Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Chat with Darden North, Author of 'The Five Manners of Death'

Darden North’s mystery and thriller novels have been awarded nationally, most notably an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin.  His newest thriller, The Five Manners of Death, also follows Wiggle Room, Fresh Frozen, and House Call. Darden North has served on author panels at writing conferences including Killer Nashville, Murder on the Menu, SIBA Thriller Author Panel, and Murder in the Magic City. To book Darden for a book club, book signing, or presentation contact: Darden@DardenNorth.com. A board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist practicing at Jackson Healthcare for Women in Flowood, Mississippi, Darden North is Chairman of the Board of the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Mississippi Medical Association. He lives in Jackson with his wife Sally and enjoys family, travel, and, outdoor activities. The Norths have two adult children, who also work in the medical field. Author website:
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about The Five Manners of Death, and what compelled you to write it.
Darden North: I was intrigued about a medical examiner’s classification of the five manners of death and how those classifications can become blurred. That’s what we fiction authors do … blur the truth, take things to the extreme and make life more interesting. What would a surgeon think if bodies began to collect around her to satisfy the five manners of death? 
M.C.: What is your book about?
D.N: In The Five Manners of Death, there are five ways to die. Surgeon Diana Bratton believes that homicide is the only way left … then the police prove her wrong. Diana learns that murder is her family secret.
M.C.:  What themes do you explore in The Five Manners of Death?
D.N.:  Family loyalty trumps truth every time. The thriller weaves characters through the five manners of death: suicide, accident, natural causes, and undetermined until it’s clear that homicide—that a 50-year-old murder—threatens to destroy a family.
M.C.:  Why do you write?
D.N.:  This may sound a little deviant, but there is real satisfaction in twisting the lives of my characters and throwing them into all kinds of trouble. I enjoy interjecting the element of shock into my murder mysteries and thrillers, surprising readers with what characters say or where they wind up. I feel a calling to write novels that portray the contemporary South for what it truly is … progressive and beautiful. 
M.C.:  When do you feel the most creative?
D.N.:   Sometimes my creativity surprises me. It may spring out of a causal conversation with a friend, or even a stranger. I don’t have the luxury to write on a certain time schedule.
M.C.:  How picky are you with language?
D.N:   I try to avoid repetitive expressions as well as prevent the overuse of certain words. That can be a challenge for any author.
M.C.:  When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
D.N.:  Gosh, how easy would that make this thing?
M.C.:  What is your worst time as a writer?
D.N.:  When the manuscript is finished (and you want the novel to be really, really finished) and it’s time for the revisions.
M.C.:  Your best?
D.N.:   When the book is released, and I get feedback from readers. Sometimes they see more in a character or a situation than I intended, and that is fun.
M.C.:  Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
D.N:  No, each novel is an opportunity to push further, to do something different.
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
D.N.:  My answer is totally expected: seeing my first novel House Call in hardcover print, including the slick, metallic color book jacket. There’s never been a more beautiful book.
M.C.:  Is writing an obsession to you?
D.N.:  An obsession means that you push everything else aside, let everything else fail or fall.  That’s not me.
M.C.:  Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
D.N.:  Readers want to think that, so it’s best to let them keep guessing.
M.C.:  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
D.N.:  I do my best writing sober.
M.C.:  Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?


Author: Freda Hansburg 
Publisher: Micro Publishing Media 
Pages: 248 
Genre: Thriller

Tell on You is a psychological suspense novel that best fits within the Gone Girl-inspired niche genre of “grip lit.”   Jeremy Barrett’s obsessive love equals that of Jay Gatsby for Daisy Buchanan, as life imitates art in his private school English class. But his angst-driven infatuation brings dire consequences as he is drawn into the machinations of his disturbed 16-year-old student Nikki Jordan, whose bad intentions rival those of her teacher.  A fast-paced, drama-filled tale, Tell on You reminds readers about the wildness and trauma of adolescence—and the self-defeating behaviors to which adults resort in times of stress. From gaslighting to vicious bullying, poisonous family privilege to the loss of a parent—Freda Hansburg draws on her experience as a clinical psychologist to explore the depths of each dark situation in Tell on You.



Book Excerpt:

“OWW!!”  EIGHT-YEAR OLD Brandon Jordan screeched as his sister Nikki twisted his arm in an Indian burn.  “Nikki, stop!”
            His cries brought Mom crashing into Nikki’s room.  “Nikki, I won’t have you bullying your brother again.  Let him go this instant.”
            “But I caught him in here messing with my stuff!” Nikki gave Brandon’s arm a final wrench before releasing him.  Pouting, he scurried from her room. 
            “I don’t care what he did.  I told you, keep your hands to yourself.”  Her mother turned away, judgment delivered. 
Probably in a hurry to get back to her vodka and reality TV.  “At least when Dad was here, somebody stuck up for me,” Nikki called after her.
Mom’s angry face reappeared.  “Stuck up for you?”  A bitter laugh.  “Stuck it to you, and all of us, is more like it.”
“Wasn’t me he left,” Nikki said.
“Really?  When’s the last time he even phoned you?”  Her mother walked off with that parting shot.
“Like you’d know, bitch.”  Nikki said it under her breath, but not under enough.
“Who do you think you’re talking to?”  Mom stormed back into the room, got right up in Nikki’s face, breath boozy.  “You’re grounded for the next three days, kiddo.  Give me your car keys, right now.”
“Maa!” Nikki protested.  “How will I get to school?” 
Her mother held out her hand for the keys.  “Get up an hour early and I’ll drop you on the way to work.”
“No way!”  Nikki fished the keys from her bag and dropped them into her mother’s open palm.
“Then walk.”  Her mom headed out of the room, turning back for one last jab.  “Or call your father.”
This time Nikki closed the bedroom door before cursing her out.  Walking to school sucked, and tomorrow’s weather forecast called for cold.  Call your father.  Very funny.  Dad lived in Austin now.  But it gave her an idea.
Nikki picked up her phone to make the call, rehearsing the pitch in her mind.  I’m so lonely, Mr. B.  I’m taking care of my brother again because my mom went out.  And she forgot we were supposed to take my car in for a new battery.  And I was wishing…I know I shouldn’t ask you…but if you met me and gave me a ride to school tomorrow, I’d get to see you.  You wouldn’t have to take me right to school, just drop me nearby. 
She’d sell it to him.  And after that, she’d see about getting even with her mother and
brother.  Maybe steal Brandon’s Game Boy batteries and hide them.  And see how much
distilled white vinegar she could add to Mom’s vodka bottle before the bitch actually
 noticed.  Nobody, but nobody, got to score the winning point against Nikki Jordan.

