Saturday, March 22, 2014

Time off so I can write more

Gentle readers of this blog, thank you for giving me an audience to write for.

At this point I've decided to quit blogging every week. My obligations to my work as a publisher and editor (my day jobs) have grown greatly in recent weeks, and I seem to be running out of time and energy for posting blogs, at least on a regular basis.

I will still occasionally and sporadically post my two cents' worth when I feel I have something important or entertaining to say about the joy of story, and when I do I'll spread the word by Facebook and email; but don't expect to hear from me on a regular basis.

I wish all of you who are readers and/or writers continued joy in the discovery of story!

John M. Daniel

John M. Daniel Literary Services

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meet C.L. Swinney

This week I am pleased to showcase suspense writer C.L Swinney, author of the exciting and successful Gray Ghost. Chris Swinney’s first writing assignment was published in Fly Fisherman Magazine. He became a Probation Officer in 1997.  He subsequently became a Detective and started working narcotic and homicide cases. His first novel, Gray Ghost, was released in July of 2013 and made the Best Sellers’ list on Amazon in paperback and Kindle for Crime Fiction and Mystery. Gray Ghost was released again on March 1, 2014 through Total Recall Publishing. The second novel in the Bill Dix series, Collectors, is also contracted and will come out mid-2014. He spends time volunteering for his church, his and other children’s schools, and still tries to fly fish from time to time.

I asked Chris to write for us what the “joy of story” means to him. Here’s what he had to say:

“Reading can mean many different things to people. For me, it’s joy. I work at a hectic and stressful job, I have a great family with two kids in sports, and I’m an author, which means I spend what little time I have left over after work and family writing and promoting.  Every once in a while I need to completely decompress and find a place to slip away from the chaos. For me, especially as I’ve gotten older, my escape has been books.

“I enjoy how other authors make me feel happiness, sorrow, anger, fear, love, and many other feelings through their words alone. The very best writers put us in places and cause us to feel emotions with their plot, characters, and dialogue.  I read books of all sorts of genres, but my favorites are mysteries.  It may sound odd, but I actually find joy in the hair standing up on the back of my neck as I cautiously turn the page of a good book waiting for the next twist or turn. There’s excitement and intrigue there. And, for that moment, my everyday life disappears as I slip through the pages. For a brief second, I no longer feel as though I’m being strangled by deadlines or worried about risking my life while chasing down suspects.

“I’ve found the very best storytellers are also the best writers.  Some speak from the heart, others through life experiences or tedious amounts of research. I feel their hard work, pain, anger, excitement, and whatever else they are pouring into their work. It makes me appreciate their lives, and helps make mine more pleasurable. Often I find myself reading whole books in a day or two and yearning for more from the author. Sometimes there isn’t anything else for me to read by them, but I know more is coming. This too is a fun time because I get to hunt for more great authors to read.

“As a writer of crime fiction and mystery, I sometimes struggle with trying to give the reader joy. My stories are intense and based on real-life events that I see on a daily basis, much of which is not enjoyable. Yet, I try to give my readers something to grab hold of, something enjoyable, to balance out the other emotions I solicit from my readers. I like to use romance, the PG-13 kind, to pull readers in and to get them to feel strongly, good or bad, for my story, plot, and characters. Finding balance is the key. I start this with my first novel in the Bill Dix series, Gray Ghost, and it carries through to the second in the series, Collectors.

Gray Ghost

While on a fly fishing vacation to Andros Island in the Bahamas, narcotics detectives Dix and Petersen discover their fishing guides were killed when a sudden blast of gunfire fractured their speedboat, Gray Ghost. Local gossip has it that Gray Ghost went to the ocean floor with a hundred million dollars' worth of cocaine in the hull.

Dix and Petersen, against their better judgment, are drawn into helping their island friends even though it could cost them their careers. Leads are chased down in the Bahamas and Miami. The two detectives identify a diabolical plot of a sinister man known only as "The Caller."

An elaborate trap is set for The Caller, but he's two steps ahead of the detectives. As the drama unfolds, it's unclear who can be trusted. When it appears The Caller will get away once again, lead detective Dix and his sidekick Petersen exhaust everything they have in an effort to capture the criminal mastermind.

For more information and/or to get your hands on a copy of Gray Ghost, visit

Author C.L. (Chris) Swinney can be found at the following social media sites:
Twitter:  @clswiney

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Three Stories and a Fond Farewell

For this month’s 99-word story feature, I challenged writers to make up a story about a fight or argument that changed or threatened to end their relationship with their best friend. I received three contributions, and here they are:


by Jill Evans

The Devil sat on one shoulder, the Angel on the other. Ten pounds away from goal and that cupcake was staring me in the face.
“Eat it, then work out. Five hundred calories is nothing,” the Devil whispered.
“Eat it and your hips will look like a shelf. Trust me, I’m you’re best friend,” the Angel pleaded.
“I love cupcakes,” I said to the Angel.
“You never take my advice. Remember Dan’s party?”
“Don’t listen,” the Devil reiterated.
“I know,” I said and went into the bakery, emerging moments later with—of all things—angel food cake.
The Angel sighed.


by Jerry Giammatteo

“Why are you so ticked?” Pete confronted Mike, his erstwhile best friend.
“New Year’s Eve,” Mike responded.
“What about it?”
“Remember our party?”
“Of course; at least until about one a.m. After that, I don’t remember anything.”
“You bugged me about our vintage coin collection. You wanted to get a closer look.”
“You wouldn’t,” Pete protested. “You said it was worth too much.”
“It disappeared that night. I think you stole it.”
“How dare you accuse me?”
“Then who?”
“Macklin?” Haven’t seen him since New Year’s. I’ll call him.”
“Don’t bother Mike. He’s upstate doing fifteen to twenty.”


by Christine Viscuso

My best friend and I found each other on Classmates and she confessed as to why she never wanted to see me.
“Eliz, I can’t believe you didn’t talk to me for forty years because I dated Steve.”
Finally we agreed to meet over coffee. I gave the waitress my order and sat.
“I asked your permission before I started a relationship. You had broken off with him.”
“I know.” Eliz sipped her latte.
“After three months he broke up with me. Told me I wasn’t smart enough. That I didn’t graduate college. Was he worth our lost relationship?”


And now, friends, it’s time to say adieu. This is the last posting of 99-word stories on my blog until further notice. In fact, because of pressing work obligations, I have decided I must take a break from blogging for a while. I’ll still occasionally post an announcement or a few ideas or opinions about the Joy of Story, and I am scheduled to host a few guest bloggers to help them promote their new books. But as of now I am no longer committing to posting regularly on my blog each Saturday, as I have done for more than three years.

At this time I wish to thank all who have read my blog, and I especially want to thank all of you who have contributed to The Joy of Story, either by leaving friendly comments or by sending me stories to post.

Keep writing, writers, and keep reading, readers. And may all of you continue to find and celebrate the joy of story.