Saturday, December 29, 2012

DRUNK ON THE MOON 2 – A New Roman Dalton Anthology by Paul D Brazill

You know how, come Christmas morning, you felt there was something missing from under the tree... but you couldn't quite put your finger on what it was? Allow me...

Paul D. Brazill and Pulp Metal Fiction bring you the long-awaited follow up to Paul's first Drunk On The Moon anthology.... (drum roll, please!)

Paul's latest offering opens with a brilliant introduction by master of the horror/pyschological thriller, Richard Godwin, who makes a stirring argument for bringing a little lycanthropy into the fray between good and evil.

DOTM 2 is packed with such heavy-hitters as Paul D Brazill, Carrie Clevenger, Chad Eagleton, Matt Hilton, Ben LeLievre, Chris RhatiganBen SobieckJJ TonerVincent Zandri and...

Well, look at this... little ol' me... in here with all these 'big fish'! Hang on a sec.... (does little happy dance)...

Thrilled... and honoured... that's what I was when Paul approached me about using one of my 'Erin' pieces in an anthology he was putting together. Of course, I said 'yes'!

Chuffed... is what I am now... seeing my story in print along with these amazing writers... totally chuffed!

Congratulations, Paul... and everyone who has contributed their time and talent to make this anthology possible. It's an amazing collection of stories... I'm going through my second read right now; I can't seem to put it down!

A special thank you to Marcin Drzewiecki & Jason Michel for the amazing (you already said amazing, Veronica)... for the awesome (said that too, sweetie!)... brilliant (mmm...)...

Thank you, Marcin and Jason, for your fantastically inspired cover art! ;-) 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Veronica's Kitchen Presents: Nana's Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Nana's Recipe Vault

Tina introduced me to her grandmother, Nana, shortly after she brought me back to Portland with her several years ago.  Nana immediately 'adopted' me and took me under her wing in the kitchen.  We have spent many wonderful days... and evenings... in her kitchen, cooking and baking all sorts of deliciousness! 

Nana recently introduced me to this delicious variation of the venerable chocolate chip cookie.  If you love soft, chewy, warm, sweet, slightly tart in your cookies, look no further!  This recipe makes about two dozen cookies... you may want to double it!  

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips


1.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.

2.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  For a little ‘extra’, substitute brandy for the vanilla extract and increase amount to two teaspoons.

3.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.

4.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

5.  Fold in the dried cranberries and baking chips.

6.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet leaving about 2 inches in between.  "Remember, Veronica… parchment paper is a girl’s best friend!"

7.  Bake at 375°F for 8 - 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

8.  Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 1 minute, then remove from pan to a wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely.

 Cookie dough may also be made ahead of time and frozen for later; dough will keep several weeks in the freezer if stored properly.  To freeze cookie dough:

After folding in the cranberries and white chocolate chips, divide dough out into halves; set one half aside.  Turn dough out on to lightly floured pastry board.  Flatten dough into a rectangle and roll out to a thickness of approximately ¾’.  Transfer to a double layer piece of wax paper and, using a large kitchen knife, cut dough into approximately one inch squares (larger if you want bigger cookies), pressing the knife down through the dough; do not use a sawing motion.  Do not separate.

Repeat with the other half of dough and wrap in freezer wrap or container.  When cooking from frozen dough, you may need to adjust cooking time slightly.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 NaNoWriMo novel - AFTER THE TEARS - Excerpt from first draft



Six months after being shot by her lover, and prime suspect in the Case of the Missing Monet, Portland police detective Aimee Belanger returns to the force. Assigned to the Vice squad, Amiee's first case takes her undercover in local crime boss Pearce Bedford's organization, where she soon comes face to face with an old 'friend' from her days with the New York City Police Department... who also just happens to be the wife of the man she is investigating. Amiee and Kathryn quickly become 'involved', picking up where they had left off.
Things quickly go pear-shaped however, when Kathryn turns up dead and all signs point to Aimee as the 'trigger'. Aimee finds herself on the run as she flees to New York, in search of the real killer.


04:39 P.M. - 2 April  – Airport Sheraton, Portland
“Police! Nobody move!”
The crash of the door against the hotel room wall and the shouted command come in almost the same instant… in the space of a single heart beat. With no more warning than the men in blue gave, I shove the woman’s face from the ‘v’ of my naked thighs and roll off the edge of the over-sized queen bed in one practiced motion, scrambling for my badge and identification, buried somewhere in the small pile of clothes beside the bed. The woman lets out a piercing shriek at the sudden intrusion and grabs for a sheet to cover her own nudity. I grab my badge and turn around, holding it up to the uniforms.
“Don’t shoot… don’t shoot… I’m a cop… I’m a cop…!”
“Hands up… now… now… now, godammit!” I comply.
The air fairly reeks of testosterone as half a dozen of Portland’s finest swarm in to the room, dragging the sheets off of the bed and searching the piles of clothes for weapons, which they find… my department issue 9mm Sig Sauer P226… in its shoulder holster, under the edge of the bed.
Just then, two more policemen enter the room… plainclothes officers. I can only stare helplessly up at my former colleagues from Burglary… Dawson and Gibbs. Swearing silently, under my breath… fuck… fuck… fuck… fuck… fuck!

