Joseph Clay – Author

Offical Blog

Archive for the category “Book Reviews – An Authors Perspective”

Book review: Promise Me Always by G. Michelle #7-17

g-michelle-2 G. Michelle – Author


G. Michelle writes contemporary romances and is unapologetic about giving her characters not only a happily ever after, but also snarky comebacks, playful banter, sexy males, and hot, steamy action. G. Michelle states that she, herself, is an avid reader of ‘smutty’ romance and likes to include a little in her books. What’s a good read without it, right?

She gleefully admits her addiction to coffee, depressing indie music, and Netflix. When she’s not at her daytime job working as a Family Counselor—or, if you prefer, being a responsible adult, you can find her driving her family crazy with promises that she’ll only be ‘a few more minutes’ at the computer!

As you can see in her photo above she is strapped in for the ride. Trust me you too should buckle up as well and hang on when you read this tale, as the romance is a steamy trip down a bumpy Bayou road.


Joe’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Promise Me Always is the first book in G. Michelle’s Bayou Romance Series, with two more to come. I’m being totally honest when I say I can’t wait to read them.

Promise Me Always is love story of two people, Gabe and Evie, with an excellent and tight plot. The tale is set in New Orleans, Louisiana, and you can feel the humid air, smell the magnolia blossoms, and sense the passion and deception from chapter one. Was the deception intentional or was it by mistake? It could be that one character felt that deception was the only way to keep the truth hid. To them it was the right thing do and necessary to protect all involved, never thinking about the devastation it was causing those near and dear to them. Will the truth ever come out and if so will it be too late to mend the broken hearts left in deceptions wake. Yes this story is filled with twist and turns that will keep you guessing till the final page.

The sexual scenes are steamy to say the least and are scattered throughout the book. When the tension reaches its peak between Gabe and Evie, along with the readers, ‘BAM’ G. Michelle drops a sex scene in just at the right time. Not only are the love scenes tastefully done but are believable and told from each characters point of view.

Gabe and Evie or both strong characters and G. Michelle masterfully brings their flaws to the surface as well as their strong points. The supporting cast is also full of colorful characters which makes the book more believable, as in the south family is everything, and that theme shows throughout the book. The dialogue is right on point for this part of the country and is filled with wit, wise cracks, southern humor and charm.

 What Did I Learn from the Author?

As you know I write these reviews from a writer’s perspective so, as a writer, what did I learn from this author? First off, Promise Me Always, is G. Michelle’s first book and is as close to flawless as one could hope for. G. Michelle did not make any of the new independent author mistakes that so many do. You have read from me over and over, that if you are an independent author, please don’t think you can do it all – you will just wind up releasing shabby work that hurts us all, and it will take you several books that are well done to recoup any readers you have left. Nothing can be perfect, but you can get it as close as possible, as G. Michelle did.

(Note: See Joseph’s All-Star Book Team – if you are in need of an editor, illustrator or cover art designer, the people listed there can help you put out the best work possible.)

Next, although this book has more back story than most it is appropriate and enhances the story instead of bogging it down. That is the way back story is supposed to be used, and Phillip Margolin is a master at it and I use the same approach in my books. I did a piece on Mister Margolin and this technique when I reviewed, Woman with a Gun. Usually if an author, especially a new one, writes too much of a back story it ends up not relevant to the story at all and bogs the story down, that is not the case in Promise Me Always.

The way G. Michelle changed point of views in the same chapter was a lot like the way Ava Bell does it in her book Miles from Home. I use line breaks, G. Michelle also uses the line break technique but instead of the ‘***’ I use centered, she justifies left and inserts the name of the character the point of view is coming from. I like this and see where in can come in handy during sex scenes, as we all know the woman and the man, who are tangling the sheets going at it are not thinking or feeling the same thing.

I also learned to keep the sex scenes real, they don’t have to be pulled off while hanging from a cliff one-handed. I found it refreshing that you could tell Gabe and Eve were normal people who were making love but at other times having raw sex, they never came across as porn stars or contortionists, as not once did I stop and think, there is no way in hell you can have sex in that manner.

See we all can learn from one another and thank you G. Michelle for the lesson you taught me in your writing and can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series.

There you go as you can see I feel this book is worth the dough. You will find the links below to bring home, in paperback or to your Kindle, Promise Me Always. G. Michelle has also agreed to answer Joe’s Twenty off the Wall Questions, where we find out more about G. Michelle than is listed in her bio. Be looking for it soon.


Promise me Always Paperback


Promise me Always eBook

Connect with G. Michelle on Facebook


Book review: Miles from Home & the Tabu series – 1) C/curious, 2) A/awakening and 3) S/submit, by Ava Bell

[Author’s Note: This blog was originally part of the Q and A with Ava Bell. After her first free book, C/curious, promotion was over, I felt that I needed to break the two apart. As my followers know, when reviewing books I discuss what I have learned from that particular author. I left that out of the original to keep it short, as the focus was on the interview. But thinking about it, I had cut the author and my readers short by leaving this section out and not revealing what I picked up from her style of writing. With that said, enjoy this full-length version of the blog and the reviews of the books written by Ava Bell: author.]

Hello again, everyone, welcome to book reviews from an author’s perspective. Last week I interviewed indie erotic writer Ava Bell (link to interview below), so now I’m back with my reviews of her books. She has written four books to date, three of them are in the Tabu series. This will be the first time I have read and reviewed four books at one time, but I had some time on my hands, so I headed over to Amazon and purchased Ava’s books; all four were under $14.00.

  Books by Ava Bell


 Miles from Home

Joe’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

 Miles from Home is a tale of two young people, Maggie and Sam, escaping their pasts in pursuit of a brighter future. They meet by accident on a stretch of lonely highway and the story escalates from there. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something else happens to one or the other. The dreams of one come true but at a cost, while the other has to give theirs up. This story will pull at your heartstrings to the point of making you tear up. The sexual content is added at the right times and is appropriate and steamy. Don’t let the book being categorized as erotic fiction turn you away from reading a great book, written with feeling that will touch your soul.

The Tabu Series


Joe’s Average Rating for Tabu Series: 5 out of 5 stars

 The Tabu series consists of three books: 1) C/curious, 5 out of 5 stars, 2) A/awakening, 5 out of 5 stars, and 3) S/submit, 5 out of 5 stars.

511h2SuLaQL._AA160_  51Hc+-6HF-L._AA160_  51ywArGsjgL._AA160_Emma is a dedicated mother to a couple of teenagers, Maddie and Luke, along with being a wife to Daniel, who is any woman’s dream husband. However, Emma is lost; she no longer knows who she is or her purpose in life. After noticing one of her friends reading mommy porn, she decides she too can write books of that nature. With Daniel’s approval and encouragement she starts on the path to becoming an author. Emma wants her book to be realistic about the alternate lifestyle of the BDSM community. Once she starts her research her world begins to change and she finds out she may not be who she thought she was. Will Markus, a man she met on a BDSM social site, be her mentor and give her the answers she needs to write a story that is both fictional and true to the lifestyle?

The characters in this series are strong with distinct personalities, and they guide each other through the twists and turns of heartache, passion and forbidden pleasures. I love the way book three, S/submit, ends with the phone buzzing. I found the conclusion to be appropriate and surprising.

This series is excellent as it gives the reader a glimpse into an alternate lifestyle that few can understand and fewer dare to talk about. Ava pretty much nails it. This set of books reminds me a lot of the series by Penelope Syn, one of my favorite authors, Reform School Sex: The Collection – not the stories, as the plots between the two are totally different, but in the regard that in each series you can pick up any one of the books and it stands alone. There is no need to read the others as each has a beginning and a definite end. However, with Ava’s books, trust me, you will want to read all three to get the big picture of this type of lifestyle.

What Did I Learn from the Author?

As you know I write these reviews from a writer’s perspective so, as a writer, what did I learn from this author? First off, Miles from Home, her first book, is as close to flawless as one could hope for. Ava did not make any of the new independent author mistakes that so many do. She followed the correct path from the start by using professionals to edit, create cover art and format the book. Miles from Home has spectacular color inside and out and is readable on whatever device you are using. You have read from me over and over that, if you are an independent author, please don’t think you can do it all – you will just wind up releasing shabby work that hurts us all, and it will take you several books that are well done to recoup any readers you have left. Nothing can be perfect, but you can get it as close as possible, as Ava did, by hiring the right people. (Up at the top of this page is a tab, Joe’s Book Team – if you are in need of an editor, illustrator or cover art designer, the team I use and their contact info is located there.)

Next, although Ava is considered a writer of erotic fiction, I was shocked when I read her stories and they were not what I expected. I have read other books of an erotic nature and it’s one sex act after another, with a plot so thin you can see through it. First off, Ava’s stories have strong plots and excellent characters that carry the plot through the story at a good pace, with lots of twists and turns. Ava is writing about the troubles, curiosities and desires of everyday people and how they cope with those feelings. If we stop and think about it, sex happens – not as much as some of us would like, of course, but just the same it’s a fact of life. Ava builds the sexual tensions and adds the sex at the appropriate times, using terms that are not vulgar, but you still get the point. She paints the scenes with such skill that it allows the reader to feel the desire and passion the characters are struggling with and/or acting on. Not everyone can do this; here is an example.

My first novel I wrote back in 2014. That book is still buried deep in my computer and was rejected for its sexual content, the use of sexual slang, along with a list as long as my arm of other things that needed to be corrected. The editor basically stated that, if I wanted the book in a store that was not in the back room of a truck stop or porn shop, I had best clean it up. My first published book, Demons of the Jungle had some sexual overtones, but nothing you could call erotic. My second book, A Witch’s Dilemma, which is at the editing stage with a new editor, is another example. The main character has a breaking point – that breaking point is when her and three of her friends are almost raped. The editor was fine with it during the manuscript review, but I made the revisions and made the scene a little rougher, since it is an intricate part of the story, and I sent it back for the first round of edits. When she got to the new chapter she withdrew from the project due to its violent sexual nature. That put me behind, but I understood; not everyone can handle sexual or violent content, and I don’t want anyone doing anything they makes them feel uneasy.

I believe that, after reading Ava’s books, which I suggest everyone who reads this does, when needed I can write a tasteful sex scene and that the editor won’t shout about the slang,. I hope I can transfer the passion of the characters to the readers. I’m positive they will not be as good as the ones in the books above, but we all have to get our feet wet sooner or later by taking baby steps.

Ready for a couple of treats, Ava agreed to answer twenty questions in a Q and A format. One of the last questions dealt with advice for others, and part of her answer was write what you know. To me that was profound. Think about it, write what you know. Don’t write to try and please the fans of the latest trend, simply write what you know. I’m just speculating here, and I know in my case this is true, but if you write what you know, you most likely have a lot passion for that subject, and that passion will transfer to the pages of your book, allowing the reader to feel what you feel.

To read the interview with Ava click here, Q and A with Ava Bell – Author

The next treat is a free giveaway, that’s right free. The second book in the Tabu Series, A/Awakening. Click on the picture of the book and boo-yah your there to claim your free copy. This is a limited time offer, running from March 20 through March 25, 2016.


All of Ava’s books can be found on Amazon.

You can connect with Ava on the following social media sites:




Joe is also an independent author and you connect with him on the following sites:

Official Website of Joseph Clay – Author (The only place to buy autographed copies of Joseph’s books.)

Official Blog of Joseph Clay – Author (You are here now.)







Bookstore without Borders




Blog edited by Clare Diston at Human Voices.

Book Review: Cruel & Unusual By: Patricia Cornwell


Welcome to Review Friday

Book Reviews from an Authors Perspective. 



By: Patricia Cornwell

 Book Details:

  • Published: 1993
  • ISBN: 0684195305 (ISBN13: 9780684195308)
  • Hardcover
  • 356 Pages
  • SRP: Unknown
  • Series: #4 in the Kay Scarpetta Novels
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Joes Rating 3 out of 5 Stars

Cruel & Unusual is the second book by Patricia Cornwell I have read. The first, Flesh and Blood I reviewed back in February.

Kay Scarpetta, while waiting to see if the morgue will where she spends the night, gets a call from a Detective Joe Trent with Henrico County, he needs her opinion on the strange wounds of a thirteen year old boy, Eddie Heath, which was found earlier. She aggress to meet Joe first thing the next morning. Why was she up late watching the news, Ronnie Joe Waddell will be executed, via electric chair, by the Common Wealth of Virginia. A single bloody print had been all the evidence needed to convict Waddell of the gruesome murder of Robyn Naismith, an anchorwoman for channel eight. The governor, Joe Norring, had not issued a stay and the body of Waddell is in route to Kay and her staff. Things begin to go wrong from that moment on, putting Kay up to her neck in trouble. Waddell had an envelope tucked into his back pocket that he wanted to buried with, its contents receipts. The morgue makes one mistake after another, forgetting to finger print Waddell, leaving bodies out in the bay, a computer breach, and missing memos. Days later Waddell’s finger prints are found at the home of Jennifer Deighton, who appeared to have committed suicide. Had the state executed the wrong man and somehow Waddell was free? Susan Story the morgue supervisor, begins acting strange, quits her job, telling Kate’s administrator Ben Stevens, instead of her directly. Susan is then murdered along with Warden Frank Donahue, both with the same MO. Susan had made a hefty deposit before her death and Kay a large withdraw, that fact along with Kay’s finger prints on an envelope that the police discover in Susan’s drawer that contained three hundred dollars started the snowball effect. Jason, Susan’s husband, venting his anger and grief, is adding fuel to the fire with his accusations to any one from the press who will listen. He’s feeding them details about the job Kay Scarpetta is doing and the mistakes her department is making. Scarpetta lands in hot water with the Governor of Virginia, who places her on administrative leave till further notice. Scarpetta along Pete Marino, Neils Vander and her old college law professor, Nicholas Grueman, who was Waddell’s pro bono attorney, with the help from the FBI’s Benton Wesley and Minor Downey get to work trying to save Kay from an indictment. Kay also brings her young niece, seventeen year old Lucy, a computer whiz, up from Florida to try to figure out the computer breach. With leading technology, proven investigation techniques, and luck they clear her name while solving the mystery to the displeasure of those involved.

Patricia Cornwell has a gold mine with Scarpetta Series. I think it’s because of Lucy, this book gave me some insight of why she is the spit fire she is. The story was solid and I enjoyed reading the twist and turns as they unfolded, leading me to re-think view what I was certain was going to happen next and who was behind it all.

The Pros:

  • The plot was excellent and could be believed.
  • The characters are strong and as with the other book some I didn’t care for some, while others I adored, that’s a good thing. The Correctional Officers personality and demeanor she nailed, I worked in the DOC for five years so you can trust me.
  • The ending was spectacular, I liked it, I’m sure some didn’t but in life that’s the way it happens on occasion.
  • Patricia Cornwell has a unique writing style, which I like, that flows and makes reading her plot enjoyable, which gets me through the hooptedoodle.

The Cons:

After reading only two books I can see a pattern. Maybe I picked the wrong two to compare. Cruel & Unusual is #4 Flesh and Blood #22.

  • Food is about to be cooked, has been cooked, or they go out to eat, but only on rare occasions do they consume it This happens again and again, in both books, leave it out, and refer to not getting to eat in the story line.
  • The murders, in both stories, two-gun shots to the head.
  • Another similarity, Kay’s attitude, no wonder she doesn’t have any friends and is married to her job.
  • Marino, although a good guy whines way too much.
  • Too much hooptedoodle, all the computer lingo about UNIX, readers could care less, if they wanted to learn about the operation system they would be reading UNIX for Dummies, not Cruel & Unusual.
  • She used a prologue, a poem written by Waddell, can have easily dropped it in to the story.

Patricia Cornwell is an acclaimed Author and at the top of her game, some say the best in her genre. I did learn a few lessons for this book, that’s why I read. Cruel & Unusual showed me by example the following.

  • Series Bait: When writing a series as she has done successfully, I like the way she drops back story in from previous installments, to lure you to read those. That’s why I read this one, wanted to find out more about Lucy. Now I’m wondering who this Mark Character is, were they married, lovers, why didn’t Lucy like him.
  • Epilogue: Patricia Cornwell is among the top when it comes to tying up loose ends by using one.
  • Sounds: I love the way she describes sounds, adds to the story, you read the words but hear the action.
  • Hooptedoodle: To much if it can kill the strongest of plots.
  • Characters: Build strong characters, which have weakness and short comings.

Like this blog the following statements are my opinion and mine alone.

Liking Lucy and wanting to know more about her doesn’t counter balance me despising Kay and her righteous attitude or the whining of Marino, I will not read any more of the series because of it. To keep the Scarpetta novels going, somewhere along the line somebody needs to bring her down a notch.

While researching the Scarpetta novels I came across something that puzzled me so I dug around on the web for a while. The first Postmortem released in 1990, author, Patricia Daniels Cornwell, Body of Evidence 1991, All That Remains 1992, Cruel & Unusual 1993, is listed as Patricia D. Cornwell. Starting with Body Farm in 1994 she chose Patricia Cornwell. Daniels is her maiden name, she and her husband Charles, if you can believe the internet, were divorced in 1989, a year before Postmortem won her acclaim and began her road to stardom with a net worth in 2015 close to fifteen million. According to the internet, not a trusted source of information, her books reflect her life in several ways and there is a lot of her in every character. I deduced she is Lucy, I knew there was a reason she was my favorite.

Joe Clay is a new author, check his work out on his Website, Smashwords and Kindle. Joe can also be found on Goodreads where he answers questions every Friday. To see what Joe is working on visit WIP.

Book Review: Sleight of Hand – By: Phillip Margolin

Welcome to Review Friday

Book Reviews from an Authors Perspective.



 By: Phillip Margolin

Book Details:

  • Published: 2013
  • ISBN:978-0-06-206991-7
  • Hardback
  • 312 Pages
  • SRP: USA $26.99
  • A Novel of Suspense
  • Joes Rating 4 out of 5 Stars

Sleight of Hand is the second book by Phillip Margolin I have read. The first, Woman with a Gun, I reviewed back in February.

Charles Benedict is an unscrupulous lawyer with a high IQ and an amateur illusionist. Most of his clients come to him via the Russian mob. Benedict is magical in the court room a good criminal lawyer. However things get weird when he ‘s on a case,  key witnesses  disappear into what seems like thin air, evidence tampered with or missing, and other strange happenings that allow his client to walk free. Charles Benedict has many adversaries in the courtroom, from the judge to Carrie Blair, prosecutor for the common wealth. Carrie, shunned by many due to her wealth, but she loves her job, and not her husband Horace, who has the money. Horace Blair is beyond rich and a powerful man in the business world with connections in state and federal government. Horace is older than Carrie, if you see them together you would think she is his daughter, but that didn’t matter, he fell head over hills for Carrie in court, and swooned her from the witness stand. The two married , of course not before the pre-nup was signed. Carrie had a good job and could stand on her two feet, the pre-nup, she didn’t care for. Horace insisted so she added her own little clause to it. Carrie would receive two million a year for each year of marriage, payable after ten years, if in that time she stayed faithful to Horace and tells no one about the agreement. Horace and Blair’s tenth anniversary was upon them, only days away. Carrie gets caught in a compromising position and suspects she was photographed coming out of Charles Benedict’s apartment one morning, nothing had happened, so he said, but the miss understanding could cost her twenty million bucks. Carrie disappears before the payout, Horace isn’t concerned until the local authorities show up at his door. Dana Cutler an ex-police detective, now a private investigator, has mental issues of her own. While infiltrating a biker gang her cover was blown, their payback was to hold her captive, gang raping her day after day. Her payback, priceless, she got her revenge but the trauma left her unstable and she loses it when threatened by a men. Dana returned from a wild goose chase that bought up questions. Who had paid her twenty-five thousand dollars to look for something that didn’t exist? Then there was the question of Carrie Blair’s disappearance, had she been murdered, if so by who, her husband? Will Horace hire Benedict if charged with his wife’s death? What about the other bodies that keep turning up with the same MO, is there a Psychopath on the loose? What could be the KEY, to this mess that has everyone scratching their heads.

Phillip Margolin uses the above characters and more in this suspense novel that’s action pack and full of turns. All the questions are answered in this story that flows well, is fast paced, with believable characters, making you pull for some and hate the others. The ending, well I’ll just say you gotta read the book.

Phillip Margolin is becoming my favorite author, his work is outstanding. With each book I read not only do I get a great story that I can lose myself in, I learn something about the craft of writing. Sleight of Hand showed me by example the following.

