Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Have You Considered a Small Publisher?

Many writers are finding truly wonderful homes at small publishers.

I ran across this article recently and, if you've been finding yourself rejected by the big boys (and girls) in New York, you should investigate your other options.

Victoria Allman's post on Write on the Water shares her viewpoints of selling and publishing her first two books in partnership with a small publisher, NorLights Press.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Google eBooks

The Google eBook site opened two days ago with 3,000,000 books from 2,000 publishers.

Are YOUR books going to be available on Google eBook?  Check it out!

Monday, December 6, 2010

NEW RELEASE: Coincidence by Lesley Hager

Lesley Hager is proud to announce the release of Coincidence, a contemporary romance novel published by Wings ePress, Inc.

ISBN:  978-1-59705-551-2 (trade paperback) and 978-1-59705-451-5 (eBook).

You can find Lesley at:

Friday, December 3, 2010

ARTICLE: Daytime TV: A Valuable Addition to Your Writer's Toolbox - Part 3

Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric fantasy and scifi and an occasional work on fiction writing.  This material was taken from his book on fiction writing Build a Better Story. See for more details on the book. 


Daytime TV: A Valuable Addition to Your Writer's Toolbox - Part 3
(c) 2008 Hank Quense


Plots: A good story has a plot that integrates the elements of the story and allows the reader to suspend her disbelief. In other words, the reader is willing to accept that the plot didn’t happen but could have. To ensure that the reader stays comfortable in her state of suspended disbelief, the writer must eliminate any trace of unbelievable events. These types of events will lurch the reader out of suspended disbelief and end the relationship between her and the author. Yet, the events in the soaps are incredible. A woman falls out of an airborne balloon damaging her hairdo and nothing else. A long-lost object, the subject of a weeks-long futile search, is found by a character with a single phone call to an obscure part of the globe. To a TV-watcher, these incredible events do not stand out because the incidents are masked by the other presentation elements. By listening only, the plot flaws become apparent as does the danger in writing a story with an incredible plot.

Endless scenes: Good writing means a scene ends at a point that teases the reader into turning the page to see what happens next. The soaps, however, won’t give up a good scene without a fierce battle even if the scene has reached its logical conclusion. The same plea/order/advise/command/request/chastisement is repeated for several days. In one soap, a female character held several others hostage and waved a gun at them for an entire week. Every afternoon, she gave the same reasons for her actions in virtually the same words. It’s a wonder her hand didn’t get tired from holding the pistol that long.


To offset the soaps, the writer can listen (no peeking!) to Law and Order or one of its many offshoots. Like the soaps, these shows rarely have action scenes and are essentially all dialog. Unlike the soaps, the characters show a range of emotions, speak naturally and don’t use clichés. The plots are coherent and the tension builds during the show. Contrasting one of these shows with the soaps can only serve to improve the writer’s craft.

So, with all these faults, why are the soaps so popular? One basic reason is that the soaps consist of a lot more than the written word. The beautiful people in the cast, the designer clothes and the background music provide enough stimuli to hid a weakness in a single area such as the dialog or plot.

In contrast, we fiction writers can only use our words to convince a reader that our characters are worth caring about. We can’t use colorful or picturesque backdrops for the reader to see; we use no soundtrack and the characters can’t model the latest fashion designs. The reader has to use our words to build her own mental images of the setting and the characters.

While the soaps and novels have very different presentation formats, the script elements of the soaps offer a method for fiction writers to refurbish their writing tools. I recommend a yearly exposure to a few soaps to eliminate rust and to apply a coating of lubricant to keep the writing tools in good condition.




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[Note from Blog Hostess:  Thanks, Hank, for this interesting perspective.  I may actually take a peek at TV, now! - Linda]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NEW RELEASE: A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman

A Simple Amish Christmas is an Amish contemporary inspirational romance, published by Abingdon Press.

ISBN-13: 978-1426710667

It's Christmas, and Annie Weaver misses her family after leaving her Amish community to work at a distant hospital. But when she hears that her father has been gravely injured in a buggy accident, she rushes home to care for him. Her passion for healing catches widower Samuel Yoder's attention. Will she also capture his heart?

For more info, visit:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ARTICLE: Daytime TV: A Valuable Addition to Your Writer's Toolbox - Part 2

Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric fantasy and scifi and an occasional work on fiction writing. This material was taken from his book on fiction writing Build a Better Story. See for more details on the book.


Daytime TV: A Valuable Addition to Your Writer's Toolbox - Part 2 - by Hank Quense
(c) 2008 Hank Quense


Character Reactions: Memorable characters display a range of emotions just like people do in real life. The more emotions a character can display, the more life-like the character seems. In the soaps, two primary emotions are used by the characters: hostility and hysteria. A friendly greeting by one character is often met with a torrent of abuse from a second. It’s a rare occasion when a character’s dialog isn’t filled with argumentation, whining or out-right threats. Listening to this dialog becomes irritating and demonstrates what a reader will experience if we writers use limited and repetitious character reactions.

Multidimensional Characters: These types of characters are inherently more interesting to readers than flat, one-dimensional characters. These latter types quickly grow stale and detract from other elements in the story. The soaps, however, specialize in single-dimension characters that never display any variations. Day after day, scene after scene, the characters remain as unchanging as the mountains. The same dialog, sentiments and verbal mannerisms are endlessly repeated. Of course, on TV, the characterization may be rigid but the costumes change, as does is the setting and the background music so the repetition doesn’t appear as static to the viewer as it does to a listener.

High Tension and Drama: Whenever the script calls for a strong emotion such as grief, terror, consternation, fear, love, dread, shock or apathy, the actors whisper their lines. Apparently, this is a code to tip off the viewer that a scene of high tension or deep emotion is taking place. This ploy is especially useful to fiction writers because it demonstrates the effect of uniform emotional responses by the entire cast. It’s not very entertaining and neither will be a story that uses this unvarying approach.


Unnatural dialog: Nothing is more boring to me as a reader then stilted and unnatural dialog. Many novice writers have trouble understanding just what constitutes this type of dialog but the soaps provide countless examples. Characters lecture each other about an aspect of the plot that the entire cast already knows (as do the viewers). Known as expository dialog, it is to be avoided at all costs since the reader will instantly recognize it for what it is. Another facet of the soaps is that characters routinely give long-winded speeches punctuated with words that no one uses in ordinary conversations. Often, the dialog clashes with the character’s persona. For instance, a character portraying a poorly educated worker will suddenly spout large, obscure words that make a listener wonder if the character understands what he just said.

Foreign accents: Writing instructors caution against giving a character a foreign accent. One reason is that it is difficult to be consistent with the accent from one scene to the next. A more important reason is that the accent soon becomes irksome to the reader. The soaps offer endless proof of this guideline. Many of the shows have one or more characters spouting dialog with an accent so wretched it is amusing. For a short while. An alternative to these accents is to let the character use an occasional foreign word in the dialog. The foreign word reminds the reader of the character’s background.

