Archive for November, 2013

New Five-Star Review of Daughter Cell on Amazon

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Jeffrey Weissman posted his five-star review of Daughter Cell on Amazon. Check it out!

Categories: Writing

Four Star Review of Daughter Cell at Literary Litter

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Shawn Remfrey has posted her four-star review of Daughter Cell at Literary Litter Check it out!

Categories: Writing

Interview up at Library at the End of the Universe

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Penelope Anne Bartotto has posted a funny, in-depth interview with me about the Daughter Cell at The Library at the End of the Universe. Check it out!

Categories: Writing

Authors Show Interview Transcript

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

My interview on The Authors Show was podcast on October 21st. The interview has not been available since then. Until I can get it back up, here is the text of that interview.

Q. Tell us about this book

A. Daughter Cell is a medical thriller about cloning and the moral and ethical problems of playing God. It’s about two lifelong friends who come down on opposite sides of how to use a very powerful and dangerous technology, and how this conflict tears their friendship apart. It is about too much power driven by too much passion.

Q. Who did you write this book for?

A. I wrote this book for mainstream thriller lovers who want a medical ethics suspense story that also explores how moral crisis touches on what people believe in. The tag line on the cover is, “How far can you genetically alter someone before she becomes someone else? Before she loses her soul?”

Q. Is there a central message in the book?

A. Yes, that even in the face of crushing loss, forgiveness is still a worthwhile and better long term option. I put my protagonist, Randolph Macklin, through a hellish ride in this book. He loses just about everything and he comes dangerously close to suicide. He has the recurring detective of the series, his psychiatrist Sanantha Mauwad there to help him hang on. But the true strength of his character is, he not only hangs on, but comes to rise above and still find forgiveness in his heart. The first book in the series, The Chosen, is about revenge and redemption. Daughter Cell is about loss and forgiveness.

Q. If you could compare this book with any book out there we might already be familiar with, which book would it be and why?

A. Coma by Robin Cook. In both books, the crime that has been committed is not the mystery. The reader figures out who the bad guys are pretty quickly. The suspense comes from unraveling the mystery to find the conspiracy and lies go much deeper and the nature of the crime is much more evil than the reader expects. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, there comes another “Holy smokes!” moment when you realize things are much worse than you thought. Robin Cook had a lot of fun with that in Coma and I had a ball with the same concept in Daughter Cell.

Q. Jay, can you tell us about the series, and which book are you releasing next?

A. These books are the adventures of a black woman psychiatrist named Sanantha Mauwad. She is from Haiti and she practices the religion of Voodoo. In addition to being a psychiatrist she is also an expert on religions and she tends to look at the spiritual side of things in addition to the medical. These stories are about her patients, and how they come to her with weird stories and odd symptoms, but their problems turn out to be encounters with actual demons and magic.
The first book is The Chosen. It is a supernatural thriller set in modern times but based on events that happened back in the Bible. There is a madman magician who is out for revenge, and the only person who can stop him is an ex-hitman who desperately needs to redeem himself, but who has in fact given up on personal redemption. So this book is about the price you have to pay for revenge, and whether we can be redeemed even if we have given up on ourselves.

The second book, of course, is Daughter Cell, which as we discussed, is a medical thriller about loss and forgiveness.

The third and last book in the series is called Isis Rising. The demon henchman Joseph from The Chosen is back and he meets up with the survivor of the cloning catastrophe in Daughter Cell. This story is about truth and justice. A lot of what drives the first two stories is deceit and evil, and there is a lot of injustice along the way. All that gets wrapped up and set right in the third book. I am writing Isis Rising now, and hope to have it done in 2014.

Q.. It sounds like the first two books can be read individually?

A. Yes, the first two can be read separately. At first glance the first and second books seem to be standalone stories, both starring my detective psychiatrist Sanantha Mauwad. But in the third book you find out there is a larger story arc that ties all the books together. The Chosen takes place in 2001, Daughter Cell takes place in 2005, and Isis Rising takes place in 2009. The first book sets the stage, the second book is essentially the origin story of the heroine of the series, and the third book is where she comes into her destiny. So you do have to read the first two before you read the third, for the characters and background to make sense.

Q. So these stories are set in our real world?

A. Oh, absolutely. They are secret histories. These are things that happened outside of the public’s knowledge. We live in a world full of mysterious and unexplainable forces. I reveal connections between these dark corners to show how dangerous and scary our world really is. In The Chosen I show how Haitian Voodoo is the modern remnant inheritor of the religion of the ancient Egyptians. In Daughter Cell I show how the chi force in Chinese traditional medicine is actually the soul of Western philosophy. Fugu puffer fish are used to make zombies in Haiti yet are eaten as an aphrodisiac in the Orient. I ask might Pharaoh Ramses II of the biblical Exodus have been goaded into a disastrous outcome by a demon spy? And how far can you manipulate someone’s genetic structure before you turn them into someone else, or before you lose their soul?

Q. Do you do a lot of research putting these stories together?

A. Yes, I do. I have to get the details right. I am firm believer that you can only effectively write what you know. I am very Lee Strasberg Method Acting that way. To be believable, it has to come from genuine experience. So I have to go out and learn all these details so I can write about them. I have so much fun uncovering all these dark connections that I share my research online with my readers. I built a website for The Chosen that is this playful, interactive Tarot Card spread. You flip the cards over and open up all these essays about the research I did for the book.

Q. These books are fast paced, action packed thrillers. I’ve seen reviews that said The Chosen is a roller coaster thrill ride. It won Best Thriller in an open e-book competition the summer it came out. Yet you’re talking about spirituality and magic and souls. How does that work?

A. That’s what sets these books apart. You get hooked on the thrill ride but along the way you come to really care about these people who have their faith shaken by these shocking events. These stories leave you with a lot to think about. I make my readers ask themselves tough questions about how they would handle the moral dilemmas I put my characters through. Sure, it’s fast food, but it leaves you feeling really fulfilled and satisfied.

Q. You talk about dark connections, and these books have plenty of scares. Are they horror?

A. They are not so much horror as thrillers. I build a lot of suspense. I use recurring themes like nightmares and poison and abandonment to build atmosphere. The characters are almost always in danger. Thrillers are the literature of danger. Horror is designed to take you out of your comfort zone and scare you. I have horrific things happen to people. There is an abduction psychosurgery in The Chosen. Someone has his chi gong meridian system booby trapped to kill him in Daughter Cell. There are gun fights and plane crashes and venomous snakes. But as scared as I might get you, my intent is to put my characters in danger, learn who they are by seeing how they save themselves, and get on with solving the mystery or conflict.

Q. Did you self-publish these books?

A. No, these are published by a traditional small press called Damnation Books in Petaluma, California. Hard copies are available in bookstores. Barnes and Noble carries them as a stock item.

Q. Do you have a specific writing style?

A. I tease my readers with tidbits of strangeness and lure them in as the mystery unfolds. In short order I have them caught up in a whirlwind of suspense, action, and emotions. My objective is to give them a white-knuckle thrill ride and still explore the moral and emotional consequences.

Q. Who influenced your writing the most?

A. I admire the creepiness that Peter Straub commands, but I must say for sheer imagination driving a thriller, I tip my hat to Michael Crichton. I love how he folded ingenuity and science fiction into his suspense stories. I was very touched recently when a book reviewer compared my writing favorably to Michael Crichton. It was definitely a high point.

Q. Are your characters pure fiction, or did you draw from people you know?

A. They are fiction, but I draw from my own experiences. As I said, I am a practitioner of Method Acting. I have felt despair and loss. I have been furious with revenge lust. I have been utterly confused by events spinning out of my control. I have had moments of religious ecstasy. I let these memories flow into my characters and become part of who they are.

Q. Are you more of a character artist or a plot-driven writer?

A. I would like to think I balance the two. I outline extensively and plan my books to a fairly fine detail ahead of the actual writing. But I also take time to develop the characters and really get to know them. They are my partners in telling their stories. They help me write their dialogue and decide their reactions to the plot. I am a firm believer that you can’t write what you don’t know, so I take the time to not only do the research for the plot, but to really get to know my characters.

Q. Other than selling your book, what do you hope to accomplish with it?

A. I want to build a readership of folks who love exciting fiction. I have many more books underway, not the least of which is the concluding volume of the series, Isis Rising.

Q. Who should buy this book?

A. Fans of medical thrillers who also want to explore the spiritual and moral side of technology run amok. These characters and their actions are shaped by what they believe in, and that is an excellent introduction to the first and third books, which are more supernatural thrillers.

Q. Where can people buy your book?

A. The Chosen and Daughter Cell are published by Damnation Books. The books are both available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble online, as well as other online books stores. You can buy the books as either downloads for your reading device or as paperback books. The paperbacks are also available from your local bookstore. You may have to ask them to order a book, since my distribution is limited. Barnes and Noble carries The Chosen as a warehoused item. My publisher also sometimes does giveaways. And I also do giveaways on Goodreads. My books are not hard to find.

Categories: Writing

Chapter Six of Mermaid Steel

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Stepping in from the chill morning fog, Sten was assaulted by the pungent smells of leather, dye, and polish as he entered the cobbler’s shop. “Good morning, Bom!”

Bom Stickney looked up from his workbench and cracked open a smile that lifted his enormous moustache to reveal equally large horse-like teeth. “Sten Holdsmith. You haven’t burned a whole in that leather apron, have you? That’s the heaviest leather I’ve got.”

“No, no, the apron’s fine. Better than fine, it’s a marvel. No, today I’ve got another challenge for you. A couple of them, actually,”

At this the cobbler stood up to his full six and a half foot height and joined Sten at the front table.

Sten put a pair of low boots on the table, then pulled out a large roll of paper. He spread it out to show two large wedge shaped outlines. He smoothed out the sheet and placed the boots on the drawings.

“You gonna go stomp in the snow?”

“Ocean. I figure this long flap should push water back like a seal flipper.”

“The mermaids are gonna come after you, invading their domain.”

“Can you do it? Replace the souls with leather fins?”

“Sure. It’s weird, but hardly a challenge. You said you had a couple of challenges.”

Sten grinned, reached into his satchel and pulled out another scroll. “You’re gonna love this.”

He rolled it out to reveal an oddly shaped but clearly carefully worked out outline.

Bom took a guess. “This big flap pulls up and these holes match up for stitches. And these big holes are for what, laces? Looks like a boot for a stump.” He turned a dubious eye on Sten as he loomed down. “Somebody lose a foot?”

“Yes, a friend of mine in Silverton. The boot he’s got is crap, so I designed him a new one. What do you think?”

“Should work, if you got his shape and size right. I’d close up these big gaps on the sides.”

“He needs those. He’s pretty deformed.”

Bom frowned at the drawing. “I’ll say.”
“I need this one made out of softer leather. It’s got to flex. The flippers should be good and stiff. So, a couple of days?”

“I’m not real busy right now. I can have it all for you by the day after tomorrow.”


The door opened and Arum Blaine stepped in. “Good morning, Bom, Sten. Just making my morning rounds.”

Sten walked around in front of the table, blocking the constable’s view of the drawings. “Arum, I wanted to ask you something. We’ve talked about the Celidan treaty. I think you said it’s illegal to trade with the merfolk.”

“That’s right. Both villages have laws against trade.”

“What does our law carry as a punishment?”

“I think it’s a day in the public stocks. Why? Are you planning on selling them more weapons? They’ve already got steel spear points. You wouldn’t happen to know how they got those?”

“No. I did not make those spear points. I believe they forged those themselves out of desperation out in an underwater lava vent.”

“Damn,” interjected Bom. “Isn’t that awfully dangerous?”

“Yes. They were desperate. If they could get their weapons from me, they wouldn’t go to such extremes.”

“So what do you want to trade?” Arum asked.

“Just basic fixtures. Maybe tools. Things to make their lives easier.”

Arum made no effort to hide the doubt in his voice. “What are they going to give you in exchange?”

“Hand crafts, pearls, coral limestone, seal pelts.”

Bom perked up. “Seal hide is really nice to work with.”

Sten turned back to Arum. “See?”

The constable remained unconvinced. “You’re a fool. The reason I’ve never had to pillory anyone for a trade violation is no one on my watch has been stupid enough to trade with the merfolk. I’ll tell you what. If I find you’ve been trading with them, I will turn a blind eye, and not prosecute you. When you find you’ve been cheated, and you will get cheated, don’t come crying to me to settle a dispute. Consider yourself advised.”
Chielle’s heart was pounding with a confusing rush or worry and anticipation as she floated up under Sten’s landing. She gripped the edge of the platform and looked up the ramp. She glanced back at the setting sun, and then up at the shack. Surely Jacio would have gone home by now. Sten would be alone. Her heart pounded even harder.

Courage. This has to be done. Courage.

She hopped up on the deck and made the long climb up the ramp. Maybe this will turn out well. Why did this ramp have to be so steep?

The half dozen steps from the wharf edge to the door never looked so far. Now or never, she thought as she walked. All or nothing. She knocked.

Sten opened the door and a rush of warm smoke-scented air spilled over her. He was silhouetted in the orange glow from the roaring hearth. She suddenly felt cold and outside.

“Chielle. What a happy surprise. Please come in. Isn’t it kind of late for you to be out?”

She stepped in and smiled at how much she liked being here. Her smile faded as she turned to face him. “There is something I need to talk to you about.”

“Sounds serious. Shall we sit over here on the bench?” He invited her with a wave of his hand. “Can I get you something? Maybe some cocoa?”

“No, please. I’ll sit. But please stop being so nice. I’ve got a confession to make, and I just need you to hear me out.”

He joined her on the wooden bench. “All right, I’m all ears.”

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “That first day that I rescued you from the net? I was not just casually swimming by. I had been watching you for a while.”

“Good thing. I will never regret you being there.”

“For days. I knew you were a blacksmith. I acted surprised to learn your trade. I had been waiting for a chance to talk with you – because you’re a blacksmith.”

“I understand.”

“When you offered to teach me how to work metal, I thanked Rorra for my amazing luck.” She looked away. “Then I abused your trust a second time.”

“You taught your men how to make those spear points.”

“Yes,” she sighed. “I didn’t know they were going to make weapons. I thought, I thought, I don’t know what I thought. Of course they were going to make weapons.”

She looked up and met his gaze. “I am so sorry. I lied to you, and I betrayed your trust.”

He shrugged his eyebrows and pursed his lips. “The good news is, you’re not a very good liar. I suspected what you said pretty much from the beginning. My only concern is that you felt you needed to lie in the first place. It certainly makes sense. You probably grew up hearing it all the time. ‘Never trust a human.’”

“That’s true. I’m still ashamed, especially now that I’ve gotten to know you and found what a kind and thoughtful person you are.” She caught herself before she started gushing.

“That says a lot for you. You feel guilty for acting the way you were taught.”

Her heart pounded again, this time with a glimmer of hope. She lowered her head and looked up at him. “Can you forgive me?”

He turned to ace her fully. “Yes, Chielle, I forgive you.”

She sighed so big her shoulders dropped. “Thank you.”

“Were you worried I’d say no and throw you out?”

“I didn’t know what to think. The thought of losing you was tearing me apart.” She caught her breath when she heard the words that had spilled out.

Sten smiled the most charming, bemused grin she had ever seen on him. “Losing me?”

Her heart just about jumped out of her chest. Now or never. All of nothing. Even with all of her courage gripped tightly, all she could manage was a sincere but quiet, “Yes.”

She didn’t see when he moved so close, but suddenly his face was right up to hers. He was breathing just as hard as she was. She was pretty sure the pounding vibration she was sensing was his heart matching hers. He leaned in and puckered up, so she did the same.

At first contact she found the mix of soft lips and muscular pressure fascinating, but this was swept away in an instant by a flood of giddy joy the likes of which she had also never felt before. She held his face in her hands and he wrapped his strong arms around her body, pulling her up against his chest. She let his love wash over her and she dove in.

When at last he broke the kiss, she rubbed her cheek against his in a stroking motion.

He seemed confused.

“That’s how we kiss.” She pointed all down the side of her face. “Remember the pressure nerves.”

“Oh, right. So you’re really sensitive there.”


“Which is why you don’t like beards.”

She stroked his bare cheek with her webbed fingers. “Yep.” She wrapped her arms up under his and around his back, pulled him tight, and buried her face in his neck. “You make me so happy.”

She reveled in the connection, warmed by feeling his heart beating next to hers. She tried his kiss on his neck and was pleased to find his sweat tasted like sea water.

He stroked the back of her head with his hand, caressing the fringe edges of her gill flaps. Even though his hands were rough, it was the gentlest thing she could remember.

She loosened her hug and looked up into his eyes again. His breathing quickened right with hers and they fell into a mouth kissing, cheek rubbing, head clutching frenzy. He once pushed his lips too hard and opened her mouth, only to encounter her full row of pointed, razor sharp teeth. He pulled back in surprise.

She shrugged, puckered up her full lips, and gave him a reassuring smooch.

He launched back into kissing her and her excitement overwhelmed her. The smell of his body, the texture of his loose shirt, the taste of his breath, the hair on his head, his strong hands grasping her body, fumbling with her dorsal fin, it was all intoxicating.

She was so lost in the moment she did not notice her body was gyrating, her tail was lashing, and she started to rub her breasts against him. He looked down and she saw what she was doing.

“You’re getting pretty excited,” he commented with a chuckle.

“Oh, how embarrassing. I’m sorry. My instincts took over.” She wrapped her arms around her chest. “I’m just mortified.”

“Your instincts?”

“Courtship dance, underwater. Everything is always in motion in water. We don’t just embrace, we swim around each other, brushing our bodies together. You must think I have no self control.”

“Hey, abandon to the moment isn’t a bad thing. I’m kind of flattered that you trust me with such an intimate ritual.”

“I really did not mean to do that.”

“Would you stop apologizing? You are who you are. I’m still learning all this. Believe me, I’ve got habits and instincts that I’ll be apologizing for as well.” He caressed her check and held it in his hand. “Besides, when I look into those astonishing eyes of yours, I’ll forgive you anything.”

“I promise not to take advantage of that. Your trust is so important to me.”

“You’ve got it. Hey, it’s way passed sundown. How are you going to find your way home?”

“I’ll use the moon and echoes.” She was sad he had moved so quickly to her departure. He really did think she was moving too fast. She joked to cover her doubts. “You’re not trying to get rid of me, are you?”

“No, of course not. I just didn’t know if you could navigate in the dark, or if your family would worry about you. Or does your family know where you are?”

“They will worry if I’m out too late. No, I have not told them about you. I told my brother about the metal working, but frankly, I didn’t know what else to say.”

“Have I really been that vague? Chielle, you stir feelings in me that I have not felt in years. I don’t know how safe it would be to go tell your family that you’re seeing me romantically, but please do not doubt that I am very fond of you.”

Fond. Now there’s a word to ponder. “May I come see you again tomorrow?”

“Um, not tomorrow. I’m going to be tied up all day. The day after next would be great. Can you make it day after tomorrow?”

“Yes, of course.”

He stood up and stepped to the hearth. “Can I get you anything before you go?”

“No, thank you.” She got up and straightened her tunic. “You’re right, it’s late, and I should be going.”

He intercepted her at the door. He wrapped his arms around her and drew her up close. “I’m really happy you came tonight.” The way he smiled at her nearly dissolved her apprehensions. The warm kiss her gave her finally removed her doubt.

She grinned up at him. “Day after tomorrow.”

“Good night, Chielle.”

“Good night, Sten.”

As she turned at the wharf edge and smiled back at him in his glowing doorway, she waved and thanked Rorra he was such a patient man. She nearly ruined it. As she leapt off into the black sea, she thought she must slow down, take it easy, let things flow naturally. Rorra would want it that way. He was worth the wait.

Categories: Mermaid Steel, Writing

Announcing Blog Tour for Re-release of Daughter Cell

November 6, 2013 Leave a comment

I will be rolling out a new blog tour this month for the re-release of Daughter Cell. The tour is being organized by the ever-brilliant Penelope Anne Bartotto from The Library at the End of the Universe. She will kick off the tour with a new interview of me about Daughter Cell and the series later this week. In the meantime, here is her interview of me about The Chosen exactly one year ago today.

Categories: Writing
%d bloggers like this: