#CoverReveal and Interview: Tom Minder #mystery #blackrosewriting #TuesdayBookBlog

Welcome Tom Minder!  Tom has previously visited this blog, and today he’s here with his new book, which looks to contain an unusual cast of characters.  Release date is October 11, 2018.  Preorder it at Black Rose Writing or Amazon!

What’s your writing background?

I had the basic plot for my first novel, The Long Harbor Testament, rambling in my head for most of my adult life. I started to get serious in late 2011, and began the outline. Two years later, I had a completed and edited draft. Three years of querying agents and small presses, and the subsequent time gaps without hearing back, gave me a chance to write and publish short stories in various literary journals, and eventually compile an anthology, Chronicles of Sam.

The Long Harbor Testament was accepted by Black Rose Writing in August 2016, and published in January 2017. Chronicles of Sam followed in December 2017.

What gave you the idea for The House Always Wins?

I wanted to continue the Long Harbor story of gambling, drinking, and fast food, but needed to update to a more current locale for these pleasures. Casinos, with their easy money, non-stop activity, and look-the-other-way approach to entertainment, fit my desire to tell a story of crime and its consequences to the community. Mix in troll-carrying slot players, an amateur magician, a hairy giant who resembles the Jersey Devil, and a crossbow-toting florist, and no one is safe.

Which characters were the most and least difficult to write and why?

One of the main female characters, a casino manager, is an ambitious, double-dealing opportunist. I had to be careful to not stereotype her from a male perspective, but rather give her a chance to breathe and plot for herself. Ironically, a female security guard, who also figures prominently in the story, had to be energized into a character who was willing to plot her own future. I had to make sure that these characters were realistic, and just not male perceptions of how they would act.

The male lead, a seven foot hairy giant, was easiest to write. He has all of my bad habits, desires, and hungers, while displaying just enough charm and humanity to have people overlook his flaws.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Having the patience to outline before plunging into the story. I actually ended up doing an iterative outline: sketch out enough detail to start writing, and then updating the outline and story as the characters let me in on what they were thinking.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

One character, the crossbow-toting florist, keeps appearing at odd times in the story, leading the reader to wonder if she’s as innocent as she seems. The presence of red dahlias throughout the story clues the reader to pending danger.

Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.

I’m left-handed, but bat, golf, and perform normal activities right-handed.

I’ve traveled internationally for my various jobs, and ended up in a police van at midnight in a Munich back alley. I played dumb and convinced my hosts that I was harmless.

I’ve managed to keep my wife for forty-four years. I think, like above, I played dumb and convinced her I was harmless.

I frequent the casinos, convinced I’ll win a fortune, but leave lighter in the wallet, but still hopeful and convinced of later fortune.

I have an adorable granddaughter who loves playing with me because I’m just a big kid at heart.

Where can fans find you?

Facebook: Tom Minder_Author

Twitter: @tom_minder

Web: https://tomminder.weebly.com/


Scream Site by Justina Ireland #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #YA

Sabrina Sebastian’s goal in life is to be an investigative reporter. For her first big story, she researches a popular website called Scream Site, where people post scary videos and compete for the most “screams.” While Sabrina’s friends and her sister, Faith, talk nonstop about the creepy viral videos, Sabrina just hopes that covering this trend will get her the internship she’s wishing for. But as she digs into the truth behind the website, she begins to suspect that these aren’t only aspiring actors and videographers at work. Some clips seem a little too real. And when Faith goes missing, Sabrina must race against time to save her sister from becoming the next video “star.” 

This is categorized as a YA novel on NetGalley, but I have to wonder if that was a mistake, because it reads very much like a middle grade book.  Fourteen-year-old protagonist Sabrina is a likable main character.  She’s very goal-oriented, and her tenacity and love of her family are admirable.  Best friend Evelyn is a hoot, and steals nearly every scene.

The mystery is intriguing, but requires a massive suspension of disbelief from the reader.  The details overlooked by investigating detectives and the reactions from Sabrina’s family members over certain events are just a bit too unbelievable, and the wrap-up comes about quickly and has distinct ‘Scooby-Doo’ overtones.  All of this makes me feel like Scream Site is geared more toward middle grade, or at least the lower end of the YA spectrum.

I felt like this book did an excellent job with warning teens not to trust everything they read on the internet, never giving out personal information to strangers, and the dangers of people misrepresenting themselves online.  You can never be sure who you’re talking to.

I’d recommend this book for middle grade or lower age range YA readers, but doubt it would hold much appeal for the older YA crowd.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.



#NewRelease Cusp of Night by Mae Clair #supernatural #mystery

I’m thrilled to host Mae Clair today with her new release, Cusp of Night.  I became a fan of Mae’s after reading the first page of her Point Pleasant series, and can’t wait to dive into this new novel!

Hi, Teri and Teri’s readers! It’s great to be here today to talk about my new mystery / suspense novel Cusp of Night. I have a fondness for things that are unusual and otherworldly, so this book has a more than a touch of the supernatural among its pages. With dual timelines, it tells the story of Maya Sinclair in the present—a woman who was clinically dead for two minutes and twenty-two seconds—and Lucinda Glass, a renowned medium of the late 1800s. Both timelines converge at the end, tying past and present together in one neat bow. The past was especially interesting to write, as I was able to delve into the culture of the day.

As an example, “home circles” were very popular. Think of board game night today when you gather with a group of friends for a few hours of fun. In the 1800s charades and other parlor games like grandmother’s trunk and musical chairs were popular. Eventually, however, home circles overshadowed common games with small groups of family and friends gathering to try their hands at table tilting, producing rapping sounds, and communicating with the dead. By 1891, the Ouja Board was a strong seller and popular in home circles.

This is a Ouija board with lit candle on the antique setting.

Spiritualism was exploding as a practice, religion, and a blending of magic and science. Even those who had no experience with the supernatural, found it intriguing to sit with a group of friends and experiment to see if any of them had mediumistic powers. Séances became a form of entertainment, as much as a way of breaching the Aether that separated the living from the dead.

Cusp of Night is populated with characters who are caught up in the surge of Spiritualism—both good and bad—and who use it to their advantage. For Lucinda Glass, my main character in the past, being a medium is about more than producing messages from the hereafter. It’s about a way of life and understanding an odd, enigmatic man who upsets and reshapes her world.

Banner ad for cusp of Night, a mystery/suspense novel by author, Mae CllairBLURB
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .


You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

bio box for author, Mae Clair


The Writer’s Reading Corner: Joseph Lewis #IndieAuthor #mystery #writingtips #thriller

If you’re a regular to this blog, being the horror fan that I am, you know I’m a Stephen King fan.  But did you also know King wrote a book on the craft of writing?  I’ve read it a few times and still refer back to it on a regular basis.  It may also be within easy reach of today’s author, Joseph Lewis.  Welcome to Books & Such, Joseph!

I’ve been reading, On Writing by Stephen King and I see myself rereading it for a long time. It’s broken into two parts. The first walks us through his life and how it influenced his writing. For instance, there were specific individuals who influenced Carrie; a confession of alcoholism and addiction that influenced The Shining. There were other anecdotes that I found myself laughing out loud, especially the story about poison ivy and the story about his brother and him causing a brief blackout. Because I am in education (teacher, coach, counselor and now administrator) for forty-one years, I understand the struggle for money and the struggle for time. I felt reassured that he, too, was rejected more than once. Instead of quitting, he stuck all the rejections on a nail above the desk where he wrote. When the rejections added up and bent the nail, he claims he used a spike. That story comforted me in that as successful as he is, he started out just like all writers.

The second part dealt with his rules and tips for writers. I liked the analogy of the toolbox for writers, the importance of grammar, and his caution against using adverbs in our writing (though I don’t necessarily totally abstain).

I think the most valuable piece of the book is the way he paints pictures with words. More than once I found myself with him in the basement, walking through the woods. I pictured him teaching his students, slaving away over a typewriter. I heard the encouragement from his wife and I found myself in disbelief, yet happy when he received the phone call about selling Carrie.

There’s only one other book on writing that has had this big an impact on me. It is the bible on dialogue, William Noble’s Shut Up, he explained! I’ve read that book so much that the pages are yellowed and threaten to fall out because the spine is cracked. Both books deserve and need to be in any writer’s arsenal.

Joseph’s Newest Release:

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson.  But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives come to realize that the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Joseph Lewis has been in education for forty-one years and counting as a teacher, coach, counselor and now as an administrator. He uses his psychology and counseling background and his knowledge and fondness for kids in crafting his characters and dialogue. He has taken creative writing and screen writing courses at UCLA and USC.

Lewis has published four books, all available on Amazon and each to excellent reviews: Taking Lives (August 2014) the prequel to the Lives Trilogy; Stolen Lives (November 2014) Book One of the Lives Trilogy; Shattered Lives (March 2015) Book Two of the Trilogy; and Splintered Lives (November 2015) Book Three of the Trilogy. His fifth novel, Caught in a Web drops April 2018 from Black Rose Writing.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Lewis has been happily married for twenty-five years to his wife, Kim. Together they have three wonderful children: Wil (deceased July 2014), Hannah and Emily and they now reside in Virginia.

Twitter: @jrlewisauthor,

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joseph-lewis-67917b28/

Inspirational blog: Simple Thoughts From A Complicated Mind, Sort Of https://jrlewis.blogspot.com


The Writer’s Reading Corner – Sue Rovens #amreading #mystery #thriller

Who hasn’t seen The Andy Griffith Show?  Admittedly, it’s been years since I’ve watched an episode, but when I was younger I saw a few, and even today while browsing through the program guide, you’ll see it listed.  Sue Rovens is here to discuss her ‘behind the scenes’ read of Andy and Don.

I had heard rumors about Don Knotts being a ladies man. I also heard rumblings about Andy Griffith being into drugs. Since I grew up watching “The Andy Griffith Show”, I wanted to know the real truth behind the stories of these ‘legends’ from the 60s.

Daniel de Vise, the author, did an incredible researching job. Having interviewed practically everyone available who was connected (even remotely) to Andy and Don in some fashion must have been a tremendous undertaking. He starts with their pretty humble beginnings (from their birth), and continues right up until the time they pass. It’s not only an in-depth study of their professional work, but plunges deep into their personal lives as well.

Great anecdotes and insider information bubble forth, all weaved in, around, and through the years. I won’t “spoil” who these men REALLY were, if you wish to find out for yourself, but there were a number of surprises, some of which were sad and disappointing.

It is written very well, which is sometimes difficult to do when recapping a life year by year (or close to it). Chronologically, as the reader gets closer to the present, there are some time jumps, but it fits the arc of the big picture. Andy and Don were simply living out their lives. Also included are a number of photos – all delightful and nostalgic.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loved “Andy Griffith”, “Matlock”, or any of the films made by Don Knotts. Anyone who has a remote interest in Hollywood of the 1940s, 50s, or 60s might also find this pretty appealing.

Author Bio

I am an indie suspense writer with two novels currently out in the world. Badfish (2015), my first novel, welcomes the reader into a small town where corruption and illegal drugs run rampant.  Track 9 (2017) revolves around two couples, both of whom have difficult pasts, making their current decisions life-threatening and deadly.

I wish I could say that I write full-time (for a living), but no. I work at Illinois State University as the Stacks Maintenance Manager in Milner Library and have been there over 26 ½ years. I also have a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology and Recreation (and a Bachelor’s in Speech Communication) from ISU..

I also run a blog, part of which features interviews from authors of ALL genres in the Meet & Greet Section. I was fortunate to interview (the late) Jack Ketchum (of horror fame)this past December (2017) – one of my writing ‘heroes’- and include him among the other great writers who have shared their time with me on the blog.

My blog: suerovens.com

My email: srovens@yahoo.com

My Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Rovens/e/B009PCPQUS

My latest release is the revised/updated edition of In a Corner, Darkly: Volume 2. The original (released in 2013) has been completely revamped. Three stories were pulled and three new ones have been added. The other twelve have been rewritten. Some lean toward apocalyptic, some gravitate more toward horror, but all fifteen brim with suspense. You can find this book, as well as my others (Badfish, Track 9, and In a Corner Darkly: Volume 1) on Amazon in paperback or kindle.

Addict (The Cassie Tam Files #1) by Matt Doyle #bookreview #scifi #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right. – Goodreads.com

If this book doesn’t make you a fan of Cassie Tam, you must be one of the few who can resist her.  Intelligent, snarky, confident – and charmingly awkward when dealing with an attractive woman.

The world-building is wildly imaginative and high-tech, boasting vivid imagery.  Cassie is presented with a murder case almost immediately, and the author serves up several suspects, each with plausible motives.  I honestly didn’t know ‘who dun it’ until the big reveal, and soon after was unexpectedly thrown by a plot twist at the end.

I’m excited Cassie will return in subsequent books, and if you’re a fan of sci-fi/mystery/suspense blends, I recommend checking out this series.


#IndieAuthor Friday: Trel W. Sidoruk #99cents #mystery #suspense

Happy Friday!  Today’s indie author is Trel W. Sidoruk.  Read about his cross-country adventure with his family and his simple plan for world peace that involves cookies (sounds good to me).  Do some holiday shopping at Amazon where Trel has The Alien Club on sale this weekend for $0.99!

Hell on Earth is a phrase that has been used to describe everything from war to gridlock. Now it will be used to literally describe Hell on Earth. The Bronx can be hard and hot, especially when you’ve decided to screw the mob in the middle of the summer. Professor Dunlop is a loser’s loser, posting a winless record over the past decade, both personally and professionally. He’s got one shot at the title, but as with most boxers with a glass jaw relying on a puncher’s chance, he’s no more likely to succeed than a snowball in Hell. The Mob wants him, but the Devil owns him. Nothing left to lose, including his soul, Dunlop goes to the mats on the very people that coined the term. All Hell breaks loose, even before, Hell breaks loose…

A truly mesmerizing journey created by a series of tragic and fanciful events that are thrust into motion by seemingly mundane issues that grip and alter the trajectory of an innocent youth. The Alien Club follows the path forged by a ten-year-old boy, blindly clawing his way through the confusing, frightening and utterly fascinating life afforded him via a magical neighborhood situated in suburbia USA, during the summer of 1979. The book tackles real world issues affecting today’s youth, i.e. peer pressure, child abuse, drugs, family dynamics, even your first love.  A handbook for a first time explorer, The Alien Club presents the naked truths, pitfalls and opportunities that present a young soul’s journey into the beyond.  Read as an adult, reminiscing and/or rehashing your youth, or read with your child as a guide to facilitate a meaningful dialogue.  A worthwhile tale!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Be the journey.  Don’t be the kid that continually asks, “Are we there yet?”  Look out the windows and roll them down whenever possible.  Let the wind blow through your hair while you still have it.

The process of writing The Alien Club was a moment in time I will never forget.  I had started writing the book more than 25 years ago and picked it and discarded more times than I care to recall.  Fast forward to three years ago – We sold everything in New York (Wasn’t much…) and decided to travel the country for a year to find a new home.  My wife was able to home school all three children, due her being an English teacher prior to them entering the world, and of course, an amazing, loving mother. (3 separate curriculums, spanning 7 years in age… You think writing a book is hard?  WOW!)

Outside of affording them an education neither of us could have dreamed of giving them, I was able to finish the book (and take it to another level entirely).  My oldest daughter, Isabella Rose, became the Assistant Editor on the book.  Sharing our love of books and my youth during such a magical, finite moment in our relationship was an unexpected vision quest.  The intimate environment that only a 12 X 33 foot tin tube can afford a family, made the story I was writing, tangible.

I could see it every day.  The interactions between the children, their spellbinding imaginations and unfiltered desire to know the truth of everything.  I began to take inspiration from everything around me.  I relived my childhood through them, and then in turn poured those unfiltered feelings and memories into the story.  I began meaningful dialogues with my parents and sister, which was a major feat, considering they were all in Heaven.  Before writing the book, I would have thought that to be madness.  It wasn’t… It was therapeutic.  Writing was therapy… Until that happened, I didn’t know the true power of the pen.  The journey was epic.  Allowing myself to be fully immersed within the journey was the secret to finding my way home.  Remember young writer – When you’re on the open road, make sure to open the windows and stick your head out like a dog!

What is something memorable you’ve heard from your readers/fans?

Being that I wrote the book with my Daughter, and developed the story into an important piece of literature (I believe so at least), it was extremely gratifying to have a father contact me with a heartfelt thank you.  He had begun reading the story and at about a third of the way through, realized the book was a perfect opportunity to bond with his 12-year-old son.  He used the book to open a dialogue about certain influences and self-evident truths that would greatly impact his life.  They read the book together over several nights, and on a rainy weekend when the family had gone up state.

When we spoke over the phone, I could feel his throat tighten as he remarked on how well their relationship was going ever since reading the story together.  How he felt more comfortable sharing tales of his youth, both happy and sad with his son, and how his son in turn had opened up to him.

Though similar scenarios via email and online reviews have happened several times since, this particular phone call will go down as one of the most memorable moments of my entire life.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love leaving reality and getting inside the story.  I do not write a story, I witness it.  I am merely taking dictation, hoping to type as fast the characters talk.  I love following them… Seeing where and what they’ll do next.  Watching them, while being strangely vested in them, allows me to enjoy their success or failure in a uniquely intimate, but yet sterile way.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie and why?

Neiman Marcus Bars a.k.a. Vacuum Cleaner Cookies

My mom changed up the recipe back in the day and renamed them Vacuum Cleaner Cookies, because they would literally be sucked off the pan, before they were even cool enough to be put on a plate to serve.  Sooooo good.  My wife made them (Still does from time to time), but my oldest daughter makes them at least once a month, and the smell reminds me of LaRue Drive and a loving kitchen… If the world leaders got together tomorrow and were forced to smell warm butter, cream cheese and vanilla cake mix, there would be a chance at world peace.  Make a batch today and start loving life to its fullest!

Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?

I don’t want to sound like an expert on this, because in reality, I couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag, but…  my last book, Hitman from Hell, did force me to workout extensive fight scenes between characters (There’s also a massive battle in The Alien Club).  As with all my stories, I allow the characters to fight for themselves.  What does that mean?  I do not predetermine the winner, even if it means a character I want to win, dies.  How do I do this – Similar in fashion to how I did it as a kid playing Dungeons & Dragons (a board game from the 70’s & 80’s).   I layout each characters’ physical and mental attributes, as well as if they have the element of surprise and/or weapons.  I then take those parameters and play a chess game – move, counter move – until one is standing and the other is not.

A huge element to Spiderman VS Batman would be the element of surprise.  And being that both Super Heroes have heightened senses (Spiderman literally has Spidey Sense), getting the jump on the other would be the most difficult aspect of the battle for either to accomplish.

In the end, I think Batman would win.  Batman is far more intelligent and ruthless.  In addition, if he had the proper time to prepare for the battle, he would have more than enough Spiderman specific weapons and countermeasures created to thwart Spider Man’s webs.

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

Karsa Orlong – He is the ultimate man.  I have over the years (I’m much better since my mid-life crisis) been unhappy my physical attributes… Low self-esteem, coupled with an active imagination has left me second guessing myself on questions no one asked.  Karsa is a warrior, philosopher, dreamer, lover, leader, etc… Basically everything I want to be.  If you read some of the books he’s in, you’ll know he’s done some terrible things (so I will put an asterisk next to my selection, for I would like to omit those horrific acts of debauchery to my story), but maybe in the end, those moments define his character and journey just as much as the good he did.  Such is life in fantasy adventure…

Author Bio

Trel W. Sidoruk is first and foremost a family man.  Having been blessed with a beautiful life that started in Brooklyn, NY in 1973, his life has been a series of very fortunate and extremely unfortunate events.

Since leaving Brooklyn at the ripe old age of 18 months, Trel has lived in an old whaling town along the north shore of Long Island, a beach community in southern California, a ghetto in Boston, and an alfalfa farm in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana.

Forged by the lessons learned wherever he roamed, Trel is now a business consultant (Project Manager) for international business & trade.  An avid outdoorsman, Trel enjoys the simple pleasures of nature.

A writer, painter, cook, and stonemason, Trel is best at creating things that people will enjoy for years to come.

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