The Gamma Sequence 2: ROGUE ELEMENTS – Is Complete (And It Is BRILLIANT!)

Rogue Elements, the sequel to The Gamma Sequence, was started on approximately August 18, 2019, or a few days before, as a standalone sequel to The Gamma Sequence. I had already kicked around some ideas but I thought having DeShear dying as he tried to solve another case was a good idea.


After completing the biggest case of his career, private detective Hank DeShear returns home to start treatment for a disabling genetic condition that could end his life, but he learns his partner on the prior case has just been murdered. Was he wrong to conclude the secretive killer known as The Greyhound had declared a truce? Or have disciples of The Greyhound surfaced to carry on with the murders?

DeShear is able to attach himself to an overseas goodwill mission headed by the U. S. Vice President, enabling him to pursue leads in foreign hospitals he thinks could be offshoots of Angelus Genetics’ illegal organ harvesting programs and human trafficking operations. Determined to pursue the truth wherever it leads, DeShear must also keep a low profile so he doesn’t become the next murder victim—but the onset of his debilitating condition may kill DeShear before the murderer gets a chance.

Not bad, eh?

By September 19, 2019 I had written roughly 15 chapters and 35,000 words, trying to not “tire” myself the way I did the first time, but also realizing that I had a good start but wasn’t satisfied with a book 2 ending that felt complete and standalone yet offered a smooth segue into a book 3.

I planned on having it completed by Sept 15 or Sept 23…

That didn’t happen, but I did finish at 1am on October 4, roughly 47 days after starting.

It’s 64,000 words before I tweak it this week. (I will add words and possibly a scene or two.)

Group Tinted

Ideally, I will finish book 2 and go right on to book 3 without a break. (The story is expected to end there.) But while I am trying to write book 2 quickly, I will take a more relaxed pace to book 3, writing in free days and weekends, and not squeezing it in every chance I get. Book one was written at a frenzied pace that made me grouchy. I wanted to avoid that with book 2, but I was skipping workouts to get it done in time. Book 3 will be put into a schedule that allows me to spend time with family, work out, and still write.

It’s almost time to ask for beta readers. Stay tuned.


Takeaways From R. L. Stine’s MasterClass

Great tips from Alycea K. Snyder! You should follow her blog. I do.

Alycea K. Snyder

I’ve completed about a third of the lessons in R. L. Stine’s MasterClass and I’m loving it. Here are a few of my take-always so far. Writing doesn’t have to be hard and stop listening to the people who say it does.

Spend the difficult hours on the outline so the writing time is fun. Make sure the outline includes the twists, and there should always be twists.

When it comes to writing scary stories for kids, it is to be obviously unrealistic so kids feel safe enough to enjoy being scared. Young adult writing has to be more realistic or teens check out.

And there are a few key things that make reading fun, especially for kids.

Another twenty or so lessons to go with this one. So far, I’m a big fan.

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53k – and counting

img_2351-23On about August 18th, I started writing Rogue Elements, the sequel to my very well-received novel, The Gamma Sequence.

Now, about six weeks later, Rogue Elements is about 53,000 words long, and THE END IS NEAR!

I got DeShear into some trouble this time!

My plan is to have The Gamma Sequence, Book 2: Rogue Elements completed in about seven days. I only have about 10 plot points left to write, at about 1000 – 3000 words per plot point, so it’ll come in around… 68k? (That’s pretty short, for me! The Gamma Sequence was 83k.)

THEN, I’ll be looking for some beta readers.

Not yet, though. Hold your water.

I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, when Rogue Elements is completed, I plan to keep writing the story – just not quite as fast – so the trilogy will be completed as soon as possible. I’m targeting January 31, 2020.

Group Tinted

Then I go back to Double Blind and see where we left Carly and Sergio.

Think Carly (Double Blind) will meet a fate like Lanaya (The Gamma Sequence) did?

Stay tuned!

Dan Alatorre is Writing a Sequel to The Gamma Sequence!

Awesome post to boost my upcoming novel…

A Girl and Her Book Reviews

This is an excerpt from an email Dan Alatorre recently sent out to his subscriber list:

To be honest, I’m not even sure how it happened. I remember being in my office, working diligently on the horror anthology and outlining the Double Blind sequel… writing a few chapters – you guys remember that, right? And then… suddenly I was writing a Gamma Sequence sequel.

He was looking for a few readers to provide feedback on what he’d written so far, and I responded immediately. Of course, it was spellbinding.

He hopes to have it finished by the end of September and ready for beta readers.

