Friday, October 30, 2009

New Release: TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO TODAY by Stacy Juba

Journalist Publishes Mystery Novel Set In Newspaper World

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, the debut mystery novel of award-winning journalist Stacy Juba, was released October 27, 2009 by Mainly Murder Press. Juba started the novel while working in her former position as a staff reporter at a New England newspaper.

The book follows the story of obit writer and editorial assistant Kris Langley, who feels like the newsroom slave--that is, until she stumbles across an unsolved murder while compiling "25 Years Ago Today" items from the microfilm. Determined to launch her reporting career, Kris investigates the cold case of an artistic young cocktail waitress obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology. She soon learns that yesterday's headline is tomorrow's danger, for finding out the truth about that night twenty-five years ago may shatter Kris’s present, costing her love, her career, and ultimately, her life.

Like her main character, Juba began her journalism career as an obit writer and editorial assistant, where she spent a great deal of time compiling “25 Years Ago Today” columns from the microfilm.

“While the book is fiction, my newsroom background provided me with the realistic details to create an authentic setting and premise that I hope will be enjoyed by newspaper readers, journalists and mystery fans alike,” she said.

Juba notes that attention continues to be focused on unsolved murders due to the popularity of television dramas such as Cold Case and the increased involvement and public visibility of family members. According to the National Institute of Justice, recent advances in DNA technology also are allowing officials to take a fresh look at these cases. Along with these technological advances, the creation of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) has improved the chances of solving cold cases with DNA.

“The subject of cold cases is a timely one, and for the fictional scenario in my book, I challenged myself to create intriguing twists and turns,” said Juba. “I think that readers will like taking a crack at the puzzle along with my sleuth, Kris Langley.”

After years of working as a reporter, Juba now concentrates on writing fiction and freelancing. More information about Twenty-Five Years Ago Today can be found at and

Title: Twenty-Five Years Ago Today
Publisher: Mainly Murder Press
Format: Trade paperback
ISBN: 978-0-615-29011-9
Pages: 254
Price: $14.95

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Author Interview with MARILYN MEREDITH

Marilyn Meredith is the author of two mystery series: the Deputy Tempe Crabtree and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. In addition to her mystery endeavors, Marilyn also pens Christian horror novels. She is one of the first authors to embrace ePublishing and is also a writing teacher.

Your writing background is extensive: fiction in multiple genres, non-fiction, an 18-year stint as newsletter editor for The Association for Administrators of State-Licensed Residential Care Facilities for Youth, Adults and the Elderly, and as a writing teacher. When did you start writing, and why?

Like many authors I know, I began writing when I was a kid. I started by rewriting my favorite books including my own version of Little House on the Prairie. (Not the TV show, the book series.) I also wrote plays for the neighborhood kids to star in. During the summers, which seemed very long back then, putting on plays kept us all occupied. I also wrote and printed my own magazine which I sold for nickel to my friends. I won’t even go into how complicated that was in the days before all the many ways we have today. I wrote because that’s what I liked to do.

Your fiction endeavors include two different mystery series and Christian horror. Tell us what drew you to these genres and about the challenges/rewards of each.

My first two published books were historical family sagas based on my own family genealogy. After I finished both sides, which were ultimately published, I decided to write a mystery because that’s what I read all the time. The Christian horror came from my love of horror films. I always thought if only the heroines in those movies were Christians they’d have a better idea how to fight the devil or demons that confronted them. I wrote three--and then I was done. Amazingly, they continue to sell.

What do you like to read in your “spare” time?

Really, I’ll read most anything. Mysteries are my favorite, but if someone recommends a book or gives me one, I’ll read and enjoy it.

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

Having to spend so much time on promotion and selling has become a bigger and bigger challenge. I spent two days at our little town’s Apple Festival which meant getting up at 5 a.m., setting up my booth by 8, and sitting there all day long, smiling and talking to strangers about my books. Fortunately, many buy and it’s a profitable two days, but wearing. I go to other book fests and craft fairs that are close enough to drive to, sometimes spending one or two nights. This year, as I’ve done for several years, the first weekend in November, I’ll be heading down to Temecula (about a 4-hour drive) to give a talk about novel writing at the Erle Stanley Gardner Mystery Weekend Writers Conference. I’ll be giving a talk about my latest book to the local Rotary Club, and I’m signed up for two days during December to sell books at the art gallery in the next town. I also go to several other writers’ conferences and mystery conferences each year. Though this can be a lot of fun, it takes time away from writing. Since I’m writing two series, which means two new books a year, I really need time to write.

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.

Dispel the Mist is my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. Tempe is a Native American deputy who is often called upon to help the violent crime detectives if a victim is an Indian or has ties to the local reservation. In Dispel the Mist, while investigating the unexpected death of a popular county supervisor with ties to the Hispanic and Indian communities, Tempe has an encounter with the local legend of the Hairy Man.

Published by Mundania Press, the book can be ordered from any bookstore or the publisher’s website:

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

I’m finishing up a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel and beginning to plot the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. However, the RBPD series’, An Axe to Grind, is expected right after the first of the year. Next September, Invisible Path, is the next in the Crabtree series.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. Share with us 3 tips you can give to new writers.

Read the kind of books you’d like to write. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing. Write every day. Rewrite. Let someone read it who knows something about editing. Join a critique group. Don’t let rejecting stop you. My first book was rejected nearly 30 times before it was finally accepted by a publishing company. If I’d known enough to learn more about writing first and had an editor, I’d have saved a lot of my time and money.

What writer’s organizations claim you as a member?

Mystery Writers of American, Three Sisters in Crime chapters, Public Safety Writers Association, and Writers of Kern.

You were one of the initial authors to embrace ePublishing. Tell us about that.

I found a publisher for my police procedurals in the Writers Market. The first book was accepted by an electronic publisher. I had no idea what that meant. Unfortunately, at that time it was a difficult procedure to pay for and download the book and a nightmare to promote. As time went on, the Rocket eReader was invented and many e-Publishers came on the scene. E-Publishers were far more receptive to new writers, writers who mixed genres, and shorter and longer lengths of manuscripts. I quickly moved onto other, more savvy e-Publishers. And as everyone knows, many new e-readers have popped up all over the place. My books are now available in many formats for e-readers, including the Kindle, as well as trade paperback.

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

If you really want to be a writer, you must write. Most of my published friends write on a regular basis. No profession is more supportive than the writing community--and people like Linda Faulkner, who are willing to take the time to do an interview like this with a fellow author. Thank you, Linda. I do want you to know though, even if I’d never been published I’m sure I’d still be writing. When stories are floating around in your head it is necessary to put them in writing.

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

My website is
My personal blog is
Every Tuesday, I blog at
And the first and third Tuesday, I’m at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Author Interview with TARYN SIMPSON

Taryn Simpson is an award-winning novelist, Pulitzer Prize competitor, ghostwriter, screenwriter, and blogger. Additionally, Taryn has enjoyed success as a classically trained musician. She credits her musical creativity as a stepping-stone to her successful writing career. Her screenplay, Conversations with Pearl, was featured at the Southern Festival of Books in 2002. Her current novel, The Mango Tree Café, was written with co-author Alan Solomon.

