RETRO READS: Within the Shadows

Hi all!  Welcome to Retro Reads, where I talk about my favorite books that were published at least ten years ago. You can still find most of them online, though sometimes they have been re-released with a different cover and/or title. I will let you know if a book is out of print or otherwise unavailable.

Brandon Massey
Publication year: 2005
Out of print/available used


I have been a longtime Brandon Massey fan, ever since I reviewed his first commercially published book, Dark Corner. I met Brandon in person at Book Expo America in 2005, where I received my autographed copy. He has provided good writing advice over the years (thx, Brandon!), even as he has successfully adapted to the ever-changing publishing landscape.

Within the Shadows is Massey’s third book and the story of Andrew, a successful writer in the Atlanta area who becomes involved with a beautiful woman, Mika. Mika, however, turns out to be a stalker on a whole ‘nother level, aided by seemingly unlimited funds and a Grand Canyon-sized sense of entitlement. While trying to fend off Mika’s increasingly unwanted advances, Andrew also tries to rekindle his relationship with his estranged father, Raymond, which had taken an unexpected nosedive after both were involved in a car accident in rural Georgia. Unbeknownst to Andrew, Raymond was compelled to cause the accident and his secrecy ends up getting a few folks killed…and Andrew may be next.

Massey continues his recurring theme  of strained father/son relations, which is present in most of his books. He also spins on the “sins of the father” trope in Within the Shadows. Massey utilizes the supernatural in a way that taps into that part of us that we as people don’t like to acknowledge: the knee-jerk denial of the otherworld. The strong secondary characters of Eric, Andrew’s best friend and Carmen, Andrew’s not-so-unrequited love, help round out the story. While Mika’s character can be too over-the-top at times, it ends up working within the context of the greater story. Perhaps the best part of the book is realizing Raymond’s part in this whole mess and how it both harms and heals his relationship with Andrew.

Within the Shadows won’t keep you up at night, but it will provide some thrills and chills.

Thanks for stopping by.

I’m being interviewed! Sunday, 5/7, 7pm EDT

Hi all,

I will be interviewed in the Black Girl Nerds podcast on Sunday, May 7, 7 pm EDT. The interview will be hosted by Jamie Broadnax, founder and khaleesi of Black Girl Nerds. WOOT! Tell a friend or three!


I will be on a panel of three self-published authors (I’m the lone female author), along with Thelonious Legend (Sins of the Father, the first in the Parker Girls YA series) and Kevin Wayne Williams (Everything I Know About Zombies, I Learned in Kindergarten). We’ll be talking about our respective works, and I will especially bring up The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic, which is the next installment in the Bastille Family Chronicles series (the first was The Bastille Family Chronicles: Camille). It drops next week! Double WOOT!

Since the podcast starts at 7 pm EDT, there’s plenty of time to listen before you dive into Game of Thrones, House of Lies, the second round of the NBA playoffs (#GritAndGrind, #GoSpursGo), or your preferred Sunday evening programming. If you’re on Twitter, make sure to hashtag it: #BFCDominic, #BGNPodcast

Also…keep your eyes and inboxes peeled next week, as I do my first-ever book giveaway for all three of my titles, It’s gonna be epic!

Thanks for stopping by.

Oh, the Morality: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 6

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,855

Today’s blog count: 6

Total words written: 12,136

Total blog posts: 6

Day 6 of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo…man, the days are flying by!

Today was another good writing day. I introduced a lot more dialogue (which I really enjoy writing). I also introduced some morality issues for my characters. My main character is pretty much a black-and-white person, while the secondary characters, in this particular situation, are more shades of grey.

This sets up an interesting conflict because the main character thought these other characters thought as she did, and she gets a rude awakening when she realizes that they don’t. They’re more “the end justifies the means” in this particular situation, and the main character is miffed to discover that these people she thought were like-minded, were more interested in practicing situational ethics and morality, as opposed to blanket ethics/morality.

Humans are like that, though. We are not black/white individuals, though many of us like to see ourselves that way. We are more shades of grey type of people, and pixelated shades of grey at that.) That’s part of why there is so much conflict in the world. THen again, the world would be a very boring place if we saw everything the same way.

Anyway, I’m off to put more finishing touches on my next book before I do the layout tomorrow, and then some basketball (whee! #GoSpursGo). Thanks for stopping by.




10K, BABY! NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 5

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,818

Today’s blog count: 5

Total words written: 10,281

Total blog posts: 5


I’m keeping today’s post short and sweet because…*drum roll* I hit the 10,000-word mark today! WOOT!

This is a pretty good way to wind down my day. Last year, I don’t think I reached the 10K mark so soon. I didn’t realize that the novel was cruising along so well. When I hit the wall (and I will–there are still 25 days left), I will remember this moment.

Today’s writing included the part where the crap hit the fan for one of my characters. Since he’s the antagonist/anti-hero, this has a ripple effect on the rest of the characters, and it’s going to be interesting to see how they respond. This gives me a bit more to work with, which is good. The more stuff I have to work on, the less painful hitting the wall will be.

The next badge on my NaNoWriMo page is at the 25,000-word mark. Pray for a sister.

Thanks for stopping by.


What’s my (character) motivation? NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo: Day 4

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,691

Today’s blog count: 4

Total words written: 8,463

Total blog posts: 4


Happy Voting Day! Here in the United States, it’s Voting Day. This is considered Midterm Elections, being that it occurs midway through the presidential term. It also tends to be a period of low voter turnout, because most people don’t see midterms as important as the presidential election.  But since political figures who impact our lives on a more day-to-day basis tend to be elected during midterms, they are as important, if not more, than a presidential election. So if you haven’t voted, please do so if your polls are still open. I don’t care who you vote for–just vote. People died so that you could.

Okay, that’s my public service announcement (PSA) for today. 😀 Back to the matter at hand: NaNoWriMo!

My writing today involved character motivation. I know why my protagonist does what she does, and that’s pretty obvious. What wasn’t obvious was that of my protagonist (or anti-hero: haven’t decided which he will be yet). When I put it on paper today, it made things a lot clearer and gave me some additional options for furthering the plot.

It’s always important to make your character’s motivation clear. It helps you, as a writer, get your plot right; and it helps your readers engage with the book. If your readers don’t get why a character is doing something, the plot falls flat, they don’t like the book, and they don’t buy the book. Which is not good.

Your character’s motivation doesn’t even have to be all that deep or psychological. For example, you could have a character that likes to beat people up. A deep motivation could be that he was abused as a child, and lashes out as a result, and any myriad reasons that could be found in the DSM-V Manual. Or, he could simply like to inflict pain. Everything doesn’t have to be an ocean; it’s more fun to splash in a puddle. 😀

Because I am writing a medical thriller, I think of the two best examples of medical writing in the past few decades: Robin Cook, and the late Michael Crichton. Cook wrote the seminal medical thriller with his first book, Coma (which was made into a movie) and wrote dozens more.  Crichton was the creative and writing force behind this little medical show. Maybe you’ve heard of it: it was called ER. 😀  He also wrote this movie and book called Jurassic Park, as well as the cool medical thrillers A Case of Need and The Andromeda Strain.

Anyway, I hope that you are making progress on your writing, or blog, or both. Keep on truckin’!

Thanks for stopping by.


Dialogue It (NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo: Day 2)

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30 

Today’s word count: 3,210

Today’s blog count: 2

Total words written: 4,944

Total blog posts: 2

Today was a pretty good day for writing! I wrote 3,210 words for my NaNoWriMo novel, which is a medical thriller. I got a lot farther than I thought I would, and I attribute that to dialogue. I am pretty good at writing dialogue, if I do say so myself, so it comes easily to me.

Dialogue is tricky; you really have to pay attention to how people really speak, versus how they should speak based on grammatical rules. It gets trickier hen dialogue is written for people who have known each other for a long time and/or are very comfortable with each other: there is a penchant for verbal shorthand that is sometimes augmented by nonverbal expression, and grammar tends to go out of the window (double negatives, anyone?). The key is keeping the dialogue true while making it accessible/understandable to readers.

I set up two key conversations that give hints to the plot. One was simply two friends running into each other in a store. The other was more complex and took more time: a layered conversation between a married couple. Setting those layers took more out of me, because no relationship exists in one dimension. In this case, a lot of things were triggered by what seems to be a simple decision on the surface; trying to convey those various emotions was an exercise, especially when buried emotions come to fore.

All that being said, I accomplished a lot today. I’m going to relax my mind with some NBA games, and a few rounds of Bejeweled Blitz, and perhaps a movie later. Meanwhile, I will work out tomorrow’s plot advances in my head.

Thanks for stopping by.



In Case You Missed It…

For those who missed my LIVE Q&A on Tuesday, here ya go:




LIVE Q&A with me, TONIGHT!

I’m doing a Google Hangout tonight, 10/14, 7-8 pm ET.

Come join me as I discuss my books, self-publishing, and other writing stuff. Tell a friend!

The Camille Chronicles: Quick Announcement and A Favor, Please…

Hi all, I am putting the finishing touches on The Camille Chronicles: A Bastille Family Novel, and I am so excited! *Snoopy dance*  While I have previously contributed to anthologies, this is my first solo effort. It’s fourteen years in the making, so I want to make it the best it can be.  The Camille Chronicles will be released in August (yep, I’m moving up the release date), and a book tour will follow shortly.

 The Camille Chronicles is the story of Dr. Camille Bastille, a forty-something top-notch neurosurgeon in a family of surgeons (and one nurse). Camille is a classic overachiever who bends over backwards to display her intelligence, even as she struggles with the formidable legacy of her surgeon grandfather. Unfortunately for her, she becomes the target of a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) audit led by Andrew Paxson, a DEA field Agent turned Diversion Investigator. Andrew is fighting demons of his own after getting shot while undercover, and tries to piece his life back together in the aftermath. A little suspense, a little romance, a little humor….there’s something in The Camille Chronicles for everyone!

I like to know who my readers are, so that I can make sure to give you enjoyable content that you would recommend to friends, family, a stranger on your morning or evening commute, and in a format that is most comfortable for you. To do this, I need your help.

Please take a few minutes to answer this short survey, about your reading preferences.


As a special thank-you, I invite you to meet the Bastilles. 🙂

Thanks for all your help and, as always, thanks for stopping by.