Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: LIGHTBRINGER by Frankie Robertson



4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book during a free promotion. I've always loved books that deal with angels, demons and good vs. evil. This book seemed to promise all that and more from its description and I have to say it didn't disappoint.

Cassie Lewis is a psychic who sometimes gets visions from touching others, but they are not always good visions. When she accidentally bumps into Dave in a local restaurant, she is overwhelmed with a horrific vision of torture and murder. This sets into motion a series of events that will be deadly to Cassie if her "protector" Jared Price, can't save her. Cassie has a hard time believing Jared's story that he has been sent to "protect" her so she may fulfill some unknown destiny, but she has no problem getting intimate with the hunky guy. Turns out Jared is a celestial being sent to vanquish the evil that is stalking Cassie, but even he may not be enough to save her.

The characters are nicely flesh-out especially Cassie and Jared. The sizzle between those two is palpable and I would classify this story as more of an erotic romance or at the very least a very spicy one. Some of the scenes are more graphic than in a typical romance, but certainly nothing over the top.  The story moves along at a good pace between the action and the romance. It all happens in only 4 days, but what 4 days they are! I would have liked to have read more about Jared and his exile on Earth although there are snippets as to why that happened. Fans of sexy romances will certainly enjoy this book.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: BONES ARE FOREVER by Kathy Reichs


3 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of the TV show BONES, but this is the first book I've read by the creator of the Temperance Brennan character, Kathy Reichs. This is the fifteenth book in the series featuring the forensic anthropologist and though I didn't find it necessary to read previous volumes, it would certainly have helped to understand the complicated relationships--her daughter, her ex-husband and ex-lover--discussed in the book.

In this book, Dr. Brennan and the police try to track down a woman whom they believe has killed four of her newborns. The story takes place from Montreal to the wild country of Yellowknife and is full of twists and turns. BONES ARE FOREVER was a quick read, but I am not a fan of the minimalist writing style of the author. The staccato beat of the prose like "calm," "aggravated" left me wanting much more in the way of descriptions. I prefer authors let the readers figure out what the characters are feeling by their body language or actions, "furrowed brow" or "dragging a hand through her hair," and not be told with one word descriptors beside the dialogue.

Fans of Temperance Brennan will have another story to delve into and enjoy, but I won't be reading any more books by this author. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spotlight: MEWSINGS by Greta Beigel



Book blurb:
In the playful/educational "Mewsings," a much-loved calico cat called Ketzel pontificates, in rhyme, on what it takes to be a good Jew in modern times, especially during the High Holy Days. Each fall, Ketzel teaches about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a time of prayer for peace and goodwill. And she remains in awe of the pending Day of Atonement.  But comes December, Ketzela begins to dream--and salivate-- about potato latkes and the like, illuminating in "Hanukkah Nights/Lights" how over eight nights we kindle candles as sacred rite. Whether on travels to Iceland, New Zealand and the lovely Hawaii--or merely at home reclining and idle, Ketzel in her musings accords her own Yiddishe Mamma a five-meow rating for goodness, mercy, and above all, fancy feasts.

Mewsings can also be heard on an audio CD at ://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mewsings-my-life-as-jewish/id410642795.

Buy links:
Amazon: See book icon below
BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mewsings-greta-beigel/1112023847
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/35687


Monday, August 27, 2012

Interview with Lisa Rayns




Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
A Destined Death is a light-hearted paranormal romance about soul mates. Draven & Elizabeth share a bond that reaches beyond death but she doesn’t remember it. She’s been reincarnated into a new life. Draven waits, hoping she’ll remember on her own but if he waits too long, it could cost her her life…again! 

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
My journey in the publishing world has been an interesting one. I’ve put in my time sending off manuscripts and waiting for publishers to respond since I began writing.

My first novel, Wanted: Vampire - Free Blood, was contracted by a publisher, but it wasn’t scheduled to release for an entire year afterward. During that time, I self-published a novella, Curse of the Egyptian Goddess, to get my name out there sooner and hopefully gain notice with readers. It’s a short but steamy and humorous read.

Since A Destined Death is a full-length novel, I planned to go through a publisher again. I sent it off and waited months to hear back. Unfortunately, it didn’t fall into their category of a typical romance. At the same time, six beta readers claimed to love it and one said it was the most romantic story they’d ever read.

That left me conflicted. Would it be better to change my story to meet publisher specifications or stick with my vision? I had a decision to make.

I did make a few changes but ultimately, I decided to keep my story as it was intended because I love it, and I am proud to say, it is how it was meant to be. And yes, I am hoping to get many more 5 star reviews and sell a million copies just to prove I made the right decision.

How are your story ideas born?
My story ideas are born in my dreams mostly. When I have a dream that affects me strong enough to write it down, I hang onto the thoughts and play with them in my head, bouncing around the what-if’s. I find things that inspire the tone of story, like music or maybe an object. Those are always present when I start writing.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Not a critique group, but I do belong to some writers groups, and I have a few critique partners. Having another set of eyes viewing your material always helps.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Being creative & having the ah-ha moments that make each manuscript great.

What is your writing process?
I consider myself a plotter. Once I get an idea in my head, I jot it down and create a general outline. I try to work out the ending in advance so I have a clear idea of where I’m headed.

That’s the nice and neat picture but during the writing process, the outline changes many times as the characters lead me through each scene. They demand flexibility so I adjust and follow.

How long did it take to write your latest release?
A Destined Death came out at 80,000 words and took about six months.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Marketing is hard and time-consuming but when someone comes back and says they love your book, it makes it all worth while.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I do as much as I can. I believe the best way to spread the word is to interact with others. I try to post comments on blog posts I enjoy and help out other authors when I can. Good karma and professional courtesy go a long way. 

What’s next for you?
 My very first book, Wanted: Vampire - Free Blood, was just released by The Wild Rose Press on August 24th. I’m very excited and am currently working on the 2nd book in that series.

Check out the blurb & book trailer here:  http://www.lisarayns.com/wvfb.html



Thanks for having me on your blog today!

A DESTINED DEATH Book Description:
Elizabeth Tarkson has it all figured out. She has a plan. She knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. At least she does until the day she turns eighteen, and a gorgeous stranger crashes her birthday party.

But this stranger knows things about her that he shouldn’t know, and as he slowly reveals his secrets, she discovers the world she thought she understood is much larger than she'd ever imagined. She is swept into a whirlwind of secrets, death, and attraction all involving him. Will she uncover the truth about her tragic past in time? Or will she be forever bound to…A Destined Death

Buy links:
BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-destined-death-lisa-rayns/1110602989
Amazon:



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review: THE MARRIAGE BARGAIN by Sandra Edwards


5 of 5 stars


I've read quite a few stories by Sandra Edwards and have enjoyed them all. She has a wonderful way with romance creating tension, heartache and attractions that sizzle. 





In "The Marriage Bargain" she crafts a story with her own unique flair that keep you turning the pages. I could feel Camille's angst as she refuses to compromise her morals when her boss wants her to accept a marriage proposal and write a tell-all expose on millionaire Julian de Laurent. Her boss does not agree with Camille's moral high road when she refuses the assignment and fires the journalist. She also threatens to blackmail her name throughout the industry leaving Camille financially destitute. With no job prospects in sight, she is forced to accept Julian's proposal to pose as his wife for six months. She'll get paid for her acting and Julian will get his father off his back about marrying.




While this is a story that has been done before, it has not had the "Sandra Edwards" treatment. She has livened up the story with a cast of memorable characters that make the story work especially Camille's best friend. If you're looking for a romance that will leave you with a smile on your face, be sure to pick up "The Marriage Bargain."


           

Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview with Cara Marsi


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
My latest is a sexy romance novella, “Storm of Desire.” Here’s the blurb:
Corporate attorney Samantha Greco needs some peace and quiet to come to a decision about her career. Instead, while an icy nor’easter rages outside, she finds herself trapped in a cottage on Fenwick Island with Aiden Rourke, a man she used five years ago when she ran from the heartbreak of her fiancĂ©’s betrayal.

Aiden Rourke has loved Sam for years. For one glorious night she was his. But then she fled, wounding his ego and his heart. Thrown together again, they soon discover time hasn’t diminished their fiery passion for each other. Only Aiden has ever been able to melt Sam with just a look or a touch. But the fear that she’s like her mother, who used men mercilessly, scares Sam to death.

The storm outside is nothing compared to the storm of desire, fear, and guilt raging inside Sam. But during their wild weekend together, Sam and Aiden draw closer and realize their all-consuming passion for each other masks deeper needs and desires. When the storm ends, will they go their separate ways? Or will they find the courage to face the future together as one?

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers? I’ve published several books with traditional publishers. I’ve got two books now with publishers: “Murder, Mi Amore,” with The Wild Rose Press and “Cursed Mates,” with Noble Romance Publishing. My first book, “A Catered Affair,” was published in hardback in 2003 by Avalon Books. I have the digital rights and published it under a new title “A Catered Romance.” I also added back the love scene I had to take out for Avalon.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
A friend was having success with indie publishing and urged me to try it. But I was reluctant. I got the rights back to my romantic suspense, “Logan’s Redemption,” with The Wild Rose Press and submitted it to another epub that took previously published works. When they passed on it, I decided to self-publish. One of my best decisions ever. “Logan’s Redemption” has been my bestselling book. It’s a previous Amazon bestseller and has been in the top 100 suspense books on Apple. Once I indie published I was hooked and I’ve never looked back.

What is your writing process?
First I get the idea. It could be from a snippet of something that happened to me or someone I know. Or it could be something I saw in a movie or on TV. I like to write the type books I want to read. I mull over my idea for a while in what I call “pre-writing.” I develop the characters and plot in my head. Then I write out my character sketches in longhand in a spiral tablet and do a loose outline, also in longhand. I follow the outline at first, but then my characters take me on a different journey. As they’re usually right, I follow their lead.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing? Yes, I won’t put up any book that hasn’t been professionally edited. My terrific editor is Laura Kelly. She edited “Murder, Mi Amore,” which has finaled in two prestigious contests. I thought she did such a terrific job that I now hire her to edit all my indie books. One of my indie books that she edited, “Loving Or Nothing,” has also finaled in two prestigious contests.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I like having the control over my work. I like writing the books I love without worrying if the marketing department of a publisher will think the book is saleable. Readers are our consumers and they know what they want. I try to give the readers entertaining, heartwarming, sexy books with feisty, independent heroines and the hunky guys who love them.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
My books are available on BN, Smashwords and iTunes. “Storm of Desire” is available only at Amazon at this time. At a later date, it will be available on all other venues. My two books with publishers are available at Amazon, BN, and All Romance eBooks.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I’m on Facebook and Twitter, but I try not to constantly promote on those sites. I like to engage readers and friends and talk about things other than my books. I belong to several Yahoo loops. I also guest blog whenever possible. I plan to start my own blog soon.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Get your name out there. Participate in Yahoo loops for readers and writers, but don’t constantly promote. Let readers get to know you. It’s all about discoverability. The most important thing is: write the best books you can, and keep writing.

What’s next for you?
I’m writing a sequel to “Logan’s Redemption.” The sequel is titled, “Franco’s Fortune.” The hero is my heroine’s reformed playboy brother from “Logan’s Redemption.” A reader wanted Franco’s story so I’ve decided to write it. I’m having fun revisiting my characters from the earlier book.

Thank you for having me today.

Visit my website for excerpts from all my books and stories: www.caramarsi.com


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prologue or NO Prologue--What do you prefer?


The use of prologues have sparked many opinions—some authors swear by them, some say never use them.

What is the purpose of a prologue?
It’s a writing technique that allows authors to outline a complicated back-story that would otherwise bog down a chapter with flashbacks. It is also used as a tease introduction to hook the reader. You’ll find prologues used more in the fantasy and science fiction genre than any other genre.

This prologue serves to let the reader know up front that there are ancient ties between the planets of Otharia and Earth. It also gives hints about the origin of the Arthurian legends, the Lady of the Lake and the magician Merlin., at least, according to Dave and I. Here’s an example of the prologue used in QUEST FOR NOBILITY:

Prologue – Earth, 5th Century AD

With bloody sword in hand, Reaver looked over the scene of the massacre.  It did not sit well with him, what he had done, but he was loyal to his commander.  The orders had been simple: kill them all, and so he had done his best.  Now, with most of the killing done, he had time to reflect.
May the gods have mercy on our souls.
***
The Telkur duty telekinetic looked up as the unauthorized portal started to form. He checked the coordinates and was shocked to see that the incoming portal was from the planet Earth. That off-world expedition was not due to check in for another month.
“What the...”
Before he could finish his sentence, two bloodied men staggered through the opening.
“We’ve been attacked,” the first man said. “All is lost.”
More men and women stumbled through the portal with varying degrees of battle wounds. The duty telekinetic was stunned. Earth was a primitive planet, but from all the previous indications, its people were peaceful.
Snapping out of his shock, he opened a comm link directly to the Duke of Telkur.
“Sire, we have trouble at the portal station. Some of the expedition members are back and are badly wounded.  Please come immediately and bring the healers.”
***
The gavel banged and the Master Clerk read the declaration.
“Let it be known that, from this day forward, off-world travel to the planet Earth is prohibited.”
Duke Rael Telkur sat unmoving in the Grand Council chamber room. The decree was final. There would be no more travel to Earth. He had lost a fortune financing the ill-fated expedition.  It had required four 10K crystals powering the portals to transport the hundred-plus explorers and their supplies.  Normally, a 10K crystal would provide a duchy with more than three years of local planetary travel.  But more importantly than the crystal expense, he had lost fifty loyal men and women to brutality.  Only five of his expedition team had made it back to Otharia, but they all subsequently died of their wounds.  The Vogdo team members had fared only slightly better; a mere ten of their men returned. 
Rael glanced down the table to where his partner in this venture, Duke Jaks Vogdo, sat stone-faced. There was nothing more to be done.
Jaks looked at Rael and nodded.  You naive fool, Rael.  If only you knew the truth.
Jak’s duchy was rich in crystal mines located within the Sharellian Mountains.  Everyone believed the crystal veins were bottomless, and the Vogdo family thought the same until the veins started to dry up.
Fate and fortune had shone favorably upon Jaks Vogdo when mineral-rich Earth was discovered. He eagerly agreed to form an alliance with Rael to explore this strange new world. They would share expenses for the exorbitant cost of off-world exploration and divide any potential riches evenly. 
At least that was the plan, but greed has a way of eliminating alliances even among friends. Blinded by unimaginable wealth, Jaks had no compunction about turning on his partner and ordering the massacre of the Telkur team members.
“The crystals must be shipped back here without a trace,” Jaks told his man on Earth.  “I’ll open the portal from Earth directly into my mines and transfer the foreign crystals unseen.  No one will ever know the truth.”
***
“I told you this would work,” Merlinius Telkur said.
His partner Vivienne shook her head at his boasting.  She hated this planet Earth.  They had been running for days from the Vogdo hunting party and she was at the end of her patience.  Their 10K traveling crystal was gone and they had no way to return to Otharia or even contact them to let them know what had transpired here.  There were so few of the Telkur expedition that had escaped the initial attack, and now they were stuck on this primitive planet. 
“Save your breath, Merlinius,” Vivienne shot back.  “Just concentrate on holding your shield until those bastards out there leave and we can get out of here.”
 “I know that,” Merlinis replied, exasperated at Vivienne’s curt command.  “You make sure your own shield holds.  If they detect our life signs, this ruse will be for nothing and we’ll have to run again.”
Vivienne sighed heavily.  At the moment, she didn’t know which was worse: Merlinius’ bravado, or being stranded on Earth with a band of Vogdo killers outside the cave hunting them.


When we began writing QUEST, we struggled with how to convey these hints without bogging down the story of royal twins, Darius and Dyla Telkur, and their struggle to hold onto their duchy when they are accused of murder. There had to be a reason that the twins would flee to Earth and this served that purpose because in less than 900 words, it put the link between Earth and Otharia in the reader's minds from the beginning of the story. 

We ended up using two options to convey information to the reader and keeping the story moving. We opted for a prologue and also at the beginning of each chapter, set down the rules from the Chronicles of Otharia. This informed the reader about the history of Otharia rule without slowing down the story. Here’s an example:

Excerpt from the Chronicles of Otharia during the reign of the First Vacancy:
Division I – The Rule of Otharia
Subsection I – The Kingdom

The planet of Otharia has two major landmasses and multiple island chains.  The larger of the two continents is referred to as the Kingdom of Otharia, though there hasn’t been a reigning king in over a thousand years.  The kingdom is subdivided into a number of duchies, each ruled by a royal family and a seated duke or duchess.  The duchies vary in size, but their wealth is dependant on the natural resources of the region and the ingenuity of the reigning duke.  The smaller continent is ruled by multiple clans of gypsies, who broke from the Kingdom at the death of the last King.

So what about you? Have you used prologues in your books? Do you like them or do you think they are unnecessary?

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spotlight: BENDING THE BOYNE by J.S. Dunn

A novel of ancient Ireland

Book Blurb:
Circa 2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age. Well before any Celts, marauders invade the island seeking copper and gold. The young astronomer Boann and the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, when long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Banished to far coasts, Cian discovers how to outwit the invaders at their own game. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures and between Boann, Elcmar, and her son Aengus, ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland’s beginnings in a totally new light.

Larger than myth, this tale echoes with medieval texts, and cult heroes modern and ancient. By the final temporal twist, factual prehistory is bending into images of leprechauns who guard Eire’s gold for eternity. As ever, the victors will spin the myths.

This story appeals to fans of solid historical fiction, myth and fantasy, archaeo-astronomy, and Bronze Age Europe.



Buy Links:

Amazon buy icon:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Incredible pictures from Nature

These are some of the most amazing pictures I've ever seen. Nature never ceases to surprise me.
















And for all you romantics out there, what could be more perfect than this?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Interview with Melissa Ohnoutka


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
Target of Betrayal: Kathleen Landon thought her life would finally get back to normal after the bizarre death of her husband. But a "chance" meeting with an old boyfriend throws her and her family on a dangerous and emotional journey full of secrets and betrayal. Her husband's death wasn't an accident, but an attempt to cover up a horrendous crime spree being operated by a traitor inside the FBI. Now she and her children are running from a cold-blooded killer. Can she trust the U.S. Marshal sworn to protect them? Or is he using her as bait to capture her husband's killer?

David Thomas worked for the FBI for over ten years before storming out of the office of his superior and telling him where to stick his accusations. Now David has joined the U.S. Marshal's Special Operations Division. He is working to expose an informant hiding in the FBI ranks. David is the perfect man for the job. A man riddled with guilt. His decision cost a friend his life and David is determined to protect the family left behind. What he doesn't count on— is falling in love.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes, I feel like I paid my dues and did my time on the query-go-around.  I entered contests for feedback, revised and polished until I couldn’t see straight, attended conferences, had requests for partial and full manuscripts but “the call” never came. The self-publishing route seemed like the next step. Having so much say over important decisions like covers, page count, release dates, promotion and the direction I want my writing career to take just made more sense and really sweetened the deal, not to mention helped me keep my sanity.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I’ve belonged to several different critique groups over the past five years.  Some great, some that really made me doubt my writing at times. But I feel like each one offered tons of great suggestions, advice and feedback that helped me grow and improve. A thick skin in this business is a must.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
The discovery is my favorite part of the writing. I’ve never been a plotter. Give me the suspense please! I start with an idea and then sit back and watch the story unfold. Just when I think I know what is going to happen or how a character is going to behave, I’m shocked to see how wrong I was. LOL

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
For my first release, I counted on friends, trusted critique partners and a few beta readers to help in the editing. Although they caught a lot, I felt it necessary to hire an editor for the second book and will continue to do so for future releases. I just feel that a fresh pair of eyes and unbiased opinion are priceless.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I’ve learned to be true to myself and my voice. No one can write my story like I can. Learning the craft and continuing to learn is essential to grow as an author. It’s important to put out the best product you can. Then get ready for a very bumpy ride. There will be good times and bad times, but I try to remind myself when the process stops being fun, to take a break and remember why I love writing. It helps me keep things in perspective and gets me back on track.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes. My full length novels are available in print as well as e-books through Barnes & Noble too. You can find all my books, short stories included, available as e-books through Barnes & Noble, All Romance E-books, Kobo, Sony and my website.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Other places to find me online:

               www.everybodyneedsalittleromance.com

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
This was a huge wake up call for me. The marketing side of publishing is quite time consuming. It’s been a long learning journey, but I think I’ve found a balance that works for me.  I love the writing side, so I tend to do a lot more of that.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Do your research. Get your name out there before you publish if you can. Set up your website, blog, Twitter & Facebook accounts, follow others, start commenting and building an online presence ahead of time and it will save you a lot of time, energy and headaches afterward. But most importantly, don’t rush the process. Spend the time, and yes, even the money, to make your book the best it can be. There’s a lot of competition out there. And the critics can be brutal.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: MARILYN by Lois Banner


3.5 of 5 stars

When I first received the hardcover book, I was excited to read it. I was always fascinated by Marilyn Monroe and eagerly looked forward to finding out new details about her. Ms. Banner certainly has loaded the book with a lot of information, but I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't really anything new.

Marilyn was a complicated woman and her experiences in her childhood certainly shaped the woman she became Ms. Banner contends. I was surprised by comparisons the author makes between Marilyn and herself including her beauty. I find this a bit odd to include in a biography about Marilyn and perhaps even a bit egotistical. There was no one like Marilyn - she was an original.

This book was certainly written by an academic - theories presented and explored with in-depth analysis, but this very attention to even the most minute detail led to a dry read for me. For fans of Marilyn, this book certainly raises new questions, but no one will ever know the truth of Marilyn's death.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Be Prepared to Giggle: KITTY FUNNIES

It's the weekend! Did you have a tough week? I dare you not to smile when you see these kitty pictures. Enjoy.






And there you go! Have a smile on me before you get back to your hectic lives.





Friday, August 17, 2012

Sister Carmelita - Fear of God and Me by Rebecca Forster

-->
The day I stood in the choir loft surrounded by my fourth grade peers I had no idea that I was about to learn a lesson in suspense, terror, fear, retribution and resolution that would lead me to a career as a thriller author.

The day was hot, air-conditioning was unheard of, and we wore our itchy, ugly, brown wool Catholic school uniforms year ‘round to save our parents money. I was a very good girl. I never drew attention to myself, folded my hands with fingers pointing heavenward when I prayed, picked up trash on the playground and helped pass out papers in class. But that day, I made a blunder that put me in Sister Carmelita’s crosshairs. As she raised her arms and positioned her baton in anticipation of another rousing chorus of a hymn I have long forgotten, I rolled my eyes. Yep, I rolled them to the back of my little ten-year-old head in frustration and exhaustion.

Sister Carmelita cut her own my way. I realize now that she had mastered the art of eye cutting because she couldn’t move her head given her box-like wimple. Everyone stopped breathing. No one knew what I had done, only that I had done something very, very bad.

“Miss Forster.” Sister Carmelita’s voice was modulated appropriately for God’s house. “Wait after choir.”

My stomach lurched. I felt light headed. I was doomed.

Sister Carmelita is long gone. During her time on earth she faced changes in her church and her life, but I doubt she ever knew how that day changed me. So, if you’re listening, Sister, I want you to know that, 30 years later, that moment sealed my fate. I spend my days writing thrillers, trying to recapture the exquisite sense of suspense I experienced that day. Here is what you taught me:

1) Less is More: Your understated notice of me, the glitter in your eye, the sound of your voice was more intriguing, more compelling, more enthralling than screaming, railing or ranting.

2) Timing is Everything: All 29 of my classmates knew I was in trouble. I knew I was in trouble. I even knew why I was in trouble (disrespecting you, God, choir practice, country, family and all living creatures with a roll of my eyes), yet you didn’t nip things in the bud with a mere instantaneous admonition. My comeuppance was exquisitely timed. You threw in an extra hymn to extend practice, studiously ignored me, meticulously folded your sheet music as my classmates silently went down the stairs. You waited until the door of the church closed, clicked and locked us together in that big, shadowy church before you turned.

3) The Devil's in the Details: You were taller than me (back then almost everyone was taller than me), but that wasn’t why I was afraid. It was your whole package, the details of your awesome being that were so formidable. Covered head to toe in black, your face framed by your wimple (which, by the way, looked like the vice used during the Spanish Inquisition), your hands buried beneath the scapular that fell in a perfect column to the tips of your shoes, made for quite a package. But there was more: The scent of nun-perfume (I think it was soap, but it smelled like nun-perfume to me), the clack of those huge rosary beads attached to your wide belt, the squish of your rubber soled shoes. I saw all this, I heard all this, I smelled all this and each sense was heightened because of the hush surrounding us.

I remember your methodical advance into my personal space. I remember you lowering your eyes as I raised mine. The suspense was heart-stopping, the anticipation of my penance almost unbearable. Quite frankly, you were terrifying.

But here’s the funny thing: I don’t remember how it ended. Did you scold me? Did you show mercy and forgiveness? I only remember being terrified. Like the brain of the seven year old Stephen King swears gives him inspiration for his horror books, you, Sister Carmelita, inspire every sentence I write in every thriller novel I pen. For that, I can’t thank you enough.

I also want you to know, I have never rolled my eyes at anything since that day in the choir loft.