Tag Archives: Interview
2 Comments | tags: characters, Interview, Kate Jones Thrillers, Thriller Ink | posted in Author Interviews, internet, Interviews, Kate Jones, Kindle, marketing, promotion, pros and cons of self-publishing, self-publishing, travel, writing, writing advice, writing life
Today, the tables are turned and the inimitable Lucy Pireel interviews me on her blog. I’d love it if you’d stop by and leave a comment 🙂
And here’s her great review of Yucatan Dead…
Today 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?
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?
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?
M: 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.”
To buy Spirit Shapes in all formats directly from the publisher:
And of course, it’s available on Amazon.
8 Comments | tags: awesome authors, Interview, Marilyn Meredith, mystery author | posted in Author Interviews, Awesome Authors, characters, guest blogging, Interviews, marketing, promotion, Uncategorized, writing, writing advice, writing life
Just finished up another live interview, this time with the charming Barry Eva on A Book and a Chat. Barry’s a Brit living in Connecticut who has been hosting authors on his show for a few years now and is one of the best interviewers I’ve had the pleasure to work with. We had to deal with a couple of technical difficulties but all in all, a fun interview! Click here to listen.
2 Comments | tags: Barry Eva, Blog Talk Radio, Connecticut, Interview, Kate Jones, t, y Eva, Yucatan Dead | posted in Author Interviews, characters, human trafficking, internet, Interviews, Kate Jones, promotion, writing
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…
“K.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.
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…”
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?
K: 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.
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?
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…”
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?
K: 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?
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.
www.ksbrooks.com (official website)
More links at: http://ksbrooks.com/contact/links/
www.MrPish.com (official website)
More links at: http://mrpish.com/about-mr-pish/links/
16 Comments | tags: awesome authors, curmudgeon, Indies Unlimited, Interview, K.S. Brooks, minions, Mr. Pish, purple llamas | posted in Author Interviews, Awesome Authors, Interviews, Kindle, new book, promotion, research, self-publishing, writing, writing advice, writing life
Today 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.
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.
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.
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?
J: 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.
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?
J: 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.
“…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:
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.
To find out more about Judy and her books, click on the links below:
2 Comments | tags: author interview, awesome authors, Interview, Judy Alter, mystery, Sisters in Crime, westerns | posted in Author Interviews, Awesome Authors, characters, guest blogging, Interviews, promotion, writing, writing advice, writing life
Today I’m excited to have prolific writer Jennifer Conner as my guest! Jennifer and I have known each other for years, ever since she left me alone on the fifth floor of a dilapidated old building during an earthquake here in Washington State in 2001…(okay, it didn’t exactly happen that way, but that’s what I like to tell people 🙂 ) She’s the person I credit with dragging me to my first writer’s group and urging me to get involved, something for which I can’t thank her enough. And, she’s an all-around terrific person who gives buckets back to the indie community. So now, without further ado, heeeere’s Jennifer…
D: Hi Jennifer! Thanks for joining us. Tell us a little about yourself and what you write:
J: I’ve been a professional author for eight years. I write contemporary romance, paranormal romance, historical romance and erotica. I have three full-length novels, 2 novellas and 30 short stories in print. I also help run an indie publishing company, Books to Go Now.
D: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
J: I’ve written since I was young. As I grew older, I wanted to feel passion about something. Writing was that for me.
“…I like to write the length I feel the story should be…”
D: Tell us about your new short story, I’LL BE SEEING YOU THROUGH TIME in two sentences.
J: It’s 1942, the world is at war when Glenn steps through a time portal and finds himself in 2013. Can the Dimension Keepers find a way to reunite them, or will Glenn and Jewel be ripped apart by the fabric of time forever?
D: Love time-travel stories! What compelled you to write this one?
J: In my mother’s old photos, I found a portrait of a young man my mother was engaged to marry. His destroyer was torpedoed in the South Pacific and he was killed. I wondered how different her life would have been if he’d survived and come back to her. I decided to give them a happy ending.
D: You have over 30 short stories available online. What do you like about the form? Dislike?
J: I like to write the length I feel the story should be. That’s the fun of being with an indie publisher. I get to write the story ideas I have and make it the length it needs to be to tell a good story.
D: Many of your stories are about the protagonist overcoming hardship and/or disabilities. Why did you choose to go in that direction with your characters?
