I have found that this complaint is universal among police officers all over the country. I have heard this PPP (Police Pet Peeve) from California to Chicago to Virginia.
How come in books, the best cops get promoted?
While it may be true in books that the best cops get promoted, its definitely not the rule in real life police departments. In the majority of departments, officers take extremely difficult written exams in order to promote to the next rank. For my lieutenant’s promotional exam, we had to study two large textbooks on police administration plus we had a lengthy handout we had to memorize. Luckily for me, I’m good at studying and taking tests. But what about the stellar officer who simply cannot take tests?
One of the best detectives I know, bar none, had to take the detectives test three times before she finally scored high enough to make the detectives list. Her problem? Dyslexia. Another excellent patrol officer I know took the sergeant’s test four times and never scored high enough to make the list. He just never learned how to take tests.
Now let’s look at the other side. I can’t count how many times an officer with absolutely no common sense or people skills got promoted simply because they were good at taking tests. They were known by the rank and file for being a so so officer, and yet now the rank and file have to answer to the dufus simply because he or she was a good test taker.
As a writer, use this phenomenon to create interesting characters or commander to officer interactions. You’d be amazed at how many scenarios something like this will give you if you just let your imagination fly.
I’d like to welcome guest author, Jennifer Fulford, to my blog today. Her interview with Brian Felson, president of BookBaby, has some great insights concerning the self-pubishing business.
This post evolves from my curiosity about ebook self-publishing and how the trend can help or hurt the unsigned, unpublished author.
Very organically, meaning by a natural outgrowth, the ebook self-publishing business has gained legitimacy with writers who feel the need to take their work to the streets themselves in an increasingly dismal marketplace. Writers are faced with many options and some tough decisions nowadays. Slug out the traditional route, clawing for an ever-shrinking publishing hole, or hold your breath and jump with two feet into self-publishing?
I do believe the stigma associated with self-publishing is as distasteful as you want to make it. If you take yourself seriously as a writer, you logically will also take a serious look at your publishing options. For me, it’s been an evolution. First and foremost, there is the act of writing. There’s the self-education to get better. Then, there’s the coming to terms with feedback and criticism. Somewhere along the way, there is commitment. The last hurdle is the push for publication. For many writers, traditional publication basically means that their work is worthy. They’ve made it. The writing is obviously good. We think getting a book accepted by an agent or a publisher will validate our talent. I’m not so sure anymore about that last statement.
Brian Felsen, BookBaby President
My doubt increased after I spoke to Brian Felsen, the president of an e-publishing startup called BookBaby. Felsen let me hang out with him recently at the Portland, Ore., headquarters of BookBaby, CDBaby and HostBaby and unequivocally made the case for what he calls self-release. (Of course, we want release, in more ways than one!). In terms of economics and marketing, he sees self-publishing as the hands-down winner.
Granted, this is the nice man with the gun who suggested the bus to Cartagena. Disclosure statement: I took no gifts or gratuities to speak with him or to publish this post and the transcript of our interview. I’ll still have to pay the $99 to e-publish my book via BookBaby, if in fact I chose to do so. I simply went on a fact-finding trip, and he was nice enough to cooperate. Laid-back, no question. A man not afraid to use the word poopy in an interview. Sure, he’s running a multi-million dollar company that is breaking into a competitive market, but he was still a nice guy.
BookBaby is new among the electronic book publishers, competing with the likes of Smashwords and CreateSpace. It has released only about 4,000 titles in the last year of doing business. Its competitors have somewhat different models, though I won’t outline the pros and cons here. At BookBaby, you pay an upfront fee, a real person processes your manuscript by hand, and it gets distributed to all the major retailers. The writer keeps 100 percent of the profits after the retailers take their cut. BookBaby has the benefit of being a spinoff of the highly successful CDBaby, a 13-year-old company that is the largest distributor of independent music.
Felsen is an artist and businessman. He writes poetry (no kidding), composes music and used to play rock ‘n’ roll. The way he sees it, self-publishing cuts out a lot of headaches. “It doesn’t hurt you if you release your work now by e,” he said. “Either you can get it pulled down and then get traditional distribution later or still give up the e-rights to it later, if you want to. Or, it’s the calling card for you to get future works noticed, but you shouldn’t put your career on hold and spend tons of money trying to go traditional with awork that’s completed and drive yourself crazy if it’s not imminently happening.”
For e-rights, he says it’s silly to let a publisher take them from you, especially when so little of the revenue from ebooks goes back to the writer. “There’s no warehousing or distribution, there’s really nothing. It’s not rocket science. There’s nothing to it. The sort-of dirty little secret of publishing is that publishers don’t add a ton of value in terms of marketing your work to the readers. They market your work to book sellers. But so many famous authors still have to go to book conventions themselves. They still have to manage their social networking presence themselves, have a website and Twitter accounts and reach out to fans and have contests and do all this stuff that they do, but you’d have to that as an independent author anyway, so you might as well keep the money.”
His logic is this: The publishers and agents are already looking for plug-n-play writers. Why play their game? Do it yourself. “Now, will traditional publishers look at you different? Well, traditional publishers are going to tell you they’re going to look at you differently because you are out there eating their lunch. So, you know, I talk to people, to traditional publishers, many of whom I’ve interviewed on camera for the BookBaby blog, and they would, they’ll say, ‘Yeah, there’s a stigma to self-publishing.’ Well, of course, ‘cause they’re taking an unreasonable cut with unreasonable overhead, and they’re going out of business, so of course they’re going to say that. But if you’re self-released, and you’re one of the top sellers, or if you win awards, they’re gonna want to sign you so badly and so fast, they’re not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s just writing, a family memoirist.’ No, not at all.”
I still believe publishers are looking for high quality. But I also agree that their model of selling to book sellers is dying. They already know that. Where does that leave us whimpering newbies? The outlook, according to Felsen, isn’t all that rosy in traditional publishing. “As bookstores are going away, as the publishing houses are consolidating, the mid-tail author is becoming more and more abandoned. It’s like the shrinking middle class. The mid-tier author is not getting the advances that they were. They’re not getting the publicity that they were; there’s not the outlets that there used to be; advances that are doled out are doled out over three years in quarterly installments, and it’s still not really—the pot at the end of the rainbow is a very small one nowadays, and it’s not for everybody.”
The interview with Felsen is more indepth and worth a read. For every new author (and some of the old ones), every option is on the table. It may mean I’ll need an attitude adjustment to worry less about how my work ends up with readers and to focus more on the real goal: satisfied readers. And those readers will let me know whether or not they’re satisfied, regardless of how I publish.
Female detectives wearing revealing shirts and high heels
Well, this one’s pretty self-explanatory. Can’t run, fight, or in my case, walk in high heels, not to mention the scuff and yuck factor of bloody crime scenes. And trying to walk through a muddy field without the heels sinking all the way down and getting stuck in the muck? Forget it.
Revealing shirts? Hah! I once had a Sergeant tell me to button up the second button on my uniform shirt because he thought two undone buttons were unprofessional. And really, if you have any size up there, try running after a bad guy with a low-cut bra on. Talk about bruised chins… And the lewd comments the women would get from the bad guys defies description. Nope, female detectives have to dress professionally if they want to be treated like a professional, so if you want the female cops in your murder mystery to be taken seriously, dress them accordingly.
What do Mystery, Psychological Thriller and Fantasy Fiction have in common? Not a whole heck of a lot. Not a lot except for the fact that each category of fiction is populated with characters who just can’t wait to begin living life. Writing in three different genres can be quite an adventure at times. As a retired police lieutenant, writing murder mysteries is obviously the easiest for me. The character’s personalities practically write themselves, and I always know exactly what they’re going to do to get their jobs done.
I don’t outline my work before I begin a book. I let the story unfold as the characters work their cases or live their lives. I’ve found this approach to be comfortable since that’s exactly what happens in police work. That being said, I have to admit that when I write murder mysteries, I follow an unwritten script because I know how cops and victims and criminals act. My psychological fiction, The Door at the Top of the Stairs, is based on a woman who worked as an undercover narcotics officer, so her personality and life flowed easily for me. Even though her experiences as an officer differ from mine, her reactions to those experiences were second nature.
Now, imagine switching genres from mystery and psychological suspense to fantasy fiction. My latest book, The Spirit Child, completely took everything I knew and threw it out the window. I created the characters and hung on for the ride! Holy Spirit Guides became sarcastic or witty instead of the honored wise beings I’d intended. Instead of a minor character staying minor, she took over the whole book! How dare she? Well she did. There were times when I would sit back and laugh at the antics being played out on my computer screen.
