Introducing Judith Lucci, contributing author to the medical thriller collection DO NO HARM
Judith Lucci – HBS Author’s Spotlight Showcase features Shatter Proof which is included in the Do No Harm Medical Thrillers Collection
Author Judith Lucci and the book set: Do No Harm: A Collection of 17 Seventeen Medical Thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors! These are some of the BEST DEALS from outstanding Authors for the Kindle at Amazon. Pre-Order NOW.
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Judith Lucci novel is included: Shatter Proof
Do No Harm
Seventeen Medical Thrillers
DO NO HARM is an extraordinary, limited collection of medical thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors!Do you crave reading books with nail-biting suspense, twisted plots and great characters who get caught up in whirlwinds of crime, deception and lies?
Do you love sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering who will survive…and who won’t?
From the mountains of West Virginia, to acute care hospitals, the battlefields of the Middle East and the hallowed halls of our educational system, join us for these incredible stories of healthcare gone wrong.
Author: Judith Lucci
Author Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Post with Profile + Interview: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Author Description: Judith Lucci is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon Best Selling author who loves to kill people – which is totally opposite what she’s spent her life doing. “I love to think of heinous ways to dispose of people – sometimes a lot of people- but it must be creative. I don’t use guns very often but rather rely on my medical background and research to figure out the best way to get the job done. Bullets are just too easy. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a ball trying to figure out why someone who spent her life caring for people and saving lives, now spends hours each day in the creative pursuit of murder.”
Dr. Lucci is a Gold Medal Winner for Best Sleuth 2017 for The Case of Dr. Dude, the first book in the Michaela McPherson Series and another Gold Medal for Best Political Thriller in 2017 for Viral Intent, the third book in the Alexandra Destephano medical thriller series. Her third Michaela McPherson mystery won a silver medal in 2018 for Best Sleuth. She’s has contributed to numerous anthologies, some of which are currently available on Amazon. She has recently claimed the prestigious status of a Wall Street Journal best selling author. She is also a USA Today best selling author. Her Cozy Mystery series, Artsy Chicks, is set at Massanutten Resort in the Virginia mountains where she and several other artists and the local medical examiner, solve mysteries of deaths that occur at the resort.
Lucci’s thrillers are a fast-paced, riveting reads that offer readers believable drama, memorable characters and true suspense. Her books are described as ‘unputdownable.”
Judith was born and educated in Virginia where she holds graduate and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. She is also the author of numerous academic and health-related articles and documents.
Newly retired Army physician and War College Professor Sonia Amon returns to war-torn Syria to open several village medical clinics and save lives – until is seems she can’t save her own…
Beach Traffic – The Ocean Can Be Deadly
Missing at the Beach – The Ocean Can be Deadly!
Graduate student Kat Benson was excited about seeing her college boyfriend, Liam Cross, at their Tulane University reunion on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Kat’s childhood friend, Heidi is looking for great sex and a fantastic weekend hookup. But, things turned bad quickly when they learn a friend of theirs had been brutally attacked. Federal and local law enforcement officials are concerned about a vicious murder on the beach and the disappearance of five women.
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The Case of the Man Overboard – Michaela McPherson Crime Thrillers Book 3
Two Murders, A Man Overboard, And A Run-in With Big Pharma And Organised Crime
After an intense year of solving crime in their home town of Richmond, Virginia, Michaela, Dottie and retired canine Angel, travel to Europe to spend much needed leisure time at the Borghase Estate outside of Rome. Unfortunately, their plans are upended by a series of catastrophes.
??? A Vacation From Hell
A luxury cruise around the Mediterranean culminates their trip and becomes a nightmare as Mic and Dottie investigate an American pharmaceutical company’s release of a ‘dirty’ drug. The threesome meet up with lethal, dangerous and heinous criminals from their past and the cruise becomes a living hell.
How do you commit murder on a cruise ship while at sea and get away with it when there’s nowhere to run?