J: What fun are perfect people? I love good angsty characters. In my novel, SHOT IN THE DARK, Devan is a police officer who was shot and now walks with a cane. In my REGIMENTAL HEROES series, the men have PTSD after returning from war in an era when they had no name for the disorder.
D: Do you ever include your own life experiences in your plots?
J: Of course. 🙂 As the writer’s creed goes, watch out or you’ll end up in my book! My Christmas novella, DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR contains many real life horror stories that happened when I owned my own catering business. Grooms with guns. Workers slipping and breaking their arm with 600 people waiting to be served.
D: Yikes. Reality is so much stranger than fiction, isn’t it? What are you currently working on?
J: I am working on a paranormal romance called Fighting the Fire, about a Native American girl who has uncontrollable powers and starts fires. Who else to help her other than a hunky fireman? 🙂 Also, I am going to start a series revolving around dogs.
“…Like most writer’s journeys, my road’s been rocky…”
D: Tell us about your road to publication. What words of wisdom would you like to impart to writers who are just starting out?
D: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
J: Richer and famouser 🙂 No, seriously, still writing no matter what!
D: Where do you see the publishing industry in 5 years?
J: I think the indie publishers who actually work with authors to achieve their success will displace the large houses. Self-Publishing will have better standards and higher quality work. Those that are ready will self-publish. And great stories will still be told. People still love a good book and read as much as they ever have.
D: If you could travel back in time (or forward) where would you go?
J: Victorian England if I could be rich and part of the elite crowd. But, with no modern plumbing, central heating, modern drugs or dentistry, it would have to be a short visit.
D: I hear that! Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Jennifer. Good luck with your new release!
And here’s a little taste of I’LL BE SEEING YOU THROUGH TIME: Book 2 of The Dimension Keepers Series:
It’s 1942 and the world is at war. It’s difficult, but engaged couple Jewel and Glenn know they must say goodbye. Tomorrow, Glenn is shipping out to the South Pacific. That is, until he stops by the Second Chance Bookstore on the way back to the base.
Suddenly, Glenn finds himself in 2013 with the woman he loves half a century away.
Can the Dimension Keepers find a way to reunite them, or will Glenn and Jewel be ripped apart by the fabric of time forever?
5 Comments | tags: Interview, Jennifer Conner, new release, short stories, time travel | posted in Author Interviews, Awesome Authors, guest blogging, Interviews, new book, promotion, self-publishing, short story, writing, writing advice, writing life
Today on Awesome Authors I’m pleased to introduce Susan Russo Anderson, author of the Serafina Florio historical mysteries. I first became aware of Susan on Twitter and through the fabulous writer’s group, Sisters in Crime, then went on to work with her on an anthology with several other talented indie authors. The first book in her intriguing mystery series, DEATH OF A SERPENT, is set in nineteenth-century Italy and features Serafina Florio, an amateur sleuth who happens to be a midwife. Kindle Book Review says DEATH OF A SERPENT is “… for readers who love mystery/suspense and drama that will propel you into another world and hold you spellbound until the end.”
D: Hi Susan! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.
S: Thanks, DV, it’s a thrill to be here. Wow, great question, where do I start? I’m just a simple mom and gran doing the best she can to write great stuff. And I love the act of writing.
But I did read this quote from Jean Paul Sartre, “We are our choices.” And if I could choose the perfect activity it would be eating ice cream and sipping the perfect coffee while writing in the morning. And the next best thing is reading an unputdownable book.
And although I love my kindle and the ability to carry lots of books wherever I go to say nothing of the ability to sneak read a book instead of listening to a boring sermon, I still love bookstores and rambling through them. There’s one in a resort town in Michigan that I love going to. It’s right next to an ice cream store and they play opera and it’s crowded with families on vacation and it’s just fun to be there.
D: Bookstores and libraries—gotta love any place with books. 🙂 You write the Serafina Florio mysteries set in nineteenth-century Italy. What inspired you to write an historical mystery series? What did you find particularly interesting when doing research?
S: I’ve always found European history from 1848 onward to be fascinating, the yearning for freedom that everyone had. It started, I guess, with the American Revolution. And then of course there was the French Revolution. And all of a sudden people all over Europe showed an unbelievable thirst for freedom and fought to overthrow their oppressors.
“I’ve always found European history from 1848 onward to be fascinating, the yearning for freedom that everyone had…”
Well, it’s a long story, but the Italian Revolution in the 1860s was a devastation for Sicily. There were riots and epidemics and famine and ruin all over the place. It’s in this setting that Serafina does her sleuthing. And yet in this setting, life managed to go on. For me, someone who’s always had a cushy life, I just can’t imagine how people can go all normal, continuing on with their life in the face of hunger and catastrophe.
I read this story of a mother who around dinner time would lock the windows and doors and have her children bang on pans while she rattled the plates so that the neighbors would think they were preparing the meal and wouldn’t know they couldn’t afford to eat. That story really got to me. It told me about the resilience of the human spirit.
D: No kidding. People are amazing, especially in times of distress. Describe your newest release, DEATH IN BAGHERIA, in two sentences.
S: When a headstrong aristocrat commissions Serafina to find her mother’s poisoner, the midwife turned sleuth travels to a windswept villa on Sicily’s gold coast where she begins her investigation of the baroness’s death. With the help of her friend, Rosa, two daring servants, and an unexpected visitor, she uncovers ugly entanglements that portend dire misfortune for the baroness’s heirs.
D: What’s your favorite line from the book?
S: In my Serafina books it’s Rosa who always gets the best lines. She is totally unfettered by convention, having been a madam. At the time of the story, she is retired and very rich and of a certain age so she takes lots of pleasure in food. It so happens that the cuisine at Villa Caterina where the mystery takes place is uninspired to say the least so Rosa is disgruntled for most of their stay. There’s an incident with the cook where we don’t know if she’ll recover but when Rosa hears that the cook survives, she says, “It figures. She can’t cook so she’ll live forever.”
D: Rosa was definitely one of my favorite characters in Death of a Serpent. Who is your favorite character and why?
S: My favorite character would have to be Serafina. She has faults; she is exuberant and colorful; she does most of the writing; she has a sixth sense, something I’d love to have; most important, she never gives up.
“…She has a sixth sense, something I’d love to have…”
D: What are you currently working on?
S: I’m working on two books at the same time, something I’ve never done before, two different series. I’m writing the fourth book in the Serafina Florio mystery series. She’s commissioned to go to Paris to investigate the death of Loffredo’s estranged wife. The plot is exciting and different and complex for many different reasons. The working title is Murder on the Rue Cassette and since I love Paris, even the Paris of the 1870s, I’m loving the writing experience.
And I’m writing the first book of the Fina Fitzgibbons mystery series. She’s the great-great granddaughter of Serafina, named after her and inherits her notebooks and a brownstone Serafina bought when she arrived in this country. Fina is much younger, early twenties, and lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, Clancy, a cop assigned to the 84th Precinct. The working title is Dead In Brooklyn.
D: What a great idea! Working an ancestral thread into your mysteries makes sense—it becomes a continuation of the original series. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
S: Immerse yourself in the world you create and don’t fear what others might think.
D: Sage advice, Susan. What’s the worst advice you received from someone about writing?
S: Hmmm, let me think. That would have to be all those prejudicial rules against adverbs and adjectives. They’re a prison.
S: Mysteries, thrillers, literary fiction.
“Immerse yourself in the world you create and don’t fear what others might think.”
D: What do you do when you’re not writing?
S: Social networking, working out, walking, hanging out with my grandkids.
D: Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited.
S: I’ve been to lots of exciting places—Iraq, most countries in Europe—but the most exciting of all is the world of the imagination. John Milton said it much better, though: “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
D: Love that quote. So true. What jobs other than writer have you held?
S: I taught creative writing, worked for an airline, for an opera company, for lots of advertising agencies, and for a publisher.
D: If you could time-travel, where would you go and why?
S: Paris, August 1944. I’d love to experience firsthand the excitement of the liberation
D: I think Paris is a good bet in just about any timeline. Liberation day would be an amazing experience.
I’d love it if you’d provide an excerpt of DEATH IN BAGHERIA for us to read…
Bagheria, Sicily. March 1870
“The baron was showing me his new steamer. You can see it through the telescope if you like.”
Rosa shook her head, dismissing the offer with a wave of her hand.
He smiled at the madam. “In the harbor now, being loaded with supplies.”
“It sails when?” Rosa asked.
