At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Top Ten List: Reasons for Buying a Copy (or Several Copies) of 'Litany of Secrets'

On my regular and author Facebook pages, I've engaged in a running top ten list of reasons to get a copy of my debut novel, Litany of Secrets. For those of you who are interested, here's the full list of items. And please, when you get through this, share the reasons, and the book information, with others.

(10) Downloading it to your Kindle is cheaper than a frapuccino from Starbucks, a ticket to a ball game, a gallon of milk (in most places), a gallon of gas, or a box combo from Raising Canes. Think about something you'd give up this week for a great story.

(9) Main character, Detective Cameron Ballack, is the sleuthing prince of paradoxes. A fiercely independent spirit in the body of a physically disabled person; a minister's son with an agnostic streak a mile wide; critical thinking threading side-by-side with intuition rising from a photographic memory. Think about a character you'd want in a great story, and get to know Cameron Ballack.

(8) If you believe religious communities can be profoundly beautiful and powerfully stained entities, the setting of the first Cameron Ballack mystery is for you. St. Basil's Seminary combines high church tradition with roiling evil, and the bodies keep piling up.

(7) If you love a well-constructed fictional setting within an actual area, Litany of Secrets is for you. The fictional St. Basil's Seminary sits in Defiance, Missouri, near Missouri wine country, but all other sites other than St. Basil's are spot-on. If you know and love St. Louis, you'll enjoy the references to the Katy Trail, Highways 40, 94 and 270, not to mention Fitz's Restaurant with its famous root beer. Getting the itch?

(6) The big publishing houses do not have a complete lock on quality literature and great stories. Litany of Secrets is the first crime fiction novel publishing by Dunrobin Publishing, headed by Mark Sutherland, who is everything an editor, publisher, and literary shepherd could be. Litany of Secrets is not only a great story; it is one of many great stories and books that have been published by Dunrobin. Check out great authors like Mark, as well as Glynn Young, David T. MacFarlane and others at 

(5) Clean shock value: The story and language are decent enough to appeal to many. Yet the shock value is high-voltage without being gratuitous. Murder at an Orthodox seminary? Yes! A rural, bucolic environment awash in mistrust and murder? Yes! Yes! Yes! 

(4) You never know when you'll bump into someone who shows interest in getting a copy themselves. The Orthodox church storyline is a different niche for murder mysteries, but it came in handy days ago when I was doing sermon prep for this upcoming Sunday at the local public library. A guy named Garrett struck up a conversation about what I was doing, and in the course of our talk, I found out he was Orthodox [I think it freaked him out that a Presbyterian like me knew what an iconostasis was!], and eventually the subject came around to Litany of Secrets. Using your everyday contacts can get the word out about the story…be willing to follow the angles!

(3) Admit it: We all judge a book by its cover--literally and metaphorically. A cover can either obscure a book's message or enrapture the reader by amplifying the story to another level. Juxtaposed themes of darkness and hope, mystery and clarity, disability and determination are all brought out beautifully by Ciarra Peters, my former student and the cover artist for Litany of Secrets. Ciarra is a brilliant scholar who has won prizes for research in white brain matter, yet her artistic soul pours forth with beautiful redesigns like the Litany of Secrets cover image. She literally has to image a scene in her mind and she cane raw it without batting an eye. Want to draw someone you know into the world of Detective Cameron Ballack? Show them the front cover of Litany of Secrets, and you'll seal the deal.

(2) It's worth a look when one of the best English teachers in the universe gives it a five-star review. Deborah Harbaugh Clarke--my ninth and eleventh grade English teacher at Westminster High School in Westminster, Maryland--always had high standards but never stopped pushing and encouraging me toward those lofty expectations. She, more than anyone else, is responsible for turning me into a writer, and so she knows what she's talking about when it comes to heating up the composition soul.

(1) It's real, because Detective Cameron Ballack is a real person. Not real as in non-fiction, but drenched in realism. Ballack is afflicted with X-linked myotubular myopathy, the same disorder that our son Joshua has and the thing which took our sweet little Jordan from us. Ballack consistently shows himself to be handi-capable rather than handicapped, and that courage and determination can come from a wheelchair with the force of a howitzer. Ballack experiences love, loss, hope, despair, fear, and bravery and always manages to move forward through every wall, even though he can't walk through them on his own two feet. Resourceful and realistic, Cameron Ballack is a hero we've been waiting for.

And there's your top ten reasons. Now share them--and the story of Litany of Secrets--with others.

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