Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Authorsday - Beth Solheim

A hearty blog welcome to author Beth Solheim today. She'll talk about her writing style and how she came to write At Witt's End.

How did you pick the genre you write in?
I am an avid mystery reader. My ideas flowed toward writing cozy mysteries.

What drew you to the subject of At Witt’s End?
Channel surfing. I flipped from channel to channel and heard someone casually mentioned crossing over to the other side. I chuckled and hoped that person wouldn’t take a wrong turn on their journey. That silly thought grew into an idea, moved on to character development, and end up as my Sadie Witt mystery series.

What type of research did you do for your humorous paranormal series?
For the paranormal part, none. It stemmed from my imagination and tidbits I’ve read or watched on television. Because the setting for the series is at a resort situated next to a mortuary, I spent time with a funeral director (grateful it was from a live perspective) so the mortuary scenes would ring realistic. I am in awe of folks in that profession.

How long have you been writing?
About ten years, six seriously. Classes, critique groups and sticking to a schedule helped me understand the intricacies of writing, marketing and the publishing process. It’s an on-going learning process.

Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?
I plot and outline, chapter by chapter. I can’t go anywhere without a road mad and the same holds true for writing. The hardest part is developing the outline sequence because all those jumbled ideas fight for a starring role. After I have a chapter outline, writing the story is quite enjoyable.

What’s your writing schedule?
I work full time at a hospital in Human Resources, so I write evenings and weekends.

What is your favorite word?
Shenanigan. Sounds like a whole lot of high jinks, humor and entertainment.

What did you learn from writing this book?
Two things. First, if you truly believe in something, keep working on it until it comes to fruition. Second, nearing retirement is the beginning of a whole new adventure. I’m thrilled to see so many senior writers being published. Maybe there’s something to be said about ‘gray’ gray matter.

If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?
Are you interested in reading the second book in the Sadie Witt series? Their answer will determine the future of Sadie and her wacky cohorts.

Tell me something about yourself that very few people know?
I have a wild female grey fox that comes to feed on our patio. If we entertain around our patio table, Foxy Lou plops down on the grass about ten feet away and rotates her gaze toward the person talking as if she understands every word. She’s frequented our yard for three years. She’s part of our little piece of paradise.

Like the main character in her Sadie Witt mystery series, Beth Solheim was born with a healthy dose of imagination and a hankering to solve a puzzle. She learned her reverence for reading from her mother, who was never without a book in her hand.

By day, Beth works in Human Resources. By night she morphs into a writer who frequents lake resorts and mortuaries and hosts a ghost or two in her humorous paranormal mysteries.

Raised and still living in Northern Minnesota, she resides in lake country with her husband and a menagerie of wildlife critters. She and her husband are blessed with two grown children and two grandsons

Mayhem is on the rise at the Witt’s End Resort, especially Cabin 14, where no guest ever leaves alive. To make matters worse, Sadie Witt must untangle a murderous web while struggling to prevent an unscrupulous sheriff’s deputy from shutting down her lakeside resort.

When guests arrive at Cabin 14, they’re stunned to learn Sadie is their conduit to the hereafter. Clad in outlandish outfits, (clothing typically reserved for those without sagging body parts) and sporting hairdos that make bystanders want to look away but can’t, Sadie realizes one of the guests has been murdered and works against the clock to prevent further mayhem.


Monday, December 28, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Albert Bell

Today Albert Bell shares a bit of his story Blood of Caesar. Welcome Albert.

“This feels like a trap,” my friend Tacitus said, putting his hand on my arm.
He and I stopped beside the House of the Vestals and the dozen slaves accompanying us came to a halt.
“A trap? What are you talking about? We’re in the middle of Rome.” I looked around, fearing that I would see a gang of thugs emerging from the shadows. But surely not within sight of the Praetorians who guarded the steps leading up the Palatine Hill.
“There’s nobody else here.” Tacitus pointed to the foot of those steps, twenty paces or so ahead of us on the Nova Via. “Nobody else is going up to dinner. There’s something wrong.”
“Maybe we’re just early,” I said, glancing at the length of the shadows around us.
“Are you sure we’ve got the date right?” Tacitus asked.
I reached into the sinus of my toga and pulled out the invitation I had received that morning. The broken wax seal reading CAES DOM AUG GERM around the figure of a defeated barbarian still clung to the single sheet of papyrus. I unfolded it and read it over again:

G. Plinius Caecilius Secundus is invited to dine with Caesar Domitian in his house on the Palatine on the Ides of July at the tenth hour.

“That’s what mine says, too.” Tacitus held his invitation next to mine. The same scribe had written both. “But where are the other guests?”
Just as one frightened soldier spreads fear through the ranks, Tacitus was undermining my confidence. From our vantage point I couldn’t see much of the Forum, only the Lacus Juturnae and the temple of Castor and Pollux straight ahead of us. They lay almost deserted in the shadows cast by the late afternoon sun. By now most people had gone off to bathe and prepare for dinner. The prostitutes who plied their trade in the shadows of the temple showed no interest in the few unfortunate sycophants who’d failed to cadge an invitation to dinner somewhere.
“I don’t like the looks of this at all,” Tacitus said. “I tell you, it feels like a trap.”
“By the gods, man. We’ve been invited to dinner with the princeps. You act like the Cyclops is beckoning us into his cave to devour us. What do you think is going to happen?”
“I don’t know, and that’s precisely what worries me.”

Albert Bell

Albert Bell, a South Carolina native, has taught at Hope College, in Holland, MI, since 1978. His wife is a psychologist; they have four adult children and a grandson. In addition to a number of articles and stories, Bell has published a children's historical mystery, The Secret of the Lonely Grave (Ingalls Publ. Group, 2007), that connects contemporary children with the Underground Rail­road and the Civil War era in southern Kentucky. One reviewer called it “a fantastic book.” Another found that “the saddest part upon reading this story was the fact that it had to end.” The book won the 2008 Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Award, given by the Western Kentucky University Libraries and a silver medal from the Mom’s Choice Awards.

Bell is also the author of a mystery set in ancient Rome, All Roads Lead to Murder (Ingalls 2002), the first in a series featuring Pliny the Younger as the sleuth. The Midwest Book Review called it “one of the best antiquarian murder mysteries published to date.” Barbara D’Amato found it to be “a wonderful book.” The second in the series, The Blood of Caesar (due out in June 2008), prompted Clyde Linsley to say, “Bell weaves a fascinating, convoluted, but thoroughly convincing tale of intrigue and double-dealing . . . . His solution to his seemingly insoluble problem borders on genius.” A contemporary mystery, set in Grand Rapids and titled Death Goes Dutch, was published in March 2006. Midwest Book Review dubbed it “a gem.”

Bell has also published two non-fiction books. His Exploring the New Testament World has been called “a must-have New Testament companion.” His Perfect Game, Imperfect Lives: A Memoir Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Don Larsen’s Perfect Game, was published in October 2006. One reviewer called it “a book with perfect pitch.”

Albert Bell teaches at Hope College, in Holland, MI. His children's historical mystery, The Secret of the Lonely Grave (2007), connects contemporary children with the Underground Rail­road and the Civil War era. One reviewer found that “the saddest part upon reading this story was the fact that it had to end.” The book won the 2008 Evelyn Thurman Young Readers’ Award, given by the Western Kentucky University Libraries, and a silver medal from the Mom’s Choice Awards.

Bell is also the author of a mystery set in ancient Rome, All Roads Lead to Murder (2002). Barbara D’Amato found it to be “a wonderful book.” The second in the series, The Blood of Caesar (due out in June 2008), prompted Clyde Linsley to say it “. . . borders on genius.” A contemporary mystery, Death Goes Dutch, was published in March 2006. Midwest Book Review dubbed it “a gem.”

Bell has published two non-fiction books. His Exploring the New Testament World (1998) has been rated “a must-have New Testament companion.” His Perfect Game, Imperfect Lives: A Memoir Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Don Larsen’s Perfect Game (2006) has been called “a book with perfect pitch.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Authorsday - Bev Walton-Porter

Welcome author and writing coach Bev Walton-Porter. She will be under the microscope today to talk about her new release Sun Signs for Writers.

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? From an early age, my dad used to read to me every single night. I couldn’t get enough of the storytelling and would beg for more. I had a small library of books, mostly fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables and Babar’s Adventure books. That enchantment with books led me to a lifelong fascination with writing and instilled me with a desire to weave tales myself. That desire to write was later seeded by a 6th grade teacher.

