Category Archives: Awesome Authors

Awesome Authors–T.D. McKinnon

Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview TD McKinnon,  author of multiple genres including speculative fiction, sci-fi and adventure-thrillers. Along with his eclectic writing interests, TD is a fellow Indies Unlimited contributor, an expert martial artist, and all around lovely human being.

Photo of TD McKinnon

TD McKinnon

(From his bio):

Born in Scotland in 1950 and raised in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England, T.D. McKinnon joined the British Parachute Regiment when he was just fifteen years old.  After spending five years in the British army he worked at a number of occupations, but for many years he was in high risk security.  A martial arts master in several forms he represented at national level, both in Scotland and Australia, and became a national referee.  Among many high-profile clients, his close personal protection company was responsible for the protection of a member of the Spanish royal family, and was also part of the local contingent, anti terrorist, security team for President George H W Bush’s Australian visit. 

Whilst at school, T.D. Mc Kinnon displayed a natural talent for writing, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, after moving to Australia, that he began writing again; submitting articles and short stories to various magazines, including Impact, Blitz and Combat, martial arts magazines, The Green Earth, an environmental newspaper, and  Cosmopolitan, to name a few.  However, it wasn’t until semi-retiring and moving to Tasmania in 2004 that he began writing seriously. Since then, writing prolifically, he has published five books, contributed to a children’s story book, has several projects currently in progress, and is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.

D: Hi TD! Thanks for being here 🙂

T: It’s my pleasure entirely, DV.  Thank you for the opportunity.

D: Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

T: I’m originally from Scotland, and I now live in North West Tasmania with my wife, Zoë, where I moved in 2004 to concentrate on my writing.  Since then I have completed five books.

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

T: Many things can inspire me to write; usually it’s an idea that just won’t leave me alone.  My natural inclination has always been to write: to express myself, to work out a problem or look at an idea that has sprung to life in my head.  For instance, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood was something I had to get out of my system; it wasn’t until I wrote it that I was truly cured of my childhood devils.Cover for Surviving the Battleground of Childhood

 “…In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified…”

Ideas come to me (sometimes in the dead of night) and, soon there after the characters speak to me, the story just cries out to be told.  It’s not like I have a choice.  I am quite an emotional person, and so I might be motivated by something that makes me angry, like injustice, for instance.  The outrageous injustice of a half buried, half told story about a chapter of Tasmania’s past inspired me to write Terra Nullius.

Injustice also inspired Utrinque Paratus; the story has a lot of truth wrapped up in it you see – some mine and some of several other people I know.  In my story I right the injustices that in reality weren’t necessarily rectified.

cover for Utrinque ParatusEach of my stories has enough truth in them for me to believe, to be involved and be totally invested in them.  Inspired by hope, Psychic Warrior is one of those stories that would wake me in the night; some might call it dreams but to me it’s a very personal story, containing a large portion of personal truth.  Lynne Cantwell said of Psychic Warrior:

I would put it squarely in the sci-fi quadrant of the speculative fiction roundhouse, except for a ‘whoa!’ twist at the very end that kind of made me wonder what McKinnon was on when he wrote it.  And I mean that in a good way.  And when you get to the last few pages of the book and go, ‘whoa!’ let me know what genre you think it ought to go into.”

D: Now, that’s an intriguing review! When did you realize you wanted to write?cover for Heathy Skye Wilson is the Psychic Warrior

T: I was seven years old and after coming first in my school year’s writing competition I was given pride of place at the school open-day.  After reading my story, Snowdrop the Polar Bear, the headmistress smilingly announced, “I do believe we have a budding author in our midst.”  Even though it would be fifty years before I published my first book; I knew from that moment that I was a writer.  By the way, I remember being motivated to write that story after first hearing about animals being killed for their skins.

D: What has your road to publication been like? What made you decide to ‘go indie’?

T: I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of rejections I received for my first book – firstly by the Big Six, and then by every major authors agent I could find to apply to; and that was at a time when most of them required hard copy submissions.  Eventually, my first book, Surviving the Battleground of Childhood, a memoir – the title gives a broad indication of the subject matter – was traditionally published by a small, UK publisher in 2008.  I traveled to the UK to do a four-week book signing tour at the Waterstones book stores, in and around the places I grew up; and although the tour went well, sales began stalling as soon as I returned to Australia.  Returning to Australia I did the same thing, with the same results.

cover for I was a Teenage Devil-But I'm alright Now!During all of that time, you can imagine there wasn’t much writing being done; having had enough of the getting published game, I went back to writing.  During the following three years I completed the sequel to Surviving: I was a Teenage Devil – But I’m Alright Now! which covers my time in the British Parachute Regiment (the infamous Red Devils).  I also wrote John Farrell is Utrinque Paratus, an adventure/thriller; Heather Skye Wilson is The Psychic Warrior, a speculative fiction; and Terra Nullius an historical fiction.  Along the way I was hearing more and more about the ePublishing scene and when I had five completed works, I finally decided to take the plunge.  That was at the beginning of 2012.

D: You write in several different genres: speculative fiction, memoir, historical fiction, action-thrillers. Which genre do you prefer?

T: Just as I don’t have a genre preference for reading, I don’t really have a genre preference for writing, and the best way I can answer that question is to say…  The one I am invested in at the time; if that makes any sense to you.

D: More than you know 🙂 What are you working on now?

T: I’m just finishing off a sci-fi novelette, which I’ve been going back and forward to for some time.  I am also in the process of writing an historical fiction based on the true story of the tragic events following the Battle of Culloden Moor (the last battle between the Scots and the English in the 18th century), which is redolent with history, mystery, deception and atrocities committed by the marauding English troops of the Duke of Cumberland; the real reason why, even to this day (just under the surface), the Scots despise the English.

D: I know of several friends who are interested in the Battle of Culloden Moor. Most are of Scottish ancestry. I’ll let them know when it’s released 🙂

What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a certain word count? Do you have a ritual that you enjoy doing before sitting down to write?

T: After helping Zoë with the cats, I meditate and stretch most mornings, but truthfully, DV, I am not a very disciplined writer.  I can write up a storm when the mood, or rather the muse, takes me.  However, too often life gets in the way.  Unfortunately I still need to earn a crust doing things nonliterary, and along with one or two other commitments, as well as no longer being a young man, I am bound by certain physical limitations.

“…I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, if you don’t know it, research it!”

D: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

T: I must admit that a deadline does make me perform; I don’t like them… but sometimes they might be necessary to make me shake a leg.

D: How much research do you do when you write your books?

T: That very much depends on what I’m writing; sometimes a lot of research is necessary, while at other times I need to do a damn sight more.  Seriously though, there is research to do no matter what the genre.  I have a good general knowledge in the areas I write, and we all have (what might be termed) specialist areas; I certainly utilise mine accordingly.  I also know my shortfalls (in terms of knowledge base) and do the applicable research.  This subject gets touched upon all the time at Indies Unlimited and I believe the general consensus is, not so much ‘write what you know’ as, ‘know what you write.’  In other words, ‘If you don’t know it, research it!’

D: In light of the huge changes in publishing, where do you think the industry is headed? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

T: For the industry: I see hard copy books always being there, but as a niche market.  I see the big publishers scrambling for a place in tomorrow’s (into the future) market.  I see the independents dominating for a while but, as will always happen in a capitalist, structured society, someone will find a way to take control, capitalise and profiteer.  Hopefully, it will still be a better environment for serious authors, than the one we are currently leaving behind and, hopefully, a discerning, reading public will be the ultimate decision makers.

 On a personal level: over the years, as I was (honouring my commitments) doing what I was able in respect of supporting and bringing up a family et cetera, I was squirreling away ideas, concepts, story outlines (I have more than fifty projects at various stages) and basically preparing to do what I really wanted to do; and that is to write stories until I shrug off this mortal coil.  In real terms I have only just begun, I have confidence in the quality of my writing and I am counting on that discerning, reading public I mentioned to continue to take me, more and more, to their hearts.  As far as career goals, if that’s what you’re talking about (five-year plan); I will continue to ePublish, and if someone taps me on the shoulder and offers to do hard copies I’ll consider it.  I will always be open to movie offers of course… ha ha.  For various reasons, since the ePublishing move, I’ve been a bit slack in terms of completing another writing project (publishing another book) but I see for the future, on average, one or two books per year.

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

cover for Terra NulliusT: Writers write; what I’m saying is, if you are a writer, new or otherwise, you really have no choice about whether you will write or not.  You can choose how much and what direction you might take.  I believe you should write what pleases you most, what gives you the most value fulfillment.  Learn your chops, of course, by whatever means is available, and give some thought about what you want to achieve from your writing.  I would also advise that your incentive not be money.  If you, by your writing, happen to make money that’s excellent, but if money is the motivation you could be looking at a whole lot of misery; you would be better advised to seek your fortune elsewhere.  There has never been a better time for writers to get their work to an audience; however, you will be competing for readers in a saturated marketplace.

D: If you could time travel, either to the past or into the future, where would you go?

T: Hmm… interesting question, DV, and I would answer with a definite, ‘it depends on the rules!’ I know, I know… as it is not technically possible to time travel, the rules are what you make them.  OK, I was a collaborating author on a time traveling children’s story book, A Tumble in Time, in which I wrote the concluding two chapters.  When you write about time travel there has to be rules, they can be loose or they can be tight, but there has to be rules.  This was a children’s book (aimed at primary school children) and so the principles had to be fairly simple: you could not time travel to a time/space coordinate where you already existed, so you could go forward to anywhere because once you disappeared from this time you weren’t anywhere in the future until you turned up there; however, going back, the fabric of time would not accept you between your birth and the moment you disappeared.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?

My personal beliefs concerning time are far more complex: there are an infinite number of probable moment points – in the present, past and future – and, hypothetically, we slip seamlessly from one to another in our present all the time, depending on the choices we make.  So, if I could time travel, there would be no restrictions except perhaps that I could only visit a recent probable past in which I wasn’t currently taking part.  Seriously though, the simple answer to your question would be that I wouldn’t mind a peek at one million years in the future; it would be interesting to see if the human race is still around; because if it is, it will have had to evolve somewhat, both ethically and psychically.  Of one thing I’m sure, should we survive, we will still be telling stories and writing books in some manner.

D: Great answer 🙂 Thank you again for being here today, TD, is there anything you’d like to add?

T: Just that, as an independent author, there is a vast amount of work involved outside of the writing part; that can be said to be (for a writer) the easy part.  There is so much more to do, and I know that some independent authors manage it all by themselves; however, the majority of us have a lot of support from various sources.  You need the support of people who care.  I am very fortunate in that my wife, Zoë Lake, is an extremely talented individual, who handles most of the tasks and responsibilities, outside of actually writing my books, including proof reading and editing everything I write, book cover designs and artwork.  Zoë designed and constructed my website: http://www.tdmckinnon.com/ and she is my strongest advocate, my harshest critic, and my inspiration.  She also produced, directed, wrote my introduction speech, and did the voice over, on my recent YouTube promotion for Terra Nullius:

 So, for any writers out there thinking of going the Indie route, there is a lot to consider.  A good support group of people in a similar position is a wise idea too: for ideas, tips, general guidance and just to know that you are not alone.  I’ve looked at a few and rejected most; I was extremely fortunate here also to stumble across the best bunch of online, fellow independents you could wish to meet: at Indies Unlimited.  Being an independent author is not an easy route, but it is a very liberating road.

Thank you again, DV, for the opportunity to be here today.

D: Here’s a short excerpt from TD’s adventure-thriller, John Farrel is Utrinque Paratus:

EXCERPT

Breakfasting with MacGreggor and Bell, while making our training arrangements for the day, I slip in a casual, “I wonder what makes winning a relatively unimportant, unofficial competition so important to your boss?” In my peripheral vision, I observe the effects of my apparently casual comment, while seemingly focussed on my steak, eggs and mushrooms.

Dinga Bell seems to be sneering, and I don’t get the impression it’s directed at me; Alec MacGreggor shoots me an anxious glance before bringing his demeanour under control. But it’s Bell who, after a moment, says, “Fuckin’ stupit, if y’ ask me!”

“Naibdy’s askin’ you!” snaps MacGreggor, “An’ A’ve telt ye afore… A bit o’ respect!”

“Fuck you!” snarls Bell, defiantly, giving MacGreggor a full blast of those malevolent, cold eyes.

What happens next takes me completely by surprise as MacGreggor, moving extremely fast for such a big man, knocks the breakfast table across the room with a sweep of one brawny arm while reaching for Bell with the other. Bell is on his feet in an instant, a bone handled, open bladed razor suddenly in his hand. Flashing twice, the wicked blade lops three fingers from MacGreggor’s reaching right hand and opens up his face in a diagonal slice, like a ripe melon, from the corner of his right eye to the left-hand corner of his big, lantern jaw!

Instinctively moving back from the mêlée, I observe with a vague feeling of detachment as MacGreggor, initially not realising the extent of the damage, attempts to say something, but of course his mouth won’t work. Then the bleeding starts and, stunned, he looks down at his hand.

Bell, showing no emotion at all, backs off a step, glances briefly at me and wipes his razor on the white tablecloth from the next table; folding and putting away his blade, he casually turns and walks out of the dining room.

Ten minutes later, the hotel staff assisting throughout, I have a tourniquet on MacGreggor’s right wrist, his fingers are in an ice bucket, and with the help of a tablecloth I’m making an effort to hold his face together until the ambulance arrives. Had we not reacted promptly MacGreggor would probably have died from loss of blood. It’s going to be touch and go as it is.

 It’s at this point Sandy Campbell walks in. Giving me a perfunctory nod, he sits down and puts a gentle hand on MacGreggor’s shoulder.

