Tag Archives: awesome authors

Awesome Authors–Charles Ray

Author photoToday on Awesome Authors I’m pleased to interview prolific writer, former diplomat, journalist, and current intrepid world-traveler, Charlie Ray. I first became aware of Charlie through Indies Unlimited,where he’s a frequent commenter. He’s much more active online than I could ever hope to be, as he maintains several blogs, regularly posts on Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook, not to mention taking the time to stop by other blogs to show his support. Not only that, but he pens both fiction and non-fiction, is a fabulous photographer, and a fine artist. Whew. I wish I had that kind of energy and talent! Intrigued, aren’t you? Then what the heck are we waiting for? Let’s get to the interview:

(From the author’s bio): Charles Ray has been writing fiction since his teens. He won a Sunday school magazine writing contest when he was thirteen, and having his byline on a short story published in a national publication forever hooked him on writing. During his time in the army (1962-1982) he often moonlighted as a newspaper or magazine journalist, and was the editorial cartoonist for the Spring Lake (NC) News, a weekly newspaper, during the 1970s. In addition to his writing, he was an artist/cartoonist and photographer for a number of publications, including Ebony, Eagle and Swan, and Essence, and had a monthly cartoon feature and did several covers for Buffalo, a now-defunct magazine that was dedicated to showcasing the contributions of African-Americans to the country’s military history.

After retiring from the army, he joined the U.S. Foreign Service, and served as a diplomat in posts in Asia and Africa until his retirement in 2012. He has worked and traveled throughout the world (Antarctica is the only continent he hasn’t visited), and now, as a full-time writer, continues to globetrot looking for interesting things to write about, draw, or take pictures of.

DV: Hi Charlie! Thanks for being here. Please tell us about yourself and what you write.

CR:  I grew up in a small town in rural East Texas and fell in love with books at an early age. I wrote my first fiction (a short story for a Sunday school magazine) when I was 13, and it won first place and was published, so I became hooked on writing as well at an early age. I write like I read – in a variety of genres. I’ve done books on leadership and management, a couple of books of my photographs (I’ve done newspaper and magazine photography, and taught it at an L.A. City College overseas program in Korea in the late 1970s), and several books of fiction. I do a mystery series (starring a PI based in Washington, DC) and a western/historical series about the Buffalo Soldiers. I’ve also done fantasy and comedy, and did a sort of dystopian sci-fi bit about the confluence of political/religious extremism and climate change (The Culling). My wife says my problem is twofold – I have a short attention span and I refuse to grow up.Cover for Death and Taxis

DV: 🙂 You’ve had quite the storied career in the U.S. Army as well as the State Department. How have these experiences influenced your writing?

CR: As you might imagine, a lot of the things I’ve experienced naturally find their way into my writing – including people and places. In the main, though, having spent nearly 50 years traveling around the world has taught me to be observant and store impressions that can later be called up in the stories I write. Everything, including what I see and hear on my subway commute here in DC, is grist for the creative mill. I got the idea for my first book on leadership watching an old lady chastise a couple of loud teen girls on the subway one day (Things I Learned from my Grandmother about Leadership and Life).

DV: Obviously, you’ve done a LOT of traveling. Which places are foremost in your memory and why? Do you plan to use them in future writing projects?

CR: The only continent I’ve never visited is Antarctica. As to which stand out – they all do in one way or another. I’ve visited the Taj Mahal and Stonehenge, walked the Great Wall, and flown over Colombian and Panamanian jungles. Angkor Wat is one of my favorite places, but so is the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. I once flew from Cape Town, South Africa to Copenhagen, Denmark in the middle of December – that was an unforgettable experience – and have lived in the German Alps. I’ve been all over the U.S., and loved every inch of it. Little bits of places and people I’ve encountered find their way into almost everything I write. I’ve lived in Washington, DC off and on since 1982, and a lot of my current work (except the Buffalo Soldier series) is based mainly in the DC area. Long answer to a short question, but the short version, is, yes I do.

“…having spent nearly 50 years traveling around the world has taught me to be observant and store impressions that can later be called up in the stories I write…”

DV: I’ve always wanted to visit Angkor Wat. I’ll have to pick your brain about it later 🙂 Please describe your latest release.

Cover for Frontier JusticeCR: I just finished Frontier Justice, a fictionalized account of the first two years of the service of Bass Reeves the first African-American deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. Even though the accounts are fictitious, they’re based on historical research.

DV: That sounds intriguing. What prompted you to write Frontier Justice?

CR: After reading a couple of my Buffalo Soldier novels, my daughter, Denise, suggested that I should do more western/historical stories about the Old West because of the distorted images of the period by popular media. In my research for the Buffalo Soldier series, I’ve learned that a lot of what I thought growing up watching western movies in cinema and on TV was wrong. Ten percent of the cavalry on the frontier, for instance, was African-American, as well as the infantry units. After the Civil War, most of the U.S. Army was deployed west of the Mississippi to support the country’s westward expansion, so if the movies were accurate, many times the cavalry coming to the rescue would be men of color. Moreover, many of the cowboys and outlaws were minorities. So, I’m just trying to use my fiction to fill in some of the blanks.Cover for Buffalo Soldier: Yosemite

DV: We definitely need more historical accuracy in our educational system. I always found it odd that no one questioned what we were taught in school. You’re definitely a prolific writer having written both non-fiction and fiction, including the Al Pennyback mystery series and the historical Buffalo Soldier series. What do you enjoy about writing in each genre? What do you find challenging?

CR: I like mysteries and westerns – always have – because they’re action oriented and usually have a sort of Aesop-fable moral to them. I like mysteries because of the puzzle factor, and westerns because of the way the world is seen in simple terms. The challenge is to take the formulas of these two genres and create fully fleshed, interesting characters and less-than-simple plot lines, and tell an interesting story. The other challenge is to keep from sounding too similar when I switch from one to the other.

“I’m just trying to use my fiction to fill in some of the blanks.”

DV: How long does it take you to write a novel?

CR: Depends. The mysteries take a month or two because of the need to work out clues and red herrings and the like. The westerns I can do in about three weeks as soon as I’ve decided on the opening and ending.

DV: Do you research before the start of each book or while you write?

CR: Both. I do basic research before starting, but as I write, I’m constantly looking up things like weapons capability, date of events, etc. Research never ends.

DV: Do you outline or make it up as you go along?

CR: I do a chapter by chapter sketch. Main action and characters involved. But, I leave space between chapters, because sometimes as I’m writing, something new will come up and things get changed. I don’t do excessively detailed outlines because that constricts the creative flow. What I do is end each day’s writing session by starting the next chapter. Then, I visualize in my mind the action, get a feel for smell, sound, etc., and then start writing.