2. How long have you been writing? Oh boy. Hmmm…the first time I remember writing a complete short story, I was in 6th grade. My teacher at that time told me I wrote well and encouraged me, and that’s what planted the seed. My first real story was about a Mako shark, mainly because I used to be obsessed with sharks. Well, I still am, actually!

3. How did you pick the genre you write in? I actually write in a variety of genres, including nonfiction, romance and dark fiction. If you limit yourself as a writer, then I think it can end up hurting you in the long run. I selected the genres I most enjoyed and chose to pursue them.

4. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? When I write, I have a loose outline of where I’m going and how I’m going to get there, but I’m not an obsessive outliner by any means! In general, when I write fiction, I let the characters dictate how the details of the plot will unfold. I know the basics of how I want the plot to go, but the characters determine the intricate specifics of how the plot gets laid out and presented to readers. When I write nonfiction (which requires just as much planning as fiction), I do the same thing: I have a loose skeleton of the idea, but the meat is added on chapter by chapter on an almost-intuitive basis fueled by the day’s creative surges.

5. What drew you to the subject of Sun Signs for Writers? Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by astrology and other forms of divination. I’m also drawn to creativity and writing (obviously), so one day I wondered why nobody had combined the elements of astrology and writing, especially as it pertained to the personality/writing styles of individual writers and developing characters as well. I did some research and found nobody had written a book about that, so the seed was planted and, two years later, my first book was published.

6. How many rejections have you received? People are going to hate me, but it’s probably been less than the average writer. I’ve been lucky. I have received some rejections, but if I had to put a number on it, I’d say 90 percent of what I submit is usually accepted and published. I’m not bragging , though. I’m saying I’ve been lucky, and the rejection fairy has probably been waiting to slam me at a later time, so let’s say I’m grateful for the good fortune I’ve had, and I can only hope it will continue. Either way, I’ll keep writing!

7. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book? I’d been familiar with Writer’s Digest Magazine and Writer’s Digest Books for decades. In fact, WD played in big role in helping me get published and become a professional writer. So naturally, they’re the first ones I thought of when it came to a potential publisher.

8. Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know? I write fiction under the pen name, Star Ferris. But Star Ferris is more than a pen name for me. I was adopted and while my legal name is Bev, my birth name was Star. So when I needed a pen name, I decided to use what would’ve been my legal name had I not been adopted.

9. What’s your writing schedule? I’ve tried writing at all times of the day, but I’ve found I’m incredibly nocturnal and that’s when I’m able to do my best work. So during the day I edit, critique, teach courses online, research or market using social networking, and at night I indulge my Muse. Night time is the BEST time for writing, as far as I’m concerned!

10. What do you do when you are not writing? I’m the Founder and co-Team Lead for Colorado Springs Paranormal Association (C.S.P.A.), so I spend my free time studying the paranormal.

Author Bio:Bev Walton-Porter is a professional author, editor and writing coach. Published works include Sun Signs for Writers, Mending Fences, Hidden Fire and The Complete Writer: A Guide To Tapping Your Full Potential. Bev has also published a poetry chapbook entitled Shadows of the Soul. She has been a professional writer since May 1997.Bev's nonfiction is represented by the Meredith Bernstein Literary Agency in NYC. Her fiction is represented by MPL Creative Services in Springfield, MO.

Book Blurb:Sun Signs for Writers is a one-of-a-kind guide that will help you discover your unique writing personality by combining the insights of astrology with practical how-to writing instruction. By exploring the proclivities of your particular sun sign, you'll better understand your creative style and more effectively find your path to success.

Monday, December 14, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Patti Brooks

Patti Brooks brings us an excerpt from her latest release Fame & Deceit. Lots could be said about both of those.

Fame & Deceit is all about the power of a dream. Driven by his Olympian goal of achieving world class recognition, Ike Cherny blocks out the world. Except for an occasional pretty woman or two, he tries to turn a blind eye to the evil swirling around him.
Someone is secretly dumping toxic waste. Has Ike’s boss, Agosto Benalli cooked up a scheme to profit by burying toxic waste at Crowne Stable with Ike’s girl friend, Eugenia Jordan, (CT’s Commissioner of the Dept. of Environmental Protection) as Benalli’s cohort?
Someone is secretly killing Connecticut clergymen.
Who is terrorizing Connecticut’s clergymen? Is Eugenia is carrying out a sick vendetta because she believes her sister was raped and murdered at the hands of their minister? Or what about Harriet Stilton with an embedded hatred of clergymen for what one did to her son?
Ike moves from the arms of cuddly Lisa Danzig after she is caught poisoning Ike’s horses, to sexually abused Eugenia Jordan, but backs away from the relationship when she confesses to bribery. Ike discovers Eugenia’s body, two month’s pregnant floating in the river. Did Ike’s boss order her death because of the hazardous waste scheme? Or was Eugenia overly distraught because he dumped her and decided to take her own life? Ike’s attraction to Veronica Rouseau ends when he discovers she brokered the sale of his beloved mare, Aristooke Annie.

"Benalli chased Lisa off the farm."
Ike startled at the voice coming out of the dark night.
"Help me with this tailgate, Harlan," he said as the farm’s bulldozer operator appeared at his side. Probably a good thing Lisa left, he thought, unlatching the ramp to the horse trailer. He didn’t need another harangue about being away at a horse show for the past week.
"Don’t you want to know about that looney tune woman?" Harlan helped him lower the tailgate to the ground. The horse in the trailer called out shrilly. Horses in the stable immediately answered the worried cry from one of their own. Now it wanted out and pawed and banged inside the trailer.
"First I want to get Annie off the trailer and put up for the night. Easy, girl," he crooned to the mare. "Besides, I think you just told me all I need to know about Lisa."
"What do you mean?"
"She’s gone, right?"
"Right. So, did you win anything good?"
"She’s one fine mare." He threaded a lead shank through the mare’s halter and backed her out of the trailer. "We turned a few heads at that show, I tell you. You’re home, sweet girl." Ike stroked the mare’s neck.
Strident galloping in the distance broke into the conversation. Ike discerned that only one set of hoofs struck the ground heavily, which meant a single, mature horse raced about. How could that be?
When he heard the sharp clang of metal on rock, he knew the horse was shod–and headed directly for him and Annie. The mare snorted and pranced nervously at Ike’s side. He snatched lightly on the chain across her nose reminding her he made the decisions.
"Harlan," he spoke sharply, "listen up." Harlan didn’t know a horse from a cow. How could he get any help from him?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Authorsday - Betty Webb

Author Betty Webb joins me today. She has written her own post. Let's see what she has to say.

Guest blogger, Betty Webb, author of the Lena Jones mystery novels

“Writing is easy. You just sit down at your computer and open a vein.”
I can’t remember who said that, but it sums up my writing life perfectly. Ever since I began working as an advertising copywriter 30 years ago, writing has always been that “easy” forme, so I’m amused when people look at my 10 novel (so far) turnout and say, “Wow, I wish writing came as easy to me as it must have for you!”
To sum up my career: after working on Madison Avenue for several years, I moved toArizona, where -- in addition to my work in advertising -- I began freelancing articles on the artsfor a daily newspaper. Several years later, that newspaper -- the Pulitzer Prize-winning EastValley Tribune -- offered me a full time (50 hours a week!) job. I left advertising then, and stayed with the Tribune for 15 years, during which I also wrote four mystery novels featuring private investigator Lena Jones: Desert Noir, Desert Wives, Desert Shadows, and Desert Run.
In a fortunate turn of events, Lifetime TV optioned Desert Wives, a mystery set inside one of Arizona’s many polygamy compounds, for a series and made-for-TV movies. Now, in order to write all those books and still work at the paper, I crawled out of bed every day at 4 a.m. and wrote until 8 a.m., when I got ready for work. On Saturdays and Sundays,I wrote all day long. Yep, writing is “easy.”
With the sale of Desert Wives to Lifetime TV, I was finally able to retire from the newspaper. I quickly learned, however, that I was still waking up at 4 a.m., ready (if not exactly thrilled) to write. With all that extra time now on my hands, I began reviewing books for MysteryScene Magazine, and also embarked on a new mystery series -- the humorous Gunn Zoo books, debuting with The Anteater of Death, to be followed in September 2010 with The Koala of Death.
These are humorous mysteries, in which Theodora “Teddy” Bentley, a California zookeeper, solves crimes.There was no way I could abandon my beloved Lena Jones, however, so I also turned out Desert Cut, Desert Lost, and have just begun work on Desert Wind. Publishers Weekly called the Lena Jones books “Mysteries with a social conscience,”because their plots center around situations I have found -- through my background as a journalist-- to be rife with social injustice. The most famous of these (at this time, anyway) was Desert Wives, in which I proved through research and interviews that polygamy is not the freedom o freligion issue its practitioners claim it is, but a cynical Welfare scam. Here’s the way it works.
By the forced breeding of girls as young as 13 -- making them have a baby a year until they hitmenopause -- the polygamy prophets guarantee themselves an ever-growing crop of illegitimate children. Illegitimate children receive Welfare checks, but the mothers of these children never see the money. Instead, the polygamy prophets use the Welfare checks to finance their own jet-owning, Cadillac-driving lifestyle. To my delight, the facts and figures that I included in thebook’s Authors Note helped influence the Arizona Legislature to enact Arizona’s first lawagainst polygamy. No more Welfare checks for the prophets -- such an ever-increasing series of SSI checks, because the polygamy compounds are now so inbred that fully 65% of all babies born on the compounds have serious birth defects.The “easy” part of writing Desert Wives? Three years of research, which includedconstant trips up to the compounds, and interviews with polygamy runaways.And yes, I have received death threats. Desert Lost, released on December 5 of this year, looks at polygamy again -- but this timefrom a different perspective. If one man can have 10 wives, then 9 men will have none. Whathappens to these 9 “surplus men”?The answer is simple. The polygamy “prophets” force them out of the compounds,beginning when those “surplus men” are as young as 13. That way, the prophets and their most trusted insiders can keep adding young girls to their harems.
Private investigator Lena Jones hates the polygamy prophets, especially since murder seems to follow in their wake (as it does in real life). Desert Lost follows Lena as she investigates the beating death of one of the polygamist“sister wives,” as the multiple wives of polygamists are called.
Desert Lost has been greeted by what can only be called rave reviews. Booklist gave it a starred review, saying, “This is a complex, exciting entry in a first-class series, and it makes an excellent read-alike for Sue Grafton fans.” Publishers Weekly followed with “Clear-cut characterizations help a complicated plot flow smoothly. As Webb points out in a note, polygamy still spawns many social ills, despite the recent, well-publicized conviction of Mormon fundamentalist prophet Warren Jeffs.”
Desert Lost was even hailed on the Huffington Post for itscontribution to human rights.Again, Desert Lost was “easy” to write. All it required was two more years of travel and research, plus those 4 a.m. mornings, fingertips bleeding into my computer keys. And I am awaiting renewed death threats from enraged polygamists.Given the chance, would I put myself through all that again? Hell, yes, I would.

To read more about Betty’s mystery novels, check her website at http://www.bettywebb/ and her blog at
Gotta say the whole idea of polygamy chills me. Thanks Betty for bringing it to the forefront.

Thanks for joining me today Betty!

Monday, December 7, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Paige Ryter

Today Paige Ryter shares an excerpt. What an ingenious pen name!

Anyway the book is called Three Minutes Before Christmas.

I'm usually asleep then, but that's cool.

The excerpt:
The electricity pulsing through her fingertip was incredible, making her heart race and her breath quicken. "I'm seeing how crazy you are," she whispered, moving her finger along his jaw line.

"No, you're playing chicken to see which one of us gives in first. I think it's going to be you."

"Really?" she whispered in a low tone. She inched closer so she could feel his hot breath on her face, melting her from the inside, then shifted in her seat to get as close to him as she could.

"How long can you hold out?"

"I'm not sure. It's tough, because you're beautiful and such a fun person. You have no idea what you do to me, which I find very interesting."

Her voice was just a whisper. "Just don't lick my nose, or I'm outta here." She threw her left foot over the gearshift and onto his right leg, stroking his thigh with the inside of her knee.

He grinned and began massaging the inside of her upper leg, inching higher and higher. "Your nose was the last thing I was thinking about."

She slightly licked her lips and narrowed her eyes in a seductive move. "You're still adorable, with your sexy eyes and strong cheekbones."

He wrapped his arms around her and moved his face to within inches of her lips. She touched his chin with a grin, then caressed his cheek with the back of her fingers, keeping her eyes on his. "You look like a model—"He brushed his lips against hers then backed away.

"You just lost," she whispered.

"No, this is losing." He moved forward and captured her lips with a huge kiss. Their tongues entwined, the warmth filling her entire body. Her breathing grew shallow and she was sure he was enjoying it as much as she was just from his actions. She lost all sense of where she was, concentrating just on what was happening between them. Her stomach fell and she felt tingly all over, making her more than lightheaded. Thoughts of him in bed filled her mind, even though she knew it could never happen.

While he nibbled on her neck and ear, she threw back her head in enjoyment. "I think you're right. You lost. Feel free to lose any time."


When Sydney White is hit by a huge roll of Christmas wrapping paper at her mall wrapping job, sexy pediatrician Colin Taylor rushes to her rescue. Since she can't find her purse or keys and can't even recall the phone number for her brother's new home, Colin offers his home as a place of refuge after a hospital stay. While there is a physical attraction, Sydney knows their worlds are far apart and it'll only be a matter of time before he finds someone else in his own social class, since his female coworkers seem to throw themselves at his feet.From Colin's perspective, Sydney is exactly what he's been looking for to fill a hole in his heart, created by his dead fiancée from years before. She's brought laughter into his home and warmth to his heart. But can he let go of the past to try to love again?Can a Christmas miracle save their love? Check the clock because they've only got Three Minutes Before Christmas until the magic is lost.

Thanks for helping me out of a crunch Paige. I wish you the best of success.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Authorsday - Double Feature!

Robert W. Walker and wife Miranda Phillips Walker are here today to answer some burning questions, such as how they’ve managed to kill off only fictional characters with two crime novelists under one roof. Rob’s latest is DEAD ON, Five Star Books and his self-published Children of Salem, an historical thriller, and Miranda/s latest and first is The Well Meaning Killer from Krill Press, sequel in the works.

1. In various interviews on the web, both of you have recommended that writers do not quit the day job. Is there a story behind this recommendation?

M’s A: As an ER nurse, I get a lot of my most exciting and frightful scenes on the job!
Still, if I had my druthers, I’d happily be writing full-time and retire from that arena as it is extremely taxing, despite the reewards as in saving lives and not just on paper! But to be frank only a handful of authors in the US and the world make a living soley via their writings.

R’s A: As a professor of English one barely gets by in this economy but at least it is a known, a given to see the paycheck at the end of the month, whereas writing has enormous ups and downs monetarily as well as emotionally. One year I saw four titles come out in a single calendar year, but some years none! The extreme few who can live on author earnings have had major backing from Oprah and Eastwood calling to having a celebrity hold up their books to the camera. Such luck is rare. Now if President Obama were to tell folks he is reading my Shadows in the White City then yeah, I’ve won the lottery.2. You are very active in promoting your books. What are some of the toughest lessons you’ve learned about the “art” of self-promotion.

M’s A: You have to throw all caution and shyness out the window; perhaps ladylike-ness, too. You want to be yourself but you also have to find a comfortable sales person lurking within. Sitting behind a desk and failing to make eye contact won’t cut it at a signing, and figuratively doing the same online won’t either, but I am trying at the same time not to sound arrogant or self-important as I am anything but.

R’s A: Oh I have to stop “tossing” books into people’s baskets, especially those in wheelchairs, but darn I just know they will love the book and not regret “discovering” it for themselves. I kid with people online and in person, and the lesson I have learned in this business is that you don’t sell the book, you sell yourself. If folks like you, they will open your book and read it, hopefully after purchasing it. Marketing one’s work also takes time. Smart ideas can be found in Jeffrey Marks’ Intent to Sell.
3. What is your favorite writing-related subject to give advice on?

M’s A: That if I can do it, anyone can. It’s a struggle, not easy, and made harder often by circumstances--I have four children, and I also have to contend with Rob! But I did it--I got my novel written, educated myself on the markets, shopped it around and found a publisher and now I hold my book in my hand with the hope others will be entertained by it. Other health professionals love it from the informal reviews they’re giving me as feedback. But it all requires a great deal of research and education about the business.

R’s A: Craft matters, working on elements of style and finding one’s voice that perfectly fit’s the story at hand. I also push the fact every young writer ought to write a mystery as it is the fastest, surest way to learn plotting for any type of novel. Finally, how to write one’s own pitch and or back-flap copy or the shortest most important story you will ever write, the story about your story. It must be effectively done. This becomes a useful tool in all marketing endeavor for the book from query letter to News Release.4. List three of your favorite writing self-help books.

