Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Highlight Book / Audiobook of the Week


The Wall: Chronicle of a Scuba Trial by Lawrence Martin, Narrated by Mark Bielecki

A young woman is lost on a scuba dive in Grand Cayman. Did she suffer nitrogen narcosis? Or did she commit suicide? 

Experts argue both scenarios in a civil trial that takes place 14 months later. Her parents are the plaintiffs. The defendants are a large corporation and its dive master on that fateful day. There are several experts called to testify, including the author. The two lawyers object to each other's arguments, cite precedent, drill their experts. 

Yet one thing is missing: her body. It will never be recovered. The Wall is fiction but it reads like a real case. Put yourself in the jury box, listen to the experts and lawyers battle it out, then make your decision along with the jury. How will you decide? For the plaintiffs or the defense?

Available in audio and digital eBook at Amazon, Audible, & iTunes.

Friday, June 25, 2021

There are no new stories……

We’ve all heard a version of the memorable quote that starts “There are no new stories…”. Where did it come from? Is it true?

The first question is easy. The full quote is:

“There are no new stories. It all depends on how you handle them. In romances the characters are going to fall in love with each other; you know that when you see the syrupy cover. It's how they get there that's the fun.” - Jude Devereaux – New York Times Bestselling Author of over 40 Romance Novels. 

You can say a version of that for most any genre. Substitute the word “thrillers” for “romances”, “have an adventure” for “fall in love with each other” and “action-oriented” for “syrupy” and you’ve got it.

But is it really true? Probably, yes. When you compare older Golden Age mysteries to newer ones, you see many parallels:

  • Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes bears a noticeable resemblance to Edgar Allan Poe’s character C. Auguste Dupin. Both are reclusive bachelors who have a male room-mate and the roommate is the first-person voice in the story. 

  • Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe has an assistant, Archie Goodwin who lives in his house and is the first-person voice in the story.

  • Jacques Futrelle’s Professor A.S.F.X Van Dusen is a reclusive bachelor who has a friend, reporter Hutchinson Hatch who is the first-person voice in many of the stories. 

There are others. The main point is not that they aren’t new, but that these stories are fun. They’re escapism at its best. We can always come back to reality.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Highlight Book / Audiobook of the week

WHA-CKED (Tucker Cherokee Book 4) by Jed O'Dea, Narrated by Mark Bielecki

A Deputy White House Counsel is found dead. His death is ruled a suicide. Twenty years later, the love of Tank Alvarez’s life is kidnapped. The ransom: “Investigate and disclose the truth about the death of the White House Counsel.” The former First Lady becomes a suspect.

Tank is caught in the crossfire between a vengeful megalomaniac seeking retribution for decades old past sins, a mercenary trying to protect an international consortium from terrorism, and an overly ambitious former First Lady. Secrets are hard to keep in the incestuous town of Washington, D.C. where there are scoop-driven reporters, loose-lipped Congressional staffers, influence peddlers, and information buyers. Washington is also a place where it is sometimes -- maybe all the time -- impossible to separate fact from fiction, disinformation from real data, and direct quotes from editorial opinions.

WHA-CKED is a fictional story -- inspired by a true story -- of conspiracy, murder, blackmail, and the abuse of power and money.

Available in Audiobook, Kindle digital eBook & Paperback at Amazon, Audible & iTunes

Friday, June 18, 2021


 A Grand Illusion 

By Lawrence Martin     drlarry437@gmail.com
Published in Florida Writers Association Collection Series, “Create An Illusion, Vol. 12, 2020.
Entering the Las Vegas Pinnacle Hotel, Bonnie could not avoid the large electronic signs advertising that night’s main event: “The Grand Illusionist, 9 pm, Starlight Theater.” Her husband’s picture loomed large in the advertisement, with his trademark cape and magician’s hat.
I’d like to throw a brick at his mug. Fourteen years with him and I’m only now wising up. She took the elevator to their 22nd floor suite, and used her room card to enter.
What will I find now? Another honey?                          
Howard looked up from the couch, where he had been reading a newspaper. “Bonnie, what brings you back so soon? Thought you weren’t returning until later?”
“After my gym workout, I decided to skip the movie. I have a headache and want to lie down. Is the bed free?”
“What kind of question is that?”
“What kind of husband would sleep with his mistress while his wife is working out at the gym?”
“We’ve gone over this. I was wrong, and I admitted it.”
“You admitted it once because I caught you. How about all the other times?”
“She is not my mistress.”
“No, just your stage assistant. Easily available. And you, the so-called Grand Illusionist. When I walked in on you last week, why didn’t you make her disappear, like you do on the stage?”
“Bonnie, give me a break. My show starts in just two hours. Let’s not argue now, please?”
“They pay you fifty grand a night here at the Pinnacle. Not bad for two hours.”
“Why the hell are you bringing that up?”
“Where’s the money?”
“I don’t understand your question.”
“Let’s see, a four-week stint in Vegas twice a year, six shows a week, that’s three hundred thousand times eight, or two point four million, if my math is correct. Not to mention your other shows in New York and Atlantic City. Where’s all the money?”
“What the hell are you talking about? Does your credit card bounce when you go shopping?”
“No, but the money is nowhere to be found. It’s not in our joint account.”
“I’ve told you before, my agent handles it. It’s in his account, under my name.”
“Is your agent in the Cayman Islands?”
“You heard me. Georgetown, Grand Cayman. I know all about it. If we get divorced, which you know damn well is coming, there won’t be any estate to split. It’s hidden. Off shore. And worse, dear, when the money is ultimately found, the IRS will get it all, for past taxes. And your ass will be in jail.”
“I’ve paid all my taxes. Where do you come up with these crazy accusations?”
“Sorry, Howard, won’t wash. You have lived up to your billing. The Grand Illusionist, indeed. You’ve made the money disappear. But if your wife can’t get her share in court, I’m sure the IRS will. Your tricks might fool the Starlight Theater crowd, but not me. At least not the ones in real life.”
“This is utter nonsense. You have no evidence.”
“Oh, yes I do. I’m not always in the gym, or out shopping. I’ve been investigating. Or paying someone who knows how to find information.”
“Like what?”
“Like, what about Melissa Jane Singleton?”
Oh, his pained expression! He’s guilty as hell. Gotcha!
“Sorry, Howard. I didn’t hear your answer. Well, let me answer for you. A few months ago, you paid her a cool fifty thousand to keep quiet about your affair. She threatened to ruin your show. All documented.”
“That’s a lie!”
“Deny what you will. It’ll all come out in court.”
“It’s not fair to bring all this up just now. Be fair, Bonnie, and stop with these crazy accusations. I have a show to do tonight.”
He doesn’t want to go on stage feeling my anger. That’s good.
“You probably can do the show in your sleep, so no need to worry. I need some fresh air. If you want to discuss this further, get up off the couch. I’ll be out on the balcony.”
She opened the sliding doors and entered the suite’s narrow balcony. The sun had set, making the nighttime view spectacular, with brightly-lit casinos up and down Las Vegas Boulevard. She found the cool air refreshing. She leaned against the four-foot high wall of the balcony to get the best view and called out, “It’s a great view tonight, Howard. I can see all the way to downtown Vegas.”
He came out to the balcony, stood a few feet to her right and stared into the night. “Bonnie, I don’t want you to be angry with me. Let me get through my show tonight and we can discuss all this later. I promise I can explain everything.”
The man lies, then lies some more.
“I’m worried, Howard. After all, you are The Grand Illusionist. You can make anything disappear. Maybe even including me.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Now you’re getting really crazy. I would never harm you.”
“Okay, maybe I’m being a bit unfair. But you can see why I get so upset. A man who cheats on his wife can do anything.”
“I said I’m sorry. Can’t we let it go?”
“All right, fair enough. For now. Please hold me. It’s a little chilly.”
He walked over and put his arms around her. “So, can we be friends again? Maybe lovers tonight, after the show?”
He has barely touched me in bed the last two weeks. What a phony!
“Yes, that would be good. I’ll be in bed, waiting for you.”
He relaxed his grip and kissed her on the lips. She returned the kiss.
Now he’s happy. Off guard. She let go of an object from one hand. “I dropped the barrette from my hair. Let me get it.”
She bent down to the balcony floor to find the barrette. Near the floor she inserted her head and shoulders between his thighs and the balcony wall, grabbed his ankles with both hands and lifted him with surprising ease, angling him toward the wall.
Not as heavy as I thought.
“What are you doing?” he cried as she stood, raising his body higher and higher. His arms flailed in the air but could not reach her. She angled his legs up so his torso now extended over the wall – and let go.
Well, Mr. Illusionist, you had one too many illusions: that you could get away with your deceits. My gym time was well spent. Amazing what 125 pounds can do with someone 50 pounds heavier.
She quickly re-entered the suite, closed the door to the balcony and walked toward the desk phone.
Now to call the front desk, report his suicide. There is no note, but he had plenty of reasons to leap over the balcony. A divorce he did not want. Soon-to-be-discovered tax fraud. Probably other mistresses seeking to extort. Justice at last!
She reached for the receiver, ready to press the button and tell her story. Just then, in the dim light, her eye caught a slight movement from across the room. No!
“Did you have fun out there, Bonnie?” The voice was unmistakable. And he was still sitting on the couch. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Highlight Book of the Week

Stranger than Fiction

by Sandra Olson

The newest  book in the James Ford Mystery series is now available as ebook, paperback and hardback. STRANGER THAN FICTION  is the 10th book in this series, like all the others, can be read as a stand-alone story.

Detective James Ford retired as a police officer after being seriously wounded. Now as a PI he continues to solve cases that no one else will handle. As he and his wife, Lacey work together they help friends as well as strangers. In this novel, James finds himself and his partner, Mack Sawyer embroiled in a missing person case as well as drug and sex trafficking cases. And when someone targets helpless patients in a local hospital, James is called in to solve that case, too.

Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094PKKG79

Friday, June 11, 2021

 Fact-Based Fiction By Jed O'Dea

As a reader/listener of fiction, I enjoy novels by authors who master the ability to merge facts into their plots and storylines such that it is difficult to separate what is fact and what is fiction. As a youngster, I enjoyed books by Jules Verne, Agatha Christie, and James Michener whose craft excelled at introducing facts into their stories.  In the historical fiction Hawaii for example, Michener’s factual description of how the island of Hawaii was geologically formed was exhaustive.  As an adult I gravitated to Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, and Clive Cussler, each of whom cleverly mix facts into their thrillers.

To accomplish the art of fact-based fiction, authors may apply the following tactics:

Location in scenes should be real: Use locations with which the author is familiar including town, city, county, province, township, or commonwealth names; use real turnpike, street, highway, freeway, bridges, tunnels, or road names; and use actual restaurant, museum, military base, racetrack, play, building, or aircraft carrier names. Some readers/listeners will identify with the locations and relate to the author’s story.

Embed the names of famous people: As an example, an author whose subplot includes a narrative about Russia may choose to include the names of Putin, Stalin, Lenin, Gorbachev, or others to add an element of reality to the story.

Detail weather conditions: All readers/listeners can relate to weather conditions.  Authors who imbibe realistic seasonal weather conditions into their scenes add an element of reality to their scenario. An author who describes the winds in Chicago, the dryness in Tucson, the humidity in Mobile or hurricanes in the Virgin Islands draws the reader/listener into the story.

Real timelines: Authors who embed actual events into their story in the timeline the event occurred bring the reader/listener closer to believing the story is real.

Science and Engineering: The author who researches the scientific premise for inclusion in the story attracts a sophisticated reader.  Authors who describe forensic science findings, submarine propulsion systems, or ransomware attacks with accuracy improves the bond with the reader/listener.

Details: The ability to make an author’s novel seem real requires the reference of real items for vehicles, weapons, drugs, smells, personalities, physical descriptions, landscapes, health issues, and other facts.

As an author, I conscientiously weave facts into the storyline to achieve an overall sense of reality in an otherwise fictional narrative. If it is hard to separate fact from fiction, it is a better story.


Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Featured Book of the week – 

Russian Roulette

RUSSIAN ROULETTE is a complex mystery featuring the African American private eye Hannibal Jones. 

But, why don’t we let the author explain it to you? 

Click here:


Get your copy of Russian Roulette as a signed paperback - https://ascamacho.com/  

An ebook - https://www.amazon.com/Russian-Roulette-Austin-S-Camacho-audiobook/dp/B07DF81BT3

or an audio book - https://www.audible.com/pd/Russian-Roulette-Audiobook/B07DF6RCGD

Friday, June 4, 2021


How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America edited by Lee Child

A review by Austin S. Camacho

If you want to learn any art, it’s best to get the facts from the masters of that craft. So it’s a blessing indeed that the Mystery Writers of America gathered seventy of the most successful authors in the business into a chorus of encouraging voices in HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY,

Assembled by Lee Child and Laurie R. King, this definitive collection of advice mixes practical instruction with companionable inspiration.

Neil Nyren says he got an email from King saying they wanted someone to start off the book with two things: a discussion of all the subgenres that make up crime and suspense fiction and the rules that govern them.

“I don’t know why they chose me specifically,” Nyren says, “but I leapt at the opportunity! I was delighted. It’s a great honor to be among all these wonderful writers. I’ve spent all my professional life with them and their colleagues, first as an editor and publisher, now as a writer on crime and suspense fiction for CrimeReads, The Big Thrill, The Third Degree, BookTrib, and other places, and to be picked to be amongst them was a pure pleasure.”
Other contributors echoed those feelings. Charlaine Harris says, “I felt flustered and inadequate. Every new book is an adventure to me, and I only wish I had a code to write by.”

And from Alex Segura: “It was an absolute honor. When I came into writing, I felt like I was always learning and absorbing from everyone I spoke to in our community. To think I've reached a point where I can give back - that's amazing. I hope the people reading this awesome collection feel like they've learned something.”

HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY will help writers navigate the ever-changing publishing landscape. Not just pacing, plotting and dialog, but also the business side of publishing, to include the newest expectations of diversity and inclusivity.
Some of these authors are well-known specialists, like Tess Gerritsen who wrote the chapter on medical mysteries. 

“As a medical doctor and novelist, I know the challenges of writing about a fairly technical world and translating it into language that non-doctors can understand,” Gerritsen says. “I also know how difficult it is sometimes for those of us in the medical profession to leave that scientific mindset behind and focus on the storytelling, not the technology.”

And Gary D. Phillips who has some unique experience. “Along with artist Dale Berry, we were asked specifically to offer advice on how text and images work together in creating a graphic novel. Dale and I had previously done a graphic novel project.”

The book is a clever mix of useful information and inspiration. Chris Grabenstein came down on one side of that equation: “I think I was more on the useful information side of things.   Anyone picking up this handbook is probably already inspired.  They’re looking for tools.”

In contrast, Gayle Lynds tried to stress both. “When we writers are caught up in the manuscript on which we’re working, we have the best chance of riveting our readers. So my job was both to inspire my fellows to use and enjoy research, but to show how it can lead to better books, even enable them to be predictive. So I offer not only tools and tips, but also actual examples of how research helps bring novels to fire-breathing life.”

These essays, combined with shorter pieces of crowd-sourced wisdom from the MWA membership, cover the full spectrum of the writing experience. Pretty much everything aspiring writers need to do before, during and after writing is here, plus how to write forms other than novels and other considerations like character diversity and legal questions. And the valuable tips are almost bottomless!

“The rules and conventions give you a solid footing,” Nyren says. “After that, though, anything goes. Anything? Yes. Because they’re not holy writ. The beauty of being a writer, the pure joy of the creative act, comes when you take those conventions and smash them, reinvent them, twist them into brilliant pretzels”

Alex Segura says his favorite part of his essay was drilling down on what noir is - and isn't.”

“Too often, it's used as a catch-all, like "crime" or "mystery," and it's actually much more narrow. I wouldn't say it's a pet peeve, but it's certainly something I wish more people were aware of!”

Gary D. Phillips’ valuable words included a reminder to be flexible.

“It’s a collaborative effort to produce comics pages so you and your partner need to be in sync and open to changes suggested by the other one in creating the narrative.”
Chris Grabenstein, who writes for the youth audience, reminds writers to remember how they felt when they were eight or twelve. “That’s how you felt, not what everybody was wearing or the most fascinating and memorable thing you did when you were a fifth-grader. Kids today want stories about kids today. But how you felt when you were in third, fourth, fifth, or sixth grade is exactly how kids at that age feel today. The emotions have remained the same.”

What can a writer do when their energy is low and they start to wonder why they ever thought their book was any good? Gayle Lynds has a tip for that.

“Fall back on your research; it can rekindle your interest, give you new ideas, and remind you why you hungered to write the book in the first place.”

Mystery / thriller / horror writer Charlaine Harris adds, “If you're writing cross-genre, be familiar with and respect all the genres you're blending.”

All this input, from the most successful mystery writers alive, is an invaluable guide to crafting mysteries, from character development and plot to procedurals and thrillers. These experts offer practical, current, and surprisingly easily digestible advice. HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY is a must-have for every aspiring mystery writer. 

Learn about Austin’s own mysteries and thrillers, and order autographed copies, at https://ascamacho.com/

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Highlight Book of the Week
The Chase of the Golden Plates written & narrated by Mark Bielecki.

Who's ready for a "Whodunit"?

Get Chapter 1 Free at the Dr. Whodunit website.

What's it about? 

The masquerade ball at Seven Oaks, the Stuyvesant estate is the highlight of the society scene in 1933. Everybody who’s anybody is there – in costume, including someone who’s costume is, shall we say, unconventional. A clever crime is committed. The evidence is clear – or so it seems. It will take all of the deductive abilities of Professor A.S.F.X. Van Dusen aka The Thinking Machine to solve this mystery.

It's a “whodunit” in the tradition of Ellery Queen – complete with a Challenge to the Armchair Detective. Can you spot the important clues and solve the mystery?


    Join indie author Bobby Nash tonight (January 25) as he visits The Star Chamber Show LIVE around 9:15pm EST. You can listen live right  ...