Thursday, March 28, 2013

M. R. Cornelius - HBS Author's Spotlight is on Losing It All

The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.

The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES M. R. Cornelius New Book: Losing It All.
Released April 1, 2013 - One week only - April 1 – April 7
Only 99¢ on Amazon.

Release: April 1, 2013

Losing It All

Author: M. R. (Marsha) Cornelius

Coming April 1, 2013

Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness. With no family or friends to turn to, Chloe and her children are sucked into the traumatic world of night shelters, and dangerous predators.

When they bump into each other at a soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high in his new life as a working stiff, and Chloe has hit rock bottom. By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.


The latest novel by Marsha Cornelius, (AKA M. R. Cornelius) will release April 1, 2013. The story is about Frank Barnes, a homeless man who helps Chloe Roberts and her two small children get off the streets of Atlanta.

Because the book is written in two different POVs – Frank’s and Chloe’s – we are posting a bit of each introductory chapter.


Pain’s a bitch.

The doctor at the VA called it phantom pain, nerve trauma that would eventually go away. Yeah, right. Frank was twelve years and counting. This morning, he woke to a cold, sluggish fog that had his foot throbbing before he even stood. His only relief was to shift his weight to his toes and keep pressure off the heel. Of course, the gimp-walk didn’t do much for his appearance. People already shied away from his long hair and shaggy beard. The shuffling limp and tortured expression convinced onlookers that he was a derelict.

They should have seen him twelve years ago at the VA. The pain was so intense all he could do was lie in bed, groaning and thrashing, his hospital gown soaked in sweat. Once he was up and around, he’d rolled down the hallway in his wheelchair, ranting at other Vietnam veterans with missing legs and arms. His rage seemed to ease his pain, but like a drug, he needed more. So he started ramming into other wheelchairs, then chasing after those who could walk, bruising their ankles with his metal foot-plates.

On his feet, Frank was a regular fighting machine, wielding a crutch like a club, or throwing sucker punches when least expected. It never occurred to him that those guys were battling their own pain.

In desperation, he pinned a doctor to the wall with his own clipboard, threatening to decapitate him if he didn’t up Frank’s morphine dosage. An orderly put him out on the street.

Then the pain really took hold. The dribble of morphine still in his system wore off while he slouched in the back of a city bus headed for downtown Atlanta. When he threw up in the aisle, the driver tossed him off. Unable to stand, much less walk, Frank crawled into an alleyway and passed out. A wino rummaging through a trashcan woke him. Frank offered the bum some dough for his bottle of Thunderbird, and slugged the wine down in one long gulp. From there it was all downhill.


Clutching a metal cash box, Chloe slipped into her checkout lane at Foodtown, a pitiful excuse for a grocery store, with rusty stains on the floor tiles, and the rancid odor of old meat. She slid the box into her drawer and turned on the light.

In the next lane over, Jennifer popped her gum as she swiped food items across her scanner.“You’re late again.”

“Sorry.” Chloe gave a weak smile. Just because she worked in a rundown part of town didn’t mean she shouldn’t look her best. It took time to find just the right shade of eyeshadow to coordinate with her lavender blouse from K-Mart. Chloe wasn’t the type to just smear a quick coat of lipstick on her mouth. She outlined her lips with a deeper shade, like she’d seen in the magazines. And after what she had paid to get her hair colored, she wanted to make sure it was teased and sprayed to look just like Lucy Ewing on Dallas.

Jennifer’s Foodtown smock was unbuttoned enough to show a peek of the red bra she wore. Chloe bristled as a construction worker buying a sub sandwich and a quart of beer bent in for a closer look. His hands were filthy. Was he going to wash those hands before he ate?

Puffing out her chest, Jennifer grinned at him! Sure, Duane loved to see Chloe dressed in short skirts and low-cut blouses. But not the whole world.

Once the construction worker left, Jennifer leaned against her register, and dug something out of her teeth with a polished fingernail. “So, what’s your excuse today?”

Chloe reached under the counter for a bottle of glass cleaner and spritzed her scanner. “You know how my niece Staci has been babysitting for me? Well, she was late because she had to stay after school to meet with a teacher.”

“Yeah, right.”Jennifer snorted a laugh. “You believe anything, Chloe.

That’s why you’re in deep shit.”

Chloe glared at her. “I do not.”

“Right. Your husband took off, and you think he’s looking for a better job in Chattanooga.”

“He is!” Chloe felt the heat rising up her neck. “He should be back any day now.”

“Back my ass.”Jennifer’s glossy red lips curled into a sneer. “It’s been three months.”

“He’s training for a career,” Chloe repeated what she had been told. “Not just a job.”

Jennifer wasn’t buying it. “Wake up. He hasn’t even called you. And as close as Chattanooga is, surely he could get away to come home some weekend.”

Chloe’s bottom lip quivered.

Author Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Science Fiction

Website: M. R. Cornelius
Author's Blog: M. R. Cornelius
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @marshacornelius
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description: After working for fifteen years as a cafeteria manager in an elementary school, I turned in my non-skid shoes for a bathrobe and slippers. Now I work at home, writing novels, ranting on Facebook and Twitter, and occasionally whisking a Swiffer across dusty surfaces. Like thousands of others, I thought I could write romance, but soon discovered I was a dismal failure. I did increase my repertoire of adjectives such as throbbing, pulsing, thrumming, vibrating, hammering, pumping . . .

I live in the country north of Atlanta with my husband, and two molly-coddled cats. My two grown sons occasionally visit for clean laundry and a hot cooked meal.

Author's Book List
The Ups and Downs of Being Dead
Fifty-seven year old Robert Malone is the CEO of a successful clothing store chain and married to a former model. When his doctor tells him he is dying of cancer, he refuses to go quietly. Instead of death, Robert chooses cryonics. He knows it's a long shot. His frozen body will be stored in liquid nitrogen for the next seventy-five years, and then he'll wake up in the future. That is, if technology develops a way to bring him back. He's willing to take that gamble.

What he doesn't realize is that he won't lie in some dreamless state all that time. His soul is very much awake, just like the others who were frozen before him. And like these souls in limbo, Robert begins a new kind of life outside his physical body.

He discovers that he can ride in the cockpit with the pilots, but he can't turn the page of a magazine. He can sit in the oval office with the president, but he can't prevent a child from dashing in front of a car. He doesn't work, or eat, or sleep. He can't smell, or taste, or touch. These obstacles make it difficult to experience love, and virtually impossible to reconcile with the living.

Over the next several decades, Robert Malone will have plenty of time to figure out The Ups and Downs of Being Dead.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A deadly influenza virus rages out of control. There is no easy-fix vaccine. No eleventh-hour containment. Only death.

With no workforce, power plants are unmanned so there’s no means of communication; police and fire departments have collapsed so no one is safe; looters are scavenging everything from big-screen TVs to canned peas. When Dr. Taeya Sanchez finds herself unceremoniously dismissed from an emergency medical facility in New York, she decides to steal the hospital’s armored van for a midnight escape.

Unfortunately, Rick DeAngelo, a driver for the hospital, has already stocked the van for his own getaway.

Thrown into an unfriendly alliance, these two must pick their way across the dangerous wasteland of America in search of a safe haven. And as the miles roll by, they discover that the living should be feared much more than the festering corpses out there.
Book Trailer: H10N1
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

T. D. Griggs - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on bestselling Author T. D. Griggs. Also, he is a corporate writer and freelance journalist sometimes writing under the name Tom Macaulay.

Author Genre: Psychological Crime Novels

Website: Tim Griggs - Writer
Twitter: @TDGRIGGS1
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
T. D. Griggs's psychological crime novel Redemption Blues went into six languages and sold a million copies across the world. This was followed by The End of Winter and The Warning Bell (this latter written under the pseudonym Tom Macaulay). His fourth novel, Victorian epic Distant Thunder (by T.D.Griggs, Orion Books, 2012), was published last year.

Redemption Blues has just become available in the USA for the first time, initially as an e-book.

It will soon be followed by the first US e-book release of End of Winter. Print copies will also be available soon.

Tim Griggs has written extensively as a freelance for magazines and papers including a long-running column on innovation in The Australian. He holds a BA in English from Leeds University, and a Masters in Archaeology from University College London. He was British born and raised, holds dual Australian and UK citizenship. Tim speaks French, German and basic Spanish.

“I've always been a lucky guy.

I was very lucky indeed to know from the start exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to tell stories.

That's partly because my Dad was a published writer back in the 1950s. He wrote novels about wholesome teenagers on camping holidays who unmask spies in creepy houses on cliff tops. The equivalent kids today, presumably, would be impersonating vegetarian vampires so they can score with chicks.

I was also driven by a yearning for adventure. I longed for a world in which intrepid chaps wrestled endangered wildlife and won swordfights with scoundrels. I hope some of that love of adventure has found its way into my books.”

Tim also works as a corporate writer, undertaking editorial projects for major companies, universities, and government bodies, and contributes articles to magazines and newspapers in the UK and abroad.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

What do you have on the drawing board next? Will it be a follow up to Distant Thunder? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I’ve got two things on the boil right now. One is a follow-up to DISTANT THUNDER, and that will trace the fortunes of Frank Gray and Grace Dearborn through the later 1890s, and will focus on the Boer War. That involves a good deal of research, but I hope to have it finished within a few months and it should be available sometime next year. The other will happen much more quickly. My contemporary crime novel THE END OF WINTER, which was a big hit in mainland Europe but has never been published in English, is to come out as an e-book and as a print-on-demand hard copy in the next couple of months, if all goes to plan. That should be exciting - for me, of course, but also for readers, I hope!

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I certainly do all of the above. Unlike quite a lot of authors I really enjoy it. I speak a good deal at reading groups, which are pretty common here. However it’s hard to see how I could make personal contact with many of your followers, since I imagine most of them are in the US and I’m in Oxford, UK. The best way of staying in touch with me is via my website But I’m also up for long-distance speaking engagements: I recently ‘dropped in’ on a reading group in outback Australia, via Skype, and that was a great success, despite me having to get up at some ungodly hour because of the time difference. If any of your followers are interested in me doing that, I’d be happy to talk about it. It’s quite easy to set up.

You have stayed away from Social Media. Do you plan on giving that a shot when you become more well-known in the States?

Actually, I’m not quite sure where this came from. I’m quite active on social media. That’s taken a bit of adjustment, since I grew up with the old school publishing industry, but it’s evident that the traditional model is collapsing around us and authors simply must engage through social media more and more. It’s their shop window. Readers can find me on Facebook, and Linked-In, and they can follow me on Twitter (@TDGRIGGS1). I also contribute regularly to various blogs and sites like this one - special interest areas are Crime and Historical Fiction. If anyone has any ideas for raising my profile in the USA, where I’m not well known, then I will listen VERY ATTENTIVELY!

You have great book covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

I’m glad you like them. Generally the covers come from the publisher’s art department - different publishers for different language groups, so there are many more covers than you’ll see on my site. The Italians, Germans, French, Polish and Dutch all used different designs for the same books. They generally ask me my opinion, but they don’t always listen to what I say, and I usually allow myself to be ruled by them: I’m not a designer. The Germans presented a design I hated, they went with it anyway, and sold the book in truckloads, so I have learned not to argue to loudly! But quite often I’ll have some level of choice between alternative designs, and naturally I have my favourites. I don’t really know how to involve my readers in this process - though I guess that’s becoming more feasible as communications improve - but I do ask the opinions of people around me, which might include family and friends, my agent, or random people pulled in off the street (much to their surprise).

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process? Are they based in England?

I belong to a local writers’ group in Oxford, which is mainly for social purposes (ie, going down the pub and drinking too much beer). But I’m also a member of the Society of Authors in London, which is quite an august body and is extremely professional, offering advice to authors on every aspect of the publishing industry. In between, I’m a member of the Historical Writers Association (HWA) and the Historical Novels Society (HNS), and both have proved helpful for research and for marketing tips, as well as for social contact, which is very valuable. The HNS is an Anglo-American organization, so your readers should be able to find it and join if they care to. HWA is based in the UK, but I’m sure it accepts overseas members, too.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

Yes, it’s making a big difference. It’s a revolution, in fact. As you know, my first book, the million-selling crime drama REDEMPTION BLUES, has just been re-edited and re-issued as an e-book for the first time, which puts it within reach of a whole new audience - including those of you in the USA. That’s very exciting. It makes a big difference these days, when people find their books via Amazon’s algorithms, as it were, rather than by browsing through bookshops. I don’t know if it’s going to be better or worse in the end, but different it certainly is. I’m hoping the destruction of the Old Order in publishing will prove to be creative.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I’m just about to have an e-book giveaway on Amazon of REDEMPTION BLUES: that should happen in the next month or two. My understanding is that these promotions are extremely effective in boosting overall readership and thus sales, but I’ll wait to see. In principle they must be a good idea. Exposure is everything. The whole point is to get the book to critical mass - I define that as the point at which people are talking about it at dinner parties. If you have to give away a few hundred copies to achieve that it’s a price well worth paying. We writers should not forget that most people who read our books don’t pay for them anyway: for every one that is sold another is lent, or given, or passed on to a charity shop, or borrowed from a library. Sixty percent of all readers never pay for the privilege, and certainly don’t contribute to the author’s bank balance. A book giveaway is no different: it’s just a way of getting in front of a reader who will tell other readers.

Your books are long. How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

I have always worked out the plot in advance (naturally) but I must admit it doesn’t always stay worked out. Generally it forms and re-forms several times, often many times, before the finished article is produced. The basic dramatic situation remains constant, but I allow myself scope for developing different ways into and out of this situation, and I think this flexibility is a strength - though it can be very frustrating for me, like handling a living thing Very often the characters will tell me what they will, or more often will not, do. The more defined a character has become as writing progresses, the more difficult it is to make him/her do anything which is counter intuitive. That again is a plus: it means the character has a life of his or her own. I don’t use software for structuring but I write copious notes, in longhand before and during the writing process, and always carry a notebook for this purpose. Long bus journeys are great for formulating the next couple of chapters.

You have published Redemption Blues in several different languages. Do you plan on converting all your books? When will The End of Winter be available in English? Where is your biggest audience in Europe?

R BLUES appeared in six foreign languages because publishers in those language areas bought it and translated it: that’s how it works here. My UK publishers only have English language rights for UK and Commonwealth. So separate publishers bought it for Germany, The Netherlands, France, and so on. I had very little to do with the translation. THE END OF WINTER is being prepared for English publication right now and I expect the e-book at least to be available within weeks. It’s already been a big hit in foreign languages. I’d be happy for foreign publishers to take up my other books, too, and that’s a hope for the future. My biggest European audience for R BLUES and END OF WINTER was Germany. Why Germany in particular? I wish I knew. But the Germans have been enthusiastic and loyal fans for these two books and I hope will be for my others.

Did following along in your father’s footsteps create any problems? Did it help with your large European audience?

No, it was neither a help nor a hindrance, really. It certainly had no effect on my European sales, where Dad wasn’t known at all. He has been dead for nearly 50 years, and his success as a writer was way back in the 1950s, when I was a very small child. By the time I came along no-one had really heard of him (although I read a gratifyingly flattering review of his work last year by someone who must have dug through the archives to find him). In fact Dad used to tell me that on no account should I try to become a writer! He knew from hard experience how difficult it is and how little money and security there is in it. Didn’t stop him, - and it didn’t stop me. I rather suspect he knew it wouldn’t….

Author's Book List
Distant Thunder
Set at the end of the nineteenth century, this sweeping, epic love story traces the doomed relationship of two young people against the backdrop of a British Empire bracing itself against political opposition. As a boy, Frank had to leave his beloved India when his mother was assaulted by a British officer and accidentally shot when Frank tried to intervene. After his father dies of shame and a broken heart, Frank must make his way to England, sustained only by the determination to revenge himself on the man responsible for destroying his family as soon as he's old enough to become a soldier himself. Grace is the privileged daughter of an industrial magnate, but following her heart and her head makes her a champion of those oppressed by masters of the empire like her father, and so she too finds she has lost her family. As the pair fall in love, there is only one thing standing in the way of true happiness - Frank's vow of revenge…
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Amazon.UK
The Warning Bell
France, 1944. Pilot Officer George Madoc is tasked with a covert mission to the occupied coast of Brittany: under cover of night, he must ferry a French secret agent - an assassin - across the St Cyriac Shoals. It is an encounter that changes him for ever. Over sixty years later, his son Iain is offered the key to the mystery which has forced a wedge between him and his father. George`s wartime launch has been found and the past is coming back to life. Iain travels to France, desperate to discover the truth, but the village of St Cyriac will not give up its secrets easily. For some, the past is still dangerously alive, and Iain may pay the price of uncovering it…
Order the Book From: Amazon - Amazon.UK
Redemption Blues
CHRISTMAS, and it’s the end of the road for Matt and Lauren Silver and their tempestuous marriage. Rock star Silver has been touring abroad once too often, neglecting Lauren and their twin daughters, Gudrun and Freya. In a desperate attempt to put things right, he cancels his tour and comes home - but instead of the reconciliation he longs for he triggers a tragedy which will shatter all their lives forever. In a terrible accident Gudrun is killed and Silver vanishes, assumed dead. In fact, badly injured, he disappears into the shadows of underworld London, desperate, traumatized, and unable to face what he has done. Lauren is crushed by guilt, and her surviving daughter Freya is so emotionally scarred that no-one can reach her. No-one that is, except Inspector Sam Cobb, the detective sent to investigate the tragedy - a man with scars of his own. He reluctantly enters the Silvers’ bleak world, but when he does he brings hope. Hope of recovery. Hope for the future. Hope of redemption. Matt Silver, meanwhile, disfigured and desolate, has found comfort of a kind, thanks to the humanity of new and unexpected allies. Despite himself he has begun to heal, to grow stronger. To think of emerging from the shadows. And because of this, for Sam Cobb, Lauren and Freya there will come a time when hope alone is not enough. ‘An excellent read and Griggs keeps us guessing right up to the great twist at the end.' The Times
Order the Book From: Amazon - Amazon.UK
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Monday, March 25, 2013

Summer Lane - HBS Author's Spotlight is on State of Emergency

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Summer Lane. She is the author of the YA/NA Dystopian Romance, State of Emergency.

This blog is sponsored by the Buy The Book Tour.

Tour Date: 3/26/13

Today's Featured Book is

State of Emergency

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Author: Summer Lane

Book Trailer: State of Emergency

Barnes and Noble

What would you do if the world as you know it ended in an instant? How far would you go to survive? Cassidy Hart is your typical High School graduate: a little shy, a little sarcastic, and a little naïve. But when an electromagnetic pulse takes down the United States, she's forced to kick into full survival mode when she gets separated from her father. Yeah. Things suck. But with the help of a handsome soldier named Chris, she just might find her dad without getting into serious trouble. Emphasis on might. Oh. And there's the matter of avoiding getting killed in a world that's quickly turned into an active war zone. It's going to change Cassidy's life. It's going to be a major pain in the butt.

I don’t know how it happened. Nobody does. There are only theories, empty rhetoric and doomsday prophecies. None of them are right, but none of them are completely wrong, either. They all have a grain of truth. All I know is where I was and what I was doing when it happened.

The day had started out like every other day of my life. I hit the snooze button on my alarm about five times before dragging myself out of bed. I combed back my unruly red hair, threw on some clothes, and went into the kitchen. As usual, my dad hadn’t gone to the grocery store, so breakfast consisted of burnt toast and a teaspoon of olive oil.

Because fatty acids are supposed to be healthy for you.

And because there’s nothing else to eat in my house except a can of string beans from 1999.

Being nineteen, graduated from high school and unemployed, I didn’t have much to do besides surf the internet looking for interesting stories and reading my stack of books from the library. Lately I had applied for a multitude of different jobs, including a flight attendant, car washer and hotel manager. Needless to say, none of those positions panned out.

I’m more of the independent type, getting paid by my dad to help him out with his job as a private detective. He’s been letting me poke around in his cases since I was a freshman in high school. I’m good at it, too. Criminal justice, that is. I even wanted a degree in it, but since I’m flat busted broke and stuck in a two-bedroom home with an empty refrigerator, my options are kind of slim.

Anyway, after I looked for a few jobs online, I closed my laptop and started cleaning the house. My dad and I lived in a small house in the outer suburbs of Los Angeles. Culver City, to be exact. It’s about ten minutes away from Hollywood. The land of spray-on tans and yoga classes.

It’s a nice place to live as long as you don’t drive about five miles in the opposite direction. In that case you’ll end up in the middle of a ghetto. A visit to the grocery store might end up becoming a drive-by shooting.

Unsurprisingly, I’m an introvert.

So that day, that regular, average day, turned out to be a day that not only changed my life – but everybody else’s.

It was the day technology turned on us.

It was the beginning of a major pain in the butt.

Author Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Non Fiction

Website: Summer Lane
Author's Blog: Writing Belle - The Art of Storytelling
Twitter: @SummerEllenLane
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description: Summer Lane is the author of the YA/NA Dystopian Romance, State of Emergency. She is a freelance writer, publicist and lover of all things feline. Summer is also the author of Snappy Social Networking: How to Dominate the Blogosphere & Everything in Between. In her spare time, Summer is the creator of the online magazine/blog, Writing Belle, in addition to being a frequent contributor at NA Alley, a website dedicated to all things New Adult. Summer began writing when she was 13 years old, due to the fact that the long afternoons after school were somewhat boring, and writing stories seemed to make the time pass a little quicker. Since then she has written many books about jungle cats, secret agents, princesses and spaceships. She is also a non-fiction writer, but her debut novel, State of Emergency, is her favorite book yet. You can find Summer hopping around on the Internet by following her on Twitter@SummerEllenLane or swinging by Writing Belle.
Check Summer's Media Page.

Author Recommended by: Buy The Book Tours
This blog is sponsored by the Buy The Book Tours created by Christine Warner and Florence Price. They specialize in tours for a varied mix of genres with packages and prices just right for any author's budget.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Todd Borg - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Todd Borg. He is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Todd Borg
Author's Blog: Todd Borg
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
Tahoe local Todd Borg is the author of the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery series, featuring Detective McKenna, natch, his Great Dane Spot, and a bunch of other cool characters. Of course, the books have gotten great reviews coast-to-coast, won awards like the Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery of the Year, been chosen by Library Journal as one of the Top 5 Mysteries of the Year and more. But the main reason to check them out is that they are fun, fast reads with a lot of action and intelligent stories. The recurring characters will become your friends. Spot will become one of your favorite dogs. You'll love visiting Tahoe from your armchair. And the bad guys will make you... well, let's just say you will despise them. Borg has been waiting for you to give the books a try. P.S. Spot says hi.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon coming in July. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

My new book is due out August 1st. As for a hint about the title, it begins with "TAHOE," but we haven't decided what comes next. How's that for advance planning! We better decide soon, though, because the graphic artist is already designing the cover, and the book goes to print in two months. As for a tease, I think it might be the first thriller ever written where one of the story threads is about origami. Trust me, it's still exciting!

How does social media fit into your marketing? You have a Facebook account for your books. Have you tried to embrace twitter?

Social media for me consists of email and the telephone. My Facebook account isn't mine, it was put up by a fan. I'm not even sure how to go there. Twitter is what the Mountain Chickadees do outside my office window. As you can see, I'm really a with-it guy when it comes to tech.

You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? (We met at the Tucson Festival of Books) When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

There is an events page on my website that shows where I'm talking and signing. (Todd's Events) People can also send me an email, to which I promise I will respond. Most of my next appearances are in the Bay Area, then I'll be doing events in Tahoe over the summer. Come fall, I'm back to the Bay Area for a variety of appearances. Please come. Bring your dog. If you don't have a dog, get a Great Dane and bring it. Just kidding. (But if you really want a Great Dane, read my page on Danes, first! See Danes)

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

The book covers are my secret weapon, and they are designed by a graphics wizard in Portland, Oregon named Keith Carlson. The design process is simple. I give him a few really lame ideas, and then, despite my philistine design sensibility, he produces a spectacular cover. How does he do it? I have no idea. Genius can't be easily explained.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

Writer's groups, especially critique groups, are essential. The only way you can turn a rough draft into a superior story is to have other writers and readers serve as editors and tell you what works and what doesn't. If you don't want to be embarrassed by your book, you have to beg for the harshest critique possible, i.e., If my book sucks, please let me know before the whole world sees it! (You can see why your best buddies don't usually make the best editors because they are reluctant to tell you the truth about your writing deficiencies!) Professional editors are preferred. Expect to pay.

Writer's groups, and organizations like the Independent Book Publishers Association are hugely helpful in the process of figuring out what to do once your book is polished to a high shine.

When you get somewhat seasoned in this business, the publishing and marketing stuff is pretty straightforward. But you never get to a point where you don't need several professional editors to go through your manuscript word-by-word. P.S. The biggest mistake amateur writers make is to let their excitement take over, and they rush to print before undergoing a thorough editing process. Bad reviews and no sales will haunt you for years after.

Between your book writing, workshops, speaking engagements, Chester, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I'm on the road too much to have a set schedule. So I squeeze in writing whenever I get the chance. In the hotel in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. At the airport. In the car when my wife is driving. When I go for long walks in the forest. In the shower. (Remember, most writing is thinking, not typing.) Contrary to what people think, finding the time to write isn't that hard. It wasn't even hard back when I had a six-day-a-week day job. All you have to do is turn off the TV. (My wife and I don't have a TV. And yes, that means that we are hopelessly out-of-it when it comes to pop culture.)

P.S. Chester the Wonder Dog is my nephew (of sorts) and he lives 600 miles away. So, fun as he is, he doesn't take up too much of my time! Detective McKenna's Great Dane Spot, on the other hand, takes up a large chunk of my time. But being fictional means that he doesn't bark when I'm sleeping, he's easy to pick up after, and, despite his ferocious appetite, his food bill is blissfully small.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

Ebooks have changed several aspects of my career, all for the better. Readers can acquire my books faster, read them faster, and do it for less money. Now, when I give a talk, I see the iPhones come out, people poke at the screens, then they make a little nod as the Kindle book loads before I've gotten to my fourth joke. Amazing.

Your question about whether ebooks change one's writing is very perceptive. Shopping for ebooks is substantially different than shopping for treebooks in a store. Without the heft and feel and back copy to sway readers' opinions, they click on the "look inside the book feature" and read the first few sentences. So a gripping beginning is more important than ever.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

After Christmas, I participated in a free Kindle giveaway of my book TAHOE TRAP, and it got 23,000 downloads. When the book went back up to $4.99, it immediately hit Amazon's bestseller list and the sales of all my other nine titles went up by four times during the month of January, thus proving the validity of the Google business model: The more you can give away for free, the more eyeballs you'll get, and the more you'll sell.

In my research, I saw you publish one of your books in another language? What was the response? Do you plan to convert more of your novels?

My agent sold the French hardcover rights to TAHOE HIJACK a little over a year ago. It came out in French in May of 2012. Then the French softcover rights sold to France's biggest paperback publisher. But other than my advance, I haven't gotten any contact from the publisher, nor have I heard any information about sales, so I don't know how the book is doing. I did acquire a copy, though. The title is TAHOE L'ENLEVEMENT, Une Enquete Du Detective McKenna. I only speak and read four words in French, but I have to say that the book looks very cool. As for my other titles, their translation rights are available, too.

Let’s get to the good stuff. You’re conducting a 3-day workshop in November for writers called the "The Hook, the Twist, and the Cliffhanger".

In a previous life, I roamed the country doing workshops on digital conversation (before ebooks) and I enjoyed helping people. What has been your takeaway from conducting your workshops? What is your emphasis on marketing? (For more detail on the workshop)

I've done quite a few workshops and seminars over the years, and they are always a wonderful time for everyone involved. I split the focus two-thirds on writing, one-third on publishing and finding an audience (marketing). These are great, fun events with an intense focus on everything that one needs to know to write and publish successful entertainment novels. The next workshop is in Sacramento, November 16, 17, 18.

No question here.

That is Spot, Owen Mckenna's sidekick, holding up the lady.
I just wanted to give your dog equal space since so much attention is given to Spot.

Author's Book List
Tahoe Trap - Owen Mckenna Tahoe Mystery
A Young Boy Cries Help When Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna answers his phone early one morning, a young boy named Paco cries out, Help me! His Foster Mother Has Been Murdered McKenna talks to Paco and discovers that the boy is trapped in the back of a speeding pickup somewhere in Tahoe. In the front of the truck are two men who have just murdered Paco's foster mother. The men want the boy, but they don't yet know that the boy witnessed the murder and that he hid in their truck. Two Killers Are After The Boy As McKenna races to find Paco, he learns that the two men are contract killers from Las Vegas. Their MO is to use electronic stun guns to immobilize their victims prior to asphyxiating them with plastic wrap. Detective Owen McKenna Sets A Trap While McKenna doesn't have a clue why the killers are after the boy, he knows that if he does nothing, the killers will keep coming for Paco. So McKenna plans to set a trap for them using Paco as bait. If McKenna Fails, The Boy Dies McKenna's plan carries a huge risk. If it goes wrong, he will be handing the boy to the killers....
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Tahoe Hijack - Owen Mckenna Tahoe Mystery
When Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna responds to a boat hijacking on Lake Tahoe, he gets pulled into the case of a woman named Anna Quinn who is on the run and hiding from members of a fanatical militia group. The militia men believe that Anna has information about a treasure that dates to the Gold Rush, and they will do anything to find her and learn whatever she knows. In order to save Anna, Detective McKenna has to find her first. But he is out-manned and out-gunned, and it looks like the militia men intend to put both him and Anna into their burial ground…
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Tahoe Heat - An Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller
When young Ryan Lear's business partners are murdered, his life is threatened, and someone plots to take over his fast-growing bio-tech company, Ryan calls Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna. McKenna is on the job only a short time when Ryan's piano tuner neighbor dies just after tuning his piano. McKenna discovers that hidden in the tuning is some kind of message encoded in the vibrations of the strings. The case takes McKenna on a deadly chase that leads to information about a scientific breakthrough at a high-altitude lab on a mountain above Lake Tahoe. McKenna further learns of a wild Mustang that roams Tahoe's forests, far from the safety of its native desert. The locals name the Mustang Heat for its habit of searching out areas where the hot sun shines through the forest canopy. McKenna can't figure out the piano tuning code or the reason why the Mustang has come so far from his home. But McKenna realizes that both are connected to a vicious killer who is planning the ultimate revenge…
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Tahoe Night - Owen Mckenna Tahoe Mystery
In the 7th Owen McKenna mystery, TV talk show host Leah Printner had a successful life until a car accident killed her loving husband and left her face badly scarred, ending her thriving career. After Leah gets out of the hospital, the landlady of Leah's father tells Detective Owen McKenna that she believes a man is stalking Leah. The landlady thinks that both father and daughter are in danger. Will McKenna look into it? McKenna is only on the job a few hours before the father is murdered. When he realizes that the killer wants the daughter as well, McKenna rushes Leah into hiding. McKenna discovers that there is more than one killer, and that they are fixated on Grendel, the monster in the ancient, epic poem Beowulf. McKenna also learns that the crimes are linked to an art forgery of old-master paintings. Under the paralysis of fear and the trauma of injury, Leah's life hits bottom. The woman is broken and maybe beyond saving. But the killers made one fatal mistake. They took down the father and tried to kill the daughter on McKenna's watch…
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Tahoe Avalanche - An Owen Mckenna Mystery Thriller
6th in the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery series by Ben Franklin Award-winner Todd Borg, TAHOE AVALANCHE is a story of greed and murder on the mountains of Tahoe.

When a monster avalanche crashes down at Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, a young man named March Carrera is swept off the mountain highway. March's uncle, Bill Esteban, a wealthy Houston businessman with a house in Tahoe, has a hunch that March's disappearance isn't an accident. Esteban contacts Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna and asks him to investigate.

Although McKenna's Great Dane Spot has some search training, McKenna decides to bring in a professional Search-And-Rescue dog that specializes in avalanches. When the dog searches the slide area, he alerts on a scent and digs up a great deal more than McKenna expected.

As McKenna is pulled into a harrowing investigation, another avalanche on the other side of Tahoe claims another victim. While McKenna struggles to find a connection between the victims, the murderer reveals his presence by warning McKenna off the case.

McKenna and his girlfriend, a forensic entomologist named Street Casey, are called to the morgue in Sacramento to examine an insect found in the lungs of one of the victims. Casey identifies it as a Boat-backed Ground beetle, a ferocious predatory insect that eats snails. Casey further connects the beetle to the soil of the Sierra foothills.

The killer follows his warning with a bomb that almost kills McKenna's dog Spot. Despite the bomb, McKenna continues to pursue the case. He follows a lead that takes him to San Francisco's seedy Tenderloin District, where an art-collecting Chinese mobster trades in stolen detonators that can be used to set off the type of explosives that ski patrollers use for avalanche-control. McKenna connects the mobster to a dead rich girl from San Francisco s exclusive Presidio neighborhood, and then ties the girl to a foothill vineyard with the kind of soil that provides home for the predacious beetles. He believes this new information identifies the killer.

Detective McKenna races back to the mountains, but arrives too late, for the suspect turns up dead, buried under another slide. When returning home, McKenna is bombed once again, this time sustaining a serious wound.

Faced with losing his life or the life of his dog, McKenna contemplates quitting the case. But he presses on and learns of a striking event that happened 140 years ago, an event that all of the avalanche victims also knew about.

This knowledge doesn't identify the killer, but it does indicate that there is one last person to die. McKenna realizes that the last intended victim is up on the shoulder of Tahoe's highest mountain. McKenna rushes to organize a rescue party. A violent storm is approaching, the last victim is with the killer, and there is one more avalanche coming to bury the secret forever.

In addition to winning the Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery of the Year, Todd Borg's Owen McKenna mysteries have been chosen for Top 5 Mystery lists by the prestigious Library Journal, and by Mystery News Reviewer G. Wedgwood. He's won Best Mystery and Best Thriller honors from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association and received Best New Fiction accolades from libraries. His novels have also received starred reviews and raves in major trade journals and newspapers across the country. The previous novel in the series, Tahoe Silence, also made Amazon's Mystery/Thriller Bestseller list.
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Tahoe Silence - An Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller
SalAnne "Silence" Ramirez was an exceptional artist and, according to one of her teachers, brilliant. She was also autistic and mute and had not spoken a single word in her 17 years. When Silence is kidnapped on the eve of the Tahoe Biker Festival, the best guess is that the perpetrators are the Granite Mountain Boys, the notorious biker gang with ties to the most infamous Super Max prison in the country. Detective Owen McKenna and his Great Dane Spot pursue the biker fraternity and their charismatic leader who speaks Aztec commands from Aztec gods. When the case seems hopeless, the kidnapped girl draws pictures of the kidnappers and figures out how to sneak them out of the house where she is held captive. But the pictures bring McKenna no closer to knowing where she is or why she was taken. Silence knows the reason. But that knowledge is locked up inside her mind. Time to save the girl is short. As McKenna tries to make sense of the autistic girl's drawings, he comes to a horrible realization. The kidnapper plans a ritual sacrifice at the next full moonrise...

Winner: Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery of the Year. Chosen by Library Journal as one of the Five Best Mysteries of the Year. Tahoe Silence also made Amazon's Mystery Thriller Bestseller list.
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Tahoe Ice Grave - An Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller
Early one frigid morning in January a young man named Thos Kahale walked into the icy waters of Lake Tahoe and died a brutal death. Hired to investigate, Owen McKenna learns that the Hawaiian side of the man's family had a secret shrine hidden in a cave in the cliffs of Kauai. Owen Flies to Kauai and hears about a long-lost manuscript that Mark Twain left when he visited Kauai in 1866. The manuscript, which would be worth millions, is rumored to have been lost in a hurricane. Owen suspects that it was hidden in the secret shrine. As more people die, Owen tracks a vicious killer who looks like a Viking. Owen follws the Viking back to Tahoe and learns of a cave of ice that is sacred to Tahoe's Washoe Indians. Thos, who was half Washoe, may have hidden the manuscript in the Tahoe cave. Only one person, whose identity is unknown, knows the answer. Owen and his Great Dane Spot have to find that person before the Viking does, and they are running out of time as they chase the Viking up a mountain in a blizzard to a cave of ice and a battle to the death.
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Tahoe Blowup - An Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller
When Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna's cabin narrowly escapes burning in an arson-set forest fire, the local fire department hires him to investigate. As more fires follow and people die, Owen can't tell if the fires are an act of eco-terrorism or a method of murder. Before Owen can solve the case, the firestarter kidnaps Owen's girlfriend Street Casey. Owen has just hours to save Street before she burns up in a fire so big, fire fighters call it a BLOWUP
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Tahoe Deathfall - An Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller
Disaster struck when twin sisters Jennifer and Melissa Salazar went hiking with their grandmother on their sixth birthday. Melissa got lost, fell off a cliff on the rock slide above Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe and died. Eight years later, fourteen-year-old Jennifer wants to hire Detective Owen McKenna to look into the death, which she believes was a murder. When Owen begins to investigate, another body is discovered. Owen's girlfriend Street Casey, a forensic entomologist, analyzes maggots found in the corpse. Her information helps Owen connect the body to the case. Owen uncovers information that takes him from Tahoe to San Francisco to a rich man's private island off the coast of Santa Barbara. The man directs McKenna to an asylum in the Nevada desert. Although the facility is surrounded by armed guards, Owen breaks in and learns of a long-buried secret that caused the murder of Jennifer's sister and several others in her family. Jennifer is the next intended victim. When Owen realizes who the murderer is, he races back to Lake Tahoe. Owen and his Great Dane Spot will need every second if they are to catch him. The killer has Jennifer and she has only minutes left to live…
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Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
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