Category Archives: Thriller

Welcome Tahlia Newland!

Happy Monday,

PJ Sharon here today! I know it’s not my usual day to post, but I’m filling in for one of my lovely Scribes sisters. I hope you won’t mind seeing me twice in one month.

Now that we’re all crawling out of our turkey comas and forging on, I thought I’d share some love with my pal Tahlia Newland, the woman who put the “Awesome” in Awesome Indies. She’s here today to talk about her latest release, PRUNELLA SMITH:WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS; part thriller, part magical realism, and part stress management instruction manual. She’s going to touch on one aspect of her new book that affects us all these days…cyber-bullying.

Please give a warm welcome to our guest, leave comments, ask questions, and feel free to follow her on social media or check out her books on her website.

Post by Tahlia Newland, award-winning magical realism author. Read more from her on her blog. You can also join her on Facebook , Twitter Google+  and Linkedin.

Take it away, Tahlia!

How would you deal with a cyber-bully?

Have you ever been bullied or had to deal with nasty comments online? How did it feel? What did you do?

The anonymity of the internet makes it all too easy for those who might never say something nasty to your face to say it online. Cyber-bullies can hide behind a false identity and vent their anger without concern for the kind of repercussions they might get otherwise. They can live on the other side of the world, but their venom can come right into your home and shout at you in black and white from your computer or mobile device. And no matter how hard you try to ignore it, it’s an unpleasant experience, and one that can, if you don’t have the skills to deal with it in a stress-free way, cause a lot of anguish, both mental and physical.

Dealing with this reality is the focus of my latest book Prunella Smith: Worlds Within Worlds.  Prunella Smith is a book reviewer, and an author unhappy with her review of his book begins systematically abusing her online. The recent publicity over a case where an author upset by a negative review actually located and physically assaulted a reviewer makes this theme all too real and raises questions for those who review books, especially if they are an author themselves as Prunella is.

When the bully and his friends leave negative reviews of Ella’s own book, she experiences the situation from the other side—as an author, rather than a reviewer—so we see both sides of the issue of dealing with negativity, whether designed to be helpful or blatantly vindictive.

This book raises many questions: Should reviewers not publish negative reviews and remain silent when they have nothing positive to say? What happens to freedom of speech if readers are too scared to share their honest opinions? Should reviewers moderate their language to avoid upsetting the authors? What use are reviews to readers, if no low ratings only means that those who didn’t like the book aren’t telling? This book does not offer definitive answers, but it does look at options and their repercussions. And most importantly, it does model a way to deal with such situations with the least amount of upset.

That’s what you’ll get from this book: a way to handle the difficult people in your life packaged in a heart-warming and inspiring story. This book is more than just a novel; I draw on my many years of meditation study and practice to provide Prunella with realistic and practical ‘solutions’ to her problems. As always, I write ‘real magic’. The magic in my magical realism is a very real way of working with your mind that makes you strong in the face of adversity.

And that is just one strand of this multi-layered book!


Worlds_Final-WEB‘The barrier between the worlds shatters like the window. The beast is loose. My nightmare has become real. The guy has totally lost it. If he finds us here, we could die. No, I don’t doubt it; we will die.’

Author and editor Prunella Smith inhabits a multilayered reality. Physically, she lives in the Australian bush with her crazy cat Merlin. In her work world, she edits the love story of Kelee, a Magan Lord’s daughter, and in the cyber-world of social media, she’s subjected to slanderous attacks by a disgruntled author. To complicate matters further she sees things through the eyes of a Tibetan Yogi, has strange dreams and relives forgotten memories.

Separate worlds, interconnected and complementary, but can they help when Prunella becomes victim to a real life stalker and her sanity is threatened?

Worlds Within Worlds has a unique perspective on the nature of creativity. Its touch is light, its humour distinctive but it reaches deep into the nature of human experience.

Comments from readers:

 “This is riveting stuff, part magical realism dreamscape, part taut psychological thriller, and I was literally on the edge of my seat when the final twist—and what a twist it is—came around. Phew, what a ride! I can honestly say it is the best book I have read this year.” Frank Kusy, author of Rupee Millionaires.

 “This book will make you think. Considering the deluge of new works streaming from authors these days, that may be the highest praise a novel can receive.” Amy Spahn, literary critic.

“A fascinating insight into the mind of someone using meditative techniques to deal with stress.” Kevin Berry, Awesome Indies reviews.

Purchase outlets


Kindle Stores


Barnes and Noble

Apple stores


The paperback will be available from all outlets in early December.

Tahlia Newland, author of six books, including the award-winning Diamond Peak Series (AIA Seal of Excellence in Fiction and BRAG Medallion for Outstanding Fiction), writes heart-warming and inspiring magical realism and contemporary fantasy. She is also an editor and the coordinator of Awesome Indies Books, a website that accredits and showcases quality independent fiction.

