Monday, August 30, 2010


Romance VS Mystery!

I have written five historical romance novels but have changed to mystery. The writing process between romance and mystery is quite a change with a completely different mind set. Its so different from telling a love story. With romance, you plan out the plot around the meeting of a couple. As you write, you develop some sort of charisma between the characters, making the reader feel excited that one day they're going to hit it off and fall in love. You, as the reader, know what the outcome will be. But with a mystery, the reader is in the dark. The author has to come up with a plot that no one knows about until towards the end of the story and hope they havent figured it out. In a mystery, you may or may not allow your reader to know who the bad guys are, according to whether its just a mystery or mystery suspense. Do you know the difference between a mystery and a mystery suspense novel? In a mystery, when a knock is heard at the door, the reader doesn't know who's behind it. With mystery suspense, the reader knows who's behind the door and yells to the heroine, "Don't open the door!"

Anasazi Intrigue is the first book in a mystery adventure series called The Adventures of John and Julia Evans. Its about a devastating flood that takes out several homes in a small town, the importance of preserving ancient artifacts, and a few puzzling and mysterious events. Julia is a reporter, and when she finds out about a possible poison spill that kills some fish and neighbor's pets, she has a feeling that something isnt quite right. Before she realizes what is happening, Julia finds out that this incident is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. With dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants chasing John and Julia, they have their hands full.

Artifact theft is a very intriguing subject. Thats why I call it the Intrigue series. In my research, I found that archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. Did you know that looting is only second to selling illegal drugs? While researching the second book in this series, Mayan Intrigue, my eyes were opened to the problems they have in southern Mexico. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesnt take long for thieves to take it apart. The reason why is because the Mayas used astrological alignments when planning their city. Looters have learned the layout of the Mayan cities so they know where to dig. With this knowledge, they can loot a sacred temple in a few days. I also found that artifact theft in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence.

Mayan Intrigue will be released on August 30th and Im having a week long celebration with a book give-away at my Blog at Mayan Intrigue is about the discovery of a priceless artifact that puts Julias life in great danger. While on assignment for the newspaper, John and Julia try to enjoy a romantic vacation among the Mayan ruins, but when Julia accidentally comes upon a couple suspicious men exchanging an item, she quickly turns and leaves but its too late. Before John and Julia realize what's going on, they find themselves running for their lives through the jungles of the Yucatan. To read an excerpt from each of my books, you can visit

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Review: RED STAR RISING by Brian Freemantle

I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this book--a spy novel featuring veteran MI5 agent, Charlie Muffin.  The setting is Moscow, where Charlie works on discovering who killed and tortured the fellow found on the British Embassy's front lawn.  He's also attempting a reconciliation with his Russian wife (an intelligence officer herself), whom he secretly married and was forced to abandon when recalled to the UK five years before. 

British, Russian, and American spies battle openly and subversively for intelligence about the motive for the murder--and it's political implications.  Muffin is a wonderful character, complete with strengths, frailties, and and terrific insights.

Freemantle's quick pacing, clever dialogue, and complicated plot snagged my attention on page one and never let go.  Sub-plots and secondary characters were woven into the storyline with cleverness and subtlety, surprising me at nearly every turn.

On a scale of one to ten, I rate this book a 9.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Interview with KAT SMITH

 You are a woman of many talents: writer, model, radio show host, and entrepreneur…to name a few. Tell us how writing got included in the mix.

Believe it or not, although I have been public for most of my life, I was very shy growing up. Because I had difficulty expressing myself verbally, I found comfort in writing my feelings in journals. My first book was a collection of poetry from those journals titled Love the Vicious Cycle.

Words and writing helped me understand myself as well as others. Reading helped me in every phase of my life which has inspired me to help others. I gathered up all I learned about the industry and shared in two earlier books, Publishing Step by Step and The Bookseller’s List. Later I updated this information and published it all in The Naked Author-Exposing the Myths of Publishing.

Tell us about your book, THE NAKED AUTHOR.

The Naked Author informs authors and writers about who does what in the industry. I walk step by step through each part of the process and explain where help will come from and what kind of help they will receive at each step of the way. I explain the difference between a line editor and the editor at a publishing house and explore the world of independent/self publishing. I share the steps required when working with printers and the process of getting a book in print and much, much more.

I also give tips on the major task of marketing. As a morning radio show host, I was surprised at the number of authors who were not prepared to market/promote themselves on radio and television. In The Naked Author, I provide media coaching tips to help improve interviewing skills. Authors must understand that in this changing industry, the author is responsible for their success. It’s a job. A career. For as much time and effort one puts into a job working for someone else, they should be prepared to apply to marketing/promoting themselves and their book product.

Tell us about your book, I’M TALL YOU'ER NOT, SO THAT MAKES US EVEN.

I’m 6’2” tall and if I had a dollar for every time I’m asked “How tall are you?” or “Do you play basketball?” I would be a very wealthy woman. I’m Tall You’re Not is inspirational humor and something I had to get out of my system. I wanted to try to educate the public on the day-to-day life of a tall woman, aka Amazonian Goddess. We are warriors. All women fight their battles, but tall women have a different set of challenges. Can anyone make a broom with a longer handle and raise the ceilings and doorways for our sake!!!!!!

Our challenges are very different from those of a tall men. Although there are similarities, a TALL woman is viewed differently and can be even more intimidating, which does not help the Amazonian Goddess in the dating arena. I give a glimpse of what we deal with on a daily basis. Chapters focus on topics like “ScienTALLogy”, dating and shopping. The book is infused with lists of sites and sources for shopping and highlight successful women from all over the world and from various industries, because we don’t all play basketball.

You have a wealth of experience as a public speaker and performer. Tell us about the importance of a writer acquiring good people and public-speaking skills.

As writers/authors, we are considered experts. Authorities. Being capable of delivering information about our books/characters/topics with intrigue, knowledge and confidence is an art. The objective is to learn ways to connect with people emotionally through presentations. The goal is to motivate them to act, which is to buy the book or to schedule you as a speaker for their next event. Your enthusiasm and passion on the topic should be contagious, so much so that at a break or after your presentation, you sell out of the supply of books you brought to sell at the event.

Both my acting and broadcasting experience has helped me develop techniques which utilize my personality and expertise to draw the audience in and help me relate to them. I become someone who understand them. Someone who’s experienced some of the same things.

There are many ways to achieve a level of professionalism as a speaker/presenter. First develop a list of topics to which you are well versed in and write out your presentations on paper. If your topic is more technical or industry specific, Power Point may serve you better, but be careful do not read your slides to the audience. Use it as a visual support.

Practice your material until you know it so well that once on stage, you only need minimal notes. Practice in front of audiences. Start out small and get feedback from friends and associates. Then when you feel more confident, move to venues that will allow you to present your valuable information. When you feel that you have mastered the skill, move on to securing paid presentations and speaking engagements. At this point, you can join speakers bureaus and organizations to promote yourself as the expert you’ve become.

You’ve published books, magazine articles, and in newspaper in the U.S. and internationally. Do you mind sharing with us 2 or 3 tips other writers might find of interest?

1. Doubt often clouds our abilities and we let fear delay our successes. Whatever blessings are out there for us have our names on them. No one else can have your blessings. Some may have ones that look and feel like yours, but each blessing is personalized and waiting for us to open up to receive it. When we are jealous of another’s success or beat the drum of I’ll never get an agent/publisher, that negativity is what is keeps us from the thing we most want. Stay positive, keep working towards your goal and see your successes. A wise man once said, “If you don't keep walking you will never get where you’re going.”

2. There are a host of opportunities out there to write and sell articles. Success comes when you take what you know and love, develop articles and informative essays that connect with readers. Do your research. When targeting publications, submit to those to which you understand their readers and the types of material the publication buys.

3.Whether your submission offers value of an emotional connection or is informative offering tips on reducing stress, time savers for busy families or how to save money, it is your job to figure out how to best market your talent by knowing how it will help others. By honestly and generously providing something of use, you will develop followers in both readers and in paid article submissions.

What do you find is the most challenging thing about writing?

I decided to start a company to publish my books and market games that help us communicate better. I agree that “ignorance is not bliss.” In all my publications and products, I try to add fun and information to help anyone who may need a little guidance in getting messages across.

My challenges, however, come in the form of (1) the idea that I can do everything. I can’t. But I’ve learned that for talents I lack, I can hire a professional. For instance, I have an eye for concept and design, but web site development is not my forte. I realize now that my time is more valuable when spent on things that I do well.

(2) My friends tease me about being anal retentive. I feel the need to make lists for things and I spend a good amount of time organizing. Yes, it helps keep me focused, but I have to make sure I don’t organize and re-organize myself and end up wasting an entire day. Setting time deadlines and blocking out time spent on work have saved me. Plugging in my calendar alerts to remind me of what I am supposed to be doing at any given time keeps me on track.

Share with us your website and blog addresses, Facebook page, and other online presences.

Web address:
Friend me at Facebook: Kat Smith
Follow me on Twitter: GoddessKat

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Interview with JESSIE CROCKETT

I love the title of your new book, LIVE FREE OR DIE. Isn’t that the state motto for New Hampshire? Tell us why New Hampshire is so terrific.

Live Free or Die is the Granite State motto. I love New Hampshire for so many reasons but I would say these are amongst my favorites:  With four distinct seasons every year you never get bored with the prevailing weather.  We have no sales tax.  You can hike a mountain, swim in a lake, swim in the ocean and eat at a 5 star restaurant all in the same day. You will have to hurry a bit though!  There is beauty here everywhere, from our naturally occurring features like the White Mountains to our man-made attractions like beautiful old homes and quaint villages. 

Tell us a bit about the book, which will be released next month. And don’t forget to tell us where we can buy it!

In Live Free or Die, volunteer fire chief Gwen Fifield’s life is about as good as can be. Sure, she’s gained twenty pounds and her property taxes skyrocketed just in time for Christmas. But, her basement didn’t flood with the fall rains for the first time in years and the general store has started delivering pizza. Yup, by Winslow Falls, NH standards it’s pretty darn good. That is, until an arsonist lets loose in the village and Gwen finds a body sizzled like a sausage in the smoldering remains of the local museum.

With more experience handing out burn permits than solving arsons Gwen is eager to turn over the case to State Fire Marshal’s Investigator Hugh Larsen. But things are seldom that easy; Hugh needs her insider knowledge concerning the village just as much as she needs him in order to solve the case.

Fortunately for the townspeople, a newly arrived immigrant family provides ideal suspects. When an artifact from the burnt museum shows up in the possession of one of the foreigners, the town readily blames the “people from away”. But clues from the past convince Gwen the town she’s always trusted is harboring a home-grown murderer.

Live Free or Die is available at,, directly from my publisher at and at many independant book stores.

Do you have any writing schedules or daily requirements? Any secrets to success?

I have to keep a schedule or I won't get anything done. Right now, I am participating in a challenge issued by Jan Brogan at Jungle Red Writers to write at least one page each day for the next six weeks before checking my e-mail or using the internet. Generally, I write about 1500 words each morning and then use time in the afternoon to edit and to work on the business end of writing--like press releases, marketing issues, and correspondance.

I think the biggest secret to success is to just keep at it. And to remember that the work is personal, the rejections aren't. Like my husband always says to me, "Chin up, pen down".

Tell us about the elementary school writers you mentor.

I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer at the elementary school all of my children have attended. This past year I have worked with second graders on individual projects ranging from science fiction to biographical incidents including beloved gerbils. I also worked with an after school program to create a newspaper-style blog with fourth and fifth graders. Working with them has helped keep the love of writing fresh for me because many of them have such great enthusiam for the stories they want to tell.

How long have you been writing and why do you write cozy mysteries instead of, say, science fiction?

I've wanted to be a writer since I read my first Bobsey Twins Mystery. I've taken the dream seriously for the past five years.

Live Free or Die is a cozy because that is just how it came out. I don't think I planned it that way but it didn't feel right to do otherwise with that particular story. Crime fiction holds first place in my heart and in my "to be read " pile. so I am not surprised that was the direction my writing life headed.

Why do you think mysteries are consistently at the top of the bestseller lists?

Mysteries tell a story, a real story. Readers can expect a beginning, a middle, and a real end. Life is so full of things not completed, laundry never finished, lawns that need another mowing. Mystery stories, with their promise of an ending, are an oasis of doneness. I think we all need that sometimes.

Share with us your websites, blogs, and other online presences.

Readers can find me at I am also Jessie Crockett on Face Book as well as Twitter, Good Reads, and Crime Space. I'd love to connect with readers at any of these sites.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Interview with LESLEY DIEHL

The heroine in your most recent book makes beer. How did you come up with THAT occupation for a mystery protagonist?

I was looking for a protagonist with an unusual occupation, not one of the common jobs of amateur sleuths, but one with a clever hook. At first I thought perhaps I'll make her a taxidermist, but, since I knew I'd have to research my heroine's work, I had nightmares of being up to my elbows in chipmunk entrails. That's not something I thought my readers could admire or with which they might identify, however interesting and as jam packed with murder opportunity as the profession might be--who killed Peter Rabbit and then sent him here to be stuffed?

The other choice was mircrobrewer and my aha moment that clinched that one was a tour I took of a nearby brewery. The tour guide showed us the fermenting room where yeast were gobbling up the malt and transforming it into alcohol. The guide told us we wouldn't survive long in that room because it was filled with the by-product of fermentation, carbon dioxide. I raised my hand and asked, "Could you kill someone in there?" I think my question was unsettling enough that the tour guide was probably looking for another job that night, but I explained I was a murder mystery writer. Much rolling of eyes later from my tour companions and I was on my way to having a great female protagonist and a wonderful setting for murder.

Tell us about A DEADLY DRAUGHT.

Hera Knightsbridge left law school five years ago when her father committed suicide to take over the operation of his microbrewery, but things are not going well. There's little money to keep the operation afloat and she finds her nearest competitor, Michael Ramford, Sr. dead on his brewbarn floor. The last person she expects to find in charge of the case is her former lover and fellow student from law school, Jake Ryan. Jake is as aggravating and sexy as ever, and he finds Hera the same, spending the night grilling her because she is his favorite suspect for the murder.

To clear her name, Hera finds herself in league with Jake trying to uncover the identity of the killer. Their work is made more difficult by a draught threatening her water supply, attempted murder of another brewer, theft, and vandalism. And, of course, there is growing tension between Hera and Jake.

Has your “previous life” as a professor of psychology helped you craft your book characters?

My doctorate is in developmental psychology, the study of the lifespan. I see each individual's life as a journey framed by the question, who am I? We may answer this question differently depending upon where we are in life, but we grapple with identity over and over again, reframing the answer in terms of the challenges that may present themselves. To answer the question in young adulthood works for that time, but not necessarily for all the stages to come. Identity work is never finished.

In my writing, the murder is the event that catapults the heroine into considering who she is and her relationships with others, family, friends, lovers. It forces her to consider issues she might have put off until much later in her life. Murder in my work is always intimate, personal. I don't do murder for hire, or syndicate killing.

Think personal change and issues of identity and you understand how my background in psychology has shaped my writing.

You divide your time between upstate New York and Florida. Please share with us what you like about these two locations and how they affect the way you create the settings in your books.

It's about two aspects of these places--the location with its attendant natural beauty and the people I've met in these places. Then throw in how human greed threatens both people and nature and you have the ingredients for murder.

I grew up on a farm in northern Illinois, so my roots are country. The people I know in upstate New York (upstate is nowhere near the city or a city!) and those in rural Florida remind me of individuals I knew growing up. They are approachable, not perfect, but real. They feed one part of my personality, the rural part. I like the smell of manure-smells like home. On the other hand, I can get into travel, fine dining, great music and theater, even fashion. But then what does this country girl know? I think some country music is great music. On the farm our cows were milked to the Grand Ole Opry and to Mario Lanza.

You just sold another book—tell us about that!

Although set in Florida, Dumpster Dying is not just another story about sunny beaches and bikini-clad beauties. In it, Florida natives collide with winter visitors in murderous, yet often humorous ways.

Emily Rhodes, the new bartender at the Big Lake Country Club in rural Florida, lifts the lid of the club’s dumpster one night to discover the dead body of the wealthiest rancher in the county. The authorities are certain they have the killer since evidence at the scene points to Emily’s friend and boss, Clara, but Emily has doubts. She believes Clara is hiding a secret involving the dead man’s family, but unraveling how Clara and the rancher’s lives are intertwined competes with Emily’s own problems. Her life partner has recently died, and the only will she can locate leaves everything to his ex-wife. Despite the grief she feels over her partner’s death and the money problems it has created for her, Emily sets out to identify the rancher’s killer. She must outwit a vengeful widow, fend off the advances of the man she believes to be the murderer, get to know an adult daughter she’s never met, and flee a fire bearing down on the drought-ridden pastures and swamps of her adopted community. Suddenly, the golden years of retirement seem more like pot metal to Emily.

Most of my writing is funny. Draught was not, but this one is. Think a menopausal Stephanie Plum escaping a herd of stampeding cattle by swimming an alligator-infested canal.

Oak Tree Press will release the book sometime this fall.

Except for A Deadly Draught all your short stories and other work are humorous (or attempt to be). How does this fit in with your background in psychology?

Laughing feels good. Writing funny situations feels good too. Why wouldn't I want my readers to enjoy themselves and why not write something that gives me that pleasure also? It's good for the psyche, liberating. You can feel yourself lighten in a mental sense when you laugh. I swear I weigh ten pounds less when a laugh comes bubbling out of me. It's healthy, and, like petting a dog or cat, it lowers blood pressure. Laugh on!

What are the addresses of your websites, blogs, and other online presences? is my website is my blog

I enjoy hearing from readers too at

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Book Review: SHAM ROCK by Ralph McInerny

The protagonists of Sham Rock are brothers Roger and Philip Knight, a Notre Dame professor and a semi-retired private nvestigator.  When former Notre Dame student David Williams returns to the university to renegotiate his $20 million dollar donation for the construction of a new building, the long-ago and mysterious disappearance of a fellow classmate is resurrected.

David, Patrick, and Timothy were "the trinity" in their college days and Patrick, now a Trappist monk, accuses David of killing Timothy and burying the body on campus.  Problem is:  Instead of unearthing Timothy's body when they dig in the designated location, the Knights unearth a mystery of an entirely different nature.

The cast of characters in Sham Rock is delightful and engaging and the plot twists and turns will keep you guessing.  Sham Rock is a real page-turner--one I recommend you don't pass by.

If I were to rate Sham Rock on a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 9.

(This is the thirteenth and final book of the Knight Series.  McInerny, author of over 50 books--including those in the Father Dowling series--passed away in January of 2010.)