Friday, January 31, 2020


The Rogues are delighted to welcome Andrew Grant as a guest on the blog. Andrew's latest book was released on January 7. The series features a courthouse janitor with a cause. Justice. When Paul McGrath made his debut, in INVISIBLE, Kirkus Reviews said, “Crisp pacing, complex plotting, and a sympathetic good guy all make for a most satisfying read...” Booklist said, "This is Grant’s ninth thriller, and it’s a very good one, suspense tempered throughout with moral dilemmas…. An intelligent, exciting novel.” And Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and some lofty praise, "Grant capably combines a riveting plot and depth of character. His best outing to date, this standalone marks Grant as a rising genre star.”

TOO CLOSE TO HOME is the second in the Paul McGrath series. 

His cover: courthouse janitor. His cause: justice. But when he uncovers a shocking connection to a file of missing evidence, he finds the truth sometimes hits a little too close to home.

An intelligence agent-turned-courthouse janitor, Paul McGrath notices everything and everyone—but no one notices him. It’s the perfect cover for the justice he seeks for both his father and the people who’ve been wronged by a corrupt system. Now he’s discovered a missing file on Alex Pardew—the man who defrauded and likely murdered McGrath’s father but avoided conviction, thanks in large part to the loss of this very file. And what lies behind its disappearance is even worse than McGrath had feared.

We caught up with Andrew recently, and he shared this tale from the road:

I was on the road recently promoting TOO CLOSE TO HOME and I met a reader who asked me to name five books that changed my life. Here’s what I said:

The Little Red Hen and The Grains of Wheat. One of the first books I read on my own, and one that summarises a guiding principle in my life: If you're not there when the hard work's being done, you better stay away when the rewards are handed out.

Watership Down,
Richard Adams. The book I've 
reread more times than any other. My original copy from 1978 is still on my shelves, faded almost to the point of illegibility. Once I overcame my disappoint-ment at the lack of the sunken ship the title seemed to promise I found it had everything I could possibly want from a story. A great cast of characters (OK - rabbits), a healthy disregard for authority, courage, danger, camaraderie, self-sacrifice, cunning, refusal to surrender regardless of the consequences (essential for anyone with Irish blood), and the heroes' ultimate triumph against overwhelming odds.

Ice Station Zebra, Alistair MacLean. The book that marked my 'growing up' as a reader, and which is more responsible than any other for me becoming a thriller-writer. One of my most-prized possessions is a first edition that Tasha bought me a couple of years ago, but I first read it in 1978 thanks to the grade-school teacher I had at the time. One day he caught me with a book under my desk - probably Watership Down! - and this set him off on a bizarre rant: "You think you're a good reader? Well let me tell you - you're not. Not unless you can go to any bookcase, pick up any book, and read it without thinking." Reading 
without thinking? A strange concept. But I wasn't concerned about that, back then, because his words sounded like a challenge. So that night I approached my father's bookshelves and took down the first book my hand fell upon. Nervously I looked at the title. "Sweet!" I thought, feeling relieved. There are Stations on the Ice? And they have Zebras? This is going to be fun! And it was… 

Animal Farm, George Orwell. Even at a young age I viewed the world through the contradictory lenses of hopeless naivety and miserable cynicism so this book - which so elegantly demonstrates how the best of intentions can lead to the worst of outcomes - made me feel like I wasn't totally out of touch with human nature after all.

Henry V, William Shakespeare. This was the first Shakespeare play I read, and I was instantly hooked by the Prologue's promise of famine, sword, and fire. I loved Henry's handling of the scheming bishops and his smiting of the impertinent Dauphin. But seriously, is there anything better in literature than the Southampton plot, when Henry handed the unsuspecting traitors their death warrants in place of their commissions? A twist any thriller-writer would be proud of. 

If you haven't read TOO CLOSE TO HOME, you are in for a treat!

Thank you, Andrew! Rogue Readers, any more questions? 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

10 Tips from Top Thriller Writers

I remember when Valerie and I  first decided to write together, the first thing I did was to go out and buy a book on how to write a novel. Since then, we've both joined writers’ groups, taken craft classes and attended conferences. We found ourselves hungry for those kernels of wisdom that would help us to unlock the secret to good writing. We've found the writing community to be not only encouraging and supportive but generous in sharing the helpful things they've learned along the way.

