Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Book Review of Hidden Mysteries by Sandra Olson


 5-star review from Reader's Favorite for Hidden Mysteries

Reviewed by Shrabastee Chakraborty

Hidden Mysteries by Sandra Olson is the eighth book in the James Ford mystery series. 

A former police officer and now private investigator, James Ford moves into a newly purchased and refurbished house in the country with his family. On an expedition to the accompanying root cellar, his daughter Lily makes a startling discovery. There are blankets piled in one corner of the floor, carefully protecting two sets of human bones. James, his wife Lacey, and the forensic anthropologist of Benton County try to identify the remains. 

 A parallel storyline takes us back to 1838 when the government forced thousands of Cherokees to move from Georgia to the “Indian Territory” designated for them. When these two story lines finally interconnect, the Ford family unearths a forgotten piece of history.

Although a part of a series, Hidden Mysteries can be easily read as a stand alone book. Sandra Olson provides background details about the Ford family that lets us glimpse the loving bonds among the family members. Through her masterful writing, Olson compels readers to become a part of this family. 

The past and the present story lines develop simultaneously at a steady pace, complementing each other. Olson’s thorough research into the Cherokee exodus during the early 1800s makes a heart-wrenching portrayal of the“Trail of Tears”, and the countless people who had to undergo this harsh and fatal journey. The ending is satisfying to read. The novel is laced with sorrow yet is sweet and will make readers emotional.

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Hit by Bobby Nash

There’s a moment, just seconds before the act itself, where time slows to a crawl.

It's difficult to put to words the sensation that washes over your body as hunter and prey move closer and closer to the point of finality, when they become, in essence, one. With each tick of the second hand their two hearts beat closer and closer in time until the two are indistinguishable one from the other.

In that moment, and only in that moment, do I pull the trigger and silence one half of the thunderous heartbeat.

The silence in the moments after is almost deafening.

It's the closest thing to knowing the mind of God.

I have often wondered if the target feels the joining as I do? I hope so. It is as intimate a bond as any two strangers can know. I would hate to think that the intended misses out on this beautiful, perfect moment. I suppose I will never know.

I've been asked before how it is that I can do what I do and still sleep at night. There are no words that could ever adequately explain the feeling to one who has never felt the particular tingle that prickles the skin as muscles twitch or heard the satisfying Kra-Kow! of explosive discharge as the rifle bucks in your hand. The only answer I can give them is, “quite comfortably.” I heard it best described once in a movie. “Professional assassination is the highest form of public service.” That's as good a definition as any, I'd say.

From the moment an assignment is accepted, I become the target’s shadow. He doesn’t make a move that I don’t know about. When he goes to eat I am there. When he sleeps, I watch through the scope of my high-powered rifle. Through the crosshairs I track him each step of his day, knowing that with but a single, simple twitch of a trigger finger I can not only end the man’s life, but also change the lives of those closely connected to the target. Like dominoes in a line.

That, my friend, is power.

The power of life.

And death.

And all of that power rests in my right index finger. It is not a responsibility I take lightly, mind you. Taking the life of another living being, to snuff out the light of the soul like the candles on a birthday cake. That is pretty heady stuff.

Not the killing, per se.

Any idiot can kill.

What takes skill is doing it right and leaving no evidence.

It is a delicate dance.

I have been doing this job for close to twenty years. In my line of work, that is almost unprecedented. The pay is good, the hours flexible, and the life experience is invaluable. I have traveled the far corners of this earth, set foot in countries that could have been another planet compared to the civilized world I knew. Like any profession, this one has its ups and downs.

You have your good days and your bad days.

No one -and I can't stress this enough- no one is perfect. Even the greatest marksman misses eventually. Simple mathematics. The trick is knowing how to bounce back from your mistakes and to make sure they happen very few and very far between.

The man I have been contracted to hit is a diplomat from a third rate country I had never even heard of before taking the assignment. I watched the target as he exited the United Nations building, briefcase in hand. He seemed awfully happy, as if he had not a care in the world. I wonder if he would be so cavalier if he knew how much money someone in his own government was willing to pay to have him taken out.

In the three and a half days I have been watching this guy several opportunities to put a round in him had presented themselves. While that would have expedited fulfilling my contract, the moment was not right at any of those occasions. Our hearts had not yet begun to beat as one. That was important. I will not pull the trigger until that happens.


Very soon.

And then I heard it, faint at first, as if from a long distance. At first I wasn’t even sure if I had really heard it or if it was my mind playing tricks on me. I strained my ear, listening for that second telltale thump. The seconds seemed to stretch into eternity, but finally I was rewarded by a second occurrence, then a third, and a fourth until finally there was a steady stream of thump, thump, thump.

I was so excited.

The moment was close at hand.


The target rounded a corner and entered the plaza mall. From my carefully selected vantage point I was able to watch without obstacle. A creature of habit, he had been coming to the plaza every day at this time. Predictable. And every day I was there, waiting for him. It’s guys like this that make my job so much easier.

The beating thundered louder and louder until I couldn't take it any more.

My finger, ever so steady, rested on the trigger, waiting for the precise moment.

Almost there.

The target stopped and purchased a snack from a street cart vendor, oblivious to the fact that this would be his last meal. If he had known, I have to wonder if a giant pretzel would have really been his meal of choice.

Louder, louder, and louder still, the beating threatened to deafen me.

Almost time.


And that's when the target, the man I had been contracted to kill, turned and looked directly at me. How he knew I was there was a mystery unto itself. Even more incredible was the smile and tiny little wave he tossed my direction, as if we were old friends from childhood who had not seen one another in many years. There was familiarity in that smile.

In that moment I realized that the man in my scope was not the prey and I was not the hunter. It was not his heartbeat I was hearing. At long last I had the answer to the question that had plagued me for years. The intended does indeed hear the blending.

You see, the man I’ve been following is not the target.


I am.

Photo by Thang Cao from Pexels

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

My Point of View on Point of View by Austin S. Camacho

Every class I’ve taken and every book I’ve read about fiction writing cautioned authors to choose the point of view of their book carefully because it should stay the same throughout the story.  Switching point of view is often pointed out as one of those errors that marks a writer as an amateur.  But more and more often I see very successful writers changing points of view in their books.  Is the traditional wisdom wrong, or have the rules changed? 

I’m pretty sure that most editors and agents you would send your manuscripts to would still consider POV hopping a pet peeve and a sign that they’re dealing with an untrained newbie.  They would say, and I agree, that it's best to pick a POV and stick to it.  But I can’t deny that many bestselling authors ignore this rule on a regular basis and still sell lots of books.  Should we learn from this and follow their lead into a new set of fiction-writing rules?

I say no.  First, pick any big name who changes POV and check out his earlier works.  I think you’ll find that at the beginning of their writing careers, people don't violate POV rules.  I think you have to obey the rules to GET published.  But once you’ve got a couple best-sellers under your belt, the universe grants you a bit more latitude.  For example, James Patterson seems to give almost every character in a novel some POV time, and worse, they’re all in third person except his protagonist who gets to be in first person!  I can’t explain how he gets away with it, I just know he does. 

On the other hand, Michael Connelly’s just that good.  After several Harry Bosch books he began switching to the criminal’s POV, maybe just to keep things interesting.  He’s just so good at what he does that he can make it work.  Another writer might look like he was just making it up as he went along.  But when Connelly does it, we trust that he knows what he's doing and we’re willing to go along for the ride.  I know I’m revealing my blatant hero worship here, but I’d say if you think you’re as good as Connelly, go for it.  Me, I’ll stick to one POV… most of the time. There are times that even we mere mortals can get away with going from first person to third person POV or having multiple POVs.  For instance, what someone is telling a long story to your protagonist? That’s a reasonable time to switch POV to that of the storyteller. 

Or, what if your detective is reading someone else’s letters?  You could write a chapter that was the content of the letters and put that chapter in the voice of the letter writer.

I’m sure there are other possibilities I can’t think of right now.  The important thing is that it is very clear to a reader (an agent or an editor) that you did it on purpose with a clear plan, not just because you didn’t know any better.  I think it’s always safer to play by the accepted rules – at least until you’re as big as James Patterson.

Friday, August 13, 2021

How to become an audiobook narrator – Part 3 – Post processing

 Now we get to the part of being an audiobook narrator isn’t quite so much fun. It’s a good news / bad news situation. It’s called Post Processing and it means that you’re responsible to be the producer of the final audio file. In the previous steps, you’ve read the book and listened to what you’ve read to make sure that there aren’t any mistakes in the reading. In this stage, you’ll be doing the steps which make the audio files acceptable to publishing platforms like Audible, Amazon, iTunes & Findawayvoices. These steps are:

  1. Noise reduction – Unless you work in or have a totally sound proof recording studio – which most of us don’t – there will be some background noise that your microphone will pick up. You eliminate this noise with your DAW software by being silent for the first 5-7 seconds of a track, then “defining” that as “silence” for your software. The software will then take out that level of sound.

In case you missed them, you can read Part 1 - How to become an audiobook narrator - First you'll need equipment & training here 
and Part 2 - How to become an audiobook narrator - Recording here.

Inficons is looking for new members! If you're an author or narrator and would like to learn more about what we do, drop me a note a dr.whodunit@markbielecki.com.

#DrWhodunit, #audiobooknarration, #audiopostprocessing, #audiocompression, #RMSnormalizing, #audiodeclicking, #audiodeessing, #audionormalizing, #audiocompression, #audionoisereduction

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Highlight Book of the Week - Gears and Gallantry from Three Ravens Publishing

 Gears & Gallantry, The latest release by Three Ravens Publishing from The Corner Scribblers! 

Gears & Gallantry is a quirky and fun peek into the world of steampunk through the eyes of the various Corner Scribblers authors.

From airships to clockwork creatures, and inventions gone wrong, you're sure to delight in these eclectic and thought-provoking twists of the imagination. 

The Corner Scribblers is a small writer's support group in the Chattanooga area comprised of writers, authors, and storytellers from a wide range of skills and backgrounds. We come together once a month to discuss our current projects, recent accomplishments and to share what we have each learned about the craft.

ALSO - Inficons is ready to grow and looking for authors & narrators to join the group.

If you're interested in learning more, send an email to dr.whodunit@markbielecki.com and we'll start a conversation.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Fatal Illusion by Larry Martin (drlarry437@gmail.com)

Berlin, January 1, 1933

At noon Karl Landmann, age forty-five, entered Gottlieb’s Café, a neighborhood eatery on Friedrichstrasse. Inside he found his friend Levi Wolff, sitting at a corner table. Levi, thirty-six, rose as Karl approached. They hugged and took their seats.

“So, Karl, you wanted to meet me here. Business, I assume?”

“Yes, and Happy New Year to you. Gottlieb’s I knew was open, has good food, and is quiet so we can talk. I trust Miriam doesn’t mind you leaving home for an hour this holiday.” 

“To meet her dearest cousin Karl? Of course not. Now if your name was Caroline…”

Karl smiled. “I know. You would have hell to pay.” He did not wait for a rejoinder, instead turned to look over the small dining area, then back to face Levi.

“Levi, see that old man over at the counter? That’s Chaim Gottlieb. He owns the place. Opened it just after the Great War, in 1920.”

“So you asked me here on New Year’s Day to give a café tour?”

“Tell me, Levi, how is your family?”

“Family’s good. Our oldest, Gretchen, is in grade school, and Matthew is learning to use the toilet. And Miriam, God bless her, is holding down the house – keeping everyone happy and healthy. And by you?”

“Cannot complain. Ruth is fine. Both kids in secondary school, doing well. And business is good. My coat factory is up to ten employees. Everybody needs a coat in our miserable winters.”

“So now we come to business. Karl’s Coats is still only coats? I remember you once talked of expansion.”

“Yes, yes, eventually to all men’s clothing. That’s my plan. Next, I want to manufacture… pants!”

“Ah, so, my Wolff Pants Factory, that’s why I’m called to this squalid café. I could have guessed.”

“It’s not squalid. And the meal’s on me. Levi, you remember we joked about this once, over a year ago. You said, “one day you’ll buy me out, and I’ll retire rich.”

“Yes, I remember, Karl. Not sure about the rich, though. So, you’re making an offer?”

“Yes, I am prepared. Are you listening?”

The waiter appeared with menus, but Karl motioned they weren’t necessary. “Just bring one large plate of sauerbraten, a pitcher of beer, and some pumpernickel. One check, please.” The waiter nodded, then walked away.

Levi picked up the conversation. “So, back to business. You are interested in my factory? But how can you make an offer? You haven’t been to my place in over a year. Do you know we’re now up to five workers?”

“I know. I have spies.”

“I should have known.”

“But, Levi, only five? Just last week my source counted six, plus yourself. Did you let someone go?”

 “Then your spies don’t have the latest information. And by the way, is one of them named Mandelbaum? He’s always complaining, that one.”

“Not Mandelbaum. Not anyone in your employ. It’s a trade secret. So tell me, who left you?”

“One of my workers, a single man, only twenty-four. He immigrated to America just last week.”

“America? He has family there?”

“Only a distant cousin. His family is here in Berlin. His parents, and two older sisters, both married.”

“So why the move?”

“A better life, he thinks. I don’t know. He told me he is fearful of Herr Hitler’s rise to power. It now appears Hindenburg is going to appoint Hitler Chancellor of Germany.”

“I know. And this scares the young man?”

“He said he went to one of the local Nazi political rallies, out of curiosity.”

“A Jew at a Nazi rally? They let him in?”

“He wore the Nazi armband, he said, just to get a view. And he doesn’t look all that Jewish.”

“So, what happened that sends him to America?”

“He said he left the rally shaking. Everything was damn Jew this, damn Jew that. All damning. That’s when he decided.”

“Well, he will meet a lot of fellow Germans in America. As for here, yes there is anti-Semitism, as there is throughout Europe. Always has been. But even with this awful depression the past three years, the clothing business seems to be thriving. Ironically, the Nazi showing in last year’s elections has boosted morale, and now my business is growing. Yours also, I know. We are German citizens, for God sakes. And I am a war veteran.  Tell me Levi, when was the last time someone called you a damn Jew?”

“Let me think...in grade school. And I punched him in the face. That taught him a lesson.”

“For me, it was in university. A young radical, who turned out to have a mental condition of some sort. As I recall, he ended up getting expelled. So there is anti-Semitism, but it’s mostly the fringe. It’s not government policy. So, Levi, do you have interest in selling me Wolff Pants?”

“Did I hear a price?” 

“Ten thousand Reichsmarks.”

“For everything, the building, machines, and inventory?”

“Yes, it’s a fair price. The building is worth about five thousand, the inventory and machines about three thousand, and then another two thousand will be profit for you. And I will keep you on as my assistant manager, at a fair salary.”

“Karl, if we weren’t connected by marriage, I’d be suspicious you were trying to rob me. But if you did that, Ruth would never sleep with you again.”

“So, that’s your insurance. Ruth thinks my offer is fair, generous in fact. And for the record, she will never give up sleeping with me.”

“So your offer is up front, no credit?”

“Up front, no credit. I have access to the funds.”

“Then I will admit, the amount seems fair, but what guarantee for my workers?”

“Your workers?”

“I can’t sell out if I know you’re going to let some of them go. You need them to make the pants, of course, but there must be job security for everyone.”

“Of course. I will guarantee all of their jobs for a full year. One never knows how business will go, so that seems reasonable.”

“How business will go? You mean when Hitler becomes Chancellor?”

“I just want to make sure we get out of this economic depression, which seems likely. People always need coats, but if I expand there is of course some risk. A year guarantee for your workers is fair.” 

“Your offer intrigues me, Karl. Let me discuss with Miriam and a couple of my employees. Get their sentiments. I don’t want to make a hasty decision. Say I get back to you in two days?”

“Fair enough, Levi. So, what do you think about Hitler and his fellow Nazis? Should we be worried?”

“We should always be concerned, Karl. But not to the point of picking up and moving. We have families, businesses. We are no longer young and single.” 

“I agree, Levi. Given the Jews’ contributions to the German economy, and the politicians need for strong businesses, I don’t think we have much to fear. The Nazis are not Jew-friendly, for sure. But their leader isn’t stupid. I don’t think Hitler will do anything to hurt the Jews, for that would hurt Germany.”

-- END --

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Inficons is ready to grow.

Inficons - The Independent Fiction Consortium went live on the internet on March 29, 2021. We created a place where readers & audiobook aficionados can find enjoyable fiction without having to claw their way through thousands of titles. Who are we? We’re a small group of authors, narrators & publishers that write, narrate, produce and publish entertaining fiction in a number of genres:

  • ·        Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

  • ·        Science Fiction / Fantasy

  • ·        Drama

  • ·        Horror

  • ·        Historical Fiction

  • ·        Adventure

We are the The Inficons – The Independent Fiction Consortium. We produce and publish stories / books in digital and audiobook format in our selected genres offering more choices to our readers & listeners. Our audience has grown over the last four months, and now we're ready to grow, by adding new authors / narrators to the original seven founders of the group. We're interested in talking with you if you're an independent author / narrator of fiction and interested in joining a like minded group of authors / narrators to publicize & promote good fiction to our audience.

If you're interested in learning more, send an email to dr.whodunit@markbielecki.com and we'll start a conversation.


    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  ...