Writing a book or a short story is a fantastic adventure where characters have the breath of life breathed into them. People have written to me saying they love my characters and wish they could be their friends and live in their worlds. I believe a person can write in any genre, any time, as long as the people who populate those stories are true to life, un-stereotypical and interesting in their own right.
Police Pet Peeve #3
Most detectives in cop shows lead the way on a high risk house entry.
While it does make it more exciting for your main character to lead the way on a high risk building entry, the truth of the matter is, if they work for a large enough department, SWAT will usually make the high risk entries. If time is of the essence, or if the entry is in the jurisdiction of a small town cop, then patrol officers will make the entry.
Sure, sometimes, if the detective gets to the scene in time, and if he/she can find their vest, and if they can locate their gun in the trunk, they might be on the entry team. ( Just kidding guys, I used to be a detective myself…and I love to jerk their chains)
Here’s an excellent contest for those of you who enjoy writing fantasy and Science Fiction.
StoneThread Fantasy & Science Fiction Short Story Contest
The result of this contest will be an anthology to honor Ray Bradbury. Seeking fantasy and sociological science fiction short stories. We want stories in which science or magic plays a role but is not the main ingredient. The focus should be on the effect of science or magic on the characters or their reaction to it.No reading fee or entry fee
Entry deadline, 31 July 2012
1500 to 15,000 wordsFor more information, please see http://stonethreadpublishing.com/contests
StoneThread Publishing is an excellent resource for writers of any genre. General submissions to StoneThread are closed for the present, but will reopen soon. To be notified when submissions reopen, interested writers should send the publisher, Harvey Stanbrough, an email to Publisher@stonethreadpublishing.com with WTW in the subject line.
As I said in yesterday’s post, all of these pet peeves come from real cops, most of them friends of mine. I realized the other day though that there has to be one caveat as you read this. Some of these pet peeves have to be used in fiction simply because real life police work can be pretty darn boring at times. That said, at least you will be a better educated writer if you know the “real” way police work is done.
Okay, Police Pet Peeve #2 TV cops always get the bad guy to confess
While it does allow television cop shows to wrap up the case in an hour and it helps writers “prove” their bad guy did the crime, confessions happen in real life only part of the time. As a writer, our job is to write so well that the detective can prove their case without having to rely on a confession, just like a real live cop has to do.
Try this for an exercise: If you have wrapped up your mystery by having the bad guy confess, get rid of the confession and see if your detective would have solved the crime without it. If he can’t, then you haven’t done your job as a story teller. Prove the guilt without the confession, and you’ve done some real police work.
Review of Credo’s Legacy on Novel Addiction – Amanda Togh
Type: Series, Fiction, Mystery, Police Fiction, Procedural Fiction, Long Hours, Fighting the good fight
About the book: Alex Wolfe returns in Book 2 of the Alex Wolfe mysteries. Set in the lush deserts and barrios of Tucson, Az, Credo’s Legacy delivers an intricate, interwoven story of deception, hidden agendas, and the occasional murder, punctuated with episodes of laughter and humanity. A sexy Mafia boss and a brassy eleven year old accused of murdering her foster father help turn Alex’s life upside down.
Occasionally, the second book in a series doesn’t even come close to the first – this is definitely not one of those books. “Credo’s Legacy” packs just as much punch as “Credo’s Hope,” maybe even more so! I’m not much of a suspense junkie, but I decided to give this series a chance because hey, we all need something different now and again, and I have never regretted picking up this book. Alex is still the tough chick, passionate about her work and finding the truth in every situation, no matter how much trouble she gets into because of it. And boy does she get into a lot of trouble.
While it is the story that keeps me reading, it’s the characters that draw me in, in the first place. And the Alex Wolfe series boasts a menagerie of excellent characters, and equally wonderful character interaction. There are no extra, useless scenes. Even in the moments when it seems like Alex is just having fun with her friends, she’s using them to help sort through a few extra details in the case, or they’re helping her solve a problem in her life. Alex’s friends and coworkers help with the pacing of the book, as well as add in a light element. Alex Wolfe’s life can be dark and gritty, especially working on the cases she does, but time spent with her friends gives the reader a few bright moments in the dark.
This story had me hooked from page one. And even better than that, it had me guessing until the very last page. The mystery played its part, I didn’t know why the villain characters did what they did, and I had to keep reading to find out. I cared about Alex, Shelley, Gia, and more. The ending was definitely a good one, I felt like I needed so much more. I had to know Alex and the crew would get their happy endings, that even though some of these characters suffered so badly, things would be all sunshine and puppy dogs. I guess I’ll just have to tune in for the next book – I hope there will be a next book! Cover Loving: Good cover. The fiery-ness of it really suits Alex’s personality and drive in this novel. And the vague heart shape is perfect, considering Alex’s huge heart. Gruff personality sometimes, but huge heart.
Recommendation: Definitely check out “Credo’s Legacy,” and it’s predecessor, “Credo’s Hope.” I loved both of these, and they really are excellent mystery/suspense novels. There is just so much I love about these books.
Final Rating: FIVE out of FIVE (5/5). Another excellent Alex Wolfe book by Alison Holt. I really love this series, be sure to pick up your copy of “Credo’s Hope” and “Credo’s Legacy!”
I have asked a lot of cops over the years to tell me what bothers them the most about fictional cops portrayed either on television or within the pages of a book. I’ve managed to gather a list of quite a few complaints and I thought it would be fun to address them in my blog. So, today kicks off the Cops and Writers blog posts. Each day’s post will be short and sweet…so here goes:
Police Pet Peeve (PPV) #1
A bad guy misses his target when shooting with a shotgun from six feet away.
While it’s always wonderful to see a bad guy miss by miles when they’re shooting at a cop, the sad truth of the matter is, if you aim in the general direction of your target with a shotgun, you’re gonna hit your target and it’s not going to be pretty.
The moral of the story…If your character needs to miss what he’s shooting at, give him/her something besides a shotgun.
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
— Stephen Biko
Let’s spend a few minutes discussing the terrible little topic of “torture”, which, not so surprisingly, comes from the Latin torquere, to twist. When you think of it like that, it doesn’t sound quite so bad. However, if you consider it as an ideophone, you start to pick up on its dark, insidious, evil nature.
Torture has been the go-to weapon for physical and psychological punishment and duress as long as mankind has walked the earth. It’s also been long abused as a tool for sick and sadistic gratification. Nation states, religious institutions, organized crime, law enforcement, paramilitary organizations, serial killers, kidnappers, and the truly demented have used it for re-education, coercion, punishment, intimidation, sexual indulgence and pure barbarism.
On rare occasions, seemingly normal people have been pushed too far, had too many switches flipped, or been inundated with unwanted improvements to Facebook, and have inexplicably taken to torture with gusto and relish.
Literature and film have been exploring various aspects of torture and the nature of the torturer and tortured for centuries. Consider this impressive list and the depravity within it:
Room 101 and Winston’s torture by O’Brien and the intellectuals of The Party in the Ministry of Love in Orwell’s 1984
Regan and the Duke of Cornwall’s gruesome torture of the Earl of Gloucester at the end of Act III of Shakespeare’s King Lear
Nurse Ratched using electro-shock and lobotomy on McMurphy in Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Patrick Bateman’s horrifying decompensation in Ellis’ American Psycho
Jack Merridew Lord’s torture of Sam and Eric in Golding’s Lord of the Flies
The sinners being tortured in the Nine Circles of Hell in Dante’sInferno
Asami’s torture of Aoyama and his dog in Audition by Ruy Murakami
The prisoner’s torture by the Spanish Inquisition in Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum
The numerous and brutal instances of torture in Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians
I’m sure if you ask any survivor of torture to discuss the various forms of torment inflicted upon them, they would lump it all into one big category – probably called something pithy like “It Sucks”.
However the “experts” generally lump the events [now there’s a clinical term for you] into several broad categories: (1) sexual torture; (2) physical torture; (3) psychological manipulations, such as threats of rape or witnessing the torture of others; (4) humiliating treatment, including mockery and verbal abuse; (5) exposure to forced stress positions, such as bondage or other restrictions of movement; (6) loud music, cold showers and other sensory discomforts; and (7) deprivation of food, water or other basic needs.
The Door at the Top of the Stairs is the 2010 debut from up and coming author, Alison Holt.
