UnholyBargain300

Unholy Bargain

Whether your manuscript is in the early stages and you’d like significant developmental input, you’re almost ready to query and are looking for someone to do a final copyedit, or anywhere in-between, I can help. For testimonials from authors with whom I have worked, as well as more detailed information about my editing services, please click here.





Lamentation by Joe Clifford

Patrick O’NeilSomeday, it would all change. Someday, I would make it right. Only someday never comes, does it? — Jay Porter

It’s hard for someday to come when you live life spinning your wheels stuck somewhere between the past and the present. Such is the state Jay Porter finds himself in.

Ever since his parents were killed in a car accident one winter twenty years ago when their car’s brakes failed, sending them off a bridge into an icy lake, Jay has been stuck in a holding pattern, his life failing to flourish.

A large reason Jay’s stuck in neutral is because of his brother, Chris. A decade older, Chris became Jay’s guardian after their parents were killed. Unfortunately, Chris also became a junkie, a thief and a liar. Now, Jay spends his days working dead-end, manual labor jobs just trying to keep his head above water, all while chasing and cleaning up after Chris.

Jay knows his brother is an anchor on his life—his loyalty to Chris even cost Jay his relationship with his girlfriend and two-year-old son—but blood ties run deep and Jay can’t find it in his heart to cut Chris completely loose no matter how bad he screws up.

Things take an ominous turn, however, when Chris disappears shortly after Jay bails him out of jail, yet again. Right before he went missing Chris was going on about having come across some very sensitive information, information that people are apparently willing to do anything, even commit murder, to keep from seeing the light of day. Now, Jay has to try and find his brother before the wrong people do, while also trying to keep himself from ending up in the crosshairs in the process.

The Fury of Blacky Jaguar by Angel Luis Colón

Patrick O’Neil“Fuck discreet. The boy needs a proper beating—no other way to handle it.” — Blacky Jaguar

Subtle is not a word Blacky Jaguar is familiar with. The ex-IRA enforcer, formerly known as Danny Clarke, lives his life at two speeds: idling or pushing the redline—there is no in-between.

So when his beloved 1959 Plymouth Fury goes missing, Blacky launches his own personal crusade to get the car back, and woe be it to whoever took his beloved “Polly,” or anyone standing between him and the goal of retrieving his ride.

Unfortunately for Blacky, once he starts down the warpath his familiar brand of over-the-top mayhem puts him on the radar of FBI Agent Linda Chen, a woman as dedicated to achieving her goal—busting Blacky—as he is to rescuing Polly. Chen also happens to be Blacky’s ex, so she’s double-barrel loaded for Blacky’s backside.

When their paths finally cross at a house in the Bronx owned by a gangster known as Osito, the Little Bear, the runaway train that is the fury of Blacky Jaguar finally runs completely off the rails in a blaze of retribution, righteous indignation, and glorious mayhem.

Though it weighs in at a trim 128 pages, Angel Luis Colón’s The Fury of Blacky Jaguar hits as hard as its Irish antihero Blacky does, mugging the reader and dragging him along for the ride, like it or not. But like it you will if you’re a fan of flying fists and good old fashioned pulp, as Colón has created in Blacky a character who deftly walks the line between cartoonish and compelling.

Killing Secrets by Dianne Emley

“You’re going to be flying solo. You okay with that?” — Sergeant Early

Detective Nan Vining is used to being in situations where she has to fly solo. Both professionally as an investigator with the Pasadena Police Department and as a single mother raising a teenage daughter, Vining has reached a point where she’s learned to trust her instincts and go where they take her.

In Killing Secrets, however, the first entry in the Nan Vining series in five years (Read more from author Dianne Emley about revisiting Vining after such a layoff.), Vining finds herself farther out on a solo ledge than ever before.

The book opens with Vining’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Emily, and her boyfriend stumbling across a gruesome crime scene while out in a city park at dusk. Two people, one of their classmates and a popular teacher from their school, have been killed. As the investigator with the most seniority and experience, Vining naturally expects to be assigned the case. Upon arriving at the scene, however, she’s surprised to learn that two other investigators, one of them extremely inexperienced, have been given the assignment instead.

Her surprise turns to confusion, and then frustration, as the case is handled both in an unorthodox manner and with lightning speed. Someone high up in the PD is apparently in a hurry to chalk things up as a murder-suicide and be done with it. Vining isn’t convinced, and decides to dig deeper.

DianneEmley

The Comeback Character by Dianne Emley

It’s a pleasure to welcome LA Times bestselling author Dianne Emley back to the blog. Well-known for her Detective Nan Vining thrillers (The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, and Love Kills) and Iris Thorne mysteries (Cold Call, Slow Squeeze, Fast Friends, Foolproof, and Pushover), Dianne’s newest entry in the Nan Vining series, Killing Secrets, is forthcoming from Random House on July 21st.

New Yorked by Rob Hart

New Yorked by Rob Hart“New York is not a city. It is an idea.” — Ginny

Ashley (Ash) McKenna is a man molded and driven by ideas. As a boy growing up on Staten Island, Ash would sit with his firefighter father in the wee hours of the night listening to the emergency scanner, his dad patiently explaining to him what all the mysterious calls and codes meant.

Watching his father go to work, both as scheduled and spontaneously in response to some of those emergency calls, Ash formed strong ideas of duty, honor, and responsibility. And when his father was killed on 9/11 while attempting to evacuate people on the upper floors of the World Trade Center, Ash was branded with the idea of sacrifice. And loss.

So when Ash pulls himself up out of the depths of a blackout drunk one afternoon only to learn that his longtime friend and unrequited love, Chell, has been murdered, his whole world comes crashing down around him.

The loss he feels is complicated and compounded by the message he finds from Chell on his cell phone, apparently left only minutes before her death. She’d reached out to Ash for help, begged him to come meet her because she was only streets away from his apartment and feared she was being followed, and Ash failed—failed to meet his self-appointed responsibility to protect her.

Ash can’t live with that. And he won’t let whoever murdered Chell live with it, either.

Gun Needle Spoon by Patrick O’Neil

Patrick O’NeilI shot dope, sold drugs, did crimes, went to jail. It doesn’t mean I have to continue living like that. — Patrick O’Neil

Patrick O’Neil shouldn’t be alive. Statistically, at least, he should be either dead or locked up for the rest of his life. That he is neither dead nor in jail given the life he’s lead is a testament to the power of the human spirit.

That, and a good lawyer.

I first “met” Patrick in that causal online way you do these days, following him on

Murder Boy by Bryon Quertermous

Murder Boy by Bryon QuertermousI was staring at the bodies and feeling more confused and nauseated than heroic. — Dominick Prince

Having been stuck in the wasteland that is crime and poverty-ridden Detroit for the majority of his life, things were finally headed in the right direction for Dominick Prince; he was on the verge of getting a fresh start.

As soon as his creative writing professor, Parker Farmington, signed off on Dominick’s final thesis project, Dominick would be on his way to New York City and a waiting writing fellowship. But a funny thing happened on the way to the bright lights of the Big Apple.

Farmington refused to sign off.

At the end of his rope and desperate, Dominick comes up with a novel solution: kidnap Farmington and force him to sign. Not the way most people would go, granted, but Dominick is truly convinced he has nothing left to lose.

And so, fueled by a combination of alcohol, rage and desperation, with a chaser of self-delusion, Dominick sets his plot into motion. The results are undeniably disastrous, and marvelously madcap. As Dominick’s ill-conceived plan pinballs from pillar to post, author Bryon Quertermous introduces a colorful cast of supporting characters, each of whom adds their own special flavor to the mix.

Knuckleball by Tom Pitts

Knuckleball by Tom Pitts“He made us all victims,” one caller said. “It was a hate crime of the worst kind, the hate was for us all, for society.”

As the city of San Francisco gets ready to direct some good-natured hate against their loathed baseball rival Dodgers during a three-game series with their beloved Giants, a different kind of hate is stalking the city’s Mission District.

In a senseless act of seemingly random violence, Officer Hugh Patterson is brutally gunned down at the end of his shift while standing outside a taqueria watching the game on the TV inside through the window. His partner, who had stepped away to make a phone call, gets to the scene too late—too late to save Patterson’s life, and too late to even see the perp, let alone apprehend him.

Though the city bands together to express their shock and outrage, turing Patterson into a modern-day folk hero in the process, few leads appear in the crime’s immediate aftermath. But as a reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer grows in the following days, an eyewitness comes forward.

Fifteen-year-old Oscar Flores lives in an apartment across the street from where Patterson was gunned down. An avid Giants fan, he was in his room watching the game when the crime occurred and claims to have seen the entire thing while looking out the window between innings. It seems like the break the police need to solve the crime, and so you think you know exactly where the narrative’s going as it rounds third and heads for home. But as author Tom Pitts has demonstrated time and again, he’s a master at putting his characters in a moral pickle.

A Murder Country by Brandon Daily

Brandon Daily“Don’t lie to me. I am your final judgment here. I am your final chance for salvation.” —The Rider

The setting: late eighteenth century. The players: three men moving through a violent and unforgiving world, two looking for earthly revenge, one the self-appointed hand of God. The stakes: a quest to understand man’s place in the world and how the power of belief—and a single act or decision—can set the course of one’s life.

Young Josiah Fuller’s life is irrevocably altered when, upon returning home from a multi-day hunting trip, he finds his parents have been brutally murdered. Not content simply to kill, whoever was responsible tortured the Fullers before stringing them up from a tree and burning down the homestead.

Josiah makes a vow to avenge their murders, and sets out on a quest to track and find the person(s) responsible. Along the way, he is forced through his interactions with the people he encounters to deeply examine his life, and to ask the question whether trading his eternal soul for the satisfaction of earthly vengeance is something he’s truly prepared to do.

William Corvin was once a man of violence, but has reformed his life and now oversees his family’s coal mine. When a random encounter with two drifters visits violence upon Corvin’s pregnant wife, like young Josiah, Corvin is forced to confront the question of whether slipping back into his old skin is worth the loss of his peaceful, hard fought for new life.

The Adversary / Intrusion by Reece Hirsch

“A little disruption is healthy, makes everyone’s security stronger. It also lets those big corporations know that not everything is under their control. They can still be brought down.” —Zoey Doucet

Using computers, social media and the Internet are a part of the daily lives of nearly 3 billion people. That’s a staggering number, but one that makes it easy to understand why controlling the online world and, more importantly, the ways people access it and the information that can gleaned from those who use it, are things some will stop at nothing to achieve.

Enter Chris Bruen, former Department of Justice prosecutor and current partner in the law firm Reynolds, Fincher and McComb, where he specializes in data security. In his position at the DOJ it was Chris’s job to track down and prosecute big-time hackers. He’s parlayed that experience, as well as some personal hands-on hacking experimentation during his early teen years, into now showing massive corporations how they can protect themselves from the kinds of people he used to run to ground.

That’s the setup for a new series from Reece Hirsch, author of the previous standalone legal thriller The Insider, which was a finalist for the 2011 International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.

Done in One by Grant Jerkins & Jan Thomas

On the street it’s reflex. Kill or be killed. This is methodical. Cold blooded. There’s not many men or women up to the task. — Jake Denton

Jake Denton is a member of the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department. Most days his job entails the things most people associate with being a police officer: going to roll call and briefings, patrolling his assigned beat, trying his best to make sure he and the people he is sworn to serve and protect all go home safely at the end of his shift.

Most days.

Some days, however, a call comes in that drastically changes Denton’s objective. On those days, odds are high not only won’t everyone be going home safely at the end of Denton’s shift, but that someone won’t be going home ever again. Because of Denton.

On those days, Denton rolls out with the other members of Cameron County Sheriff’s Department’s special weapons and tactics team—Denton is SWAT, the team’s designated sniper.

As Done in One opens, Denton and the SWAT team are called out to a hostage situation in a mini-mart, one police officer having already been killed by the would-be robber. As he’s done sixteen times previously in the line of duty, Denton uses his highly-honed skill to take out the criminal and save the hostage. The manner in which it goes down, however, is slightly different than in times past, earning Denton a mandated trip to a psychologist before he’s allowed back on SWAT rotation.

WordsDieFor

Words to Die For by Lynn Kostoff

“You can afford to burn with a self-righteous purpose and champion Truth and Justice because you can’t admit just how terrifyingly little either of them has to do with anyone’s life, including your own.” — Raymond Locke

Raymond Locke is a fixer. His official job title at PR firm Public Domain is public relations specialist, but make no mistake about it, what Locke does is fix problems. Big, ugly, career and business torpedoing problems—the type of scandals that keep the supermarket tabloids of the world in business.

The year is 1986, and in the Reagan-era, greed is good, Iran-Contra fueled American cultural climate, Public Domain has no shortage of extremely rich clients with extremely embarrassing problems to fix before the damage sets in too deeply. Having become something of a rock star amongst fixers for his work on a case involving allegations of impropriety at a daycare center, Locke is known as the go-to guy for the dirtiest of problems.

But even Locke couldn’t have imagined just how far down the rabbit hole his newest client’s case would take him.

Lamar Ditell, owner/CEO of Happy Farms, a giant poultry company, has a Grade A scandal on his hands. Previously just a chicken producer/supplier, Happy Farms recently expanded into the fast-food business. Unfortunately for Ditell, over 100 people were stricken with serious food poisoning following the grand opening of Happy Farms’ first two franchises. And while such an outbreak would normally only be an embarrassing bump in the road, one of the victims, a ten-year-old girl, suffers serious complications and ends up in a coma. It still might be a PR hurdle someone with Locke’s skills could easily clear, until both a crusading journalist and a high-profile activist with Hollywood ties latch onto the scandal like dogs with a bone, determined to bring down Ditell and his empire, which had previously garnered bad press for an anti-union incident at Happy Farms’ processing plant.

Christopher Irvin - Burn Cards

Burn Cards

“I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Elizabeth on projects ranging from short stories to a full-length novel. Each time my expectations were surpassed. Elizabeth’s professional critiques not only improved each work, but also my writing in general. She goes beyond the prose, fact checking and providing insightful commentary on plot, character and the like. I highly recommend her editing services.” — Christopher Irvin

Whether your manuscript is in the early stages and you’d like significant developmental input, you’re almost ready to query and are looking for someone to do a final copyedit, or anywhere in-between, I can help. For testimonials from authors with whom I have worked, as well as more detailed information about my editing services, please click here.

Write the Individual by Christopher Irvin

I’ve been fortunate to work with the talented Chris Irvin on multiple projects, from flash fiction and short stories to his novella, Federales (One Eye Press), and most recently on an early draft of his latest release, Burn Cards (280 Steps). As such, it wouldn’t be proper for me to review the book, but since I do know how good it is I was more than happy to provide Chris a platform to talk about the book, particularly the approach he took as a male author to writing the story from the perspective of a female lead.

I’ve been asked about the difficulty of writing Mirna Fowler, the protagonist in BURN CARDS, in most recent interviews. I think it’s a fair question. It was certainly on my mind when I wrote the book. Is she a convincing underdog? Will I portray her strength well? Perhaps it’s because of the ever-present chatter of tough/strong women written as “just men with boobs” (more of a complaint by SFF readers, I think, as I’ve never seen such “criticism” on the crime/thriller scene – one I disagree with.) But disagree or not, it still sat there in the back of my head.

BURN CARDS initially came about as a sort of challenge. A few years ago I realized I was criminally (zing) under-read when it came to female authors (especially in crime), nor was I writing female characters in my short stories. I took Christa Faust’s Tough Dames class on LitReactor as a way to force myself to do both. After a grueling month, I’d learned a ton, discovered some of my (now) favorite authors – Megan Abbott, Claire Vaye Watkins, Dorothy B. Hughes – and wrote “Bet It All On Black,” the short story that would inspire BURN CARDS.

Fast forward to today – the book has gone through a lot, but one aspect that’s remained constant is Mirna’s voice. It’s a key part of the narrative that I tried very hard to get right. I have a lot of strong women in my life and I think there are pieces of them represented in Mirna. Having female friends read and give a thumbs up to earlier drafts was a boost to my confidence, but at the end of the day I think I realized, in my gut, that I’d been writing to the individual all along, and that’s what brought her to life. (see below for more from Kelly Sue DeConnick)