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Monday, September 28, 2015


Robert Bidinotto, Cheryl Bradshaw, Allan Leverone, and Jonas Saul are four of todays hottest thriller writers with all kinds of credentials to back their status.  Robert Bidinotto has over 100,000 books sold in his Hunter series with just 2 books in the series so far.  Recently he’s had the series translated for sale in Turkey as well.  Cheryl Bradshaw is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sloane Monroe mystery series. Her novel Stranger in Town was a Shamus Award finalist for best PI novel of the year in 2013.  Allan Leverone is also a NY Times bestselling author and recently had one of his books rise inside of Amazon’s top 100 in Ebook sales.  Jonas Saul is an extremely prolific writer who straddles the line between thriller and horror.  At one point Jonas was ranked #1 in the Top 100 Horror Authors, ahead of that Stephen King guy.  All of these authors have plenty of experience inside the publishing world and each one was kind enough to spend some time with me to answer questions for my readers.  So here they are:

1- What is your writing routine?  And how long does it normally take to create a novel from start to finish?

Cheryl Bradshaw: I start each day off handing the business side of things: I manage my promotions, reply to emails, touch base with my assistant, and look at what I can do to keep improving my brand. Once this is all taken care of, I try to shut off all notifications so I can write in peace for at least three or four hours each day. Most of the time I'll pause to do research, but I still consider it part of the writing process. My novels take an average of three or four months to complete, and sometimes even less if I'm trying to hit a specific deadline. If I'm writing a 20,000 word novella, I can usually finish in about three weeks. 

Robert Bidinotto:  Gary, my “routine” actually occurs in stages. Unlike many authors, my stories grow from some theme or idea, rather than from a character or event. So before I start writing, I spend a long time, months, thinking about the implications of the theme. First, I develop two conflicting positions or viewpoints. Then, I conjure opposing main characters who advocate or embody those clashing positions. Then I figure out how to put those opposing characters into conflict: What clashing personal goals are they going to fight about? That’s the germ of my story. After that, I flesh out the plot by adding escalating confrontations and new characters, who represent variations on the main theme.

During those months of mulling and outlining, I do little actual writing. I stare into space a lot, jot down notes, write little essays to myself. I insert all of that stuff into my novel-writing software, a great program called “Write It Now,” and then begin to outline the events of chapters and scenes.

When I am finally satisfied that I have the whole story pretty much figured out, then I settle into a writing routine. I usually begin a session by going back over what I’ve written the previous day, editing and polishing it. That gets my head back into the story. Then I forge ahead into drafting the next scene. Since I’ve outlined the story in advance, I know basically what is going to be necessary in the scene. But as I write, the characters spring to life and their dialogue and activities constantly surprise and delight me.

I try to complete a scene or two every writing session, which usually amounts to 2,000 to 3,000 words. But when I’m on a roll, especially during the latter stages of the book, the clock and the calendar no longer exist for me, and I continue on a tear that can only be described as “binge writing.” I’ll knock out 4,000, 5,000, even 7,000 words at a sitting. Sometimes I won’t go to bed until the wee hours. I’ve worked as long as 18 hours straight. As I near the end of the book, I’ll crash out for a few hours’ nap, then get up and do it again. It’s utterly insane. I’ll miss meals, never get out of my bathrobe, and generally annoy my wife by being so preoccupied that it’s like living with Howard Hughes during his final reclusive days.

It’s not a “routine” I would recommend to a single other writer on the planet, Gary.

Allan Leverone: For the first time in my writing career, I actually have something resembling a regular writing routine. Up until the last couple of months, I would simply try to carve out writing time wherever I could, which often meant writing during my breaks at work.
Now, however, I have a job where I work mostly nights, so I usually try to devote two to three hours of writing every morning before getting ready for work. I share a cup of coffee with my wife, and then head for my computer to write. And, of course, guzzle more coffee.
My goal every week is to write six out of the seven days, and to create fifteen hundred words of new material when I’m working on the first draft of a novel. Sometimes life intervenes and I’m not able to meet those goals, but I can usually come pretty close, and when that’s the case I can typically finish the first draft of a new novel in two months, give or take.
Then comes self-editing and rewriting, which can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month. Then comes professional editing, which can add anywhere from a week to another month, depending on how much work the book needs.
Add it all up and it works out to approximately four months for a novel, start to finish. That estimate is very approximate, however. I’ve written books in considerably less time, and I’ve also had others that took quite a bit longer. A lot depends on how well or how poorly everything flows once I get into the nuts and bolts of the project.

Jonas Saul: I always begin a novel on a Monday. I’m religious about it. I write 4,000 words on that Monday, and each day of the week thereafter until Friday when I have 20,000 words written. I take weekends off and repeat that process on the following Monday until the book is done three to four weeks later. If something comes up during any given week that prevents my word count to hit 20,000 on Friday, then I write Saturday as if it’s a weekday. I never start the next Monday without having reached the previous week’s word count.

