Book Review: A Bundle of Deceit

Title: A Bundle of Deceit

Author: Stacey Watts

Author Site: www.staceywatts.com 

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00SAAAZJ8 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19355005-a-bundle-of-deceit 

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Synopsis:

It was a string of bad luck and unfortunate circumstances that led Lucy Jennings to show interest in the two grandmothers that sat across from her desk. Six months ago Lucy discovered her boyfriend in bed with her best friend, and promptly decided that a major lifestyle change was in order. She dumped her steady job as a Police Officer, and opened up her own Private Investigation Agency.

The only thing the ladies could offer her was $250 and a letter from The Wishful Hearts Adoption Agency. The elderly ladies seemed to think the Agency had something to do with their grandson and his family’s sudden disappearance, and Lucy knew a couple of phone calls would clear up the matter quite nicely.

A simple visit to Wishful Hearts, however, turns this minor blurb in the newspaper to front page headlines and the office manager, Duncan Michels, turns her world upside down with his stunning good looks and flirty behavior.

Thrust into a scandal that sees the death of a key witness and blackmail in the highest parts of city government, Lucy must protect a young family and a man she would prefer not to fall head over heels in love with A Bundle of Deceit.

My Review:

Our actions come from somewhere. They are not the first step but the last. Beneath our actions is an underlying ground of reasoning. We only act when our minds have come to a decision. Now whether or not our decisions hold any weight depends entirely on the nature of our thoughts. We can even go another step backwards and say that our thoughts are impacted by our emotions. Take this concept into consideration, mix it with desire, deceit, and murder, and you have Watt’s character driven story, A Bundle of Deceit. I had the pleasure of reading this story and I’m excited to share my review, minus any spoilers of course.

Let’s start with the beginning. The opening prologue piqued my interest as I found it to be cleverly written. It gave away some interesting clues about Lucy’s personality. From this point, I fell in love with her character. Lucy’s quick and witty determination makes her a thought-provoking character that I’m sure most readers will love too. I mean what woman hasn’t experienced the struggle to find balance between pride, independence, and dependence? Not to mention, I’m sure men and women alike can relate to Lucy’s job predicament when it comes to leaving a job to start your own business. From the financial woes to second guessing, the struggles she experiences are real. Combine this with a unique male companion (Duncan) connected to her case, a few deaths, and several unanswered questions, what you have is a suspenseful mystery that Lucy and Duncan need to solve for both of their sakes.

In the beginning we know what’s wrong but we don’t know why. However, readers don’t have to worry about the story being boring or typical. The story has an even pace that will keep readers interested in seeing how everything comes to an end. When I reached the middle of the story the crisis had escalated (as a story should by this point) as Lucy and Duncan worked together to solve their mutual predicament. Thanks to a few incidents, both characters were well aware of the seriousness of their dilemma. Lives were at stake. By this point, I was more than committed to the storyline. I was dedicated to seeing the main characters resolve their situation. I was rooting for them and this is a dangerous position for a reader to be in. I had no control over their decisions and let’s face it. Like any character driven story, their emotions impacted their decisions, which further impacted their actions. This in turn pushed the development of the plot. Keep in mind that the tension wasn’t suffocating or complicated. At no point in the story was I lost or confused. The author did a great job of laying out the initial framework for the plot and climax.

I do want to mention that I was surprised by Duncan’s character. Taking into consideration the nature of his job and his response to the conditions he worked in, I expected him to turn out differently. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy his character. I just wanted to point out that I had his personality measured differently. This notwithstanding, I liked that Duncan went in a direction that I didn’t predict. This ultimately meant he engaged in actions I didn’t see coming. I love it when I can’t guess where the author is going to take me.

I don’t want to give away the secrets of this story but I will say there is a definite shift in Lucy’s attitude towards the end of the book. I am a huge fan of Lucy’s character and people like her who have the courage to step out and follow their own dreams despite their heavy past and the difficulties they currently face.

However, let’s jump over to the antagonist. I appreciate the way the antagonist’s character unfolded, especially when it came to understanding his/her reasons for their actions. This isn’t to say that I agree with his/her activities but from a reader’s position, it helps knowing that there aren’t any plot holes in the story. We know who’s evil and why. We don’t have to play the guessing game and when it’s all said and done, we don’t feel cheated.

In the beginning of the story the author is making a promise to the readers and posing questions. It’s like an agreement between the author and the readers. In the beginning we get teased a bit as it’s not until we get to the middle that we get to the real mass of the situation at hand. Then we’re left with possibilities as to how it may or may not be resolved. We keep reading to find out which path the characters will take. Will our assumptions be confirmed? Were my assumptions about this story confirmed? More importantly, was my contract with the author fulfilled?

I don’t want to discuss the ending because I want people to read the story for themselves. However, I will say that I am quite satisfied with how the story ended. In my opinion, the promise was met and the questions were answered. The contract between the author and reader was fulfilled.

Final Assessment:

Rating 5 out of 5 stars

I give A Bundle of Deceit 5 stars because every aspect of the story is enjoyable. I can look back at the overall story and guarantee that readers will appreciate the even pace in which this story unfolds. Also, when it comes to editing the story is perfect. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good suspense novel with light romance. Life has its twists and turns. Lucy’s life took a sharp turn. Nevertheless, her journey’s end was filled with love and a new outlook on life. Readers who decide to take the journey and read this book will receive their reward at the end and a few surprises along the way.

Alice Saunders, Editor

Follow me on Twitter: @LyricalTempest

http://www.lyricaltempest.com

Interview: Nova Sparks

I’m excited to share with you an interview with Nova Sparks, author of the Dome.

http://www.facebook.com/novasparksauthor

http://novasparks.blogspot.com

http://twitter.com/NovaSparksbooks

Would you please tell us about yourself and your work?

My name is NOVA sparks and I am from the Bronx of New York City (born and raised). As far as my work, that is unimportant. My PASSION is my books! (see what I did there? Lol) My first series that will be available in FULL is called the DOME trilogy and book 1 of the series is now available for purchase on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The series is about an all American family that is part of the thousands of humans rescued from a destroyed Earth by aliens. They are whisked away on a spaceship made to live on a distant planet in a Dome that simulates life on Earth.

What has been your biggest motivation? Where does your inspiration come from?

My biggest motivation, at this point in my life, is myself. My biggest fear is dying without ever accomplishing the things I’ve set out to accomplish. I’ve dreamed of creating movies and TV shows and writing books my entire life. Not doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing sounds like insanity. My inspiration definitely comes from romantic comedies and Greek mythology. Crazy, I know, because I don’t write in either of those genres. But there needs to be romance in everything I write, and romantic comedies help me get into the mood for that. Greek mythology feeds my sci-fi obsession. Heroes, monsters, magical powers, spirits…I just love it!

What is your creative regimen? How often do you write?

I don’t write as often as some may think. I can’t see myself sitting down with a word count goal. I tried that once. I told myself that I was going to write 5,000 words a day. At the end of the week, I realized I had 25,000 words of garbage. My heart wasn’t in it because I was following a schedule I created just to “get it done”. That’s not what creates a great body of work for me. It may work for other people but I tried it and it did NOT work out so well. When I made it a job that is when I stopped delivering. So I stopped making it a job. I didn’t think about writing. I just did it when I felt like it. At one point I didn’t write anything for months. I started the third book in the DOME trilogy one day and didn’t start with the second chapter until the next year. I just wasn’t feeling it and I refused to just write something just to put it out there. I rather my readers get upset with me for waiting so long than for me to put out something just to get something in their hands. They will wind up even more disappointed, and I’d probably lose them for good. When I do write, I only write when I’m feeling the “mojo” (creative juices). I like there to be a lot of noise and commotion going on in the background. A busy environment keeps me busy. I zone everything out and just go crazy. 🙂

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t consider myself a writer. I mean…I do actually write, but I’m not a writer. Sometimes I call myself a writer but it still sort of makes me cringe. When I hear the word “writer” I think of journalists and the people that create textbooks and academic books. I’m not a writer. I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do. I don’t follow many conventional writing rules. I’m just a woman from the Bronx that has stories to tell. That’s all.

How do you deal with writer’s block? What is your advice on how to overcome it?

I get writer’s block all the time, but what I do to overcome it is…NOTHING! I just let it pass. When I’m actually trying to write, I come up with trash. When it comes naturally, I think it’s great! The engine won’t always run perfectly and sometimes it will stall. But eventually, it’ll be up and running better than ever. That’s the way I see it. So my advice to other authors out there is to let it pass. Don’t force it because trust me, your readers will ALWAYS be able to tell when you forced it.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I watch a lot of movies. I love film. I look at it as research. I like to look at other techniques so that I can know where I stand. I love watching the same movies over and over again. I see something different every time. I guess that’s what I do when I’m not writing. Oh…and I LOVE playing video games! ßI really need to stop, though!

What inspired you to write your first book?

Inspiration, to me, is when an idea gets in your head and fuels you to your success. the DOME trilogy was always something that was in my head and it definitely created a burning desire within me. You ever had an idea that you thought about all the time, like an invention of some sort, but you never did anything with it? And then BOOM! Just like that, you see a commercial about that exact thing on TV! I had plenty of moments like that. I never thought that I could actually put my stories out there in the world. I just thought things up and that’s all. One day I was just tired. I woke up and I realized that I was wasting my life. So I took my hunger to succeed and I wrote my idea down and tried to get it on HBO as a TV show. That didn’t work out so I published it as a series. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. See…when you’re tired, really tired, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it. If your dream is bigger than your obstacles, the facts don’t matter. When I decided to go forward with this book, I had nothing but a broken laptop that was held together by its exposed wiring. Not enough duct tape in the world could get it to sit up right. But I didn’t have any money to buy a new one. I didn’t have a good paying job. I was working 3 hours a day! I could’ve waited until I saved up to buy a new one, but the way I see it…I don’t have a lot of time. I didn’t let something as silly as a broken laptop stop me from becoming NOVA sparks! So I held the laptop screen up with one hand and typed my books with the other. Every book and screenplay/teleplay I have was written with one hand.

You wrote a book titled the Dome. What is it about?

the DOME is the first installment in the DOME trilogy and follows a man named Sam in his early thirties and his teenaged daughter, Emma, as they try to cope with life on a new planet in a Dome that simulates life on Earth. There is a whole lot of mystery, love, and betrayal in this story. Basic human morality is tested at every moment and the story really makes you wonder what you would do if your whole world was ripped from you in an instant. In the case of the DOME, their whole PLANET is ripped from them.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?

My favorite chapter was definitely the chapter when Emma has to explain to an alien boy about human emotions. The aliens on planet Syri (the planet the humans are living on now) are more technologically advanced than humans, but their social skills and emotions are very primitive. Friendships and families are foreign concepts and they do everything out of individual necessity and to ensure the survival of their race. Above that, they are incapable of articulating their feelings and have no idea what love is. The reason why this chapter was my favorite to write is because it is the most revealing moment in the book for human nature. If we had to explain basic human emotions, could we? The Syrions have no understanding of love, but do we? They have no idea what tears are or why we cry, but do we know? This chapter really shows how different the humans and Syrions are but also how much alike they are as well.

How did you come up with the title?

The title was originally “the DOME project” but that just sounded like a dead giveaway, so I got rid of that immediately. The book is set on another planet and the majority of the human’s time is spent inside this Dome that is more mysterious than the alien planet itself. The Dome actually becomes a central character. It was only right to name the series after it.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?

I don’t know exactly. I guess I was just yearning for something different. I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books that have these great stories about human life in an apocalyptic or dystopian world. I wanted to write my own take on it, what I feel a real “end of the world as we know it” story would be like, and how the humans in my story will live and make their decisions. I love making things uncomfortable for my characters and my readers. I guess in the end, I really wanted to tell a story about survival, and not just physical survival, but spiritual, mental, and emotional survival. When everything is taken away from you, how do you decide what is worth it to hold on to? You really learn who you truly are once you have nothing. Vulnerability is definitely one of the main themes of this book. How often are humans vulnerable to things no of themselves? It’s really fascinating, actually.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book(s)?

The next book that will be made available on the 30th of November is called, the DOMErevelation. It is the second book in the DOME trilogy and picks up exactly where book one left off. Book one ends at chapter 19 and book two begins at chapter 20. This series is one continuous story. Book two answers a lot of questions that were left unanswered in the first installment of the series. Sam is completely transformed into a different person, a different man. Emma has been changed forever by a very traumatic experience that occurred at the end of the first book. Sam’s wife and Emma’s mother, Kris, has a bigger role and steps up as a leader. It is really fun to see how these main characters make their decisions based on their new level of maturity and the newfound information gathered about the truth of the DOME and why they were rescued from a destroyed Earth.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it all based on pure imagination?

I will definitely say that although this book is sci-fi, a lot of the character traits and character development is based on real life experiences; mine and others. I think the reason why many people had a problem with my book when it was first released as an ARC in the past was because most people couldn’t understand Emma as a character. She is seventeen and on Earth she was a drug dealer. She literally made and sold her own drugs. I’ve gotten some really interesting emails from people saying that Emma’s character was too disturbing for them to finish the book. The way I see it is Emma represents all teens. Teenagers have sex, they experiment with drugs (some even sell), use profanity, disobey their parents, cut school, runaway from home, underage drink, and choose horrible friends. But they are also very smart, crave guidance, learn from their mistakes rather quickly, yearn to love and be loved, constantly search for role models, and want so badly to just experience life. My job as a writer isn’t to paint false pictures of us. It’s to turn a mirror on us. We’re not perfect. And we weren’t perfect when we were teens. Emma relates to every teen. Everyone will be able to see a small piece of them in her. In the book, she makes a lot of stupid decisions. Her parents both try to drill it in her head that she’s going down the wrong path. But nothing they say gets through to her. With Emma, I wanted to show parents that even though they want so badly to make sure their kids make the right choices; it is still not in their power. Their children have to decide on their own and most of the time, they learn by doing. That is exactly how Emma matures throughout the book.

