Friday, February 16, 2018

Books by Stuart R. West

As promised yesterday, here is a selection of Stuart R. West's books.  Stuart is a lifelong resident of Kansas, which he considers both a curse and a blessing. It's a curse because...well, it's Kansas. But it's great because…well, it’s Kansas. Lots of cool, strange and creepy things happen in the Midwest, and Stuart takes advantage of them in his books. Call it “Kansas Noir.” Stuart writes thrillers, horror, and mysteries usually tinged with humor, both for adult and young adult audiences. I hope you enjoy his books as much as I do. 

*Peculiar County

Blurb: Growing up in Peculiar County, Kansas, is a mighty...well, peculiar experience. In 1965, things get even stranger for Dibby Caldwell, the mortician's fifteen-year-old daughter. A young boy's ghost haunts Dibby into unearthing the circumstances of his death. Nobody—living or dead—wants her to succeed. James, the new mop-topped, bad boy at school doesn’t help. Dibby can’t get him out of her head, even though she doesn’t trust him. No, sir, there's nothing much more peculiar than life in Peculiar County…except maybe death in Peculiar County. 

"Peculiar County. The name fits like a glove. Try it on and see for yourself." Gail Roughton, paranormal, suspense and fantasy author

*Bad Day in a Banana Hammock

Blurb: Zach wakes up with no memory, no phone, and no clothes except his stripper g-string. And oh yeah! There’s that pesky naked dead guy in bed next to him. Problem is Zach's not gay. Or a murderer. At least, he doesn't think so. Only one person can help him, his sister, Zora. Of course, Zora's got problems of her own—she has three kids at home and is eight month's pregnant with the fourth. So she’s a bit cranky. But that’s not going to stop her from helping her brother. With kids in tow, the siblings set how to find the true killer, clear Zach's name, and reassure Zach he's not gay. 

“An hilarious murder mystery romp. Ride along with Zach and Zora on this most entertaining of mysteries.” -Heather Brainerd, author of the Jose Picada, P.I. mystery series. 
“Bad Day in a Banana Hammock will have you wiping up tears of hysterical laughter.” -Suzanne de Montigney, author of the Shadow of the Unicorn series.
“A fun, quirky whodunit so full of wild antics, it will keep you guessing...when you're not giggling.” -Heather Greenis, author of The Natasha Saga.

*Secret Society

Blurb: Leon Garber has his reasons for ridding the world of abusive people, call it justifiable homicide. Opportunity comes knocking from Like-Minded Individuals, Inc., a global company fulfilling the needs of clients: new identities, security, and even lists of potential “projects.” But let’s not call it “serial killing” (such a nasty term). For Leon, it’s a dream come true.

However, LMI has put a target on Leon’s back, with no indication of why. LMI, the police, sanctioned hit men, and a vicious psychopath are after Leon. He collides with other Like-Minded Individuals: The Good Samaritan Killer, The Mad Doctor, Donnie, and Marie (don’t ask). Heads are chopped, dropped, and swapped as Leon fights for his life. But nothing will keep him from finishing his current project. Not even the chance to fall in love. Sometimes a killer business idea is just that. Killer.

"Secret Society of Like-Minded Individuals pulls you in for a furious ride, sure to give you chills. Dark, gritty and meaty fun." -Meradeth Houston, author of the Sary Society series.
"A brilliant thriller about a society of serial killers with just a dusting of humor. Suspense fans will not be disappointed."-Heather Greenis, author of the Natasha Saga.
"Dexter meets Dilbert. Take a serial killer, cross it with the bureaucracy of the damned & the game is on."-5 star USA Review

Writer Bio:
Stuart spent 25 years in the corporate sector and now writes full time. He’s married to a professor of pharmacy (who greatly appreciates the fact he cooks dinner for her every night) and has a 25-year-old daughter who’s dabbling in the nefarious world of banking.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Meet Stuart R. West, My First Guest of 2018.

My guest today is Stuart R. West, an author whose work I enjoy very much. I've read several of his books and the Zach and Zora series tickled my funny bone to the extent of laugh-out-loud, OMG humor while Peculiar County and Dread and Breakfast both gave me the chills a la Stephen King. Dread and Breakfast, in particular, reeled me in with its seemingly innocuous premise but quickly turned into something quite dark and disturbing. I didn't see the all too believable twist in the tale coming which made the book all the more satisfying. I hope you enjoy Stuart's wit as much as I do and don't forget to visit tomorrow Friday, 16th February 2018, for a showcase of some of his books.

Q: When and why did you start writing? What is it about writing that satisfies you the most?
A: Hey there, Victoria, thanks so much for having me on your blog. I started writing about six
years ago when the company I’d worked at as a graphic designer for 27 years closed up shop.
At the time I was devastated, not wanting to start over in the corporate world. That was when I
realized I absolutely abhorred the corporate world. So I took up writing (along with cooking
which my wife greatly appreciates) to run away from Big Business. To me, the most satisfying
thing about writing is typing “The End.”

