Saturday, March 29, 2014

Deceitful Truths

Today's special guest is Maggie Thom. Award winning author, Maggie Thom, took the challenge and leapt off, leaving a fulltime, twenty year career in management, to write full time. After publishing her first book Captured Lies, October 2012, she published her second novel, Tainted Waters, April, 2013. Tainted Waters went on to win Suspense and Thriller Book of the Year through Turning the Pages
Magazine. She is excited to publish her third novel, Deceitful Truths, March 2014. An avid
reader and writer her whole life, she decided to break the monotony of wishing to be an author
by making it happen. She is an avid nature lover and likes nothing better than taking a book,
hiking to a remote spot by a river or waterfalls and reading. Married to her best friend, she is
learning that humor, love and patience help her navigate her way through her twins’ teen years.

Her motto: Escape to read and Read to escape. "Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!" InDtale Magazine


I am a fan of Maggie Thom's work, and I asked her how she develops such multi-dimensional characters. Here is her response:

There is so much that goes into writing a compelling novel but one of the most important aspects is the characters. It's one of the most exciting parts of writing, getting to create the people who show up in the story. I mean you get to imagine and then build up this three-dimensional person, how cool is that? I love this aspect of writing. The key to making strong, compelling, likeable characters is knowing them. It doesn't matter who the character is, the main character who the story is about or a character who only shows up once, the author has to have a really good idea who they are or they'll fall flat - the characters not the writer. J
Something I learned several years ago in writing, was that to be able to really write interesting and engaging characters, the author needs to know them really well. The author needs to know more then they will ever write about - there are the obvious physical things like height, weight/size, eye-color, hair-color, etc. but they also need to know what makes them tick, what makes them who they are. The best advice I was ever given was to interview them. Know who they are, where they grew up, what was their home life like, what were they like in school, who was their family, what was the family dynamics like, what did they want to be when they grew up, what jobs did they hold, who was their first love, what were their hobbies, who were or are their friends, etc. I treat them like they're real people with real lives. The better I know and understand my characters the better I understand what drives them to act the way they do, do the things they do. It will mean that they are more life-like, more real to the reader, who will get a feel for them and be able to connect with them. I think as an author the best gift I can give the reader is a character who is someone they feel they know, they can relate to, they can like or dislike, they are someone they buy into.
In Deceitful Truths, Tarin, is the main character, who this story this really about. She has lived a wealthy but rather sheltered, cold and very structured life, so when she finds herself in a very awful situation, she does what she was taught - she finds a man to look after her and her problem. Only then does she discover what a mistake that was as it only threw her into another nightmare, so then she is forced to step way out of her comfort zone to do that. So first, I had to know all of her history, some of which I share throughout the story but lots I don't. I had to know what would compel her to finally take charge of her life and go against all that she'd been taught. What would make her do things that were not part of her upbringing or who she was? How would she deal with doing things she wouldn't normally do? Who would she be once she discovered who'd been screwing with her life?
What really brings a character to life, though, is often the little things - the little quirks they have, the way they talk, how they interact with others, how they dress, what they wear, how they react to things, etc. These are all important aspects that add another dimension to the people in my story. It also helps the reader to identify who the character is, simply from one of these quirks.
So when creating characters, I spend time with them, I figure out who they are. The more I know, the more well-rounded and real my characters are. It takes a little bit of extra work but I find that it helps me to keep my characters in character and my story on track.
What makes a character real for you?

Book Info-
Title- Deceitful Truths
Series-  Caspian Winery Series #2
By- Maggie Thom
Expected Publication Date- March 12th, 2014

