Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series. Her other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, Christmas Lites II, The Darwin Murders, Tasteful Murders and EveryDayFiction.
Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. She finished her first historical romance this spring and has one children’s book (Quentin’s Problem) soon to be published, with one more waiting for illustrations, and many more stewing in her head.
When she’s not writing fiction, Mysti works as a freelance editor and copywriter. She also reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.
Mysti, for the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
You’d find The Roche Hotel in the romantic comedy section, if there is such a thing. It’s also serial fiction, made up of connecting flash-fiction length stories rather like a sitcom. Is there a serial romantic comedy shelf in the bookstore? I wonder if they would mind if I built one…
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher?
I started out being published with a small press—Melange Books. I love Nancy and the crew and I’ve seen several small presses that are doing great. I’ll definitely not be avoiding them in the future. I have tried the agent/big press thing. Had the agent—didn’t get me a deal in close to a year and a half, so I’m here to tell you that agents don’t necessarily mean you’ll get a publishing contract. Therefore, I’m taking advantage of self-publishing with The Roche Hotel and other projects. I like being in control of when it goes out, my cover art, how it’s promoted, and getting all the royalties myself.
Complete this sentence….. Something/someone who helped me improve my writing is……. learning to give and get feedback from fellow writers at Critique Circle and Writers Village University.
What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?
Here’s the blurby goodness:
After her husband ditches her for a blonde actress wannabe, Jane Seymour needs a job that pays the rent. The struggling Roche Hotel needs a miracle. With the former owner’s wife butting her nose into the renovations and new owners who are in way over their heads, Jane may be the answer to their prayers. Sure, she can handle The Roche Hotel’s quirky staff. But, can this skittish divorcee keep it all together when handsome Henry the Donut Guy makes his first delivery? This collection of serial fiction stories is a Tudorific romantic comedy that will leave you laughing out loud and hungry for more.
Thank you Mysti. Jane Seymour? As in the actress? The Roche Hotelsounds very interesting. Kind of serial romantic, comedy, mystery. A touch of everything. It should reach a large audience. When I first starting writing ficton commercially, I had a terrific online critique group, including Leona Pence that you probably know through F2K. WVU, Writers Village University has been a wonderful source for new and experienced authors. I highly recommend it to other authors.
A very special welcome to Kathleen Paterka. We met through the wonderful group, WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers of America. Kathleen, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
I fell in love with the written word in the 2nd grade reading my first Trixie Belden® book. In case you’re not familiar with the series, Trixie was a girl detective who teamed up with her brothers and best friend Honey Wheeler to solve mysteries occurring around their little town in the Hudson Valley area of New York. Trixie Belden changed my life. It was the first time I’d read a book with a plot and no pictures. I devoured the existing series (12 books), and anxiously waited for the next one to be published. It was around that time I made the decision that someday, I would be an author and write more Trixie Belden novels. While I never did tackle the world of Trixie Belden (the last book was published in 1986), I did start my own series. The James Bay novels (Fatty Patty, Home Fires, Lotto Lucy, and For I Have Sinned) are set in the fictional resort community of James Bay, Michigan. After finishing those four stories, I wrote another two books set in different locations. Royal Secrets is about a family-owned Las Vegas wedding chapel, while my upcoming release, The Other Wife, is set in Chicago. For my next book (which I’m currently researching), I’ll be taking readers back to James Bay.
I too well in love with writing over Trixie Beldon, as you can see from my own tattered copy. It is one of my treasured possessions.
Do you have a background in writing? What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?
In school, my teachers tried steering me toward Creative Writing classes, but I dug in my heels, screaming “No, no, no!” I didn’t like being forced to write poetry or short stories. I knew I wanted to be a novelist, and I couldn’t see any point in wasting my time by writing Haiku (sincere apologies to any Haiku-enthusiasts who may be reading this). While I concede that there are basics to the craft that must be mastered (sentence structure, proper grammar, plot elements, etc.), there’s simply no way another person can ‘teach you’ how to write a book. Want to know the secret? Sit down and start. It’s as simple as that. Caveat: notice I did not say it was ‘easy’. It may be simple, but it’s definitely not easy. After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, plus a few years spent working for a local newspaper, the Catholic church, and the law, I finally settled down where I belonged: in a beautiful castle located in Northern Michigan. My job as staff writer at Castle Farms (a century old French Renaissance castle listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is like a fairy-tale come true.