“Oh… Alec… I told you to be careful of that wee boy,” he says soothingly, and as MacGreggor tries to respond he adds. “Hush now… don’t try to speak, I’ll hear all about it from Mr. Farrell here, later. You just relax, the ambulance will be here any second now, and they’ll have you fixed up in no time.” As if on cue the double doors to the dining room burst open and the ambulance men come rushing in.

END EXCERPT

To find out more about TD, check out his links below:

http://www.tdmckinnon.com

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/author-bios/

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/t-d-mckinnon/29/80/14a

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5360776.T_D_McKinnon

Mobile site QR code or type this address: m.tdmckinnon.com

 qr code for TD's website

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Awesome Authors–Lynne Cantwell

My guest today on Awesome Authors is the inimitable Lynne Cantwell. Lynne’s a fellow minion from Indies Unlimited and writes urban fantasy. Her latest works are The Pipe Woman Chronicles 5-book series and I

Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell

have to say that even though urban fantasy isn’t my go-to genre, I thoroughly enjoyed Seized, the first book in the series. So much so that I’ve downloaded the rest and plan to read them soon. Here’s her bio:

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. In addition to writing fantasy, Lynne is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited. Her vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate. She currently lives near Washington, DC.

D: Welcome, Lynne! Thanks for stopping by. Please tell us a little about yourself.

L: Thanks for having me, D.V.! Umm, let’s see, fun facts to know and tell: I’ve got two twentysomething daughters, one of whom writes fanfiction and has more fans than I do. Howard Dean once called me from a humvee in the middle of a Vermont ice storm. But my most recent claim to fame is that I’ve been to all 50 states in the U.S.; I nailed the last one, Alaska, in May.

D: That’s fantastic! Congratulations 🙂 You’ve just completed the Pipe Woman Chronicles. Could you tell us the idea behind this five-book series? Is there an underlying theme?

L: Maybe the underlying theme is respect. I have a lot of trouble personally with the knee-jerk Good vs. Evil dichotomy that is ingrained in Western thought. I think a lot of the world’s problems would be easier to solve if we didn’t keep demonizing people whose appearance and/or beliefs are different from our own. So I deliberately didn’t put any characters into the series who personify Evil; everybody’s got a credible reason for doing what they do. And there are no perfectly Good characters, either; sometimes even the gods screw up. Yet the gods, unlike humans, all respect one another.

Seized--Book 1

Seized–Book 1

D: Why did you decide to write urban fantasy?

L: Back in 2011, when I was casting about for a plot for National Novel Writing Month, a friend who was into urban fantasy began passing along her used paperbacks to me. After I read a number of books in the genre, I decided to try my hand at writing my own. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!

D: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

L: Hmm. Define “author.” I mean, I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. I wrote my first book when I was in the second grade (not that I’d advise anyone to read it!). And over the years, I tried, off and on, to get an agent or sell my short stories. But getting a novel published has always been on my bucket list.

D: Why did you choose indie publishing instead of going the traditional route?

L: My first novel, The Maidens’ War, was published in 2010 by a small press called Calderwood Books. When I had SwanSong ready to go, Calderwood had not yet started listing its books on Amazon, which was a marketplace I very much wanted to be in. So I figured out how to do it myself, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve been an indie ever since.

D: What are you working on now?

L: I’m just starting to work on a trilogy that will be set in the same fictional universe as the Pipe Woman Chronicles. It will take place about ten years after the end of Annealed, mostly with new characters.

D: Another great set of books to read 🙂 Where do you see yourself (and indie publishing) in five years?

L: Last year, I put myself on a seven-year plan: I’ll be eligible for early retirement in 2019, but I can quit sooner if I get to the point where I’m supporting myself with my book sales. Fingers crossed!

As for the future of indie publishing, it’s hard to tell where we’re headed. The marketplace has such a Wild West feeling to it right now. I think big trad publishers are doing their best to implode, whether they realize it or not; the question is whether Amazon will continue to support indies, and whether someone else will come along to encourage them to keep doing it. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not an Amazon hater – not by a long shot. But it would be comforting to have another company that treats indies as well as Amazon does, both to give them some competition, and to give us somewhere else to go if the Zon decides to go in a different direction.

Fissured--Book 2

Fissured–Book 2

D: What’s your favorite genre to read?

L: Fantasy. I’m pretty much over the sword-and-sorcery and coming-of-age stuff, though. My favorite author is Stephen R. Donaldson, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the tenth and final book in his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever this fall. I also enjoyed Steven Erickson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series. And I love Graham Joyce, whose books seem to tread a fine line between fantasy and psychological horror.

Tapped--Book 3

Tapped–Book 3

D: If you could time-travel (backward or forward) where would you go and why?

L: I’ve always been intrigued by the medieval period and the Renaissance – everything from the clothing to the music. But I wouldn’t want to live there forever. With my luck, if I got stuck there, I’d be scrubbing pots in the scullery instead of sewing fine seams with the ladies.

D: What do you do when you’re not writing?

L: Other than the day job? I read, I knit, and I spend way too much time on Facebook. Sometimes I remember to go to bed.

D: Do you have any advice for new writers?

Gravid--Book 4

Gravid–Book 4

L: Stick at it! Keep writing. Then let your work sit for a few weeks, and go back and edit it. When you think you’re ready to publish, get yourself an editor – or at least some beta readers who know something about grammar, spelling, and story development, and will be honest with you about your work. In other words, when your mother tells you your book is terrific, don’t just take her word for it. Oh, and visit Indies Unlimited, where you’ll find a wealth of good advice for indie authors. (I had to get the plug in, or the Evil Mastermind would short me on gruel. You know how he gets.)

D: LOL. Yes, yes I do. Thanks again for stopping by, Lynne.

(Lynne’s information and buy links for the books are below the excerpt.)


Excerpt from Seized: Book One of the Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell:

Shannon lived in a triplex north of Sloan’s Lake, only ten minutes or so from my loft in LoDo (the nickname for Denver’s trendy, if I do say so myself, Lower Downtown neighborhood). It was a Wednesday night so traffic should have been light, but the bars were closing and the crowd was clogging up the streets. Working my ginger Nissan Cube free of LoDo at last, I pulled up behind a car that was sitting at a stop sign…and sitting…and sitting. No traffic was coming in either direction that I could see, and my earlier ebullient mood was evaporating by the second. Finally, in frustration, I cried out, “Just go, already!”

The car ahead leaped into the intersection. A horn blared as another car shot into my range of vision from the left, narrowly missing the first car. As the driver on the cross street flew by, still honking, the other driver rocked to a halt on the other side of the intersection and just sat there.

I realized my hand was covering my mouth. I pulled it away with an effort and sat for a moment, glancing between the flaring brake lights across the road and my hands trembling on the steering wheel. Finally, the other car’s brake lights went out and he, or she, drove away. Slowly and carefully, I did the same.

Shannon met me at the door, her grin dissolving into a look of concern. She snatched the cookies as if she was afraid I would drop them, then took my coat and steered me to the wicker loveseat. An opened novel sat, flipped over, on the coffee table, atop a pile of papers. She removed the aluminum foil covering the cookies and set chamomile teabags to steep in two mugs with a matching Navajo design. Then, finally, she said, “What happened?”

I told her. About the other driver, and about the settlements.

As I talked, my brain began clicking things into place. It wasn’t just that I was getting really good at my job – it was too easy. People were far too suggestible around me. The client had told Perry that I had a magic touch. That he couldn’t help agreeing with everything I said.

I could tell someone to get out of my way at an intersection, even if it put that person in danger.

“Something weird is going on,” I finished, rather lamely.

“Yes, it is,” Shannon agreed.

END EXCERPT

Purchase the Pipe Woman Chronicles:

Annealed--Book 5

Annealed–Book 5

Seized: http://www.amazon.com/Seized-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007MGRCBU
Fissured: http://www.amazon.com/Fissured-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B008ZDE6JU
Tapped: http://www.amazon.com/Tapped-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00AGPBOYK/
Gravid: http://www.amazon.com/Gravid-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00BX4AO9E/
Annealed: http://www.amazon.com/Annealed-Pipe-Woman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00CVZVHJ0/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lynnecantwell
Calderwood Books author page: http://www.calderwoodbooks.com/#/lynne-cantwell/4526227421
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/696603.Lynne_Cantwell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynne-Cantwell/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynneCantwell
Blog: http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com


Awesome Authors: Melissa Bowersock

Continuing with Awesome Authors, today I get to interview the multifaceted Melissa Bowersock. Another cool author I’ve had the good fortune to meet because of Indies Unlimited, Melissa has quite a resumé (from her bio):Melissa_Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning writer who turns her hand to any kind of story that moves her: contemporary, western, fantasy, romance, action/adventure, spiritual, satire or biography. She has written ten novels and one non-fiction and has been both traditionally published and self-published. She also writes under the name of Amber Flame, and she is a certified hypnotherapist. She thrives in the Sonoran desert of Southern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier.

D: Hi Melissa! Thanks so much for being here. I’m curious: why did you decide to become a writer?

M: Actually I think you’ve got the question backward; I never chose to be a writer—writing chose me. I’ve been writing since I was five and there was never a question about should I/shouldn’t I, never a question about can I/can’t I. I just always have. I wrote my first novel at 12 (about a girl and a horse, kind of an equine Old Yeller), and had a sequel sketched out but never wrote that one. After graduating high school, dropping out of college and getting married, working and raising kids, THEN I got back to writing again and it’s been non-stop ever since. I have often thought that if anyone suggested I not write, it would be tantamount to suggesting I cut both arms off at the shoulders. Not gonna happen.

 D: Can you tell me a little bit about your latest book?

 M: My latest, Stone’s Ghost, is a contemporary ghost story about the friendship between a living man and a female ghost. Here’s the blurb:

 Bowersock_book_coverMatthew Stone doesn’t believe in ghosts … until he meets one.  He owns a successful business in Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the famed London Bridge that was brought over stone by stone and rebuilt over the Colorado River. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, a doting mother, and more money than he needs, but no time for stories about the ghosts who were transplanted from England with the famed bridge. When a chance encounter with a female ghost leads to unexpected friendship, Matt and the ghost are forced to rely on each other as they confront the pasts that haunt them.

 D: Why did you choose to write a ghost story?

 M: Again, I have to say I didn’t choose this; it chose me. I’ve always loved the paranormal, the magical, the occult, the spiritual—anything that kicks a story up a notch from the normal and mundane. One evening when watching Arizona Highways on TV, I saw a short piece on the ghosts that haunt the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, and I thought it would be a kick to do a “fish-out-of-water” story about an English ghost having trouble adjusting to the modern Arizona desert. I envisioned it as a light, fluffy comedy, but the book and my characters had other ideas. I hadn’t written more than five or ten pages before I knew it was going to have a decidedly dark side to it and actually very little comedy. The more I wrote, the more profound the story became, and only toward the end did I realize the true core themes of the story: love and loss and friendship, mistakes and consequences and redemption. The really great news is that, even if I didn’t write the story I thought I was going to, I love this book.

If I try to micro-manage the story too much, it becomes too mechanical; I like to leave lots of wriggle-room for the creative process.

D: Who designs your covers?

 M: I generally do my own, so the design was mine. I have a habit of doing Google searches on images, grabbing the ones I like, then cobbling them together in my graphics program and playing around with layout and placement. When I got the cover just the way I wanted it, I sent my low-res Frankensteined image to Brenda Remlinger of http://www.coversbydesign.com. She then does the professional, hi-res (legal) version of it. She’s great to work with: fast and efficient.

D: Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? 

 M: I am definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer. I might have a list of 5 or so bullet points, just the pivotal action or main plot points, which I will add to as I go, but it’s more of a suggestion than a guideline. If I try to micro-manage the story too much, it becomes too mechanical; I like to leave lots of wriggle-room for the creative process. That’s when the magic happens and the story writes itself. Very often I have no clue what I’m going to write until it’s on the paper, and I’m often surprised by what comes out. The writing process for me is as much of a discovery as it is for the readers reading the story. We both wonder how it’s going to turn out!

D: What are you working on now?

M: At the moment, I’m completely occupied by the launch of Stone’s Ghost. I decided to have an online party to celebrate the new book, and it’s turning into quite a production. The party date is July 26, 2013, but I’ve already set up a Facebook event page called the Friendly Ghost Party (https://www.facebook.com/events/142948992566792/) where I’m asking folks to post any ghost-related pictures. We’ve already got several pics, some video, even cartoons, and this contest is open to anyone. On July 26, the pic with the most likes will win a prize package. At the same time, I’m posting all the information on my blog at www.mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com and asking folks to post short ghost stories in the comments section. Again, on July 26, I will choose a random winner out of a hat for a prize package. In the meantime, several bloggers have agreed to co-host the party, and I’m working up a menu for a virtual buffet so party-goers can visit one blog for food, one for drinks, etc. All the food is ghost-related, and I’ll have links to the recipes (in case people are looking for ideas for Halloween!). I will also have a giveaway on Goodreads the week before, and finally I plan to lower the price for the Kindle version of the new book (and all the books on my back list) to 99 cents for that day only. I think it’s going to be quite a celebration! Everyone is welcome to drop by, post pics or stories for the contests and maybe win a prize.

I decided to have an online party to celebrate the new book, and it’s turning into quite a production.

 D: Sounds like fun! I’ll have to stop by 🙂 Where do you see yourself in five years?

 M: The plan is to be hunkered down in a small town in central Arizona, retired from my day job, writing and enjoying life with my husband. We’ve lived in Tucson for 25 years and are yearning for a smaller town, less traffic, less heat, and closer to the places we love: the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. We have 12 acres near the Grand Canyon and love to park our little travel trailer up there for the summer, and we plan to get a boat so we can continue our explorations of Lake Powell. Beyond that, I’d like to do some gardening, more travel, and of course—more writing.

D: Love the Grand Canyon. I used to live in Phoenix and often camped on the south rim. Here’s another burning question: what made you decide to go indie rather than traditional publishing?

M: My first five books were traditionally published, two by a NY house and three by small presses. The experiences varied widely, but the most rewarding were the ones where I worked closely with the publisher and had input into the process (not always true). When my first two books went out of print, I began to investigate self-publishing simply to keep them viable, but I discovered how rewarding the process was, and that’s how I’ve published ever since. It’s a lot of work—writing, editing, formatting, designing the cover, uploading, and promoting—but it’s supremely satisfying. I love having total control, having my books turn out exactly as I have envisioned them. No more worrying about the title being changed, about what the cover will look like, about adding or cutting pages merely to satisfy some arbitrary idea of page count. I know when I hand my book to someone, it’s exactly the book I wrote, not someone else’s version of it.

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

M: Keep at it. Writing is not an activity that’s characterized by any overnight results. It takes time to write, time to edit, time to hone and polish, time to promote and time to build a readership. Anyone who’s looking for a get-rich-quick scheme should look elsewhere. But for those of us who can’t not write, it’s immensely satisfying to finally hold that book in our hands, to see and feel and touch that thing we’ve created. It may seem like it’s taking forever, but even if you only write one paragraph a day—one sentence, one word—you’re making progress. Keep chipping away at it and eventually you’ll get there.

 Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Melissa! Here’s an excerpt from Melissa’s new book, Stone’s Ghost:

 The London Bridge, he decided as he drove up the approach, had to be the ultimate in kitsch. Leave it to an American to bring the storied stone bridge from England and plop it down over a spit of river in the southwest desert. Before that, Lake Havasu City was nothing but a trailer park beside the Colorado River; now it was known everywhere because it had THE BRIDGE. The aged span sported Union Jacks and ornate lamp posts at intervals, objects more at home with bone-chilling fog than the hot desert air that bleached out the colors and faded the metal. It was the ultimate incongruity—

Suddenly a dark form, blacker than the night sky and human-shaped, appeared directly in front of his car. He had no time to jam on the brakes or swerve, although he did both, but before the car could respond he had barreled directly over or through the thing standing in the road. Immediately hauling the sedan over to the side of the road, he set the brake and popped the car into neutral. Without even checking for traffic, he scrambled from the car and ran back to see what he had hit. He just prayed to God it wasn’t dead.

 Heart pounding, he searched the dark roadway. It was empty. No trace of anything wet on the pavement that might have been blood, not even a stain. Even his frantic braking had not left a mark. He glanced further down the road to see if a truck or a bus had preceded him, perhaps belching exhaust or smoke, but there were no other moving vehicles anywhere. He considered a low-hanging cloud but knew no cloud ever looked like that, black and almost solid. He scanned the lanes in both directions, searched the sidewalks on both sides. Nothing. He even glanced over the sides of the bridge, noting that the ripples in the water below reflected only the normal flow of the river, nothing like what he would expect if something had fallen or jumped from the bridge. There was no evidence that there had been anything there at all.

 Breathing deeply, still shaking, he shook his head as if to clear it. He wasn’t that loaded. He hadn’t even finished his second beer. How could he have imagined something so real? He hadn’t been nodding off; he wasn’t sleepy before and certainly was not now. There was no reason for him to see something that wasn’t there. He looked again westward down the roadway toward the island; nothing there at all, not even a leaf moved in the heavy air. It just didn’t make any sense.

 He walked uneasily back to the car and examined it. The front was unmarred and shiny, as clean as the day he washed it last week. There were no dents, no bits of fur or fabric caught in the grille. He remembered the fleeting sense of the dark shape coming at the windshield but when he examined it, there were no scratches, no marks. There was nothing to indicate he had encountered anything at all.

 “This is nuts,” he said to himself. Wiping his face with a still shaking hand, he pushed the shock of thick black hair off his forehead. His reaction, the way he felt, was completely at odds with the fact that there was nothing there. Obviously there was no reason to stay, no reason to search anymore, yet he felt leaving would be irresponsible somehow. He had an uneasy sense of incompletion, yet … what was there for him to do?

 “There’s nothing here,” he said out loud. His own voice ringing in the emptiness of the night irritated him. “Screw it,” he said finally and got back into the car. Checking his mirrors, looking around in all directions, he slid the gearshift into first and pulled slowly away from the curb. Gaining speed gradually, he continued to monitor his rear view mirror as he drove on across the bridge.

 He saw nothing else all the rest of the way home.

END OF EXCERPT

 To find out more about Melissa and her writing, click on the links below:

 Website: http://www.newmoonrising.net

Blog: http://mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

LinkedIn

Amazon Author Page

Smashwords


Awesome Authors — Aron Joice

Now that Yucatan Dead’s up and running, I’m resuming the semi-bi-weekly Awesome Author interviews. Today’s guest is Aron Joice, fantasy author and animal rescuer extraordinaire. I came to know Ms. Joice through the indie network swirling around Indies Unlimited (www.indiesunlimited.com). If you have the chance, check out the informative blog–it has much to offer the indie writer, and the people who contribute and comment are some of the best folks around. So, without further fanfare, heeeeere’s Aron 🙂

photo of author Aron Joice

Aron Joice

D: Hi Aron! Thanks so much for being here. I’m curious: what made you decide to become a writer? Why did you choose fantasy as a genre?

A: I have written stories since grade school. I always had a vivid imagination, and told fantastic stories (mom called them fibs). I would get on a bus and pretend I was from France and couldn’t speak English, or I was a mysterious Indian princess. I believe I embarrassed her just a bit. She encouraged me to start writing my fantasies down and I did.

I absolutely love fantasy. My YA isn’t as sophisticated and adult as most. It really is for the younger person who loves magic worlds. Like many people I have faced some challenges where I didn’t think that I’d survive. It is a safe place for me. I have to say, I am also an avid mystery reader and devour cerebral thrillers. Fantasy is a place to escape.

D: Can youVanished tell me a little bit about your latest book? What was your favorite part about writing it?

A: Well, Vanished Book two in The Lost Children of Managrail series takes a turn from where Book one ended. The journey for the two young heirs continues and magic still abounds. Lila, heiress to the throne finally gets her act together and delivers. The entire trilogy is about complex male/female relationships. Throughout the story many have to make difficult choices realizing the end result could destroy someone they love. It is really about love and how it can heal and destroy.

I just love to write. I am a very visual person and when I write it is like there is a mini-me watching a movie of my thoughts. I even hear music. I immerse myself in the process. Yes, I’m certifiable.

D: Love your cover for The Rising. Who was the designer?TheRising

A: Thank you. She is the sorceress from the White Realm, and a real piece of work. Richard K Green handled the graphic design.

D: Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?  How long does it take you to finish a novel?

A: I’m more by the seat of my pants. I know how it will begin and I always know my ending. I give the characters free reign during the middle. I oooh a lot! I’m a sucker for action, and even though it’s fantasy, I try to make it believable

The first draft flows right along. I have never had a block where I couldn’t continue. I can finish the first draft and two rewrites in about 2-3 months, if I don’t get distracted. I love to garden and the weather is nice right now, so I’m bouncing back and forth. I do have a deadline, although it is self-imposed I want to meet it.

“It is really about love and how it can heal and destroy.”

D: What are you working on now?

 A: Union Book three, the last in the trilogy. This will be a large book for me. I pray that I deliver what is floating around in my gray cells. I also have another book that I’m working on simultaneously which isn’t YA fantasy, but adult fiction based on current events. It is very different for me. I am excited about it, but it is real life and gritty. I will publish this under another name. My YA is very innocent and it will be a shocking difference in styles. I feel a responsibility to my young readers, and I want them to grow with my characters.

D: Give us a ‘day in the life’ of author Aron Joice.

A: Can you say BORING?  I rescue animals that are abandoned, mistreated, and otherwise suffer at man’s hand. Before I have a cup of coffee their needs come first. Then breakfast, and I sit down to check my emails, and write. I’m doing very little social networking since the two books take up a good part of the day. I end every day by reading. It is the last thing I do except to say thank you for all the wonderful people I have met on my journey.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: If I’m still this side of the grass, I’ll be writing. If the world calms down, I’d like to do some traveling. I was fortunate to have seen a good part of the world in my 20’s and 30’s. Somehow I ended up in many places where young men carried M-16s. As I said, “I like adventure.” It is scary out there, but I love learning from other cultures.

“I feel a responsibility to my young readers, and I want them to grow with my characters.”

D: Where do you see the publishing industry in five years?

A: Where is my crystal ball? You know things are changing daily. I keep up with most of it, but I’m not sure. There will probably be some fantastic digital improvements, maybe interactive e Books won’t cost as much to produce. I have been interested in that for quite a while. I hope we never lose bound books. It would break my heart; there still isn’t anything like holding a book and reading it, at least to me. Traditional publishing will be forced to change; in what manner I’m not sure. It is going to get very competitive. I believe the problem with most of the world is greed, straight across the board. It is in every walk of life, and big business? What can I say? There is more people writing, reading, and it is exciting. We have to cherish this gift and pay anything good forward. I interviewed a 12-year-old writer. I absolutely loved her. Her attitude and confidence put many an adult writer to shame. She is the future and if we can mentor the young writers, they will step it up.

D: What made you decide to go indie rather than traditional publishing?

A: I knew right out of the gate the chances of getting an agent or a traditional publishing deal were slim to none. I wanted to go through the motions, get feedback, learn, and keep moving forward. I gave myself six months to get an agent; if I weren’t successful I would approach the Indie Avenue. I was greener than green. I lucked out when I found some great blogs/sites and I am so grateful for what I gleaned from all of them. I’m still polishing, asking questions, and paying attention. I have so much respect for everyone over at Indies Unlimited; there couldn’t be a better family in which to belong. (Totally agree, Aron  🙂 )

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

Love what you do, or don’t do it. Believe in yourself, and be open to constructive criticism. Let the trolls roll off your back and pity them. Pay attention; know how important social networking is in the digital age. Find a family of writers who will treat you kindly, but be honest with you. If they can do that, the rest will follow.

The following excerpt is from Vanished: Book 2 of The Lost Children of Managrail:

PROLOGUE

He remembered their childhood in a series of flashes; even then she had the power to bend him to her will. On one hot summer day, she climbed higher up the mountainside, taunting him, laughing, beckoning him to follow, and he did. That was the way it always was and had been until now….

Standing at the water’s edge, Simian watched the longboats close in on Lila. It reminded him of a hawk circling a rabbit trapped in brambles. Escape for Lila was impossible, and he didn’t care to find a solution.

Managrail had fallen, destroyed by the Fergay. Whether it was by luck or providence, many survived. Now Dirth, a village by the sea, was home, and had brought new adversaries. Moments away from capture, Lila called upon the Light Bringers for help. The magical talismans answered and she vanished.

It is time for stories of old to be retold and a council of war to form. The White Realm and the sorceress have been waiting for one hundred years.

CHAPTER 1

Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around my body. The air around me cold and still, I thought if I breathed too hard the sky would break into a million shards. Blinded by the absence of color, I tried to grapple with the starkness of my surroundings. Am I dead? Am I in heaven? That would be surprising, based on my recent behavior. Something about this place seems familiar…. Have I been here before? I remembered what the sprites had said about the White Realm when they rescued me. “Evil lives here and evil hunts for the lost.”

Well, right now, I definitely fit into the “lost” category. The White Realm. Is that where I am? I closed my eyes, sucking in the air, and heard muttering from behind me. I turned and found myself facing the bedraggled longboat crew cowering in fear. “I can’t believe this!” Just moments ago, inches from their grasp, I had disappeared into blinding rays of light shooting toward the heavens.

Now facing me, one man whispered to another, “She must be a witch. May all the gods protect us. How else did we land in hell?”

“Well, well, look who decided to join me. Now remind me, you planned to do what with me? Sell me into slavery? Tut, tut, not nice.”

“Please, lady, if we hadn’t followed our captain’s orders, we’d have been flogged or worse—keelhauled. If you are agreeable, we can be on our way. Everything forgotten?”

“To where, the sea? Can you guess where you are? For now, you stay with me, but don’t get too close,” I said, pointing my finger like a weapon. My bravado fooled them, but deep inside, I was a little shaky. I had no idea what to do. I thought I would somehow try to find a way out of this predicament.

“Follow me.”

END EXCERPT

Here’s the book trailer for The Rising: Book 1 of the Lost Children of Managrail:

To find out more about Aron and her books, click through the links below:

Aron’s Website
Connect with Aron on Twitter
Facebook
Amazon Buy Link
Smashwords Buy Link


Awesome Authors–Jennifer Conner

Today I’m excited to have prolific writer Jennifer Conner as my guest! Jennifer and I have known each other for years, ever since she left me alone on the fifth floor of a dilapidated old building during an earthquake here in Washington State in 2001…(okay, it didn’t exactly happen that way, but that’s what I like to tell people 🙂 ) She’s the person I credit with dragging me to my first writer’s group and urging me to get involved, jennifer connersomething for which I can’t thank her enough. And, she’s an all-around terrific person who gives buckets back to the indie community. So now, without further ado, heeeere’s Jennifer…

D: Hi Jennifer! Thanks for joining us. Tell us a little about yourself and what you write:

J: I’ve been a professional author for eight years. I write contemporary romance, paranormal romance, historical romance and erotica. I have three full-length novels, 2 novellas and 30 short stories in print. I also help run an indie publishing company, Books to Go Now.

D: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

J: I’ve written since I was young. As I grew older, I wanted to feel passion about something. Writing was that for me. 

“…I like to write the length I feel the story should be…”

D: Tell us about your new short story, I’LL BE SEEING YOU THROUGH TIME in two sentences.

J: It’s 1942, the world is at war when Glenn steps through a time portal and  finds himself in 2013.  Can the Dimension Keepers find a way to reunite them, or will Glenn and Jewel be ripped apart by the fabric of time forever?I'llBeSeeingYouThroughTime1 HighRes

D: Love time-travel stories! What compelled you to write this one? 

J: In my mother’s old photos, I found a portrait of a young man my mother was engaged to marry. His destroyer was torpedoed in the South Pacific and he was killed. I wondered how different her life would have been if he’d survived and come back to her. I decided to give them a happy ending.

 

D: You have over 30 short stories available online. What do you like about the form? Dislike?

J: I like to write the length I feel the story should be. That’s the fun of being with an indie publisher. I get to write the story ideas I have and make it the length it needs to be to tell a good story.

 

D: Many of your stories are about the protagonist overcoming hardship and/or disabilities. Why did you choose to go in that direction with your characters?

J: What fun are perfect people? I love good angsty characters. In my novel, SHOT IN THE DARK, Devan is a police officer who was shot and now walks with a cane. In my REGIMENTAL HEROES series, the men have PTSD after returning from war in an era when ShotintheDark 1400x2100they had no name for the disorder.

D: Do you ever include your own life experiences in your plots?

J: Of course. 🙂 As the writer’s creed goes, watch out or you’ll end up in my book! My Christmas novella, DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR contains many real life horror stories that happened when I owned my own catering business. Grooms with guns. Workers slipping and breaking their arm with 600 people waiting to be served.

D: Yikes. Reality is so much stranger than fiction, isn’t it? What are you currently working on?

J: I am working on a paranormal romance called Fighting the Fire, about a Native American girl who has uncontrollable powers and starts fires. Who else to help her other than a hunky fireman? 🙂 Also, I am going to start a series revolving around dogs.

“…Like most writer’s journeys, my road’s been rocky…”

D: Tell us about your road to publication. What words of wisdom would you like to impart to writers who are just starting out?

J: Like most writer’s journeys, my road’s been rocky. My words of wisdom would be, don’t let others get you down. Believe in yourself, and if you work VERY hard, you can become a good writer. Regimental Heroes Front

D: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

J: Richer and famouser 🙂  No, seriously, still writing no matter what!

D: Where do you see the publishing industry in 5 years?

J: I think the indie publishers who actually work with authors to achieve their success will displace the large houses. Self-Publishing will have better standards and higher quality work. Those that are ready will self-publish. And great stories will still be told. People still love a good book and read as much as they ever have.

D: If you could travel back in time (or forward) where would you go?

J: Victorian England if I could be rich and part of the elite crowd. But, with no modern plumbing, central heating, modern drugs or dentistry, it would have to be a short visit.

D: I hear that! Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Jennifer. Good luck with your new release!

Find out more about Jennifer by visiting her website, blog, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

And here’s a little taste of I’LL BE SEEING YOU THROUGH TIME: Book 2 of The Dimension Keepers Series:

It’s 1942 and the world is at war. It’s difficult, but engaged couple Jewel and Glenn know they must say goodbye. Tomorrow, Glenn is shipping out to the South Pacific. That is, until he stops by the Second Chance Bookstore on the way back to the base.

Suddenly, Glenn finds himself in 2013 with the woman he loves half a century away.

Can the Dimension Keepers find a way to reunite them, or will Glenn and Jewel be ripped apart by the fabric of time forever?

Excerpt


Awesome Authors–Susan Russo Anderson

Today on Awesome Authors I’m pleased to introduce Susan Russo Anderson, author of the Serafina Florio historical mysteries. I firstgagasue_3 became aware of Susan on Twitter and through the fabulous writer’s group, Sisters in Crime, then went on to work with her on an anthology with several other talented indie authors. The first book in her intriguing mystery series, DEATH OF A SERPENT, is set in nineteenth-century Italy and features Serafina Florio, an amateur sleuth who happens to be a midwife. Kindle Book Review says DEATH OF A SERPENT is “… for readers who love mystery/suspense and drama that will propel you into another world and hold you spellbound until the end.”

D: Hi Susan! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.

 S: Thanks, DV, it’s a thrill to be here. Wow, great question, where do I start? I’m just a simple mom and gran doing the best she can to write great stuff. And I love the act of writing.

 But I did read this quote from Jean Paul Sartre, “We are our choices.” And if I could choose the perfect activity it would be eating ice cream and sipping the perfect coffee while writing in the morning. And the next best thing is reading an unputdownable book.

 And although I love my kindle and the ability to carry lots of books wherever I go to say nothing of the ability to sneak read a book instead of listening to a boring sermon, I still love bookstores and rambling through them. There’s one in a resort town in Michigan that I love going to. It’s right next to an ice cream store and they play opera and it’s crowded with families on vacation and it’s just fun to be there.

 D: Bookstores and libraries—gotta love any place with books. 🙂 You write the Serafina Florio mysteries set in nineteenth-century Italy. What inspired you to write an historical mystery series? What did you find particularly interesting when doing research?

S: I’ve always found European history from 1848 onward to be fascinating, the yearning for freedom that everyone had. It started, I guess, with the American Revolution. And then of course there was the French Revolution. And all of a sudden people all over Europe showed an Covers_600unbelievable thirst for freedom and fought to overthrow their oppressors.

“I’ve always found European history from 1848 onward to be fascinating, the yearning for freedom that everyone had…”

 Well, it’s a long story, but the Italian Revolution in the 1860s was a devastation for Sicily. There were riots and epidemics and famine and ruin all over the place. It’s in this setting that Serafina does her sleuthing. And yet in this setting, life managed to go on. For me, someone who’s always had a cushy life, I just can’t imagine how people can go all normal, continuing on with their life in the face of hunger and catastrophe.

 I read this story of a mother who around dinner time would lock the windows and doors and have her children bang on pans while she rattled the plates so that the neighbors would think they were preparing the meal and wouldn’t know they couldn’t afford to eat. That story really got to me. It told me about the resilience of the human spirit.

 D: No kidding. People are amazing, especially in times of distress. Describe your newest release, DEATH IN BAGHERIA, in two sentences.

 S: When a headstrong aristocrat commissions Serafina to find her mother’s poisoner, the midwife turned sleuth travels to a windswept villa on Sicily’s gold coast where she begins her investigation of the baroness’s death. With the help of her friend, Rosa, two daring servants, and an unexpected visitor, she uncovers ugly entanglements that portend dire misfortune for the baroness’s heirs.

 D: What’s your favorite line from the book?

 S: In my Serafina books it’s Rosa who always gets the best lines. She is totally unfettered by convention, having been a madam. At the time of the story, she is retired and very rich and of a certain age so she takes lots of pleasure in food. It so happens that the cuisine at Villa Caterina where the mystery takes place is uninspired to say the least so Rosa is disgruntled for most of their stay. There’s an incident with the cook where we don’t know if she’ll recover but when Rosa hears that the cook survives, she says, “It figures. She can’t cook so she’ll live forever.”

 D: Rosa was definitely one of my favorite characters in Death of a Serpent. Who is your favorite character and why?

 S: My favorite character would have to be Serafina. She has faults; she is exuberant and colorful; she does most of the writing; she has a sixth sense, something I’d love to have; most important, she never gives up.

“…She has a sixth sense, something I’d love to have…”

 D: What are you currently working on?

 S: I’m working on two books at the same time, something I’ve never done before, two different series. I’m writing the fourth book in the Serafina Florio mystery series. She’s commissioned to go to Paris to investigate the death of Loffredo’s estranged wife. The plot is exciting and different and complex for many different reasons. The working title is Murder on the Rue Cassette and since I love Paris, even the Paris of the 1870s, I’m loving the writing experience.

 And I’m writing the first book of the Fina Fitzgibbons mystery series. She’s the great-great granddaughter of Serafina, named after her and inherits her notebooks and a brownstone Serafina bought when she arrived in this country. Fina is much younger, early twenties, and lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, Clancy, a cop assigned to the 84th Precinct. The working title is Dead In Brooklyn.

 D: What a great idea! Working an ancestral thread into your mysteries makes sense—it becomes a continuation of the original series. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 S: Immerse yourself in the world you create and don’t fear what others might think.

 D: Sage advice, Susan. What’s the worst advice you received from someone about writing?

 S: Hmmm, let me think. That would have to be all those prejudicial rules against adverbs and adjectives. They’re a prison.

 D: LOL. They certainly can be. What do you like to read?DeathInBagheria_600

 S: Mysteries, thrillers, literary fiction.

“Immerse yourself in the world you create and don’t fear what others might think.”

 D: What do you do when you’re not writing?

 S: Social networking, working out, walking, hanging out with my grandkids.

 D: Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited.

 S: I’ve been to lots of exciting places—Iraq, most countries in Europe—but the most exciting of all is the world of the imagination. John Milton said it much better, though: “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

 D: Love that quote. So true. What jobs other than writer have you held?

 S: I taught creative writing, worked for an airline, for an opera company, for lots of advertising agencies, and for a publisher.

 D: If you could time-travel, where would you go and why?

 S: Paris, August 1944. I’d love to experience firsthand the excitement of the liberation

 D: I think Paris is a good bet in just about any timeline. Liberation day would be an amazing experience.

I’d love it if you’d provide an excerpt of DEATH IN BAGHERIA for us to read…

S: In this excerpt from Death In Bagheria, Serafina and Rosa talk to the baron, husband of the deceased whose death Serafina has been commissioned to investigate:

Bagheria, Sicily. March 1870

“The baron was showing me his new steamer. You can see it through the telescope if you like.”

Rosa shook her head, dismissing the offer with a wave of her hand.

He smiled at the madam. “In the harbor now, being loaded with supplies.”

“It sails when?” Rosa asked.

“Late today.” He paced before them. “We hope to make North America in ten days, not a record, but respectable, especially for this time of year—early for steaming into northern waters.”

“Do you carry passengers?”

He nodded. “A few. There’s room for over two hundred men, women, and children, most of them in steerage, but these days, our profit is from carrying cargo, not people; now we ship citrus to New York and Boston, perhaps New Orleans or San Francisco in the future.” He rubbed his hands together. “Next year, my son tells me, when families who can afford better accommodation begin to leave, we plan on refitting part of the upper deck with first-class cabins, but for now, our need is for space below deck.”

“When who begins to leave?” Rosa asked.

“Our bankers bet on hard times, a mass exodus from Sicily within the next five years, growing stronger in the next decades.”

Serafina and Rosa were silent.

“There’s unrest all over the Europe. I’m afraid for France, that idiot Emperor trying to slap around the Kaiser—doesn’t know what he’s in for. And Italy struggles while Garibaldi fights Austria and the papal states. If more banks fail, the future of the merchant class in the south will be grim. The new world calls, and that’s where we come in.” The baron smiled.

Serafina swallowed. She imagined her son, Vicenzu, looking out at her from behind the windows of their empty apothecary shop, saw in her mind the streets of Oltramari which, lately, seemed rustier, dustier. But no, she rejected his words: after all, what did he know? She turned to Rosa, who caught her mood, reached over, and patted her hand.

“The ship’s named after the baroness,” Serafina said, looking at Rosa.

The baron nodded.

“A shame she’s missing this day,” Serafina said.

He furrowed his brows. “Afraid you’re wrong there. She wanted nothing to do with our business. She hated it. How did she think …” His question hung in the air.

To break the mood, Rosa said, “Such an honor, having a ship named after—”

“Hated all talk of business.” Red faced, the baron heaved himself over to the hearth, grabbed an iron, and poked at smoldering embers. “Drat those servants! Don’t know how to tend a fire?”

Recovering somewhat, he sat across from them and crossed his legs. “What is it you wish to discuss—my married life? How my wife loathed me, couldn’t bear the sight of me? How we slept in separate rooms, seldom spoke? How she never cared a fig for my business, didn’t want to hear my thoughts on European history or its future? I disgusted her! I suppose she assumed aristocrats cultivated coins from the soil or grew them in huge pots and stored them in the larder. Unspeakably stubborn, Caterina, just like her father and his father before him. Blind to the change, killing themselves out, that’s what they’re doing. But …” He looked up at her portrait, then at a spot in the room as if he could see her shade. “She was so beautiful, like an angel when she walked into a room, and a poet with words, so charming, they flowed from her lips.” He stopped, as if reluctant to leave the memory. “And I loved her.”

The two women were silent until Serafina asked, “Your business, is that what killed her?”

*****

D: Thank you so much for being here today, Susan. I look forward to reading the rest of the Serafina Florio series. I’m also eagerly anticipating her great-great granddaughter’s own books. 🙂

Links to find out more about Susan are below:

 Susan’s Bio:

Susan Russo Anderson is a writer, a mother, a grandmother, a widow, a member of Sisters In Crime, a graduate of Marquette University. She has taught language arts and creative writing, worked for a publisher, an airline, an opera company. Like Faulkner’s Dilsey, she’s seen the best and the worst, the first and the last. Through it all, and to understand it somewhat, she writes.

DEATH OF A SERPENT, the first in the Serafina Florio series, published January 2012. It began as a painting of the Lower East Side and wound up as a mystery story. NO MORE BROTHERS, a novella, published May 2012, the second in the Serafina Florio series. The third book, DEATH IN BAGHERIA, published in December. You can read excerpts on Amazon and on her websites, http://www.susanrussoanderson.com  and http://www.writingsleuth.com

In between writing, revising and editing, she writes for several blogs and reviews books.

Website: http://susanrussoanderson.com

Twitter: @susanrussoander

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Russo-Anderson/349374975075796

Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Russo-Anderson/e/B006VCJ0ZC


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