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Is Vengeance ever right? An Interview with Anthony D’Augustine

Interview with Anthony D’Augustine author of Just Vengeance

  • Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

One of the tenets of good writing is to write about what you know. After 37 years of investigative work, I felt my strong suit was the detective mystery genre.  I didn’t want to write a book, though, on police procedurals or true crime. I wanted to create fictional characters and challenge them on ethical and moral grounds. Molding the attitudes and actions of these characters held a great deal of appeal for me. I believe my approach is different from other detective mysteries in that my stories go beyond the plot driven variety. My characters are described not only by their actions, but by their inherent nature (Best Enemies) and their metaphysical viewpoints (Just Vengeance).

  • How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I spend a great deal of time formulating a sub-text for my books. I don’t take notes during this period of time. In Best Enemies, for example, the underlying theme is “Man in Nature”; in Just Vengeance it is “Man’s view of God”.   After I decide on a sub-text, I begin to work on the plot. I spend a lot of time thinking about the opening chapters, about how to grab attention and set a base line for my plot. I do make notes at this time; however, I never make outlines. Why? Because I never know in which direction my stories and characters will go.  My characters always seem to create the story.

  • How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

 I like to work backwards when it come to researching a section of my story. Instead of researching then writing, I write, then research. I do this because as the story develops on its own, I let it take me where it wants to go. After I see what I have written, I go through it section by section. That’s where the research comes in as to accuracy/preciseness, and corroboration/conformation with other sections within the story.

  • What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

My areas of research generally consist of conversations with law enforcement personnel, the use of Internet search engines, news feeds, and maps.

  • How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

Being a retired police officer, I have no problem discussing police matters with other officers, active or retired. Were I not associated with police work, I would approach a police officer for information or advice by being straight forward. I would tell the officer I have a high regard for his/her profession and that I would like to learn about their successes as well as the difficulties they face. Then, I would be honest about the reason I would like that information: I’m writing an article, a book, doing a video, establishing an organization, etc.

  • How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I believe my first book was rejected five or six times by agents. I try not to remember the negative aspects of the book marketing business. I don’t recall my first book, Best Enemies, being rejected for any specific reason. I can understand not being accepted at the start. I was a first time author with no published track record; I had no history of articles or books; no literary degrees or awards; I didn’t have celebrity status or any other form of name recognition; nor did I have a large following. Agents and traditional publishing companies like a sure thing. I was not that. It was then I looked into self publishing.

  • Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

No, I didn’t need to self-publish on e-book before going to a publisher.

  • Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

 I would recommend self-publishing for first-time, non-celebrity authors in the fiction genre for the following reasons: -1- total control over you work product, -2- total control over the marketing and distribution of your book, and -3- you have an opportunity to establish an audience from the bottom up. Self-publishing allows the author to set his or her own parameters. The self-published author controls all aspects of the publishing process.

  • Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

 In my opinion, the vast majority of authors do not make a sufficient income—by writing alone— to live on. They generally supplement their love for writing by working a separate part time or full time job, or, as in my case, living on a retirement income. There are exceptions, though. Like the multi-millionaire actors in Hollywood, there are those in the literary world who have achieved great fortunes. Others have made a comfortable living writing for newspapers, magazines, blogs, television, radio, advertisers, or as speech writers.

  • What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I don’t have any funny stories to tell about book tours I’ve been on, because I haven’t been on any. I’ve chosen to promote both my books through other venues, most notably through the use of the Internet and its worldwide marketplace.

Outskirts Press Announces the Highly Anticipated Sequel to Best Enemies:

Just Vengeance: A Detective Novel by Anthony D’Augustineperf6.000x9.000.indd

“The only justice I’ve ever seen in my life came at the muzzle of my gun.”

December 1, 2015 – Denver, CO and New York, NY – Retired detective lieutenant Anthony D’Augustine has released Just Vengeance: A Detective Novel, published by Outskirts Press. The new book is the sequel to his well-received debut novel, Best Enemies, in which readers first meet Mac Taylor, a rough-and-tumble ex-Newark cop.

Now married and recently granted a PI license, Mac’s very first case finds him embroiled in a global terrorism investigation. Originally hired to investigate a reported suicide, he soon uncovers a sinister plot that involves murders in Scotland and Italy, and plans to destroy several U.S. landmarks. Shortly after his discovery, Mac and his pregnant wife, Cheryl, become targets of international terrorists; specifically, a psychopathic killer named Dirk Conroy, aka Ahmed Sal Mohammed.