M‘s A: Rob‘s recently published DEAD ON WRITING, a wordclay paper book and a kindle book I read in rough draft. David Morrell‘s excellent book on the subject. Tom Sawyer‘s great book on writing.

R‘s A: — Chris Roerden’s book,Don’t Murder Your Mystery and her Don’t Sabotage Your Submission/ J.A. Konrath’s free ebook, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, Robin Carr’s Tips for Writing Popular Fiction, Dean R. Koontz’ Writing Popular Fiction, and Jerome Stern’s Making Shapely Fiction. Oops! I went over three.5. Both of you have written about the importance of learning how to write romance and incorporate it in your stories. Why do you feel it is important to include romance? How did you learn how to write romance? And is there a book or course you would recommend to other authors to help them learn how to incorporate quality romance writing into their stories?

M’s A: Romance is at the heart of every good story in my estimation. Characters like people want to find romance in their lives, don’t they? Not sure of any books on the subject or courses on how to write romance except to say Rob writes great love scenes, and I aspire to do the same or at least create an intriguing triangle.

R’s A: I learned what NOT to do by reading a book called The Romance Writers Handbook. Actually it was a complete listing of descriptive phrases for every body part from the nose to the toes--what’s been said and done and done, so I tried to avoid these “clichés” in romance writing or put a new spin on them, use the old wine but put it into a new bottle. I love to pair a hero and heroine and let them go at it as in the TV program Moonlighting….I think that ought to be an author’s verb--Moonlight your characters as you would Gaslight another character. The darkness of a dark mystery or even a horror novel can be balanced by an intriguing romantic development between two characters as in Dead On, and in Miranda’s Well Meaning Killer. I do the same in near about all my books.
6. You have recently been reformatting some of your storiesfor use with Amazon’s Kindle. Is there anything you have learnedthe hard way in this process that you can share to help the restof us as we move into this new format?

M’s A: In my case, my publisher took The Well Meaning Killer to a Kindle version, and as it is my only book thus far, I am taking a wait and see attitude. I have learned from Rob, who has had far more experience with it that the cost of a kindle book needs be far less than a hardcopy book or else no sale!

R’s A: The kindle titles I have up are three that HapreCollins put up, and 13 ebooks at have been formatted for kindle sales, or kindalized, but more recently, I have placed ten titles on kindle all on my own, and I have found it to be an easy process with some glitches in step three, converting your file to html format. Directions I followed are found at What is great about it is that you are your own publisher, art director, PR person, and you sink or swim based on your choices and not those of some person in a conglomerate who thinks your title needs be changed to sound more like a Stephen King title or decides it ought to be 90,000 words when it is in fact a 140.000 word book, and so it is in the end liberating freedom from constraints I have faced for thirty odd years.12. What are you currently working on? Will this book also be available on Kindle eventually?

M’s A: I am working on a sequel to The Well Meaning Killer set in Kill Devil Hills/Cape Hatteras area. Having fun with it and I am confident my publisher is anxious to see it, and it will go kindle if it goes Krill!

R’s A: I am revamping some out of prints for the Kindle as my next project. I placed up at the Kindle Store three original novels: Cuba Blue, Deja Blue, Children of Salem, and a number of recycled out of prints horror novels, a how to on writing, a collection of short stories with commentary, and DEAD ON. At the moment kindalizing is my top priority along with working with my clients on their books as I edit and ghost write as well.13. You are very giving of your time, rarely asking for anythingin return. Why do you enjoy teaching and helping other authors?

M’s A: Pay it forward is just how I operate, and I’ve seen such generosity in other mystery authors, and have been the recipient of it. How can I be otherwise?

R’s A: Ahhh…the teachable moment, and I am a born teacher. What can I say? My and Mianda’s blogs and sites are all about sharing the knowledge and know how, skills and tools to become successful. The only time I charge for it is when a client seriously wishes for me to copy edit and make developmental changes or suggestions, or to ghost write and this is done at way under market costs.Brief bios:Robert W. Walker grew up Chicago, IL but was born in Corinth, MS, and as a graduate of Northwestern University, and the NU's Graduate Masters in English Education program, he has been a lifelong learner and writer, penning over forty novels. Three years ago he met Miranda and he has resided here in Charleston, WV ever since. He teaches at WVSU in Institute and continues to write, speak, edit, and ghost write. In the mid-eighties Rob began writing his eleven -book Instinct Series with Dr. Jessica Coran, ME as his lead, and his four-book Edge Series with Det. Lucas Stonecoat, Texas Cherokee investigator. Rob most recent original work appears at the Kindle Store on, Children of Salem, and now on traditional publishing shelves, Dead On is available. Rob can be found online at and in all the usual places where one finds writers online.

Miranda Phillips Walker a WV born author who lived in Baltimore for some 30 years is uniquely qualified to pen The Well Meaning Killer, a suspenseful mystery and an expose of the corruption and graft in the underbelly of our Nation’s foster care programs and systems. Walker, a Registered Nurse, also holds a Psychology degree with a minor in Sociology and has been a Registered Nurse for over seventeen years. Her life in medicine has been far more exciting and colorful than any program on TV such as ER or Grey’s Anatomy. Miranda says of The Well Meaning Killer, “I understand the demons that drive Crusher, the killer, and I have insights into the Child Protective Services that few possess. Going into the writing of this novel, I was armed with the right tools and weapons to make it work. I trust that the reader will agree. Miranda has enjoyed writing from an early age, using writing and the love of music to comfort her from her turbulent upbringing. When asked about her childhood, Miranda laughs and says “I’d;ve been better raised bya pack of wolves.” But being a positive person, she has used her life experiences to help her patients, and now to hopefully bring entertainment to her readers. She can be found everywhere on the web and at her site website at:

Monday, November 30, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Barbara Colley

Today I welcome mystery author Barbara Colley with an exeprt from her latest Dusted to Death. I think I've been close to that.

Excerpt from DUSTED TO DEATH

Keeping a wary eye on the rearview mirror, Charlotte breathed a tentative sigh of relief when a few moments later there was still no sign of the SUV. As she approached the intersection of Magazine and General Taylor, she began to breathe even easier. Then, as she approached Marengo Street she glanced into the rearview mirror yet another time, and instant fear shot through her. The SUV again, and only two cars separated it from her van.
Along with fear, panic welled in her throat. Her street, Milan Street, was just half a block away. What to do? What to do?
You need to buy time to think.
Charlotte gripped the steering wheel tighter, and eased her foot off the accelerator to slow the van down. Now what?
Think, Charlotte, think.
There was a good chance that the driver didn’t know her address, else why would he be following her in broad daylight, especially since she was listed in the phone book, for Pete’s sake, and anyone could find her? Had to be a spur-of-the-moment decision to go after her, she finally decided. Even so, there was no way she was going to lead him right up to her doorstep.
Charlotte continued driving slowly and passed up the turnoff to Milan Street. So what now? Should she just keep driving or . . .
Suddenly, out of the blue, she knew exactly what she should do, and she grinned. “I’ll fix his wagon,” she whispered.


As the owner of Maid for a Day, Charlotte LaRue has learned that behind closed doors, everyone’s dirty laundry holds a few dark secrets—and in the end, they all come out in the wash…

The city of New Orleans has long been a favorite backdrop for movie producers, and now one of Charlotte’s best clients, Bitsy Duhe, is getting in on the action. A big Hollywood studio wants to use Bitsy’s gorgeous Victorian house for a movie shoot and they are willing to pay her handsomely for the honor. Bitsy consents, but only after Charlotte agrees to take care of her beloved home during the shoot and keep the place spotless as only Charlotte can.
For Charlotte, the assignment is an exciting change of pace. On the first day, she meets the whole cast and crew, including one of Hollywood’s hottest ingénues, Angel Martinique. But Charlotte quickly discovers that Angel’s G-rated reputation is nothing like her off-camera, diva-like behavior. Angel, it turns out, is no angel at all…

Once the shoot begins, Charlotte has a front row seat to all the back stage drama: the director who wants to control his favorite starlet’s every move… the make-up artist whose talents with cosmetics can’t hide the mysterious bruises on her face… the bodyguard who is clashing with everyone on the set…. and Angel’s seemingly mild-mannered friend, Nick, whose shy demeanor hides a far more menacing side…

Despite all the tension, the movie seems to be going well—until Nick is found dead in Angel’s dressing room, a bloody letter opener lying just a few feet away. To Charlotte, it seems there is no shortage of suspects. But when the police investigation quickly zeros in on Angel, Charlotte senses there’s much more to her story than meets the eye. As Charlotte does a little digging into Angel’s past, she comes up with a bit more dirt than she bargained for—enough to put her in the crosshairs of danger if she doesn’t watch her step…
Thanks for joining me today Barbara.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Authorsday - Vicki Lane

Critically acclaimed author Vicki Lane visits my blog today to talk about her Elizabeth Goodweather mysteries.

