Indie Spotlight – Mystery Writer Sharlene Almond

Annabella Cordova quickly becomes embroiled in the conspiracy involving the university she studies at. Her life is turned into chaos when her friend disappears, seven days later a gruesome package is delivered to Andres Valero; the troubled detective, returning from forced leave, only to be faced with horrific crimes that brings his memories to the surface. 

Annabella’s past collides with her present, a traumatic childhood event leaving her deaf and without both of her parents. Her ability to read facial and body language in people leads her to discover parallels from an earlier century.

Initiated to Kill takes the reader back in time to the 19th century; creating a psychological profile of the serial killer that wanders the London streets, his paintings depicting crimes only seen by a killer’s eyes. 

Annabella  and Andres combined must stop this person at any cost, and reveal a conspiracy hidden for centuries.

Unveiling the Mystery of Body Language

I have always been intrigued by the interpretation of facial expressions and body language. The TV series “Lie to Me” increased the popularity of learning more about this interesting subject.

The incentive for me to finally decide to study Body Language came when I wrote my first novel, Initiated to Kill. My main character, Annabella Cordova is deaf, so fully understanding how body language could be read and interpreted was essential to me; as I wanted my novel to be an authentic as possible. I immersed myself into the fascinating and complicated world of Body Language.

One of the key things to remember when writing or reading a person’s body language is that it is not what they reveal in their baseline behaviour, but the change from that behaviour to something quite different.

Armed with a diploma in body language, people tend to ask me “what is my body language saying to you now?”

They might cross their arms, or do something fairly common like that, then want me to basically give them a run-down on what that body language is revealing.

However, it doesn’t work like that. A lot of people think that by crossing their arms they are being defensive or closed off, and yes, that might be true.

That doesn’t really tell me much. Instead, it’s watching people that change from one behaviour to another that exposes what is actually going on.

That is why people in law enforcement talk so much about establishing baseline behaviour. It is crucial at any point if you’re wanting to find out if someone is lying or omitting something, that their baseline behaviour is first established. That way, when you go to the line of questioning you really want to address, you can immediately see a change of behaviour; and that’s what really gives it away.

Now, some people may ask, “well, if it’s that clear cut, then why doesn’t law enforcement immediately know if someone is guilty?”

Unfortunately, body language isn’t an exact science. Although, much can be revealed, people may still not know why that change occurred. But it can give an inkling that they need to dig further into that line of questioning.

So, how important is it to know more about body language? Well, 38% comes from vocal tone, while 55% comes from body language. It is even thought that at around 90% of our communication to others is through our body language, without even consciously knowing we are doing it.

People tend to look for exaggerated displays of body language, but often, it is the subtle displays that are truly revealing.

Body language in relationships can even divulge what the other person is feeling. It may seem out of nowhere, your partner suddenly wants to end the relationship, while you didn’t even think there was a problem with the relationship.

Think about it. Was your partner withdrawing? Was your partner sleeping further away from you, or being less affectionate? Did they sit on another chair instead of being close to you? Has intimacy seem to have gone out the window?

Although very subtle signs, they are also very telling, revealing that inwardly your partner is withdrawing; thus, revealing in the increase of the distance between you. However, if this is recognised early on, you can then try to make changes to help the relationship, or at least be prepared for when the relationship is over.

In a dating situation, does the other person lean closer toward you when you speak? Are their hands on the table close to yours, or in their lap? Do their eyes dart around the room, or mainly stay focused on you? What about their feet? Are their feet pointed straight ahead towards you, or in another direction?

No matter how insignificant it may seem, never underestimate the small changes, words are only a very minor part of the overall picture.

Just by looking in one direction it can reveal someone is telling the truth, while another direction they are thinking up a story. Every little bit contributes to the overall picture.

These aspects are important to consider when including body language in your writing. The more you understand how it works, the easier it will be to write a realistic portrayal of a witness, victim, cop or perpetrator.

And what may surprise many people, is that body language experts believe that the legs and feet are considered more accurate communicators than the face.

Think about it. What is your body language saying about you?

Sharlene Almond has a diploma in Body Language and Criminology, enabling her to explicitly portray her characters. Living in Auckland, New Zealand with her two dogs and partner. Currently, she is working on an advice monthly newsletter to encompass all of my training – Body, Mind and Writing Newsletter. Her education in Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Freelance Journalism, and Editing give her the ability to better understand the human mind and to write about it in a comprehensive manner.

To learn more about Sharlene, visit her blog and follow her on Google Plus and Pinterest .

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Indie Spotlight on Fantasy Author Mandy Jackson-Beverly

An ancient curse

A forgotten love

A painting with secrets only one woman can reveal

Coco Rhodes is surprised by a horrific vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile young girl. When a link is discovered between an education-finance fraud and several girls disappearing from Washington, D.C. schools, Coco’s lover and leader of the Allegiance, the vampire-warlock Gabriel, vows to rescue the girls, and topple a corrupt congressman. Concurrently, the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance’s sworn enemy, is revealed. With Kenan’s whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel his sadistic plan.

From New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue, love, and conflict. In The Devil and the Muse, Coco’s sense of duty to the Allegiance is tested. But will protecting her loved ones cause her to sacrifice her humanity?

A Gift From David Bowie

During my earlier life as a costume designer and stylist, I was lucky enough to work with David Bowie, first as the costume designer for the music video for his song “Day In, Day Out,” and subsequently asked to join the crew as head of wardrobe for the Glass Spider tour in 1987. After turning down the opportunity of touring more than once, I finally accepted.

In retrospect, touring was not exactly the ideal situation for me to be in as I had recently become sober, and the lifestyle of being on the road 24/7 was not exactly harmonious with the emotional and physical turmoil one experiences during the first year of sobriety. It would not be until many years later that I would understand the relevance of this part of my life’s journey.

After a few months on the road in Europe, I decided that for my own health and well-being I needed to resign and head back to the familiarity of the city of angels. But the tour marked a turning point in my life; a seed was planted in my soul when we stayed just outside of Florence in a sanctuary called Villa La Massa.

Skip ahead thirty years…

While researching locations for The Creatives Series and searching for a lost stapler, I happened to open a drawer and pick up a bunch of old papers. As I went to stuff them all back where they belonged, something fell to the ground. I picked up the fallen paper and a flutter of recognition sparked my curiosity. It had been nearly twenty-six years since the Bowie tour, but time did not quell the host of images that flooded my mind. The paper in my hand was a brochure for a small luxury boutique hotel just outside of Florence: Villa La Massa.

As I stared at the photo on the front of the brochure, I remembered the sense of nostalgia I had experienced the moment I stepped off the tour bus and onto the path that led to the entrance of the sixteenth-century Italian villa, way back in June of ‘87. Standing in the foyer while waiting for my room allocation, protected by a border of arches, I had felt safe and happy. Making my way to my room along the third-floor open hallway, I looked down at the foyer. From this vantage point, the arches brought to mind a flower opening her petals to the Tuscan sun – a welcoming of sorts. I recalled the vivid baby blue tones of my room and the view from the attic window – the gardens that bordered the terrace, and the reflections mirrored upon the surface of the Arno River.

There are pieces of Villa La Massa woven into The Creatives Series, in particular, Antonia’s home in Florence, and Gabriel’s Tuscan villa outside of San Gimignano. Through a strange series of events I was drawn to another property in Tuscany called, Spannocchia, and this became the model for Gabriel’s villa. One look at the turret and I knew I needed to visit this place. My wish came true earlier this year and Spannocchia did not disappoint – complete with the snuffling sounds of wild boar lurking behind overgrown hiking trails!

Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for the short time I spent working with David Bowie. He was the ultimate Creative – a sweet and sensitive man who loved to read and engage in philosophical conversations during long flights and family-style Italian dinners.

The purpose of a stapler is to bind things together. Although I never did find my missing stapler, I believe it more than adequately fulfilled its mission.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly is the author of A Secret Muse, and The Devil And The Muse; the first two books in The Creatives Series. Mandy is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. Her first novel, A Secret Muse, won first place in the fantasy section of the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards. Mandy has taught Advanced Placement Art, and previously worked as a costume designer and stylist for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner, to name a few. If you’d like to learn more about Mandy you can visit her website, follow her on Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Indie Author Spotlight – S.J. Hermann

As an indie author I like to pay it forward with other indies and give them a little love. This week, I wanted to introduce you to S.J. Hermann. Steve’s an all around great guy, an anti-bullying advocate and has a razor sharp wit.

His Morium Trilogy is a gripping YA Supernatural Thriller series. I’ll let Steve tell you about his inspiration for writing the series:

After I finished writing final book of the Morium Trilogy, I paused and reflected back as to why I wrote these books. It was more than releasing the one scene that played out in my head; the foundation in which Morium was built upon. I wanted to tackle tough subjects that teenagers may face on a daily basis. The emotional pain that lay buried deep in the conscious of their fragile minds as a result of relentless mental torture. How it might mold them into someone they never desired to be. To do unimaginable things to others, or to themselves.

I dig into sensitive topics that readers may have a hard time reading. Even though these books are YA, I don’t sugar coat. My goal was to provide an entertaining read while bringing forth serious problems; bullying, self-harm, addiction, loneliness, dealing with loss, sexual abuse and hiding your true self for fear of what others may think. Since it was integral to the story line, my writing had to be raw and to the point, for doing otherwise, would have lessened the impact.

Is this a dark series? Very. Is this a series for those younger than fifteen? Probably not. Give any teenager that has bottled up anger and give them the gift of supernatural powers, they will lash out any way they can.

None of this could’ve been possible if not for strong and developed characters. Alexandria (Lexi), Nathan, Stacy, and further in the trilogy, Renee, have their morals tested; fueled by abilities that two of them believe are an entitlement. I want readers to ask themselves how they’d react if they were walking in the shoes of the main characters. As I laid the groundwork for the trilogy, my personal demons from the past had me questioning my own morality. What would’ve I done?

(You can check out his books by clicking on the thumbnail of each one)

His Books

MORIUM (Book One of the Morium Trilogy)

Books Go Social Runner-up for Best Self-Published Book of 2015

morium-book-1If you had the powers to avenge yourself… would you? Bullied… Years of shame… Lexi and Nathan knew pain.

A GRIPPING YA SUPERNATURAL THRILLER

MORIUM is the story of Alexandria and Nathan… and Stacy. Three teenagers who were victims of bullying all through high school. They kept their torment a secret from their family and tried to cope in their own way. They only had each other. Their friendship saw them through the seemingly endless years of suffering.

But hope was in sight… they will be graduating soon. The vision of a new life away from the bullies and the constant humiliation, gave them something to look forward to. If only that day came sooner.

One night, Lexi and Nathan saw an object fall from the sky and went to investigate. As they touched the rock, a strange power entered their bodies. Suddenly, they’re not helpless anymore. They can get revenge for all the suffering and pain they had to endure.

How will they use these powers?

MORIUM discusses the moral dilemma of doing what’s right against getting revenge. When your dignity has been shattered and your life has been a living hell… what is RIGHT?

MORIUM: Dark Horizons (Book Two of the Morium Trilogy)

morium-book-2When the Light of Hope fades….
All that’s left are Dark Horizons…

A POWERFUL and INTENSE SUPERNATURAL THRILLER

In Book 2 of the MORIUM Trilogy, Alexandria and Nathan’s struggle with their supernatural powers continue.

When a new person enters her life, Alexandria or Lexi discovers that she doesn’t need supernatural powers to have a brighter future. She can leave her bullied past behind and rebuild her life. Meanwhile, “The Gift” takes deeper hold of Nathan and his hunger for revenge grows. But he fights his need to absorb souls to regain Lexi’s trust and save their friendship.

Stacy finds herself caught in the conflict between her closest friends, even as she battles her own demons. Whose side should she take? Will she choose love over friendship… or will she fail them both?

An opportunity to get back at Lexi’s assaulter pushes Nathan back into the path of darkness. One final act of bullying sets him over the edge, and he decides to put an end to the never ending pain and humiliation he and his friends suffered over the years.

Can Lexi save Nathan from completely giving in to the dark influence of The Gift?
Will their friendship survive?

DARK HORIZONS will immerse the reader into the intricate psyches of the bullied characters we rooted for in MORIUM. Morals aside, can we really blame Nathan for his anger and his need for revenge? Through indifference, did we not have a hand in creating the monster he has become?

MORIUM: Terminus (Book Three of the Morium Trilogy)

Coming in May 2017 Special Pre-Release price of $0.99

morium-book-3IT ALL ENDS HERE.

One final confrontation between friends… One final outcome.

In the finale of the highly rated supernatural thriller series, The Morium Trilogy, Lexi must not only fight the evil that resides within her, but also struggle to keep her relationship with Kyle from falling apart. Unknown to Lexi, Nathan is planning to exterminate not only the remaining bullies, but the entire town as well.

In the end, what will Lexi and Nathan choose… FRIENDSHIP or REVENGE?

Can they fight their inner demons and preserve what matters most?

steve

S.J. Hermann is a writer of paranormal, science fiction, horror, and romance novels. His books have moral basis hidden within them, and he brings some of his experiences into his characters. Hermann is an anti-bullying advocate and his struggles with self-harm can be read on his website.

Hermann currently resides in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, where after a break, he hopes to return to college to earn a certificate in graphic or web design.  When he is not thinking of stories to write, he is an award winning artist.

Hermann is an avid roller coaster fan who has ridden over forty different coasters throughout his life. Though he is terrified of heights, there is not a ride he won’t conquer. If there is a hockey game on television, you can bet that he will be watching, especially his favorite team the Chicago Blackhawks.

He is an avid Walking Dead fan and will read or watch anything about zombies. Max Brooks and Stephen King are his authors of choice. He is a strong supporter of indies.

If you’d like to know more about Steve you can visit his website, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, and/or GoodReads.