Monday, February 16, 2015

A NO GOOD ITCH, THE FBI ESPIONAGE SERIES



A No Good Itch
by S.D. Skye

The author will be awarding a Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 + $25 Kindle GC (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour and the Review Tour, Here. But first, here's the interview she gave for you, Dear Readers:

Where did you grow up?


Washington D.C. is my hometown and I lived in the Maryland suburbs up until I was about 12 while my mother worked for the government. Then she packed us up one day and moved us to Bellaire, Ohio, which was her hometown. I went to high school in a teeny tiny hometown with one road in and one road out. There I embraced my inner nerd, becoming an honor roll student and joining the high school band. I played the baritone and then the tuba…yes, the big one. I returned to D.C. after two years of college in Ohio, transferred schools and got a job with the FBI. I’d end up with an MBA and 20 years of experience in the U.S. intelligence community.

That's impressive. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Lately, I’ve become a huge fan of the memoir. I’ve read a few inspiring ones, including Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacs. So energizing. With that said, I read everything from Jane Austen to Stephen King to Michael Connelly to Terry McMillan.

What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? 

I love warm days by the water. For me, it doesn’t get any better than going to the beach or taking a walk near a local pond. As an Aquarian, being near water definitely recharges my batteries. I love movies and good books and restaurant hopping. I keep it pretty simple. No skydiving. No trekking through the woods. I’m not an adventure girl…which would probably align with my nerdiness.

Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?


I love this quote from Apple’s “Think Different” campaign: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

That’s truly me. I feel like a square peg in a round hole who sees things just a little differently than other people. And I’m just crazy enough to think I can change the world in some small way…or at least my world. That’s what matters.

Counterintelligence? I'd say you ARE changing the world! How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was 7 or 8 years. My mother bought me the diaries with the little locks on them and I’ve been journaling ever since. Never had an inkling that I could be a published author but I always knew that writing was very cathartic for me. When my world got crazy and started spinning out of control, I could calm my mind down by just putting words to a page. Even now when I go back to read my journals from my younger days, the entries that don’t frighten me are highly amusing and insightful. I had something there.

Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

I can write anywhere on anything if need be. I’m not one of those writers who needs to build the exact right environmental conditions to create and write. Sometimes, I may require quiet while others I may have music or the TV droning in the background. Sometimes I use my laptop and other times, I type on my desktop. Sometimes, I write in longhand using my gel pens and Moleskine notebooks. Wherever the words are flowing best on any particular day, that’s where you’ll find me.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Once upon a time I ascribed to the theory that an author could only create the best stories if they were developed organically through pantsing—allowing the story to flow. I wrote four books in another genre that way, but the J.J. McCall stories are entirely too layered and complex to leave to the pantsing. I tried that with the first book and the story had more plot holes than the south side of the moon. From that point forward I decided that I really needed to outline to avoid the plot holes.

But here’s the interesting thing I’ve found out since, outlining really works for all of my books.

Not only do they help you avoid plot holes, but they really keep you productive when your muse goes off on benders. And the key to using outlines effectively as someone who really does want to allow the story to move through you instead of directing it is to allow yourself to veer away from the outline when the story goes in an unplanned direction. So, now I use outlines, but I feel free to ignore them at any point in the story, which still gives me all the flexibility I need to allow my characters their freedom.

A good outline is tremendously helpful to me. With your amazing background, I'm sure you use real events for your stories.

Absolutely. The J.J. McCall Series is loosely based on an FBI agent I worked with in the counterintelligence program and some of the work that we did within the program. She’s an African American female agent who specialized in Russian counterintelligence and organized crime. I so admired her drive and tenacity, excelling in an area that had been largely dominated by white males. The last time I heard she was an executive at a major field office, which doesn’t happen often for female agents…let alone African American female agents, which I think attests to her exceptional service and ability.

Many of the cases are also loosely based on real life experiences I had within the program. Most of them can be found in press articles. The FBI reviews all of my books to ensure that I don’t giveaway anything classified. With that said, I’ve been allowed a lot more freedom than I expected.

Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

As of lately, I’ve been writing mostly in Scrivener, which is a fantastic writing program that was really built to ease the process of novel writing. It allows you to set up word count targets and set deadlines for each book. Then it automatically calculates the word count you need to accomplish during each writing session. I find I work best and most efficiently with deadlines.

I think we all need deadlines. At least, I do. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Entertainment. An escape. A period of time in life when they aren’t worried about what’s going on with life but they are wrapped up in the world I’ve created. And inside these stories I hope that they find an emotional rollercoaster with reasons to laugh, cry, think, be angry, and be left hanging in suspense, wondering what’s going to happen next.

What long-term plans do you have for your career?

To keep writing. Whether I self publish or find my way back into the traditional publishing world, whether I find more genres I feel comfortable writing in, I’m going to continue to write books and publish them. At this point, I can’t not write…and I can’t see time when I won’t be writing. It’s as if I released the Kraken. The writing bug is out of bag now. Can’t get it back inside and I don’t want to.


Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?



I’m outlining Book 4 – THE CRAZY ITCH, which will follow J.J. McCall and her task force as they find a mole in the Pentagon. It will pick up where the last book leaves off. I’m also working on a couple of category romances, romantic comedy and young adult, which I’ll publish under a pseudonym. So I’m quite busy.


What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Stay true to your story. Don’t try to write to popular trends. Don’t engage in a bunch of revisions for people who aren’t vested in your work. Nothing will be more disheartening than failing because you didn’t stay true to who you are and the story you truly want to tell. I would also say that you could build a miserable career writing books that aren’t organic to you. You may find success but it seems to me that sustaining that success will be very difficult. My books and my story is proof positive that everyone can find an audience. It may not be Stephen King’s audience…or Robert Ludlum’s audience, but, then again, you didn’t write their books. Be happy with what’s yours. Create your own lanes, stay in them, and don’t worry about what others are doing. Learning this lesson is what brings me peace and allows me to persevere.

Excellent advice. What's a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?


I’m a total nerd girl. All things Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Wars, Big Bang Theory, Lord of the Rings—huge fan of them. If the tuba didn’t give my nerdiness away, that should do it.

Embrace your inner nerd. ☺Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

I’m not a shocking person. Hmmm…when I worked for the FBI I was actually featured (briefly) on an episode of 60 Minutes due to my work on an art theft investigation (I worked art theft a couple of years before I got into counterintelligence.) I got to meet and take a picture with Morely Safer, which sits in my dad’s house. Few people know I had my 15 seconds of fame.

That's also impressive. I watch that show whenever possible. I know A NO GOOD ITCH is book three of a series. Do you plan for this to be ongoing or have you set a limit to the series?

Yes. The J.J. McCall books are a series. My fans call them the “Itch” books, which I think is pretty funny. It certainly differentiates them from other books. I had planned to only write 5 books but now I think they may go a bit longer. How much longer, I don’t know. But as I write the books, the story arc seems to call for more books and more cases before they come to an end. Especially with the twist at the end of Book 3. Plus, I love these characters.

Thank you, S.D.  And now, here's more about the latest release, A NO GOOD ITCH:

Blurb for A NO GOOD ITCH:

IN THE GAME OF ESPIONAGE, SPY TAKES TRAITOR.
J.J. MCCALL TAKES OVER.


The FBI and Italian Mafia make strange bedfellows when a vicious Russian Organized crime figure, operating at the behest of Russian Intelligence, lands in The Big Apple. The Russian intelligence hench-man, infamously known as Mashkov, avenges the death of slain a Russian sleeper agent and accidentally hits the son of an Italian crime boss, sending J.J. and Task Force Phantom Hunter to the streets of New York. They are stepping into a possible war between Russian and Italian organized crime factions, while trying to dismantle the financial hub of the most insidious Russian illegals network in U.S. History.

Meanwhile, CIA Case Officer Grayson “Six” Chance is in Moscow trying to capture a fugitive American who has stolen White House intelligence and is planning to pass it to the Russians—putting Six in a moral dilemma he may not be prepared to handle.

And when J.J. finally learns the truth surrounding her mother's death in the line of duty, her life may never be the same.

If you enjoy this book, you will love Book 1--The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) and Book 2 -- Son of a Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel).





Excerpt from A NO GOOD ITCH:

“THE SUPREME ART OF WAR IS TO SUBDUE THE ENEMY WITHOUT FIGHTING.” ~ SUN TZU

Fear, failure, and the fear of failure turned enemies into friends like nothing else in the convoluted world of intelligence and spying. No doubt the reason FBI representatives had been summoned to the Russian Embassy in Washington.

"We'll need a dump truck for the BS about to be heaped on us today," J.J. whispered to her co-case agent, Tony Donato. As the lead case agent behind the ruckus, she'd been ordered to attend the meeting, listen, and respond to nothing.

"Shhh," Tony whispered in reply. "The walls have ears."

Resident Andrei Komarov, the Russian equivalent to the CIA Station Chief in Moscow, led J.J., Tony, and Assistant Director of Counterintelligence John Nixon through the hallowed embassy halls until they reached a well-appointed conference room. It contained mahogany-paneled walls, large open armchairs, and an oversized table large enough to seat Komarov's ego and attitude, both massive in her past experience.

Komarov settled in at the head of the table, his face reddened and contorted. It was as if every word he was about to speak, no doubt carefully selected by the Foreign Minister, would sear his throat and exit his lips like sharpened razors carving him from the inside.

"We've all met before and are quite familiar with one another," Komarov began, shooting a slicing glare through J.J. "So, I'll feel free to dispense with the introductions and pleasantries since we all understand why we are here today." Her aggressive targeting of SVR officers for recruitment was legendary...or infamous, depending on which side of the table you sat. She suppressed the awe she felt. He was the personification of the Russian James Bond in looks, dress, and devoid of any semblance of accent.

J.J., Tony, and Nixon exchanged strained glances before she took a deep breath to brace herself. Komarov was about to progress through the four steps of surviving a massive operational failure.

Step 1: Admit nothing.

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AUTHOR S. D. SKYE Bio and Links:


S.D. Skye is a former FBI Counterintelligence Analyst in the Russia program and supported cases during her 12-year tenure at the Bureau. She has personally witnessed the blowback the Intelligence Community suffered due to the most significant compromises in U.S. history, including the arrests of former CIA Case Officer Aldrich Ames and two of the Bureau's own—FBI Agents Earl Pitts and Robert Hansen. She has spent 20 years in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Skye is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She’s addicted to writing and chocolate—not necessarily in that order—and currently lives in the Washington D.C. area with her son. Skye is hard at work on several projects, including the next installment of the series.

Web Links


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Thanks for stopping by!

9 comments:

Author S. D. Skye said...

Good morning, everyone! Thank you so much for having me today, Caroline! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I'll be around throughout the day!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Your series sounds intriguing and I look forward to reading them. Thanks for sharing with us today.

Mary Preston said...

Hi,

is there a genre you have not written in yet that you would like to?

168d7130-34d4-11e2-91ad-000bcdcb5194 said...

It's a great interview!

Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

Victoria Alexander said...

Sounds like a great series. Thanks for sharing I'm looking forward to checking this stuff out.

Karen H said...

Enjoyed reading your interview.

Author S. D. Skye said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone! I hope you'll check out the series. @MaryPreston Actually, no! I have written in every genre I've wanted to write in. The J.J. McCall series allows me to do everything at once. So, I'm excited. I've always wanted to write a mafia novel after reading The Godfather. I think this is kind of my homage to Mario Puzo.

Janie Prather said...

Do you have a special place to write from?

Ree Dee said...

I really enjoyed your interview. I enjoy looking into the inner workings of a writer's mind! Thank you.