Dec
16

http://www.amazon.com/Message-From-Panama-ebook/dp/B00AJ2OQLS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1357171979&sr=8-2&keywords=message+from+panama



LOVE AND DEATH IN A TROPICAL PARADISE


Finalist – Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence

Finalist – Debut Dagger, Crime Writers Association


When you’re summoned to Panama by a dead man and shot within hours of arriving, you might be tempted to hop on the next plane and go home.

But then the dangerous world you’ve entered takes a bizarre twist….


Political consultant Pen Smith has been thinking about making a change in his life but he never envisioned desperately trying to outwit a determined and lethal adversary, chasing an embezzler across one of the most remote and dangerous jungles in the world, and encountering the beautiful Panamanian fashion designer  who had been his dead uncle’s lover.

 

Pen assumes the attack on him is connected to a recent inheritance. But as events unwind at an express-train pace, another more sinister motive emerges from the shadows. What is the real reason someone wants Pen dead? Can he find out before the next attempt on his life? And who else will be caught up in this nerve-wracking game of murder, torture and macabre gamesmanship?

 

MESSAGE FROM PANAMA sweeps from the political insider’s Washington, DC to Panama’s legendary jungles of intrigue. Somewhere in between, Pen’s life hangs in the balance.

 

Order today at :
http://www.amazon.com/Message-From-Panama-ebook/dp/B00AJ2OQLS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1357171979&sr=8-2&keywords=message+from+panama

The Next Big Thing!

Jan
26

Somewhere along the line, a perceptive soul came up with the idea of “The Next Big Thing Author Blog Event.”  In addition to the serious purpose of giving folks more insight into the writers they’re reading – or might want to read – it’s also a bunch of fun.  If you’ve ever been part of a chain letter, you’ll understand the basic notion. (I’m proud to say that I once scored nine bottles of liquor in a Christmas chain letter, so I’m a great believer in the concept.)

Here’s how this one works: A writer in the chain answers the following 10 questions and posts the answers on their website and/or blog, and links it to Facebook, Twitter, whatever social media they use. Then the writer tags one or more other authors, who do the same the following week, and so on, and so on.  Each writer adds his/her name and website/blog at the end.  The object of this is to spread as much information as possible about our works in a new and unique manner.

I want to thank Madeline St. John, who introduced me to this blog event by tagging me for this week’s Q&A. Madeline is the author of the charming “Myrtle” short stories set in Los Angeles. Her current story, BACK IN THE SADDLE, is available from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Back-in-the-Saddle-ebook/dp/B00B4YTEOO/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359241709&sr=1-2&keywords=back+in+the+saddle+st.+john

For next week, I’m tagging two very talented authors:

Margo Carey http://hauntedpen.blogspot.com/ lives in Marblehead  and captures that environment beautifully in her paranormal mysteries, SOME STILL HEAR HER SCREAM and TRACES OF EVIL.

Malcolm Henderson http://www.malcolmlhenderson.com/ authored the wonderful DON’T KILL THE COW TOO QUICK http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Kill-Cow-Quick-ebook/dp/B006WOKJ2M/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359241868&sr=1-2&keywords=dont+kill+the+cow+too+quick and SUPERSTITION, PIRATES, GHOSTS AND FOLKLORE OF BOCAS DEL TORO. http://www.amazon.com/Superstition-Pirates-Ghosts-Folklore-ebook/dp/B00AV8Q9Y2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359241936&sr=1-1&keywords=malcolm+henderson

So, on to my Q&A –

WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK (OR WORK IN PROGRESS)?

I’m working on several projects.. MESSAGE FROM PANAMA, a thriller (see post below)  was published in December.

http://www.amazon.com/Message-From-Panama-ebook/dp/B00AJ2OQLS/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359242459&sr=1-1&keywords=message+from+panama

ESCAPE TO PANAMA, the sequel, and a third book, MURDER IN THE COFFEE, a cozy written under the name Jane Vasarhelyi, will hopefully hit the stands by December.

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM  FOR YOUR BOOK?

The first book was a “pantser,” which I wrote without  any sense of where it came from or how it would end. The second book grew out of learning that my nephew was engaged in an extremely dangerous enterprise as a military prosecutor of the Gitmo prisoners. I mean, that almost begged to be a story. The cozy came from the wonderful coffee culture here in the Western Panama mountains.

WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER?

The first two are thrillers, the 3rd a cozy mystery.

WHICH ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE RENDITION?

For Pen Smith, the main protagonist of both thrillers, Chris Pine or Matthew McConaughey. For other male parts, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers,  Tim Roth, Rupert Penry Jones. There are, of course, women in the books, including Pen’s main squeeze, but no actress jumps out at me, so I’ll leave it there. Have no thoughts yet about the cozy.

WHAT IS THE ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?

MESSAGE – A mysterious letter from his dead uncle summons Washington, DC political consultant Pen Smith to Panama, where he’s the victim of a brazen daylight shooting, heir to an enormous fortune, the object of embezzlement—and the man charged with the secret of a longtime family tragedy.

ESCAPE – Mid Eastern terrorists  have given up trying to penetrate Army security and murder GITMO prosecutor Col. Patrick Smith, so they declare a brutal fatwah on his family.

MURDER – Mysterious things are happening in the coffee plantations of Panama and the nephew of a famous Belgian detective steps in to solve them.

WILL YOUR BOOK BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY?

MESSAGE FROM PANAMA was self-published under my own imprint, Hanging Moon Press. I haven’t decided about ESCAPE and MURDER.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT?

The first draft about a year.  The four years following were devoted to rewrites and edits. The second and third books are going much faster than the first. (Thank goodness!)

WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE THIS STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?

This is tough because comparing your work to that of a successful author just invites criticism. I think I’ll pass on this.

WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

I’ve been an employed writer all my life, since I was 12 years old. (Honest to God. My hometown paper, the Savannah Morning News, paid me for book reviews.) There are good things about people wanting to pay you to write. For example, you never hurt for a job. But the downside  was never wanting to say “no” to an assignment.  Eventually, I was able to put the old life aside and slip on the new one. Occasionally, folks will still ask me to write something for them but now I have no problem with the “no” word.

WHAT ELSE ABOUT YOUR BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST?

I think Panama as a setting. There’s been a lot of intrigue here and most people, if asked, could probably find it on a map. Try that for any other country with a population of 3 million people.

The mix of folks here is also interesting. The indigenous people are pre-Colombian, the French are left over from an unsuccessful attempt to build the first canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic, and a hardy group of Scandinavians settled in the lush mountains of Western Panama, where their descendants currently produce the world’s best and most expensive coffee. (Unless you count an Indonesian variety that has to pass through the gut of a Civit before being consumed by humans. Ugh.). And, of course, no history of Panama would be complete without the Conquistadors who came to seize the gold of South America. Unfortunately, little Panama was the primary collection and export point for this gold and the pirate Henry Morgan repeatedly raped, sacked and pillaged everything in sight. Lots of elements here for a writer to work with.

_____________

Now to the excellent authors who preceded me, as many as I know. (The list didn’t appear in this form until two generations ago. Like any chain letter, this one branches out.)  On our branch, as far back as I could go, they are:

Libby Fischer Hellman www.libbyhellmann.com

Naomi Hirahara

Holly West

Travis Richardson

Sarah Chen at http://www.sarahmchen.com/Home_Page.html

Michael Harris

Kathy Kingston

Madeline St. John

Britt Vasarhelyi http://www.dontshootthewriter.com

Dec
12

The hero has climbed the last mountain, the struggle against evil is over, the beautiful woman – well – is still beautiful. In other words, MESSAGE FROM PANAMA is finally here!

I hope you’ll enjoy reading MESSAGE FROM PANAMA  as much as I did writing it. If you do, please take a moment to stop by the Amazon page and leave a review. The link is below in red.

In the meantime, Pen is embarking on new adventures in ESCAPE TO PANAMA.  Look for it to be out in 2013!

Many thanks, Britt

http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=a09490-20&creative=392013&campaign=212361&link_code=wsw&_encoding=UTF-8&search-alias=aps&field-keywords=message%20from%20panama

Aging Detectives

Nov
15

What do you do when you’ve bitten your nails down to the quick while waiting for your first book to come out?

Well, there’s always bourbon.

And then there’s the internet.

I found this delicious discussion of mystery protagonists and how they’re developing the same creaking knees, poor eyesight, and hearing loss as their authors. Some writers do age their characters; others don’t, or at least don’t in real time.  I’m reminded of Hercule Poirot, who started off old and got older. And better.

I read  books about twenty-somethings and wonder if they have a clue. Thirty-somethings seem self-absorbed.  But the forties.  Nice mix. Both men and women know enough to appreciate where they are in life. I promise never to let a protagonist slip past 49.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304569504576405813466095564.html

Fantastic Find!

Nov
14

My kidlet is at school in North Carolina, so when I stumbled on http://www.trulia.com/crime/# it was like having a line right into the police department.

You begin with a map of the U.S. Then you enter the city you’re interested in. That will bring up a “heat map” of all crimes that were logged in that jurisdiction. You’ll see colors that correspond to incidents per block per month — red the highest, green the lowest.

The map is interactive and can be manipulated in several ways. If you hover over an area, the program will show you the zip code and how many crimes were reported there. You can select individual categories of crime and the map will show where in the city they were committed.  It goes even further. Click on the zip code and all the crimes are listed by type and date, including 911 calls. Drill down even further and the most dangerous intersections in that zip code are listed.  Every crime in the zip code is also displayed by location. Over to one side is a list of dangerous intersections; on the other is a bar chart showing crime trends for the city by hour or day of the week.

Needless to say, the screenshot above hardly does it credit.

This is an incredible resource for anyone interested in crime — or the safety of their kidlets.

KUDOS TO MICHELLE CLARK!

Nov
14

My Guppies critique partner, Michelle Clark, a Death Investigator in Connecticut, attended the Crimebake Conference of crime writers last week and walked away with requests for her manuscripts from 3 agents.  In the book world, this is golden.  Go Michelle!

THREE DAYS AND COUNTING. . .

Nov
14

Immersed in proofing galleys for

MESSAGE FROM PANAMA.

Keeping the champagne cold!


PHOTO BY FRAMEANGEL

“Message from Panama” 2x Award Finalist!

Oct
20

“Message from Panama” is now a finalist in two of mystery writing’s most prestigious contests.  The book has finaled in the Daphne du Maurier Award competition and the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award..

Surprised

Oct
1

Someone asked me the other day what kind of research I did for “Message from Panama.”  I mentioned  Panama, of course, and the Darien jungle and then realized I had researched many other areas as well.  When I wrote the list down, it surprised me.  I had no idea I’d touched on so many different topics — or explored so many that didn’t make it into the book.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Camels (see related post: Woman Killed During Camel Rape)
Saxophones
Colombian Terrorists
Rainforest
Secondary Jungle
Poker Terminology, Hands and History
Australian Slang
Date Rape Drugs
Trekkers
Tattoers
Anaesthetics
Drug Money Laundering
Curare and its Antidotes
Botox
Jungle Plants in Panama
Jungle Animals in Panama
Fashion Design in South and Central America
Mountain Climbing
Shatterproof Glass
Prevalence of Narco Traffic in Panama
Panama Interception of Narco Traffic
Panamanian Crime & Police
Poisonous Snakes of Panama
Antivenin
FARC, a Colombian Terrorist Group
AUC, another Colombian Terrorist Group
Hotel Guest Registration with Police — Europe
Jungle Clothing
Plaster of Paris
Distances in Panama
Firearms & Firearm Storage
Locks
Coffee
Volcanos
Vegetable Dyes in Panama
The Darien Gap — topography, resources, transportation, towns, culture, housing, etc.
Aquatic Regeneration Systems
Hammocks & Tents
Machetes
Rucksacks
Combat Boots
Recent Wars – US
Recent Wars – Panama
Yaviza, Panama
Shamans
Gunshot Wounds
Gunpowder
Origin of Foundations
Native Tribes of Panama (Indios or Indigenous People)
The Price of Cohiba Cigars
Land Measurements
Helicopter Safety
Helicopter Crashes
Helicopter Rescue
Grappling Hooks
Line Throwers
Golden Poisonous Dart Frog
Embera Indians Using Golden Frog Venom
Armored Cars

Stacks

Sep
26

The stack of “to be reads” and in-progress books seems to get bigger every day.  Here’s the list right now:

NON-GENRE

“The Mossad, Inside Stories” — Dennis Eisenberg, Uri Dan, Eli Landau. Think MI5 on steroids.

“War Beneath the Sea — Submarine Conflict During World War II” — Peter Padfield

“The Amateur” — Edward Klein

“Tropical Nature, Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America” I keep this by my bedside and read bits here and there.  It’s marvelously entertaining. Consider this passage:

“Temperate zone mosquitoes whine a direct, noisy approach, and their landing and bite are easily detected. But consider a typical rain forest mosquito. She rarely lands on you if you are moving, and you hear her only in the quiet of night after conversation has ended and you are drifting off to sleep. Her landing is soft, even tentative, and if you move she flies off and bides her time. Her bite is gentle when it comes, a delicate touch that is rarely felt. She is careful; she is sneaky.”

How can you not love a book filled with writing like this?

“The Communist” — Paul Kengor (oh, come on, it’s interesting — very — and it’s the political season, after all.)

“Winds of Freedom, The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II” — Margaret T. Bixler

MYSTERY/THRILLER/SUSPENSE

“Smoke Screen” — Sandra Brown

“Cinnamon Skin” — John D. MacDonald (I have the whole set so will be re-reading the master for quite some time)

“Rough Country” — John Sandford (read this before but every now and then I need a John Sandford fix, old or new)

“Blood Relations” — Barbara Parker

“Dissolution” — C.J. Sansom (This is part of the set of books I received as my prize from the Debut Dagger Award.  Set in the 1500s. )

And about 10,000 books I’ve uploaded on Kindle. It’s a blessing for those of us in non-English speaking countries (although Panama is technically bi-lingual, having a Caribbean, English speaking coast.) But, of course, the temptation to scoop up vast quantities is unrelenting.