Gone Writing

Phyllis Entis


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Lucky Thirteen

After two years of exposure as a published novelist, I have become somewhat inured to the reviews posted for my Damien Dickens series on Amazon, goodreads, and other on-line book sites. Some have been excellent, others so-so. I’ve even received a verbal raspberry or two.

Cover draft #7Earlier this evening, my second novel, The White Russian Caper, received its thirteenth review on Amazon.com.

The review, posted by JB Richards, starts out with, “The One Where Milly (sic) Becomes Wonder Woman!” and keeps on getting better.

To celebrate this Sunday Spectacular, I am running a flash 72-hour sale of The White Russian Caper on Amazon. From now through Wednesday evening, you can purchase The White Russian Caper for 99¢.

Interested in reading JB Richards’ review? You can find it at JB Richards’ blog or on Amazon.


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Introducing Bob Spearman

In the second of my monthly spotlights featuring other writers, I am proud to welcome Bob Spearman, fellow member of Mystery Authors International, and March 2017 Author of the Month.

img_0910-e1397091577639-150x150Writing on the beaches of South Carolina has proven a productive environment for Bob Spearman, and on a breezy, warm afternoon, you may find him sitting on the sand under an umbrella. His favorite Carolina haunts are Edisto Beach, the Isle of Palms shoreline, or on an isolated stretch of Pawleys Island. The relative solitude, the breath of salt air, and the rhythm of the sea provide inspiration for plot lines based in the Carolina Low country.

Bob grew up in rural South Carolina and now lives with his wife, Barbara, in Mount Pleasant. Although a son of this area, he has lived in Georgia, Texas, Florida and Utah while working as an engineer. After moving back to Charleston, he started writing fiction as a hobby. He works with several local writer groups, has written three novels, and several short stories. He is currently working on his fourth novel. He is a graduate of The Citadel and holds a master’s degree from the University of Texas.

I asked Bob to share with me some of the background behind the writing of Shrimpin’ Gold, his third novel.

“The motivation to write this book,” Bob replied, “was, in part, to highlight the life of the local shrimper family and their struggle to survive the current economic tsunami that attacks their business. In the Carolinas, this business spans generations of local families who know no other way to live. The concept to tell the story of this struggle and yet give the main characters a hope for survival popped in my head while sitting on the beach. I was watching a slow-moving shrimp trawler offshore as he plowed his way home to Shem Creek. What if they pulled up a net of Spanish gold? ”

“I’ve lived most of my life in the Charleston area,” Bob continued. “Local family and friends have all enjoyed the privilege of easy access to fresh fish, shrimp, and oysters sold along the creeks of the Low country. One of the most popular landmarks for fresh seafood is Shem Creek. This creek, home to numerous shrimp boats that line its shores, feeds into the Charleston harbor. It has been an icon for the Lowcountry, a favorite haunt for painters and photographers, and a magnet for restaurants and bars. With fuel prices up and the competition from Asian shrimp farms, living has been difficult for the families who have toiled at this labor for generations. Life is changing for the shrimper. Bringing awareness to this situation and the potential to help were paramount to this story. If the shrimp boats leave, the creek will lose the allure, and will become just a muddy creek.

“Oh, and finally, in Charleston, we have fun with pirates and the ghost of these characters from days gone by. Adding a little of that flavor to this story is like the hot sauce on shrimp; not necessary but it sure spices it up.”

Shrimpin’ Gold was released in August 2016 on Amazon, and has achieved a 4.6/5.0 stars rating from reviewers. Bob was kind enough to share a snippet from the novel.

Joe sat on his front porch in his favorite spindle-backed rocking chair. He studied the movements of two brilliant red Cardinals as they chased bugs along a jasmine-covered fence. A cool breeze carried the sweet scent of the jasmine blossoms across the porch. When the breeze stiffened, a squeaky windmill propeller, in his flower garden, waggled around in uneven circles.

His gaze drifted from the birds to the empty rocker next to him, and he sighed. A Carolina Wren, hidden high in the oak tree canopy, tweeted a familiar tune. He looked up and gained solace with the chorus of sounds that nature offered.

As a boy, he had climbed in these oak trees and tossed a baseball with his dad beside the jasmine fence. He had fished the saltwater creeks near his property with his grandfather, his father, and his son. He had rocked on this porch and watched the stars with Cora Lee when they were both in high school.

This lowcountry haven embellished his soul, it was a part of him and impossible to dissect; it gave him peace. He knew he could not leave this place and survive. He knew if he did leave, the smell of pluff mud and the sounds of sea birds would haunt him until he returned.

For now, the empty chair reminded him of what might be lost, the missing complement to his soul, like the song to a bird or the smell to a jasmine blossom. Through the years, each Sunday after church, they ate noon dinner together, and then Joe and Cora Lee enjoyed this simple pleasure of sitting on the porch. They rocked content with what the afternoon offered, blue sky, clouds, or rain. He could no more live happy without her than he could survive without the marshes or the sea.

All three of Bob’s books are available on Amazon.

Turf and Surf (published May 2014)

An idyllic tourist town finds itself home to a dangerous turf war in Bob Spearman’s riveting debut novel, Turf and Surf. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has long been a favorite tourist destination, but beneath the sunny exterior, a dark power struggle entangles locals, summer workers, tourists, and drug dealing gangsters as they fight for control. Among them is Bo Jr., whose run-in at a mob-owned bar turns him into a hit-man-in-training. Best friends, Edna and Evelyn, navigate the perilous world of romance as one falls for a police officer—the other, for a mobster. With a new drug gang riding into town, a serial kidnapper tying up summer workers, and a corrupt police force that looks the other way, tensions come to an explosive climax in this fun new read that will leave readers guessing until the last page.

Hard Road (published February 2015)

You choose suicide, but fail. The man who almost killed you commits to be your savior; but first he must overcome his own demons. It’s a Hard Road, but love may find a way. Laurel struggles through the pressures of a bad marriage, the death of her child, and life on the street. Hank endures a difficult job with a horrible boss and a corrupt parole officer, who together force him to work as a truck-driving courier for their illegal drug business. Beset with this trauma, he strives to help Laurel survive through her recovery from attempted suicide and after her bout with a psychotic episode. Set in the Low country of South Carolina and on the streets of old Charleston, Hank and Laurel share the secrets of their painful pasts. But even with their fortuitous new love, persistence, and good hearts will they be able to survive?

Shrimpin’ Gold (published August 2016)

In good seasons and bad, small family-owned shrimping operations have survived in the Carolinas. Harlin Dodd, a third generation shrimper on Shem Creek, faces the demise of a business started by his grandfather. Long time loyal first mate, Joe Ladson, struggles to pay his wife’s medical bills. Their old shrimp boat is beyond repair. Shrimp are scarce. But just as the financial dilemmas of both families seem insurmountable, their shrimp nets bring up a treasure chest filled with gold. With this prize, their troubles really begin. When pirates return for their lost gold, Joe is tortured, and Harlin’s daughter is kidnapped. Harlin must trade himself to save his daughter. Storms, pirates, gold, and ghostly illusions, all set in historical Charleston, make the shrimpers’ struggle an exciting Low country tale.

Get to know more about Bob Spearman and his novels by visiting his web site.


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New Release and Another On The Way

If I’ve seemed somewhat distracted lately and have been out of touch, please forgive me. I’ve been busy with two projects that I hope you will enjoy.

I have just released a Kindle compilation of the first three books in the Damien Dickens Mysteries series. If you haven’t yet begun to follow the adventures of Damien and Millie, here’s your chance to do so.

Damien Dickens Mysteries: Books 1, 2 & 3 is available right now for pre-order from Amazon at a special pre-release price of just $3.99. Order now to lock in the special price and receive the download automatically on March 30. Or, if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can take advantage of the ‘free’ download beginning on the official March 30th release date. Don’t procrastinate. The list price will increase to $5.49 on April 1st.

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The second project, still in production, is the audio edition of The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper. Click on the audiobook cover to hear a sample of the new voice of Damien Dickens, and watch for more news about the release of my third audiobook in early March.

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Introducing Amy Reade

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a novelist is the chance to connect with other writers in similar genres. During the next several months, I’ll be introducing you to some of my fellow novelists. This month, I would like you to meet Amy M. Reade, a fellow member of Mystery Authors International.

USA Today bestselling author Amy M. Reade is a recovering lawyer living in southern New Jersey. The House on Candlewick Lane is the first of The Malice Novels, Amy’s gothic suspense series set in the United Kingdom. The second book in the series, Highland Peril, will be released in the fall of 2017. She is currently at work on the third book. Amy is also the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of Hanging Jade, all standalones. She loves reading, cooking, and traveling.

Today, Amy is celebrating the release of her new book, The House on Candlewick Lane. She was kind enough to share with me some background to the evolution of her latest novel.

“I came up with the idea for this book while on vacation in Scotland,” Amy told me. “The country is so different from my little corner of the world. The lochs, the mountains, the villages and the sea are never far from one’s imagination in such a rugged and beautiful place, and the capital, Edinburgh, is a wondrous city where the cosmopolitan culture of today is closely connected to the regal, artistic, and intellectual heritage of yesterday. 

“One thing that always fascinates me is that we can never really know what goes on behind someone else’s closed doors. Every family has something, whether it be a secret, an embarrassing circumstance, or an entire façade, that they don’t share with the rest of the world. It could be a financial problem, a marital issue, a drug habit—anything. In The House on Candlewick Lane I wanted to explore one family’s secret (or secrets), hidden behind the walls of an old house that fits in with its stony, cold landscape at the outskirts of a small Scottish village.

“Having done an internship at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children many years ago, I have always been under the strong sway of the topic of familial abduction. In addition to the excitement of uncovering family secrets, The House on Candlewick Lane touches on the issue of non-custodial parental abduction in a way that sees justice served while addressing the custodial parent’s frustration and anguish.”

Here is a short teaser from The House on Candlewick Lane.

I must have fallen asleep, because I sat up with a start, not remembering where I was. But after a second it all came back to me in a rush of fear and indignation. I was sitting on the twin bed. It was hot. My hair stuck to the back of my neck and my forehead. Gray light forced its way into the room through the small window that overlooked the fields behind the house on Candlewick Lane. The rain was still falling, smearing the glass. I wondered where Neill was. I knew pounding on the door would be no use, but I had to do something. I had to try. My fists bore the bruises from my earlier futile attempts to be heard. There was nothing to do but wait to be released from this tower prison. Someone had to let me go.

They couldn’t keep me here forever.

You can connect with Amy via her website or on social media.

The House on Candlewick Lane

by Amy M. Reade

It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped-and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets-including some she’d rather not face. Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh-a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.

Available on Amazon.


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Coming Soon: The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper on Audio

There is a new man in my life. His name is Harry Dyson, and he is the voice of Damien Dickens.

Harry took one look at the picture of Quintzy on the cover of The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper and decided that he wanted to be part of Damien’s world. He has immersed himself in all three books, absorbing the nuances of the characters, and has begun to record The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper. As of today, the Prologue and first eight chapters are complete.

tclc-audio-cover-final-jpegHarry and I are targeting a completion date of February 28th for the audiobook, with an anticipated release early in March on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. While you’re waiting, why not check out the book’s trainer on Youtube, or download the ebook from your favorite on-line retailer.


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Starting the day with a smile

5star-flat-webThere’s nothing like a great review to bring a smile to an author’s lips and put a song in her heart. Well, I am smiling and singing like a happy fool today, after receiving this review from Susan Sewell of Readers’ Favorite.

The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery Book 3) by Phyllis Entis is a fabulous sleuth mystery set in the 1980s. On their slightly misrepresented honeymoon cruise, Damien and Millie befriend Barbara, a psychiatric nurse. Never expecting to see her after they disembark from The Yankee Clipper, Damien and Millie are surprised when Barbara walks into their office and asks for their protection. Barbara explains that she is not a nurse, but is a journalist for a Montreal newspaper. Something that Barbara has discovered has put her in danger, and now someone is following her. Before Damien and Millie can determine why somebody is following Barbara, she is the victim of a hit and run accident. When Barbara regains consciousnesses, she can’t remember anything. What did Barbara uncover that is so vital that someone wants her dead? The only answer to be found is in the coded notes which Barbara hid in her hotel safe. With the lack of police cooperation, Damien and Millie have to decipher the notes before it is too late and Barbara is murdered in her hospital bed.

The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery Book 3) by Phyllis Entis is an intense and exciting sleuth mystery. Damien is again confronting his arch-enemy, Turpin. Turpin has the city authorities in his pocket, deviating the objectivity of the municipal’s law enforcement, making Damien’s life more difficult. Millie and Damien’s relationship is realistically meeting some roadblocks that they have to address. Damien meets these issues in his usual well-meaning and hard-headed way. This is the third Damien Dickens Mystery novel and the books just keep getting better. Hershey, the Labradoodle, is introduced in this episode and it seems like he is going to make a marvelous addition to the series. Damien’s dicey exploits are thrilling and addictive. I can’t wait for his next mystery, and I highly recommend his adventures to those who enjoy reading whodunits.

And for the icing on the cake, Susan added this message to me:

I do love your Damien Dickens Mysteries! I am pleased and impressed with how your stories continue to improve.I am interested to find out how Hershey is going to fit in and am anxious to see what happens with Turpin. Great work and keep writing! I can hardly wait for the next episode!

Thank you Susan Sewell for your enthusiastic reception of The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper. I am already at work on Damien and Millie’s next adventure.


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A Decade of Old Habits

Long before Gone Writing, long before Damien Dickens, long before Prompt Prose, and long before eFoodAlert, I conceived and wrote a book about food safety.

My book, I decided, wasn’t going to be a scientific treatise, incomprehensible to the general public. Nor was it to be a dumbed-down ‘Food Safety for Dummies’. It would contain sufficient scientific weight to be used as a college-level textbook; however, the information would be presented in a casual, accessible manner, with a minimum of jargon.

In 2004 I submitted my idea to Jeff Holtmeier of ASM Press, the publication arm of the American Society for Microbiology. He was excited by the concept, presented it to his editorial board, and, to my excitement, ASM Press offered me a publishing contract. After almost two years of writing, followed by a year of editing and preparation for publication, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives was born.

Today, January 8, 2017, I am celebrating the tenth birthday of my book with, I must admit, mixed feelings. The good news is that Old Habits (my working title) is as relevant today as it was the day of its release. The bad news is that Old Habits is as relevant today as it was the day of its release. Despite the passage in the US of the Food Safety Modernization Act, despite stepped-up enforcement of food safety regulations and criminal prosecution of the most egregious violations of the law, we still confront many of the same issues about which I wrote ten years ago. And we are still woefully deficient in educating consumers in safe food-handling practices.

Ten years ago, I wrote:

We live in a world in which we are vastly outnumbered by microbes. We touch and are touched by millions of microscopic beings every day. We cannot – nor should we want to – avoid this contact. After all, most microbes are either beneficial or benign. Even so, we can’t ignore the health risks presented by a small minority of pathogens that may be present in our environment, including in our food and water. We owe it to ourselves, to our families, and to our communities to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of our food and water supply.

Some old habits are good ones; they should not be changed willy-nilly. But old methods need to be reappraised in the light of new information, and new habits should be formed as new procedures and technologies are developed and validated.

Each of us – consumer, restaurant owner, food service worker, meat or poultry producer, farmer or food processor – must make a commitment to learn correct procedures and to apply them consistently. No one (except for those few who deliberately contaminate food) intentionally causes foodborne illness, nor would food producers or processors make a conscious decision to save money by cutting corners if they knew that a food poisoning outbreak might result.

 

Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives is available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions.