Sunday, August 30, 2009

Publisher Interview with NADENE CARTER

Nadene Carter is a woman of many talents: writer, editor, and publisher. She is the author of a handful of books, and has dozens others to her credit as editor. Most recently, she is the founder of


You’re a bit different from most of the published authors I’ve interviewed thus far. You also wear the hats of editor and publisher. How do you handle the madness?

Occasionally, things do get a bit crazy, but two things keep me sane: I’m passionate about what I do, and I’ve learned to prioritize. On any given day, I can have 8 or 10 projects I’m working on: reading and evaluating manuscripts NorLightsPress is considering for publication; editing manuscripts in various stages of completion; pre-press preparation of edited manuscripts; designing layout, formatting and paginating books ready for print; and designing and creating book covers. Every day, I also do some writing.

I know you’ve published books in at least three different genres, including mystery and non-fiction. How long have you been writing and what prompted your diversity?

I’ve loved stories and writing as long as I can remember. That interest naturally led to work where I could use that interest: writing and publishing the monthly corporate magazine for a hand and nail care company and creating the sales literature—brochures, flyers, and all the order forms—for that company; and later, writing and publishing proposals to attract work for an architectural company. The diversity of genres in my writing happened quite by accident.

The seed idea for Echoes of Silence sprang from my interest in spinning and weaving as an art form. In 1980 I was living in Adrian, Oregon, a small town about sixty miles west of Boise, Idaho. I belonged to the local Spinners and Weaver’s Guild, and three of us from that Guild went to a Weaving in the Woods Workshop near Chiloquin, Oregon. The workshop taught Native American weaving, where each of us built and lashed an upright loom between two trees, designed our own pattern, and created a tapestry. The three of us from our guild camped in a tent together. One evening around the campfire, we were exchanging background information about ourselves. I had moved to Adrian the year prior, and one of the women and her husband had recently moved there from the Midwest and purchased a business. The other was a Japanese woman, Janet Takami, about 25 years old at the time. I asked Janet how she came to live in east-central Oregon.

I will never forget the shocked look on her face and her words, “My parents were part of the Japanese internment during World War II.”

Then it was my turn to feel shock. I was 40 years old at the time and had never heard of the Japanese internment. To learn that U. S. citizens had been detained in camps was impossible for me to understand. After the workshop I went home and spent days in the Ontario library researching the Japanese internment. I learned that for years ‘the internment’ had been a taboo subject, seldom discussed or acknowledged. Later, I talked at length with George Iseri, who had lived in the camp. He was Nisei, second generation Japanese-American. He told me the history of that small group of families from the Minidoka, Idaho internment camp who agreed to move to a small work camp near Nyssa, Oregon to work as laborers in the sugar beet fields rather than sit idle until the war was over. That’s how they came to be located there.

He told of their plight after the war was over. Everything they owned before the war began was gone; they had nowhere to go. This group of Japanese families pooled their funds, formed a lottery, and bought the first family a farm. The farm family and the people still at camp continued pooling their money until they had enough to buy the second family a farm and so on until every Japanese family owned their own land.

I spent several years gathering information and trying various ways to construct a fictional format that would present the story of courage and tenacity of these people in the face of adversity.

That story wouldn’t let me be. It was a story that begged to be told and wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written the book. The genre is U.S. historical fiction.

My reading of choice is mystery/suspense, which is the genre of the next novel I published, A Cobweb on the Soul. It’s set in Park City, Utah, within driving distance of where I live. I visited there several times as I did the necessary research during the writing of that book.

My third book, The Sense-ible Writer, grew out of my work on my novels. It’s a craft of writing book that provides specific help to writers: those working to learn the elements of fiction writing and for more experience writers as a refresher course.

What are the three most important things to you, as an editor, in your relationships with your authors?

The author and editor spend several months together editing a book. The most important element in that relationship is for me as editor to establish a rapport with the author and with the story. An editor must believe in and be passionate about the book and the author. The second most important element necessary to the successful editing of a book is for the author to be open to change—and modification of the story if necessary—to make the best presentation of that story. The third element for a successful relationship is for the editor to always be respectful of the story and not run roughshod over the author. That requires an editor to know the story and understand the intent behind the author’s creation of that story.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an editor?

Occasionally an author will become so overprotective of his writing that the project bogs down in explanations about why a request for change was made and with the author objecting to every word change. The challenge sometimes comes back from the author as, “You’re changing my “voice and style.” As an editor I make sure I know the story and the author’s style of writing before I ever begin the editing process, and I guard against letting that happen. Poor writing can never be glossed over as “voice and style.” My primary purpose as editor is to be an advocate for the reader. If I find something that might trigger the reader’s “NO WAY” button, then it’s my job to work with the author to correct the error. (Interviewer note: I know one author who raves about what a wonderful editor Nadene is and how she helped make his book stronger.)

Tell us about your publishing company, NorlightsPress.Com.

NorLightsPress evolved out of a vacuum in my life. Several months earlier I’d left the publishing house I was working for, with good intentions of devoting all my time to writing the sequels to the two novels that are already published. But I missed the challenge and passion I have for publishing and the joy I found working with authors to bring their creations to life. One day out of the blue my webmaster called. After a few minutes of small talk, he blurted out, “How would you like to help me start up a publishing company.

I had specific requirements for how I thought a publishing company should be operated and the kinds of books we’d need to attract for us to flourish and grow as a publisher. It turned out that his ideas were an exact match to mine. We took three months to research the business angle to make sure we could launch on strong footing, both financially and with enough staff to carry the load. Finally, with everything in place in March of 2009, we opened the doors for business and have never looked back.

We publish a nice mix of nonfiction and fiction. To date, our nonfiction books have enjoyed phenomenal success.

Sea Fare, a young chef’s memoir of her travels aboard a yacht also contains 30 exotic recipes she’s collected from around the world. That book is a great success not only in the U.S. but in Canada and in Europe.

Speaking of Dialogue, another nonfiction that has sold well, provides specific instruction and exercises for creating powerful dialogue, regardless of the media: fiction, nonfiction, or screenwriting.

In what direction do you see NorlightsPress.Com heading and where do you expect it to be in 5 years?

Our initial goal was to publish 25 books by the end of the first year. We are on track and it looks like this will happen. We want our books to also be available as eBooks on Fictionwise, and they require a publisher to have 25 books in their stable before applying for a contract with them.

Our next goal is to establish wider distribution channels for our print editions. Our overall goal is to provide NorLightsPress and each of our authors with a diverse exposure, through both traditional avenues as well as through online marketing contacts, so our books enjoy phenomenal success.

In 5 years, our goal is to have authors recognize NorLightPress as a premiere publisher, the first publisher an author would approach to publish books in the genres we cover.

What are some of the projects you are working on now—in any/all of your capacities—and when/where do you expect them to be available?

On the publishing end, the following is a listing of books that will launch before the end of 2009:
The Smart Patient’s Guide to Surgery: [nonfiction, medical] Written by the ultimate insider—a nurse with over twenty-five years of experience—this book provides the latest information on forty-four surgical procedures. In addition, the candid discussions of what to expect after surgery include positive and negative statements from patients who’ve undergone each procedure. This guidebook also includes simple explanations of medical tests, samples of common medical forms, and a glossary of medical terms. Available in August 2009.

Rich Johnson’s Guide to Trailer Boat Sailing: [nonfiction, travel, sailing] If you’ve ever dreamed of casting off in search of adventure wherever your heart may lead, this book will help turn those dreams into reality. A trailerable sailboat is the ideal way to explore every part of the country — wherever there are lakes, rivers, reservoirs or ocean coastline. Available in August 2009.

Pilot Your Career - 18 Strategies for Career Building and Navigating the Economic Downturn: [nonfiction, career-building, self-help by wll-known marketing executive, Neal Lemlein.] Reboot Your GPS for Corporate America! Pilot Your Career offers a road map for today’s journey through corporate America. Career seekers need guidance to navigate and maximize opportunities within the contemporary workplace. Available in August 2009.

The Road to Blood Marsh: [U.S. historical fiction by G.G. Stokes, Jr. This is book one in the author’s Colonial Southeast Series. Two books in the series already published. Manuscript in final editing.] Available in August 2009.

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue: [science fiction, by Hugh C. Howey, an amazing a new author. His first novel of a series. Manuscript in final editing] When Molly Fyde is expelled from the Naval Academy, she loses the only two things that matter: flying in space and her training partner Cole. Months later, however, the discovery of her father’s old ship gives her another chance at both. Tasked with the craft’s retrieval, Molly sets off with Cole to recover the ship and reconnect with her past. Along the way she must learn to rely on a new family: the crew of the starship Parsona. Available in Septembert 2009.

Call of the Land - An Agrarian Primer for the 21st Century: [nonfiction by agronomist Steven McFadden] A sourcebook exploring positive pathways for food security, economic stability, environmental health, and cultural renewal. While no single remedy meets the many challenges to our farms and food, hundreds of positive, creative options are already in place for families, neighborhoods, suburbs, and cities. The Call of the Land illuminates the paths forward, revealing a range of models to establish a sustainable agrarian foundation for the fragile high-tech, digital-wave culture emerging so dynamically in our world. Available in September 2009.

Call Me Katherine: [woman’s fiction by a new author, Virginia Meyer. Manuscript in editing] After fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom Kitty has a career as editor for the Home section of Maine Scene magazine. But her husband takes a job in Oregon. Kitty struggles to adapt and accept the loss that fate has brought. "Who am I, what am I and what do I want to be?" she asks. The story follows Kitty's life as she gradually matures and builds a new life, in her new community. Although the circumstances may differ, Kitty's struggle to redefine herself is not unlike that of many women who in midlife are confronted with earth-shaking life changes. Available in September 2009.

Adventures in Flight: [memoir collection by aviators Ken Larson and Tom Holton. Manuscript in editing] The list of contributors to Adventures in Flight reads like a “Who’s Who of Aviation,” including some of North America’s most famous women pilots. This book introduces the exciting, often harrowing, lifestyles of stunt pilots, fighter pilots, wing walkers, and men and women who brave the elements in the most barren places on the planet. Each chapter is a stand-alone tale that takes readers through flying in World War Two, across North America, to the bush of Alaska, the ice of Antarctica, and the deserts of Africa. The stories are touching, humorous, exciting, and often dangerous or miraculous. Aviation humor and quotations are included to bring out the nuances of aviation and the writers’ exciting lifestyles. Available in October 2009.

Chapel Perilous: [U.S. historical fiction, paranormal by Eppie Finalist Steve Bartholomew. Manuscript in editing] Available in November 2009.

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

Actually, I can provide several tips. If your book (nonfiction or fiction) requires research, be sure to document sources, places obtained, and dates. That information could be vital later during the publishing process. Make sure you’ve created something in the first few paragraphs that will grab the reader. This “hook” is what keeps the reader reading (remember your 1st reader is your editor or publisher). Don’t send “your baby” out into the world riddled with errors. Find someone with good copyediting skills to help you work through your manuscript to locate errors in grammar, punctuation, and errors of omission (words missing, etc.) An occasional error is understandable, but if error upon error begins to pile up, the manuscript will quickly slip to the “no go” vote.

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

I’ve had to put my writing on hold for the near future to get NorLightsPress up and running. I’m hoping to get back to it soon, but who knows… I love the publishing end of this business so much that my own writing my have to take a back seat for some time, and that’s okay. Publishing is my passion. Who can ask for more than that in life?

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

(twitter) nrc1940

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Carola Dunn just received a copy of her 51st book, Sheer Folly. She says the thrill is still there, regardless of how many books she's already published.

She also heard from her UK publisher recently: they've sold the UK Large Print rights to the first four books in her Daisy Dalrymple series.

You can reach Carola and read about all her successes via her website and blog at:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion - 9 Ways to Do It With Postcards

Self-marketing is a skill we acquire - it is not an inborn talent.

Well...yes, maybe it is - for some of us. Like this 6 year-old I heard of...

Anyway, for most of us, if we just borrow ideas from other people (no stealing allowed), we generally do pretty well for ourselves. "day" job has always involved sales and marketing and I am a shameless self-promoter. That's the good news. The REALLY good news is that I'm willing to share. Click the following link to tap into my marketing genius with postcards.

P.S. My book cover and postcard design were both created by artist, Steph Lambert.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Author Interview with JENNIFER CHASE

Jennifer Chase is an author, freelance writer, and criminologist. She has recently authored a debut thriller novel "Compulsion". In addition, she currently assists clients in ghostwriting, book reviews, copywriting, screenwriting, editing, and research.
Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

I don’t know if I can say that just one person encouraged or influenced me the most to become a writer, but I do remember a memorable day when I was a freshman in high school. My English teacher, Mr. O’Connell, called me up to his desk after class one day. I actually thought I was in trouble because I was an outspoken teenager. Instead, he sat me down and asked me if I ever thought about becoming a writer. I really didn’t know what to think about that idea, but he said that I really should think about it. He thought that I had the talent and discipline, and it seemed to suit my personality. It was a great confidence booster for me during my teen years.

I have to also give credit where credit is due. My mom always encouraged me to become whatever I wanted to be in life – even if it meant that I wanted to be a writer. My favorite thriller writers also inspired me to want to write my own novel: Dean Koontz, Jeffery Deaver, and John Connolly.

You hold degrees in police forensics and criminology and certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. How have these backgrounds helped with your writing career?

I find everything about the field of police forensics to be fascinating and it always leaves me wanting to learn even more. I’m very interested in the connection between crime and criminals. Basically, why and how certain people commit a particular type of crime interests me. I wanted to write a thriller novel, but I felt I wasn’t quite ready yet. After I received my degrees and certifications, it helped to give me the confidence to write about serial killers and crime scene investigations in a thriller genre. I don’t have to spend extended lengths of time to research many of these areas, which is a great advantage for me. It just seemed to be the missing piece for me to become a crime fiction author.

How long have you been writing? Other than mystery/crime novels, what else do you write?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl, when I would write short stories about many of my favorite animals. I’ve loved to read books ever since I was able to read on my own. I really didn’t write with any degree of seriousness until I was about 13 years old. When I entered the corporate world, writing took a backseat for me through different periods in my life. It was not until a few years ago that I wanted to complete my first novel. I felt the timing was right.

I have completed nine feature length screenplays in the crime, suspense, drama, and comedy genres. Movies have been a big influence in my life and I always wanted to write a screenplay. In addition, I have helped clients with copywriting and ghostwriting assignments. I enjoy the variety of writing work because it helps to keep my mind sharp.

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

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a writer has been to stay motivated through the long process of writing a full-length book. I enjoy almost every minute when I’m writing a story, but there are times that it’s difficult to stay focused and motivated. I’ve learned to plan out my writing schedule with short breaks for photography and exercise that helps to keep me energized and on track.

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 novel Compulsion is a suspense thriller novel about a woman named Emily Stone, who tracks down child serial killers on the West coast. She uses her police background and natural ability to get inside the criminal mind in order to gather detailed, on-the-scene evidence. In doing so, she stealthily tracks down the most deplorable pedophiles and serial killers. Then, she anonymously sends her information to the police detective in charge of the case, and another monster is swiftly taken off the streets. Her secret identity is imperative not only for her protection, but to ensure that her hunt will continue uninterrupted. But, when two brazen serial killers are terrorizing women right in Emily’s hometown, she gets too close to the action. She soon becomes the hunted and must rely on help from a local police detective.

Compulsion is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from both online and local book retailers. It is also available in e-book and Kindle formats.

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

I’m in the process of writing my second thriller novel titled Dead Game with Emily Stone as she tracks down an ingenious high-tech serial killer who uses the front of a prominent video game company to elicit unsuspecting victims. This book will be released by the end of this year and will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from both online and local book retailers.

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?

Write what most inspires you as a writer. Don’t write only what you think you or someone else thinks “you should” write. Writing is a discipline that’s difficult enough without writing what you’re the most passionate about.

With that being said, take your time with your first piece of work and make sure that it’s edited properly or--if at all possible--hire a professional editor. Have some of your closest friends and family members read through the story to help to give you some constructive criticism before sending to agents and publishers.

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

I’m a member of AuthorsDen, GoodReads, Book Blogs, Book Marketing Network, CrimeSpace, and PolicePulse. It has been a great experience for me to network with writers and readers. I’ve really enjoyed the feedback generated from my book and also reading a variety of books from other members. It’s been a positive experience and has helped to jump-start my writing career.

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

I have just recently finished with several book signing appearances along with interviews, both written and radio. At this time, I’m concentrating on my second novel, Dead Game, and I will take up book signings and interviews after the release date.

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

I really want to thank my readers for their wonderful support and feedback. I love to hear any comments and questions about my book, forensics, and criminology. Thank you, Linda, for this great opportunity to share a little bit about my debut novel and myself.

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

Why Did we Receive a Kreative Blogger Award?

Because someone nominated us. Click here for the scoop!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Author Interview with JESS SCOTT

Jess Scott is a writer, novelist, and poet. She is also a prolific blogger and hosts several websites and blogs. After spending the first 20 years of her life in Singapore, she currently calls Maine, USA home.


You write Young Adult, Poetry, and Blog Fiction. Tell us what Blog Fiction is all about.

To me, Blog Fiction simply means telling/crafting a story, via the blog format. It looks deceptively simple to do. It’s quite a challenge to combine classic storytelling elements, with digital media – the latter being something that’s very contemporary!

You spent most of your young life living in Singapore and now live in Maine. How has the change in your geographical location affected your writing?

Maine has been a haven for writers and artists for centuries, so I think it’s pretty cool I’ve resided in Maine for a bit. Maine is indeed, very good for writing (quiet, few distractions)...but I still tend to draw quite a bit of “inspiration” from my upbringing in Singapore. Perhaps I’ll draw inspiration directly from Maine, in a few years’ time, when I’m ready to move on to my next project (I’m currently mainly focused on works of contemporary fiction).

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

I’d have to say, Edgar Allan Poe. As a teenager, I got a little bit out of touch with the written word – I was just so busy. I didn’t have much of a life, outside of school. As a 16-year-old dissident, I got a Poe anthology for $5 at a book sale. Reading MS. Found in a Bottle ushered me into the literary world – the following sentence did it for me: “My companion spoke of the lightness of our cargo, and reminded me of the excellent qualities of our ship — but I could not help feeling the utter hopelessness of hope itself, and prepared myself gloomily for that death which I thought nothing could defer beyond an hour...”

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

Trying to consolidate everything I’d like to say/include, into a book, while still maintaining a certain level of integrity and authenticity. I wish I could just sell out and go all commercial, sometimes, but I will not do/write something, if I feel there is no real value to the piece of work. On the marketing side, I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed (as to how I’m going to stand out as a writer), but I’m just starting out; I’ll keep going.

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.

EyeLeash was published in June 2009 – it’s a coming-of-age, debut blog/IM novel.

Short Synopsis: Jade Ashton is a sassy virgin. In her private blog, she vents about "fitting in" a world where superficiality reigns supreme. Suddenly all logic flies out the window when she meets Novan: the former geek, who's morphed into a delicious songwriter-musician. They decide to be "friends-with-benefits". But it's Novan – with his poems and riddling passages on his own blog – that backs out. EyeLeash captures self-discovery in the 2000s, and showcases the colorful, intricate drama in two youths' relentless search for themselves – and what's really in their hearts.

EyeLeash is available via Amazon @ . Other (print and digital) formats available @

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

I am currently working on a young adult series. If I can finish it early-mid 2010, I’ll consider it an accomplishment. Ideally, I’d like to launch it sometime in 2010...there’s quite a bit left to do. I have only finished the first quarter of the first draft of the first book.

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 think it’s important to develop one’s own voice, and style, if your intention is to be a famous, accomplished novelist some day. Reading and writing have to be ingrained into your system – not just mere “good habits”...and never let anybody tell you what you can and/or cannot do. If you believe in and (essentially) know what you’re doing – I think it’s possible to make a dream a reality.

What writers organizations claim you as a member? Has membership/lack of membership affected your writing career?

Currently, none; I have always been an individualist and non-conformist, so I’ve never really felt an absolute need to officially join a writers’ organization. I don’t think it has affected my writing career too much – the Internet is great enough for networking. I’ll go with whatever I can get initially; this probably leads me to end up discovering things I otherwise might not have.

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

Currently, my appearances are predominantly online. I’ll exuberantly embark on public appearances/book signings, when I’m more “famous” (or notorious – either would do).

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

Read De Profundis by Oscar Wilde – it’ll do you a power of good.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s): (Main Site) (EyeLeash Website) (4:Play Website; sophomore novel)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Author Interview with HOLLI CASTILLO

Holli Castillo is an appellate public defender with the state of Louisiana and a former New Orleans prosecutor. Past careers include working as a child support collector for the D.A.'s office in New Orleans and at the now defunct Can-Can Cabaret in the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. She lives in metropolitan New Orleans with her family.


How did your background as both a prosecutor and a public defender prepare you to write your book, Gumbo Justice?

Being a former prosecutor and a current public defender, I have a perspective from both sides of the criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to procedural issues for each side. Both of these experiences also give me a unique insight into the minds of my characters, both the good guys and the bad, so I think I was able to portray them realistically. Also, long days in the courtroom provided fodder for the courtroom scenes in my novel.

Tell us how your experience as a Can-Can girl in New Orleans helped you land your job in the D.A.’s office?

I worked my way through undergrad getting a BA in Drama working at the now defunct Can Can Cabaret in the Royal Sonesta Hotel. After graduation, I felt I needed to get a “real” job while I went to law school, so I applied for a clerical position at the District Attorney’s Office. I was fortunate to get a position as a Child Support Enforcement collector, and I worked during the day and went to law school at night. I was told that the only reason I was called in for the interview was because the hiring supervisor, a man, wanted to see what a Can Can girl looked like.

Is Gumbo Justice the first novel you completed? [love the title!] Tell us about your screenplay and what you like writing better, crime fiction or screenplays.

Gumbo Justice is the first novel I’ve completed. My screenplay, Angel Trap, is a science fiction action thriller about a woman being hunted down by a team of assassins. She’s a strong fighter and good with weapons, but she’s also smart. I wrote this when I was immobile from the car wreck mentioned below, so I made my lead character even stronger to compensate for my own weakness at the time.

I like writing both novels and screenplays the same. It really depends on which one turns out to be a better showcase for the story I’m thinking of.

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

It seemed as if fate was conspiring against me to thwart the publication of Gumbo Justice. I had an agent reading it when Hurricane Katrina struck and I had to put the novel on the back burner for a while. The agent eventually decided not to take on new clients because of her own health issues, and I was about ready to give up. Then I heard from Billie Johnson at Oak Tree Press. She read the novel and decided to publish it. Before it was scheduled to be published, I was in a near-fatal head-on collision with a drunk driver (June 2008). I had two broken legs, a broken ankle, a shattered elbow, fractured lower lumbar vertebrae, stitches, bruises, burns, several operations, you name it, I had it. I was immobile for about six months and the book release had to be pushed back. I still walk with a cane, have a rod in my left leg, plates in my right ankle, and screws in my elbow, but eventually I should be somewhat back to normal. Except for being bionic. And Gumbo Justice finally did come out, fate or no fate.

Briefly tell us what Gumbo Justice is about and let us know where we can buy it.

Gumbo Justice is the first in the Crescent City Mystery Series, the story of ambitious New Orleans prosecutor Ryan Murphy. She’s vying for a coveted spot on the elite Strike Force, and is pretty close to getting it when the defendants on her old cases start getting murdered. At first, she’s not too worried---karma and street justice have a way of taking care of the bad guys. When the killer turns his attention to her, and threatens her promotion, her friends, and her job, she realizes there may be more at stake than rising to the top.

With a police captain for a daddy, four cop brothers, and the romantic interest of a hot detective or two, she should be the safest person in the world. But the killer is someone she knows and never suspects, and she’ll have to overcome her demons and reveal a few secrets if she wants to make it out alive.

It’s available at and Barnes and Noble online at

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

I’m working on the second in the Crescent City Mystery Series, as yet untitled, which is a follow up to Gumbo Justice, again featuring Ryan Murphy as the main character. Since Gumbo Justice was just published in June, I don’t know exactly when the second novel will be available, but I hope by June 2010.

You were born and raised in New Orleans, which is the setting of Gumbo Justice. Share with us your thoughts about what’s easy, and not so easy, about choosing a setting and making it work.

Choosing New Orleans as a setting was the easy part. We have one of the highest crime rates per capita in the United States, making it ripe for a novel featuring a series of murders. (I know, some claim to fame!) It’s also a well-known visual city, and I think people immediately conjure up certain images in their minds when they think of New Orleans.

The hard part about choosing a setting is making sure the setting is appropriate for the theme and plot of the story. For instance, there are so many New Orleans settings, the public would have been way more familiar with than the settings I included—the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, jazz clubs, strip clubs, the GNO/Crescent City Connection bridge that seems to be featured in every New Orleans movie. But none of these settings fit in with this particular group of murders and the plot of the story. (Although the French Quarter and a strip club make a brief appearance in the second novel.)

The other hard part is deciding how much setting to include in each scene. A sunset in New Orleans looks exactly the same as a sunset in any other big, dirty city and probably doesn’t need to take up a lot of words. A sunset in Hawaii, however, might deserve a full description.

I wanted to include only as much as was necessary for the reader to picture the scene and get a feel for the uniqueness of New Orleans. Several of my murders take place in the projects, a setting most readers won’t have first-hand knowledge of. At the D.A.’s Office, I would frequently accompany my investigators on “field trips” to interview victims or witnesses in the projects, so I was able to describe enough that (hopefully) the readers will be able to picture the setting while they read it.

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?

If you’ve received a lot of rejections, especially form rejections, sit down and have a serious look at your query letter and the folks you’re submitting to. Check that you’re submitting to appropriate agencies, that they handle your type of work and take new writers, check that you’re word count is appropriate for your genre, and make sure your query isn’t full of errors. If an agent or publisher sees spelling errors, typos, grammar problems, or punctuation issues in the query, he or she is going to assume your manuscript is the same. Careful editing of your query is just as important as careful editing of your manuscript.

Case in point: I received a lot of form rejections, so I took an online writer’s course for novel writing. I learned on the first day that my manuscript was twice as long as generally acceptable for a first novel in this genre, and the instructor advised me that no agent or publisher would even bother to finish reading my query when they saw the word count mentioned in the first sentence. I edited the manuscript and discovered she was right.

Do you have a writing schedule? How about daily/weekly goals with respect to page or word count? Any other dos or don’ts you can think of with respect to putting one’s nose to the grindstone (or butt to the chair)?

I am not a schedule kind of girl. My family as a whole hates schedules (which makes the school year really tough for us), and we’re night people.

I tend to become obsessive when I write, and do so until somebody needs to be fed or the phone rings. I don’t have a goal for any particular page or word count, I just write until I feel like I’m finished writing for the day. It’s not much of a plan, but it works for me.

The only do I would offer is to write even when you really don’t feel like it. Sometimes I get stuck and it puts me off, but I’ll skip over what’s giving me the blues and continue writing the next paragraph or the next chapter, or even the ending. I’ll mull over the problem area in my mind for a few nights before I go to sleep, or while I’m sitting in traffic. Eventually the answer just pops in my head and I work it out. In the meantime, I’ve not wasted any valuable writing time because I’ve kept on with a different part of the work.

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

My children, ages 7 and 10, also love to write and are quite good at it. I had a boss who used to say, “Every monkey thinks its chimp is cute,” but in my unbiased opinion, my children truly are excellent writers. My 10-year-old won a fiction-writing contest at school this past year in fourth grade, and my 7-year-old has a book planned for me to write with her.

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

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Author Interview with SYLVIA DICKEY SMITH

Sylvia Dickey Smith’s creative writing focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of middle-aged and older women finding their way and developing a strong identity of their own. She writes a column for the Austin Writing Examiner: Older Women Make Better Writers and is the author of the Sidra Smart mystery series. Syl lives in Texas with her husband and is the proud mother of five children.


You enjoyed a number of major achievements later in life: college graduation with B.A. and Masters Degrees, and careers as a counselor, therapist, and best-selling novelist. What took you so long—and why?

What took so long, and why? Wow, the answer to those questions will take me as long as it took to accomplish those goals! The answer boils down to a lack of self-confidence to even try. I grew up in the fifties, with a mother who believed a girl graduated high school, married a good boy, and let him take care of and provide for you. Her belief fit in really well with a girl who thought herself dumb, ugly, and incapable of anything—even finding that kind of boy. When one came along and asked me to marry him even before my senior year of high school, I said yes—after all, he asked.

Twenty something years later, with four children, I entered a mid-life revaluation (read: crisis) and the pain of inferiority was great enough to propel me to enroll in my first freshman college class at age 40. By then my children were in high school, middle school, grade school and preschool. Plus, I still possessed that husband for whom I cooked, cleaned, ironed, and supplied a cup of coffee in bed every morning before he arose.

Well, the first thing to stop was that cup of coffee in bed. He had to start getting his own.

Once begun, there was nothing that I allowed to stop me going to school. A whole new world opened up for me. I graduated with honors and immediately began my masters program. Of course, as so often happens, by the time I graduated with the second degree, my husband no longer liked the independent, free-thinker I had become. We didn’t fit anymore, and parted ways. I launched my career and had a ball doing so. After I retired, though, is when I found my passion—writing.

There is something so satisfying about taking a group of words and moving them around until they communicate what you want them to. I am a firm believer AGAINST the adage, “just semantics.” There is no such thing as just semantics. Words have power, and certain words have more power than others, and communicate prejudice, inequality, and inferiority. My stand is: when certain words do that, then we need to create a new word or title. I could give examples, but then I’d have to climb up on my soap box.

Your writing focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of middle-aged and older women finding their ways and developing strong identities of their own. Tell us about this passion.

You can likely guess the answer to this question after reading the first one. My experiences have given me a passion to help women find their voice, because it helped me find mine. One of the first actions I took as a part of this newfound passion was to accept the invitation to write and conduct a fashion show for an El Paso church celebrating their 200th anniversary. I agreed to do so only if I could use fashion to depict women’s continued progress toward equality and liberation and titled the play, From Adam’s Rib to Women’s Lib. Loved doing it and received accolades for the program. Still have a copy of the program with accompanying photos—almost thirty years later. Another outlet for this passion was to lead assertiveness groups for women, teaching them more effective means of communication through assertive behaviors. Some husbands didn’t like their wives attending! (LOL) And then I found writing.

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

Oh my. Finding an agent! The field is so competitive these days. The search for the right agent really gets discouraging. I believe I am a good writer; however, I look forward to the day when I can join forces with an agent who can take me to the top--who can help me make my work better.

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 most recent book is the third one in the Sidra Smart mystery series, called Dead Wreckoning. The series is set in southeast Texas, the land of Cajuns, cowboys, pirates and Paleo-Indians. I draw on all this culture to weave a story of suspense and mystery. Orange, Texas is the home of Sidra’s detective agency,The Third Eye, inherited from her brother, an intuitive. In Dead Wreckoning, Sid searches for an elusive schooner and stirs up ruthless smugglers and the spirits of Privateer, Jean Lafitte and Pirate Queen Mary Ann Radcliff--the fictional descendant of true life female pirate Anne Bonny, who rode with Calico Jack Rackham. As Sid searches for the schooner and evidence to clear her client of murder, she battles an unknown enemy, and soon discovers they know their business much better than she knows hers.

The book is available for order from any bookstore, and can be ordered directly from, Barnes & or from your favorite independent bookstore. It is available on Fictionwise and for Kindle as well.

Share with us the trials and tribs of writing a series.

Oh, I love writing a series, especially one set in my hometown, and with a protagonist a lot like me! (However, remember, it is all fiction.) But the most difficult part of writing a series, I think, is to keep each book fresh and new. I am taking a break before writing another Sidra Smart book because I felt like I needed the time, or else the fourth book may be more of the same. She’s a great gal, and folks are begging for her next adventure. She’ll be back, when she’s ready to burst back on the scene. She tells me when she’s ready.

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

I have just finished a standalone novel set during World War II, again in southeast Texas. The title is A War or Her Own. I am currently shopping it with agents and have all my hairs crossed! I drafted this work several years ago during NANOWRIMO, and put it aside. The first part of the draft was fairly okay for first draft—but the last three-fourths was really crap. I dug it out after finishing Dead Wreckoning and got to work on it.

A War of Her Own is the story of Bea Meade, a young woman who believes when a person falls from grace it is probably the result of one stupid error in judgment. She doesn’t know it can happen so slowly she might not even know she is falling until after she hits the ground. Caught between a cheating husband and a WWII German Saboteur, the story transports the reader to 1943, to a time and place in American history when the whole world is at war. Desperate people caught in the backwater of the Great Depression flock to sleepy little Orange, Texas, a town in the middle of a social revolution. The population soars over 700 percent as a result of jobs-for-the-taking at the local shipyards. Folks have money to burn, but with little to spend it on or a place to lay their heads. Except for the distant war, times are good. Yet Bea Meade fights another war, and the enemy resides within her---for a lifetime. Any day now, a big-time agent is going to call and offer representation. I feel it in my bones. LOL

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 a good critique group, a group that will be honest and open about your writing, both about the good and what needs improvement. Along with that, do not, DO NOT, defend your writing during the feedback. Receive it, say “thank you I’ll take another look at that,” and then go home and do so.

Tell us about the Austin Writing Examiner and your column: Older Women Make Better Writers.

I am a strong believer in stories, and I believe the more life experiences we have, the more stories we collect. I also am aware of the difficulty “more adult” adults have in getting their work taken seriously by agents and publishing houses—generally speaking. I know there are exceptions. I am a strong advocate for women, and for more adult women. I truly appreciate any and all support I receive as a writer and this column is my attempt to return the favor, and to bring a higher public awareness of some neat writers who may not make the New York Times Bestseller List. (Of course some do, too!) A couple of male friend authors have accused me of prejudice, so I’ve promised I’d let them have their day in the column, too. Another reason for the column is to encourage older women who have never written to see the example set by so many others like them, and to just do it! Women’s stories need to be told, for if we don’t, those messages will be lost along with us.

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

Sept. 25, 2009, East Texas Book Fest in Tyler, Texas. Hope all the east Texas folks will come by my table for a visit. Leading a discussion group. Hours: 10:00-6:00 Ornelas Activity Center – Tyler

Oct. 17, 2009, Writers Club of Pasadena, Pasadena, Texas, San Jacinto College Central Campus (All day meeting, speaking at 1:00 p.m.) Books available for purchase

Oct. 22-24, Golden Triangle Writers Conference, Beaumont, Texas

Dec. 5, 2009, The Christmas Stroll, Hill Country Bookstore, on the square in Georgetown, Texas.

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

I am busy conducting research on my next standalone book. Not telling the topic yet, it is a secret, but having a marvelous time with the research on a fascinating subculture in our country. Also, I am friends with the mother-in-law of Julie Powell, author of Julie Julia. I listened, from week to week, about Julie’s cooking adventure/blog. I am thrilled to see her success. Next? It’s my turn! LOL

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Author Interview with CHESTER D. CAMPBELL

Chester Campbell has an interesting and varied background; he was so busy living his life, he didn't publish his first novel until age 76! Chester served in the Army Air Forces, worked as a reporter for The Knoxville Journal, wrote feature stories as a freelancer, and held other jobs in public relations, for the Tennessee Department of Revenue (he was a speech writer for the then governor), at an advertising agency, and managing a trade association before retiring at age 62. THAT'S when he began writing novels. The most recent book in his Greg McKenzie mystery series netted this review: A top rate mystery by a gem of a writer.


You’ve done all kinds of writing over the years: newspaper, magazine, short stories, freelance, speeches, and mystery novels – in addition to being a magazine editor. What do you like writing best, and why?

I enjoy writing mystery novels as it gives you the freedom to tackle any subject in any location, even create locations that don’t exist. You get the opportunity to let your imagination run wild.

Series books are hot right now. Tell us about the pros and cons of writing a series.

One of the main pros is that most readers enjoy series books. You can continue to develop the characters as the series progresses. And you can add secondary characters who flit in and out of one book or another. You can also “brand” a series protagonist and have him become a familiar name, like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. On the cons side, you have the necessity of guarding against falling into a plot rut, creating formulaic stories. You also risk alienating readers if you change too much of what they’ve become accustomed to.

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

I have had several favorites over the years. Two of my current favorites are Robert B. Parker and James Lee Burke. I love Parker’s dialogue style and Burke’s colorful descriptions. He can paint a picture as dramatic as that of a classic artist.

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

One of my biggest challenges currently is making time to write. The familiar phrase is “find time,” but that’s a joke. We all have exactly 24 hours in a day. It’s having the moxie to spend it the way we should that counts. I get tied up with blogs and social networks and things that seem necessary to promote my books, but if I don’t learn to limit my time on the Internet I won’t have any more books to promote.

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 Surest Poison, first book in a new series, came out in April. When the state and outraged neighbors come after a small company over a toxic chemical spill, Nashville PI Sid Chance is hired to find who created the pollution before the current owner bought the property. A former Green Beret in Vietnam, National Park ranger, and small town police chief, Sid quickly finds all his leads point to dead ends. A night-time explosion behind the home of his associate, Jaz LeMieux, threats, and three possibly-connected murders turn up the heat. Sid finds a task that looked routine has turned deadly. As the tension mounts, he encounters the unsavory people responsible for malicious accusations of bribery that brought his police career to an untimely end.

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

I’m currently about 15% into the fifth book in my Greg McKenzie mystery series. It involves a controversy over attempts to bring an NBA franchise to Nashville. It should be available early next year.

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?

Never give up. Persistence pays. I started writing novels after I retired from a long career of writing in other fields. The eighth book I wrote was the first one published. I was 76 when it came out. I would advise getting started a little earlier than I did. But keep at it! It’s never too late.

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

I worked in association management for several years and preached to volunteers to get involved. When I took up mystery writing, I began joining organizations. I’m currently Secretary of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, President of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and Director of the Mid-South Region for the Military Writers Society of America. I also belong to The Writers Guild and Tennessee Writers Alliance. I have made numerous contacts in these organizations that have helped my writing career.

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

I have a signing on Sept. 5, noon to 3:00 p.m., at the Cheatham County Public Library in Ashland City, TN (site of much of The Surest Poison); signing Oct. 3 at the Main Street Festival in Gallatin, TN; Sisters in Crime booth and panel at the Southern Festival of Books, Oct. 9-11 in downtown Nashville; Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, Oct. 15-18, Hyatt Regency, Indianapolis, IN.

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

The first three books in my Greg McKenzie series are out of print but available on and my website. Enter Chester D. Campbell in Amazon’s search bar and it will show all my books available in both paper and ebook format for the Kindle.

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

Mystery Mania:
Murderous Musings:
Make Mine Mystery:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sophie Littlefield hits WRITERS DIGEST

The most recent issue of Writer's Digest includes an article about killer queries, as reported by agents. Author Exchange Blog interviewee, Sophie Littlefield (who was interviewed earlier this month), is praised the skies by her agent - and her query appears in the magazine.

Way to go, Sophie!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Author Interview with BARBARA FLEMING

Barbara Fleming is a native of Colorado and has always been interested in history. Her careers have included being a mother, journalist, teacher, and writer. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and cat.
Tell us about your career as a journalist. How did you make the jump from Journalism to Historical Fiction?

History has always fascinated me. In college, I wanted to become a history professor but was discouraged from that career, which seemed at the time to be for men only. I kept my interest in history throughout a career as a newspaper editor, then an English teacher, and finally a training coordinator for the EPA. Journalism is a marvelous foundation for fiction; through the stories I wrote and the people I interviewed, I gained a wealth of knowledge and ideas. Teaching, I encountered every imaginable aspect of human behavior, and while with the government I was able to travel to new places. All of this becomes fodder for fiction.

You’re a native of Colorado and have written two books centering around Fort Collins, Colorado. Tell us why that area is so fascinating to you.

Fort Collins started as a small Army outpost during the Indian uprisings in the 1860s. The early history of the area is full of drama. To me, history is the stories of the people who lived it. They were real, flesh-and-blood individuals even as you and I, and on the edge of the Wild West they lived exciting lives. For years, I wrote a column on local history for a weekly newspaper, and I wasn’t even close to running out of material.

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

I grew up with Louisa May Alcott and have never lost my love of her writing. She brings people to life in her books in a way I only wish I could achieve. Her characters are flawed, lovable human beings struggling through life as we all do, and from the time I was young I wanted to be a writer like her.

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

Going from the terse, concise style of journalism to the more descriptive, flowing, sometimes contemplative style of fiction was difficult for me. It took a long time. It also took time to advance from “that’s what really happened” to crafting stories with dramatic impact that use reality as a catalyst.

Journeying is your most recent novel. Tell us about it and where we can buy it.

Journeying is the story of a young woman, Hannah Bowman, who emigrates west with the man she loves, a bi-racial physician, son of a slave. In 1872 they travel from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Colorado Territory, where they establish a homestead. On the way west in a wagon train, Hannah begins a journal that becomes her companion and dear friend; she continues to confide in her journal until 1881, when a dramatic event that threatens to end in tragedy disrupts the Bowman family’s lives. Over a century later, her great-granddaughter finds the journal and solves some of the mysteries Hannah did not reveal. It is available through The Reader’s Cove ( in Fort Collins, and at the Barnes and Noble and web sites.

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

I have written three other novels but have not yet sought publishers for them. The one in progress now is called Charlie, the story of a teenaged girl who sets out on a quest to find the father she has never met. This book began as the fictionalizing of something that happened in my family, but it turned into another story altogether.

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?

For all the years I have been writing, I have shared my work with fellow writers I respect. I believe that finding a critique group that works for the writer is the single most important step a new writer—or any writer—can take. On my web site,, I post “Thoughts on Writing” each month, discussing various aspects of being a writer.

What writers organizations claim you as a member? Tell us about the personal/professional benefits of networking with other writers.

I am a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and while I lived in Denver was a member of the Denver Women’s Press Club. The benefits of networking with other writers are immeasurable—contacts, sales tactics, bolstering of the ego (that can sometimes get pretty battered while you are trying to sell your work), and the comradeship of others who are doing what you love to do. The conversations alone are worth the membership fees.

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

I will be at The Reader’s Cove, 1001 East Harmony Road, and at Bookends on Lemay Avenue, both in Fort Collins, in September, and at the authors’ corner at the Fort Collins Senior Center’s Holiday Market in November. I was featured on fellow author Patricia Stoltey’s Author Monday blog in July and hope to meet with a couple of local book clubs to discuss my book.

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

I cannot imagine not writing. It is as much a part of my daily routine as eating and sleeping; it is essential to my well-being. In that way, I believe, all writers connect. We write, whether our work gets noticed or not, because we must. We write for the love of the words and the stories, and we live in hope that readers will enjoy the fruits of our efforts. Thanks for the opportunity to express these thoughts.

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

My web site is

Friday, August 14, 2009

Author Interview with STEVEN RIGOLOSI

Steve Rigolosi lives in Manhattan and is the author of the Tales from the Back Page series of mystery novels. The third book in the series, Andorgynous Murder House Party, was released in June 2009. The premise of this series: Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the advertisements in your local newspaper—-those ads for fetish parties, transvestite boutiques, discount psychotherapy, wicca conventions, Gothic/Punk events, and lonelyhearts seeking to re-establish contact with a ship that passed in the night? Each book in the TALES FROM THE BACK PAGE series looks closely at an advertisement placed on the “Bulletin Board” of The Clarion, a community newspaper published on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Read on to learn more about Steve and his books...


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

The late Norah Lofts. When I was a teenager, I read one of her books and was so impressed that I wrote her a letter. You can imagine my delight when she wrote back. We ended up corresponding for several years before her death; she was a truly great lady.

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

I’ve been writing since I was in my 20s (we won’t mention my age now). My first effort was a haunted house book, as I was very into the supernatural genre at the time. When I looked for an agent, everyone told me that nobody was buying ghost stories. So I decided to try my hand at mysteries, another favorite genre. I also love capers, so my first book accepted for publication, Who Gets the Apartment? (2006) was a combination suspense/caper without a murder. I went into a deeper, darker direction, with more intense character study, in my second book, Circle of Assassins (2007).

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

I would have to say Joyce Carol Oates. I find her prose hypnotic, and I think that a lot of people get so carried away by her output that they lose sight of what an excellent plotter she is, and how good she is at suspense. Her 1980 novel Bellefleur is probably my favorite book. My favorite mystery is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

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

The biggest challenge is, without a doubt, navigating the waters of agents and publishers in an extremely competitive marketplace. Like everyone else I know, I was rejected dozens of times before someone decided to take a chance on me. I’ve had good agents who worked hard for me and poor agents who didn’t do much, including one who basically ignored a letter from an established screenwriter telling her he was interested in optioning my work. I am with a small press, Ransom Note Press, that has treated me very well, but there’s no way I’d be able to pay my living expenses through my writing. That’s not a complaint but rather an acknowledgment of reality that helps me keep things in perspective. The other main challenge is just trying to get readers to try someone and something new, to move beyond the best-sellers and try a book by a new writer. But in an economy where money’s scarce and people are nervous, I can’t blame any consumer for wanting to stick with someone tried and true rather than a newbie.

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 latest book is Androgynous Murder House Party, just published in June. It’s part traditional whodunit, part social satire. In addition to figuring out the identity of the murderer, the reader needs to figure out the gender and sexuality of each of the six main characters—Robin, Lee, Chris, J, Law, and Alex. I think the book will appeal to people who enjoy a solid plot, a first-person narrative (Robin Anders, the narrator, is an intense character), and a tongue-in-cheek approach to snobbery. It is available through the usual channels (B&N, Amazon). I recommend Amazon because they are offering it at a nice discount!

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

I just submitted a short story to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, but I haven’t begun work on my fourth book yet. I am talking with my publisher about whether or not it should be a sequel to Androgynous Murder House Party, with the same series character. I have a couple of other ideas I’d like to try, but I really need some time to sit back and think about them. It’s tough to find that time because I do have a full-time job and a long commute. As with the other books, the new one will build to a point in my head where I’m ready to sit down, plot it out, and do the first draft. I’m hoping that process can start by this fall!

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?

Always have a hook for your book—be able to describe it in a couple of sentences. And don’t quit your day job.

What writers organizations claim you as a member?

Unfortunately, I don’t belong to any. The problem is trying to balance my day job with the writing. I just don’t think I could give time or energy to any groups or associations, though I probably am missing out on excellent networking opportunities. I do, however, take part in Deadly Ink every year, and I never say no when someone asks me to do a lecture or book signing. I hope to get to Bouchercon one of these years…

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

The next one will be at the Brick Township (NJ) Public Library on October 24. There will also be other mystery writers there, including my friend Cheryl Solimini, author of the terrific Across the River.

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

My life is not particularly exciting, so I would like to use this space to make a plea to readers: Buy books by new writers (i.e., authors you’ve not read before) and by people who aren’t on the best-seller lists. And please support the work of small/independent presses.

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

No blog for me, unfortunately, but I do Twitter at . And I have a very basic website at You can reach me at srigolosi AT yahoo DOT com. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Author Interview with C.K. CRIGGER

Award-winning C.K. Crigger is versatile and well-known for writing in a number of genres: short stories, mystery, fantasy, time-travel, and western historicals. Her Letter of the Law was a 2009 Spur Award Finalist (Audio), Black Crossing: A Novel of the American Northwest was a 2008 EPPIE winner, Liar's Trail: A Novel of the American Northwest was a 2009 EPPIE finalist, and her short story about the Aldy Neal lynching was a 2007 Spur Award short story finalist. C.K. lives in eastern Washington with her husband, three feisty dogs, and a reclusive Persian cat.


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

No one actually encouraged or influenced me in my quest as a writer until I’d already written at least one book and several short stories. As a kid, I wrote lots of stories and wanted to be a journalist. My family looked at me and shook their heads. However, I seem to have been born with a gigantic “stubborn” gene, and when it kicked in, nothing could stop me from writing. I’ve often wondered what my mother would’ve said when my first book was published.

How long have you been writing? You write in several genres – tell us about what you write and what your favorite genre is.

I’ve been writing seriously for about fifteen years. My first published book was the first book of a (so far) four book time-travel series. I’m mulling over a plot for book five right now. It’s hard to say which of the several genres I write in is my favorite. The one I’m working on at the time, I guess. I get a kick out of writing westerns. Being a real local history buff, there’s usually some history included in everything I write, even in the time-travels. My latest release, a historical mystery/suspense (actually the first of a three-book series) has been great fun to write, and I can’t wait to get started on a story about bootleggers during prohibition which will be set in the Northwest.

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

This is tough! I have favorite writers in each genre. Johnny D. Boggs is a wonderful writer of westerns—very different and not of the old, worn-out traditional type. Great stories that will make non-western readers forget they’re reading a western. Lois McMaster Bujold can’t be beat for science fiction or fantasy. She’s a wonderful storyteller who writes terrific characters. For mysteries, there are so many it’s hard to choose. Craig Johnson, Deanna Raybourn, Ann Parker, tch! My mind boggles. So many whose characters feel like old friends when you pick up the next book.

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

The biggest challenge has been finding a publisher with adequate distribution willing to take me on. It’s hard to sell books when the distribution is lacking. Promotion is also difficult for me.

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 newest title is One Foot on the Edge. Set in the 1890s, China Bohannon has inveigled her way into a job at the Doyle & Howe Investigation Agency, and when she blunders into taking on a murder investigation on her own, she becomes the murderer’s next intended victim. The book is available at,, from the publisher,, locally at Hastings books, and at the wonderful local independent, Aunties Bookstore (also online) in Spokane, Washington. And, of course, for a signed copy, from me.

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

I’m working on an Apocalyptic story, which, when finished, I hope to put in an agent’s hands. I also have two more China Bohannon adventures to sell. After that will come another in my time-travel Gunsmith series.

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 must persevere. Writing is not easy. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they plan to write a book one of these days, as if it’s the work of a moment. Hah! What about those rewrites? One of the first things a writer should know is how to format a manuscript properly. Follow the correct form and you’ll never need to worry about it again. Then it’s butt in chair, fingers on keys, and let your imagination flow.

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

I first joined a local critique group that has, in one incarnation after another, been together about twenty-five years. The feedback, both giving and getting, is invaluable. I’m also a member of Western Writers of America. Member judges have twice recognized my work by placing it in the top three of a couple different categories. I was a Spur Award finalist in 2007 for short fiction, and in 2009 in audio. The friendship and advice of the members in an inspiration.

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

I’m working on a fall schedule as we speak, but the first will be on August 26, an online radio show with Red River Writers where I’ll speak about writing in different genres—differences and similarities. Next will be a signing at Aunties Bookstore in Spokane, Washington, from noon – 2.

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

There is much ado about e-books now, what with Amazon’s Kindle, a new model Sony reader, and several simpler, less expensive, ebook readers becoming more available. I hear so many people saying they’ll never read anything but a real book, and while I sympathize, there is definitely something to be said for the convenience, simplicity, and generally lesser cost, of e-books. The story, after all, is the same. And you do save a tree. And you can store dozens of books in the space of one paperback. That said, a very dear cousin recently gifted me with a print copy of Drums Along the Mohowk, by Walter Edmonds, when I told her someone had stolen mine. This is, of course, a used book in very readable condition, and when I opened it up, I saw it had been printed in 1936. That’s seventy-three years, folks. I doubt anyone’s Kindle, Sony, or otherwise e-book reader will last so long. As quickly as technology evolves, there’ll soon be something else. Still, print books, e-readers, or whatever the future brings, it’s all fine as long as people love stories and keep reading.

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

My website is, my blog is