Tahlia began writing full time in 2008 after twenty years in the performing arts and a five-year stint as a creative and performing arts teacher in a High School. She has had extensive training in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney with her husband and a cheeky Burmese cat, who features in most of her novels.

Thanks for being with us today Tahlia. Let me leave readers with a few questions for discussion.

Have you ever been bullied online or off? Do you post negative reviews, or do you find yourself hesitant to do so, even if a book deserves a low grade? How do you handle negative reviews?

Choose Your Weapon

PJ here, talking about hand guns and blow guns, and everything in between.

I apologize ahead of time if this post is disturbing to readers who struggle with even the mere mention of guns these days. The tragedies of gun violence in society aside, weapons are a common theme in many of our fiction works. From Harry Potter’s wand to Katniss and her bow, most of our heroes and heroines use some kind of weapon to gain the upper hand against the villains in our stories. So whether you write YA, Mystery, Thriller, Romantic Suspense, or even Regency, you have likely had to research and decide how you would best arm your characters. So how does one decide what weapons or skills to give to imaginary people? If you write Regency or Historical romance–you might want to stick with swords and bayonets. Perhaps having your character be proficient in martial arts will be enough to give them skills to save the day. In my near future dystopian world, I considered that many people will still be carrying and fighting with guns, so that’s where my focus will be for today.

Although I’m a relative newbie to the weapons world, I’ve spent considerable time over the past few years researching handguns and weapons for various characters. I used to write adult romantic suspense and paranormal romance before I “shifted” to YA—no pun intended. I think choosing weapons depends on your character’s personality, training, purpose for having a weapon, and what fits best with the setting of your story. A cross bow is swift, silent and deadly–a definite consideration when fighting zombies. But in many cases, your characters will HAVE to carry guns as part of their job. If you are dealing with cops, PI’s, or military heroes, be sure to talk to someone in that field who is familiar with weapons and ask what they use so you can keep your story authentic and accurate.

Since most of my research was aimed at my female characters, here are a few tips I learned about arming your heroines with guns.

This post is in no way making any political statement about guns or gun control, and is purely for theoretical and research purposes in fiction writing.

Guns are generally chosen according to the purpose for which they are bought. Target/range shooting, sport shooting, concealed carry, or home defense are your main categories. Let’s talk handguns and heroines for example. If your character carries a gun for self-defense, she wants one that is compact and easily concealable. She also wants one that has some stopping power but isn’t going to have a ton of recoil. Revolvers, a.38 for instance with a 2 inch barrel, might seem like a good choice for a reliable, easy to use, and easy to conceal weapon, but unless she is very practiced, the recoil and sting will likely discourage her from pulling the trigger more than once, and accuracy might be affected. If you are target shooting, this is not the gun you want. A slightly longer barrel—say a 4 inch—will add some front weight that will reduce recoil, but is then much less concealable. This might be a good home defense weapon because of its “point and shoot” ease of use for someone who doesn’t plan on spending a lot of time at the range but wants protection.charter_pink_lady_right

Semi-automatic pistols, on the other hand, have a little more weight to them, generally have a smoother shot, and are made to fire rounds in quick succession. They make some very nice compact pistols that are good for both range-shooting and concealed carry, as well as being great for home defense. Yes, there are more moving parts to semi-autos, but once you learn how to use one (racking the slide takes some practice), a revolver seems archaic and impractical. In a zombie apocalypse, a semi-auto is what I’d want! Smith__Wesson_SW_MP_SHIELD_9mm_Sub-Compact_Pistol_MP9_NDIA_Joint_Armaments_2012_DefenseReview.com_DR_17

With new gun laws sweeping the nation, the days of fifteen round clips for semi-autos are likely soon to be over. In Massachusetts, we have had legislation for years that only allows for a maximum of ten bullets in a clip or magazine, which is more than enough to stop an attacker or a bear, providing you can shoot what you’re aiming at. It’s probably not surprising that men typically like larger caliber guns and will usually go for a .40 or .45, while a 9mm will put down an assailant with no problem and doesn’t have quite the same kick for us ladies. S&W, Browning, Ruger, and Sig Sauer all make fine hand guns. It’s all a matter of what features are important to your character and what matches them best. I’ll save shot guns for another time.

I’ve found a ton of YouTube videos on this topic and spent countless hours comparing handguns and shot guns. If you have specific questions, I’d be happy to answer if I can.

