My Stamp of Approval (part 1)

Don’t you just hate being inundated with one promotional post after the next?  They fill up your inbox, usually they are self-promotional posts by writers you’ve never heard of, or by Joe Schmo who figured “Hey, why not? I know how to write.” when he really doesn’t.  I know I’m sick of it.  But that is NOT what you’ll find here.

All of these authors are superstars! If you’ve immersed yourself within the writing community, like I have, their names should ring a bell.  If they don’t then you haven’t waded out deep enough in the writing community pool.  And you should.  Let me give you a little nudge in the right direction.

But first, let me talk to you one-on-one here a moment…

When you’ve slaved over crafting that perfect novel, done revision after revision with your agent and finally got that book deal, it should be celebrated.  Not just by the author who wrote the next great American novel– but by all of us!

When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.  I truly believe that.  When one of us climbs out of the slush pile no worse for the wear and gains that agent– we should shout it from the rooftops!

Why?  Because it gives the rest of us hope.  If they can do it, why can’t we?  Sure, there are authors out there who are naturally gifted and then there are those who have to study the craft.  No matter how you got there, you did it!  And that, my dear friends, is incredible all on its own.

Here’s the nudge I was talking about…

Because I believe wholeheartedly in supporting other writers, I am crafting two or three posts to introduce you to some amazing authors that I know.  Yes, I’ve been blessed.  I don’t really know the exact moment when everything turned around and I found myself mingling with really great writers.  But it happened. It still blows me away.

These writers are not just talented; they are kind and generous people at heart.  There’s no better formula for success, if you ask me.

Before I introduce you, let me just say I take my name (brand) seriously. I do not promote authors’ books if I wouldn’t read them myself.  I stand behind these authors, because not only do I consider them friends but I am also a fan of their work.

Without further ado, I’ll kick off this post with an author you already know– Award Winning Author Joe Clifford.  You might remember I interviewed Joe a few weeks back and discussed his latest novel, Lamentation.  To purchase/browse more of Joe Clifford’s books go here.  In the meantime, let’s talk about Lamentation.


Lamentation comes out in October, 2014


In a frigid New Hampshire winter, Jay Porter is trying to eke out a living and maintain some semblance of a relationship with his former girlfriend and their two-year-old son.  When he receives an urgent call that Chris, his drug-addicted brother, is being questioned by the sheriff about his missing junkie business partner, Jay feels obliged to come to his rescue.  After Jay negotiates his brother’s release from the county jail, Chris disappears into the night.  As Jay begins to search for him, he is plunged into a cauldron of ugly lies and long-kept secrets that could tear apart his small hometown and threaten the lives of Jay and all those he holds dear.  Powerful forces come into play that will stop at nothing until Chris is dead and the information he harbors is destroyed.  Wow!  Right?  To pre-order Lamentation go here.  I already reserved my copy!


Next up is none other than Jan Moran.  Jan is a USA Today Bestselling author and entrepreneur.  To purchase/browse more of Jan Moran’s books go here.  In the meantime let me tell you about her latest novel, Flawless.


Verena Valent is at the helm of her family’s legendary Swiss skincare company, which caters to a glamorous clientele in the heart of Beverly Hills. After her parents are killed in an automobile accident, she becomes the sole provider for her younger twin sisters and her grandmother. Instead of attending college with her friends as planned, she rises to the challenge to guide and expand her family’s business. She is in the midst of a critical international expansion into Asia when her carefully organized life begins to unravel.

Verena is shaken to discover that her fiance, Derrick, who is a venture capitalist, might be behind a scheme to take over her growing company. While she struggles to save the business that means everything to her, she meets Lance, an executive chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She encounters this intriguing man again while on a business trip to Paris, and soon gains a new perspective on relationships.

When the unthinkable occurs and Verena’s world collapses, her friends rally around her, among them Scarlett Sandoval, a top intellectual property attorney; Dahlia DuBois, a perfumer from an esteemed line of French perfumers; and Fianna Fitzgerald, a fashion designer with her own trendy boutique.

Ultimately, Verena learns that truth, family, friendship, and love are the unshakable pillars of life. But will she get a second chance in business, or in love?

