There are days in the life of a writer that are special. The day you receive an offer for a contract for representation. The day you receive the copy of the book with your name on it. The day you receive your first royalty check. All those days are special.
Way back in 2014, I remember receiving a message from my agent that Taking Lives and Stolen Lives were #3 and #4 on Amazon. That was really special. More recently, when my publisher informed me that Betrayed hit #1 on Amazon and considered a Best Seller, that was special.
Yesterday was one of those days for me.
I received an email with the copy of two reviews, one for Stolen Lives, and one for Blaze In, Blaze Out from Diane Donovan, who is a Senior Reviewer for Midwest Book Review and an Editor for California Bookwatch. Both 5 Star and both glowing. You can see them below.
A little while later, I received an email from Thomas Anderson, the CEO of Literary Titan, informing me that Stolen Lives received the Literary Titan Gold Book Award.
And if that wasn’t enough, a little while later, I received an email informing me that Betrayed received the Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention for Fiction-Crime-Mystery, marking the fourth award Betrayed has won.
All in one day. That has never happened to me before. I’m not sure it will ever happen again, but for one day, I’ll take it.
I am also not naïve to realize that there will be other days, lower days, when the reviews will be crappy, and when I receive an email stating that my book was considered, but unfortunately, it didn’t win. Most of the time, you enter a contest and if you don’t win, you hear nothing. I’m not sure which is worse.
Stephen King wrote that if you are a writer, someone will make you feel lousy. Yes, I get that. Each time I read a not-so-good review for one of my books, I feel pretty lousy.
Think of it this way: on the first day of school for your kiddo, your child sparkles. Nice clothes. Not a hair out of place. Smiles and excitement on the child’s part, and maybe sadness and wistfulness on the parent’s part. And off to school they go. And a teacher will disapprove that your child has the wrong notebook, forgot a pencil, did poorly on a quiz, didn’t sit in the proper seat in the proper way. The child feels sad. The parent feels, well, lousy. Because, after all, the child is yours. You wanted your child to be loved and accepted.
Honestly, I might be overstating this a bit, but not much. Each author wants their book to be loved as much as the writer loves the book. It won’t happen all the time, but the feeling is there. There will be both good and bad reviews. Accept it and move on. Yeah, it hurts. I get it. Critical reviews hurt me. But you know, the good ones make me feel like superman, like Baldacci or Patterson or King. I’ll take that feeling any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
So, for one day, I will take Diane Donovan’s reviews and smile until it hurts, because there will be others who will write some not-so-great things about one of my books. Such is one day in the life of an author.
Here are the two reviews: one for Blaze In, Blaze Out; and one for Stolen Lives and I hope they perk your interest enough to check them out.
Blaze In, Blaze Out
Black Rose Writing
$21.95 paper/$7.99 ebook
Blaze In, Blaze Out is a detective story that takes place in the aftermath of the conviction of a Ukrainian crime ring, where Detectives Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann have finally brought the perps to court and justice has been served.
You’d think this would be the end of the story; but in fact it’s the prologue to a new conundrum which opens with an intriguing image: “He sat his boney ass on the unyielding wooden bench in nearly the same spot, sometimes for up to six or seven marathon hours give or take, minus a lunch break or whenever the judge decided to give the jury a break. It wasn’t often, but it was enough.”
Neither detective expected head honcho Dmitry Andruko to organize a vendetta against them from jail—but this is what takes place, and the quiet repose each officer seeks after their challenging case takes an ominous turn as elusive contract killers enter their lives to threaten everything they love.
Joseph Lewis specializes in a fast-paced action story that takes the time to build compelling atmosphere around its events. There are also subtle moments of comic relief injected into the story of multiple killers and attacks from all sides: “Being up in a tree helped O’Connor’s cell reception. So much so, his cell had vibrated almost nonstop.”
He also presents the point of view of the contract killer challenged to do his job. This nicely rounds out the dilemma and viewpoint of the detectives as they face their pursuers and struggle to survive long enough to capture them.
It should be noted that some of the violent encounters, as when Indian boy Two is attacked, are graphically described. Mystery and detective readers will be used to this kind of description, and it’s entirely in keeping with the plot.
There are also many surprises, as when the killer proves to have a heart, saving a potential victim even as he plots to complete his assignment.
It only goes to show that proving guilt is sometimes the beginning of the journey—not the end.
Blaze In, Blaze Out is highly recommended for detective story readers and libraries catering to them. Mystery readers seeking a compelling saga will find this story of detectives and four teen adopted brothers who face a clever killer to be fast-paced, involving, and filled with satisfyingly unpredictable moments, tempered by fine tension that builds up to a thought-provoking conclusion leaving the door ajar for more.
Black Rose Writing
$19.95 Print/$2.99 ebook
Stolen Lives represents an exciting probe of abduction and unusual connections between fourteen-year-old victims, and is recommended reading for thriller and intrigue fans who enjoy stories that focus as much on rescuers and victims as it does on the perps.
Kelliher and his team of FBI agents face multiple challenges in a series of events that have remained unresolved for years. Witnesses tend to be murdered before they can provide further clues, and the four young victims’ lives themselves prove mercurial and hard to trace or fathom.
At this point, it should be mentioned that this book is first in a projected trilogy. Readers who look for complex stories of murder, kidnapping, and ongoing investigations will be satisfied by a tale that introduces the setting, but holds the power to attract and remain unresolved over multiple scenarios and books.
Navajo boy George Tokay may hold the clue that has eluded Kelliher and his people for years. The only problem is—George has no idea what this special knowledge is. All he knows is that he’s witnessed a puzzling execution. And he feels compelled to join forces with the investigators to resolve this case: “The Navajo boy of fourteen, who stood facing the death scene, was afraid of the dead boy’s chindi. But George reasoned that if he were to help find the dead boy’s killers and bring them to justice, the chindi would be satisfied and leave his family’s land. The worldly boy of fourteen, who wanted to join the tribal police like his cousin, was simply curious. He saw this as an opportunity to win respect and admiration from his family, and his grandfather, in particular.”
From family relationships and Navajo ways to Jamie Graff, a policeman working with the FBI who makes new inroads to discovery, only to unearth more puzzles surrounding the kidnappings and police relationships, Joseph Lewis builds a compelling tale filled with satisfying twists and turns.
As the boys struggle to survive and the police attempt to find answers and hope in a seemingly impossible situation, readers are treated to a scenario firmly rooted in the author’s research into child abduction and real-world events that translate well to thought-provoking fictional milieus.
Human trafficking and murder are difficult issues to tackle, yet Lewis does so with astute social, psychological, and investigative insights that keep his story realistic, involving, and unpredictable.
Even though Stolen Lives is part of a trilogy, it ends on a satisfyingly complete note, which makes it highly recommended as a stand-alone story for readers who typically eschew series titles.
Collections strong in social issues, mystery and intrigue, and novels of survival tactics will find Stolen Lives a fine addition.
Below are the links of each book mentioned in this post. As always, thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and for reading my posts.
Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ
Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx
Blaze In, Blaze Out – New Release! https://www.blackrosewriting.com/mystery/blazeinblazeout.
Purchase your copy prior to January 6, 2022, and receive a 15% discount. Use the promo code: PREORDER2021 .
Detectives Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of a Ukrainian gang lord meant the end. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. A target is a target, and in the end, the target will die.