Morgan Davis is a farmer, horse and dog trainer, and Master of the Myrina Hunt Club. She’s used to doing things her way, especially on her farm. Against her better judgment, she hires the ill-tempered and insolent Jesse Shaunessy to work her horses. After several near disastrous run-ins, Morgan and her partner, the lovely Dr. Ryland Caldwell, a retired psychologist, begin to realize that Jesse has a past that is hidden deep inside her subconscious.
Working closely with the often-times unwilling Jesse, Ryland and Morgan learn that the young woman was an undercover narcotics officer that had been kidnapped and brutally tortured, then dismissed as an officer because she was too emotionally damaged to function professionally. The thing is, Jesse has no memory of the events that happened to her, but day-by-day seemingly random events chink away at her carefully constructed emotional walls.
Morgan and Jesse have a troubled relationship, but Ryland realizes that the younger woman sees Morgan as a strong, centering force. Together, Ryland and Morgan begin to slowly work with Jesse to return her to the torture room, address each of the events that happened there, and take away their power, one at a time. Jesse isn’t always willing, the older women often feel overwhelmed, and a handful of mean-spirited locals try to teach any number of lessons to the damaged young woman. But, Morgan and Ryland are in it for keeps – they know that once they took the top off the bottle that is Jesse, there is only success or failure. And, for Jesse, failure will mean the end.
When I first picked up this book last fall, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. From the blurb on Amazon, it sounded a bit like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma on top of a bed of tough and chewy lesbians. While that vibe wasn’t too far from the truth, it only captures part of what makes The Door at the Top of the Stairs fresh, powerful, and defiant.
For my money, strong, balanced, multi-dimensional characters are key to any successful story. If you think carefully, few good books in the “by/for/about” Lesfic genre have more than two truly main characters. This is usually a product of character detailing and plot complexity.
I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just that it happens that way more often than not.
If I were forced to eeny, meeny, miny, moe only two main characters in The Door at the Top of the Stairs, I’d be inclined to point at Morgan, the tough and chewy farmer with a leather whip, and Jesse the tough and chewy horse wrangler with a twitch. These two women have striking similarities and glaring differences, but as a reader, their interactions and the battles of will are moments of true character artistry.
However, Ryland is beautifully intellectual, emotionally present, and aware of her limitations – she also steps up as a major character. There is magnificence in her softer approach and loving relationship with Morgan that makes each woman stronger. Similarly, there is a layered intricacy to her relationship with Jesse that goes beyond doctor/patient. And, while so much of the story is focused on the “sessions” the three women endure on an almost daily basis, the richest parts of the story and the characters are centered on the day-to-day conversations among and between Morgan, Ryland, and Jesse.
As a reader and reviewer, plausibility of the plot and its content are non-negotiable requirements. There’s often a bit of wiggle room in stories – this tricky little tool is called artistic license.
Some stories lend themselves to it and some veer off into the land of Are You Kidding Me!
In a complex and disturbing story like The Door at the Top of the Stairs, it would be easy for the author to find the most troubling, sadistic, and grotesque elements of human nature and thrust each and every one of them into the story for maximum soul-sucking dramatic effect. The thing is, these elements are all naturally occurring in this story and aren’t given embellishment – that is a testament to Ms. Holt’s vision as a storyteller, patience as a writer, and filter as an author.
Ultimately, the story is tight and each of the elements has a realistic edge. I believe the love/hate relationship between Morgan and Jesse, the homophobic dog handler with a sad excuse for an enabling mother, Pete’s betrayal, the lusty socialite, the sadism, the fear, the anger, and last second Hail Mary for redemption.
A few months ago I contacted Alison Holt to let her know that I write The Rainbow Reader blog, and told her that I’d like to do a review on her next book whenever that might be. We had an interesting little conversation related to the fact that she doesn’t write “lesbian books” just books that have lesbians in them. While not all readers will agree, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter because they still fit the “by/for/about” criteria. Regardless of the label, I believe she’s one of the best writers emerging onto the overall literary scene, and I love that she has the guts and grit to write the stories she has to tell.
If you’re looking for a classic Lesfic romance or mystery, you’re not going to find it in The Door at the Top of the Stairs. What you will find is a fresh approach, great characters, strong plots, a slip of humor, and one of the most beautiful writing styles in the game.
The Door at the Top of the Stairs was great when I read it last year, and it was even better the second time through. It’s artistic, edgy, and will haunt you for weeks to come. I’m giving this powerhouse story a 5.3 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!
It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.
Holy Cow! Alison Holt ROCKS! This novel, the first in her Alex Wolfe Mystery series is FANTASTIC!
Holt’s writing style is both intriguing and gripping, and leaves the reader with a great sense of satisfaction after finishing this book.
Alex Wolfe. Now THAT is a character, if ever there was one. She is one cop you won’t want to miss! I loved the way she handle her situations, especially once she was kidnapped. Yep. She was kidnapped. And, well, let’s just say that conducting an investigation isn’t always the best thing to do. You can tend to make someone mad….VERY mad. To the point of kidnapping.
Anyway, I loved all the secondary characters as well. Mostly all women, you will fall in love with all the characters as you laugh til you cry at their way of life. Oh, and let’s not forget Alex’s new nurse friend…..one hunky nurse……who’s bisexual. Yea. Okay. Well, you’ll have to read it for you self to see just how good this bi nurse fits into the story. You’ll be surprised.
So, I highly recommend this novel as 4 Books worthy. You’ll laugh til you cry (just a precaution…do NOT drink anything while reading this novel!), you’ll turn page after page, ready for each new character, each new twist and each new piece to the puzzle. Alex Wolfe is a character to enjoy, and one who I can’t wait to read more about! Fantastic work, Ms. Holt!
I loved this book! I can identify with the heart and the highjinks that befall Alex and I hope to follow her exploits through numerous books in the future. I’m in love with the supporting case of characters. If you want some laughs, and a decent mystery that never leaves you feeling like “No way, that can’t be what happened!” and group of women you’d want to call your friends, then this book is totally for you.
-by GirlRMusic on Amazon
Thank you! I’m in love with the characters too and hope to have the third in the Alex Wolfe Mysteries out in a few months.
Greetings. I’m glad you decided to join me as I set out on my journey as a published author. My first book, The Door at the Top of the Stairs is at the printers as we speak. I loved writing The Door, which tells the story of JESSE SHAUNESSY, an undercover narcotics officer who is kidnapped and tortured, then thrown away by her department as damaged goods. The mind is a powerful ally, and 26-year-old Jesse has no memory of the abduction or the subsequent torture. Inevitably, the protective walls carefully constructed by her subconscious are beginning to crumble. Insanity, friendship, and redemption are all possibilities dependent upon one choice, one gamble, and two determined women who must risk everything to save one lost soul.
I am also busy formatting my second book, Credo’s Hope, which introduces Detective ALEXANDRA WOLFE, a fresh, funny, tough cop who skates on the edge of the law in her quest for justice. A Mafia boss, a hunky bi-sexual nurse, Alex’s rescued mutt, Tessa, and her exuberant best friend, MEGAN, help Alex turn her everyday life as a detective upside down.
Well, onward and upward as they say!
Having specialized in Psychiatry as a doctor, I was unbelievably drawn to the plot of this book. Too many times the themes of this genre of books leaves me bored with the predictability of the plot and often the ending. Holt kept me gripped to the very last word. Her sense of humor throughout the book made me giggle outwardly at times, some of those not appropriate for the surroundings I was in — hehehehe.
My recommendation gives this book 10 stars out of 5. Do yourself a favor and indulge in this book, but don’t blame me if you miss sleep finishing the book in one sitting. Thanks Alison for a great book. one could say a block buster if it were a film. I hate to sound greedy but I purchased the next 2 books by her on Amazon. When I am done reading them I will enlighten you on my feelings of each of those books…..
have fun reading………yours in friendship…….Tenpercent
Book Review: Alison Naomi Holt, The Door At The Top Of The Stairs
03-25-2011 by L. S. Carbonell
There are forty yards of fiction on my bookshelves. Yeah, you read that right – yards. Thirty yards of it are mysteries. I love a good mystery – police procedurals, English country houses, classic who-done-its, everything from Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelmas to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. The challenge is to find one I can’t figure out before the last chapter.
Alison Holt blew me away.