About the Author

Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and Tell On You is her debut trade thriller.  She self-published the suspense novel Shrink Rapt and co-authored two self-help books, PeopleSmart – a best-seller translated into ten languages – and Working PeopleSmart.  Freda lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she is working on her next novel and her Pickleball game.

Her latest book is the thriller, Tell On You.




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Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Feature: Mestlven by Jesse Teller - Check out the Giveaway!

Revenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds 

Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues. 

He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin. 

Author links: 

Please click on the picture for details on how to enter this fabulous giveaway!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Children's Book Spotlight: Changing Places, by Anne K. Edwards

Changing Places, by Anne K. Edwards
Age level: 4-8
Price: $1.99
Pages: 14
Find on Amazon

Changing Places. A black cat named Whiskers encounters a snake that has lost his home when he goes outside to see the world.


About the Author:  Anne K. Edwards enjoys writing tales for children when she’s not focusing on a mystery. Some stories are ideas taken from little misadventures of her cat who actually did fall off the porch and land on a large blacksnake as it was sunning itself. Both were more than a little surprised. Visit www.AnneKEdwards.com 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Feature: Demons and Devils by Amanda Jayne Forbes

This is a compelling story about the evil that lives among us from day to day. There are many demons and devils. You may ask how one may know the difference. To most people, you may not, but I have realized from a young age that I have an exceptional ability to see through people—I mean, right through people. Sometimes it was as if they were not there at all. Then I realized this was some sort of block from that particular being. I would go, like, completely blind. It would be like a warning that this person is from what we call the dark side.

Friday, June 16, 2017


Evy Journey has always been fascinated with words and seduced by beautiful prose. She loves Jane Austen and invokes her spirit every time she spins tales of love, loss, and finding one's way—stories she interweaves with mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales. SPR (Self Publishing Review) awarded Evy the 2015 Independent Woman Author bronze for her writing.
She's lived and traveled in many places, from Asia to Europe. Often she's ended up in Paris, though—her favorite place in the world. She's an observer-wanderer. A flâneuse, as the French would say.
The mind is what fascinates her most. Armed with a Ph.D., she researched and spearheaded the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, in 2012, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.



Author: Evy Journey
Publisher: Sojourner
Pages: 273
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Book Blurb:

Elise thought she knew her mother. Agnieszka Halverson is a caring woman, a great cook, and an exceptional piano player; but living in a secure, predictable world, she’s also a little dull. Her world is devastated when her oldest son attempts suicide, and Elise finds her mother has a past—both sweet and bitter—that she must now reveal to explain the suicide attempt. A past rich with a passion for music and shattered dreams, betrayal of a sweet but tragic first love, second chances and renewed hopes.

Born to immigrant parents weighed down by their roots, Agnieszka takes solace in learning to play the piano, taught by a sympathetic aunt who was a concert pianist in Poland before World War II. But when her aunt betrays her and her parents cast her aside for violating their traditional values, can Agnieszka’s music sustain her? Can she, at eighteen, build a life on her own?

When she finally bares her soul to her children, Agnieszka hopes they can accept that she has a past that’s as complex as theirs; that she’s just as human, just as vulnerable as they are. But do her revelations alienate her husband and can they push Elise farther away from her?


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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

Some dead writers inspired me. Jane Austen, for one, with her wry, sometimes funny, observations of the social milieu she moved in. Dostoyevsky, as well, for his insight into the dark corners of the mind and the heart. It seemed so beguiling to explore life and its messiness in the context of stories.

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

By 15, I told my parents I wanted to go into journalism. I thought it was a good entry for one seduced by words but is also curious about the world around her. Unfortunately, since my parents controlled the purse strings, I couldn’t major in it. For them, nothing but a career in some scientific field counted. We compromised and I majored in psychology, a social science.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

1. This one is among the best I think. I got this from Francine Prose’s book Reading Like A Writer: Read a lot of good fiction and pay attention to how great writers do it.
2. Good writing hinges on the apt word choice. The apt word choice is the word that expresses what you want to say better than any other word. An apt word choice also allows you to be economical in your prose.
3. Self-edit a lot before your work even goes to an editor. And use beta readers drawn from your target audience, if you can.

Are you an avid reader?


What are you reading now?

The Cellist From Sarajevo by Steven Galloway; The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

What are you currently working on?

My fifth novel that has no title yet. I think I’m halfway or two-thirds of the way into the book, depending on how I decide to end it.