We were lucky enough to grab a few minutes with these bestselling authors who write books that readers devour. They share their best writing advice here:

“Never write what you know.  Instead, write what you love.  If what you know and what you love are the same thing, great.  But, if not, always chose the one you love.”
—Steve Berry

“I love reading crime fiction and I always have. I think the best advice I could ever give to a young novelist who is starting out, or an old one, is to write the kind of novel you want to read.”
Karin Slaughter

“The act of sitting down to write a novel is a deeply personal one. It’s an act of faith and of pure giving. Write from your center, about people who move and involve you. Be inside the story, feeling it, living it — because that’s where you want your readers to be when they open the cover. And when you come up for air, read books that transport and inspire you to recharge your writer batteries. Because all writers are readers first, that’s where we fall in love with story and find the urge to tell our own.”
Lisa Unger

“One of the best nuggets of advice we received early on was that sometimes you need to slow down a scene in order to build the tension. Our instincts were to speed up dramatic scenes, but we realized that in order to draw out a reader's experience and emotions, it is far better to slowly unfurl these moments. This was truly a lightbulb moment, and we remind ourselves of this particular element of writing every time we tackle scenes that we want to feel like nail-biters.”
Sarah Pekkanen & Greer Hendricks

“Study and learn story structure. Then put your butt in the chair every day and work to get better.”
—Robert Dugoni

“First, think about the English language -- if you're writing, you're a writer! Then, of course, you must decide in what direction you want to go with your writing. Of course, craft! It's great to learn, and we can always learn more. Criticism is great when it's constructive, but remember,  we're in a subjective field, and always think about your story or your point. I think that conferences are amazing, but always go with a filter. Some things will work for one person and not another, so seep in all that you can that will work for you, and gently let go of that which will not. And remember, if seven people read your story, one may not embrace your characters while another may love them, but find the plot convoluted, and others may love it as it is. Think about constructive criticism, and then remember--it's your story!”
Heather Graham

“Don’t fall in love with your first draft. You’ll be tempted to. All of us are. Instead, set it aside and look at it later with more objective eyes. Then, as tough as it might be, take the time to revise in the pursuit of excellence as a show of respect for your readers. It won’t be easy, but the truth is, if you like long hours in solitude, emotional turmoil, constant self-criticism and bouts of heart-wrenching disappointment, you’ll make a good writer. That’s what it’s going to take. And if you can actually tell an engaging story, well, you might just make a great one.”
Steven James

“My best advice to those in the early stages or aspiring to break through into the business are three things: patience, rewrite, and outline. Patience, in that the urge to rush your story both within the book and on the business side too, forces a story out ahead of itself and maybe into an agent's hands too soon. You generally get one crack at things. Rewrite, akin to patience, to hammer out over constant repetition those clunky phrasings, those scenes that don’t’ quite work those “sexy” clues or reveals which seem so seamless but many times don’t’ come out till the third or fourth draft. And outline. Have a roadmap for where your plot is going. For where you are going to end up. Learn to get your arms around your own story.  You can still change it organically, but it is always best, especially in my view, for the author to be in control.”
Andrew Gross

“Read everything and anything that interests you, especially in your genre. Understand the publishing business so you know how to position your work when pitching agents and/or editors. Become part of a writing community, especially within your genre - attend conferences, book events for other authors, and just reach out through social media.”—Wendy Walker

“When I hit a writing roadblock, I remind myself that conflict--the engine that keeps thrillers flying--is a result of decisions. And that decisions create action. So I ask myself: what does my character really want? How far will they go to get it? What will they decide to do to make it happen?  Then I think: who's trying to stop them? What will they do about that decision? And then the story takes off.
Hank Phillippi Ryan 

What is the best advice you've ever gotten on writing? 


Sunday, January 26, 2020


Every time The Real Book Spy brings us a Rogue Recommendation, one of the Rogue Readers who comments, shares or tweets the clue and posting is entered into a drawing to win a free copy of the author's book. The January Rogue Recommendation is Chris Hauty for DEEP STATE, and the winner of the book is

"Operations Specialist, mom, writer... Fine. I won't give up, but I will cuss the entire time... "

When we notified her, she said:

“Thank you! I can't believe I won! I am looking forward to paying forward Deep State to everyone I can! This community just gets better and better! I am a writer working in a new genre for me - a sort of thriller - just starting out again really, and I love engaging with the writing community on Twitter/social media. It's been so educational and everyone is so supportive and welcoming, which is refreshing on social media. I am also an avid reader of pretty much any thriller I can get my hands on and I love promoting 'my authors' on all the platforms I follow!”

Tracy, we’re glad to send the book your way. We’ll look forward to a review!

 To call DEEP STATE timely would be a massive understatement. It’s about a powerful group of Washington elites who actively try to take down the president and his administration—which has proven to be incredibly divisive and bad for America.

Recently elected President Richard Monroe—populist, controversial, and divisive—is at the center of an increasingly polarized Washington, DC. Never has the partisan drama been so tense or the paranoia so rampant. In the midst of contentious political turf wars, the White House chief of staff is found dead in his house. A tenacious intern discovers a single, ominous clue that suggests he died from something other than natural causes, and that a wide-ranging conspiracy is running beneath the surface of everyday events: powerful government figures are scheming to undermine the rule of law—and democracy itself. Allies are exposed as enemies, once-dependable authorities fall under suspicion, and no one seems to be who they say they are. The unthinkable is happening. The Deep State is real. Who will die to keep its secrets and who will kill to uncover the truth?

Friday, January 24, 2020

LISA BLACK GOES (MORE) ROGUE: In the Rogue Limelight

by Chris Goff

Ever wonder where writers get their ideas? Sometimes brilliance strikes in the most unusual places--like our own Lisa Black, New York Times bestselling author. I had the chance to talk with her and get the lowdown on her latest novel.

Me in Tahiti
I was actually—and I swear I am not making this up—sailing in Tahiti when I got the idea for Let Justice Descend. I add the disclaimer because, though it was over two years ago, I still can’t believe I actually did it, took a small ship cruise with my sisters through the crystal clear waters with a bunch of other non-bazillionaires. Anyway, we were snug in our cabin one night, my sister reading in bed with a small light on, when I suddenly sat up and started scribbling on a piece of paper. It wasn’t long or particularly coherent, just that I wanted this to happen, then that, then that, but the killer would turn out not to be person A but person B. I had no idea how or why all that would occur…but I’d figure that out later.
            The flesh of the story, in which a senator is killed on her doorstep three days before a hotly contested election, grew from a single cell of intense annoyance when I received a fundraising call from a political party—I don’t even remember which one—a week after a national election. I told the caller “The election is over. Why are you still making calls?” He tried to deflect me with this: “Well, that’s not the question you should be asking. You should be asking—”
            Bullying + condescension does not equal compliance. “Don’t tell me what question I should be asking!” I barely refrained from adding ‘you arrogant little pup.’ Needless to say he didn’t get a penny, but he did leave me with a nagging question: why was he calling? Why had political fundraising grown to a 24/7/365, doesn’t-need-a-reason continual onslaught?
            But where the money goes is only one of the details in Let Justice Descend.
I now fear that I picked the wrong topic, as possibly I did in my last book, Suffer the Children. I had written about violent and at-risk teens and children at a treatment facility. I don’t have children myself, so the information I found fascinated me…plus, I thought, most people do have children and will be interested in a story about problem ones.
Hmm…not so much. Being a parent tended to bring the topic too close to home and at bookstores or libraries I’d summarize the plot to potential customers, only to have them grimace and select another book instead.
            Now I fear it may be the same with Let Justice Descend. I thought that—like my political-junkie husband—readers would be fascinated with a completely nonpartisan look at the not-commonly-publicized inner workings of the parties. But maybe many readers are—like me—suffering greatly from politics fatigue.
            But wait! Let Justice Descend isn’t really about politics and certainly not about current issues or personalities. It’s about deception and the forms it takes: bribery, corruption, dereliction of duty, and maybe killing people and saying you didn’t because it’s for a good reason. The victim had lied, the suspect lies, the witnesses lie…but then, Jack lies. And Maggie finds herself lying to protect him, and herself. Deception can take many forms, for many reasons—but they all have consequences.
            And that is what Let Justice Descend is about.

I've got my copy! Do you have yours?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

So, You Want To Be A Writer: The 5 Things I Wish Knew

I can’t recall a time I didn’t want to become a writer. And, with the New Year’s recent celebration, I’ll hazard a guess that some aspiring writers are hoping to take a leap of faith and pursue that
dream of becoming a novelist. So, without further ado, here are five things I wish I’d known years and years ago that might have helped me become published much sooner.

5. Join a professional writer’s organization. 

It’s important to surround yourself with like-minded, supportive friends who can help share the joys and frustrations of trying to write. It doesn’t matter which genre you write in. There’s bound to be one organization with monthly meetings within driving distance (even plenty of online groups for those who live in the middle of nowhere). I’d worry less about the genre of the organization (be it science fiction, mystery, or even romance) and worry more about how professional it is. That’s where you’ll receive articles with tips and tricks, or announcements about a writer’s contest that might help break you into the business, or classes being put on in your area. It’s also where you’ll start networking. A good professional writers’ association will be worth the yearly membership, usually around $100-$150 a year.  (See links below for my fave groups.)

4. Go to a writer’s conference. 

Scrape the money together, use a couple of vacation days, and attend. Ideas pop into your head as you listen to editors, agents, or published writers talking in real time. You’ll network galore, and you gain from being excited and energized when you learn that yes, no matter how many books that multi-published author has written, he/she still thinks that process is hard and that his/her latest draft is the worst. Ever. But what they have going for them is the knowledge that no matter how crappy that book is when they finish the first draft, they can fix it. (And that is the point that writing becomes magical.) I promise you that you will not regret the decision to attend one of the great conferences. But, before you plunk down serious dollars to go, make sure it’s professional. (I've included links to a few that I highly recommend at the bottom of the page.) 

3.  Share your dream with someone who will support you.

I might have continued down the I’m-going-to-write-a-book-one-day path forever—if not for two things. First, I actually had an idea for a whole story, came up with a full-fledged plot, and started writing it down. Second, and most importantly, my husband noticed and asked what I was doing. When told him, he glanced at the legal pad, saw I had nearly filled the entire thing, and commented that I’d written a lot. I mentioned that that was only a small part of it, then pulled out about eight more legal pads, all full. He asked if that was all the same story. When I replied yes, he said, “You need to get a computer.”

I love that anecdote, because my husband was the first person in my entire life who didn’t pat me on the head and say, “How nice,” or some inane bit of nonsense. It was him being supportive right out of the gate. And while that novel never sold, and I had several false starts of other stories after, I did eventually make that first sale. Because of him. It helped that he took up the slack in household chores and kid raising, so I could pursue this dream after I came home from work. We made a pact. Pretend like I was at a second job. He did. The rest is history. So, find that supportive person, or, if your house is lacking your own personal cheerleader, make up one. You are, after all, a writer.

2. Force yourself to finish writing a whole book. It’s good exercise—then, either send it out, or shove it under your bed, or both. Just let it go.

I’ve lost track of the number of stories I’ve started over the years. My typical modus operandi was: write, get stuck, abandon, repeat. It wasn’t until I actually forced myself to write an entire novel that I started training my brain to think beyond the initial idea. (It’s a lot like learning to run a marathon. You don’t just get out there and run ten miles if you’ve never made it around the block at least once.) That being said, once you do finish a book, at some point, pick an end date for finishing revisions, then let it go. I worked/polished my first finished manuscript for a couple of years. I finally realized that I could easily work it to death for several more years. Letting go of that story was the single, hardest thing I’d ever done. It had so much potential! I'd received some positive accolades from editors/agents. At some point, though, it hit me that every year I continued working on it, I was stunting my growth as a writer. Clearly, it was the right decision. I sold the next book—one I probably wouldn’t have written had I not made that leap of faith and shoved the other one beneath my bed. So, give yourself an end goal, not just for finishing the book, but also for revisions to follow. Then move on to the next project.

1. Stop talking about it and Just Do It.

Back when I was dreaming of becoming a writer, I’d run into coworkers or friends who also wanted to write. We’d talk excitedly, then make a pact to write something together. Sometimes we’d even get as far as writing a few pages—which were always abandoned soon thereafter. It took me years to come to the conclusion that if I wanted to write a book, I was going to have to sit down and write it myself. My first “office” was a computer monitor set up on the end of a dresser, and a keyboard set up on a TV tray in front of it. I worked full-time and had 3 kids (two being twins). But I wrote in bits and pieces, 10-15 minutes at a time. I wrote in the parking lot while kids were in Sunday school, in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office or my own doctor’s office. I only watched TV when I was doing something else, dishes or cooking dinner. The point is, I wrote. And that is the single best piece of advice I can give. Write.  

I'd like to know: What's your best piece of advice for the aspiring writer?

(Looking to join a good professional writers organization or attend a top-notch conference? I highly recommend these national organizations: Mystery Writers of America—MWA, Sisters in Crime—SinC, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers—SFWA. And these upcoming 2019 conferences: Left Coast Crime, this year in San Diego, ThrillerFest in New York, and Bouchercon, this year in Sacramento.)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

TIME MARCHES ON…but I’m not necessarily in step.

by Lisa Black

I really try to change with the times, to keep up with current events and today’s world even as I find myself describing olden things to my younger coworkers, like how phones used to have cords and visible bra straps were not fashionable and there were only three main television channels. (That bears repeating. Three.) I understand that times change and society evolves and for the most part that is a good thing. I, for one, am really happy to repeal the moratorium on visible bra straps.
But I have my limits. There are certain things I will not accept, period, won’t, uh-uh…and a great many have to do with language.
So let me stand up and declare, for better or for worse and knowing it may earn me the censure of an unforgiving crowd, my stance on the following:
The past tense of shine is not shined. It’s shone. Apparently this is an intransitive/ transitive verb thing, so in fact they are both correct. Shined is used only with direct objects, so it’s ‘the moon shone’ but ‘I shined the shoes.’ Knowing that, when in the future confronted with a direct object... I think I’ll just reword the sentence.
There is nothing wrong with starting a sentence with and.
It’s pled, not pleaded, and has nothing to do with intransitive whatevers.
This has not changed recently, but for cryin’ out loud it’s “I couldn’t care less” not “I could care less.” Because if you could care less, then your caring quotient has not yet reached absolute zero, which is what you’re trying to convey. With the latter phrase what you’re really saying is “I still care a little tiny bit.”
Alright is not a real word.
Further, meanwhile, is a perfectly good word, though my copyeditors don’t seem to care for it. Turns out the meaning is diverging from farther, which is used as an indication of distance while further is increasingly used to imply addition, as in ‘she needs no further introduction.’ They used to be roughly equivalent. Just as phones used to come with cords.
This will come to no surprise to practically anyone, but my intransigence extends to topics beyond word usage. Pluto is a planet, dammit—it’s only 100 less km in diameter than Mercury, for cryin’ out loud! For the lack of a few miles, we toss it to the curb? I think not! And sorry, NYers and Vermonters, but Lake Champlain is not a Great Lake.
So as we head into the next decade, I will continue to stubbornly and arbitrarily choose which changes to accept and which to reject. How about you? Any word usages you refuse to use?

Friday, January 17, 2020


During my time running The Real Book Spy, few debuts have had more hype leading up to their release than Chris Hauty’s DEEP STATE.

To call this book timely would be a massive understatement. It’s about a powerful group of Washington elites who actively try to take down the president and his administration—which has proven to be incredibly divisive and bad for America. Keep in mind, this conspiracy-laden thriller came out at the very time the House of Representatives was holding a trial to impeach the current POTUS, with the words “deep state” regularly being used on cable news programs and in print around the country.

Hauty’s book is fantastic, for many reasons, but three things in particular make DEEP STATE a standout title this year.

First of all, Hauty wrote this one pretty much straight down the middle. Here, you’ll find good and bad guys on both sides of the political spectrum, but with no input from Hauty himself. In a world where everyone seems to be offering their own hot take on all things politics, Hauty kept his own opinions about Washington out of his thriller, making it an enjoyable read for everyone, conservatives and liberals.

Secondly, a longtime screenwriter, Hauty uses his decades of experience writing movies to his advantage here, creating a character-rich world that pops visually, and is paired perfectly with a plot that moves at the speed of runaway freight train. Hayley Chill, his protagonist, is literally a rogue woman on the run to try and stop a plot to kill the president—making her a no-brainer for my first pick of 2020. A veteran and former boxing champ, Haley can hold her own physically, and is also whip-smart with great instincts. She’s one of my favorite new characters in the genre, and I think Rogue fans will feel the same way once they meet her.

Lastly, Hauty delivers one of the best twists of the year, ending his first thriller in a way that’ll leave readers desperately trying to pick their jaws up off the floor before someone steps on it.

Happy reading!

Screenwriting v. Noveling

I made that word up. Novel writing just doesn’t have the same impact, at least not to the extent that the creation of fiction deserves. So, I go with “noveling.” As a new author and recent escapee from the writer torture chamber that is Hollywood, I’ve been asked at bookstore events and in podcast interviews to comment on my transition from screen to books mediums. What made me decide to leave screenwriting? Was it difficult learning how to write fiction after more than three decades of exclusively making screenplays? Are you now a novelist or a screenwriter? No, I am not the first screenwriter to make the transition. Gobs of novelists make a living in Hollywood today. I think, perhaps, what makes my situation a tad unique is the unbridled joy with which I have found a home in the publishing world. In answer to that last question, then, that I consider myself a novelist first and a screenwriter of my own novels a distant second.

And the first two questions? Allow me to be blunt. A screenwriter (especially in film but mostly to the same extent in television) has ZERO say-so in what ends up on the screen. You are a cog in a vast machine required to create the finished “product.” It’s a cliché to say so, but entirely true that all the other hands in the mix hate you (the writer) and hold you in contempt. Once hired for your services, you are essentially a highly paid and extremely expendable slave. All decision-making flows in one direction: you accommodate them. And “them” includes a small army of insecure lunatics who reign over your fate for the life of the project. Sound fun? You are paid extremely well for your suffering, fellow scribe. Suck it up. That’s what I did. Bought a house. Raised a family. Sent the kids to college. And, in that time, movies changed. They stopped being about human beings. (Why? Fall of home video and rise of global market.) So I decided to stay light on the balls of my feet, just like always. I considered filling the page from margin-to-margin. Total lark. Had no idea what I was doing except for having developed some very particular writing muscles. Which muscles? So glad you asked!

Here’s a pro tip about Hollywood. Everyone hates to read. And I mean everyone. Please don’t send me your spec script. I hate it already. Tough place to be a writer, right? How do you get people to read your million-dollar baby? You compel these word-hating recalcitrant readers by writing like your life depends on it. By learning to cut all of the fat. By treating words and language like they’re foreplay. By toying with your reader, teasing him or her and being flirty. You learn to write in the most entertaining fashion you possibly can. Tarantino is the master of this showmanship. Shane Black is an early innovator, too. They’ve been imitated (in screenwriting) to death. So you develop your own game. Punch up, not down. Give ‘em something they’ve never seen before. Surprise them. That’s how you endure thirty-five years in the screenwriting game. Or, at least, that’s how I survived.

And so I endeavored to bring those same writing chops to my noveling. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. But I am down with everything there is to know about capturing a reader’s eyeballs and clenching them in my greedy, little hands. The rest is just writing margin-to-margin, right? (Not really, but you get my point, don’t you?) Which brings me to the very most salient point of this six-hundred-and-sixty-three word screed. All of you noveling badasses out there must take this one lesson to heart: please, please, please, you must write the screenplay or pilot adaptation of your lovely novel. Don’t let anyone tell you haven’t the “skill.” Say no until they agree to give you at least that first shot. Because, fellow scribes and fans of scribes, any writer can write anything.

Thank you to The Real Book Spy and Chris Hauty. Another great pick!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

ROGUE FLASH – Gayle Lynds in the London "Guardian"

Scottish American author Helen MacInnes

Exciting news!  British female authors are making in-roads in the male-dominated field of spy fiction. They’re publishing first-rate novels across the pond that are winning awards and making best-seller lists.  In fact, as Guardian writer Alison Flood announces in Nobody in Tesco buys spy books by women, the Brit “boys' club is having its cover blown.”

How bad has it been?  “Wikipedia lists 127 notable writers of spy fiction, dead and living, and only seven of them are women,” Flood explains.  “Helen MacInnes, the Scottish-born American author of 21 spy novels that have sold more than 25m copies in the US alone, will make it on to some lists, if she’s lucky. So will U.S. writer Gayle Lynds;
both receive the soubriquet of  
the ‘queen of spy fiction’.”
American author Gayle Lynds
“Back in 1995, though, Lynds sent her debut spy thriller Masquerade to a New York publishing house. Its president, she told the Wall Street Journal, at first agreed to buy it, but changed her mind the following day.

‘Her reason? “No woman could have written this novel’.”  She went to another publisher, and it became a bestseller.”...

Hooray for the Brits!
And hooray for the Yanks, too, because more and more women over here are cracking their code books and contributing 
impressive novels 
to the important 
field of espionage 

These top spy writers include Rogues:
Robin Burcell
Chris Goff
KJ Howe
Karna Small Bodman
Jamie Freveletti

and former Rogues
Francine Mathews
Sonja Stone

Click on their names.  Legunt verum: You'll enjoy their books!

Do you have favorite female spy novelists?  If it's not classified, please tell....

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Submitted by Jamie Freveletti

Finished your manuscript and wondering how to take it forward to the next step? I'm happy to announce that my outstanding agent, Barbara Poelle, has written a book that will answer all of your questions about the publishing industry and beyond. The author of the wildly successful Writer's Digest article of the same name, FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK is an insider's view to the industry. This book contains information every author should have, and that includes published authors, because we, too, are subject to the submission process-just to a publishing house instead of to an agent. 

We're so glad to have her here at Rogue Women Writers! Barbara started her career in 2007, but before that was a stand up comic Los Angeles. She's funny, fresh, and knows her business.  So we hit her with some of questions, both about agenting, writing and life.  

Rogues: What was harder: writing this book or doing stand up comedy in LA?

Ha! Well first of all, I think every person should have to do two things in life: wait tables and do 3 minutes of stand up. There is something so uniquely humbling and yet empowering about both of those careers- they both helped to form the foundation in how I approach agenting and quite frankly, life.

Rogues: When you were ten years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An ichthyologist.

Rogues: What made you decide to become an agent?
Well, I was stepping back from acting, just wasn’t feeling the buzz I used to, and I was brushing my teeth, telling my newly wedded husband how I didn’t feel like I had a particular direction and he said, “You should be a literary agent.” And I said, “What? Why?” And he said, “What are your two favorite things?” And I said, “Reading and telling people what to do.”
And the rest is history.

Rogues:  Describe your very first car. 
It was a silver mustang…which was gifted to me on my 16th birthday and then… 4 days later I totaled it in an accident that was my fault. No one got hurt, but I was terrified to drive ever again. I basically refused to get in a car unless I had to. A few days later my dad came home with a shitty little Plymouth Horizon hatchback he paid 2oo bucks cash for and said, “Get behind the wheel and go around the block. Now.”
I shook the whole way, prob never topped 10mph, but I did it. Because of that lesson I have always viewed mistakes as such important fulcrums from which to learn and pivot-  and to always, no matter the fear, get back behind the wheel.

Rogues:  What's your favorite drink? 
I know I am supposed to say something pithy like, “Yes.” Or “Anything distilled.” But really my favorite drink is whatever one I am having across from someone I adore.  

Rogues:  Do you have a literary hero? A teacher, mentor, family member, author?
I probably quote Mary Oliver at least once a week. Whenever I feel a little untethered, I open one of her books and read one of her poems and it somehow seems to be EXACTLY what I needed in that moment.

Rogues:  You’ve been on the agent side of the business, but not as a writer. How was it moving to the other side of the desk, so to speak? Did anything surprise you when seen from a writers’ perspective?

I laughed a lot anytime I realized I was echoing some of my authors’ peccadilloes. But the biggest ahhhh for me was that there was a doubling down on the awe and appreciation I have for what my authors do, ass in chair, every day. My authors are true word warriors. I am so happy to be in this role: to have the machete, the lantern and the pith helmet (at a rakish angle, obvi) clearing the way for their attack. 

Rogues:  Where do you like to write?

As a full time working mom I didn’t have a lot of choice on where to write- it was before and after kids and work were done for the day. But one Saturday, I snuck away to The Uptown Garrison in Washington Heights and wrote for about 5 hours and it. Was. Bliss. Now I bribe my children with Garrison baked goods and read submissions there on Saturday or Sunday mornings. 
Rogues:  If you could have lived in a different time period, what would it be?
I would not. I feel like women have come so far and yet still have so much still to claw towards, I couldn’t bear to even go back a year.

Rogues:  What's your favorite word?

Rogues: Will you be doing events for the book? 
A little here and there, but this book is mostly an extension of what I do for my authors in a way to demystify the publishing industry and create a conduit and a comfort for those pursuing their art. I see this to be a tool for others, not a career path for myself. 

Rogues:  Thank you for taking the time to join us here!