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

Well, this series is a trilogy, meaning there are 3 books that tell this story. I am actually adding on a prequel that will accompany the series. It will be a novella and will be told from the point of the view of the Syrions (the alien race that rescues the humans from Earth). A lot of things happen in the trilogy but there are two sides to every story. The aliens are so cool that I just had to show my readers their world from their eyes. Fear and vulnerability are going to stay alive. I LOVE those themes!

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting this book completed and published?

Oh Boy! Writing the story was a piece of cake. It was the editing that pissed me off. I suck at editing my own writing. I can do it for other people, but I’m biased when it comes to me. New eyes have to edit writing no matter how good you think you are. And I’m not good. I’ve gone through a number of editors that have done poor jobs; money and time that I did not have the luxury of wasting. But before even the editing, the book cover was a pain in the ass. I’ve been through a few book cover artists that you would swear were 4yr olds with crayons and a scanner. But I finally found my AWESOME cover artist…in Brazil! But hey…there’s no limit when you’re searching for greatness!

What made you want to self-publish this book?

This series was initially a treatment for a TV show that I was trying to get picked up on HBO. That failed, but I was advised to put it out there another way to see if the masses would be receptive to the idea. I thought of publishing it as a book but I didn’t want it to get traditionally published because the process of getting it picked up seemed way too similar to getting it on TV. I didn’t want the hassle, so I published it on my own. I really liked the idea of having complete control over everything. But complete control also means COMPLETE CONTROL. Creative control is great, but you also have to do everything else on your own, marketing, editing, book cover, copyrights, ISBN, territorial/worldwide rights, etc. You really have to be your own team. But I love the whole “learn by doing” approach to things so I’m definitely enjoying this learning experience.

How do you market your book(s)? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

In the past, I’ve marketed by books mostly through social networking sites (facebook and twitter) and on my own blog http://novasparks.blogspot.com. I also did a lot of blog tours where I guess blogged and did interviews on different blogs around the web. Now I’m trying something new. That is the beauty of self-publishing; you can do what you want. I’m setting up a lot of radio interviews and giveaways/contests. You have to switch it up to reach a wider audience. One thing I can say though is it is better to sell yourself over your book. No one wants to feel as though they are being sold something. I hardly ever talk about my book when networking online. I make friends and connections with people and just am me. People support you when you are genuine. It is important to not become a robot salesman or else no one would buy your book.

What do you think makes a good story?

I really believe that every good story needs a bit of romance. I’m a sucker for romance. But I don’t mean random falling in love when it makes no sense. It can be a failing romance, a potential romance, an artificial romance. Just as long as there is romance. Other than that, stories are good when there is great character development. No one should look the same or make the same decisions after the climax.

What project are you working on now?

As of now, I’m working vigorously on my production company, NOVA sparks productions. Through that company I’m producing screenplays, teleplays, and novels. The DOME trilogy is being released under that. When that’s done, I’ll be focusing on getting my other work picked up by networks. We need more sci-fi on TV…and sex! More sex, please!

Will you have a new book coming out soon?

OF COURSE! The next book in the DOME trilogy is called the DOMErevelation and will be out the end of this month on the 30th!

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Its okay to care but timing is everything. The moment you stop caring about what others think is the moment you’ll put out your best work. Care after, not before. You want people to love your work…YOUR work. Not the stuff you’re making up just to please people. That is the recipe to a long and profitable career. Figure out who you are as a person and as a writer. Write it down nice and big and put it on a wall somewhere you’ll be able to see it at all times. When things seem difficult, look at it until you remember who you are. Then…decide where you want to be. Do you want to be the unknown writer forever? No! Make a decision and be specific. It’s the same thing like setting up a GPS with a destination. Once you know where you’re going, it’ll be easier to choose what path you’ll take to get there.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

THANK YOU! You guys have been reading my work and posting about it and I LOVE you guys for it! I read all your messages and emails and they really mean a lot to me. You will never be fans to me! You’ll forever be family!