Thursday, March 28, 2013


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When Darren Sant asked me to write a story for a new anthology he and Craig Douglas were putting together for their website, Near To The Knuckle (which was spawned from the eclectic Close To The Bone blog), I was absolutely thrilled!

"Wait a minute, Veronica... 'when Darren asked you...?"

Well, okay, so maybe he didn't exactly ask... I sort of snuck in when he was letting the cat out and after much pleading and a promise to bake cookies, he and Craig said they'd have a look at my story.

Now, I have been working on this 'noir' thing for a couple of years, trying to find a voice... a grit and darkness worthy of noir. I've had a few polite rejections... "it's a nice story, Veronica, but just a bit off from what we are looking for." ... I thought I just might have found that voice with The Way of Things.

 Darren thought so too... he accepted my submission and made a few editorial suggestions and next thing you know...

I'm rubbing elbows with some of the best talent in the genre today. I mean, look at these names....

Gareth Spark, Richard Godwin, Paul D. Brazill, Aidan Thorn, Pete Sortwell, B.R. Stateham, Brian Panowich, Ryan Sayles,Chris Leek, David Barber, Vic Errington, Graham Smith, Walter Conley, Tom Pitts, Allen Miles, Jim Spry,Mike Monson and Alan Griffiths.

We are talking MAJOR talent here, people!

I am totally chuffed to once again be appearing with two of my friends and mentors, Richard Godwin and Paul D Brazill... totally chuffed!

Thank you, Craig Douglas and Darren Sant, for your tireless efforts and all the hard work in putting this collection together.

And a special thank you to Steven Miscandlon over at Steven Miscandlon Book Design for the amazing cover art for Gloves Off.

Run, do not walk, over to Amazon and get your copy of Gloves Off today... you won't be disappointed! 

Click here for US Amazon.

Click here for UK Amazon

Thank you.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
28 March 2013
An undisclosed location in the Pacific Northwest

Friday, March 22, 2013


Photo credit retained by original artist

Day 12 of Vicki Ableson’s 5 Minute 30 Day Writing Challenge….


Does editing count as writing?  No?  That’s okay… I’ll get my time in writing this blog post.

A story I submitted for an anthology has been sent back with the editor’s revisions and‘suggestions’.   I believe the next part is called ‘a meeting of the minds’, also known as compromise… give and take.

I get a little thrill now when an editor sends a piece back.  I didn’t use to.  It took some effort not to take personally what I saw as an ‘attack’ on my ‘baby’.  How dare they suggest I make these changes!  I put my blood (does a paper cut count as ‘blood’?), sweat and tears into this story!  I poured my soul into it!

My first instinct back then was to make a voodoo doll of said editor and poke a few well-placed pins into it.  Mothers can be fiercely protective of their young and I was less than thrilled that some complete stranger thought they knew better how my story should be written.

Of course, that was completely irrational… as was pointed out to me by my inamorata… more than once.  Don’t you hate that your spouse or partner can be so calm when your whole world is crumbling around you… their calm ‘voice of reason’ coaxing you to put the Yellow Pages (bookmarked in the “V’s”) down.  Their not-so-calm warning to leave the bottle of Stoli in the cupboard – “Veronica!  It’s ten in the morning… put the booze away!”

I have learned that editors want only to make my story the best it can be and that shorter sentences can say the same thing and have the same impact as great, long, paragraph-size sentences, peppered with commas, semicolons, ellipses and dashes.  Wow!  How did I find room for all those adjectives with all that punctuation fighting for room on the page? 

When they tell you that you are dangling too many participles… listen to them.  When they tell you not to use so many semicolons… listen to them.  When they mention that perhaps you should use a dash instead of all those ellipses… listen to them. (well, okay… I’m still working on that one).  Do not retort “That’s how my English teacher taught me!”  Editors don’t really give a rip how your English teach taught you and they could care even less that your English teacher was a Catholic nun.  In fact, the mere mention of ‘Catholic nun’ (think wooden ruler across the knuckles) could very well bring to surface some long-forgotten childhood trauma and the next thing you know, you’ve sent your editor running for the liquor cupboard.

So, as I develop a style – in noir, if you don’t have a style, no one is going to read you – and find my voice, I know that there are editors out there who will help me, offering encouragement and support, because they believe in me and want me to be the best writer I can be.  Also, it reflects badly on them if they publish shite.  We depend on each other, writers and editors.  It’s a symbiotic relationship; neither can survive without the other.

In other words... don't shoot the editor.  They didn't write that mess; they're just trying to help you clean it up.  Why?  Because they saw a little grain of sand with potential.

From the girl who never met a comma she didn’t like, and used adjectives like every day was BOGO at the adjective store, I want to thank all those editors out there who ignored my‘snark’ back in my early days and helped me turn those grains of sand into little pearls…

Thank you!

And a special ‘thank you’ to Darren Sant and Craig Douglas of Near 2 The Knuckle, for their tireless efforts in putting together their new anthology, Gloves Off.  I am thrilled to have my story accepted.  Thank you for your suggestions, and especially for your patience.  It is an honour to appear alongside the extremely talented collection of writers you have gathered for this anthology.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

22 March 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I had an interesting conversation with an older man on the train this morning.  This is one of the things I like best about public transportation.

We were sitting across from each other - the cars have some seats that face each other - and I was doing a little research for a story.  I've seen this gentleman before and we have exchanged polite 'good mornings' but never engaged in any real conversation.  This morning was different.

"God is a myth... he doesn't exist."  Well, as opening lines go...

"That is rather a provocative remark to make to someone reading this."  I hold up my Bible, which anyone with reasonable eyesight would not take for something else.

"You don't really believe all that, do you?" He gestures to my Bible.

"Yes... I do.  Why do you think God doesn't exist?"  Talk about a loaded question to make to a stranger!

"From the dawn of time, man has searched for something to keep out the darkness.  There are myths and beliefs throughout the history of man.  'God' is one of those."

"So, you don't believe in a supreme being, a Creator of Earth, man and the cosmos?"

"No, I do not."

"And God is only one more 'fairy tale', told to make man feel safe against the darkness?"


"Would you disagree then, that, if only inferentially, there is a God figure in a lot of those old fables and fairy tales?"

"No, but that doesn't mean a God exists."

"Actually, I think it argues that He does exist.  Let me ask you this.  What do you think is more believable - man, Earth and all the cosmos were created by the random joining of quarks and atoms borne out of a great explosion eons ago, or....

Man, Earth and all the cosmos were created by a supreme being, a God?"

The man looks at me for a moment.

"Then, where did God come from?"

"Where did that great big explosion come from?" I reply.

Just then, my stop is announced and the train slows.

"I'm sorry... this is my stop.  It was nice chatting with you.  Bye."

As I prepare to disembark the train, I look back.  The man is watching me, a faint look of consternation on his face.

I offer up a little smile and step off the train.


Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
21, March 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Third Strike (Charlie Fox Thriller #7)Third Strike by Zoë Sharp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zoe Sharp certainly hasn't lost her edge with #7 in the Charlie Fox series.  Taut drama, tight prose, plot twists and action jumping out on every page, Third Strike is a must read for anyone who loves action and suspense.

When someone sets off a wad of plastique (figuratively speaking) in Charlie's father's reputation, Charlie doesn't take it lying down.  Regardless of how they feel about each other, in Charlie's world... you don't f**k with family!  Not if you want to walk away without serious physical impairment... or worse!

I won't give away the surprise at the end, but it does make me want to jump right into the next in the series, Fourth Day.  I should probably go back and pick up the one's I missed though... Killer Instinct - Zoe's incredible debut novel - is the only other one I've read so far.  Trust me... I will remedy that!

If you're already a fan of Zoe's writing, nothing I say here will surprise you... you know already... and if you're not?  What are you waiting for?

Now, I'm off to see where I can find Riot Act.

Thank you, Zoe, for some of the best writing in the genre I have come across in a long while, and an absolutely unforgettable character in Charlie Fox.

I recommend Third Strike whole-heartedly.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
16 March 2013
Cannon Beach, Oregon

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Compromising PositionsCompromising Positions by Susan Isaacs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Written with a wicked sense of humour and wit as sharp as a mohel's knife, Compromising Positions, and its unforgettable protagonist, Judith Singer, offers an eye-opening look inside a Nassau county bedroom community and reminds us that what happens behind closed doors doesn't always stay behind closed doors.

I'd always considered dentists rather mild-mannered sorts, but Susan shatters that 'myth', and does it with such a wonderful narrative style, weaving completely believable characters (I have worked with a couple of these 'types') into a plot worthy of the silver screen, that Compromising Positions definitely earns a five-star with this reader.

The back cover of my copy has the blurb... 'brilliant first novel...'

I couldn't agree more.  I will certainly be adding more of Susan's works to my reading list.

I recommend Compromising Positions without hesitation.

 Thank you, Susan, for a first rate story!

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
9 March 2013
Cannon Beach, Oregon

View all my reviews