Last week, I shared exciting news with VIP readers that initial copies of my latest suspense thriller --A Web of Deceit—arrived at my office. It gave me an opportunity to sign and ship the very first copies to folks who subscribe. Thanks for all your book orders! It was wonderful to personalize so many copies and felt almost like I was at a live signing event again!
All initial VIP copies have been shipped and I hope each of you will find time to start my story soon. I suggest you start reading on a weekend though, because I think you’ll have trouble putting down A Web of Deceit once you start!
As you see videos, posts, reviews, interviews, and other snippets of information on social media in the coming days, I’ll be grateful if you can share them with your friends and family. In this pandemic world, your shares mean the world—helping me to let people know about a story I think many will enjoy.
A Web of Deceit is now available from 37,000 resellers wherever you buy books around the world. If you order from your favorite retailer’s website, you should receive a copy within a few days. If you’re buying in a store, you might need to ask the retailer to order it for you as many locations don’t stock lesser-known writers. If you’re downloading to an eBook, every format is ready to go!
Of course, if you’d still like a signed copy, I have books available and ship free anywhere, if you order below. Heartfelt thanks to each of you for your support and efforts to help me “spread the word” about A Web of Deceit!
All my books are listed on GoodReads and your friends can see ratings and reviews readers have shared for each of them. But it gets even better for the next few days. GoodReads is giving away 100 free Kindle copies of Three Weeks Less a Day!
Share this message with your friends so they can enter the contest to win 1 of the 100 copies available. (They might also like to subscribe to my VIP Readers list to get their own inside scoop about all my stories. They can do that here.)
Be a good friend and share this message with as many as possible!
Readers will remember Suzanne Simpson from Three Weeks Less a Day, The Multima Scheme, and Unrelenting Peril. In each of those stories, she is the consummate business executive, climbing the ladder of corporate success.
Reviewers like her strong character—regardless the challenge or circumstance she faces. Whether coping with personal tragedy or a business win, Suzanne consistently demonstrates the best qualities of controlled, sure-footed business leaders.
In Novel # 5, Suzanne continues in her role at the pinnacle of power in Multima Corporation, but almost immediately finds herself in totally unfamiliar and uncharted territory. We’ll get a glimpse of another aspect of her character and beta readers tell me they find Suzanne more intriguing and complex in the new story.
Suzanne has evolved over time and in different environments. Readers will best track her growth and development by reading the trilogy about the goings-on at the top of Multima Corporation. You’ll learn much about her surprising rise to power in Three Weeks Less a Day and The Multima Scheme. But it is in Unrelenting Peril where she clearly stakes out her position of authority and fearlessly defends her corporation from nefarious criminal elements.
In Novel # 5, expect to learn more about what drives Suzanne to become one of the most successful people in the American business world. Before that, you still have a few weeks to get to know her better in the earlier stories!
This blog article was first distributed to my VIP List of readers. To get your info earlier, subscribe today in the block just to the right!
I first became intrigued with the Mekong Delta during a war between Vietnam and the Americans that ended in the early nineteen-seventies. Unsurprisingly, while North Americans think of the nineteen-year conflict as the Vietnamese War, people there call it the American War. And it was one of the first examples of how a small, impoverished country might defend itself against a much richer country with almost unlimited military might.
A massive network of underground tunnels helped the Vietnamese launch surprise attacks on the Americans, then often disappear quickly below ground before the Americans could retaliate. Tourists today can visit those tunnels and marvel at the ways Vietnamese soldiers constructed and lived in a world below.
In my new story, Howard Knight visits the Mekong Delta. I’ll tell you now. He doesn’t visit the tunnels, but he uses another useful bit of information. This region of Vietnam used to be part of the Khmer Empire based in what is now Cambodia. While most of the residents of the area today are ethnic Vietnamese, the largest population of Khmer people outside Cambodia live in the fascinating river delta.
After I learned that tidbit of information, my imagination ran a little wild as I wrote the story, and I think you’ll enjoy reading about Howard’s fleeting experiences there. He’s a fugitive. So he didn’t have much time to see sights. But I think you’ll get to know his ever-flawed character better.
This blog article first appeared on my VIP List. If you'd like to receive these messages first, sign up in the block just to the right!
