Writing Mystery novels, with a twist

Patty Brant

Patty Brant

Hmm . . . It’s a little difficult for me to categorize my genre – maybe I’m too close to it. I have now published two books – Bitter Secrets and its sequel Full Circle – which I feel are mainly mysteries, incorporating a smidgeon of romance and the paranormal.

Not sure if I have a real “method” for writing, but this is how I’ve worked it out so far.

The concept of Bitter Secrets began with three words that just popped into my head – “I see faces.” That triggered weeks of mental development – who were these people . . . where were they . . . what was their story?

I settled on the most basic characters and a rudimentary story line when the first couple paragraphs formed in my mind. I liked what I had and decided it was time to start writing it down.

For years the thought of writing a book would sort of drift through my head, followed immediately by “Shoot! You need to know something to write a book!” And that was the end of that.

So, this time, I called a friend – an excellent author I knew who has since passed away. I knew she would help keep me on task and that was exactly what she did. Bless her heart, she never let me down. She’d read my latest effort, make suggestions and generally be my cheerleader.

I’m a natural born foot dragger, so I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her.

Anyway, I know you’re always told to make an outline first, and I’ve tried that. Trouble is, I change my mind too much. I rearrange. I think of something I like better than what I have and there goes my outline!

So, I’ve pretty much decided that my “process” is no process. (Not very helpful, is it?) I think lot about the story I’m working on. Do a little research when I need to so I can develop authentic background, then start to write. Mostly by that time it just begins to flow.

My biggest stumbling blocks to this point  – besides my propensity to drag my feet and let other things get in the way – have been writing about traumatic incidents that I have not experienced personally. I know you’re always told to write about what you know and that’s good advice, I’m sure. But you can’t possibly experience everything personally.

For instance, in Bitter Secrets I came to a place in my story where a young girl was about to be raped. It was 1927, the girl was 15 and alone with her favorite uncle in an isolated farmhouse. He was drunk and there was no one there to help her. The story was flowing, my fingers were racing across the keyboard almost ahead of my mind. The scene was unfolding pretty much by itself. I kept thinking as I typed, “This can’t happen. I can’t write this.”

Bitter Secrets Patty Brant     Full Circle Patty Brant

So I forced myself to stop writing and just think. I was very reluctant to write about this very sensitive subject. After all, I have never been in that position and I was very concerned that, if I didn’t get it right, it would be like a slap in the face to the thousands and thousands of young girls and women who have.

Who was I to write about this kind of horror? How could I write a realistic scene and do it with objectivity yet sensitivity?

I had to reaffirm that I truly wanted to be an author, that I wanted to write stories that are realistic, with emotional depth but not “soap opera drama.” I was not at all sure I could do that without somehow disabusing real victims.

I did some soul searching and finally decided that an author can’t possibly know everything.

As a reporter for many years, I have done many interviews with experts and various victims. I decided I have to rely on what is MY personal experience and on my understanding of human nature. If I was going to be a serious author, I’d have to step off the cliff and just do it.

So I started typing again and let it flow – all the while checking myself to be as sensitive as I could. I think the “process” has worked pretty well for me.

I came across the same problem when writing about one of my characters who is a Viet Nam veteran in a wheelchair and one who is an old black man. – two characters I truly admire. (Is that even possible? Can you admire “people” who aren’t real!?

Well, I guess it is for me. I’ve actually come to tears thinking about another one of my characters whose life had been a living hell for 40 years. I like characters who meet immense challenges with human strength and frailty.

For me that’s a tall order. I guess doing justice to their stories – even if they aren’t “real” – is my challenge.

Thanks Patty, for the great post. Readers, click below to order your own copies of Bitter Secreats and Full Circle.

Bitter Secrets 

Full Circle

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High Cotton Country by Leta McCurry

Leta McCurry           High Cotton Country

It is a pleasure to have Leta McCurry with us today for an Author Interview.  Leta and I have become friends through WFWA, Women’s Fiction Writers Association.  I am still amazed at how technology can bring people together from opposites sides of the country, or even the world.

Leta,  when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

I think I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer but I actually started writing at about twelve – from a twelve year old’s perspective obviously. The adventure, companionship, comfort and inspiration I received from being an avid reader is what first inspired me to put on paper the stories that were bouncing around in my head.