“Well… well… well… look what we have here, Gibbs… our favorite little carpet-muncher! I almost didn’t recognize you without your clothes, Belangér.” Dawson stares for a moment and then turns, smirking, to Gibbs.
“Better go find the crime scene photographer, Tom… gotta preserve the scene.”
“Fuck you, Dawson!” I get up from the floor and then turn my back to the pair, stooping to pick up my clothes. Turning back to face the detectives, I slowly and deliberately begin to dress, as if I could care less that they have seen me naked. One of the uniforms hands Kathryn a sheet to cover herself. Showing considerable calm under the circumstances, she gathers her clothes and then heads to the bathroom to dress, locking the door behind her.
Dawson looks around the room for a moment and then motions me over to a small table in the corner. Gibbs makes to follow the two of us but Dawson shakes his head. Gibbs turns to the lieutenant in charge of the assault team and the other officers begin clearing out of the room. Kathryn is still in the bathroom. The thought enters my mind that all my work of these last few weeks just got flushed down the toilet and I’m back to square one… worse than square one; my cover is blown! As far as Kathryn was concerned, I was the daughter of a ‘card-carrying’ member of the East Coast mob, sent out to the West Coast for my own protection. Kathryn and I shared some ‘history’.
“Aimée, what the hell is going on here? You know the department is investigating Pearce Bedford. What in the hell are you doing with his wife?”
“What’d it look like I was doing? God... you really are dense?”
“You realize you have completely compromised our investigation.”
“I’ve compromised your investigation? Are you serious? What the fuck are you… … this is my investigation and you just blew my cover!”
Just then, the head of Burglary Division – Captain Sam Benson, my old boss – walks in the room. What the hell? He spots Dawson and me in the corner and heads our way.
“Sam?” I can get away with calling the captain by his first name; we spent three years in the trenches together. “What is Burglary doing in the middle of my Vice investigation?” But before Sam can answer, another brass joins the fray – Deputy Chief Fritz Edwards. If there is a less popular man in the entire Portland Police Bureau, I haven’t met him. On top of everything else, Edwards is a narrow-minded, strait-laced asshole… translated – he hates gays and lesbians, but is very careful not to do anything actionable in front of witnesses. Perfect! My day just went from bad to worse! Fuck!
“Detective Belangér, if you actually spent some time in your squad and read the memos, you would know that your case has been re-assigned to Burglary.”
“May I ask why, sir?” Considering that I have just been caught in flagrante delicto with the wife of the target of my own investigation; me questioning the deputy chief’s motives is pretty ballsy, I’ll admit. Right now, I may not be thinking quite as clearly as I should be. The scent of Kathryn’s sex on my face isn’t helping matters either.
“My team has been making progress and…” Seething beneath the surface, I try to keep my emotions in check as the chief cuts me off with a chopping motion of his right hand.
“This is not the time or place to discuss your unit’s shortcomings, detective!” Looking around the room… “Get your things and report to my office in one hour!” He turns and strides from the room before I can reply. I feel my face flush at his sharp rebuke and as I watch him leave the room, my dark, liquid eyes burn with unconcealed anger, boring holes in the back of his handmade Italian suit. Sanctimonious asshole!
As pissed as I am now, I know better than to keep the bureau’s ‘little Hitler’ waiting. The last time someone made the mistake of keeping the deputy chief waiting, he ended up on parking patrol for a week – in the middle of the worst snowstorm this city has seen in a decade. Considering how Chief Edwards feels about lesbians, and me in particular, I’d probably spend the next month doing cavity searches on all the ‘working girls’ busted in the department’s recently reinstated prostitute sweeps. The absolute last thing on earth that I want to do is to be shoving my fingers up some skank’s swampy snatch, checking to make sure they’re not trying to smuggle in a cell phone or drugs.
And so it is that I find myself outside the deputy chief’s fifteenth floor office exactly, according to my Corum chronograph, 27 minutes and 12 seconds later. I may have given a few pedestrians a heart attack as I navigated my ‘lights and sound-equipped’ onyx black Mustang through the city streets… the roar of its five-liter tuned V-8 echoing off the brick and concrete edifices that make up downtown Portland.
The aide stationed outside Edward’s office announces my arrival and I settle back in one of the black leather Ethan Allen over-stuffed chairs… and wait.
Becoming quickly bored with the magazine selection on the polished table between the two chairs – Golf Digest and Aviation Northwest – my mind goes back to that day four weeks ago, when I first met Kathryn…
– Portland Police Bureau
Six weeks after I had been shot by my lover – it was an accident; she had been aiming for my boss - who had been trying to frame my ex-lover; who just happened to be the newly appointed chief of detectives, of a string of burglaries – I returned to duty and the first step toward putting my life back together… again.
My on again/off again girlfriend was in jail awaiting trial on charges of burglary, grand theft, attempted murder and a few other charges. Being an assistant district attorney had not worked in her favor and the presiding judge remanded her without bail because of her position and ‘assumed connections with undesirable elements’… a polite way of saying she knew criminals and was apparently considered a flight risk. Cassie refused to see me and short of over-powering the guards at the Multnomah County jail, it didn’t look like I am going to see her before the trial.
As for my ex-lover, Julia resigned from the bureau and left Portland in the aftermath of the shooting, my declaration of love for her and Cassie’s subsequent arrest and incarceration. I have no idea where Julia is and if I am smart, I will let her go… again. Do you really want to get burned again, Aimée?
With the string of burglaries now solved, I requested and was granted, a transfer to Vice. My first assignment was a Pacific Northwest industrialist who was running a chain of underground ‘casinos’, complete with prostitutes and drugs. The authorities had been trying to get something on him for years, but he was too well-insulated and almost fanatical about letting anyone in who hadn’t been vetted a dozen ways from Sunday. There was no way we were going to get someone undercover in; I could see this after studying the case files over a long weekend. Just when I was thinking that I had been handed the loser of all loser cases, something caught my eye.
The target of our investigation, industrialist Pearce Bedford, was married to a woman who used to frequent a very specialized ‘club’ in Manhattan. This ‘club’ was in fact a bordello catering exclusively to the elite of Manhattan society, specifically the closeted females of Manhattan society. I had ‘met’ Kathryn… she went by the name Nancy Plato back then… while on an undercover assignment with the NYPD, my home before coming to Portland, Oregon three years ago.
I had gotten in as a masseuse, hoping to gain access to records that according to an inside informant, were kept on the premises and disguised as lesbian porn DVDs. Two weeks later, the DVDs had not materialized and my bosses pulled me out, but not before I had met, up close and personal, several well-heeled clients. Nancy was one of those clients. Nancy liked young women and upon learning that my father was a part of New Jersey ‘society’ – aka, the Mob - we had struck up a friendship. Nancy liked dangerous women. I had been a little sorry when the assignment had ended.
I was up until dawn formulating a plan to present to my captain. After years of trying to infiltrate Bedford’s inner circle, I had found an ‘in’. From the case file we knew that whatever his wife desired, Pearce Bedford got for her… whatever she wanted. I had a calling card right into Kathryn’s bed… my days back at that Manhattan bordello. This was almost too good to be true.
As I sat at the marble kitchen island counter of my fifth floor condo at CYAN/PDX, working on a second pot of Ethiopia Sidamo, I realized that I was going to need a crash course in computer hacking from my favorite ‘techie’ at PPB. Ryan, a former hacker of international repute, had turned his computer prowess over to the forces of good several years ago and had found a home with the Portland Police Bureau. Since there was no way in the world I was putting Ryan within five miles of the Bedford compound, he would have to impart some of his skills to me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