He created a legacy that no one could imagine...
Tarin has lost a week of her life. She doesn't know what happened but not long after she returns to work she is suspended from her job. Confused and pregnant, she quits and agrees to marry Stephen, only to be thrown into a whole new nightmare. Desperate, she grabs her son and moves across the country to get away from her abusive husband and to avoid her unforgiving father. Thrilled at getting the job at Knights Associates, where she'll help them solve cyber crimes but also be able to use their connections and resources to find her own answers. Who stole a week of her life? And will they return to steal the secret she is now protecting?
Graham and his partner Guy, can't keep up with the demand. They are being flooded with requests at Knights Associates, where they offer a combined service of private investigator and that of solving cyber crimes. It appears that someone wants to get their attention as not only have they been hacked but Guy's family business, Caspian Winery, seems to be under attack as well. Hiring an assistant seems to be the answer but when Graham discovers she's been accessing their high-security accounts, he realizes the cause of their predicament might be closer then he thought. Is there new assistant behind the problems they're having? If she's so innocent why does someone want to abduct her?
Tarin and Graham discover that although they don't trust each other, they are forced to work together to solve several seemingly unrelated crimes that may lead to one disastrous conclusion. Can they figure it all out before Tarin's nightmare plays out? An eighty year old woman pays with her life? Or before Tarin learns a truth that may seal her fate and be the one secret that will keep her and Graham apart as neither one of them may be able to forgive or forget...
(Standalone but is a Sequel/Companion Novel to Captured Lies)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Month After Book 'Em North Carolina

One month after the Third Annual Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, the accounting has been completed. After paying authors and publishers their portion of the proceeds from the one-day event, we had $9,000 to donate to literacy groups in Robeson County, North Carolina.

This brings the total donated to $27,600 in three years.

The money was divided equally ($2,250 each) and given to the following groups:

Dolly Parton Imagination Library (via United Way of Robeson County) to buy books for children ages 1 through 5;

Communities in Schools of Robeson County for all grade levels;

Friends of the Robeson County Public Library for adult literacy campaigns;

And the Lumberton Police Department to purchase books for their involvement in Reading Across America.

When I presented the money to Police Chief Mike McNeill, he told me our donation in 2013 provided books for children in five different elementary schools. We are truly touching lives, and we appreciate all the authors and publishers, sponsors, volunteers and attendees who helped to make this happen!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Through the Oracle's Mist

Today's special guest is Aedan Byrnes. There is no simple description for Aedan. Obsessive, dreamer, reclusive, compulsive, outdoorsman and wordsmith would be among the list if one were started. The displaced Gael lives in the upper Midwest with family between jaunts wherever the road takes him. A frequent traveler, he is as likely to be found rock climbing or spelunking as sitting fireside dreaming or aimlessly floating away.

A lifelong lover of words and writing, he claims a diverse reading appetite and his writing reflects the myriad influences. A self-proclaimed 'reader's writer', he looks for the emotional and the sensory in word combinations, not just the visceral comprehension of phrases in the stories he crafts and his love of all things literary shines through.


At my personal blogspot,, I listed Through the Oracle's Mist as one of my Top Ten Reads of 2013.  I asked him to talk about the research that went into the historical backdrops in the book - the deserts, Japan, and into the present with Ireland, as well as the inspiration for the Oracle in the book. Below is his response:

I have always been a student of the world. I love history and spend a great deal of time reading about it when not using it as backdrop for storytelling. Apollo’s Oracle at Delphi is a particular favorite of mine and I knew the Oracle piece of the story long before I knew anything else. I knew that I wanted an influence that was ageless and sustaining, but wise and foreshadowing even though perhaps not directly recounting the actual Oracle or the maidens of Apollo’s Temple.
            I had a lot of fun coming up with the Pythian Scrolls and the fortunes, as well as making them bend to the tale I was telling.  Only one is actually from the real Oracle’s prophecies, but that too was fun to work in. I’m enjoying the work on Warrior’s Watchtower, the next book in the Vengelys series, and how the Oracle will have sway and yet be a surprise for readers. There is giddiness to creating surprises in writing.
            As for the other backdrops, it was important to me to be accurate in the history even if the story was fiction. Once I knew the premise of the tale, I started thinking about times in history that were interesting to me and fitting them to the work. There are many more backdrops from history I hope to use in the series somehow, but I needed time to remain linear but also expansive for this tale, so not all my favorites made the cut. I looked at a large cross section history of the world and chose additional backdrops once I had worked in a couple that I knew in my head I needed to use to move the tale forward.
            Once I knew the rough notion of when I was going to be writing about, I hit the books. I am an old school writer that way and prefer to be nose deep in text as opposed to skimming or surfing the net. I have several large binders full of research for the backdrops, and pull them back out often to reference so I remain accurate and consistent. This to me is critical.
Present day Ireland was probably the most difficult research because of Niamh’s ‘run’. I wanted to represent all the places that people go, but also the ones the tourists’ dream of when they think of the Isle but many never see. There is a love affair for so many with this area of the world, the Celtic lore, and the ancient feel, yet many will never get the chance to go and experience it. I wanted to create the sensation of it with words that would transport the reader there, even if only for a few chapters, allowing them to experience the magick of the lands. In my humble opinion, I feel far short of encompassing the whole of it, but perhaps managed to give readers a glimpse.
Japan was fun to work on. I am fascinated by the era before and of the Shoguns. The conflicts that occurred leading up to a system that changed the world was difficult to condense down into such a small segment of the book, but Japan was not the point of this tale. The expansion of the world west to east and vis-à-vis made the sands almost necessary, and for me, a welcome addition. There is such dynamic contrast between them from desert to desert which in turn reinforced the tale I was weaving as I tried to show that one person’s perspective is not the same as the next through the same set of events.
Overall, each backdrop was chosen because it offered an insight into the characters stories and the near misses along the way but also because they offered an insight into the near misses of the world as we grew to become what we know today. It is my hope that somewhere along the way someone read a passage and yearned to know more about that time or place…AFTER they finished the book of course. I do not expect everyone to fall in love with history as I did, but if I piqued an interest along the way, that would be a great highlight for me. The story itself is a beginning of something larger…much larger.  We are part of something larger too. It was and is a great joy to get to share it through the characters, the stories and the series to come. Enjoy.