“I don’t do excessively detailed outlines because that constricts the creative flow.”

DV: Great method. I think Hemingway worked like that. Do you edit as you go or wait until you’re finished and then go back through the manuscript? Do you hire a professional editor for your work?

CR: I correct gross and obvious mistakes as I work, but wait until I’m done – let it cool off a few days, and then go back over it from page one. I thought about paying for a professional editor, but from what I’ve seen of many traditionally published books, errors will still creep in. As long as they don’t interrupt the flow of the story, or are just so numerous they indicate carelessness, I don’t think it makes a great difference. I’m more concerned with getting the layout looking smooth and professional.

DV: What made you decide to “go indie”?

Cover for The CullingCR: I worked as a freelance journalist for decades. Pay was low and slow, and only the few best sellers had any control over their work. I was also curious about the mechanical side of publishing.

DV: What kind of marketing works best for you?

CR: I’m still experimenting. I do a blog and a lot on social media, and that does generate a few sales. In the highly competitive world of today, I don’t expect a 50 Shades of Gray response, just modest, regular sales, with increase over time as word gets around. I also do speaking, keep spare copies of books with me to hand out when I travel, and get the word out through a couple of professional associations I work with. I worked with an organization at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, for instance, and got a spot in their magazine about my Buffalo Soldier series. Leavenworth happens to be home to the Buffalo Soldier monument. After the article appeared, my sales shot up over a thousand percent for three or four months, and that series continues to do relatively well.

DV: Nice. Niche marketing is a great way to do it. What advice would you give to a new writer?

CR: Write – write every day. Don’t let self-doubt or naysayers turn you off from it if writing gives you a thrill. Read a lot, and not just the genres you write. You can learn a lot from what others have done. Don’t have a thin skin about criticism.

“I don’t expect a 50 Shades of Gray response, just modest, regular sales, with increase over time as word gets around.”

DV: In light of the huge changes in the publishing industry, where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think publishing will change in the future?

CR: Hopefully in five years I will still be writing, only to a larger audience. I think the e-book and Indie revolutions have changed publishing, making it more democratic, and as it matures it will become more ‘traditional.’ Unlike many, I don’t think physical books will be completely replaced by e-Books. I think the prices of books will go way down, so anyone looking to become rich by writing should perhaps look for another occupation.

DV: And now, my favorite question: If you could travel anywhere through time (either backward or forward) where would you go and why?

CR: I’d actually do both. I’d like to go back to the post-Civil War period to see what it was actually like (my grandmother was born in 1895, and told interesting stories about growing up), and then I’d like to go forward a hundred years to see what the world will be like.

DV: Great idea! I’m certainly curious to see how everything works out in the future…

Thank you for stopping by today, Charlie, and good luck with your writing!

If you’d like to learn more about Charles Ray and his work, please see the links below. But first, here’s an excerpt from his newest release, Frontier Justice:

EXCERPT:

Bass Reeves was a big man.

At six-feet, two-inches, and weighing one hundred eighty pounds, he would have been an imposing figure even without the bushy black mustache that covered his upper lip and hung down to the edge of his square chin, the long, muscular arms, and hands, each of which was bigger than two hands on most men.

He had just returned to his farm from a scouting job with the U.S. Marshals over in the Indian Territory, and during his absence, many of the chores which were beyond the abilities of his young sons had remained undone. Dressed in a faded pair of brown canvas pants and a blue wool shirt, he was hoisting a fence pole into the hole he’d just finished digging when he saw the rider approaching along the road from the town of Van Buren.

His curiosity was aroused. It wasn’t often that people from town came out this way, most especially just before the middle of the day. Removing the battered brown Stetson, he took a cloth from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his broad, brown brow, and stood watching as the single rider drew nearer.

When the rider was about a hundred yards off, Bass was able to distinguish features. He saw that it was a white man with a long, dark brown beard that came to a point midway down the front of the black coat he wore. His hair, dark brown, almost black, splayed out from under the white hat he wore pulled down low over his forehead. Bass saw the butt of a Winchester rifle jutting out of the scabbard attached to the right side of the saddle, and assumed that the man also had at least one pistol in a holster. Few men, white or black, went anywhere this close to Indian Territory without a firearm. Bass’s own weapon, a Winchester repeating rifle, was leaned against a small tree about ten feet from where he stood. He’d left his Colt .44 pistols at the house, not figuring he’d need them just to mend a little fence. And besides, they’d just have been in the way.

Not that he was in any way worried. The stranger didn’t seem to pose any threat. He rode up, pulling his horse to a halt about ten feet away. Up close, Bass noted that he was almost as tall as he was, but considerably lighter, maybe a hundred fifty pounds or so. His expression, while not hostile, wasn’t particularly friendly either. There was something about the face that seemed familiar.

The man dismounted. He left his rifle in the scabbard and tied his horse to the fence post Bass had just an hour earlier planted in the ground. As he walked closer, his coat flapped open revealing a revolver high on his right hip.

“Don’t seem particularly friendly,” Bass thought. “But, don’t seem threatenin’ neither.”

The man stopped just beyond his reach.

“You Bass Reeves?” he asked.

END EXCERPT

Blog and Social Media Links:

http://charlieray45.wordpress.com
http://charlesaray.blogspot.com
http://redroom.com/member/charles-a-ray
https://www.facebook.com/CharlieRay45
http://www.linkedin.com/in/charlieray
https://plus.google.com/u/0/106101898215720668007/posts
https://members.nationalgeographic.com/55370966487/
http://www.viewbug.com/member/charlesray

Links to selected recent books:

Frontier Justice:
Kindle
Paperback

The Culling:
Kindle
Paperback

Death and Taxis:
Kindle
Paperback

Advertisements

Awesome Authors–Ellis Vidler

photo of the authorMy guest today on Awesome Authors is the fabulous mystery-suspense author, Ellis Vidler. I’ve known Ellis since I found the supportive writer’s group, Sisters-in-Crime, and their sub-group, the Guppies. Ellis is an author, editor, and speaker. She grew up in North Alabama, studied English and art at All Saints College for Women, and thoroughly enjoyed studying creative writing under the great Scott Regan. She also taught elements of fiction at a community college. Her home is now the South Carolina Piedmont with her husband and dogs.

(From the author’s bio): As a child in the South, Ellis spent long, hot days imagining herself an Indian or pioneer or musketeer. At night she (and her whole family) read. From Tarzan and D’Artagnan to Anne Shirley and Nancy Drew, she lived them all. No angst in her childhood. So what did she do as an adult? Write fiction, what else? She loves creating characters and making them do what she wants, but mostly they take off on their own and leave her hurrying to catch up.

