Friday, February 3, 2017

Charles Dougherty - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Charles Dougherty. He writes Mystery & Thrillers novels and short stories. Charles is the author of the Bluewater Thrillers and the Connie Barrera Thrillers.

Author: Charles Dougherty

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Nonfiction

Website: C.L.R. Dougherty
Twitter: @clrdougherty
E-Mail: info@clrdougherty.com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile



Author Description:
Charles Dougherty wrote quite a bit of fiction before publishing Deception in Savannah, his first novel. Most of his earlier fiction works took the form of business plans, written to secure funding for projects and startup ventures during his corporate and consulting work, but he put all that behind him when he wrote Deception in Savannah, a tongue-in-cheek crime novel.

Since Deception in Savannah was published, he has written a number of other books. The Bluewater Thrillers are set in the yachting world of the Caribbean and chronicle the adventures of two young women running a luxury charter yacht in a rough-and-tumble environment. The Connie Barrera Thrillers are also set in the Caribbean and feature some of the same characters from a slightly more romantic perspective. Besides the Bluewater Thrillers and the Connie Barrera Thrillers, he wrote The Redemption of Becky Jones, a psycho-thriller, and The Lost Tourist Franchise, a short story about one of the characters from Deception in Savannah.

He has also written two non-fiction books. Life's a Ditch is the story of how he and his wife moved aboard their sailboat, Play Actor, and their adventures along the east coast of the U.S. Dungda de Islan' relates their experiences while cruising the Caribbean.

He resides with his wife aboard Play Actor, sailing wherever their fancy and the trade winds take them.


SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Bluewater Revolution. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I'm working on the seventh Connie Barrera Thriller. My working title is Under Full Sail, and I'm expecting to release it in late March. Connie and her husband visit Isla de Aves, a tiny, uninhabited island about 120 nautical miles west of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean. They find a semiconscious man stranded there. He's suffering from a head injury and amnesia. Because of the peculiar political situation of Isla de Aves, they're his only hope to get off the island. They soon become embroiled in his problems, which are more far-reaching than they could have imagined.

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Relationships that grew from social media connections were critical to my visibility when I self-published my first book back in 2010. Twitter and Facebook were the places I found my first readers. I still use them, but they're far less important to me now.

The first readers I heard from liked my characters and the setting, so I focused on writing more stories that I thought they would enjoy. I wanted to write about sailing and the Eastern Caribbean. I put a serial killer on a classic sailing yacht, sent him to the islands, and my first series was born.

Bluewater Revolution is the twelfth book in that series. The books don't have to be read in order, but the stories and the characters do build on the earlier books. My goal was to write characters who would interest readers enough to lead them to read future books.

As that series gained traction, I took my favorite character from my first novel, Deception in Savannah, and put her in the fourth Bluewater book. Connie Barrera, the con artist, and the Bluewater ladies had so much fun that she stayed for a second book. When she decided she wanted her own charter business, the Connie Barrera Thrillers were born.

While I'm still moderately active in social media, I'm seeing better results from paid advertising. My own email list is my best book launch tool, and the most effective way I've found to boost sales of my older books is to write a new one.

Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Living on a sailboat in the islands limited my opportunities to do those things. My wife and I recently moved ashore for a while (more on that later), and I'm looking forward to the chance for more face-to-face contact with people who read my books.

Joining my mailing list is a good way to stay up to date on my activities. The link to join is: eepurl.com/bKujyv. I offer a free copy of my short story, The Lost Tourist Franchise as an incentive for signing up.

I also have a blog on my web page at www.clrdougherty.com. I welcome email from people who are interested in my books. Info@clrdougherty.com is a good address to start with.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thanks! Against all advice, I design my own covers. I've done some real duds along the way, but I've learned that simple ones sell better. I'm always looking for images that relate to my stories, past or future. I clip them and work on cover ideas in my spare time. I've heard all the arguments for professional cover design, but several of my books started with a cover idea. Developing covers is an integral part of my writing. I do listen to comments from readers and reviewers about my covers and my stories. That's one of the big reasons my covers have evolved over the years. It's easier to change a cover than to change contents, so story suggestions end up in later books, while cover changes to old books are quick to implement.?

I like the idea of bundling a series of novels. You have put together a set of your novels for your two series, Bluewater Thrillers and the Connie Barrera Thrillers. What was the impact on your other sales? What was your main objective in bundling your novels?

I bundled the first three Bluewater books because they're a trilogy. The plot line carries through all three books, and some of the conflicts that arose in the first book aren't resolved until the third one. I have used the bundle in promotions, as well.

I put the other bundle, From Deception to Betrayal, together because the Connie Barrera Thrillers are targeted for a slightly different market than the Bluewater Thrillers. There's overlap in the market segments, but I realized that for a lot of people, the Connie Barrera Thrillers were their first exposure to my writing. After some emails asking about her backstory, I made a bundle of Deception in Savannah, where she first appeared, with Bluewater Ice and Bluewater Betrayal, where she got her exposure to Caribbean sailing. I've also used it for promotions.

There have been some crossover sales, but no dramatic increases as a result of the two bundles. They're there as a convenience to readers, and they do offer two more opportunities for people to find my work.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?

I joke that I flunked retirement. I thought I was retiring early when we went sailing full-time in 2000, but I have always needed something to do. Writing and publishing are my full-time job, now. I allocate several hours every day to working on my current book; my target is to write between 1,500 and 3,000 words per day, seven days a week. That doesn't include blogging, answering emails or managing promotions. Writing to entertain other people is like every other job I've had; to make a living at it, I have to work at it. It's a full-time job for me, not a hobby.

Having said that, writing for a living does allow some flexibility. I can shift my schedule or my work location at will, but I'm still committed to delivering between four and five books every year. "Playing by ear" might work for some people, but not for me.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Over the years, I've tried every giveaway scheme that I could find. They all worked to some extent. I do regular free promotions now and use paid advertising to boost the number of ebooks given away. I usually do one a few weeks before a new release, and one a few weeks after, giving away titles from the same series as the new release.

My goal in all my promotional activity is to expand the base of people who read my books. Giveaways are one way to gain visibility. Regular paid advertising is another.

No one thing will work by itself, in my experience. Evaluating the effectiveness of a single thrust, like a giveaway, is hopeless. How can it make sense to spend hundreds of dollars to promote thousands of free downloads? You'll see a brief uptick in paid downloads of the title for a few days afterward, but not enough sales to pay for the ad, usually. How about spending $300 in per click ads to sell $50 worth of one title? The only way to evaluate the effectiveness of any promotion is to look at aggregate results over an extended period.

I monitor my total promotion expenses against my total net sales. In five years, I've gone from telling my wife, "Hey! I sold a book last week," to making a decent living. I experiment with promotions all the time.?

Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?

Yes, I maintain a couple of lists. There's a mailing list of people who sign up for notifications of sales, promos, and new releases. That's fed by the link I included above. That link is on my web page and in every book I publish, as well as in my social media posts.

I have another list I maintain of people who are kind enough to email me with their comments and suggestions. I answer all emails from people who have read my books. I maintain long-term email dialogs with a few people whose suggestions range from flagging typos my editors missed to ideas for covers to worries about why a certain character is behaving in a certain way. I also listen carefully when they tell me what they'd like to see explored more -- or less -- fully.?

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

You can never have enough reviews, but I do not seek professional reviews. I rely on the people who read the books to review them. I do ask for reviews in a note from the author in the back of every book, and any time I send a mailing to my email list I ask for reviews. I only send mailings to announce a new title or a special price or a giveaway -- never just to ask for a review.?

I have interviewed many authors including one that writes her novels on a cruise ship. You are the first author that lives on a sail boat. Does that environment help turn on your creative juices on? Are there any publishing problems created by living on the water? Does ebooks help with the publishing process?

Living on the sailboat in the islands gave me the opportunity to experience the islands of the Caribbean in a way that most people cannot. We stayed in some places for months, and returned year after year, forming relationships with communities and friendships with individuals. Living on a small boat made us approachable in a way that tourists are not, and we learned a lot about the way people in the islands go about their day-to-day lives. Our views on many things changed as a result.

In the sense that my perspective on almost everything was broadened, the experience shaped my writing. When I express the feelings of an islander in my writing, I'm writing from first-hand or at most second-hand experience. The same is true when I write about sailing, or the frustration of dealing with customs and immigration, or local government.

I wouldn't say that living aboard inspired my creativity, though. I'm one of those stick-in-the-mud writers whose creativity comes from forcing myself to sit in front of the keyboard and put one word after another.

There are lots of unusual problems that result from living the way we lived. Dealing with the U.S. government, banks, or any of the institutions that we take for granted is a challenge when your only U.S. address is a mail forwarding service. Thanks to the Patriot Act, they all want to know where our permanent residence is. A sailboat somewhere in the world doesn't count as a fixed abode. Dealing with that certainly challenged my creativity.

As far as problems specific to publishing, the reason I chose to self-publish years ago was because of the near-impossible logistics of printing and mailing manuscripts to potential agents. I didn't have a high-volume printer on the boat, let alone the means to keep reams of paper dry. We only got mail every few months. I tried that for a while, but it was too impractical. Technology has changed all of that, now, but I was forced to go paperless before it became the rage.

My wife and I are both voracious readers, and we shared our tiny space on the boat with almost a thousand paper books. We were early adopters of ebooks, because paper books were difficult to come by down-island. They were scarce and expensive. Our early exposure to ebooks prompted me to self-publish electronically. I wouldn't be where I am without ebooks, although my titles are available in paper, and have been since my first book. I had the paper proofs sent to people in the States for review, and made the changes online.

When our sixth grandchild was born almost two years ago, we realized that the oldest one was about to turn 17. She was an infant when we ran away to sea. We decided we wanted to be part of their lives while they were still children, so we sailed back to the States and moved ashore.

We're astonished at how easy and convenient life is in the States; we didn't appreciate it it until we left. Having said that, we miss a lot of things about the islands, but after 15 years down there, we have a store of memories.

We're enjoying the grandchildren; there will be boats when they're grown. Having been a sailor all my life, I know better than to think I'm ashore permanently. Meanwhile, when I get the craving for the open sea, I join my characters on their voyages.



Author's Book List
Bluewater Revolution - Bluewater Thrillers Book 12
Fidel's dead, Raul's old, and Cuba's in play. Viva Cuba Libre!

Dani Berger and Liz Chirac are caught up in a plot to invade Cuba. They're in Miami for a gathering of family and friends when Phillip Davis encounters a mercenary he knows from his days in military intelligence.

José Martinez says he is working for a consortium of Cuban exile groups in Miami, buying weapons to oust the Castro regime. Or does Martinez have something else in mind?


Order the Book From:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Bluewater Drone - Bluewater Thrillers Book 11
Dani Berger and Liz Chirac have new charter guests aboard the yacht Vengeance. Blaine and Mindy Wilkes booked the charter to make an adventure travel video for their TV series. Upon arrival, they confess to be paparazzi in pursuit of a movie star named Kev Strong, as well.

Discovering that Dani has an entrée to Strong, the guests encourage her to see him. Spurred on by Liz, Dani agrees. She meets him for lunch to provide a photo opportunity for her guests. Strong, smitten by Dani, offers to make her a star. He invites her to join him aboard his Russian investor's megayacht to audition for a part.

Dani is unmoved by the entreaties of Strong and their guests but her suspicion about the investor's agenda prompts her to accept the invitation.

Does Dani become a star? And what's the Russian up to?


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Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Bluewater Jailbird - Bluewater Thrillers Book 10
Dani Berger has vanished in St. Lucia.

After a trip to Europe, Liz Chirac returns to the charter yacht she owns with Dani and finds it abandoned. The people on the adjacent boat tell Liz that the police picked up Dani from her yacht a few hours before Liz's return.

When the police evade Liz's questions, she starts her own investigation with the aid of friends. In her quest, Liz runs afoul of a human trafficking ring that's also smuggling terrorists from the Middle East into Miami via the Caribbean islands.


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Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Bluewater Ganja - Bluewater Thrillers Book 9
Drugs and greed plague Dani and Liz as they entertain their latest charter guests on Vengeance. Ed Savage, a single parent and a trial lawyer, is taking a break from a class-action suit. Cynthia, his daughter, is a spoiled, dope-smoking teenager. Ed's pursuit of an exorbitant fee has put his daughter and his career at risk.

To Dani's surprise, given the contrast in their backgrounds, she likes Cynthia. Ed, meanwhile, is intent upon seducing Dani. When someone kidnaps Cynthia, Liz takes Ed in hand, freeing Dani to search for Cynthia.


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Amazon
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Bluewater Rendezvous - Bluewater Thrillers Book 8
Dani and Liz have a new charter guest aboard Vengeance who's too mysterious to suit Dani. When the guest's fiancé fails to make their rendezvous in Antigua, Dani and Liz find themselves in a struggle with the Mafia.

Dani, embroiled in a conflict with her mother, has a chip on her shoulder already. When the Mafia boss kidnaps a member of her family to force Dani to bend to his wishes, he gets a surprise. He's not the only one who makes his own rules. Dani, fuming with suppressed rage from her own problems, vents her ire on the unsuspecting thugs.

As she dives into the fray, Dani discovers some puzzling connections to a man from her past. Liz has teased her about Ralph Suarez for years, but he provides some unexpected help in resolving their differences with the mob.

And who is Carlotta Solanó, anyway?


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Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Bluewater Bullion - Bluewater Thrillers Book 7
Their guests deny it, but Dani and Liz can see that they're searching for sunken treasure.

The two men are an odd pair. They've chosen a sailing yacht for a task better suited to a salvage vessel. Besides, a private espionage organization is watching them. Who are these two, and what kind of trouble did they bring to the islands from Florida?


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Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Bluewater Stalker - Bluewater Thrillers Book 6
Murder follows the yacht Vengeance through the islands. As Dani Berger and Liz Chirac sail north from Grenada with their charter guests, a series of killings matches their landfalls.

There's tension between the guests, a husband and wife. Is one of them the killer? Or a potential victim? The facts support either outcome.

Join Dani and Liz and their guests as they sail through the Eastern Caribbean, one step ahead of the killer.


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Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Bluewater Betrayal - Bluewater Thrillers Book 5
Liz Chirac is accused of murder. By the time the police in Bequia decide she's innocent, somebody's trying to kill her.

Liz left Dani Berger in Martinique with a charter guest aboard their yacht, Vengeance. When she returns, Liz brings trouble.

Sail through the islands with the three women as they fight to survive. While they teach their guest to sail, Dani and Liz show her how to kick ass, too.

The web of murder and intrigue stretches from South Florida to the islands in Bluewater Betrayal, the fifth novel in the Caribbean mystery and adventure series.


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Amazon
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Bluewater Ice - Bluewater Thrillers Book 4
Dani Berger and Liz Chirac's new charter guest is hiding something. Connie Barrera brought more aboard Vengeance than just her luggage, but they don't know that. Connie's on the run.

Connie booked Vengeance under an assumed name to escape the Bahamas. She's not sure who's chasing her, but she knows what they want. She's determined that they won't get it.

Connie couldn't have picked better people to fight her corner than Dani and Liz. The three quickly become friends, but Dani and Liz are puzzled by Connie’s occasional moments of paranoia.

Why is Connie on the run? Who's chasing her as they sail through the Caribbean islands?


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Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Bluewater Voodoo - Bluewater Thrillers Book 3
A terrorist plans to use an ancient Voodoo potion to disrupt the U.S. election.

Dani and Liz have charter guests aboard who are studying Voodoo while they sail. They cross paths with the terrorist as they travel. The mystery stretches from Florida to the Caribbean when their guests' research intersects the terrorist's plot.


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Amazon
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Bluewater Vengeance - Bluewater Thrillers Book 2
Dani Berger's just been rescued from human traffickers. She has a million-dollar yacht and a gut full of anger. She wants to get even.

Dani's former captor, irate at his loss, tries to snatch her again. This gives Dani just the opening she needs. Watch what happens when a bully encounters a victim seeking vengeance.

Bluewater Vengeance, the second novel in the Bluewater Thriller Series, is a tale of mystery and adventure in the Caribbean islands.


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Amazon
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Bluewater Killer - Bluewater Thrillers Book 1
A serial killer is roaming from Florida to the Eastern Caribbean. His victims are women who hitchhike on his sailing yacht. He hides his crimes by disposing of their bodies at sea. Picking Dani Berger as his next victim is his big mistake.

Enjoy the adventure as Dani's friends pursue the killer through the islands under sail. Meet some true-to-life island characters as they solve the mystery of the missing women. If you enjoy action / adventure stories with strong female lead characters, the Bluewater Thrillers were written for you.

Bluewater Killer is the first novel in the Bluewater Thriller series. Dani Berger, introduced as a victim in this story, emerges as the tough, self-sufficient protagonist in the series. By the end of Bluewater Killer, she's angry and determined to get even. This is the story of her rescue and the beginning of her quest for vengeance.

If you've ever dreamed of escaping to the islands and are charmed by the idea of living the dream aboard a classic sailing yacht, you can get a feel for what it's like from reading this book and the others in the series. Feel the spray and smell the clean sea air while you admire the islands.


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Amazon
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Sails Job - Connie Barrera Thrillers Book 6
Connie Barrera's in trouble. The mob and the FBI are monitoring her email, and her charter guests are trying to defraud her.

A husband and wife team of investment advisors have chartered Diamantista II. While they're sailing the Caribbean, they're doing a sales job on Connie. She senses a scam, but she's distracted by her newfound cousin. Then the FBI and the mob intrude. Over the last few years, Connie has defeated several drug lords from Florida by convincing them that she runs her own cartel. She's about to pay for her deceit.

Will her skill as a con artist get her out of a three-way trap?


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Amazon
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Running Under Sail - Connie Barrera Thrillers Book 5
Connie Barrera resorts to tricks she'd rather forget when a stalker pursues her charter guest.

Determined to break from her past, Sadie Storm has chartered Diamantista II. She's running from her ex, Jonas Pratt, while she focuses on her singing career. Pratt can't let her go. Sadie knows too much about his criminal activities in south Florida.

Pratt tracks Sadie to the islands, where she's sailing with Connie and Paul Russo. When Pratt and his cronies tangle with Connie, they're out of their depth.


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Amazon
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Storm Sail - Connie Barrera Thriller Book 4
What's the worst that can happen when a sailing yacht sets out to cross 1,600 miles of open ocean?

Connie Barrera and her fiancé, Paul Russo, were in high spirits when they left Annapolis. All their friends would be in Martinique to celebrate their arrival. Their marriage there would be a fitting end for Diamantista II's first offshore passage.

Their voyage takes a dangerous turn when Hurricane Ian springs to life in their path. Being caught in an unpredicted hurricane tests their seamanship, but there are worse things to come.

In mid-ocean with no way to communicate their plight, they're on their own when the real trouble begins.


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Amazon
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A Blast to Sail - Connie Barrera Thrillers Book 3
The yacht Diamantista II is as stunning as her captain, Connie Barrera. Both attract attention everywhere they go. Having just taken delivery of Diamantista II, Connie and her fiancé, Paul Russo, are on a shakedown cruise when trouble begins.

Connie and Paul are working to develop a summer charter business in the northeastern U.S. when they run afoul of a terrorist plot. The terrorists plan to use Diamantista II as the delivery vehicle for a nuclear weapon, but they underestimate Connie and Paul.

Cruise along the coast from Maine to the Chesapeake. Enjoy the scenery and the history as Connie and Paul travel the Mid Atlantic region under sail. They're en route to the Caribbean, but they're exploring the northeast during hurricane season. Connie's got the idea of running charters on the Chesapeake Bay next year.


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Amazon
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Sailor's Delight - Connie Barrera Thrillers Book 2
Connie suspects that her fiancé has betrayed her. Hurt and angry, she can't confront him; they have charter guests aboard.

The teenaged daughter of their guests is kidnapped and Connie pursues a single-minded plan to recover the girl. Leaving Paul Russo, her ex-cop fiancé, out of the rescue puts even more strain on their relationship.

Will they get the girl back? Will Connie and Paul survive as a couple?


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Amazon
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Love for Sail - Connie Barrera Thrillers Book 1
Connie's scared. She's never skippered a yacht on an ocean voyage before. The old salt she recruited to help can't make the trip. November storms will soon trap her on the East Coast, and she's determined to spend winter in the Caribbean.

The pick-up crew she finds at the last minute have their own agenda for the voyage. Inexperienced even compared to Connie, they cause trouble as soon as they're out of sight of land.

Sail with Connie as she gets a crash course in what it means to have ultimate responsibility for your ship and the lives of your crew.


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The Redemption of Becky Jones
Bobby McCrea is determined to save the Becky's soul. After spending his formative years in mental institutions, Bobby has been on a mission to bring the word of the Lord to wayward women. Becky isn't receptive, and she's terrified of his brother.

Jimmy McCrea, Bobby's younger brother, often disrupts Bobby's life. Coming and going erratically, he has made trouble for Bobby since their childhood.

Maury Sullivan wants to reconcile with his ex-wife. A lay preacher, he is a tolerant man and willing to overlook Sarah's faults. Marriage to her affords Maury the freedom to bring salvation to the town of Putnam's street people.

The men's lives intersect in Putnam, which has recently been plagued by a series of brutal killings. Will the police uncover the identity of the "Red Light Reverend" before he kills again?


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Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Deception in Savannah
Connie Barrera is ready to move on. She’s the business partner and mistress of a married doctor who runs a weight loss clinic, but she wants out. He’s not willing to buy her shares, so she resorts to extortion. The doctor has recently killed a pedestrian in a hit-and-run accident to which the only witness other than Connie is a street hustler with attention deficit disorder and a photographic memory.

Connie threatens to disclose the doctor’s role in the accident, jeopardizing the thriving clinic. Unbeknownst to Connie, their major investor is the local drug kingpin who is confused by the antics of Connie and her alcohol-addled lawyer. The mobster decides that his empire is under attack by an unknown rival. His lethal attempts to eliminate the threat are frustrated by chance and the incompetence of his subordinates.

The police finally find the somewhat puzzled eyewitness who eventually recalls his clear but misplaced memory of the accident, and everyone’s plans begin to unravel.

Deception in Savannah is a character-driven novel set in the colorful old city of Savannah, Georgia. The author lends a native’s perspective on the city and its people to this tale of humor and intrigue.


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Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
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Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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