ῷῷῷ - - THE NEXT BIG THING - - ῷῷῷ

{Thank you, Joyce Juzwik, for inviting me to participate in this project.}

1. What is the working title of your book?

The Rose, The Robe and The Road Back.  I started writing it in last year’s NaNoWriMo competition, under the draft title, The Story Of A Girl.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Several years ago, as part of my therapy, I began writing about the ordeal and other things in my life… coming out of the closet… my mother disowning me when she found out I was a lesbian… the kidnapping… the rapes… the torture… the attempt at suicide… meeting Tina and how she saved me… rebuilding my life… the passing of my mother… all these things.  I filled dozens of journals and composition books.  Both Tina and Dr. Kay said I should write a book about what happened… that I should tell my story… the story of a survivor.  This book was their idea, but it was my mother who motivated and inspired me to see their idea to fruition.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Non-fiction… autobiographical… it is a memoir.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ask me this question when I publish my first fiction novel.  I won’t ever sell the movie rights to my own life. 

I will say this, though.  Were I so inclined, I would not choose any of the ‘big names’… the ‘A-listers’.  There are many incredibly talented actors and actresses out there who we hardly ever hear about… people who can act circles around most of the so-called Hollywood celebrities.  These are the people I would choose.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The story of a young woman, kidnapped in the waning days of the summer of 2005, her six months of captivity at the hands of a sadistic ex-boyfriend and his psychopathic girlfriend - during which time she was subjected to unspeakable brutalities - and the road back. This is my story.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Most likely, I will self-publish.  I am not willing to give up creative control and change how the book is written, which a couple of editors have advised me I would have to do if I expected a traditional publisher to pick up my story.  I won’t tell them how or what to publish if they won’t try to tell me how to tell a story.

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

I finished a little over half of it, about 54,000 words in less than a month... this was my NaNoWriMo novel last year… and about three months to finish it.  Since then, I have gone on to a second and third draft.  I am hoping to publish some time next year.

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

That’s hard to answer.  I am, of course, aware of other books that deal with this subject matter, but I haven’t read them or even read the reviews.  Shattered by Debra Puglisi Sharp, Anita Wooldridge’s Eight Days in Darkness and Lucky by Alice Sebold come to mind, as well as Elizabeth Smart’s book. 

I know exactly how I want to tell my story and I am not an experienced enough writer to believe that my ‘voice’ might not be tainted, so to speak, by reading these other books.  Does that make sense?  I’m not sure how to explain it better.  I still have ‘holes’ in my memories and I guess I just don’t want to read of similar events and then later wonder if my reading of those stories has influenced my own story… if I created false memories. 

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My mother.  She imbued in me so many things, chief among them a strong sense of justice, courage and the strength to overcome.  I survived my ordeal because of how she raised me… it is her strength that is in me now.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Rose, The Robe and The Road Back is a story of survival, of overcoming a horrible ordeal and living a life now that is not limited or defined by what happened to me, but rather how courage and honor and love will always triumph over evil.  I’ve been given a second chance at life and I have an obligation to make a difference.  The ordeal I went through will have not been in vain if I can help even one person… to survive… to see that they have a life worth living… that they have worth.