While there are a couple of criminal subplots to this book, the real mystery lies inside a mind. Fair warning, if you are not a fan of shows like Criminal Minds, the journey through this mind can easily become too much to read. This book requires a strong ability to take a step back from the horrors inside that mind.
I found myself grateful for the parts of the book that stepped away from the mystery, because it gave me a chance to put it down. Otherwise, I would have read straight through the night, and that’s something I only do if I’m dumb enough to get caught two-thirds of the way through a Dick Francis around 11 p.m. The breaks work well, primarily dealing with the operations of a farm that trains horses and hounds for American fox hunting – no foxes are killed. Holt finds that balance between explaining something most of us have no clue about and over-explaining it. Nothing about the farm operation gets so detailed that you want to skip a few paragraphs.
I was initially surprised that Holt never pegs this farm to a state or region. That’s rare. Authors go to great lengths to establish their characters within the framework of a real location, even though a street or estate or town may be fictional. The closest one comes with this book is a sense that they don’t ever have to dig out from under three feet of snow. The town is like small towns in every state. The people could be anywhere, just supply the accent. By the end, I realized that the lack of specific location had allowed me to imagine a place where I felt safe to return to after delving into the terrifying terrain within that damaged mind. I appreciated the freedom from being in California or Virginia or anywhere I wasn’t at home.
Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that I’m the straight gal on this staff, so the only part of this book I can’t comment on with any authority is the relationships of the five female characters. On the other hand, none of the, shall we say, romantic scenes were graphic or embarrassing for a middle-aged straight woman, so you can safely recommend this book to your auntie if she’s cool with your lifestyle. I was particularly comfortable with the relationship of the older, committed couple. Morgan and Ryland felt right. That’s the only way I can explain it. They just felt right. All the relationships felt right. I cared about these people, and isn’t that the most important part of any book?
Let’s put it this way, in the last three days, I recommended it to my younger daughter. She bought it for her Nook and has already recommended it to her mystery book club. It’s that good.
I recently ran across this quote. “Every calling is great when greatly pursued.” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. When I read it, I thought of the wonderful character Bert in the movie Mary Poppins. He swept streets, but he did it with such joy that, as a child, I honestly felt I wanted to be a street sweeper when I grew up. Just remember to try to find the calling that will be great FOR YOU. Find the career that you love as much as Bert loved his and your life will magically turn around, even without the help of that wonderful woman, Mary Poppins.
Harvey Stanbrough’s poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The National Book Award, and the Inscriptions Magazine Engraver’s Award. He’s also one heck of a great editor. If you’re interested, visit his website, www.stonethread.com
What is your biggest pet peeve when editing?
Having to convince writers that someone else’s advice was bad. For example, some writing instructors tell writers to delete all instances of “had” from their writing, or to delete all “ing words” (gerunds) because they create passive voice. The truth is, past progressive and past participle are necessary in fiction. There are a lot of bad writing instructors out there passing out bogus information, and a lot of them are in college and university programs.
2. How many times should an author self edit a book before sending it to an editor?
The author should at least put it away for awhile, at least a week or two, and then re-read it with fresh eyes. Make any changes that jump out at you, then send it to an editor. I strongly recommend against writing by committee. You can employ readers to give you recommendations, but consider those recommendations and then apply the ones that you believe help the work and discard the rest. If you change the character, story, etc. each time someone says you should (especially if that someone is not a professional writer or editor), you’ll never get your work published.
3. Could you discuss your “leave the lady in the shower” technique?
Author C. J. Cherryh once said to avoid writers’ block, leave your character in the shower when you stop writing for the day. When you come back to writing, you’ll have to write the character out of the shower before you can do anything else, and that will get you back in the flow of your WIP.
4. If you could give writers only one suggestion, what would it be?
If any writing instructor (myself included) tells you something that he or she can’t explain to your satisfaction, don’t listen. For example, the writing instructor who says “show, don’t tell.” When a student asks what that means, the instructor says something like “Well, I can’t explain it but I know it when I see it.” No, he doesn’t. If he knew it when he saw it, he could explain it. And if I were invited to give writers a second suggestion, it would be this: Don’t allow your narrator to use the physical or emotional sense verbs (saw, could see; heard, could hear; etc). Instead, have the narrator describe the scene; then the reader can experience it right along with the character. The narrator’s only task is to describe the scene, period. This is also called “deep point of view (POV).”