Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: Poison Candy (True Crime)

Poison Candy: The Murderous Madam: Inside Dalia Dippolito's Plot to KillPoison Candy: The Murderous Madam: Inside Dalia Dippolito�s Plot to Kill by Elizabeth Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Poison Candy" provides an in-depth look at the Dippolito murder-for-hire case where Dalia conspired to have her husband Mike murdered. The story is something out of a Hollywood movie: boiler room scams, felons, prostitution, drugs, a less than year-long marriage, and an extravagant lifestyle that contributed to both Dalia and Mike's downfalls. Dalia, painted to be a woman to whom no man could say no, had affairs, one of her "friends with benefits", Mohammed, being the one to turn her into the police in an attempt at escaping prosecution. Dalia caught him in her web of lies and Mohammed knew if he didn't do something, he would be implicated when Mike turned up dead.

Police hatched a plan to videotape the murder-for-hire meetings and went so far as to stage a murder scene to test Dalia's reaction, enlisting the help of the reality television series COPS (who happened to have been riding along) to make it look all the more authentic. Under the guise of being a news crew, COPS films Dalia's reaction to the news that her husband has been murdered (something she knows because she financed the hit). When she later finds out Mike (who she had been stealing money and property from, had turned into the police to have his probation violated on several occasions, and has planted drugs on in an attempt at sending him back to jail) is alive, she looks to downplay what she had attempted to do, saying it was an elaborate plot to get a reality television show.

The book starts fast, with several chapters offering an inside look at Mike and Dalia's lurid meeting, their whirlwind romance, and the long list of terrible ways Dalia was trying to ruin her new husband. This is the meat of the book. The story is complicated and there are a lot of players, double-dealings, and deceptions. The author does a good job helping keep these things straight, if not too good a job. The repetition did slow down the pace. About a third of the way in, we get into the rambling transcripts that become an annoyance. These aren't well-spoken people, there's a lot of round about conversation, more double-talk, and the sense that we're going to be beat over the head with the same handful of "facts." My least favorite part of the book is that soggy middle, but the unfiltered look at what was say, where, how, and by whom does lend context and character. The closing arguments wrap everything up, connecting all of the dots, and leading to what seems an inevitable (and inevitably overturned) sentencing. There's no feeling of justice, only the sense that if one sticks to their story well enough, clings to the absolute fabricated truth, that commitment will bear fruit. I feel terrible for Mike, but you know, every story has two sides. This book is in no way written from Dalia's. A good true crime read. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Missing Year Excerpt (Women's Fiction/Second Chance Medical Romance)

Life. Death. A Choice.

  
Two lives converge when a psychiatrist who has lost the love of his life to terminal cancer meets the most difficult patient he'll ever treat: Lila Wheeler. Lila, an inpatient in an upstate New York psychiatric facility, has spent over a year pining for the loss of her husband, Blake, who was left on life support following a botched convenience store robbery. To tell you much more would give away the crux of the conflict, but The Missing Year deals with the choices we make for ourselves and our loved ones and how in the face of terminal suffering, those choices sometimes lead to rash decisions. 

$2.99 for #KINDLE and FREE for #KindleUnlimited Subscribers


The Missing Year

Copyright © 2014 Belinda Frisch
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


CHAPTER ONE


What drove a seventeen-year-old girl to commit murder?
Dr. Ross Reeves hated that he had to visit the worst section of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood to find out.
Stepping off the “L”, an elevated train that was the fastest way to get where he needed to be, Ross wished he had driven. The Wilson Red Line Station was dangerous, regardless of time of day.
A wafer-thin hooker with rotting teeth eyed him the moment he stepped onto the platform. He hurried in the opposite direction, but the woman’s high-heeled steps clapped against the concrete as she struggled to catch up with him.
“Excuse me, sir. I think you dropped something.”
Ross didn’t acknowledge the obvious attempt at engaging him.
“Sir, are you looking for a date?”
“No, thank you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m positive.” He walked faster.
A row of androgynous homeless slept along the stairway, adding to the thick smell of urine that had him holding his breath.
A man wearing at least four layers of soiled clothing approached Ross and extended a tattered gloved hand.
“Spare some change?”
“I’m sorry,” Ross said. “I don’t have any change.”
“Man, twenty-five cents gets me a forty.”
Skilled after over a decade of living in Chicago in the art of out-maneuvering panhandlers, Ross moved faster. When he offered no further acknowledgement, the homeless man moved onto another mark.
“Can you spare some change?” Ross heard the man say again.
Get lost.” Someone answered.
Ross checked over his shoulder for the hooker, who had seemingly vanished.
While not everyone getting off at Wilson Station fit a particular stereotype, Ross stood out. Five-foot-eleven, close-cropped dark hair, and a clean-shaven, youthful face for a man of forty-two years, it was his clothing that fit in least. Having come directly from the hospital, he was dressed in a not inexpensive charcoal business suit and blue tie. He carried a monogrammed briefcase, which had been a gift from his late wife, Sarah, and had the air of someone with money. His watch alone—a very nice Cartier—was enough to make him a target.
Ross hurried out of the crumbling station and onto Broadway, making a three block dash to the address he’d been given as Arlene Pope’s. He had broken out in a sweat by the time he reached the twelve-story brick apartment building. He dabbed at his forehead and upper lip with a tissue before ringing the buzzer.
A scruffy twenty-something pushed the door open. The tattoo across his neck said “Trouble,” but it was the switchblade in his left hand that had Ross nervous. The young man flipped the blade opened and closed repeatedly, like a nervous tic.
“The buzzer don’t work, man.”
“I’m sorry. I’m looking for Krystal.”
“You don’t look the ‘crystal’ type, suit. Take a hike.”
Tattooed guy started to close the door and Ross stopped him. “I’m not looking for drugs. I’m looking for a woman named Krystal Pope, apartment 4C.”
“Arlene’s ma?”
Ross nodded. “Her mother, yes.”
“You with the cops?”
“No.”
“Then what’s your business with Arlene?”
“I’m her doctor. May I come in?”
Tattooed guy pushed the door the rest of the way open. “Elevator’s broken. Stairs are at the end of the hallway.” He retracted the blade and stepped aside.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name.”
“I didn’t give it.”
“‘Trouble’ it is,” Ross muttered as he walked away.
The tattooed man slammed the door to an apartment just inside the doorway.
Not much cleaner than Wilson Station, the building where Arlene Pope had grown up looked like it ought to be condemned. Peeling paint, stained carpet, and the distinct bitter odor of makeshift meth lab had Ross wondering what, exactly, went on here. One thing was for sure. It was no place to raise a baby.
Ross unbuttoned his jacket as he climbed the stairs to the fourth floor, vigilant of his surroundings and out of breath. He walked down the hallway and knocked on the second door on the left.
“Go away,” a woman barked. “I ain’t dealing with no questions today.”
“Ms. Pope, it’s Dr. Reeves, from Southeast Memorial.”
“I don’t care who you are. I said, ‘Go away.’”
“Ms. Pope, I need to talk to you about Arlene. It’s important.”
Arlene Pope’s had been Southeast Memorial’s legal case of the year so far. The Psychiatry Department usually had several. Public outcry and media coverage had Ross under pressure to determine what had happened, and if mental health issues were being used as a scapegoat for a cold-blooded killing. Seventeen-year-old Arlene Pope had been placed under psychiatric care when she claimed the voices in her head told her to swaddle her newborn infant in a trash bag and bury her in the alleyway dumpster. The police, at the request of Arlene’s Public Defender, permitted a seventy-two hour psychiatric observation period before remanding her to jail. Twelve hours had already passed.
“Ms. Pope, I’m sorry, but I need to speak with you.”
“Come back tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow will be too late. Please, fifteen minutes of your time. Twenty, tops.”
The door opened as far as the security chain would allow. Ross didn’t need a drug-sniffing dog to know what Krystal was hiding. A cloud of marijuana smoke wafted out of her apartment.
“What d’you want?” Krystal said, the one eye visible through the crack narrowed and bloodshot.
“I need to speak with you about Arlene. Please, may I come in?”
The door closed and, after a brief moment for Krystal to slide the chain, reopened. She crossed the cluttered apartment and opened the two windows on the far side of the room. One had been broken and mended with a sheet of plastic and duct tape.
“Thank you for seeing me,” Ross said, looking for a clean place to sit.
Krystal flopped down on the sunken couch and huffed out a breath. “Like I had a choice?”
A cold breeze blew across the cramped space, knocking over the disposable plastic drinking cups on the coffee table. The place looked as if Krystal—who didn’t look a day over twenty-five in her cut off shorts, tank top, and pink-streaked hair—had hosted one hell of a party the night before. The remains of two joints sat crushed out on a chipped saucer. One of them was smoldering.
“Ain’t you gonna sit down?” Krystal said.
“Yes, thank you.” Ross brushed aside the magazine covering a mismatched chair and took a seat.
In Ross’s experience, patients were a product of heredity, environment, and circumstance. He did whatever he needed to—including internet research and home visits—to get to the bottom of difficult cases. Sometimes, that meant crossing a line. Work had chastised him on more than one occasion for his methods, but it was those same techniques that had him at the top of the list for evaluating patients like Arlene. He enjoyed his work, even if it was often an all-consuming double-edged sword.
“I would like to start with some questions about family history, if that’s all right. Is there any history schizophrenia in your immediate family? Anyone diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, or maybe someone treated with medication?”
“You askin’ if I’m crazy?”
“I’m asking about mental illness in the family. Maybe Arlene’s father? Or her grandparents?”
“Arlene’s father, huh? That’s a long story, but I don’t think he’s crazy, no.”
“Nothing with her grandparents or siblings, maybe?”
“No and Arlene’s an only child.”
“Had Arlene ever been diagnosed with mental health issues before the incident?”
“Incident?” Krystal rolled her eyes. “Is that what we’re calling it? You’ve seen Arlene, right? The girl wears sweatshirts with the hood pulled up in the heat of summer. She mopes around here, all depressed and complaining. She ain’t here much, but when she is, she’s locked in her room.”
“May I see her room?” Ross asked.
“No.” Krystal glanced at the closed door on the right side of the hallway and chewed her chapped lip nearly to the point of bleeding.
“Do you mind me asking why?”
“A girl’s room is private.”
“I see. Even if it’ll help me understand what happened?”
“I said no.”
Ross, realizing he was fighting a losing battle, moved onto other questions. “You say Arlene had been acting depressed. Had she received medical treatment, something I can verify?”
“I took a part-time job over at the check cashing place on Broadway to help make ends meet and Arlene’s Medicaid got cut. The county says I make too much money.” Krystal looked around. “Does it look like I make a fortune to you? No.” She answered her own question. “I couldn’t afford a shrink for Arlene if I wanted to. Besides, what would I say was wrong with her? I got a mopey teenager? They’d tell me to take a number.”
“Did Arlene ever mention hearing voices?”
Krystal shook her head. “She never said anything to me about it, but we stopped talking a long time ago.”
“Is there someone else Arlene might speak to?”
Arlene’s bedroom door opened. A thin, shirtless man—early twenties, with a mop of greasy blond hair and a sleeve of black and gray tattoos—stumbled out of the room.
“What’s all the noise out here?”
Ross angled for a better look beyond the half-open door. A pink and black comforter spilled over the side of a twin bed. A teddy bear lay on the floor. The walls were plastered in band posters, but the man leering at Krystal didn’t look like a Paramore fan.
“I’m sorry, Toby. I didn’t mean to wake you up.” She turned to Ross. “He works nights.”
“Who’s this?” Toby wiped the sleep from his eyes, scowling.
“Dr. Ross Reeves.” Ross introduced himself and reached out to shake the man’s hand.
“Doctor?” Toby crossed his arms.
“He’s here ‘cause of Arlene.”
“What about her?”
Krystal sighed. “I’ll tell you what I told the cops, Dr. Reeves. Arlene’s home alone most nights … well, not alone, obviously. She hasn’t been staying here much since she started hangin’ around with Dwight from downstairs.”
Dwight.” Toby rolled his eyes.
“I knew that kid was trouble,” Krystal said. “Says so right on his neck.”
Ross recalled the tattooed man who had let him in the building. “Do you suspect he fathered Arlene’s baby?”
“You’ve seen Arlene, right? I mean, she’s not a pretty girl.”
“Who says that about their own daughter?” Toby sat on the couch next to Krystal, shaking his head.
Krystal glared at him. “I don’t mean anything by it. She just didn’t have a lot of options. She spent so much time downstairs. I mean, who else could it be?” Krystal lit a cigarette and took a long drag, tracing her nails down Toby’s arm. “Dr. Reeves, you asked if Arlene was hearing things, and the truth is, if she was, she didn’t tell me, just like she didn’t tell me she was knocked up. If I’d have known ….”
Ross waited for the first maternal words to come out of Krystal’s mouth.
“If you’d have known what?”
“If I’d have known Arlene was pregnant, we could’ve gotten money for that baby. Lots of people willing to pay a fair price.”
“We’re talking legal adoption, of course?”
“Do I look like the kind of person traffics Black Market babies? It’s a shame what happened, but I couldn’t stop what I didn’t know about.”
“You say you didn’t know Arlene was pregnant—”
“I don’t say it. It’s the truth. Girl wore baggy clothes all the time and as heavy as she is—which she obviously don’t get from me—how was I supposed to know?”
Toby lowered his head.
“Do you think Dwight knew?” Ross kept his eye on Toby, waiting for an admission that never came.
“Dr. Reeves, Dwight wouldn’t know his own name if it weren’t tattooed on him, but you want to know what Dwight knew or didn’t know, ask him. Apartment 1A.” She gestured for Ross to leave.
“I’m sorry. Did I do something to upset you?”
“I’m not upset,” Krystal opened the apartment door, “but I am done talking.”



CHAPTER TWO


Thirty-four-year-old Lila Wheeler rocked back and forth in her chair, staring out the window of the Lakeside Psychiatric Center with the distant gaze of someone heavily medicated. Her dark hair draped lifelessly over her protruding shoulders and her brown eyes held an unbreakable sadness.
At five-foot-six-inches tall, Lila weighed eighty-nine pounds. Her knees poked through her cotton pajama pants like doorknobs, her leg so thin it was a wonder she could walk.
Dr. Guy Oliver stared from the doorway of her dimly lit room, a place designed for such melancholy. Sparsely furnished and institutionally white, there were no bars, no towel racks, and no exposed plumbing to anchor one’s self to, hanging being popular with mental health inpatients.  There were no belts, no shoe laces, and no sharp objects with which Lila could hurt herself.
And it was clear she wanted to.
A year earlier, thirty-four-year-old Blake Wheeler, Lila’s husband of almost a decade, was shot during a convenience store robbery. The bullet had been surgically removed from his brain, but Blake never recovered. He remained in a month-long coma that led to his eventual death. The day of Blake’s funeral, Lila had locked herself inside a running car in the garage of their home.
Guy had been tasked with figuring out why.
Lila’s breakfast sat untouched on a tray table next to her. She had been refusing substantial amounts of food for months.
“Good morning,” Guy said upon entering her room. “How are you today?”
Lila didn’t answer. In fact, she hadn’t said a word to him for the better part of a year.
“Looks like we’re in for some nasty weather.”
A storm bore down on the center. The building shook from rolling thunder. Lightning split the black sky.
Guy pulled up a chair and caught a shadowy glimpse of himself in the shatterproof mirror mounted to the wall. Dark circles surrounded his hazel eyes, and he’d gained weight, changing the shape of his aged face. His lab coat strained against his bulging stomach, forcing him to unbutton it in order to sit down. He finger combed his thin, gray hair, and followed Lila’s sightline to the darkened grove of changing leaves dotting the landscape of the secluded, private mental health facility he’d put his life’s savings into building. His stomach burned from the ulcer Lila’s case had made worse over the past few months. He clutched his gut and breathed deeply.
“I hope the power doesn’t go out. We have a generator, but it won’t run everything.”
Lila pulled her chair away from his. She couldn’t move far, but it was the gesture that mattered.
“Lila, please. Say something.”
Guy blew out a breath, his insides pressurized under the stress of a newly placed deadline. Not two hours earlier, he had received the call he’d been dreading. Ruth Wheeler, Lila’s mother-in-law and benefactor, had set a six week timeline for progress. If Guy didn’t produce results by the end of the following month, Ruth planned to remove Lila from his care. Lila had exhausted her health coverage months earlier and had since been paid for in cash. The sizeable monthly stipend bought Guy time to maneuver the turbulent financial landscape resultant of the healthcare crisis. He had done all he could think to do, going so far as to attempt merging with the regional hospital to get state subsidy. The impending merger proposal, yet to be approved, was his last vestige. Losing Lila meant Lakeside was one step closer to closing its doors.
Guy couldn’t afford to let that happen.
“Would you at least eat something?”
Lila looked at him, then at the food, and then back out the window.
Mark Santos, a twenty-four-year-old patient care assistant, knocked on the partially open door. Six-foot-two, two hundred pounds of lean muscle, and with slicked black hair, he looked more like a bar room bouncer than a psychology student. “Dr. Oliver, do you have a minute?”
“Sure. What is it?” Guy went into the hallway and closed the door behind him. “What’s the matter?”
Mark handed him a large manila envelope. “The courier dropped this off at the front desk. He said it was important.”
“Thanks.” Guy stared at the New York State seal, knowing the paper inside could only be the merger approval or denial.
“Do you think I ought to get some flashlights ready in case power goes out?”
“I was thinking that myself.” Guy stared through the window into Lila’s darkened room, fumbling with the envelope tab.
“You all right, Doc?”
“I’m okay. A little frustrated, but fine.”
“Lila won’t eat again?”
“You mean ‘still,’ don’t you?” Guy sighed. “I don’t want to have to push for a feeding tube, but if she keeps this up I won’t have a choice.”
“You’ll never get the authorization,” Mark said.
And he was probably right. Guy had tried once already, even going so far as to contact Lila’s parents, who hadn’t visited in a year, to try an end-around to the roadblocks for the minor surgery, but no one would sign the authorization forms he needed.
“Want me to sit with her?” Mark asked.
Pride had Guy wanting to say no, but there was no place in Lila’s care for arrogance. “Can’t hurt,” he said, waiting around to see what happened next.
Mark knocked on the door and entered Lila’s room with a cheery, “Good morning.” Guy moved to where Lila couldn’t easily see him, watching from the side of the door behind where she was sitting. Mark sat in the chair Guy had vacated, speaking softly enough that Guy couldn’t make out what he was saying. He pulled the food tray closer to Lila and opened the music app on his cell phone. REO Speedwagon played through the speaker, breaking Lila’s hundred-yard stare. Mark put a slice of apple in her hand and smiled when she took the first bite, swaying to the beat of “Roll with the Changes.”



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Publishing, Self-Evaluation, and the Slow Tide of Change


Once upon a time there was a girl who wrote stories because she loved creating. She believed in the higher calling of becoming an author, and sought to be the best writer she could be. She asked for The Writer's Market every year for Christmas and spent countless hours pouring over (and dog-earing) its pages. She learned about advances, royalties, hold against returns, contract lingo, and who was representing what in the agent world. She subscribed to Writer's Digest, too, because that's what you did back then. I had books on writing and formatting manuscripts and they were well-worn, as was The Elements of Style. This girl was concerned with quality over quantity because publishing, she knew, was a slow, lottery-like process and there were no overnight successes (at least, not any that didn't take at least a few years). The market was tough. Agents, tougher. And there was no proving ground to get yourself in.

I finally cracked that nut in 2005 when I wrote Correct Coding for Medicare, Compliance, and Reimbursement, a textbook with the longest title ever published by Thomson's Learning. I came away from the experience of pitching, meeting, summarizing, and selling the idea of my work with a sense of accomplishment, of a job well-done. I had been able to succinctly describe my vision, my potential market, and I convinced someone else the undertaking was worthwhile. 

In old school publishing, there are no participation trophies.

Rewind to the late 1990's.

I was a notebook poet, spewing out teen angst and frustration with the dedication of someone obsessed. There was no internet. There was no outlet. The work was not for public consumption. It was for me, and a handful of friends, and it was writing for writing's sake. 

I never went anywhere without my journal and the process of getting those thoughts out only maybe staved off some potential therapy bills in adulthood.

1995 I had my son.

I was eighteen when he was born, and a single mother with very little support. Kudos to those who can write under those circumstances, but that wasn't me. I put my dreams on a shelf for another ten years, figuring I would never be an author. I was a mom, instead, and that was okay. That way my choice.

From time to time I wondered what would have happened if I had stuck with writing. If I could have pursued it professionally and full-time, but writing costs. More so now as an independent author than I would have ever expected.

Life continued and in 2011 I wrote my debut novella, Dead Spell. I was rusty, but what I wrote came from the raw, emotional place I had left off. I wrote the words of an eighteen-year-old girl through the eyes of a woman with enough experience to put those feelings into context. I had low expectations, but had been hearing the buzz about self-publishing, a route I knew came with a long-standing and wholly unpleasant stigma. "Vanity publishing" was the buzz word back in the day, paying someone to see your work in print. Self-publishing was something new, a level playing field for work to get out there and be discovered by readers. 

I enjoyed it, honestly, and it was a lot easier to get visibility back in 2011 before the floodgates truly opened up. If you would like to see Dead Spell in its final iteration, read Better Left Buried, which remains the favorite of my novels to-date.

Fast Forward to today.

Things have come strangely full circle for me from self publishing to traditional and my mixed feelings on both. The flood diluted a lot of great work and pardon me for saying, but there are a lot of writers out there writing to make a buck. They'll game the review system, pump out a short story every other week, or pedal the flavor of the month. Maybe they don't love this work like I do (and I do love it even when I hate it). It's not my place to judge anyone on how or why, but I can't help noticing the shift from quality to quantity. I almost got caught in that riptide myself, seeing all of these folks claiming 20,000 sales a month. I thought, "There's gold in them there hills," but it's not as easy as the Kindleboards makes it seem, and the system isn't "fair."

Condemn the gatekeepers, but I've spent the last three years experimenting with my reading habits. I've found some incredibly talented independently published authors. They're outnumbered ten-to-one. I might be ahead of my time on this, but I want to read the really good stuff--the polished, developed, visceral novels--I remember from my teens. I want to be affected, to be made to question things, and to see things differently. I want the basic promise that someone other than the author has had a set of eyes on their work. 

And that entertainment doesn't have to be for free.

Add to my 2015 to-do the clearing off of books not worth their salt from my Amazon account. I subscribed to some of those free and cheap e-book sites. I promote on them still which makes me a hypocrite in some ways, I guess. I don't download books based on their recommendations anymore because they're not fulfilling that promise enough of the time for me to feel comfortable taking constant chances. Reading should not be a total crap shoot.

Questioning the system as a whole has me reevaluating my role in it. I want to write efficiently, but I want the end product to be the best version of the story I have in me. That means taking more downtime between drafts, recommitting to more reading time (and reading quality novels). It means sharpening my skills with conferences and taking whacks from the new editor I'll be assigned by Thomas & Mercer. I can still learn, and I want to be taught. I want to be that girl again who feels accomplishment, and yes, I guess that means I am seeking validation. I have a handful of ideas for my next work-in-progress, and an idea of who I might pitch to. I know what sacrifices that means making and intend to be a "hybrid" author because people have to eat. This writer's life can't be all romantic ideals and artsy daydreams, but at least part of it should be. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

No Strings: A Book Review


**I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

FOUR AND A HALF STARS!

Richard Marzten is the man who seemingly has it all—at least materially—but he’s grown bored of his high-priced lifestyle and his matronly wife, Monica, who provides him financial freedom and little else. He wants to feel alive, and to that end takes out an advertisement for a mistress “no strings attached.” Scores of women respond via PO box, but it’s Gretchen Trekker who stands out. She’s young, hot, and hotel room ready. A kept woman herself, Gretchen understand Richard’s physical needs, and his desire to keep their indiscretion quiet. She is in the exact same position. Richard has done everything to cover his tracks, but he’s not the only party in the twosome. When a PI comes knocking, Richard will do anything to keep his affair hidden.

This is the first book I’ve read of Mark SaFranko’s, but it won’t be my last. Comparisons could be drawn between No Strings and Gone Girl, but the reality of it is, No Strings was in my opinion better. The story moved quickly with such unexpected twists and turns that I read the entire book in two sittings. I normally read a book a month. Two days is unheard of. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Dark, twisted, and almost humorous at times, the book felt like Very Bad Things. Richard Marzten is unapologetically self-centered, short-sighted, and sociopathic, but there’s something about him I couldn’t help liking. The author does a great job of keeping the reader in Richard’s head and endearing him. I believed his strong point of view, wondering as he wondered the whole time if he was really going to get away with “it.” What “it” am I talking about? You’ll have to read to find out. I promise you won’t be sorry. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Newsletter, Author Update, and Why I Won't Beat NaNoWriMo ... But That's Okay



It's November 28th, time for me to acknowledge that I am, again, a NaNoWriMo failure. That's okay. I don't mind. Honestly, I cracked out over 30,000 words this month, which is phenomenal for me. Better news yet is, all the words are usable. Fatal Intention is turning out to be an edge-of-the-seat whodunnit featuring characters you love and love to hate.

I'm back at the keyboard Monday after a week off with my husband to enjoy and celebrate all the reasons we have to give thanks, and there are many. We're simple people and don't need a lot. Sometimes I lose track of that, let folks live rent-free in my head and all, but this is a year of moving on past the things that have ever held me back. It's early for New Year's resolutions, but I can't think of a better time to make one: 2015 is my year.

I'm refocusing, working out some kinks and dedicating myself to the craft that is my first love. I have five or so major story ideas, most in the mystery/thriller realm, one with a horror bent that I'd be thrilled if I could get ready for a Halloween release 2015.

The Thomas & Mercer deal has and will no doubt continue to affect what I write, when, and how long will pass between releases, but time has proven a great thing. The longer I think about a story, the better it is. Fatal Reaction was five or more years in the making if you base the total time on from inception to completion. I don't want to pump out books solely to make a profit. I want to put out the best work I'm capable of, and quality can't be rushed.

I'm sure I'll get into some serial shorts and have set up the beginnings of a mailing list to share them. In the right hand sidebar you'll see a signup. I am not asking for a lot, only your e-mail address, and I promise not to spam you. I will be featuring shorts from the Strandville universe, which has been rattling around in my head, but is not ready for a book three quite yet. That could change if the shorts get away from me, as they tend to do. Sign up now and I'll make sure you get all the latest news and some freebies.

For those of you who haven't yet entered, there's a blog tour for The Missing Year complete with giveaways of audiobooks, e-books, and even an Amazon gift card (because who, at this time of year, doesn't need that?). Drop by, check out my interviews, and signup to win--free! If you're interested in a paperback copy of The Missing Year, there's also a Goodreads giveaway going on right now (and a link to that in my sidebar as well) that is set to draw on Christmas. Five signed copies are up for grabs. Merry Christmas from me to you.

In the meantime, I'm going to get some air, I think. Thanksgiving has me with a mild case of "house-itosis" (aka need to get out of this house). I won't be going anywhere near Black Friday sales if I can help it, but my dog needs treats and I need to do something other than gaming. Tis the season, folks. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I have been.

P.S. I forgot to mention that Better Left Buried is now on NetGalley for review. If you're a fan of YA horror/mystery in the vein of Ouija, check it out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ink is Drying (Contract Ink That Is)



This just in! Crack the champagne Frisch supporters. Good things are happening.


This writer gal has been holding her tongue for a month, waiting for the blessing to release some exciting news. I can finally tell you that Fatal Reaction has been picked up by the Thomas & Mercer imprint of Amazon publishing.

There will be more news forthcoming, but the tentative re-release of Fatal Reaction is early summer 2015.

What does this mean? Well, first and foremost it means I'm humbled to be included on a roster with such phenomenal mystery/thriller authors as Russell Blake, J Carson Black, Joe Konrath, Patricia Cornwell, my pal Vincent Zandri, and juggernauts like Barry Eisler. The list is endless, talented, and inspiring.

This is a major accomplishment, another milestone in a career decades in the making. I can now add a fiction contract to my non-fiction contract and film option. This is a difficult business. I work tirelessly to put out the best books I can, and I know the hard work has only just begun. In publishing, I don't believe there's one true way. Diversifying how I get my words out there has always been a priority. Fortunately, the right folks came knocking. I can't wait to see how this all works out.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Missing Year Blog Tour (November 17th)

The Missing Year Tour Banner

~ Schedule ~


The Missing Year by Belinda Frisch:

~ About the Book ~


The Missing Year
Author: Belinda Frisch
Published: November 17th, 2014
Word Count: 72,000
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Medical

~ Synopsis ~


Thirty-four-year-old Blake Wheeler was everything Lila had ever wanted. A rising-star surgeon with his whole life ahead of him, Blake gave Lila ten perfect years of marriage before plunging her into the hardest year of their lives.
When a late night shooting leaves Blake in a coma, Lila is faced with a difficult decision: continue life support or let him go.
One year later, Lila remains unwilling to speak, in a private mental health facility where she refuses to move on.
Dr. Ross Reeves knows firsthand about loss, having spent the better part of five years burying himself in his work. Tasked with the challenge of breaking Lila’s silence, Ross investigates Lila’s past and her husband’s death, finding more to Blake’s murder than meets the eye. A series of mysterious coincidences has Ross wondering if Lila is acting out of grief … or guilt.

~ About the Author ~


Belinda Frisch
*Runner-up Halloween Book Festival 2012 and optioned for film, Cure
*Honorable Mention New York Book Festival 2014, Better Left Buried
*Amazon Top 100 Medical Thriller, Fatal Reaction
After fifteen years of working in healthcare, Belinda Frisch’s stories can’t help being medicine influenced. A writer of dark tales in the horror, mystery, and thriller genres, Belinda tells the stories she’d like to read. Her fiction has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of the Zombie War. She is the author of Cure, Afterbirth, Fatal Reaction, Better Left Buried, and The Missing Year. She resides in upstate New York with her husband and a small menagerie of beloved animals.

There will be giveaways including e-books, audiobooks, and an Amazon gift card. Make sure you stop by and see what we're up to. These bloggers are not your usual interviewers.

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo Week #1 and a Book Launch

It's been an interesting week.

For the first time in six years I'm relatively on-track to meet the NaNoWriMo word count. I think the concept is a mixed bag, but I'm motivated by electronic word counter gizmos so I figured, why not? Over 10,000 words this weeks puts me closer to 20,000 done with Fatal Intention, a novel shaping up so nicely I can't help being a tad infatuated with the genius I know will seem like total and utter crap in another couple of months when I start banging away at the second draft.


Don't blame me. It's the process.



I'm sitting on some potentially big news that has me cautiously optimistic about the fate of dear Ana Ashmore, a girl who has suffered far more at my hands than she should have. Let me tell you, her life isn't about to get any easier.

Speaking of difficult. What a friggin' bummer to get pirated on launch day. Authors, this little sidebar is for you. Do you have Google Alerts set up? If not, do it. Now. Do not pass go and such.This handy tool keeps the vanity searches to a minimum. Plunk your name in quotes and the good people at Google (or their machines) send you an email when your name pops up. Mostly I get this when my books are being file shared. Have a DMCA takedown notice handy at all times and be ready to use them. I did. The sites (there were not one, but TWO) have  thus far been agreeable. One down. One to go.

Speaking of one to go ... I have a few things to do (like hit the treadmill to walk off this nervous energy and vacuum my Sheltie's scattered fur) before it's back to pantslining (that's what pantsers do when they attempt to bring outlining into their writing lives, at least a couple of chapters at a time). I left Ana and Jared in the lurch. On the hook, possibly, for a murder they may (or may not have) committed. Poor Mike. Everyone around him is always in question. Let's see if I can't give him a little love interest comfort from our sweet-as-pie Medical Examiner. I can't torture them all, can I?

Maybe I can.

But, I won't.

Until next time, keep reading!

B.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Judge: A Film Review



Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family. -IMDB

High profile attorney Hank Palmer has had a bad day. His client is guilty, his mother has passed away, and now he has to go back to small town Indiana, a place he would rather forget. His wife has been cheating and the impending divorce has him going up against his wife on the topic of where there daughter will live. There's an immediate sense that Hank is more about money than conscience, and more about work than family. Especially since he's estranged from most of his.

The money-driven career man is the jumping off point for a character arc that has Hank rethinking himself when his bad day turns worse. His newly widowed father, former Judge Joseph Palmer, is charged with murder. The victim is a man who Judge Palmer had let off in his youth, the rare instance he levied the minimum charge. The young man had shot up the home of his then sweetheart. Upon release, he drowned her. Judge Palmer never forgave himself for not being harsher. Now the newly released convict's blood is on the Judge's banged up car.

Only Judge Palmer doesn't remember hitting him.

The heart of the movie is why.

The Judge is a slow starter, opening with a scene that is anything but well-researched. I don't know about every state, but in New York, child support isn't paid by making the father of a yet unborn child sign over his brand new truck to the mother. I get what the writer was going for, but ... yeah. It left me with credibility fears. Fortunately that's about all we see of Judge Palmer on the bench. When the story gets rolling it is touching and incredibly well-acted. Robert Duvall's performance was bar none. I cried. More than once.

The plot had a lot of recycled elements: the small town sweetheart (the one who got away), the brother who stayed vs. the one who left, the "daughter" (or mysteriously fathered child born of the one who got away), and the handicapped brother (which seems popular in dysfunctional family movies, but was more moving in This is Where I Leave You). None of that added anything to the movie with the exception of the brother's films. Sorry, Vera Farmiga. The heart of this story is redemption between a father and a son, expertly done and with strong emotional impact. 

Did I enjoy it? Hmmm. I was moved by it. I didn't walk out of the film feeling good about anything. It is a downer. Drama is not my thing. I really loved This is Where I Leave You and prefer it over The Judge for family dysfunction. I see why the film is getting accolades, but I have better things to do with my afternoon than cry in public. 7/10 stars for top-notch acting and too much recycling. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014



Impetus- the force that makes something happen or happen more quickly. 

I'm digging into NaNoWriMo 2014 with the hopes of finishing (or near-finishing) the rough draft of Fatal Intention, follow-up to my murder mystery, Fatal Reaction.

Sequels are easier for me than writing books from scratch so I'm hopeful that I might win NaNo for the first time ever. This is my sixth or so year participating. 2400 words per day will get me there. 

Who knows? Maybe I'll even hit a write-in day or two and meet some of the locals.