Clichés: Clichés are the bane of writers everywhere. Nevertheless, the dialog in the soaps drips with clichés. Every imaginable cliché can be heard on these shows, and not occasionally but constantly. To listen to this smorgasbord of platitudes is to understand the prohibition against using them.



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Check back on December 3rd to read the final part of this article.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life on Santa Claus Lane by Darrell Bain

Life on Santa Clause Lane by Darrell Bain, Fictionwise Author of the Year

Publisher:  Twighlight Times Books

ISBN:  978-1931201193

This humorous book is a terrific item to add to your gift list.  AVAILABLE NOW!

Purchase on Amazon:  Life on Santa Claus Lane

Monday, November 29, 2010

ARTICLE: Daytime TV: A Valuable Addition to Your Writer's Toolbox - Part 1

Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric fantasy and scifi and an occasional work on fiction writing.  This material was taken from his book on fiction writing Build a Better Story. See for more details on the book. 

Daytime TV:  A Valuable Addition to Your Writer's Toolbox - Part 1 - by Hank Quense
(c) 2008 Hank Quense

Fiction writers need all the tools they can find, but over time, these tools can become dull and rusty. When this happens to me, I turn to daytime TV. These programs are bashed by critics and viewers, but I have a different spin on these show; I find them, especially the soaps, to be very educational. I write Science Fiction and Fantasy fiction and an exposure to the these programs improves and sharpens my writing skills. How? By providing vivid demonstrations of what happens when a writer ignores the accepted dictums of the craft. The soaps have a wealth of writing violations that can be exploited by experienced and beginning writers as a whetstone to sharpen their crafting tools.

I have no intention of disparaging the script writers for these soaps. I can’t produce a new script or story every day the way they can and I have nothing but respect for their ability to do this. However, the necessity of getting a show on the air means they can revise their scripts only for a short period of time. I, on the other hand, can revise my stories as often as I want, over long periods of time. My early drafts are sprinkled with faults such as I discuss here, but I have the time to weed them out before I submit them to an editor. This is an advantage I have over the script writers.

Using the soaps to fine-tune one’s writing skills requires a special technique. You have to listen to the TV, not watch it. By only listening, the writer will approximate the experience of a reader perusing a book. In other words, you will be using only a single sensory input, but it will be audible instead of visual. The danger in watching the screen is that is you will encounter a variety of sensations, including the spoken word, music, sound effects and colors in the costumes and settings. These multiple inputs will prevent you from getting the point of the illustration.

I have arranged my findings in three groups: Characterization Issues, Storytelling Issues, and Story Issues.




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Check back on December 1st and 3rd for Parts 2 and 3 of this article.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kelley Heckart's new release: Beltaine's Song, Book Two: Dark Goddess Trilogy

Beltaine's Song, Book Two:  Dark Goddess Trilogy, a Celtic historical romance/Paranormal fantasty

Release date:  November 11, 2010

Publisher:  Awe-Struck Publishing

For more information, visit Kelley's website at:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Looking for a nonfiction publisher?

Book publisher sets up shop in Martinsville

Aleasha Sandley of the Reporter-Times
November 20, 2010

NorLightsPress focuses on the types of books that can be "marketed and well-sold," reporter Aleasha Sandley states in her article, including business, family and home, food and diet, self-help, travel and adventure, eco-friendly, and writing how-to.  Publisher Vorris "Dee" Justesen indicates that NorlightsPress has access to approximately 90 percent of the booksellers in the world, including Amazon and the larger chains.

To read the article on, you need to be a subscriber:

If you are not a subscriber, you can read the contents of the article on NorlightsPress's blog at:

For their submission guidelines, list of titles, and bookseller information, visit the website of NorLightsPress at:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Author Interview with WALTER RHEIN

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up—and why? How did it all turn out?

I suppose the first thing I was interested in being was a lawyer simply because my dad was a lawyer. Although your earliest ambitions generally end up much different in practice than what they were when you initially dreamed them, oftentimes there are some pretty strong roots of similarity. In some ways, I suppose pursuing a degree in English literature (as I did) is similar to law since it's essentially communication and the art of argument.

The first time I seriously considered writing as a career was when I got a story published in a small journal as a freshman in high school. However, writing, as most people well know, isn't great for a consistent, stable income. In order to "feed my writing habit" as I like to say, I eventually moved to Lima, Peru where I could live inexpensively. While I was there I worked as a teacher, translator, and editor as well as a freelance writer. I have to admit, there were plenty of nights that I laid awake wondering if I wasn't making a terrible mess of my life. All my friends were putting in their time toiling away in entry-level jobs at major corporations with the hope that one day it would somehow pay off. I, on the other hand, was a complete free-agent, and it seemed that if the writing didn't turn out I'd be in big trouble in the future. I usually managed to pacify myself by rationalizing that at the very least I was becoming fluent in Spanish and that, at least, should be a marketable skill.

It all seems to have worked out however. I think anybody will fall victim to a little bit of fear and trepidation when they set off to follow their dreams. In the end, I guess you have to ask yourself whether the fear of giving up the stability of a conservative/traditional life outweighs the fear of not pursuing whatever it is you feel is your destiny to pursue. I've tried giving up writing many times, but I just can't. At some point along the way, I just decided to stop fighting the current and go "all in."

Sure, I've made some mistakes along the way. But overall, I wouldn't change anything.

How much of your personal life and beliefs wind up in your writing?

Probably more than I'm willing to admit or could even recognize myself. This question actually has relevance in many different layers. To begin with, I'd like to believe that the noble characters in my works are reflective of me. However, I think a lot of the nobility that I or anyone writes about is more theoretical than anything we've put into practice or have experience with. It's one of the sad tragedies of the human condition that we're able to perceive moral propriety and admire the beauty of compassion, but we sometimes lack the ability to actually render those noble philosophical concepts into reality.

When I was in Peru I saw a lot of poverty and I did the best I could to help as many people as I could, but I simply lacked the resources to save everyone. In addition to that moral quandary, you have to consider whether the acts you are performing are even beneficial in the end. For example, I learned quickly that it was no good giving change to street children since they just gave it to their "handlers" who used it to buy drugs. If you want to give something to a street kid, go into a local market and buy a turkey sandwich or something. Sure, you haven't solved the problem, but at least you haven't contributed to the dark side of it. In the end, I felt the best way for me to help out was to educate people, so I spent a lot of time teaching in poor areas. Unfortunately, my degree is in English (although that was pretty helpful to many of them). Still, I often lamented that I never took a course on how to make a cheap and efficient water filtering system using only local materials or something useful like that.

People often reflect that it's the evil characters in novels that are more interesting than the good ones, and I think that's probably because the ones telling the tales have more true experience in evil rather than good. Not because writers are evil, but because we're mortal and on a daily basis it's abundantly clear that you could be helping more people if only you could figure out how. In the end, we all do the best we can, and we probably shouldn't really beat ourselves up so much (but we still do).

So I guess to answer your question: the good characters in my novels represent my noble but probably unrealistic perception of what is "good," and the "evil" characters represent specific situations in which I have fallen short of the person I think I should be (and, for which, I constantly punish myself for...maybe unfairly...maybe not).

Tell us how long you’ve been writing and what prompted you to write fantasy novels.

I've been writing stories from the moment I first figured out how to make letters. The other day I was going through some old things and I was kind of embarrassed to find box after box just filled with notebooks jam-packed with my nearly illegible handwriting. It was one of those situations where I was able to view things as if from outside myself, and the first thing that went through my head was, "this guy's a psycho...just LOOK at all those notebooks!" The worst of it is that I can't even read anything I wrote since my handwriting is so bad (none of it's probably any good anyway, in my experience, you should just throw away about 95% of what you write).

Honestly, if I don't write something every day then I get a little bit twitchy. It's sort of like cutting your fingernails, if I don't get the words out of my brain I just can't relax.

I've always enjoyed fantasy just because you can do whatever you want in it. Sometimes I think people make a little bit too much fuss about the difference between genres. They're all just words in the end after all, and if you like the book it's because you like the characters. The nice thing about fantasy is that you're allowed to use more colorful words. You can have red dragons and blue oceans and green forests and your readers can immerse themselves in a vibrant cartoon world that is a magnified and enhanced version of their own dreary (probably urban) reality. I think most people pick up a book in order to escape into something more beautiful, and although the grayscale of an urban environment can be beautiful too, I'm just the kind of guy that's drawn to color.

Your most recent novel, THE BONE SWORD, was just released. Tell us all about it.

"The Bone Sword" is a straight piece of pursuit fiction that is designed to keep the reader entertained and the pages turning. It's one of those books that's got a lot of battles, and action that is designed to get the blood boiling. My hero, Malik, is a deeply troubled fellow who is constantly in the grips of self-doubt. I hadn't thought about it before, but I guess he's a little bit like Batman in a way. He doesn't hesitate to do what he thinks is right even if the consequences could be extremely bad for him. Unlike Batman, however, he's not afraid to use lethal force.

What does the future hold for you?

I've got another project in the works with Rhemalda called "Birkie Fever" which is a travel memoir about cross-country skiing. I'm really excited about this book and I'll be going through the edits with Rhemalda in the upcoming months.

I'm also working on a sequel to "The Bone Sword" which will probably be published in April of 2012.

I'm currently living in the US, but my wife and I would like to get on the road again as soon as possible. We'll definitely be heading to Peru in the summer of 2011 to see the extended family and show off our lovely daughter Sofia who was born in July of 2010.

What kind of a career do you hope to have?

I've thought about this a lot. I think many people are under the impression that once you get a book deal, it's all gravy, as if cash just comes raining down from the skies. While that might be nice if it were true (it might not be nice too...odd as that is to think), the truth about writing is that at the end of your career, I'd guess most writers, even very successful writers, are only paid about a penny for every hour of work they do over their lifetimes.

Honestly, I feel very happy to have been fortunate enough to sign a couple book contracts over the last few years since it's been just enough to justify, at least in my mind, the huge amount of effort I've put into learning to write. Even sitting here typing this I can't help but kind of chuckle since writing is such an absurd activity to pursue.

All I want out of this is to be able to pump out a couple books a year that entertain people. They don't have to be regarded as masterpieces, they just have to be effective and people have to like them. I'm willing to live cheaply to pursue this, but with the arrival of my daughter, my perceptions of the world have changed. Five years ago I would have told you that I would be willing to live under a bridge and I'd be happy too as long as I had a mechanical typewriter. Now, however, my darling little girl needs to be kept warm, dry, and well-fed.

What I'm trying to say is that my goals as a writer aren't to become rich and famous. I'm in this for the long-haul. For me, writing is a regular 40+ hour a week job for minimum wage, and I'm 100% happy with that since it's all I want to do.

What are the addresses of your website, blog, and other online presences?

I have a blog about Peru that's fairly popular called "Streets of Lima" at:

This page has a Facebook group called "Expatriates of Peru" which gets a monthly newsletter. You can join here:

I also have a Fantasy blog called "Swordreaver" at:

This page has a Facebook group called "Heroic Fantasy" which also receives a monthly newsletter. You can join here:

I also have a blog about running, bicycling, and skiing called "CyclovaXC" at:

This page has a Facebook group with a bi-monthly newsletter. You can join here:

I also appear from time to time on the Rhemalda blog at:

Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TERRIFIC resource for writers

Here's a website I just discovered:  Write to Done:  Unmistakable Articles on WritingIt belongs to Leo Babauta, author of the Zen Habits blog.  The website is about "the craft and the art of writing" and I discovered one of his recent posts on a Tweet by one of my Twitter friends.

The post, and its 136 comments, is titled Nominate Your Favorite Writing Blog:  5th Annual Top 10 Blogs for Writers ContestSome of these blogs are FANTASTIC!

Check these blogs out and let me know what you think!

Monday, November 8, 2010


HOW TO WRITE TERROR THAT CHILLS - by Michaelbrent Collings

Fear is like laughter in that both rely on a good setup, then providing the unexpected.

Both are also about delivery. Ever heard a good joke that was killed by someone who had no sense of timing or who let the setup go on far too long? Terror is the same way.

You as the writer must do two things in order to create terror in your reader:

(1) Create people you care about.

How many of you have gone to a "horror" movie that consisted of attractive people with no redeeming facets whom you were supposed to care about just because they were sexy/good-looking/unattainably attractive? And how many of you were actually scared during that horror movie (insert crickets chirping here).

This is because for horror (or suspense, or thrillers) to really work for as broad an audience as possible, you must care what is happening to the characters. Suspense, terror, horror, fear--they all rely on your reader investing enough in someone's survival or well-being to care when said survival or well-being is challenged. So, you have to either make your protagonists likable and/or sympathetic or create antagonists that are so interesting that they could be hunting cardboard and you would still be interested. Ideally, you will have both.

2) A guy walks into a bar... (Create a compelling setting.)

Your setting conveys a lot in terror. In all terror writing, the antagonists and protagonists do not exist in a vacuum. Your writing should a) create a concrete sense of where the action is happening, and b) use proper descriptives that back up the terror of the events unfold in those places. I'll elaborate:

a) Create a concrete sense of where the action is happening.

Terror is generally an internal reaction to an external stimulus. In order to create terror, you--the writer, must create an external reality that is terrible in itself. Why else do you think so many horror books happen in snowstorms? This is an externalization of the terrible acts that happen in the story. Each extra layer of information you can provide which supports or reflects the action will provide you with another layer of depth that your readers can grab onto subconsciously--in effect reinforcing the terror you are creating.

b) Use proper descriptives.