Kathleen, what advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
The best advice I can pass along was given to me by an author friend when I was just starting out. This highly successful NY Times bestselling author told me: “Perseverance and persistence, along with discipline, determination and confidence, are EVERY bit as important as talent. Your belief in yourself… is THE ONLY THING that separates you from the hundreds who will fall by the wayside without their dreams and goals realized. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Work hard, work smart, work tirelessly. Be tough, be brave and be persistent. All clichés, yes. But when they apply to you and how much you want to realize your dream, they are very apt.” I’ve kept my friend’s message tucked close in my heart through all the ups and downs of my publishing career, and it’s served me well. Today, I’m sharing her message with you. Don’t give up!
Tell us about one of your book in 3 sentences. Fatty Patty (my first novel) is semi-autobiographical. Though I’m now at a normal weight (and have been for over 35+ years), I weighed three hundred pounds while in high school. Fatty Patty tackles the issues of dieting, dating, self-esteem, and exposes the gritty honest truth of what it’s like to be overweight in a society that worships thin.
What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today? My upcoming release, The Other Wife, will hit the shelves (and the cyber-world of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, plus Kobo) in February 2015. What happens in a woman’s life when her husband dies? What kind of secrets might be revealed? I came up with the idea when my own husband, Steve, actually died in front of me early one morning. I was sitting at the end of his bed in the semi-darkness when he made a strange sound. At the time, I thought it was the oddest snore I’d ever heard. Turns out, it was the infamous ‘death rattle’. Believe me, if you’ve never heard it, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up! Luckily, Steve was in the cardiac unit of our local hospital. They called a Code Blue, and the medical team managed to resuscitate him. He’s since had a triple by-pass and doing well, thank you! But that hospital experience in 2011 got me to thinking: What if Steve had been at home, asleep in our bed? What if he’d let out that horrible sound, and I’d assumed it was only a loud snore? I probably would have poked him, rolled over in bed, and gone back to sleep… what a horrible thing to wake up to in the morning. And what would my life have been like after that? Thus, a new storyline was born.
Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?
Here’s the Prologue from The Other Wife… I hope you enjoy it!
It wasn’t much of a sound. Later, she would remember it as an odd sort of grunt. Still, it had been loud enough to wake her. Eleanor rolled over in their king-size bed, stretched out an arm, and nudged him. Richard’s snoring had worsened in the past months. She lay there in the darkness, waiting to see if another nudge was necessary. Just the other day, she’d read how snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, leading to other, more serious, health problems. Perhaps tomorrow, depending on what kind of mood he was in, she’d mention the subject over breakfast. Maybe she should insist that he see a doctor. Not that it would do much good. Richard rarely listened to her. For most of the thirty-eight years they’d been married, he hadn’t listened to much of what she had to say. He’d probably give her his usual shrug, tell her to quit worrying.
Quit worrying. It wasn’t until five hours later that she realized she’d had good cause to be worried. She should have known that sound was different. She should have stayed awake. She should have tried to rouse him. Instead, she waited another minute, surrounded by silence. Then, turning over, she laid her head back on the pillow and curled up in her spot, still warm from sleep, snuggling into the clean, fragrant smell of freshly laundered sheets changed by Martha the day before. Closing her eyes, Eleanor drifted off into the most pleasant dream… only to wake the next morning to every woman’s nightmare.
Richard, in bed beside her, was dead.
Readers, go to Kathleen’s website. There is a place where you can enter to win a FREE copy of her new book, The Other Wife. I have read Fatty Patty and Royals Secrets. They are both fantastic. I can’t wait for The Other Wife to come out.
Thank you, Kathleen, for being on Author Interview Friday on Writing Under Fire.
Author Theresa M. Jarvela resides in Brainerd, Minnesota. Theresa was a young mother when the idea to write a novel first struck her. It became one of her lifetime goals. Years later, her five children grown, she took an advanced creative writing class and joined Brainerd Writers Alliance. The door to the writing world opened.
An avid reader, Theresa loves “cozy” novels so it comes as no surprise that she is the author of the “cozy” mystery series – Tales of a Tenacious Housesitter. Her first novel in the series – Home Sweet Murder – was published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc. in June, 2012. Her second novel in the series – Home for the Murder – was published in June, 2013.