I outline and research extensively prior to writing a single word in a new manuscript. I know the entire plot, the beginning, the middle, and the end before I start writing the first draft.

Based on this writing routine, my novel’s first draft takes 3-4 weeks to write.

The entire process, from idea, to notes, to research and outlining, to writing and sending the manuscript to the editor, beta readers, and finally setting up the preorder on Amazon, takes months, sometimes six months. I’m always two to three books ahead, though. Covers, titles and storyline are usually outlined far in advance.

In the past I’ve done it faster (5,000 words per day) and I’ve done it slower (2,000 words per day), but I’ve found the 4,000 word per day count works the best for me.

2- What is your ideal writing place?

Cheryl Bradshaw: If I could write anywhere full time, I would either write at a hotel that offers room service or somewhere with inspiring scenery, such as a beach house or a cabin in the mountains . Writing at home is difficult because I'm easily distracted by the mundane daily rituals like laundry, dishes, making dinner, etc. I've noticed when I'm away from home my productivity doubles, so if I'm really behind, I'll take off for a week or so. It's a great excuse for a vacation! 

Robert Bidinotto: I don’t know if it’s “ideal,” but I work in a cluttered second-floor office on a desktop computer. My desk and a work table right beside it are arranged in an “L,” for easy access to whatever I need. They are piled with notes and file folders. I can’t work with distractions, so I don’t listen to music. I keep my Keurig coffeemaker downstairs, so that I have to get up occasionally and stretch my legs.
Allan Leverone: A little over a year ago, my wife and I did some much needed renovations on our house. One of the projects involved transforming our old family room into an office for yours truly. It’s a terrific space, quiet and private, and I owe my wife a lot for handing me my own little fortress of solitude when our home is not exactly a gigantic mansion.
But that office is now my ideal writing space. It’s equipped with a big L-shaped desk, my printer/fax machine and shredder right where I need them, my treasure trove of signed books in a special glass-fronted bookcase behind me, and lots of shelf space for books, CDs and everything else it takes to make me feel at home.
It’s an awesome space. But I’ve been writing fiction seriously since late-2006, and until July of last year I had no space dedicated to writing at all. I toted my laptop to wherever I could find a quiet place to work. Sometimes it was a bedroom, other times the kitchen, occasionally the front seat of my truck. I love my office, but it’s not necessary to have a dedicated space if one’s not available. As I mentioned before, for years I lugged my laptop to work and wrote whenever I could carve out the time on my breaks.

Jonas Saul: The only place I write is in my segregated office. I never write new words unless I’m behind my desk at my home office. I’ll reread a novel, perform edits and outline outside my office, but new words are always written at my desk. 

3- What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received, or seen in a magazine or an interview?
Cheryl Bradshaw: In 2009 I started a blog, and I was fortunate enough to have some really fantastic authors guest post. At the time, I was trying to publish my first book traditionally and was not open to doing it any other way. That logic went out the window when I interviewed Deed to Dead indie published author D.B. Henson, who was among the top twenty-five authors on Amazon that year. She pushed me to give indie publishing a try, and I'm glad I did. It's shaped my career faster and opened more doors for me in the traditional publishing world than I ever could have done waiting for a contract I may have never received. Four years later, my work speaks for itself. I have now signed my first foreign book deal, and have more offers on the horizon. It's a good place to be.

Robert Bidinotto:  Lee Child once told me, in an interview, to “ignore all advice.” Well, Gary, I wouldn’t go that far. In fact, I’ve read a bazillion how-to books on writing and learned many tips. But after internalizing many of them, I’ve concluded that all the so-called “rules” of writing good fiction really add up to just one, which I’ll call The Golden Rule of Fiction Writing:

Your job as a storyteller is to draw the reader down into your fictional world, then make it so compelling that he remains rooted there, spellbound and turning pages, completely forgetting the real world around him and that he is merely reading a book.

By that rule, a “good” fictional device or technique is anything that helps you maintain the “spell” and illusion of your fictional world. And, as a corollary, the Mortal Sin of Fiction Writing is doing anything to break that spell and distract the reader back into the real world.

That sin could be sloppy writing: bad grammar, misspellings, typos, factual errors. It could also be distracting the reader from the story spell by showing off: by “clever” yet jarringly intrusive turns of phrase, or by putting your vast knowledge on display with distracting “information dumps,” all of which call attention to your presence as The Author. If the reader is distracted by errors or bad writing, or if he becomes aware of you the author, then he is jarred out of your story world and suddenly reminded that he is just reading a book. That is when you lose him—when he yawns and closes the book to get up for a cup of coffee, or starts wondering what’s on TV.

Your primary responsibility as an author of fiction is to keep your reader down in your Story World, glued to his chair, turning pages and losing all track of time and place. Every other rule or technique of literary craft is merely a means to that end.

Allan Leverone: If you want to be seen as professional, and especially if you’re an Indie writer who wants to be seen as professional, you have to continually strive to improve. If you’re not getting better, you’re falling behind, and it doesn’t matter how good you are or how good you think you are for that to be true.
I’m realistic about my work and I understand not everyone is going to like it. If you offer your work for public consumption, there will be people who are going to hate it. There will be readers/reviewers who will eviscerate you just for sport. If you can’t find a way to deal with that, you’re probably better off just keeping a journal, as opposed to offering your words for sale.
However, while you have to accept the fact that a certain percentage of people are going to dislike your work, you should never use that as an excuse to stop trying to improve. I know there will always be writers who sell more books than me, and there will always be writers who make more money than me and have more fans than me.
But one thing I can’t stomach is the thought that a writer might be working harder than me. There is little in this business you can truly control as a writer, and one of the only things you can control is your level of effort, your commitment to being professional and to offering every single reader the absolute best product you’re able to muster.
If I can get to the end of the day and honestly tell myself I’ve done that, then I’m satisfied, regardless of how many books I sold that day, or what sorts of reviews my work received that day.
It’s important for a writer to write, but it’s more important for a writer to write well.

Jonas Saul: Below is the entire quote from Philip Pullman that moved me when I read it. It’s the last line that got me the most. That’s how I write 4,000 words per day. I get up in the morning, head to my office with my coffee and do my job. I don’t care if I feel like it or not. That’s what I do for a living. I’m a writer, a storyteller. So I tell stories.

“Writer's block … a lot of howling nonsense would be avoided if, in every sentence containing the word WRITER, that word was taken out and the word PLUMBER substituted; and the result examined for the sense it makes. Do plumbers get plumber's block? What would you think of a plumber who used that as an excuse not to do any work that day? 

The fact is that writing is hard work, and sometimes you don't want to do it, and you can't think of what to write next, and you're fed up with the whole damn business. Do you think plumbers don't feel like that about their work from time to time? Of course there will be days when the stuff is not flowing freely. What you do then is MAKE IT UP. I like the reply of the composer Shostakovich to a student who complained that he couldn't find a theme for his second movement. “Never mind the theme! Just write the movement!” he said. 

Writer's block is a condition that affects amateurs and people who aren't serious about writing. So is the opposite, namely inspiration, which amateurs are also very fond of. Putting it another way: a professional writer is someone who writes just as well when they're not inspired as when they are.”

Check out more about each of these talented authors at:
Cheryl Bradshaw:
Robert Bidinotto:
Allan Leverone:
Jonas Saul:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


I’m a novelist so I read plenty of fiction, but some years ago I read a thrilling story by Jon Krakauer titled, “Into Thin Air,” about a journalist’s journey to the top of the world and it changed everything for me.  The  book was an exhilarating first-hand account of an expedition which attempted to scale Mount Everest and the  drama that’s included in achieving something so demanding.  Twelve people lost their lives on this particular expedition and Krakauer’s  storytelling is what brings this tragedy to life.  Without his incredible writing skills no one outside of the mountaineering community would even know about this disaster. 

A storm is brewing while Krakauer looks down at the world from the top of Everest and miscalculations cause lives to be lost.  Krakauer works through some very guilt-ridden descriptions of mistakes he’d made and it gives the book a personal touch, as if he was using the forum as a form of catharsis.
I bring this up because it was the first nonfiction book I’d read for pleasure in a long while and it made me realize what good writing can do to a true story.  I’m sure this style of historical fiction was employed much earlier, however, this was the first book which captured my imagination so vividly.

Not long after reading “Into Thin Air,” I read Sebastian Junger’s “The Perfect Storm.”  Once again I was transported into this amalgamation of three storm systems all merging in the North Atlantic to terrorize the six member crew of the swordfish boat, the Andrea Gail.  The crew was eminently qualified and by all accounts did everything humanly possible to escape their plight.  Junger does a stellar job of recreating the meteorological events that caused this perfect storm, even describing a Coast Guard rescue helicopter trying to save a civilian boat in the same system while navigating hundred foot waves.  This was a masterful job of storytelling and in less competent hands could’ve turned out to be a weather report.  But Junger draws you into the personal lives of the crew and their family and makes you feel the agony that goes along with the hazardous lifestyle of a deep sea fishing crew.

