Book Review: Accused by Janice Cantore

I wanted to post this for you guys a few weeks ago when Janice’s book first came out, but we were right in the middle of Author Crush Month. So now I can finally tell you what a great book it is!

Let me start by saying that I’m not a professional book reviewer. I’m not sure I could do it. I’ve read reviews over the years that are crushing! If I were writing in my private journal, I guess I could be ruthless. But what’s more likely to happen in a Kitty review is that I’ll be attacked by a mob of exclamation points!  🙂

A few weeks ago, I read my friend (see, that’s where I’d put a disclaimer if I were a pro) Janice Cantore’s new book, Accused. I loved it! It’s about a Long Beach, California, police officer (Janice used to be one) who helps out in a homicide investigation only to be nearly killed a couple times by people trying to shush her. And some of the people involved may or may not be on the police force. Yikes!

Detective Carly Edwards, our heroine, owns a cool dog (points for that) and has a good-looking ex-husband who wants to win her back (points for that, too – come on, I write romances!). She also thinks her mom is very annoying when she talks about church and praying and stuff all the time.

Over the course of the book, Carly has to decide what to believe – about a lot of things. Is there a murder cover-up and could someone she know be involved? Has her ex-husband really changed his stripes? Is there really a God and what, if anything, is He willing to do for her?

I like Janice’s books because they’re fast-paced and full of action, yet the characters are fully developed so that you care what’s happening with each of them. Since she used to be a cop, everything seems real and believable. A couple times I wished she’d gotten us even more involved in the action, but I might be a bit of an adrenalin junkie when it comes to action in books, so you have to take that into consideration. 😛

If you read Christian fiction, I think you’ll find Accused to be just what you’re looking for. If you don’t, but you like police action books, the faith-talk isn’t too distracting, especially since Carly doesn’t even want to talk about it for over half the book. When she does start thinking about it and asking questions of her friends, it’s not too heavy-handed. There are a couple conversations that dig deep into the topic of faith and God, but that’s the kind of book this is and it goes along with all the pages that have come before. The conversations answer questions the reader has been wondering about for the whole book, just like the conversations about who did it and why answer questions the reader has wondered all along.

Overall, I give the book 4 stars out of 5. (Caveat: I don’t give many 5-star ratings, so keep that in mind.) I’m definitely going to read the next two books in the series, Abducted, coming out in August, and a third book next year.

Also, if you haven’t read her Brinna’s Heart series, you should try The Kevlar Heart and A Heart of Justice. I’ve read both of those, too, and rate them both 4 stars. (And they both have a dog, too!)

Still not sure? Go read the first chapter on Amazon for free. And if you buy Accused, the first chapter of Abducted is in the back for free. (D’oh! Didn’t realize that till I started typing this! Need to go read it when I’m done!)

More disclaimers:

Disclaimer 1: Tyndale House Publishers gave me a free early review copy of the book. In return for reviews, of course. They didn’t make me promise to be nice though.

Disclaimer 2: I’d already pre-ordered the book on Amazon as soon as it became available. I’m thinking I might offer a free giveaway of book 1 sometime when book 2 or 3 comes out. I’m cool like that.

Disclaimer 3: I’m good friends with Janice and I love her! And I love her dogs! I would probably find a way to promote her books even without free copies. But you’d know if I didn’t like it because I’d be saying things like, Good use of white space with the paragraph indentations, and Lots of pages for the price, and Cute male model on the cover. Note I didn’t say any of those things. (I can’t talk about the cute male model anyway in case John might be reading!)

Disclaimer 4: I’d totally forgotten that she asked my husband if she could use his name so it was a complete surprise when FBI agent John Bucholtz walked onto a page! I screamed and John came running to find out how I’d hurt myself. Then he gave a manly yell when he saw his name. I’d still love the book even if Janice hadn’t immortalized my awesome husband. (Already own the book? Go to page 362!)

Disclaimer 5: I’ve never used disclaimers in a list before. It’s fun.

My Author Crush Faves

What a great month! I love Author Crush month. There is always someone you never heard of who becomes a new fave. I might’ve picked up three new favorites!

After reading Cat Weatherill’s blog post, I downloaded the Kindle sample of her book Wild Magic and fell in love! I absolutely must buy her book! Just reading a few pages of it, I became immersed in not just a magical story world, but an overwhelming sense of magic washing over me. I stopped reading several times and asked myself, how did she do that?! I’m totally going to keep reading and try to figure it out. I want my books to instill that sense of the magical!

Similarly, when I read the Kindle sample for Stephanie S. SaundersVillain School: Good Curses Evil, I was laughing out loud more than I was reading silently! Another must-buy for me!

The title alone made me curious about PJ Sharon’s upcoming release, Savage Cinderella. But reading the blurb on it, I’m hooked. I’ve got to give that one a try as soon as it comes out! (Release day is March 15.)

The rest of the posts this month had all kinds of new and interesting thoughts to consider.

James Scott Bell made me wonder if should give a little more thought to writing short stories. Hmm, something to think about.

Reading Jacqueline Diamond’s post about making her own book covers made me want to give it a try, if only for the fun of it.

Art Holcomb gave me a lot to think about with his thoughts on plotting the larger arc for a series, and how I need to stay enthusiastic about my story in order to write a great book.

Thanks to Gail Carson Levine, I am more determined to write wherever I have to, whenever I have to. I was ten minutes early for Bible study this week, so I turned on the inside light in the car, and wrote another few lines of my latest short story.

Debra Holland’s self-publishing journey is always inspiring, no matter how many times I read about it. Go Debra!

I loved that I’m not the only one who picks out just the right pretty or quirky notebook for my next story. Thanks, Nancy Rue!

And Stephanie’s posts about the books she’s reading that help her in her journey toward healing – well, I admire her so much for making it a public journey so that others might be helped as well.

Even though they aren’t really part of Author Crush month, per se, I also am tickled to death that my dear friends Janice Cantore, Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Damp Wright put bookends to our month with fantastic tales of newly published novels!

Ahh, what a great month! I always feel so refreshed and excited and motivated by March 1! I hope you do, too! 🙂

P.S. Remember to tune in tomorrow and welcome our new monthly contributor, Jamie Raintree!

Guest Blog: A Routine Path to Publication by Janice Cantore

My friend Janice is enjoying a milestone moment. A major traditional publisher will release her novel, Accused, tomorrow! I asked Janice if she would stop by and tell us a little about her journey.

Routine
1. A customary or regular course of procedure.
2. Commonplace tasks, chores, or duties as must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity: the routine of an office.
3. Regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure.

I begin with the definition of ‘routine’ for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve always wondered if the path to publication for my novel Accused was routine. And second, I realized that the very thing that can make a book ready for publication is commonplace, regular, and unvarying.

Accused, my first book with Tyndale House Publishers, is set for release February 1. It’s ironic to me that Accused is also the first book I ever attempted to write, and the first to be rejected many times. This, I’ve learned, is routine; every writer experiences rejection at one time or another. Few writers can write a perfect first draft that is sold immediately to their first choice publisher. (Can anyone?)

I’ve always loved to read, and when I stepped over the line to try and write a novel, the biggest question in my mind was: Do I have the talent to be a writer?  When I attended a small writer’s conference and heard a speaker say that anyone willing to work hard and study their craft could be a writer, I set about learning the craft, and I dreamed of having a novel bearing my name published by a traditional publishing house.

I’d been writing police reports for a few years and I had to unlearn “the facts, please, only the facts.” To learn the craft of writing novels, I read a lot of books by successful authors on how to write a novel. I read books by successful authors in my genre, Chandler, Block, Crais, Grafton etc. I also read best sellers in all genres, wondering if there were a similar thread in the prose, a trick there I could learn to help me be successful.

Alongside the reading, I was writing. I had an idea for a suspense novel and I wrote and rewrote, wrote and rewrote. I probably drove friends crazy with, “Can you read this bit and tell me how it sounds?” What helped me the most was finding a mentor who was a published author and then a group of writers to talk to and work with through the learning process.

When I thought I’d finally gotten it all down, and printed out what I was sure was the final, perfect draft of my novel, I was certain publishers would fall all over themselves to buy it. I’d followed directions, hadn’t I? Surely that meant success.

It wasn’t success, it was the beginning of a lot of rejection and a lot more hard work. Now came the commonplace, the regular and the unvarying routine of revision, revision, and revision. I’d read in one writing book that a writer needed to go through their manuscript until they were sick of it, then go through it one more time.

A lot of people at this point might say, “What is the point? Why didn’t you just self-publish and forget traditional publishers?”

Because that wasn’t my dream.

Back to routine. The path to publication for me was a lot of hard work, a lot of study and a lot of writing and rewriting. Now, on February 1, 2012, the dream I pursued will come to fruition. My novel will be published by a large, traditional publisher. But what I’ve found even more gratifying than a publishing contract is when someone says to me, “I picked up your book and couldn’t put it down!”

It was a routine of study, reading, writing and re-writing that produced a book I can’t wait to see in bookstores.

If you have any questions for Janice, please leave a comment. She’d love to hear from you!

 

A retired Long Beach, California, police officer of 22 years (16 in uniform and 6 as a non-career officer), Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments – patrol, administration, juvenile investigations and training. During the course of her career in uniform Janice found that faith was indispensable to every aspect of the job. She published articles on faith at work, one for a quarterly newspaper called “Cop and Christ”, and another for the monthly magazine “Today’s Christian Woman”.

With retirement, Janice began to write longer pieces and several novels were born. She has a two-book suspense series in print that she calls Brinna’s Heart Series, The Kevlar Heart and A Heart of Justice (Oaktara Publishing). Janice is excited and honored to now be a part of the Tyndale House Publishing family. Accused, the first installment in her new suspense offering, The Pacific Coast Justice Series, is set to be released February 1, 2012, and will kick off a brand new chapter in her writing career. In addition to suspense and action, her books feature strong female leads. Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep you engrossed and leave you inspired.

You can connect with Janice on Facebook and on her web site.

So Much to Learn in Self-Publishing

It’s January and it’s Monday. Beginnings make me feel like it’s time to hurry up and get moving. I’m a morning person (when I’ve slept well) and mornings make me feel that way, too. Hurry up! Go running and eat breakfast and hurry to your computer! So much to do! (Or on more embarrassing days – Hurry and get to your computer! What do you mean it’s dinner time? I haven’t even taken a shower, let along exercised or anything else!)

There’s so much to do because there’s so much to learn. I spent all day last Thursday just trying to read through some of the online group posts about writing and publishing and self-publishing, and then clicking the links to the great posts those people had found, which led to more links and reading more posts. Sheesh! How’s a girl to get any writing done?

But there’s a lot more to being a 21st century author than there was to being a 1950s author. Not only do you have to learn a lot, you have to do a lot. I took Kristen Lamb’s class on Becoming a Brand two weeks ago and now I’m trying to do everything I’ve been learning about. I’m following more people on Twitter and Facebook, retweeting and replying, and commenting on blogs. I think I did a week’s worth of social media in one day.

I saw some immediate results (I tripled my Twitter followers and got my own blog up and rolling again), so I downloaded the Kindle samples of both of Kristen’s books, Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer and We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I loved the samples, so I bought the books. I’m reading both at the same time now, and trying to apply something new every day. Wow.

There are a gazillion great blogs out there and I read a lot of them last week! (This week, I swear, is going to be more about writing and balance.) Instead of trying to explain everything I read, I’ll just give you some short descriptions and you can decide what you can use.

Oh, and in case I lose you somewhere amongst all these links, let me remind you that Author Crush Month starts on Wednesday! Yay!! We love Author Crush Month, and we know you do, too! We’ve got some really great guests this month talking about their process, their craft, their journey. Be sure to stop by every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in February.

Also, we will have a special guest joining us on the first Tuesday of every month beginning in March. You’re going to love her! (You might even already know her!)

And tune in tomorrow as we welcome Janice Cantore to talk with us about her new book, Accused. If you remember, Janice has been struggling to sell her books with a small press but last summer signed a 3-book deal with a major publisher! Her new book releases February 1st. Woo-hoo!

And now to my list o’ links:

Elizabeth Spann Craig explains how she uses Google Calendar to stay organized

An online self-publishing conference! I’m waiting by my Inbox for an email with details about registration costs.

The CEO of Smashwords gives us his thoughts on self-publishing in 2011

A Smashwords blog post about the Amazon Select program

I took an awesome online class in November about helping your brain work better, and the teachers wrote this guest post

I’m signed up for another online class next month on how to write cozy mysteries, and here is an article by the teacher (I’m hoping it will help me bring my superhero romantic comedies up a level)

A great craft post from Jody Hedlund on how to make your book play out like a movie

Another self-published author, PJ Sharon, shares her 2011 numbers

From Kristen Lamb’s blog, What’s the Problem with FREE?

Sharpen Your Blogging Habits, a 4-part series from Kristin Nador

Which could lead you to this brilliant post on creating better tag lines for your blog  (I just changed my tag line for my own blog. What do you think? Better? Not quite right yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!)

From Bob Mayer, a post that explains why I’ve never dreamed of being on a bestselling list, I dream of selling books for the rest of my life 

From Writer Beware, The Fine Print of iBooks Author, free software from Apple to create ebooks that can only be sold in the iTunes store

And the blog author’s reply to common misconceptions about what he wrote

Books I’m reading: Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer; We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media; Dollars and Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-Publishing Success

Author Crush Month: Janice Cantore

Our guest today is my good friend Janice Cantore. Janice and I met over a decade ago when we both went to Lauraine Snelling’s Advanced Fiction Intensive. I love Janice’s books because they are full of suspense but without the sick-to-my-stomach details that fill many books with police protagonists. Plus – Janice’s cops always seem to own dogs. Love it! Welcome, Janice!

Of Book Contracts and Writing Routines

I’m a retired police officer. In 2004 after 16 years in uniform and other assignments, I retired early because of injury, but I was ready to move on to something else. I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember but never pursued it for a variety of reasons. However, when I became a police officer I discovered that I had to write, I had to record what I was seeing and experiencing every night at work. Around 1994 I began writing short stories and articles and had a little success, two short articles were published. But I had a vision for a novel. To make a long story short, after many conferences, many rejections, and many rewrites, my first inspiration, my first novel, was retired because I did not think it would ever be published. I started on something else, and in 2007, my book “The Kevlar Heart” was published by a small print on demand company. In 2009 a second book, “A Heart of Justice” was published by the same company.

As happy as I was to see my book in print, selling less than a hundred copies (I have no clue how to market) was getting me nowhere. By 2010 I was ready to give up. Out of the blue, I got a call by an agent who had read The Kevlar Heart and wanted to know if I had anything else. I showed him that first much rejected novel and a couple of months later he brought me a three book contract with a large and well known conventional publishing company

I can’t say that signing a three book contract has only changed my writing routine; it’s changed my whole outlook on life. The contract has validated years of work and a lifetime dream. I sometimes can’t believe that a dream I’ve had since I was twelve has really come true. After years of rejection (and years of coming to expect rejection), when I talk to my publisher and editor and they really like and are excited about my work, I have to check my water and make sure no one has put hallucinogens in it.

But strangely, the contract has stalled my writing routine for the moment. My contract is strange in that they bought a trilogy that was two thirds complete. I’d already written two books (and logged rejection after rejection before I put them on the shelf) and merely had to take them down and dust them off. Now, I find my writing has slowed as I wait for the first book edits. Once those come in and I have a clear understanding of all that is expected of me, and how the editor works and thinks, then I will get back into a stricter routine in order to complete book three.

I have always worked best with feedback and as much as I am thankful for friends and their suggestions, the feedback I expect now will lead directly to a book on bookstore shelves and I can’t wait. Right now my routine consists of more reading than writing. I’m reading books to remind me how to strengthen my craft and I’m reading novels just for fun. When I sit down to write now, most of the time it’s hand written notes as I plot and figure how I want book three to go. I was in the middle of an unrelated novel when I got the contract and I set that aside in order to devote all my time and attention to the contracted books.

I guess the biggest change in terms of my writing routine is my focus. Someone wants my stuff, they paid a good advance, it’s no longer a hobby, it’s real and I must work twice as hard now to make sure readers will be just as excited about my books as the editors are right now. I want this to be a career, not a fluke. The release date for my first book is January 1, 2012. So, as excited as I am, that is a long way away. Right now I thank God every day I have this opportunity and I want to make sure my stories and my writing will make people want to plop down the money to buy them.

Janice Cantore was a police office for the city of Long Beach, California, before retiring early with a back injury after sixteen years of service. She’d always wanted to write inspiring, suspenseful fiction and early retirement gave her the time to sit down and do it. Janice belongs to the ACFW, Edgy Christian Fiction, Sisters in Crime, and Lauraine Snelling’s Reunioners. She lives in Southern California with her two dogs, Jake and Maggie.