In the world of espionage, where it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad, Mac deftly maneuvers among agents, operatives, and confidential informants as he sets out to find Conroy. His partner, FBI Agent Sara Dillon, wants Conroy captured alive, but Mac wants him dead at all costs.

His old friend from Vietnam days, Nick Polsani, tries to convince him that seeking justice is the only course of action to be taken, but Mac disagrees. He’s going to settle a score, regardless of the consequences, and in the process he hopes to save thousands of innocent lives and the financial future of America. It’s not justice he’s looking for. It’s Just Vengeance.

Just Vengeance is fast-paced, exciting, and insightful, offering the reader a realistic view of detective work and an understanding of its psychological impact. The book is dedicated to the author’s son, Staff Sergeant Joseph D’Augustine, who was killed in Afghanistan on March 27, 2012.

At 312 pages, Just Vengeance is available online through Outskirts Press at www.outskirtspress.com/bookstore. The book is sold through Amazon and Barnes and Noble for a maximum trade discount in quantities of 10 or more, and is being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets with a focus on the mystery & detective category.

ISBN: 978-1-4787-6307-9

ISBN: 978-1-4787-6361-1

Genre: FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Hardboiled

For more information, visit the author’s website at http://outskirtspress.com/bookstore/justvengeance.

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About the Author: Anthony D’Augustine is a former detective lieutenant and firearms training supervisor with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey. In addition to working with the county, Anthony served ten years as a Dumont, New Jersey, police officer. He and his wife, Patricia, have three daughters and five grandchildren. Retired from law enforcement, he now donates much of his time running a charitable memorial fund in his son’s name. The fund provides scholarships to local students and support to military families in need. For details, go to SSJDMF.com.

 

 

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Treet yourself to something sweet

Sweet bliss

by

Helena Rac

A very sweet (strawberry icing with chocolate) cupcake but sizzling hot hot story. Often quite graphically sizzling…

Funny that we still get a lot of cupcake stories as here in London they are not doing so well now – and the sugar treat has lost its appeal.  And so it has in the USA as well it seems, with the largest chain cupcake makers – Crumb – closing up in 2014. Or has it?

In 2015, Crumbs was bought and began again with different cupcakes. No longer simple chocolate, now they are flavoured rather differently with peanut butter or carrots or hazelnut Frangelico, pink Champagne, spiced pumpkin, vegan, gluten free, and with less colouring, and fresher baking and ingredients – some will even bake to order in front of you – if you have time to wait of course..

But in the UK we have seen a rise in national specialities – the Portuguese egg custard tart is very popular as are French patisseries – we now have several French chain bakeries – themed cakes and those with more unusual ingredients especially vegetable or fruit eg a lime drizzle cake with courgette; and of course the cannoli has made it here big. The cannoli comes with many different flavoured fillings including pistachio and there is even a cannoli cupcake with ricotta cheese filling/cream.

The Italians are now in London in force again especially the Sicilians and their delicatessens are springing up all over, and then of course there are the doughnuts with fillings such as rhubarb, peach, and salted caramel custard.

And no, I haven’t sampled them all! I just look and drool…

So in London there is no real trend setter unlike the cupcake. Is there a reason why cupcakes are not quite as popular? Is it the calories? Are we becoming more weight conscious? Certainly the latest report from our Chief Medical Officer says that some 75% of middle-aged women are obese or overweight – but for me it is the frosting. The frosting just got piled higher and higher and higher. More and more bright and yet brighter colours and much much too sweet. In fact strawberry with chocolate sounds like my least favourite combination. So if you remove the icing, you are back, as she says in the book, to a muffin and a very plain muffin at that.

Would I read more by this author? Probably not. It was, for me, a sweet treat (pun intended) away from crime and thrillers and fantasy and science fiction my more usual fare.

Winter is icumen in

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ram

And Winter is the Winter Sisters, Victory, Payton and Willow. Each with their own special gift and ability and each falling in love with a different soldier in the elite squad of Army, Navy and Airforce. Author Joanne Jaytanie.

The series I am reviewing contains 3 novels, the latest published being Willow’s Discovery, published this October, which I read first through NetGalley.

This series is far from finished as far as I am concerned, as although each sister now has a mate – there is so much more that can happen to other characters and in the story-line.

So yes, I started with Willow’s Discovery and was only a quarter of the way through when I realised I wanted to read the first 2 books as well. I could read the 3rd book first but it would have been better to read them in the correct order.

Now the story line of all 3 concerns DNA being manipulated to give us extra fierce soldiers –this isn’t a new idea. The concept of the formidable soldier is common in fantasy but for me what was new was that the characters were splicing wolf genes into the soldiers to make them bigger, stronger, and fiercer.

