Tag Archives: awesome authors

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!)

Advertisements

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–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


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–T.D. McKinnon

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

Photo of TD McKinnon

TD McKinnon

(From his bio):

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

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

D: Hi TD! Thanks for being here 🙂

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

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

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

D: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D: What advice would you give to new writers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXCERPT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END EXCERPT

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

http://www.tdmckinnon.com

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

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

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

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

 qr code for TD's website

Amazon Kindle – Amazon UK
Smashwords

Lulu
iBookstores:
   UK       USA       Canada       France       Australia       Germany
KOBO
Barnes & Noble
Diesel
SONY eBookstore


%d bloggers like this: