Unpublished East of Evil is a semi-finalist!

Unpublished East of Evil is a semi-finalist!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East of Evil is a semi-finalist in the unpublished Mystery or Crime AND Thriller or Suspense categories.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

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?

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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 Needs a Cover

East of Evil Needs a Cover

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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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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!

The Story Behind the Strong Heroine

Cessna Centurion 210

West of Famous developed from a desire to create powerful women role models. This is the third book in the Compass Crimes collection. The stories are connected by the ensemble cast of characters whose lives intersect because of crimes. Like the previous two books, this one features a heroine whose life is overturned by a crime, but she does not react as a victim waiting like a fairy tale princess to be rescued.

I was raised on stories like Cinderella, but I wanted my stories to be more like the 1998 movie Ever After. My favorite scene in that updated version of the Cinderella story is when Drew Barrymore, playing Danielle, rescues the prince from a band of gypsies.

In West of Famous, Martina Ramos is mistaken for a celebrity by kidnappers. She does not have the option of waiting to be rescued because only the kidnappers know where she is, and they don’t value her life. Those who value her life don’t know she’s missing.

My desire to create strong women role models comes from a deep-seated sense of rebellion. When I was in grade school oh, so long ago, society expected girls to choose from a short list of roles: teacher, nun, wife, and mother, nurse, secretary, waitress, or stewardesses. But I wanted to write. It was as though all other career options were considered unsuitable for good girls. To say I wanted to write was tantamount to declaring I wanted to be homeless or insane. An outlier. An outcast.

Like Sara Paretsky so brilliantly describes in Writing in the Age of Silence, women have been told by society to be quiet, to keep their opinions to themselves, to be seen and not heard. But Dorothy Parker, Pearl S. Buck, Harriet Tubman, Virginia Woolf, and Harper Lee told entertaining stories that challenged people’s perceptions about the status quo.

My high school guidance counselor tried to dissuade me from going to college even though I was an honors graduate. By then I’d already started earning money as a writer. I told her that if she wasn’t going to help me, she should get out of my way. So off I went to Indiana University to earn a degree in journalism.

I write stories about bold women who fight to overcome whatever life throws at them because we need role models like that.

I have one. While I was in college, my mother was widowed for the second time. So, after raising three children and surviving two toxic marriages, she announced at age 55 she had quit her job as a legal secretary to go to law school. It was as inspiring as it was heartbreaking that she was finally going to do what she wanted to do.

I’d like to be a bold role model for my daughter Jessica, but if she gets any bolder, I’ll have to raise bail. There is quite a strong similarity between her and the heroine of West of Famous, but don’t tell her that.

___________

This article first appeared in Mystery Scene Magazine, Winter 15, 2019 edition.

By the way, In my forties I fulfilled a lifelong dream and earned my pilot’s license. Only 6% of pilots are women, so yeah, this was life-affirming and empowering. I then earned my instrument-rating. My husband also flies, so we have to take turns to prevent a wrestling match into the cockpit. I want to lead by example and encourage other women to be bolder.

 

West of Famous a Semi-Finalist

Amid the morass of junk mail offering to enhance body parts I don’t have, refinance my home, and help a Nigerian Prince move vast sums of cash out of Africa, a sweet message arrived from the good folks who run the Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBAs).

They wrote:

Congratulations, your work has progressed from the Slushpile to the Long List onward to the Short List and is now an official SEMI-FINALIST for the CLUE Book Awards for Thriller and Suspense, a division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBAs). Well done, your hard work has been rewarded!

We encourage you to visit the official 2019 CLUE Semi-Finalist list that is posted on the Chanticleer Reviews website and to share the listing on your social media platforms and on your website.

Of the Semi-Finalists listed on the official web post listing, only FIVE will advance to the 2019 First Place Positions and only ONE of these will advance to the 2019 CLUE Grand Prize position. There are some great reads in this listing!

Good luck to all!

The Semi-Finalists are now in the final rounds of judging for the First Place Category Positions. All Semi-Finalists in attendance will be recognized at the Chanticleer Authors Conference, Book Room, and CIBA Ceremony & Banquet on April 17, 18, & 19, 2020.

The CIBA First Place Category Position award winners and the CLUE Grand Prize winner will be announced at the awards banquet and ceremony.

So, yes, the hope of winning will spark joy in my heart from time to time between now and whenever they announce the finalists. All prayers on my book’s behalf are greatly appreciated.

And congratulations to all the other semi-finalists! To see the list, click HERE.

The third book in the Compass Crimes series.

Writing book four in the Compass Crimes series has kept me desk bound, so this message boosted my mood and energized me to keep working! Thank you, readers, for your uplifting reviews. They, too, energize me through this isolated marathon.