In the blackest night, with the moon and stars to guide him, she would always be there waiting…

Cyrenna thought she died the day she watched Tynan and his brothers jump through the banishment portal in an act of solidarity with Rigor. Little did she know, it would be the first of many deaths she would experience in her quest to claim his heart. She would surrender not only her immortal soul, but a mortal one repeatedly. Through a deal with the great Oracle, she has multiple mortal lifetimes to change the direction of her future and have a chance with Tynan.

Her journey spans the ages from the GenPei War in Japan and the Silk Road west, to Cromwell, the Three Kingdoms and modern times, bringing her one step closer to forever until she makes a misstep. Then, the burden falls to Tynan. The only thing that is absolute is her fervent hope that he will come, but there’s one big problem.

Through it all, he doesn’t so much as know her name.


That single word coupled with the tangling and untangling fragrance of her, become a vortex in my mind. Rational thought collides with irrational thought, wants, and needs. All of them together, do battle with my better self. Standing up, my feet are unsteady; my head is a carnival ride of haphazard motion, and my inner wild is desperately cleaving for release. I can hear her heaving for breath as quietly as she is able and can smell the palatable desperation to remain in control and calm. I have to back away or it will be over before I can form a thought to stop it. I am too close to losing the battle with my other self and I have less ability to restrain him of late. I am not master of myself right now. I’m too close. Mistakes made years ago will not be repeated. It is a hard reminder in the back of my mind. I have to back away or risk destroying another who might finally, so many years after Ite, be worth the challenge to learn.

Backing up, I find myself stumbling backwards, the mad tumbling bramble in my mind cluttering all rational thoughts and abilities. Lights flash against darkness in my mind, leaving momentary blindness in their wake and confusion. Images slideshow with lightning quickness; her standing in the moonlight, then it isn’t her at all but another who looks at me with sorrow, courage and compassion. More images come of her shivering to maintain control as I stroked an ice cube down her cheek; back to the other her, shivering from a different kind of stroking. The back and forth are disorienting and I find myself ass-planted on the floor with a ‘whump’ grabbing for my temples to stop the onslaught of the ensuing madness. The back and forth comparisons will not be still.

Kneading my eyes with the heels of my hands I shake my head to clear the fog from my addled brain. I am aware that she is not able to see me and that is a small mercy, though as I settle I can smell the cloying damp earth smell of her sobbing in confusion. The smell of her tears is nearly my complete undoing as my other self surges forward to rage at memories. I clamp down hard on the past and the storming emotions to wait. I am rewarded with the low tone of her breath hitching across her vocal chords as she rights herself and regains her composure. Sadly, for both of us, it isn’t enough. I want more.


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Connect with Aedan at:

Twitter   @AedanByrnes

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