Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: Amy Shojai

New mystery & suspense for summer reads

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Storm Shelter
Dr. Jennifer Delozier
WiDo Publishing, June 2017
Paperback $14.47  Kindle $4.99

Dept. of Veterans Affairs psychologist Dr. Persephone Smith is assigned to assist survivors of a massive hurricane.  Trapped by a howling storm in an abandoned aircraft hangar, Dr. Smith must become counselor and detective when the evacuees and staff start disappearing—then reappearing as mutilated corpses.

Readers of Storm Shelter learn that Dr. Smith has a unique genetic gift of enhanced empathy allowing her to feel, on a primal level, the emotions of others.  This helps with her job as a counselor, but the gift comes with a price. Plagued by nightmares and insecurity, she absorbs the suffering of her patients by day and swills tequila by night.

When trapped in the hangar by the storm, emotions run wild and the survivors descend into paranoia and madness challenging Dr. Smith on many levels.

Dr. Jennifer Delozier has practiced medicine for 23 years.  She spent the early part of her career as a rural family doctor and then later as a government physician, caring for America’s veterans. She continues to practice medicine and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four rescue cats.  Storm Shelter is a prequel to her first novel, Type & Cross. Visit her at www.jldelozier.com

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Trained to Serve
Amy Shojai
Kindle Worlds,  May 2017
132 pages
Kindle $1.99

In Any Shojai’s novella, Trained to Serve, Lia Corazon has only three days left to prepare ten-month-old Keiki for the police dog test. There’s more than the dog’s future at stake. Success will save Lia’s dream of rebuilding her North Texas dog kennel. But there’s a killer on the loose and he’ll burn anybody who gets in his way.

When a training exercise takes a deadly turn, Lia sends Keiki to protect a young girl, but who will protect Lia?  Trained to Serve is the second in the Keiki & Lia thriller series. Continue Reading →

Hey authors, don’t kill the dog!

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In this guest article, animal behaviorist and author Amy Shojai examines the peril novelists face if one of their murder victims has four legs.

I’m a dog lover (and a cat lover) and I adore reading fiction that includes unique pet characters or animal plots interwoven in a creative and believable way. But don’t you dare, kill the dog…or I’m liable to lob that book into a dumpster and cross you off my TBR list. And I’m not alone.

My perspective isn’t purely emotional, either. As a certified animal behavior consultant, I deal every day with pet owners who desperately need help understanding and solving their pet peeves. I address these issues directly in my nonfiction pet books, and in my thrillers, animal behavior remains intrinsic to the plot.

My September Day thriller series features an animal behaviorist and her service dog Shadow, a German Shepherd Dog with his own viewpoint chapters. Both September and Shadow go through hell. Shadow even has his own story arc and has such a presence, the series would die should he become a victim of the antagonist. There are other animal characters introduced peripherally, along with veterinary or animal welfare plots, and in the real world, I know all tooShow-and-Tell-pet-novel well bad things happen.

Including pets can be lazy writing

Killing pet characters is a furry line I won’t cross, not just because it hurts my heart. It can be bad business, and too often is simply a lazy shortcut to demonstrate the antagonist’s level of “evil.” At the other extreme, writers may be advised to give their hero a pet to make the protagonist more likeable.

Honestly, I have to argue that it’s not owning the pet, but the relationship with that animal (or any other character) that makes the hero likeable or the antagonist unlikeable and unsympathetic. A pet character in a story opens an opportunity to show a relationship, and that, indeed, will broaden a character’s depth and the reader’s engagement.

But when pets are used as a prop, interjected simply as a label like “red headed killer” or “dog loving taxi driver” or the tired old ploy “serial killer starts by killing pets,” there’s no relationship. You want that relationship, so readers care, and good writers ensure that readers are vested in what happens to their story characters including the pets. Killing the pet, however, after the reader becomes emotionally invested, betrays the reader’s trust in a horrific way. Done purely for shock or as a shortcut, killing pets in novels is a cheap shot pet-loving readers rarely forgive. Here’s why.

Why killing pets backfires

Today, pets are considered to be members of the family, in some cases surrogate children. Just as many readers become offended by fiction that details “on-stage” murder/mayhem directed at children, so too, are they offended by the same directed toward pets. Continue Reading →

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