The final book in this trio of books that broke the boundaries for me was Laura Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit.”  Once again I was back in the 1930’s where horse racing and boxing were the two most popular sports.  Before telephones or television were household items, never mind handheld devices.  What Hillenbrand does so well is document the times and remind people what life was like all those years ago.  Can you imagine ten thousand people showing up at a train stop in New Mexico just to watch a horse lumber down a ramp and go to the bathroom?  It’s an amazing account of a lifestyle that is gone, and pending an apocalyptic event, will never return.

Now as a fiction writer, it’s my job to imagine that apocalyptic event and show you what that might look like.  But until then, these books allow you to see, smell and hear what history looked like, and when you’re finished you’ll think to yourself—wow, that really happened. 

What were your boundary books?                

Thursday, July 2, 2015


For many readers of the twelve NY Times bestselling authors who put together the Flight 12 series, it's been a year-long wait to find out exactly what happened to this missing flight.  I was honored to be chosen as the writer to finish this story with this Flight 12 thriller.

Nick Bracco is on board and I can promise that something is very wrong, but you'll have to stick around until the end before you find out what happened.

Does Nick save the flight?

Does he survive?

You'll have to read it to find out.

For those who don't know, here's the setup:

May 12 New York (AP): A Skyway Airlines flight carrying 375 passengers and 13 crew bound for Rome’s Fiumicino airport from New York’s JFK International Airport has disappeared off the radar overnight according to airline spokespersons. Skyway Flight 12 had left New York at 12:00 midnight Monday evening and was said to be operating normally and in good weather conditions. According to sources on the ground, the plane, a Boeing 767, was piloted by an experienced flight crew who issued no alarm of any kind prior to vanishing somewhere over the Atlantic ocean east of Newfoundland. The 767 is
said to be a reliable twin engine carrier that’s been in service since 1982 with an excellent safety record. While a catastrophic mechanical failure is presently being investigated, says an FAA spokesman, a criminal event is not being ruled out. Both sea and air rescue crews have been dispatched from the US, Canada, Newfoundland, and Ireland. This is a developing story.

So, thriller fans, it’s time.

Fasten your safety belts. Return your seat backs and tray tables to their full upright and locked position. Review the safety information card in your seatback pocket once more before takeoff.


Here we go!

Monday, March 9, 2015


The Twelve have released a new box set of thrillers from some of the best thriller writers out there.  Diane Capri, Cheryl Bradsaw, Vincent Zandri, J. Carson Black, A.K. Alexander, Aaron Patterson, Joshua Graham, Brett Battles, Robert Gregory, Allan Leverone, Robert Gregory Browne, Jack Patterson,Carol Davis Luce, and I have agreed to release a new set of work for the ridiculous price of .99 cents.  This will be a one time deal which will expire in 60 days, so get those downloads done now before the box set expires.  

As you can imagine there's virtually no profit made during these promos, however these are writers who are willing to give away one piece of their writing in order to allow readers a taste for their work.  The winners of this deal are the readers who take advantage of them while they are available.
Happy Reading: 

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Over a year ago the extremely popular author J.A. Konrath (Joe) left a blog post inviting authors to write a short story using any of his characters and if he liked the story he would make adjustments and publish it as a collaboration.  This is something quite common among talented and popular authors who have a large reader base (See James Patterson.)  He stated that he would only publish the ones he liked and if the author’s work wasn’t chosen they could simply change the character’s names and publish it on their own.  Seemed fair.  So I submitted a story using his popular Jack Daniels character with one of my characters, Tommy Bracco, FBI agent Nick Bracco’s mafia-connected cousin. 

A few weeks later Joe contacted me to let me know that he really liked my short story and he would publish it.  Here is the Link to that story released on Amazon’s Kindle Worlds yesterday:

At the time Joe asked if I would be interested in writing a full length novel using Jack Daniels with my Nick Bracco character.  Of course I was thrilled with the offer and immediately went to work on the project.

Fast forward a year.  The book is finished.  I contacted Joe only to discover that his plate is full of projects and he can’t actually collaborate on the book, but he would sanction the release and for part of the proceeds (something I already offered him before I started) he would pay for the proofreading, the cover and even the formatting to have it released on several platforms.  These were things I already had budgeted for, but Joe felt compelled to pay for these services himself.  This is a leap of faith for Joe, because if the book isn’t up to his usual standards then his solid reputation can take a hit.   

The result is a brand new Nick Bracco/Jack Daniels Thriller titled, A Touch of Tequila.  Since all my Nick Bracco books start with A Touch of . . . It was easy to keep that theme going along with using Tequila in the title which is the name of a character from one of Joe’s earlier books, A Shot of Tequila. 

Both the short story and the novels are written by me, but sanctioned by Joe.  Even though I wasn’t able to collaborate with him, I felt a responsibility to make sure his characters were properly portrayed and behaved within the realm of their personalities.  I read and reread many of the Jack Daniels thrillers for research and feel confident my work will resonate with his readers.  At the same time, my own readers will definitely welcome the return of Nick, Matt and Tommy Bracco.