1. How did you pick the genre you write in?
In 2000, on a whim, I signed up for a writing class called “Writing Fiction That Sells.” The teacher encouraged us to begin a novel in the class (which met 6 times) and suggested we pick a genre we were familiar with. I’d always been a reader of mysteries and I figured that with a mystery, at least you had a pattern to follow – X is dead and A, B, C, or D might have done it. It was in this class that Elizabeth Goodweather was born.

2. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?
I wrote Whose Revenge? – in which Elizabeth Goodweather is on vacation at the NC coast. She finds a body on the beach at Cape Lookout and gets involved with a handsome direct descendent of Blackbeard the pirate. This book landed me my agent but she couldn’t sell it – all the NY editors said ‘Great protag, good writing, but you can’t start a series with the protag on vacation. Series readers want to fall in love with a place as well as a character.’ So I wrote Signs in the Blood – with Elizabeth back in the mountains where she belongs and my agent sold that to Kate Miciak at Bantam Dell.
3. Describe your series.
Elizabeth is a widow in her fifties, an outsider in the rural mountain county where she and her late husband established the farm she now operates. In spite of the herbs and gardening, the dogs and quilts and cooking that pop up now and again – these books aren’t cozies. They are psychological suspense – with a touch of middle-aged romance and a bit of woo-woo here and there. The series is set in the present day but each book has a secondary story set in the past and tied to the present.

4. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?
I think I do characters and setting very well.
5. What do you consider your weaknesses?
I kind of hate working out plots. Makes my brain hurt.

6. What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?
I’d like to experience the time between WWI and WWII – in England, as a member of the upper middle class. Oh, heck, I’ll admit it – I really want to be Harriet Vane and go to Oxford and be pursued by Lord Peter Wimsey.
7. What’s your favorite thing about your book?
My favorite thing about In a Dark Season is the historical story set in 1859. It’s like one of the old love ballads they still sing around here. I’m pretty fond of the touches of magic in the present day too – like Chapter 18 . . . and 52 . . .
8. What do you do when you are not writing?
In the summer I’m tending the garden, putting up food, bathing dogs, vacuuming up dog hair. And I always have a book going to read at lunch or before falling asleep. Sometimes I teach writing classes; I walk in the woods and I’m always taking pictures that will show up on my (pretty much) Daily Blog.
9. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?
Really learn to use my new Nikon D90 digital SLR camera – a step up from my little digital point and shoot number. And also learn to speak French. I wish I could learn to play a musical instrument but after trying violin, piano, dulcimer, guitar, and mandolin, I have to admit that I haven’t the ear for it.
10. What’s your favorite quote?
I have to tell the story it came from to help make some sense of it.
A city fella is walking along a country road and he passes an orchard. The apple trees are heavy with ripe fruit and a farmer is standing under one, holding up a pig so that it can eat all the apples it wants.
“Hey, there,” says the city fella to the farmer, “that must take a lot of time, feeding your pig that way.”
The farmer just smiles. “What’s time to a pig?” says he.
Something about the silliness of this has always enchanted me and whenever I find myself having to do something I don’t want to, I repeat to myself: “What’s time to a pig?”

Author Bio: Vicki Lane is the author of the critically acclaimed Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries from Bantam Dell -- Signs in the Blood, Art's Blood, Old Wounds, In a Dark Season (Anthony Nominee), as well as The Day of Small Things, a standalone coming in 2010. Vicki draws her inspiration from the past and present of rural North Carolina where she and her family have tended a mountainside farm since 1975 Book Blurb: (no more than 100 words): In a Dark Season Anthony Nominee Best PBO, Romantic Times Nominee Best Contemporary Suspense. Margaret Maron calls it "a suspenseful tale of love and lust." The old house on the Drovers’ Road is haunted by evil – a suspicious death, a brutal rape, a suicide attempt, and the legend of a handsome youth, hanged for murder. “A haunting, lyrical tale of the Appalachians, as heartbreaking as it is magical,” says Julia Spencer-Fleming.

Monday, November 23, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Eryn Grace

Eryn Grace shares an excerpt of her new release Hearts of Compassion. It comes out December 3 from Red Rose Publishing.

Rylee Fitz, lonely daughter of a millionaire, is forced to work at a homeless shelter in up-state New York as a team building exercise for her job. Since her goal is to get her immediate boss' job, she jumps at the chance. Ben Colson, the homeless shelter's lawyer who was fired when he was been working for Rylee's father, is bitter from having to start over again. He also wants to move on with his life, but no woman ever fits the bill.To her horror, Ben makes Rylee do manual labor and teaches her that brooms don't need to be plugged in to work. When he takes the time to actually treat her like a human being, Rylee finds herself falling for him. She just hopes he finds it in his heart to deal with her problems, and can forgive her family for treating him badly.


She turned and faced a man in a sweatshirt and jeans, certain he was homeless, too. His chin was covered in stubble and he looked exhausted. He was muscular and sexy, with light brown hair, blue eyes, and strong facial features. But he was lower class, in her mind, because she was sure he was homeless.

Rylee raised her nose slightly, in her mother's upper class snottiness. "I'm fine. I think you belong over there…with your kind."

"My kind?" He raised one eyebrow, almost chuckling while he crossed his arms. "What kind would that be?"

"The homeless." She pointed ahead of her. "Over there."

He raked his eyes down over her, almost in cruel judgment. "No one wears dresses here…or heels. Are you lost?"

"No, we've been assigned here from the city. I'm with Grahame Designs, but you probably don't know anything about that." She waved him off, ignoring him.

"Is that right?" He chuckled, his arms still crossed. "I organized your trip here, and I'm going to be your boss for the next week."

"You? Who are you?"

He reached out to shake her hand. "Ben Colson. I'm the lawyer for the Guardian Home for the Needy."

She shook his hand, feeling confused. "I don't know your name. I thought you were a homeless"

He leaned closer, and she realized he didn't smell like the rest of the room. He'd showered recently, the scent of the soap filling her nose. "We call them clients. They're people, too."

Thanks to Eryn Grace for stopping by today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Authorsday - Sandra Sookoo

A big hello to Sandra Sookoo who has agreed to answer my questions today.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I knew when I kept running out of library books at an early age then it was driven home to me later in life when I’d wait anxiously for another book to be released from a favorite author, but mostly the first time I put a pen to paper and created my own worlds and characters.
Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I’ve done the “just site down and write” thing and sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. Lately, I write out a loose outline of the book then outlines of scenes that give me problems and go from there. It gives me something to look back on and keeps me from getting lost—however it doesn’t always prevent me from wandering around lost in the manuscript.

What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?
That’s funny! I couldn’t even begin to try and remember what the title was! I wrote it in the sixth grade about some neighbor kids in a fantasy world. And heck no, I didn’t try to publish it! In fact, several years after that, it was literally burned in the backyard as a symbolic gesture of “Moving On”. Besides, it was total garbage.
What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?
This business is hard and it’s cruel. Just because you “wrote a book” doesn’t mean you wrote a book. If you want to be a published author bad enough, you’re gonna have to work for it—hard. Oh, and that you won’t be instantly rich LOL In fact, starving artist takes on a whole new meaning once you become “published.” LOL

What was the best writing advice someone gave you?
Never give up and be true to yourself while you write. Some said write what you’re comfortable with and go from there. Don’t follow the trends and write the story of your heart. So far, it’s worked.
What was the worst? Did you know it at the time?
Ah, the worst piece of advice. A published author, after I asked her for advice on how to get started in the biz, once told me that I’d destroy my career before it ever took off if I published with e-presses. I spent many sleepless nights and restless days pondering over this and then ultimately decided to start making a name for myself in the e-publishing world. What I’d say to her if I had the chance? “How’d you like me now?” J
What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?
I think I’m pretty good at descriptive writing and writing sexual tension—most of the time. Secondary characters seem to be a strength as well.
What do you consider your weaknesses?
Writing an ending. I always end up rewriting them twice—and that’s before edits. Another weakness? Love scenes, although I’m considerably less uncomfortable about writing them than I once was.
What’s your favorite quote?
I have two: “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” – Jules Renard
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." – Walt Disney
What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?
The early 1900s—1920s America. This was just an awesome time in history and the nation was in flux. Women were just coming into an awareness of the power they could weild and inventions abounded. And the music. Oh Lord the music and women’s fashions. Sigh. I guess that’s why, if I write a historical novel, it’s centered in this time period.

Author Bio Sandra is a writer of romantic fiction. Her portfolio includes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romances and she’ll sometimes blend genres.

After catching the writing bug at the young age of ten, she’s gone on to grow her unique writing style. She’s a regular contributor for the Paranormal Romantic’s blog and has just agreed to blog bi-monthly with a great group of women at the Embrace the Shadows blog.

When not immersed in creating new worlds and interesting characters, Sandra likes to read, bake and travel. Her favorite place to spend vacation hours is Walt Disney World. It’s where dreams come true, and that suits her just fine.

Writing is her ultimate dream job.

Book Blurbs:


Santa’s nephews have come to Crystal Falls to run a cookie business. If they fail, they’ll have to go back to the North Pole and fill their uncle’s black boots when he retires. But sick of toys, elves, and the North Pole’s influence, that’s the last thing Landon and Aaron want. They’re looking for love.
Jayne isn’t much for sentimental family holidays and she certainly doesn’t believe in magic. Working in the Crystal Falls post office, she is mystified when she handles mail bearing a North Pole postal mark.
When Landon and Jayne meet, their attraction for each other is undeniable, but will the truth about Landon’s life make Jayne a believer, or will it be his love that finally melts her heart?

Andrea Peterchef never thought her job would include a nine-year-old Piper and vomit. Then she meets Max, a workaholic stockbroker with a voice like melted chocolate and she vows to help her charge and him reconnect as a family.

Maxwell Gildenthall is haunted by the 9/11 deaths of his girlfriend and his cousin—Piper’s dad. Deadlines and data define his life—not baby dolls and dress-up. When Andrea cajoles him into playing the part of dad, the benefits of spending time with the plus-size au pair are a bonus, but he can’t ditch the guilt.

It’ll take more than a spoonful of sugar and a dose of Christmas magic to mend the broken family. It’ll take the power of love.
Thanks for answering my questions Sandra!

Monday, November 16, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Rachel Brady

Rachel Brady shares an excerpt today from her novel Final Approach.

Jeannie found me in the ladies room, standing in mountain pose, trying to breathe like my yoga teacher.
“Jesus, Emily. Look at you.” She smelled floral and cheerful but sounded grim.
I didn’t have to look in the mirror to know why. My mascara had been wiped away and I knew my eyes would still be pink and glassy. I closed them and took another three-part breath.
“Richard’s in the lobby,” I said. “Don’t make me talk about it.”
“He can’t see you like this.”
Inhale. “Then fix me, please.”
Exhale. “And bring me some of that perfume.”
I opened my eyes in time to see her give what was meant to be a reassuring smile and pull open the door.
“Be right back,” she said.
As her Guccis tapped down the hallway, I realized what her smile actually said: “Sucks to be you”.

Bio: A graduate of Wright State University and The Ohio State University, Rachel enjoys a career in biomedical engineering in addition to the time she spends writing mystery and suspense fiction. Her interests include health and fitness, acoustic guitar, and books of all kinds. She lives outside of Houston, Texas, with her husband and their three children. Final Approach is her debut novel. Visit Rachel on-line at

Thank you for stopping by Rachel.

Wendy Ely visits

Wendy Ely is my guest blogger today. She's going to share an excerpt from her book Confessions. Please give a warm blog welcome to Wendy.

I always feel weird when writing a post for another person’s blog. I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to blog but don’t know what the readers expect. I worry that I won’t get any comments since a lot of people don’t like change and here comes another author posting something totally random. But often I get to meet a variety of new people. Being a guest blogger opens up the opportunity for new connections I didn’t already have. This is one of the many joys of being an author. I get to meet so many different types of people. Who would’ve thought ann eighteen year old guy would read Jesse’s Brother (my first novel) and send me fan mail? I certainly didn’t but loved getting to know him.

So setting up a blog tour was the first thing I did in my preparations of my new release. So, dear readers, take a peek at the Confessions excerpt and let’s chat on here for a bit. Or you can send me an email (

Excerpt from Confessions:

Jordan sat down on the couch and patted the floor in front of him. “Sit down. Let me get those knots out.”
She took a few steps in his direction, stopping out of his reach, afraid to let him touch her. If he touched her, then she’d fall madly in love with him all over again. That couldn’t happen.
She watched as he leaned forward far enough to grab her by the hand. He pulled her to him.
“Are you sure you want to?”
“Yes,” he said. He guided her down to the floor between his legs. Before leaning back, she slipped her t-shirt off, revealing the navy tank top. His strong hands slid over her skin and she sunk back against him. She’d forgotten how strong he was, how needy she felt when he touched her. As if by magic, her body slowly began to relax underneath his touch. He kneaded her skin with the palms of his hands. The more he touched her, the more she felt at ease. She leaned forward a bit, making his legs embrace the rest of her body. His hands trailed down the length of her back toward the top of her jeans. A small moan escaped her lips. If only he would go lower.
“Feel good?” The words floated through the air like music from a past dream.
“Mm hm.”
He rubbed the small of her back, his hands working every muscle imaginable. “Remember when I would rub your feet each night after work?”
“The best part of the whole day.” His hands. His voice. He had cast a spell over her.
“I loved those times with you, Chels.”
Butterflies swarmed in her stomach, breaking up her intoxicated sensation. Chels? He used to call her that when they were teenagers. He was the only person who’d ever had a pet name for her.
“Me, too,” she mumbled.
“That’s what has gotten me through until now. Those memories of us from before you disappeared.” His hands stilled, but she could feel their heat against her.
Damn it! Tears welled in her eyes. He couldn’t see them, she wouldn’t allow him to. She scooted away him his touch, far enough away so she could stand up on her own without using his assistance.
“I’m sorry, Jordan. We shouldn’t be doing this.”
“What are you talking about, Chelsea?” He tried to grab her by the hand again but this time she walked away from him. She went over to the windows, dried her eyes and then turned around.
“I told you everything, so now I should go.” She walked past him toward the stairs.
“No, you won’t.” The words were ice cold. It seemed like his massage had been some sort of dream.
She froze. “What do you mean, I won’t?”
“Let’s get something clear. Okay?”
She slowly turned around. She had never heard this tone from Jordan in the whole time she had known him. It scared her.
He stood up from the couch and walked over to her. His hands jammed into his jean pockets. “There’s a choice to be made here,” he said. “You either stay here to help me locate my daughter or I contact the authorities.”


If you’d like to read more, you can find Confessions at

Thanks for stopping by Wendy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Authorsday - Sally Odgers

Tasmanian-born author Sally Odgers joins me today. She graciously answers my questions. I think you'll find her very interesting.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously when I was eleven, which is forty years ago.

How did you pick the genre you write in?
I write in lots of genres… in fact, I’ve probably written almost everything except literary fiction. I seldom write sports stories or political thrillers… but I have done now and again. My favourite genres are fantasy, science fiction and historical, all because I can craft my own version of reality.

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I plot things in quite a lot of detail, although sometimes I depart from the plan and have to return to the drawing board.

What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?
I know I should NOT have spent hours typing things that were inherently unpublishable. I have been typing for forty years, and have had tendonitis in both hands for the last ten. If I hadn’t written all those unpublished mss my hands mightn’t hurt now. On the plus side, I have self-published some of those ms!

How many rejections have you received?
Their name is Legion. I’ve had about 280 books published, and at least as many rejections. I suspect I’m Tasmania’s most published living author… by book count, at least.

What was the best writing advice someone gave you?
None, really. In fact, a lot of advice I’ve been given has been counter-productive or just plain incorrect. See below!

What was the worst? Did you know it at the time?
One of the most misleading is, “Write from the heart”. It sounds lovely, but it leads to more rejections than usual. Another misleading piece is, “Write what you know”. What I knew was all about Tasmanian rural life. That’s precisely what no one wanted to read about! I use very much modified versions of these two precepts. One is, “Write FROM the HEART if you want to, but don’t expect to get it published. To get published, write FOR the MARKET.” The other is, “Know what you Write”. In other words, get your research done! And no, I didn’t know how misleading these were. I found out by experience. I wish they were true.

Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know?
I was diagnosed as an insomniac as a child, and prescribed with sleeping tablets. It wasn’t until I grew up I discovered I had never had insomnia at all. It was just that my body clock is askew. My natural go-to-sleep time is about 2 a.m., and I wake (naturally) at about 10 a.m. No wonder I used to lie awake for hours when I was sent to bed at what was, to my clock, the middle of the afternoon! Being self-employed has saved me from hours of nocturnal and morning misery.