When Theresa isn’t busy writing, you might find her scooting around town during the warmer months in her Mazda Miata with the top down. In the winter months you can bet she’ll be sitting at the end of her couch with a good book and a cup of tea.
Theresa’s philosophy – “Life is full of adventures – live them, read them or write them! You’re never too old to enjoy them.”
Welcome, Theresa, to Author Interview Friday of Writing Under Fire. Tell us Theresa, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
When my children were young, I read a novel that wasn’t particularly good. I challenged myself to write a novel and made it a lifetime goal.
Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
I have no formal education in writing but I took one evening course in Advanced Creative Writing.
What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?
I freelance and have been published in several regional magazines. I entered one of my articles – Facebook – Friend or Foe – in the 79th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and was awarded Honorable Mention in the Magazine Feature Article category. I joined a writers group with the intention of writing my novel but came to love magazine writing, also.
Do you have any special time or place you like to write?
I find early morning works best for me. Also, I accomplish more if I am away from home or at least outside in my gazebo (in warmer months).
Are you published through a traditional publishing house?
If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher? I am published by a traditional publishing house – North Star Press of St. Cloud, MN, Inc.
Tell us about” Home Sweet Murder” in 3 sentences:
In Home Sweet Murder baby-boomer Meggie Moore finds life in the small town of Pine Lake, Minnesota, a little too mundane, even with her part-time job at a local gift shop owned by Vera Cunningham, a spry lady in her late 70’s. Meggie accepts a house sitting position offered to her by an elderly gentleman even though her husband objects. Her outspoken friend and side-kick, Shirley Wright, labels Meggie a nut who has lost touch with reality for agreeing to house sit in a neighborhood where there have been numerous burglaries.
You also have a second novel published. Tell us briefly about it.
Meggie and Shirley set off for Key West, Florida to house sit for a friend, but their working vacation takes a sinister turn when a body turns up on the property. Winging their way back to Minnesota, they believe they left murder behind them. Little do they know another murder awaits back in Minnesota.
Do you have another manuscript in progress?
I am working on a third novel in my Tales of a Tenacious Housesitter cozy mystery series. Meggie agrees to housesit a hobby farm before she finds out it is reputed to be haunted.
It is my great pleasure to have my first author of a series on my blog. Rich Goldhaber spent forty years in Research & Development in the medical product industry. He has leveraged his knowledge of science and Technology into a second career as a Mystery/Thriller writer. His five books, The Lawson Series feature his main characters; Dr. Sally Graff and Detective Dan Lawson. Her skills as an emergency room physician, and his as an energetic detective, make them a modern-day Dr. Watson and Sherlock Homes. Trouble always seems to find this pair as they travel the world in pursuit of bad guys.
Joanne: From my limited understanding of a series, there are several formats it can work.
Spinoffs: A series of novels that take an existing minor character, setting, or concept from the first stand-alone story and create a new plot/situation for additional stand-alone stories. Spinoffs are very common in the Romance genre
Serials: A series of novels that follow one particular character throughout many different, mostly unconnected episodes. Each novel is self-contained and could be read as a stand-alone title, though each successive title reveals more about the continuing character(s). Serials are seen most often in Mystery/Suspense and Action/Adventure
Sequels: A series of novels that contain one continuing story in a finite number of volumes. While each volume has a beginning, middle, climax, and denouement, the main plot/conflict of the series continues throughout the series and finally comes to a climax and resolution in the final volume. This main plot/conflict must be introduced early in the beginning of the first book. Sequel series are most common in Science Fiction, Fantasy (just do a search for “trilogy” in the books section of amazon.com!), and Historical Fiction/Romance.
What style of series did you choose and why?
Rich: My five novels clearly fit into the serial classification.
Joanne: Did you plan out all of your books ahead of time before you started to write your first book? What was the process?
Rich: Halfway through the writing of my first book in the series “The 26th of June”, I realized that the characters deserved more than just one story to fully tell their stories.
Joanne: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Rich: I am an avid reader. About six years ago I was reading a New York Times bestseller. I thought it was terrible. I said to myself, even I could write better than this. That was a challenge I couldn’t refuse.
Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript? Also, did books two through five come faster?
Rich: Once I settled on going the self-publishing route, I began exploring various self-publishing companies. Create Space, an Amazon company seemed the best, and once that decision was made it took me only three months to see my first book in print. Now I’m an expert using Create Space, and once I finish formatting my text in Word, and creating a PDF for my cover using Photoshop, it only takes a week to get a proof of my new book.
Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?
Rich: I tried going the classical route by trying to find a mainstream agent. It became clear to me after six months of trying that my query letters were for the most part not even being fully read. Feedback from my author friends indicated the general unhappiness of using second and third tier agents.
Joanne: Do you think you have a distinctive “Voice” to your stories? Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?
Rich: My technical background has allowed me to always have a credible technical aspect to my stories. Whether it’s about terrorists making a neutron bomb or a biological weapon, I like the reader to learn something new about a technical subject that they never explored. The trick is to do so without it appearing too much like schoolwork.
Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Rich: Being a technical person during my business career, I was skilled in writing technical papers. Technical writing, however, is heavy on nouns, verbs, and numbers. Adjectives, adverbs, and emotion are out of the question. As a writer of novels, I had to learn to write with emotion. Easier said than done for a technocrat.
Joanne: What advice would you give to new writers that think they want to write a series. What factors are important for them to know before they start?
Rich: Write the first story and then decide whether the main characters are worth additional exploration.
Joanne: One of my favorite series writers, Randy Wayne White always brings us exciting new stories but as a fan, I have my favorite characters that I would be so disappointed if they were not included. Do you have a favorite character that is in all your books?
Rich: Of course the main characters are my favorite, but one minor character, Benny Cannon is always exciting to write about. He’s the super-geek working at the FBI. He’s like the character “M” in James Bond movies. He always has a technical gadget to help Dan and Sally solve a problem. Also, I position him as a weird dresser (e.g. one green sock and one red sock).
Joanne: Do you have anything new in the works? If so, is it another book in the series or are ever planning on writing a new, totally different series?
Rich: After five books with the same people, my next novel moves to a new set of characters. It’s called “The Cure” and involves a young engineer who begins working for a start-up company that has found the cure to cancer. Is it really a cure or are there others factors at play? If it’s too good to be true is it always too good to be true?
Joanne: Where should readers go to purchase your books?
Rich: My books are available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Book stores are also able to get this book through their normal distribution channels.
Joanne: Can you share a few paragraphs from one of your book to wet out appetite?
Rich: The beginning of my second book “Succession Plan” follows:
I had been living with the guilt for almost a year. Disgrace began on the last day of my father’s life. I sat silently at the side of his bed in the nursing home waiting for what I knew was inevitable. As always, a potent cocktail of urine and Mr. Clean filled the air.
The special care facility where he had lived for the last six months was one of the finest in the city, but all of the Andrew Wyeth prints and brightly colored rooms could not alter one overriding fact. This place specialized in managing death. His cancer had slowly eaten away his self-esteem, and the frail man who now resided in what was once a fit athletic body, clung tenaciously to life.
He suddenly awoke, and his dark sunken eyes reached out to my inner soul. He searched for my hand, squeezed it tightly, and reminded me of my promise to take care of the ring. He then closed his eyes forever and left on his ultimate journey.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I bent over, kissed his forehead, held onto his now lifeless hand, and openly cried; not over his death, his passing had been a blessing. During the last six months, his life had been filled with miserable pain and suffering, dulled only by the increasing dose of prescribed narcotics. Instead, my tears were shed over his last words.
You see, the ring was the problem. He had given me the present on my eighth birthday. The gift was bestowed along with one of his famous long rambling speeches, and as he held the cheap looking plastic gold colored object reverently in his hand, he explained it was an authentic Captain Video Secret Decoder Ring. He wanted me to understand its true value lay far beyond its intrinsic worth. Rather, it was a symbol of the wonderful memories of his own childhood. Captain Video was a TV program from the early 50’s, and when my father was a young boy, he had used the ring to decode special messages from the Captain. Handing me the ring in front of the extended assembly of family and friends, he made me promise to save his most cherished possession and pass it on to my children when the time was right.
I didn’t know what to make of the gift or the ceremony, but I did hide the ring in the safest most secret spot I knew, a small shelf hidden from view behind a built-in bar in our basement. To reach the special place, a person needed to crawl behind the bar and reach up inside a cabinet; a difficult set of physical maneuvers unless you were less than four feet tall and weighed under fifty pounds.