10 Tips How to Choose a Good Book

I’m happy to welcome copywriter and content creator Emily Watts to the Power of 10 series. Today, Emily shares tips on selecting books to read.

Here’s Emily!

There’s nothing better than laying back on a sun lounger and reading a good book. But what’s the one book you should read? Mystery, thriller, suspense or romance book? To help you choose, we have rounded up the top tips to find great new books to read for your next vacation.

Tip 1: Questions

You can use ask the following questions to narrow your list of good books to read:

First of all, figure out what genre of book is your favourite: adventure, mystery, or realistic fiction. You can find other popular genres here.

Further, ask yourself, what are you looking for in a good book?

Tip 2: Recommendations

The sheer number of the books makes it hard to choose. But you can ask your friends, coaches, even people on the street, or small bookstores owners for recommendations. Simply start with the question: what’s one book that you absolutely loved and you think other people should read? Generally, you will get excellent recommendations.

Tip 3: Reviews

A book review should help you choose a good next book to read. First of all, you will probably read the bestseller reviews that most publications or monthly magazines recommend paying attention to. This way, you will check out what new books are popular and why. Though, some book reviews are simply created to promote authors, working as a massive ad and online disinformation campaign. So if you actually desire to get a bestseller, you need to know reliable sources.

Tip 4: Book-club

If you are a bookworm, you can join a club with like-minded people. It is a great option to experience unique format of discussions and find a motivation to read new books. You will easily meet new friends who enjoy the same genres as you, and they will recommend interesting books to read and discuss.

Tip 5: Reading list

After research, you can make a list where you highlight the priority books and, also, you can keep adding new items to it. This will help you to review:

What authors or books you’ve already read,

What works you actually want to read.

It’s an excellent way when you do not have much time to search for books you may like or when you don’t know how to choose a book.

Tip 6: e-Books

You can visit the Gutenburg.org or Gutenburg.ca services that offer tons of free electronic books to upload. As well, you can print the books or simply read them from laptop or iPad pro. Additionally, if you are a student, you can check a school/university libraries that could have its own electronic books sites. You can google reading lists and quickly find the best books to read in each category.

Tip 7: Bookstores and libraries

At the bookstore, you can also read some random books overviews and a few pages to clear up the quality of writing. Sometimes, book-store staff or library enthusiasts tend to help pick the correct book. You can start a talk with them to get right recommendations. They will help to choose a book, providing guidance on new and classic literature.

Tip 8: Amazon’s lists

The Amazon website provides the book lists that you can use to find interesting books. Where or how to start? You can check the Hot New Releases page and find popular categories. You will quickly determine the next book to buy and certainly make a long wish list of authors to read on Amazon.

Tip 9: Tools to use

There are plenty of online tools that can help you with your choice. You start with the What Should I Read Next tool. So, the service does what its name says: it offers you overviews and recommends books. This tool will tell you what to read based on what you finished like title or author.

Tip 10: Read Classics

The Penguin’s Classics collection is so impressive and can quickly help you stretch your bookshelves with numerous stories. You can also check the Selected Poems in Penguin Classics and read anything you like. If you love Austen and Fitzgerald, that’s a place to search, but you’ve got to be aware of what’s happening in publishing with the *living* authors.

Bio: Emily Watts

Hi! I’m Emily Watts. I’m a copywriter and content creator from Australia. I personally think a crucial sign of a great book if it passes the test of time. I usually check the books via online search and Amazon and put them in my Wish Lists or similar lists for some time before reading it. This way I can filter out many temporary impulses. When I apply this method, the quality of the books raises significantly. Additionally, I check the Amazon lists as it’s something I actually do on a regular basis. I made my Book folder with all bookmarks I found in my browser. It also includes all the books I wish to check. If you do not have much time and want to write a good book review or essay, you can check AustralianWritings.


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In Praise of Fidgeting

I found the results of the following study intriguing:

The Mayo Clinic researchers equipped people with special clothing containing sensors that measured every calorie they burned by moving. They found that those little motions–scratching your head, getting up and stretching at commercial time, moving to another chair–make a huge difference. The “skinny” people tended to fidget away 350 calories a day more than the “overweight” people. That adds up to 35 pounds a year!

Some people are better at staying still while others cannot sit still. It may be difficult to change our unconscious tendencies, but we can change our environments and daily habits.

Consider the following “fidgety” tips:

• Take the stairs.
• Don’t waste time looking for the closest parking spot. Park, so you have to walk a short distance.
• Get up and stretch periodically while watching television.
• Don’t procrastinate. Whenever you think of a task that needs to be done, get up and do it.
• Keep dumbbells near your sofa, office, or reading area. Several times a day, stop and do a short routine to exercise your upper body.
• Walk during your lunch hour.
• Pace the sidelines at the children’s athletic games.
• Take a family walk after dinner.
• Walk briskly in the mall.
• Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email.

BTW…Fidgeting is also known as “interindividual variation in posture allocation.”

Any other “fidgety” tips?


10 Life Lessons My Puppy Taught Me

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Michelle Jean Marie to the Power of 10 series. Today, Michelle shares the the invaluable life lessons she learned from Juno, a purebred Akita.

Here’s Michelle!

We’ve all had people in our lives who inspire us. It might have been a teacher in grade school, a supervisor at work, or a wise grandparent. We take the lessons they taught us and apply them to our behavior going forward.

As a writer, I’ve had many mentors. They’ve helped me in my craft, my relationships and my work. The names are too numerous to list here. However, I would like to acknowledge one family member in particular. Her name is Juno. She is a purebred Akita. We took her in on July 23, 2017 at 3 1/2 months of age. She is a rescue from The Midwest Akita Rescue Society. She’s only been with us a short while, but the lessons she’s taught me have been invaluable.

1. Enjoy the simple things – As advertisers invade our world, we begin to believe that in order to be happy, we have to buy whatever they are selling. So that’s what consumers do – go out and buy the biggest of the big of the next best thing. It comes home to use for a few months until the next best thing comes out. Then it gets put to the side with all those other outdated gadgets. Watching Juno, I see the utter joy she has in playing with her toys. Some we bought. But others, like an empty plastic bottle, bring GREAT joy as she bats it around the room. The more noise it makes skidding across the floor, the better! Something so simple…

2. Having fun doesn’t have to be costly – Another brainwash we’ve heard from advertising is that we can’t have fun unless we spend money at their theme park or on their luxurious cruise ship. Who says we can’t have fun right in our own back yards? Have you ever played fetch with a puppy? Have you ever had a puppy run helter-skelter toward you in the yard, only to veer away at the last minute? The bigger they get, the harder they run. Tell me the joy on their face isn’t more valuable than riding the fake waves on a cruise ship.

3. Don’t let intimidation/fear rule you – Many of Juno’s experiences are new to her. As a puppy, she’d never seen a leaf blower or a senior citizen with a walker or a child on a skateboard. Whenever she sees something different and new, she stops dead in her tracks. She doesn’t run away. She stands and faces the new experience, walks slowly toward it and inspects it closely. Once she realizes it isn’t something that will hurt her, she either walks away content, or begins to play. How wonderful would our lives be if we didn’t run from anything unfamiliar? If we faced the unknown with courage, then embraced it?

4. Kindness goes farther than correction – When training a puppy, frustration sometimes overrides common sense. But the best trainers will tell you that puppies learn best with positive reinforcement. Treats and hugs go much further than yelling. Removing them from a situation, or better yet, preventing their access to a situation, is more effective than trying to correct them every time they do something wrong. Think about this the next time you are in your workplace and a co-worker or employee makes a mistake.

5. Sleep is overrated – Who needs eight hours of sleep a night when you can be up at 6am to start playing? And after napping all day, why not stay up until midnight, full of energy and ready to take on the world? Sure, we can’t nap all day like our dogs do, but if you had to lose 30 minutes of sleep to spend time playing with your kids or dogs, isn’t it worth losing that sleep?

6. Time is irrelevant – Dogs have no sense of time. You can be gone five minutes or five hours and they don’t know the difference. They are just as happy to see you when you come home from an 8-hour work day, as they are when you come back inside from picking up the mail at the end of the driveway. Think how happy your family would be if you greeted them with the same enthusiasm every time they came home.

7. It’s all in the journey – Have you ever been driving alongside a car where a dog has his head sticking out the window? They don’t care where they’re going. They’re living in the moment, enjoying the wind in their face, the sun in the sky and the wonderful smells of the world outside their home. When was the last time you took in the scenery as you drove, rather than getting annoyed at the way others drive? When have you noticed the fog hugging low to the ground? The sun rising pink on the horizon? The snow-covered earth turning the world white and silent?

8. Be loyal and dependable – Dogs trust us to take care of them. In return, they protect us, provide comfort and watch out for our safety. They alert us to intruders, stay by our side when strangers approach the door, and bark insistently when the doorbell rings. They will defend us against other humans and dogs. And they will stay close when we’re feeling blue. That’s exactly how they want to be treated, too. How do you treat the humans in your life?

9. Be Yourself – Dogs love just being themselves. They know what toys make them happy, when it’s time for a good scratch, and which animals need to be chased out of the yard. They don’t care what others think. They just go ahead and DO, even if it gets them into trouble because it’s so much fun! Pretending to be something you’re not will never make you happy. Be true to yourself and be who you are.

10. Love is unconditional – We’ve all been hurt in relationships at some point in our lives. It may have been in grade school – that first crush! It may have been a failed marriage. But relationships you’ll never be let down on, are those with your dogs. You can work all day, correct their bad manners, and board them when you go on vacation. And yet, they still love you. Nothing you do will make them stop loving you. How wonderful to know that there is someone who will love you, no matter what.

Unconditional love is the basis for my upcoming release, TEMPTING PASSION. Having been hurt in the past, Marcus Clayton, Earl of Norbourne, is reluctant to allow passion into his life again. It will take a special woman to love him unconditionally. That woman is Miss Christel Fitzwilliam. But in loving him, will she sacrifice her heart? Meet Marcus, Christel, and special guest Zeno, an English springer spaniel who teaches them about true love. TEMPTING PASSION will be released in 2018. Meanwhile, meet Marcus in TEMPTING FATE.

Blurb

A Woman Ruined
Scorned by society for past indiscretions, Lady Alanna Clayton instead dedicates her time to improving the lives of orphans at the workhouse. When Alanna realizes their futures are in danger, she vows to protect them, no matter the means.

A Man Wounded
Lieutenant-Colonel Kellen Harrington, Marquess of Aldwich and future Duke of Wilkesbury, abandoned his responsibility for a career in the cavalry. He fled a life of abuse for a life of war. A dire summons brings him back to London and the estate he swore to never set foot on again.

A Secret Shared
Childhood friends, Alanna and Kellen are bonded by an old secret and fate reunites them to keep another. But in trying to save others’ lives, have they put their own in danger? Deceit, blackmail, and revenge challenge their every step as they navigate the dark alleys of London. And traverse the corners of their hearts.

Can Alanna tempt fate and save Kellen from his biggest danger – himself?

buynow

Bio

After years of working in the Health Information Management field, Michelle became a stay-at-home mom to raise two adorable daughters and took advantage of her time at home to pursue a life-long passion—writing.

While attending a romance writing workshop at a local library, Michelle was hooked. She cracked open the research books, turned on the computer, and started cranking out historical romances. In her early efforts, she was an RWA Golden Heart finalist and winner/finalist in many RWA sponsored contests.

After ending one marriage, seeing her daughters through college, opening her own business, and finally happily marrying her soul mate, she opened those old computer files and did some serious editing. She signed her first publishing contract with Soul Mate Publishing more than twenty years after writing it. Perseverance does pay off!

Michelle lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Steve, and their three insane pups. Their two-legged children have all moved on to their own homes and careers. By day, she runs a professional organizing business, a virtual assistant business, and a research web site. Her favorite clients are authors!

By night, she writes. She self-published Researching the British Historical: The Victorian Era, 101 Organizing Tips for Writers, I’m Moving!! Now What? and Nine Journeys: Stories of Women Who Found Their Own Paths to Success.

Where to find Michelle Jean Marie…

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | BookBub


10 Things You Didn’t Know about Marianne’s Memory

I’m happy to welcome author Winona Kent to the Power of 10 series. Today, Winona shares interesting facts about her latest release, Marianne’s Memory.

Here’s Winona!

1. The story opens aboard a pirate radio station in the Thames Estuary in 1965. The name of the ship is the Cilla Rose. I introduced readers to the same ship a few years ago in my novel, The Cilla Rose Affair. I didn’t base the Cilla Rose on any pirate station in particular, but I did borrow a few details from Radio London, which used to broadcast from an old American minesweeper called the Galaxy a few miles off Frinton-on-Sea. Radio London was the home of some famous British radio names who started out as pirates: Tony Windsor, Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett, Ed Stewart, Keith Skues. I’ve always been fascinated by pirate DJs. There’s lots of info online nowadays for those who want to hunt it down, but back in the 1960s my bible was a rare book called Who’s Who in Pop Radio, edited by Peter Alex. I still have it and referred to it a lot for both The Cilla Rose Affair and Marianne’s Memory. It originally cost 5 shillings. Nowadays it sells for about £25.00 on Amazon.

2. The characters of Arabella and Giles Jessop were inspired in part by the life of Tara Browne, a young Irish aristocrat who was an heir to the Guinness fortune. Tara became the epitome of the Swinging Sixties in London. He knew the best people–and would introduce them to each other. He threw the best parties and led a charmed life – until, at 21, he crashed his Lotus Elan into the back of a parked lorry in South Kensington. His death, in December 1966, happened at about the same time that the innocence of Swinging London gave way to a much harsher and cynical era. It was apparently the report of Tara’s death in the papers that inspired John Lennon to co-write “A Day in the Life”, although the circumstances were altered somewhat in the lyrics. An excellent book was written about Tara Browne by Paul Howard. It’s called I Read the News Today, Oh Boy and I referred to it often, especially when I was trying to capture the essence of the Jessops, and Arabella’s pre-nuptial party at Stoneford Manor.

3. I am quite a stickler for detail and it has been mentioned in reviews of my work that the details I write about are meticulously researched. I take quite a lot of pride in the authenticity of my settings. For instance, when Charlie and Shaun accidentally travel back to 1965, they end up in Covent Garden – as it was in 1965, which is very very different from the way it looks today. My research involved watching a number of films – beginning with Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 film Frenzy. The baddie in Frenzy works in Covent Garden as a fruit and veg wholesaler, and he lives in a flat overlooking the area. The film was shot on location and there are some fabulous scenes of how it looked back then. I also watched several nonfiction films that were (thankfully) available on YouTube, that followed the lives of the people who supplied the flowers, fruits and vegetables to the market, and then documented their day as they dealt with the merchants who came to buy their goods, and then, finally, the end of their day as the market closed down until the next morning at about 5am. I was particularly drawn to the flower market, because it became what we know today as the London Transport Museum – one of my most favourite places in London. And I have a personal connection – in 1968, when I was 13, I visited London with my mum and sister, and my mum made a point of taking me to see Covent Garden before it disappeared. It was late in the afternoon and there wasn’t much left to see – all of the fruit and veg and flowers had been sold. But they’d left a lingering scent, and there were boxes and crates and the odd discarded potato and onion left on the ground. And that memory has stuck with me.

4. There’s a short story which precedes Marianne’s Memory. It’s called Easy When You Know How and it’s included at the end of my novel In Loving Memory. The story sets up Marianne’s Memory, as Charlie and Shaun travel back to 1964, and the premiere of the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night at the London Pavilion in Piccadilly Circus. It’s here that Charlie’s mum, Jackie, is caught in the rush of the crowd and falls and hits her head on the pavement. She’s rescued from being trampled by pirate DJ Tony Quinn, who goes with her in the ambulance to the hospital. Jackie doesn’t remember a single detail, however, because her fall causes an episode of Transient Global Amnesia, a somewhat rare and highly fascinating condition which I’ve encountered first hand.

5. My sister had an episode of Transient Global Amnesia a few years ago. It was caused, as far as we can tell, by a combination of stress, a recent minor operation, and an undiagnosed systemic infection. She literally woke up from a nap and couldn’t remember anything about that day. She ended up in Emergency at the hospital, with a rather bemused doctor trying to figure out exactly what was going on. My mother was terribly worried but I, shamelessly, thought it was quite humorous. My sister would ask a series of questions: What happened? Where am I? Did I go to work today? Who brought me here? What day is it today? and we’d patiently answer them. And then, five minutes later, she’d ask the same series of questions in the same order, having retained absolutely no memory of the answers, or even of asking the questions before. I even took her to the loo – and she had no recollection of that at all. A few hours later she was sent home. My husband collected us in the car, and brought some sandwiches as nobody’d had anything to eat all night. Over the next week or so some memories came back to my sister – she remembered walking to the car, and eating the sandwiches – but the earlier memories, her day at work, waking up from her nap, going to the hospital and her hours in Emergency – never came back. Interestingly, she could always tell us her name and her birthday, and she knew exactly who we were. And that’s what differentiated this interesting diagnosis from a case of the more common amnesia, where the patient loses absolutely all of their memory, including their identity.

6. The premieres of two of the Beatles’ films – A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, and Help! in 1965 – figure prominently in Easy When You Know How and Marianne’s Memory. I wasn’t old enough to be in the crowd outside the cinema for those films – and more importantly, I wasn’t in England! But in the summer of 1968, I was in England. I was 13 years old (nearly 14) and my sister, my mum, my uncle and I all travelled up to Piccadilly Circus, to join the throngs of fans outside the London Pavilion for the premiere of the third Beatles’ film, Yellow Submarine. My sister, who wasn’t quite 10, was nearly knocked out and trampled and had to be lifted to safety by a very kind policeman (and you wonder where I get my story ideas!). I worked my way to the front of the barricades and was lucky enough to see a whole parade of celebs arriving – including all of the Beatles. And that truly, is what inspired and informed those scenes in the two stories.

7. As mentioned above, I was too young in 1964 and 1965 to fully take part in the phenomenon that was Swinging London. And I didn’t live in England – I was tucked away in a small city on the Canadian prairies. But the “British Invasion” was very far-reaching. I was born in London, and my relatives all lived there, and I remember the fashions, the music, the pop groups, the sheer delight of changing all the rules and throwing over everything that was comfortable and familiar to our parents. In truth I actually completely missed “Swinging London”. We visited England for Christmas in 1961, and we were there again in the summer of 1968, and in between those two dates was when everything happened. One of the first places I headed to after I arrived in London in 1968 was Carnaby Street. I’ve always wanted to write about that era because it influenced me so much. My favourite films were To Sir With Love (1967) and Smashing Time (1967). If you haven’t seen it, Smashing Time is a wonderful parody of Swinging London, starring Lynn Redgrave and Rita Tushingham, who both actually sing, and a young Michael York playing a photographer much like David Bailey. Much later I discovered Darling (1965) and Blow Up (1966) (starring Lynn Redgrave’s sister, Vanessa, and David Hemmings as another photographer inspired by David Bailey) and I consulted all four films (and many others) indepth when I was researching details for Marianne’s Memory.

8. The disused Underground station where Charlie and Shaun are interrogated after being mistaken for KGB agents has appeared in my writing before. I “borrowed” a few details from my spy novel The Cilla Rose Affair, which involves a fictitious station on the Northern Line called Romilly Square. The layout of the station, the secret tunnels and the disused lift shaft, the stairs, the passometer and the old posters on the walls might all seem familiar to you if you’ve read The Cilla Rose Affair. And, in fact, Romilly Square was inspired by a real former tube station on the Piccadilly Line, Down Street, situated between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner.

9. The Four Eyes Coffee Bar in Stoneford, where Shaun and his dad take part in Amateur Night and end up with a record contract, is a small private joke on my part. Coffee Bars were very popular in England in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and provided an entire generation of teenagers with venues where they could listen to their favourite tunes and watch local bands perform, usually in very cramped conditions in the cellar. One of my favourite bands was (and still is) The Shadows, who got their start in the Two I’s coffee bar in London’s Soho. When I was trying to think up a name for Stoneford’s coffee bar, I remembered the Two I’s, and the fact that the Shads’ lead guitarist, Hank Marvin, was well-known for his Buddy Holly-type spectacles. Thus the Four Eyes Coffee bar was born – “four eyes” being a British slang term for people who wear eyeglasses. And the house band is, of course, called The Spectacles.

10. And finally, right at the end of Marianne’s Memory, Charlie makes an interesting discovery about her toes. To quote: “Her second and third toes were rooted a little higher up on her feet than the others, and had always reminded Charlie, as she’d studied them in the bath, of the letter V, surrounded by lower case i’s.” I, too, have spent countless hours studying my peculiar toes in the bath – and they’re exactly as Charlie describes them. And I recently discovered, quite by accident, that I inherited this unusual configuration from my mum, whose toes – which I’d never noticed before – look just like mine.

So now you know.

Blurb

Marianne’s Memory is the third novel in Winona Kent’s accidental time travel / historical romance series, featuring Charlie Duran and her 19th century companion Shaun Deeley.

A Beatles badge from 1965 accidentally sends Charlie and Shaun back to London at the height of the Swinging Sixties, where they’re mistaken for KGB spies and subjected to a terrifying interrogation.

Rescued by top-ranking MI5 agent Tony Quinn, they soon uncover the details of a child born out of wedlock to Charlie’s mum and the uncomfortable truth about Charlie’s dad’s planned marriage to selfish socialite Arabella Jessop.

Further complicating their journey into the past is Magnus Swales, an 18th century highwayman turned time-travelling assassin, and the timely arrival of William Deeley, Shaun’s father, who’s been persuaded to leap forward from 1790 in order to save Tony from Swales’s deadly mission.

Ms. Kent has skillfully crossed several genres—fantasy, historical romance, mystery—to produce a well-crafted story that spans three different time periods: 1790, 1965, and 2015. The third installment in the accidental time travel series, Marianne’s Memory follows the delightful escapades of modern-day Charlie Duran and her 19th-century companion Shaun Deeley.

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the previous two installments, I wondered if Ms. Kent could possibly raise the stakes any higher. I needn’t have worried! In addition to introducing a host of fascinating characters, among them a celebrated DJ operating on a pirate ship, a vengeful highwayman, and KGB spies, Ms. Kent demonstrates a wonderful eye for detail. Her research skills are impeccable. I could easily imagine myself traveling along with Charlie and Shaun as they hopped from one time period to another. My best time was spent in London during the Swinging Sixties.

Next, please!

Where to find Winona…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Amazon Author Page

Canada | United States | United Kingdom


Honoring Barbara Bush

Earlier this evening, Barbara Bush passed away at the age of ninety-two. An extraordinary woman of great faith and strength, she served as the 37th First Lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993.

She was one of only two First Ladies who was also the mother of a president, a distinction she shared with John Adams’ wife Abigail, the mother of John Quincy Adams.

Mrs. Bush devoted her life—during and beyond the White House years—to the cause of universal literacy. She authored two children’s books, C. Fred’s Story and the best-selling Millie’s Book, both of which have benefited literacy through proceeds from sales.

My Favorite Quotations from Barbara Bush…

Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.

You have to love your children unselfishly. That is hard. But it is the only way.

You just don’t luck into things as much as you’d like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it’s friendships or opportunities.

Believe in something larger than yourself… get involved in the big ideas of your time.

Your success as a family… our success as a nation… depends not on what happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your house.

Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.

When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.

Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.

And who knows? Somewhere out there in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse. I wish him well!

I have enjoyed reading her books and listening to her interviews. An inspiring and entertaining speaker, Mrs. Bush delivered the Wellesley commencement address in 1990. It was listed as #45 in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century.


Top 10 Places Detective Jesus De La Cruz Likes to Drink Coffee

I’m happy to welcome civil engineer and author TG Wolff to the Power of 10 series. Today, TG and Detective Jesus De La Cruz, the protagonist of Exacting Justice, share their love of coffee.

Here’s TG!

Thank you, Joanne for hosting me Detective Jesus De La Cruz today. We’re both happy to be stopping by to share our love of coffee with your readers and a taste of our upcoming book, Exacting Justice.

For myself, I never drank coffee…until I had children. Now it’s one of my basic food groups. I don’t consider myself a coffee snob but insist that it takes good. Little coffee shops, the eclectic ones that sell jewelry, soaps, and what-not are my favorites. My drink of choice: large Americano with a splash of whole milk.

The hero of my thriller is Cleveland police homicide detective Jesus De La Cruz. Cruz worked under cover narcotics for 10 years until a bust gone bad changed his story. He came out with a new face, a new career in homicide, and the realization that he was an alcoholic. On the road to recovery, Cruz developed a taste for coffee. He is unapologetic about the gallon he drinks each day and they way he likes it dressed—light and sweet.

Top Ten Places Det. Jesus De La Cruz Likes to Drink Coffee

10. Mornings, His kitchen. After leaving the Cleveland, Ohio hospital, Cruz lived with his sister, Marianna, and her family for a year before he bought his first house. The Cape Cod was in as bad a shape as he was at the start. He tackled remodeling the kitchen first, small as it was. Now each morning, he leans against the counter his own hands installed, reading the thoughts and meditation of other recovering alcoholics, savoring the calm before the storm of each day.

9. Nighttown. Nighttown is a restaurant and music venue just up the hill in Cleveland Heights. It is the preferred Sunday evening dining choice of Cruz’s AA Sponsor Dr. Oscar Bollier. Good food, good music, good company make for a well-rounded life. One that’s even better with topped off with dessert and coffee. (nighttowncleveland.club)

8. His desk. Being a homicide detective isn’t the sexy, fast-paced life of the movies. Somedays it feels like he’s paid to drudge through the worst side of human existence one inch at a time. It sickens him what people can do to another person and he gets really tired of the lies and excuses. A coffee mug sits on his desk with his nieces’ laughing faces shining out. Filled with sixteen ounces of light and sweet, it’s the perfect counterweight to reality.

7. Lagoon at the Cleveland Museum of Art Museum. CMA is remarkable at every turn, and doubly so because admission is free. When Cruz was healing from his injuries, he would bring his two nieces here to enjoy a few rooms, a tasty treat, and a romp around the park-like lagoon. He found solace here, the beast among the beauty. Now recovered, he still likes to sneak away, with his favorite cuppa, and become part of something grander.

6. Cleveland’s West Side Market. Once upon a time, Cleveland was a community of immigrants. That heritage is deliciously alive at the West Side Market. Stall after stall presents shoppers with fresh produce, delicious bakery, ethnic specialties, and the real treat—community. With seeing so much of Cleveland’s underside, Cruz likes to buy a cuppa here and be reminded why he got into copping in the first place.

Credit: westsidemarket.org

5. AA Meeting. The coffee is bad, the chairs uncomfortable but this church meeting room is where Cruz can be found every Monday night. Beating addiction isn’t something you do once but over and over again. Then, if you’re lucky, you look back one day and realize you’ve done it for a year. Then two. A round of applause to everyone who has the courage to knock addiction back, whether it’s alcohol, narcotics, food or others.

4. His car. There are times when the rhythm and noise of Cleveland police are the pulse of the job. There are other times when Cruz considers committing a homicide to get a little piece and quiet. Those are the times he fills his go-cup and takes it to his office away from the office, his car.

3. Presti’s Bakery, Cleveland’s Little Italy. Some places stay the same no matter how much they change. Here, the coffee can be made as strong as in the old country, served with sweet treats to satisfy the kid in all of us. Looking out over Mayfield Road as it climbs into the Heights, Presti’s has the comforts of home…without your mother telling you to clear the dishes.

Credit: TG Wolff

2. Lake Erie shore. Cleveland sits on one great lake. Erie. Standing on her shores, looking out to the horizon, everything seems possible. Sometimes after a long day, Cruz will park on the East 9th Street Pier and walk down to the edge. There is always a wind. There is always something new to discover.

Credit: Jeff Futo

The number one place Cruz likes to drink his coffee is…

His sister’s house. In Mariana Moreno’s home, laughter, chatter and noise are the soundtrack of life. When Cruz felt like he belonged nowhere, fit in nowhere, including his own life, there was a place for him here. It is one thing when people can relate to your situation and invite you in. It’s a whole other level when they can’t possibly understand and still refuse to let you leave. In his sister’s house, Cruz learned the lessons of love.

Blurb

An unknown killer is waging a war on drugs. The murders are horrendous but with a silver lining—now stop signs are the only objects lingering on corners in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Half the city calls for the police to end the killer’s reign. The other half cheers the killer on, denouncing the tactics but celebrating the progress police haven’t been able to achieve.

The gritty details of Cleveland’s drug underworld are nothing new to Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz. Two years earlier, Cruz worked undercover narcotics and was poised for a promotion that would have placed him in a coveted position within the drug organization. The deal went bad. Now he has a new face, a new job, and a new case.

The killer moves through the streets with impunity, identity still unknown. Demands for progress from his superiors, accumulated grief of the victim’s relatives, growing pressure from the public, and elevated stress from his family quietly pull Cruz apart. With no out, the detective moves all in, putting his own head on the line to bait a killer.

Excerpt

Monday, November 6

Dressed for the day, Cruz leaned against the kitchen counter he’d installed himself, sipping coffee and reading the daily meditation. Weak sunlight poked through the blinds, striping the page until it was unreadable. He set the book aside. A moment later, his phone rang.

His day started with a caravan of city-issued cars parked on the northbound shoulder of I-71. The knot of concrete ribbons was the nexus of I-71, I-480, and the spurs to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Going through at sixty-five miles an hour, he had read the “Cleveland Corp Limit” sign hundreds of times but never noticed this triangle patch. The sign rose up behind the concrete barricade and between its legs was a post. The post wasn’t interesting. It was what was on it.

“Just a head?” Cruz shouted to be heard over the white noise of traffic above, below and next to him. He swung a leg over the barricade and carefully lowered his weight to the ground. The land dropped sharply down to I-480. This wasn’t a place made for walking.

“So far, Detective.” One of the patrolmen on the scene, a big man named Buettner, answered him. Three others fought the wind to secure a tent screening the crime scene from the morning commute. “Had nearly a half dozen accidents with people looking at this.”

“It would get my attention, even without coffee.” Because he was watching his footing, he began with the ground. The post was one of the thousands sold for myriad household uses. Heavy enough gauge to be able to take some weight, small enough to be portable. The ground wasn’t frozen, but it would take a mallet to drive it in deep enough to support a head. Crime scene would dust for prints. Overgrown scrub around the post was matted down but showed no footprints of the person who had stood here and planted the nightmare.

His latest customer died hard. The head was battered, scraped as though it had been bounced off pavement a few times. Something was familiar…

“Shit. Why wasn’t I told his ID?”

“We don’t have it yet, Detective. Can’t take prints,” Buettner said.

Cruz paced away. This wasn’t coincidence or serendipity or even cosmic justice. This was just messed up.

Buy Links

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Bio

TG Wolff writes thrillers and mysteries that play within the gray area between good and bad, right and wrong. Cause and effect drive the stories, drawing from over 20 years’ experience in Civil Engineering, where “cause” is more often a symptom of a bigger, more challenging problem. Diverse characters mirror the complexities of real life and real people, balanced with a healthy dose of entertainment. TG Wolff holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Where to find TG Wolff…

Website | Blog | Amazon | Twitter | LinkedIn


Honoring Stephen Hawking

A visionary and one of the most influential scientists in history, Stephen Hawking died early this morning. He was also an astronomer, cosmologist, mathematician, and author of numerous articles and books, among them A Brief History of Time, which has sold more than 10 million copies.

His theories have changed how we understand black holes and relativity. But it was how he communicated science in spite of a debilitating disease that impressed and inspired all of us. Diagnosed with Amyotrphic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) shortly after his 21st birthday in 1963, Stephen Hawking defied all the odds and persevered for fifty-five years, well beyond the original prediction of two years.

PRINCETON, NJ – OCTOBER 10: Cosmologist Stephen Hawking on October 10, 1979 in Princeton, New Jersey. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

My favorite quotations from Stephen Hawking…

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.

People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.

We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.

Not only does God play dice, but… he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.