What do you consider your weaknesses?
A deep desire to write what I want rather than what the market wants.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I run a small manuscript assessment business. I also do a lot of walking with my husband and/or our dogs. I read, either in the usual way or via audio-books. I listen to music, play Scrabble and mess about with my websites. I like gardening. I used to enjoy free form embroidery until the tendonitis put a stop to the small fine movements. I spend a fair bit of time with various family members, either actually (parents, sister, daughter, husband) or virtually (son and daughter-in-law).

Author Bio:
Sally Odgers was born in Latrobe, Tasmania, in the 1950s. She went to school there in the 1960s, married there in the 1970s, had children there in the 1980s, began her manuscript assessment business there in the 1990s and continues to live there in the 2000s. Along the way she has written books. Sample titles include, Her Kingdom for a Pony (first book-length publication, 1970s) Dreadful David (first picture book publication, 1980s) Translations in Celadon, Shadowdancers and Trinity Street, (long fantasies, 1990s), Candle Iron (long fantasy, 2000), Replay (2007) the Jack Russell; Dog Detective series (co-written with Darrel Odgers) 2005-9.

Book Blurb:

A love song, a mystery, a waltz through history. Aelfthryth and Harry were born in 11th Century Kent, so what are they doing in Sydney a thousand years later? Two girls in a locked room. One schnauzer dog desperate to find them. They all have secrets...

Monday, November 9, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Vicki Delany

Here's an excerpt from Winter of Secrets by Vicki Delaney.

Set-up. Molly Smith is a young, enthusiastic Constable with the Trafalgar City Police. She reported that she had seen a fireplace at a scene in question. Unfortunately she didn't notice that it was a gas fireplace, and her Sergeant, John Winters, arrived with a full forensic team and backup all ready to search through the ashes. They have driven back to the police station in silence. Winters prepares to get out of the car.

“I need to go back to the B&B and ask very politely if I can check Williams’ room. That will now be somewhat awkward. Ron Gavin came out on his day off because he’s a good officer. Also because he owes me one. We’ll both consider that debt to have been paid. The Horseman who followed Ray will make sure everyone back at the station gets a good laugh hearing about how I screwed up.” Horseman, Smith knew, meant a Mountie. Winters opened the car door. Unfortunately he wasn’t finished. “And this will be my screw up, Constable Smith. Eventually to become a story spread far and wide for the amusement of police officers everywhere. I’ll wear it, because I will not embarrass myself, or the Trafalgar City Police, by trying to set the story straight.”

She ground her teeth and fought back tears. Shut the door. Just shut up and shut the door.

“I will, however, be required to give a full, and honest, report to the Chief Constable.”
The door slammed shut.
Vicki Delany’s newest novel, Winter of Secrets, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which said, “she uses…artistry as sturdy and restrained as a Shaker chair.” Vicki writes everything from standalone novels of suspense (Burden of Memory) to the Constable Molly Smith series, a traditional village/police procedural series set in the B.C. Interior (In the Shadow of the Glacier, Winter of Secrets), to a light-hearted historical series (Gold Digger) set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush. Vicki lives in rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she rarely wears a watch. Visit Vicki at She blogs with five other mystery writers at and about the writing life, as she lives it, at


Virtual Tour - Tracey Cramer Kelly

Tracey Cramer Kelly makes a stop her today on her virtual book tour. Welcome Tracey. She graciously offered to answer a few questions.

Let's see what Tracey has to say.

Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?
For me, it starts with one scene—often from a dream. It grows from there until I have the makings of a story or novel in my head. I’ve tried making an outline but find that my characters sometimes take me in a different direction. I’ve learned not to fight that, but it means I usually write more than I need and end up cutting (on the up side, I have several additional stories I could work on!).
What drew you to the subject of Last Chance Rescue?
My writing is heavily influenced by the time I spent in the military and by the medical training I received there. When I became a helicopter pilot, it opened new relationships with some amazing people—and Last Chance really came together after I did some ride-alongs with medevac and search-and-rescue.
Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?
I self-published Last Chance Rescue for several reasons. First, I’m not very patient, and second, I’m a bit of a control freak. :-) I had heard the writer had to do her own marketing even if/when she did find a publisher, and I had heard all the horror stories about editors’ changes, so I wasn’t exactly driven to go that route. But perhaps more important, when I wrote Last Chance Rescue, I had no writing ‘credentials’ to speak of. I didn’t feel that an agent would take my query seriously without some sort of writing experience or background. (Next time around I may do it differently, especially since Last Chance Rescue was nominated a Finalist in the Indie Awards.)
If you have a day job, what is it?
My husband and I own a motorcycle accessories business (, and it’s my job to run it. Our products are high-end, chrome mounting kits for electronics (GPS, iPod/MP3, phone, camera, satellite radio, etc) and drink holders. We also manufacture rain guards (“Desert Dawgs”) that slip onto the engine guard bar and keep legs and feet warm and dry.

Describe your book.
Last Chance Rescue is about two people who must fight their own defenses to finally let down the walls that will allow them to rescue each other. It is a story about breath-taking search-and-rescue action and adventurous lives—and the heart that is behind it all.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Great imaginations are apt to work from hints and suggestions, and a single moment of emotion is sometimes sufficient to create a masterpiece.” – Margaret Sackville
What is your favorite word?
Actually, I have two favorite words: ‘discombobulated’ and ‘caddywampus’ (and you would have laughed to hear them as some of my childrens’ first words!).
What place haven’t you visited that you would like to go?
Alaska. Baja, Mexico. Sea kayak the Santa Barbara Islands. Heli-ski the Canadian mountains. Raft the Grand Canyon. There’s a lot of river I’d like to raft someday…
What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?
I would like to have been alive (preferably male) during the gold rush period in the American ‘wild west.’ I have a fascination with old mining towns.
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
The girl gets to be the hero! :-)
What do you do when you are not writing?
I am wife and mother to two young children (2 and 6) and they keep me busy (!). I own and operate a motorcycle accessories business, (and I ride my Kawasaki Vulcan as often as I can). I just started taking lessons for my fixed-wing pilot license (an ‘add-on’ to my helicopter license). I play the taiko drums every Saturday morning and sing with my friend’s band when I can. When I can get away, I enjoy skiing (all kinds) and white-water rafting/kayaking.

Author Bio
Tracey’s first novel, Last Chance Rescue, was a finalist in the 2009 Indie Awards. Her writing draws extensively from her experience as an Army Reserve paramedic and helicopter pilot. When not managing the family business, Leader Motorcycle Accessories, she enjoys taiko drumming, motorcycling and outdoor activities with her husband and two young children. Her writing and blog can be found at
Book Blurb
When Brad runs into Jessie at his high school reunion, little does he know how much it will change his life. When his high powered advertising career fizzles, he falls into a most unlikely career opportunity—becoming a search-and-rescue team member.
Through dangerous rescues and personal trials, Brad and Jessie become friends. When one of their rescue victims turns out to be a fellow soldier from Jessie’s Iraq War days, Brad almost loses her to old demons. But then Brad nearly dies in a training accident, and Jessie nurses him back to health. And when she goes missing one night, Brad realizes just how important she has become to him.
Brad and Jessie must fight their own defenses to finally let down the walls that will allow them to rescue each other. This is a story about breath-taking action and adventurous lives—and the heart that is behind it all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Authorsday - Tina Gallagher

Tina graciously saved me when I had no Authorsday. Thank you Tina.

Here is her inteview.

How did you pick the genre you write in? My best friend and I used to write happily-ever-afters for our favorite soap opera couple. Ever since then I’ve been hooked on romance because there’s always a happy ending. Maybe it’s sappy, but I like to know that no matter what happens on the pages, at the end of the book, everything will work out.

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? I write by the seat of my pants. I pretty much get an idea and go with it. All the twists and turns usually come to me as I write.
What drew you to the subject of Romance by the Book? Well, how many times do you read a book and fall head over heels in love with the hero? So I asked myself, “What would happen if that hero you’ve fallen in love with walked through your door one day?” a new book was born.
How many rejections have you received? I can’t count that high. J Seriously, I could wallpaper my entire house with my rejections and still have some papers left over.

What was the best writing advice someone gave you? To never give up. Every time I receive a rejection, I remind myself that I’ll only fail if I stop trying.
If you have a day job, what is it? Right now, I work as an administrative assistant at an HVAC company.

What’s your writing schedule? I usually write from 10:00pm until midnight or so during the week and squeeze as much time in during the weekend as I can.

What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go? Ireland

What do you do when you are not writing? When I’m not writing, I’m usually sitting in the stands cheering my kids on in one sport or another. And of course, I’m an avid reader.
What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t? I’d love to learn how to play the piano. Maybe someday…

Author Bio:
Tina was raised in Northeast Pennsylvania and in-between softball, basketball, and music lessons, she and her best friend would create their own "happily ever afters" for their favorite soap opera couples. After a while, the soap operas lost their appeal, but the writing never did. She continues to use her imagination to weave stories about heroes and heroines who share deep, lasting relationships.
Tina is an active member of the Pocono/Lehigh Romance Writers, a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. She and her husband live in Northeast Pennsylvania with their two beautiful children.

Book Blurb:
After a disastrous marriage, real estate agent, Maureen O’Connell, is content reading about life, love and the perfect man in her favorite romance novel. Finn Ryan walks into her life and has to convince her that he’s better than a character in a book.

Monday, November 2, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Ric Wasley

Welcome paranormal author Ric Wasley. He's sharing an excerpt of his book The Scrimshaw.

Here's what it is about:

Spring 1858, Nantucket Island. Just outside of the harbor, a ship is approaching. She is the Elizabeth James, a trading vessel, home to Jeptha Dawes after two years in the South Sea Islands. But the Elizabeth James will not be enjoying the welcoming lights of Nantucket Town this night, because the cargo carried by the Yankee clipper ship is not just silks and spices. It's something that the ship's dying captain has sworn must never be allowed to set foot in the town of his birth. It is a cargo of pure evil.... Summer 1968, Cape Cod. Mick and Bridget ride on a 650 cc BSA motorcycle as it roars them over the Bourne Bridge spanning the Cape Cod Canal. They don't care about everyday life. They're on vacation, heading for a well-deserved rest, far away from city cares and hassles. They've picked out a quiet little town halfway up the Cape Cod peninsula. There, they plan to relax in a quaint white clapboard inn, surrounded by beach plums and primroses, encircled by nothing but sand, sea, and each other. Peace, quiet, and safety. Or so they think. What they don't know is that they're riding smack dab into the middle of trouble.... And something that's been waiting...for 110 years.

The excerpt:

The Skaket Creek Inn August 18th, 19687:52 a.m.
Bridget picked up the oddly shaped pieces one by one and turned them over in her hands. She held one up to the filtered morning light streaming in through the small semicircular window set high up in the basement wall. She shook her head and blew a stray wisp of jet-black hair from her eyes. Finally she turned back to Kathy Dawes standing in the doorway, leaning against the heavy oak door. An old fashioned brass key dangling from a faded, red velvet ribbon hung from her right hand.
"All right." Bridget sighed. "I give up. What are they?"
Before Kathy could answer, Mick asked quietly, "Do you remember what you asked me the first time we walked into the pub upstairs?"
Bridget glanced up at the heavy beams overhead that supported the pub's wooden floor. Yes, she remembered, the night before last. Had it really been so short a time? Time enough for their lives to be horribly changed. She gave a tiny, involuntary shudder and said, "Yes, I think so."
She frowned and tried to recall the exact words. "We'd just come in, and I was looking over at the bar, and there was a sign above it and...yes--the sign. I asked you what that word meant. Scrimshaw."


Ric Wasley thrived on music in the sixties and performed as a folksinger and in several rock bands all over New England and later while attending the University of Kentucky. While at UK his band performed as an opening act for the Kingsmen and while touring as a folk singing act he met the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Ric graduated with a BA in History from UK in 1968 and has been writing for over 30 years. He has been published in several literary magazines in L.A. and San Francisco while living in California. He currently lives outside of Boston with his wife and three children, works for a major media company and retains his love of music and writing.
His other works include:
The Scrimshaw – 2008 - Novel
Shadow of Innocence – 2007 - Novel
Acid Test — 2004 - Novel
At my Window with a Broken Wing – Novella - 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Authorsday- CJ Lyons

Welcome medical thriller writers CJ Lyons to my blog today.

Title: The face of evil.

Thanks, Chris for having me here today!

Have you ever come face to face with evil? I have.

I'm CJ Lyons and I practiced pediatric emergency medicine and community pediatrics for seventeen years. During that time, I faced rapists, child abusers, gang-bangers who would kill over a pair of shoes, sociopaths, psychotics, narcissists, and even one killer our prosecutor classified as a serial killer.

You know the scary thing about evil? It looks just like you and me.

When I left medicine to fulfill my life-long dream of becoming an author, I knew that I wanted to explore the various faces of evil. Because I've faced it in real-life, I knew how different it was from most of the "bad-guys" portrayed in fiction.

Evil doesn't spend its days plotting dastardly deeds of cunning or intricate, diabolical plots involving red herrings and webs of intrigue.

Rather, the evil I've seen is driven by one simple desire: they know what they want, they want it now, and they don't care what they have to do to get it.

The boy-friend baby-sitting while mom's at work who brutally beat and raped a three year old because she wouldn't go to bed when he told her the first time. He's currently on death row.

The woman who shook her baby so hard the baby hemorrhaged into his brain….because the baby wouldn't stop crying during her favorite TV show.

The gangbanger who shot a kid because he said "hi" to the wrong girl on the wrong street corner while wearing the wrong color of hat.

These are just a few of the faces of evil I've seen.

Is it any wonder that in my medical suspense novels I focus on what makes evil so compelling to so many readers: the fact that it hides among us, so very hard to see, hiding in plain sight.

We all have something in common with evil. No matter who we are, we are all driven by the same universal needs and wants: love, security, recognition.

In real life, there was frustratingly little I could do when faced with evil. I could care for the victims, help the police and prosecutors to the best of my ability, but it always felt as if there should be a way to stop the senseless deaths and violence.

As rewarding as my medical career has been, I'm finding that my new career as an author has its own rewards. Especially when it gives me the chance to not only put a face to evil but to give its victims the justice they deserve.

That's why writing my latest in the Angels of Mercy series, URGENT CARE, has been so fulfilling. Not only does Nora, the ER charge nurse, come face to face with her greatest fear—a fear every woman can understand and share—but she finds the courage to defeat both her fear and the man behind it.

How? By making a stand and refusing to allow it to control her life.

I think this is the best way to fight evil--bring it into the light where everyone can see it for what it truly is.

So you tell me—have you ever come face to face with evil? I'll bet you have.

The boyfriend who came close to stalking you, the sociopath next door who lies about everything—for no reason than the sheer joy of getting away with it, the school kid setting fires and torturing animals…..they're all out there, closer than you think.

Thanks for reading!

About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, is due out October 27, 2009. Contact her at

Thanks for stopping by today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ExcerpTuesday - Pat Brown

Pat Brown is sharing a part of her latest release Lynx Woods. Please read below and I'm sure you'll have found a new author to read.

Blurb:Lynx Woods is the story of Tyler McKay, a Canadian ecological engineer, who is hired to restore a ravaged piece of land back to its natural state. During the commission of his project he meets Charlie Reid, famous wildlife artist who has been hired to produce 4 paintings commemorating that transformation. McKay is instantly drawn to the dark, enigmatic Charlie, who is half-Cherokee. But Charlie is in deep denial about his sexuality. Tyler wants to break through the barriers that Charlie has thrown up, but what cost is there when you fall in love with a man who hates himself?Excerpt:Only then did I notice the other man in the room.He stood with his back to the desk, looking out at the view through the polarized glass. His hands were held behind his back, and I noted their size and obvious roughness. This guy was no desk jockey, not with calluses like that. I couldn't see his face, only the pitch black hair that had been drawn into a ponytail and hung past his shoulder blades. He had broad shoulders and a tight ass not quite covered by a black leather bomber jacket."Ah, yes," Thurlow said. "I'm actually glad you did come up, Tyler. I'd like you meet someone. He's going to be working on the site, too, but in a different capacity."The figure by the window turned, and I found myself holding my breath. Would this stranger measure up to what I had already seen of his impressive back?I wouldn't have described the man as drop-dead gorgeous. His face was too unusual for that. It was obvious he had First Nation's blood running through his veins. His high cheekbones looked sculptured in his tight, dark face, and his eyes were two black orbs staring into mine as Thurlow introduced us."Tyler, I'd like you to meet Charlie Reid. Charlie, this is Tyler McKay, our ecological engineer."
Thank you for stopping by Pat Brown