Unpublished East of Evil is a semi-finalist!

Unpublished East of Evil is a semi-finalist!

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Sooooo, I submitted my manuscript to the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest because the judges give wonderful feedback on what they like and what they see needs improvement.

The Compass Crimes series overlaps a few categories, so I entered it in two–Mystery or Crime and Thriller or Suspense.

East of Evil is a semi-finalist in the 2022 Royal Palm Literary Awards
East of Evil is a semi-finalist in the 2022 Royal Palm Literary Awards

East of Evil is a semi-finalist in the unpublished Mystery or Crime AND Thriller or Suspense categories.

This may seem like a small thing in the big scheme of life, but I am embracing it because I really needed good news.

My mother–my most devoted fan–passed away last week. Calling family and friends to tell them is soul-crushing. All have been kind.

My best friend and an uncle and aunt are traveling from afar to spend the weekend, which will be healing.

Thank you to everyone on social media, at church, and elsewhere for your kindness.

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East of Evil Cover Chosen

Thank you, readers! You have chosen the cover for East of Evil. Nefi is back and her life is turned upside down by a crime she needs help from her friends to solve.A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process makes her the target of...

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East of Evil Needs a Cover

Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her mom and dad’s heartless killers, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice Master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar...

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East of Evil Cover Chosen

East of Evil Cover Chosen

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Thank you, readers! You have chosen the cover for East of Evil. Nefi is back and her life is turned upside down by a crime she needs help from her friends to solve.

East of Evil cover chosen

A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process makes her the target of dangerous people…

Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her mom and dad’s heartless killer, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice Master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar trust from her late parents… with a hefty chunk gone.

Seeking the help of a forensic accountant, Nefi is dismayed to discover a cunning thief has been stealing from her inheritance. And with her legacy at stake, the hidden enemy’s scheme to swipe her cash could turn deadly.

Can Nefi restore her parent’s wealth before her investigation turns fatal?

What do you think of this book trailer?

money

East of Evil is the fourth book in the page-turning Compass Crimes suspense series. If you like strong heroines, greed-driven motives, and jaw-dropping twists, then you’ll love Joni M Fisher’s hunt for the truth.

The cover was created by the artists at Damonza.com. After readers and fans voted on their favorite of two cover choices, it was decided that the Nefi figure in one cover and the Boston Harbor background were the favorite elements, sooooooo the best of both was combined. 

And the result is this cover. Thank you, everyone for your feedback!

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East of Evil Cover Chosen

Thank you, readers! You have chosen the cover for East of Evil. Nefi is back and her life is turned upside down by a crime she needs help from her friends to solve.A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process makes her the target of...

read more

East of Evil Needs a Cover

Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her mom and dad’s heartless killers, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice Master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar...

read more
Follow Us

Join

Get News

Vote on cover art choices for the next book, get discounts on new releases, and much more.

Follow Us

East of Evil Needs a Cover

East of Evil Needs a Cover

Written by

Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her mom and dad’s heartless killers, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice Master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar trust from her late parents… with a hefty chunk gone.

A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process might land her on the wrong side of a lethal bullet…

Seeking the help of a forensic accountant, Nefi is dismayed to discover a cunning thief has been stealing from one of the estate’s properties. And with her legacy at stake, the hidden enemy’s scheme to swipe her cash could turn deadly.

Can Nefi restore her parent’s wealth before her investigation turns fatal?

East of Evil is the fourth book in the page-turning Compass Crimes suspense series. If you like strong heroines, greed-driven motives, and jaw-dropping twists, then you’ll love Joni M Fisher’s hunt for the truth.

East of Evil cover art
East of Evil cover art B

Please vote for the cover you like best, and if you have a moment, explain why. Thank you for your help!

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East of Evil Cover Chosen

Thank you, readers! You have chosen the cover for East of Evil. Nefi is back and her life is turned upside down by a crime she needs help from her friends to solve.A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process makes her the target of...

read more

East of Evil Needs a Cover

Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her mom and dad’s heartless killers, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice Master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar...

read more
Follow Us

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Vote on cover art choices for the next book, get discounts on new releases, and much more.

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2021 Kindle Book Awards

Your Vote Matters!

Readers vote on the semi-finalists, so please click on the box below! Once there, type West of Famous by Joni M. Fisher to vote for my book.

Sweet Joy! 

What a joy to discover West of Famous is a semi-finalist in the 2021 Kindle Book Awards! Author Kevin G. Chapman sent an email congratulating me when he saw my book listed along with his. So, I celebrate this recognition. I am so proud of one of my darling paperback offspring. Am I tempted to wave a copy while dancing through the neighborhood? Oh, yes.

Mystery/Thriller (Semi-Finalists are in no particular order)

West of Famous by Joni Fisher
In Twilight’s Hush by Laurie Stevens
Just a Happy Camper by Jinx Schwartz
Deadline Rome by Sari Gilbert
Gods in the Ruins by E.R. Burr
Deadly Dance by BV Lawson
The Starlight Club 12 by Joe Corso
Once a Man Indulges by Tony Kelsey
I am Mayhem by Sue Coleta
The Lost Symphony by Gabriel Farago
River Running Backwards by Susan Clayton-Goldner
The Trafficking Murders by Brian O’Hare
Hit and Run by Amy Shojai
Rinn’s Crossing by Russell Heath
The Panama Murders by Pendleton Wallace
Hiding in Plain Sight by Lorhainne Eckhart
The Roach by Rhett C. Bruno
The Quisling Factor by JL Oakley
Lethal Voyage by Kevin G. Chapman
Tears of Fire by Gordon Bickerstaff

Thanks!

Thank you, thank you, Paul and Caryn Frink for all your patience, knowledge, and hospitality for hosting me on your boat and answering thousands of questions. You made the research stage of writing wonderfully fun!

Thank you to everyone who voted! Readers Rock!

Paul and Caryn Frink earn their Loopers gold burgee

West of Famous Finals in Award

Wheeha! West of Famous is a finalist in yet another literary contest. This time, the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards judges named it a finalist in the inspirational fiction category.

The other finalists are:

  • Marlon McDoogle’s Magical Night, by Sean Covel, Illustrated by Diego Velasquez (Baby Buddha Publishing)
  • The Anchor House, by Spencer Margaret (Self-Published)
  • Nonverbal, by Peggy Moffitt Earnest (Self Published)
  • Prison of Mulberry, by J.P. Maximus (Self-Published)
  • Silent Hero: A Homeless Success Story, by Vernard Dorsey, Illustrated by Danielle Ferreira (Vdor Innovations)
  • The Reluctant Healer, by Andrew Himmel (Greenleaf Book Group Press)
  • The World of Pond Stories, by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff (Abandoned Ladder)

I am thrilled to be in the company of these fine authors. I celebrate their accomplishment and look forward to reading their work.

The awards ceremony, thanks to the pandemic, will be conduced online via YouTube live at 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, June 26. Here is the link to watch: 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Broadcast

Sometimes being a finalist so many times makes me feel like the woman in the movie 27 Dresses who was a perpetual bridesmaid.

West of Famous book cover

Nonetheless, I accept the recognition as progress in my new career as an author. Thank you judges, thank you readers!

Love of Research

As a reader, I love to learn new things when I read fiction. I enjoy experiencing danger vicariously and seeing the world from different perspectives. As an author, I strive to craft that same thrill for my readers. Research is how to nail the details that create that you-are-there insider’s experience.

We’ve all read stories that fail at this. I am an instrument-rated private pilot with a little training in aerobatics. When I encounter blunders in a story about aviation, the magic of being in the story falls apart. I don’t want to be that author who breaks the magic.

Why write what you know when you can write about exciting things you are learning? As a pilot, of course, I’m going to use that knowledge and experience in stories. But I can’t become an expert in everything, so I find experts willing to share their knowledge and experience.

Cessna Centurion 210

HEROS OF RESEARCH

Authors James A. Michener, Ridley Pearson, David Morrell, and Steve Berry exemplify the serious kind of research that elevates their stories to the bestseller category. Michener’s tome Hawaii presents the geologic formation of the islands to establish the setting for readers. Pearson’s research in his crime stories is revered by detectives for thoroughness. Morrell spent 35 days carrying a 60-lb. backpack through the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming with the National Outdoor Wilderness School to research is book Testament.

Here’s my process.

SETTING

Where does the story happen? For North of the Killing Hand, I drew on travel experience in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and Columbia for the scenes in the Amazon. The photos taken in these remote places reminded me of the density and types of foliage. Journals reminded me of the smells, sounds, oppressive dampness, and dangers.

Beyond personal experience there comes online research and trips to the library for demographics. How many people live there and who are they? What languages do they speak? How do they travel? How do they communicate? What cultural differences stand out? Crime? Education? How do people make a living in the Amazon? What are their religious and ethical beliefs?

jungle in fog

For West of Famous, which debuts February 17, 2019, I spent a week on a trawler because a huge portion of the story takes place on such a boat. All the library research in the world cannot capture the smell of diesel, the constant motion of the boat, the sounds of the engines, or how to find compartments large enough to stuff a body. The boat owners, Paul and Caryn Frink, went above and beyond in helping me.

Seeker Hosts Caryn and Paul Frink

They took me to the oh-so-remote site in the Everglades where part of the story takes place and dropped anchor. They let me ride in the engine compartment while the boat was underway. I had to test if screaming could be heard over the sound of the engine.

Seeker

I took copious notes and photographed everything at various times of day and night to nail the details. Online research cannot compare. Paul, retired navy with a strong engineering background, taught me more about boats and boat engines in a week than I learned from months of other research. Hands-on research beats online research any day! Fun, too! The rocking sensation stopped two days after I returned home.

CHARACTER

For each character, major and minor, I want to know who they are. What makes them behave the way they do? What does the character fear? What does the character want? For minor characters, the basic information reads like a police profile: height, weight, age, gender, race, education, and basic history. For major characters, deeper analysis works.

In South of Justice, the main character Dr. Terri Pinehurst-Clayton is a veterinarian. What does it take to become a veterinarian? The info uncovered during research appeared in the book, especially the items that grabbed my attention. Did you know it is tougher to enter veterinarian school than medical school? That tidbit of info led me to find out why. The answer found its way into the book because inquiring minds want to know. At one point in the story, Terri bolsters her courage by reminding herself that she graduated at the top of her class because of her intellectual tenacity. She then decides to begin her own investigation into her husband’s past.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the main characters empowers the author to leverage these traits in the story. I have interviewed experts to gain insight into the how and why of their work.

I suppose such research is similar to method acting. I want to learn so much that I can step inside a character to experience life from a new perspective in a new place under circumstances I pray I never have to experience in real life.

Which authors do you admire for creating stories that make you feel you are there?


This article first appeared on the Not Your Usual Suspects blog October 2, 2017. The president of Americas Great Cruise Loopers Association read my book and loved it. I was invited to their gathering in Norfolk, Virginia to sign books on a boat. I blogged about the Book Signing on a Boat.