Lady Justice has a long memory as FBI analyst Jake Bernstein investigates a suspected Nazi spy wanted for war crimes.
A BODYGUARD OF LIES is a riveting blend of romantic thriller, mystery and WWII espionage. A Jewish-American FBI analyst, Jake Bernstein, is recruited by MI-5 to go undercover and investigate a naturalized American grandmother. The elderly woman is suspected by MI-5 of being a notorious Nazi spy wanted for war crimes. Jake Bernstein runs into a series of complications: This spy knows a secret that could endanger the British royal family; his attraction to the old woman’s beautiful granddaughter; an Irish, neo-Nazi group tries to kill him; and all the while, a clever, cagey old woman stands in the way of justice.
At our RWA chapter meeting (our guest speaker, Patricia Nelson, a literary agent with Marsal Lyons Lit.Agency), Lara Van Hulzen and I signed and sold our latest novels. Lara writes Christian-based romances and I was featuring my newest release, Book One in The Delphi Bloodline series, ATHENA'S SECRETS--a romantic suspense with a clairvoyant-artist heroine. Set in Washington, D.C. Available on The Wild Rose Press website, Amazon/Kindle/Nook/Apple in print and eBook.
Blog #2 THE DELPHI BLOODLINE series/ATHENA’S SECRETS
My Personal Research into ESP Phenomena
By Donna Del Oro
It started with my cousin. She was a full-time, practicing psychic. People came from all over California for her “readings”, at which she claimed an approximately 85% accuracy. One day, while in my 40’s, I decided to get a reading from her. Extremely skeptical—although I’d known her all my life and knew she wasn’t a con artist—I arrived, fully expecting a lot of lucky guesses on her part. An hour later, I left dazed and confused. How did she know that my husband and I were deliberating over which of two investment opportunities to take. We hadn’t mentioned this to anyone, not even anyone in my family or my husband’s. The one my cousin advised against—and which we didn’t take, fortunately—ended up in bankruptcy a year later. There were other revelations that day that proved true in the months to come.
And so, I became intrigued by this strange phenomena known as ESP, or sometimes psi. Whatever you called it, it was known as “extrasensory perception”. My cousin claimed to be a “clairvoyant”, or able to “see” what most humans cannot see. Her insights into people, their health, and other personal facts were amazing to me. People in my family both welcomed and dreaded her phone calls. It was often: “You’ve got diabetes,” “You have a cancerous tumor in your bladder. See a doctor immediately”, “Your appendix is infected. Get yourself to a hospital now!” One close friend of the family received one of her calls. She told her that her brother was dying of cancer and that this friend should call him as soon as possible. The friend insisted that her thirty-five year-old brother was perfectly healthy and they’d just spoken days before. However, my cousin persisted and prevailed, even over objections of the friend’s brother. Two weeks later, the friend’s brother called back. He’d seen a doctor, had gotten a series of tests, and his prognosis was grim. He died a year later after a valiant battle against cancer.
When I probed my cousin, she explained the genesis of her visions and revelations. As a child of eight, she began having dreams. Some occurred at night while she slept, while others happened as daytime visions. A recurring vision puzzled her but one day it suddenly made sense. Her parents—my aunt and uncle—had announced that they were moving to Hollister, California and had just bought a house with property attached. My cousin “knew” what it looked like and proceeded to describe it to her parents, who hadn’t shown pictures of it to anyone. What she described, from the house to the trees, driveway and outbuildings, matched the place her parents had just put a down payment on.
After that, the family believed my cousin to have a gift from God. That experience prompted me to open my mind and begin a thirty-year exploration into ESP. What I’ve learned has convinced me that clairvoyance does exist, and that perhaps to some extent, precognition. Many people have incredible, intuitive abilities and many share this gift with others, at no intent of monetary gain but simply a desire to help others. A poll cited in the Journal of Parapsychology showed that at least sixty percent of Americans believe that they have had at least one psychic experience in their lives.
The difference between a true psychic and a charlatan, or someone who uses trickery and seeks profit or notoriety? Only one does it for monetary gain. True psychics, as do the psychic women in ATHENA’S SECRETS (Book One, THE DELPHI BLOODLINE Series) share their gifts quietly and gratuitously.
Like my cousin.
What if you could read minds
with just a touch?
Would you be able to trust anyone?
Athena Butler, the twenty-year-old
descendant of an ancient bloodline of
psychics, yearns to lead a normal life.
She wants a career, a boyfriend,
independence. Her clairvoyant gift,
however, has taught her that people
can be false and dangerous. Although
warned to keep her powers a secret,
she's recruited by law enforcement to
help search for a serial killer and
uncover a terrorist cell.
Can Athena stay alive long enough
to fulfill her dream?
“…cuts romance with the razored-edge
suspense of a great thriller…”
--James Rollins, NYTimes bestselling
“"In ATHENA'S SECRETS, a young woman just coming into her ESP powers is intriguing. Add in threats to her family and a blossoming love interest and you have a fascinating, fast-paced read."--Dee Brice, Author of It Takes a Thief.
ATHENA'S SECRETS HAS A RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 16th, 2015! Soon available in ebook/print on Amazon.com/TheWildRosePress.com/Kindle/Nook.
ON AUGUST 27TH, 2015 AT THE INTERNATIONAL LATINO BOOK AWARD CEREMONY, MARRIOTT MARQUIS HOTEL, SAN FRANCISCO--Born To Sing won Second Place for BEST ROMANCE novel! Celebrity author Victor Villasenor and I congratulate each other!
"MASTERY OF MYSTERY: Donna Del Oro"--Granite Bay View newspaper
Award-winning author of three riveting series:
BORN TO SING, a romance series about professional singers, their careers and love lives
The JAKE BERNSTEIN FBI ROMANTIC THRILLER SERIES
THE DELPHI BLOODLINE, about a long bloodline of psychic women featuring artist Athena Butler
"Master of Smart, Romantic Thrillers" and "Award-winning author of Mainstream Fiction"
My pen name is Donna Del Oro and I live in Northern California near the Sierra Nevada foothills and Folsom Lake. After retiring from high school teaching, I decided life was too short to waste. Thus, began a journey doing what I'd been wanting to do for many years--write fiction. I sold my first novel, OPERATION FAMILIA, right away and this book went on to win an award for the Best 2010 Latino Books into Movies Award. Following that first sale, I published three more women's fiction books, then branched out into writing my first love, romantic thrillers. This year, 2012, saw the launch of A BODYGUARD OF LIES and THE DELPHI BLOODLINE, both ebooks and available on Kindle, Nook, Apple, and elsewhere. If you have read any of my books, I welcome your input. Leave me a review on Amazon and your name goes into a pile for a $50 gift card at B&N, my favorite bookstore. You can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for dropping by!"
When I'm not writing, I sing with a Sweet Adeline's chorus, the Sacramento Valley chorus. Check out this link to find out about this exciting chorus of women singers!
MUSA PUBLISHING CLOSED ITS DOORS ON FEB. 28, 2015. THE JAKE BERNSTEIN FBI SERIES IS LOOKING FOR A NEW PUBLISHING HOME. WILL KEEP YOU LOYAL READERS POSTED!
UPCOMING PUBLIC APPEARANCES BY AUTHOR DONNA DEL ORO:
April 18th- Capitol Crimes Workshop/Book Signings and Sales
April 26th-Placerville Shakespeare's Book Club (see flyer)
April 30th- Sweet Adelines Regional Competition, Grand Sierra Resort, Reno
June 9th- Citrus Heights Ya Ya Red Hatters presents
"WOMEN OF MYSTERY"-featuring authors from the Sac chapter of Sisters in Crime, 10-4, $15 includes luncheon, book signing and more!
Crossroads Community Center, Citrus Heights
Registration is required. Contact Jackie at (916) 207-9691
Do I plan all my characters out before I start to write? Yes! If I didn't, I wouldn't know where the story was going or how to get there. Characters are everything in a story. They motivate, push, pull and determine the outcome whether the story's a romance, mystery or thriller. I plan the lead characters, their motivations and goals, their shortcomings and strengths--then put them in situations that test them. I don't put pen to paper until it's all planned all in my head. The chapter details, I leave until I arrive at that point in the story.
I love mysteries and thrillers, especially spy thrillers. Authors like Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, Lisa Gardner--I simply devour their books. How I wish I could write like them! I'm working on it...
Writing has always been a catharsis, a way of working out ideas, emotions, personal problems. I was creating my own comic books in junior high school and wrote my first novel in high school. I showed them to my sisters and friends and had no clue how to go about getting published. Then life intervened, I worked my way through college and began teaching. Then began a family...well, the rest is history. Is it still a catharsis? Yes, in many ways although now it's more of a cerebral exercise. Gotta stave off that Alzheimer's, y'know. Seriously, my grandmother lived a full life and was mentally sharp until she died at 100. I'm hoping to follow in Grandma Eva's path.
I never have writer's block but I never force myself to come up with an idea. Waiting patiently and keeping busy doing other things helps the internal, creative percolating process. Eventually, the ideas come along with the motivation to put it all down "on paper". Only now, it's sitting time at the word processor.
The research part is the most fun for me. I love doing research! For my first women's fiction novel, a dramedy with a Hispanic heroine, I needed to research the Mexican drug cartels. For that and a couple of climax scenes, my sister, Gloria, and I drove from East Texas to San Antonio, then on down to Laredo, Texas. With more than a little trepidation, we crossed into Nuevo Laredo, two "gringitas" going shopping in this little sleepy bordertown. That was seven years ago--thank God! Now, this bordertown is overrun and terrorized by the Zetas, the paramilitary arm of one of the Mexican drug cartels. Then, it was bad enough but not yet too dangerous. While riding around in a taxi, we saw a pickup loaded with men carrying assault rifles--and they weren't federales, either. They were Los Zetas and had they known I was doing research on them, I'd now be buried in an unmarked grave in the desert somewhere. Truly scary! And stupid! Now I'm a little more cautious about my research, where and how I do it. For the second novel in my BORN TO SING series, SCHEMING AND DREAMING IN LOS ANGELES, I went down to So Cal and did a bit of city hopping (there are over 70 small cities in the greater Los Angeles area) and got a feel for a couple of them. Each one is distinct with its own flavor, socio and economic identity and ethnic makeup. I studied the freeway maps, got a feel for the terrain and the costs of each neighborhood, and talked to people who live down there. I'll be doing the same thing with the sequel to SCHEMING, ALIVE IN NEW YORK CITY. For me, the research is fun but the writing is challenging!
A necessary part of the writing cycle are good critique partners. I am blessed with two wonderful women who bring a vital, critical eye to my work and are not afraid to tell me what's wrong as well as what's right. I return the favor, our pact being "Be brutally honest but diplomatic."
Because I love to read mysteries and thrillers, I've branched out and written one romantic mystery and one romantic thriller. A BODYGUARD OF LIES and THE DELPHI BLOODLINE, I'm confident, will be coming out in the next two years. These two were especially challenging to write and I've revised them numerous times until I think they're about ready for public consumption. Wish me luck!
Writing & Publishing Tips
"The Importance of a Good Critique Partner"
Once a fledgling writer passes the 'what am I doing?' stage, you need to find a good critique partner. This person should be an astute writer and sophisticated reader. This is important because your partner needs to be able to read your work with an objective, critical eye. He or she needs to be able to proofread your spelling, grammar and sentence structure but also be able to check the overall story. For instance, scene construction, relevant dialogue, pacing, the balance of showing and telling and other fiction writing elements so vital to a good story. Your critique partner can detect VOICE when, in some cases, the writer cannot. He/she can detect the constancy of POINT OF VIEW and the need for its change in a multiple POV story.
Also, he/she must love the entire process of creative writing and must be willing to sacrifice hours helping you improve your manuscript. All this in return for an occasional Starbucks drink or free lunch. There are professional proofreaders and critiquers who will charge you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for this service. However, a friend who happens to embody all of the above qualities--which I have been fortunate enough to find--is worth a treasure chest of gold!
Good luck in finding your own critique partner and don't be discouraged if you have to try out a few before you find a partner that fits your own personality well. Alway, always be willing to provide the same service in return. And never, never take his/her criticisms of your work personally. Believe me, you'd rather hear it from your critique partner than get another form rejection letter in the mail from an agent or editor!
Interview with Cathy B Stucker, Selling Books
What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it. My third book is a contemporary romance, titled Born to Sing, the 25-year love story of two opera singers.
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m half Latina, so my first two books were reflections of my Hispanic background. Operation Familia and Hasta La Vista, Baby! are romantic comedies about latinas, their singular values, strengths and flaws. They’re more women’s fiction novels because they deal with serious issues but in a humorous way.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had some issues of my own to work out, and this was the only constructive, creative way I could do it.
How did you choose the title?
My third novel’s title, BORN TO SING, grew naturally from the story, itself. I researched grand opera, an entertainment medium that I love, and its famous singers and their lives. Then I felt compelled to tell the story of two gifted people, whose drive to succeed in the ruthlessly competitive world of grand opera causes them to make difficult personal choices.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
No American publisher wanted a story about opera singers, but a Canadian publisher did: Devine Destinies, headquartered in British Colombia.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
After 34 years of teaching high school English, I was more than ready to be creative, rather than a people manager.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Every morning I do my emails first, then my stock portfolio. Only then do I slip into my “other world”.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
From people I know, books I’ve read, fiction characters from all over.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Ebook publishing is the future. Even the big NY publishers are moving to this route.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Never give an agent an exclusive. It’s a waste of time.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I read all kinds of commercial fiction, but I’m especially fond of thrillers and literary historicals.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
The second in the BORN TO SING series, about a professional R & B singer in Los Angeles, who also has to make a difficult choice. It’ll be called: BORN TO SING: SCHEMING AND DREAMING IN LOS ANGELES.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Forget agents and look at all the eBook publishers. Choose the best.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My two critique partners, Diane and Phylis. They’re tough scrutinizers but ALWAYS give great advice.
Writing seriously for publication? Since 2003, when I retired from high school teaching. Before that, my writing was just for fun and my own gratification. The first novel was truly in need of lengthy revisions, which I did and just recently sold. It’s a love story between two opera singers, titled BORN TO SING. I just sold it to a Canadian eBooks/print publisher called Devine Destinies. It’s an all-women’s run and owned publishing house. I’m very impressed with how organized they are.
PAL: What made you start writing? Did anyone inspire or encourage you to write?
I’ve been storytelling since childhood and used to write and illustrate my own comic books. No one in my family read much except my father, who used to devour books. When you have a passion for books, I think the writing is a natural evolution of that.
PAL: How long did it take, or how many manuscripts did you finish before you sold?
I sold my second ms. First, OPERATION FAMILIA, to a latino-based publisher, Floricanto Press. Then my third, HASTA LA VISTA, BABY, both romantic comedies with women’s fiction themes. My first one, BORN TO SING, was the difficult one to sell. No one in the States wanted a story about opera singers but the Canadians did! They loved it! Now they want me to do a series about professional singers, something I know about, since a couple of my friends used to be professional singers/musicians. I sing in public, but only as a hobby. I’m a member of the Auburn-based Sierra Gold Chorus, a Sweet Adelines chapter.
PAL: Please share you “Call Story” with us.
Floricanto called in late 2008and said they loved OPERATION FAMILIA, and wanted to buy it. It came out in 2009 and won the Latino Books into Movies Award in 2010.
PAL: Plotter? Pantser? Or something in between?
I don’t start to write until I have a good handle on the main characters, their conflicts and their goals. I need to know, also, how the story will end before I put pen to paper. This is all done mentally and at some point, the creative drive kicks in and I start chapter one. I usually research as I go along. The one exception was my psychic thriller, which is with an agent now. I had spent years researching psychic phenomena, since one of my latino cousins had a thriving full-time business doing psychic readings. Her accuracy was amazing and she consulted with several police departments. Her “gift” made me curious and it became a hobby/obsession of mine to find out more about psychic phenomena. Is it real or just a clever sham? It took me over twenty years of investigating to find the answer.
PAL: Advice you’d like to share with unpublished or recently published writers?
Don’t get started UNLESS you are willing to devote TONS OF TIME and lots of emotional and mental energy. You have to be exceptionally tenacious and be the kind of person who NEVER gives up. Also, with the world abounding in eBooks publishers, this is a good place to start. Sell to them and keep improving your craft.
PAL: Please tell us about your current release/project. What’s next for you?
With Devine Destinies, I’ll probably do the BORN TO SING series of romances, mainly because it’ll be fun and give me an excuse to travel to various venues where these stories take place. I’ve just begun BORN TO SING: LOS ANGELES, followed by BORN TO SING: LAS VEGAS and BORN TO SING: NEW ORLEANS, etc. The various cities are like important minor characters that influence the main characters and contribute to the theme of each story.
Loucinda McGary The Wild Irish Sea --- available NOW The Treasures of Venice -- FINALIST, Heart of Denver "Aspen Gold" contest The Wild Sight -- WINNER, Best First Book "More Than Magic" contest