This was sent to me by Joyce Juzwik.  You can view her answers here:

Here are some other writer's responses - 

I sent the ten interview questions to Gretchyn Boshart, Paul D Brazill, Cindy Rosmus, Sandra Davies, Richard Godwin and Ron Dionne.

Thank you.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
12 October 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012


The clock is ticking, people!  Drop on over to WrightyReads and check out Debbie's interview with Karen Bergreen, author of FOLLOWING POLLY and PERFECT IS OVERRATED.  While you're there, enter the contest for a chance to win a copy of PERFECT IS OVERRATED.

If you haven't yet read Karen's FOLLOWING POLLY, click here for my review of this incredibly talented writer/mother/comedienne/actress/lawyer's debut novel.

And, don't forget to follow Debbie's wonderful and informative blog WrightyReads, chock full of fun and games and reviews!

Thank you,

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
8 October 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Or, How I Turned My Inner Demons In To Some Not-Too-Bad Stories
By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
This week over at Flash Fiction Friday, instead of posting a writing prompt, Flannery Alden invited everyone to share a little bit about how and why we write… what inspires us?  What kind of fiction do we write?  What kind of fiction do we read?  Hmm…
I need to go back in time for a moment… back to a guest blog I did for Paul D. Brazill some time back…
Why do we write?  The three “E’s” come to mind… express… explore… entertain.  When we write, we usually have a specific purpose or goal in mind… to explore an idea… express a feeling… entertain an audience.  When I first began writing seriously, it was as part of therapy… the fourth“E”… exorcism.  As painful as that often was, what I came to refer to as “Dr. Kay’s torture” helped me to develop beyond the rudimentary skills left over from my formal education, and gave me a certain confidence that perhaps I was not as “literately-challenged” as I had once thought.
I write primarily noir fiction, dark and twisted stories of not-so-nice people doing not-so-nice things to one another.  I am told that I do a “fair job” at writing in this genre.  I could blame my ‘predilection’ with crime and noir on the influences of Carole Parker and Paul Brazill, but that wouldn’t be fair to them.  They weren’t my only influences.  And of course, I completely blame Lily Childs for getting me on the horror/urban fantasy ‘bandwagon’… even if it’s only been in hundred word flash bursts so far.
Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour [and TONS of other writings] and a friend and mentor, asked me this in an interview –
Is there a particular incident that has changed your life and influenced your writing?
In the waning days of the summer of 2005, on my way to morning classes at university, I was kidnapped and for the next six months, I endured brutalities that would have made the Marquis de Sade vomit on his bedclothes.
I know it’s a little fucked up… hell, it’s a lot fucked up… but that’s pretty much why I write mostly dark noir and not children’s stories.  You don’t go through something like that and walk away without a few scars and if my writing reveals some of those scars… well, maybe that’s just the way it is supposed to be.  Six years of therapy and two years of writing noir fiction have quieted my demons… for the most part.
Sometimes I wonder if my writing will eventually erase those memories, at least some of them.  And then there are times when I am afraid that is exactly what will happen and I think maybe I should just put my pen away.  Sometimes I wonder if the madness wouldn’t be better than the memories.
Yeah, like I said… a little fucked up.
So it came to be that in August of 2010, I turned from writing in my personal journals about those dark days I had endured five years earlier and the horrors and demons that… * cue ominous music*… very nearly claimed my life, and penned my first noir fiction story… about 10,000 words of fiction ironically titled ‘Revenge Will Wait For Another Day’.
I shared ‘Revenge…’ with a few friends but never submitted it for publication, either online or in print.  My first ‘published’ story was a short little 800 word flash piece for Patti Abbott’s “Scarry Night” Challenge.  Penance was part fiction and part auto-biographical.  It would not be the last story that I would write in which I drew on those six dark months of captivity.  I have already written a little of that ordeal and its aftermath, in two other short stories, both non-fiction… Nyquil Dreams (which appeared in Pulp Metal Magazine), and Hello Darkness, My Old Friend.  Several flash fiction pieces that I have written for F3 were influenced by that ordeal.  I am currently on the third draft of my memoir, which will tell ‘the rest of the story’; as I believe Paul Harvey used to say.
What inspires me?
What doesn’t?  Haha!

