Ten Things You Didnt Know About Alexandra Sokoloff

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Alexandra Sokoloff

Today I am extremely pleased to welcome Alexandra Sokoloff to my blog – I discovered this amazing wordsmith when I read The Huntress Moon, the first book in this FBI Thriller series, you have seen my review – you know how much I love this book! ( And I cant wait to read the next two in the series  – Blood Moon and Cold Moon (I am savouring these two books like Easter candy – and keeping as special reading treats).

Welcome Alexandra.

Sokoloff_midshot_1MB

  1.    I live in a two-author household

Not just a two-author household, but a two crime author household. I met the Scottish noir author Craig Robertson at the Left Coast Crime writing conference in Colorado Springs, and we got to talking… and a month later I was living in Scotland (from Southern California! It must be love, I’m telling you…) We’ve been together two and a half years, now, which is pretty good, considering we never had a first date. Living with another crime writer makes for some interesting, if bloody, dinner table conversation. And we love doing research trips together!

2.     We also share the house with the world’s most expensive cat.

At the same time that I met Craig, a feral cat started hanging around my parents’ house, and basically decided that I was the One. I’m a pushover for animals and I had recently lost my two beloved sister cats (22 years old). You can see where this is going, right? Yes, in true Hollywood rags-to-riches style, Clooney the homeless grifter became an international jet-setter. It cost more to move him over here than it cost to move me. But life is better with a cat.

3.    I am that thing people always say don’t exist: a Los Angeles native.

All right, so I was born in Northern California, but I lived in LA for most of my life since then, with just a few forays out. And most of my friends have, too. It’s a myth that we don’t exist; it’s just that we natives tend to know each other while transplants tend to befriend other transplants.

4.     But I really think of myself as being from Berkeley.

I went to college at the University of California, Berkeley – I never even applied anywhere else. I had always noticed that the most interesting, most empowered women I knew went to Berkeley and I wanted to be that kind of person. Berkeley is like a time warp to the political activism and cultural experimentation of the 1960’s, and it’s still the place I feel most at home. I enjoy weaving the magic of Berkeley and San Francisco into the Huntress Moon series.

5.    I wasn’t one of those people who always wanted to be a writer.

I started out in musical theater, as an actor/dancer, then director/choreographer before I moved into screenwriting, and did ten years of that before I wrote my first novel. But of course, all that theatrical and screen work was fantastic training for writing novels. It helps me do my job as an author: to put a movie into a reader’s head.

6.     I used to work in the Los Angeles County prison system.

I’ve been a full time writer basically my whole adult life, but when I was just out of college, I worked part-time in the LA prison system, teaching juveniles in the lockup camps. A lot of the social outrage that fuels my Huntress Moon series comes from those years. I was horrified to learn that while the boys were incarcerated mainly for gang activity, 80% of the girls were in jail for prostitution. That’s right – they were locking up the girls instead of the men who were trafficking and abusing them. That injustice has stayed with me and provided a lot of plot lines.

  1.  I am a licensed minister in California.

I got a minister’s license when two friends asked me to officiate at their wedding, and then other people, friends and strangers, started asking me to marry them. And all the couples I’ve married are still together!

8.    I love a good horror movie.

Notice I said good. The declining quality and escalating depravity of the horror genre is what drove me out of screenwriting into novels. But I’m a fan of the greats: The Haunting, The Silence of the Lambs, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining… hmm, all based on great books! And I have several supernatural thrillers of my own, with my Haunted series.    I teach writing as well as doing it.

9.    I teach writing as well as doing it.

Because I worked as a screenwriter before I was a novelist, I’m often asked to teach screenwriting. I’ll only teach actual screenwriting in LA, because you really have to live in LA if you want that job. But I’m happy to teach authors how to use screen story structure and filmmaking tricks to write better novels. I teach my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshops internationally, and I have three writing workbooks out, including the brand new Screenwriting Tricks for Authors: STEALING HOLLYWOOD.

10.        I still love dancing more than just about anything.

Being an author is a very sedentary and isolated thing. I’m so glad to have dance to balance out all that brain work. Swing, salsa, jazz, ballet, hip hop, even a little pole – it brings me back into my body and makes me feel human again.

 

 

AXSokoloff@aol.com

http://alexandrasokoloff.com

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http://www.screenwritingtricks.com

 “This interstate manhunt has plenty of thrills…Sokoloff keeps the drama taut and the pages flying.”–‐–‐ Kirkus Reviews

“Who you know: Agatha Christie, Gillian Flynn, Mary Higgins Clark. Who you should be reading: Alexandra Sokoloff–‐–‐     Huffington Pots Books

Post Script: Heal Your Gut – Lee Holmes

“The Road to health is paved with good intestines.” Sherry R Rogers, M.D.

Cover Heal Your Gut

Heal Your Gut

Lee Holmes

Murdoch Books

Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd

ISBN: 9781743365601

 

Description:

Gut problems are at the forefront of everyone’s health concerns: bloating, constipation, indigestion and food intolerances. Importantly, the causes of these sorts of digestive problems can be helped without resorting to pharmaceuticals. But research is also linking unhealthy gut to serious medical concerns such as IBD, IBS, Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease, Thyroid problems and diabetes amongst many others.

 

In her new book Heal Your Gut, Lee Holmes says. “think of your gut as a garden that can only thrive when the soil is healthy. Healthy soil requires healthy foods and nutrients that will allow the ‘good guys’ to flourish

 

A healing protocol and step-by-step program with over 90 recipes to cleanse, restore and nourish…Heal Your Gut is a beautifully designed and photographed step-by-step protocol for restoring your inner gut health, via a treatment program and detox regime, supported by over 90 anti- inflammatory recipes to heal and nourish. Whether you’re suffering from a health issue aggravated by diet and a poorly functioning digestive system, or whether you have an auto-immune or digestive disorder, food allergies or intolerances, IBD, IBS, Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease, leaky gut, inflammatory issues, thyroid problems, neurological disorders, obesity, diabetes, arthritis or fibromyalgia, this book will provide you with information, meal plans and recipes to really heal your gut and get back on track with your health. By following the protocol you’ll feel more vibrant and alive, with energy to burn. This book isn’t just another fad diet: it contains recipes that have been specifically created to heal and also deliver vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals to get your body systems functioning optimally. Heal Your Gut shows you how you can nourish yourself like a nutritionist, with a host of exciting options to devour. Healing recipes include: coffees, teas, toddies and tisanes; smoothies, juices and milks; bone broths and stock; healing and sealing soups; easy-to-digest bowls; fermented foods for when your gut is strong; and even some delicious desserts…

 

My View:

“The Road to health is paved with good intestines.” Sherry R Rogers, M.D.

 

A well designed, easy to read reference book and healing protocol for anyone who has concerns about their gut health. I am amazed by the number of modern ailments that are directly related to gut health and the balance of gut flora in your digestive system, “The world within your gut involves a multifaceted, interconnected, interdependent relationship between living organisms called microflora. Microflora is the complex, diverse group of microorganism species that live in your digestive tract…know as gut flora…’good bacteria’ or ‘bad bacteria’…’Good’ or ‘friendly bacteria’ perform a multitude of tasks…including working to regulate the gut by neutralising some of the toxic by-products of your digestion; preventing the growth of harmful, pathogenic bacteria; controlling your metabolism; reducing harmful substances such as carcinogens and toxins; gleaning and absorbing energy, nutrients and fatty acids from the food you wat; recycling hormones; training the immune system and communicating with your brain.” (p. 6) Gut health is critical to overall health, we are what we eat, read a label on any of the processed food you consume and release the extra stress we put on out bodies and the gut in particular to digest and eliminate the chemical cocktails we ingest in the name of ‘food’.

 

We (our immediate family) have long been aware of the relationship between a healthy body and eating healthy “real foods”. For many years we have been making a determined effort to reduce our consumption of processed food (you may have noticed I cook ‘from scratch’, am a fan of slow cooked tasty meals, we grow most of our own vegetables – and maybe this year will have some fruit on our trees to pick and I preserve by bottling or freezing our excess produce.) Lately there has been much interest and research on the benefits of establishing and maintaining healthy gut flora – the building blocks of good health. “Lee Holmes knows firsthand how important a healthy gut is to feeling your best, and in Heal You Gut she shows the reader in a logical, stepwise fashion how healing your gut is the gateway to healing your health issues.” Dr Vincent Pedre (foreword Heal Your Gut.)

 

Lee Holmes provides the reader with a template for improving the ratio of good gut bacteria in the gut and provides an easy to follow protocol to heal and maintain a healthy gut barrier. Juices, smoothies, milks and bone broths are healing and soothing, removing and replacing certain foods in your diet will help correct the balance of ‘good to bad’ bacteria in the gut, and when the gut is stronger there are foods such as fermented veg to help keep your digestive system on track. In Heal Your Gut Lee Holmes provides the reader an easy to follow, beautifully illustrated practical guide to a healthier you from inside out. What extra steps am I taking to help heal my gut? Using bone broths as stock where and when I can in my cooking (and this stock adds such great flavour to your meals too – you will really notice the difference), I have replaced margarines, hydrogenised fats and corn based cooking oils with olive oil and coconut oil and butter, I use only pink Himalayan salt if I use salt in my cooking/on my table, I drink rooibos tea, I have almost eliminated processed food from my pantry…and we buy and consume freer range chicken and grass feed beef and lamb and recently have added ferment veg in the form of sauerkraut to our meals; small changes can make a difference.

 

This is a great practical guide to help you get your gut health back on track!

 

Home made fermented vegetables

Home made fermented vegetables.

Mini Strawberry And White Chocolate Tarts: David Herbert’s Best Home Cooking – David Herbert

Cover - David Herbert's Best Home Cooking

The most decadent and luscious dessert for …anytime…and so easy to make; pastry made in the food processor, filling a simple heat the cream and melt the white chocolate…pour into cold pastry cases, decorate with strawberries – my hint – buy strawberries that are on the smallish side – these will then sit perfectly on your individual tarts.  I made these as a special dessert to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. They were a huge success and I know these will now become known as my “speciality” and requested often.

Mini Strawberry and White Chocolate Tarts

Post Script: Badlands – CJ Box

Cover Badlands

Badlands

CJ Box

Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Head of Zeus

ISBN: 9781781852859

 

Description:

Can one woman tame the last frontier?

Grimstad, North Dakota. A place people used to be from – but were never headed to – has struck oil. As pipelines snake across the prairie, oil flows out and men and money flow in. And with them, comes crime. North Dakota’s new oil capital has a serious law and order problem and newly qualified detective Cassie Dewell has just been appointed its deputy sheriff.

Twelve-year-old Kyle Westergaard is one of Grimstad’s paperboys. Kyle has been written off as the ‘slow’ kid, but he has dreams deeper than anyone can imagine – he wants to get out of town, take care of his alcoholic mother, and give them a better life. While delivering newspapers, he witnesses a car accident and now has money and a lot of white powder in his possession.

 

With the temperature dropping to 30 degress below and a gang war heating up, Cassie fears she might be in over her head. The key to it all will come in the most unlikely form: an undersized boy on a bike who keeps showing up where he doesn’t belong.

 

My View:

Let me start by stating I am a huge CJ Box fan – his Joe Pickett series is fantastic and I have read several of his standalones and one frightfully disturbing book I found so intense I could not read more than the first few chapters, (In Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, so powerful was the presence of bullying in this book I could not read it – my loss), so to say I like CJ Box’s work is an understatement.

 

What do I love about his writing? Everything – his writing flows across the page, his command of realistic dialogue and his ability to paint the setting and locations of his books is amazing. The characters become old friends – as you read on you adopt the main characters as your own friends – people you know, trust and admire. The narrative – always interesting; contemporary environmental issues take the main stage with intrigue and murder/mystery.

 

And Badlands has all those great characteristics and then some; an impressive, strong, female protagonist, situations that are diabolical with the most evil of villains who treat people as if mere carcasses, to be chopped and mutilated at their whim and the added factor of suspected corruption in the police force makes the tension palpable. The young boy Kyle adds an innocence and vulnerability to the mix.

 

Another great read from CJ Box!

 

 

 

Post Script: The Huntress Moon – Alexandra Sokoloff

Addictive Reading!

Cover The Huntress Moon

The Huntress Moon/FBI Thriller Series #1

Alexandra Sokoloff

Thomas and Mercer

ISBN: 1477822046

ASIN: BOONKTTDH4

 

 

 

Description:

 

Special Agent Matthew Roarke

thought he knew what evil was.

He was wrong.

 

FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is closing in on a bust of a major criminal organization in San Francisco when he witnesses an undercover member of his team killed right in front of him on a busy street, an accident Roarke can’t believe is coincidental. His suspicions put him on the trail of a mysterious young woman who appears to have been present at each scene of a years-long string of “accidents” and murders, and who may well be that most rare of killers: a female serial.

 

His hunt for her will take him across three states, and force him to question everything he believes about evil and justice.

 

*Thriller Award Nominee, Best ebook Original

 

My View:

Before I begin my review her is a little bit of background on the award winning author Alexandra Sokoloff (information I paid scant attention to before I started reading…which as it turned out was fortuitous as it didn’t affect my reaction to the book, I started reading with no real expectations except that this would most probably be a great read – and I was not disappointed) and it allowed me to have several uninhibited email discussions with the author on an equal footing.   Now I have discovered more about the author and have read the first book, I am in awe of this talented writer!

 

Ms Alexandra Sokoloff is, in her own words “… an American crime and thriller writer, recovering screenwriter, living half in Los Angeles and half in Scotland.”

 

The Huntress Moon is the first book in the “Thriller Award-nominated Huntress/FBI series, which follows a haunted FBI agent on his hunt for what may be a female serial killer….The premise allows me to take the “woman as victim” trope and turn it completely inside out, in the form of a nail-biting mystery/suspense series.”

 

 

I Begin My Review:

Ok so now you have read the intro, you know the author is award winning, has released many books and is highly regarded in the crime fiction writing world (and Alexandra is presenting a writing Masterclass at Bloody Scotland this September 2015 for those lucky enough to be able to attend), even if you didn’t know anything about this author all is immediately revealed by the time you have read…oh let me see… about 3 pages. Immediately the standard of the writing leaps out at you – you nod to yourself and go YES! And from that point on no one gets any sense or conversation out of you until you have finished reading this mesmerising, engaging, suspense filled book. But be warned just because you have finished reading episode one in this series doesn’t mean your world will start functioning again – it won’t!

 

When I finished reading this book I discovered I was on something that I can only explain as “a book high”. I was literally skipping around the room, my head light and somehow not quite connected to my body, I was excited and happy and could not begin to put words into coherent thoughts (which is why it has taken me so long to write this review). I felt like I did the last time I have had a hospital procedure and had sedation – when I skipped and laughed and giggled my way out of the hospital :) (Too much happy gas I think) No wonder the hospital warns you not to make any important decisions, or sign any legal documents or drive after the procedure! I cannot believe a book made me feel this same way.

 

When sensible thought did return I had an epiphany. I will share that astounding thought with you; all book reviewing is relative, relative to what you read yesterday, the week before, the time before that. How can an individual really measure the worth of a book when so much relates to the experience of the books recently read? Let me explain my thoughts; these months I have read some amazing books across a few genres, (no names will be mentioned as I do not wish to offend anyone) these books I rated 5 stars – the highest accolade and I was enthusiastic and excited by the read and shared my thoughts with you. Then I read The Huntress Moon. If the others I previously ranked as 5 stars – what was this book I had in front of me? I regarded The Huntress Moon much more highly than anything I have read …since I can’t remember when.

 

The professionalism of the writing shines. The characterisations are wonderful – no one is black or white, the characters feel real, three dimensional; the narrative has two strong protagonists – two very likeable protagonists even though one we quickly discover is a murderer. Other minor characters are equally interesting. The narrative is fast paced, plenty of twists and turns and action and outcomes that are credible. This is a most engaging and satisfying read.

 

Have I convinced you? I hope so – if your passion is crime fiction – get a hold of a copy of a copy this book today. And then buy the rest of the series.

 

There is a bargain to be had here if you get in quick:

The latest in the series, Cold Moon, was released by Thomas & Mercer in print, ebook and audiobook 7 July, and The Huntress Moon is on sale on Amazon AU for 1.99 through the month of August. (I suggest you get in quick before this offer expires. I also have the audio book tucked away safely to enjoy at a later date)

 

Books 1 and 2, Huntress Moon and Blood Moon, were re-released in January and February of this year. The series has just been optioned for TV in the US.

 

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Charles Hall

 

Today I welcome expatriate Perth author Charles Hall to my blog. Thanks for sharing with us and good luck on the launch of your book Summer’s Gone.  Over to you Charles :)

.

Charles Hall

I decided to try my hand at writing quite late in life: before that I had always been a musician, of sorts, and a songwriter. I first met my wife, who started out as a jazz singer in Melbourne, at a quite strange arts/music/poetry venue in Perth in 1967. After a spell in Melbourne we returned to Perth in ’69 and started a band, Gemini, and later that year we put out a record that was a big hit throughout WA. The song was called Sunshine River, written by Will Taylor, a folkie friend of ours, and for a short time we were pop royalty in Perth. It didn’t last; our next record stiffed and we went back to being pop commoners. We spent the next few decades in London, Perth and Melbourne, and have ended up in a peaceful and remote part of East Gippsland in Victoria. We don’t play gigs very often these days, the amps get heavier as you get older, and some years ago I decided to write a novel instead. ‘Write about what you know,’ they say, so I did. The result is my first novel, Summer’s Gone, set in the Australian music scene of the sixties.

 

Ten other things you’ve always wanted to know. Or not:

 

  • I hitch-hiked from Perth to Melbourne in 1967 when I was 19. With a girl.

 

  • My first car was a very old Austen A40 wagon, purchased in Melbourne for $29 in 1968. Its name was Roger.

 

  • My wife and I tried to drive back to Perth in Roger in 1969. With our little’un. We got as far as Port Pirie.

 

  • The owner of the Port Pirie caravan park gave us $20 for Roger. He planned to paint it up like a Noddy car for the kiddies’ playground. We finally got to Perth by train (them) and hitching lifts (me).

 

  • Two DJs from a Perth radio station heard us play Sunshine River at a restaurant in Araluen. They said, ‘We want you to record that song. It’s going to be a hit.’

 

  • We were going to call our band Genesis. (Pretentious nitwits? Us?) But Clarion Records boss Martin Clarke called to say a new band in Britain had that name, and they were going to be huge. (He was right.) So we became Gemini, for no very good reason.

 

  • I didn’t go to uni until I was 32.

 

  • I didn’t become a high school teacher until I was 59. (But I did a lot of other stuff in between.)

 

  • Summer’s Gone was launched in February 2015, three days after I turned 67.

 

  • I’m a late starter. (Except when it comes to getting married. I did that at 19.)

 

Your life sounds like it was an adventure! Thanks for sharing Charles and good luck with your new writing career.

Post Script: The Secret Years – Barbara Hannay

Australian Contemporary Fiction at its best!

Cover The Secret Years

The Secret Years

Barbara Hannay

Penguin Books

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143799733

 

 

Description:

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

 

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?

 

As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.

 

From the wild beauty of the Australian bush to England’s rugged south coast, this is a deeply moving story of heartbreak, heroism and homecoming by a beloved, multi-award-winning author.

 

 

 

My View:

Barbara Hannay writes beautiful visuals of rural and remote Australia, in particular the thriving military town that is Townsville with its beautiful Strand and bustling city scapes to far north Queensland with its picturesque cattle properties, where “Big mobs of silvery Braham cattle grazed, and telegraph poles tracked the straight line of the Flinders Highway into the shimmering distance till they looked like mere wisps of smoke.”(p.348); such beautiful visuals forever remind me of Queensland.

 

The dual storylines – of George and Harrys’ early life during and after WW11 and Lucy’s current life, add many more destinations to the mix – we have London in the time of air raids and blackouts and the rugged Cornwall coast when Lucy visits England researching her family’s history, we have war zones past and present – Harry fought in many places including Tobruk, Kokoda and New Britain (an island of Papua New Guinea) and we have Lucy and Simon’s service in Afghanistan; so much information, travel and history is packed into this book.

 

Lots of travel, a fast moving and engaging narrative that reflects on times past and present , on families and choices, cultures and wars and the relationships that shape us and bind us to the land and characters you will warm to, this is a remarkable book. And did I mention the romance? Nick Myatt sets new standards for the male love interest in rural romances.