And two of the alpha males – yes they are all alpha males in this story as they are members of the elite squad mentioned above – have been experimented on with these wolf genes with very different results. But many of the males and females in this series have extra abilities and they haven’t had wolf genes added, and the question never answered (but it was raised) in the books is – was there some gene manipulation going on in utero?

Interestingly, I am now reading another series of books where again canine DNA is inserted into soldiers to make them fiercer – the fantasy series of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter and Fairest.

Having come across this idea by two authors I thought I would look into what was happening with canine DNA and why this idea had come to these authors. And to my surprise found that canine DNA was being used for disease studies in humans [see the articles from the dmm.biologists organisation; National Geographic; Genome Research].

It appears that dogs get similar diseases to humans with the same genetic and environmental factors involved. These genes relate to diet and digestion, and neurological processes and disease which have evolved parallel in both species due to living in the same shared environment. These shared diseases include obesity, OCD, epilepsy, and cancers especially breast cancer (cancer is twice as common in dogs as in humans), and retinal diseases including cataracts.

Dogs only share 84% of our DNA  as compared to chimpanzees – 98.8%, monkeys – 93% and mice 90%, but we share some 360 genetic disorders with them, even though some of these only occur in 40% of dog breeds such as the Doberman Pinchers with inherited narcolepsy which has enable scientists to understand the molecular mechanisms of regulating sleep. And the last item explains something about why these stories include Dobermans as they were clearly being used in the genetic research of the organisation.

And I also looked into Tollers as they were a new breed of dog to me. Not that that’s saying a lot as there are so many new breeds appearing at the moment…nova-scotia-duck-tolling-retriever

So the basic stories were about criminal behaviour, kidnapping, torture and unusual experiments and general mayhem and brave deeds by the alpha males with feisty females assisting using their special powers. A good mix of fantasy and war stories, with some organised fraud and crime thrown in for good measure.

I really enjoyed all 3 of these books and am inclined to give them all 5 stars.

I don’t like getting up in the morning and I’m not alone

snowy mountain

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shill’s I hear the blast-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Chorus.-Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.
Up in the morning’s, no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.
1788 Robert Burnspoetry, song

The Tigger’s 2015 in review: stats and more

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Now at the start of the year I made some a series of reasons why people should read this blog so that I could gain 1000 followers. I now have 385 that read this blog directly; 29 read through Tumblr; and 985 see my book reviews through my FaceBook page – https://www.facebook.com/elayne.coakes which does have other stuff on it too.

So what I said was:

  1. I don’t blog a lot about my health and moan about my family or the state of the union or be vehement about my politics or… I blog about a variety of subject matters that interest me and hopefully you, some of which, especially as the majority of my followers are from the US, may be unfamiliar to you;
  2. I write good grammatical English (UK spelling), properly punctuated, and I know how to use the apostrophe. I don’t usually write in stream of consciousness mode but nice precise paragraphs.
  3. I write about a good variety of subjects so you are very likely to find something to interest you in them  – from flowers and gardens, to crafts, to travel, to – in particular – books. Illustrated by my husband’s excellent photographs. As a European I get to a lot of countries you may wish to visit in Europe, but also have been to many more exotic locations such as China and India and these are  described here. More still to come on past adventures, but this year I shall be flying out to Boston and New York and cruising back on the Queen Mary 2; and also Ireland later in the summer for sure. [Sorry, 2015 has been dominated by books but still I did cover other items, and shall try to do better in 2016]
  4. I read a lot of books and write informative and well researched reviews that don’t give the plot away and are not summaries. There is no plot synopsis but a comment that will be relevant to the subject matter and will inform. [2015:This is absolutely still true and will continue to be so]
  5. If I can get over 1000 followers, I will be authorised by more publishers on the NetGalley site which means I will get to read yet more books that are just being published, and more books by new authors you may not yet have heard of. I shall endeavour to keep up the interviews with them that I have recently started. [2015:I now have at least one author interview a month, sometimes more, and I am recognised by several publishers as shown by my widgets including being in the Brash Priority Reveiwer’s Circle]

 Here are details of 2014’s activity to compare to this year’s:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

The busiest day of the year was January 21st with 75 views. The most popular post that day was Feminism? Vegetarianism? Linked or not?. In 2014, there were 60 new posts.

Click here to see the complete report. for 2015.

And do please comment and come and read more posts!