Hi Ellis! Thanks for joining us 🙂 Tell us a little about yourself and your writing:

EV: I grew up on everything from Tarzan to Nancy Drew and Jane Eyre, and I’ve always loved reading and writing. My career began with illustrating and morphed into editing and technical writing. Now I write fiction and love it.

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

EV: I can’t remember not wanting to be a writer.

DV: What compels you to write?

EV: The characters in my head—they want to have their stories told, even though the stories evolve and shoot off in new directions as I write them.cover for cold comfort

DV: What do you enjoy most about writing in the crime genre? Dislike? How much research goes into one of your books?

EV: Suspense is what I aim for, but there’s always an element of romance. Relationships are part of life, and for me, they make a story richer. I can’t stick with the required elements long enough for them to be called romances. For example, in Prime Target (coming out late this year) the main characters don’t meet until Chapter 10, a no-no in romance, but that’s the way it worked out. It’s a love story on my terms.

I research everything, trying to get the details right. It’s an obsession, but it’s also a good way to get sidetracked. One interesting fact can lead me down a lengthy detour.

“Relationships are part of life, and for me, they make a story richer…”

DV: Sounds familiar 🙂 In the McGuire Women series, your protagonists have psychic abilities. Why did you choose to go in that direction with your main characters? What were the challenges you faced?

cover for time of deathEV: My grandmother was psychic. I think hers was considered telepathy. She knew when any of her family was ill or injured, no matter where they were. I was there and saw it, so I know it was real. After Haunting Refrain came out, I found out her brother had the same ability. Psychic ability has always fascinated me, in spite of the charlatans. One of my cousins has some of it; however, none of the family “gift” passed to me.

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

EV: Yes, they do work their way in, but I alter them to fit the story. My main characters tend to like what I like and experience many of the same things. In Cold Comfort, Claire is with Riley in a small plane. The events of the flight and the storm actually happened to me and my husband—proof that ignorance is bliss.

DV: What are you currently working on?

EV: I just approved my first audio book, Time of Death (Note: see link at end of interview) Haunting Refrain will be out next month. I have two terrific narrators and can’t wait for the books to be released. Also, I’m trying hard to wrap up Prime Target and get it to my beta readers. I love it, but the story is different, and I don’t know how it will go over.cover for prime target

DV: That sounds intriguing! I can’t wait… What’s your process when you write? Do you outline or just get an idea and run with it?

EV: Until now I’ve been a pantser, running with a vague idea, but I’m determined to have something of an outline for the next book. I’d like to know if something’s not going to work before I’ve written 100 pages.

DV: I know that feeling 😛 Tell us about your road to publication. What words of wisdom would you like to impart to writers who are just starting out?

EV: Study your craft and persevere. My first book, Haunting Refrain, was much more luck than judgment. I had no idea how little I knew. It’s amazing that a publisher actually wanted it. I’ve been both traditionally and self-published. There are pros and cons to each. Writers have to decide which one suits them. Personally, I like the control I have in doing it myself and intend to stick with “indie” publishing.

“…I’m determined to have something of an outline for the next book. I’d like to know if something’s not going to work before I’ve written 100 pages.”

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

EV: Ideally, I’d like to have several more books out. Ebooks are becoming more and more popular, but I don’t think print books are going to disappear. With the advent of earbuds and tiny players, audio is gaining too. It’s a very exciting time for writers—lots of change and opportunity but the main thing is still to produce a good story. That won’t change.

DV: What strategies work best for you when promoting a novel?

EV: Goodness, I’ve tried so many. Twitter, Facebook, freebies (I doubt if I’ll do any more of those), ads on certain reader sites… I have a blog with lots of articles, I but rarely post now.

Luck, timing, and word of mouth are the best, and you have no control over any of those things.

“It’s a very exciting time for writers—lots of change and opportunity but the main thing is still to produce a good story.”

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

EV: I wouldn’t give up electricity, hot water, the microwave, or the Internet. I like my creature comforts. 🙂  I’d probably go back to my twenties (a long time ago) and get serious about my writing sooner.

DV: Hmm. Good idea. Now, if I could just figure out where I put that pesky Time Machine… Thanks so much for stopping by today, Ellis! Good luck on your new releases 😀

If you’d like to find out more about Ellis and her work, please check out the links below:

Amazon author page:

Facebook

Twitter

Website

Blog

Buy links (Amazon):

Haunting Refrain

Time of Death

Time of Death Audio (NEW!)

Cold Comfort  (On sale for .99!)


Awesome Authors–Marilyn Meredith

author Marilyn MeredithToday on Awesome Authors, please welcome prolific mystery author, Marilyn Meredith.  Marilyn writes two different series with which you might be familiar: The Tempe Crabtree mystery series, and, writing as F.M. Meredith, The Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

(From the author’s bio): Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Spirit Shapes from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Dangerous Impulses from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

D: Hi Marilyn! Welcome to Awesome Authors. Please tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

M: I live in the foothills of the Southern Sierra (CA) near a place much like where my heroine, Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. I lived many years by the beach in Southern California which was the inspiration for my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

I raised five children, have eighteen grandkids (raised some of them too), and now thirteen great-grands. I’m still married to the cute sailor I went on a blind date with years ago and when I’m not writing, we enjoy doing things with our family, and we’re avid movie goers.

D: How long have you been writing? Have you always written mysteries?

M: It seems I’ve written all my life—beginning when I was a child, however my first book didn’t get published until I was a grandmother. Though I wrote all through those years, I didn’t start sending manuscripts out until later, after the child rearing, PTAing, Camp Fire Girls, and many different jobs.

D: Tell us about your latest release. What was your favorite part of writing the book?

M: Spirit Shapes is number 12 or 13 in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series (depending upon whether or not you count the prequel). cover for Spirit Shapes

Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.

Though there is often a touch of the supernatural along with a mystery, Spirit Shapes is full of all sorts of otherworldly beings as well as Native American lore—and always a favorite of mine to write about.

“…I’m often writing one series while promoting the latest in the other.”

D: What inspires you and why?

M: All sorts of things inspire me from all sorts of challenging weather to meeting a new and interesting person who might end up as a character in my book. I also love to hear people tell tales about their encounters with haunted places and ghosts. As for my other series, I know a lot of police officers and I am definitely thrilled to listen to their stories. The inspiration always leads my imagination on a new path to write about.

D: What do you find most challenging about writing two series? Why?