If you’re a fan of either of ours, or just a thriller fan--take a look below.  It took a year to accomplish, but I had fun playing in Joe’s sandbox and I think the wait was worth it:

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Diane Capri is a lawyer turned fiction writer.  Unlike others of that ilk, she was actually ranked in the top 1% of lawyers in the nation.  Now with her success as a NY Times Bestseller and USA Today Bestseller, you could argue she's in the top 1% in both fields.  Does that make her all full of herself and keep the proletariat at arms-length?  No, actually she's extremely social.  She's been involved with many writers organizations, including International Thriller Writers where she served on the board with longtime friend Lee Child.

Diane is also very active on Facebook where you could chat her up on many subjects without ever feeling she's rushing you through her of of readers questions.  If you haven't read any of her thrillers, you should.  Start with "Due Justice," her first Judge Willa Carson Thriller, or "Don't know Jack," her first Hunt for Jack Reacher thriller.  Yes, that Jack Reacher.  Either way you can't go wrong.  She also spearheaded one of the first ebook anthologies with a fantastic group of writers which broke all kinds of sales records.  I could go on, but I'll to turn it over to Diane to let you know about her other projects: 

1- It seems that the Deadly dozen was one of the first anthologies to break through to mass success.  How did the Deadly Dozen begin?

Deadly Dozen was the first big project from The Twelve, the author collective I started in late 2013. The idea behind The Twelve is simple: Twelve authors working together can be twelve times as effective as one author working alone. When I invited the first few colleagues to join, they were enthusiastic about The Twelve concept and we very quickly added the remaining authors to our group. From there, we brainstormed our first project and Deadly Dozen was our unanimous choice!

2- How far up the bestseller lists did you guys go?

Deadly Dozen seemed to resonate with readers in a very big way, much bigger than we expected, actually. We had a simple goal: Make Deadly Dozen available to every reader on the planet who might want to read it as a way to introduce The Twelve to readers and as a thank you to readers who were already fans. Everything we did was aimed at that goal. Which eventually meant that if we could hit the "big lists," because they get so much exposure, we could make more readers aware of Deadly Dozen.

A few weeks after we released Deadly Dozen, the set hit three New York Times lists and six USA Today lists before another set of terrific books by other authors knocked us off the lists. What a great run, though!

3- Did you see residual benefit with your other fiction as a consequence of this collaboration?

Absolutely. We've been actively working to share our books with readers. The first place we started was with our individual mailing lists of fans. From there, we branched out to Deadly Dozen. Now, we're deeply involved in our new Flight 12 project and we released Deadly Dozen 2 this week. All of this work brings in new readers for all of us and gives new readers a chance to try our individual works, which is great!

4- What did you think of all the anthologies which followed your theme, including the Thrilling Thirteen?

I'm always excited to see what the author community is doing to reach readers. Much of what I do toward that end is based on what's happening with my peers. So of course we were immensely honored and flattered that other authors wanted to release sets similar to Deadly Dozen. It feels good to give back, even a little bit, though inspiration. 

5- What’s in store for the future of the group of authors involved?

As I mentioned, in addition to our individual work, The Twelve is deeply involved right now in another groundbreaking project titled Flight 12. The story is revolutionary because as far as we can find out, no single author or group of authors has ever done this before. And it's evolutionary in the sense that the readers are the ones who will help us write the ending.

The story's concept is simple: We release one new book featuring characters our readers already know and love every month for twelve months. At the end of each novella, one person boards Flight 12 to Rome. Then, the plane disappears! What happens after that? The conclusion is so thrilling that it could only come from the collective minds of our readers! And along the way, we're offering contests and prizes and collecting those great suggestions from readers every month, too. Everybody should get on board! It's going to be a wild flight!       

Monday, October 27, 2014


When the twelve authors who released the anthology, Deadly Dozen, last year it changed the Ebook landscape forever.  Writers everywhere began collaborating in hopes of attaining even a percentage of the success the original DD Ebook accomplished, including a group I was involved with called the Thrilling Thirteen, which was extremely successful, but not Deadly Dozen successful.

So how did this work, and why?  Well, you start with super accomplished veteran authors like Diane Capri and J. Carson Black and Vincent Zandri.  Then fill it in with a collection of tremendously talented and motivated authors who were willing to allow their thrillers to be downloaded for  just pennies and you can see where this is headed.  Twelve novels from twelve quality writers for just .99 cents.  The result?  Over 100,000 copies of Deadly Dozen were downloaded in a very short period of time.  What did this do for the writers?  Well for the ones who weren’t already NY Times bestsellers, they became one themselves.  A title which can’t be taken back.  Add to that a USA Today bestseller label and you’ve got the daily double of writing accomplishments.

What about the readers?  They received the best value in this deal.  Not only did they get twelve quality books for .99 cents, but it spawned an avalanche of anthologies that go on to this day.  An avid reader could buy years worth of reading material for just a few measly bucks.  Not bad, huh?

Well, when the Deadly Dozen consortium invited me to participate in the second anthology, Deadly Dozen 2, I said yes before the question got out of Cheryl Bradshaw’s mouth.  I am flattered to be part of this prestigious group and more than anything I wish the readers will appreciate the volume of excellent storytelling they will receive for just .99 cents.  For me this was an opportunity to align myself with a group of well established authors with big time names in the publishing world.  An affiliation I do not take lightly.

Now, here’s the link to that new anthology, Deadly Dozen 2.  Get those fingers twitching:

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Rarely do you see a real professional turn their career into fiction with the grace of Jennifer Chase. Think John Grisham turning his attorney skills into courtroom thrillers.  This is what criminologist Jennifer Chase has done with her life's work.

With the creation of her Emily Stone series, she's utilized all of her years as a criminologist and created a protagonist who's not only tough, but armed with knowledge the average law official simply couldn't attain.  Jennifer was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us.  But first--

Below is a remarkable short film trailer of her series:

Here's Jennifer to discuss her series:

1- With all of your forensic background and technical skills, what gave you the urge to create fiction?

Actually, writing came first and then forensics. I’ve loved books and writing for as long as I can remember, so the urge to write has been part of my DNA for quite some time. As I began to study forensics and criminology, I had the idea for my first book Compulsion, which was loosely inspired by a violent neighbor who threatened my life for more than two and half years. I found that a forensic background and writing crime fiction complimented each other. I love being both creative and scientific. It’s the best of both worlds for me.

2- How much of Emily Stone is really you? And what traits are simply not in your repertoire?

Ah, I love this question. Yes, Emily Stone is the more intelligent, savvy and tougher version of me. She takes the next step and hunts down killers and the most feared and heinous members of society, something I think about quite often. All my characters, the good and bad, are some part of me I suppose even if it’s just the dark part of my mind. Emily Stone encompasses the traits that I would love to see in someone out there helping law enforcement anonymously, but it’s not in my repertoire. After my first hand-to-hand combat fight with a killer, I’d probably run screaming for my mommy. Lets face it, law enforcement is overburdened, outmanned, and in need of more specialized training when it comes to serial crime and cold cases. I felt that Emily Stone filled a need as a phantom detective. It’s my version of a law enforcement forensic superhero.

3- What aspect of writing do you find the most challenging and the most rewarding?

For me, setting out to write a full-length novel is the most challenging. It’s a huge undertaking and a little bit scary too. There’s a little bit of me that feels like maybe I can’t do it this time, but I’m a person who has always loved a challenge. I try to take each novel to the next step, not only for my readers, but also for myself as a novelist. Funny thing, the most challenging part of writing is also the most rewarding for me. There’s nothing better than the feeling of finishing a first draft of your novel.

4- When a criminal acts irrationally, like keeping your dead girlfriend's corpse in the house for a couple of months, doesn't that create a great insanity defense all by itself? And do you suspect that can be staged?

The use of the insanity defense is used rarely, despite what we see on television. However, there have been a few successful cases. And, it’s possible (but unlikely) to stage all the “psychological” elements, both before and after the homicide. This would take someone who knows quite a bit about psychology and the criminal justice system. They would have to know how the local detectives would investigate the case along with prosecutors, etc. As with the case you stated above, it appeared that the individual killed his girlfriend in the heat of the moment and then didn’t know what to do. Basically, he didn’t want to get caught carrying out a body from his apartment and couldn’t stomach dismembering her. He committed the crime and then knew it was wrong afterward. People do strange things under stressful circumstances. A psychological history and the use of drugs would play a significant part to his defense. I don’t think this case would fit the requirements of an effective insanity defense.

5- What are your thoughts on the tendency for authors with traditional print publishing contracts deciding to go Indie instead? Do you see that trend continuing or is it just a temporary blip in the new digital publishing world?

I think it says a lot when an author with a traditional publishing company decides to go independent instead. We’ve been told over and over that getting that big publishing contract is the way to go and the only way you’ll be successful. Or, is it? I’m in awe of Indie authors who are kicking butt and selling loads of ebooks. That’s fantastic! I think that a little competition is healthy for publishers. I don’t see this as just a trend. Readers have spoken loudly and don’t care if a book is published by a big publisher or self published. The bottom line is the book must be good. Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a need for mainstream publishers, but nothing ever stays the same and it’s time for publishers to make some changes too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


The project was considered risky. Why give away thirteen different thrillers for the ridiculously low price of .99 cents?  I mean you can’t make it up on volume.  There aren't enough readers on the planet to do that.  Yet somehow the concept became reality and eleven authors joined together to create an overabundance of value for the reading public.  The authors decided to offer some readers the ability to ask questions about the project and about the individual books themselves.

Here they are:

Question for M.P. McDonald:

 "I read and reviewed No Good Deed and know it's Book 1 of the Mark Taylor Series. Why did you choose Genesis as the book you contributed to Thrilling Thirteen?"

I chose Mark Taylor: Genesis because I felt that it was a great way to introduce readers to my Mark Taylor Series. I think of Thrilling Thirteen as a gourmet sampler of wonderful thriller authors' works, but not sample sizes. All the books are complete novels. What better way to find people who love to read thrillers? 

I also felt it was a fantastic opportunity to reach readers who might have picked up No Good Deed, the next book in my series, a few years ago when it had a great run up the charts to the Kindle top 20. I hope to re-connect with those readers if they lost track of the series over the last few years. For others who have read the other books in the series, Genesis offers a more in-depth look at how Mark came to acquire his special camera and abilities--and how he initially dealt with it.

For Ty Hutchinson:

“Did you have sleepovers and roast marshmallows while you wrote the stories?”
I wish. Sadly the stories were all written beforehand, so there was no chance for in-person bonding. Plus, three of the authors in the group live outside of the country: Thailand, Canada and England. However we did clog up each other’s inboxes with copious amounts of long-winded emails before deciding to communicate in a private Facebook group. Now we have a proper excuse to check Facebook throughout the day without feeling guilty about procrastinating.

For Lawrence Kelter:

“Why did you choose a woman to be your protagonist?”
Women are cooler than men—hands down. I’ve tried to come up with a unique male character several times but they always end up resembling a gross James Bond characterization. Stephanie Chalice is an interesting detective, she’s bright, a wee bit headstrong, and lots of fun. Above all else she has an intense moral code and is deeply compassionate.

For Debbi Mack:

“When you start a novel, do you know how it’s going to end or do you write the story, then come up with an ending?”

I prefer to know the ending before I start writing. I tend to outline my stories, then structure them to lead up to the ending I’ve planned. However, sometimes things will occur to me while I’m writing that change my plans for the ending. So, I suppose I usually know the ending, but it can change based upon how I write the story.

For Toni Dwiggins:

“What made you choose this incredibly scary topic, I mean the extreme danger caused by mercury? I would really like to know!”

I came to the subject via an interest in gold mining (just like my characters!). I was touring the California gold country and came across the huge hole in the earth where Gold-Rush era miners had washed away an entire mountain to get at the gold. When I saw the abyss I thought, good setting for a story. When I researched more thoroughly I learned that something more extreme than mountain-erasing had gone on there. The miners used mercury—quicksilver—to bind with the gold. During the gold rush, mining dumped about fifteen million pounds of the neurotoxin into the environment. A lot of it is still there. Every year, about a thousand pounds of quicksilver washes out of gold country rivers down into the San Francisco Bay.

Indeed, poisoning is classic thriller material. And greed is classic bad-guy motivation. Add mercury poisoning to the lust for gold and you get—I hope—a scary 13th of the Thrilling Thirteen.

For Dani Amore:

“What do you like about being in a box set with other authors?”

It's great to work together with other authors for a lot of reasons.  Just the camaraderie alone is fun.  But it's also a great experience to pool resources, marketing expertise, and our unique readerships.  Writing is usually a very solitary endeavor, so to be on a "team" is very cool.

For Frank Zafiro:
“What is the most important thing you learned from working with the other authors who are part of this project?”

That writers are cool people. Seriously. The communal attitude of this group has been a great thing to be a part of, and I've learned things about marketing opportunities that I wasn't aware of already. Instead of laughing at my ignorance, my fellow TT members took the time to help out my education. I've always been a believer that this whole thing isn't a zero sum game -- you selling a book doesn't equate to a missed sale for me -- and that we're all in this together. It's good to see that others share that sentiment.

For Gary Ponzo:

“I would love to know the behind the scenes info on how this extraordinary collection of eleven authors, with thirteen of their works, came together. How is this even possible for 99¢?”

Yeah, me too. Seriously though, once I realized the quality of writers involved, it was a no-brainer. I mean should Bono ask me to sing on his next U2 record I’d probably agree to that as well.  It takes time to put something like this together and I’d have to tip my hat to my author friends, but mostly to Ty Hutchinson and Ethan Jones who did a lot of the heavy lifting.


Monday, April 28, 2014


I want to take a minute to announce a very special book release.  Some time ago I was approached to participate in an anthology with a dozen other writers to create a collection of 13 Thrillers for one low price.  I’m very pleased to tell you that day is here.  All of the authors in this collection are bestsellers yet somehow they decided to have my first book, “A Touch of Deceit,” start this collection.  Separately these books would cost over $40.00 to purchase, but for a short period we will be selling the collection as an Ebook for just .99 cents. Obviously we’re not doing it for the money, we want to cause a stir in the marketplace and offer such a tremendous value that people will be willing to tell their friends about this opportunity.  The book is titled, “The Thrilling Thirteen,” and I implore everyone to take advantage of this offer as quickly as possible and tell as many of your thriller-reading friends to download it as well. 

Thanks again for all your support,  

Friday, March 28, 2014


Jonas Saul is an International Bestselling Author with loads of talent and a core group of readers who’ve stayed with him throughout his career.  It’s this loyalty that has kept him on the bestseller list and he rewards them with quality writing and massive production.  It seems like he releases a new book every week, but that’s just the jealousy talking.  I first met Jonas a few years back when he entered a writing contest I’d run through this blog.  It was quite obvious even back then he was someone to keep an eye on.  Now he’s one of the top producers in the business.  He was kind enough to remember my name and spend a few minutes to play 5 questions with me.

1- Your Sarah Roberts character is unique.  Tell us about the series.  Who is Sarah Roberts, and how is she different from other protagonists?
Sarah is an Automatic Writer. Her sister, raped and murdered many years ago, works through Sarah by giving her messages of future crimes. Sarah has become a vigilante but with a unique twist. She talks to the dead to save the living.
The Sarah Roberts Series began when Sarah was eighteen years old in Dark Visions, Book One. Now in Book Ten, The Antagonist, which is available for preorder and releases April 22, shes twenty five years old. During the course of the series, Sarah has matured, and grown into a woman. As the readers move through each book, they get to grow with her.
Shes a realist. She tells it how it is and never bluffs. She lives by certain rules that have kept her alive and she has a unique ability to see through people as shes quite aware that everyone has an agenda. Learn the agenda, understand their motivation.

2- Talk about the Mafia Trilogy.  How did this come about, and will it spawn any other books?
The Mafia Trilogy came about one day when I was reading the newspaper. I had read a piece about a UPS driver in New York who had hit a young girl with his truck after she had run into traffic. The incident was deemed an accident by local authorities. A little while later, that UPS driver was found dead by an execution style hit.
The little girl was the daughter of a reputed mob boss in New York.
I was taken aback by this article so I wrote the Mafia Trilogy. It starts with the son of a Mafia boss in Toronto being killed by accident and the fallout that came after that. Except in this case, the Mafia suffers great losses.
I have no plans to write anything further in this series.

3- Youre an extremely prolific writer.  Tell us when you were able to convert to writing full time and how many hours a day do you actually spend on your craft?
For over twenty years I ran several privately owned retail stores. In early 2010, I sold off the last of them as I wanted to pursue writing as a career. My wife offered to keep working outside the family home, so I made her a deal:
Give me one year. At the end of that year, I will be making enough money from my writing that she would be able to quit her job and never have to work again.
She agreed to this deal and quit her job a year later, early 2011.

I began writing full time in April 2010 and have been doing so since. By May of 2011, my wife and I took off for a two-year tour of Europe where I could write freely and use exotic locations in my novels. I now have two novels set in Italy and two novels set in Greece.
When Im immersed in a novel, I write 5000 words per day, six days a week. During that time, I start in the office by 9:00am and usually finish by mid to late afternoon.
When Im not writing new words, Im on social media, Im researching the next novel, or performing edits on the last one. Currently my output is six novels per year as a minimum.

4- You and your wife travel all over the world together.  Where is your favorite location to visit?
We spent two years traveling through eight European countries. For me, the eleven months we lived in Greece were my favorite. Italy is a close second. But so is Denmark. Three months in Denmark wasnt enough. Were already planning a trip back to Europe for a month or two this summer with Copenhagen, Athens, Rome, Amsterdam, and Florence as destination cities.

5- What is your next project and whats on the horizon for Jonas Saul fans?
For now, Im focused on the Sarah Roberts Series. I have The Antagonist coming out in April and then The Redeemed due in June. After that, The Haunted should be available by August and The Unlucky, Book Thirteen in the series, should be out for Halloween.
My goal is to have 50 Sarah Roberts novels by the time Im 50 years old. Ive got five years and just over thirty more books to go. At six novels per year, Im still on target.
Also, Im attending the Thrillerfest Conference in New York at the Grand Hyatt in early July this year. Seriously looking forward to that!
There are a few other things in the works with one LARGE announcement coming soon, but I cant elaborate on that just yet.
Thank you Gary Ponzo for taking the time to work with me on these questions. Its an honor to know and work with such an accomplished author as yourself. You have my respect.