Xmas by the SeaSide

Winter Street

_ The inn

by

Elin Hildebrand

A NetGalley Review

Winter Street inn is in Nantucket.  This was once a whaling town and island and rather boisterous in its past life. But now is very sedate and even boasts a private resort. nantucket

It is normally considered a summer holiday resort with sandy beaches  and a population of less than 11,000 and as of April 2015 an unemployment rate of 5% as many of its inhabitants are involved in the tourist trade.

However, there is a lot of competition amongst the tourist accommodation – and looking on the ‘real’ visitor site there are over 40 places offering B&B or calling themselves Inns or Hotels on the island, not to mention the privately rented homes and now of course Airbnb will be available. With a US economy  that is struggling, taking holidays that are expensive, is one option many families are willing to forgo.  Reuters state that consumers now expect deals and discounting for most products that they purchase and this must surely apply to holidays as much as any other purchase.  And with the  discounting, travel abroad may become more viable and additionally, in Nantucket the island is very quiet indeed at Xmas and of the 40 plus places I found on the island listing only 2 or 3 were open at Xmas. It thus is perhaps not a place to spend anything other than a very quiet indeed break.

Note here. My husband and I have often gone away just after Xmas to seaside resorts in the UK and it is almost impossible to find somewhere to eat or to spend time in out of the bad weather. We much prefer to go somewhere warmer!

So back the fictional Inn.

There are a cast of characters that represents what one might call a ‘normal’ family now in the US. A family of many parts where there have been divorces and children mixed from many relationships. Siblings, half-siblings and step siblings all mingle together. Fathers, mothers, step mothers and aunts, uncles, step aunts and so it goes on.

Each of the chapters in the book is written from a different character’s viewpoint but not repeating the action – moving the story along from their vantage of here comes Xmas Eve – can they come? Do they want to come? Who turns up anyway because of what else happens in their life – and so the Inn collects its family together.

And then Xmas Day comes along and there are traditions from the first family and then the second family and which shall be enacted? And thus what food should be cooked?

I found that the writing style just carried you forward in time and space and characters and their lives as each time a character ‘spoke’ their chapter you knew their musings and emotions as events took place.

I found this a very appealing book.

4 stars

Blood and Knives = Red

Red Hourglass

by

Scarlett Risque

Red is the blood that drops from her fingers – as red as her name is Scarlet.

Sharp are the knives she uses to cut the flesh – snip and swish and slide and slink, but always in. Knives are a motive, a tool, an obsession.HourGlass_Shapes

Yet for a time she can overcome her programming, a programming that began when a ‘mother’ appeared for a lost, hungry and despairing homeless teenager. A mother who provided a home; sisters; love; and a  reason to live. A mother who sheltered, taught and programmed obedience into all her girls (daughters). To disobey a request / order was to be killed by a sister, and even the thought of disobedience was anathema.

So what ‘tasks’ did Mother want her daughters to do? Well each tasks was given a rationale that it would  , the economy, the local businesses, or the local residents. To defeat the large and powerful on behalf of the small and lowly and weak. A compelling reason to kill? To murder? She argued it well and they believed. They had to believe for this is what she trained them, educated them, for.

Each daughter specialising in differing skills but for Red it was the knife and she always obeyed until she met someone she didn’t want to kill.

This book highlights the problems of homelessness and the abuse of young girls that leads them to want to join a ‘family’ aka a gang, that will love and support them. The same psychology that keeps gangs together and enables an end justifies the means attitude.

A gang leader influences and controls the members, sometimes through intimidation and always through manipulation of the emotions that enables to continue their control.

Each leader will have a special ‘second’ in command who ensures that the will of the leader is carried out (Mother’s biological daughter). They will also dominate the lower ranks. Pack instinct and the desire to conform and be accepted and love by the pack keeps each member motivated to remain within the gang.

It is clever in this book to use the girls as assassins and gang members as it is often, erroneously, thought that female gangs are less violent than male. In the right circumstances they can be just as dangerous and violent or more so.

I enjoyed this book more as a story of female gangs and how girls can be programmed into violence, than the romantic relationship aspects. I quite understand why the relationship had a sado-masochistic element as a result of Red’s programming but I did not see it as a relationship that would last once lust had been fulfilled. I was not convinced by the ending or the exploration of Red’s emotions.

The author says that The Hourglass series is a sociopolitical discourse about capitalism and how top down decisions affects the lives of ordinary people. I am fascinated with financial centers and major property acquisition players. My approach is unique as I do not state the obvious but let the reader decide what is obvious to them.

I saw this element in the rationale behind the assassinations but felt that it could have been brought out more – the ending did not emphasise this enough.

Thinking back over the writing style and general story-telling, I would not read another in this series.

3 stars.