Your first career was in music, which you credit with being the foundation of your writing career. Tell us about your musical background.

Sure, I had a love for music that began early in my life. I was always drawn to percussive sounds which began my interest in drumming. So I became involved in marching band throughout school which garnered me a scholarship to college where I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Music. I had auditioned at The Juilliard School when I was 17 and discovered that Manhattan and Juilliard were too expensive so I went to college locally. My background in music reflects classical training where I played in orchestras, operas, musicals, and percussion ensembles, master classes with Leigh Howard Stevens and other notables. I’ve also played in concert bands, jazz bands and even a steel band! You name it, I did it.

What got you started writing? Tell us about all the different genres and types of writing you do.

When I was around 4 years old, my mother made sure that I learned how to read before I attended kindergarten or elementary school. She is a voracious reader and felt that if I became one as well, all types of opportunities would come my way. As a result of early reading, I also learned to write poetry and short stories from her. She wasn’t formally trained, but had a natural talent for it, so I had a built in teacher. My favorite genre is fiction, although I’ve only come to love it within the last 10 years or so. John Grisham opened the door for me on that one with The Firm. So, I began writing fictional thrillers. After that, I developed an appreciation for literary fiction. Norman MacLean, Wally Lamb, and others have also shaped my writing. As a ghostwriter, I enjoy writing memoirs for clients, as well. You meet some really interesting people along the way. I still like writing short stories and blogging. I have a personal blog where I talk about my growing up years, politics, pop culture, and life in general. I love to read words that cause me to pause.

Your current book was co-authored with another writer you’ve never met in person and who lives in China. Give us the scoop about this!

Yes, that’s correct! One day, I suspect that Merriam Webster will have an entry that states: Alan Solomon and Taryn Simpson--See Serendipity. To give you the background, a writing colleague of mine called one day and asked if I would be interested in ghosting a fiction book for a client. I asked for the client’s phone number so I could get more information about the job. She chuckled and said, “You might want to email him. He lives in Beijing.” I couldn’t believe it. I emailed the client, who turned out to be Alan Solomon. I began asking him questions about the project and he stopped me and simply said, “Read the first chapter. If you hate it, no harm done, we’ll part ways and go about our day. If you like it, we can discuss further.” I read the chapter and fell in love at first read. I knew this would not be a ghostwriter job. The novel needed some tweaking, rewriting, and polishing and I was determined to be the one to do it. We always kid each other that we can never meet now, neither on the phone nor in person: It would mess up our chemistry for writing!

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

There are times like other writers where I get blocked. I’m going through that right now with a novel I am working on. But, I find if I give myself time and space, the right direction will come about. But I the biggest challenge, I would have to say, is to be truthful. I remember when I was watching the movie “Biloxi Blues,” there is a scene where the nerdy guy in the barracks is sneaking a read from Matthew Broderick’s journal. He read some unflattering thoughts about the nerd and he was confronted about it later. Broderick felt badly about it and tried to erase the hurtful passage in his journal. The nerd cautioned him to always own what you write. It takes courage to write the truth. I’ve never forgotten that scene and try to be true to the written word. No matter how vulnerable it might make me feel.

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 Mango Tree Café, Loi Kroh Road by Alan Solomon and Taryn Simpson is the latest one to be published. The synopsis: Imagine owning a restaurant near the jungles of Thailand that sits upon the most legendary mystical road in the world. Legend states that whoever walks upon Loi Kroh Road will be forever changed or shall never be seen or heard from again. In fact, the English translation of "Loi Kroh Road" is "Wash Your Bad Luck Away." Larry, the main character, is seductively lured to the world-famous street to purchase this restaurant. The restaurant serves as a place where he observes world travelers, such as himself, as well as locals who discover their fate upon this historic road. He is on a journey to discover his mission in life as he is guided by a ghostly figure that appeared to him as a child. On his adventures, he comes face to face with his greatest fear, his lingering questions of mortality, and his soul's lonely reflection.

The book is available on both and Barnes & Noble’s website, as well as other online book retailers.

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

I’m working on a novel that is tentatively entitled The Long Road to Extradition where you will meet Nicholas, a precocious yet sensitive teenager who is also the black sheep of the family. He witnesses a horrific act that tears his family apart. From the time he is 13 years old, he makes his way through the foster system until one day he escapes his life of misery. Through his journey, he meets unforgettable characters along the way who make lasting impressions upon him, which prod him to delve into his bruised emotional issues to make peace with himself. His extensive travels prove that his problems will always be a cumbersome and heavy burden that will sit upon his shoulders until he has his day of reckoning with his emotional baggage. His journey by foot is a long one, but his journey to made amends is even longer. It is through his journey that he discovers "The Long Road to Extradition." Sheesh, I hope to have this one completed by the end of the year and published soon after.

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?

Do not take any writer’s advice as “the gospel.” That may seem strange advice coming from a writer, but I have learned that there is no one correct way to do anything. Some writers break all the rules and enjoy success. Think outside the box! Follow your bliss! Be creative and take control of your career.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? How has membership/lack of membership affected your writing career?

I’m a member of Book Marketing Network; Authors, Speakers, Coaches & Podcasters; The Freelancer’s Union; and Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group. Being a member of all these different groups help you to see what others are doing with regard to writing or marketing their books. Sometimes it can spur some ideas of your own.

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

Actually, we are working on that as we speak, but nothing is set in stone yet. You’ll be the first to know though when it does happen!

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

Well, aside from The Long Road to Extradition being a work in progress, Alan and I are also co-writing another novel titled He Played the Game, which takes place in England. It centers around a well-to-do family; their lives are forever changed when the father announces one day that he is leaving for no apparent reason. The eldest son begins his search for his father and the reason why he left his family so abruptly.

I am also co-writing a couple of children’s books with Nancy Mura, a very talented child author who penned the book series, “Willie Whistle.” The two books we are writing together are called The Table and Chair and Rosie and Baby. I will have my hands in a lot of different type of projects in which I’m thrilled to participate.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
Alan’s and my blog:
My online Press Kit:
My personal blog:
Twitter: and

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review: THE MIRROR AND THE MASK by Ellen Hart

This book sucked me in on the first page.

The protagonist, restaurateur Jane Lawless, is at a crossroads in her life: her two-year romantic relationship just ended and her business faces financial challenges. Into her life walks Annie Archer, a woman in need of a job to support her search for her stepfather--and the answers she's been seeking since she ran away from home in high school. Jane hires Annie to work in the restaurant and promises to consult her friend, a private investigator, to see what can be done about locating Annie's stepfather.

And so begins The Mirror and the Mask, the complicated, emotion-filled, seventeenth book in the Jane Lawless series by Ellen Hart. Deceit abounds, as does a wonderful supporting cast: Cordelia, Jane's melodramatic best friend (I loved her!); Jack Bowman, the filthy rich owner of a construction company who turns out to be Annie's sleazy stepfather; Jack's stepchildren: Sunny, a not-so-sunny eighteen year-old and Curt, a tragically depressed fellow who immediately snares Annie's sympathies and her presence as his roommate. Oh, I forgot to mention Susan, Jack's wife. Susan winds up dead.

Following her P.I. friend's advice (most of the time, anyway), Jane exercises her sleuthing talents to unravel the twisted history of Annie's past, which now seems to include the death of Susan Bowman and the psychological issues of her children.

The Mirror and the Mask has an engrossing plot and three-dimensional characters who elicited my laughter, sympathy, disdain, irritation, fascination, admiration, and an entire host of other emotions. It also ended with a terrific and unexpected twist. I'm on my way out to buy the first sixteen books in the series.

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!

The Mirror and the Mask will be released in hardcover on November 10, 2009 by Minotaur Books - ISBN 978-0-312-37527-0. Visit the author's website at: or contact Anne Gardner, St. Martin's/Minotaur at (646) 307-5553 or

Monday, October 26, 2009

Author Interview with ELIZABETH ZELVIN

Liz's published work includes poetry as well as professional and academic writing. After fifteen years as a textbook and reference book editor, she attended Columbia University, earning a master's degree in social work, and also obtained a credential in alcoholism counseling. Liz directed a treatment program on the Bowery for homeless alcoholics and drug addicts for six years and has worked with many couples and individuals with relationship issues in her private practice as a psychotherapist over more than twenty years. She is the author of a mystery series featuring Bruce Kohler, a recovering alcoholic. Death Will Get You Sober, her debut mystery, was nominated for a David Award for Best Mystery Novel of 2008 and its cover design was nominated for an Anthony Award. Liz lives in New York City.

Your first professional writing endeavors included editing textbooks and reference books. How’d you get into that?

I foolishly thought that working as an editor would help me become a writer, and those were the jobs I got—starting as a secretary, of course, as girls had to in those days. I had the skills because I’d learned them at my mother’s knee. She was a lawyer and legal writer/editor who later got a doctorate in political science and became a professor of Constitutional law. She was a great role model, but she couldn’t give me any guidance on how to get a novel published.

You also write poetry and a mystery series. How does writing in two totally different genres work?

For a long time, what I had to say came out in stories of 20 or 30 lines. More recently, it’s been more like 75,000 words. The start of the creative process is the same: a line of dialogue or an image tugging at my mind—or sometimes beating on the inside of my skull—demanding to be let out. Each literary form has its appropriate diction. In fact, my poetry is very accessible. Nobody has ever said, “I didn’t understand your poem,” and I’m proud of that.

You are a psychotherapist, possess a master’s degree in social work, and credentials in alcoholism counseling. I’m thinking your background has a lot to do with the creation of Bruce Kohler, the recovering alcoholic protagonist in your mystery series. Care to share details about your motivation in this regard?

I was directing an alcohol treatment program for homeless men and women on the Bowery when I thought up the title of the first book, Death Will Get You Sober. All I had for a long time was the title, the mystery genre--because I love mysteries, and a burning desire to write about the courage and honesty of people in recovery. Recovery, people going way past not drinking or using their substance or compulsive behavior to make extraordinary changes in their lives, is an amazing process. I wanted to write about that transformation, not only for alcoholics and addicts but also for codependents and people in destructive relationships. The new book, Death Will Help You Leave Him, is all about bad relationships.

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

It’s an ongoing challenge that every writer in today’s market faces: having the persistence not to “quit five minutes before the miracle” in order to get published and, as I’m learning now, stay published. You have to believe in yourself and your work, and at the same time, you have to have the humility to keep learning your craft, accepting critique, and improving as a writer. You have to have the hide of a rhinoceros to accept the form rejections and the rave rejections, when an agent or editor loves everything you’ve done but says no anyway. You’ve got to write one more query letter, one more blurb request, one more thousand words of the next manuscript.

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.

Death Will Help You Leave Him is just out from Minotaur. It’s the second mystery in the series featuring Bruce and his friends, and as I said, it’s about bad relationships. When a friend becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her abusive boyfriend, Bruce has to juggle the investigation, his sobriety, a crush on the bereaved girlfriend, and his own addictive relationship with his compelling but destructive ex-wife, who’s in the cycle of abuse with a new boyfriend but doesn’t want to let Bruce go. I had fun with the New York settings, too: a funeral in Brooklyn, an Italian bakery, a lingerie boutique, and an art gallery in SoHo. Death Will Help You Leave Him can be found in both chain and independent bookstores, especially mystery bookstores, and in the online bookstores too.

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

The next book in the series, Death Will Extend Your Vacation, is in my editor’s hands, and I hope she’ll like it. It’s my Hamptons book—Bruce and his friends take shares in a lethal clean and sober group house—so I hope that it will come out in the spring, not next year but the year after, when everyone is looking for a good beach read.

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?

Don’t try to do it alone. It is so easy to do everything wrong if you don’t know the realities of today’s market: burning through potential agents with a first draft that needs a lot of editing, writing in outdated conventions. For example, Agatha Christie and Rex Stout wrote dozens of mysteries that are still in print, in which the climax consists of Hercule Poirot or Nero Wolfe gathering all the suspects together and pointing to the killer. An author trying to break in with a book like that would have a hard time finding an audience, no less a publisher. Both reading and meeting other writers can make a huge difference both before and after publication. Nobody’s going to offer to read your manuscript and introduce you to their agent, but networking can help in dozens of ways. Mystery writers in particular are well known for being generous and helpful to each other.

You are a member of a number of writer’s groups. How has membership helped your career and what advice do you have for writers contemplating membership in writer’s organizations?

If you’re a mystery writer, you can’t do better than to join both Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Yes, not-yet-published writers can join MWA, and men as well as women can belong to SinC. I’m especially lucky in that I live in New York City, which boasts strong chapters of both organizations. I get to attend a lot of launch parties too—supporting fellow authors, buying their books, and schmoozing with readers, booksellers, editors, agents, librarians, i.e. all the people who make up the mystery writing world. I have a terrific online network too, through e-lists of mystery lovers (DorothyL), writers sharing ideas about promotion (Murder Must Advertise), and writers trying to break in with the first mystery (Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime). Guppies have supported me through hundreds of rejections, taught me how to write a synopsis and a killer query letter, shared their experiences with dozens of agents and editors, toasted me in virtual champagne when I finally sold a manuscript, bought the book, nominated me for an Agatha award for one of my short stories, housed and fed and drove me around on my first book tour—I can’t say enough about how supportive they’ve been. Many Guppies are now published, by the way, and I think the peer support and sharing of resources and information has a lot to do with our success.

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

My official New York book launch party will take place tomorrow evening: Tuesday October 27 at 7pm at Partners & Crime in Greenwich Village: 44 Greenwich Avenue, to be exact. If you can get to Manhattan, you’re invited! In November, I’ll be touring through North Carolina and on to South Carolina and Atlanta, GA. There’s an events page on my website, and all the details including times appear on Here’s a partial schedule:
Tues, Oct 27 - Partners & Crime, New York, NY BOOK LAUNCH PARTY
Sat, Nov 7 - Borders Northlake Mall, Charlotte, NC
Sun, Nov 8 - Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC
Mon, Nov 9 - Mauney Memorial Library, Kings Mountain, NC
Tues, Nov 10 - Unitarian Universalist Public Forum, Greensboro, NC
Thurs, Nov 12 - High Country Writers, Boone, NC
Sat, Nov 21 - Winston-Salem Writers, Winston-Salem, NC
Sat, Nov 21 - Writers Group of the Triad, Greensboro, NC
Mon, Nov 30 - Eastchester Library, Eastchester, NY
Mon, Dec 7 - Port Chester Library, Port Chester, NY
Wed, Dec 16 - Mid-Manhattan Library, New York, NY

I’m also doing a virtual tour, in which along with guest blogs and interviews like this one, you can chat with me live at from 7 to 9pm Eastern on Sunday November 1.

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

I hope that all kinds of readers will find their way to Death Will Help You Leave Him, as they did to Death Will Get You Sober. Recovering alcoholics got a kick out of the first book, but it also appealed to lovers of a traditional mystery (not cozy or hardboiled, but over easy and slightly crispy around the edges), people who had some experience of loved ones who drank too much, and people who knew nothing about the world of recovery and 12-step programs but were fascinated to get an intimate glimpse of that world. For the new book—well, almost everybody has had at least one bad relationship. Real life is not about love at first sight, never having to say you’re sorry, and happily ever after. But people do manage to connect and develop intimate relationships that are both durable and rewarding. I’ve tried to make Bruce’s story both realistic and hopeful.

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

My author website is at:
I blog with other mystery writers on Poe’s Deadly Daughters at
And if you’re curious about my “other hat” as an online therapist, my professional website is at:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Author Interview with M.M. GORNELL

M.M. Gornell's desire is to write novels she would like to read--where through the power of words a world is created that captures her imagination and lets her suspend disbelief for a few pleasurable hours. Then when the time comes to say farewell, she closes the book with a smile of satisfaction and a touch of regret the tale has ended. And if she perchance takes away a couple philosophical thoughts or questions beyond the story--how wonderful!

What encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

I’ve loved to read fiction all my life, and have early memories of wishing I was an author. So, I’m sure my desire began as a child. But my first real attempt to write fiction was as a freshman in college. However, my English teacher and my advisor at that time both counseled that I had no talent or aptitude for writing. Since I was young and had other interests, I naively accepted their conclusions and moved on.

Later in my young adult years I fell in love with Agatha Christie and thus began my continuing love of mysteries. My desire to be an author also resurfaced and I took a stab at writing for publication. After many failed attempts, in the 1980s I finally had two short stories published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. At that time, I was also well into a business career, and professional and monetary concerns took precedence.

Down the road a bit, I discovered P.D. James, my most beloved author, and was inspired again. I decided then, it was now-or-never-time for me to write a novel.

In what genres do you write?

I write mystery novels and my first, Uncle Si’s Secret was published November, 2008, and my second, Death of a Perfect Man, was published in April, 2009. Uncle Si’s Secret received a 2009 fiction award from Public Safety Awards Association (PSWA). My publisher is Aberdeen Bay Publishing.

In addition to being an author, you are also a potter. Tell us about that.

During my 1960s “finding myself” phase, I took a beginning pottery class. But once again, other paths vied with a creative love—pottery this time. I also knew ceramics wouldn’t be my occupation. Still, something in me was drawn to clay, and that connection stayed with me over the years.

I finally returned to pottery about ten years ago. I love the primeval feel of throwing a pot. It is a wonderful tactile experience. There are many ways to go in pottery—there’s something for everyone. I’ve leaned toward what’s called high-fire reduction firing (for the glazing part). I have a propane kiln for that, and I never know what the fire-gods are going to deliver up. I still lose a few pots, but sometimes I get a piece that touches me in the same way a perfect phrase of prose does. It’s a wonderful experience, akin to holding that first copy of your latest book.

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

There are so many “challenges” to pick from! But, I’d say number one continues to be writing at a level I think is worthy. I don’t just want to be a good writer, my goal is to be the best storyteller I can. For me that means skillful writing, an appealing voice, captivating characters, a strong sense of place, and a compelling story. I’m continually challenging myself to be better. Sometimes it’s very hard, and I will rewrite a paragraph, or a sentence even, over and over until it’s right. Sometimes the resolution is just to delete the offending prose. Even with my published titles, it’s hard for me to do a reading without wanting to rewrite.

Also, now that I’m published, promoting my titles has become an extraordinarily challenging endeavor.

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.

Death of a Perfect Man is my second and most recently published book. My protagonist is Jada Beaudine, and (surprise, surprise!) a bit of a potter. Jada lost her husband in a mysterious boating accident, and leaves her home in Puget Sound to get away from the horror, memories, and glare of publicity. She drives south, and by the second evening finds herself taking a wrong turn in California’s stark Mojave high-desert. Mesmerized by the beauty of a desert sunset, she nearly runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, she manages to find the Red Rock Inn & Café. From there, Jada finds herself dealing with murder, psychics, an unfriendly sheriff, the eclectic inhabitants of the inn, and the victim’s pottery class. I’ve tried to bring to this mystery a strong sense of place, an intriguing plot, and internal character conflicts that ring true.

My books can be purchased online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Aberdeen Bay, and the WOW bookstore. Signed copies can be ordered directly from me (see my website link), and purchased at my author events. Both titles are also available as Kindle downloads.

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

My immediate goal is to finish rewrites of Reticence of Ravens. My protagonist in this book is more morose than Bella (Uncle Si’s Secret), or Jada. Hugh James Champion III is a psychologist on the verge of a mental “something” himself, and has to confront murder, the daunting Mojave Desert, several villains (past and present), a possible desire for a relationship, and a haunting past failure. The inspiration for this tale was a semi-defunct mini-mart at an I-15 exit. I call the place Joey’s. All my novels are inspired by places that have “grabbed me.” My goal for publication is as soon as I get through rewrites and editing. Hopefully the beginning of 2010, or maybe sooner.

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?

I hesitate to give advice because I think every author’s experience is very much unique. But I do think the more information you have to choose from, the better to find your own path. Here’s what I believe, and what I always keep in mind:

  • NEVER give up
  • If you send out 20 query letters and receive 20 rejections or no responses, send out 30 more
  • If 20 agents turn you down, approach 30 more
  • If your writing isn’t strong enough, take classes, join groups, read writing books, rewrite-rewrite-rewrite
  • If you’ve written one book, write another
  • Constantly look for ideas, tips, and advice BUT: only use what fits. I

I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules--including everything I’ve just said. Except…
NEVER give up!

Tell us about your membership in writer’s groups and how you believe they’ve helped your career?

I’m pleased to say I’m a member of Sisters in Crime (National, LA, and Southern Nevada Chapters), Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA), and Wizards of Words (WOW). Without the information, networking opportunities, meetings, and conferences provided by these organizations I’d be floundering helplessly in the “promotions sea.” Not that I’ve yet got the hang of it, but without the information and opportunities they’ve provided, I wouldn’t have taken the steps I have.

I remember my first days when the reality of doing my own promotions was upon me. Of course, if I’d been paying attention, I could have been better prepared. I survived those early days by scouring other author’s websites for clues on how to proceed. Several of those authors and many others I’ve since met have been generous and gracious guiding lights. Most recently, I’ve also been following the excellent offerings at Writers in Residence—a group of very savvy authors.

I’m not in a critique group, and I’m not sure they are my cup of tea, but my book club/reading group “Books and Cooks” has been an emotional connection I’d be lost without.

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

Yes, I do. And I’m finding one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a published author is meeting readers and other authors. Earlier in October was the Central Coast Book and Author Festival in San Luis Obispo, and the Western Railroad Museum in Barstow. Here’s the remainder of my Fall, 2009 schedule. I’m hoping to add a couple bookstore signings. I maintain my event schedule on my website.

November 7, 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. – Pistachio Festival, Newberry Springs, CA
November 21, 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. - Oakhurst Library Book Fest, Oakhurst, CA
December 5th-6th, 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. - Santa’s Art Shop - Fairgrounds, Ridgecrest, CA

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

Take the time to enjoy the process. A multi-book author in several genres, Dorothy Howell, shared that advice at a panel discussion I participated in. I pass it on because I think it’s so true, not only about writing, but life in general. Still, I have to constantly remind myself to enjoy!

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

I love hearing from readers and authors. I can be contacted via emails or website comments. My website address is, my blog site is, and my email address is

Thanks, Linda, for a thought provoking and fun interview!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Author Interview with NATASHA BENNETT

War of the Soulites is the first book in Natasha Bennett's trilogy and was recently published by Lyrical Press. Natasha lives in British Columbia, Canada with her fiance and two cats and loves to hear from her fans.
Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

My mom is the first person who influenced me to be a writer, being a writer herself. Fortunately she writes non-fiction, and I write fiction, so we don't clash.

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

I've been writing for the past ten years. When I was a kid in high school, I would write these fantasy stories while my history or science teacher spent the whole hour talking. They just assumed that I was taking notes. Of course, I didn't do too well in those classes. Over the years I've written science fiction as well, but my favorite genre is horror. In my opinion, the very idea that the main characters in a novel could suffer a horrible death gives them far more freedom than any other genre.

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

My favorite author is Stephen King. The amount of detail he can put into a book is just incredible--he can easily spend five pages describing a street or a house. I've also found his characters to be the most interesting I've ever read.

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

For me, the biggest challenge is trying to find time as a writer while working full-time at a retail store. In addition to this, I also do a bit of web design and I'm also planning my wedding for next year. Some days, it can be difficult to juggle four things at once.

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.

Recently my novel War of the Soulites was published by Lyrical Press. It's a science fiction e-book which centers around a crew trapped on a broken ship and lost in hostile alien territory. To add to their troubles, some of the crew are also controlled by a corrupt government, prompting a lot of internal conflicts.

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

At the moment, I have a contract for War of the Soulites 2, and I expect it will be released in late 2010. In addition, I am also working on a new paranormal novel which is still in the beginning stages.

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?

Be patient. Most agents and publishers receive thousands of queries per day, and you will face a lot of rejection. Always do some research on where you're submitting your manuscript. Many writers have been scammed by publishers who demand money to publish your manuscript. Predators and Editors is a good reference for writers.

Do you believe that membership in writer’s organizations has helped your writing career?

That's a tough question to answer. I have several online groups which have helped me over the past two years, but it was hard for me to join any group locally. For starters, it usually conflicted with my work schedule, and I would shy away from the more organized groups which needed membership dues. So my short answer is, 'Yes, I believe it can help people. Just not me.'

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

Being published is the best feeling I ever had. However, the workload certainly doesn't stop. If anything, it increases.

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Author Interview with MARK ARSENAULT

Mark Arsenault is a Shamus-nominated mystery writer who uses his writing to answer questions and straighten things out in his own mind. At first, he seems to be a very serious man but, upon paying closer attention, one notices that he possesses a decidedly dry sense of humor. His latest book, Loot the Moon, is garnering terrific reviews from everywhere, including this humble interviewer.


Before penning mysteries, you were a journalist and reporter for the Providence Journal. Who—or what—got you writing?

I started writing fiction because of a homeless heroin addict named Julia. I met her when I was a reporter in Lowell, Massachusetts, around 1997. I was chasing a story about a dead body down by the railroad tracks, when I discovered a secret enclave of addicts who lived beneath a bridge that I drove over every day. Julia was the longtime girlfriend of the man who had overdosed and died. She was devastated by the loss. She told me about their lives, the two years they had lived homeless in the city, working odd jobs, stealing or streetwalking to get cash for heroin. People with nothing to lose are the most honest people you’ll ever meet. I rushed back to the newsroom with what I thought was a classic tale: a tragic love story. But my shortsighted editor wasn’t interested in the people under the bridge. He spiked my story. I would have quit in protest--if I hadn’t been broke. When Julia called me later, I told her I was having trouble getting the story in the paper. She asked, if you can’t write it for the newspaper, could you write it for me? I promised I would. Five years later my debut novel, Spiked, contained a fictionalized version of her tale. I never heard from her again. I don’t know if she’s alive. I don’t know if she realizes the book is dedicated to her.

Considering the topics of your past novels, you’ve clearly written about experiences you witnessed firsthand. Share with us your thoughts about writing about what you know versus writing about what you don’t know—after extensive research.

I wrote a novel about life in an underground heroin den, which I didn’t experience firsthand, but I think I nailed the experience through research, including my interview with Julia. In my novel Gravewriter, I wrote about a prison escape, which I fictionalized from what I heard from an inmate during an intense set of prison interviews. If you’ve done extensive research on a topic, then you know it; research can be just as valid as firsthand experience. I saw Barry Eisler one time take a question at a writer’s panel about a crazy, wild, over-the-top sex scene in one of his novels. How did he write that kind of stuff? “Research,” he said.

Other than newspapers and your own writing (or hiking, playing around on eBay, or doing whatever political junkies do), what is your preference in reading material?

I have a bias for good writing wherever I can find it. My heart was broken last December over the death of my favorite writer, Donald E. Westlake. He’s been a great teacher, even though I never had a chance to meet him. In addition to crime fiction and thrillers, I read a lot of history, right now I’m plowing through The March of Folly, by Barbara Tuchman. I had a long Einstein phase, and because I’m apparently too dumb to understand the original, I started reading books that present Einstein’s work in more accessible language. That evolved into many skull-blowing nights buried in pages about Quantum physics—no math, please. I like good travel writers, such as Bill Bryson. I recently read a bunch of the more obscure Mark Twain stories, then visited the Twain house and museum in Hartford, Connecticut. I have a strange fascination with Roller Derby, and books about the sport. I also read poll results and political blogs. I love well-written opinion columns. And I read maps. I just love maps.

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

The biggest challenge I face now is the gap between what I want to create and what I see on the page. Sometimes it’s a small gap, or even too small to see. Those are good days. Other times the yawning canyon between expectations and results makes me want to bury my keyboard in the yard and run off to join a cult. One challenge I no longer have is the temptation to quit. That’s the toughest thing in the early days of a writer’s career. I beg all new writers: please don’t quit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never published anything. You’re a writer so long as you don’t quit.

Loot the Moon is your most recently published book. Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

Loot the Moon is the second book in my Billy Povich series, which began with Gravewriter. Povich is a world-weary obituary writer who occasionally does some investigating for a lawyer friend on tough cases. Billy lives with his young son and invalid father in an apartment above a funeral home. On one level the book is a potboiler about the assassination of a judge. The judge was shot point-blank by a two-bit swindler who crashes and dies on the high-speed getaway. The police close the case, but why would a lowly con man slay a judge in cold blood? Did somebody pay him to do it? On a much different level, the book is about fathers and sons. Relationships between men can be subtle and hard to write about in a realistic way. I also tried to tackle end-of-life issues in this book, exploring some serious questions within the lives of the offbeat and unconventional Povich family. Published by St. Martin’s Minotaur, Loot the Moon is available in classy bookstores and all the Internet booksellers. Operators are standing by. Please check it out.

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

I like to keep a wide variety of projects going at the same time. I’m working on a stand-alone novel, which I probably won’t finish for six months or more. I’ve also recently written a non-fiction book proposal, which my agent is shopping right now. I’ve been writing short fiction for the first time in my career, and in this November’s edition of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine I have a short story that combines sex, Roller Derby, and the death of Bruce Lee. (Really, that’s not a joke.) I still love journalism and you’ll see my name frequently in the Boston Globe and in a number of magazines.

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?

“Don’t quit” is worth another mention. The next most important thing is this: Don’t worry about finding an agent or a publisher until your first manuscript is done and as polished as you can make it. You can’t sell what doesn’t exist. Finish the book. I know it’s hard to write if nobody cares if you finish. Find somebody worth writing for, and finish the book for that person. Do it just to prove you can, then worry about selling it later. My best tip about the craft of writing is to make sure the story starts fast. Don’t waste two chapters on the windup. In Loot the Moon, the reader joins a carjacking in progress on Page 1.

What writers’ organizations claim you as a member?

I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America. That may be the only organization of any kind that I’m part of, except for AAA.

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

I’m doing my first extensive blog tour for this book. It’s more fun than I figured it would be, and the response has been great. I’ll link to my blog posts at a special section of my Web site. My next in-person signing is at Borders Books in Providence, RI, on November 7. I’ll be at New England Crime Bake in Dedham, Massachusetts beginning November 13. It will be a bittersweet conference. I love Crime Bake, but I’ll be filling in on a panel for a friend, William G. Tapply, who died this past summer. Bill was a generous guy, a talented and disciplined writer, and I learned a lot from him.

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

First off, thanks for having me here. Secondly, if there’s one thing I’d like to do, it’s to encourage new writers. I’m on a one-man mission to demystify the writing process. I hate when successful authors talk vaguely about “feeling the muse,” which makes the creative process seem like some kind of dark art that only a few chosen people can achieve. That’s not how it is. I often say that writing is like hanging Sheetrock. A pro does it way better and faster than a first-timer, but most competent people can follow simple instructions and hang a piece of Sheetrock. In time, you’ll improve, so long as you stick with it.

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

My Web page is Please visit. I love traffic.

[Interviewer's Note to Readers: In September, Mark’s publicist sent me Loot the Moon for reviewing—along with four other books with October release dates. Although he lives not 10 miles from my adopted hometown in Massachusetts, we never “met” until after he read my book review. Click here for my review of Loot the Moon.]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Author Interview with BRIGITTE THOMPSON

Brigitte operates an accounting firm in Vermont and is the author of several recordkeeping and tax books. She is a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the Vermont Tax Practitioners Association.

What prompted you to write Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers?

The idea for this book was born in 2006 when I was answering questions from writers that were part of online forums I belonged to. Many of the same questions came up so I began to keep the answers in a file on my computer. As this file grew, the concept of writing a book about the financial side of a writer’s life became a reality. Writers had many important questions to ask, but no single source for answers. I created this book to be that source. It’s an easy to understand guide to organizing a writer’s financial life.

Tell us what Bookkeeping Basics for Freelance Writers is about and let us know where we can buy it.

This book addresses issues writers face daily such as how to deduct travel expenses, determine taxable writing income, and claim home office deductions. Navigating through the recordkeeping required for a small business owner can be difficult. This book is written exclusively for those of us who earn money by writing.

Readers will also find that each part of this book works together to assist in forming your overall business plan. Each chapter steps through a comprehensive plan that works as a building block towards a successful writing business.

It is available through and any local bookstore can order it by ISBN: 0963212382.

Tell us about the other books and works you’ve written.

I’ve written a series of six books on recordkeeping for Home Daycare providers which can all be found online through Amazon and through my publisher’s web site. One of these books has been translated into Spanish, which was a fun experience. My other title in print is Federal Income Tax for Window Cleaners.

How do you manage to simultaneously run an Accounting Business and work as a freelance writer?

Thankfully, I’m an amazing multi-tasker and I enjoy using both sides of my brain. I like working with numbers and solving problems. There is a clear black and white in this line of work. The numbers either balance or they don’t. With my writing, I venture into the more creative side of my brain. In this part of my life, I can work with a full color spectrum of thoughts and ideas. No more clear-cut right or wrong – there is plenty of room for innovation.

I like the balance in my work day and in my life.

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

An overcrowded mind. Sometimes, ideas are popping left and right in a frantic fight for my attention. I find there are so many things I want to write, but grabbing a single idea can be challenging.

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

I’m working on marketing this book for the rest of 2009, but have ideas for the next book. I can tell you it will be non-fiction and deal with the world of finance.

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 most important thing you can do as a writer is to become organized. There are many books available on how to organize your writing, but this is the best book available to organize the financial side of your writing business. Since it’s written by an author who is also an accounting expert, you are getting the best advice from both professions.

What writers organizations claim you as a member and what benefits do you derive from membership?

I have been a member of writing organizations in the past and enjoyed benefits such as newsletters, ezines, and advertising through their directories. Currently, I am a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, the Vermont Tax Practitioners Association, MomWriters, Write From Home Moms, Digital Women, and the Women Business Owners Network.

Being a writer can be isolating at times. I find the greatest benefit of these memberships to be the camaraderie. Networking with fellow writers brings me out of my home office and helps me feel more connected to the writing world.

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

I have launched a Virtual Book Tour which began on June 20th with a radio interview. I will be visiting several web sites and blogs to share information about my book as well as tax tips for writers. The tour stops are listed on my Writers In Business blog and we are working to line up more media outlets.

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

I live in Vermont with my husband and three children. I’ve been self- employed for 17 years and am very thankful to have found a way to balance everything. I enjoy what I do and don’t consider it work.

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

My blog for writers is

My publisher’s web site is

My accounting business web site is

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Write That Novel - Newsletter & Plotting Chart Now Available

The website of Sue Viders and Becky Martinez, Write That Novel, contains a variety of tips and advice when crafting your novel, including subjects such as The Basics, Plotting, Characters, Setting, Dialogue, and Pacing. Sue and Becky also conduct writing workshops--both online and in person.

Their first newsletter is now available. If you'd like to subscribe, simply e-mail Sue at and be sure to include the word newsletter in the subject line.

Their Plotting Chart is also available and is a spin-off from their popular online class, Plotting Wheel.

For more information, visit their website at:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Author Interview with BETH GROUNDWATER

Beth Groundwater's "past" includes stints as an military brat, gardener, skier, software engineer and project manager, wife, mother, and possessor of several college degrees. She lives in Colorado where she writes to her heart's content--now that she's "retired," that is. The second book in her mystery series about gift basket designer, Claire Hanover, was released in March to much acclaim.


You started writing as a child. What prompted your Freddie stories?

I wrote my Freddie stories when I was in fifth and sixth grade because I was an avid reader of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and action-oriented children’s books, too. My protagonist, Freddie, had all sorts of wild adventures, including visiting an underground mole city after burrowing down in a giant screw-mobile. Freddie was a boy, because back in the sixties, I thought girls weren't supposed to have adventures. I know better now! My amateur sleuth, Claire Hanover, has all sorts of adventures.

Your two published books are mysteries. Do you prefer reading and writing mysteries to other genres?

I read a wide variety of genres, including mystery, mainstream/literary, women’s fiction, romance, and science fiction, so it was hard to pick one. I first wrote mainstream short stories, then I wrote a futuristic romantic suspense novel that never sold. Then I wrote a science fiction novella, which I finally found a publisher for years later. Titled The Epsilon Eridani Alternative, it will be released this November by Virtual Tales in eBook, eSerial, and paperback form. Once I wrote A Real Basket Case, however, I knew mysteries were for me. I’m a puzzle person (crossword, Sudoku, jigsaw, you name it) and writing a mystery is designing a puzzle for your sleuth and the reader to solve.

How does your degree in psychology help you with character development?

I wondered about myself as a college student when I double-majored in the two majors that seemed to attract the weirdest students on campus, Software Engineering and Psychology. But, I was interested in math/logic/computers as well as in how the human brain works, and I couldn’t choose one or the other. I applied my computer science degree to my career as a software engineer, and now I’m applying my psychology degree to my career as a mystery author.

There are two main character motivation problems that I think a writer of amateur sleuth mysteries must tackle, and I use my psychology training to come up with realistic solutions to both. The first problem is why the killer was driven over the edge to kill someone. In murder mysteries, the murders are premeditated for the most part, and people need a really good reason to plan to kill someone. Also, someone who’s willing to plan to take a life is not “normal” and should have some underlying psychological pathology.

The second problem is why the amateur sleuth is trying to solve the murder versus just turning the case over to the police like any sane person would do. In Claire’s case, every book will put a member of her family or a close personal friend at risk, so she’s forced through love or loyalty to solve the crime. Here I use the psychology of strong, mostly healthy relationships to motivate her. In A Real Basket Case, police accuse Claire’s husband of killing the massage therapist, and her husband accuses her of having an affair, so her marriage is on the rocks. In the sequel, To Hell in a Handbasket, the sister of Claire’s daughter’s fiancé is killed, and Claire begins to think her daughter’s life is in danger.

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

To not give up in the face of relentless rejection! I have hundreds of rejection letters from agents and editors on my short stories and novel-length manuscripts stashed in my files. But, if I hadn’t persisted and kept on submitting, I never would have become published. To keep my spirits up through the process, I networked with other writers who were going through the same thing. It’s important for aspiring authors to realize that rejection letters aren’t personal and that all writers get them during all phases of their careers. They’re something you have to accept and, if you’re given feedback, to learn from.

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 May release, To Hell in a Handbasket, and takes place a few weeks after the events in A Real Basket Case. Colorado Springs gift basket designer Claire Hanover takes a spring ski vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado, with her family. The vacation goes to hell in a handbasket when the sister of her daughter’s boyfriend is killed on the ski slope. Others think an out-of-control snowboarder slammed into her, but just before the ski patrol arrived, Claire saw another pair of ski tracks that veered into the young woman’s. Claire passes her findings on to an initially skeptical sheriff’s detective. Confusing clues point to alternative scenarios for the young woman’s death—which was definitely no accident—and put Claire’s daughter, Judy, in the path of danger. As the spiral of intrigue winds tighter and other deaths occur, Claire must draw on inner reserves of strength to conquer not only the conspiracy but also the winter elements, and like a mother bear, she must fiercely protect her independent-minded cub from harm.

Your blog readers can buy the book on-line from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book sale sites or order it from their favorite local bookstore.

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

I just signed a two-book contract with Midnight Ink for the first two books in my new Mandy Tanner river ranger mystery series. Mandy is single and in her twenties, lives in Salida, Colorado and works on the upper Arkansas river, the most popular river for whitewater rafting in the United States. The first book is already written and is titled Wicked Whitewater. It is scheduled to be released in early 2011. I’m drafting the second one now, which is tentatively titled Evil Eddies.

I will probably continue to write books in the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series for Five Star. However, because of the way they do business, their mystery series authors are on about a two-year cycle, and to keep your name in the public eye, you really need to publish at least a book a year. So, my hope is that after getting the first two Mandy Tanner books written, I can alternate writing books in the two series. Hopefully, that will keep my writing fresh.

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?

Networking with other writers is one of the most important things you can do for your writing career. I present workshops at writing conferences and write articles on how to network and why you must do it. Also, being in a critique group helps you improve your writing to the point where it becomes publishable. In my initial critique group of five brand-new fiction writers, three are now published in short stories, three in book-length fiction, and all five have won or placed in writing contests.

Tell us how you benefit from the numerous writers organizations in which you have membership.

I belong to Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. I learned a lot about the craft and business of writing from the workshops, meetings, email loops, book referrals and other sources of information that came from these writing groups. From fellow short story writers, I obtained leads on e-zines and print magazines that were open to fiction submittals from new writers. By following those leads, I was able to publish eight short stories that could be cited in my query letters.

When I was ready to query literary agents about my polished, second novel-length manuscript (A Real Basket Case), I learned that the best way to find agents whose tastes matched my work was to trade information about agents, and what they said in rejection letters, with other writers seeking representation. And the best way to approach a literary agent was through referrals from published authors they represented. I got to know those other writers and published authors not only through face-to-face discussions, but also through email loops and on-line social networking groups.

I met my editor and both my first and second literary agents through networking with other writers in the writing groups I belong to. At a minimum, I recommend that fiction writers should join three groups: a critique group, a local writing organization that offers monthly workshops and other learning opportunities nearby, and the professional organization for their genre. And volunteer in those writing organizations to make even more connections!

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

I’ll be attending the 2009 Bouchercon conference in Indianapolis, Indiana during October 15-18 and will be signing copies of my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery books there. To find out about future appearances, your readers should check out the Appearances page of my website (see below).

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

Being in a book club myself, I love to meet with book clubs either in person or remotely via speakerphone or Skype to discuss my books, so if any of your blog readers are interested, they should let me know via the “Contact Me” form on my website. Also, if they sign up for my email newsletter, they’re automatically entered into a contest for free mystery books.

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

My website is:
My blog is:
My Facebook page is: (please feel free to befriend me!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Release: DEATH WILL HELP YOU LEAVE HIM by Elizabeth Zelvin

DEATH WILL HELP YOU LEAVE HIM by Elizabeth Zelvin is the second book in the series featuring recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler and will be released on
October 13th by Minotaur Books

A friend is the prime suspect when her abusive boyfriend is found dead in her East Harlem apartment. With his two sidekicks, world-class codependent Barbara and computer genius Jimmy, Bruce investigates while he juggles sobriety, a crush on the bereaved girlfriend, and the lure of his compelling but self-destructive ex-wife, who's on a collision course of her own.

"A wonderful book--authentic, compassionate, and tough." - Barbara D'Amato

"Zelvin's dialogue sparkles, but what's best is how she's created characters who are both over the top and completely believable." - SJ Rozan

"Humor and heart...Zelvin writes about the beat of New York City with impressive accuracy." - Alafair Burke

"A heartbreaker of a novel...seamless prose...will haunt you long after the book is read." - Naomi Hirahara

Elizabeth Zelvin, is a Agatha Award and David Award nominee

DEATH WILL HELP YOU LEAVE HIM, and the first book in the series, DEATH WILL GET YOU SOBER are available from independent and chain bookstores, as well as Amazon.

Visit the author's website at:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Signing: Author LISA CARETTI

Whistle in the Dark
Saturday, October 24 2009
1:00pm - 3:00pm
Walden Books - Lakeside Mall
14600 Lakeside Mall, Sterling Heights, MI
store phone: 586.247.0420

Michigan author Lisa Caretti shatters the tranquil world of a quiet, conservative psychologist when hidden secrets unexpectedly resurface in her debut novel. Pulsing with suspense and provocatively written, Whistle in the Dark is a stunning, fascinating new thriller:

It was then that she heard the whistling. Softly at first, then growing stronger and louder. It scared her, but did not surprise her. After all, she had been waiting for him all along…In the suburbs of Chicago, Psychologist Dena Davis has devoted her life to helping others deal with the aftermath of violent crimes. A victim herself, she has led a quiet life ever since her husband was killed in a plane crash several years ago. But when an attempted murder disrupts the tranquil life she had pieced together for herself, Dena hires Private Investigator Nick O’Neal to hunt down the would-be killer. In their search for the truth Dena and Nick unravel a twisted and evil connection to her past. As the horrors begin to unveil, Dena realizes she has no one left to trust.

About the Author:

Lisa Caretti grew up in Detroit and now resides in Washington Township, Michigan with her husband and three children. In addition to helping manage her husband's different marketing firms, Lisa is an Area Manager for Arbonne International and is the founder of a non-profit organization called The Healing Nest, which supports women and children with cancer. Lisa enjoys the writings of John Stanford, Sue Grafton, and Linda Howard. Whistle in the Dark is her first published novel and she is currently working on her next book, The Last to Know.

978-1-60693-743-3ISBN / SKU: 1-60693-743-X
Hard Cover - 6x9 - 258 pages - $28.50ISBN

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Contact Author:

Publisher Contact:
Al Clemens
Book Signing & Marketing Manager
Strategic Book Group

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Author Interview with KRISTA DAVIS

Krista Davis lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her third Domestic Diva mystery is scheduled for release in February. The 1st book in the series was nominated for an Agatha!


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

I'm really not sure I can blame, er, credit just one person. I was very lucky to have teachers in grade school and high school who encouraged me to write. I have vivid memories of writing plays in the fifth grade that were performed for my class. But I think my parents may have been the biggest influence, simply because they loved to read. Books were a big deal at our house, as were regular trips to the library.

How long have you been writing? Do you write only mysteries?

I wrote a lot when I was in school. During my college years and beyond, I drifted away from fiction and came back to it seriously about fourteen years ago.

I love mysteries, so I lean very strongly in that direction. I've written some screenplays, but no matter what I write, a mystery always seems to creep into the plot!

Tell us about the theme of your Domestic Diva Mysteries. What prompted the idea?

One of my manuscripts was busy garnering rejections when I had an idea for a cozy. That one didn’t take, and neither did the next one, but in the process, my (current) editor asked a question that sent me in search of some popular magazines. It was in the drugstore that I realized the Martha phenomenon had created a counterculture of busy women who want delicious meals and charming homes without all the fuss. Who has the time or inclination to build a smokehouse in the backyard or grow live grass for Easter baskets? Thus the two divas were born. Sophie, who loves to cook and entertain but keeps things simple, and Natasha (one name please, like Cher), who thinks she’s the Martha of the South and doesn’t understand why everyone doesn’t spend months growing topiaries and hand embroidering napkins for guests.

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

Keeping at it when there was no sign that I would ever make it to publication. It was a long road, full of rejections, and precious few encouraging developments. Some of my writing friends like to say that writing isn't for the faint of heart. Until you're published, there aren't milestones by which you can gauge your progress and know that you're getting closer, and that can be very discouraging.

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.

In The Diva Takes the Cake, Sophie Winston's sister, Hannah, is getting married. Sophie planned the wedding, but she didn't plan on finding the groom's ex-wife murdered! Now everyone wonders: will the killer be seated on the bride’s side, the groom’s side, or will he be standing at the altar?

The Diva Takes the Cake is available at independent bookstores and chain bookstores everywhere, as well as on-line bookstores.

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

The Diva Paints the Town will be out in February. This time, Sophie discovers a body in an old mansion that is being renovated. But when she calls the police, it has disappeared!

At the moment, I'm working on a Christmas book that will be released in December 2010. Sophie's family is back in town for the holidays and I'm having a lot of fun writing it. So far, it's untitled. I've been singing Christmas songs to come up with a good title that begins with The Diva...hmmm...The Diva Cooks A Christmas Goose? The Diva Dashes Through the Dough?

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?

Join writing groups in your specific genre. I can't tell you how helpful it is to be able to communicate with other writers. Not only can they answer questions and give you guidance, they're so wonderfully supportive. Writers don't get a lot of positive feedback, and then they're hit with rejections, which feel much more personal than they are. It's incredible to have friends who understand the angst and frustrations.

I want to emphasize, too, that it's important to look for a group in your genre. As super as your other writing friends might be, those who read and write your genre will be the most helpful.

Malice Domestic is a convention that is held every year around the first weekend in May. It's a wonderful convention, geared to cozies and traditional mysteries.

For aspiring mystery writers, I heartily recommend The Guppies (the Great Unpublished, a chapter of Sisters In Crime. They offer critique groups as well as sub-groups for specific types of mysteries. It's an amazingly supportive and friendly group.

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

I recently joined with five other cozy mystery writers whose books feature food themes -- Julie Hyzy (White House Chef Mysteries), Cleo Coyle (Coffeehouse Mysteries), Jenn McKinley (Cupcake Mysteries), Avery Aames (Cheese Shop Mysteries), and Riley Adams (Memphis Barbecue Mysteries). We've started a new daily blog called Mystery Lovers' Kitchen that's a lot of fun. On Sundays, we feature other mystery writers and ask them to offer a recipe. Stop by for great recipes, contests, amusing tales of cooking adventures, and news about our books.

What is the address of your website?