Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Crime Drama Review!
"Still Black Remains" by Kevin Michaels!

 Book Tour!

Hiya guys! Hope your week is going super well so far!

DRR has a brand new book to share with you guys! It's a dramatic mob-filled adult fiction, just released this week! Check out our review, and a guest post from the author! =D

Still Black Remains

 Still Black Remains
~Released: April 1st, 2017

~Length: 242 Pages

~Parent's Guide: R

~Genres: Adult Fiction, Crime, Drama

Still Black Remains is an original work of fiction.  It tells the story of Twist, one of the leaders of an inner city gang named the Skulls, and the architect of his gang’s decision to kidnap a mafia soldier in a last-ditch attempt to end a violent turf war.  The war started when the Skulls tried taking a bigger piece of the drug business in their Newark, New Jersey neighborhood from the organized crime family who had once been their partners.  Like most great ideas, the plan doesn’t turn out as expected. Negotiations between the gangs deteriorate, words fail, the violence escalates, and the only recourse left is the inevitable execution of the hostage.  Chosen to be the one to execute the prisoner, the story covers Twist’s ability to pull the trigger, the consequences of that action, and his internal struggle.  As the volatile situation grows more explosive by the hour, the lines between right and wrong blur; resolution comes with a price and Twist has to decide if pulling the trigger will get him what he wants, and if he can live with that cost.

 About the Author

Kevin Michaels is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Lost Exit, as well as two entries in the Fight Card Books series: Hard Road and Can't Miss Condender. He also released a collection of short stories entitled Nine In The Morning. His short stories and flash fiction have also appeared in a number of magazines and indie zines, and in 2011 he was nominated for two separate Pushcart Prize awards for his short stories. Other shorts have been included in the anthologies for Six Sentences (volumes II and III) and Action: Pulse Pounding Tales (2).

In April 2017 his latest novel Still Black Remains will be published by Literary Wanderlust LLC.

He has also published a number non-fiction articles and stories in print publications ranging from the NYTimes.com and the Life/Style section of The Boston Globe to The Bergen News and Press Journal and raged in print at places like the triCity News, NY Daily News, and The Press.

He is the Founder and Creative Director of Story Tellers which is a community-based organization that develops and promotes literacy through writing. Story Tellers provides under-served teenagers, young adults, and women from distressed situations the opportunity to discover the strength and power of their own voices (self-empowerment through self-expression).

Originally from New Jersey, he carries the attitude, edginess, and love of all things Bruce Springsteen common in his home state, although he left the Garden State to live and work in the foothills of the Appalachians (Georgia) with his wife, Helen and an assortment of children and pets.

by Kevin Michaels

The Process of Being a Writer: Character Development

“It begins with a character……”
William Faulkner

There are a number of elements that go into making a successful novel.  Plot.  Setting.  Structure.  Conflict. All play important roles in how a novel is shaped and crafted.
Writers don’t agree on much and no matter which one you ask, there will never be unanimous agreement as to what element is the most pivotal.
To me, character development tops the list as the key element in how well a book works.
Even though characters in a story may seem real (or unreal if written poorly), they are still a narrative element, like plot or setting.  And like all narrative elements, characters are the ingredients that make the story what it is.   Their choices, thoughts, words, actions and consequences are all elements that contribute to the development of themes and these events develop the plot. The character can sometimes symbolize certain qualities such as courage, love, strength, and anger, and these thematic representations may contribute to an overall message in the book. In fact, some works are "character-driven" which means they focus more on the character's personality than on the events unfolding in the story.
But character is the starting point for success in fiction.  It doesn’t replace plot and setting or theme and meaning, but it intimately relates to all those.
You need to create interesting characters who get the readers’ attention AND move the story forward.  It’s all about motivation and emotion.  Character development and the things that motivate each of them are the most important aspects of any story.  Without truly interesting characters that a reader can care about, a novel will come off flat and unexciting – much like a Hollywood blockbuster filled with cool special effects and neat high-tech gadgetry but very little substance between explosions.  As a writer, you need to fully understand what drives each character to tell a realistic story.  
The central theme in Still Black Remains is the struggle of a different generation trying to realize the American Dream against all odds, and through any means possible.  The characters, particularly the main character Twist, have learned that hard work by itself will never help them achieve what they want - they have to work outside the system to get what they want. The inner city landscape where they live is filled with desperation, anger, and a sense of futility and in many cases violence is both the solution to problems and the result of problems.  Actions – no matter what’s involved or who gets hurt – are justified as being “part of the game.”  For Twist, it’s a moral dilemma that drives him and the story forward.
Sometimes characters surprise you and take the story in directions you don’t necessarily plan, and sometimes you discover someone who takes on more importance as the story develops.  Twist was actually in a few scenes in a book I wrote called Lost Exit, then he showed up again in a short story; even though that went nowhere, he was memorable enough that I wanted to use him again.  He was only a minor character in the first draft of Still Black Remains but there was something about him that sparked the story and made it come alive, and I wound up rewriting the book based on his POV.  Each character in the book has a specific purpose – there are very few throw-away characters who don’t move the story forward in one way or another – but I found that as I wrote, each personality developed in ways that were unexpected (I knew who Cuba was, but the level of his anger and violence surprised me, although ultimately everything he said and did was believable because nothing was out of character).
A sometimes important but overlooked role of a main character is his effect on the reader.  A writer elicits interest in the protagonist several different ways, including empathy and self-identification to get an emotional reaction.  Part of the main character's role is to get the reader invested by connecting with characters. If the reader doesn't care about the main character and what happens to him, he or she won't care about the book, no matter how many cool explosions fill the pages.
Readers who care about the characters will invest their time and energies in your book.
That is what all writers want and something they can agree on.

 My Review

 5 Roses

...you can feel the grit on every page.

Reading the description of this novel gives you a sense of dark drama, greasy gangs, and danger. Anything with mobs typically gives anyone the mental image of The Godfather, and comes with expectations along the same lines as that series. Still Black Remains doesn't disappoint.

The flow of the story moved quickly, taking the reader through dark streets and dimly lit rooms full of cigarette smoke and tension. It was easy to feel the volatile emotions and suspense from the characters, especially having the story follow a particularly devious guy with the name you can't forget.

This ended up being a fairly quick read, as I didn't want to put it down, and the chapters flew by in suspense. I would suspect fans of this genre to be pulled into this drama easily, and enjoy every greasy minute of it. You'll feel as though you were really there, as if you can feel the grit on every page.

I would definitely recommend this novel, and thank the author for the opportunity to read it.

*I was given a complimentary eCopy of this novel, from the author via Roger Charlie, to read in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to let us know what you think of this novel, and crime drama books in general, in the comments below!

Thanks for visiting! =D