Here’s the mock-up cover:

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A Peculiar Type of Morality

img_2351-23The wording of the title of this post should tell you I didn’t write it – and a few astute followers of this blog will guess that my friend Lucy Brazier did.

And you’d be right.

It’s been a little while since Lucy and I shared a pint at a haunted English pub. (They’re all haunted, I think, from the tour Lucy took me on. We shared  more than one pint, too…)

But I got to experience Cambridge, Lucy’s stomping ground at the time, and the setting for the amazing stories in her PorterGirl books.


And it seems our friend from across the pond is about to release another Porter Girl novel! I have read and reviewed several of them here on the blog, and each is a fun read. I expect the new one will be no different.

2CE55044-077A-4BF0-8A20-F7DBDFF73367 (1)

I’ll ask if she has time to do an interview about this latest, greatest tome, and maybe our schedules will match up and we’ll have a chat we can video and share with you, but for now, check this out.

LUCY: “I thought I would pop you my press release for the new book!”

ME: (Don’t you love how Brits talk?)

 Here is the stuff you need to know.

  1. Every PorterGirl book I’ve read has been a lot of fun.
  2. There’s a new one coming out.
  3. Here are the pre-order links

Footsteps of the Templar (available to pre-order, releases 19th October 2019)



There’s an official party, with swag, too!

‘A Peculiar Type of Morality’

The latest academic satire from Lucy Brazier

The Blurb:

Head Porter’s hopes for a quiet life are dashed not only by the return to Old College of one of academia’s most controversial Fellows, but also the revelation that the Knights Templar may once have left behind something quite important in the College grounds. As Deputy Head Porter and The Dean mount a typically ill-considered investigation, knowledge of this esoteric legend has already fallen into dangerous hands…

Abandoning Head Porter to deal with a College wedding, a mysterious big hole, troublesome felines and a potentially murderous Bursar, Deputy Head Porter leads The Dean and the highly unpredictable Professor Horatio Fox in a race against time to solve puzzles, crack codes and follow a trail that takes them to the very heart of the legend of the Knights Templar – an ancient chateau in Chinon, France.

Coincidentally, this is exactly where DCI Thompson chooses to spend his summer holiday and if he is hoping for an escape from the rigours of fighting crime, he is to be sorely disappointed. in fact, he could be the only one standing between our heroes and the enigmatic, unseen pursuer who appears intent on stopping them in their tracks once and for all…

Looks good to me! It has the same flavor of the prior books in the series, and if you haven’t read them, you should. I mean, I did. I like lighthearted comedy attached to a mystery, and PorterGirl always delivers. It’s a fun mix of humor and real people and places – real history, done Lucy style.




A Little About Lucy:

Lucy Brazier, author of the perceptive political whodunnit Who Shot Tony Blair? and Finnegans What?, an idiots guide to James Joyce’s notorious literary tome, is proud to announce the release of this latest PorterGirl novel, the fourth in the academic satirical series. At first glance, it is a light-hearted romp featuring the now iconic characters of Old College, but closer inspection reveals hidden knowledge and a subtle subtext recognisable only to the most perceptive of readers.

Lucy Brazier is known for her easy-going, tongue-in-cheek writing style, but this latest novel also benefits from a strong foundation of research which links ancient myths and legends with real life, modern-day people and locations. To coincide with the release, a themed event at Masonic venue The Hercules Pillars, Covent Garden adjacent to Freemasons Hall the spectacular home of Freemasonry, will be hosted by the author and her eclectic team.

“Every book I write is important to me, but there is something just that little bit special about this one. The subject matter has allowed for a depth of mystery that goes beyond anything I have written before. It has been an enlightening experience, in so many ways.” – Lucy Brazier, author.

66004056_10157895612813455_5933052030099652608_nLucy Brazier was inspired to write the PorterGirl series after her stint as the first female Deputy Head Porter at a prestigious Cambridge college. The role itself did not end well, but the literary potential made it all worthwhile.

How The Facts Meet The Fiction:

Becoming the first female Deputy Head Porter at a prestigious Cambridge College was both the best and worst decision Lucy Brazier ever made. Leaving behind a successful career in the police, she was persuaded to opt for a change of pace and direction by joining one of the most ancient and famous academic institutions in the world.

She wasn’t ready for the bizarre and often pointless customs and functions of the academic elite, and they certainly were not prepared for having a woman among their ranks in what has traditionally been a male role. Difficulties in finding uniform and toilet facilities – among other things – were both frustrating and amusing to a woman who left school at sixteen with little to show for it.

Whilst making many friends and having some unusual adventures, Brazier was unable to win over the Head Porter. His subterfuge in trying to undermine and sabotage her role eventually got the better of her and she hung up her bowler hat for good after a year. But she had accumulated enough material to begin what would become a series of books – the PorterGirl series – and she hasn’t looked back since.

Beginning as an anonymous blog, her almost unbelievable accounts of College life, coupled with her wry wit, soon gained an eager following and her first novel – First Lady of the Keys – was published in 2016. These were followed by The Vanishing Lord, Sinister Dexter and a deluxe collection of the first three novels, plus behind-the-scenes and bonus material, Old College Diaries.

Now awaiting the release of fourth novel – Footsteps of the Templar – Brazier considers this to be her best yet. Until the next one.


If you read this far, you deserve a treat.

Lucy has been a friend of the blog for LOTS of posts, from writing tips, to interviews, so type “Lucy” in the search bar and read some of the dozen or so interactions we’ve had.

I did a review of Sinister Dexter (HERE) where I show at length some of the plot devices Lucy utilizes that make her writing so intriguing.

She’s also multi-talented, as THIS little post shows.

Great at suspense in storytelling – the list goes on and on!

So, drop a few buck (or pounds, if you’re across the pond) and order up a serving of fun and mystery form Old College. You’ll be glad you did!

Footsteps of the Templar

(available to pre-order, released 19th October 2019)









Why Readers STOP Reading Your Book

I want you to look at these two charts. They are basically WHY READERS STOP READING A BOOK.

Chart 1 says the biggest reasons are:

why readers stop reading a book A

25% stop reading because it’s DULL

16% stop because of bad writing (more on that in a sec)

16% DULL characters or characters who are unbelievable

9% stop because you fed them an inedible info dump


Let’s pause there. This means if you have engaging characters and start your story with something interesting – putting that interesting thing up front, like the opening paragraph – and you don’t write BAD, you will have avoided more than 66% or two-thirds of the reason people stop reading a book!

Gang, if you can easily avoid 2/3 of a problem, avoid it.

Bad writing is subjective, but let’s assume it means typos, poor grammar, and improper punctuation. Again, easily avoided.

So: avoid.

And do what instead?

Start with something super interesting.

  • A murderer spying on his next victim.
  • A woman twisting off her wedding ring before she sits down to lunch with a co-corker
  • A first kiss.
  • A person struggling to light matches over a can of gasoline.


See? Don’t we want to read on to see what happens next? Of course we do!

So do that. And make your characters engaging. Fun. Likable. Give them personalities you’d want to hang out with – because that’s what we’re asking readers to do, to hang out with these make believe people for a while.


On to chart 2.

Chart 2 is a different version of chart 1, but let’s see what it tells us.

why readers stop reading a book B

30% of readers worry that the book will start slow. That indicates a dull read to come.

15% fear a tragic ending. Okay, but we have to get to the ending first, so table that for now.

15% fear difficult vocabulary. Mist of you won’t give them that, so you’re clear there.

15% fear TOO MUCH DETAIL – as in, boring stuff that seems irrelevant at the time, slow pace, dull plot.

7% fear a big boring back story, which is really part of too much detail


Genre and cliffhanger ending means they THINK it’s one genre and it turns out to be something else; cliffhanger ending means the book suddenly stops but the story isn’t finished, so they have to buy another book. That’s not cool. That pisses people off. Don’t do that.

So again, we can avoid nearly 100% of the things readers are worried about – and will stop reading if they encounter them – if we start fast and keep it interesting.

And a tragic ending can make a story sensational. Titanic. Love Story. Gallipoli. Dr Zhivago. Romeo and Juliet. They ALL have tragic endings. Fans love as good tearjerker. They don’t like a nonsensical, everybody dies ending that happens because the writer got tired and the deadline was due.

So the lesson is: avoid what you can avoid.

Sure, but do what instead?

  1. Write so that something super interesting happens on the first page, in the opening paragraph if possible. James Patterson said make sure something interesting happens on every page. Keep the story fast paced. Make the characters engaging, human, flawed, loving, sympathetic, unique. It’s not that hard.

2. Write your story, then let it rest. When you reread it, anything you want to skim, highlight in yellow. Anything you DO skim, highlight in red. Everything you read thoroughly, highlight in green.

  • Yellow stuff, cut by 50%.
  • Red stuff cut by 90%.

As Stephen King said, cut it to the bone.

(Oh, and an outline will keep writers block away.)

All this does is make your story lean and mean, so if you have assigned the proper genre to it, readers can’t put it down. READERS LOVE A BOOK THEY CAN’T PUT DOWN.

Not avoiding these easily avoided items causes your book to get bad reviews and weak sales.

Your choice.