New York computer whizz-kid, Tony Luna, is burnt out at the tender age of 19. Working since his mid-teens as a video games developer he makes the sudden decision—against his mother’s wishes—to quit and investigate his late father’s Sicilian aristocratic ancestry.
So far, nothing unusual. As far as the story goes, anyway. The writing is a different matter. It’s lovely. The language embraced me and took me into the story, away from my own setting and into Tony’s.
This book is not a quick read. Originally three novellas the author has rolled them into one very-satisfyingly long read. I love a big book and much to my regret these are now hard to find.
Mind you, to keep you reading big books need to be good.
And this one is good. I found the phrase ‘tour de force’ playing around in my mind and I don’t think I’m wrong.
It has so many elements in its exploration of the present entwined with the past that presents lessons that Tony needs to learn for the future that I find it hard to put it into any genre. I notice that in Amazon’s best-selling lists it’s categorised under Visionary, Metaphysical, Horror, and Occult. One could add Fantasy, Computing, Crime—and probably more than I can conjure up.
This is a story that defies easy labelling and that’s part of its beauty and appeal. There is so much going on it totally occupies the mind.
When I was new to e-publishing Jason Matthews’ earlier guides were an invaluable help. So when I learned he had a new one out and that it contained mostly new information I was immediately interested and bought it.
It was the title that grabbed my attention—Self publish … with Amazon, Apple, Google and other major retailers—because to date I’ve remained exclusively with Amazon but always wondered what was entailed to go with the others.
Now I know.
A misconception I’ve held is that Smashwords is a retailer, like Amazon. It isn’t. It’s so much more. It’s a distributor as well, and distributes to all the major retailers. So by publishing with Smashwords you’re simultaneously publishing with Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo etc. This was a big learning curve for me. As was how to go about it.
In this guide Matthews leads us through all aspects of publishing. There’s a lot on promoting, blogging, and the benefits of figuring out what you want to do and starting it early.
There is also valuable information about, but not limited to, print publishing, cover design, editing including beta readers, and getting reviews.
And then there are the step-by-step instructions for formatting books in line with the requirements of the various retailers. As I’ve said, these are the sections that were of most interest to me.
I imagine this will quickly become one of the must-have guides for anyone serious about publishing, promoting and marketing their own books.
Carolyn Arnold is the author of four series and several novels so she has obviously been writing for a while. However, I’m new to her work, having just read and reviewed one of her standalone novels, ASSASSINATION OF A DIGNITARY. Apart from liking the story I was impressed with the level of detail that had me wondering how she knows so much about the criminal mind and weaponry. So I decided to ask her!
Alana: Carolyn, welcome. Before we get into the nitty gritty of your writing would you tell us something about yourself. For a start, American or Canadian? I ask that because your website gives little away, saying only that you grew up in a small town and now call Toronto home.
Carolyn: I’m Canadian, eh. But let me tell you a little more. I was born in Picton, Ontario and live in Southwestern Ontario. I’m a city woman with the heart of a country girl. If given the choice between a nice hotel and camping, the choice would always be the former. But there’s also got to be time in life to just walk around barefoot outside, dip my toes into the water, and stroll through the woods.
Alana: Full or part time writer? If part-time what else occupies you?
Carolyn: Thanks to my amazing readers I became a full-time author the summer of 2014. There’s been no looking back. I realize every day how I’m truly living the dream and am full of gratitude.
Alana: That’s definitely the dream! How many books have you written, counting those within the series?
Carolyn: That it certainly is. It’s getting to the point that I’m losing count, but I’ve written nearly thirty books.
Alana: You’re an internationally best-selling author. What’s the criteria? Do you have to sell a specific number of books in certain countries?
Carolyn: To proclaim myself an international best-selling author I’ve reached within the top 100 of my genres on Amazon in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. I’ve also hit best-selling ranks on Apple iBooks and Barnes & Noble.
Alana: That’s one hell of an achievement! How many had you written before you hit the big time? Was it a case of being an overnight sensation or a gradual climb? Was it a particular series that swung it for you?
Carolyn: Wow, those are great questions. I published my first book, TIES THAT BIND, in May 2011. The movement at first was very slow. No one really knew who Carolyn Arnold was at all. By the fall of that year, sales picked up and continued to do so. Winter of 2011, I published two more books. But Ties that Bind was already working its way up the best-selling lists on Amazon.com. The book hit the top 5 in Police Procedurals on Amazon.com by the spring of 2012. I was moving thousands of copies a month.
Also key to my continued success is writing series. Readers love it when they can become attached to the characters, knowing there will be more stories with them.
Alana: Does your background, where you grew up, what you’re familiar with, make it into your books in any way?
Carolyn: Absolutely. I don’t see how it would be possible to keep those things out, and I believe it’s those elements that make it so readers resonate with certain authors. There are definitely deeper meanings embedded in my books and this comes from me as I’m a deep person.
Alana: Okay, that has definitely got to be explained. What do you mean by ‘deep’?
Carolyn: Oh, I like to give thought to the more universal questions about life—the whys, the why nots, and the what ifs. Some people don’t ask themselves these questions or look within, but I think it’s important for us to all spend some time by ourselves in silence, journaling, and just Being.
Alana: Do all of your books fall into the police procedurals category or do you also write in other genres?
Carolyn: The genre I’m primarily known for is police procedurals. Two of my four series fall into that category. I also write a cozy mystery series and I just published a debut novel in the action-adventure genre this past November. Even with the latter, there is a police investigation going on.
Alana: You use the tag ‘POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™’ on your website. How did you receive that endorsement?
Carolyn: Last April I attended a conference in Toronto with some powerful speakers on the roster. This included Raymond Aaron, Jack Canfield, and Loral Langemeier. A lot of the event was about branding. I came home and gave the matter a lot of thought. What made me stand out from other authors in my genre? What could I boast about specifically?
It came to me that I’d received many e-mails over the years from readers either currently serving in, or retired from, law enforcement. The feedback contained a common theme: I provided entertainment and accuracy. It was said that I got everything right from procedure to the interaction between my detectives and agents.
Thinking on this led me to my trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Alana: Would you tell us in a few words what each of the series is about?
Carolyn: Brandon Fisher FBI Series: New FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher hunts serial killers on a team with the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
Detective Madison Knight Series: A blend of Eve Dallas and Olivia Benson, Madison Knight is a feisty, chocolate-loving detective who will not let anyone—or anything—stop her from finding justice for murder victims.
McKinley Mysteries: Romance. Humor. Murder. Whether a case takes the McKinleys undercover, off the books, or around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things … And they’ll be romancing it up along the way.
Matthew Connor Adventure Series: Action-adventure books for the mystery lover. In this series, modern-day archeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor travels the globe with his two closest friends to unearth treasure and discover legends the world has all but forgotten. Indiana Jones meets the twenty-first century.
Alana: Now for the question I promised to ask in my introduction. How do you seem to know so much about the criminal world and weaponry?
Carolyn: I have contacts who work, or who have worked, with law enforcement. If I have any questions concerning procedure or forensics I reach out to them.
Alana: And finally, can you say what you’re currently working on?
Carolyn: Currently I’m working on the final stages of edits with one manuscript while prepping another for a development edit with a professional. The fifth book in the Brandon Fisher FBI series, VIOLATED, is due out April 28th and is currently available for pre-order.
Alana: Carolyn, thank you for being my guest today.
Carolyn: Thank you for having me.
Carolyn’s bio: Carolyn Arnold is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.
Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.
She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
Raymond Hunter, a retired Mafia assassin, has been living a quiet life for fifteen years with his adored wife Brenda, daughter and son, when the son of his old boss comes calling, wanting one last job done. Ray’s in no position to refuse when his family is threatened.
What ensues is gripping, gritty and compelling suspense. The police are on Ray’s trail almost from the start, the FBI becomes involved and a Mafia internal power play draws them all in.
I can’t remember the last time I read a story in which I found myself rooting for the assassin, but in this one I did.
The author’s knowledge of crime and weaponry adds to the atmospherics as does the writing style. I’ll say it again: gritty.
The reason I’ve given it a four star rating rather than a five is because Ray’s wife and daughter get a minimal point of view airing. I think the story would have benefitted from either staying exclusively with the main characters or giving the women in his life more page space.
There was just one more deficiency for me. Towards the end of the story Brenda’s past and a possible part in the crime is alluded to without being explained. It left me wondering. If there is to be a sequel, then I understand, because it may be explained at some point. If there isn’t a sequel, then it’s left me hanging.