M: The most challenging is that I’m often writing one series while promoting the latest in the other. Writing each one is easy because there are so many differences between the two. The Deputy Tempe Crabtree series is written almost always from her point-of-view. Most of the action goes on in the mountains or on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation. The Rocky Bluff P.D. series is about many officers and their families so is written from several different points-of-view. The location is a beach community in Southern California. It’s like putting on a different mind-set for each series. One thing that helps me is I write the Tempe series as Marilyn Meredith and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series as F.M. Meredith. It’s a bit like changing my persona when I change author names.

“…my first book didn’t get published until I was a grandmother.”

D: Tell me about your process: do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

M: A tad of both. I always begin by thinking about the new characters I’ll be introducing whether it will be the murder victim or those who wanted this person dead. Or perhaps I’ll decide to do a different way of presenting the crime and what kind of twists I might use. I start making notes about what I want to happen. Most of my stories take place over a short period of time, so I start making a daily calendar. On Tuesday this happens, etc.

When I begin writing, the story starts telling itself. Ideas come in a jumble and I always write them down otherwise I’d never remember. And of course, when I think I’m through, I have to go through and make sure I’ve tied up loose ends and not left anything out.

D: What do you like best about writing mysteries?

M: In my mysteries, though not all the personal issues may be completely tied up, the bad guy or gal always is discovered in the end. Unfortunately, real life isn’t always that way. I like being in control when it comes to conquering evil, no matter what form it might be in.

“I like being in control when it comes to conquering evil…”

D: Do your books have an underlying theme or message?

M: When I’m writing, I don’t think in terms of theme or giving a message, though sometimes when I’m done I realize that I have. One of the early readers of Spirit Shapes said the story left her feeling hopeful.

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

M: My first advice is to not talk about writing or what you’re going to write, but put your bottom in the chair and write—and write—and write.  Second one is to never give up. No matter how many rejections you get, learn from them, rewrite and keep on learning and submitting. (I received nearly 30 rejections for my first book that was finally published.)

D: Which writers have influenced you the most?

M: Probably Tony Hillerman when it came to writing about Native Americans. I also love both of J. A. Jance’s series. There are many, many more.cover for Raging Waters

D: What practices have you found to be most effective in promoting your work?

M: I love blogging and going on blog tours—when I go on a tour my sales go up. But lately Facebook has also been effective. Also when you go to a mystery convention, I like to find readers and make friends with them. Some of them actually buy my books.

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

cover for dangerous impulsesM: If I could take with me what I know now, I’d go backwards enough so that I’d handle my writing career a bit differently. I’d learn more about writing first. When I thought my work was done, I’d find a good editor. Once I was published, I’d do lots of promotion.

D: I like it—always committed to the craft 🙂 . Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Marilyn. Good luck with SPIRIT SHAPES.

Below is an excerpt for Marilyn’s latest release, SPIRIT SHAPES. For more information about the author, please see the links after the excerpt.

Excerpt from Spirit Shapes:

The icy atmosphere settled over Lorna Collins like a shroud, the spirits already making themselves known even before she stepped inside. She shivered but smiled. The haunts in this place, the Wilkinson House, should please her group of ghost hunters. The last two places she’d guided these enthusiasts had been a bust.

The evening began perfectly. Everyone arrived a few minutes before nine. Low clouds settled over the mountains. Looming up from atop a hillock, the two-story structure peered at them through darkened windows. The only light came from flashlight beams as the ghost hunters approached and climbed the rustic steps created from railroad ties.

Lorna gathered the group on the porch to give her instructions. Each person who came on this ghost hunt had been required to read and sign an agreement. The first rule was to keep an open mind. Participants could bring cameras and audio or visual taping devices. Phones could be on, since many used the cameras in their cells, as long as the ring tones were silenced. There were other rules, such as carrying proper identification in case someone noticed the lights in what was known to be an unoccupied structure and sent law enforcement to investigate. Since all other houses were located at least a half mile away, Lorna wasn’t worried about that kind of interruption.

“The quieter we can be as we move around, the more likely we are to hear or be able to tape any strange noises or voices. You can take as many photos as you like. There are two types of spirits we may encounter. One, someone who was alive at one time and has remained on this earthly plane for some reason. The ghost might not realize he or she is dead. Or perhaps it may have some unfinished business. These spirits could be good or bad, depending on what kind of person they were when they were alive.”

A slight murmur rose from the group.

“Don’t worry. They aren’t dangerous. You might also witness what is called a residual haunting. This is an echo of something that happened at another time.” Lorna paused. “I am obligated to tell you that though I’ve yet to encounter this kind of spirit, there are those that were never human. They are malevolent and some might call them demons.”

Again the group whispered among themselves.

“Because of that unlikely possibility, we’ll take a few seconds to put ourselves in the right frame of mind. If you are a religious person, say a prayer of protection.” Lorna bowed her head and counted to ten. “Okay. Here we go. Explore to your heart’s content.”

END EXCERPT

To buy Spirit Shapes in all formats directly from the publisher:

Mundania Press

And of course, it’s available on Amazon.

Website

Blog

Amazon Author Page

 


Awesome Authors–Denise Hartman

Author Denise HartmanHappy Thursday, everybody! Today on Awesome Authors I get to interview mystery author and intrepid world traveler, Denise Hartman. Denise is a former journalist and has worked as a freelance writer, graphic designer, and video producer. She currently lives in Madrid, Spain.  Here’s her bio (from the author)

“Denise’s background in journalism and television production has influenced her writing style and habits, while living overseas for several years, currently in Madrid, Spain, gives Denise’s imagination new sights and sounds for her mysteries. She has been a member of Sisters In Crime since 1996. Denise has a passion for reading, books, travel, dogs, tea, and teapots– not necessarily in that order.”

And now, heeeere’s Denise 🙂

DV: Hi Denise! Welcome to Awesome Authors. Tell us something about yourself.

DH: I’m short and that seems to be the first thing people want to talk about with me. I stopped growing vertically when I was 10, it’s been a horizontal journey ever since!

DV: LOL. When did you realize you were a writer?

DH: When I was in fifth grade (around the time I stopped growing!), I wrote a mystery play and the class performed it. I already loved stories but I realized I wanted to be a writer. When I started getting paid to write after college, I thought, “I’m really AM a writer.”

“This perspective of not just visiting but living day in and day out in and with another culture has forced me to consider other ways of doing life…”

DV:  Don’t you just love that ‘aha’ moment when you know you’re a writer? Tell us about your latest book. What was your favorite part about writing it? Least favorite?

