Interview with Rebecca Warner, Author of MORAL INFIDELITY

[Rebecca Warner]Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing Moral Infidelity, a complex political thriller by talented author Rebecca Warner. Today, I am pleased to present my interview with her. In the words of Michael Romano, lucky son of a bitch!

Rebecca, welcome. It’s my understanding that you’ve read an extraordinary number of books in your lifetime. Can you talk about some of your favorite genres and how they have influenced you as a writer?

I began reading at a very early age, which allowed me to read so many books over my lifetime. My mother couldn’t punish me by sending me to my room, because I was perfectly happy just to be left alone to read. Throughout elementary school, junior high and high school, I would check out a new book every day from the library.  I would do my homework, then read the book and return it the next day for another. My earliest real influence, discovered in junior high, was Victoria Holt, who wrote gothic novels. That led me to the classics authors, like the Bronte sisters, Daphne Du Maurier, Jane Austin and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. Though I didn’t read as much in college because I was a business major and had very little leisure time, I always had a book going. After college, as a young single woman in Miami, I went through the Danielle Steele and Sidney Sheldon and Jackie Collins phase. Then I revisited John Steinbeck, and was sort of reborn in terms of seeking out the classics, but this time more of the 20th century classics. Stephen King got my attention in the 1970s, and has kept it, and then James Patterson made me appreciate suspense/thrillers/mysteries, which became—and still is—my favorite genre. So I was especially pleased that Moral Infidelity, my first book, won the Bronze Medal for the category of Fiction: Thriller in the Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Contest.

Have you always written, or did you wake up one day after reading another great book and say, “I can do this too!”?

If I may tell a story about a specific incident in my life that influenced me to be a writer…

In the fourth grade, I was in a class that was classified as “accelerated,” though I never stood out in any way among the many truly smart children in my class. One day the teacher put up a picture of a little boy in red pajamas, sitting in front of a fireplace, holding a golden dog in his arms. We were supposed to write something about it—tell the story. I remember very clearly going to another place in my mind (I didn’t yet understand that “zone”) and writing words that seemed to come from outside of me. The teacher then had us read our papers, and as others got up and read theirs, I realized how different mine was, and I felt I had failed in the assignment. When the teacher pointed to me to get up in front of the class to read mine, I was terribly embarrassed. I tried to get someone else to read it for me, but she shook her head ‘no.’ So I had no choice but to read it, and when I finished, the room was very quiet. I looked over at my teacher, expecting a disapproving look, but instead she was looking at me with admiration and astonishment, and then she said, “We have a genius in our class.” Powerful words that kept me writing short stories and poetry and winning awards for them throughout my school years.

In reading your work, I’ve noticed that you like to dig deep into your characters. After reading Moral Infidelity, I feel I know Michael intimately. Is there a particular author who influenced you in this regard?

I mentioned John Steinbeck earlier. In my opinion, he delved into the human heart and mind like no authors before or since, though I must laud Dostoyevsky in that regard as well. Think Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath.  Think Rodya in Crime and Punishment. Stephen King is also brilliant in that regard. The mental and emotional dissection of Andy and Red in TheShawshank Redemption is unparalleled in literature. With all of these authors, I was fascinated with the depth and the complexity they plumbed from their characters.  All subconsciously influenced me in my writing in terms of wanting to write more complex and conscience-driven characters.

You know, this is a great question, because before now, I never really analyzed why it was so critical that I so thoroughly develop Michael Romano’s character in Moral Infidelity—his descent into darkness and depravity even as he functioned on a higher plane in a privileged world. Your question has caused me to do so! Thanks, Steven.

Are you interested in movies and television? If so, do they influence your writing?

I love movies and television, and am fascinated that writers can conceive of such great ideas and then execute them so perfectly through dialogue and action. But I can’t honestly say that any movie or TV show has influenced my writing.

I apologize in advance for the obligatory question, but what are you working on now?

The book I am writing now is a thriller based on a true-life event, though it is fiction. For decades, I had a Russian ballet teacher in Miami, Madam Renee, whom I loved and kept in touch with even after I moved to North Carolina. Every time I was in Miami, I would take her to a lovely restaurant, so befitting her appreciation of fine things which she could no longer afford. One day, I was picking her up to take her to the Biltmore Hotel for an elegant pool-side lunch. When I got to her home and she came outside, I was shocked and horrified by her appearance. Normally so stylishly turned out, she was disheveled, wore virtual rags, was emaciated, and had a big gash on her leg.