The prompts on Flash Fiction Friday are always fantastic and have given me much inspiration.  F3 has helped me hone my craft and the people who ‘hang out’ there are amazing and very supportive.  They inspire me as well.  Unfortunately, the demands of life and several writing projects have kept me away from F3 lately.
A great place for inspiration can be found on any of the social networks.  On Facebook alone, I have gotten inspiration for several stories.
A writer friend made a comment once about the unseasonably warm weather and problems with the AC.  Someone else remarked that she worried about the power going out (brownouts) and all the ice cream in the freezer melting.  I turned that into a 4,000 word story on obsession.
Another Facebook friend and I were discussing what we might do if a lover betrayed us.  From a little ‘vignette’ I suggested, Revenge Will Wait For Another Day was born.
I also watch people.  I ride mass transit a lot and I have met some very interesting people.  I’ve also observed some ‘very interesting’ people.  Conservatively, half of the fiction I have written was inspired by someone I encountered, a bit of conversation overheard – sorry, apparently my ears don’t have an ‘off’ switch, or some other such random act of human nature.  A chance encounter with a streetwalker (have you ever been asked for a ‘date’?) kindled the fires of my imagination and led to One Man’s Burden, a twist on Jack the Ripper.
I look at people and I observe their reactions... and I say “what if”?  That staid, straight and undoubtedly celibate (yeah, watch the eyes) nun on the train?  Let’s make her a roller-blading, poker playing lesbian nun who teaches in the orphanage pre-school when she isn’t traveling to Las Vegas to meet her lesbian lover showgirl and fleece some high-rollers out of their money.  It’s for the kids, don’t worry… Sister Veronica does have her morals!
It isn’t just strangers that give me inspiration… that feed the dark and sometimes wicked ‘turnings’ of my mind.  When it comes to fiction, family, friends and co-workers are ‘fair game’.  Even one’s own spouse needn’t be spared, as evidenced in Late Isn’t Always A Bad Thing and Non Sequitur.
I wrote two stories which dealt with domestic abuse, specifically, spousal abuse.  Without divulging confidentiality, This Is How You Remind Me and Mothers and Daughters drew on events in the lives of two people very close to me.
To varying degrees; I put myself in some of my stories.  Physical attributes, sexual orientation and obsessions… all things used to build characters.  Like me; many of my female characters are strong, independent, goal-oriented women with a strong sense of justice… even if their actions sometimes indicate the contrary.  Justice isn’t always found in what the law says is ‘right’.
We are told to ‘write what you know’.  I know me… I know what I want… I know how I will react in a situation… I project that into some of my characters.  It also allows me to engage in a little fantasy, as seen in Revenge Will Wait For Another Day.
Some might think that my ordeal gives me an ‘edge’ in writing… a reservoir of emotions and memories to tap into… it does; I won’t deny that.  My lesbianism and views on feminism also influence my writing.
We all have experiences… crosses to bear… burdens to carry… that determine to a certain extent how we live our lives.  Those things that influence my writing also allow me to put them in some perspective.  For me, it’s all part of a process.
We write what we see… we write what we do… we write not to be alone.
We spend our whole life trying, with varying degrees of success, to be more than the sum of the parts of our lives.  That is human nature.
Writing allows us to be more than the sum of those parts…
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Portland, Oregon
4 September 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Honesty and Integrity in Independent Publishing and Promotion

 (Note – The original post is from the “A Knife And A Quill” blog. Thank you -vmls)


No More Sock Puppets Please

by "A Knife and A Quill"
These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended on-line, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers. But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large. British author Stephen Leather recently admitted that he used fake identities online to promote his work. The American bestseller John Locke has revealed he has paid for reviews of his books. The British author RJ Ellory has now confessed to posting flattering reviews of his own work and to using assumed names to attack other authors perceived to be his rivals.
These are just three cases of abuse we know about. Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well.

We, the undersigned, unreservedly condemn this behaviour, and commit never to use such tactics.

But the only lasting solution is for readers to take possession of the process. The Internet belongs to us all. Your honest and heartfelt reviews, good or bad, enthusiastic or disapproving,­ can drown out the phoney voices, and the underhanded tactics will be marginalized to the point of irrelevance. No single author, ­ however devious, ­ can compete with the whole community. Will you use your voice to help us clean up this mess?
'Signed' by - 

Linwood Barclay, Tom Bale, Mark Billingham, Declan Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Tania Carver, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, N.J. Cooper, David Corbett, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Stella Duffy, Jeremy Duns, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Helen FitzGerald, Meg Gardiner, Adèle Geras, Joanne Harris, Mo Hayder, David Hewson, Charlie Higson, Peter James, Graham Joyce, Laura Lippman, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, Roger McGough, Denise Mina, Steve Mosby, Stuart Neville, Jo Nesbo, Ayo Onatade, SJ Parris, Tony Parsons, Sarah Pinborough, Ian Rankin, Shoo Rayner, John Rickards, Stav Sherez, Karin Slaughter, Andrew Taylor, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Martyn Waites, Neil White,  Laura Wilson, Darren Sant, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw.

Monday, September 3, 2012

BOOK REVIEW - darlenne susan girard: freefalling

freefallingfreefalling by Darlenne Susan Girard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Reviewer's note – In my junior year of college, I suffered a six month ordeal that nearly ended my life and even now, almost seven years later, still has me looking in the back seat before I get in any car and still wakes me in the middle of the night, the dying echo of tortured screams floating on the night air.  After reading freefalling, I find myself asking if I really know what true suffering is?  I am in no way mitigating the trauma of rape and the ordeals of myself and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of women, young girls and children; don’t get me wrong.   But, I do have my life… my pain and suffering is mostly memories now.  The girls who live on the streets?  Pain and suffering is their life… it isn’t just a memory.

I have received no compensation for this review, nor do I know the author personally.   My five-star rating is based solely on the merits of the book.   freefalling is available in e-book and trade paperback.  Thank you. vmls)

“please dear God I ask of thee
send four angels down to me
one to watch and one to pray
and two to carry my soul away”

With those spare words, thus begins a story that is both transformative and unforgiving.

Darlenne Susan Girard's freefalling is the heart-breakingly poignant, breathtaking and tragic story of a young girl's 'journey' from innocence lost at the tender age of 14, to her death two and a half years later... the victim of circumstance and the unbearably crushing weight of an all too often heartless and cruel world, filled with takers and users, to whom compassion and empathy are nothing more than words on paper… lofty ideals of a civilized society that these unfortunate souls… the streetwalkers… now live on the edge of.  Although, perhaps ‘living’ is too polite a term.

I will try not to put too much of the story in my review, but this is probably a good place to caution the reader about spoilers.

Forced to leave by an impossible situation at home, the protagonist, 14 year old Melinda, finds herself on the 'mean streets', virtually penniless and with little more than the clothes on her back... and woefully unprepared to face a less than certain future.  A future so bleak in fact that any Las Vegas bookmaker would give long odds indeed that Melinda would last a week, let alone 30 months in the unforgiving, harsh and at times utterly ruthless, world the young girl has 'tripped' into.

It is only her chance encounter with perhaps the one person in this new 'world' - Angel - who thinks of more than just herself, that Melinda finds a fighting chance.   Angel takes Mouse, whom she has 'christened' Melinda as, under her wing, showing that even when life seems at its darkest, a candle of hope still flickers.

Will this unlikely friendship be enough to save Mouse?   And what will happen when she discovers that the unthinkable has happened to her?   What will she do… this once innocent girl who has yet to reach the age of 15?  Who can Melinda turn to for the love and understanding, the guidance and wisdom she desperately needs?  Is her fate now to be determined by the whims of a psychotic streetwalker, who is at times so immersed in her own pain and suffering that she cannot help anyone else?

As we soon find out, it is street justice and street wisdom that are the girls ‘guiding light’… their ‘beacons of survival’, if you will.  And like countless thousands of girls before her, Melinda finds herself doing ‘whatever it takes’ to survive.

freefalling is probably the hardest book I have ever, or will ever, read.  This is a testament to the incredibly powerful and moving writing of Ms. Girard and her keen insight into the human condition.  I cried most of the way through this book and had to put it down several times... I simply could not go on, having become completely overwhelmed at the tragedy unfolding on the pages in front of me.   Even now, it is hard to take my mind back to the story.

freefalling is written with such uncompromising clarity and brutal honesty that one wonders if it really is the product of a prolific imagination or is a story told so well and so real because the author lived it?  It is truly the mark of a great story-teller who knows her craft, when readers ask such questions.

Melinda (Mouse) and Angela (Angel) are without a doubt two of the most unforgettable people I have ever read.   The author had me craving a burger and fries more than once when I would read one of the diner scenes.  Darlenne - may I call you Darlenne? Ms. Girard seems so formal - weaves a story rich in detail and filled with characters drawn with the creative brilliance of a master storyteller.   I actually found myself shivering at times, when Darlenne would describe one of the countless street scenes with Mouse or Angel standing curbside in the rain or in whatever meager shelter the street offered… the wet and cold soaking through to the bone.

The author’s unique style… the pace and tempo of her writing… conveyed the pain and despair… the desperation and hopelessness of the girls all too well.  As I said earlier… their pain was all too real as I struggled through the pages… palms sweaty and heartbeat racing as the brutal words of Darlenne’s narrative brought forth images of the street life these girls endured.

What kind of life is it… on your knees trying to coax a little life into some stranger’s flaccid flesh, just to earn enough money for a meal, maybe a bottle and some cigarets?  Or, lying on your back on a filthy bed in a filthy hotel room… legs spread… dignity and hope only distant memories… as some poor bastard spills his seed… adding to the soil around you and reminding you of your own worth… barely less than zero.

A life where violence is the only ‘gratuity’ you will ever receive for services rendered.  And even in that, there is a bitter irony.

Of all the men in this story, only one seems to engender any sympathy, and even Al has his own agenda… something a new girl on the streets, like Melinda, soon enough learns.  Everyone has their own agenda… everyone looks out for number one.

The acerbic Carla is another character in the book, a ‘tough’ girl whose philosophy is ‘fuck or be fucked’ and who fails to see the irony of her own situation.  Angel sees the irony of her life, yet is helpless to change it. And Mouse… poor little Mouse?

The power of Melinda’s own life was taken from her before she fully realized what she had.  That is the real tragedy.   That is a tragedy that happens every single day… everywhere.   That is a tragedy that crashes through every social strata of every society

You and I have ‘avenues’… means of escape… when life around us gets ‘rough’, more importantly; we have support systems – family and friends – who care about us, and us about them.   The girls on the street have neither.  They can’t afford friends… friends will only disappoint them and hurt them.

For Angela, Mouse, Carla and the others… friends are a burden they cannot bear; the weight of reciprocity is too much.  There is more than enough tragedy and despair in these young girls’ lives and a friend is only someone else they will use and then disappoint, in their own search to fill the void in their lives… a void that only one thing can fill, because they’ve given up on everything else.

Well, there are two things… but a quick death isn’t something anyone on the street seems to want.  They prefer a slow, painful death; seeing it as a sort of redemption for what they’ve done… for what they’ve allowed themselves to become.  These girls gave up long ago believing that it was anyone’s fault but their own for the bleak existence that they now endure.  Some of them may still believe in love and even think they have found it… but in the end, they will only chase it away with a needle or a pill or a bottle.  And sometimes… all three.

The girls exist on the streets… little more than a ‘fingerhut’ for some other tortured soul… as penance for something they did or something that happened to them.   But, penance isn’t enough… without redemption, penance is an empty gesture.   For these girls, the only redemption is the slow death of giving up their lives… piece by piece… everything human about them.  These girls become little more than ‘the walking dead’, riding a freight train of drugs and alcohol that gains speed every day, until one day it takes a curve too fast.   And in a heartbeat… the closing credits of a life they no longer recognize, flash before their eyes… then… silence.

Despite all the promises she makes to herself and all her good intentions, Melinda finds herself on that freight train.  Yet one more tragedy in an already tragic life, only… she’s brought an unwitting passenger.  Can Mouse get off of that train before it runs away… before its speed takes her around that curve… and all of her promises disappear… like tears in rain.

There is a passage from a song on one of my playlists that would run through head at times, while reading freefalling -

Still falling
Breathless and on again
Inside today
Inside me today
Around broken in two

~ Mazzy Star

I recommend freefalling without reservation.  It isn’t pretty and it isn’t for the faint-hearted.  And, unless your heart is carved from stone, you’re going to get angry… you’re going to cry... you’re going to be made uncomfortable.  Good!  And just maybe you’ll do something about that.

freefalling is uncompromising and unapologetic.  Anything less almost seems dishonourable.

Thank you, Darlenne, for a story that is going to stay with me for a very, very long time.

What’s that you say?  How does the story end?  Well, I can’t tell you that; now can I?  I will leave you with one final word –


Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Cannon Beach, Oregon
2 September 2012

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Richard Godwin's APOSTLE RISING Available For The E-Book

Apostle Rising is a police procedural/psychological thriller of the first order... dark, twisted and suspenseful. Richard gives nothing away in his narrative... no red herrings... no leading one down the garden path. From the very first page, one knows this is not going to be a pretty ride. Richard's writing has a dark, sinister feel that, for fans of crime/horror, is irresistible to put down and impossible to ignore. His rich, dark, imaginative prose draws one in much like one of those water vortices in the northern Atlantic... undeniably powerful and compelling.
Apostle Rising is how [Stephen] King would write if he did noir... the relentless, escalating horror of Richard's deftly written prose leaves one on the edge... breathless... having serious second thoughts perhaps, about taking that evening walk unaccompanied.
Engrossing, beautifully written horror... with the technical detail of a first class police procedural, Apostle Rising is a `must-read' for any fan of crime fiction or horror.
Master of the horror/psychological thriller, Richard Godwin's debut crime novel, Apostle Rising is now available on Amazon for the Kindle, as well as in trade paperback.  The e-book contains some exciting extras:  an extract from Mr. Glamour, Richard's bestselling second novel, and a series of deliciously dark Noir stories.

If you live in the United States, the price of countless sleepless nights is only $3.24 -

If the United Kingdom is where you hang your hat and have a 'cuppa', a mere £2.05 will send shivers down your spine -
EPUB versions will be out for your Nooks, Kobos and all other eReaders by 31 August.  Click here  for buy links.
And, if you like a bit more weight in your hands (I love the feel of a book in my hands, so I have both the paperback and the e-book), the trade paperback is also available -

You can find out more about Richard, as well as his Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse interviews, at -

Richard isn't just my friend and mentor, he is an amazingly talented writer and storyteller.  If you like horror, dark noir and heart-stopping psychological thrillers, Richard Godwin more than delivers!
Thank you.
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
30 August 2012

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Monday, August 13, 2012


Following Polly: A NovelFollowing Polly: A Novel by Karen Bergreen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I laughed... I cried... I fell in love with Alice Teakle!


In her debut novel, Karen Bergreen has created a wonderfully plucky heroine one can't help but fall in love with, Alice Teakle.   Alice is a little bit everywoman.  I mean that in the sense that there is much in Alice that we can all identify with.  Alice isn't perfect... she has her flaws... doesn't always show good judgment and sometimes needs pointed out to her when her moral courage is lacking.  Sound like anyone we know?  Really?  Stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself that question.

Following Polly is delightful romp (ewww, I hate that word!) through the world of a girl and her obsessions.  A world this reviewer can identify with to a degree.   I am a writer and a people watcher... okay, sometimes, I follow people too.  Not quite to the degree of Alice to be sure, but...

Karen has written an original, brilliant and totally believable story in which she has drawn characters that are well defined and absolutely believable (am I the only one who squirmed in discomfort at some of the things her characters did, only because I recognized my own behavior?).  And Karen has done it with a humor and verve that make Following Polly one of the most compelling reads I have come across in quite a while.

Sometimes curiosity doesn't kill the cat... but it will get her 25 to life behind bars and the privilege of being some bull dyke's plaything.  Unfortunately, Alice doesn't really consider this when she begins stalking Polly Dawson... a woman who snubbed and took advantage of people like Alice probably from her early days in preschool... Polly is just that kind of person.

Alice first meets Polly in college, where Polly does what Polly does best... and Alice doesn't forget.   Years later, having just been sacked from a job she didn't particularly like and a boss she liked even less, Alice's neuroses and obsession come full bloom when Polly comes back into her life.   And, before her best friend Jean can say "... umm... sweetie, that's a really bad idea!"... Alice is off!

Unfortunately, for Alice anyway - Polly was a bitch and bitches get their just desserts (I'm paraphrasing the author here... *wink*)- things quickly go pear-shaped (it's a UK idiom... Google it) in Alice's stalking... err, I mean, following and Polly Dawson turns up dead.   Alice has the extreme bad luck of being the first one to discover the still-warm, but no longer breathing, body.

With all evidence pointing to our plucky heroine, Alice decides that a strategic exit stage right is in order and quickly throws on her invisibility cloak.  Or, would if she had one.  Oh, and something else...

Someone else comes back into Alice's life as well... will this person turn out to be her savior... or her downfall?

I hate spoilers and I don't much care for reviews that are little more than chapter and verse synopses of the book, so I will stop here.  I don't think I've revealed anymore than the back cover of the book does.  Anyone who has read my reviews knows I don't simply write down the plot points.  My goal is to get you to read the book, so I will give you a few little teasers and my take on the story, but if you want to know whodunit or do the ill-fated lovers finally overcome all odds and live happily ever after or is justice truly served... you will have to read the book.

In closing, Karen Bergreen's wicked sense of humor truly shines in Following Polly.  This is definitely a must-read and I can recommend it without hesitation.

Thank you, Karen, for a wonderful read. Even though I bawled through the last twenty pages.   I can't help it... I'm just a hopeless romantic, I guess.

"I love you, Alice Teakle!"

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Cannon Beach, Oregon
12 August 2012

View all my reviews

Thursday, July 12, 2012



I have a problem with document clutter.  Well, more than one but my main problem is multiple revisions of a document because I keep doing a 'save as' in WORD every time I am inspired by what I call the 'title of the moment'.  I very rarely start a story with the same title that I end up when I finish - Revenge Will Wait for Another Day is one exception - so as I progress with my story, I will think of 'the perfect title!!’ and instead of closing the document and renaming it – I don’t want to lose my momentum - I 'save as'.
At one point while writing This Will All End In Tears, I had eight revisions saved under different names.  You have to admit, that is kind of dumb, right?  Especially when you consider that I am not exactly a novice when it comes to Microsoft WORD.  Anyway... where was I?  Oh, yes… that 'perfect title!!’ isn't, so... I save… and save… and…you get the idea.  Why not just give my story a generic name and then when I am finished, add the title?  That’s a good question.  See, I can’t really write the story if there isn’t a title that has something to do with the story.  It would bother me.  Is that a bit anal?
There is an upside... sort of.  If I somehow lose, as happened a few weeks ago, the latest draft of a document, I usually have a prior version somewhere on the computer, so I don't have to start over from scratch.  Once the hair-pulling and eye-gouging urge has passed and I do NOT reach for the bottle of Stoli tucked behind the Weetabix and Special K with Chocolate, I shoot Tina a look that could freeze fire - "Really? Now you choose not to understand my writer's angst... do you have a death wish?" - and pull up a prior revision and get back to work.
Also known as taking a deep breath and pulling up my big girl panties!
Now… what is this thing with titles anyway?  I swear, it is almost a physical pain sometimes, trying to get just the right title to come out
I wrote a guest blog for Paul D Brazill some time back, when I had just started out on my writing career – “Wow! A real, living breathing AUTHOR asked me to write a piece for HIS blog??”  I'm sure I swooned a bit!  So, I ‘fired up’ Bella… my laptop and constant companion… and before you could say, “Wow!  Is that a thousand words already?” I had my piece finished… except for a title.  For what seemed a small eternity, I agonized over a title. Titles have been, and continue to be, my 'Achilles Heel'.  I kid you not… I can write a 3,000 word story in the time it can take to come up with a good title.
Anyway, with a deadline fast approaching and my stubborn refusal to settle for anything less than a clever and catchy – in my mind, at any rate - title, I finally came up with this....
"Coming Up With A Good Title Is Like Excoriating My Flesh"
I thought the title was very appropriate because… I swear to you… it would be less painful to scrub the top three layers of flesh from my entire body than to come up with a good title sometimes  Methinks the girl doth exaggerate, you say?  You have obviously never felt my pain.
I just finished the [hopefully] final draft of a 4,000 word story for a disaster anthology and while I thought I had finally come up with a good title – yes, I have deleted the four prior versions from my hard drive - I am now not so sure.  The title isn’t really doing anything for me… maybe I’ll just name it Story Number 96.
Does anyone know of a support group for the 'story/book title challenged'?   My therapist has declined to start one, and for what she charges, that’s probably not the best idea I have ever come up with.
But, getting back to the clutter…
How do you all deal with the not-so-limitless - who would have thought a 180GB hard drive on a laptop would ever NOT be big enough? - space on your computer for all your wonderful and not so wonderful (but keeping as a reminder of my less-than-brilliant flashes of inspiration) creations?  Maybe there is some other stuff on the hard drive I could get rid of.
What’s this thing called Windows?  It seems to be taking up an awful lot of room.  Do I even use it?  Maybe I could get rid of Windows…
© 2012 – Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw.  All Rights Reserved.