  •  Cover Art is important: Once again Phillip Margolin’s cover is appealing, and full of clues of what the book is about. Remember your cover makes the first impression, don’t blow it. Phillip Margolin has some of the best I’ve seen.
  • Point of view: Dana the private detective, in disguise, leaves the apartment of Tiffany Starr, a stripper, after questioning her. Once the door closes, the point of view changes from Dana to Tiffany. No new chapter, or paragraph heading, he added more white space to tell the reader of the change. He also does this when an amount of time has passed from one paragraph to the next.
  • Character Names: Some people so they are not important, I disagree and try to give my characters names that suit them, not stereo typing but you want a Joe to act like a Joe, not like an Alan. Prime example, when you read Tiffany Starr above you determined she was a stripper or porn star before I told you. There’s something to say about a strong character name.
  • Thesaurus: Never write a word without one. Phillip Margolin used the word ‘seethe’ means to boil or stew. A writer’s job is to show and not tell, one of the hardest things for many of us newbies to grasp, difficult to do that using the same words over and over.

Joe Clay is a new author, check his work out on his Website, Smashwords and Kindle. Joe can also be found on Goodreads where he answers questions every Friday. To see what Joe is working on visit WIP.

Book Review Split Second – By: Catherine Coulter

Welcome to Book Review Friday

Reviews from an Authors Perspective.



 By: Catherine Coulter

 Book Details:

  • Published: 2001
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-15743-1
  • Hardback
  • 419 Pages
  • SRP: USA $26.95 Canada $31.80
  • Fifteenth Book the FBI Suspense – Thriller Series
  • Joes Rating 3 out of 5 Stars

Split Second is the first book by Catherine Coulter I have read. This book is part of an ongoing series, like Flesh and Blood written by Patricia Cornwell which I reviewed in February. Both are stand-alone stories that can be enjoyed separate without reading anymore of the series. Sure it didn’t get into great detail about Dillon Savich and his wife Lacey Sherlock, who both work for the FBI, same department, same cases, and he’s in charge. I did wonder if they have always had this working arrangement and what their history was. My curiosity peaked when I read in the later chapter’s one of them shot the other in Hogan’s Alley six years go. Not knowing the particulars of the relationship didn’t take away from the book, gave me something to think about in-between chapters. Split Second introduced two new characters to Savich’s team, Special Agent Lucy Carlyle and Cooper McKnight.

The story starts with a simple robbery, which turns bad at a local Shop ‘n Go, as Dillon arrives for some chips. Something about it didn’t add up in Dillon’s eyes. Before he can sink his teeth into the case, a woman is killed in Ohio. His team swings into action as another woman survived an attack in Philly. Could the two be related? After further investigation they are shocked, DNA has linked the suspect to Ted Bundy. Savich decides that Carlyle and McKnight, the two newbies, will work together and learn to get along. Lucy Carlyle, trying to stay away Cooper McKnight, who has reputation as a ladies man, isn’t fond of the idea. Soon she has to depend on Cooper as she suffers a setback in life. Her father passes revealing a family secret in his dying moments to Lucy. The skeletons began to tumble from the attic.

The story flows well with a steady pace intertwining three separate crimes. I enjoyed reading the book, and I don’t like the FBI or books about them, the characters make the story as they are believable. Will I read more of the series? I doubt it like I said not a real fan of the FBI.

With any book you find things that stick out below are a few from this book.

  • Over use of words: ‘leeched’, ‘arty’. The words are fine, but unusual which jumped off the page each time I read them.
  • First names that start with the same letter: I didn’t like the new character being named Lucy Carlyle when we already had a Lacey Sherlock, what makes it work, most law enforcement agencies call each other by last name.
  • Unrealistic: Everybody drives an expensive car, a Porsche, Land Rover, and Corvette. The book explains that the new agents’ cars were gifts from their family, gives you a feeling that only rich kids should apply for the FBI.
  • Carrying a subplot to long: Towards the end of book, it gets a little irritating switching from one plot to the next to get them closed out

Catherine Coulter’s writing in Split Second showed me by example the following.

  • Plot and Sub-Plot: One of the subjects taught in writers class is plot and sub-plot, a book needs a both. Catherine Coulter does this to perfection in this book, and takes it a step further. The three different plots contain mystery, romance, and suspense while all being packed with action. They unfold early in the story and continue to the end.
  • Chapter formatting: There were times when McKnight was investigating in one city, Sherlock and Savich in another and Carlyle with neither one all on the same day. I thought giving the day along with location in a chapter heading a nice touch. I can see using this style when there is a lot of activity and different places.
  • Epilogue: Catherine Coulter closes the book out with an excellent epilogue, written the way one should. Newbies, like me, have a hard time with this along with Prologues. I use the one of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing and never use a Prologue or introduction, I drop the needed back story in the novel. I do use Epilogues to tie up loose ends for the readers.
  • Series Bait: Drop back story to lead your readers to the other books in the series. To me this was pure genius. Split Second is a novel on its own. However to tease you to read the others she drops little back story lines to make you want to find out what has happened in an earlier writing. Example: ‘I wonder if Carlyle and McKnight are sleeping together like we did when we first met’, and ‘I rode in on my white horse and saved the day’, ‘more like your white boxers’ she replied, and the one that hit me, ‘we would’ve never met if I hadn’t shot you in that alley’. I love it.

Joe Clay is a new author, check his work out on his Website, Smashwords and Kindle. Joe can also be found on Goodreads where he answers questions every Friday. To see what Joe is working on visit WIP.

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing – By: Elmore Leonard

Welcome to Book Review Friday

Reviews from an Authors Perspective.




This week’s review will be short, like the book, which you will be able to read its 89 pages in ten minutes. The title alone suggest that these are his rules that he uses when writing a novel, and not a comprehensive how to write instruction manual. Which simply means, don’t think you’re going to pick this little gem up, 5.25 wide X .750 tall X .875 thick, and read 89 pages of in-depth wisdom from Mr. Leonard, it ain’t going to happen. The printed text falls on the odd-numbered pages. The even-numbered ones, along with some of the odds, contain great illustrations by Joe Ciardiello or full of white space. Now on to the meat of the book, the ten rules, listed on a page all by their selves, hey, they are important, but a whole page for one sentence? The page or in a rare case pages that follow explains that rule, in a short one or two paragraph statement. The rules themselves have merit, the man wrote over 45 novels and made a good living putting pen to paper. I’m bad about breaking and following rules. The four below I break a lot, sometimes one of the editors will ding me, and sometimes they don’t.

 #3 Never use a verb other than “Said” to carry dialogue.

#4 Never use an Adverb to Modify the Verb “Said.”

#8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.

#9 Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing is a witty book, humorous at times, with good information tossed in making it a fun easy read. The message Leonard conveys is a simple one, all authors have his or her own style with weakness’ and strengths. Leonard compares his rules to other famous writers, and how if you are them, throw his rule out the window. From reading it I would venture to guess that Steinbeck was one of his favorites, he references him on more than one occasion.

The hardback cloth cover is pleasing to the eye and the dark brown leather that encase the spine, reminds me of ostrich hide. The pages are thick card stock material, not paper, adding volume to the book. They will last a while, even with constant use, although the card stock makes it hard to flip through the book. I checked the book I read out from the public library, the price on the back has it selling for 14.95 in the USA and 17.50 in Canada, I’m sure that was back in 2007 when published. The question that weighed in my mind, and maybe yours, are we willing to pay upper wards of 20.00 bucks for a book that is full of white space, you can read in ten minutes? My answer is yes, Elmore Leonard was a great American novelist who’ll be missed by readers and writers all over the world. I don’t like his writing style, see my review on Fire in the Hole, but this book is a corky explanation of the rules he follows. This Mr. Leonard book will grace my shelves. May I suggest, if you are a new author or a seasoned veteran with many writings under your belt, check the book out or stand there and read it, I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

I give Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing 4 out of 5 Stars.

That rating is high compared to what other people thought about this book. I think the low amount of stars given at times comes from misunderstanding what the book is about. I rated the book for what it was, and entertaining look into how Elmore Leonard thinks.

Joe Clay is a new author, check his work out on his Website, Smashwords and Kindle. Joe can also be found on Goodreads where he answers questions every Friday. To see what Joe is working on visit WIP.

Footnote Tidbits:

  1. The apostrophe followed by ‘s’ as in Leonard’s shows ownership. He is telling us the rules are his, you can take them or leave them.
  2. This blog has a higher word count than the book, maybe I added to much hooptedoodle.


Fire in the Hole-By: Elmore Leonard

 Welcome to Review Friday

Book Reviews from an Authors Perspective.









The reason I checked this book out, Justified, the TV series, I love the show and the characters. The series came from several of his books. Pronto, released in 1993, also a made for TV Movie in 1997. Riding the Rap released in 1995, Fire in the Hole, as an e-book in 2001, then a paperback, reprint edition 2012. The last installment Raylan published in 2012. The Inglewood Branch of the Nashville Public Library System, only had three books in on this particular Saturday, two listed above, and 10 Rules of Writing, also by Elmore Leonard. That review will come at a later date.

Before we go any further I won’t you to look at the above book pictures. Do they look the same to you? Some of you may already know this, but I didn’t, they are the same book, right down to the type, with different titles. Once again I have learned something that will help me as an Independent Author. With a collection of short stories you can release and market it, under the different short story titles.

With all due respect to Elmore Leonard, I don’t care for his writing style, it’s hard to explain, but there’s something about it, which aggravates me. I think it may be the paragraphing structure, how the dialogue is intertwined in it. Don’t misunderstand me, his dialogue is great, the best in the business, I’m just use to seeing it on a line by itself. He is also known as the man who waste no words, I understand that, but setting a scene to me is important, but once again I’m new at this.

The book, remember both are the same, a collection of nine short stories, Fire in the Hole is the fifth, When the Women Come Out to Dance the fourth. Out of the nine, I only enjoyed one-third of them. Fire in Hole, Karen Makes Out, and Tenkiller, the rest were not bad, but not good either.

Listed below or the nine stories, with a one to five rating in parentheses.
• Sparks (1)
• Hanging Out at the Buena Vista (1)
 Chickasaw Charlie Hoke (2)
• When the Women Come Out and Dance (3)
• Fire in the Hole (4)
• Karen Makes Out (4)
• Hurrah for Capt. Early (2)
• The Tonto Woman (3)
• Tenkiller (4)

That’s a total of 24 stars divided by nine equals 2.666. I give Fire in the Hole / When the Women Come Out to Dance 3 Stars out of 5.
Elmore Leonard penned over 45 Novels, along with numerous short stories. Because I like Justified, I’ll suffer through the books pertaining to the show, but that will be all I read of Elmore Leonard.

Joe Clay is a new author, check his work out on his Website, Smashwords and Kindle. Joe can also be found on Goodreads where he answers questions and rates the books he reads.

Flesh and Blood-A Scarpetta Novel-By: Patricia Cornwell

Welcome to Review Friday

Book Reviews from an Authors Perspective.


Everyone in our household reads, most of our books, we check out from the Inglewood branch of the Nashville Public Library System, Friday evening the night before our weekly trip I decided to see what they had new. I opened their app, click on the tab for recommended new releases, sitting at the top of the list,  Flesh and Blood. The demand was so high a waiting list had been generated. I didn’t want to miss out on something so grand and anticipated by a gaggle of  people that they were willing to wait in line to read a copy, I added my name. The Inglewood Branch informed me by email, the middle of the following week, that it was my turn to read the book. I had finished with the reference books that I checked out on Saturday, with them in tow, I rushed to get the book everyone was wanting to read, from the hold area. Returning back home, I dove into it, examining the cover first, noticing, in the middle of the dark cover, with strands of red matter streaming up from a black abyss, I took as blood in water, were the words, in red blending into the red streams:

A Scarpetta Novel.

After a quick internet search I knew I was about to read the twenty-second installment in the Scarpetta series, who knew. I was hoping that Flesh and Blood wasn’t the tail end of a story I knew nothing about, it wasn’t, I came into the middle of a series of books. Flesh and Blood, can be read by its self, the story starts fresh, at no time did I feel the need to check out the earlier books to find out what was going on. I do admit that the history between the main characters is a little sketchy, but what do you except, I’m assuming some of them have been together for several books if not the entire series. Once again it didn’t take away from this story, just makes you wonder, if maybe they saw this coming sometime ago.

The story line was solid, lots of suspense, unfolding throughout the plot, with interesting sub-plots. The players in Flesh and Blood all had a unique personality, some I liked, some I hated, while others I was hoping would get killed. That’s not a bad thing, if you want somebody dead in a book, the writer has done a heck of job with that character. The dialog between each another was spectacular, the back and forth banter gave you the feeling these were real people, with issues of their own. These troubles sometimes spewed over, causing conflict between friends, while trying to band together to solve a baffling series of killings. I also think Socks, a Greyhound, the family dog was a nice addition to the story, having a family pet makes the characters and story relatable. May favorite character besides Socks, would be Lucy, something about that girls attitude hits home with me.

From a writers stand point, new ones such as myself, we have a hard time understanding what should go into a prologue and epilogue. Patricia Cornwell’s epilogue, should be used in a writer’s class, it’s the best example I’ve ever seen, and closes the book out perfectly. This is why I read, to learn the craft from writers who are at the top of their game. Thank you Patricia Cornwell for an excellent lesson in the art of ending a book using this technique.

One of the issues I had with the book is a small one. In class we were taught how to choose names for your characters. The reason this stood out, my professor screamed it, my editor has preached it, till it soaked into my thick skull. Most readers don’t read whole words only bits, for this reason, you should stay away from giving characters names that start with the same letter, I understand now why. I had to adjust to the ‘M’ and slow down when I ran across it. Marino, who I take has been around a while, since at one time he was Kay’s Chief Forensic officer, and his friend Machado, who talked Marino into going back in to policing, I’m figuring in an earlier book. At times it was confusing who was who, I would have to re-track to get it straight. Thank God toward the end, one dropped out of the book. I guess if you have written twenty-two books with a central cast, names are hard to come by, or she has more led way with the editors than I do, as she should.

The other issue, not really that big either, after all this is fiction, but she is so detailed in her writing and the terminology she uses, is right on. I may also be wrong in what I think happened, didn’t happen that way at all. The first crime scene they visit, Kay and Marino, the body is face up, two entrance wounds, one to the eye, one to the base of the skull. I’m not going to say where they think the shooter was located, don’t want to give it away, but if it’s where they suspect the shot came from, the body wouldn’t be in the position she found it in, not in less it had been moved. One again I could be wrong.

I give Flesh and Blood 3.5 Stars out of 5. The book flowed well with a couple of lulls, one needs time to breath. The characters, Lucy in particular, I want to learn more about, I will be searching for book one, Postmortem, and get to know everyone better and caught up, hopefully before the next book is released. I’ve read some reviews that hated the way the book ended, I’m not one of those, as I thought it was perfect. Thank you once again Patricia Cornwell for a great story of suspense and mystery.

Joe Clay is a new author, his works can be found on Amazon-KindleSmashwords and Goodreads where he answers questions every Friday, and rates the books he reads.

Connect with him on Social Media, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter.

Woman with a Gun–Author: Phillip Margolin 4 out of 5 Stars




Welcome to the first Review Friday.

 A writer, must do just that, to hone their skills. Subject matter isn’t important, putting words on paper, in a form of a blog, keeping a journal, or working on a novel, just write every day. Another important thing for them to do, READ, somebody’s work beside your own, in all genres. Reading will improve your craft. I fell short last year in that department, reading only five books, that’s on the high side. This year I have vowed to improve on that total.

Reading takes us away, in order for new writers to accomplish this for their readers, they most learn from those who are masters at doing it. Reading is gaining knowledge of the craft. How does James Patterson set a scene, Mark Twain was a master at keeping dialogue true to his characters ethnic origins. Stephen King, how does he set the tone and pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat, how is Penelope Syn so masterful in bringing her characters to life, allowing the reader to feel their desire, pain and pleasure. How did A.N. Roquelaure (Ann Rice) in her trilogy, set the tone and era perfectly. You won’t have any idea if you don’t pick up a book and read it.

While diving into the pages of a book, as a writer, you pick up on technique, dialog, and plot structure, the way they draw the reader into the story by showing what’s happening and not telling. You feel the characters heartbreak, joy, and fear. Their words paint the picture as if you were watching it on the big screen, evoking all five senses.

A light, no brighter than sixty watts, came on, lighting up the dark empty skull where a brain should be. Read and Write, if I was going to read more I would also write a review of what I was reading, from my perspective. Don’t worry I hate spoilers and will not give away the ending, I hate when someone does that.

 Woman with a Gun.

By: Phillip Margolin

 I had never heard of Phillip Margolin, and I’m sure he has never heard of me. Mr. Margolin has written many a novel, eighteen to be exact when the above one was published. He has a long background as a defense attorney handling thirty murder cases. What made me pick Phillip Margolin’s book from the Inglewood branch library out of the thousands I had to choose from. The cover, that’s right, the cover art.

New authors take note to what I just typed, the COVER ART is why I chose his book. Your web site is the only place that markets your books with no competition. Book stores, libraries, and e-book retailers, carries everyone’s work. Your published work will be tossed among hundreds if not thousands of others. The cover art makes the first impression and we know what they say about first impressions, on with the review.

Woman with a Gun depicts beautiful scenery in the North West Pacific region, where a majority of the story takes place, but also gives us the hustle and bustle of life in New York. I liked the way Mr. Margolin drew a contrast between the two, you could feel the relaxation of the waves and ocean breeze brought to one’s soul versus the tension of a crowded city. Stacey, a receptionist, had been convinced by her college professor, that her short story should be expanded into a novel. Stacey moves to New York to do just that, but as with all of us life got in the way, she was getting nowhere. She needed some type of motivation to kick-start her creative juices flowing. Stacey decided that a trip to the museum at lunch, there was an exhibit she wanted to see, maybe would break the funk that had a hold on her. Her lunch relief arrived and she agreed if Stacey was late coming back she would cover the phones. Stacey had finished looking at the pieces she went to see, her eyes darted as they were drawn to a black and white photograph. You guessed it, the one Mr. Margolin used for the book cover. The photo drew Stacey in, mesmerizing her, she had questions dancing in her head. Stacey had to figure out what was behind this simple but intriguing master piece taken by Kathy Moran. This was the kick Stacey needed to get her writing back on track, this picture would be her focal point. From there Woman with a Gun explodes into action and will hold you captive till the end. The book moves along at a good pace, the characters are strong, and fit right into the story. The plot is concrete with more twist and turns than a formula one road race, with a great ending.

Let’s talk back story, this book has a lot of it, after Part One, Woman with a Gun, takes place in 2015 with Chapter One. Next Mr. Margolin takes us back to 2005 in Part Two, The Cahill Case begins in Chapter Two. Part Two leads to Part Three, The Kilbride Case, the year 2000, and begins Chapter Seven. Mr. Margolin uses Part Four, The Cahill Case to bring us back to 2005 beginning in Chapter Fourteen. Part Five, Palisades Heights brings up back to 2015 starting with Chapter Twenty Eight. Chapter Thirty Six opens Part Six, The Smoking Gun, still in the year 2015 which takes us to the end of the book in Chapter Fifty. Why did I bring this up, that’s over twenty-five chapters of back story? From the books I’ve read, classes I’ve taken, and editors who have bled on my work, that’s a no-no, if you’re new. Mr. Margolin taught me a way to bring the back story to life with action, character building, and events that tied to the main plot through sub plots. I found this to be pure genius on his part. There were other rules he broke or pushed to the edge of the proverbial envelope, hey when you got eighteen novels under your belt, instead of one, you get some lead way.

I give Woman with a Gun 4 out of 5 Stars. I read the book in a day, it was raining and cold outside, but I felt the warmth of the North Pacific sun. Thank you Phillip Margolin for a great suspense mystery, and the opportunity to learn from your writing. I look forward to reading more of your works.

Joe Clay is a new author, his works can be found at the below links. His reviews can be found on Goodreads along with what he’s reading.

swlogo    amazon



Post Navigation

Joe - Coming Unglued

The life of a writer away from the keyboard

Southern Georgia Bunny

Adventures of an Southern Bunny everything from dating, sex, life and shake your head moments.

Human Voices | Clare Diston

%d bloggers like this: