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Awesome Authors–Laurie Boris

Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview talented novelist and editor extraordinaire, Laurie Boris. A fellow minion, Laurie’s an associate editor and staff contributor for Indies Unlimited, and, in my opinion one of the best writers self-publishing today.  Laurie injects her special brand of humor into everything she does, be it a blog post, an interview, or a full-length novel dealing with terminal illness. Her writing’s fresh and approachable, and she has a way of deftly handling touchy subjects with empathy and sensitivity.  Here’s more about Laurie (from her bio):

Author Laurie Boris

Author Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of The Joke’s on Me, Drawing Breath, Don’t Tell Anyone, and Sliding Past Vertical, due out in September 2013. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley.

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

 L: Thank you for your hospitality, DV. I like what you’ve done with the place. Okay, I’ve been writing novels since my husband dared me to finish one. That was over twenty years and nine novels ago. I’ve worked in advertising, marketing, graphic design, printing, publishing, and did a very short stint as a street performer and office-cleaner, neither of which I’d recommend to anyone as a career move. The pay was lousy and I always needed a shower afterward.

 D: Haven’t tried street performer yet but did the office cleaning thing. Yep—lousy pay and dirty work 🙂 .

 Describe your upcoming release, Sliding Past Vertical.cover for Sliding Past Vertical

 L: Due out in September, this is a romantic suspense novel about the consequences of leaping before looking. Set in 1987, it circles around Sarah Cohen, a 29-year-old graphic artist and ex-diving protégé living in Boston. Sarah is a walking disaster area. She means well, but with each ill-considered decision, she causes more harm to herself and others. The one good, constant thing in her life has been Emerson, who still lives in Syracuse. That’s where they went to college together, survived a rocky freshman-year romance, and became friends. Except that Emerson, an aspiring author, is still in love with her. When everything in Boston starts going awry for Sarah all at once, she considers some old advice from her high school diving coach: that when you mess up a dive, wind it backward until you find where you made your error. So she backs up and takes the plunge…to Syracuse, and into a vacancy in Emerson’s rooming house. This leads to sometimes amusing and sometimes tragic consequences…and nobody is safe.

“These stories needed to be told and I keep hearing from people who have gone through these things with families and loved ones and appreciated feeling understood and less alone.”

 D: Sounds like another great read! Both of your recent books, Drawing Breath and Don’t Tell Anyone, deal with issues not normally tackled by novelists. What made you decide to explore these themes?cover for Drawing Breath

 L: In the beginning, I needed to write these novels for myself. The story behind Drawing Breath was that I’d lost a dear friend to cystic fibrosis. The way I saw some people reacting to him, as if he had the plague, made me angry. His chronic coughing scared off women and got him fired from a few jobs. Somehow I wanted to correct that injustice in fiction. But letting the other characters get that close to him had unintended consequences. With Don’t Tell Anyone, I was trying to reconcile why my mother-in-law concealed what turned out to be advanced breast cancer. I wanted to know how she could do that to her children when she had all the treatment options available to her. So again, I turned to fiction to see how another family would handle it. In both cases, the first drafts came tumbling out, so I felt like there was some passion in them, enough to risk the possible stigma involved with choosing “heavy” subjects for publication. I’m glad I went there. These stories needed to be told and I keep hearing from people who have gone through these things with families and loved ones and appreciated feeling understood and less alone.

 D: Who/what are some of your favorite authors and book genres?

 L: I like big books and I cannot lie… Seriously, I like to sink into big, fat novels, mainly literary and historical fiction and lately, epic fantasy. Just a few of my favorite authors are Joyce Carol Oates, TC Boyle, Ian McEwan, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, and John Irving. And the Russians, of course: Lolita and Anna Karenina are two of my favorite classics.

 D: Gotta love big books and the Russians 🙂 What are you currently working on?

 L: I’m writing the first of what (I hope) will be a series of books linked through the same characters. It’s set in Boston, one of my favorite cities. I’ve been missing it, and after three novels set in the Hudson Valley, where I currently live, I’m ready to travel and take on new material. And that street performer experience? I’m using it. See, nothing is wasted.

 D: What’s the worst advice you received from someone about writing?

 cover for Don't Tell Anyone L: That I should never write in a man’s point of view. No disrespect meant to the writing teacher who insisted women writers should stay out of men’s heads; I just agreed to disagree. And although I can never truly know what it’s like to be a man, or a woman much older than myself, or someone from a different religious, ethnic, or cultural background, empathy and a good imagination go a long way, in my opinion.

 D: I heartily agree. Why did you choose to “go indie” rather than publish traditionally?

 L: I like a challenge, I like independence, I’m a Virgo, and I like to be in control: a perfect combination for self-publishing. Now that print-on-demand resources like CreateSpace are available, I don’t have to buy three thousand books and store them in my garage for the mice to eat. So it’s economically feasible, as well.

 “…If it’s a passion for you, don’t quit. You might hit a moment where you despair that you aren’t “good enough” to write the story you have in your head. Trust that if you keep writing and learning, you will be.”

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

 L: I edit and proofread for other authors, I’m a contributing author and associate editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. Three days a week you can find me working in the public relations department of a nearby community college. Other than that, I swim, watch baseball, and take long walks. Sometimes I even sleep.

D: Bacon cheeseburger, or hummus and carrot sticks?

 L: Both! About three times a year, I get wicked cravings for bacon, chorizo, or pepperoni. I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger or some pepperoni pizza, and I’m done. But mainly I stick with the veggies.Cover for The Joke's On Me

 D: Only three times a year? I wish 😮  If you could time-travel, where would you go and why?

 L: I’d like to go to Paris in the 1920s. It looked like a great time and place to be a writer. I want to meet James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Hemingway. My grandmother stopped in Paris around that time, on her way from Poland with her sister to join the rest of her family in New York. She was fourteen. She bought perfume and silk stockings. It just sounded like a fun place and time to be part of.

D: That’s one of my favorite places/times in history, too. Can you imagine what the creative energy must have been like then? Phenomenal!

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

 L: If it’s a passion for you, don’t quit. You might hit a moment where you despair that you aren’t “good enough” to write the story you have in your head. Trust that if you keep writing and learning, you will be.

D: Fabulous advice, Laurie! Thanks so much for being here.

Here’s a short excerpt of Don’t Tell Anyone. (More information about Laurie and her books is listed below). If you haven’t read Laurie’s work, you’re missing one of the best writers working today. Go buy one  all of her books 🙂

EXCERPT:

Estelle had found the first lump by accident on the morning of Adam’s wedding. The night before, Charlie had given her a pill and she’d overslept. She’d rushed through her makeup, painting on eyebrows and coloring her cheeks. She’d been zipping herself into her dress, but it didn’t sit right in the bosom. As she slipped it this way and that and adjusted her bra, she felt something hard and uneven in her right breast, like the end of a chicken bone. She thought about all those medical shows, the books she’d read, and the women she’d known who’d gone through such things. They compared the size of their tumors to food: a pea, an orange, a grapefruit. This lump was nothing that familiar and nothing that round. This was like a knuckle, a dagger, a hand grenade. She sat on the edge of the bed and smoked three cigarettes in a row. The phone rang twice and each time she just sat on her damask spread and smoked.

The first time the answering machine picked up, the caller didn’t leave a message. That was Adam. Adam didn’t leave messages.

The second time it was Charlie.

“Hi, Mom. Just seeing when you want me to pick you up.”

This is meshugge, she thought. People do this every day. People got married. Other people dressed up and traveled for hours to see the bride and groom recite their vows and step on the wine glass. They ate fancy food and slipped checks into the groom’s pockets. They smiled, wished them well, gossiped about the in-laws, and debated the couple’s chances in the car on the way home.

Estelle didn’t know about that Liza. There was something wrong with the way she was raised by her father, like a boy. Adam needed a woman. But she seemed like a smart girl, a practical girl. Estelle hoped to God Liza was smart enough to figure out how to make the marriage work.

The phone rang again. If she didn’t answer, the boys would think something was wrong and rush over. She couldn’t tell them, not on Adam’s wedding day. Whatever her opinions about Liza, Adam seemed happy. She wouldn’t make this the day he found out the time bomb went off.

It was Charlie, asking how she’d slept.

Fine. She’d slept fine. “Your father,” she said, “may he rest in peace, he couldn’t drop dead on the golf course like everybody else? He couldn’t go quietly in his sleep? No, he had to have a massive coronary in the middle of synagogue on Yom Kippur and make the newspapers and scar the entire community for life.”

“I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose, Mom. Although if you have to go, it might as well be memorable.”

“Adam could have gotten married anywhere. A catering hall. Or that beautiful park on the river. But no, he had to pick Temple Beth Make-the-rest-of-your-mother’s-hair-fall-out.”

“You need more Valium?”

Estelle lit another cigarette. “Bring the bottle.”

END EXCERPT

Buy links:

Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/author/laurieboris
Don’t Tell Anyone (US): http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Tell-Anyone-ebook/dp/B00AGPB3KA
Don’t Tell Anyone (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Tell-Anyone-ebook/dp/B00AGPB3KA

To find out more about Laurie and her books, check out the links below:

Website/Blog: http://laurieboris.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.author
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/laurie.boris.editor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LaurieBoris
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4824645.Laurie_Boris

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Awesome Authors–Judy Alter

Tophoto of authorday on Awesome Authors I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing mystery author, Judy Alter. I ‘met’ Judy after joining one of the best writing organizations around, Sisters In Crime (SINC), and its fabulous sub-group, the Guppies (short for the Great Unpublished).  SINC was formed in 1986 by mystery author Sara Paretsky to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry, and is a must-join for both female and male authors in the genre. It’s a great group of people and I owe SINC a debt of gratitude for all the support and information they’ve offered over the years.

And now, on to Judy’s interview:

D: Hi Judy! Thanks for being here 🙂 Tell us a little about yourself and your latest release.

 J: Thanks for inviting me—I’m delighted to be here.

My latest book is the fourth Kelly O’Connell Mystery, Danger Comes Home. In this book realtor/renovator Kelly finds her daughter is hiding a runaway fifth grader, her good friend Joe seems to be going back to his gangsta ways and ignoring his lovely wife, Theresa, and a drug dealer has moved into her beloved historic Fairmount neighborhood in Fort Worth. cover for Danger Comes Home

 For variety, I threw in a former Hollywood diva (so she claims) who is now a recluse and wants Kelly to do her grocery shopping for her. Kelly’s husband, Mike Shandy, badly injured in an auto accident in the third book, has been transferred from the Central District station of the Fort Worth Police to the Narcotics Division, so he’s well aware of the danger Kelly is bringing home with her friendship with the young girl and her mother. It’s a wild ride, but Kelly manages to protect her daughters and not scare Mike too much.

D: Sounds like a fun read! Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

“…I take inspiration from experiences in my own life. One of my daughters says the first Kelly book is “highly autobiographical.”

J: The inspiration for the Kelly O’Connell books comes from the part of Fort Worth I live in, adjacent to Fairmount with its authentic Craftsman houses. The first book was Skeleton in a Dead Space, which came about partly because there’s a dead space in my kitchen and partly because, at a stop sign in Fairmount one day, I looked at a house and thought “There’s a skeleton in a dead space in that house.” It went from there.cover for Skeleton in a Dead Space

 The Blue Plate Mysteries (so far just Murder at the Blue Plate Café) are based on a café in a small East Texas town where I ate frequently, and I have another book on the back burner, called right now The Perfect Coed, that came about after I heard a rumor of doctors’ wives (I was one once) who “serviced” airline pilots while their husbands were at work. I substituted coeds for the doctors’ wives.

 I guess long story short I take inspiration from experiences in my own life. One of my daughters says the first Kelly book is “highly autobiographical.”

 D:  When did you realize you were a writer?

 J: By the time I was ten I was writing short stories, and I’ve been writing ever since. Always had jobs that involved writing, including directing a small academic press.

 D: What has your road to publication been like? Cover for Murderat the Blue Plate Cafe

J: Not as rocky as that of a lot of people. My first agent approached me. After that, though, I had a hard time finding agents and floundered for a while. Now I don’t have an agent but am published by a small press. It’s a great solution to the competitiveness of the quest for an agent.

“…I have something in common with the late Elmore Leonard—I left westerns because the western market left me.”

D: You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction for many years. What inspired you to transition from writing the Women of the American West series to cozy mysteries? Do you plan to write more YA fiction?

Cover for Sundance, Butch and MeJ: I have something in common with the late Elmore Leonard—I left westerns because the western market left me. Bantam stalled on the last manuscript I submitted and eventually discontinued their westerns. For several years I wrote YA non-fiction on assignment for companies that published for school libraries, but the yen to write a mystery was always there. I don’t plan to do any more young-adult books, either fiction or non-fiction, but you never know. These days, mysteries keep me busy.

D: What are you working on now?

J: I’m writing the fifth Kelly O’Connell mystery. It has no title yet but I think it will have the word “deception” in the title—maybe Deception in Strange Places. Kelly is of course the main character but the recluse from the fourth book is pivotal. In a way, this is her book.

 D: 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? cover for No Neighborhood for Old Women

 J: I wish I wrote every day but too much else goes on—I have some editing projects on my desk for my publisher and I keep my 2nd-grade grandson after school, which means homework. I also like to keep up with friends at lunch and dinner, so sometimes the day is gone before I even think about my WIP. This morning, for instance, by the time I did yoga, got the house underway (made beds, straightened the kitchen, watered the plants), answered email, cleared up some odds and ends, it was 10:30 before I actually got to work. But when I’m on a roll, I aim for a thousand words a day.

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

J: I’m fairly compulsive, so I get things in well before deadlines and don’t really need them. But they are there in the back of my mind.

“…Writing contemporary fiction doesn’t require as much [research] because I’m writing about a world I live in…”

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

cover for LibbieJ: When I was writing historical fiction, I did tons of research—on the life of George Custer and his wife, for instance, for Libbie. Writing contemporary fiction doesn’t require as much because I’m writing about a world I live in. I did do research on the Craftsman movement for the Kelly books and a bit on East Texas for the Blue Plate Café books.

 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?

J: Where I see myself in five years is a funny question. I’m seventy-five but I still see myself as writing at eighty. Who knows? The biggest decision for me is whether to try self-publishing or not. I’m tempted but hesitant to undertake the cash outlay to do it right, and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. My publisher is growing and maturing as a business, and some of the changes I hope for may come about. Besides, I don’t want to learn new programs to self-publish, though I did format a couple of older titles and they’ve done well on Amazon. Mattie, a historical novel set in nineteenth-century Nebraska, does well every month; my short story collection, Sue Ellen Learns to Dance and Other Stories, not so well, though I like the stories and a couple won awards.cover for Mattie

“…I still see myself as writing at eighty…”

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

J: Read. And don’t be easily discouraged. Don’t expect to make a fortune. Write for the joy of it.

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

J: Hard one. Life was tough in the two historical eras that interest me—Scotland at the time of The Clearances (mid-eighteenth century) and the late nineteenth-century American West. I’m not at all interested in futuristic writing. In fact, I’m not much interested in time travel—quite happy to be in the twenty-first century.

D: Good point, although I think the research angle would be invaluable. Thanks again for visiting today, Judy. Good luck on the new series!

 Here’s a taste of Judy’s latest mystery, Danger Comes Home:

EXCERPT:

So there I was at midnight, my thoughts whirling about Lorna McDavid and her crumbling house, when I heard those ever-so-soft beeping sounds that indicate someone has disabled the alarm system. Startled I lay for a moment listening, and then I heard the back door open and gently close. That was enough to make me crawl out of bed, barefoot, in a T-shirt and underpants. I didn’t think about how I would confront an intruder in that outfit. Nor did I stop to wake Mike or take my gun. Mike’s always after me to take the handgun he bought me but I loathe the thing, though I will say there was one instance where having it in my hand saved my life. But now all I could think of was my girls—had someone crept out the back door with one of them as hostage? Too many bad things had happened in the last few years, so my imagination sometimes gets away with me.

I raced down the bedroom hall, through the living room, dining room and kitchen, and came to a crashing halt at the back door. A soft light glowed in the guest house, as though someone had a flashlight. Shoot! I hadn’t even thought to find one. It would have taken me too long. Note to self: put a flashlight on my bedside table.

Creeping now, rather than racing, I eased open the back door, closed it quietly, and crossed the yard. Peering into a window, I saw Maggie handing a sandwich and an orange to a young girl—a very tired and scared young girl with stringy hair and wrinkled clothes. Maggie’s small mutt and constant companion, Gus, sat on the floor staring wistfully at the sandwich. Gently, I opened the door.

END EXCERPT

To find out more about Judy and her books, click on the links below:

Web page

Blogs: http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com; http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com

Facebook

Twitter: @judyalter

Amazon

Turquoise Morning Press

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

 Authorgraph: http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/JudyAlter


Awesome Authors — Jen Blood

The other day I realized how lucky I am to know so many incredibly talented writers. I’ve been the willing participant in several interviews on other authors’ blogs, and thought it would be fun to return the favor and spotlight as many as I could bribe cajole into giving up some of their precious, hard-earned non-novel-writing time to answer my burning questions.

The first in the series is mystery author Jen Blood. I discovered Jen a while back when I read a review she did for BAD SPIRITS. I was impressed with her ability to pen a pretty bitchin’ review and was curious about her talents as a writer, so I downloaded the first bookJenBloodHeadshot2 in her Erin Solomon mystery series, ALL THE BLUE-EYED ANGELS. To say I was hooked from the first page is an understatement. Here was an indie author who knew how to write, and write well. She has just released the third book in the series, SOUTHERN CROSS. It’s another stellar mystery by an author who I believe is on her way to a long and rewarding career.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

D: Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your new release, SOUTHERN CROSS?

 J: A little about myself… I’m author of the Erin Solomon mysteries, the first of which was released in February of last year. I have an MFA in Creative Writing/Pop Fiction from the University of Southern Maine, and have worked as a freelance writer and editor (among many, many other jobs over the years) for a little over a decade.

SOUTHERN CROSS is the third novel in the Erin Solomon pentalogy, and finds Erin and her best friend (and sometimesJB_SouthCr more) Diggs investigating the murder of one of Diggs’ childhood friends, in rural Kentucky. But that single death is hardly the only bizarre occurrence in Justice—soon, power outages, explosions, standoffs, and conspiracy rock the small town, and fundamentalist preacher Jesup T. Barnel claims he knows the reason for the madness: The end times are upon them, and judgment will be fast and furious as the clock winds down.

 D: The series character, Erin Solomon, is a wonderfully flawed protagonist who has to deal with the aftermath of having spent much of her childhood in a religious cult with a Jim Jones-style leader. As I dove into reading Southern Cross, I realized religious zealotry and its repercussions are recurring themes in your work. What prompted you to delve into the psychological fallout that occurs from blind obedience to an obsessive, charismatic religious leader?

I’ve always been fascinated with the extremes of religious fanaticism, and as a kid actually attended a church where speaking in tongues and being felled by the holy spirit were par for the course.”

J: Believe it or not, in early incarnations of the first novel, Erin Solomon was a theologian whose work focused on religiously motivated crimes. The vocation just didn’t work for the character—something I only realized after spending a decade or so working on that first novel. When I made the switch to Erin as a reporter instead, it made all the difference in the world… but I wasn’t ready to give up the lure of those charismatic cult leaders I’d been researching for so long. I’ve always been fascinated with the extremes of religious fanaticism, and as a kid actually attended a church where speaking in tongues and being felled by the holy spirit were par for the course. Those emotionally charged scenes made a big impression, and somehow those scenes found their way into my work today.

D: The over-arching mystery in the series keeps referring back to the original tragedy that occurred (detailed in the first book, All the Blue-Eyed Angels), and the reader is given clues throughout to a more sinister motive than what is revealed in books 1 and 2. Why did you choose to write the story this way? How many books do you envision to complete the series?

 J: I knew from the start that the story I wanted to tell couldn’t be contained within a single novel. I’m a huge fan of serialized… everything. I love well-written TV (my graduate thesis was on television as modern literature), and I’ve been devouring every mystery novel series I could get my hands on since I was a kid. AND I love puzzles and conspiracy. So, I decided now was the time to play with all of those elements and make them come together in one colossal project. I’ve had the end game in mind from the beginning for this; I just wasn’t clear before on exactly how long it would take to get to that end game. Now, I know that this particular mystery will be resolved with the fifth book in the series, THE BOOK OF J. After that, I have any number of novels and series arcs in mind for the characters, but my focus now is on completing this pentalogy.

D: Now for some questions on process:  SOUTHERN CROSS uses multiple first and third points of view (POV). How do you decide which POV to use in a book?

J: I listen to the characters, really. When I first started writing ANGELS, it was written in limited third person from Erin’s point of view. It didn’t work, though, because I wasn’t able to get the strength of her voice across that way. So, I switched to first and it made all the difference in the world. Diggs tells things from his POV, but in SINS OF THE FATHER (the second novel in the series) I have alternating chapters between Jack Juarez (Erin’s other love interest) and Erin. Erin is first person, Jack is third. It has to do with the way the character views the world: Erin and Diggs are strong, opinionated characters whose voices are deeply rooted in humor, inflection, and internal process. Jack Juarez is more about action, reason, and ordered thought. It didn’t feel necessary to go with first person with him, because his external actions typically reflect his internal thought process so thoroughly.

 I love playing with POV, and I adore getting inside the characters’ heads. It’s a tricky process, and you always have to walk that fine line between doing too much and not doing enough to make the trip to another perspective worthwhile. Barbara Kingsolver does it masterfully in POISONWOOD BIBLE, which I’ve read about a hundred times. I always go back to that when I start to worry that I’m taking on too many voices at one time.

 D: You certainly can’t go wrong with Barbara Kingsolver. Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?  

 J: I’m definitely, definitely, definitely not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer. I greatly admire them, and I’ve done it in the past with less intricately plotted work. With the novels I’m writing now, though, I would get so tangled up if I wasn’t following an outline that I’d lose my mind within a day. I start with an intricate outline at the get-go, and that outline evolves as I get to know the story a little better. It’s always vastly different from the time I start to the time I finish, but at this point—because I’m solving a mystery with elements from five novels—it’s integral to the process that I have a clear idea where I’m going, where I’ve been, who I’m working with, what we know so far, and what needs to be resolved. There are so many threads to keep track of these days!

 D: What are you working on now?

 J: The fourth book in the series, BEFORE THE AFTER, which I’m tremendously excited about. This one answers a huge number of questions about the initial mystery in ALL THE BLUE-EYED ANGELS, by relating the first days of the Payson Church of Tomorrow from Erin’s mom’s perspective. Meanwhile, of course, the majority of the novel is told in the present from Erin’s perspective. Lots of action, many secrets revealed, and the ending for this one changes the direction and flow of Erin’s entire character arc. So… yeah, I’m excited about this one. I feel like, of all of them, this is the most epic novel I’ve written thus far.

 D: Give us a ‘day in the life’ of author Jen Blood.

 J: A day in the life, huh? It’s really pretty dull. I get up at around seven, walk and feed the hound, do yoga, feed myself, and then hit the computer. I’m usually working on either writing or social media and marketing stuff from nine to five, with a lunch break in between. Then dinner, hound walk, workout, and I typically finish out the day with a couple of hours of free writing (longhand, working on the next chapters of the novel) before bed, at around midnight or so. That’s my schedule—with little variation—six days a week, and then on the seventh day I usually run errands and do a lot of free writing. Things look to be shifting now, though, as I’m starting to get more requests to do readings, signings, and seminars… For April, it looks like my ‘days in the life’ will be all over the place!

“…while two years ago if you had six unpublished manuscripts in your sock drawer and you decided you’d just publish and wait for the cash to start rolling in, now it’s more clear than ever that you need a better plan than just hitting “Publish Now” …”

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

J: Ideally, making a good living from my writing. That’s the hope, anyway. I have a bunch of other novels in the Erin Solomon series in mind going forward, but I also have a YA dystopian trilogy that I’ve been working on for a long time… I can’t wait to get to work on that again. So—Five years down the road, I hope that I’ll have a slew of publications under my belt, a solid fan base, projects in the works, and enough cash coming in to keep a roof over my head and the hound in dog chow.

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

 J: That’s always a tricky question—especially right now, when everything is changing so quickly. I think independent publishing will continue to grow, and traditional publishers, literary agents, and any non-writing folks who have historically made their living from we lowly authors will continue to try and establish their role in this new paradigm. Now that the initial enthusiasm has worn off and most self-published authors have recognized that this isn’t actually a get-rich-quick scheme just waiting to happen, I think we as authors are more likely to recognize the importance the so-called “gatekeepers” in the industry play in helping us get noticed. So, while two years ago if you had six unpublished manuscripts in your sock drawer and you decided you’d just publish and wait for the cash to start rolling in, now it’s more clear than ever that you need a better plan than just hitting “Publish Now” on Amazon or Createspace.

 At the same time that we are recognizing that agents and traditional publishing houses are not actually obsolete yet, I also think that this whole revolution has put untold power in the hands of the author. I’m currently seeking an agent and I wouldn’t be averse to a traditional publishing contract, but I know at this point that if I don’t get either of those things, I’ll still be all right. I can still make a living at doing what I love.

 D: Anything I missed?

 J: I think that about covers it, really. Thanks so much—this was so fun!!

D: Thanks for being here, Jen! How about giving readers a little taste of SOUTHERN CROSS ?

J: The following excerpt is from chapter four of  SOUTHERN CROSS. Here, reporter Daniel Diggins (Diggs) has just returned to western Kentucky to bury his childhood best friend, who has been murdered. Predictably enough, madness ensues.

I spotted a dozen photo albums lined up on one of the shelves, and stepped inside the shed. It smelled of sawdust and cigar smoke, two of George’s favorite things. I grabbed a couple of the photo albums without checking the dates on the spines and strode back across the shed toward freedom. Since the caves and tunnels of the previous summer, enclosed spaces weren’t a favorite of mine. Something clattered against the outside wall. I whirled toward the sound, heart racing.

“Solomon? Is that you?”

I turned back around just in time to watch the door swing shut.

“Buddy? All right… Good one, guys. You’re friggin’ hilarious.” I reached for the door and tried to push it open. It didn’t budge.

Something scratched against the outside of the shed, just below the window—like someone was scaling the wall. The clattering could have been a ladder, I realized. And this was George’s idea of a practical joke: his way of welcoming me back to the fold. I wet my lips and reminded myself that panicking at this point was exactly the kind of story that would follow me to my grave, once the lights came on and the idiots pulling the prank were revealed.

Better to play it cool. Ride it out.

“All right, you got me,” I said. “I’m trapped in the shed. In the dark. You guys are comic geniuses.”

Something scratched against the windowpane. I trained my flashlight beam in that direction, but all that did was reflect the light back at me.

I realized then that there was no way Solomon was behind this—she knew too well what we’d gone through six months ago. And she wouldn’t let the others do anything like it, either. Sweat beaded on my forehead and the back of my neck. Just outside the window, I heard a faint rattling sound.

“Harvey?” I said quietly. If Sheriff Jennings had found out I was back in town, this might be the kind of thing he’d pull to welcome me back. “Is that you?”

The rattling got louder.

I pulled my cell phone from my jacket pocket and hit number one on speed dial. It went straight to Solomon’s voicemail. Perfect.

My pulse was racing.

The window opened, the sound of metal against wood like a scream in the stillness. I grabbed the closest thing I could find—a hammer hanging on the pegboard—and held it aloft, my back pressed to the far wall, waiting to see what would happen next.

D: Great excerpt, Jen! SOUTHERN CROSS is filled with heart pounding suspense that kept me up way too late reading 🙂 I’m now eagerly awaiting the fourth book in the series… To find out more about Jen and her Erin Solomon Mysteries, check out the links below:

Jen’s Bio:

 Jen Blood is a freelance writer and editor, and author of the bestselling Erin Solomon mysteries. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing/Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine, and has publishing credits in Down East, Pif, Vampirella, Bark, and newspapers and periodicals around the country. Jen lives in midcoast Maine, where she scribbles madly, hikes with her hound, and leads the occasional seminar on online marketing and social media for authors in her spare time.

 Buy Links:

ALL THE BLUE-EYED ANGELS*
Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble/Nook
Smashwords
Paperback

*ALL THE BLUE-EYED ANGELS is currently free for Kindle, Nook, and on Smashwords

SINS OF THE FATHER
Amazon Kindle
Barnes and Noble/Nook
Smashwords
Paperback

SOUTHERN CROSS
Amazon Kindle
Paperback


Virtual Book Tour

Orangeberry Book ToursWell, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and go on a 30-day virtual book tour for Bad Traffick. After much consideration (and other writer’s recommendations), I chose Orangeberry Book Tours to set it up (who has time to do their own these days?). So far, they’ve been pretty good at finding interesting places to post info about the book. A huge shout out to Dora, who has responded quickly and professionally to all my inane questions. The tour itself will be a combination of interviews, book features, blog posts and reviews, along with a variety of Twitter-blasting shenanigans that I can’t even begin to explain 🙂  It’s all good.

I’ll do a post after everything is over, once I’ve figured out the pros and cons of this particular type of tour. I’m interested in other people’s experiences with virtual tours–please leave a post in the comment section if you have any advice or ideas. Or, just leave a comment. I love hearing from you folks!

Below are links to the stops during the first couple of weeks, in case you want to mosey on over and show your support. I’ll be doing a giveaway (books and other schwag) on this blog at the end of the tour to three random commenters, so enter early and often by leaving a comment at these venues:

2nd April – Book Review & Author Interview at Mommy Adventures

3rd April – Guest Post at The Bunny’s Review

4th April – Twitter Blast with OB Book Tours

5th April – Book Review & Author Interview at The Reading Cat

6th April – Guest Post at Blog-A-Licious Authors

7th April – Author Interview at Working for Books

8th April – Book Review & Author Interview at Author’s Friend

9th April – Guest Post at High Class Books

10th April – Book Review & Author Interview at The Next Big Thing

11th April – Book Review & Guest Post at Books & More Books

12th April – Book Review at Brainy Book Reads

13th April – Guest Post at Life Altering Reads

14th April – Book Review at Aspiring Book Reviews

15th April –  Author Interview at City of Book Reviews

Thanks and happy SPRING, everybody!


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