Every word conveys a different sense, a different tone, and you must always be careful to pick the kinds of words that will echo the tone that you are trying to create. Consider:

     Lightning lit up the sky.

     Lightning slashed across the night sky, leaving a scar of thunder in its wake.

Which one of these sentences seems like a better "scary" sentence to you?  Any and all descriptors should be used to buoy and reinforce the feelings of horror you are trying to create.

I had a writing teacher who said he only had one rule: "Bore me and die." Nowhere is that more true than in writing terror. Be sure that your characters grab your readers from the beginning. Reinforce their fears with settings and scenes that mirror the main conflicts between protagonists and antagonists. And always remember that each word should be, for lack of a better word, terrifying.


Michaelbrent Collings is the author of numerous bestsellers and is most recently the author of the suspense thriller Rising Fears. bestselling YA fantasy Billy: Messenger of Powers bestselling thrillers Run and The Loon

The new suspense thriller Rising Fears

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Release, THE BONE SWORD, by Walter Rhein

Walter Rhein announces the release of the heroic fantasy novel, The Bone Sword, today, November 1st.

The publisher is Rhemelda Publishing and the book can be found on Amazon at:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Change in Hosting Location

Beginning November 16, publication of future author interviews, guest posts, and book reviews will be transferred to my personal writing blog.  Guidelines for these items will remain the same.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Sounds like you lead a wonderful life: kids all grown up and moved out, two dogs for company during the day when you write, and a loving husband who supports you. So, what’s the REAL scoop?

Truthfully, I have too much free time on my hands and I’m terribly unorganized with it. I should have twenty novels written by now, but I’m so easily distracted I only have seven. The dogs need walks and attention worse than my kids ever did! And my kids keep returning to the scene of the crime! My husband is pushing me to become the next Patricia Cornwell so he can retire from accounting and take a motorcycle trip around the world. Other than that, everything is hunky dory and my writing life is awesome.  :)

You’re a member of several writer’s groups. Tell us how they’ve helped you along the way to publication.

Being a member of a writer’s group does absolutely nothing for you unless you get involved. I joined the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association a few years back and have attended a number of their writer’s conferences. They have great classes taught by authors, agents, or editors, where I’ve been able to hone my expertise and learn much about the publishing industry. I also take advantage of their literary contests. Putting your work on the line for other writers to critique is a great way to grow and learn. The local Minnesota writer’s Guild has a monthly meeting with special speakers and opportunities to meet publishing industry professionals or learn new things, as well as connect with other writers. I found a group of writers at these meetings sometime ago and we formed a critique group. Having a small group to share my work with and get feedback from has been one of the biggest helps in improving my writing.

You’ve published in several genres. Tell us which you prefer, and why.

My short stories are sometimes written for specific publications, so I often write with that in mind. Others, are stories that reflect moments in my life and perhaps I write them as a form of self-therapy. Writing can be very therapeutic, but therapeutic writing isn’t necessarily publishable. When I write novels I tend to lean toward suspense because that is what I enjoy most. I love to read authors such as Sue Grafton, Erica Spindler, Tami Hoag, and Iris Johansen. Broken heroes, warped bad guys, and twists and turns is what keeps me turning pages. I hope others feel the same about my stories.

Tell us all about ENTANGLED and its road to publication.

What if you inherited a California winery, fully equip with a house, vineyards, and a handsome blonde lawyer, and not only does it reawaken your worst childhood memories and give you recurring nightmares, but your mother decides you need her and moves in with you indefinitely?

ENTANGLED is the story of Billie Fredrickson, a twenty-eight-year-old cynical divorce attorney from Minneapolis who inherits a winery and must decide whether to stay and run it as her uncle wished, or sell out and return home. Billie has every intention to cut and run, but her return to the winery after an absence of twenty years opens up more than the reading of her uncle's will. Childhood memories, long-buried, begin to surface, prompting questions that no one is able, or willing, to answer.

A late night prowler, a break-in at the winery, and an unearthed box of shocking photographs is someone's way of pulling the Welcome mat out from under Billie's feet, but it only makes her dig her heels in deeper. Secrets lie buried beneath Fredrickson Winery's innocent facade and Billie intends to get to the root--while someone is willing to kill to stop her.

Great wine evokes a sense of place, a connection to our heritage, much as a good story. Billie’s story is about finding that connection, that sense of belonging.

I wrote Entangled about three years ago. It was called, Time in a Bottle, back then. I even entered the first couple of chapters and synopsis in the PNWA mainstream novel contest and was a finalist. I queried quite a number of agents after that and despite many positive, encouraging letters, not one was willing to take a chance on a new author. So after writing two other novels and working on a number of other writing projects, I decided it was time to try again. I’ve read that ebooks are the wave of the future. I know most people still prefer to hold an actual hardback in their hands and feel the texture of the pages, but when you can carry 1500 books on one little device, it is a bibliophile’s dream. So, after getting my own ereader and seeing for myself how it all worked, how popular ebooks had become, and how easy and inexpensive it was to try new authors, I started researching ebook publishers. I soon found Smashwords and was able to publish Entangled as an ebook this past August. I’m also planning to have Entangled out in paperback soon for those individuals still afraid to take a chance on a crazy electronic gadget. Although, for those of you unfamiliar with ebooks, let me clarify that if you don’t own an ereader, you can still read my book on your computer, iphone, Blackberry, etc. Entangled is downloadable in any format. It is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Sony Reader, Kobo, and Apple—as well as my publisher, Smashwords.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the next novel in the Fredrickson Winery saga. It will be a story that stands on its own, but will include many of the same characters as Entangled. I’m also querying agents with a contemporary Suspense/thriller that I recently finished called, Injected.

If you could take up any career in the world and be good at it, what would it be?

I would still choose to be a writer. Of course, I would choose to be a much more well known and wealthy writer. I know some people might want to be POTUS but there’s much too much stress that goes with that job. Same for a brain surgeon. But as a writer, I can imagine being either of those things without reality getting me down. Writing is what I love. I enjoy hearing and seeing strange things and spinning elaborate tales from these small kernels of information. I revel in the ability to write from the comfort of my own home, in the comfort of lounge-wear, and take breaks whenever I need to walk the dogs or make a fresh pot of coffee. I get a thrill whenever someone says they’ve read my book, and if they write an awesome review I have proof that my time was not spent in vain. I may be a mere “entertainer” but I take my job serious as a heart attack.

What are the addresses of your website, blog, and other online presences?

Facebook Novelist page:

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Tell us about your journey to publication.

Like for so many writers, it’s been a long and frustrating road fraught with knee-high piles of rejection letters, endless rewrites and one crushing disappointment after another. In 2007, a newly established publisher in the UK took me on, only to drop me a year later when they decided they no longer wished to publish my genre of novel. That, perhaps, was the lowest point of my journey. Still, I refused to give up, and six months later found a home for Voices on the Waves with Red Rose. It was so amazing to be given this second chance, I can’t tell you! Yet, for me, the journey is far from over. I still harbor an ambition to find an agent to help me advance my writing career, and I’m determined to continue working towards that goal.

You write a variety of women’s fiction, ranging from light-hearted romances to dark mysteries. What prompts you to write two such different types of novel?

I don’t know if it’s the same for other authors, but in my case, it has taken me a while to discover what type of novel I particularly enjoy writing. I mean, I’ve always known I wanted to write about strong, believable characters and their complex relationships, which is how Voices on the Waves was born. Yet, it was only when I started work on my second novel Painting The Summer, which centers around a devastating family secret, that I realized I also loved writing slowly unfolding mysteries. Now it’s my aim to combine both these elements in my writing.

Tell us about VOICES ON THE WAVES and where we can buy it.

It’s one of my sweeter novels, a light-hearted holiday read set against the stunning backdrop of rural Cornwall. Faye Wakefield, my generous but rather lonely heroine, runs a competition offering nine lucky winners a two-week stay at her beautiful farmhouse retreat. She hopes the contest will help her find an answer to her troubles, but it ends up achieving far more than she ever imagined. The prize-winners come from all walks of life, so once I’d assembled my cast of highly diverse characters under one roof, all I had to do was let my imagination flow and the sparks fly!

With newfound love, illicit affairs and the sharing of long-buried secrets, Voices on the Waves really does have it all, and it’s now available to purchase as an ebook from Red Rose Publishing:

What are you working on now and when can we expect to see it?

I’ve just started work on a novella, which will be written as part of a series with a group of my fellow authors at Red Rose. The idea is that we each write a book based on a reality TV show, and I’m taking the inspiration for mine from talent shows such as American Idol and The X Factor. It’s shaping up to be really great fun!

I’m also in the throes of editing painting The Summer, an emotion-driven mystery surrounding a wealthy English family whose lives are torn apart when they invite a handsome young artist into their home to paint their portraits. All going well, I’m hoping both novels will be published some time in 2011.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for other new authors?

Study your craft. Most of us, unless we happen to be a literary genius, won’t become a best-selling writer overnight. Read every book you can lay your hands on about creating believable, unforgettable characters and how to weave page-turning plots. Join a writing critique group, whether online or face-to-face, to get feedback on your progress that will help you improve. Most of all, write the sort of novels you would enjoy reading.

I know from your bio that you have a severe visual impairment. How does this affect your writing?

The hardest part is being unable simply to visit a place and get a picture of it in my mind. For instance, if I want to set a novel in London, I can’t just wander around the city at leisure, memorizing the landmarks and distinctive features. I have to rely on other people to be my eyes and describe things to me, which isn’t ideal. Having discovered this stumbling block while writing VOTW, I’ve now created a fictional English county called Denninshire where I intend to set all my future novels. This gives me the freedom to describe the towns and landscape from my own imagination, and makes the whole process so much easier.

What are the addresses of your website, blog, and other online presences?

Readers can visit my website at:
Http:// Where they can read an excerpt from Voices on the Waves, follow my blog and keep up to date with my latest news and contests.

I can also be found on Facebook at

Thanks so much, Linda, for interviewing me on The Author Exchange today, and for all of you for stopping by. Anyone kind enough to leave me a comment here, or at any point during my blog tour, will automatically be entered into the draw to win a $15 gift voucher for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Winners choice! Just don’t forget to provide an email address in case I need to contact you. The five winners will be announced on October 31st over at my blog: - so, good luck!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Just in case you don't already know, my non-fiction book, Taking the Mystery Out of Business: The 9 Fundamentals of Professional Success will be released in early January. It will be available in bookstores, and at Amazon and Smashwords.

Check out the blog, where you can request free business tips and advice, complete a survey, and enter your name in a drawing to win a free copy of Taking the Mystery Out of Business by making a comment to select blog posts.

If you have a particular subject you'd like me to discuss on the blog, or that you'd like to consider posting about, e-mail me at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Love Triangles

Love is complicated enough between two people when you add a third it can be just a mess. Jealousy, hurt feelings, and confusion abound.

But as a writer, I love these triangles. The conflict between multiple lovers creates a challenge for authors because finding a satisfying resolution for readers is not easy. How do you find a happy ending between three people?

I knew in the sequel to the next book in The Angler series, I had to include some kind of relationship with Tane, the anti-hero, and Connie, the heroine, but they hated each other so much in the first book. The only commonality between these characters is Rurik, Connie’s vampire lover and Tane’s best friend.

All three characters experience the emotions I mentioned above. A love triangle, fraught with possible tragedy yet full of possible hope.

On Halloween weekend my group blog Paranormal Romantics, , is having a Blog-a-Thon, every hour or so a new blog will go up with a contest. The grand prize from PR will be Nook filled with Books. So come join us starting October 30th

Annie Nicholas

Monday, October 18, 2010

Author interview with LAURA DiSILVERIO

You write two different mysteries and the occupation of each protagonist contains parallels to your professional past. Tell us how your military background helped you to create these characters.

Thanks for having me on Author Exchange today, Linda. I loved my twenty years as an Air Force officer and I found military life fascinating and worthwhile. The military also provided great training, so when I needed to create a private investigator (Charlie Swift in Swift Justice) and a mall cop (Emma-Joy (EJ) Ferris in Die Buying), I gave them each a little military time in their backgrounds. Charlie spent eight years in the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, the Air Force’s equivalent to a police departments detectives, and EJ was an enlisted military cop who was wounded in Afghanistan and medically retired. Their military backgrounds give both of them skills the average woman-on-the-street wouldn’t have. Plus, it opens up the possibility for intriguing storylines down the road.

What other aspects of your personality—and personal life—found their way into your writing?

Hmm. Tricky question. I couldn’t make it through a day homicide-free without exercise (weight training and cardio), so both Charlie and EJ are regular exercisers (EJ more than Charlie). Family-wise, I don’t have much in common with my characters. I have a family—hubby and two tweenage daughters—but neither of my protagonists has a family. Charlie’s a real loner who doesn’t even have much of a relationship with her parents. EJ’s more social, and has a wacky family she loves, but she hasn’t found the right man to settle down with yet. Both Charlie and EJ are pretty disciplined, as I am. I like schedules and lists and a place for everything. My husband can testify that I occasionally get a teensy bit testy when he doesn’t put the grape jelly (or any other item) back in its proper spot in the fridge! I hate wasting time looking for stuff. I’m a dog person and have a Wire-haired Pointing Griffon named Marco, while Charlie doesn’t have a pet and EJ has a rescue cat named FUBAR (military acronym for “fouled up beyond all recognition”).

You have a strict daily schedule that incorporates time for your writing, yourself, and your family. How does a writer create a schedule that works?

Creating a schedule that works is entirely dependent on the writer’s personality and situation. I write from 7:30am until 12:30 or 1:00pm (my quota is 2,000 words/day) because the girls are at school, I’m a morning person, and I’ve got deadlines! I try to quit for the day by 2:30 when my girls come home from school and I morph into chauffeur-in-chief. I know other writers who write at night after kids are in bed and spouses are asleep (I turn into a pumpkin around 9:30 each night and wouldn’t be capable of putting a single coherent sentence together), who lock themselves in hotel rooms and write non-stop for three or four weeks, or who scribble in notebooks while between meetings or while waiting for their kids to finish soccer practice. I think having goals—I’m going to write two paragraphs today; I’m going to outline the next chapter this week; I’m going to take photos of potential settings for my new book this weekend—is a help to any writer who is serious about completing a short story or novel.

Tell us about your most recent book, including where we can find it.

Swift Justice (St. Martin’s Minotaur) has been out almost a week and readers can find it anywhere books are sold. It’s a humorous mystery about my Colorado Springs PI, Charlie Swift, who arrives at her office one Monday morning to find a woman with a gun. It turns out the woman, Gigi Goldman, is the ex-wife of Charlie’s silent partner who ran off to Costa Rica, leaving Gigi with nothing but the house, the Hummer, and half-interest in Charlie’s PI business. Gigi, a socialite in her mid-fifties, has no qualifications to be a PI but needs to work to support her teenagers. Charlie tries to get Gigi to quit by giving her the PI tasks—undercover work at a fast food joint, night-time surveillance, process serving—she thinks the pampered Gigi won’t be able to tolerate. Somehow, though, Gigi gets good results, despite creating hilarious havoc wherever she goes. Charlie, meanwhile, is working to track down the teen mother of a baby left on her client’s doorstep. When a murdered body turns up, Charlie realizes she might actually need Gigi’s help . . . In a starred review, Booklist said: “The odd-couple relationship between the two women may appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and Lula. DiSilverio deftly mixes light, zany humor with the darkness of the crimes. Readers will leave this one impatient for the next book in the series.

What do you have in the works?

I’m just finishing up the second Charlie and Gigi mystery, tentatively titled Swift Edge (that may change). It involves the disappearance of an Olympic pairs skater and features Gigi’s pain-in-the-tush, 14-year-old daughter Kendall who has a huge crush on the missing skater and insists on “helping” Charlie and Gigi with their investigation. I’ll start the second of my Mall Cop mysteries in December.

Tell us what books you’ve read and enjoyed recently. We all need more books for out TBR piles, right?

I just finished Sophie Littlefield’s A Bad Day for Pretty which is even better than the first in her Stella Hardesty series. I’m also reading Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall for a book discussion group and savoring a chapter a night of Nevada Barr’s non-fiction book, Seeking Enlightenment Hat by Hat: A Skeptic’s Guide to Religion, which is laugh-out-loud funny and yet thought-provoking. Earlier this month, I finished Cornelia Read’s Invisible Boy – her main character, Madeline Dare, has an astounding voice and is a trenchant commenter on 1980s NYC --and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Brad Park’s second book in his Carter Ross series. I’d love to ask this blog’s readers what they’re reading now. Leave a comment and let me know what I should add to my TBR pile.

What are the addresses of your website, blog, and other online presences?

My website is and readers can also find me on Facebook.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interview with MIA CHERISH

You’ve been writing, professionally, since you were quite young. Tell us what prompted you to begin writing as a child.

My grandfather taught me to read and write when I was very young. I don't have conscious memories of not thinking up stories and writing them down. The fun thing about it growing up was that it was never a big deal to my folks because I have a few ancestors and relatives who also write. So my family took it in stride as something very ordinary. "Oh, she's a writer, like Cousin So-and-So." Instead of crayons and coloring books, my mother bought me notebooks and packages of pens. And my family was very encouraging, but I wasn't treated as though my writing was an oddity.

It actually caused problems for me at school. In third or fourth grade, my English class was studying various forms of poetry. We students were required to write poems adhering to a particular form and read them aloud to the class. When I read mine, the instructor and several students accused me of plagiarism not because any of them recognized my poem as another author's work, but because the instructor decided my style was "too good" for an elementary level student. This didn't sit well with my folks who promptly phoned the school principal and demanded the instructor prove the plagiarism, which of course couldn't be done since I hadn't plagiarized. I remember feeling very embarrassed and confused; it seemed to me I'd completed the assignment and done a good job, but instead of being rewarded for it, all this drama ensued.

A lifelong resident of New Orleans, you personally lived through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. How did the real-life trauma affect your writing?

Most Important Evacuation Tip: ALWAYS pack more underwear than you think you'll need, at least a full week's worth. Wearing the same shirt or jeans an extra day or two isn't so bad, but you want clean undies.

My Katrina experiences were tougher than some and easier than some. I spent a week trapped in a relative's house without electricity or running water. Unpleasant, but I was grateful to be with family, and with some improvisation we were relatively comfortable given the circumstances.

A more serious personal challenge: I was on anticoagulation therapy at the time and had about one week's supply of medication when Katrina made landfall. No clinics, hospitals, or pharmacies were available to monitor my anticoagulation or to refill my prescription. Ultimately, I temporarily relocated to Texas where I could receive regular monitoring and care. I can't thank Texas and its residents enough for how they reached out to displaced New Orleans residents. I will never forget the outpouring of hospitality and goodwill I received from Texans, most of them perfect strangers to me.

As to my writing ... I was born and raised in New Orleans, and I love the city in a very tangible, personal way. It is so beautiful, so rich in history, culture, and tradition. I love the food, the music, the architecture, the decadence alongside the piety, and the city's incredible multicultural identity. No single nation can claim sole credit for what New Orleans is. Everything about the region, good and bad, nurtures artistic inspiration.

I've traveled enough to identify New Orleans culture is completely unique, but I took loving my home town for granted. After the Katrina/Rita disaster, I mourned New Orleans, even when I was finally able to return. New Orleans has always been slow to change, and the Katrina disaster imposed drastic, dramatic change. Some of it's been for the best, some not so much.

One comfort for me during that time was my commute to work via St. Charles Avenue. The Garden District weathered the crisis better than most areas. The view of all these gorgeous, palatial, nineteenth-century homes assuaged my inner turmoil. Boosted my confidence. They seemed to be a promise of good days to come and reassured me in a way. Leonor Griffin's house in The Garden House is based on an enormous white mansion on the 5900 block of St. Charles Avenue I admired daily on my work commute.

For several months, serious writing was simply beyond me, too normal a thing for me to do while I tried to process all the changes I had to make in my own life. I co-authored The Garden House with Jacqueline Quaid, not a local but a definite kindred spirit who'd fallen prey to New Orleans' charms before I was born and grieved for it as much as I. We came up with the idea when both of us felt more upbeat and optimistic for the city's future.

The Garden House is a beautiful f/f erotic paranormal romance. That in itself is unique since neither I nor Jackie have written or published other f/f romance. In analysis, the romantic pairing isn't an accident. I feel this story reflected how much Jackie and I both were in love with New Orleans, a very feminine city, very much a lady. New Orleans is also remarkably present throughout the narrative.

If The Garden House is a fantasy/escape into "how things were," Fixation represents acceptance of "how things are now." Also set in New Orleans, this paranormal romance, a love story between a newborn vampire and a ballet instructor descended of Hindu divinity, describes some of the changes in particular buildings and areas. It also expresses hope for the future repair and reopening of the Orpheum theatre. It's much darker in tone. Despite its paranormal elements, it is less idyllic and contains more "harsh reality" than its predecessor.

Neither book could have been written with our respective Hurricane Katrina/Rita experiences.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

Three Devils in Bath is best described as an erotic historical urban fantasy. It's set in Bath during the Regency era's twilight years. Seti Edgard and his vampire companions, Troyes and Dane, maintain a fashionable townhouse and enjoy interaction with local society, both human and Extranatural. Seti, assisted by Dane, also serves as an official in the Extranatural justice system. Although mainly content with his male lovers, Seti bribes Mariotte Sabrier to accept his carte blanche, hoping an attractive young woman in the house will distract Troyes from his faltering love affair with a widowed noblewoman. Seti's own attraction to Mariotte grows in between bouts of deciding cases and investigating a supernatural murder. Eventually, Mariotte must cope with the realization that sincere, passionate love isn't always destined for a couple alone and decide if she can accept everything these men want to offer her.

I've always been fascinated with Bath and attacked my research with gusto. Three Devils in Bath is also my first novel portraying menage relationships. Menage relationships make for very complex storytelling. I've gotten very varied feedback on the novel, which is interesting. It seems like everyone who read the book took something different out of it.

Trace Edward Zaber constructed gorgeous cover art for this novel, my favorite cover art of all my published work. The beautiful, pale golden background reflects Bath's gilded opulence and luxury.

You have co-authored novels and written solo. Share with us your thoughts about the pros and cons of each type of venture.

Co-authored stories have such an interesting reputation. Some readers indicate dissatisfaction with co-authored books due to changes in tone and style As a reader, I admit to being fascinated by competently co-authored works. Vocal variation breaks up monotony and if the contributing authors harmonize well they can construct a very positive reading experience. I'm crazy about the writing duo Jamie Craig. Their westerns delight me.

As a writer, I've enjoyed collaboration; it enhances the creative process, and, of course, it's possible to produce work product faster. In my opinion, the variance in author voice and perspective also has a very positive effect on character dialog; in situations where each author role plays one character to write dialog, each character's words and language become more distinct. This technique can also add dimension and depth to scenes involving action, combat, love scenes, and so on. Like any other team effort, two brains work better than one. One writer's artistic strengths can compensate for the other's limitations. And of course, two proofreaders of final copy can catch extra mistakes. Finally, the "fun factor" related to collaboration can't be overlooked. Writing's a solitary pursuit; collaboration can be socially and intellectually stimulating as well as educational. Each participant brings something to the table an individual author couldn't have produced.

The down side to collaboration is risk of breakdown in the writing partnership and subsequent abandonment or killing of the project. It is extremely frustrating to invest time and creativity into a project one feels passionate about only to have one's parter bail on them. Sometimes it's inevitable; if one partner is more invested in the work, the story may belong to them a little more, and the other partner may not relate to its direction and feel able to do it justice. In other cases life gets in the way; people lose jobs, suffer losses, health problems, family issues ... All kinds of things can impact someone's priorities and involvement.

I've had wonderful, positive collaborative experiences that produced beautiful work product of which I'm very proud. I've also had some extremely dissatisfying experiences and witnessed other writers go through drama related to collaborations gone bad. The worst case scenarios can be pretty horrible.

The best advice I can give anyone considering collaboration on a project: negotiate a written agreement. Never collaborate with a writer unwilling to back his/her promises in writing. If you're unwilling to back your promises in writing, don't collaborate. At the very least, work out an agreement that, should one partner abandon the work, full copyright reverts to the author willing to complete and submit it if s/he wants to do so.

If you abandon a collaborated project, do so in an adult, professional manner. Be upfront and civil. Accept responsibility for your decision. Don't blame your coauthor to justify your behavior, even if you honestly feel your coauthor is to blame. Be respectful, apologize for the inconvenience you are causing, and thank your coauthor for his/her time and effort. Honor whatever agreements you've made concerning work already done. If your coauthor is still interested in completing the work, offer full copyright to the coauthor.

Professional manners and kind words go a long way. Your goal should be to retire gracefully and to leave your coauthor feeling s/he was treated as fairly as possible. This should be a no-brainer, but it's surprising how frequently it doesn't happen. Friendships are saved this way. So are professional opportunities.

If your co-author abandons your joint project, accept it as graciously as you can. The abandoning party is doing you a favor -- if s/he isn't "into" the work, you wouldn't get a good quality final product, anyway. Collaborators who walk away from a collaboration are basically admitting the work is beyond them, either intellectually or due to other challenges limiting their ability to contribute.productively to the work. Accept the work is beyond the author and complete it yourself if you remain interested in the work. If you're not, perhaps you should mutually agree to "kill" the work.

Whether you're abandoning work or are dealing with a coauthor abandoning work, avoid public ranting and e-drama at all costs. It's worth saying again; avoid public ranting and e-drama at all costs. Vent as much as you like. Privately. To trusted friends and relatives not associated with the publishing industry.

You’ve combined elements of Regency romance and vampires—how…and why?

In my perspective, Regency England is an ideal vampire environment. The Enlightenment has reached it peak. The Gothic and the Romantic literary movements are in full swing at this time. Beneath the veneer of respectability, the middle class and the upper class are embracing much of the decadence and hedonistic attitudes characteristic of the literary vampire who gained popularity later in the century.

Human behavior itself was very predatory at that time. Despite the Enlightenment, many people still observed concepts of class and the idea that some people are superior to others and that abusing social inferiors was acceptable (or, at least, it was not punished.) People preyed on one another for resources and for gratification. It's probably not an accident that vampirism began taking hold in fiction and poetry in this period. There were plenty of humans living up to the vampire stereotype, essentially seducing and devouring others sexually, socially, emotionally, or financially.

In Three Devils in Bath, Seti is clearly not a stereotypical Regency male -- he's much older -- and though he's adapted to the decadence to the point he'd proposition an unknown woman essentially unavailable to him, there's a sense his habits and behaviors are far less predatory, cruel, and hypocritical compared to the respectable, well-heeled humanity surrounding him. That fun sort of irony makes Seti a fun character to work with since the traits readers often associate with vampirism should have made him a great "fit" for Regency society.

Additional fantasy characters in the story, including Amazon warriors and lycanthropes, exhibit a certain degree of innocence. Their tribal alliances and isolation from human society make them really stand out as mismatches. In theory they're the "monsters," and yet their customs and behavior don't revolve around using or abusing others to accumulate gain or for entertainment. They don't relate to human values systems such as consumerism. A werewolf craftsman will spend a century building furniture, art, or musical instruments simply beyond the scope of human planning due to time limitations.

Setting a vampire tale in Regency England provides the reader a better view of who the real vampires are, where the real vampiric behavior originated and often still does originate.

Do you have any plans to write in a different genre?

I'm crazy about short stories. I'm always incredulous when a talented author communicates a theme through short fiction. I've made several efforts to write short fiction and usually end up with a novella. I can't quite pull myself away from adding details. It doesn't stop me from trying, though.

I have lots of ideas and fragments related to writing horror, or a horror romance. Like many horror aficionados Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has held me in thrall for years as much as for what it doesn't reveal as what it does. I'd love to tackle a good, creepy, old-fashioned ghost story someday.

What are the addresses your website, blog, and other online presences?

I maintain a website,

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Annie Nicholas announces the release of her new paranormal romance, Catch,  book two in The Angler series.

Published by Liquid Silver Books.  Release date October 11, 2010.

For more details, visit Annie's website at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interview with LESLIE WHEELER

You’ve published both fiction and non-fiction. Which do you prefer writing—and why?

I prefer writing fiction because it enables me to play God and make up the story myself. When I wrote non-fiction, there would always be moments when I’d think to myself, what if something else had happened instead? But I couldn’t go there, because I had to stick to the facts. It’s those “what if” moments that make writing fiction fun. I often begin with a real life situation then take off from there. For example, in my first mystery novel, MURDER AT PLIMOTH PLANTATION, I started with a real-life trip to Plimoth Plantation I made when my sister and her family were visiting from California. My eight-year-old niece complained the whole way up the path to the Pilgrim village. But as soon as we went into one of the houses, and a Pilgrim woman spoke to us in the wonderful seventeenth-century English they use, she stopped complaining and listened with interest. My imagination kicked in and this is what I got: What if my niece became so enchanted by Plimoth Plantation that years later, she returns as an interpreter, and what if while she’s there, a murder occurs. Of course, this part never really happened.

In addition to being a writer, you’ve worked as an editor. Tell us how your stint as an editor affected your fiction writing.

When I worked as an American history textbook editor, I tried to wrestle other writers’ manuscripts into better shape, which often involved a fair amount of rewriting. This helped my own writing to a certain extent, but not as much as I would have liked. In my experience, it’s always easier to fix problems in someone else’s work than your own. That’s why being in a writers’ critique group is very important to me. The group members pick up on things I don’t see, and vice versa.

Does the fact that you can trace your ancestors back to the Mayflower have anything to do with your love of history?

I credit my paternal grandfather for giving me my love of history rather than my Mayflower ancestry. My grandfather, Burton K. Wheeler, was a U.S. Senator from Montana from the 1920s to right after World War II. He was a colorful, larger-than-life figure, and a wonderful raconteur. All he had to do was walk into a room and start talking to become the center of attention. In his early years in the Senate, he helped expose the Teapot Dome scandal during the Harding administration, and the movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, is based on his battle against corruption. Later in his career, he fought Roosevelt when FDR tri
ed to pack the Supreme Court. I grew up listening to his stories, and since he lived until he was almost ninety-three, I was able to spend lots of time with him. Because of him, I took many American history courses in college, even though officially, I was an English major, specializing in medieval literature. My Mayflower connection stems from my grandfather Wheeler, but it wasn’t a big deal to me for a long time. I even forgot about it until reminded by my sister on the above-mentioned visit to Plimoth Plantation, when she and my brother-in-law raced around trying to find the interpreters who portrayed our ancestors, Susannah White and Edward Winslow.

Tell us about your “living history” mysteries.

I call my series “living history” mysteries, because, although they take place in the present-day, they are set at historic sites, which enables me to weave in a lot of history. I get to have it both ways: I don’t have to worry about getting all the period details right, but I can still include a fair amount of history in my books. All three of my books feature reenactors: the interpreters in MURDER AT PLIMOTH PLANTATION, Confederate reenactors in MURDER AT GETTYSBURG, and the demonstration squad staff at Mystic Seaport in my new book, MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT, which takes place at a fictionalized version of the Seaport. These folks appeal to me, because they try to make history come alive for their audiences, just as I tried to do for the readers of my American history books.

What advice can you give to new writers?

Don’t give up! I’m a poster girl for determination. Although I published my non-fiction early on and with relative ease, I had to travel a long, difficult road before my fiction was published. I spent nearly ten years writing then marketing my first novel without success, and another year writing part of a second novel before I came up with the idea of my “living history” series. Even then, it took me about five years to finish the first book in the series, another two years to find an agent, and so on. A second piece of advice is: Don’t aim for perfection the first time around. I’ve seen too many writers develop severe cases of writers’ block as a result. They write the first chapter over and over again, and never get beyond it. My early drafts are so awful sometimes, it’s embarrassing. They read like bad translations from Sanskrit into Polish, then English. But I know that eventually I’ll be able to turn out polished prose. I’ve also learned to trust my imagination to help me find my way around the inevitable roadblocks that crop up in writing fiction.

Two of your mysteries, MURDER AT PLIMOTH PLANTATION, and MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT feature Native American characters and history. How did you become interested in Native peoples?

My interest in Native peoples goes back to the summer vacations I spent in Montana at the family cabins in Glacier National Park. My grandfather Wheeler was responsible for legislation that was favorable to the Indians, so members of the Blackfoot nation would come to visit him in Glacier, sometimes bringing gifts, including a spectacular headdress which used to hang on the wall in the main cabin. My grandfather arranged for my cousins and I to be “adopted” into the Blackfoot tribe. There was a ceremony at which we were given Indian names (mine was Morning Girl) and beautiful beaded necklaces. (I still have mine.) Later, in my work on American history textbooks, I often wrote the “Closing the Frontier” chapter, which, among other things, deals with the Indian wars in the West toward the end of the nineteenth-century. But it wasn’t until I started researching my first mystery,

MURDER AT PLIMOTH PLANTATION, that I discovered how much more complicated and troubled the relations between the eastern tribes and the early settlers were. In grade school, I’d learned about friendly Squanto who showed the Pilgrims how to plant corn and kept them from starving, and how the Pilgrims were so grateful that they invited the Indians to a harvest feast, which evolved into Thanksgiving. What I didn’t know was that there was a darker side to this history: that while we’re stuffing ourselves with turkey, the Native peoples are holding a “National Day of Mourning.” I continue to explore this theme in MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT, where I deal with the Mashantucket Pequots (called the Dottagucks in the novel), who were practically exterminated in the early 1600s, but managed to hold onto a small parcel of land, enabling them to qualify for Federal recognition, then start a successful gambling casino complex.

What are the addresses of your website, blog, and other online presences?

I’m on both Facebook( and Twitter (@Leslie_Wheeler). But only because my tech-savvy teenage son got me on!