Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: DARK TIGER by William G. Tapply

Stoney Calhoun is a wonderful lead-detective, even though he’s not really a detective. A lightning strike changed his world seven years ago, or so they tell him, and he can’t remember anything about his life before the event. Sometimes he wonders…but the telltale scar supports their story. He co-owns Kate’s Bait, Tackle, and Woolly Buggers shop in Casco Bay, Maine with his business partner and lover, Kate Balaban. On occasion, he’s called upon to serve his country, utilizing skills and talents he learned in his previous life. Like disappearing into the wilds of northern Maine and poising as a fishing guide while trying to uncover the true story behind the murder of a government operative and a sixteen year-old girl in a staged murder/suicide.

Dark Tiger is a compelling mystery populated with well-drawn characters, a fast-paced plot, and a lot of subtext. I especially liked the contrast between the calm, gentle present-day Stoney with the darker, more violent personality we suspect he possessed in his past. His pragmatic and mature outlook toward his relationship with Kate, and the other secondary characters, adds an unexpected layer to his character.

Tapply’s writing style is not as gripping as his characters and his plot, but I kept forgetting about that as I continued turning pages. As I think back on the story, more and more subtext becomes apparent, which makes Dark Tiger a terrific read.

My Rating: (5 Star) Read it in one sitting, staying up ‘til the wee hours even though I had to work the next day. You’ve GOTTA read it!

Dark Tiger will be released in hardcover on October 6, 2009 by Minotaur Books - ISBN 978-0-312-37978-0

Visit the author's website at: http://williamgtapply.com or contact Anne Gardner, St. Martin's/Minotaur at (646) 307-5553 or anne.gardner@stmartins.com.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Article by SHARON WILDWIND: She Could, But Did She?

When Marta had almost reached the ridge crest, she could see the trading post in the small valley. The adobe building appeared to shimmer in late morning heat. Maybe it was Tuesday morning. A brown-and-white pinto pony should have been tied to the wooden railing; its deep woven baskets might have been filled with turquoise, russet, and squash-blossom yellow wool rovings that her friend Sarasota had likely spent the last week dying and combing. Maybe Sarasota was sick; maybe she had been trying new dye combination and lost track of what day it was, too. No, when Sarasota said she would be some place, she was likely to be there. Marta almost felt uneasy as she started down the dry, rocky path to the store.

Whats wrong with the preceding paragraph is that Marta and the author have a bad case of the wishy-washies. Here’s a list of wishy-washy words: almost, appeared, could, likely, maybe, might, should, and would.

The first reason a writer uses wishy-washy words is that she mistakes a progression in time or space for a potential in action. Confusing enough for you? It is for me.

When Marta had almost reached the ridge crest, she could see the trading post in the small valley. What the author intends to convey is that Marta is going up a hill. Until she’s almost at the top (the progression in time or space), she can’t see over the ridge.

This sentence can also mean that when Marta had almost reached the ridge crest, it was physically possible for her to see the trading post (the potential in action). She could have seen it, but did she? She might have been temporarily blinded by tears or dust. The trading post might stir up bad memories and she avoided looking at it.

The second reason a writer uses a wishy-washy word is to convey that the character is experiencing a sense of confusion. She hasn’t made up her mind. She’s thinking of options. She doesn’t know what the heck is really going on. The problem is that wishy-washy words leave the reader not sure what is really going on, as well.

There is, however, one place that these words can work: an occasional use in dialog to illustrate something about the person who is speaking, something like: I should or I suppose.

But you don’t want to take the time away from your manicures and yoga lessons to waste half an hour on your sister.

In a perfect world, we’d eliminate wishy-washy words even in our first drafts, but goodness knows that neither we nor our first drafts are perfect. At some point in rewrites, it’s a good idea to find and eliminate all of those conditional words. If you write on a computer, the machine can do the work of finding them for you. If you write or proof-read from hard copy, colored markers work well.

Here’s a rewrite of the opening, with one should left in, just to show you can get away with it occasionally:

Marta pushed hard to climb the last, steepest part of the path. At the ridge crest, she saw the trading post in the small valley. The adobe building shimmered in late morning heat. A brown-and-white pinto pony should have been tied to the wooden railing; its deep woven baskets filled with turquoise, russet, and squash-blossom yellow wool rovings that her friend Sarasota had spent the last week dying and combing.

Was it Tuesday morning? Marta counted the number of meals she’d eaten since Mass on Sunday. Yes, it was Tuesday.

She hoped Sarasota wasn’t sick. What if she had been trying new dye combinations and lost track of what day it was, too? No, when Sarasota committed to delivering wool every Tuesday, she delivered it every Tuesday.

Marta’s feet slipped as she started down the dry, rocky path to the store. The first thing to do was to find out if the trader had heard from Sarasota. If he hadn’t … she didn’t know what she had to do, but whatever it was would involve John Silver Buckle.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Author Interview with SHARON WILDWIND

Sharon Wildwind was born in Louisiana and currently lives in Canada -- after having lived in many other places around the world. She is the author of a non-fiction book about her year in Vietnam as an Army nurse and is also the author of the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Vietnam mystery series. Read on to learn about her other creative pursuits...


How did a native of Louisiana, USA wind up living in Alberta, Canada?

Canada always fascinated me. Having links to southern Louisiana, I knew about the Acadian Grand Derangement. If my ancestors hadn’t been tossed out of Acadie in the mid-1700s, I might have been born Canadian. Then there was the weather thing. I’d look at photos of people skiing while I was sweltering in 100+ heat, and wondered what snow and cold felt like.

When I was in university, students were required to move out of their dorm rooms at the end of every semester, even if they were going back to the same room, in the same dorm, the next semester. So we’d cart all my belongings home, and then two weeks later cart them back. Between university and being in the military, there was an eight-year period in my life where I moved every six months. I knew I could be dropped into a completely new environment, where I didn’t know a soul, and do just fine.

When I got an opportunity to do public health nursing in a small Canadian community, I jumped at the chance. Spent several years doing that, lived a couple of other places in Canada, then married a man from Calgary, and here we are.

You’ve written a non-fiction book about your year as a nurse with the U.S. Army in Viet Nam and a several books in the Elizabeth Pepperhawk/Avivah Rosen Vietnam mystery series. Tell us what prompted the premises of each.

The motivation for the non-fiction book was mostly fear and a grant from Canada Council. In Viet Nam, I’d taken over 1,000 black-and-white photos, of which I’d made contact sheets, but never had the money to print. Twenty years after I came back from Viet Nam, I’d still never seen them. Canada Council gave me a grant to pay for processing, and all of a sudden, I had literally boxes full of memories.

I started writing like crazy, trying to capture the details I still remembered about those photographs: who the people in them were, how I came to be up before dawn one morning to photograph airplanes in a lit hanger, or what was just off-camera and never made it into the photograph. Eventually, there was a book called Dreams That Blister Sleep: A Nurse in Viet Nam.

The non-fiction book led to the mysteries. Someone who’d read Dreams said he wanted to know more about what happened after I came home. My own return was pretty normal, but I started to imagine a group of veterans whose homecomings and adjustment to civilian life would be complicated by murder.

The military can be a darkly funny place, and I wanted my main characters to retain that sense of bittersweet military humor as they struggled to become civilians again. Each of my protagonists has his or her demons, but the important thing is that Pepper, Avivah, Benny, and Darby are still in there fighting, both for their own sanity and for their friends.

You write in genres other than mystery and non-fiction. Share a little of what you like to write best and why.

I’ve done a great deal of journaling and memoir writing since the late 1970s. The best analogy I can come up with is that it’s like trying to catch the meaning of my life with a butterfly net. I’ve got a variety of journals, both on paper and electronic formats, photographs, and an art portfolio of my fiber and paper work scattered around in various places. If I ever become famous, some graduate student is going to have a jolly old time trying to figure out what it means because, goodness knows, I have no clue.

I make up little stories about absolutely everything, like two of our stuffed bears have recently gotten engaged, but they have to wait until November to get married. Miss Rosie was once a circus bear and she wants to be married in Gibsonton, Florida—the circus wintering town—so they have to wait until the end of circus season for everyone she knows to come back to Florida.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Finding the courage to keep going when there aren’t many external rewards. Contrary to myth, for most of us there are no New York lunches with agents, no movie options, no glamorous book tours. Mostly we’re sitting in a room either trying to figure out what our characters are up to, or trying to figure out what the publishing world is up to. You have to tend to the fire inside of yourself all the time.

Writers are like a university class; I guess I’m part of the class of 2001 because that’s when I decided to get serious about writing. Some of my “classmates” have become wonderfully successful; some have dropped out of writing completely. I keep wondering which path I’ll end up following.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

Missing, Presumed Wed is the fourth in my Vietnam veteran mystery series. Here’s the blurb:

Ex-Special Forces Sergeant Benny Kirkpatrick is one week away from marrying Lorraine Fulford and, as he puts it, “I’ve seen courts martial that required less preparation than this wedding.” Then Benny’s mother is abducted. When her abductor’s body is discovered, Benny, Avivah and Pepper put their own romantic entanglements aside to help Benny find the killer. The price of justice may tear Benny’s family apart forever.

My publisher, Five Star, sells books to libraries, so the best way to find the book is to tell your local librarian about it. You can also order it through a variety of on-line booksellers and, my favorite, is to support independent booksellers and ask them to order one for you. If all else fails, contact me. I always have a few copies tucked in my storage closet.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I’ve finished the fifth—and final—book in the Vietnam veteran series. The working title is Loved Honor More, and it takes place in the aftermath of the fall of Saigon in the spring of 1975. I hope it will be available really soon.

My next project is likely going to be a trilogy about a nurse working in northern Alberta. There’s lots of snow and cold, which I now know something about, and, of course, bodies along the way.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

You mean besides go back now before it’s too late? Okay, seriously, whatever time you have available for writing, spend 40% of it on the writing and 60% of it learning the business and building a network. Do that even if all you have is 1 hour a week: spend 20 minutes writing, and 40 minutes on the business/network. Obviously, if you are under that much of a time constraint, those initial 40 business minutes should be spent figuring out how to get more writing time.

You’re a member of several writers groups—Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Story Circle Network. Tell us how you’ve benefitted professionally because of your membership in these organizations.

These are my lifelines. One huge regret I have is that time and money have kept me from going to a lot of conventions and meeting my writing sisters and brothers in person. Ours is almost completely an on-line family and they are the first people I visit in the morning and the last people I visit at night.

It’s like having my own private detective agency: dozens of operative who are keeping up with their corner of the writing world. When they report back, be it on the Internet lists, their blogs, or individual e-mails, I learn a little more about writing.

Your creative abilities venture out beyond the written word. Tell us about your fiber and paper arts.

There’s a saying in the military, “If it moves, salute it; if it doesn’t, paint it green.” That’s kind of my take on the world. If it doesn’t move, embroider it or paint it or collage it or just add some bling to it. You’ll never go wrong with a few heat-set crystals. I originally worked in cloth and yarn: clothes, sweaters, costumes, curtains, bags, etc. About five years ago I started experimenting with paper and fell in love with it, too. The only projects I avoid are those supply list calls for power tools, a respirator, or a Material Safety Data Sheet. Deadly fumes are just so not where it’s at!

Art makes a nice compliment to the writing, particularly in marketing. A lot of mystery conventions have charity raffles. I can donate a tea cozy or a decorated pencil box along with a book, and it gets my name out there to more readers. And if my plot is so stuck it looks like it will need an 18-wheeler to pull it out of the ditch, slapping on layers of gesso and paint does wonders for freeing up the mind.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

A thank you to all of the readers who continue to support all of us authors, especially in tough economic times. You are the greatest.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
e-mail: cml@wildwindauthor.com
web: http://www.wildwindauthor.com/
Blog every week on Poe’s Deadly Daughters: http://poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/

From time to time I also hang out in Facebook, Twitter, etc. Who knows, I might be there today?

[INTERVIEWER'S NOTE: Don't you just live her book title?]

Friday, September 25, 2009

Press Release & Book Give-Away: Linda Weaver Clarke

Free Book Give-Away: Melinda and the Wild West! Go to Linda's blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com and read carefully how you can enter a book give-away.
Mix a Happy-go-lucky Bachelor with a Roaring 20s Woman and You Have: Elena, Woman of Courage.

The “Roaring Twenties” was a time of great change, when women raised their hemlines and bobbed their hair. It was a time of adventure, courage, and independence.

In the 1920s, the new generation spoke a language that their parents didn’t understand. They had phrases like: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Attaboy! Baloney! and You slay me! When referring to a woman, they used the words doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, he was goofy. If a person was a fool, he was a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” Elena, Woman of Courage: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho (ISBN: 978-1-58982-545-1) is filled with courage, romance, and humor.

When a woman settles into a strict conservative town as the newest doctor, a slew of problems begin to rise. The town is not ready for a female doctor, let alone one so strong and independent. Elena Yeates must struggle to prove herself in this western town, while keeping her composure, poise, and femininity. As she fights to prove herself, the town’s most eligible bachelor finds it a challenge to see if he can win her heart. With the 1920’s rise of women’s rights, this novel gives you great insight at the struggles women had to go through, all the while watching a young love blossom!

Elena, Woman of Courage is a wonderful book full of history, passion and romance, as well as a touch of suspense and humor,” wrote Kim Atchue-Cusella, Book Loons. “The characters are matched perfectly and it is sweet to watch romance develop between John and Elena. This was the last of five books in the series and it has been a joy to watch the family grow and prosper.”

Elena is a courageous woman who went to college during a time when women were not encouraged to be educated beyond high school. The 1920s was a time of change when women began fighting for their rights. After getting her degree as a doctor, she moves to the West to set up her own practice. When she arrives in a small town in Idaho, she meets Mr. Anderson ,who opposes her from day one but Elena’s stubborn nature will not allow her to give up. In her fight for equality, she learns to love the people of Bear Lake Valley and realizes she has found a home at last.

When Elena meets John Roberts, a rugged and good-looking farmer, she does not trust his intentions. As she gets to know him, she finds that he has deep respect for the education of women and abhors prejudice. John is the son of Gilbert and Melinda, but there is one thing that stands in the way of happiness. He is terrified of marriage and commitment. He is known as the “Happy-go-lucky Bachelor.”

“Linda Weaver Clarke displays an easy and excellent style of writing, blending adventure/romance/history/humor and courage. A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho is an instant classic and should put this author on the literary map all over the world. A MUST read!”– Page One Literary Book Review

About the Author: Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching a “Family Legacy Workshop,” encouraging others to turn their family history and autobiography into a variety of interesting stories. Her novel Melinda and the Wild West was a semi-finalist in the Reviewers Choice Awards 2007. The historical fiction series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho, will include the following novels: Melinda and the Wild West, Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, Jenny’s Dream, David and the Bear Lake Monster, and Elena, Woman of Courage.

Elena, Woman of Courage: (ISBN: 978-1-58982-545-1, American Book Publishing, 2009). For more information, visit www.lindaweaverclarke.com. Publicity contact: www.american-book.com.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Debbi Mack appears at the Baltimore Book Festival

Debbi Mack will be at the Baltimore Book Festival in Baltimore City, signing and selling copies of her hardboiled mystery IDENTITY CRISIS on Sat.urday, September 26, from noon to 4 p.m. Look for her at the Maryland Writers Association tent. For more details, see http://www.baltimorebookfestival.org/.

Debbi's recent appearances include an interview on Voice of America about digital publishing and e-books (the piece appears on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwKXJqx6-Mo) and a guest blogging gig at The Henderson Files: http://thehendersonfiles.blogspot.com/2009/09/guest-blog-author-debbi-mack.html

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Review: DARK MIRROR by Barry Maitland

Dark Mirror, the most recent of Barry Maitland’s Brock and Kolla mysteries, begins with Marion Summers collapsing in the Reading Room at the London Library. She dies a short while later, spurring an investigation headed by Detective Inspector Kathy Kolla. When the autopsy reveals that Marion was the victim of arsenic poisoning, Kathy is off and running along with a cast of supporting characters that include family members, fellow university students, university professors, a librarian, a library patron, a forensic pathologist, and a host of others—including Kathy’s boss, Detective Chief Inspector David Brock.

The storyline intrigued me with many unexpected twists and turns, as did the forensics. Although the secondary characters were well-crafted, I personally would have preferred fewer of them—especially since I suspected whodunit before the end of the story.

Maitland’s dialogue is crisp and his plotting and writing skills leave you wanting to know what happens next.

My rating: (4 Star) Read it in a couple of sittings, in between other IMPORTANT stuff I had to do. You’ll really enjoy it.

Dark Mirror will be released in hardcover on October 6, 2009 by Minotaur Books.
ISBN 978-0-312-3839902

Visit the author website at: http://www.barrymaitland.com/ or contact Anne Gardner, St. Martin's/Minotaur at (646) 307-5553 or anne.gardner@stmartins.com.

Author Interview with CAROLA DUNN

Carola Dunn has more than 50 novels to her credit, including the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series. (Book covers for Daisy's 17th and 18th adventures appear below.) She is a frequent visitor to the Author Exchange Blog and we love to hear about her exploits, including this summer's visit to the UK.
Tell us about your recent trip to London and all the wonderful writerly things that happened when you were there.

I didn't spend much time in London, but I did do one wonderful writerly thing there—I met my new UK editor and the production and marketing people of Constable & Robinson. Fifteen years after her first appearance in the US, Daisy Dalrymple is home in England at last. The first three books in the series, DEATH AT WENTWATER COURT, THE WINTER GARDEN MYSTERY, and REQUIEM FOR A MEZZO are already out in a UK/Commonwealth edition—with great new cover art—and BLACK SHIP will be out this month. They've also bought the rights to the 4th, 5th and 6th, and SHEER FOLLY, the latest, just out in the US. What's more, they've sold the UK large print rights to the first 4!

I did a lot of research elsewhere in England. In Cornwall, I spent time in Padstow, the setting of A COLOURFUL DEATH, my second Cornish mystery, and in Launceston and Bodmin, both settings for occasional scenes in both that and the first, MANNA FROM HADES. I also revisited Tintagel, possible setting of a future book, and Rocky Valley, a perfectly wonderful place to discover a body.

Elsewhere, I went to Saffron Walden, in Essex (where I spent my schooldays), and got lost in a maze, another great place for finding—and losing—bodies. My next Daisy book will be set there.

The rights to a number of your early books have been re-sold. Tell us how that’s going to work for you.

I'm all for it! It's not just the earlier books—as well as the UK rights, US large print rights to the later ones have been sold. In fact, all the US paperback rights were sold by St. Martin's to Kensington over the years. It's an ongoing process. It's just more rewarding financially when the older ones are resold as they earned out the advances long ago, partly because they've been around a long time, partly because the advances were lower.

This process goes back to my Regencies. Many of them were sold for foreign editions (French, Spanish, German, Czech, Italian, Portuguese, and even Hebrew!!!), and large print editions are still coming out—rights sold by me as I now have all my Regency rights back. MISS JACOBSON'S JOURNEY will be out from Thorndike in November, and as it's a joint publication with Chivers (aka BBC Audiobooks) in the UK, that's another market. All my Regencies are also now available as ebooks at http://www.regencyreads.com/

You do a lot of self-promotion on Facebook and TheLadyKillers blog, so I’m guessing it works for you. Why do you think that is?

Actually, I have no idea whether it works. I occasionally hear from someone who's read about my books on one or the other and gone on to buy them, but how important it is I don't know. Still, it's a whole lot cheaper and easier than doing book tours, and unless you're a really big name author, book signings are liable to be disappointing. The best are at independent mystery bookstores (http://www.mysterybooksellers.com/about-imba). They usually have a whole stack of my books and whether any bodies (readers, not murder victims) turn up or not they have me sign them and then keep them to sell over time. Quite a lot of my mysteries have been IMBA Bestsellers, even if I never make the NY Times list. I get invitations from Indie stores all over the country but unfortunately can't afford the time or money to visit any but those on the West Coast: Seattle Mystery Bookstore, Murder by the Book in Portland, LA Mystery Bookstore, M for Mystery in San Mateo, Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, and occasionally a couple of others.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

The time when both the publishers I was writing for stopped publishing Regencies, the genre that was my bread-and-butter (and everything else), and I had to reinvent my career. I was in the middle of a three-book contract with one of them, a contract that had given me a sense of security (ha-ha!) when I signed it. One book was published, one was finished and sent off, and the third was 2/3 written. Fortunately I didn't have to return any of the advances I'd already received. The third book (The Babe and the Baron) had a pregnant heroine who was 8 months pregnant when I stopped writing. The poor woman stayed 8 months pregnant for a couple of years before I sold and finished writing her story for another publisher.

In the meantime, the Daisy Dalrymple series had got going. I went on writing Regencies for the new publisher for a few years, then Daisy took over my life. Now Eleanor Trewynn, in my new Cornish series, has joined her.

Your 50th book, Manna from Hades, has been receiving excellent reviews. Tell us where we can find both the book and the reviews.

The book is available at all booksellers, both bricks & mortar—if they don't have a copy they can order it—and online. The reviews are all over the place. I'm afraid after 50 books I no longer keep a track of all of them, just copy the nice bits into a computer file.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I've just finished (9 weeks after deadline) A COLOURFUL DEATH. It's the second Cornish mystery. Unless I've completely thrown off the publisher's schedule, it should be out in Spring 2010. I'm about to start on the next Daisy book, the nineteenth. You can read about the difficulties of switching time periods on my guest blog post at http://www.poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com/

What are your thoughts about eBooks versus traditional print books – and where electronic publishing is headed?

I suspect paper books will be around for a long time. I'm quite sure more and more people will buy eBook readers, even if they use them only in certain situations, such as travelling, or reading beside a sleeping spouse. I think it's a real shame Amazon decided to go with an exclusive format for Kindle readers but there are new Sonys and, I believe, a Samsung, coming out soon that will be able to read a variety of different formats. My Regency eBook publisher is not only generous with royalties but makes the books available in several different formats, including one for Kindle.

The ease of publishing eBooks means that a lot of people who write well but can't find a print publisher will be able to get their work out there. It also means a lot of total junk will be available. Very much a Caveat Emptor situation.

As a lover of old books, I'm thinking of buying one of the new Sony readers just for out-of-copyright books from Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/.

Are you a member of a critique group? If not, have you ever been? Care to share your thoughts about how critique groups can help—or hinder—new writers?

I once belonged to a critique group for a short time. The members wrote all sorts of different things, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, fantasy, historical, and as a result it was pretty useless. A smaller group focused on one particular kind of writing could be useful to a beginner. Even then, I see two possible problems—the first is getting a great deal of conflicting advice and trying to please everyone, which can also lead to rewriting over and over and never achieving a finished product that satisfies you, the writer, let alone everybody else; the second is hurt feelings and broken friendships.

For mystery writers, I've heard great things of the Sisters in Crime pre-published chapter, known for some good reason I can't recall as the Guppies. If you're not a member, it's kind of difficult at the moment to get information as a new website is under construction, but keep looking at http://sistersincrime.org/.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.
Sept. 24th Speaker, Portland (OR) Friends of Mystery http://www.friendsofmystery.org/meeting.htm
Sept. 25th noon, signing, Seattle Mystery Bookstore     
Sept. 26th 2 pm, signing, Tea Party Bookstore, Salem OR

Sometime in October, I will be signing at M for Mystery in San Mateo CA, LA Mystery Bookstore, and Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, possibly also at mystery bookstores in San Francisco and Thousand Oaks. Keep an eye on their websites for news.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

I'd write faster if I didn't have a bunch of bird feeders just outside my office window.

What are the addresses of your website(s), blog(s), Facebook and Twitter pages:
www.geocities.com/CarolaDunn/ (till geocities shuts down in October);
http://caroladunn.wordpress.com/ (still under construction);
http://theladykillers.typepad.com/the_lady_killers/ (shared blog—my day is Tuesday);
Facebook: Just feed it my name; Twitter likewise.

I also guest blog here and there from time to time. Just Google my name and "blog" and see what comes up! (I just did this and find all sorts of people I don't know have blogged about me! Ah, fame...)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Author Interview with HUGH HOWEY

HUGH HOWEY's startling debut novel has burst onto the writing scene, capturing the attention of top writers and reviewers to generate considerable buzz months before its release. Drawing from his career as a yacht captain and book critic, Hugh's ability to pen vivid characters and tight drama makes him a young writing star worth keeping an eye on.
Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

I have to give equal credit to my mother and father (honestly, I might be cheating, here, but I’m not just being democratic). My mom made reading a priority from very early on, and always ensured my environment was thick with books, even when we couldn’t afford much else. My dad always seemed to be the most impressed with whatever I whipped up, and made me feel like I could do this on a larger scale. Together, they didn’t just make me, physically, they also made me into a halfway decent scribbler.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

I tried writing my first book when I was twelve. It was standard Dungeons & Dragons stuff, written in longhand in a spiral composition book. I still have the twenty or so pages I cranked out before giving up. Since then, I’ve tried writing a half-dozen or so other books. I’ve written accounts of some of my boating endeavors that people seemed to enjoy, and family members are often burdened with a sappy letter or story around the holidays. It wasn’t until I started reviewing books full-time that I realized I could really do this. Interviewing other authors, delving into their works on a mechanical level, those experiences really taught me what it took to complete a story. I owe a lot to the writers who were generous with their tips and encouragement.

What life experiences have contributed significantly to your writing?

There were two major experiences that shaped this book. The first was 9/11 in NYC, which occurred right over my head. In many ways, this book was my outlet for the bad things I locked away that day. It’s not something I like to talk about, but through metaphor, in this book, I was able to sort through some things. The other experience was a boating trip I went on with my wife. It was early in our relationship, and we didn’t know each other all that well. We had two weeks alone together while I brought a boat from Antigua to Florida. Jumping off waterfalls, swimming with whales, exploring diverse cultures... That trip planted the seed for this story.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Convincing myself that I know what I’m doing. I tend to doubt anyone who tells me they love my book, while obsessing over any negative criticism (most of it coming from myself). I’ve been told that this is a common trait for authors, but I’ve never really had to deal with anything like it before. At times, it makes me question my new obsession. Then I’ll hear someone rave about the book, telling me that it kept him up all night, and that’ll keep me pressing on for a few more days.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My debut novel is entitled Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue. It’s about a teenage girl in the 25th century who isn’t having a lot of luck in life. Orphaned at the age of six, she is being raised in the military with boys prone to unnecessary cruelty. Just when she’s thinking her life will never amount to anything, that she’ll never be given the opportunities that come to others, a great discovery halfway across the galaxy gives her a second chance. What seems like a blessing at first quickly leads her on a life-threatening adventure. One that will affect the entire Milky Way. Along the way, she meets and takes in other young runaways and misfits, and together they form a new family of sorts: the crew of the starship Parsona. The book is available on Amazon, but it’s wonderful when people buy directly from my publisher at www.norlightspress.com.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I’m dividing my time between three books right now. I’m putting the final touches on the second Molly Fyde book, I’m working on the draft of book three, and I just started a new project outside of her saga. I also try to keep my blog, website, and Twitter account fresh and interesting.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Only one? I really want to give several. Here’s one that might seem obvious, but really is the key to doing well: Write! Seriously, just write. Letters, emails, blog posts, forum entries, short stories, rough drafts, character sketches, it doesn’t matter. Pick a block of hours each day or week and devote them to writing. Do not give up or flag. Don’t worry if every sentence is flawed. Keep writing. There’s no other way to improve and no possible way of creating substantial works if you don’t get in the habit.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? How do you think writer’s organizations help or hinder a writer’s career?

I’m not a member of any writer’s organizations. Should I be? If any of you will have me, please get in touch!

Do you have an agent? Care to share any advice about getting, or not getting, an agent?

I don’t have an agent. I was in the querying process when I received a request for a full submission by two small publishers. Bypassing the agent seemed like the right thing to do at the time, as I had a wonderful rapport with the publisher. I think this is a case-by-case situation, where the answer isn’t the same for all authors, manuscripts, or publishers.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

What a unique gift! My own little soapbox. One thing that really amazes me about this industry is how brutal it is to “make it.” Even if that means having someone else foot the bill for the printing of your book. It’s been one of the most daunting tasks in my life, and I’ve had it a lot easier than most. That’s why it amazes me to see two things (anecdotal experiences, of course): those who have already “made it” are unbelievably eager to assist those who haven’t, pulling them up and doing extraordinary things to help out. The “haves” giving to the “have nots.” Contrariwise, those who are still struggling can often be the most incredibly hurtful, rude, and petty people you’ll ever experience. The bitterness and anger I’ve seen on some author forums made me run away, my head tucked down in my shirt. I point this out, not because I don’t understand the frustration of the latter group, but we too often hear that class warfare works the opposite way. What I see, instead, is that those who have been blessed, or had some good fortune, are always looking for ways to spread and share this. Those who feel jilted, or passed over, seem eager to retain as much company on the bottom as possible. These two experiences have shaken my worldview somewhat.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My website: http://www.hughhowey.com
Molly’s blog: http://mollyfyde.blogspot.com
Molly’s Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mollyfyde

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Author Interview with PATRICIA STOLTEY

Patricia Stoltey is the author of the Sylvia and Willie mysteries, a prolific blogger, an excellent marketer, and an all-around terrific person. She currently lives in Colorado and has lived in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma and...the south of France.


Your bio says that you’ve lived in the south of France – has that produced any fodder for your writing?

I have the first draft of a romantic suspense novel sitting on a shelf, waiting for me to do a big rewrite…someday. It needs a lot of work. It’s the story of a young woman, a computer analyst, who’s sent to the south of France on a business trip. She meets a French journalist who has recently escaped from a hostage situation in Lebanon and is still suffering from guilt at having left the other hostages behind. He, of course, is a sexy guy. The woman falls for him before she realizes he’s under pressure from a police detective to help rescue the others, the detective’s brother included.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

Oh, goodness. A really long time. I’ve always worked full-time, mostly in the accounting and accounts payable fields, which meant a lot of hours. For a long time, I wrote in bits and pieces, and I rarely submitted any of my work. Always in the back of my mind, however, was the thought that someday, someday, I’d write a novel. Eventually I did it. The first book was co-authored with my brother, and was an action/adventure novel based on his experiences in the transportation industry. Then the romantic suspense. Then the first Sylvia and Willie mystery. Followed by a novel of historical fiction. Another Sylvia and Willie mystery. And now I’m working on a suspense novel. The mysteries are making it all the way to hardcover. Everything else needs revising before I can go any further.

What prompted you to write mysteries instead of other types of stories?

I love to read mysteries, so it seemed the most logical type of story to write. I’m experimenting with those other genres too, and hope to spread my wings a bit as time goes on. But I grew up reading Nancy Drew, and then graduated to the mysteries my mom was reading (Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh), so I was hooked on that genre a long time ago.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Making myself sit down and write. I have so many interests that I have trouble staying focused on one project or activity. The other thing, of course, is that I didn’t get serious about writing until I retired. With work and family, I couldn’t put in the time and effort needed to get published when I was younger. I wish I had tried harder.

The Desert Hedge Murders was released in August. Tell us about the story and let us know where we can buy it.

The Desert Hedge Murders is the second book in the Sylvia and Willie series. Retired Florida circuit court judge Sylvia Thorn accompanies her elderly mother’s travel club, the Florida Flippers, on a long weekend jaunt to Laughlin, Nevada where they plan to take a couple of tours, gamble, and enjoy good food. When one of the ladies finds a body in the tub in her hotel room, the Flippers want to investigate the crime. It’s up to Sylvia to keep the wild bunch out of trouble, but she’s pulled into the case when one of her mother’s friends disappears. Soon the whole crew is in danger, and Sylvia’s dad and brother, Willie, fly to the rescue from Florida. The novel is available at online booksellers and can be ordered from most chain and independent bookstores.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

The current project is a suspense novel, and I’m also outlining the next Sylvia and Willie mystery. I don’t have a contract for either one, so anything can happen. In a way, I like having the freedom to choose my own projects. On the other hand, I might write more if I had the kind of pressure and deadlines authors have when they get multiple-book contracts.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Study books and blogs and websites and comments from a critique group in an effort to learn the art of self-editing. Do whatever it takes, because unpolished manuscripts are too easy for agents and editors to reject without reading beyond the first couple of pages.

What writers’ organizations claim you as a member?

I am a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime (national and local), Mystery Writers of America (national and local), and Northern Colorado Writers.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I will attend Bouchercon 2009 in Indianapolis in October. Other appearances will be posted at my website as I schedule them: http://www.patriciastoltey.com/.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

I had a lot of fun writing The Desert Hedge Murders because I named some of the elderly ladies after my cousins and then gave them wacky personalities. My goal was to make this book less serious than the first one, even though murders are involved. There’s something about quirky elders that make stories very appealing to me. I hope it works for my readers as well. The reviewer in my local newspaper said, “Perfect for a snuggle-in reading session.” I like that.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My website is http://www.patriciastoltey.com/ and my blog is http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com/. I’m on Facebook as patricia.stoltey and on Twitter as @PStoltey. I'm also a contributor at The Blood-Red Pencil blog.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DRUE ALLEN has a book cover!

Unfortunately, Drue's book cover wasn't available when we went to press with her interview on Sunday, September 13th. HERE IT IS NOW! If your fingers are too tired to scroll down to her interview, click here to be taken to it immediately!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Author Interview with LINDA WEAVER CLARKE

Linda is a writer who tours the United States, teaching people the importance of Family Legacy, encouraging others to turn their family history and autobiography into a variety of interesting stories. She has written 5 books in the series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake Valley."
Tell us about your grandmother – your inspiration.

Yes, Sarah Eckersley Robinson was my inspiration for this new novel, David and the Bear Lake Monster. After writing her biography, I felt so close to her that I decided to borrow her experiences and give them to my fictional character. Since my stories are historical fiction, I thought it would be fitting. I also named my character Sarah, after my great grandmother. What made her so interesting and different from other women? Sarah had a disability that made her a strong and courageous woman. She became deaf at the age of one but she never let her deafness stop her from developing her talents.

Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She never sat on the sidelines at dances because of her natural ability. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness, not only on the dance floor, but also while swimming and diving. People would actually throw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. They would applaud, letting her know how much they enjoyed watching her, and then throw another coin in the water.

An intruder actually hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran. She was a beautiful and spunky woman!

In my research about the “hearing impaired,” and talking to a dear friend who became deaf in her youth, I became educated about the struggles they have to bear. It was a surprise to find out that some struggle with self-esteem and the fear of darkness. I didn’t realize that concentrating on reading lips for long periods of time could be such a strain, resulting in a splitting headache. After all my research, I found that I had even more respect for my great grandmother and her disability. What a courageous woman!

You wrote short stories and novels for years before submitting them for publication. What held you back from submitting and what motivated the change?

I didn't submit my short stories because they were the stories of my ancestors. Their stories were powerful but yet very personal. After writing their biographies, I couldn't stop writing so I turned to historical fiction. After writing six novels, I finally got the courage to send them in. What stopped me from doing it sooner was self confidence. I didn't know if my novels were good enough to be published. Then it dawned on me. These stories were good and I needed to believe in myself. I took a deep breath and then took a step forward. I was going to do it and I would not let rejections get me down. After about a year, I found a publisher who was interested in my work and I signed a contract for my first book and all the books following. I thought that a year was a long time but found out that Dr. Seuss was refused over and over again. Louis LaMour, a great legend in his own right, was rejected again and again. So I felt real lucky that someone believed in me.

What is your favorite thing to read? Do you think your partiality to this type of material affects what you like to write – and why/why not?

I love to read stories that have adventure, American history, and some romance intermingled. I love historical fiction. Yes, it really affects what I write.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

The biggest challenge is promoting my books. I didn't realize how much an author has to do to get his or her books recognized. I thought the publisher would do all that but found out differently. My publisher told me that I needed to get out in the public's eye and give talks, to let people know who I am. So I decided to teach people how to write their family stories. It was what got me started writing in the first place, so what better thing to do than help others to get started, also. I fly all over the U.S. teaching at libraries. Each library sponsors my Family Legacy Workshop and it's free to the public.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

David and the Bear Lake Monster: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho is my fourth book in the series. Although a person doesn't have to read the first three to understand what is happening because each book has it's own plot and story line. Here's the synopsis:

Deep-rooted legends, long family traditions, and a few mysterious events! David quickly becomes one with the town and its folk and wonders why they believe in this Bear Lake Monster. It just has to be a myth. While visiting the Roberts family, he finds himself entranced with one very special lady and ends up defending her honor several times. Sarah isn’t like the average woman. This beautiful and dainty lady has a disability that no one seems to notice. He finds out that Sarah has gone through more trials than the average person. She teaches him the importance of not dwelling on the past and how to love life. After a few teases, tricks, and mischievous deeds, David begins to overcome his troubles, but will it be too late? Will he lose the one woman he adores? And how about the Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

You may read an excerpt from each of my books on my website. My books are available on Amazon, book stores who order from Baker and Taylor, or from my website at www.lindaweaverclarke.com.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I just finished Elena, Woman of Courage: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho. It's the fifth and last book in the series. It should be available soon. While researching this last book, I absolutely fell in love with the 1920s language. This new generation spoke a language that their parents didn’t understand. They said words like: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Attaboy! Baloney! You slay me! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, they were goofy. If a person was a fool, they were a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I used this new language in my book and had so much fun with it.

Here's the synopsis of the book: When Elena settles into a strict conservative town as the newest doctor, a slew of problems begin to arise. The town is not ready for a female doctor, let alone one so strong and independent. Elena Yeates, the town’s newest doctor, must struggle to prove herself in this western town, while keeping her composure, poise, and femininity. As she fights to prove herself, the town’s most eligible bachelor finds it a challenge to see if he can win her heart. With the 1920’s rise of women’s rights, this novel gives you great insight at the struggles women had to go through, all the while watching a young love blossom!

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Emotion is the secret of holding a reader, the difference between a slow or dynamic recounting of a story. When you feel the emotion inside, so will your readers. By giving descriptions of emotion, it helps the reader feel part of the story as if he were actually there himself. Emotions of a character can help us feel satisfied because we can feel what the character feels.

When emotion and feelings are left out of a story, we can feel let down. Emotion is part of our lives, so why ignore such an important element in a story? But remember: Show, don’t tell.

Whether writing your family history or a fictional novel, emotions bring a story to life. When you describe the effects of intense emotion, it helps the reader feel as if he were a part of the story, as if he were actually there himself. It can be difficult, however, for an author to know exactly how the character felt unless he or she had been in a similar situation, and that’s where research comes in. After researching stories about people who have been faced with a similar situation, the author can describe the emotions and feelings of a character easier and thereby make the reader feel as if he were experiencing the event himself. Remember, emotions are part of life and can be an essential part of your story.

What writers organizations claim you as a member? How has membership helped you develop as a writer – or not?

Would you believe that I'm too busy to be active in a writers group? I would recommend it for beginners, though, but my schedule is so tight. I didn't realize that being an author would keep me so busy. I actually thought I could sit at my desk and begin a new story while my publisher did all the work. Not so! You can check my schedule on my website and click on Upcoming Events and see what I mean.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I'll be in northern California for a week in October.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

To those who are interested in writing their own “Family Legacy,” I wouldn’t put it off. The importance of family history can never be over emphasized. I believe we are the people we are because of our ancestors. Who are they and what were their traditions? Did they fight for a cause and what was it about? Each of us has a story from our ancestors or even our very own story to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then how are our children going to know of their parentage? It’s up to us to write these experiences down. We must record and share these stories with our children.

There are just a few things to remember. First, collect your thoughts; write down any experiences that you remember. Then talk to family members and discuss memories. You can make several short stories, making the history into segments. Or you can write the whole history as a continuous flow. Your children will want to know their heritage, what their ancestors stood for. Make your Family Legacy something your children will remember, something they will be proud of. You may read some of my short stories on my website to give you an idea of what you can do with your family stories.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
My website: www.lindaweaverclarke.com
My Blog: http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

10 Solutions to Top 10 Reasons Your Book Was Rejected - Article by Robert W. Walker

As both a writing professor and an editor with my Knife Services, I see all manner of writing from the best and greatest writing to the worst and most unfortunate. When an autopsy for your story or book is necessary, it may require a scalpel. In fact, a Stryker saw may be needed to cut it to the bone. When I speak to other writers and editors, what I hear again and again about a book’s rejection is that it failed in one or more of the Ten Deadly Sins of writing and here they are:

10. No sense of play/fun comes through on the page. The author is not passionate over his/her story to the degree that it shines through. Solution—rewrite with a smile.

9. No sense of specific audience the author is writing to excite. It is difficult to determine the genre and thus, the audience. Solution—rewrite with a cold eye as to what category your story falls into.

8. No sense of forward-moving plot/action in the story. Solution—work with the word compelling tattooed on your brain or taped over your computer along with a list of and how all five senses can be placed in a scene.

7. Pronoun references are weak; pronouns proliferating to exclusion of naming people, places, and things. There are many errors that involve pronouns. Solution—name names and repeat names of people, places, and things. Triangulate the character’s five senses and sometimes his/her sixth sense into each scene.

6. Cluttered sentences; overblown sentences and paragraphs. A given character or characters are blowhards—going on in paragraph-length dialogue segments. Solution—break into lengthy dialogue segments with “action” lines or “interruptions” from other characters.

5. Action stops cold with description of a person, place, or thing. Writing does not involve action in the descriptive segments. Solution—strive to sift everything through the mind and five senses of your characters, especially your main characters.

4. Passive Voice takes over throughout the story; Active Voice is dead or nonexistent. Helping, linking, and the verb to be proliferate. Twelve wases appear in a single paragraph. Solution—wrestle the verb to be and helping verbs to the mat and replace them with active verbs; takes work but can be done.

3. Sentences are filled with qualifiers—words that qualify otherwise strong nouns and verbs. Sentences are riddled with qualifying remarks that undercut otherwise strong sentences. Solution—when in doubt, strike it out; when a word like very or maybe or sometimes does not generate power or allow the power to fall on the subject noun or verb, then excise this qualifier.

2. Dialogue is wooden; dialogue is perfect English but imperfect pitch. Too formal dialogue reads like bad lines for the Native American character in a western. Dutifully study how people speak, and have all your characters talk differently from one another, each with his own cadence and ticks.

1. Failure to wring drama and conflict out of situations and characters. Solution—no guts, no glory; no conflict, no story. A story is a war (or should be), and a story without a war is a snippet. Each chapter should set up obstacles to one’s character. Character plus conflict equals drama.

In addition--do not stop your ACTION to describe a person, place, or thing. Place the thing, the setting, the other character into the perceptions of your main character. It is of little interest that “authorities” suspect the victim is already dead, but it is of huge interest to the reader that “Marcus” or “Katrina” suspects this.

I hope these comments are of use and helpful to you in rewriting and finishing your novel or story. To locate direct help from me and my Knife Services, write me at inkwalk@sbcglobal.net.

Rob Walker

Monday, September 14, 2009

Author Interview with W.S. GAGER

W.S. Gager has lived in West Michigan for most of her life except for stints early in her career as a newspaper reporter and editor. Now she enjoys creating villains instead of crossing police lines to get the story. She teaches English at a local college and is a soccer chauffeur for her children. During her driving time she spins webs of intrigue for Mitch Malone's next crime-solving adventure.


Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

Narrowing it down to one person is tough. I would have to say my mother. She never let the fact that she hadn’t done something before stop her. While she didn’t write a whole lot, mostly Bible studies as I was growing up, she always went into everything with a positive attitude. Can’t was never in her vocabulary. She was never afraid to try anything and jumped in with both feet. I never knew there was another way until much later in life. She always told me to do what you like to do. My writing has always been like that. Something I did because I enjoyed it. If it hadn’t been for her attitude about just going after your dream, I would have given up before finding a publisher. When I get frustrated, I just think back to the crazy things she volunteered to do and how they always came together at the end. Some of those bizarre experiences will befall characters in my books.

How long have you been writing? In what genres do you write?

I have been writing since before the eighth grade. I don’t remember much before that. In eighth grade I was named editor of the class newspaper. I worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers for a decade then did some marketing, speech and public relations writing for a while. I have been seriously working on getting a novel done and published for more than three years. When I started my first novel, I thought I would be a romance writer because that is what I read all the time. A friend at a writing group read my manuscript and convinced me I should write mysteries because that is what took over my first romance. I chalked that manuscript up to a learning experience. Following her advice, I started a mystery and have had much better luck. That book just came out in June and is called A Case of Infatuation. It is an amateur sleuth mystery.

Early in your career you worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. What made you switch to mystery novels?

I loved working for newspapers. You never knew what you would be doing and no two days were a like. The only bad thing was it was long hours and a lot of nights and weekends. It was great for a while but then I started a family and running out to crime scenes and chasing stories wasn’t conducive for child care. I tried some 9 to 5 jobs for a while but they were a lot of work and left me exhausted and didn’t allow me much creativity. I had some down-time after surgery and started writing. I knew this time I couldn’t let it go. I reassessed my job and life and rearranged it to fit in writing. I’m a much happier person when I am writing. Now I get the best of both worlds. I can live vicariously the life of a newspaper reporter through Mitch Malone’s antics in the pages of my book but without getting up in the middle of the night to cover crime.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Trying to get published. You work really hard to get your manuscript the best you can get it and then you send it out and all you get is a form letter that says, thanks but no thanks. It can really drag you down. The thing is: you have to believe in yourself and keep submitting. That is where writing groups can really keep you going and give you positive and negative feedback to improve.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My book is called A Case of Infatuation. It is about loner Mitch Malone, a crime beat reporter who thinks he is the man of mystery working as an objective observer until he tries to impress a pretty intern who captures his interest. Mitch finds himself accused of murder, saddled with a pint-sized witness and his “infatuation” woman. It is a bit overwhelming for him and he is on a vengeance to solve the crime and get his simple life back. He has run-ins with cranky contractors, angry terrorists, and the quest for the perfect hamburger. A Case of Infatuation is available at www.BarnesandNoble.com, www.Amazon.com, and www.OakTreeBooks.com.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I am working on the next in the Mitch Malone Mystery Series with a working title of A Case of Identification. It is another opportunity for Mitch to walk away after completing a simple story, but he can’t do it. He finds himself hiding from his new editor, chasing a story that takes a turn into alternative lifestyles of the rich and famous, and helping a damsel in distress, Mitch’s biggest weakness. It will be available in spring 2010 from Oak Tree Press.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

The best tip I can give is when you have written yourself into a corner and feel like you have writer’s block, I always think about what is the worst thing that can happen. (I wish this was my idea but came from another writer at a mini writer’s conference but it works!) Then send your story in that direction and you will soon find yourself back on track with the creative juices flowing. The great thing about this is that your characters really show their true colors when forced to react to their worst nightmare.

What writers organizations claim you as a member? How has membership helped your career?

Membership has definitely helped my career. The networking, support, and writing help will really make your writing pop and help you get your prose in front of publishers. I am a member of Romance Writers of America, Grand Rapids Area Writers Group, Public Safety Writers Association and a couple of small critic groups in my home town. I would encourage anyone who is serious about getting their book published to find a writing group. If you have a question, someone else has an answer or knows where to find it. They can be a great time saver and networking to get your name out there.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I will be at Barnes and Noble on 28th Street in Grand Rapids, MI on Nov. 17 from 6-8 p.m. and at Robbins Booklist in Greenville, MI, on Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. 2 pm. Come see me …

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

I really enjoy making a mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat and keeps you guessing until the end. Give A Case of Infatuation a read and see if you can beat Mitch Malone to solve the crime. Then let me know what you think, shoot an email to wsgager@yahoo.com

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Author Interview with DRUE ALLEN

Drue Allen is a freelance writer and the author of a romance that, according to Jordan Dane, bestselling author of The Wrong Side of Dead, "...delivers a frightening scenario of bio-terrorism in one sexy read..." It also has a terrific opening paragraph.


Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

My parents have always been extremely encouraging. Also, my grandmother published home economics textbooks in the 1950s that were used across the United States and translated into many different languages. I can remember sitting as a child, with those books in my lap—my fingers tracing the Chinese letters, and thinking about those words being her words. I was awed by that and wanted to grow up to be just like her.

What do you like best about writing romance?

I like the joy of it—the hope. Many of us have difficult jobs, tough family situations, health issues. Life is just plain hard. I write romantic thrillers, which might seem like an odd way to escape from a hard reality, but my stories always swirl around a man and woman who must learn to trust and depend on each other. I totally dig that about romance.

How many books did you write before becoming published? Tell us about some of the trials and triumphs?

Ack! More than I thought I would. I THOUGHT my first story would be published because it was so damn good—ha ha ha. The Cost of Love was my fifth completed manuscript. You know, there was a day where I decided I should take up bowling or some more useful hobby. Working 10 hours a day, then writing another 4 makes you question yourself at times. I began writing freelance in 1999, the novel bug hit in 2003, and I received my first contest win in 2004 (Abilene Writers Guild—final judge was Tess Gerritsen, and no—I did not realize what an honor that was at the time). By the fall of 2006, I was so discouraged that I hadn’t sold, I was ready to quit. I was in a horrible job, and I was winning RWA chapter contests right and left, but no contract offers and no agent offers.

Then in the winter of 2006 I decided to take a trip to Florida to accept the Golden Palm award for first place in the romantic suspense category. That sweet group of folks rekindled the fire in me to keep writing. More importantly, they helped me believe that my dream of becoming a published writer was possible. I went home and finished the book I was working on—The Cost of Love. I was offered a contract with my current agent 2 years later and a contract for The Cost of Love six months after that.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Undoubtedly, time. It’s so hard to balance a full time job, writing, and the REST of my life. That last category is very important to me, but there’s a temptation to neglect it—I don’t want to be that person who has twenty bestsellers on the shelf but no family around. There are a lot of things I enjoy in addition to writing—like hiking, kayaking, fishing, gardening, dancing…the list goes on. And those things I enjoy really do make my writing richer. So while there’s a temptation for me to tape my fingers to the keyboard and refuse to budge, I have to force myself to back away at times. Balance is the key to much happiness, and ultimately—I believe—success.

Tell us about The Cost of Love, when it was released, and where we can buy it.

The Cost of Love is a wonderful, sexy thriller set in the dusty town of Roswell, New Mexico. I was hiking in the Guadalupe Mountains with some friends, and we decided to drive up to Roswell for a look-see. I was instantly captivated by the area. There’s so much history in Roswell, and so much room for imagination. My characters are accustomed to living with the lore, but it also plays a big part in the biological terror that is about to be unleashed—not just on them but on the country at large. I have repeatedly had first readers email me in the middle of this book to say that they will not speak to me again if I’ve “done anything” to either Lucy or Dean. Lucinda Brown and Dean Dreiser are characters who work their way into your heart and stay there after you reach the last page. The Cost of Love will be released by Five Star Press in March and will be available through your local library or at BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I’m currently working on The Edge of Love, a sequel set in the Pacific Northwest. This time the threat is cyber instead of biological, but the terror is no less real—threatening to destroy the electrical grid for the entire western half of the United States. Our main characters are Jazmine Petit and Cole Bishop. The attack begins at Puget Sound and cascades across the country, but the battle will be fought in the remotest area of Olypmic National Park, where roads are few in some places, nonexistent in most and glaciers abound. Where terror waits. The climb to the top of Mount Olympus will take Jazmine and Cole past the brink of their endurance. It will also take them to The Edge of Love.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Control your time—it’s the only thing you CAN control. No one will send you an award for Spider Solitaire, so just give it up. You want to be a writer, so write. Control your time, and keep the first things first.

What writers organizations claim you as a member? What personal/professional benefits have you received from membership in these organizations?

RWA has been an amazing support to me. I’ve received over thirty chapter awards now, and each time the people have been just lovely with both their congratulations and their feedback. I’d like to add, that one of my harsher critiques from a contest early-on (yes, for The Cost of Love) has become a very good friend…all because I sent a thank you note through the contest coordinator. She’s a best-selling author, and has been a fabulous mentor to me. Also, I’ve been amazed at how kind PAN members have been with their advice and their help.

ITW (International Thriller Writers) has also been wonderful in helping to promote me as a debut writer. They offer a Debut Author’s forum and have helped me to establish connections across genres.

Missouri RWA – I’m proud to be a mentor for Missouri RWA. I think this is a wonderful venture that pairs published authors with pre-pubbed authors, and it’s been a fun learning experience for me.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

Since my book debuts in March, I am only beginning to set up blog tours, book signings, and interviews. I invite readers to check my blog and webpage for upcoming events.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

When you hear the odds of becoming published, you want to throw in the proverbial dishtowel, but every time I hear those odds it’s like waving a red flag in front of a Texas longhorn. First of all, I’ve taken basic statistics, and I know they can be skewed to mean whatever the statistician is trying to prove. Secondly, don’t mess with my dream. I’ll be practical, and I’ll work hard, but I know it’s possible because others have done it.

Logically, I believe those stats are what they are, because many of the writers submitting do not do their homework. They do not prepare. They do not attend classes, go to conferences, work on their craft, close the solitaire game, join writers groups, read and adhere to submission guidelines and write another manuscript. Each time you do those things, YOUR odds become statistically better—so just keep writing.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Author Interview with SUE VIDERS

Author and artist, Sue Viders, has been writing and painting for, as she puts it, "a very long time." She writes mystery fiction and non-fiction with titles such as Heroes and Heroines, Deal a Story, and 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters. She recently survived a computer catastrophe, which barely put a dent in her productivity.


You are a writer and an artist. Tell us how you got started with each of these careers.

I’ve always been an artist. My grandmother was a fine watercolorist and she taught me a lot. I did paintings of flowers for the members of her garden club as I was growing up. With a B.F.A. in fine art and a educational minor from the University of Colorado, I began teaching art in the public schools, first in the grades, then in high school and finally for adults.

Married with five small children under the age of eight, I didn’t get a chance to practice my art professionally until my youngest child entered school. Then my art career took off. After several years of exhibiting with a group of other artists, I realized that although I was a competent artist and a great teacher what I really loved was the marketing of art, going head to head with editors and PR people.

About that time, American Artist Magazine published a small monthly newsletter. Looking through one, I realized there was nothing on marketing art. So I did the only thing I could...I wrote to the editor of the newsletter and suggested a column on marketing. Much to my surprise, they loved the idea. So suddenly, I was a writer with a column and absolutely no idea how to do it!

How long have you been writing?

A very long time... After several years of writing columns, I was approached by a printing company, Color Q, out of Dayton, OH. They wanted an art educational director to help their artists sell more prints. I quickly agreed and for many years held semi-annual marketing seminars in the printing plant that were very successful. I also produced a monthly eight page full color newsletter for the artists.

Of course, if you have enough columns and teach enough classes, you have enough material for a book. Several books on marketing followed along with audio tapes, charts and a variety of materials all geared to help artists sell their creative products. However, after many years of writing non-fiction books, I became tired of telling the truth and researching everything, so all the details were actuate and longed to write some fiction where I could finally lie a bit. Make up stuff and in general have fun. But, as in all dreams, reality is different. My hero sucked. Or so said my critique partners. What a blow to the old ego.

I countered with the question “Aren’t there any other types of heroes beside the alpha character?” This, of course, elicited reactions from all the other writers in the group. After much discussion, we arrived at our sixteen archetypes and so the book, The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines, Sixteen Master Archetypes, was born. The book was very successful. Most writers have a copy in their library and the book is used in film schools and in writing classes at universities and colleges across the country.

More books followed and recently I turned the archetypes into a card game for writers. Deal a Story has 101 cards and six different color coded sections. All the writer has to do is pick a card from each color group and...suddenly s/he has the makings of a story.

So to answer the main question, I’ve been writing for over 35 years. A very long time.

In what genres do you write?

In the fiction field, I love mysteries and suspense stories with a touch of romance. My current project is a light paranormal cozy, sort of a Miss Marple with super powers. And of course I still write non-fiction.

Who is your favorite author and why do you like his/her work?

I don’t have a favorite author. I read all genres and all authors as I read a lot, at least a book a day. I have open books in all the rooms, one on the kitchen table, one in the bathroom, and of course one by my bed.     

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Finding the right publisher for the right product. For example, when my new card game, Deal a Story, was finally completed, I thought, this won’t be a problem getting it published...after all I already had two books with Random House in New York.

But of course, it was a problem. Bottom line, it took almost a year from the publisher’s acceptance and the signing of the contract until I had the actual game in my hot sweaty hands.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

The most recent is 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters. It’s a combination text and workbook. Four of us, all in the same critique group, put it together. We came up with the various elements that a writer needs to consider when developing their characters. What is unique about this book is that we came up with three characters--hero, heroine, and villain--and as the reader/writer goes through the factors that are needed to make a memorable character, we use our three characters to illustrate how it is done. The book is available everywhere as is my first book, Heroes and Heroines.

Tell us about Deal a Story and how your writing career helped you develop it.

Several years after Heroes and Heroines came out, I started playing around with the idea that putting the archetypes on cards would be a great way to get young adults interesting in writing. Instead of eight heroes, I took the two styles we had developed for each archetype and used them. That gave me 16 heroes and 16 heroines. Next, I added the most used plots. Luckily, I managed to come up with 16 and then threw in 16 genres.

Then I needed villains, and flaws… Finally, I had 96 cards, six groups, and each set was color coded. Then we decided it would look better if we could say we had 101 cards, so I had to come up with five more cards. My husband gave me the idea of adding a wild card like the one they have in a poker game. The five wild cards were the extra “kick in the pants” the writer could use if needed.

Everyone who has used the cards loves them. They are great for “thinking” out of the box, dreaming up new ideas and sub-plots and a great teaching tool. They can be found at http://www.dealastory.com/.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

That’s easy. Write. Write every day. Have a plan for your writing. Mine is that I write early in the morning before the errands and chores of the day overwhelm me and suck the time away from the computer.

What writer’s organizations claim you as a member? How has membership helped you writing career?

The first one I joined, over 10 years ago was the Heart of Denver Chapter of RWA. Then I joined RMFW (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) and CAL (Colorado Author’s League). The value of any writing group is the camaraderie, the ability to have someone who can help you with a writing concern.

Do you have any upcoming classes on-line? If so, give us all the details.

We have a ton of classes coming up. For a complete list, please go to http://www.writethatnovel.com/

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

With a close writing friend, Becky Martinez, we are soon to introduce our monthly newsletter, which is in the form of a Q and A format. Writers send in their questions and we will try to answer them. Since we teach mainly classes on plotting and character development the questions should be related to these two areas. If you would like to join the newsletter group, please send your name, email address to sueviders@comcast.net . We also are about to come out with a new product, The Plotting Chart, which is based on our popular class, the Plotting Wheel. We also are working on a plotting booklet.

What are the addresses of your website(s):