In the case of my character in THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL trilogy, finding just the right weapon for Lily was exceptionally challenging. Lily is only sixteen and she is a healer, and as such, is opposed to weapons of all kinds, especially guns. Not that she hasn’t been trained how to fight and use weapons. Life in 2057 is rough, and after the collapse of society as we know it, weapons and who has them will ultimately determine our survival. It is a sad fact of our humanity that weapons equate with power, but in my future world, this is indeed a fact. One that Lily will struggle with throughout the trilogy.

Coming June 24th!
Coming June 24th!

For one thing, in this future world I’ve created, guns will likely be controlled by the government and by the few rebels who are able to hide them and find or create ammunition for them. In deciding what weapons Lily would carry, I figured utilitarian style tools would be her preference. In WESTERN DESERT, Book Two in the trilogy, she carries a buck knife and a blow gun given to her by a family friend. She is also armed with a very nifty high-tech gadget disguised as a locket. Her uncle, a former NASA engineer has retrofitted her aunt’s locket with a GPS tracker, a laser that can cut through metal, and an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) that can knock out electronics within a hundred yard radius. Lily prefers to use her brains rather than risk injuring someone to accomplish her mission.

On the flip side, Will is a typical seventeen year-old boy, alone and hardened by the harsh realities of a world in chaos. He would happily take a handgun, a shot gun, or any incendiary device he could get his hands on…if not for trying to appease Lily. An old Louis Ville Slugger and a hatchet hardly seem like enough weaponry to take on the Industry, a rogue government agency set on using Lily’s brother Zeph for some nefarious plot. You’ll have to wait until June for WESTERN DESERT to find out what happens, and see just how they survive the dangerous journey.

As far as my personal favorites, I’d pick a 9mm Smith and Wesson M&P Shield for a handgun, and a Mossberg 500 tactical 12 gauge for my home defense weapon and bear gun. Zombies beware!

How do you decide on weapons for your characters and what kind do they have?

Goodreads Giveaway by Katy Lee

I have to be honest. Since I joined Goodreads this past year, I had my doubts if it was worth my time. I just didn’t see the benefits of investing the little extra time I had in it. I wondered if people really hung out there enough to read updates and reviews from their friends, or if those updates scrolled down the page, never to be heard or seen again.

But before I made my final judgement call on this social media, I decided to hold a one-week giveaway of Real Virtue. (Click here to enter if you would like.) And so far, I have to say, my opinion is being swayed toward the positive.

First of all, readers are adding my book to their libraries constantly. (So people are hanging out there) Whether they will buy it is another study, but more people are seeing the ad and having to respond in some way to it versus other (PAYING) ads where they glance over it and move onto the next thing. And notice I said PAYING ads. The Giveaway is free, minus the book, of course.

And second? It was easy. I like easy. Plus, once I sign up, Goodreads takes the campaign from there and gives me the tools to get the word out on my end…as I’m sure all my Facebook and Twitter friends can attest to. But honestly, I would LOVE it if one of my followers won the free copy.

When you are reading this on 12/16/12, I will still have another two days left of the giveaway, and won’t be able to give concrete numbers, but at the rate I have seen action, I’m pretty positive it’s not going to let up. I’m thinking as it crunches down to the final seconds, more and more people will see it and make the decision to enter and add it to their lists.

The Unlocked Secret: In the end, it’s not about numbers of sales for me, but rather the chance to bless someone with the message of Real Virtue. But if no one knows about the book, that will be hard to do. I know God gave me a story to tell, and He’s not going to leave it on the shelf. It’s nice to know there are sites like Goodreads that want to help me get it out there.

Question: Have you done a book giveaway? How did it help you spread the word? Or did it?



Shaken, Not Stirred

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here. It’s Skyfall day!

Image from Skyfall – Official Movie site –

If you’ve hung around the Scribes blog long enough then you know we are movie fans. I’m sure I’m not the only James Bond aficionado around here. I started my 007 love affair at a young age, first watching Sean Connery, George Lazeby and Roger Moore on ABC with my family. At the time, I had no idea they were heavily edited. And, of course, all the double entendres went right over my head (Pussy Galore!).

The first James Bond movie I ever saw in a theater was Moonraker. One of the more campier offerings, but I distinctly remember everyone loving the metal-mouthed bad guy Jaws, played by Richard Kiel. I was probably in my early teens and still pretty naive about all the innuendo!

Over the years, I faithfully followed all the Bonds as they changed over time. I was thrilled when Pierce Brosnan finally got his chance with the Astin Martin. And while, I was sad to see him go, I loved Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The harder edged story and the intensity really made me fall in love with the franchise all over again.

As writers there are some lessons to take away from the Bond movies. Part of Bond’s enduring success is a formula that’s stood the test of time and multiple actors playing our hero.

1. Action – I can’t think of a single Bond flick without several pulse pounding action sequences. And they aren’t there just for the thrill value either. They have a purpose and serve to move the plot along (although sometimes you have to wait until the end of the movie to see all the connections).

2. Babes. Lots and lots of babes – skimpy outfits required – Aside from our favorite secret agent, there are always at least two sexy women. One could be loosely considered to be the “love interest” (at least for the duration of the movie). The other (mostly in the earlier movies), slept with Bond then ended up dead later. Who could forget Goldfinger? Jill Eaton dead on the bed, clad only in gold paint. Or in Moonraker, when the sexpot is eaten by dogs. After a while, the first woman to have sex with Bond had the life expectancy of a red-shirted ensign on Star Trek.

3. Villains – no one has more fascinating, campy villains than Mr. Bond. Granted they have stepped away from some of the more cornball aspects of the series (Man with the Golden Gun – extra nipple anyone!). 007 always shines best when the villains are a match for him . Who can forget Sean Connery strapped to a table with Goldfinger cackling overhead – “No. Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” Classic.

4. Gadgets – Bond has done it all and with the most amazing gadgets. Explosive pens, cars that morph into submarines, even a rocket jetpack. And the cars. So many beautiful and classic Astin Martins. I know, they strayed away from the AM in some of the films, but I hear it’s back and more awesome than ever in Skyfall.

5. Super sidekicks/happening henchmen– Q, Miss Moneypenny and Felix Lightner. They’ve all helped anchor James Bond and provide a sense of continuity no matter which actors have played them. And those henchmen – Jaws, Oddjob, Xenia Onatop (the fabulous Famke Jensen) and May Day (Grace Slick). There are way too many to name, but for a complete list – click here.

6. Exotic Locales – the locations are characters in their own right. I’m pretty sure Mr. Bond has been just about everywhere – including space.

7. Awesome catchphrases – Nothing says Bond like – “Bond, James Bond.” Or “Shaken, not stirred.” No one can quip like 007. There is always some humor. Depending on the actor and the decade, it’s dry or downright corny, but we fans love it all the same!

8. The Opening Credits – Nobody does it better. The classic theme song.That gun barrel eye view often followed by an amazing action sequence which culminates in opening credits (silhouettes of nude models, weapons – you name it) often sung by the pop star du jour.

Okay, back to writing. Yes, I know I got a bit carried away. Watch any Bond film and you’ll find all or most of these elements. And if you’re wearing your writer goggles, you will find the basics elements – the call to action, GMC, twists, black moments, love (okay, sex) scenes, and final victory.

I’m sure Ian Fleming, when he was writing his books in his hideaway Goldeneye, had no idea that fifty years of movies later, his characters would still be alive and thriving. Something most of us can only dream about.

I’m looking forward to seeing Skyfall. Anyone else? Favorite Bond actor? Favorite movie? Bond moment? Bond girl, villain, location?

Falling Into Sandra Orchard’s Latest Book

Happy fall! Katy Lee here, excited to be ensconced in my favorite time of year—and not just because October is my birthday month, although I love that it is! Especially when I can buy myself books to read while I enjoy the beautiful fall colors of New England.

And so, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that for my birthday this year, I snatched up a fellow Love Inspired Suspense author’s latest novel, Critical Condition.

This is Sandra Orchard’s third novel in her Undercover Cops series, and I when I saw the cover, a little bit of the peace that autumn offers descended upon me like the fluttering leaves themselves. But I will say peace was not the feeling I received while reading it—at least not at first.

Sandra packs every page with twists and turns, emotional highs…and more highs, and a story that equated to a medical thriller romance that felt like The Fugitive meets luuve. Best of both worlds, in my romantic opinion.

But I also can’t forget the inspirational arc Sandra wove into the story so beautifully, touching on the many battles cancer patients and their loved ones face daily…and how many turn away from God instead of to Him. We live in a world where we have so much hurt and pain to deal with, and blaming God will not bring us healing. And it will not bring the blessings that God has for us, either.

And so, for me, autumn is a time of reflection. While I take in the beauty around me, I pray I will see every blessing God has given to me this year—even in the moments I didn’t feel His presence or I thought He didn’t care. I don’t want to enter the holidays feeling resentment of not accomplishing something I set out to do on January 1st. Or holding a grudge because my year, or even life, did not turn out the way I thought it should. If I am harboring even a bit of anger toward Him, I want to catch that before it festers so big that I disable Him from blessing me more.

The Unlocked Secret: God loves blessing us. Jeremiah 29:11 proves this. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Now THAT’S a blessing I don’t want to miss. And thank you, Sandra Orchard, for allowing God to bless you in your writing, so that you can pass His blessing onto others who don’t want to miss it, either.