If Tom Clancy and Janet Evanovich had a daughter who grew up to join the CIA, her name would be Vivian Carmichael, and this would be her story. "I was a case officer for the CIA before I started selling flowers and saccharine greeting cards in Savannah's most popular florist shop. 'Tinker Tailor Florist Spy' sounds like the lead-in for a sassy chick-lit novel, doesn't it? I assure you, there is absolutely nothing sassy about my story..." A spy thriller following a female CIA officer during her first solo assignment, fans of Homeland, Atomic Blonde, and Alias will enjoy all of the books in the Pistils series, which have been called “as thrilling as they are passionate."
The fourth book in the Pistils series, Nightshade, is scheduled for a Spring 2020 publication date! If you enjoyed reading about Vivian Carmichael, former CIA officer and current private investigator/florist, then be sure to check out my official Instagram, @twintypebooks. I regularly post little snippets from the new book there for you to enjoy!
If you've ever visited TwintypeBooks.com, you know that I give away free bookmarks! Even better, I just got a shipment from the printer, so now I have a bookmark for each of the three books! Haven't submitted a request for one (or three) yet? Head over and enter your information!
One of the greatest compliments I've received was when a reader asked me when I'd visited Bulgaria. I've never visited Bulgaria! (...yet...) Knowing that I'd done enough research to make the reader feel as though we'd hopped a plane together to that beautiful country brought me more satisfaction than any number of sales ever could. When I'm reading a book, if an author is sloppy about creating a believable, realistic setting, it takes me right out of the story. I do read for enjoyment, and for escape, and that's hard to do when I'm cringing over an error that Wikipedia could have easily caught. Now all that being said...who's up for going to Bulgaria with me??
Every week, Kathy Meis sends all the Bublish authors an insight prompt, and although we don't have to follow it, her prompts are always interesting and help us think of what things might be interesting to YOU. Well, this week's prompt is TRAVEL, and I took that as a sign...I've been hinting here and there, but I'm about to embark on an exciting new project that neatly ties two of my passions together: writing and travel. Come on over to TwintypeBooks.com and sign up for the newsletter to get more details on the launch! (If you're reading this bubble any time after the launch, don't worry...info will be clearly displayed on the website!
One of my favorite things to do as an author is to send out autographed bookmarks to readers who reach out to me via my website (if you're interested, head over to TwintypeBooks.com and fill out the request form!). They're free, and they're themed to match the books. Although I track visitor stats on my website and can see all the countries people are clicking in from, it's even cooler to address an envelope to a reader in Wales, the Philippines, Australia...it's proof that my books are being read worldwide! Love it!!!
Spring is time for new beginnings, and my March horoscope was especially auspicious when it comes to starting a creative project! I can't tell you too much about it yet, but make sure to follow me either here on Bublish, on www.twintypebooks.com, or on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook at @twintypebooks. Do you have any plans blooming into life as spring approaches?
One of the things I love about the Pistils series was the very deliberate decision to make Vivian and Parker and their lives the central focus of the plot. Of course there's romance too, as they meet and fall in love with their respective men, but the romance is PART of their lives (and therefore the books). The books don't revolve around romance, they revolve around two strong women who can kick butt all day long, and then come home to the men who love them and know just how amazing they are! CIA officer? Self-defense expert? Yep, pretty amazing!
I'm currently reading Stephen King's "On Writing" and kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. Not only is it truly a treasure trove of a resource, I found out that my writing style is very similar to his...we both dislike plotting! When I began "Sub Rosa" I genuinely didn't know exactly where it would go, and some of the twists took ME completely by surprise. I now also know that my writing style (dismissively referred to as a "pantser," as in, writing by the seat of your pants), is more accurately described as being like an archeologist. King wrote that your story is like an undiscovered fossil, waiting for you to excavate it, not plot it out with a jackhammer. Works for me!
Being identified as an intelligence officer in the country where you're working is known as being "pinged." This comes from the phrase "persona non grata," which means that your presence in the country is no longer welcome. Being pinged is normally just extremely embarrassing as you're summarily thrown out of the country. As recent headlines have shown, however, it can be extremely dangerous if the government has even the tiniest of suspicions that you may be there for espionage, no matter how flimsy the evidence...
As a CIA officer overseas, you're bound to run into intelligence officers from other countries. Sometimes you carefully ignore each other and go your separate ways. Sometimes you set up a mutually beneficial exchange of information. And sometimes, you might just get more involved than you ever planned...
Despite the way intelligence officers are portrayed in the movies, an excellent CIA officer is aiming to blend in as much as possible. No car chases, shooting sprees, or bedding every attractive person that crosses your path. So in the interest of blending in, Vivian needs to dress like a club-hopping twenty-something, probably the furthest thing from her true personality as possible. But hey, when in Bulgaria, do as the Bulgarians do!
We all have a niche, and sometimes it takes a while (or a lifetime) to find it. MIT was where Vivian found her niche, and it's very telling of her personality that she chose to go to school there. Too bad she can't share her day job with the alumni newsletter...
Ah yes, my good friend the real-life James Bond! If only we all had friends like that! In reality, though, any intelligence officer will tell you that blending in is an absolute requirement. A handsome suave womanizer (who identifies himself with his own name, no less!) like James Bond is going to be less successful than someone who can pass for any old tourist. Not that you'll notice, because that's their job...to avoid being noticed...
Being American, I'm fascinated by a "full English breakfast," which can include everything Vivian had in front of her, plus a few other things that I'm not sure I could eat that early in the morning. "Bubble and squeak" (which I first learned about from "Wind in the Willows") seems especially exotic! Tweet me @twintypebooks if this is something you grew up with OR have now!!! ----- The introductory novella to the Pistils series, "Thistles," is being released soon! Visit twintypebooks.com to sign up for the mailing list to be notified when it's available for download!
I've never had a gun held to my head. How could I even hope to write a scene like this with authenticity? The answer was shockingly straightforward...had the CHARACTER been in this situation before? Vivian tells us that she'd never been on the ugly end of a gun...so why wouldn't her reaction be so much different than mine?
Reading this excerpt might make you think that it's about a loving father taking care of his daughter. What if I told you it really is...but not in the way it appears? What else could it be?
Everyone needs a friend that can grab us by the back of our collar and drag us away from our best-intended bad ideas. We all need someone that can save us from ourselves.
Job, career, life. Sometimes, what provides a paycheck is all three, where you're living it all day, every day. In those situations, you'd better REALLY mean it when you say that you love your job...
There are certain countries that we only ever see the bad side of on the evening news. We may shake our heads and silently give thanks that we don't live in a place like that, before the news moves on to the next story, taking our attention with it. But what if your job was dangerous by its very nature, AND you had to routinely visit these dangerous places? I guess you'd build up a certain amount of "It's just my job," but it doesn't lessen my respect for people who do it, day after day.
And a modern-day crime boss can't be taken down in one either. It takes lots of work, a million tiny puzzle pieces that all fit together into a tapestry of crime that is breathtaking in its scope. Breathtaking in the worst possible way.
Saving a life isn't as simple as a matter of numbers. One life lost represents untold others left behind, those whose grief will tear at them for years, regret and pain that never goes away. One life saved is actually so very many more. ~~~~ Would you like to see Sub Rosa in pictures? Follow the Twintypebooks Instagram to see the characters and their words come to life!~~~~
In celebration of International Women's Day 2018, a reminder that there are still glass ceilings everywhere, and that they still need to be broken. Let's all get ready to do some smashing!
Going up against the country's biggest mobster? Luck is just the first thing you'll need on your side. *** Saturday, 3/3, is the official book launch for Sub Rosa! Come join the Facebook party any time between 9am and 9pm EST, for prizes, giveaways and more stuff to celebrate the book being complete! ***
When your heart has been broken, stomped on, betrayed and even rejected completely, for most of your life, it's terrifying to open up to the possibility again. If you find a person who is worthy of that trust, though, your suspicious little heart will be in good hands.
It's impossible to assign a monetary value to a relationship, so in some ways stealing money is safer than stealing secrets. When you're in the espionage business, though, you don't have much of a choice.
You do what you have to in the heat of the moment, especially in self-defense. It's later when delayed reaction can set in, and all the rationale in the world can't always purge the guilt that comes along for the ride.
All jobs require some sort of skill set. Reading, writing, speaking, analyzing...convincing someone to spill their deepest darkest secrets. Spy games are such an interesting moral discussion... everyone does it. They just never talk about it.
You know what they say about assuming...you make an ass out of you and me. You definitely don't want to make any assumptions about a man who has spent his entire life working for the head of the country's most powerful organized crime syndicate. Lesson learned.
Taking on organized crime would be a daunting enough prospect, doing it on one's own would be an even more challenging scenario. But a career with the CIA isn't for the fainthearted either, so something tells me she'll meet this unexpected twist head-on and be just fine...for a while...
Applying to work for the CIA is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for those who have a skeleton (or ten) in their closets. When dealing in espionage, you can't afford to have weak spots that might be exploited, and Vivian is getting a painful slap in the face about that reality. I'm not sure if I'd pass CIA testing...would you?
The last thing you'd expect to see on a florist's resume is Ex-CIA Officer, Sometime Killer. But then again I'm not even allowed to put that on my resume, so... This is where I begin again, where my demons start dancing around the daisies. It wasn't where I thought I'd end up, but that's the story of my life. I wonder what they would do if I sent them each a bouquet, those men who ruined my life? Rosemary for remembrance, to show them just how long my memory is...
Unlike a lot of authors, research is actually one of my favorite things to do. I joke that the FBI and CIA probably have files on me, based on some of my internet searches, but having an authentic feel to my stories is very important to me. Recently I was able to attend a session hosted by Sisters in Crime (an RWA chapter) where we had two female private investigators giving a presentation about the reality of their jobs. I took a LOT of notes and pictures. Any time you can get hands-on research accomplished, definitely do it!
Ready to support your friendly neighborhood indie authors? The Summer Indie Author Book Fest takes place on Saturday, June 22nd at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, MI. Live in the Southeast Michigan area? There will be tons of local authors there from 10am-6pm...come by, say hi, get some autographs, and find your next favorite read!
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be on CMNtv's Indie Author Reads, with Diana Plopa! It was so much fun getting to talk about writing and reading and the amazing indie author community as a whole! You can see the "behind the scenes" video I shot (including the green room) on my Instagram or Facebook, and broadcast info will be there as well as soon as I have it!
2018 was a wonderful year in my writing life...I published two books (including this one, Thistles), and finished a third during NaNoWriMo that is now ready for lots of editing. I've met other Bublish writers in person, which was definitely very cool, and virtually attended multiple webinars hosted by Bublish. For 2019 I hope for more of the same...my very best to you and yours! Happy New Year!
A good solid gun safe can hold more than just firearms...keeping the cash in there pretty much guarantees that no late-night burglars will be able to make off with your hard-earned flower money! ~@~ TwintypeBooks.com has gotten a facelift! Come on over and check it out...especially the "Fun Stuff" (aka FREE!) section! ~@~
David is a major character in the Pistils series, and from this first mention, we can see how important he is/was to Vivian. Just imagine if losing a job didn't just mean you lose friends and acquaintances, but you lose someone who is so much more than that. Maybe because it's a matter of national security...
The evolution of simply using a cell phone to make phone calls to a high-tech smart device has been advantageous for people like Vivian. Sure, it's great to be able to snap pictures on the go AND search the internet a few seconds later, but nothing beats a good, untraceable, burner phone.
Before you get any ideas about saving money and downloading a few Kindle Unlimited books to tackle private investigation yourself, know that there are some pretty strict requirements in the majority of U.S. states. As a professional friend I've made put it: "If you think it's expensive hiring professionals, JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU HIRE AMATEURS!" If you need a private investigator, remember that you get what you pay for. Granted, Vivian's definitely got a head start in the experience department...
Considering the wide variety of training that goes into becoming a CIA officer, it's pretty much a given that most of it will come in handy for just about any job that you might choose for your second career. But arranging flowers? Well...why not? Knowing how to smuggle things in a birthday bouquet could be useful in a pinch! *** Don't forget, "Thistles" is available as a FREE e-book on all the major platforms! Pick up the introduction to the "Pistils" series now...there's a surprise bonus at the end! ***
So if there's Hacker 101, does that mean there's Hacker 201 and so on? I'm sure what a CIA employee learns when it comes to technological espionage would curl a normal person's hair, but surely they only use their powers for good...right? ----- Thistles is available as a FREE e-book download on all platforms, grab your copy today!
A good friend will be honest with you about relationships that look like they'll be good for you. Just make sure they're telling you that for the right reasons......
Definitely can't forget about the floozies! I was asked in an interview once, which is my favorite of the Pistils characters? It's Gran, hands-down. She's a pistol (hardy har har), she's tough, but she's also got the biggest heart in all of Savannah. What's not to love?
The best private investigator is one that's prepared for anything! Just as you wouldn't bake a cake or fix a car without the proper tools, busting a cheating spouse requires a particular skillset and toolbox. ------ Thistles is available as a FREE e-download across all platforms, grab your copy today!!!
A professional private investigation agency that I follow on Instagram made a very good point...although it might be cheaper to go with a less expensive private investigator at first, in the long run it's going to be a lot more expensive when it takes them longer to get results... if they get results at all. Investing in a good investigator is the same as paying for any other quality professional. You pay for what you get. Need one? Do at least as much homework as you would for a plumber or dog-sitter...and be willing to pay for that value!
Building a ship in a bottle is a pretty good metaphor for a CIA officer's job...you have to be mindful, methodical, and careful not to let the whole thing smash into pieces with one careless move. **** Thistles is now available in paperback on Amazon, along with the FREE e-book on all the major platforms! Check out TwintypeBooks.com for more information!
Gran was going viral before "going viral" was a thing, and she did it the old-fashioned way... building a business and a brand, excellent customer service backing up a great reputation. Word of mouth referrals. It's the best way to assure success for their business...of both the floral AND private investigation kind...
Everyone knows what happens when you assume things, right? --- The Thistles e-book is available FOR FREE download on all the major platforms, grab yours today!
When your relationship is connected via a burner phone, you know that your life is far from ordinary. Not that it's a bad thing, just...extraordinary. Be careful not to get burnt out.
People coming out of a trauma seek familiar comforts...we retreat into surroundings that make us feel safe, until we're ready to confront our demons again. Wrapped in a quilt that was handmade in every way by the adopted family she loved, Vivian is wearing it like armor, safe under its protection, waiting until her strength returns.
"Thistles," the introductory novella to the Pistils series, is live today! It's available as a FREE e-book on all platforms, so if you're interested in how Vivian and Parker got their start in private investigation, here it is!
With flowers and infidelity sharing equal time around the clock, running one of Savannah’s most popular florist shops is hard work for best friends Parker Chase and Vivian Carmichael. Daisies by day, private investigation by night. When a prominent socialite seeks them out for help, they gear up for what should be a cut-and-dry case. Just another job, until old shadows and unexpected complications start tangling it up. New seeds are planted, old stems are cut…and even the prettiest of flowers have thorns.
Hmm, I'm not really sure who I'd rather see come up on my caller ID...the IRS or the CIA. Probably the CIA, since they probably won't be informing me about an audit. ~~~~ Happy Thanksgiving! Here's this week's tip from our favorite ex-CIA-officer-turned-florist... "Always take time to be thankful for what and who you have in your life. Especially since you never know if they may not be there mere hours later..."
Here's the tip of the week from your favorite ex-CIA-officer-turned-florist, Vivian Carmichael! "Never underestimate the power that money has to tear a family apart. You know how they say that alcohol magnifies your personality; if you're an asshole, getting drunk just makes you a bigger asshole? Same thing goes for money...even a small amount of money can make people do horrible things...things that you thought were completely out of character. When booze or money enters the picture, proceed with caution."
Handy tip from our favorite ex-CIA-officer-turned-florist: "Giving someone an even number of flowers is a major no-no in Russia...even numbers are associated with funerals. Be sure to count your stems!" There you have it, floral advice from Vivian with a CIA twist! "Or just give them candy." Well...that works too. ~~~ The introductory novella to the Pistils series, Thistles, is available as a free download on all major e-reading platforms, go grab yours if you're looking for both flowers AND espionage...
Ahhh, memories of getting ready for a date with a guy/gal you REALLY REALLY like!!! But anyway...how many of us are lucky enough to say we love what we do for a living? I'm grateful that I'm able be an author as my second job, and love everything about it, even the administrative tasks! Now granted...as the old saying goes, it's not that I always LIKE those tasks, but I love everything that comes with being an author.
In all of the research I did to write about Vivian's CIA background (explored more in Sub Rosa), one thing that kept popping up over and over again was the heavy toll that being an operational CIA officer takes on those individuals. Constantly having to lie to everyone, about everything (even to your closest friends), trying to coax foreign assets to provide information that could technically be treasonous for them, and most of all the isolation of not being able to talk to someone about it all... it adds up. And that's not getting into all the red tape and infuriating bureaucracy. It makes some of the less-enjoyable jobs I've had in the past seem like a cakewalk.
On a recent interview, I was asked about the unique twist the Pistils series put on the spy and PI thriller genres. What is it? Easy...it's female-centric. When you think of spies you probably think of James Bond. But in this series, the CIA officer and the self-defense expert are both women, and both doing a great job in fields that are still predominantly male. And no, they're not wearing skin-tight catsuits while doing so.
When it comes to reading, I'm pretty equal-opportunity when it comes to hard-copy vs. e-copy. I love them both! Turning pages made of paper is part of the enjoyment of reading for me, but the convenience of my lightweight Kindle that can (and does) go everywhere with me can't be denied! If you aren't sure yet, see if you can check out e-books from your library! You can place holds, suggest your library purchase books that it doesn't have, and your book will even be automatically checked back in so you don't have to worry about overdue fines! Win!!!
You won't find many ex-spies who would consent to being on television, but don't worry, there are plenty of spy thriller AUTHORS who are super-excited to be on TV! My interview on Indie Reads TV debuts in just a couple of days...visit TwintypeBooks.com for more details and air times. You'll even be able to watch it online if you like! One of the many topics we discussed? How the research that spy thriller authors do probably means we're on a watchlist somewhere...
Our Book Bubble Inspiration for the week was about gatherings, large and small. Do we enjoy them? I personally am a mixture of homebody and extrovert. Given the choice, I would much rather stay home than go out (unless it's for a book-related event, in which case I'M THERE!). Once I'm at a gathering, though, I have no problem chatting with strangers and working a room. Hmm, maybe I should have applied to the CIA too!
The indie author community is vast and varied, while still strong and supportive of its own. Indie authors meet in person and online to share suggestions and moral support, to provide tips they found successful instead of hoarding them jealously. Without the support of an indie author community, would I still be writing? I honestly don't know. My immediate support system (family, friends, superfans) buoy me when my self-doubt is at its worst, but having a world-wide community that UNDERSTANDS that self-doubt is priceless.
It's officially spring here in my part of the world, and along with the flowers and tree buds, I have projects popping up left and right! Make sure you visit TwintypeBooks.com if you're interested in becoming an indie author yourself, and/or if you enjoy travel. Those are two hints for what I'm up to right now! Follow me on IG or Twitter @twintypebooks and let me know how you're celebrating spring!
By sheer coincidence, I'd been thinking a lot about my author brand before receiving an email from Kathy Meis of Bublish about that very topic. And although an author's brand is made up of many different moving parts, it also just boils down to this: an author's brand is the promise you make to your readers. --- In addition to writing the fourth installment in the Pistils series, I've also taken a deep breath and dove into two passion projects that tie neatly into everything I've done with Twintype Books over the past few years. It's exhilarating, it's terrifying, but I promise you...I'm going to see them through. Hop over to TwintypeBooks.com and sign up for the mailing list to see what's coming down the wire!
Writing can be a very solitary endeavor, so I absolutely jump at the chance to hang out with my fellow authors! This past Sunday I did a book signing at Leon and Lulu, one of the hands-down coolest stores in Metro Detroit, and this Saturday I’m attending the Rochester Writers’ Spring Conference. They’re both wonderful ways to network, learn, meet new friends, and be in the company of people who love what I love…books! Book clubs are another great opportunity, both as a reader AND a writer! On Monday I did a Skype session with a book club that read my books, and getting that first-hand feedback was invaluable AND a heck of a lot of fun! Think outside the box when it comes to mingling, but no matter what, shut the laptop once in a while and GET OUT THERE!
Sometimes it takes going through a bit (or a lot) of pain to get through the other side and discover your true calling. Besides, what better reason for going into private investigation than busting your cheating boyfriend??
We all bring different gifts to our friendships. I would imagine that having an ex-CIA best friend would come in handy on more than one occasion...actually, it does! Check out the Pistils series, starting with the free e-book "Thistles" to find out how!
Making assumptions makes an ass out of you and me both. Just remember that the next time you're staking out a cheating spouse. ---- "Thistles," the introductory novella to the Pistils series, will be available FREE on July 13th! Sign up for the mailing list at TwintypeBooks.com for a reminder to get your copy!
Everyone knows that a bartender often ends up being an unlicensed therapist for lonely patrons with broken hearts, but bailing you out of a sticky situation? Sure, why not? Just remember to say please and thank you. ---- Thistles, the FREE novella that introduces the Pistils series, will be available on July 1st! Visit my website to sign up for the mailing list and be reminded to pick up your copy, hot off the e-presses! ----
If you want to play cat and mouse with a really handsome cat, you'd better be a super-sexy mouse. That's how the game is played when it comes to people who keep their wedding ring in their pocket...
If your day job involves wiretaps, you definitely need to regularly give yourself a day off. Wondering how Parker and Vivian got started in the PI biz? The FREE novella, Thistles, will be available at the end of June! To be automatically notified when it's available, head over to my website www.twintypebooks.com, then click Books in the menu!
It would definitely have to be a Special Someone if Vivian is going to have THAT conversation with him. You know, the one that starts with "I used to work for the CIA, but I can't tell you about it," and ends with "So now we're private investigators." Although it would be a great way to weed out the Mr. Wrongs of the world...if he runs screaming, cross him off the list.
...until it's busted cheating! Roses are red, bad days are blue, what excuse will I give, when I'm caught cheating on you?
Never doubt or disregard your intuition. Dismissing that little voice that tells you something is off may be the last warning you get before something goes horribly wrong. Don't ignore that voice, follow up on it. Tell yourself that it's great practice for your future career as a private investigator if nothing else.
Hey, no one is saying that there are no more happily-ever-afters, but unfortunately too many cheating partners are too focused on the short terms happy endings instead. Enter Parker and Vivian: Team Romance and Reality.
To what extent will we go to protect the ones we love? Is it even possible to define that need? And how much do we allow them to know about the danger that's creeping up behind?
Good private investigators aren't going to advertise what they do for a living...but it doesn't hurt when their cover story involves something they love. Please meet Vivian and Parker...if they bust your cheating ex, they might throw in a sympathy bouquet for free.
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