Evil: Finding St. Germaine – Alexandra Destephano Book 5
For Fans of Robin Cook, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Cornwell, Michael Palmer
Alex returns to Wyndley Farm, her childhood home in Virginia, to await the birth of her baby. An urgent call from Crescent City Medical Center compels her to return to New Orleans to investigate cruel, questionable incidents and heinous patient deaths. Digger Stildove returns from Yemen where he has searched for Jacob Stark. Michaela McPherson travels from Richmond with police dog Angel to consult with Commander Francoise in his search for St. Germaine. Events unfold as the evil continues and the hospital attempts to safeguard patients and staff.
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The Case of the Dead Dowager – Michaela McPherson Crime Thrillers 2
A Team Of Serial Killers Is On The Loose, Hunting Children, Women And The Elderly
Retired homicide detective Michaela McPherson and the aging Countess Dorothy Borghase team up again””this time to match wits with two serial killers stalking children, women and the elderly.
When Dottie Borghase’s friend Camilla Rothrock collapses at a lunch gathering of old friends, the countess’s only concern is to dial 911 for help. But Camilla’s subsequent death has authorities buzzing about international safety and retaliation, because her son is decorated U.S. Army General Stuart Rothrock.
??? What Price Must The City Pay To Keep Its Citizens Safe?
As other restaurant patrons in Richmond meet similar fates, Michaela and Dottie join forces with the Richmond Police and the FBI to track down the pair of heinous murderers. But in order to catch the killers, they will put their own lives and the lives of others in in serious jeopardy.
??? Will McPherson and Borghase make it out of this one alive?
The Case of Dr Dude – Michaela McPherson Mysteries Book 1
Someone Is Kidnapping And Trafficking Women
When a young woman disappears after a job interview at a well-known dentist’s office in Richmond, Virginia, retired homicide detective Michaela McPherson and Angel her retired police dog are pulled into a crime that goes far beyond a missing person case. With the help of her close friend, the aging Countess Dorothy Borghase, and Richmond police, McPherson dives in.
??? Could Human Trafficking Really Be A Problem In The United States?
This case pits McPherson and her companions against evil and greed armed with tentacles that span continents and generations. Russian mobsters are in America, kidnapping girls to auction off to the highest bidder in the international black market. Is there any hope of stopping an underground operation that extends so far and wide?
??? The Case of Dr. Dude is a thrilling ride that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.
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Toxic New Year: The Day That Wouldn’t End – Alex Desephano Series 4
The party of the year in the rural Virginia countryside turns into a day of horror as the enemies of Alex’s grandfather, Congressman Adam Patrick Lee, bring the war to his Virginia estate killing, maiming and destroying every thing in their path.
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Viral Intent – Alexandra Destephano Book 3
With POTUS and members of Congress in the Big Easy for a political convention, an unidentified killer virus in the Crescent City emergency room has physicians baffled, hospital staff frightened, and the CDC on their way to assist. When the first death from the mysterious virus is a Secret Service agent guarding the President, a terrorist attack is feared. Matters get worse with the murder of a prominent politician in the French Quarter. Alex and Jack must learn to play well with the CDC, FBI, and Secret Service and enlist the help of the enemy to save the streets of New Orleans from disaster.
The Imposter – Second Book in the Alexandra Destephano Medical Thriller Series
From the Queen of New Orleans Medical Thrillers…
LIFE IS NOT EASY IN THE BIG EASY
It is hotter than hell in New Orleans and newly promoted Police Commander Jack Francoise is battling horrific crime in the Vieux Carre. At the Psychiatric Pavilion, nurses are doling out Thorazine Slurpees to the criminally insane and viciously psychotic patients in the South. Alexandra Destephano, legal counsel for the hospital is troubled by safety issues and is working hard to protect patients and staff. The violence escalates and brutal beatings and murder becomethe order of the day as life in the Big Easy becomes Uneasy.
Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center – Alexandra Destephano Book 1
Alex wanted a new life
She really did,
But getting that life
Almost Kills Her
Medical Thrillers that Chill the Heart
Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center
“Move over Robin Cook – The Queen of New Orleans Medical Thrillers is here!”
I couldn’t put it down! A fast paced edge of your seat thriller with a very real protagonist, Alex Destephano, who is trying to get her own life on track while still involved with the hospital where her ex-husband presides! I love medical mystery thrillers and have been a fan since I first read Robin Cook! Author, Judith Lucci does not disappoint! The detail and her personal knowledge about all things medical is evident from the beginning, set in New Orleans complete with its culture, voodoo and mob. Her descriptions are so detailed you feel you are right there inside the story! I loved this first book in the series and I am destined to continue with the series for as long as Lucci writes it! ~Merry At Vero Beach
Do you love the Big Easy? You may feel uneasy when you learn about the City’s sinister underground…
It’s Mardi Gras season in post-Katrina New Orleans. Thousands of tourists have flocked to the city, paralyzed traffic and jammed the French Quarter with drunken crowds and garbage. City officials expect record crowds and the biggest boost to the Crescent City economy since the big storm. Alexandra Lee Destephano, legal counsel for Crescent City Medical Center, is anticipating her third Mardi Gras season and her date with dashing art historian Mitch Landry to the biggest Mardi Gras Ball in New Orleans. Things change. Alex is stat-paged to the hospital and learns the wife of the Governor of Louisiana has been found unconscious and covered in blood in her hospital room. By the end of the day, the Ball is the last thing on Alex’s mind.
LOVE UNDER FIRE
From around the edges of every day existence lurks mystery, betrayal, greed, and death.
With every turn of the page, feel the heat of adrenaline as fear lights up the night. Fight alongside the tenacious heroes and heroines as they battle for survival. They’ll put everything on the line to thwart the evil coming after them.
They want to trust in the power of love. But is it enough?
EVERY SALE HELPS a VETERAN get a PET!!!
Judith Lucci – RUN for your life
Stephany Tullis – Blue Lady’s MISSION UNDER FIRE
Fiona Quinn – Cold Red
Anna Celeste Burke – Lily’s Homecoming Under Fire
Margaret A. Daly- Monsters in my Closet
Linda Watkins – The Witches of Storm Island, Book I: The Turning
Tamara Ferguson – Two Hearts Under Fire
Suzanne Jenkins – Running with Horses
Inge-Lise Goss – Diamonds and Lies
S.R. Mallery – Tender Enemies
Jinx Schwartz – Baja Get Away
Uvi Poznansky – Virtually Lace
Kathryn Knight – The Haunting of Hillwood Farm
Stephanie Queen – Ace Under Fire
Casi McLean – Reign Of Fire
Valerie J. Clarizio -The Code Enforcer
Chris Patchell – Deception Bay
Aaron Paul Lazar – The Asylum: A Carmen Garcia romantic suspense novel
Alyssa Richards – Chasing Secrets
K.M. Hodge – Summer of ’78
Pamela Fagan Hutchins – Buckle Bunny
Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes – 12 Mysteries for the Dog Days of Summer
Help Us Help Pets!
Have a howlingly good read during the dog days of summer with a dozen cozy mysteries from Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon best-selling authors. Murder lurks in every corner during the dog days of summer. Solve the mystery as our snoops leash the criminals – at the beach, at the farm, on the mountain – everywhere! All profits from this pack go to support NO KILL animal charities! Fetch it now! And help us help pets!
‘Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes’ includes never before published books from:
** WSJ Bestselling Author Judith Lucci – Gawd Almighty & the Corn
** WSJ Bestselling Author Cindy Bell – Murder at Pawprint Creek
** WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Mooney – Dog Gone and Dead
** USA Today and WSJ Bestselling Author Amy Vansant – Summer Teeth
** WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Helme – A Midsummer Night’s Murder
** WSJ Bestselling Author Kim Hunt Harris – The Murder of Bandera Bandito
** USA Today Bestselling Author Anna Celeste Burke – A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff
** Ava Mallory – A Dream Stray-Cation
** Sandi Scott – Croquembouche Murder
** Susan Boles – Death on the Beach
** USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever – Toxic Tech
** Anne R. Tan – Just Lost and Found
Bonus recipes from the authors are included!
This is one of a series of posts highlighting the authors of the bookset: DO NO HARM. You can pre-order this book set for only 99 cents on-line from a variety of retailers.
DO NO HARM at Amazon
To learn more about the Do No Harm Collection and its great group of author CLICK HERE.
Here are some recent and very positive reviews for my historical novel Ludwika
“I found this to be very interesting. Being unfamiliar with the living conditions of the day , I was intrigued with her ability to survive such a terrible experience.”
Ludwika was a fascinating story of a Polish woman’s journey from her home on a farm in rural Poland to various places in Germany. It is based on a real person and includes many details about her life.
I did not know that much about the plight of the Polish people when Germany invaded Poland in October 1939. It was quite an eye opener for me to discover how difficult it was for the Poles during the war. Previous WWII literature I have read has largely either been factual in its nature or focused on the horrors experienced by Jewish people.
Right from the beginning of the book, Ludwika shows herself to be a woman of innovation and resilience. She is the one whom her father has left in charge of his farm, her mother and her sibling, when he left to help defend Poland against the German army. It is also quickly apparent that Ludwika is a woman of unusual beauty and who quickly attracts the interest of men. Soon after the arrival of the German soldiers, Ludwika catches the eye of Manfred, an SS officer. His interest results in a measure of protection for Ludwika’s family and in order to maintain this protection, and do what she believes to be in the best interests of her family, Ludwika agrees to move to Hamburg as Manfred’s housekeeper. This moves requires that she leave her young daughter, Irena, behind her. I thought Ludwika’s anguish at leaving her family and emotion turmoil as to what would be best for them all was very well expressed.
Ludwika is very popular with children and they really like her quickly. During her journey to Hamburg she meets up with a young and wealthy German woman with four children. Ludwika helps to keep the children occupied during the train journey and befriends the mother, who has strong Nazi ties. This relationship changes the course of her life.
As things deteriorate in Germany as the war progresses and the lives of Poles and other foreigners become much difficult and precarious, Ludwika finds her situation in Germany becoming more and more difficult.
There are a number of love interests and relationships in the book which make the reader all the more aware of Ludwika’s desperate and vulnerable position. Despite its themes, I found Ludwika to be a positive reading experience which emphasized how, despite difficult circumstances outside of her control, Ludwika’s hard working and resilient nature and kind and generous spirit prevail and help to open doors for her that would otherwise have been closed.
I rated Ludwika five out of five stars.
From a peaceful life on a Polish farm, to near slave labour in far-off Germany, we follow the trials and tribulations that beset our young heroine during the long years of that war. And to round it off, we also get to find out what really happened to her, later in life.
This combination works so well, giving us completely believable characters, authentic locations, and set around the cataclysmic events that rocked Europe from 1939, until well after the end of hostilities. Recommended unreservedly, this is a book for everyone to read.
WWII left no one unscarred, and Ludwika’s life illustrates this tragic fact. But she also reminds us how bright the human spirit can shine when darkness falls in that unrelenting way it does during wartime.
This book was a rollercoaster ride of action and emotion, skilfully told by Mr. Fischer, who brought something fresh and new to a topic about which thousands of stories have already been told.”
Seagulls Over Westminster by Richard Wade.
A political thriller for our time, but with a strand of gentle humour woven through it, making this intriguing story into an entertaining page turner.
Its 2024. Popular TV chat show host, and former MP, Bradley Deakin is the man wanted by the Opposition Party of the day to lead them back to power, breaking the chain of endless hung parliaments and uninspiring political leaders. They just need to get him elected first.
Meanwhile, in Brighton, retired bank manager Harvey Britten is enjoying life with the three things he loves most – his family, the city of his birth and his beloved football team, Brighton and Hove Albion, (known locally as The Seagulls). His support for the team has led to a regular spot on the local radio breakfast show, which has turned him into something of a minor celebrity.
It proves very difficult to find Bradley a suitable by-election until one unexpectedly occurs in Brighton. But Harvey strongly objects to a big shot candidate like Deakin being parachuted into his city and is reluctantly persuaded by his family and radio listeners to stand against him as a protest candidate. But only in the knowledge that he won’t actually win!
The race is otherwise between Bradley and the Government party candidate, Alistair Buckland, a local Councillor with a big secret. But as the campaign is gradually engulfed in scandal and conspiracy theories, it throws the whole contest wide open. Can a high class call girl with a plan for revenge change the outcome? Just how far did Bradley and his team go to cause the by-election in the first place? Will Harvey’s worst nightmare come true, in that he might actually win? And how bad does it have to get for a candidate before their loyal party supporters will refuse to vote for them?
As each candidate increasingly has to defend themselves against more and more serious accusations, both they and the people they love soon realise that there’s far more at stake for them all than just who will end up winning the election.
Review of ‘SEAGULLS OVER WESTMINSTER by Dr Peter Critten
“At a time of political uncertainty, when politicians of all parties seem to have lost the public’s respect, the publication of this novel is very opportune and welcome. It revolves around the intricate relationships amongst diverse characters matched against each other as candidates in a local By Election in Brighton (which may give you a clue as to the title).
Richard Wade deftly gives us byte sized insights into each one and plays one against another on a stage of which he is in total control. One of the delights of this book is how he enables the reader to get inside the head of each character and admire or dislike each one. He has a knack of building up tension right up till the end, the night of the election. He is able to keep us guessing as to what happens next all the way through.
Nothing can take away the fact that Richard Wade is a born storyteller whose attention to detail makes the fast moving plot all the more credible.”
About the author:
Richard Wade grew up in Yeovil, Somerset, but has lived in London since he was 21. He retired in 2018 at the age of 60 and, having always wanted to write a book, started “Seagulls over Westminster” straight away and published it in February 2019. He now has the writing bug and is working on his next novel.
He lives in Ealing West London with his wife Trish.
I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.
This is a novel set in the near future (2024-5) in the UK, focusing on politics, although I’d say that it is the equivalent of what a cozy mystery represents for the mystery genre. It has a light and humorous undercurrent; it does not go to extremes or deals in the most serious aspects of the topic; it is unlikely to offend most readers, and it does not touch on any of the burning and most controversial UK political issues (Brexit, for example). The author explains his reasons for his choice, and you can make of them what you wish.
There is a mix of characters, some more likeable than others, involved in the political race. In my opinion, Harry is the most likeable of them all, probably because he is honest and sincere, he gets reluctantly involved in politics, and as a retired man, fond of his family and with no evident major character flaws, and it is easy to root for him. Alistair has good and bad points, but I think most readers are bound to feel bad for him, and he does not have the necessary traits to ever become a political success. Bradley is the least likeable, although at some points during the book one might wonder if he is not as bad as he seems (and he is far from some of the totally ruthless individuals we are used to reading about in hard political thrillers). There are some secondary characters that are not on stage long enough for us to get to know them well, but they give more variety to the novel and include some intriguing and even menacing elements. I don’t think an expertise on the UK political situation or institutions is necessary to read this book, although I suspect that the novel will be more enjoyable to people familiar and interested in UK politics.
This is a book of the time, and social media and media in general play a big part in the political process, seriously affecting the public’s perception, with revelations about the candidates being leaked as a way of trying to manipulate the results, secrets being revealed left, right, and centre (politically as well). But, as I said, this is a gentle book and even the revelations and the corruption that is unearthed is pretty mild compared to some recent scandals, and it is unlikely to truly shock or repel people (it is no hard-core political invective or exposé). Although some pretty dark goings-on are hinted at, it is never clear who was truly behind them and if any of the political candidates was truly involved, leaving this element of the story open to readers’ interpretations.
The book feels somewhat old-fashioned, even though it is set in the future, and although there are quite a number of female characters, most of them don’t play a central part in the story (and the one who does, and perhaps the most interesting of the characters, has doubtful motivations that stem from her relationships with a particular man), and either disappear early in the book or are part and parcel of a man’s campaign. Saying that, they come up quite well compared to most of the male protagonists, and they are often the ones pulling the strings from behind the curtains.
The story is entertaining, and having lived in Brighton and being familiar with the area, I particularly liked the local touch and the detailed background into local UK politics. I also liked the emphasis on the role of social media and media in general, Harry and his background in local radio (I love local radio and I also volunteer at a local radio station), and some of the most outrageous suggestions of future changes to politics (like the fact that rather than having names, the parties would become either the GOP or the OP, the Government Party or the Opposition Party, regardless of alliances or ideology, to ensure neutrality). It is also difficult not to read this book and think of possible candidates that would fit right into the roles, and worry that, no matter how humorous, what happens might be uncomfortably close to the truth.
The writing flows easily, creating a good sense of who the characters are, and in some cases making us feel touched and close to their experiences (I did feel pretty sorry for Alistair). The author has a light touch and is skilled at managing a fairly large cast of characters without causing confusion or overwhelming the reader.
An entertaining and gentle book that pokes fun at UK politics, unlikely to offend anybody with a sense of humour. An amusing and fun read for a day when we don’t want to take politics too seriously.
Thanks to Rosie and her team, thanks to the author for his novel, and above all, thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, liking, sharing, and please, remember to keep reading, reviewing and always smiling!
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes
Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
Robbie has also recently published a poetry collection, Open a new door, together with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
This book has made the rounds in the blogosphere and comes with plenty of high recommendations. Worth checking out!
Agnes Mae Graham’s beautiful collection of rhyming poems, My Vibrating Vertebrae, is stunning. Like a brilliant jewel, her poems will take your breath away. Moments ago, I read the last poem, and I couldn’t wait to review this book of poetry, that did take my breath away. Agnes Mae Graham’s brilliant book of poetry gave me a sense of awe, incredulity, of the beauty, wit, charm, love, grace, and sorrow, with tears of joy too.
Agnes Mae Graham brings all of this beauty to each page of rhyme and rhythm with perfect beats that flow like cadence, lilt, and is music to one’s ear; it sets the stage for deeply felt and lived emotions that bring forth memories of a time lost to all, but those who lived it.
I laughed, I giggled, I felt joy and pain as her memories brought back memories of my own; of my father…
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Sheila violently pushed the woman away, sending the helpful stranger into the crowd behind her.
As we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we should also remember those who gave their lives before the Normandy Landings to ensure they would be the success they were…
It was 1944, and the troops were waiting nervously for the barrage on the beach to end. Their stomachs heaved as their clumsy landing craft rode the swell. Nearby, the support vessels and destroyers watched as their orderly line headed for the landing spot. The men concentrated on trying to overcome their sea sickness, their impending landing and the assault they’d have to make once they made it to shore.
This wasn’t the heart-in-mouth assault on the beaches of Normandy on June 6 – one of history’s greatest ever naval landings that signalled the end of Hitler’s dominance in Europe. No, this was a few weeks earlier – at Slapton Sands, a beautiful beach in Devon, England.
It was a…
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This lesson is invaluable, so read carefully.
Wait, does invaluable mean no value or lots of value? Quick internet search… Okay.
Yeah, there’s gold in today’s lesson.
BODY LANGUAGE = GOOD
CRUTCH WORDS = BAD
Also, a way to find and deal with your crutch words. Didn’t know you had those? You do.
Tag, your manuscript is it!
First, let’s discuss dialogue tags: those little phrases that follow a section of dialogue.
“Run,” he said.
“Why?” she asked.
“There’s a T-Rex coming!” He exclaimed.
“Oh,” she said warily.
One of my favorite things to do is to wait until a new author writes “Why?” she asked and then I say, “Lose the tag, we know she asked – the question mark gave it away.”
It’s fun for me.
Most dialogue tags aren’t needed.
Try to use as few as possible in your story. Readers skip over them anyway, so if they aren’t even reading them, why put them in? Use “beats” instead – little phrases describing action.
He glanced over his shoulder. “Run!”
That’s a beat, describing what he did as he spoke, instead of going with: “Run,” he said.
Beats can easily be overdone.
Add your beats and let the MS rest, then read it out loud. That staccato sound you hear is bad beats. Add to them or scale them back. Vary the length and rhythm. Put a tag back in.
Sentences that sounds the same or have the same rhythm become dull to readers, and a dull reader puts your story down, never to return. They may not even know why, and it might be a great story otherwise. More on that in a second.
You can do nothing, too.
If two people are talking and one stopped, the next person talking is the other person in the scene. Readers will get that.
A combination of beats and tags and nothings will get your conversation across just fine.
– as long as the convo is to the point and interesting – but think about what actions are used when speaking, and what those actions say to the reader.
Some examples are when
- Mallory puts her hands on her hips. In the kitchen no less. What’s that say? Did your mom ever do that?
- She puts a hand to her forehead. Which means…
There are even lists you can get from the internet. Check them out and use some of the suggested beats for expressing what your character is feeling.
What about when Mallory won’t look at Doug when he’s talking to her in the bedroom? Been there!
LOOK – AT MY CRUTCH WORDS!
One more thing – the word look, or any of its evil friends.
We all have our own crutch words – words or phrases that we use too much throughout the course of a chapter or story.
For example, in my head I know what I mean when I say “He gave her a look.” I’m prone to saying things like “He gave her a look.” Like when I did something wrong as a kid, my mother would give me a look.
In my writer head, I know what I mean when I write that. You may not. Odds are my reader certainly doesn’t.
Now, if I write that my mom put her hands on her hip and raised an eyebrow and waved a wooden spoon at me while she looked at me, that sends a whoooooole other message than just “look.”
A look can be anything. That spoon wagging thing can’t.
So “look” is one of my crutch words. I have characters look out the window or look at the ground or look at each other all the time.
When you read a random chapter out loud to yourself, you will hear your crutch words. If you don’t spot them all yourself—and you wont—give an early chapter to somebody else and ask them to read it with the specific intention of finding words that you repeat too often. (Odds are, within your first five chapters you have established what your crutch words are going to be.)
And once you decide “look” is the devil – because it is – and you spend a week eradicating it from a 100,000 word manuscript as though pulling pieces of broken glass from your eyes (which you’d rather do at that point), you will replace it with glimpse, peer, eyed – until you want to heave your keyboard off the nearest bridge. THEN whenever you go to type “look” in the future, you will flinch like the keyboard gave you an electric shock. And you will type PEER.
In fact, you will type peer so much that it’s a new crutch word.
Yep. If you’ve been watching, you’ve seen lots of glances in this “final” version of my story. That task remains to be done. (It’s final, not final-final.)
So here’s how you get around that particular dog chasing its tail.
You can go online and you can find lists of words to use for substitutes. Synonyms are readily available, but some writer-oriented websites will have words to use instead of “look” or “walk” (stepped, crept) or whatever crutch word you are trying to avoid.
But before you do that, just read some of your manuscript out loud. One chapter will usually do it, three at most. And while you are thinking that takes a lot of time, it’s cheaper than paying an editor to do it and it’s an easy way to avoid bad reviews because your book read amateurish.
Now do a keyword search for the offenders and write down how many times each one appears. I put my list right at the top of my manuscript to keep me humble:
- Suddenly 15
- Smile 85
- Look 445 (told ya)
- Glance 41
- Peer 16
- Shook (head) 34
- Sigh 32
- Nod 67
- just 415
- went 152
- shrug 10
- wheeled 5
- scene 14
- chuckle 10
My beta readers will attest to this. And that list was before we started the editing! Now there are fewer looks but more glances. Ugh.
If the word “look” appears 15 times in 100,000 words, you are probably fine.
You still want to scroll through all 15 instances to make sure all 15 aren’t in the same paragraph, or ten times on one page! Just because it doesn’t occur very often overall doesn’t mean it’s still not too much where it does appear.
Then, go through and decide you’re going to replace half or more of the hated crutches with synonyms.
You’re going to spend a few hours with your brow furrowed at your screen while you try to figure out whether “peer” or “scanned” or “searched” is a proper replacement for the next time you used “look.”
And believe me, after an hour or two of doing that in a single day, you won’t know any good replacements for anything.
So don’t try to do it all at once.
(“Was” also needs this process, but for different reasons. Was is Satan because it’s less actiony than another verb. That, we’ll attack another time.)
Also, you may run into “staccato sentences” like we discussed above when we were replacing dialogue tags with beats. You can end up with lots of paragraphs or sentences that all start the same way. (That happens even when you aren’t replacing tags, by the way. A lot.)
What I recommend if you have three phases that all sound very similar or all start the same way…
She ran asxiu yhdscm nd fvpiqur hfmnj sdbvpiu egfkjbdn s fpoiryue wt kjnsc mcznvd
He looked xiu yhdscm nd fvpiqur hfmnj sdbvpiu eg
Jonah chuckled xiu yhdscm nd fvpiqur hfmnj sdbvpiu egfkjbdn s fpoiryue wt kjnsc mcznvd hjsfpo ueiw l ksdjgflmv no isdfjoiw
I sighed. Xiu yhdscm nd fvpiqur
… simply leave one third alone, rewrite one third, and reverse one third, more or less, until the staccato section stops being staccattoey.
So instead of “Jonah chuckled” you start with “Chuckling, Jonah… went and did whatever Jonah did.
With the next one, rewriting it might just mean taking the second half of the sentence and putting it first.
And of course leaving one third alone, you don’t have to do anything with those.
So those are two tips – and neither one is fun or easy.
Sometimes those are the little things that a reader might not be able to articulate as to why your story wasn’t as sharp or engaging as they were expecting.
These are the things that take it from less polished to more polished. And they’re reeeeeally dull to do.
In fact, they are absolute hell the first time you do it, a little less hellish the second time, and by the third or fourth time you do it – as in the 3rd or 4th story you write after learning about them – you just kind of get used to it.
This is the process of building your writer muscles. No pain, no gain.
Dan Alatorre has had a string of bestsellers and is read in over 112 countries around the world.
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The Hollow Bones by Leah Kaminsky
Book Review: 4 out of 5 star rating
Ernst Schafer was a German zoologist, hunter and explorer with a beautiful wife, Herta. In the 1930’s, Heinrich Heimler became interested in Schafer and his work. The SS funded an expedition of scientists to Tibet in a quest to find the origins of the Aryan race in the Himalayans with Schafer in the lead. But soon the horrors of the Nazi regime began and Schafer is pulled into the manipulative world of Hitler.
When Ernst was a young boy, he and Herta were best friends. When they met again as adults, they fell in love and were so happy together. When they decided to marry, they were told that Herta would have to go to a German bridal school to learn how to be a good German wife. As much as I’ve read about that period in time, I was shocked at how extensive and rigid this schooling was. But Herta wanted to be Ernst’s wife so she went along with all they threw at her. But after their marriage, Ernst begins to change. It’s fascinating to watch the corruption of Ernst by the Nazi regime and sad to see how that corruption begins to eat at Ernst and Herta’s marriage.
The Nazis’ intolerance of imperfection is well known. Herta had a sister with some disabilities and there was quite a bit included in the book about her, the secrecy the family felt they had to keep and her ultimate disappearance.
One of the narrators of this book is a Panda that Ernst shot and stuffed and placed in a museum. This was a very unique way to let Ernst’s animal victims have a voice in this book. I do warn fellow animal lovers that there is a lot of killing of animals, mostly birds, in this book, along with hunting and taxidermy. It made the book a difficult topic for me to read but it was a fascinating story of a Nazi that I had not read anything about before.
This book was given to me by the author in return for an honest review.