The patio attached to her home was encased in roof-to-ground iron bars, for security reasons. She had always come and gone through the keyed iron gate set within the bars, but that day she told me she couldn’t find the key. I knew that a man who had married and divorced her niece had moved in with her, which I always thought a bit odd, but she was glad to have the company and added protection. But because she had obviously declined to such a great degree since he moved in, I became suspicious and alarmed. She was literally like a prisoner, and when—at my urging—she called him at work to ask where the key was, he gaslighted her into thinking she was demented and had misplaced it. Something just was not right, and I immediately alerted my former ballet classmates, including one who is a lawyer, to find out more about this man, and Renee’s circumstances. It became evident through our inquiries and also public records that he had taken over her property and her life, and we all felt she was in danger.

And so the idea of the book I am writing now, Ballet Barres, was born, with the objective of Renee’s devoted students of twenty-plus years coming together these many years later to save her from whatever evil intent this man has. And yes, I delve into his darker side!

Book Blurb

[Moral Infidelity Cover]


What if an anti-abortion governor, who is determined to enact stricter abortion laws in his state, had an affair that resulted in an unintended pregnancy?

In this two-time award-winning thriller, Florida Governor Michael Romano becomes embroiled in an ethical dilemma that threatens to shatter his marriage and his political career. His mistress wants him and his baby, and she will publicly destroy him if he doesn’t leave his wife to marry her. He finds himself walking a moral tightrope, where a single misstep can irretrievably ruin his carefully-constructed personal and political life.

Choice takes on a whole new meaning for Romano as he attempts to untangle himself from his sticky web of deceit.

Suspense builds as Romano weighs his limited options while fighting to keep his political career viable as he pursues enactment of anti-abortion laws. Caught in the nightmarish consequences of his treachery and duplicity, Romano must make choices that will test the strength of his moral fiber to its limits…But will his choices lead to his salvation, or his ruin?

Where to Buy

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada

About the Author
Rebecca Warner’s educational and professional background was in finance and banking in Miami, Florida. After she and her husband moved to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, Rebecca began writing articles for several local periodicals. Drawing upon her many years of advising the lovelorn and successful matchmaking, she also wrote a romance-and-relationship advice column. In 2014, she published her first book, Moral Infidelity, which won the Bronze Medal in the Readers’ Favorite 2015 International Book Awards’ thriller category, and Top 10 Honorable Mention in the 2015 Great Southeast Book Festival. Her second novel, Doubling Back To Love, was solicited for inclusion in a ten-novel romantic anthology, and her third book, He’s Just A Man, is a non-fiction self-help book for women seeking a mate.

Rebecca is a convivial feminist who blogs on her own sites and for The Huffington Post about topics of interest to women. She enjoys participating in podcasts and forums about women’s social, economic and political issues.

You can find Rebecca on Twitter, on Facebook, and at her website.

Ginger Nuts of Horror—5 Minutes with Steven Ramirez

[Steven - Friendly (Thumbnail)]Hey, check out my author interview over at Ginger Nuts of Horror. And thanks so much to Jim Mcleod for the opportunity. I had a great time doing it.


Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

In college, I started writing screenplays. I did that for a number of years. If you live in LA, you sort of have to. I managed to sell one that was made into a feature film. At some point, I decided fiction was a better way to go. I’ve published a horror thriller trilogy called TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD and have written another novel and a novella—both of which I hope to publish soon.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Well, I have a family I am devoted to. I love to read, and I also like to watch movies and television.

Other than horror, what other things have been a major influence on your writing?

Crime fiction has always appealed to me. If you think about it, often characters do horrific things when committing crimes. Usually, it’s out of desperation.

Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?

I love the term Dark Fiction because it covers a lot of ground. When some people talk about Horror, they are imagining serial killers. Others prefer demons and the paranormal. And some think of fantasy. In my trilogy I chose zombies.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

There are many, but I will name a few I very fond of: Jack Finney, Richard Matheson, Shirley Jackson, and Patricia Highsmith.

What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?

For book and film, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. For film alone, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2.

How would you describe your writing style?

Okay, this is where my ego enters the room. I’ve always wanted a reviewer to describe my style as “visceral and immediate.” Let’s go with that.

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

Someone recently reviewed Book One of the trilogy and said, “Very nearly as good as Stephen King.” That means a lot to me because King is a master of the craft of writing.

To read the rest of the interview, jump over to Ginger Nuts of Horror.

Chainsaw Honeymoon—My BookLife Journey (Cont’d)

Photo courtesy of Mr. Nixter via Creative Commons

Okay, so the BookLife quarter-finalists were announced today—and I made it! That means Chainsaw Honeymoon is off and running toward the semifinals.

As a reminder, last month I decided to take a chance with my new unpublished novel, Chainsaw Honeymoon, and enter it for a chance to win the BookLife Prize in Fiction. As part of the process, I received a critic’s report , which you can read here.

The semi-finalists will be announced on Halloween. This is from the contest site:

All submissions advancing to the quarter-finals will be critically assessed by the editorial staffs of Publishers Weekly and BookLife. Of the quarter-finalists, five from each of the six categories will be selected based on merit by PW and BookLife’s editors to advance to the semifinals.

As I stated last time, my category is General Fiction, and I am up against some serious literary fiction competition. But, hey, anything is possible, right? Stay tuned.

By the way, if you would like a taste of ChainSaw Honeymoon, you can go here to download a sample.


[Moral Infidelity Cover]For me, thrillers are the most satisfying when everything is at stake. Sometimes, authors concentrate on the mechanics of plot to carry the reader along a treacherous, dangerous path that may or may not lead to a new day. But what makes a story outstanding is when an author plumbs the depths of the characters involved—getting into their deepest, most troubling thoughts—and allowing the reader to understand better the motivations that drive them.

Moral Infidelity is such a book. Rebecca Warner has taken what could have been a routine thriller and turned it into something memorable. Her characters are smart, wealthy, and deeply flawed. And as they traverse down a road filled with hidden mines, they struggle toward the light. Some will make it. Others will lose their way forever. This book is an excellent, character-driven thriller—a great read.


What if an anti-abortion governor, who is determined to enact stricter abortion laws in his state, had an affair that resulted in an unintended pregnancy?

In this two-time award-winning thriller, Florida Governor Michael Romano becomes embroiled in an ethical dilemma that threatens to shatter his marriage and his political career. His mistress wants him and his baby, and she will publicly destroy him if he doesn’t leave his wife to marry her. He finds himself walking a moral tightrope, where a single misstep can irretrievably ruin his carefully-constructed personal and political life.

Choice takes on a whole new meaning for Romano as he attempts to untangle himself from his sticky web of deceit.

Suspense builds as Romano weighs his limited options while fighting to keep his political career viable as he pursues enactment of anti-abortion laws. Caught in the nightmarish consequences of his treachery and duplicity, Romano must make choices that will test the strength of his moral fiber to its limits…But will his choices lead to his salvation, or his ruin?

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada

Chainsaw Honeymoon—My BookLife Journey

Photo courtesy of Mr. Nixter via Creative Commons

A few weeks ago, I decided to take a chance with my latest novel, Chainsaw Honeymoon, and enter it for a chance to win the BookLife Prize in Fiction. That’s five thousand smackers, people! Ambitious, right? Well, what’s Life if you can’t take a few chances?

Recently, I received a critic’s report I’d like to share with you.


Title: Chainsaw Honeymoon
Author: Steven Ramirez
Genre: Fiction/General Fiction (including literary and historical
Audience: Adult
Word Count: 54000


A satire of Los Angeles, of fractured relationships, movie-making, and growing up, Ramirez’s novel features fantasies, sibling rivalries, a judgmental doll, and even a couple of comic deaths, as one story line morphs into another making the result often seem like one extended dream sequence. The characterizations are lively, though sometimes needlessly exaggerated, and the wildly improbable plot, which features the merging of the screenplay of a maudlin romance hopefully entitled Endless Honeymoon with another of a horror story called Chainsaw Chuck, is generally well controlled and cleverly sustained.


Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.50 out of 10

Not bad, right? So, what happens next? Well, the good folks over at BookLife will announce the quarter-finalists on October 17th. Though I received a decent score, I am up against some very impressive literary works, so… But if I do make it to the first round, you can bet I will be writing a follow-up post. Fingers crossed!

By the way, you can go here to download a sample.

Not Everything That’s Cheap Is Bad

[TMWID Box Set Ad]That’s right. Sometimes you can find a truly surprising deal—like the one I am offering. For the entire month of October, you can purchase TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD: The Complete Trilogy at Amazon for a cool ninety-nine cents!

So, if you haven’t gotten into the dark, twisted world of Dave Pulaski yet, I suggest you skip the Cinnamon Spice Tic Tacs and buy this book instead.

Oh, and one last thing—when you’ve completed the journey, please leave a review. Good or bad—doesn’t matter. Reviews count.

Happy Halloween and happy reading!

Yes, I Am Ready to Buy!

Pulp or Poet?

[Size Mismatch]
Photo courtesy of Miguel Castaneda
via Creative Commons

A writer’s life is nothing, if not angst-filled. Each day, we struggle with dilemmas—most of our own making and many imagined. As for me, I like to battle my demons in private. The best course, I feel, is to put that kind of drama into my writing and let my characters live in Hell. But, frankly, I just can’t take it anymore, and I need to spill. So please, bear with me.

I’ve been writing for more years than I care to admit. In my twenties, I devoted my energy to screenwriting. Great idea, jefe. Get to the end of the line behind the thousands in LA already slaving away at what they hope will become the next ‘Captain America.’ Though I did manage to sell one screenplay and see it made into a movie, I never really enjoyed the success I was hoping for.

When indie publishing came along—mostly thanks to Amazon—everything changed for me, as it did for many other aspiring authors. For years, I had been amassing ideas for novel-length books, and the only thing stopping me from ordering my sport coat with the suede elbow patches was the terrifying thought of trying to secure a literary agent. Weak, I know. But enough about that.

My Eternal Dilemma
I’ve always aspired to write well—as opposed to banging stuff out fast for the money. And, believe me, if you’ve ever downloaded free books to your Kindle, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a lot of crap out there—a lot. And what frustrates me is the fact that this drivel sells—way better than anything I have written. Which brings me to my current dilemma—am I a poet who wants only to create beautiful things (that don’t sell), or a successful pulp writer who’s in it for the money?

My personal belief as to why a lot of indie books sell has nothing to do with quality. Sure, they have to have some semblance of plot and structure. Of course, the cover shouldn’t make you puke. And the formatting has to be at least good enough for you to be able to read the thing without getting vertigo. But what these books have going for them, I feel, is that they are catering to a successful genre. Like Romance.

Now, before you get all huffy and threaten to take my lunch money, let me explain. I am not trying to say anything bad about Romance writers. In fact, sometimes I wish I were one so I could sell more books. What I am saying is, must I write in genres that sell, rather than what I am interested in? It’s a great question.

Romance Rules
So, why did I pick on the Romance category? Take a look at the May 2016 Author Earnings report, which you can find here. This is what they say about indie author earnings (bold text is mine):

Turns out there were 43 [invisible authors] lurking unseen in the dark spaces between Amazon’s bestseller lists, including one author invisibly earning more than $250,000 a year. Unsurprisingly, 30 of the 43 invisible six-figure earners — including the top earner — were self-published indie authors. Most were writing in the Romance Fiction genres, but there was also an indie author of editor’s-choice Cozy Mystery Fiction, and even more surprising, a traditional-award-winning indie writer of Literary Fiction. We happen to think that’s pretty cool.

Cool, indeed. I have a number of writer friends—many of whom publish Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Contemporary and New Adult Romance. It’s my sense that they are doing pretty well. But here’s the thing—from what I can tell, they actually enjoy writing Romance. So for them, this is the best of all worlds.

A Genre Comparison
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I would like to provide an illustration of what I am talking about. The following excerpt is from my horror thriller novel, Even The Dead Will Bleed: Book Three of Tell Me When I’m Dead. Notice that the writing is purposeful and dark—just the thing for pulp fiction:

The girl was pretty with long, light brown hair and frightened blue-grey eyes that were almond-shaped—slightly Asian—and ringed with dark circles. Her full lips were pink and moist, her skin fair and blemish free. She couldn’t have been more than nineteen or twenty. I looked at the back of her hand and noticed a red needle mark—probably from an IV.

“Are you in danger?” I said.

Still nothing. I glanced left and right to see who might be watching. Then I released her arm and took a step back, my open hands away from my pockets. I thought she would bolt, but she stood there unsure, looking at her bare feet, which were dirty. Her shoulders jerked up and down and I realized that she was crying. I remembered what Becky had said when the alarm went off—someone’s escaped.