DH: Nosy Neighbors will be released on Dec. 1. I have loved spending time with these characters, many of them in their senior years in retirement in Florida. It’s an environment I’ve spent a lot of time in with my grandmother. It’s fun for me.

The hardest part of writing for me is editing. By the third or fourth pass, I know the story so well and it’s not as much fun. I also seem to always write when I’m somewhere else geographically, so keeping things accurate is a challenge too.

DV: How has living abroad influenced your writing?cover for Killed in Kruger

DH: I love new places.  I grew up in Kansas City and now I’ve lived in Brussels, Belgium and in Madrid, Spain. This perspective of not just visiting but living day in and day out in and with another culture has forced me to consider other ways of doing life, whether I like it or not. This new way of looking at perspectives on life I take to my characters and my places in my stories. I hope it gives more authenticity to the various personalities and environments. It’s easier to step outside of my way of looking at the world and incorporate some other ideas because I’m forced to look at life differently than I naturally would by the common place every day situations of living in a foreign country.

DV: Totally get that, Denise. It’s one of the best reasons I can think of to travel. What inspires you and why?

DH: Exploring new spaces is really energizing for me. I see more detail in faces and imagine intrigue behind every new facade. It can be the simplest thing that triggers an idea, a look or a street corner. It just sets off my writer antenna and my mind starts whirring.

DV: What do you find most challenging about writing a novel? Why?

DH: I love to plot and that comes to me naturally. My first job was as a news reporter and we didn’t have space for description, so it is always a challenge to me to put enough detail and keep it consistent thru out the length of the book.

“It can be the simplest thing that triggers an idea”

DV: Tell me about your process: do you plot your novels or are you a “pantser”? What do you like best about writing?

DH: I have done two books and numerous short stories “pantser” style. I enjoyed the exploration of the characters and what would happen next. Nosy Neighbors which is coming out soon started life as a short story. The short story worked as an outline and I added to it as I had ideas. I enjoyed this and found the book came together better, so I’ve started “narrative” outline for my next idea.

DV: How do you develop your characters?

DH: Some characters are just whole in my mind after the idea strikes me. Others come from mutations of things I read or images I see or a mishmash of people I have met. I once saw a guy in an airport that was a dead ringer for a character in Killed in Kruger, my first novel. He wasn’t a nice character so I was a little creeped out.

DV: Do you do much research for your novels?

DH: I don’t start out doing so much unless you count trips I take to the places I write about before the ideas are fully formed. I do speed researching of individual facts while I write and also do more of a research-edit pass to get things as right as possible after the draft is done.

DV: Is there an underlying message in your books?

DH: I’ve thought about underlying messages or themes after the fact, not as a precursor to writing. One consistent theme I find in my short stories and novels is a strong woman protagonist which was never intentional on my part. I was happy to discover that learning contentment was also a theme in Killed in Kruger.

DV: I think if you’re a strong woman yourself, you tend to write them as characters. What advice would you give to new writers?

DH: Persevere and find ways to enjoy the journey. It’s easy as a writer to only look at a finished book or a sold book or a certain number of sales as “success” but if you enjoy the process, there’s less pressure.

DV: Which writers have influenced you the most?

DH: Sometimes it’s the last book I read is what is influencing me but I particularly like suspenseful, tight plots. Mary Higgins Clark, Edna Buchanan, Charlotte Bronte, Agatha Christie, and I could go on!

One consistent theme I find in my short stories and novels is a strong woman protagonist…”

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

DH: I have actually worked in the book publishing business, doing layout or interfacing with printers in my graphic design side of work. When self-publishing became common and it was clear that books were headed into the same sort of renaissance situation that music has experienced, I decided why not? I had the knowledge for much of the process already, and besides it’s more fun than asking agents to look at query letters.

DV: No kidding 🙂 What practices have you found to be most effective in promoting your books?

DH: Don’t stop. I have a busy day job and I’ve found that if I just keep pecking away at social media and blogging etc, I grow bit by bit. I’d love to have more marketing time but some is better than none.

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

DH: I think I’d go sci-fi. I don’t know how far in the future but I know I don’t want to go to less utilities and modern amenities. I’d be a pilot who could fly in outer space or a captain of star ship.

DV: That would be way cool 🙂 Thanks, Denise, for submitting to the interview today. To hear more about Denise’s travels or books check out her blog, her website, or find her on Facebook. An excerpt from her new book, Nosy Neighbors, can be found below.

Amazon Link  for Killed in Kruger

Barnes and Noble  

Smashwords

Goodreads  

Twitter 

EXCERPT

Nosy Neighbors, a novel of suspense

Chapter One

Blanche pulled up short with her key in the door. Something was wrong. Blanche’s key flipped loosely in her apartment door. She stared at the tiny brass knocker and peep-hole. It didn’t feel right. It was like the door wasn’t locked. She knew she locked it. She always did even when she trotted down to knock on a condo neighbor’s door.

She crept inside and looked around. Footprints in the freshly vacuumed cream carpet pattern weren’t hers. She’d vacuumed this morning. The sliding patio door was open a crack. She knew she’d closed it after breakfast outside. Temp predictions for 90 made sure she popped the a/c on before she left.

“Burgled!” She said out loud when her eyes moved to the kitchen counter. Her last ATM withdrawal of cash was not on the counter where she left it. She’d taken the tip for Sammy, her hair dresser and left the rest lying on the counter.

She reached for her weapon of choice and pushed 911 on her telephone.

“All operators are busy. Please be prepared to explain the nature of your emergency.”

Right. Blanche knew that meant that officers were busy too and weren’t going to be dispatched to her tiny burglary in the Seaside Flats. She dialed Alice the condo secretary and explained the situation.

“Oh yeah. Sarah in 201 has missed some cash and the Achmeds in 420 reported some silver figurines missing.”

“What? Why haven’t you sent out a warning or something to the residents?”

“We’re getting one organized, but Klaud had problems with his duplication-thingee.”

“Printer?”

“Yeah, something.”

“You guys are incompetent.” Blanche drummed her fresh red nails on the end table by the red phone appreciating how they matched.

“What are you all worked up about? Would you have put your jewels in the bank or something?” Alice knew how to dish it back. They’d been on the condo board together for years.

“Maybe.” No one needed to know that Harry had never been the jewelry buying type. He wasn’t really the buying of anything type.

“You coulda left your door unlocked. You should be more careful,” Alice said.

“I never leave my door unlocked. Not even when I go to the laundry room.”

“Well, we’re all getting older. Maybe you forgot.”

“I did not forget. And who are you calling old?” Blanche heard Alice snort on the other end of the line. She knew Alice was older than her. They always exchanged good-natured banter. “Anyway, I thought someone in the condo should know. I’m driving over to the police station now and talk to them.”

“To tell the truth, they haven’t been much help.” Alice complained.

“We’ll see what I can do about that. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.” Nobody walked off with $200 from Blanche Binkley’s kitchen and nobody was getting away with thinking she was an absent minded old lady either.

END EXCERPT


Awesome Authors–K.S. Brooks

Today I am forced get to interview the curmudgeonly fabulous K.S. Brooks, multi-talented, multi-genre author and co-administrator of the global powerhouse that is Indies Unlimited. (Full disclosure: I am a contributing minion and I had to resort to extortion KS has graciously agreed to allow me an extra ration of gruel for posting this travesty interview.) What follows is the bio her hockey playing pool boy sent for me to use. I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you gentle readers that this insane concoction information could possibly be true–or not. Just remember, we’re talking about K.S. Brooks here. Consider yourself warned…

KS BrooksK.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of twenty-two titles, and co-administrator of the multi-author, multi-national website IndiesUnlimited.com. She is the creator of the Mr. Pish educational children’s book series as well as the Agent Night suspense series. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books, and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. In November 2012, she founded Indie Authors for Hurricane Sandy Library Recovery which provides brand new books to libraries in need at no cost. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website or her Amazon.com Author Page.”

And, without further ado, heeeeere’s K.S.:

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

K: I’m an old, yet somewhat sexy (well, to people with bad eyesight), curmudgeonly hermit, who for the time being lives in the wilderness of northeastern Washington State. My first book was published in 2001. I came out here late in 2008 to write (and to get away from people – I told you I was a curmudgeonly hermit) and since then I’ve published 21 additional titles. (Technically, I started writing full-time in 2009.) My latest release of a novel is Triple Dog Dare, a humorous chicklit story I co-wrote with Evil Mastermind, Stephen Hise. The book was inspired by my dear, sweet, and somewhat mischievous Mr. Pish.cover for triple dog dare

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

K: I get this question so often (at least I did back in 2011 when I was doing a ton of interviews. I’ve pretty much stopped doing interviews because of how time-consuming they are and because I hate answering questions.) that I actually wrote a post about it: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/04/09/inspiration-phooey/

D: When did you realize you were a writer?

K: It might have been third grade. I’m not completely certain, but I do recall writing a ton of stories back then. I think when I saw that HG Wells had ripped off my story about the island of talking animals – well, that’s probably when it sank in.

“What the hell is this? is commonly heard in my home…”

cover for Mr. Pish Goes to the Farm

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

K: Well, that’s a long and complicated story, since I was literally – and quite accidentally – one of the first indie authors. The story of my bizarre journey was actually the first thing I ever wrote for Indies Unlimited – here – http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2011/10/25/my-strange-new-world-by-special-guest-author-k-s-brooks/

D: You are obviously a prolific writer. How hard is it to switch between writing children’s educational books, snark, and action/adventure?

Cover for Night UndoneK: I have ADHD, so it’s not difficult at all. In fact, I welcome the change in gears. It’s easy to burn out on a project. Having another one or two or ten in process simultaneously is very appeasing to my multiple personalities. The biggest problem I have, actually, is trying to figure out how to classify (by genre) what I’ve written once I’m done. Is it a romance? A mystery? A character-driven drama? I dunno. What the hell is this? is commonly heard in my home.

D: What are you working on now?

K: Now? If I told you, I’d have to kill you. Really. It’s top secret. Like really secret. Sorry. After the first of the year, however, I’ll be able to discuss the upcoming and long-awaited sequel to Lust for Danger, possibly a couple of comedies, a vampire book I have to write under a different name, a mystery, perhaps another Mr. Pish book, and if the Feds come through with my Witness Protection Program credentials, a seedy tell-all about some not-so-nice people.Author with Mr. Pish

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?

K: I don’t have a process. I do what needs to be done. Usually that means doing nothing for most of the year and then cramming and releasing three or four books in one month. Rinse, repeat. Next thing you know – 7 titles added to the backlist! That looks really impressive to people who don’t realize the rest of the year I sat around eating bon-bons, watching Oprah, and getting my feet rubbed by the Indies Unlimited chimp. Life is trying, isn’t it?

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

cover for IU SnarkopediaK: I always make my own deadlines. I like doing that because then I can use it as an excuse not to do things that other people ask me to do which I frankly don’t want to do.

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

K: Depends on how well I know the subject. I tend to over-research, which sometimes slows me down, but hardly ever is a waste of time. I’ve done research on everything from bomb detonators (why I’ve been on the FBI’s favorite people list since like 1991) to desert survival to marine life in the Falkland Islands. I’ve also taken a few punches, and gotten a concussion during the process. I wrote an article about some of my more extreme research “experiences” here: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2012/06/21/dont-try-this-at-home/

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?

K: I have no idea. The way things change, so rapidly, anything could happen. One thing I know will not happen, however, is I will not be growing a beard like Konrath. A hockey player once told me that I am by far the least hairy person he’d ever met.

 “I sat around eating bon-bons, watching Oprah, and getting my feet rubbed by the Indies Unlimited chimp…” 

cover for Lust for Danger

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

K: Seriously – do your homework. You wouldn’t start a company without doing market research, interviewing vendors, and doing credit checks. You wouldn’t let your company put a product to market without testing it or researching your distribution choices. Give your work the same amount of attention, if not more.

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

cover for A Year with Mr. PishK: I would like to go to France, in the mid-1800s and be the first person to taste a croissant as it was invented. It would be nice if Alexandre Dumas was there, as well, so I could smack him for stealing my musketeer story ideas. And I took French for 6 years in school, so at least I could say those six years weren’t a total waste of time.

D: Thanks for stopping by, K.S. I assume the purple llama is yours, right? Right. He left a present on the carpeting. Most generous.

Anyway, here’s the description and an excerpt from Brooks and Hise’s new release, Triple Dog Dare. To find out more about K.S. Brooks, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Triple Dog Dare.

When wealthy champion dog breeder Stu Hockersmith presents prize pup Lord Louis to lovely Bianca Jameson, he hopes to win her heart. Things don’t always go as planned. Bianca, oblivious to Stu’s amorous intentions, takes the adorable pooch back to California where she goes on to become a celebrated author, writing books about little Lo-Lou.

Bianca thinks she’s living the good life with her Norse god of a fiancé, former fashion photographer Lars Lundgren. When she realizes Lars has spent all their money and committed her to a new book with a looming deadline, Bianca pulls out all the stops to get the job done. But she doesn’t know about all of Lars’ deals.

To make matters worse, Stu is informed that gifting Lord Louis broke the kennel club bylaws and he now must get the pup back before his father’s legal team takes action against the woman he still loves.

Stu needs Lo-Lou to satisfy his father. Bianca needs Lo-Lou to finish her book. Lars needs Lo-Lou to work out a secret deal with a movie producer. Lo-Lou can’t be in three places at the same time. Or can he?

Triple Dog Dare is available from Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

From Chapter 23:

Terri started to protest, but Bianca spoke first. “I’m sorry Stuart. You’re right. We haven’t been honest with you.” She glanced down at her lap as if mustering courage. “The truth is, I’m in trouble. I foolishly let Lars handle the money so I could concentrate on my writing. He got us – got me – way in over my head. Among other things, he bound us to a contract to do another book without telling me about it, and we are way past the original deadline and even the publisher’s legal, lawyer-type period.” She seemed uncertain how to word her last sentence and fumbled a bit before looking over to Terri who nodded nervously and fervently.

Bianca swallowed and took a deep breath. “Luckily I bumped into Terri and she talked to the publisher and got us another two weeks to get them a manuscript. Even if we can actually finish a book in two weeks, that will only solve one of my problems. So there is the ugly, embarrassing, and humiliating truth.” When she finished speaking, she drooped a bit and stared vacantly at the plate before her.

Terri reached over to place a hand on Bianca’s arm in consolation and said, “We were hoping you might help us, Stu. I know now we should have been honest with you. I’m sorry. It was my idea, not Bianca’s.”

Stu felt the weight of his own scheme pressing hard upon his better conscience. He tried to tell himself it was okay, because he was actually trying to help them while they, on the other hand, had been hoping to finagle money from him. But there was Bianca – so sad – and showing genuine remorse, as was Terri.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you either. You may as well know the Colonel has initiated legal proceedings to recover Lord – I mean Lo-Lou. Under the Oakwood Hills Charter, the dogs technically belong to the corporation. It’s something that is done to protect the bloodlines. The long and short of it is that I didn’t really have any right to give him to you in the first place.”

The expression on Bianca’s face changed from one of regret and guilt to one of shock and horror. Her mouth dropped open. “You came out here to take away my dog?” Her posture stiffened and she sat back away from the table. Tears welled in her eyes. “On top of everything else? Lo-Lou is the only thing I have left!”

Stu felt a near-panic surging up inside him at her reaction. “Oh, no. No, not that. No no no no no. Well, yes, but not exactly.” Bianca burst into tears as he heaped this final, large straw onto her already heavy burden. Terri leaned over to hold Bianca in a consoling embrace and shot Stu a harsh, narrow-eyed look.

END EXCERPT

www.ksbrooks.com (official website)

https://www.facebook.com/KSBrooksAuthorcover for Bad Book

https://twitter.com/AuthorKSBrooks

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3418971.K_S_Brooks

http://www.youtube.com/agentnight

More links at: http://ksbrooks.com/contact/links/

cover for Mr. Pish's Woodland AdventureMr. Pish:

www.MrPish.com (official website)

https://www.facebook.com/MrPish

https://twitter.com/MisterPish

http://www.youtube.com/mrpishvideos

More links at: http://mrpish.com/about-mr-pish/links/

Amazon Author Pagecover for Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World

Smashwords


Awesome Authors–S.L. Smith

Welcome back to Awesome Authors! Today I’m excited to interview mystery author and fellow Sister-In-Crime, S.L. Smith. Here’s her bio:

Author S.L. SmithA lifelong resident of Minnesota, S. L. Smith was born in St. Cloud, and moved to the Twin Cities after graduating from St. Catherine University in St. Paul. When writing mysteries, S. L. draws upon her degree in psychology, a career with vast amounts of law enforcement interaction, and her thrill for the investigative hunt. A voracious reader since childhood and a lover of mysteries, she uses her knowledge of Minnesota and human nature to create gripping stories.

S. L. is a member of the National Writers Union and Sisters in Crime (an organization that supports mystery writers).

D: Hi S.L.—it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself.

S: Hi DV. Thanks for the opportunity to meet your followers.

I’m a lifelong resident of Minnesota. Love it here, summer and winter! My family abandoned me. Everyone else moved to the east coast, from Maryland to Florida. I try not to take it personally, but …

Had a thirty-two year career in public safety. Much of it involved technical writing. After retiring, writing mysteries became my only full time job.

D: Your mysteries are set in Minnesota, an area with which I’m well-acquainted 🙂 . What inspired you to write in that genre and in that region of the US?

S: I’ve been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember, and mysteries are my favorite genre. Years ago, I wondered if I too could write them. Couldn’t resist that challenge. Had to give it a try. I began that endeavor in the late nineties. Threw out the first attempt, but didn’t let that discourage me. Came up with a new idea. It became my first published novel, Blinded by the Sight.Blinded Final COVER

My mysteries are set in Minnesota, because I know Minnesota. Accuracy is important to me. Despite being a native Minnesotan, I research my settings. I travel to the various locations mentioned in the books, ensuring they are accurately portrayed. Have to tell a story about that. A friend told me she knew the exact house I referenced in my first book. Referring to the interior and exterior, she said I described it perfectly. The interesting thing is that I passed by the houses in the neighborhood, but didn’t go inside any of them. Hmm. Anyway, people say my novels have a Midwestern feel. That would be a problem if they were set in New York, Los Angeles, etc. 🙂

D: Describe your latest release. What was your favorite part about writing it?

S: Running Scared is my second mystery. It tells the story of Nick Rice, and of the fear that drove his actions. Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney, the protagonists from Blinded by the Sight, are back. Their investigation of a horrific crash on Wheelock Parkway in St. Paul leaves a lot of people running scared.

Running Scared coverI love the writing itself, but the research is probably my favorite part. Here’s why. While writing Blinded by the Sight, I called the county medical examiner’s office, looking for answers to some procedural and wording questions. Well, I hit the jackpot! I hooked up with the lead investigator, and he’s a gem. Hence, I called him again with questions for Running Scared. While answering my questions, several times he said to verify a point with my law enforcement expert. I told him my law enforcement expert wasn’t from the St. Paul Police Department, and I was having trouble connecting with someone with inside knowledge. He contacted some of his buddies with the department. Told them a friend needed help. Voilà! I spent an hour on the phone with the head of homicide. Wow! It blew me away.

D: Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? How much research do you do when writing a novel?

S: I literally research everything! I spoke with the head of St. Paul Search and Rescue about the vehicles that would be dispatched to a crash, and what his personnel would do on scene. I spoke with not only the head of homicide in the St. Paul PD, but also repeatedly with a retired investigator from the department, thereby obtaining procedural information, protocols, etc. I checked the colors available for different makes and models of cars in the pertinent years. I also researched the vehicle that was stolen the most often. I called two high schools to obtain information on the handling of absences, dress code, what cops would do if they wanted to speak with a kid during the school day, etc., etc. I had to find out who wrote Yankee Doodle Dandy, and you have to read the book to find out why. 🙂 You name it, I researched it. I am intent on making my novels accurate.

D: Who is your favorite character and why?

S: The lead protagonist, Pete Culnane, is my favorite. I like the way he treats people, his professionalism and drive, and his sense of humor. He’s someone I’d like to know. Heck, I’d like to be married to him, if I could cope with his crazy schedule. 🙂

D: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

S: It had to be to get someone with no connections to me to critique my books. Family and friends are wonderful, but they’re also influenced by our connections. It’s impossible for them to give objective assessments. I did, and it gave me the confidence to search for and find a publisher.

“…I’m driven to complete a project, once I begin it. With rare exceptions, I write from the time I get up until I go to bed.”

D: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

S: I’d tell them to sit down and write. Try to do it every day. Don’t let their insecurities slow them down. Don’t do any editing until they reach the end. There’s plenty of time for that later.

D: What’s your process? Do you write every day? Do you outline or write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants?

S: I’m driven to complete a project, once I begin it. With rare exceptions, I write from the time I get up, until I go to bed. I even write while eating. Belief in the importance of exercise means I take a break every night to work out on a Nordic Track cross-country ski machine. Since a different part of my brain is working at those times, plot problems are often resolved while I’m doing this. That provides motivation to fit in this disruption.

I definitely write by the seat-of-my-pants. Just the same, before I begin, I have to get to know my characters. To do this, I write a detailed description of each one. Then I sit down and start writing the novel. When my fingers come in contact with the keyboard, the story begins to flow. There’s some crazy connection between my brain and the keyboard, and I can’t seem to write without it.

D: What are you working on now?

S: The third Pete Culnane mystery, Murder on a Stick, is underway. The first draft and first revision are behind me. My goal is to complete this novel in time for a September, 2014 release.

D: What do you like to read?

S: I like everything that’s well written. I belong to a book club, and that helps me expand my reading beyond mysteries. In addition to mysteries, I loved Harry Potter, always anxiously await the next book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series, and am impatiently waiting to learn what happens with Christopher Snow (Dean Koontz).

D: Who are your favorite authors?

S: I’m a fan of John Sandford, William Kent Krueger, Mary Logue, Sue Grafton, Robert Crais, Dean Koontz, Diana Gabaldon and J.K. Rowling to name but a few. I think they all do a terrific job of creating characters I love and/or hate.

“…When my fingers come in contact with the keyboard, the story begins to flow. There’s some crazy connection between my brain and the keyboard, and I can’t seem to write without it.”

D: Love John Sandford. Another Minnesotan, of course 🙂 What do you do when you’re not writing?

S: When not writing, I spend a lot of time reading, visiting family and friends or watching cop shows and the news on TV. These days, I’m also busy marketing Running Scared. That’s a stressful job for me. I’m much more comfortable talking to my computer than to bookstores.

D: Yeah, public speaking is the antithesis of what we writers do and can definitely be stressful. Now for my favorite question: If you could time travel (past or future) where would you go and why?

S: I’d go back to the mid-1800s in central Minnesota. For years, I worked on genealogy and family memoirs. I want to meet and get to know some of the people portrayed in the pages of the memoirs. I worked to show not only facts about them, but also their personalities. Lots of holes remain. I’d love to fill them.

D: What a fantastic idea! Thanks again for stopping by, S.L. I enjoyed the interview. Here’s the description and an excerpt of S.L.’s latest release, Running Scared:

DESCRIPTION

Nick Rice knows someone is after him. He doesn’t know who, and he doesn’t know why. Efforts to determine either or both are unsuccessful. This morning, during his daily run, he concocts a sure-fire solution. For the first time in weeks, he relaxes.

 St. Paul investigators Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney must determine if a horrific crash on Wheelock Parkway was accidental or deliberate. Their step-by-step investigation uncovers secrets that leave more than one person running scared.

EXCERPT

For the eighth straight day, fear dictated Nick’s thoughts and actions.

All of this began with a sporadic feeling of being watched. As the days passed, these feelings increased. Intuitive by nature, Nick trusted his instincts.

…his irritation with this intrusion evolved into anger. Next came frustration over his inability to identify or even get a glimpse of his stalker. Anxiety followed.

Now he lived in fear.

… the longer this continued, the more desperate he became.

He told friends his sister was experiencing this problem and asked for their advice. He knew that had all the markings of going to the doctor and asking about a friend’s symptoms. Even so, he was unable to devise a better plan. He hoped his friends would buy his story. When one friend began pressing for the truth, Nick abandoned that ploy.

He considered discussing this with his wife. Heather knew something was bothering him. She broached the subject, but he insisted she’d imagined it.

She tended to be an alarmist. If he gave her any indication that he, she, or their three kids were in danger, she wouldn’t drop it. She’d go into overdrive, looking for a solution. She wouldn’t let up … She’d talk about it ad nauseam. Then two things would be driving Nick over the edge.

Nick’s conscience grabbed him by the throat and dragged him back to reality. He wasn’t being fair. Heather was a blessing. Their marriage had its problems, but he loved her and was committed to making it work. She brought out the best in him. She helped him in countless, unacknowledged ways.

Thanks to her, their family survived the year he was unemployed. He’d spent an average of sixty hours a week searching for a job on the Internet, networking, and knocking on doors. After some radical adjustments to their lifestyle, the money she made as a management consultant paid the bills and kept the family solvent.

She kept more than their finances afloat. She kept his ego from crashing and burning as he was passed over time and again. She created ways to demonstrate his value to her and the kids. At one low point, she had the kids competing to see who could devise the longest list of reasons he was the world’s best dad. No wonder he was crazy about her.

She’d talked him through his nervousness over accepting a job he feared might compromise his earning potential.

 … She was right. Taking that job positioned him for the promotion that came within a year at Regisson Medical, an up-and-coming medical device company. Now, as a VP, he managed tech support.

Halfway through his daily run, Nick’s thoughts returned to his nemesis. Until his displeasure with the problem transitioned into fear, he’d concentrated almost as much on coping with the situation as reversing it.

It seemed imperative that he eliminate the problem. But how?

END EXCERPT

To find out more about S.L. Smith, visit her website and Facebook author page:

Website

Facebook


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


%d bloggers like this: