adventure. But don’t pigeon-hole him based on that. In his words, “My writing tastes are as eclectic as my reading preferences.”

I first ran on to Alan on Facebook with titles like “Granite Heart”, “Friendship Stone” and “Heaviest Rock.” There seemed to be a theme and they looked interesting, taking place in the 1920 Ozark Mountains with a wonderful sounding character, LillieBeth Hazkit. Then there was “Chewing Rocks”, “Metal Boxes” and “Steel Walls and Dirt Drops.” Other than the titles— rocks, steel, stone, granite, dirt—they were as different as night and day. I first tried “Chewing Rocks” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Check out my blog about that here… Chewing Rocks! What a Great Title. It was in this fun read that Alan Black introduced me to Chastity Snowden Whyte, captain and sole occupant of the asteroid mining ship, Sedona, and I was hooked.

So who is Alan Black? Like many of us in our later years, we claim more than one location. His is Kansas, Missouri and now, Arizona. Having recently moved from Arizona myself, I’m a bit disappointed at not getting the opportunity to meet Alan in person while I lived there. Black is a self-published multi-genre writer of eight novels. One of his writer friends called him ‘timeless’ because he wrote historical books, novels based in the present and tales of the future. His main goal is to write story driven novels with scifi elements that are more character and action driven than focused on science, story driven historicals that are not history lessons and entertainment based literary fiction.

Alan Black’s vision statement is, “I want my readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of my books. I want my readers amazed I made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. I want to give my readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours. I want to offer stories I would want to read.”

He has certainly written stories that I want to read.

Here is my take on “Steel Walls and Dirt Drops”

Steel Walls and Dirt Drops by Alan BlackThird Level Commander Hamisha (Misha) Ann McPherson, a larger-than-life woman both physically and professionally, combat veteran and war hero to the nth degree, decorated to the highest level, is dropped onto Heaven’s Gate Space Station, AMSF Kiirkegaard, to take charge of an armored infantry fighting force, the 1392nd Allied Protective Expeditionary Services or better know as the APES. How hard can this be, she thinks, going from being one of many ground-pounders to leading a bunch of ground-pounders? Ground-pounders might not even be the right words for them. It’s more like planet-pounders or planetoid-pounders. In the world of APES they were called Dirt Droppers, because what they did was leave the safe confines of the space station’s steel walls and dirt drop onto planets and planetoids to battle the hated and dreaded non-human Binders. I could only envision each of the APE members strapped into a machine, a powerhouse of arsenal elements that could take down a Sherman Tank without batting an eyelash. Oh yes, and there are plenty of pretty eyelashes to go around. There is equal opportunity in the APES, packed with ass-kicking men and women, all of whom play as hard as they fight.

When Misha arrives on the scene, however, she finds instead of a well-oiled fighting machine, a bunch of slackers, petty criminals and losers, whose previous commander had mentally retired long before he actually left his command. She also finds that Lieutenant Colonel William Park Britaine, Commander of AMSF Kiirkegaard, wants her head; for what reason she has no idea. She could not imagine how she was going to make this armored infantry fighting force ready to go to battle against the Binders, and she hasn’t much time before they are to be deployed. Under Colonel Britaine, the sooner she could get her teams off the Kiirkegaard, the better. So she digs in and pulls all her second level commanders together to begin the process of whipping all eleven squads into battle-ready shape.

And that, she does, but not everything in life or in military goes as planned. The battle-ready APES do in fact go to battle, but with whom?

“Steel Walls and Dirt Drops” was truly a fun read. I look forward to wading into more of Alan Black’s stories.

Chewing Rocks!
What a Great Title for this Sci-Fi

I first ran on to Alan Black on Facebook with titles like “Granite Heart”, “Friendship Stone” and “Heaviest Rock.” There seemed to be a theme and they looked interesting, taking place in the 1920 Ozark Mountains with a wonderful sounding character, LillieBeth Hazkit; still, I wasn’t compelled to give them a try.

Then I spotted “Chewing Rocks“…

…a story that although related in title, was totally out of this world in difference. I mean that literally… way out of this world. Alan Black introduced me to Chastity Snowden Whyte, captain and sole occupant of the asteroid mining ship, Sedona, and I was hooked.

A strong female character you can’t help but love

Chewing Rocks by Alan BlackIn her younger years Chastity Snowden Whyte had gotten into too much trouble trying to defend her name and so started going by Sno; not Chasitity; not Whyte. What a great… interesting… odd name… Sno! “Isn’t that a weather condition?” people would often ask when first introduced to her, many of whom had never seen snow, having been born somewhere off planet, planet Earth, that is. Having found her origins on a planetoid somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, even Sno had only heard stories of snow.

In the opening chapter, Alan Black paints an out-of-this-world picture of Sno, busy outside the Sedona in her EVA suit, by herself, mining asteroids for rock (Chewing Rocks) and hopefully, a rare metal or two. When she returns to her home base in Arizona City on a small planetoid called, Ceres, she gets in a barroom scrap with 4 fellow miners from a competing operation. Men being men and expecting this pretty young woman to be easy pickings, find themselves up against a force that they can’t handle. Without harming so much as a fingernail, she puts them in their place and then shortly after, to avoid possible repercussions with authorities, blasts off into the asteroid belt. There are claims to be worked, asteroids to explored, rocks to be chewed. It’s what happens when the three men chase after her, retribution on their minds, that makes Chewing Rocks so much fun to read. Great action, wonderful word visuals of the planetoid city, the spaceships and the mining operations along with a multitude of colorful characters made Chewing Rocks hard to walk away from. When I got to the arbitration scenes with Therese Cleasemount, I just simply couldn’t put my iPad down; actually found myself chuckling now and then. I think maybe our justice system could learn a little bit from Miss Cleasemount.

Chewing Rocks was simply a joy to read. I look forward to reading more by the “Paperback Writer” Alan Black.

Genome…
Is there power in the Afterlife?

Genome by Gary HensonI have to say that Gary Henson tells one hell of a story. On the surface ‘”Genome” was a plain and simple fun read with plenty of ghost action thrown in. I suspected early on who the killer was, however, I changed my mind several times as the plot progressed. Gary just kept me guessing, which is the way I like it. Deep down, however, ran the thread through which all of us, at some time in our lives no matter what our beliefs or lack thereof, stop to ponder. Sometimes it awakens us in the middle of the night or simply skims by during a related scene in a book or movie. Is there an afterlife, and if so, how does it work? Where do our souls go? Do souls, or are they really ghosts, linger for a time, finishing up business before moving on, setting wrongs to right, or passing on a final message or two?

A unique premise in Genome, no doubt about it

Gary’s premise in “Genome” that those who can communicate with the spirits are blessed with a special structure to their DNA, was unique, and then to suggest that a non-psychic individual’s DNA could be altered to give them the power, really enriched the plot. Thanks, Gary, for bringing “Genome” to us. I very much enjoyed it.

The Man With the Blue Hat left me with visions of King and Koontz

The Man with the Blue Hat by Wendy Potocki

I have to say after encountering Potocki’s scene with the shrunken head I had the need to run to the refrigerator to find something to kill the taste in my mouth. Wow! The Man with the Blue Hat was a full, wrap around sensory overload; taste, smell, feel, the whole gambit. She had a way to weave into my head a very ugly, nasty character, bringing back memories of early Stephen King and Dean Koontz. And then, throughout the entire story, from one horrific scene to another, I was never able to put a finger on who the bad or good guys were, and even now after putting the book down following the closing paragraph, I’m still not entirely sure. However, there was no doubt for whom I was cheering. Good or bad, I know who had to come out on top. Thanks, Wendy Potocki, for The Man with the Blue Hat, a great read.

Say You’ll Haunt Me… Is everyone a little bit crazy or insane?

Say You'll Haunt Me by Penny ChildsPenny Childs’ novel Say You’ll Haunt Me opens with a bone chilling, death defying rescue by vacationing FBI agent Jason Mackenzie in an icy Michigan river. Samantha O’Connell was assumed to be committing suicide, but a gut feeling, or was it a voice in Jason’s head, tells him that the assumptions may not be true, that there is a whole lot more waiting to be discovered just below the surface. Ms Childs had me from the first paragraph when Samantha awoke perched in bare feet on the icy bridge railing. As she plunged into the water I plunged into the story, anxious to find out what was really happening in the woman’s mind, in her life, and what part Jason was going to play as he and the local sheriff try to peel away the layers of secrecy guarding the O’Connell family. Is everyone a little bit crazy or just flat out insane?

Say You’ll Haunt Me gripped me from beginning to end; a fine job for this new indie author.