I wasn’t sure what to do. She must’ve broken out of Hellborn, and now they were looking for her. I didn’t want to leave her there—not like this. She needed help. But I didn’t want to get mixed up with a kid. Griffin, the girl Holly and I had rescued in Tres Marias, had turned out well—and I thanked God for her—but I needed to be alone to complete my mission.

“I’m Dave,” I said. “What’s your name?”

She looked at me steadily. I didn’t know what new hell I was signing up for. It was pretty obvious that it would involve more than slipping her twenty bucks and wishing her good luck. When she spoke my blood went cold.

“Don’t let them find me!” she said.


Here is another excerpt—this time from my latest, unpublished Young Adult novel, Chainsaw Honeymoon: A Ruby Navarro Disaster. Not to brag, but this might even border on the literary. See if you agree:

A loud yawn startled me. It was Dad. How long had he been standing there?

“Come on, Rube, it’s late,” he said.

And by the way, when did he get all parental? Mom must’ve had a talk with him.

“No-uh,” I said. “I need to figure out this sequence.”

Between you and me, I was struggling to keep my eyes open.

Gently, he closed the laptop and guided me to my bed. As I dug through the duffel bag for my pajamas, I felt something foreign. Removing my hand, I saw Mr. Shivers. How had he gotten in there again? I thought I’d left him in the closet back home. Too exhausted to care, I tossed him into a chair, where he landed in a sitting position.

“Tomorrow, I could use your help setting up the Roku,” Dad said.

“Aghh, you’re so pathetic. Fine, I’ll see what I can do.”

I let go of a major yawn. Smiling, he gave me a bear hug, practically squeezing the air out of me.

“Ooh, I thought I heard a fart.”

“Dad, that’s so rude!”

“It used to make you laugh.”

“When I was five.”

“Good night, Rube. Brush your teeth.”

He and Mom had definitely spoken. I wondered vaguely if he was going to go off and practice The Beggar’s Sideshow per Mom’s instructions. Before he left, I broke down and decided to spill. After all, the man deserved to know the truth. I picked Ed up and put him on my lap for moral support.


“Yeah, baby?”

“She is moving on, you know.”

He was leaning against the doorframe, staring at me intently. I could almost see the man hormones keeping his emotions in check. Barely. His face was a mosaic of disappointment, anger and disbelief. He smiled sadly and, without another word, closed the door behind him. See, this is the difference between women and men. I would be throwing things at this point.


The point is, I didn’t research the markets for either of these works—I just sat down and wrote them because I felt like it. We’ll see if the charming and perspicacious Ruby is enough to help me sell some books.

Sage Advice
I am currently reading How to Make a Living as a Writer by the well-respected author and teacher James Scott Bell. His book offers clear, practical advice on how to actually pull off what he promised in the title. One thing he suggests is studying bestselling categories on Amazon and making a conscious decision to master that market, then cranking out your own novels. Here is what he has to say:

I believe a writer should love his genres. But you can learn to love a genre. Sort of like an arranged marriage.

Nicholas Sparks did this with his own career. He went into it like a businessman. He looked at the bestselling genres and discovered that each one had two big names that dominated. At the same time, a surprise book emerged called The Bridges of Madison County. It was a tear-jerking love story written by a male author. And it exploded.

Sparks decided he could be the second name on this unique subset — men who write tear-jerking love stories.

He’s done pretty well.

Now, from a business point of view, he’s absolutely right. But in the words of Jerry Seinfeld when asked to wear the puffy shirt, “But I don’t want to be a pirate!”

If I were more practical, I would begin immediately my own market research and get to writing that puffy shirt book. But to be frank, Romance isn’t really my thing—unless guns or time travel are involved. Besides horror, I am drawn to Thriller, Mystery and YA. Having said that, though, if I follow Mr. Bell’s advice, I am still going to have to research what sells within those categories. And I’m not sure I want to write a political thriller, for example. So, I am almost back where I started.

In On Writing, I seem to recall Stephen King referring to himself as a “journeyman writer.” Here is a guy who consistently cranks out solid work in a genre he loves—and who makes a very good living. But he is practical, too. He knows he is a business. I’m still working on that concept.

What to Do?
As I said, I have a new book coming out, written without the benefit of checking in on bestselling categories. I hope it does well. If it doesn’t, I may decide that my next novel needs to have the word “girl” in the title. It doesn’t take a ton of research to know that those seem to be doing very well lately.