Red Rider explores the depths of revenge & the strength of human bonds #thriller from Gerrit Steenhagen #excerpt

July 19 Red Rider 8.25 x 10.565 print

Book title: Red Rider

Author: Gerrit Steenhagen

Genre: Thriller

Published: April 2nd, 2018

~ Blurb ~

A grieving father – known to the reader only as Teacher – takes on a new identity after the brutal murder of his teenaged son. Masquerading as a substitute teacher, he tracks down the killer – a high school senior – and methodically builds a web to entrap him. Teacher does not desire simple justice or death for the killer; he wants the killer to endure what his son endured. But Teacher’s plan takes a life-shattering turn when he must save his son’s former girlfriend from the clutches of the brutal MS-13 gang.

A taut, suspenseful thriller, Red Rider explores the depths of revenge and the strength of human bonds.

Grab a copy!


 ~ Excerpt ~

A priest once told him: “Tragedy teaches us life is short and there is no time for hate. Sometimes in tragedy we find our life’s purpose.”

He told the priest: “Life is long without my son and there is only time for hate. My life’s purpose is to avenge my son’s death.”

Sleeping inconvenienced him. Sleeping took time from hate. He spent his night in a cemetery, lying atop a grave, bare-chested. His pressed shirt was draped over the headstone. His head rested on a bulletproof vest. His eyes were open and catatonic. He could be dead.

His phone vibrated. He didn’t blink. His phone flashed an event: Henry’s birthday, April 20th, 4:05 a.m. His eyes dried out. His vision blurred. Tears were stimulated. He blinked.

He sat up and dismissed the event. His phone blinked the time: 4:06 a.m. He strapped the vest to his torso. His hands shook again. He pulled the pressed shirt from the headstone. The name and date on the headstone matched the name and date that had flashed across his phone. Henry would’ve been eighteen today.

He buttoned his shirt. A price tag dangled from the sleeve. He tugged at it, gone. He looked for more tags. One dangled from his waist. He tugged at it, gone. He stood.

A streetlight shone upon a red motorcycle. A red helmet hung from one handle grip, a satchel hung from the other. He straddled the motorcycle, slid on the helmet, harnessed the satchel to his shoulder, leaned into the seat, twisted the grips, tapped the clutch, and kick-started the bike.

~ About the Author ~

July 19 author pic

Gerrit Steenhagen grew up in San Diego, CA. He wrote, produced, and directed the indie drama If Tomorrow Comes. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Author links:



How writers can engage on Twitter aka the Best memes for writers #authortoolboxhop #writerwednesday #writertips #writerslife

If you spend any amount of time researching how to market your writing or yourself as an author, you’ve undoubtedly read that you should not only BE on social media, but you must ENGAGE on social media. I don’t know about other writers, but I struggle with this. Big. Time. My twitter feed is full of tweets of people shouting, ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ How in the heck am I supposed to engage with that? And then there’s the sheer speed with which the feed refreshes. My eyes glaze over, and that’s it. I’m done.

hashtag-1084519_1920One way I counteract these problems is with hashtags. A few times a day, I’ll go on twitter and search #amwriting, #amreading, #writerslife or some other hashtag related to being a writer or reader. To be honest, though, these hashtags are often abused by writers pushing their novels. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with pushing your novel once in a while, but writers should really adhere to the 80/20 rule in which only 20% of your social media postings are pushing your own work.

Thankfully, I’ve now found a way to interact on twitter, which is fun and seems to work. Yeah! What am I talking about? Memes ~ weekly hashtags or blog share days. These memes are hashtags, which are only used one day of the week and are often trending. If used correctly, the tweets related to these hashtags are interesting and shareable – a great way to connect!

Here is a list of those I’ve found most useful:


#MondayBlogs was started by author Rachel Thomspon as a way for bloggers to share posts and connect with other bloggers. Blogs do not have to be about writing or books – they can be about anything. I often find fun articles to read. For more information and the rules, read this.



#TuesdayBookBlog was started by Rosie Amber. Rosie Amber runs an awesome book review team. They created a hashtag for book posts only. This is a great way to share anything book related, but please do follow the rules.


Learn more here.


#1linewed is the meme which got me started. This meme was started by @RWAKissofDeath and has a HUGE following. It’s also tons of fun. Each week a new theme is presented. Here’s today’s theme:


I also participate in #WFWed and #WriterWednesday. Wednesday a busy writing day!


I just discovered and fell in love with #ThursdayAesthetic. As the name makes clear, this meme is all about aesthetics. Even if you don’t fancy making an aesthetic, you should follow just to see the beautiful graphics writers create about their work. For more information about #ThursdayAesthetic, check out this blog post from creator Jessica James. Your work doesn’t have to be awesome, just look at my first attempt:

Yellow Summer Feel Photo Collage

I’m sure I’ll get better!


I don’t have a Friday meme in which I participate, but for the purpose of this blog, I went on the search and discovered #WFfriday. @LibbyFeltis provides a weekly theme. Here’s last week’s theme:


I’ll definitely be trying this on Friday!

There are tons more memes than those I mentioned above. Check out the @writevent for more ideas. Before deciding to join in a meme, you may want to check that it’s still popular and not being abused.  Also remember – no matter what meme you decide to join, follow the rules. Now, go forth and ENGAGE. You got this!


This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox!

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Read an #excerpt of Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad #mystery #humor from @mfowler76

July 17 - Vic Boyo - eBook Cover

Title: Vic Boyo, Doofus Detective in: Double Murders are Twice as Bad

Author: Milo James Fowler

Genre: Mystery/Screwball Comedy

Published: 2/27/2018

~ Blurb ~

Two murders. One detective. Half a brain.

1931, New York City: Detective Vic Boyo may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but that doesn’t stop him from solving cases as only he can. With a little luck and a whole lot of gumption, Boyo sets out to find the murderer of a local cop. Problem is, Boyo’s more interested in a gorgeous femme fatale accused of killing her husband. She’s destined for the electric chair, but Boyo’s got a hunch she might be innocent. And nobody gets in the way of Boyo’s hunches, not even Vic Boyo himself.

 Grab a copy!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

~ Excerpt ~

Things were quiet, and the hallway was dark. Shaking the wet collar of my trench coat, I reached to unlock the door and stopped. Because it was already open.

Yeah. Somebody was inside, and it wasn’t me.

“Welcome, Mr. Boyo,” came a gravel-coated voice from the impenetrable darkness of my living room. “Please do come in.”

I felt for the heater I always carried along with me, tucked safely into the waist of my pants. One of these days, I planned to spring for one of those swanky shoulder holsters, but that day hadn’t arrived yet.

Squinting into the dark, I shoved the door open.

“Close it, Boyo,” the same voice ordered.

“You forgot something,” I said.


“That’s Mr. Boyo to you. Whoever you are.” I shut the door and figured it was dark enough for my heater to make an appearance. Which it did, but I had to aim blindly. Never stopped me before. Hasn’t stopped me since. “Is the power out?”

“We feel safer in the dark. Don’t we, boys?” Deep chuckles came from opposite ends of the room.

Dang. They had me outnumbered.

Gravel-voice continued, “But if you’re an unfortunate victim of achluophobia—”

“Gesundheit,” I said.

“—then we’ll let you have your precious light.”

As soon as the corner lamp switched on, I got a good look at my uninvited guests. Three thugs in striped suits and felt hats held Tommy guns and stood around my sofa where their boss sat smoking a cigar with his feet up on my coffee table. The nerve of that guy. No manners whatsoever. He was a real big butterball and wore an expensive-looking white cotton suit. His thin grey hair was combed back and tucked into a derby as brown and fuzzy as a chestnut mare’s patootie.

I’d already slipped my heater back into the waist of my pants and covered the bulge with my coat. I knew better than to try my luck against those Tommy guns.

“Mind telling me what this is all about?” I said.

The fat man rose and cleared his throat, pointing at me with his stogie. “Tomorrow morning, you’ll be put on the Merryface case.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“Shut your trap, Boyo, and let me do the talking. I’ve got connections, see? If you’re smart, you’ll refuse. That is, if you plan to be alive this time tomorrow night, you’ll turn the case down and find something healthier to do. Healthier for you, that is. ”

“You make a habit of threatening cops?”

“I make a habit of telling idiots what’s what.” He motioned to his boys and they approached me en masse, heading for the door. “Joey. Give Mr. Boyo a little taste of what’s in store for him.”

“What’s that, Boss?” said one of the gun-toting thugs.

“Give him a glimpse of the bright future that awaits if he doesn’t play ball.”

“Uh…” The thug scratched at his head, obviously at a loss.

The fat man sighed, shaking his head as he regarded the carpet for a moment.  “When you want something done right…” he trailed off.

Then he plowed his fist into my solar plexus, and I doubled over, almost positive the room had capsized. With a groan, I dropped to my knees, straining to breathe.

“Let that be a lesson to you, Boyo. Do the right thing, and nobody gets hurt. Including yourself.” They tromped out of my place and slammed the door shut behind them. Their heavy footfalls echoed down the hallway outside, fading into the distance.

“Good riddance,” I wheezed, stumbling forward to turn the lock.

~ About the Author ~

July 17 - FowlerBioPic

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. When he’s not grading papers, he’s imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. So far, his short fiction has appeared in more than 150 publications, including AE SciFi, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, and Shimmer. Find his novels, novellas, and short story collections wherever books are sold. Milo is represented by the Zack Company. ​

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Spotlight on Black Queen White City from @ConcerningSonya #literaryfantasy #excerpt

Black Queen White City is positively cinematic…the novel is undeniably the product of an immensely fertile imagination brimming with confidence.
…rather like the superhero films of today, different people will enjoy different aspects.”
Jack Messenger, author and book reviewer

 Adobe Photoshop PDF

Book title: Black Queen, White City

Series: The White City Cycle, can be read as a standalone

Author: Sonya Kudei

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fantasy

Published: Trierarchy, 16 April 2018

~ Blurb ~

Set in contemporary Zagreb, Croatia (the “White City” of folklore), Black Queen, White City is inspired by local myths and legends as well as drawing on an eclectic mix of influences, including Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens, Dante’s The Divine Comedy, C.G. Jung, superhero comics and classic 1980s movies.

Leo Solar is a star daimon, a celestial being with powers so vast that he can literally blow up a sun (but not in a bad way – it’s all perfectly safe). This is why when he gets sent to Earth, more specifically, his least favorite part of it (Zagreb) with curtailed powers to undertake a dangerous frustrating mission, he is not the happiest star daimon in town.

Dario is a twenty-something former Zagreb University student whose search for meaning is continuously thwarted by the demands of his eccentric landlady. After he accidentally meets a mysterious stranger in a starry outfit who goes around town battling monsters from the Underworld, Dario’s life suddenly takes an interesting turn, and he soon finds himself caught in a flurry of action that includes the celestial realm above, a hidden magic realm below and the erstwhile ordinary Zagreb somewhere in between.

Stella is an 11-year-old girl whose dungeon-like school on the outskirts of East Zagreb is a bit of an evil magnet. One day she plays a creepy playground game with group of school friends, which inadvertently awakens the spirit of the fabled Black Queen, who, unbeknownst to the townspeople, still dwells in a deep enchanted chasm under Zagreb’s very own Bear Mountain.

The Celestial Realm (a.k.a. “outer space”) is a place where star daimons with enormous powers and questionable hairstyles perform valiant deeds in order to maintain the balance of the universe, while engaging in petty inter-stellar squabbles and meddling with the affairs of Earth.

All of these people, places and fictional constructs come together in an action-packed over-caffeinated culmination on October 31, colloquially referred to by locals as the Night of the Witches.

Also making an appearance are magic trams, football hooligans, belligerent egg-sellers, jaded small dogs, miniature monks, seductive snake-women and sadistic primary school teachers.

Read the first two chapters online:

~ Grab a copy! ~

Author website ~ Amazon

~ Excerpt ~

In a hidden corner of the east flank of Central Europe (or the west flank of Eastern Europe, depending on your point of view), in a green valley of a winding river, there is a city that certain locals, during rare moments of inspiration, refer to as the White City, although the less poetically inclined, as well as those who don’t know anything about the place other than that it exists, call it Zagreb.

This is not the kind of noisy, hectic city that makes people stressed, obese, prone to rants about the accelerating pace of modern life, and likely to have a mid-career breakdown followed by an extensive backpacking trip to a remote country. If anything, it is fairly sober and subdued. If the White City were a character in a Regency novel, it would be one of those comely, level-headed types that ends up marrying the parson.

Neither is it the sort of city that just goes on and on until it becomes another city. Its shape and size are clearly delineated. There is a sprawling east-west axis and a somewhat stunted north-south one. The latter is due to the presence of a fairly high mountain on the city’s north side and a river in the south. The mountain, although not the comes-with-a-permanent-ice-cap sort of high, is still high enough to have cable cars, organized hiking trips and squirrels. And the river, although not an insurmountable obstacle in itself, has proved to be such a convenient barrier against various third parties that have attempted to invade the city over the course of many historical periods that the townspeople have been reluctant to cross it until very recently.

~ About the author ~

July 16 2018 sonya-kudei

Sonya Kudei is a writer and artist with a BA in English Language and Literature and MA in Cognitive Linguistics. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic Online and The Linguist Magazine. She has worked as a journalist, illustrator, graphic designer, subtitle translator, editor, teacher, product manager and (very briefly) tourist guide in Venice. She was also a web developer in London for over five years. Originally from Zagreb, Sonya has been living in the UK for over twelve years.

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Website ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

My review of The Road, the 2007 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction #MondayBlogs #PulitzerPrize #PulitzerPrizeChallenge #AmReading #BookReview

the road 3

I forgot to take a picture of the bookstore, so here’s the bookmark. 

I’m skipping to 2007 today with my Pulitzer Prize Challenge. I have a good excuse for skipping around – really, I do! I totally screwed up when I chose books to take on vacation. I only took one novel from my pile of Pulitzer Prize winners as I assumed I’d only get one read. WRONG! I read Less during one flight and still had two weeks of vacation to go! While exploring an independent bookstore in Franklin, Tennessee, I picked up The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I just had to buy a book to support the bookstore, and this was the only Pulitzer Prize winner I could find that I didn’t own. (The store was not specialized in fiction. I only managed to find The Road as McCarthy is considered a local boy in Tennessee.)




the road 1The Road is another novel I would never have purchased on my own. I don’t enjoy postapocalyptic novels (and not just because I can’t spell or pronounce a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-t-i-c.) But once I got into the story, I couldn’t put the book down. I was filled with questions: What happened to the world? Who are those roving gangs? Is the boy really his son? What happened to his wife? I kept flipping through pages faster and faster, hoping to find the answers.

If you’re looking for a book that wraps everything up in a neat little bow at the end, this is not the book for you. This is a book, which forces you to think. I finished this book on a flight from Dallas to New York two weeks ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, these are not happy thoughts – not surprising considering the novel is postapocalyptic.

McCarthy’s style of writing takes some time to get used to. His lack of punctuation – according to McCarthy, semicolons and quotation marks are mere little marks that blot the page – was confusing as all get out. The internal editor in me was going out of her mind while I read this novel. Luckily, at some point she had a complete hissy fight and shut up.

In addition to learning that award-winning authors can write their own grammar rules, I discovered – to my utter surprise – that I would not survive a postapocalyptic world. McCarthy describes in detail how the protagonist finds and prepares ‘food’. Food is in question marks as I’m not sure I could stomach – literally – the things the protagonist ate. If the food choice didn’t do me in, the work involved in finding food, using makeshift tools, and finding fuel would have finished me off. That’s before taking the weather, roving gangs, and all that walking into consideration.

I would have never thought a novel singularly focused on a man and his son walking a road would pull me in. (I assumed I was going to have to force myself to read this novel.) It’s a testament to the talent of McCarthy that I was utterly and completely captivated by The Road. This is a must read and in the running for best novels I’ve read in 2018.

the road 2

I’m now reading All The Light We Cannot See from Anthony Doeer. I promise I will NOT be finished with the novel by next week (It’s my birthday this weekend!), but I do have an adventure related to the novel I will share with you next week.



I learned more about the 80 Years’ War in an art lecture than in history class #History #ExpatLife #ThisIsHolland #DutchGoldenAge #80yearswar

Here’s a secret: Just because someone studied history at university doesn’t mean they know everything about everywhere during every time period. In fact, most of us have specialized in a specific time period or region. For example, I concentrated on Modern History. Specifically, I was obsessed with social history with regard to the rise of the Nazi party and the fall of the Russian Empire. Dutch history, however, was mostly unknown to me when I arrived in the Netherlands.

80 years war 1

Huis Doorn where Kaiser Wilhelm II spent his years in exile.

The only historical information I knew about the Netherlands was that the country: (1) was neutral during the First World War, (2) was the place to which Kaiser Wilhelm II was exiled after the war, and (3) was occupied during the Second World War. (Did you notice the emphasis on Modern History there?)



80 years 4

Vermeer’s most famous painting

Although I was somewhat familiar with Dutch artists (a name like Van Gogh can only be Dutch and who doesn’t know Vermeer?), I wasn’t aware of the depth and influence of Dutch artists on the art world. To be honest, the Dutch Golden Age when Dutch art flourished isn’t my cup of tea. Give me a Van Gogh or Monet any day! Yet somehow, I found myself attending a series of classes on the Dutch Masters.



80 years 2

Philip II of Spain berating Willem the Silent

In a history class a long time ago in another country, I basically learned the Eighty Years’ War happened sometime in the 16th Century when the Dutch were occupied by the Spanish. At least, that’s all I remember. *hides face in shame* Living in the Netherlands, I gathered tidbits of information about the war itself. Such as the independence of the Northern Provinces long before the Southern Provinces.

During my classes on the Dutch Masters, however, I gained more information about the war than I had in any previous history class. For example, Antwerp was devastated during the war, and artists fled to Haarlem, which led to a blossoming of art in Haarlem. (If you ever get a chance, the Frans Hals museum in Haarlem is definitely worth a visit.) Also, fighting was not continuous and mostly only occurred in the summer months.

80 years war 6

Admittedly, some Dutch Masters are impressive.

By far the most interesting historical tidbit I learned was that the Eighty Years’ War and the Dutch Golden Age overlap. What??? How can the golden age – when the Netherlands dominated the seas and the art scene – overlap with a war? My surprise and disbelief were colored by my view of modern warfare – which is utterly devastating and is definitely not limited to a battlefield. The Eighty Years’ War was not a continuous period of eighty years in which war prevailed over the Netherlands. The Northern Provinces were liberated fairly early and could carry out daily life without the threat of invasion or bombs. Also, the fighting in the south was not continuous but seasonal in nature. There was also a 12-year true in which the Dutch Republic achieved de facto recognition. So, yeah, it was possible for a war and the Golden Age to overlap. Now, I know.




How the wrong genre listing can kill your book #WriterWednesday #WritingTips #AmWriting

Most experts will advise you to list your novel under as many genres as possible to ensure your novel is discoverable for as many potential readers as possible. That’s not always the best idea, however, because using the wrong genre listing can seriously hurt your book. A genre listing is not only a method for categorizing books. A genre brings with it certain expectations for its readers. For example, in a sweet romance, the reader will expect there is no swearing and no sex. Sometimes references to sex are considered too shocking for the sweet romance genre. It’s not an exact science, however, which can make choosing a genre for your novel a headache.

wrong genre 2

I recently experienced more than a headache when I put my series, The Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives, on sale and marketed it on FreeBooksy as a cozy mystery. On the upside, the bundle reached #15 overall in free books and #1 in two categories. This caused a celebration from which I took two days to recover.


On the other hand, I received a bunch of very nasty reviews. EEK! Not because the book was poorly written or poorly edited. Nope! Because readers didn’t agree with me that these novels are ‘cozy mysteries’. Readers were, therefore, very upset to read references to sex and slightly naughty jokes. (On a side note: These novels don’t contain explicit sex scenes, but there is some fumbling around and there are definitely jokes of a sexual nature.)

wrong genre 1

I’m not going to write a treatise about what is a clean read or how cozy mystery is defined. I simply couldn’t as I’m still trying to figure it out. I walk a tightrope when writing these mysteries. Do I include swear words? Is ass a swear word when used as a term of anatomy? Etc. Etc. What I am trying to do here is caution you to think long and hard about choosing a genre because choosing the wrong genre can have serious implications for the life of your book. In my case, I received 4 one-star reviews and 2 two-star reviews based almost exclusively on readers finding the novels not cozy mysteries for whatever reason.

Before you run off and change all your genres, please note I also received 8 five-star reviews and 3 four-star reviews. As the pages read continue to climb, I hope (fingers and toes crossed!) to receive more genuine reviews. The entire experience did cause me to take a long, hard look at my current novel (Finders, Not Keepers is out August 20th). I had a few scenes in which the male love interest used naughty language. I also used the word ‘shit’ more than once or twice. In the end, I decided to take out the swear words as I could find good substitutes, which sometimes actually added to the humor of the novel. I’ll continue to chose cozy mystery as a genre on Amazon, but I won’t necessarily market the novel using that category. As always, I’ll let you know how I get on.

How about you? Anyone else have a horror story with regard to genre listings? Let’s discuss.