Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Drum roll please...

John Connolly's Book of Bones.

Now 17 books into his New York Timesbestselling series, John Connolly is still going strong. His latest Charlie Parker thriller, A Book of Bones, is one of my absolute favorites in the franchise, and some of Connolly's finest work to date. 

One of the things I love about this series is how it's grown over time. When readers were first introduced to Charlie in the 1999 novel Every Dead Thing, Parker was a tormented soul in search of answers following the gruesome unsolved murders of his wife and daughter. Now, all these years later, Connolly's lead is much more at peace and has even found a way to communicate with his daughter. The tone and feel of the series has shifted a bit (becoming more supernatural), all intentional, no doubt, and looking back it's easy to see how Connolly has grown as a writer with each book. 

This time around, Parker and his gang are facing off yet again with Quayle, an English attorney who some believe is immortal. The two first met up in last year's The Woman in the Woods, but now, Connolly takes their battle to another level. Parker has already stopped Quayle from ending the world, but with another sinister plot in the works, not to mention some deadly activity in Amsterdam linked to a crazy new religion, Charlie once again has his work cut out for him. 

Coming in at a whopping 688 pages, John Connolly's latest reads much faster than its considerable bulk might suggest, and by the end, readers will be begging for the next volume, presumably due out in the fall of 2020. Settle in and get ready to stay put . . . once you start this one, it's impossible to stop.

Happy reading!

Sunday, October 20, 2019


by Chris Goff

Years ago, Smithsonian Magazine published an article by Tom Vanderbilt entitled "The CIA's Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren't Even Human." It's worth sharing.

During World War II, a psychologist named B.F. Skinner received defense funding to research a pigeon-based homing device for missiles. While Operation Pigeon was never deployed,  the project inspired two of his graduate students. After leaving Skinner's program, the husband and wife opened up the I.Q. Zoo, a tourist attraction and animal training facility in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The facility quickly became the go-to training ground for zoos, theme parks and Hollywood performance animals. 

In 1965, after bringing in Bob Bailey, another Skinner aficionado and the first director of training for the Navy’s pioneering dolphin program, a new branch of the business was born. It was the height of the Cold War, and suddenly various government agencies, such as the CIA, the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground, and Limited Warfare Laboratories were seeking their help to train animals as spies. Using animals in intelligence has a long history, and if you asked Bob Bailey, he would tell you, “We never found an animal we could not train.” 

Now, despite the cadre of Artificial Intelligence weapons available for Intel gathering, I can think of nothing better than a raven, dolphin or cat doubling as a super sleuth. Interested in reading more? Here's the link to the article in Smithsonian Magazine, or you can peruse an even more recent report by the BBC

Just curious, have you ever felt like someone was watching you, but no one was there?

Friday, October 18, 2019

October's Rogue Recommendation Clue #2

October Rogue Recommendation
Here's clue # 2 for October's 
#RogueRecommendation from THE REAL BOOK SPY: 

This internationally bestselling author worked in Maine, and also in the mailroom of a big dept. store. 

Retweet, share on Facebook, or make a guess in the comments below (or all the above) to be entered into the drawing to win this fantastic thriller! Good luck!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


by Gayle Lynds

This morning I looked away from my email and told my husband, “I’m in spam hell.”  A tiny exaggeration, but perhaps you know what I mean.  Enough already!
For several years I’ve had a terrific spam catcher that removed all of the worst attempts to infect my online life.  I was protected.  But then a couple of weeks ago I started getting phone calls from friends and colleagues asking whether I’d received emails they’d sent. 

Oh, dear.  No, I hadn’t!

Worried, I visited my spam filter.  Turns out, it’d gotten too enthusiastic and was trapping not only spam but also emails from perfectly respectable folks and organizations. 
So now every morning I force myself to open my spam catcher’s 24-hour intake.  It’s crammed with details like when the email arrived, the sender’s supposed identity, and why the email’s been quarantined.  As I read the information, my eyes swim with nonsense words and weird come-ons and long numbers with lots of hyphens. 

Part of the struggle is that although most of it’s junk, my brain can’t seem to resist trying to make sense of it.

As a result, I read all of it slowly to catch legitimate emails so I can “whitelist” the senders and route their notes into my inbox.  When I first started this routine, I was impatient and irritated.  Lately, amazingly, I’m finding it interesting.

For instance, a decade ago spam was mostly about Viagra, Cialis, pornography, and invitations to hook up.  Now it’s more clearly about money and data – mine and yours, which the spammer is trying to trick us into revealing through phishing, spoofing, outright thievery, and assorted other crimes.  (I’m going to give you some suggestions about how to handle these problems in a moment.)

Buyer beware!  Here are some of the “gems” I’ve discovered in my spam filter.

● “Ohh, are you an ancient god?...” 
    Seriously?  Yes, the above is the subject line of my first spam of the day.  My peevish response: “No, you nincompoop, I’m a modern goddess!”  You’ll notice the sender has my attention.  What would happen if I actually opened the email and responded to whatever further temptations lay within?
    Analysis: phishing.  A "phishing" email lures you into divulging your login credentials — your username and password — through convincing emails and links to web pages. These phishing emails and fake websites can resemble legitimate credit authorities like Citibank, eBay, or PayPal.  Spam emails frighten, entice, or aggravate you into clicking on a link that delivers you to the phony web page so that you’ll enter your ID and password.  If an email seems suspicious to you, do NOT trust it.  Delete it!   —LifeWire.com

● “Men Drugs Shop”
    I’m confused ... Does this mean men are being drugged, or are men offering to drug me?  But the title has made me pause.  And perhaps do more.... 
    Be sure to look at the domain of the URL address in any questionable email. Is it sending you to a legitimate domain owned by a legitimate institution? A lot of times the URL is not to the official site domain. When in doubt, phone the institution to verify the email’s authenticity.  Don’t click  on it. Being skeptical could save you a lot of money, time, and hassle.LifeWire.com

    This is a family-friendly blog.  I cannot reply to this obvious come-on with what I’m really thinking.
    A common ruse is an urgent need to "confirm your identity." The message will even offer you a story of how your account has been attacked by hackers to trick you into divulging your confidential information.  LifeWire.com

● “Investment Company”
    At first glance, this looked legitimate, but then I saw the return address:  support@moldingwomenforgood.com.  Molding Women for Good?????  And you’re sending this to me, who knows how to assassinate bad guys in at least 100 different ways?  YOU ARE A BAD GUY.  Duh.
    Avoiding Phishing Scams.  Check the legitimacy of a link to a supposedly secure site by making certain its URL address begins with https:// (note the "s" after http). Phishing fakes will often just have http:// (no “s”). LifeWire.com

● “Donation of $2,500,000.00"
    I always drool a bit at the notion of getting a financial windfall.  I’m human (weak?) that way, but when it comes to handing out my social security number, giving someone co-signing power on a banking account, or sending $10,000 in earnest money to the “lawyer” representing some person or place that promises to give me more money than the budget of an entire American village, I sense I’m about to be had.
    In every variation, the scammer is promising obscenely large payments. This money transfer con game is too good to be true, yet people still fall for it.  The scammers will use your emotions and willingness to help others, against you. They will promise you a large cut of their business or family fortune. In exchange they ask you to cover endless “legal” and other “fees” that they claim must be paid to the people who can release the fictional fortune.  The more you pay, the more they will scam out of you. You will never see any of the promised money because there isn’t any. This scam isn't even new; its variant dates back to 1920s when it was known as "The Spanish Prisoner" con.  To save yourself, delete the email.  Now!  —LifeWire.com

In an effort to squeeze this lemon of a situation into writerly gold, here’s information aimed at making your online life safer and more pleasant, with thanks to ITBusinessEdge.com....

If  you receive an email that you think may be a scam:
     Forward it to the FTC at spam@uce.gov
    Forward it to the abuse desk of the sender's ISP.
    Also, if the email appears to be impersonating a bank or other company or organization, forward the message to the actual organization.

If you think you may have responded to an email that may be a scam:
     File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
    Report it to your state Attorney General, using contact information at naag.org.
    Then visit the FTC's identity theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft. While you can't completely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk.

What about you, dear Rogue Reader ... Have you had any noteworthy spams lately?  Been caught by one?  Please tell! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

October's Rogue Recommendation Clue #1

October's Rogue Recommendation by THE REAL BOOK SPY is fantastic!

Here's your first clue:

This internationally bestselling author used to work as a journalist and a bartender before he started writing novels. 

Leave a comment to have your name entered in the drawing for this month's free book! Good luck!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Great First Lines

A great first line can be the difference between choosing to read a book or put it back on the shelf. The Rogues share their favorite first lines from beloved books. See if you can match the line with the book cover. Then tell us your favorite first line. 

"It is cold at 6:40 in the morning of a March day in Paris, and seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad." 

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

"It was a hell of a night to throw away a baby." 

“James Bond, with two double Bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami airport and thought about life and death.”

“I was ten years old when I first saw Penmarric and twenty years old when I first saw Janna Roslyn, but my reaction to both was identical.”

Chris GOFF
“The Germans were almost completely deceived—only Hitler guessed right, and he hesitated to back his hunch—AJP Taylor, English History 1914-1945.”

"In the year of our lord, 1355, three days after the Feast of the Epiphany, God put in my mind that I must write a book." 

“Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the morning, save for those not infrequent occasions when he was out all night, was seated at the breakfast table.” 

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Have your own favorite first line from a novel you've read? Please share it with us in the comments below.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Submitted by Karna Small Bodman

We are delighted to welcome author and screenwriter Tori Telfer as our guest blogger. Tori graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University, received numerous writing awards and penned pieces for The Atlantic (online), Rolling Stone (online), Smithsonian (online) along with Vulture, Salon Vice, Longreads, Racked, Jezebel, The Hairpin and the Awl. She also wrote, produced and directed screenplays.

Tori Telfer
Here is Tori's story about how she created a new marketing project for her books centered on tales about "certain kinds of females." 

What Hosting a podcast Taught Me About Writing Books 

In 2018, I found myself caught in a lull between my first book, LADY KILLERS, a nonfiction book of historical female serial killers, which came out in the fall of 2017,  and the rest of my life. I was pretty sure I was going to write more books, but I wasn’t quite ready to pitch my next one, and in the meantime, what was I supposed to do with my newly acquired readers? I felt an immense (though self-imposed) pressure to be producing something other than the freelance writing and editing that, unromantically, paid my rent.

Slowly at first, and then with a sort of maniacal energy, I decided to launch a podcast. True crime podcasts were—are—having a moment, but most of them were focused on crimes committed by men. I didn’t know anything about mics or audio engineering, but what I did have was a long list of weird, fascinating female criminals whose stories hadn’t really been told yet. I launched my podcast, CRIMINAL BROADS in the summer of 2018, and now, over a year later, I can say that it’s been both a grueling frustration and a career-boosting success. It’s led to other podcasting opportunities, to advertising dollars (slowly but surely), and it’s even boosted sales of my book in retrospect. It’s also been so much unpaid work that I don’t even want to think about it! But these days, as I’m finally about to turn in my second book, I’m thinking back on my work as a podcaster and noticing how it’s helped me as a writer, too.

The value of attention

A professional podcaster once told me that people absorb more information through their eyes than through their ears—in other words, a book’s sentences may be long, winding, and full of one-sided em-dashes, but when you write the script for a podcast, you’ve gotta be, well, short. Crisp. Clean.

Since my work focuses on real historical events, it is incredibly tempting for me to fill my pages with detail after detail after detail. See, first she went to Location A, where she talked to Officer B about getting Paperwork C, but that was all a lie, as we find out when she went to Location D with Paperwork C and told Officer E that Officer B had sent her... But the world of podcasting has taught me the cold, useful truth that no one cares about the exhaustive detail as much as I do. There are only so many names, dates, and cold hard facts that a listener can take before turning a podcast off, and while a reader can take a few more of them, they too will eventually reach a point where they fling your book across the room, screaming, “I didn’t sign up for history class!” Podcasting has helped me remember that—and it’s a lesson I apply as often as my naturally long-winded self can. (Whew.)

The value of expertise

The world of podcasting is thrillingly open. Anyone, anywhere, can start a podcast. That being said, listeners can get burned out on podcast overload. They want to feel like they can trust you. Why should they listen to you when they can listen to…well, anyone else?

I’ve found that hosting a podcast after writing a book has given me an increasing sense of authority in my work, and to be honest, it’s made me look like more of an expert in the true crime marketplace. I’m far from a professional criminologist or psychologist, but at the very least, I can confidently say that I’ve done in-depth research on at least sixty-five female criminals from the 1200s until today. Without the podcast, that number would be much smaller. Now, I can say things to listeners like, “Look, if you want to hear more about this subject, I wrote a book about it”—or to readers, “If you want to hear more, I wrote a podcast about it.” Turns out podcasts are a helpful way to establish yourself as a slightly louder voice in a very crowded field.

The value of DIY publicity

If you’re feeling burned out and exhausted, you might not want to hear this, but…well…the more projects you have going, the more those projects can cross-pollinate each other. I launched Criminal Broads as a hail Mary attempt to get the readers of my first book to stick around long enough to buy my second book. But what actually happened is that people found my podcast first (what did they Google to find it? “16th century poisoner girl really bad not friendly”??)—and then, if they liked the podcast, they often went back and bought my first book. From now on, every project I do is an opportunity to advertise both future projects and those I’ve already completed. The podcast has worth in and of itself, but in terms of selling books, it’s proven a valuable amuse-bouche of sorts, so that the next time I find myself in between-book limbo, I can say, “Did you like that? Unfortunately I will not be able to produce another one for the next three years, but in the meantime? Have a podcast.”

Tori told me that she is working on a new book, CONFIDANT WOMEN. She's not certain of the pub date, though she confessed she's been working overtime since "it's due in a month!" I can't wait to read it.  Thanks, Tori, for being our guest blogger.

Now a question for our readers here -- do you watch podcasts? What are some of your favorites? Leave a comment - we'd love to hear from you.

. . . Karna Small Bodman

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Ever wonder where the money goes?

by Lisa Black

            Politicians have always asked for money during their campaigns, to be used to help them win the election. But why do they ask for it when they’re not technically ‘campaigning’? Their term isn’t up for another three years, but still they send out their ‘opinion surveys’ and ring our phones?
            I recently found out.
People in my neck of the woods (Florida) may remember Trey Radel and his short-lived career as one of our congressmen. The young man had worked as an actor before becoming both reporter and anchor for television stations in several states, then settled in Fort Myers and married one of our local anchors. In 2012 he won a vacated seat in the United States House of Representatives. A year later he was arrested after buying cocaine from an undercover officer. Four years after that he published Democrazy, detailing this journey and including many tidbits about how our political system actually works. Radel has now gone back to working in media as a radio host, and I read the book as research for my upcoming release, Let Justice Descend.
            I mention all this because a few pages in one chapter outline a system very rarely referred to by either of the two large political parties, one which may not be news to you but was to this clueless citizen. Here it is:
Each party has a committee devoted to getting their candidates elected. If you’re a candidate  in a naturally homogeneous or gerrymandered district where the local makeup guarantees you a win based on party division alone, then you don’t really need money to spend on advertising and other campaign costs. You can instead donate part of it to the National Republican Congressional Committee or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They send it to candidates in more evenly divided districts who face a much closer call. Nothing wrong with that, that’s what a political party is for. These party committees sometimes recruit candidates, often spend millions of dollars in advertising, and work every angle in order to get or maintain control of Congress.
The heads of these committees are members of Congress, who do this work in addition to their work as a legislator. They raise millions of dollars. Prominent committee heads of subcommittees raise hundreds of thousands. Rank-and-file members raise thousands, which they need to increase to the other two ranges if they ever want to get anywhere.
Me across from the Jefferson memorial this summer
            The party’s committee keep a tally and post it at meetings with the name of each rep or senator and how much they’ve given. Legally, a rep or senator’s campaign cannot overlap or influence their business as a federal legislator—and timewise, that is observed (that’s why politicians have to have the stamina of a supermarathon runner, because they work all day at their real jobs and then all evening and weekends on the schmoozing, calling, cajoling and networking necessary to raise money). But in reality it doesn’t take a cynic to see that the more money they ‘donate,’ the more likely they will receive help with the bill they sponsored or get their wish in the all-important committee assignments—move from the Science and Space committee to the tax-writing Ways and Means, for instance. A touch of balance is instilled when those on the more powerful and glamorous committees are also expected to ‘donate’ proportionally more from their take.
            We could take the cheerful view that this is a good thing, a gatekeeping measure if you will. If someone doesn’t have the competence and personal collateral to raise a bunch of money, then they will likely suffer the same lack of success at passing laws. A less cheerful view is to reflect on the eternal Golden Rule: he who has the gold, makes the rules.
            At least now we understand why our phone rings year-round.
            What do you think? Is this news to you?  

Friday, October 4, 2019

Rogue Women September Roundup!

Use the links below to binge read our posts from September

Here's what we Rogues talked about, researched, and revealed in September...

Lisa Black debunks the five biggest myths about CSIs and what they do—and it may not be what you think!

It's an age-old past-time. Who hasn't been bitten by the treasure-hunting bug at one time? Rogue Chris Goff steps in for Robin Burcell and reveals one very real treasure that's still waiting to be foundif you can decipher the poem.

Authors are used to hearing "Where do you get your ideas?" when the real question is, "Where do writers get their inspiration?" Rogue Chris Goff shares one method, with hilarious results.

Rogue Liv Constantine gives social media tips on what to do and not to do in the 7 Deadly Sins to Avoid on Twitter.

Lisa Unger goes rogue and talks to Lynne Constantine about writing, psychology, and trying to balance work and family in Penpal interview with Lisa Unger and Lynne Constantine.

You'll definitely want to read Thriller Master David Morrell's brilliant essay on ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, where he talks about how "real" Hollywood can make things seem. 

Karen Dionne's The Marsh King's Daughter was a major international success. Now, Karen Dionne Goes Rogue and shares news of her new book and insider info on publishing with Gayle Lynds.

The Real Book Spy's September Rogue Recommendation is....drum roll...Vince Flynn's Lethal Agent, written by Kyle Mills. TRBS and Kyle share their views on the series and writing.

K.J. Howe talks about how Mother Nature can be the most dangerous adversary of all. Delve into the world of earthquakes and hurricanes as a way of ratcheting up the tension with your fiction.

Thriller writer and BBC reporter Humphrey Hawksley, imparts a tale of traveling to the Bering Strait where Russia and America actually share a border in search of the perfect story.

Karna Small Bodman's piece featuring stories and movies about dogs reviews the history of how dogs became our companions, rescuers, and stars in bestselling books and feature films.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Artists, Money, and Finance: It's complicated

By Jamie Freveletti

There's been a lot of talk this last month or so about writers and money. Specifically, about writers and how they lose money or spend it unwisely. And this month while reading a couple of essays about finance I thought the authors did their readers a service by being so honest. Their insights will help countless others avoid making the same mistakes.

One of the mistakes mentioned is how a writer is given advances and other perks for their writing and then, when the future is looking bright and the author begins to relax and enjoy their new career, fortunes change. You can find stories like these in the sports and music world as well.

Author William McPherson penned an essay about finances a few years ago. This writer, a Pulitzer prize winner, journalist and former editor at one of the big five houses, wrote an essay called Falling about his descent into poverty. He bought AOL at the low and Apple too. Then in midlife he handed a financial adviser his account to manage (who purchased more stock on margin-another form of a loan) and hit it to travel Eastern Europe to watch and record the fall of communism. The line in his story that hit me was this:

He writes: "My income consists of a social security check and a miserable pension from The Washington Post, where I worked intermittently for a total twenty five years, interrupted by a stint at a publishing house just before my profit sharing would have taken effect."
From: McPherson, William, Falling, from Getpocket.com, originally published in The Hedgehog Review, Fall, 2014 (emphasis added).

It appears as though he realized later how this timing regarding profit sharing was a financial blow. While I'm not sure, it also sounds as though he came from a middle class family. A worrisome comment came through again in this sentence:

He writes: "There was always enough money. I'd assumed there always would be (I think this is called denial)."
McPherson, Falling.

I read that line and thought, "Uh oh."

As the daughter of a jazz- singer- single- mom the line in our house was "Where's your next gig?" The understanding was that as nice as the current gig was, it could all go away tomorrow. I brought this view into my writing career. But while the question is accurate and safe, it makes for a certain amount of insecurity and fear of taking risks. It's hard to know just when your career is assured so that you can live a little. Balancing risk is an art, that's for sure. And balancing a career in art is even tougher, because the usual signposts and assurances aren't there.

Mr. McPherson had a major heart attack, which taxed his already stretched income, and he says he spent some of his years with "magical thinking." Luckily for him his family helped and some subsidized housing. He passed away a few years after writing the essay, but his insights live on to inform others.

There are some good financial tip books out there as well. The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money, by Jill Schlesinger is eye opening. She pulls no punches, and her explanation of the percentage of your income that you should strive to live on for a year, (while saving the rest), sounds so low as to be impossible, but she will definitely get you thinking. There's also Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin, which I've heard is good.

It always helps to learn. And I think a dialogue about how to manage money in these uncertain times and fields is worthwhile. I'm thankful to the writers who wrote these essays and books and their willingness to help us learn from their insight and experiences.

Perhaps I can reach out to more authors and writers on this subject and  highlight their ideas in a future post. Also, if you have any financial books or articles that you've found interesting, please let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear about them!

All the best,