Sunday, September 13, 2020


Yes, I've read each of these books and if you like thrillers, these are some of my favorites. And soon I believe they will be yours as well:  

Chase Baker and the Dutch of Diamonds, by Vincent Zandri

If you don’t know who Vincent Zandri is, you’re missing some great work. He’s a NY Times bestselling author who’s written dozens of books with tons of praise from writers like Don Winslow, Harlan Coban and many more. I chose this book out of his collection because I read it a couple of years ago and loved the whole Indiana Jones feel to it. Oh, and if you didn’t know, Vincent literally travels the globe to these locations for research. It pays off. 

Zeb Carter: A Covert-Ops Suspense Action Novel, by Ty Patterson

If you like edge-of-your-seat thrillers with a protagonist who plays the game with a guilt-fueled recklessness, then Zeb Carter is your guy. Carter is a former Special Forces operative with a conscious. The series is full of action-packed scenes that are both innovative and satisfying. Just read the first page of Book 1 and you’ll be hooked right away.

Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley

Yes, he’s won and Emmy, PEN, and Golden Globe, but Noah Hawley is one terrific writer. Before the Fall is about a survivor of a plane crash and the consequences and coincidences that occur before and after his fall into the ocean. It’s tense, dramatic and beautifully written. He also created the Fargo series for TV which is also one of my favorite shows.

Unknown Remains, by Peter Leonard

Yes, he’s Elmore Leonard’s son, which, full disclosure, is my favorite author, but don’t let that taint your opinion of his skills. This book has that casual feel of a guy telling you a story with a cigar and a beer and a glint of fun in his eyes. This book is about a Wall Street broker who owes a debt to the mob. That’s really all you need to know, right? Great premise with great execution.

The Lion’s Game, by Nelson Demille

One of my favorite books. It was 700 pages long and I was left wanting more. John Corey is a wise-guy ex-NYPD cop who joins an FBI task force to track down a Libyan terrorist. A 747 is heading toward JFK airport with the terrorist on board and Corey is there to take him into custody. The problem is—there’s no communication from the pilot or anyone on board. Want to know what happened? Read it, then want more, just like me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020


To be honest, author Mike Ryan is a monster when it comes to producing thrillers.  He’s effective, efficient, and the most prolific writer I have ever known.  He’s married with four kids, three dogs and still manages to publish thrillers practically on a monthly basis.  You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.  I might even be underselling him.  His reviews on Amazon are incredible, so the volume does not diminish the quality of the work.  Some writers agonize over every word, but obviously for Ryan the words flow easily from his mind.  If you haven’t read his work, make it a point to check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.   

  Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that you’ve written at least 6 different series and at least 3 standalone novels.  I can’t possible count how many books you’ve written over the past decade.  Tell me about that very first book and what your original goals were.


Well my first books were written under a pen name, and I was basically all over the place. I wrote, I

think, five or six books in, like, four genres. It wasn’t until about 2012 when I really got serious about things and I wrote The Cain Conspiracy. I started writing under my own name and focused on one genre, which is crime fiction/thrillers, which is what I love. I had a full-time job at that point, so my goal was basically just to make some extra money to make car payments, things like that. Obviously I’ve had some success since then, and now I’m a full-time author, but my original goal was just to write some things people would like and hopefully pay a bill or two every month.


2-     Obviously, you’re extremely prolific.  What is your writing schedule like?  With kids and pets and everyday distractions, how does it work?


We have four kids between 14 and 2, and three dogs, so we have a really busy house. Fortunately, my wife is a stay-at-home mom who takes care of a lot of things during the day, allowing me to get in a few hours of writing time. Some days are more challenging than others, and some days the kids are constantly barging into my office, but generally I get 3-4,000 words done every day, six days a week. It takes some time to get into a rhythm and figure out what schedule works best, but generally working in the middle of the day works best for me and is most productive.


3-     At what point during the Silencer series did you decide you would move on to the Eliminator?


I think it first was to just avoid burning out on the Silencer Series. I didn’t want to just write one series over and over and over, and then get so tired with the story and characters that I didn’t want to write them anymore. So I’ve found a good way to mix it up is to switch books. So I’ll usually write two books at once, so I’ll write the Silencer and Eliminator at once, then when I’m done with those, I’ll switch over to the Extractor and Brandon Hall books. I’ve found that’s a good way for me to stay fresh and not get tired of the characters, because I’m taking time away from them while I’m working on other things.


And another reason for switching up series is because I have so many ideas that if I waited until one series was done, I’d never get to everything I want to do. And I probably still won’t, because I have ideas for stories that I probably won’t get to for years because other things are ahead of them.


4-     What are the challenges with having so many protagonists swirling around in your head?  Are there similarities between Brett Jacobs and Mike Recker, or Luke Bridge etc? Do you make an effort to adjust their dialogue or any of their mannerisms?


I think they’re all pretty similar characters, but they do have differences. Bridge is more of the wise-ass, can make a joke at any point, where Jacobs is more straight-laced, with a dry sense of humor. Recker’s kind of the mix between the two. I do adjust their dialogue based on the situation and who they’re talking to. The biggest challenge with doing so many series at once is trying to remember, when you’re working on book 14, what you did back in book 2 so you don’t repeat it.


5-     You have a way of using dialogue to keep the reader informed and interested without getting overly descriptive.  It’s a very appealing recipe and your readers are extremely loyal.  How do you compartmentalize your time when it comes to corresponding with readers, marketing and writing?   


Yeah, I use dialogue a lot, mostly because it’s what interests me the most. So I hope that  other people will like it too. I’m not a big description writer, and a lot of that is because when I read a lot of description in other books, I tend to skip it. Unless it’s crucial to a story, I tend not to describe what a desk or a window looks like. It just bores me. So I’m all about dialogue, story, moving things along, keeping things rolling at a good pace. That’s what interests me as a reader, so that’s what I try to provide as a writer too.


Before I start writing for the day, I’ll check my email, I’ll check my Facebook page, and I’ll  answer emails or respond to comments. And I respond to every single thing I get, no matter what it is. I answer. I let my readers and fans know I care about their comments, their opinions, their feelings, all of it. I don’t respond to trolls or hate mail or things like that, but everyone else, I respond to everything. Once that’s done, then I get my writing done.


When my writing’s done, then I focus on marketing, lining up book promotions, sales, ads, things like that. Or making sure other things are getting done, books formatted, audiobooks, all of that stuff. Then I’ll go back and check email or Facebook again, respond to any other readers comments and questions. I’ve had readers tell me they love how I interact with them and I don’t just post things and then never respond to anything. I’ll respond to everything.


Thanks for the questions! I enjoyed them.

Sunday, August 2, 2020


Apparently there are over 1000 books released each day on Amazon, so when you’re scrolling through the list of mysteries, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.  I think we’ve all stumbled on writers we weren’t familiar with, yet became fans of their work once they were discovered.  By the look of the reviews of author Bill Noel’s 17 Folly Beach mysteries, his readers are loyal and ardent supporters of his stories.  Don’t believe me?  Just read a sample of his first Folly Beach mystery, Folly, like I did, and tell me you weren’t impressed with his skills.

Bill was kind enough to play 5 questions with me, “As long as the questions weren’t too hard,” he quipped, in his dry witty way.  I hope you enjoy his journey to publishing and discover a new talent with this post.  

You decided to keep your readers in suspense until you were 59 when you finally decided to release your first book. Why?

I could attribute it to forty or so years of writer’s block, but that would imply I’d started writing the book years ago. To be honest, I’d never given thought to writing fiction until I was in my late fifties. In the academic world where I’d hung my hat for several decades as a college and university administrator, I had to write tons of nonfiction, but as most fiction writers know, writing nonfiction is as similar to writing fiction as an aardvark is to an anvil. Then, during my first trip to Folly Beach in 2004, my wife and I came across a body that had washed ashore. (True story.) The police had arrived along with a few curious bystanders. That sparked the idea that eventually became Folly, the first book in the Folly Beach Mystery series. I wrote Folly simply to see if I could. I was then amazed by how many letters, notes, even phone calls I received from readers who wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed the book. I never expected that kind of reaction. Now I write for those readers.


There is a rhythm to writing that is hard to explain but easy to recognize. You obviously have that rhythm in the cadence of your narrative. Since you were never an English major in school, where did that come from? And do you believe it’s partly innate?


My writing style is simple. I write what I like reading. I’m also aware many readers skip over sections they don’t find interesting, but they don’t skip over dialog. I try to follow Elmore Leonard’s rules of good writing, especially rule number ten: Try to leave out the part readers tend to skip. My books are heavy on dialog, heavy on short paragraphs, and heavy on short chapters. I want readers to reach the end of a chapter and know the next one won’t be too long. That way they’ll continue reading. I have fun writing the books and want readers to do the same.

In addition to being a novelist, I’m a photographer and have been for way more years than I’ve been a novelist. Many of the principals of composition I learned and practiced in photography—balance, perspective, framing, angle of view, repetition—can be applied to writing. In other words, I had a head start in writing fiction without even knowing it.      


Your mysteries take place in a very real location of Folly Beach, South Carolina. Now that you’re approaching twenty books, are you somewhat of a celebrity when you visit there?

The books fall under the genre of amateur detective which means the protagonist has no formal law enforcement training or experience in solving crimes. That also means the amateur detective solves crimes police are unable to solve. Folly Beach is a small, barrier island with a relatively small police force, so I was wary about how residents and especially the police would feel about me choosing it as the location of the books. As you know, I live in Louisville, Kentucky, located 626 miles from Folly, and didn’t know anyone on the island when I wrote the first book. After it was published, I visited the mayor’s office to introduce myself and give him a copy of the book. I was relieved and shocked when the mayor told me he often met with the police chief to discuss the characters in the book and associated them with Folly’s residents. The following day, I had lunch with the police chief who gave me a badge and made me an honorary member of his force. Several restaurants and stores ask me to do signings at their location when I make my semi-annual visit to their island and numerous residents claim me as a resident of their small bohemian island. By the most liberal definition of celebrity, I suppose I could be considered one on the three-square miles of Folly Beach. But to me, I’m honored and privileged to be considered a friend of so many of its residents. They’re the true celebrities.


Have you ever been interested in writing a book in a different genre? And what books do you like to read?

I admire writers who can produce successful novels in more than one genre, but I’ll never be accused of being one of those writers. I have enough trouble writing in one genre. Those who teach writing tell their students to write what they know. I suspect (hope) they don’t mean it literally. I’ve never killed anyone, never caught a murderer, never even had friends who’ve encouraged me to catch killers, but over the years, I’ve been a fan of mystery novels so I’m more familiar with that genre than any other. Mysteries fill up most of my bookshelves, including books by Robert B. Parker, John Sandford, Janet Evanovich, Dick Francis, Carl Hiaasen, and Lawrence Sanders. I don’t have any interest in changing genres, but then again, if you’d told me at age 58 that I’d write a mystery novel, I’d have laughed in your face—figuratively, of course.


You’ve had to postpone many of your upcoming appearances. Have you developed an appetite for online alternatives? Or are you still exploring options?


I’ve not done a good job of exploring online options. The main reason I love doing signings and making appearances is they give me a chance to meet and talk with potential readers and those who have already discovered the series. My signing opportunities on Folly, numbering approximately a dozen a year, are the highlight of my writing experiences. I assure you, I miss talking to those wonderful people more than they miss talking to me. I’ve been able to maintain some of those contacts through Facebook. There’s even a Bill Noel Fan Club on Facebook, hard to believe I know. This has been an excellent way to share stories with the members and for them to share stories, photos, kind words, and what’s happening in their lives. Beyond that, when it comes to an online presence, I’m a perfect example of you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.



Bill Noel

August 2, 2020

Monday, May 25, 2020


In the early 70’s, the Mafia was a prevalent part of New York society.  The Mafia understood that people enjoyed to gamble and they became the conduit for all those who needed an outlet for their gambling habit.  If I’m making it sound like they were performing a service to society, it’s the Sicilian in me that’s talking.  Anyway, my father owned a Candy Store/Luncheonette in Brooklyn an hour and a half away from our home on Long Island.  We had an apartment in the back of the store, so my father would stay there all week and drive home on weekends.  When I was sixteen, I would meet him halfway to the city on Friday afternoons and he’d give me the keys to the store and our German Shepherd dog for protection.  Think about it, I was sixteen years old and running a business by myself each weekend.  But, as you will soon find out, I was never alone.

Now, my dad’s Sicilian friends knew that I was working there all weekend and they would be frequent guests in the store.  At the same time, they would take their daily bets from our customers for the football game or play the numbers (This was basically a lottery before the government took over the business.)  These gentlemen would linger around and talk sports with me, or school, or family matters, with great interest.  Of course their sense of loyalty and honor among friends became instrumental in my upbringing.  In particular, a gentleman named Max would spend hours telling me about his family and how he was raising his kids to be better than him.  A trait all parents can relate to.  “Do as I say, not as I do.” 

Anyway, when it came time for me to write a novel, for some reason I gravitated to a Sicilian FBI Agent whose cousin was in the Mafia.  Nick Bracco and Tommy are direct reflections of my experiences with these fine gentlemen.  I could actually hear Max’s voice coming out of Tommy’s mouth when I sat down to write a scene.  There’s no doubt these formative years had molded me to the person I am today.

I will leave you with one true story that will reflect the serious nature in which these men took my status among their tutelage:  There was a neon Dreyer’s Ice Cream sign that hung in the front window of our store, something that I could reach from behind the counter.  That sign was always to remain lit 24 hours a day.  The reason?  Across the street was a popular hangout for some of the Sicilian boys called Young’s Tavern.  It was known that if I ever sensed trouble, I was to turn off the sign.  Well, at 10:55 one Friday night, just five minutes before we closed, a teenager came in to buy a fountain drink. (Yes, I would mix coke syrup in a glass with seltzer water to create Coca Cola.)  He sat at the counter and glanced around the store for a couple of minutes, then asked where my help was.  He also asked how much cash I would collect in a day.  Now I was just sixteen, but I wasn’t stupid.  This was when I decided to turn off the Dreyer’s Ice Cream sign.

After an excruciatingly long two minutes, the front door opened and three very drunk and large Sicilian men came lumbering into the store and circled the kid sitting at the counter.  One guy placed his arm around the teenager and picked up his drink and drank the remainder of the Coke.  The kid looked like he was going to puke.  Then the guy said, “I don’t think you should ever come back into this store again.”  The teenager was a blur running out the door.  As my Sicilian friends left, one of them said to me, "Hey, kid, turn the light back on.”

No one ever spoke about the incident.  There was no need.

Now, we live in a different world and Tommy’s character has been modified to represent the world we’re living in.  However, the essence of his loyalty and respect for the underprivileged shows through in every scene.  My Sicilian friends probably did some unseemly things back in the day, but their sense of honor was the only side they showed to me.  And as an author, I’m grateful for their stories.