In light of recent events caused by the unexpected health crisis–aka coronavirus–we all have had to adjust to the canceling of many March, April, May, and even other future planned events. I remain hopeful that the stringent and unprecedented actions by government officials will enable all of us to return to a renewed business-as-usual status as we enter the summer. As soon as we get a handle on this COVID “bugaboo”, I will update my schedule of events as it is revised with venues reopening for pubpic engagement again. You can also watch for additional virtual promo videos regarding my third and final book in the Shiloh Mystery–Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest.
Watch for news about all the Shiloh Mystery books published through Heartstone Press (Southern Fried Karma, LLC).
Books offer an escape we all need–a reminder of what life could and should be like–and, I pray folks will enjoy Theo’s stories about Shiloh handling and coping with challenges and threats to their community in that light.
God bless. Stay safe, and trust that life will return to business as usual soon. Our sacrifices today will save lives and expedite our recovery.
Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest Book Launch Events
Corner Arts Gallery & Studio Launch Party, Saturday, June 6th, Noon – 4:00 PM, Court Square, Newnan, GA, sponsored by Hearthstone Press (Southern Fried Karma, LLC) and Corner Arts Gallery & Studios. Come and enjoy their newly expanded Local Author Book Nook as well. There will be plenty of tasty vittles and sweet tea.
JUNE Book Events:
06 Sat Purgatory Book Launch Kick-Off, Corner Arts Gallery & Gifts, Newnan, GA Noon-4:00 PM
13 Sat Lines Between the Wines, Warm Springs Cellars, Warm Springs, GA 2:00 – 5:00 PM with Paul Sinor
18 Thu Hometown Novel Nights Author Panel (G. Weinstein & T. M. Brown) Roger’s BBQ Restaurant, Hogansville, GA, 6:30-8:30 PM
19-21 The Book Loft – Three Day Book Signings: Fri 2:00-5:00; Sat 1:00-5:00; Sun Noon – 3:00 PM, Fernandina Beach, FL
27 Sat Book Signing, Horton’s Books & Gifts, Carrollton, GA, Noon – 4:00 PM
JULY Book Events:
18 Sat Purgatory Book Signing – Pretty Good Books, Lagrange, GA 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Please visit my Facebook Author Page @TMBrownAuthor for the up-to-date latest about my coming book tour and many of the independent book retail locations where you can purchase any of the Shiloh Mystery Books. I will be updating my webpage with additional information that you might enjoy, i.e. character lists for each story and recent reviews. You can also contact me with questions, comments, or inquiries about visiting your local area or book club group.
“If you’ve never treated yourself to a novel by T.M. Brown, I recommend you start turning the pages of Purgatory, which in my estimation is pure literature. This story unfolds once again amid the patchwork of furrowed cotton and peanut fields of the South Georgia Christian community of Shiloh, where the townsfolk are getting ready to celebrate the annual Lightning Bug Festival — ol’ downhome country fun at its finest. But a storm is about to erupt. While folks fret they might lose their mayor to the Congressional swamp-water intrigue of Washington, an orphaned teenage girl appears on the scene in search of a mother who is long dead. But when one of Shiloh’s citizens purchases an armored limo with a checkered history at a Sheriff’s used-car auction, the town’s tranquility is shattered by the accumulation of dead bodies and broken hearts. Here’s a story that will keep you reading throughout the wee hours.” Jedwin Smith, author of I AM ISRAEL, Our Brother’s Keeper, and Fatal Treasure
“Purgatory, a Progeny’s Quest is the third novel in the excellent Shiloh Mystery Series and I think it is the best one yet. I’ve enjoyed reading all of T.M. Brown’s books, but I think he really knocks it out of the park with Purgatory. It’s a stunning blend of mystery, inspiration, and authentic characters and settings. The setting is a southern town named Shiloh (this fictional town is based on Newnan, Georgia) and I thought the author captures a very realistic feel of time and place. I also liked the way the author weaved Christian religious inspiration into the mystery plot of the book. I highly recommend this novel.” Lee Gimenez, Award-winning author of 15 books and Finalist for Author Academy Award
“The passage atop the day’s journal page came from Proverbs... ‘good people detest the darkness of evil; the wicked abhor the light of goodness’.” Theo’s morning devotions, Pg. 90 – Purgatory- A Progeny’s Quest
“Having read the first two books, this last in the Series exceeds all expectations; and as expected, many of the delightful characters so carefully described before have returned. Theo and Liddy have become trusted residents of Shiloh, frequently called upon for advice and guidance. Barbequed brisket, coffee from grounds carefully measured into a pot, and celebrations such as the Lightning Bug Festival, brighten their days. Just when you think it all a little too perfect, a founding family’s bloodlines are redefined and a new resident arrives. Your heart begins to race when two mysterious strangers intrude and skulk around town. When their plan escalates and lives are threatened, the town joins local deputies to discover their identities and motives. Of course, Theo is smack dab in the middle; where else would he be? There’s more than sweet tea and moss-covered oaks to this tale and Mike Brown has done Shiloh proud.” Linda J Pifer, author of Ohio Girl
“Mysteries beset the citizenry of a small southern town that exudes ‘contagious, country-fried wholeness.’ T. M. Brown peels back the layers of those mysteries like one peels an onion. As you approach the finale, better hold on to your hat!” Jameson Gregg, Georgia Author of the Year, author of Luck Be A Chicken, a comic novel
“T.M. Brown writes with subtlety, compassion, and understanding. His characters are rich, the story is compelling, and the denouement is more than satisfying. The story is funny and sad, the language is clever and poetic, and the book is nothing less than a gem. With skill and finesse, Brown moves the story forward at a measured pace as he introduces believable and sympathetic characters, and each of these brings depth and sometimes gentle humor to this finely crafted story. Purgatory—A Progeny’s Quest is a story of growth, and change, and hope, and renewal. It is a story of forgiveness. It is an extraordinary tale written by an exceptional author. I will read this book again.” Raymond L. Atkins, author of Set List, Sweetwater Blues, Camp Redemption Georgia Author of the Year
“In Purgatory – A Progeny’s Quest, book three of the Shiloh Mystery Series, T. M. Brown delivers another satisfying read of Southern Fiction with a strong sense of place and memorable characters. Theo and Liddy Phillips right the wrongs of broken lives and hearts with Christian hope.” – Johnnie Bernhard, author of Sisters of the Undertow and How We Came to Be
“The long-awaited finale of the Shiloh Series doesn’t disappoint. With barbecue, lightning bugs, and delightful dialogue. T.M. Brown delivers a gem of a southern novel to his faithful followers.” Renea Winchester, Outbound Train and Farming Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches
“TM Brown explores the intricate web of deception and family bonds in his new novel, Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest. Purgatory is the third book in Brown’s Shiloh Mystery Series.
“Like his previous novels, Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories and Testament, An Unexpected Return, his newest novel Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest is set in the small town of Shiloh, Georgia. Since moving to Shiloh, Theo and Liddy Phillips have learned this small town has its share of buried secrets and mysteries. When an unexpected visitor with a dark secret shows up on their doorstep asking for help, the two are catapulted into another Shiloh mystery. As Theo begins to unravel the first mystery, a strange turn of events brings danger to their town putting lives in peril.
“Purgatoryexplores forgiveness and the true meaning of family. The heart of this novel is the character development. The author has the ability to make you fall in love with his colorful characters. I found Purgatory both entertaining and refreshing. It is a page-turner suitable for all audiences.” – Dana Ridenour, award-winning author of Behind The Mask, Beyond The Cabin, and Below The Radar.
“Small-town shenanigans, Southern style. Theo Phillips and his wife Libby live in Shiloh, Georgia, a town graced with a mess of colorful characters and a passel of predicaments. Whether he is writing an article about the Miss Shiloh contest, advising a friend on fatherhood, pondering the political future of the town’s mayor, or struggling with how to best help an orphaned teenager, Theo faces all life throws at him with his wife Libby by his side and his faith to guide him. Thanks for the opportunity to read Purgatory.” Christopher Swann, author of Shadows of the Lions and Never Turn Back
“As always, author T.M. Brown does not fail in making his reader feel right at home in his novels. Opening up this book, I was transported right back to where I was last time I visited Shiloh in Testament. Those of you who have not yet stopped into Shiloh for a visit may want to retrace your steps and begin with Sanctuary, the first novel. Make sure that you have Testament on order, and prepare for a long, comfortable visit with Theo and Liddy, the Archers, and the rest of the locals in Shiloh.“
Believe with all your heart that God alone is the master of your life and then reflect that belief each day through every word spoken and deed performed even when it means unconditionally caring for the needs of others above your own. -Theo Phillips, TM Brown
“In Purgatory, familiar characters fill the pages, coming together to support and assist the young and orphaned Pepper. Knowing only who her mother was, and reeling from the loss of her beloved grandmother, this stoic and lovable freckle-faced teen will slide right into your heart. Throughout the novel, various characters we have heard of or met briefly in the past, show up to worry the townsfolk after Zeb, one of Theo’s good friends, purchases an armored limo at auction. Shady people start hanging around town amidst the summer celebrations, and we once again find retired, mild-mannered Theo at the center of a high-energy plot. The story unfolds as smooth as silk, words turn to images as you flip page after page, lost within the grip of a master storyteller’s tale. Theo’s devotional journal will bring clarity to your own life, as well his, as you ponder the daily events afoot in this small town. The plot twist comes when you least expect it, adding a mix of suspense and real worry for the characters you have come to adore. I’d say more, but then you’d get the whole story – this is a MUST READ for the summer!
“You will not be disappointed in this heroic tale set in the fictitious, rural town of Shiloh, Ga. Heroic actions and steadfast devotion keep the plot moving and you on the edge of your seat. I honestly could not put this book down. Five stars!
“Thank you Mike for the note that Theo and Liddy will return once more, although outside their hometown of Shiloh. I’ll be patiently waiting!“🥰
Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest NEW official launch date is May 26th, and stay tuned as the book tour is adjusting thanks to the COVID calendar detours. Book launch events will begin Memorial Day Week. We are waiting on the “green-light” from Gov Kemp in Georgia to firm up and adjust the book tour schedule. WATCH FOR THE ADVANCE REVIEWS THAT WILL ADD TO THE EXCITEMENT OF PURGATORY’S BOOK LAUNCH.
How is it Margaret Mitchell, Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Erskine Caldwell, James Dickey, Pat Conroy and the legacy of so many other great Southern authors have endured long after they left us? And, today Southern authors like Fannie Flagg, Alice Walker, Kathryn Stockett, Jeswyn Ward, Charles Frazier, Greg Iles, Charles Martin, Rick Bragg, and even John Grisham are still securing their legacy for future generations.
Let’s not forget the endless stream of fresh literary voices beckoning us with new Southern-laced literary works that supply the timeless and borderless demand for memorable flawed heroes, victims, and villains depicted in colorful Southern settings dealing with 21st-Century challenges and changes.
What constitutes a great Southern story?
First of all, truth be told, I don’t know how to write the next best-selling Southern Novel. Of course, if I did happen to know how, I’d be too busy writing it and more than likely have my eyes cast on writing at least three. Three best-selling Southern novels would leave the kind of legacy that any writer would only dream about. But at least I know one when I see one. That’s because really great best-selling Southern novels are discovered, not written. In fact, none of the aforementioned authors began writing the next great Southern novel. They merely wrote what resided within them to write.
The indelible mark of Southern Author
Being reared in the South leaves an indelible mark on one’s soul where inspiration and motivation sprouts from fertile memories, the good and the bad, to write compelling stories. Aspiring writers with souls stained and strained growing up in the South cannot write anything else worthwhile. Southern stories are written experientially. An author might learn the mechanics of creative writing, but no classroom can replicate growing up and experiencing life in the South. There’s no better fodder for storytelling than lending an ear to the tall-tales of folks spinning yarns in the South. Such tales may be heard eating dinner, attending church, getting a haircut at a local barbershop, or at a beauty parlor for the women-folk, but let’s not neglect sitting on a neighbor’s porch.
The Southern Author Is Too Polite to Name Names
I have learned one thing in my sixty-eight years, fiction is just the truth and reality wearing a mask and being stretched a might to be more palatable, and often more plausible. You see, more than not, the truth just ain’t as believable as the tall-tales that follow.
Now there are certain trademarks of any Southern story, they revolve around food, family, friendships, faith, and football. Right off, if any story fails to mention the sipping, swallowing, or gulping of sweet tea, consider it suspect right away. Also, in the South, a coke may not mean a Coca-Cola, and whiskey didn’t originate here, but it was perfected here. In fact, the tales of Cooter Brown’s perpetual drunkenness is a Southern-rooted legend.
Grits, gravy, and greens are menu staples, morning, noon and night. Anything else worth eating is also usually fried. Peaches, pecans, and peanuts are the foundation of many epic desserts too.
In the South, Change Arrives Reluctantly
It may be the 21st-Century, however, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir” are not derisive retorts but words of respect to our elders. Boys and grown men instinctively grab the door for a woman or young lady. Now, that’s not saying Southern gals don’t have spunk. Lord, just rile a Southern girl and you’ll learn right quick they invented sass. They also know, you know, you likely deserved it.
The 21st-Century Southern woman exited the confines of the kitchen and no longer remains in the shadows cast by men. She forges her own identity in society and dares men to catch up to her.
Some Traditions Linger
Of course, when someone approaches on a backroad, there will be a casual exchange of raised fingers atop their respective steering wheels. It’s an evolution of the tradition that declares in the South no one stays a stranger for long. Handshakes and howdies transform strangers into friends whether visiting or just passing through. What has changed is the inclusion of women in those customary exchanges.
But Some Traditions Remain Steadfast in the South
Last but not least, it’s downright hard to distinguish faith from football conversations. They both can offer the same fervor. In the South, the Lord’s Day is Sunday and everyone agrees that God graces every church, small or large, but Saturday, God sports our team colors, sits on our side of the field and favors our victories.
Now there’s a heap more we could wrangle back and forth about on this subject, but I reckon you’ve got the gist. We may not always be able to plainly define it, but we sure know when we have read a great Southern novel. When we come to the last page and close the book we feel sad because it ended.
T. M. Brown
Coming May 5, 2020, Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest, book three in the Shiloh Mystery Series. Watch for more news about book three in the coming weeks. But I can tell you, Theo just can’t seem to avoid being in the middle of the threats to the peace and tranquility of lil’ ol’ Shiloh. Some family trees get shaken and familiar characters face life and death decisions in the next story.
Right after a potential reader sets their eyes on your book cover, the next critical test to pique the interest of the reader is page one of the story. Does it beg the reader to read more?
For this reason, I begin and end writing and editing with the first page. Like in real life, “first impressions matter” in establishing relationships. We don’t often get many second chances. Neither do our books should the first impression fail to pique a curious reader’s interest.
As an independent author, my books do not have the advertising and promotional blitz advantage afforded by the top publishers hawking their stable of best-selling authors. T. M. Brown does not have the name recognition of best-selling authors, such as Grisham, Patterson, Baldacci, Karon, Blackstock, etc. Like the myriad of other new books published this year, the majority lacking the deep pockets and name recognition, success boils down to passing the sensory appeal test.
What is the sensory appeal test? Does the book cover stand out when on display amongst the notable NYC published best sellers, or does it shrink almost unnoticed, overshadowed by more noticeable book covers?
Maybe its the competitive nature within me, but I desire my books to compete among the notables, the best-sellers. I prefer my books to be on the eye level front shelves in the bookstore; not relegated to shelves set aside in the back of the store. Why is that important? Okay, T. M. Brown is not a household name in the literary world, but when my book covers are displayed beside notable names that readers seek, Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories and Testament, An Unexpected Return are exposed to more potential readers. BUT, now the sensory appeal test begins.
When either of my book covers catches the eye of a perusing reader and they pause to slide the book off the shelf for a closer look, the reader’s keen senses in the next few seconds decide the fate of my book. Without the notoriety of the more familiar author Dan Brown, it is the front cover which then earns an extended feel of the book.
My publisher utilizes heavier stock paper to print its books, and it is noticeable to the feel. The reader then flips to the back cover and peruses the carefully edited snippets about the book. If the book cover has passed the initial sensory appeal test the reader invests another critical moment and thumbs through the pages before eyeing the first page. Those first 200 or so words reign supreme over the next few seconds as the reader weighs the quality of the content of this interesting new author’s novel. Should by chance the reader flip the page or closes the book but runs their hand over the cover once again, chances are a decision is underway. In that brief moment, the weight of the first page matters.
Now It’s Your Turn
Now it’s your turn. What do you think? How much time do you give to selecting out a good novel to read? Are you narrowly focused on tried and tested bestsellers? Are you a reader who more often than not feels dissatisfied by the novels being hyped and peddled by the big New York City publishing houses. Sadly, there is more and more pressure for the assembly production of novels by notable authors. They are easy to recognize because the author name takes up the top half of the front cover. They are promoting the author’s reputation, not the story inside.
So how do my books stack up? Do the first pages cause you to consider reading more?
(Click the hot link above to see the full interview at the ACFW webpage)
By Tiffany Amber Stockton – July 2, 2018
T. M. “Mike” Brown has recently released his second novel, Testament, the sequel to the award-winning, Sanctuary.
Welcome, Mike. What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Life offers unexpected twists and turns, but God designed this roller coaster ride we refer to as life. At every twist and turn lies a choice to be made – some clear-cut and others not so much, but each decision usually rests between what is right and what may seem best. Whether what is right and what appears as best are compatible or in conflict, we should always trust what is right and allow God to use our circumstances for His glory, even if the choice embarks us onto an uncharted and uncertain path. It’s amazing how our faith strengthens when our future appears bleak, and shadows lurk at every turn we can see.
Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Never allow your judgment to be clouded by fancy promises and lots of smiles and friendly handshakes. Do your due diligence. The publishing journey entails what appears to be unwelcome pitstops and painful advice. There are no shortcuts to success. Embrace the pitstops and opinions provided, and invest in and trust your editor. Proofread before you submit to your publisher and again after they hand you the advance reader copy of your book. Take the extra time to proof carefully. It’s kinda like inspecting your child before his or her first prom dance.
How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
As a former preacher and teacher, my faith and spiritual walk played a sizable part in deciding my stories. I decided to write to the broad audience and use Southern small-town life as my setting so it would naturally interject some of my faith values and spiritual dilemma decision-making without preaching a good story. Those who have a firm church foundation will get a slightly different take on my stories than a non-churched reader. I have found this to be very accurate in book club discussions by the nature of the questions and responses shared. I am a firm believer that we should eagerly cross the bridge to meet people where they are at in life without casting judgment, and hopefully bonding on familiar ground. In the end, I pray those seeking God no matter their background will hear a message that helps them in their search.
On a quick note: The most memorable portions of the biblical narrative are not verbatim verses we struggle to memorize but the stories and parables we learn early in life that speak about God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.
What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
That is a tough one. Seems something new is around every corner. The celebrity aspect makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable. However, a better answer would be the cumulative moments that have created memories of how my wife and family have been with me throughout the journey. Connie, my wife of the past 45 years, travels to every event and invests her talents to help make each event special for everyone we meet. For this reason, I believe the most significant moment of my writing/publishing lies yet around the next corner.
What have you learned from writing a sequel?
The sequel is always more comfortable to write than the first! There was so much I learned writing Sanctuary. First of all, I did not have a sequel in view when writing it. It wasn’t until some of my Beta readers urged me to write a sequel and my publisher then asked if I would consider it too. Thankfully, my editor and writing coach smiled and remained on board for the year it took to complete the sequel. A far cry from the nearly 2-1/2 years for the first.
What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I write what I know best. I love Southern time-lost towns. They offer the most intriguing settings and indeed the most entertaining character opportunities. Besides my father and his parents had country roots in Georgia, and through the writing of my stories I reconnected and recognized why my father raised us as he did through my siblings and me were raised in suburban settings and far from the countryside he used to talk about. I miss my father and grandfather but found in writing my stories many long-forgotten memories, and tall-tales about our family surfaced and became a part of my stories.
You have a significant amount of Biblical, theological, and literary history featured in the background story for Sanctuary. How did this passion for history come about?
One cannot look to the future without knowing where you have traveled from. I learned at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy, you plot your ship’s course beginning from where you’ve traveled to where you want to go. My love for history is quite the same. If you neglect the past, you’ll most likely make the same mistakes and continue to wander off course. In seminary, I majored in Church History which has helped me to teach biblical studies from the position of knowing the context of the biblical passages to understand and apply the content to life today. In Testament, I added more history to my little town of Shiloh because I believe, what has played out in the past ultimately shapes what and why the future reveals. It is writing the context to explain the content of the present story…
What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
My grandkids will read my stories more readily than my biblical writing and sermons, or any of my expository papers about my beliefs. So, as I said above, my wife reminded me the value of stories and parables which planted the seed for what turned out to become the Shiloh mystery stories.
Of course, someday I may sit down and rewrite to publish some of my biblical studies as I had planned, but for now, I’m enjoying entering lil’ ol’ Shiloh with all its colorful and quirky characters whispering in my head nearly every day. Besides, I can work through Dr. Arnie Wright, Shiloh’s Baptist preacher boy, to communicate valuable messages I’d like to share.
How do you feel the setting a small town differs from a more suburban or urban setting? What do small towns offer that the suburbs might not?
That’s easy. Faith, family, food, and yes, even football have a life of its own in a small southern town. Church-life is more social and connected by bonds of multi-generational families. Country cooking is the grease that spins tall-tales faster and spreads gossip further. Maybe it’s the sweet tea, peach cobbler, fried chicken, smoked ribs, grits, and handmade biscuits. Of course, cooking in the kitchen is an art, a way of life in the country that suburbanites or citified folks just don’t rightly understand. In the small-towns, life just moves at its own pace, and it’s the seasons, the sun rising and setting, and the weather that dictates what any particular day holds. In small-towns, knowing other people’s business ain’t being nosey, it’s just neighborly. As a result, there are less locked doors and more handshakes shared in small towns.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Sharing time with my family, mainly my five grandkids. They’re growing up faster with each new day. When not with the grandchildren, Connie and I enjoy our expanding author network and find opportunities to help other aspiring writers when we can.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
Baldacci’s, The Fix right now, but Terry Kay’s, The Kidnapping of Aaron Greene is next up. Of course, my reading takes second place to my writing so I don’t read as much as I would like.
Finish this statement: In the future, I will…
Hopefully look down from heaven and smile as my granddaughter shares the book her “Poppy” wrote with her granddaughter. She’ll laugh as she points to where she makes her cameo appearances in my stories along with her brothers and cousins, and of course, “Grammy” too.
Any parting words?
Enjoy the journey on which you are engaged. Laugh at yourself and with others. Success is a journey, not a destination, and comes sans any shortcuts. Allow God the final word on all decisions you get to make in life.
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works in the health & wellness and personal development industries, helping others become their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a Shiba Inu-mix named Nova. She has sold over 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader’s choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. www.amberstockton.com.
Testament, An Unexpected Return (ISBN 9781641110846)
Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories (ISBN 9781641110730)
Go to the bookstore tab to order your copy of either or both novels. Available in Kindle or Paperback. You can also email me to discover the nearest indie bookstore to you to get your copies as well.