Today’s guest is friend and author/blogger/editor/teacher, ‘word specialist’, and book reviewer. Jacqui Murray. Jacqui is also an adjunct professor who teaches graduate classes for teachers. She runs a blog called Ask A Tech Teacher, where she shares her technical tips for writers.
I’ve been following Jacqui’s other blog, Worddreams for a couple of years now, where she’s always sharing something interesting for writers from word meanings and uses, how to write characters effectively, how to write reviews, how to blog effectively, and so much more. Most recently Jacqui ran a great series on her A to Z challenge where she posted about writing in a different genre everyday. She went through the alphabet in genres, not leaving out a single letter – including Q and X. Who ever knew there were so many genres?
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.
Jacqui’s newest book:
Short Synopsis of Twenty-four Days:
A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.
Long Synopsis of Twenty-four Days:
What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the sentient artificial intelligence who thinks he’s human:
An unlikely team is America’s only chance
World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.
At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI Otto who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.
In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.
But the second, Otto can’t locate.
Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi–the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.
And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.
As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war, but payback against the country that cost him so much.
A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster. … A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale
Quote from author:
What sets this series apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the Naval battle that relies on not just fire power but problem solving to outwit the enemy.
Today we’re going to get to learn more about Jacqui and her latest book, Twenty-Four Days, which she recently launched.
You write nonfiction teaching books, so what inspired you to begin writing fiction?
I wrote the nonfiction technology-in-education books because there were so few materials out there for tech teachers. Once I completed them, I shared them and it grew from there. I started fiction because I had stories in my head that wouldn’t go away unless I wrote them down. So I did!
It’s no secret that you read so many books and share excellent reviews about them on your blog. Please share with us how you manage to make time to read so many books while teaching, writing and everyday life?
I really don’t have a life outside of writing and teaching. I’m not complaining—those two keep me quite busy–but I don’t have hobbies or grandkids and my adult kids love across the country. If I didn’t have all my wonderful Indie authors to read, I would get darn bored!
Do you think that being a technical writing teacher makes the process of self- publishing easier for you?
I am into lists, which definitely comes from the tech side of my brain. That makes it easier!
What advice would you offer to new aspiring authors?
This is something I learned late in my writing career: Write yourself into a corner. Then, escape. There are different ways of saying that, but it’s always true. If your story is character-driven, the corner is mental, spiritual, emotional. If you like plot-driven stories, it’s action. Doesn’t matter—just do it!
What inspired you to write two books based on a submarine story?
Believe me, I never would have chosen that. I’ll blame it on my muse!
Last year you published Book 1 – To Hunt a Sub. Did you anticipate a sequel at the time or were you already preparing for this new book while preparing to publish Book 1?
I had an agent for Twenty-four Days, the sequel to To Hunt a Sub. I was always kind of sad that the sequel would come out first. I suppose it’s God’s will that the agent didn’t work out so I got to publish these two in order.
Please share an excerpt with us from your new book, Twenty-Four Days
Excerpt: From the first chapter
Monday, August 7th
HMNB Devonport England
Until last month, Eyad Obeid considered himself a devout Muslim. He prayed five times a day, proclaimed God’s glory in every conversation, and performed the required ablutions when confronted with uncleanliness. When his brother was executed by Israeli gunman five years ago, Obeid swore retribution. No nobler purpose could he imagine for his worthless life than dying for Allah.
But instead of a suicide vest and the promise of seventy-two virgins, the village imam enrolled him in college to learn nuclear physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, and math so complex its sole application was theoretical. Much to Obeid’s surprise, he thrived on the cerebral smorgasbord. In fact, with little effort, he attained all the skills required by the Imam.
By the time he earned his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics, he had learned two lessons. First, he was much smarter than most people around him, and second, the western world was not what he had been told.
Now, just weeks after graduation, Eyad Obeid approached the dingy Devonport pub on the frigid southern shore of England and wondered how to explain to the man responsible for giving Eyad Obeid this amazing future that he would fulfill his obligation, but then, wanted out.
He squared his shoulders and entered the pub.
His stomach lurched. Rather than his mentor Salah Mahmud al-Zahrawi, he found the Kenyan and his three henchmen. He had first met these thugs in San Diego California where he learned to run a nuclear submarine under the friendly tutelage of British submariners. When Obeid finished his studies, the Kenyan slaughtered the Brits. No warning. No discussion, just slash, slice and everyone died.
As did Obeid’s belief in the purity of Allah.
The nuclear physicist jammed his hands into his pockets, hunched his shoulders, and approached the table. The Kenyan had never introduced himself and Eyad Obeid lacked the courage to ask.
“I was expecting Salah al-Zahrawi,” Obeid offered as he slipped into the booth.
The Kenyan stared past Obeid, eyes as desolate as the Iranian desert, thick sloping shoulders still, ebony skin glistening under the fluorescent lights. Danger radiated from him like the hum of a power plant. He had three new fight scars since their last encounter, like angry welts but otherwise, he looked rested, clearly losing no sleep over the slaughter of innocents.
“You have one more job before you are released.” In a quiet, toneless voice, the man without a soul explained the new plan, finishing with, “If you fail, you die.”
Thank you for being with us here today Jacqui. I’m sure that many new readers will be following your blog(s) after this post now that they have gotten to know a bit about you and your writing and teaching tips. And I’m sure they will love your books equally.
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