Precisely one year ago, our small family group landed in Vietnam. I’d already been to Saigon for business a few times, and knew about the bizarre strategies for crossing streets, the plethora of scooters in the roadways, and wonderful hospitality of the people. But I looked forward to exploring cities like Hanoi and Hue for the first time.
Within hours of arrival, I knew a major character in my next novel would visit Vietnam.
It turns out that visitor in novel # 5 is Howard Knight. His time in the fascinating country is short. He’s a fugitive after all! But his fear of detection gives me an opportunity to work into the story a few settings and details that are anything but a travelogue.
Howard sees parts of Saigon that are far from the luxury hotels where western tourists stay and part of his story takes place in the Mekong Delta where much of the war with the Americans was waged. I think you’re going to like his taste of Vietnam when you read novel #5!
Subscribers to my VIP List received this story first. Like to join us? Subscribe with a click just to the right of this article!
Some writers choose titles for their stories before they start research. Others know before they complete their outline. A few finalize the title with the first draft. I’ve never been able to choose until the very last version and sometimes only days before the story goes to book layout.
Three Weeks Less a Day came easiest. As I mulled over possible names and descriptions, on a whim I wondered how long it took to tell the story. I subtracted the dateline of chapter one from the date on the final chapter and calculated the difference at twenty days. One day less than three weeks I thought. Three Weeks Less a Day was another way of looking at that time period, and I immediately fell in love with the title.
The process was longer and more painful for each of the following stories. So, take a guess at my current challenge. You’ve got it! Novel # 5 is almost ready and I’m still struggling for just the right title to draw in readers. So, I’m asking for your help.
I can’t tell you too much about the story yet, but let me share these insights. Howard Knight returns. Suzanne Simpson plays a larger role as she copes with unimaginable challenges in her leadership of Multima Corporation. And Fidelia Morales becomes a major character. Some of you may remember Fidelia as Howard’s lover in The Multima Scheme where her actions were completely at odds with her given name.
The first page of novel #5 also portrays a famous quotation of Sir Walter Scott more than 200 hundred years ago: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"
Novel #5 creates suspense and raises deceit to new levels as more than one character weaves chaos into the inner workings of Multima Corporation at precisely the time a global pandemic starts to unfold. I think you’ll like the story. But the novel needs a title and I need your help. Please tell me your preference.
Here are titles I’m currently considering:
1. A Thoroughly Entangled Web
2. A Web of Deceit
3. A Tangled Web
4. A Jumbled Web
5. None of the above
Please tell me your preference by entering the number of the title you prefer in the "Comments" box. If none seem like a winner, choose #5 and I'll keep searching!
By the way, did you subscribe to my VIP List yet? You can also do that in 30 seconds at the icon on your right! Thanks for your help!
A few days ago it suddenly struck me that I’ll spend this winter entirely in Canada for the first time in almost a quarter-century!
In the winter of 1996, I was asked to spearhead expansion of a new business into Europe and spent several December days in the beautiful city of Geneva. Most days were in meetings, but I still had a chance to experience picturesque Swiss winter weather nestled near the Alps. Of course, I saw snow, but the atmosphere was different from most of Canada.
A few weeks later, I enjoyed a delicious lunch with a prospective customer in Mandelieu on the French Riviera. It was a surprisingly warm and sunny February day. Glancing up from our business conversation, the alluring blue Mediterranean dominated a picturesque background. But in a pool steps away, several topless young women frolicking in the sunshine caught my eye. I think it was probably at that moment I decided winters in warm places should become a fundamental new life goal!
In the intervening years, I’ve had the good fortune to spend winters in Europe, Asia, Florida, and the Caribbean, with only extremely brief intervals to touch base with folks back in Canada. Much of the research and settings for my stories resulted directly from those warm winters away from Canada.
This year is different in almost every respect. In April—when I first realized personal appearances in bookstores to promote my novels would be improbable for the remainder of the year—I started to work on story number five. Using self-isolation and limited social interaction to advantage, I wrote steadily throughout the spring and summer and started the editing cycle in October.
The manuscript is progressing well, and I think readers will really like the new story. I’ll be polishing it until January with my expert editors. By the end of February, it will be released.
The next few months mean promotion of a new novel and building on sales of earlier ones. I plan to use the dreary days of a Canadian winter to learn new digital selling skills and develop a better online presence, increasing penetration into the eBook segment as well as traditional print versions. I invite you to come along on that adventure with me.
If you choose to subscribe to my VIP List, I’ll start sending monthly newsletters directly to your email box. Starting in January, I’ll talk about writing, promoting, and selling books, but I’ll also talk with you about how I’m managing to cope with Canadian winters after being away for more than a third of my life!
Please join me. Look for the VIP List box just to the right of this article and subscribe. It takes about 30 seconds!
My 2019 author promotional events have finished. It’s been an extraordinary 7 months meeting new readers all across the province of Ontario with a bonus weekend in Montreal! I’ve had an outstanding time interacting with thousands of new people and feel gratified with book sales for each of my novels.
I thank each of you for your unfailing support. Without your purchases of books, Facebook’ shares’, book reviews, and recommendations to friends and neighbors, such success simply could not be possible. As a writer working without the benefit of celebrity, name recognition, or the publicity machine of a large publisher, I rely on you.
You’ve probably grown tired seeing Facebook Events publicizing my store promotions. I get that. But it’s really the only cost-effective tool we writers have to generate awareness and interest. You might be surprised to know how effective it is. Know that visitors to stores often commented that they had “heard about this book” or asked if I had recently been featured on TV because “it sounded familiar.” Facebook publicity works.
You may have noticed my events and posts always highlighted the name of the store location with an underline. That underline means the message also appeared on the Facebook page of that individual store. This tool let me reach a thousand or more regular shoppers at that specific store about the upcoming event and directly contributed to both traffic and book sales.
The good news? I won’t be posting any more Events this year! In fact, don’t look for any event posts until well into 2020.
Right now, I’m working feverishly to complete novel number 4. As you might imagine, writing time has suffered with 3-5 days per week dedicated to promotional activities. So, I’ll remain focused on finishing the new story so my editors can go to work helping me make it better. If all goes well, the new story will be the best yet and appear in late April or early May next year.
I can’t reveal details yet, but I will tell you the next story features the four naughtiest characters from the previous three novels and will be my fastest paced and most entertaining yet!
If you haven’t read Three Weeks Less a Day, The Multima Scheme, and Unrelenting Peril, you might want to finish them before spring. Of course, I’ll also appreciate you continuing to recommend my stories to your friends. Even better, you might consider giving books to family and friends as holiday gifts.
Whether you are a family member, friend, reader, or interested follower, please accept my heartfelt thanks and unending gratitude for your unwavering support!
As a novelist, I understand the benefit of creating conflict. Conflict between individuals makes a story exciting. Conflicting objectives can create suspense. Conflicts of values can build emotions. Every successful novel weaves a number of conflicts into an appealing tale that people pay good money to read for entertainment. But should the news media use the same techniques to grow reader or viewership audiences?
This is a question I increasingly ask. First, let me say this is not a “fake news” blog or an article to attack the news media. In principle, I think most news media outlets try to report news stories accurately in an increasingly demanding world. I cringe every time I hear a politician blame a circumstance on the media or use denigrating terms to dismiss or demean the news media.
But, as a writer, I often dissect stories to identify how the piece was structured by the wordsmiths who write and edit the news we read, hear, or watch. And, it’s clear most outlets use the novelist’s technique of creating conflict to make their stories more exciting.
Take the subject of climate change, for example. For more than a decade, the global scientific community has produced a plethora of data and evidence to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that people are creating excessive carbon dioxide which is causing the earth to warm unacceptably fast. Yet, most media stories still work in oblique references to create conflict like “critics of the study say…” or “industry leaders maintain …” or “some experts doubt…”
Now, I understand a media’s desire to remain neutral and present both sides of an opposing argument, but if the “critics” are clearly criticizing because they ‘believe’ something different without compelling evidence, should the media report their position? If ‘industry leaders’ clearly have a clear financial interest in their position, is media reporting their position for any other purpose than creating conflict? And if ‘experts’ are quoted without the media establishing the credentials of a self-proclaimed expert in the article, should we think the media has any objective other than creating conflict?
Look too at the attention given daily to outright lies repeatedly uttered by the president of the United States. When a media outlet knows a politician is making a demonstrably false statement, why report it? What purpose is served other than creation of a conflict where it will then become necessary for someone to counter the false statement and become the opposition in a conflict?
News media might argue a need for balance, and when there are merely opposing points of view, I would agree. But facts are facts. If a statement is factually incorrect, it’s not a point of view, it’s a lie. And why would any news outlet knowingly publish a lie if not to create conflict and controversy?
There are occasions when news media outlets must take a stand to retain their credibility. One of those is the current climate crisis. Science tells us this subject is existential. Humankind’s very future depends on how quickly we can stabilize rising temperatures. In my view, news media outlets would much better serve their audience and humanity by eliminating the conflict of ideology from stories and focus on the only real conflict – people vs. carbon dioxide.
Equally, I think the news media would much better serve its audience and the promotion of civil discourse by simply ignoring comments made by politicians who are serial liars or who seek to destroy accepted values with innuendo or demonstrably false accusations.
The news media around the world has many challenges and is under immense pressure. But I think elimination of the “create a conflict” strategy would be a great place to start rehabilitating its image and winning back its audience. Now that’s my point of view. What’s yours?
In all three of my novels, I weave organized crime into the plots. Organized crime adds some suspense and excitement to the stories, but I can also demonstrate some of the factors that lead people into a life of crime. It also gives me lots of time to think about crime and punishment. Lately, I’ve been focusing on our society’s growing fascination and preoccupation with harsher penalties and sentences related to criminal activity.
Social conservatives seek laws that demand a minimum sentence for certain crimes. Media outlets often recite a range of punishment possible almost immediately after a suspect is apprehended and usually long before any trial or conviction. Politicians often scream “injustice!” when someone convicted of a violent crime is released into society or even transitioned into a different monitoring or adaptation program.
Why? Statistics have long established that very few people actually plan to become criminals. Of course, the very few who become mass murderers or terrorists are the exception. But studies find most violent crimes are acts of passion – often with a single event that escalates into criminal behavior. Studies also established many years ago that punishment is seldom an effective deterrent despite advocates using this argument to justify longer prison terms and confinement that is barely above subsistence.
Yet prisons in North America are overcrowded, and governments devote more tax dollars to build new facilities to hold more people. In the USA, prison confinement has actually become a business with an estimated 18% of all people convicted of federal crimes held in privately owned prisons. Canadian politicians have also openly mused about converting some prisons to “for-profit” facilities.
In all three of my stories, I help readers better understand some of the factors that motivate characters to adopt a lifestyle most would consider criminal. Most of my examples show how family, neighborhoods, education, peer pressure, and economic circumstance often lead to a life of crime. As with real criminals, fear of punishment has little to do with their eventual criminal activities.
Why, then, do we focus so intently on punishment? Of course, we all recoil in horror when we hear of heinous murders, violent attacks, rapes, or other events that are abhorrent to almost everyone. But, too often we also immediately default to comments like “I hope they kill the perpetrator” or “I hope he rots in jail.” Instinctively, we seem to directly jump to the punishment without care or concern about factors that perhaps led to the violent incident.
Compare our punishment driven mindset towards crime with the approach in Germany. I lived and worked in Dusseldorf for almost seven years at the turn of the century and was continually amazed at the low level of crime – particularly violent crime – compared with Canada. I learned that German authorities don’t focus primarily on punishment, nor do the German people. Rather than worrying about how many prison years are meted out as punishment, people and authorities focus on what is being done to prepare a convict for his or her re-entry to society to avoid that person re-offending if at all possible.
A head of the German penitentiary system once told the media he saw his primary role - from the day a convict arrives at a prison facility - as developing and executing a plan tailored to each individual. His goal is to be sure each convict is not only ready to re-enter society when their sentence end but is also unlikely to re-offend.
Which view do you think is more likely to reduce crimes and lower the terrible costs of crime to our society? As certain politicians focus on budgets and expenses, are they taking care to put in place programs and expenditures necessary to create a safer community with lower rates of crime? As we focus on punishment and exacting “some sense of justice" for victims or their families, are we increasing the probability of more violent crimes with higher costs to our society?
These are questions I think about as I write my novels, and they’re issues I hope you'll consider as you read them!
Dictionaries might define the word ‘rendezvous’ as a meeting with someone that is arranged for a particular time and place (and that is often secret); or a place where people agree to meet at a particular time; or perhaps a place where many people go to spend time. Here, Rendezvous is a place where we can share information and get to know each other better.
Join my VIP List?