“Late today.” He paced before them. “We hope to make North America in ten days, not a record, but respectable, especially for this time of year—early for steaming into northern waters.”
“Do you carry passengers?”
He nodded. “A few. There’s room for over two hundred men, women, and children, most of them in steerage, but these days, our profit is from carrying cargo, not people; now we ship citrus to New York and Boston, perhaps New Orleans or San Francisco in the future.” He rubbed his hands together. “Next year, my son tells me, when families who can afford better accommodation begin to leave, we plan on refitting part of the upper deck with first-class cabins, but for now, our need is for space below deck.”
“When who begins to leave?” Rosa asked.
“Our bankers bet on hard times, a mass exodus from Sicily within the next five years, growing stronger in the next decades.”
Serafina and Rosa were silent.
“There’s unrest all over the Europe. I’m afraid for France, that idiot Emperor trying to slap around the Kaiser—doesn’t know what he’s in for. And Italy struggles while Garibaldi fights Austria and the papal states. If more banks fail, the future of the merchant class in the south will be grim. The new world calls, and that’s where we come in.” The baron smiled.
Serafina swallowed. She imagined her son, Vicenzu, looking out at her from behind the windows of their empty apothecary shop, saw in her mind the streets of Oltramari which, lately, seemed rustier, dustier. But no, she rejected his words: after all, what did he know? She turned to Rosa, who caught her mood, reached over, and patted her hand.
“The ship’s named after the baroness,” Serafina said, looking at Rosa.
The baron nodded.
“A shame she’s missing this day,” Serafina said.
He furrowed his brows. “Afraid you’re wrong there. She wanted nothing to do with our business. She hated it. How did she think …” His question hung in the air.
To break the mood, Rosa said, “Such an honor, having a ship named after—”
“Hated all talk of business.” Red faced, the baron heaved himself over to the hearth, grabbed an iron, and poked at smoldering embers. “Drat those servants! Don’t know how to tend a fire?”
Recovering somewhat, he sat across from them and crossed his legs. “What is it you wish to discuss—my married life? How my wife loathed me, couldn’t bear the sight of me? How we slept in separate rooms, seldom spoke? How she never cared a fig for my business, didn’t want to hear my thoughts on European history or its future? I disgusted her! I suppose she assumed aristocrats cultivated coins from the soil or grew them in huge pots and stored them in the larder. Unspeakably stubborn, Caterina, just like her father and his father before him. Blind to the change, killing themselves out, that’s what they’re doing. But …” He looked up at her portrait, then at a spot in the room as if he could see her shade. “She was so beautiful, like an angel when she walked into a room, and a poet with words, so charming, they flowed from her lips.” He stopped, as if reluctant to leave the memory. “And I loved her.”
The two women were silent until Serafina asked, “Your business, is that what killed her?”
D: Thank you so much for being here today, Susan. I look forward to reading the rest of the Serafina Florio series. I’m also eagerly anticipating her great-great granddaughter’s own books. 🙂
Links to find out more about Susan are below:
Susan Russo Anderson is a writer, a mother, a grandmother, a widow, a member of Sisters In Crime, a graduate of Marquette University. She has taught language arts and creative writing, worked for a publisher, an airline, an opera company. Like Faulkner’s Dilsey, she’s seen the best and the worst, the first and the last. Through it all, and to understand it somewhat, she writes.
DEATH OF A SERPENT, the first in the Serafina Florio series, published January 2012. It began as a painting of the Lower East Side and wound up as a mystery story. NO MORE BROTHERS, a novella, published May 2012, the second in the Serafina Florio series. The third book, DEATH IN BAGHERIA, published in December. You can read excerpts on Amazon and on her websites, http://www.susanrussoanderson.com and http://www.writingsleuth.com
In between writing, revising and editing, she writes for several blogs and reviews books.
Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Russo-Anderson/e/B006VCJ0ZC
5 Comments | tags: #amwriting, indie authors, Interview, Serafina Florio mysteries, Susan Russo Anderson | posted in Author Interviews, Awesome Authors, characters, Interviews, promotion, writing, writing advice, writing life
I’m over at Get Lost in a Story today, talking about under what circumstances I’d sell my left kidney and possibly my liver. Leave a comment and win FREE stuff!
I’m being interviewed today on Susan Anderson’s blog, Writing Sleuth. Stop by and learn your new word for today…
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