Friday, March 29, 2013

Interview with Jennifer Minar-Jaynes

    I'm very excited to feature author Jennifer Minar-Jaynes on my blog today!  Jennifer is the author of Never Smile at Strangers

    Here is the synopsis - WHEN TEENAGE GIRLS VANISH in what was once considered a safe, Louisiana bayou town, the lives of four desperate young locals take unexpected turns, begging the crucial question: Do you every truly know those closest to you?

    When nineteen-year-old Tiffany Perron vanishes from rural Grand Trespass, Louisiana, best friend HALEY LANDRY's relationship with her boyfriend becomes increasingly strained. To make matters worse, her impressionable younger sister BECKY has begun idolizing an impetuous, seductive 15 year old who's encouraging her to do dangerous things.

    Meanwhile, ERICA DUVALL, a reclusive 19-year-old aspiring writer, befriends Haley. Ten years earlier, Erica’s mother abandoned her, leaving her with the womanizing used car salesman father she loathes. She’s decided to write a novel based on Tiffany’s disappearance; a novel that she hopes will lead to a reunion with her estranged novelist mother.

    RACHEL ANDERSON, a 36-year-old mother of two, is having trouble coming to terms with her husband, TOM’s, affair with the missing girl—a relationship that supposedly ended shortly before Tiffany’s disappearance. What’s more, she comes to the blood curdling realization that someone is watching her through the large back windows of her house.

    A DISTURBED MAN also lives in the area. Ever since his mother’s murder four years earlier, he’s been raising his insolent teenage sister, ALLIE, who sleeps with truck drivers for money. He considers women to be dangerous—and his world revolves around his fear and hatred for them. He’s terrified of his sister, knowing she’s intent on pushing him over the edge.

    1. I saw on your website that you previously had a job in publishing and editing. Did your job inspire you to write a book of your own? Actually the opposite is true. I wanted to get into publishing and editing because I loved to write--but didn't think I could make a living at it. I was in publishing and editing for well over a decade before finally taking the plunge to write full-time.
    2. Was it hard putting yourself in the killer's shoes in your book to write from his point of view? No, it felt very natural. It was easy to get inside his head and see the world from his perspective. I'm not sure what this says about me. :) Also, despite all of the horrible things he's done, I have a soft spot for him because I understand that he never really had a chance.
    3. Any more books on the horizon? What's next for you? The second thriller in the Grand Trespass series, "Ugly Young Thing," will be out in paperback and e-book at the end of May 2013.
    4. Your boys are adorable! What do you love about parenthood the most? Thank you! I love EVERYTHING about parenthood. There's absolutely nothing like being a mother. The boys are 2 years old right now and are learning something new every day. They're bright, funny, curious, mischievous and often confusing--and such unbelievable joys. Seeing the world from their eyes is so interesting. It's almost like reliving my childhood.
    5. Running project Jennifer, work, your children, being a wife and managing - you are wearing so many hats! How do you balance it all? I'm not sure I'm balancing it all as well as I would like to be, but as soon as "Ugly Young Thing" launches, I'm going to put the brakes on the writing for a little while and catch up on everything that's been placed on the back burner. The kids always come first, so I'm pleased with the way I've balanced the kids and my writing, but there are so many projects that I've left unfinished that need to be completed. I will say, though, that when I have to fit eight hours of work into a two-hour slot (which happens a lot!), my $5 egg timer is my best friend. I pull together a to-do list, give each task a certain amount of minutes, turn off the phone and close browsers, tune out every non-emergency, post a sign on my office door, then knock everything out as efficiently as possible. It keeps me very focused and productive.

    To order Jennifer's book Never Smile at Strangers, please click HERE
    To visit Jennifer's website please click HERE
    To visit Jennifer's Facebook page click HERE 
    To order my new book Murder on Kilimanjaro, CLICK HERE
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    Saturday, March 16, 2013

    Project C.U.R.E. trip to Nicaragua

    Hi Everyone!  I'm back from Nicaragua and I had a wonderful time.  As always, the memories that I took away from my trip will last a life time.  The faces of the children I passed out shoes and vitamins to as well as the adults that were thankful for our service, have been ingrained in my mind and I'm thankful for the experience.  Project C.U.R.E. is such a great organization and I'm honored to be part of it. 

    Team Nicaragua was a great group of people and I made some great friends.  Here are a few pictures from  my trip but please head to my Facebook page HERE to see even more!

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    Project C.U.R.E. Trip to Nicaragua

    Hi everyone!  I am thrilled to report in on my current assessment mission with Project C.U.R.E.  I am in Nicaragua and it has been an amazing week!  The PhilanthroTravel Adventure to Nicaragua has been an opportunity to experience the full cycle of the C.U.R.E. Coffee project in action.

    The Coffee Project was created in an effort to improve the lives of the farming communities where they source their coffee beans in partnership with Direct Trade farmers.  When a bag of C.U.R.E. Coffee is purchased, $3 of each purchased bag goes to provide medical relief to the same villages and surrounding communities where the coffee beans for bags of Boca Java's C.U.R.E. Coffee are grown.

    My itinerary has been  very exciting and full.  I've met with esteemed Nicaraguan dignitaries to hear first hand about their challenges and to understand their vision for their country.  I have assisted with C.U.R.E. clinic doctors and nurses on the coffee farm as they cared for injured and ill farmers and their families.  I'm picked coffee beans and explored the farm grounds, I can't wait to be part of a celebratory event to thank us for our efforts and my favorite part so far was delivering Project C.U.R.E. care kits to local children.

    Here are a few pictures for you from my week so far, I can't wait to share more when I return!

     Delivering supplies
     With children that received new croc shoes and C.U.R.E. care kits
     Our great team posing with the new Crocs for the children

     Passing out multi-vitamins
    A few of the children that received vitamins
     Children peeking at us
    Truck container full of supplies! 

    For information on how you can help, please visit 

    To order my new book Murder on Kilimanjaro, CLICK HERE
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    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Author Interview with Thomas Benigno

    I'm very excited to start a new feature on my blog!  Each week I am going to bring you an interview from a fellow author and introduce you to their book!  My hope is to introduce you to something new as well as support my fellow authors in their endeavors.

    To kick us off let me introduce you to Thomas Benigno.

    The Good LawyerThomas is the author The Good Lawyer.  Here is the synopsis from Goodreads - A young, ambitious lawyer is eager to prove he is better than the father who abandoned him and worthy of the devoted mother who raised him beyond the siren call of the mobster dominated family he grew up in. Working as a Bronx Legal Aid Attorney he learns how to twist the system, how to become an unbeatable defense lawyer, and he his peacock proud of his perfect record-not a single conviction. But it's 1982. The Spiderman rapist is on the loose and New York City is a city in fear. When an outraged rape victim commits suicide right before his eyes, searching for absolution, he grabs the headline case of a teacher’s aide accused of molesting three students. Armed with a firm belief in his client’s innocence, he knocks the pegs out from under the prosecution’s case. When one of the children turns up dead, he discovers that his client may be strangely connected to the Spiderman. Digging deeper, horrifying revelations about his family's past collide with the true identity of the sadistic sociopath behind the Spiderman's rampage. In the process, this good lawyer comes face-to-face with his greatest conflict and deepest fear: to win, really win-save the city and even the woman he loves-must he sacrifice every principle he believes in and embrace his family's mafia past to become judge, jury, and executioner?

    Take a look at my interview with Tom!
    1. What inspired you to write a book?  I know your book is based on a true story, but what made you decide to write about your experience?

    Thomas BenignoThere were many reasons. After leaving the practice of criminal trial work in 1988 I was feeling creatively lost. Trial work is very challenging and fashioning defenses based on the evidence or lack thereof was what I enjoyed most. I left criminal  law because my best friend urged me to partner with him in real estate development. He combed the streets for deals. I negotiated them into contract and did all the legal work. It was very lucrative. Before the market turned in the late 80's we got out. I then began practicing real estate law full time. With the practice of real estate contract law, however, all of the excitement of being a trial attorney was, as you can imagine, gone. I enjoyed the work. It was much easier. Payment was in almost all cases guaranteed (in the practice of criminal law, not so). Believe it or not, the money was better. My wife and I were raising three children. Practicing real estate law meant I could be home at regular hours and without trial work to prepare for, my nights were free. Frankly, I wasn't used to having so much free time. I suppose I could have changed more diapers. So I started writing.

    While working as a criminal defense attorney with the New York City Legal Aid Society in the Bronx I handled a case that troubles me to this day. Also, at the same time, I defended the Spiderman Rapist. I decided to take the two cases an fashion a legal thriller around them. I also wanted to write a love story and a mafia story. About half of the legal thriller story is true. I did have an uncle, I modeled Rocco after, who was a soldier in the mob, not a top capo in charge of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Regarding the love story, I did meet and marry my wife of 33 years around the same period of time in the novel. Be assured however, that I was not foolish enough to model a character in my novel on her. That would be a no-win situation for me or any author. I'm no F. Scott Fitzgerald and wouldn't dream of trying such a thing not now, not ever.

    2.  How do you feel about being compared to an author like John Grisham?

    I do believe that if there was no John Grisham there would be no Thomas Benigno, author. He makes it seem easy. It's not. Trust me. Writing is hard. He gets out a book a year. I don't know how he does it. I suppose when you can write full-time it helps. His name is synonymous with legal thriller. I'm sure every new thriller writer gets compared to him. I am  also especially grateful to him for titling his novel, The Confession. It was my original title for The Good Lawyer. In retrospect I think I got the better of that one. 

    3.  You wear many hats... attorney, actor, writer, husband, father... how do you balance it all? 

    I am a husband and father first, an attorney second, a writer third. When and if the major publishing deal comes through, the second and third positions will change. Acting is just for fun. Balancing is easier when you have your priorities in order and learn to say no. Smart and caring people make time for what's important. 

    4.  Knowing what you know now... if you could go back and be that young ambitious lawyer out to prove himself again, do you believe you would still take on the same cases? 

    Probably. I don't live with too many regrets, and if I have regrets they are most likely not professional ones. I took those cases back in 1982 with the best of intentions. Like Nick, my main character, I was a product of the circumstances in life that surrounded me and I did the best I could at the time with what I knew and the talent I had. 

     5.  Any other books in your future?

    I'm writing a follow-up to The Good Lawyer based on the Jones Beach murders here on Long Island. 

    6.  And a fun question... what is your favorite quote?

    "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

    F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, last page

    Thank you very much for the interview and many thanks to my readers. 

    For more information about Thomas Benigno, and his book The Good Lawyer, you can visit his Facebook page  by clicking HERE 
    To visit Thomas Benigno's author page on Amazon, click HERE
    To order a copy of Thomas Benigno's book in paperback or e-format, please click HERE
    To order my new book Murder on Kilimanjaro, CLICK HERE
    For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE
    Follow me on TWITTER
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