Sunday, November 29, 2009

Author Interview with Judy Wright


Judy is a life educator, family coach, and keynote speaker who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family, parenting and relationship issues, including communication, encouragement, and end of life.

Writing is only one method you use to communicate your message. Tell us about what you do.


I am a messenger who wants to share information on enhancing relationships with respect, kindness and understanding. I share my message as a keynote speaker and trainer at conferences for those who work as early childhood leaders and parents. I also have a weekly radio show, a website and I write articles, blogs, and books.

You’ve written many books on many topics, including anxiety, depression, confidence and self-esteem, cultivating character, and life balance. What makes you an expert in your field?

As a life educator and trainer for 25 years, I have had the blessing to meet many thousands of people who want to build a better life for their family. They just need the tools and guidance to reframe negative beliefs and behaviors into more positive attitudes and actions. Auntie is an honorary title in many cultures for a wise woman who encourages and supports others in reaching their goals and dreams. Artichoke is my logo because it symbolizes getting to the heart of the story in the journey of life. Thus, I am called “Auntie Artichoke.”

You are a prolific writer of articles on topics that relate to the subjects previously mentioned--and hundreds more, including Stress Triggers for Kids, Broke or Poor? One is Temporary and One is Forever, Writing Articles for Readers, and Sequencing--If I Knew Then What I Know Now.  What are some of the places we can find your articles?

You can find me online at WAHM Articles, Ezine Articles, and SelfGrowth.com. I host a Blog Talk Radio Show each Thursday morning and am a regular columnist for Women’s Online Magazine and Montana Woman.

Much of your work focuses on children and families. What is your most important piece of advice for families?

The best advice is the old Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.


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.


Building Self Confidence with Encouraging Words is exactly what people who are worried need right now. This may be the answer to your prayers and intention in order to find answers and hope for a better life. So many individuals are suffering from an unstable economy and are afraid of the future. If they had self confidence at one time, it is slipping away. Self confidence and courage are going to be needed to help you and your family stand out from the crowd and have the courage to find new solutions. People who have high self-esteem and courage have a look of success about them. They have had adversity and rough times along the road, just like everyone else, but have learned to separate what happens from who they are. They have worked on skills necessary to reframe their thoughts and change their actions. Building self confidence is a learned skill just like riding a bike or playing the piano. Anyone from ages 9 to 99 can benefit from the simple steps and guidance offered in this book.

Building Self Confidence with Encouraging Words is available on Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble, as well as the local book stores in your area. You may also order online at http://www.encourageselfconfidence.com/ for a discounted price from the author (me).

Why did you write Building Self-Confidence with Encouraging Words?

As a parent and life educator, I meet people from all over the world who are struggling with confidence and self esteem issues. Children model their beliefs and behaviors from the adults around them. I felt spiritually called to strengthen the internal esteem and outward confidence of those who are hurting right now. This is an ideal book for you or someone you love if you are feeling shaky or unsure about the future because of economic times and past experiences. My goal was to help you learn to reframe the past to serve your future better.

What is your favorite quote?

I have two: “Focus and finish,” and “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.”


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

http://www.artichokepress.com/
Blog for parenting and relationship advice: http://www.askauntieartichoke.com/
Blog offering help for dealing with the loss of a loved one: http://www.ifdeathisnear.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/judyhwright
Twitter: http://twitter.com/judyhwright

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Announcement from Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack will be signing and selling her novel, IDENTITY CRISIS, at these upcoming events on the following dates and times:

Friday, Dec. 4
8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The NRG Winter Summit and Tradeshow
Hilton Pikesville
1726 Reisterstown Road
Pikesville MD 21208

FREE admission for attendees
For more info: http://www.networkreferralgroup.com/



6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. The Howard County Arts Council's Open House & Holiday Sale
Howard County Center for the Arts
8510 High Ridge Road
Ellicott City MD 21043

For more info: http://hocoarts.org/


Saturday, Dec. 5

9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Holiday Shopping Open House
BDG Small Business Center
1532 Liberty Road
Eldersburg MD 21784

Contact: Amy Giannakoulias at 443-790-3898 or Kelly Beaton at 443-340-9164

Please RSVP by Dec. 3, 2009

Please mark your calendars and drop by so you can purchase a signed copy of IDENTITY CRISIS, as part of your holiday shopping.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Press Release: THE ERRAND BOY: a Novel by Don Bredes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Contact: Jessica Reich (212) 547-6501, jreich@randomhouse.com

Every small town has its secrets. But with Hector Bellevance around, this town’s never stay hidden for long.

The Errand Boy:  A Novel By Don Bredes


In his explosive fifth novel, The Errand Boy: A Novel (Three Rivers Press Paperback Original; on sale September 22; $14.00), Don Bredes once again engages readers with the perfect combination of an intriguing plot and provocative characters, all contained in his beautifully written depiction of life in rural Vermont today. With every turn of this captivating thriller we are reminded why we have admired Hector Bellevance in Don Bredes's two previous novels, Cold Comfort and The Fifth Season. The last time we saw ex-detective Hector Bellevance in The Fifth Season, he was growing vegetables for the farmers' market, dating a determined reporter named Wilma, and working part time as the town constable in Tipton, Vermont. Now, twelve years later, Hector and Wilma are married, Wilma is pregnant, and, with their 11-year-old daughter Myra, they are happily attuned to the sunny rhythms of small-town life.

But Hector's fair-weather days darken suddenly after a reckless driver runs him and his wife down in a crosswalk, leaving Wilma in a coma. Two days later, when the unrepentant driver, son of a Canadian egg farm magnate, turns up beaten to death in a local campground, Hector finds himself a natural suspect in the homicide. The suspicions of the state police are the least of his worries, and yet when the egg magnate offers to pay Wilma’s medical bills if Hector will try to find his son’s killer, Hector takes the case--more in compassion than a desire to clear his own name. Soon the murder proves more vexing and the motives more twisted than even a town constable could have foreseen. Hector discovers an unsavory secret behind every door, and before long he's caught in a web of sex offenders, backwoods meth addicts, undercover federal agents, Hells Angels, and an international drug cartel. Each answer Hector pries out of his reluctant neighbors leads to another stubborn question. Just when he's ready to abandon his sputtering investigation--as the police have angrily demanded--Myra disappears from the hospital while visiting her mother, and Hector knows he cannot rest until he has found her. Everything he loves and lives for is at stake.

About the author: Don Bredes was born in New York City and attended Syracuse University, the University of California Irvine, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow. He is the author of five novels, including the two previous Hector Bellevance literary suspense novels, Cold Comfort and The Fifth Season. His writing has appeared in the Paris Review and the New York Times magazine. He lives in northern Vermont with his wife and daughter.

The Errand Boy By Don Bredes:  A Three Rivers Press Paperback Original
September 22, 2009
Price: $14.00
ISBN: 978-0-307-23743-9
http://www.threeriverspress.com/
http://www.donbredes.com/

“Bredes’s method is a little like his sturdy small-town constable’s–by page two he’s got you by the lapels, pushed you up against the wall, and made you fear what comes next. He doesn’t relax his grip until the last page is turned.” —Tom McNeal, author of Goodnight, Nebraska

“The Errand Boy is the most suspenseful and engaging literary thriller I’ve read since Elmore Leonard’s Bandits. What’s truly at stake this time around for Don Bredes’s wonderfully human investigator, Hector Bellevance, is the integrity of his hometown and the safety of his family. The Errand Boy is a beautifully-written work of fiction, combining the unspeakable terror of a father’s worst nightmare with a memorable evocation of what must be one of the 'last best places' in these United States.”  —Howard Frank Mosher, author of On Kingdom Mountain

Friday, November 20, 2009

Author Interview with DEBBI MACK


Debbi is the owner of Mack Research and Writing, providing articles, reports, case studies, white papers and otherwise assisting businesses and organizations with communications needs. She has also done research for legal and reference publishers and attorneys. Debbi is also a mystery author, whose published work includes a novel, Identity Crisis, a hardboiled mystery featuring lawyer/sleuth Stephanie Ann "Sam" McRae, and a short story in Chesapeake Crimes I, an anthology written and edited by members of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

In addition to writing fiction, your professional background includes research and writing corporate communications, web content, and white papers. Tell us how you manage to do it all.

Two words: time management. (Okay, maybe three words, since diligence helps, too.) I make a to-do list every day in advance, schedule the time for doing things (literally) on my calendar and do my best to stick to it. It's a bit rigorous, but it's also quite freeing, really. Because once you've accounted for the time it takes to do something, you just look at your schedule and try to follow it. I won't say I always succeed, but I do a pretty good job most of the time.

As for the variety of work, I guess I'm just the kind of person who enjoys doing different things. I enjoy the challenge of exercising different types of communications skills. While I'd like to focus on one particular area at some point, I'm still happy as a generalist. Plus, flexibility is an essential trait for a freelance writer. Because you never know where your next assignment is going to come from.

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

I've been writing fiction for close to 15 years. I wrote some fiction in high school and college, but not with serious intent to publish my work. So, in terms of professional writing, I've been at it about 15 years. My fiction was first published in 2004.

I've written hard-boiled mysteries (whodunnits), noir, a humorous crime caper and I'm working on a thriller. I've also written the first draft of a feature film script (a kind of hardboiled police procedural in which federal agents investigate the apparent reappearance of a serial killer, thought to have died), and the pilot episode for a drama/suspense TV series--both of which are sitting in the proverbial drawer.

Tell us about the short stories that will be published in early 2010.

CHESAPEAKE CRIMES 4 is a short story anthology assembled and edited by members of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The anthology's theme is "They Had It Coming." The stories were picked from blind submissions, by the editorial board made up of members Erin Bush, Megan Plyler, and Mary Augusta Thomas. Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley are the coordinating editors for the project. The anthology will be published by Wildside Press in March 2010. My contribution to the book is a story called "A Woman Who Thinks"--a story about a psychologist whose professional judgment proves to be a bit less than it should be.

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

That's a hard question to answer because there've been so many challenges. I guess the biggest has been overcoming the setback of having my first novel go out-of-print within a year after its release, due to my publisher's financial problems. The decision to reissue it through Lulu and as an e-book have led many people to assume I'm an "indie author," which is not the case. It's an erroneous perception that I frequently face, and I think it may affect sales, since some people won't buy books by indie authors. So, I try to correct people on that point, whenever I can.


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 recently published book is IDENTITY CRISIS, a hardboiled mystery in which Maryland attorney Stephanie Ann "Sam" McRae gets in over her head when her client is suspected of murdering her ex-boyfriend and possibly committing identity theft (against Sam and others). The client goes missing and when Sam looks for her, it draws unwanted attention from the Mob, placing her and her client in peril. Readers tell me they find it fast-paced, complex and suspenseful. They also find Sam to be a likeable character. This is what I hear, anyway.

Right now, the book is available online from Lulu.com at http://www.lulu.com/content/3923913. Eventually, the book is supposed to be available on Amazon.com and BN.com, though for some reason, it's taking an extremely long time for this to happen. Hopefully, it will be on Amazon and the other online bookselling sites soon. Since Lulu distributes books through Ingram, once it's in the distribution system (which, again, is taking longer than it should), people will be able to order it at any bookstore, too.

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

I'm working on a thriller now, but I have two other Sam McRae stories (plus a stand-alone humorous crime caper) written. As to when they'll be available, that'll depend on how soon I can find a new publisher. Frankly, I'm hoping sales of IDENTITY CRISIS will help me achieve that end.

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. There are lots of great tips I can offer. But, if you let rejections get you down, you'll never last in this business. And, if you think rejection hurts, try a bad review. You really need to develop a tough hide to criticism and keep going no matter what.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

I'm in the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Private Eye Writers of America, the Maryland Writers Association, the Washington Independent Writers and the National Writers Union. Why? First, I really can't say enough about how invaluable Sisters in Crime has been, in getting my work published and getting marketing and promotional support. The local chapter has been an excellent resource and its members are more than just writing peers; they're friends. SinC also has the laudable mission of promoting women mystery authors. The Chesapeake Crimes Chapter of SinC is responsible for creating two anthologies that include my short stories; the first anthology, CHESAPEAKE CRIMES, started my fiction writing career and the second, CHESAPEAKE CRIMES 4, is helping to sustain it. The Mystery Writers of America is considered the premiere mystery writers organization in the country. The MWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter holds meetings and conferences (at which I've met some great agents). The Private Eye Writers of America celebrates one of my favorite mystery subgenres. (My protagonist, Sam McRae, is an attorney, but the story is about her investigation, not her court appearances. So, essentially, it's an attorney-as-PI novel.) The rest of the organizations have offered a combination of benefits ranging from promotional support and book selling opportunities to conferences and networking events.

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

I'm hoping to do a panel book signing at Barnes & Noble in Annapolis in January (no firm date set yet). I've also applied to attend the Virginia Festival of the Book, which takes place from March 18 - 22, 2009. (My application must be approved, and I should know if it is by the end of the year.) I also plan to participate at the Book Lover's Cafe during the weekend of March 13 - 14, 2009 at the Women's Expo at the Catonsville Community College of Baltimore. I'll be attending (and, hopefully, participating on a panel at) the Malice Domestic conference in Arlington, VA, from April 30 to May 2, 2009.

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

Writing fiction involves a marriage of well-crafted storytelling and inspiration. If you want to write, read everything you can (particularly in the genre you'd like to write) and learn story structure. Then, sit down and start writing. Set aside time on a regular basis to do this. Even if you can only write one page each day, it's better than nothing. The main thing is to do it regularly and stick with it. Plus, if you want to have a writing career, you have to be prepared to include marketing and promotion in your skill set. Doing things like blogging, networking, using social media, going to conferences and events, meeting everyone you can in the business--that's all part of it. And the earlier you get out there and start meeting people, the better.

Don't write to trends. Write about things that excite and interest you. By the time a trend has been identified, it's usually too late to jump on board, especially given how long it usually takes to find a publisher and actually get a book published. When you write about something that interests you, that enthusiasm will tend to come through in your writing and make it more engaging to readers.

Don't write with the goal of becoming rich. Chances are you won't. Most authors can't quit their day jobs. Write because you love it so much, you can't imagine not writing. For me, it's like a continual learning process. With each project, I try to set the bar a little higher for myself. I feel like no matter how well you do in this business, it's always about challenging yourself to do better. So, forgive me if this sounds like a cliche, but for me writing is as much about the journey as the destination.


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

My Web site is http://www.debbimack.com/
I have several blogs:
Debbi Mack: My Life on the Mid-List: http://midlistlife.wordpress.com/ (my author blog)
The Book Grrl: http://thebookgrrl.blogspot.com/ (book reviews and news)
Writing for Hire: http://writing4hire.blogspot.com/ (about the business side of writing)
Green Reality Check: http://greenrealitycheck.blogspot.com/ (explores credibility issues related to green and sustainability claims)
Random & Sundry Things: http://mackthewriter.wordpress.com/ (miscellaneous stuff of interest to me--from politics to movies to…pretty much anything :))

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Author Interview with JULIE LOMOE



Julie Lomoe brings a wealth of mental health and home health care experience to her mystery novels, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders and Eldercide. Her work as an art therapist at a psychiatric hospital inspired her to turn to fiction as a creative outlet. She later founded and ran ElderSource, Inc., a Licensed Home Care Services Agency in upstate New York. A vocal advocate for the rights of mentally ill and elderly consumers, Julie is a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and of the Mental Health Players, an improvisatory theatre troop.

 
How long have you been writing? What prompted you to self-publish your first book in 2006?

I began writing fiction in the early 1980’s when I was working as an art therapist at Hudson River Psychiatric Center in Poughkeepsie. The experience was so overwhelming that I needed writing as a therapeutic outlet. I landed a New York agent, but she didn’t sell my book, so I put writing aside until 2004, when I began Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. I tried landing an agent the traditional way, with query letters, sample chapters and self-addressed return envelopes, but after a dozen or so rejections, I found the process inordinately depressing, so I decided to go the self-publishing route. I’m delighted I did.

You write mysteries and poetry. Tell us about the challenges and rewards of writing in two so very different genres.

Writing mysteries is an all-consuming, long-term commitment, and the challenges are enormous. The rewards come when the writing flows well and I’m swept up in the story. Feedback from readers can be very rewarding too. Mood Swing has touched many people who praise the sensitive way I treat bipolar disorder and say it’s helped them to better understand family members diagnosed with the disease.

The rewards of writing poetry are very different. I do it for fun and self-expression, and although I’ve published some poetry and been featured at open mics, I don’t have lofty professional ambitions for my poetry. It’s great to write a poem in the afternoon, then go out the same night to read it and bask in the applause. The instant gratification is wonderful.

In addition to being a writer, you also paint and some of your work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the 1969 Woodstock Festival of Music and Art, and in a number of galleries in Manhattan. Where do you find the time to write, paint, AND work? Share with us your excellent time-management skills!

I’m afraid my time-management skills are far from excellent, and there’s never enough time for everything I want to do. I did the cover illustrations for both my mystery novels, but other than that, I’m not currently painting. Right now, I find writing much more gratifying, and I’m not great at multitasking. Besides, my attitude toward painting has changed radically in recent years. Creating one-of-a-kind works of art in hopes someone with disposable income will be able to afford them seems old-fashioned and snotty. With fiction, I’m able to reach far more people, far more affordably.

As for work, my husband and I put in the requisite years to earn ourselves an adequate retirement, so now I’m pretty much free to follow my bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say. I have a very part-time job as Administrator for the Memorial Society of the Hudson-Mohawk Region, a not-for-profit affiliate of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, but I do that because it’s a cause I believe in more than for the income.

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

Getting published! But the industry is changing radically, and with all the new Internet and self-publishing options, I believe this is a great time to launch a career as a writer. The traditional gate keepers of the publishing industry no longer have total control, and we writers are taking back our power.

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.

I published ELDERCIDE in 2008, and the Friends of the Albany Public Library named me 2009 Author of the Year because they liked the way the novel deals with important social issues like our society’s attitudes toward the elderly and end-of-life issues. As I say in my jacket copy, “When quality of life declines with age and illness, who decides if you’re better off dead? Claire Lindstrom suspects a killer is making the final judgment call for the clients of Compassionate Care.” Claire is the nursing supervisor for a home health care agency much like ElderSource, Inc., the agency I ran from 1990 to 1997, and the book is deeply rooted in my personal experience. It’s a novel of suspense with an especially intriguing villain who calls himself Gabriel.

You can order both ELDERCIDE and MOOD SWING from Amazon or Barnes & Noble online, or bypass big business and order them directly from the publisher at www.virtualbookworm.com. To read the first chapters of both, visit my blog, Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso.

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

ELDERCIDE is the first in a series featuring the staff and clients of Compassionate Care, a home care agency in the fictional town of Kooperskill in upstate New York. I’m working on the second, but it’s too soon to speculate about publication prospects.

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?

Choose subjects you feel passionately about and write to please yourself, not some imaginary market.

Do you believe membership in writer’s groups helps a writer’s career? Why? Why not?

While I was writing MOOD SWING and ELDERCIDE, I belonged to three writers’ critique groups which were enormously helpful. One was a mystery writers’ group based in Saratoga, another was an online critique group that originated with Sisters in Crime, and the third was a local group with writers from several genres. I’d definitely recommend seeking out a good critique group, but make sure the tone is positive and not too critical, and don’t take any single opinion too seriously.

Writers’ organizations like Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America are good for networking. I can’t honestly say they’ve helped my career yet, but I’m keeping my memberships current.

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

My Author of the Year luncheon yesterday was the last in-person event on my schedule for the time being, and I’m greatly relieved at the prospect of a break.

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

I’m fascinated by the possibilities of online social networking as a way of building my career as a writer. Frankly, I enjoy it more than I like most in-person appearances. And it’s virtually free – no dress-for-success clothes, no polluting the environment with excessive gas mileage. I believe it’s the wave of the future.

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

My blog is Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso. The link is http://julielomoe.wordpress.com/.  Please visit and say hello!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Author Interview with ANNE CARTER


Anne Carter is the pseudonym for Pam Ripling, who is the author of romantic suspense and mystery, as well as middle grade YA novels.  Anne/Pam was raised in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and children and runs a bookkeeping business.

You write under three different names—tell us about that and what prompted your decision to use two pseudonyms.

I write under my “real” name, Pam Ripling, and my pseudonym, Anne Carter. “Anne” is the author of my romantic suspense and mystery titles. When I wrote my middle grade novels, I thought it might be a good idea if younger readers didn’t get confused about what was appropriate for their age group. Anne Carter, by the way, is made from my middle and maiden names.

You write mystery, romance, and middle grade fiction. Why those genres? Do you have a preference for one over the other?

I prefer romantic mystery over everything else. I wrote my first middle grade novel when my sons were actually in middle school, and my second when my daughter was there. However, I don’t enjoy the genre as much. To me, it’s much harder to write with an authentic voice that holds interest but doesn’t preach. Romance, on the other hand, comes naturally to me.

You run a bookkeeping business in addition to writing. How do you juggle your career, your family, and your writing?

When I figure this out, I will let you know! Seriously, it’s very challenging at times. I’ve had my business for about fifteen years, so it runs pretty smoothly, and I have a small staff that actually does most of the work. But I am also involved in a number of charitable organizations, some dealing with literacy, some non-profit fundraising such as the American Cancer Society. I also dabble in website construction and enjoy photo restoration and enhancement as a hobby. I am (usually) blessed with the ability to write on the fly, so I open up my current manuscript in between other tasks and write whenever I can. It is nothing for me to write into the wee hours. I don’t even notice the time.

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

In a personal sense, it’s always time. Having the time to write—I’d never stop if I didn’t have to. Eating and sleeping are secondary to writing! Externally, it’s marketing. Like most of the authors I know personally, getting the books into the readers’ hands is a huge challenge, no matter the publisher. Since our industry is evolving, so, too, are the methods by which we sell. Keeping up with these changes is a full time job in itself.

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.

I am in the midst of a three-part series of romantic, paranormal lighthouse mysteries. The first, still in print, is POINT SURRENDER, and for sake of ease here’s the blurb: Point Surrender’s last keeper has been dead for more than 25 years. Will the journal he kept reveal why he died in the mysterious old lighthouse, and what became of his missing family? Amy Winslow is bound and determined to find out; there are those who would just as soon she didn’t. Published by Echelon Press, ISBN 978-1-59080-514-5, available at Amazon, B&N.com, and in e-formats at Fictionwise.com.

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

Second in the series is CAPE SEDUCTION. In 1949, up-and-coming starlet Darla Foster goes missing after the release of CAPE SEDUCTION, a tragic romance filmed in a California lighthouse. Now, sixty years later, the long abandoned lighthouse is causing trouble for its present-day owners. Has the sexy, eccentric actress returned to avenge her stolen life? This title, also from Echelon Press, is in final edits and should be available for the Kindle, Sony, and other e-readers by mid-November. Trade paperback is slated for May, 2010.

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?

Most people will say pre-pubs should read, read, read, and write, write, write, honing their skills, crafting their voice, etc. I’m going plunge ahead and assume most new writers already know that. What I’d add is that wordsmiths hoping to be successfully published should learn as much about the industry as they can. Familiarize yourself with what happens after the book is done, the lengthy and often rocky road to actually selling their work. Agents, publishers, editors, formats, marketing, and promotional costs. It can be a real eye-opener to those who think the hard work is over at “THE END.”

What writer's organizations claim you as a member? Do you believe that membership in writing organizations helps a writer’s career?

Although I am not currently a member, earlier in my career I benefited from a membership in the Romance Writers of America. They have a lot to offer new writers and authors in general. When I got to a point where I was no longer learning, I opted for other organizations, such as Sisters in Crime. I really enjoy SinC, and belong to the local chapter. It’s an active group of fun-loving, generous, resourceful people who all share a love of mystery writing. My short story “Just Like Jay” was just selected for their upcoming anthology, “Murder in La La Land,” to be published in 2010. Oh, and I’m also a member of the United States Lighthouse Society, because I love and need to know about all things lighthouse!

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

With my new release coming out, I will be appearing at a variety of events, both on-line and in the “real world.” These events can be found on my BookTour calendar on my website, including Left Coast Crime (Los Angeles) in March, Festival of Books (UCLA) in April, and Printers Row (Chicago) in June.

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

One fun bit of trivia I like to share concerns my fanatical love of lighthouses. These lonely, mysterious beacons hold special appeal for me, inspiring an untold number of stories laced with mystery and romance. While struggling to finish POINT SURRENDER, I had the unbelievable good fortune to spend a few days in a Puget Sound lighthouse in Washington. Talk about inspiration! I am planning a trip to St. George Reef Lighthouse soon, this being the offshore locale that inspired my upcoming mystery, CAPE SEDUCTION.

(Note from interviewer:  I share Pam's love of lighthouses.  My husband and I were married beside the lighthouse at Beavertail State Park in Jamestown, RI, overlooking the ocean.  Jamestown is next-door to Newport.)
What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

My website and blog are married, and reside at http://www.beaconstreetbooks.com/. From that springboard, one can click through to my Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and various other cyber playgrounds, such as my bookshelf at Fictionwise, and the publisher of my earlier romance novels, Wings ePress.


Thanks so much for the terrific interview

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Review: WHERE ARMADILLOS GO TO DIE by James Hime


Retired Texas Ranger Jeremiah Spur involves himself in a suspenseful and humorous criminal adventure in Brenham, Texas--the home of the best catfish restaurant in the world.  It's also the home of a retired former NFL football star who may, or may not, be involved in the disappearance of the restaurant owner.

Toss into the mix the assorted relatives of the missing restaurateur and the ex-football star, a sheriff with ED, a former cop turned security expert, an elderly doctor, a small-town DA with big-city dreams, and a couple of serious cases of e-coli and you've got a terrific whodunit, filled with Texas charm and gritty reality.

In addition to being southern, racist, and downright mean, restaurateur Sylvester Bradshaw has invented a machine that purifies food and is going to earn himself millions of dollars.  If only he can see his way clear to turning over control--something the nasty son-of-a-gun has never gotten the hang of.  When he disappears, along with his invention, Jeremiah Spur is called upon by the missing man's daughter to find her father--since she isn't confident local law enforcement can do the job.  Thus begins a tale that makes you laugh out loud and wonder, right to the very end of the tale, how it's all going to end.

James Hime's characters are flawed and touching, his writing style is fast-paced and refreshing, and the story is very believable.  His next book is on my To Be Read List.

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

Where Armadillos Go to Die will be released in hardcover on December 1, 2009 by Minotaur Books.
ISBN 978-0-312-53486-8

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Linda Faulkner's Debut Mystery Finals in the 2010 EPIC Awards

I'm proud to announce that my debut mystery, Second Time Around, was chosen as a finalist in EPIC's 2010 eBook Competition in the Mystery/Suspense Fiction category.  Past Author Exchange Blog interviewees Marilyn Meredith and Rick Reed are also among the finalists.  My cover artist, Steph Lambert, submitted STA's book cover in EPIC's 2010 Art Awards Contest - finalists will be announced on December 18th.  Let's keep our fingers crossed for her!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Author Interview with KELLEY HECKART


You write historical Celtic Romance and Fantasy.  Share with us your passion for Celtic mythology.

Hi, Linda, thanks for the interview. I think what draws me to the ancient Celts is their mysterious nature and relationship with the faery realm. They are mysterious because we really do not know much about them except for some archaeological evidence. The ancient Celts were an oral society and some took this to mean that they were unintelligent or barbaric, but the archaeological evidence proves they were an advanced society, especially in metalworking. Another thing I really connect with is that Celtic women held a high place in society, and were described by Roman writers as fierce and terrifying to behold. Their myths speak of brave warriors, bold women and heroes who defy fearsome goddesses and beings from the faery realm. I like using my imagination and the knowledge I have of Dark Age time periods/myths to create stories filled with romance, conflict and magic.


How long does it take you to write a book? How much of that time is involved in research?

I am pretty slow when writing a full-length novel. T he research can take anywhere from a couple of months to six months. It can take me six months to a year to finish a novel.


Tell us about your crosses and what inspires you to create them.

I have always been drawn to crosses. The history behind this powerful symbol goes back long before the Christians used it as a holy symbol. It is believed that the ancient cross symbolized the earth's four directions and the divine center. Druids were believed to make their crosses out of a stem and two branches of the oak tree. The Thor's hammer cross is a well-known pre-Christian cross and several ancient Egyptian deities hold a cross in their hands. The ancient faery people of Ireland, the Tuatha de Danaan, had crosses adorned with snakes, birds and other animals. My crosses are made from Canadian driftwood and they have the rustic feel of the Southwest, Runes and Goddess symbols, which I burn into the wood. I add different types of crystals, stones, feathers, shells and whatever else I pick up on my shopping trips to swap meets and gem shows. I sell them on eBay under 'Wall Crosses.' My seller name is havasukelley.


In the past, you’ve told me that your biggest challenge with the process of writing is editing. Has that process gotten any easier as you’ve published more books? Why? Why not?

I think the editing process is always going to be a challenge for me because it is hard for me to see my own errors. I have a procedure now, so my editing process has been refined to make it a little easier. I created a list of words and weak verbs I tend to overuse; I run searches on them when I am ready to finish a manuscript, but things still slip by me. It helps to have someone else read through the manuscript.



What is the title of your upcoming release? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

My upcoming release is Night's Daughter, which is the prequel to Of Water and Dragons and Ravenwolf, but can be read separately. For those who are unfamiliar with Greek mythology, Night's Daughter is another name for the Greek Erinyes and Roman Furies, goddesses who exact punishment on wrongdoers. This book is the story of the past lives of my hero and heroine in Of Water and Dragons and Ravenwolf. It is set against the battle between the Titans and the Olympic gods. The series is based on reincarnation and enduring love. I didn't realize this at first, but I kind of use the idea of God and how Lucifer betrayed him, only I apply it to the old gods and Greek mythology. I also reveal my ideas on the origins of the Irish Tuatha de Danaan in this book. Hopefully I can stir up some controversy. I do not have a release date yet for this book, but hopefully it will be released in winter of 2009.


What are you working on now?

I finished a short contemporary Christmas/holiday story with paranormal elements. Now I am working on a short historical/paranormal romance with an Amazon heroine who finds love with an unlikely man. This may turn into something longer. And I am kicking around some ideas for another novel.


Are you a member of any writing groups? Why? Why not?

I am a member of EPIC because they support e-published writers. I am also a member of my local writer group. I also work with another writer on critiques. It is really helpful to have a critique partner.


What is the best Christmas gift you ever received?

The best Christmas gift I ever received came from my husband. He surprised me one year by buying me the DVD set of all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Since this is one of my all time favorite shows, I was elated. It shows that my husband really knows me well.


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

I have been getting some really nice reviews for Cat's Curse. Here is a snippet from the Coffee Time Romance review: "4 Cups! CAT’S CURSE is a wonderful story full of spells, trust, betrayal, and for the two, unconditional love. I love how the subplots built up the main story. Every character is developed. The dialogue and action keeps the book fast paced… The action blends into the story and love scenes are sensuous instead of graphic, along with being very compelling. This well thought-out story is a very easy to recommend historical. I look forward to more of this trilogy." - Anya , Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More - http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/BookReviews/catscursebookone.html


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

Website: http://www.kelleyheckart.com/
Blog: http://kelleysrealm.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/CelticChick
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kelley-Heckart/111838455604
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/kheckart

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Debbi Mack's IDENTITY CRISIS Garners Excellent Review

Debbie Mack's hardboiled mystery novel, Identity Crisis, received an excellent review in the October/November issue of the Maryland Women's Journal.

The review can be found on page 24 of the magazine online at: http://0101.netclime.net/1_5/362/1b0/1c8/01-40%20HCWJ_1009_LOW%20RES.pdf

Check back with us on November 20th, when Debbi's interview on Author Exchange Blog will appear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Author Interview with STACY JUBA

Award-winning writer, Stacy Juba is the author of the mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and is a past recipient of the William F. Deeck - Malice Domestic Grant for new mystery writers. She has written more than 2,000 articles and won over a dozen writing awards, including recognition from the New England Press Association, Parenting Publications of America, Suburban Newspapers of America and the Stuttering Foundation of America.


Your first book was published when you were 18 years old. Face-Off is out of print but you’re still receiving fan mail. Tell us about what prompted you to write the book.

When I was in high school, I loved watching ice hockey and loved to read, however, there were very few fiction novels written about the subject. I decided to write one purely for my own entertainment. It was a fun book to write, about twin teenage brothers who compete on the hockey rink for their father’s approval. I scribbled most of it in high school study halls and then typed it on my electric typewriter. On a whim, I submitted it to the Avon Flare Young Adult Novel Competition, which was aimed at teenage writers. To my delight, it won and was published under my maiden name, Stacy Drumtra, during my freshman year in college. The book has had a lot of longevity, and many teenage boys have written book reports on it and sent me letters. I recently discovered that the Hockey Hall of Fame has Face-Off on its recommended reading list for schools that visit the museum on field trips. My hope is to eventually reissue an updated edition for today’s young readers, as I think it would do quite well. The Internet was in its infancy when Face-Off was originally published, and it would be a huge advantage in promoting a new edition to schools, libraries, and hockey groups.


You worked as a reporter for many years and you now write fiction and freelance. What prompted the change?

I started working from home after I became a mom. I did a lot of magazine writing at first and won several awards, but I stopped doing that after awhile as it was draining my energy. I was always playing phone tag and spending hours on the computer researching articles, and I came to the realization that if I remained a reporter, I would never have the chance to be an author. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Now, I write newsletter articles and press releases for a few regular clients that I feel very fortunate to work with, including the Melanoma Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives from melanoma (http://www.skincheck.org). There are significantly fewer phone calls for newsletters, so it fits better into my family’s schedule and it also leaves time for my fiction career.


The bio on your website says you love to read mystery novels. Who are your favorite mystery authors—and why?

I enjoy cozy mystery series with likable recurring characters, such as Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series, Cynthia Baxter’s Reigning Cats and Dogs series, Denise Swanson’s Scumble River Mysteries, and Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen novels. I’m always happy to find a new mystery series, as when I pick up the latest installments, it’s like visiting with an old friend. I also enjoy suspense novels, like those of Lisa Gardner and Mary Higgins Clark. I tend to read those books quickly as they’re so fast-paced, they’re hard to put down.


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

The biggest challenge was getting published. It took several years to find a publisher for my second book, Twenty-Five Years Ago Today. It was agented for three years, but it didn’t sell. The book publishing industry is competitive and it can be discouraging for new authors trying to find a home for their work. I thought about quitting a few times, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’d had a lot of interest in my work from agents and editors, and I was also a recipient of the William F. Deeck Malice Domestic Grant, awarded annually at the Malice Domestic Convention in Arlington, VA. It’s hard to give up on your dream when you have hope. Deep down, I felt that if I could just get my mystery novels published, readers would like them, so I persevered even when it seemed bleak.


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

My debut mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today was released in October 2009 from Mainly Murder Press as a trade paperback. For twenty-five years, Diana Ferguson’s killer has gotten away with murder. When rookie obit writer and newsroom editorial assistant Kris Langley investigates the cold case of the artistic young cocktail waitress who was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology, she must fight to stay off the obituary page herself. It is available for purchase at http://www.mainlymurderpress.com/, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. It will also be carried in independent bookstores, and if your local bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, they should be able to order it by the ISBN: 978-0-615-29011-9. More information is available on my web site, http://www.stacyjuba.com/.


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

Mainly Murder Press will publish my second mystery novel, Sink or Swim, in Fall 2010. When reality TV turns to murder, it’s sink, swim, or die. Not only has Cassidy Novak walked the plank and lost a hit action-adventure reality show set aboard a Tall Ship, she has also attracted a stalker who is masterminding his own twisted game. As her former competitors get knocked off one by one, Cassidy refuses to play by his bizarre rules. Soon, Cassidy must walk the plank once again--this time for her life. I’m polishing up a paranormal young adult thriller Dark Before Dawn, and I’m also working on Sign of the Messenger, the first in a planned series about Deirdre Sheridan, a psychic healer and the co-owner of a quirky New Age shop.


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’d say hone your craft and learn how to edit your work. I’ve critiqued a lot of manuscripts and the most common mistakes I see are: 1) Too much back story, 2) Excess dialogue and description that don’t advance the story, 3) Point of view problems, and 4) Improper use of commas. I can recognize these flaws in other writers’ manuscripts because I’ve been guilty of them myself. Find critique partners to exchange manuscripts with, either on-line or through a writer’s group, whichever fits better into your lifestyle. You’ll gain fresh perspective into your own writing and you will become a better editor.


You are a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. How has membership in those organizations helped your writing career?

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today was published as a direct result of my membership in Sisters in Crime. I belong to an on-line subchapter called the Guppies, and someone was kind enough to forward the news that an exciting new independent publisher, Mainly Murder Press, was seeking submissions. I’ve found wonderful critique partners through the Guppies as well, and I’ve learned a great deal about book promotion through my published Sisters. I also belong to the Sisters in Crime New England Chapter, which has helped me to make regional contacts. This has led to guest blogging invitations, speaking engagements, invitations to write newsletter articles, and opportunities to take classes and workshops. In addition, both Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America publish informative newsletters which have been extremely helpful to me over the years.


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

I’m doing a book signing and author talk November 21, 2009 at Kaleidoscope Books, Cards & Gifts in Upton, MA. During the weekend of November 15, 2009, I’ll appear on the “D is For Debut” Panel at the New England Crime Bake mystery and suspense writers conference. I’ll also be doing a book signing there and will meet with several authors for manuscript critiques. The event features Sue Grafton as the keynote speaker and should be a fun weekend. I’ll also be meeting with a couple of local book clubs in November and December.


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

I’m really excited about the opportunity to have Twenty-Five Years Ago Today in print, and it’s been an amazing feeling to share the book with readers. I always hoped this day would come, but I honestly didn’t know if it would. I’d like to tell new writers not to give up. You’ll never know where the road will lead unless you follow it. If writing makes you happy, you enjoy interacting with other authors and keeping up with the publishing industry, and you have inner drive and determination, then you’re on the right path. Keep at it and see where it takes you.


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

My web site is http://www.stacyjuba.com/. I also have a Facebook page, which can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/ylh2q4h. I’m also on GoodReads, http://tinyurl.com/yghnn44 , and weRead http://tinyurl.com/yg3stya .

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Author Interview with MARY MONTAGUE SIKES


Mary Montague Sikes is a multi-talented woman: writer, artist, and photographer. She shares with us a variety of information about how she keeps her fingers in all the creative pies of her life.


Let’s talk about your book covers, specifically, the ones you created. How’d that happen?

My publisher and I were talking about cover possibilities for my first novel, Hearts Across Forever, and I realized I had a painting that was a perfect representation of the waterfall in my story. We sent a photograph of it to the cover artist, and she used it. My pastel of Rose Hall Great House—the setting for much of the story—is reproduced on the back cover. Back cover art has become especially important to me. For Eagle Rising, we have a photograph of me with a dramatic eagle sculpture my husband and I discovered on a return trip to Sedona, AZ right before the book was published. The cover art for Eagle Rising is an acrylic painting I did of one of the Sedona Red Rock formations. The cover for Secrets by the Sea is a photograph of a sea shore I took on one of our trips to a tropical island. The warm orange color falling over the seaside depicts the setting on the island of Antigua. It is the setting that beguiled the heroine’s grandfather and prevented him from returning to his home in Virginia.


How long have you been writing? As far as I can tell, you’ve published non-fiction, mystery, and romance. What do you like to write best—and why?

I’ve been writing forever. One of my first writing efforts was a poem about George Washington I wrote as a third-grader and recited during an assembly for my entire elementary school. I like writing in several genres for different reasons. I love to do non-fiction newspaper interviews. It’s interesting and fun to meet new people, plus I enjoy taking the photographs to go along with the articles. Mystery-writing is fulfilling because of all the twists and turns an author can add to the story. I enjoy putting the mystery in an exotic setting, like Trinidad, Antigua, Sedona, and Jamaica. My publisher has created the Passenger to Paradise series for my books, all of which have exotic settings. Writing romance is nice because the author and the reader can always expect a happy ending. And in today’s world, what can be nicer than a happy ending? My books combine mystery and romance.


I’ve visited the link on your website to your Art Gallery and am amazed at the variety of your artwork: Giclees, photography, paintings (oil, acrylic, pastels…). I’m sure the creative process for those works shares some similarities with writing—and presents you with many differences. Yes? No? Why?

Everything creative requires imagination. Whether you are writing a story or painting a work of art, you must first see in your mind those things you wish to create. That works for both art and writing. I love the quote from Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I have that quote posted in the art classroom where I teach more than 360 elementary school children each week. Imagination is everything to the creative person.


How do you manage your time? Do you have set days or times for writing versus painting or snapping photos? Do you need to make appointments with yourself in order to remember everything?

My time is centered around the two full days each week that I teach art in the local elementary school. I play tennis two days a week and take step aerobics classes three days. My creative times are fitted into the schedule of these sports activities. I believe that good health is the most important thing in life. If you don’t have good health, you will not have the energy to be creative. I’m not as organized as I’d like to be, but I do usually manage to work everything in. For example, this week I’m going to an opening reception at the art gallery that represents my work. The gallery owner wants his artists to be there to mingle with clients. I’m also doing a demonstration at this same gallery the next day and am displaying my art in a local artist event during the same time. When I have something special like these events, I need to ration my time more closely. I also find I sometimes need to work on into the night to keep up with deadlines when I have them.


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.

Secrets by the Sea began with my ponderings: What if a man deserted his family for the attraction of the island of Antigua? What if his granddaughter had a secret correspondence with him through the years? What if he were searching for a rare gold coin? What if he were murdered and his granddaughter went to the island to find out who did it? Secrets by the Sea is the book that grew from my imagination as my husband wandered along the beaches at English Harbor and visited the Museum of History in the little town of St. John. It features mystery, romance, and even a ghost. You can buy Secrets by the Sea from Amazon.com or order directly from me at monti7olen@verizon.net for an autographed copy that I would love to personalize. All three of my books are also available as Kindle books.


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

I’m working on completing my mystery/suspense novel, Night Watch, which is due out December 1st. Set in Trinidad, this book includes some of the adventures (embellished) we had on that island a few years ago. The book also features a little paranormal which I always like to include as well as a romance.


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. Keep on writing. The more you write, the more you will improve. Keep good notes of interesting things you do and people you encounter. They may become part of your next novel.


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

I had a book signing and an exhibition of art work from my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember, at the Griffin in Fredericksburg during the month of October. People in the Petersburg, VA area can visit Petersburg Regional Art Center, Friday, November 13th, 6 to 9 p.m. where I will be in my studio/gallery with my art and some of my books. My art is on display at Prince George Gallery in Williamsburg, VA.


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

The support of my husband makes all my creative endeavors possible. He serves as my business manager, chauffeur, and much more in transporting art and setting up signings and other events. We both love to travel to new and exotic settings for art now, photography, and future book settings. He arranges those trips.


What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
http://www.marymontaguesikes.com/
http://otpblog.blogspot.com/
http://marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com/


Thanks, Linda, for having me as a guest on Author Exchange Blog.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Author Interview with NATASHA BAUMAN

Natasha Bauman is a third generation Californian. She was once a ballet dancer, which led her to acting, which led to screenwriting. When her children were still little, she returned to school to take literature classes for fun. She loved school, and stayed on to earn a BA, an MA, and an MFA in English and Creative Writing. She began writing novels when she was an undergraduate at UCLA, and finished The Disorder of Longing during her MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently teaches college writing and literature courses in Southern California and writes in the middle of the night and while driving.

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

I think I have to say that my love of books was the driving force behind my becoming a writer. I read so many fantastic books, and I wanted to join in the conversation by writing my own books, telling my own stories. Books were a lifeline for me throughout my formative years. They were always an escape for me--from the drudgery of school and the mundane realities of life. I actually wrote in spite of the fact that there was no one in my life who really encouraged me to write. I think I may have written as a form of defiance, too. You know, “You don't think I can write? I'll prove you wrong!”


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

I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I started out writing short stories, but I learned I don't really have a knack for brevity. So now, I write novels--historical fiction, noir detective fiction, fabulism, and literary fiction.


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

My list of favorite authors is long, and it's varied. I love everything from literary fiction to detective novels. But, I think if I had to choose just one author to take with me to that deserted island, I would go with James Joyce. I love that his work covers such a broad swath of literary territory. His writing changed drastically from Dubliners to Finnegan’s Wake. It's fascinating to explore his work. It takes you on quite a literary journey. I read Ulysses three times.


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

As a college English instructor, my biggest challenge is balancing my time. It's quite difficult shifting from grading hundreds of essays to writing fiction. My brain gets a wee bit fried! I try to claim a bit of time every day, and insist that it be my time to write. I have to argue with myself a lot in order to make sure I allow myself the time. My kids are older now, but when they were little, I used to write in the middle of the night. I also find it is important for me to get away from my house to write. There are too many responsibilities here, and I will tend to them if I am home. So, I often write in cafes or parks, or anyplace that will take me away from the realities of every day. I need the time and the place to give my imagination free reign.


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 novel is The Disorder of Longing (Putnam, 2008). It's the story of a young woman in Victorian-era Boston whose husband is obsessed with collecting rare orchids and controlling his wife's every move, including her sexuality. Ada Pryce's husband teaches her about the strange orchids he brings home, and as she learns to tend to the plants, she discovers a way to tend to herself as well. Library Journal compares it to Kate Chopin's The Awakening, and calls it “an engrossing blend of female self-discovery that is...both entertaining and thought-provoking.”

The Disorder of Longing is available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books, and Borders Books.


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

Now I am working on another historical novel, North of the Slot. Slot is set in the period following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and tells the story of one survivor. I do extensive research for my historical novels, which can take a lot of time. So, Slot isn't finished yet, and the timeline is unknown at this point.


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 strongly recommend workshops. Other writers' eyes are the most crucial part of the process. We can't always read our own work objectively, so it's invaluable to check with other writers. And it's helpful to get your work read by someone who is published, and has been writing for a while. Published writers have a lot to offer. You can learn from their successes and mistakes. If you can't find a workshop, form your own writing group. Also, read first novels by writers, to get an idea of the kinds of things publishers will buy from unknowns.


Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Has membership helped your writing career?

Yes. I am a member of Associated Writers Programs and the Authors Guild. I think it's important to stay current with industry news, and know what other writers are doing, as well as to attend conferences that these groups offer.


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

Right now, I am teaching novel writing workshops at UCLA Extension.


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

A few more words of advice to writers: Keep at it. Sometimes it takes a long time to both perfect your craft and get noticed by publishers. I know it took me many years to finally publish my first book. And, don't ever shy away from major revisions. I think my most valuable lesson was learning that throwing my writing away sometimes leads to better writing. That old adage, “Writing is rewriting,” is so very true!


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

My website address is http://www.NatashaBauman.com

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Author Interview with LORNA BARRETT


Lorna Barrett is the nom de plume of author Lorraine Bartlett. Lorraine's other alter ego, L.L. Bartlett, writes psychological suspense and the Jeff Resnick mystery series. She's done it all, from drilling holes for NASA to typing scripts in Hollywood, and lives a life of crime in western New York.

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

There really is no one person who encouraged me most. My parents have always been behind me, and my husband encouraged me to keep writing even during the darkest moments when all I received was rejection for my work. They are the three most creative people I’ve ever known and have cheered and commiserated with me when I needed it, and celebrated my success. They’re the best.


How long have you been writing? Tell us about all your different series and writing endeavors.

I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, although I entertained myself with “my stories” long before I hauled out the typewriter and put down my first (Star Trek) stories. I’m currently working on two mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime: The Booktown Mysteries, featuring Tricia Miles and her independent mystery bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, and The Victoria Square Mysteries, featuring Katie Bonner, who manages Artisans Alley. I like to think of them as “sister series” (even though they are written under two different names) as they both revolve around a small town and both women are dedicated to their careers. The first Victoria Square Mystery will debut in February of 2011. (My Jeff Resnick psychological suspense series is currently on hiatus.)


What does it feel like to know you hit the NY Times Bestseller list?

Wonderful and scary all at once. Now that I’ve hit it once, my publisher expects me to hit it every time. That’s a lot of pressure. Still, I sure hope I can please my editor and his management by hitting the list again (and again). To do that, I need to sell books. A lot of them. And the most important time to do that is during the first three weeks of a book’s release. My readers can help me by buying Bookplate Special during the next couple of weeks--even if they can’t get around to reading it for a couple of months.


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

Disappointment. Any job in an “entertainment” field is fraught with rejection. I have notebooks full of rejection letters. There were many times I wondered why I persevered, but I’m glad I did. Still, getting published is only the first step. Staying published is just as difficult, and there’s still rejection to deal with.


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.

Bookplate Special, the third book in the Booktown Mystery series is released today. It should be available in all chain, and many independent bookstores, as well as with online booksellers. Here’s a blurb: Tricia Miles has put up—and put up with—her uninvited college roommate for weeks. In return, Pammy, has stolen $100, among other things. But the day she’s kicked out, Pammy’s found dead in a dumpster, leaving loads of questions unanswered. Like what was she foraging for? Did her killer want it too? To piece the case together, Tricia will have to dive in head-first.


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

I’m currently polishing up the first Victoria Square Mystery, A Matter of Murder, which will be available in February of 2011. Young widow Katie Bonner discovers the body of Ezra Hilton, who ran the local artisan cooperative like his own fiefdom. Katie has little reason to mourn Ezra, who convinced her late husband to invest in the Artisans’ Alley before he was killed. Ezra's will makes Katie the controlling partner in the enterprise--much to the chagrin of his nephew, who comes to town hell-bent on collecting money as quickly as possible...and barely arrives before one of the vendors also ends up dead. The entire co-op is in a disgruntled uproar, and it seems like the detective in charge of the investigation does everything except investigate the murder. Everyone from the village’s lawyer to the quilt shop owner had motive to want Ezra dead, and it’s up to Katie to find out who’s responsible before more of her vendors die.


Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. Do you mind sharing a couple of tips for new writers?

If you write mystery, join Sisters In Crime and their Guppy Chapter. (www.sinc-guppies.org) The Guppies have a lot to offer. First, is their wonderful list, where members engage in conversation about the industry, writing problems, etc., and to offer support for the highs and lows inherent when submitting material for publication. They have many subgroups, including critique groups, Mystery Analysis, Brainstorming, and groups that are dedicated to the various subgenres of mystery, like cozy, noir, etc. There's also Agent Quest, which helps members polish their query letters and synopsis, and where Guppies share news and information about agents and editors.