Do you have a background in writing or have you taken  any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

No. The biggest help to me has been honest and forthright critique readers. Feedback from readers always gives me clarity about y writing and is a big help in my on-going endeavor to become a better writer.

What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing career?

Sales. I think sales taught me to take risks and put myself out there. And not to take rejection personally. And, while not work in the strictest sense, I think raising five children.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

About a year and a half from writing the first chapter through to publication. 

Do you always write in the same genre?

My interest is in general/women’s fiction. I never intended to write non-fiction but at one point Prentice-Hall, New York offered me a contract to write a college textbook which I did and they published. That was just an unexpected side trip. I refer to my genre as women’s fiction but I have been told it is more general fiction. High Cotton Country has actually been read by several men and I’ve had really good geed back from them so I guess it is a cross-over between general and women’s fiction.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Women’s fiction.

Do you have any special time or place you like to write?

I have a little cubby hole office hardly big enough to “cuss a cat” as my grandpa would say, but it works for me.  Nice big windows with a view out at the green Oregon trees and foliage and blue sky (when it isn’t raining).

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Yes. Non Fiction. College Text Book. Publisher Prentice Hall sought me out based on a recommendation from a college professor.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication on this project? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?

I went the self-publishing route almost entirely because of the time factor involved in getting a book on the market via traditional sources. It just seemed that two years was a long time.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

I like to switch it up because everybody has their own perspective on events and situations. The same incident can and does have a different impact on different people. I have read books written from a one person perspective and they worked for me as a reader. I don’t know that I could make it work that successfully.  To me, the difference is one perspective is like mashed potatoes and multiple perspective is like a baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and chopped bacon.  Having said that, I’ll probably end up writing a one point of view narrative someday.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

I think an author’s voice is that life and world point of view that is particular to each of us. That voice is the culmination of our circumstances of birth, the “imprinting” we received as we grew to adulthood, and the experiences that are unique to each one. And, the voice is always changing, growing, expanding, because as long as we are alive we are continually influenced by the world and people around us and our responses to those circumstances.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s

I don’t follow an exact chronological order but I do follow a loose time framework. I do write in order though, each chapter in sequence. I have writer friends who may write chapter 20 then come back to 5 then write chapter 18 then 35 and come back to 6.  That would drive me crazy.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Query and synopsis. Lot harder that writing a novel. Now that I am in the midst of the process, writing is the easy part.

It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

Right now, personal networking. Exploring possibilities. Marketing has turned out to be a sharp learning curve for me and I’m still finding my way through the jungle. As I said, writing Cazzie’s story was the easy part.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

About 50/50 I think.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Sit down and write. Edit later.

Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most, and why?

Elin Hildebrand – she entertains me.  Susan Crandall and Robert Morgan because I love their “voice”. They are from my neighborhood. And Ayn Rand – she makes me think. James Clavell and Lincoln and Childs– they transport me to other worlds.

Complete this sentence….. My first ever published piece of writing was….. “A poem.”

Please share a brief synopsis of High Cotton Country.

Secrets. Hidden they can destroy her from within. Revealed they can explode her world.

 Come hell or high water, Cazzie Randle is determined to leave the past behind along with the hardscrabble life of a small hill country town but finds she can’t elude the secret trauma that haunts her – an act of unspeakable horror by her mother and abandonment by her father.

A message that her father is dying sends a reluctant Cazzie to his bedside but not to reconcile a lifelong estrangement. She must make him finally reveal the secrets of the memories that haunt her. He must answer questions of “Why?”

An explosion of truth in a dusty Texas hill country town reveals old secrets and demands choices. But will she be able to choose or will she be paralyzed by all the old hurts, cruelty and betrayals that have driven her all her life? To find the answer, Cazzie must confront the very essence of who she has become and question whether the price was too high.

 

  High Cotton Country is the story of one woman’s journey to self-discovery. It is about the inherent dignity of the human being, of the burning desire to be in command of one’s own destiny, of the will, not only to survive, but to achieve, and to face adversity with courage and honor. This is not only the story of one woman’s fighting spirit, but also of the people who influence her self-esteem, shape her self-image and participate in her destiny.

Where can readers buy High Cotton Country?

Readers can read the first chapter of High Cotton Country at http://www.letamccurry.com/free-read/ and check out my blog at http://www.letamccurry.com/blog

Copies are available https://www.createspace.com/5060373 or

Thanks for having me, Joanne. It’s been fun. Leta

 

Romantic comedy in The Roche Hotel

Misty Baker image

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’s Blog:  Subscribe to my blog, Unwritten 

Visit my webpage: www.mystiparker.com (in construction)

Mysti’s Facebook: LIKE my fan page on Facebook! 

Twitter:  Follow me on Twitter @MystiParker

http://www.amazon.com/Roche-Hotel-Season-One-ebook/dp/B00NYCMIZQ

 

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.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

Pantser! Though I’m trying real hard to be a better planner. I’ll never be a stickler because it’s fun when my characters surprise me, but a little structure doesn’t hurt! Shameless plug alert—I wrote a recent article about that very thing: http://mystiparker.blogspot.com/2014/09/story-planning-for-pantsers.html

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?

The Roche Hotel Cover Misty Baker

 

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 Hotel sounds 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.

Multi-published Women’s Fiction Author Kathleen Paterka says “don’t give up.”

Kathleen Irene Paterka Author

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.

Trixie Belden

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!

FattyPatty ForIHaveSinned HomeFires LottoLucy RoyalSecretsCream

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 website:          http://kathleenirenepaterka.com/

Facebook:                    https://www.facebook.com/KathleenIrenePaterka

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/KPaterka

Amazon:                      http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Irene-Paterka

Barnes & Noble:         http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/kathleen-irene-paterka

 

 

“Close to the Broken Hearted” equals heartache, innocence and forgiveness.

Close_Broken  by Michael Hebert

Welcome everyone to Author Interview Friday.  It is my pleasure to have Michael Hiebert with us today. I’d like to change up the order of how my interviews usually begin and go straight to the short synopsis of Michael’s book, Close to the Broken Hearted.

 

At twenty-two, Sylvie Carson has known a lifetime’s worth of trouble. When she was a child, her baby brother was shot to death by a man named Preacher Eli. Orphaned by her teens, Sylvie is now raising her own baby with no partner in sight. For all these reasons, Leah Teal, Alvin, Alabama’s only detective, tries to stay patient when Sylvie calls the station day and night, always with some new false alarm. But now, Preacher Eli is out of prison amd moving back to town.

As far as he law is concerned, the old man has paid his dues; though Leash’s twelve-year-old son, Abe, vehemently disagrees. Between that and his relentless curiosity about the daddy he hardly knew, Abe’s imagination is running in all directions lately. While Leah struggles with how much of the past to reveal to Abe, she/s also concerned about Sylvie’s mounting panic. Something in her gut tells her the girl might be a target after all. For as Leah knows well, there’s danger not just in the secrets others keep from us, but in the lies that corrupt from within. It’s a hunch that will be tested soon enough as tensions mount on both sides.

Evoking the South with depth and grace, Michael Hiebert’s poignant, gripping novel captures the strength wrought by heartache and lost innocence; and the transformative power of forgiveness. Wherever it comes. . .

See folks, I knew that would be an attention grabber. Now, may I introduce Michael Heibert.  Michael comes to us from the wintry land of British Columbia, Canada. He  won the  Surrey International Writer’s Conference Storyteller’s Award twice in a row. He teaches  classes online at Writers’ Village University.  (Did not notice that last week, author was also my friend I met at Writer’s village University. A great place to learn online and chat with terrific author friends you just haven’t met yet.

Michael Hebert photo

Michael, do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I was very lucky to meet Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch about ten years ago. They taught me a lot of what I know today. I went to writing workshops down in their house in Oregon where ten writers were sequestered into one space (we all had our own bedroom) and we’d be given eight hours of lecturing a day and expected to write 25,000 words a week. I write a lot. I write fast. I think these two things impacted my writing career more than anything else. Two years in a row I wrote over one million words (I used to keep track). I don’t write so much these days, but I can still do three books a year without breaking a sweat.

How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?

Well, I quit my day job and decided to become a real writer twelve years before actually publishing anything. During that time I wrote a LOT. I wrote sixteen novels and probably fifty or so short stories.

Twelve years. And you stuck with it. That is determination. Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

It IS in bricks and mortar bookstores and usually found on the mystery shelves, although sometimes it’s just placed under fiction.

Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?

Kensington Books in NYC publish my adult novels. I self-publish my YA books and my short story collections. My agent found my publisher for me (that’s her job), but finding an agent wasn’t easy. It took me ten years. When I finally did find her, I literally ran into her on the sidewalk in New York. See the About Me section of my website for a more thorough description of how this happened. It’s pretty funny.

I did read your About Me section in your website. I LOVED the line “Fiction will always just be more entertaining than real life, so why not stretch things a teensy bit when you’re retelling them.” I’m going to keep that mantra in the back of my end while I am writing from now on.  You’re casual style of writing in that section makes me feel like I know you already, that we’ve just shared a beer in a musky tavern.  (No, readers, I am not sitting face-to-face with my authors at these interviews, but I hope it feels that way to you as you read them.) Readers, do yourself a favor and go to his website. You won’t be disappointed.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

My Alvin books (Dream with Little Angels, Close to the Broken Hearted, and the third, which will be released next spring and will be called A Thorn among the Lilies) have mixed POVs. My main character, Abe, always speaks in first person. Everyone else is a close third person. When I write other things I like to play with POV. Even in the Alvin books, each has a prologue written in what I call a “floating third” POV. It’s not quite omniscient, but it doesn’t stay with one character.

Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?

Write a lot. Your voice will come. Listen to authors who have authorial voices you like being read by good readers. This is the quickest way to developing a good voice, as far as I’m concerned.

Are you a pantser or a planner?

If you want any kind of long term career and actually make money, you have to be a planner. Would you want your house built or your kidneys worked on by a pantser?

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

Finish it before starting anything else. Even if it sucks donkey balls, finish it. It is unmarketable until it is finished, and it is probably not as bad as you think. Besides, that’s what first drafts are for. I call them SFDs. Shitty First Drafts. Get them done. Then put it away for two to four weeks before pulling it out and rereading it again. Then fix it.

Links:

Website:              www.michaelhiebert.com

Blog:                      www.michaelhiebert.com/blog

Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/michael.hiebert67

Twitter:                                @Hiebert_M

Hemphill Towers: Where intoxicating romance meets heart-pounding suspense.

hemphilltowers333x500 (2)

Leona Pence and I go back to the very beginning of our professional writing career in 2011. We shared in an online critique group with four other women from all over the United States, and Mexico.   In the early drafts of our first novels, Leona was working on Hemphill Towers, myself on Accident.  To say that were both very rough drafts is putting it mildly.  Now we both have polished  and published results from our hard work.

Leona, tell everyone a little about yourself.

leona photo

 I’m a widow with four children, twelve grandchildren, and four great grandkids.  I’ve lived in Illinois my entire life, the past fifty years in the same house. I admit to being a Facebook addict and spend way too much time there. But if I want to see current family pictures and stay in touch with distant relatives, it’s the place to be.

How did you become a writer, and did you always want to write?

No, I never saw myself as a writer and it still surprises me that I actually wrote a book. After my husband died from lung cancer, I turned to my computer to save my sanity. I met people online to chat with. Hemphill Towers started as a joke between me and two online friends. We made ourselves younger career women, each described a love interest, and I was to use the info to write a humorous story. Once I started writing, the words just kept coming. Three months later, I had a very rough, first draft novel.

And then we met online at Writers Village University.

Yes, we certainly had a good time. I am still in touch with some of the other girls. Everyone has completed at least one novel.  Writers Village University has been a great asset.

I know you are still very involved with WVU. You lead the online chat for writers every week. I am sure you have heard hundreds of stories of both successes and failures along the way.

Yes, we spend a lot of time chatting about the technical parts of writing, plotting, character development and story lines, but I think the interaction with other writers keep us from feeling so alone in our endeavor. Writing can be a very lonely profession unless you reach out to the writing community for friendship. Most writer’s learn early on that their families don’t take them seriously and think they are a little crazy to commit so much time to what they (the relatives) think is a pipe dream. I have been very lucky to have a supportive family throughout my writing career.

Tell the readers about Hemphill Towers.

Riley Saunders has her dream job. As an art director at a leading advertising agency, she works every day with her two best friends, Stella and Birdie. All three have been assigned to ensure the Grand Opening of the Peterson Art Museum is nothing short of a success.

When a girl’s night out at a hot new Italian restaurant ends with a spilled bottle of wine, it sets in motion a series of events that leaves Stella and Birdie caught up in a whirlwind romance, and Riley fearing for her life at the hands of a deranged stalker. But when the handsome museum curator, Trent Peterson, learns of her situation, he vows to keep her safe.

In a quick-paced tale of fine art, wine forgery, and the Russian mafia, Riley and her friends soon discover their pursuit of love will require them to expose a crime, thwart a murder, and trust the one thing that has never failed them… their friendship.

Where can people buy Hemphill Towers?

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Hemphill-Towers-Leona-Pence/dp/1771275979/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416574234&sr=1-1&keywords=hemphill+towers

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hemphill-towers-leona-pence/1117243569?ean=9781771275972

You also have a blog. Where can people find you on your blog?

Blog Spot:  http://leonaschatter.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Leona for being on Author Interview Friday.

Prayers to my dear friend and writer, Marty Fallon.

Marty Fallon

Today was the scheduled day to post my dear friend, Marty Fallon’s blog, but I didn’t know I was going to have to ask for everyone’s prayers for him. The day before yesterday Ia received a quick email that he was going to miss out monthly writer’s meeting because he was in a rehab center – because he had a stroke.  OMG. He said he was typing his email with one finger. So, everyone, please say a special prayer for a complete recovery for this wonderful writer friend of mine.

So, I am going to plug along as if he was sitting right in front of me.

Marty, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

English teachers supported my writing, first in high school and later in college.  I was not an English major, but in those classes I did take, those professors acknowledged some of my offerings.  Later as a school social worker, I had to write social histories on all students being considered for special education.  Any flourishes above and beyond the generic psychological reports, brought some spice to an otherwise dull process. Their laughter, energized me.  The epiphany, came from retirement guilt.  I started a job at a local resort hotel, and, after three weeks, decided that those folks worked harder than I felt ready to sustain, so I quit.  That experience became the inspiration for my first published book, The Concierge.  But my first novella, still languishing on the hard drive, I wrote in a week.  That was a rush, writing on yellow legal pads, reading the daily results to my wife, not stopping to get dressed.

Concierge

I’m sure Gretchen is glad you finally got dressed.  What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing?

I grew up and a farm, so I know mindless repetitive work.  The pyscho-social jobs, in child neglect and abuse plus the school interventions gave me an appreciation of how dysfunctional behavior starts and the consequences of repeated social-emotional failures.  In Florida, I found work as a home-health aide, and used my helping skills to establish relationships with older adults with diminished intellectual abilities.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

It took twelve years, and that might just as well have been forever, except Create Space came along to offer the digital publishing option many authors are now using to sidestep the traditional publishing barriers.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time, or different POV’s?

My crime/relationship books are primarily in chronological order, because the danger inherent in repeated crimes requires resolution.  And the relationships between the cops and the victims are also moving quickly.  There may be one or two flashbacks to deepen our understanding of motive, but, by and large, my people are in a hurry to catch the bad guys and also pushing hard to make the personal contacts they think they need to improve their love lives.

Marty, tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences.

The book coming out in January, started with car ad, a girl in a bikini on the hood of a pickup, trying to sell her old vehicle.  That level of desperation became the inspiration for Trouble On The Hood.

Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most?

Carl Hiaasen, Randy Wayne White, John Sanford and Michael Perry.  Hiaasen and White are ex-journalists from Florida and their subsequent knowledge of the state is superb.  Sanford also has a journalism background, and he provides remarkable detail from Minnesota.  Perry writes non-fiction, but he hasn’t strayed far from his rural roots.  All these authors spin wonderful stories with drama and memorable characters.  I want to have my writing rise to the quality their books demonstrate, so they will remain esteemed models.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

 The Daughters

 

The Daughters, describes the odyssey of three women, a kidnapped girl from Colombia, an assaulted high-school student from a Lee County high school, and an impoverished eighth grader coerced into joining a local gang.  As the lives of the victims come closer to overlapping, our local law-enforcement team, two of whom are getting married, attempt to gather the clues required to intervene before tragedy envelopes the little community of Bonita Springs.

Marty, our thoughts and prayers are miss you. We missed you at Marco Writers this week. For our readers, you can buy Marty’s books on Amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Martin%20Fallon&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank

Author Theresa M. Jarvela, novelist and freelance writer brings cozy mysteries

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.

Theresa M Jarvela

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.

untitled

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.

Home for the Murder- (418x640)

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.

Where can readers buy your books?

www.theresamjarvela.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Theresa-M-Jarvela/286910401371856?ref=hl

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Theresa+Jarvela&search-alias=books&text=Theresa+Jarvela&sort=relevancerank

 

Welcome award winning children’s mystery author Renee Hand

Renee Hand photo

Today we have Renee Hand, a multi-award-winning mystery children’s author with us.  Renee has created an interactive mystery series known as the Crypto-Capers Series that encourages children to read by incorporating several topics of interest. The reader participates into the story by solving cryptograms and puzzles to solve the case. She is also the author of the Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Series, which focuses on animal detectives and science. This series is a great way to teach children about animals in a fun and interesting way that captures the reader’s attention, yet fills them with knowledge about science topics they will be learning about in school. All books are great to use in a classroom setting to supplement various topics or to just enjoy. Not quite sure what a cryptogram is and want to learn more? Visit the author’s website at http://www.reneeahand.com to learn about cryptograms and how to solve the ones that are in the books.

Welcome Renee, why don’t you tell us about yourself?

First, I would like to thank you for having me on your blog. It’s greatly appreciated. I’m a multi award-winning author and requested speaker on the topic of using fun fiction to teach science, geography and history. My books can not only challenge readers and the way they think about problems in real life, but I create high interest topics that suck the reader into my stories encouraging them into wanting to know more about the settings, science, history, culture and people. Skills like reading comprehension, reasoning, deduction and observation come together in a myriad of ways.

In my Crypto-Caper Series children get to solve puzzles and cryptograms that are woven strategically inside of the story for the reader to find and solve inside of the books. Each book provides the reader with what they will need to solve the case, providing them with the knowledge and new skills that will help them succeed.

In my Joe-Joe Nut Series, I combine the love of a good mystery with science using the topics of animal tracks, rocks and minerals, as well as weathering, erosion, and art. These books can supplement a curriculum in any classroom. The books also contain extra information like experiments, terminology of the topic, charts, and much more. All books are interactive and fun.

I have also created a coloring book for children, a zoo picture book which incorporates activities to do at the zoo. I also created a storytelling card game which is getting a lot of my readers excited.

What age group do your books center on?

The Crypto-Caper Series is for 4th grade and up into middle school. The Joe-Joe Nut Series begins at 2nd grade and goes up to 5th. The coloring book and picture book are for younger children and my storytelling game is for all ages including adults.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for over 25 years.

What book are we going to talk about today?

We are going to focus on my new release in The Crypto-Caper Series called The Mystery of the Circus for Hire. The book is #6 in the series. I want to make sure I add that this book just won a Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine

Renee Hand Book

 

Congratulations! Is this your first award?

No, I’ve won Preferred Choice Awards, National Best Book Awards, Seal of Excellence Awards, Best Book Awards, and won a Beach Best Book Award for all of my books. I’m very proud of my awards.

What is The Circus for Hire about?

The Circus for Hire is a whirlwind of an adventure where the Crypto-Capers travel to Russia to save Max and Mia’s parents, Mitchem and Martha Holmes, from going to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Finding themselves caught up in a scandal that is beyond their control, they use their skills and talents to try to outsmart the most notorious criminal of all time. Lies become intermixed with truth, yet, with the help of a new ally, the Crypto-Capers find themselves ahead of the game.

I’ve incorporated a different cipher in this book so my readers are going to be thrilled. In all of my books I have added cryptograms, word scrambles, and other challenging puzzles. My readers love them and it makes this series unique.

Where can readers buy your books?

Readers can buy my books at bookstores big and small, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, my website (www.reneeahand.com) and other places.

Are you on any social networks?

Of course. I’m on twitter and facebook as well as LinkedIN and Goodreads. I also have a blog at http://thecryptocapersseries.blogspot.com I like to help authors by having them on my radio show called Stories From Unknown Authors. My blog and website has more info about that.

Thank you so much  for being on my blog. It has tuly been my pleasure.

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

 

Marlene Chabot debuts her 4th Mystery/Romance

Welcome Marlene Chabot to Author Interview Friday.  Congratulations are in order on the release of your 4th book  Death At The Bar X Ranch, is being released by North Star Press of St. Cloud Inc. I  understand it will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Marlene Chabot

 When did I know I wanted to be a writer

I always enjoyed writing short story assignments in grade school, but didn’t think about being a writer when I got older. At the age of 13, I left home for Ohio to attend high school and two years of college to prepare to be a Franciscan Sister. Sunday afternoons were set aside for letter writing. So, believe me, I got a lot of practice writing informational stories. While I was an educator, I wrote a few plays for the children, and helped second and third graders  create their own newspapers, but again never gave writing for the pure enjoyment a thought. It wasn’t until I was 48 and riding back from visiting friends in Colorado the idea of writing mysteries struck me, and I quickly jotted down titles for books and plot ideas.  Particular inspiration:After reading tons of mysteries to and from Colorado, I decided I could come up with some darn good mysteries of my own.

Tell us about your background in writing.

I didn’t have a writing background. My four year degree was in education. But I did take a two year business management class and communication class was a must.  After I wrote my first book, and was getting rejection letters from major publishers I decided to take a 18 month correspondence course from the Institute for Children’s Literature which is affiliated with Writers Digest. I learned a lot. So much in fact, I decided my first book stunk, revamped it and then self-published. I have attended about six writing seminars none of which were specifically for my genre. And haven’t had the opportunity to attend any big writer conferences.

How long did it take you to have your first book published.

I started writing my first novel in 1995, began to revamp it in 2000 and finally had it self-published in 2003. A long process.

Do you always write in the same point of  view? 

My novels are written in the first person. I find it easier to write in first person. I like using a lot of conversation. Many short stories I’ve written, including two for anthologies, have been in the third person.

 What has been the hardest obstacle in your writing career? 

Having been required to write many essays and research papers in college the outline and synopsis were easy for me to pen  once I had the main idea. I felt writing the query was the hardest.  Now that I’ve done several I refer to the others when creating a new one.

 It is exciting that your 4th novel is coming out this month. What advice would you give to knew authors just  getting started in their career?

My advice to a new writer when getting started with a manuscript is to have someone you can bounce your ideas off of and to find a good writer’s group for support and suggestions.  I didn’t join a writer’s group until after my first book was published. I currently belong to 2 groups–one for my genre and the other is a mixed bag.

Tell us a little about the book we are promoting today.

My fourth novel deals with an unemployed teacher, Mary Malone, who is looking for a new place to live and any job she can get. Her private eye brother, Matt, is out of the country so she and her widowed aunt take over his apartment.  Listening to a message intended for her brother, Mary decides to get involved with a case pertaining to horses. The problem is she was scared by a horse around the age of 4 and swore she would never go near them again.

Marlene Chabot's book

 Can you share a little bit of your work? 

Prologue

Mary Colleen Malone’s my name. I’m not what most people would consider either a girly-girl or a tomboy. I’m more an in between type of gal, in between men, in between diets, in between jobs. It varies from week to week. This week, however, not I, but circumstances beyond my control, shoved employment to the top of the heap.

Teaching’s my game, or it was up until yesterday morning when I strolled into the teachers’ lounge and spotted a rare, unexpected gift tucked inside my cubbyhole. At first, I thought the hot-pink slip was someone’s idea of a joke, but then reality smacked me in the face. I hadn’t slid under the unemployment radar after all. With one swift hurricane after another chiseling away at the U.S. economy, teachers without tenure were the latest surfers to be caught up in the storm.

Hmm? Maybe I can sub in Blaine. That’s not too far north to drive. “Aim for the stars,” everyone said. Yeah, right. Fat lot of good it did me. The aligned planet and stars supposedly assigned to my personal universe imploded on contact. Goodbye lifetime job. Hello unemployment. To think I was once so elated being the first member of the Malone clan to receive a master’s degree. Now, I’m just depressed. While I sit idly by twiddling my thumbs, my siblings continue being smugly employed, including the one who flips flapjacks at the local pancake house just around the corner.

So, what’s a smart, single thirty-five-year-old unemployed dame to do? I haven’t a clue. Perhaps it’ll come to me while I snooze.

 

Thank you Marlene. She is the author of  Death at the Bar X Ranch, Mayhem with a Capital M, and two other Minnesota mysteries.

Her website is  www.marlenechabotbooks.com

Amazon link:   http://www.amazon.com/Death-at-Bar-X-Ranch/dp/0878397388/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403615298&sr=8-1&keywords=Death+at+the+Bar+X+ranch

Barnes and Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-at-the-bar-x-ranch-marlene-chabot/1118015601?ean=9780878397389