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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.

Enter the nosy artist and lots of guns!

The Body in the Landscape

By

Larissa Reinhart

A Netgalley Review

Just who is this all so nosy artist who just keeps encountering crimes including murder? And why is her brother in jail? And who is Tod? Luke? Max? And what are her relationships with them? How did Max hurt his knee?

For me, whilst this was a light-hearted romp through crime and murder, it was clearly not at all aimed at people who had not read the previous books in the series. There were a lot of complicated relationships. Family rivalries and past incidents that affected how people behaved that remained sketchily explained and then not as one first encountered them. Whilst I don’t mind this in a series, it does make it more difficult to give a critical review of a book when many of the links and much of the background is not explained.

That said, by 30% of the way through, enough was explained about some of the characters to encourage me to read on. I had considered giving up because I had been only peripherally drawn into the scenes and storyline.

But by 50% in I was irritated by the gun and hunting culture that permeated the story. And was not sufficiently concerned about the outcome to continue.

I agree with the reviewers of the author’s previous books that the style of writing  has amusing elements, but I was never inclined to smile let alone laugh – mainly I think due to the hunting and guns!

Enter the Queendom of the Red Academy

The Rise of the Red Queen

By

Bourne Morris

An interesting title for this novel, as reading  it you might assume the book was fantasy or YA in genre. But no such thing. It is a crime novel set in a university.

The Red Queen of the title is an academic whose rise is chronicled through the faculty management structure to being Assistant Dean in this university set high above Lake Tahoe in the Nevada Hills, and who has red hair.

She is thus commonly known as ‘Red’ and many of her colleagues see her as their born leader and that they are members of the court of her faculty.

However, not all members of the university appreciate her qualities and there is still a significant misogynistic element  amongst them. Especially in the higher management echelons.

Prejudices and academic rivalry abound and are very intense and even lead here to murder and criminal behaviour.

And then there is the warped mind of one of the community who abducts a young girl. So within this story, other stories intertwine here there are mysteries and suspicious behaviours and suspicions that leave you guessing.

A note here on academic tenure in American universities (generalised).

Tenure in American universities is extremely hard to achieve.

It requires not only a PhD but a significant body of publications, grants, and conference appearances achieved; and then you have to be liked by all the members of the faculty committee that will review your record and award you tenure – or not.

Tenure, is effectively for the rest of your life. It is almost impossible to be fired, and it is very much your choice as to when you retire. Only about 2% of tenured Professors are fired each year – and then it has to be for ‘due cause’.

And: “As a tenured Professor, you are free to do your own work, your own way” (quoted in the book).

The probationary period averages three years for community colleges and seven years at four-year colleges. This is a period of employment insecurity almost unique among U.S. professions. People denied tenure at the end of this time lose their jobs; tenure is an “up-or-out” process.

During the probationary period, almost all colleges can choose not to renew faculty contracts and terminate faculty without any reason or cause. Throughout this time, senior professors and administrators evaluate the work of new faculty-teaching, research and service before deciding whether or not to recommend tenure. The most recent survey of American faculty shows that, in a typical year, about one in five probationary faculty members was denied tenure and lost his or her job.

No more than one-third of all college and university faculty members are tenured. The reason? More and more colleges are relying on part-time or temporary nontenure-track faculty to teach undergraduates — part-timers constituted about 38 percent of the professoriate in 1987 and grew to 43 percent in 1992.

http://www.nea.org/home/33067.htm

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

Just how do you catch a member of the aristocracy?

The Viscount’s Xmas Temptation

By

Erica Ridley

If you can manage a Duke’s household- surely you can find yourself a husband in two weeks?

After all managing to triple your dowry in three years must surely make you eligible to someone?

But you need (want?) a title for your children, so no barons or viscounts. No going down the nobility hierarchy and marrying beneath you when your father was a Duke and your brother is too. Chart_of_Social_Hierarchy_of_England

And you don’t want to be bored so you need occupation – suitable of course – so you need to find a way to meet the eligible men, and the answer of course is a ball. To be organised within 11 days no less.

And instead of a memory palace, there is a memory pantry. Items are filed under the letters of the alphabet and then associated with items in the pantry eg F would give you flour and you would associate flour with whatever you were trying to remember, something light and white and powdery probably.

And just when was the wet t-shirt invented? Clearly 1815 – masked balls with dampened muslin dresses to make them transparent!

And remember the lack of underwear as we know it… especially at night when bosoms were frequently on show – often to an extreme…

muslin dress

If you want know something more about muslin dresses then go to: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/muslin-muslin-versatile-cloth-for-regency-fashion/ where there is a good article/s explaining the cloth and dresses etc.

And http://www.rakehell.com/article.php?id=387 has a good article explaining undergarments and what type of dress was worn when.

I liked this book and the heroine – she really appealed to me. An independent minded person with a mind that was incredibly organised (mine isn’t but I would refer you back to my discussion of memory palaces last year) and who knew what she wanted and how to go about getting it.

4 stars.

 

 

Craving something sweet for Xmas?

Xmas Cravings

By

Emma Hamilton

A very sweet and quite short story.

If artificial sweeteners were definitely never used by ‘Greedily Yours’, one might even say saccharine sweet.

That said it is full of humour. I read a short piece out to my book group from her ‘blogging’ excerpts and they all giggled and confessed that they could visualise very clearly the happening described. 10 random people, including 2 librarians, a GP and a dental surgeon all liked the excerpt which shows that the author speaks clearly to a woman who has ever tried to bake a special cake and failed. And also, that her style of writing is clear, humorous, and well written that our visual cortices were engaged.

Now whilst I appreciate that Mia, the heroine of this story, likes her running and exercise, I am still very concerned for her cholesterol level and arteries. There really is no need to roast a duck and then baste the potatoes in the fat AND add the fat to the vegetables. Too much similarity of flavour surely and far too much fat… try a little butter and sugar and red wine vinegar in the red cabbage and try roasting potatoes in extra virgin cold pressed organic if possible, rapeseed oil, and taste the difference!

Cold pressed rapeseed oil is a ‘good mood’ food. It contains essential fatty acids and these will boost brain power, stabilise moods, balance hormones and reduce inflammation. So an excellent oil to use and can be cooked at a high heat as well as drizzled over salad etc and has a lovely taste to add to stir fries.

I enjoyed this short read especially the ‘blog’ excerpts and the chatty style of writing.

4 stars.