Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Justice by Darcia Helle: Review and Interview

Meeting author Darcia Helle is one reason I enjoy being an author. She is so kind and supportive! And I'm pleased to have her on the blog for an interview about her suspense novel No Justice. But first here's my review:

No JusticeNo Justice by Darcia Helle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leaving Las Vegas Meets Dexter

In No Justice, Darcia Helle creates a gritty world reminiscent of the movie Leaving Las Vegas. Instead of alcoholic Nicholas Cage turning to prostitute Elizabeth Shue for solace, this time it’s hit man Michael Sykora falling for prostitute Nicki. Similar to the TV show Dexter, Michael kills bad men — like the one who murdered his wife.

From the first line…

Let him laugh. One more hour and he’d be dead.

…it’s clear a dark ride awaits. Somehow Darcia manages to show Michael’s integrity despite his sinister side vocation as hit man.

Although Michael first met Nicki when she serviced him as a prostitute, both developed genuine feelings for each other. He felt guilty for his attraction to her due to his allegiance to his dead wife, so he cut off all ties with her. But when Nicki later calls him, scared and on the run from her friend’s thuggish boyfriend, Michael can’t help but jump into the fray to help her. And when Michael goes in, he goes all in, encountering true danger from creepy Anthony Lott and his gang.

Michael’s day job is computer programming, and his office assistant Ruby is one of my favorite characters.

Ruby tapped on the side door, then, without waiting for Michael’s response, pushed it open and stepped inside. She said, “You’ve been locked up in here brooding all morning.”
Michael clicked out of the window he’d had open on his computer screen. He said, “I’m not brooding.”
“You prefer I call it pouting?”
Frowning, Michael looked up. Ruby had taken her non-nonsense stance, with both feet planted firmly about a foot apart and her hands spread out over her fleshy hips. “I do not pout,” he said.
“Really now? You look in the mirror yet today?”
“You come in here solely for the pleasure of giving me a hard time?”
“Course not,” Ruby replied. “It just comes so easy, sometimes I can’t help myself.”
“Lucky me.”


Other well-drawn supporting characters include Michael’s two friends: Ruby’s son Isaac, a police officer, and Sean, a fellow hit man who Michael originally hired to take out his wife’s killer. I love the complexity of both of these characters. Lawman Isaac just might know about Michael’s secret penchant for murder but keeps it quiet. Sean is a ruthless killer who demonstrates admirable loyalty toward Michael.

I look forward to reading Michael’s future exploits in
Beyond Salvation -- it appears Nicki will still be hanging around, worming her way into his cold, shattered heart. It’s wonderful to hear Darcia is writing book three in the series!

View all my reviews

And now welcome to Darcia Helle for an interview:


1. I loved hearing the story behind No Justice. Please tell us more about how you turned jury duty into a novel!

First, I want to say that a typical murder trial is nothing at all like the televised O.J. Simpson trial. Money buys an entirely different type of justice.

I took two very important lessons away from my experience: 1. The murder victim has no rights or protection during a trial, while the accused has all the rights and protection. 2. Jurors have to dig beneath the crap being flung to find the truth. Sadly, that surface crap is what most jurors base their opinions on.

I don’t remember now what prompted the conversation with my husband, but we were discussing my experience during that trial and the justice system in general. He’s ex-military and has a strong sense of protection toward those he loves. When I asked him what he’d do if I’d been murdered, he gave me a detailed and colorful reply. During that conversation, Michael Sykora was born.

In some ways, my husband and I are yin and yang. I’m a peacenik. I try to see the best in everyone, and I think, under the right circumstances, most people are capable of redemption. My husband, on the other hand, is all about an eye for an eye. Despite our different approach, we agree that our justice system is broken. The phrase that gave birth to this series is something my husband believes: There is no justice, only revenge.

** Readers interested in the piece I wrote about what inspired this book can find it on my Things of Interest page: http://www.quietfurybooks.com/thingsofinterest.html **

2. My review compared this novel to Leaving Las Vegas and Dexter. Have you seen either? Do movies or TV shows inspire your writing?

I haven’t seen either Dexter or Leaving Las Vegas. I fail miserably at TV and movie trivia.
The Dexter comparison makes me chuckle. Several years ago, before I decided to self-publish, I sent the requisite query and synopsis for No Justice off to an agent. He rejected my query because he felt the concept was too similar to Dexter. I’d never even heard of the show or the novel, and had to Google it. I really need to rent the series on DVD one of these days!

I don’t watch many movies, so that’s not an area of inspiration for me. I do get occasional ideas and inspiration from programs like Criminal Minds and Perception. I’m fascinated by the psychology behind criminal behavior. Few people are simply evil. I want to see the shades of gray; the good within the bad. The legalities of the pursuit and arrest don’t interest me nearly as much as the emotional, psychological and sociological aspects of criminal behavior.

3. One of my favorite characters is Ruby, Michael's assistant. What went into her character development?

I’d love to take credit for hours of character building and outlines, but the truth is I honestly don’t know. Like so many of my characters, she just appeared fully formed. Before I write, and during the process of the first draft, I spend a lot of time twisting ideas around in my mind. I knew Michael needed a small but strong support system. He needed a quasi family to give him stability and keep him from crossing all the way into the dark side. Beyond that, I had no real concept of her; not even a name. As I was writing, when I got to that first scene with her, she stepped into my mind as clearly as if she’d stepped into the room with me.

4. How sympathetic are you to Michael?

I’m extremely sympathetic to his character, which intrigues me. As I said before, I’m a peacenik. I don’t believe in the death penalty, so it’s odd that I can relate to and sympathize with someone who murders people.

When I decided to write this book, I knew my biggest hurdle would be in creating a killer that people would like. As his character took shape, I realized I really liked him and that gave me hope readers would as well. While he is, in essence, a murderer, he is also a man with morals and standards. He doesn’t kill for pleasure. And he only kills the worst of the worst, such as pedophiles and repeat rapists. The victims of these crimes are, in his eyes, failed by our justice system. He’s out to balance the scales and make the world a little safer for the good guys.

5. I hear you're finishing book three of this series. What are your plans?

Book three has been too long in the making! I kept getting sidetracked with other projects. I’ve also been struggling with a lot of health complications this year, so this one has taken me longer to write than any other. I hope to have it complete and published in early spring of 2013.

I don’t have any specific plans for this series beyond completing the one I’m working on. I do have lots of stray ideas for future stories. With this book, Sean, a minor character in the first two, has a much bigger role. I see future books branching off with his character as a lead. Something happens within book three that gives me lots of room to expand on Sean’s life. I’d also like to bring Isaac, another minor character, in for a bigger role in a future story.

The main thing for me with this series is to keep it new and fresh. As a reader, I get bored when a series just rehashes similar plots with the same characters for 10 or 12 books. As a writer, I get bored when the characters have established themselves and have nothing new to say to me. In order to keep myself and my readers involved and coming back for more, I need to explore the supporting cast. I want to see how their actions might affect Michael, and how he reacts to the change around him.

Thank you Darcia! Can't wait to read Beyond Salvation.

And now please join us for the Omnific Publishing Author Blog Bounce!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

To all my American friends, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. I'm at the airport on my way to Chicago *points to skyline above* to spend the holiday with my oldest sister, brother in law, nephews, and parents.

To all my international friends, happy Thursday!

Here are a couple of recipes I want to share.

I made "Wild Rice with Shitake Mushrooms and Miso Dressing" for a potluck at work, and got some rave reviews from the vegetarians on staff:

Recipe HERE


And today I plan to make these hilarious chocolate turkeys, perhaps as place settings for the Thanksgiving dinner table.


Hee hee.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gender Differences in Mental Health

Today I have a guest post from Ken Myers. Take it away, Ken!


Different Mental Health Concerns in Men and Women

Aside from the obvious physical characteristics, men and women differ greatly. Their thought processes, preferences, and struggles can vary wildly. Yet there are also individual differences within each gender. Here are some gender differences in mental health:

1. Alcohol and Other Drugs - Men are more prone to substance abuse, according to researchers. Our culture socializes men to avoid emotional expression, and sometimes they turn to alcohol and other drugs to suppress emotion.

2. Depression - Women are more prone to bouts with depression. Whereas men tend to deal with stress through externalizing problems (substance abuse, aggression, “acting out” behaviors), women tend to deal with stress by internalizing problems (low self-worth, depression, anxiety).

3. Eating Disorders – Women comprise about 90% of the eating disorder population. However, numbers of men with eating disorders are growing, particularly with Binge Eating Disorder. The proposed diagnosis of Muscle Dysmorphia is also more common in men.

4. Psychiatric Medications - According to a study completed in 2000, women are more likely to use psychiatric medications compared to men. This finding could be linked to men having difficulty asking for help.

When dealing with a mental illness, taking into consideration the person’s gender can prevent a misdiagnosis and can facilitate individualized treatment. Men and women tend to deal with stress differently, and we have lots to learn about how gender affects mental health. What we do know is that men and women have trouble understanding each other!

Author Byline:
Ken Myers the editor in chief is a frequent contributor of http://www.gonannies.com/ Ken helps acquiring knowledge on the duties & responsibilities of nannies to society. You can reach him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

And now it's time for Omnific Publishing's Blog Bounce. Join us here!

 

Monday, November 12, 2012

YALL Fest Fun

What fun it was to attend a young adult book festival in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday: The YALL Fest 2012!

Omnific Publishing sponsored an exhibitor table and provided tons of YA books to give away to our readers. Lovely author Trisha Wolfe signed copies of her steampunk-futuristic-sci-fi Destiny's Fire, and I signed copies of my swimming-romance-military-murder-mystery Streamline.

Here I am wearing a fake Navy hat, posing with Trisha Wolfe. Yes, I am twice her size. ;-)
We also had the pleasure of introducing readers to our pub sisters' creations:

Embrace by Cherie Colyber
Life, Liberty & Pursuit by Susan Kaye Quinn
Ember and Shades of Atlantis by Carol Oates
Breaking Point by Jessica Bowen

(Too bad Iridescent by Carol Oates and Reaping Me Softly by Kate Evangelista were too hot off the presses to make it to this festival.)

Here are readers holding their signed copies of Streamline!

Kristen and Sharanna

Marie works at a library on a Naval Base

Morgan and Briana--aren't they cute?

And here's cool YA book blogger Briana from The Book Pixie

Happy reading to all who attended! I definitely encourage you to attend next year's YALL Fest if you can make it. It's a great place to interact with enthusiastic readers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Men & Women of the Military Giveaway Hop

Thanks to Vanessa from The Jeep Diva for hosting the Men & Women of the Military Hop.

Photobucket I LOVE men in the military! I have to confess I've written stories about men in the US Navy simply because they look so damn hot in uniform. *blushes*

Shallow, right? Okay, it's also true that I really admire their sacrifice in keeping us safe. I'm also fascinated by the complete obedience required to serve in the military.

All three of my romantic suspense novels feature a military influence.

The hero of With Good Behavior and Bad Behavior is Grant Madsen, former Navy lieutenant. Unfortunately his Mafia family interfered with him serving his country for very long, but he still calls everyone "Ma'am" and "Sir" hee hee.

Leo Scott--the hero of Young Adult swimming romance Streamline--seems like the perfect midshipman for the Naval Academy. But perfection is hard to achieve.

I'm giving away ebooks featuring these hot men in uniform! To enter, complete the Rafflecopter form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And make sure to hop over to enter all these awesome giveaways! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group: Politics

I HOPE the Presidential election has been decided by the time this post goes live. The last thing we need in America is more hanging chads!

Today I want to talk about political beliefs and the extent to which you share them.

I live in Ohio, the state that COULD DECIDE THE ELECTION dun dun dun. I'd much rather frolic on the beach than listen to the endless political commercials.


But I am passionate about politics. I have strong opinions about who I want to win this election. Yet I stifle myself from sharing my political views in both careers as a psychologist and author (psycho author). Why?

1. Therapy is about the client, not the therapist. My political views don't really matter. The only times I self-disclose are when those disclosures could benefit the client, and my opinion about politics probably isn't central to our therapy goals. So I listen, nod with understanding, and sometimes *grr* inside.

2. Marketing my books is not about me spouting political beliefs, mostly because I don't want to alienate half of my readership or author buddies. I believe our personal philosophies shine through in our work, but I don't want to be too overt about it. Frankly, I've hidden quite a few Facebook friends who post their political agenda non-stop.

Thank goodness my swimming buddy Eric and I vent about politics all the time, or I'd explode!

Authors: How passionate are YOU about politics? To what extent do you share your views? Why?

And now to continue with "The Next Best Thing". Author Darcia Helle challenged me to answer questions about my work in progress On Best Behavior (The Conduct Series #3).

* How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started writing On Best Behavior about a year ago and I'm still not done (though at 84,000 words I'm getting closer to the finish!) However, in the past year I completed a HUGE edit on my YA novel Streamline, which launched in March, 2012. I also tend to edit as I go, extending the first draft time-frame.

* What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The genre is romantic suspense. I've received reader comments about how unique this series is, so it's hard to compare it to other stories. Maybe the Black Ops, Inc. series by Cindy Gerard? But her heroes are more alpha than Grant Madsen. I don't know many books featuring a psychologist heroine either. If you do, please tell me.

To those of you doing NaNo, best of luck to you! And to the rest of us, keep trucking.
 


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