The best thing one can do is join a critique group. Your mom, husband, and best friend may love your story, but a writer needs objective feedback to polish his or her work to make it publishable.


What writers organizations claim you as a member and how has membership benefited your career?

I currently only belong to Sisters In Crime and their Guppy and New England chapters. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for the Guppies, I wouldn’t be published. (See above!) Although the group was set up for unpublished authors, many of us who have gone on to be published retain membership, giving back to the group that helped us in the early days of our struggles to get published.


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

I’ll be signing Bookplate Special on Saturday, November 7th, 2-4 p.m. at the Greece Ridge Barnes & Noble (Rochester, NY). I have two more signings in the Rochester area: November 28th, 11am-1pm Lift Bridge Books (Brockport, NY) and November 29th, Towne Center at Webster Barns & Noble, 2-4 pm.


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

One of the themes in Bookplate Special concerns feeding the hungry. Tricia attends the opening of the newly expanded Stoneham Food Shelf. There she learns that looks are deceiving, and how she can help those going hungry in her own town. The holiday season is fast approaching, but hunger knows no season. I hope that my readers will be touched by this storyline and motivated to help their local food pantries, not just during the holidays, but all year round.


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

http://www.lornabarrett.com/
http://www.lorrainebartlett.com/
http://www.llbartlett.com/
Dazed & Confused Blog: http://www.lornabarrett.blogspot.com/
Writers Plot Blog (I post on Tuesdays): http://www.writersplot.typepad.com/
Cozy Chicks Blog (I post on Saturdays): http://www.cozychicksblog.com/

Monday, November 2, 2009

Author Interview with VICKI DELANY


Vicki Delany is a Canadian author with two mystery series to her credit, as well as three other novels of mystery/suspense. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she spent a year travelling across North America and another eleven years living in South Africa. She now calls “bucolic, rural Prince Edward County, Ontario” home and seldom wears a watch. She has been known to write to the accompaniment of a cup of tea and Bruce Springsteen (on tape, not in person).
Before retiring, your professional life included computer programming. What started your writing career?

I have three children and one year I decided to write them all a personal story for Christmas. I thought I did a pretty good job, so signed up for creative writing classes with the aim of writing for children. That idea died mighty fast, but I found that I did have a knack for it, and so I continued!


How long have you been writing? You write in several genres, tell us about the pros and cons.

I’ve been writing, on and off, for more than 15 years. Most of those years I was working full-time, so it’s only been the last two years that I can say I’m a full-time writer. I write standalone psychological suspense, a traditional police procedural mystery series, and a humourous historical series. A mixed bag, as you say. I think the strength of standalones is that you can deal with the characters' problems in great depth. A standalone should see the main character struggling with, and possibly defeating, whatever demons she has to deal with as well as the crisis that forms the crux of the plot. I think standalones can be more realistic – how many times in one’s life does one have that great adventure? Whereas in a series, the main character has to come back again in the next book. In a series, you can draw out the resolution to the character’s personal problems very slowly, and also have her dealing with other people’s problems, and helping other people resolve their own issues. I find that series books are faster to write, after the first one, because you don’t have to spend as much time working out the details of the setting or the regular characters’ backgrounds. My books are all quite different in tone and style--the standalones are fairly serious, the Constable Molly Smith books are sort of medium-boiled, and the Klondike books are funny and mad-cap. I find that I like writing in all those different ways, and if I put it all in a book, or even in a series, I’d have a real mess.


You have received much praise for the settings in your books. Tell us why setting is important to you and how to create praiseworthy settings.

Thank you for saying so. The most important thing about setting, I believe, is detail. Not only what does the place look like, but what are the people like (I mean the people who don’t even have a word to say in the book), what does it smell like, what’s the weather like, and how does that weather affect personalities, what local issues are the people dealing with? It is possible, but difficult, to write about a place you’ve never been. Historical writers, of course, have to write all the time about someplace they’ve never been, but they can still go to the physical place, and see what the light is like at night, the colour of the trees. Sometimes you simply can’t go there--a friend of mine is writing a book set in Iraq in the 1990s, and she is certainly not going to go to Iraq to see how the light moves across the sky. But she is able to talk to people who’ve been there, read books, look at photographs, etc. In the absence of going there, you just have to do a lot of leg work. I set my books in places I love, so I guess that makes it easier to create a sense of place.


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

I left this question to answer last, because I really can’t think of anything. It was hard when I was working full-time and had kids at home to find the time to write, but most of us have been through that. I think that sometimes it can be an advantage to have to move into a writing career slowly, you really find out if it’s what you want to do and that time you do spend writing becomes something you don’t want to waste. So, other than that, I really haven’t had many challenges.


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.

Winter of Secrets will be released on November 1st by Poisoned Pen Press. It is the third in the Constable Molly Smith series set in a small town in the Interior of British Columbia. Writing this book was a complete departure from my usual writing method. I had an idea for the first scene and it went from there with no idea of where I was going. I sort of felt like the police themselves, sifting through the clues and trying to make sense of it all. It begins on Christmas Eve when the storm of the decade has settled on Trafalgar. Molly Smith is on duty, and spends the night running from one mishap to another. Then, at the stroke of midnight, she and Constable Evans get a 911 call: a car has gone into the frozen river. The bodies of two young men are pulled out, apparently having died of exposure in the river. But the autopsy reveals something else. There is lots of skiing in the book—Smith is a top-notch skier and the powder is falling fast. The book will be available at the independent mystery bookstores, and all the online outlets such as Amazon and B&N. The big chains might not have it in stock but they will always order on request. The second book in the series, Valley of the Lost, will be released in paperback at the same time, and like all my paperbacks, should be on the shelves at Chapters stores in Canada.


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

I’ve finished the second in the Klondike series, titled Gold Fever, and it will be out in Spring 2010. The fourth Molly Smith book, tentatively titled Negative Image, is in the final stages right now. I expect it will be out in late 2010 or early 2011.


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?

Your first book is the only chance you will have to have a first book. The first (published) book is not a stepping stone; it’s an elevator. In most cases it will let you off where you are going to remain. So don’t rush it.


You are a member of several writer’s organizations. What tips can you give new authors concerning their decisions about joining a writer’s group?

If you regard yourself as a serious writer, then you need to belong to professional organizations. Accountants join accountant groups don’t they? Networking is important. I regret not joining Sisters in Crime or Crime Writers of Canada before I was published. I’ve found that mystery writers are so encouraging of others, and so helpful in terms of giving tips, but no one can help you if they don’t know you.


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

The last three months of the year are busy for me! I attended Boucheron in Indianapolis. Then it was off to Canada’s east coast with R.J. Harlick, another Canadian mystery writer on a book tour. In November and December I’ll be doing signings around Southern Ontario. I did a big tour to the Western U.S. in March and as much as I’d like to go again, just can’t swing it this time. Links to my schedule are on my web page, and I have a page at Booktour.com (http://www.booktour.com/author/vicki_delany) .


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

Just that it’s been a great pleasure talking to you.


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

My web page is http://www.vickidelany.com/. I am part of a group blog of mystery writers at Type M for Murder (http://typem4murder.blogspot.com/) and I write a personal blog about the writing life, as I see it, at Klondike and Trafalgar (http://klondikeandtrafalgar.blogspot.com/).