Flawless is the first book in the Hostile Beauty Series. Follow a group of smart, stylish, entrepreneurial friends as they navigate the turbulences of modern life in the business of beauty. Set in Beverly Hills with action flung across the globe, the Hostile Beauty Series is an engaging series that features gutsy, determined best friends, and how they manage to live the lives of their dreams.

Well, was I right?  Awesome!  Jan’s latest novel, Flawless, is available now here, and next on my to-read list!


Helen Hanson works in the high-tech sector, which informs her geeky thrillers. According to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, she wrote # 1 bestselling technothriller, 3 LIES, with “an artistry that is hard to deny.”  To purchase 3 LIES and/or browse other great books by Helen Hanson go here.  But first, let me tell you about Ocean of Fear.

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Meet Baxter Cruise. Gifted robotics student. Spammer for hire.

A six-figure income softens the loss of his family while he attends college. But his cozy world of lattes and free wi-fi explodes when his hippie professor friend disappears, and Baxter discovers a lady professor’s steaming corpse.

With his secretive lifestyle, he hasn’t cultivated any real friends. When a student asks for help with a class assignment, Baxter figures it’ll throttle his funk. But the guy blackmails Baxter into programming narcotics delivery robots for a notorious cartel. Working for drug lords rattles the needle on Baxter’s errant moral compass, but it’s better than a bullet in the head.

Beautiful FBI agent Claudia Seagal tracks the professor’s brutal assassin, but every angle of her investigation returns to Baxter. He’s hiding something, and he’s in far too deep to cooperate with the law.

Hijacked from the comforts of his ivory tower, Baxter lives under constant surveillance. The cartel is in bed with dangerous allies, and they require his unique talent to complete their underwater robots. After that, Baxter is expendable.
With no one left in the world who cares about him, only survival matters. When he realizes the depravity of his involvement, it’s too late for remorse. Baxter just wants to go home. It’s not his war.
But he’s the only one who can stop it.

Seriously mind-blowing!  Right?  To purchase Ocean of Fear go here.  Personally, I’m starting with the first book, 3 LIES and working my way up!


Here’s a quote about Tom Pitts and his latest novel, HUSTLE:  “Tom Pitts’ HUSTLE is the kind of in-your-face street level noir that American crime fiction hasn’t seen in a long, long time. Frankly, not many writers have either the balls or the talent to pull it off. Pitts has both in spades. Bold, honest and daring.”  — Todd Robinson, The Hard Bounce. To purchase or browse more of Tom’s books go here.  What did I tell you? Amazing authors, all of them!  Okay, let’s talk about HUSTLE…




Two young hustlers, caught in an endless cycle of addiction and prostitution, decide to blackmail an elderly client of theirs. Donny and Big Rich want to film Gabriel Thaxton with their cell phones during a sexual act and put the video up on YouTube. Little do they know, the man they’ve chosen, a high-profile San Francisco defense attorney, is already being blackmailed by someone more sinister: an ex-client of the lawyer’s. A murderous speed freak named Dustin has already permeated the attorney’s life and Dustin has plans for the old man.

Sounds cool, right?  You guessed it, it’s in my to-read pile!  To purchase HUSTLE go here.


Writers:  Did you notice what all four books have in common?  Great titles and covers!  Remember, a great title and book cover is crucial.  No one is going to even glance at page one if you don’t have a kiss-ass title and a book cover that’s equally impressive.

Readers:  Weigh in.  What captures your interest when looking for your next book: the title, cover, or both?

I don’t want to overwhelm you so I’ll stop.  But get ready, there are more fabulous authors to come.  By the time I’m done, you should have a long “to-read list” filled with heart-pounding, can’t-put-downable-books.  What’s better than that though?  Can you ever have too many books you want to read?  Not in my book (pun intended).

Till next time, folks.  Hey, why not tell me in the comment section which book you plan to start with?   Tough choice, I know.

Before you leave, could you do me a favor and show these authors some love by sharing this post?  You’re the best!



Real Life Serial Killers– What makes them tick?

The serial killer has become wildly popular in crime fiction.  Maybe they are so fascinating to us, as readers, because they are complicated creatures.  They are deliciously bad.  We, as writers, are told never to make our antagonist (bad guy) all bad, or our protagonist all good.

Dr. Hannibal Lector is a perfect example of this.  Especially the one depicted in the television series, Hannibal.


Dr. Hannibal Lector– played by Mads Mikkelsen– is a brilliant forensic psychologist and culinarian (although some of the ingredients in his dishes are questionable).  In one scene we see his soft side with Dr. Alana Bloom, and in the next, he is slaughtering people and arranging them in dramatic convoluted poses.  Far beyond what is necessary to end their life.  He’s an artist when it comes to designing a shocking display for the FBI.  Yet, part of me loves him!  Why?  Because nothing is black and white with him.  He’s justified in his actions, which makes him a perfect character.  However, in the real world the serial killer is a frightening creature.  And one I never want to come in contact with in a dark alley.

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Create Tension and Suspense. Keep the reader flipping pages!

I just completed the first draft of my latest novel, the sequel to Timber Point.  The working title was Dancing In The Shadows.  However, after completing the novel I thought of a title that fits better:  Silent Betrayal.

I often post about what stage I’m at in the process.  Therefore, today’s post is about creating tension and suspense in your thriller.  (Or in my case, make sure it’s done correctly during editing.)  Keep readers on the edge of their seat, flipping the pages.

I came across an article about this topic.  If you haven’t read The Kill Zone blog, I highly recommend it.  These tips were posted in that blog, but I added my own flair to them.  The expository is mine to help you better understand.

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1.  Condense your setup and backstory.

Nothing is worse than reading ten pages about nothing.  All fluff.  Or hearing about the protagonist’s entire life story.  The author should know the story, but your reader doesn’t need every small detail.  However, IF parts of the backstory is relevant to the story line– keep it.  Just make it as short as possible.  Give the crucial elements your reader NEEDS to know without the fluff.  Add emotions, yes, but don’t let it lag along for pages and pages.

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Our characters come to life on the page

As most of you know I am a pantser.  With that, comes surprise after surprise at what my protagonist, Shawny, says and does.

I am writing the sequel to Timber Point, as I’ve said before, and lately I find myself shocked by  Shawny’s actions and reactions.  Not to mention her mouth.  Some of the things that come out of that woman’s mouth are absolutely unbelievable.



Yesterday I was writing in my sun room, my husband, Bob, sitting at the table reading, when suddenly, I burst into hysterics– laughing so hard I was literally in tears!  Seconds later, I gasped.

Some of the situations Shawny gets herself into can only happen to her. slowdown

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Out Of The Darkness

Out Of The Darkness

A short story


Sue Coletta


Part One

Weeks had past since the accident, and still I sat alone in the dark.  My world had fallen apart, shattered like glass, and all because a drunk driver crossed the double yellow lines.


I swayed in my pine rocker, the woven seat worn thin from overuse, and planned my death;  wondered how I’d carry out a successful suicide and free myself from living a nightmare. Pills, I thought.  I had enough medications to kill a small elephant.  If I swallowed a handful it should do the trick.  But what if I lived?  What if I drifted into a coma?  Or worse, entered a vegetative state?  No.  I needed a guarantee.  A solution that would ensure my departure from this world, my ascent into heaven.

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A few thoughts on routine, inspiration and motivation

I am what you call a Pantser, meaning I don’t pre-write or outline. My creativity comes this way… Let’s suppose I’m done with my latest novel and have chosen to take a break before starting a new one.  I only make it a day or two, and boom– an idea pops in my mind and I’m off!

I write full-time–  all day, everyday.  Stephen King says, “If you don’t write everyday while working on a WIP your story loses it sense of urgency…” I totally agree.  And you must read everyday, too.  I say this all the time.  You cannot become a great writer if you don’t read.  You can be a half-ass writer. But who wants that?  You must read a lot AND write a lot.  That’s the secret formula.  No exceptions.  Everyday.  No excuses.  If you work, set the alarm for an hour earlier and MAKE TIME to read.  Go to bed an hour later.  MAKE TIME!  Nothing is worse than excuses.  If you find you’re making one excuse after another maybe you should do something else with your life.  That may sound crass but it’s true.  If you love what you do you’ll never delay your reading or writing because it’s one of the most important elements in your life.  At least it should be.

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