Q: What is one subject or genre you would never write about and why?
A: That’s easy! Erotica! (You’re very welcome, everyone!). To me, sex in books or movies is
interesting for about the first minute, then it’s *yawn* “isn’t this something I’d rather be doing
myself?” Honestly, I don’t know how erotica writers do it. There’re only so many different ways
to describe body parts.

Q: What type of scene do you find the hardest to write? Funny, romantic, scary, or sad?
A: Outside of erotica (see above), action is the hardest for me to write. Which is kinda dumb, I
realize, since I usually include lots of action in my books. It’s challenging. Car chases are
particularly tough to write as I think they lean more toward visual entertainment. Doesn’t mean I
don’t write a lot of ‘em, though. Call me a writing masochist.

Q: What advice about writing do you wish you had given yourself early in your writing
A: Don’t write 18 novels in six years! Just don’t do it, Stuart! Don’t make me cover over there!

Q: Do you read your reviews? If so, how do you celebrate the good and get over the bad?
A: Of course I read my reviews! Any writer who says they don’t is pulling your leg. I celebrate the
good notices with a smarmy grin, a haughty attitude, and walk around like the la-de- da King of
Writers. To the naysayers, I say, “clearly they don’t know what they’re talking about. Hmph.”
(Then I go curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep.)

Q: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be and why?
A: That’s another easy one! Why, I’d be the President of the United States, of course! After
all...anyone can do it, right?


Q: What is the best or most memorable compliment you ever received?
A: Eight years or so ago, I bought a six-pack of beer at the local convenience store. The clerk said,
“Can I see some I.D?” With a grin, I happily whipped my driver’s license out. Of course, when
she started laughing at my age, the preceding compliment lost a bit of its luster. Note...this hasn’t
happened EVER again.

Q: What is the most memorable class you’ve ever taken?
A: In college, I took something called “The Psychology of Satisfaction.” During the first lecture, the
professor (a giggling mad-man) told us the nature of the course is that we didn’t have to stay for
lectures, didn’t have to take any tests, and we were free to do whatever we wanted (although
there were five mandatory parties I had to attend). Still wondering how I managed a “B.”

Q: Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person? Or is the glass just malformed?
A: I’m more a “Quick! Keep the glass filled to the rim!” kinda’ neurotic.

Q: Which of the four seasons do you like/dislike the most and why?
A: Winter! Ugh! People weren’t designed to negotiate snow and ice and freezing temperatures. I
mean, honestly, we’re not walruses.

SPEED QUESTIONS: Straight YES/NO answers, unless you want to add a few
words to qualify the answer.

Have you ever:
Lied about your age? Yep! And dang proud of it, too!
Called in sick to work when you weren’t sick? Hmm...does a hang-over count as being sick?
Eaten ice cream straight from the carton? You mean there’s a different way to eat it?
Worn odd socks? Pretty much daily. Doing my best to keep the romance alive!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

My Best Seller Badge

I am so proud to have been awarded a Books We Love Best Seller Badge! This is the culmination of a lot of hard work - not just by me as the author but also by my publisher, Jude Pittman. Jude's dedication to Books We Love is beyond anything I ever expected when I signed with the company.

Yes, I'd gone the find an editor/agent, traditional publisher route and never quite hit the right moment. As a senior, and two-times breast cancer survivor, I was also very much aware of what I wanted to achieve in what time I still have. Take note, not what my lifetime expectancy may be, but what I have now.

Getting published was my dream. Holding a book with my name on the cover was what it was all about for me. The fact that I might earn an income from it was a secondary consideration at that time. With each book I have written I have tried to make it better, which brings me to a comment I frequently hear when I talk to people about writing - 'Oh, I could write a book.'

Yes, you could. Anybody can but - and there is a but - are you prepared for the long haul? Big name authors, like big name actors, tend to not happen overnight. Some are truly gifted writers but they still have to put in the work of getting the story out of their heads and onto paper. Even though all writers have a different process, writing is a lonely occupation. I have only ever once met one author who could talk and write at the same time - during a very lively conversation around a table with several people involved she produced about 3000 words worth of work. I have no idea how much it needed to be edited, but the point here is that she got that many words out of her head and onto the page.

And there's another point - your work always needs to be edited and preferably not by you. Spell and grammar check are good but not perfect tools. The more you have learned your craft by reading, attending workshops and conferences, or being part of a writing group, the better your writing will be. You can learn to edit your work, especially to get rid of things like passive voice and filtering, the overuse of 'was', 'had', but those other eyes will spot things that you can and will miss. Cognitive science explains that a neural pathway is created when we do something right. Too bad that also happens when we do something wrong.  This builds both good and bad habits so it's easy for our minds to slip by default into existing neural pathways.

For me, writing is exciting. I'm not a fast writer by any means, but when the work is done, the cover revealed (thanks to Michelle Lee, Books We Love's artistic director) I know I've done the best I can. I may never be a New York Times best selling author, but my Books We Love best selling author badge means everything to me.