Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview with debut mystery novelist Sally Carpenter


Today's guest on Reviews and Interviews is debut mystery novelist Sally Carpenter to talk a bit about her debut novel The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, from Dark Oak Mysteries/Oak Tree Press.

Bio:
Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Southern California.

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school two of her plays, “Star Collector” and “Common Ground,” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. The plays received staged readings and productions in New York City.

Sally also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked a variety of jobs including actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. Now she works at a community newspaper.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles Chapter.

Sally, please tell us about your current release.
My book,
The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, answers the question, “What happens to teen idols when they grow up?” They become amateur sleuths.

From 1975 to 1979, teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded 10 gold records and starred in the hit TV show, Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now he’s a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic, forgotten and desperate for a comeback. He takes his only job offer, a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention in the Midwest.

What looks like an easy gig turns deadly when a member of the tribute band is murdered. When Sandy is fingered as the prime suspect, and is persuaded to fill in for dead musician at a concert, the boy sleuth is back in action to solve the case. But can he find the killer before the Apple Bonker and the Blue Meanie stop him?

What inspired you to write this book?
As they say, write what you know. I’ve been a Beatles fan for as far back I can remember. I heard “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold My Hand” when they were first on the radio and thought they were the greatest songs ever.

In the 1980s someone recommended that I read Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. The entire book takes place during a weekend science fiction convention at a hotel—the guest of honor, a famous fantasy author, is bumped off and the convention guests are the suspects. I was into the SF culture at the time and laughed at all the in-jokes. I thought, “Wow! I wish I’d written that book!” I’ve attended three Beatles fan conventions over the years and, with Bimbos in mind, figured that would make a fun setting for a story.

In the late 1990s VH-1 started running The Monkees TV show on weekdays. I was hooked and got involved with the whole fan thing of collecting records and attending concerts. I was intrigued by the teen idol phenomena and did extensive research on idols.

I went back to college at that time and in my playwrighting class I wrote a script about a middle-aged fan finally meeting her idol. The play was a regional finalist in the American College Theater Festival. One of the adjudicators said, “I see a bigger story for these two characters.”

I wanted to write something else with my teen idol character, but nothing clicked until I put him into a mystery series.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m writing the next book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, The Sinister Sitcom Caper. When Sandy shows up for a guest spot on a TV show, an actor falls down dead at his feet. Sitcoms rehearse and shoot in five days, so Sandy has less than a week to find the killer. He has some detecting help from a dwarf and Scruffy, an animal actor. We meet some members of Sandy’s family. And could romance be budding for our hero?

This story was inspired by my experiences working as a page at a major Hollywood movie studio. Most fun I ever had on a job.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always wanted to write. Growing up I spent many hours reading books from the local library, mainly because that’s all there was to do in my small town. When mom was washing dishes, I dried them and made up stories to tell her to pass the time. I also made up my own stories about my favorite TV shows.

When I was younger I tried my hand at freelance writing. I sold a few short pieces, but didn’t make much money and dropped it for a number of years. A decade ago I decided I really wanted to make a go at writing. I tried working with several genres, but the only success I had was with a mystery.

Do you write full time?
Alas, no. I wish I did. I have a day job to pay the bills.

If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work full time at a weekly community newspaper. On weekends I do occasional reviews of local college and community theater. I write in the evenings after work and on weekends. I have no family obligations (except for two demanding black cats) so I can devote my free time to writing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know how interesting this is, but I always write the first draft of a book by hand with a special refillable blue pen I bought especially for this task. I don’t use the pen for anything else. It’s a large pen that feels comfortable and writes quickly. I type up my scrawls into a computer and edit from there.

I can’t do first drafts at a computer. Staring at a blinking cursor leaves me numb. It feels too much like an office job. Writing by hand feels more natural and creative.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to star in my own TV series. I also wanted to be a musician, because my friends at schools were in band and choir and I wasn’t. I’ve always envied musicians. That’s why my protagonist is both a musician and a TV star. I can live out my dreams through him.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Don’t discuss the writing business with a non-writer. So many people have given me dumb advice even though they know nothing about the publishing industry.

If you’re trying to give solace to a writer who’s gotten a rejection, don’t say, “So-and-so got a dozen rejections and eventually sold their book for millions.” That isn’t comforting to someone who’s accumulated hundreds of rejections over the years (like myself).

If you want to write, start a project and finish it. Too many wannabes spend all their time reading how-to books and blogging about writing, but never get that book going!

Readers can feel free to contact me at scwriter@earthlink.net

Sally, thank you for being here today and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing. I now have flashbacks to The Monkees. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview with mystery author Judy Alter


Please give a friendly welcome to mystery author Judy Alter. She's here to talk about her newest book, Skeleton in a Dead Space, and all the other fun parts of her life.

Judy, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been a reader and a story teller since childhood and wrote my first stories at about the age of ten. I majored in English in college because I liked to read and I was going to get married and some man would take care of me—no career plans for this child of the 1950s. But that didn’t quite work out as I planned, and in my early twenties I began writing nonfiction medical articles for laymen. After earning a Ph.D., I was startled to realize I could write a novel. My first, After Pa Was Shot, pegged me as a juvenile author, a pigeonhole that it’s hard to break out of. But I had a good career writing fiction and nonfiction, for adults and y/a readers, mostly about women of the American West.

Tastes changed, and I didn’t publish for almost ten years. As I neared retirement, I began to write cozy mysteries—I’d read them all my life. Although I’d published in New York and had agents, the mystery world and the changing publishing industry were all new to me. I’ve learned a lot from Sisters in Crime and their subgroups, such as Guppies. I have a couple of abandoned mysteries in my stack, but my first published one, Skeleton in a Dead Space, launched August 29 from Turquoise Morning Press, and I hope to continue the series. The protagonist, Kelly O’Connell reflects some of my own experience as a single parent—but I surely never was involved in investigating a murder. I just read about them.

For almost thirty years, my daytime job was director of a small academic press—a very different publishing hat, but work I loved—my two careers supported each other nicely. I am the single parent of four grown children and the grandparent of seven. I live in Fort Worth, Texas, with my Australian shepherd, Scooby, and my aging domestic longhair cat, Wywy, and a new three-month-puppy, a Bordoodle (cross of a border collie and a poodle) named Sophie. I spend a lot of time puppy training these days, but I’m hard at work on the third volume of the Kelly O’Connell series. The second is already turned in to the publisher.

Please tell us about your current release.
Skeleton in a Dead Space features Kelly O’Connell, a single parent of two young daughters and owner of a real estate business that specializes in refurbishment traditional houses in an older neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. Kelly never thought real estate was a dangerous profession. But while updating an early-twentieth-century Craftsman house, she stumbles over a skeleton and begins unraveling an old murder. The police call it a cold case, but Kelly knows she must solve the murder if she is to finish the house and sell it. She and her two young daughters quickly become the target of threats and vandalism, and someone is telling her ex-husband in California what’s going on. Tim Spencer arrives to protect his daughters by taking them to California with him but is soon found shot to death. Then a new client barges into Kelly’s life, and she finds herself facing a gun, a deadly killer, and the solution to the mystery of the skeleton and Tim’s death.

What inspired you to write this book?
Determination to write a published mystery. I thought about creating a heroine who was a little different—not the owner of a craft store or a bakery—and decided on a real estate agent. I added the Craftsman house touch because I love old houses. Also I have a dead space in my kitchen, which we’ve wondered about for years, and one day I passed a house under reconstruction that clearly said to me, “This is the house of your mystery.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
A sequel to Skeleton involving a serial killer who targets little old ladies in the neighborhood is already turned in to the publisher, and I’m working on the third book in which Kelly is stalked and her new husband police officer Michael, injured in an automobile accident, is unable to protect her. That’s about all I know about it so far. I’m a pantser, not an outliner.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At the age of ten, when I began writing short stories on lined paper. My mom saved them, and I have them somewhere in the attic.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Since I retired writing is pretty much my full time occupations, but I am easily distracted by household chores, cooking, lunch invitations, etc. Grandchildren can always entice me away from writing. I do try to work in the mornings—but that includes catching up on emails and blogs and FB and, if I’m inspired, Twitter. Twitter is still hard for me. Early afternoons are often good times for writing but then I quit for a nap—one of the privileges of retirement—and somewhere I try to work in either 40 minutes of yoga or four miles on my stationery bike. Late at night, I read for pleasure.

When I’m not writing, I spend a lot of time reading recipes, planning meals for guests, and cooking. My secret ambition: to be a chef (I’ll never do it—my aging feet couldn’t stand it!).

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think, unfortunately, that my quirk is that I’m haphazard about it. I don’t force myself to spend a certain amount of time at the keyboard, although I am pretty compulsive about checking my word count. I don’t check my Kindle and Smashwords sales daily, I tune out technical discussions about computer programs on various listservs. I’m all for the non-marketing approach to marketing. I want writing to be fun for me and for that fun to reflect in what I write.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I spent a week in Scotland in the spring and came away inspired with new story ideas. I’d love to stay on Skype for two weeks and just write!

Launch parties: a local grill, mentioned several times in Skeleton in a Dead Space, will host launch parties at 7 a.m. on Saturday Sept. 24—they get lots of early Sat. morning customers who bring their books and read while they eat breakfast—and again at 5:30 on Monday, Sept. 26 to catch the dinner crowd. Seems an ideal set-up for a signing to me—caters to the local neighborhood, setting of the novel, and I don’t have to buy wine, nibbles, whatever. It’s all there for purchase. I’m really looking forward to it.

Thanks for being here today, Judy. You sound like you have a lot of fun with your writing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Live chat/interview with mystery author Mark Okrant - 9/4/11


The Writer's Chatroom presents mystery author Mark Okrant.

WHEN?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are? http://www.worldtimeserver.com

WHERE?

The Writers Chatroom at: http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Interview with mystery author Marilyn Levinson


Marilyn Levinson is my guest today. She's talking about her first adult mystery novel, A Murderer among Us.

Bio:
Marilyn Levinson is a former Spanish teacher, and the author of several books for children and young adults. Rufus and Magic Run Amok was selected by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council for “Children’s Choices for 2002.”

A Murderer among Us is her first published adult mystery. Two novels are scheduled to come out in 2012 -- a ghost mystery (to be renamed) and a romantic suspense, Dangerous Relations. She is a member of The Authors Guild, RWA, The Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Guppies, and is president, and co-founder the Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Bernie and their cat, Sammy.

Marilyn, welcome to Reviews and Interviews. Please tell us about your current release.
A Murderer among Us is a traditional mystery with cozy elements. Lydia Krause moves to an upscale Long Island retirement community to start a new life. Her neighbor introduces her to the community’s financial advisor, whom Lydia recognizes as the convicted embezzler who drove her sister to suicide. She exchanges heated words with his wife, who’s found dead the following morning, mowed down by Lydia’s Lexus. Now Suspect Number One, Lydia investigates. Amid threats and more deaths, Lydia forges new friendships, helps resolve her grown daughters’ problems, and finds romance.

What inspired you to write this book?
Certainly nothing in my own life. I’ve a vivid imagination.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve started a new book. It’s a cozy mystery that involves twins. This time my sleuth is younger -- 25.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a writer or a ballerina. You see which one won out.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m of the age when most people are retired. However, writers don’t retire. I write a few hours each day. A good deal of my time is spent online in communication with other writers. When A Murderer among Us came out I was very busy writing guest blogs and doing interviews, as well as updating my website.

Saturday, I have a meeting of the Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime -- I’m the president. Next week I’ll be doing a Q&A as part of the Savvy Authors Symposium. In October, I’ll be giving a workshop at my library on writing mysteries. Writing is a way of life.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
If you mean IN my writing, that would be getting my characters into funny or awkward situations. If you mean ABOUT my writing habits, it’s that it still takes me ages to settle down to write a few pages a day. Generally, everything starts to flow when I’m supposed to be preparing dinner, or so my husband tells me.

Marilyn, thank you for being here today. Best of luck with your upcoming novels.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Interview with middle-grade authors Kristin Johnson and Samuel DiMatteo


Today's fun interview is with middle-grade authors Kristin Johnson and Samuel DiMatteo to talk about their new book The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter.

Bios:
Samuel DiMatteo spent 22 years as a mechanic for Proctor & Gamble. Since retiring, he has been a watercolor instructor, prize-winning photographer, poet, model maker, and Yoga Laughter Leader. He lives in River Grove, Ill.

Kristin Johnson is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Master’s in Professional Writing program. She is an author, journalist, screenwriter, and award-winning poet/short story writer whose stage productions have been honored by the Palm Springs Desert Theatre League. She lives in Hawaii.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews! Please tell us about your current release.
Kristin: Samuel, or “Sami,” as I know him, is an extremely dynamic man who had an unusual idea for a children’s book, and contacted the writing agency I work with seeking help on the book, to add character development and dialogue. The story just grabbed me right away. It centers around a silly, wacky family of geese living in River Village, Illinois.

Samuel: My hometown is River Grove, Illinois, and while there aren’t any wacky geese there except for me, there are many interesting people who in one way or another appear as characters in the book. The DeMani family, which I created for this book, is as real to me as my own family.

Kristin: It’s like the talking-goose talking-turtle talking-squirrel version of “Everybody Loves Raymond” --Ray Barone is a sportswriter, and our hero Sami DeMani is a gander with the dream of being a world champion professional golfer on the Waterfowl Tour. We even have a sportscaster squirrel, Harry Bradford--inspired by commentators Howard Cosell and Terry Bradshaw.

Samuel: There is a love story, there is adventure, and there is a mystery, plus the high-tech putter of the title. Sami DeMani is a smaller-than-average gander teased by the bullies in his flock on account of his size, but his enemies are secretly jealous that the crowd loves his golfing performance. His sisters and parents are singers and dancers, so he is the only one in his family that wants to be a golfer…until his nephew is born. The rest of the family is supportive but wacky—the bullies in the flock also torment them because of their oddness. Sami wants to become a golf champion more than anything else in order to help his family, and to prove himself worthy of his true love, Polly Zee, a singer who gives Sami “goose bumps”.

What inspired you to write this book?
Samuel: As I wrote in my Senior Lifestyle Expo Generation Writing Challenge essay, in the spring of 2002, a television sportscaster reported that a goose was collecting golf balls on a golf course.

I asked myself questions about this goose’s strange behavior. Why was she collecting golf balls?

My guess was she got hit in the head with a golf ball. I wondered what the members of her flock thought about her behavior. I noted that the flock wiggled, waggled, giggled, gaggled, and laughed. Does she have a family? How many in her family? What if one of these golf balls hatched?

These questions intrigued me, so I decided to write a story for a book about golf and a family of strange and silly geese. I planned to write a fable for junior golfers eight to ten. I titled the book The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter. The television report was the start of a dream, a dream that took eight years of writing to complete.

My motivations for writing the book were to entertain kids, to leave a legacy, and to face a challenge.

Kristin: I loved the idea of the story the minute the agency I work with, The Happy Guy Marketing, sent me Sami’s information. I just fell in love with golfing geese, because I grew up around Canada geese and around golfers.

Samuel: We have a great writing partnership. In football parlance, when I throw her the ball (an idea), she makes positive yardages.

Kristin: Maybe we should do a football story too!

What exciting story are you working on next?
Kristin: I typically have several projects going at once, but Sami and I are plotting the sequel to The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter. The working title is Polly and the Pirates, and it answers the question, “Where was Sami’s love when she was presumed dead?”

Samuel: There are two stories in Polly and the Pirates. One is Polly's adventures, and the other is Sami and the DeMani family.

Kristin: Sami and the DeMani family have their own adventures brewing…

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Samuel: I am a poet and I write silly songs like “Santa’s Going High-Tech”. I decided writing a story for a book would be an extreme challenge for me. I failed English 101 in college. During the next eight years events delayed or moved the writing forward. There were periods of writers block, and the lack of finances that delayed progress. Joining Mather Lifeways helped speed up the writing.

The staff and members graciously provided computer help. I met my illustrator and friend James Borgett at Mather. I needed help with the writing so I hired a co-writer, Kristin Johnson, a real blessing.

Kristin: And Sami is a blessing as well!

Samuel: The published book is my dream that has come true!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Samuel: I’m retired from Procter & Gamble, and now I’m a full-time artist, poet, and photographer, but I show my artwork at places such as Mather Lifeways and in Chicago. I volunteer as a Laughter Yoga Leader. I write poetry and silly songs for children and, of course, stories about Sami.

Kristin: I would like to be a Laughter Yoga leader one day, but I’m thrilled beyond belief to be writing full time from Hawaii, my home, or wherever my travels take me.

Many of my clients like Sami live in different US time zones, with the bulk of them concentrated in the Eastern Standard Time zone. I also have several clients in Europe and the Middle East. Unfortunately, none in Asia where one of our key characters, Yori Turtle, is from. I modeled his personality on some of my friends who live in Asia.

In any case, many of my clients are several hours ahead so I am typically up and writing, or communicating with clients, by 7 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time. My workday varies (with walks on the beach, etc.—great for thinking about stories) but I usually fit in six to eight hours of writing, research, Skype/phone calls, and messaging back and forth. Situations are always changing, opportunities opening up—my research on a different project took me to Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Central Java in Indonesia. I wrote a travel blog about my experiences, which helped increase my writing output.

My time zone will change yet again when I go where the wild goose goes...

Samuel (singing): “I Must Go Where the Wild Goose Goes…” I pictured the book as a movie and thought of opening it with that very song by Frankie Laine.

Kristin: ...in Canada! Where I’ll be spending several months….when you are snowed in, that’s great incentive to write…although looking at the beach is also inspiring.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sami: Again, my silly songs!

Kristin: Writing ideas on paper on the beach or in a Japanese garden. Creating iTunes playlists when I’m working on a project, or watching reality TV (like “Mob Wives”) to get ideas for character conflict. Naturally, I did not draw on reality TV to write The High-Tech Gooseneck Putter.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Kristin: A ballerina or a marine biologist in addition to being a writer. I’ve written since childhood.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Kristin: I received a lovely Christmas present in December 2010. Some of Sami’s family was taking a cruise to Hawaii, and the ship docked in my hometown, so Sami was eager for me to meet them.

Samuel: They are very creative people and they wanted to meet Kristin.

Kristin: I still have the Christmas crafts they brought me! That’s what I love about writing and collaborating—experiencing people I never would have met otherwise. Lisa, thanks for having us as guests on your blog today.

Sami (singing): Goose bumps, goose bumps, Lisa’s blog gives me goose bumps….

Thank you two for making an appearance on my blog. This has been a fun interview, and my first with songs, I think! Happy Writing!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Live chat/interview with mystery author Kathy Brandt - 8/28/11


The Writer's Chatroom presents mystery author Kathy Brandt.

WHEN?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are? http://www.worldtimeserver.com

WHERE?

The Writers Chatroom at: http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Virtual book tour stop with NYT Best Selling author Stephanie Laurens


As part of Goddess Fish Promotions' virtual book and review tour for NY Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens' latest release in her Cynster series, Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue, a historical romance novel being released by Avon/HarperCollins on August 30th, Reviews and Interviews is a selected interview stop.

Stephanie and Avon/HarperCollins will be giving away a $100 Amazon.com gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the course of the tour AND one of four autographed sets of Stephanie Lauren's Avon backlist.

In this first book of the trilogy, we meet a past hero and heroine, and catch up with their lives, and their now established family. Was it part of your original concept to revisit a previous hero and heroine?

I knew from the first that Heather and her hero ended up with Richard and Catriona in Scotland—presumably because Richard, Catriona, and their family and household had some role to play in the story. I tend to initially assume that it’s just as background, a need to catch up as it were, and any actual role in the action will be incidental, but once I was in the throes of writing the story, I discovered – as I often do – that the real reason the hero and heroine are with Richard and Catriona and company is far more intrinsic amd important to the story. As it transpired, many of the primary characters in the Vale had active roles to play, and for three of them – Catriona, and her eldest children, the twins Lucilla and Marcus – their roles were absolutely vital to the story in this book, and also to a contuing theme that will continue over all the Cynster girls’ books to come. That last was one of those lovely aha! moments in story evolution that authors live for.

You’ve described these three books as: 1) Errol Flynn rescues Jane Austen in the wilds of Scotland; 2) Errol Flynn rescues Jane Austen in the wilds of Scotland; and 3) Jane Austen rescues Errol Flynn in the Scottish highlands. Why those descriptions?

As authors we are often asked to describe our books – the essence of our stories. As all my heros have a certain swashbuckling charisma, Errol Flynn – or more accurately the heros he depicted on the screen – is in many ways the epitome of the type, so “Errol Flynn” becomes a shorthand way of referring to that sort of male character. My heroines, are, likewise, more like Jane Austen’s characters than Jane herself, but again it’s the same shorthand way of evoking that concept. As for the “wilds of Scotland” versus the “Scottish highlands” that’s literally correct – the first two books have the heros and heroines unexpectedly and unintentionally exploring two different, wild and rugged areas of the lowlands of Scotland, while the third book takes place primarily in the Scottish highlands.


Blurb for Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue:

You are cordially invited to the wedding of Miss Heather Cynster

...but not before she encounters kidnappers, danger, and a daring rescue at the hands of Viscount Breckenridge.

Determined to hunt down her very own hero, one who will sweep her off her feet and into wedded bliss, and despairing of finding him in London's staid ballrooms, Heather Cynster steps out of her safe world and boldly attends a racy soiree.

But her promising hunt is ruined by the supremely interfering Viscount Breckenridge, who whisks her out of scandal-and straight into danger when a mysterious enemy seizes her, bundles her into a coach, and conveys her out of London.

Now it's up to the notorious Breckenridge to prove himself the hero she's been searching for all along...

***

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book and others (up to $25,000) will be donated to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

Don't forget!!
All commenters will be entered into a drawing for not only the grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card, but one of four autographed sets of Stephanie Lauren's Avon backlist. So comment below and check out Stephanie's tour schedule.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interview with novelist Robyn Bradley


Today's Reviews and Interviews guest is Robyn Bradley. She's talking about writing, of course, and her newest book, Forgotten April.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Lisa! I'm excited to connect with you and your readers.

My pleasure! Robyn, please tell us about your current release.
At its heart, Forgotten April is a story about sisters. And secrets. And the road not taken. And the "what ifs" that plague all of us. The story opens with down-on-her-luck April trying to figure out what to make of Maggie, a famous broadcast journalist, who turns out to be April's half sister. The women's mother gave Maggie up for adoption over 50 years earlier, long before April was born. And, sadly, this same woman is now suffering from Alzheimer's disease, so she can't provide the answers that Maggie and April seek. So it's up to Maggie and April to figure out what happened…and to learn how to be family, how to be sisters. The story grows from there, but what would this tale be without a little romantic drama? Yes, I've included a good dose of that as well.

What inspired you to write this book?
For me, my stories usually begin with a question. When I started this book ten years ago, I'd been hearing a lot about adopted kids finding their birth parents. This got me thinking -- what if an adopted child found her birth mother, but the mother suffered from some horrible disease that affected her memory like Alzheimer's? The story sprouted from that one seed and took off from there.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next book, What Happened in Granite Creek, comes out in October, and it's based on my short story "Support Our Troops" (available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and iPad). So many readers asked me what happened to the main characters in that story, and I always knew the main characters wanted to tell their whole story, and so it happened.

The book is about a wife and mother of three who has an affair with a quadruple amputee who lost his limbs while serving in Iraq. The woman must eventually choose between her family and her lover, but her decision leads to chaos -- for everyone.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can trace it back to Mrs. Shea’s fourth grade class when she gave us a short story assignment. As I sat at my desk drafting the piece, first in pencil and then rewriting it in ink, I knew. As I read it aloud to my classmates, I knew. As I proudly beamed at the four red stars Mrs. Shea put at the top, I knew.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I'm lucky that my "day job" involves writing: I've been a self-employed marketing copywriter for nine years. At this point, I consider myself a full-time fiction writer and a part-time copywriter. (I hope to lose the copywriter part soon!) I divide my time between creative writing, reading, client work, and marketing my fiction.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I wish I could tell you that I needed a certain type of pen or that my desk needed to face a certain direction or I only drank a certain brand of coffee or rum. I'm not a quirky writer. At least, no quirkier than most. I'm extremely disciplined, and when I'm in the midst of a novel, I try to put in 1000 words a day, seven days a week. Also, I don't check my sales (this makes me quirky, I think, since I meet so many writers, especially those who are self-published, who check their sales every hour).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Thanks to good ol' Mrs. Shea in the fourth grade, I've always wanted to be a writer. But I took a detour in morning radio (out of college) before I got serious about it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Trivia: I used to write under the pen name E.T. Robbins, and that's actually the name of my copywriting company (E.T. Robbins Productions). The name is a hat tip to my oldest niece and nephew who couldn't quite wrap their tongues around "Aunty Robyn" when they were kids and instead used to say "E.T. Robbins." In my wisdom at the age of nine (I'm close in age to my niece and nephew), I said that E.T. Robbins would be my pen name when I grew up and became a writer. And it was, for a few years (I've published some articles and movie reviews under this name). What changed? I won a short story award back in 2007 and even though I submitted it with my pen name, the award folks published it with my real name. I took that as a sign and I've been using my real name ever since. Now you know! :)

Also, I LOVE connecting with readers, and I'm excited about the community we've got going on my Facebook page. I'd love for the readers here to check it out and join us: http://www.facebook.com/RobynBradleyWriter

Thanks so much for having me at your blog today, Lisa!

Robyn, it's been great to learn a bit about your and your writing. Keep the words flowing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview with romance author Rhonda Lee Carver


Today's guest is romance author Rhonda Lee Carver.

Bio:
Suffering from years of hopeless romantic notions and sexy, sassy heroines and bad-ass heroes taking up residence in her mind, Rhonda decided to write and bring the stories to life. With baby on one hip and a laptop on the other--and two years later--Rhonda has published five eBooks with a handful of spicy love stories waiting for the final touches.

When Rhonda isn’t crafting edge-of-your-seat, sizzling-ink novels, you will find her with her children, watching soccer, watching a breathtaking movie, doing (or trying) yoga, and finding new ways to keep her smile bright.

Rhonda thrives on making her readers happy. She believes everyone deserves romance--one page at a time…

Rhonda, welcome! Please tell us about your current release, Delaney's Sunrise.
Dee is engaged to Jacob, but in love with his brother, Abe. When Jacob is killed in a car accident, guilt drives Dee from the family farm. Years later, Dee comes back. Passion reignites between Abe and Dee. Jacob’s death haunts them with more than his memory. Secrets exist and someone wants Dee gone from town before she figures out the truth. Will guilt keep Abe and Dee from one another? Dee must reveal all of the secrets before it’s too late…or the next death on the farm may be her own.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write a story based here in Ohio. Farming is a crucial part of this land. I wanted to bring that alive through the eyes of a spectacular hero and heroine. Dee is a city girl. A reader will follow her as she adapts to country life but also finds the love for Abe that she’d believed was long gone. Abe is as tough as nails, but Dee peels away the layers to reveal a soft heart.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on an erotica. A story of a woman who has a one night stand and the man she believes she slept with isn’t him at all. It’s all a matter of mistaken identity…

Writing life:
I somehow manage to write steamy love scenes in between taking care of kids and cleaning up cat puke and doing laundry. Yes, I do live an exotic life. :)

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The second I received the contract. I went from domestic goddess to full-time writer. Actually, I’m still the domestic goddess, but writer has such a nicer ring to it.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, I write full-time…and when I say full-time, I mean full-time. I dedicate nine hours a day, every day except one, to writing. I also freelance edit which occupies a lot of my time.

Fun:
Fun always involves my kids. I spend a lot of time with my babies. Now, if I’m lucky, I get taken to a romantic dinner now and again or maybe get to watch an adult movie. Let me stress that…if I’m lucky.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Bad-ass heroes and sassy heroines. I’ve also noticed that many of my heroine’s get pregnant. Hmm…Not good for promoting safe sex, eh??

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At thirteen I knew what I wanted to be. A writer. If that didn’t work out, I wanted to be a drag racer. You see where I landed? LOL.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I always want to please my readers. There is nothing better than hearing from someone who has just finished your book and they are excited to tell you how much they enjoyed it. I love to hear from everyone. This is what keeps me motivated to continue writing. Never be too shy to drop me a line.

Feel free to check out my author blog and friend me on Facebook.

Rhonda, thanks for being here today. It sure sounds like you have a lot of fun creating new stories. :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Interview with author Sharolyn Wells


Please welcome novelist Sharolyn Wells to Reviews and Interviews. She's here to talk about her sci-fi novel Plymouth Colony II available through Desert Breeze Publishing.

Bio:
Sharolyn Wells was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She is the eldest daughter of Bill and Zelda Atchison. Sharolyn is married to her best friend Phillip. Together they have five children and five grandchildren – two of whom live with them along with their parents.

Please tell us about your current release, Plymouth Colony II.
There is no Plymouth Colony I. The first Plymouth Colony is the one in Massachusetts in 1620. :)

In 2048, a flotilla of twelve alien ships arrives on Earth. Two years later, astronomers discover a gigantic meteor shower headed for Earth. Over a dozen of them are as large as the one that ended the Age of the Dinosaurs. The aliens, who call themselves the Kelkani, propose a world-wide lottery that will remove 100,000 young people from Earth. Teris Keyes, a Canadian doctor-in-training, is among the Selected, along with her younger brother Eric. They arrive on Kelkan and told the other reason they were brought there. The Kelkani are a dying race and the humans from Earth will help restore the empire to its former glory. But there is a group on Kelkan called the Elite. Their leader, Raetin Dare, doesn’t want the Human Contagion to integrate with the Kelkani. He will do anything within his power to make sure they aren’t integrated, even if it means killing the emperor.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’m not sure. I’ve always loved a good science fiction novel. Sometimes, my ideas just spring fully-formed into my mind. I think that’s what I wanted with Plymouth Colony II. Just a good science fiction story. With the requisite bad guys and good guys.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have always loved the old Gothic romances of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. I always hated the fact that the “ghost” usually ended up being someone to scare the heroine away. I wanted to write a paranormal (what used to be called Gothic) romance where the ghost was real. The title of the novel is Ghost of Killough Castle.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When someone other than my sister read one of my stories and liked it.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
My husband and I are retired (he’s 63 and physically handicapped. I’ll be 60 soon). We’re stay at home people. Give us a good book or an exciting television series and we’re parked in the living room watching it.

Our “love” right now is the new TNT series “Falling Skies”. I write full time, but I do other things as well. My mother and a dear friend of mine taught me to crochet when I was younger. I finished a baby blanket for my youngest granddaughter, a Queen-sized blanker for my daughter and son in law’s bed, and now I’m working on a large blanket for my oldest granddaughter. :-D She won’t keep her hands off her sister’s blanket so I thought I might as well make her one as well.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have to have music when I write. If it’s too quiet, I can think about a hundred things I need to be doing other than writing. Like housework, or changing diapers on the granddaughters.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My two biggest wishes to be: A stewardess (before they became flight attendants). Just thinking about all that travel was exciting to me. And I wanted to be a lawyer. I know, weird right?

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Enjoy the story!

Thank you for being here, Sharolyn. Keep on writing!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Live chat/interview with hikers/writers Nancy Sporborg and Pat Piper - 8/21/11


The Writer's Chatroom presents hikers and writers Nancy Sporborg and Pat Piper.

WHEN?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are? http://www.worldtimeserver.com

WHERE?

The Writers Chatroom at: http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interview with mystery author Barbra Annino


Today at Reviews and Interviews is mystery author Barbra Annino to talk about her writing and her newest book Opal Fire.

Bio:
Barbra Annino has been a technical writer, a journalist and a humor columnist. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary anthologies. Her first novel, Opal Fire is book one of the Stacy Justice mysteries. She is also working on an urban fantasy as well as a young adult novel.

Please tell us about your current release.
Opal Fire is the first book of Stacy Justice's story. It's a laugh out loud mystery in the tone of a Janet Evanovich numbers book, except instead of fist-pumping Jersey girls it's filled with witches.

What inspired you to write this book?
I've always been fascinated by the supernatural so I wanted to write a book that incorporated that theme. Murder mysteries have long been a favorite genre, so I took those two elements and wove them into a plot that had high stakes for the protagonist - one that would affect her family rather than a stranger. Mix in a whole lot of humor, a huge canine and a group of strong women and that pretty much sums up the book.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, Bloodstone - part two of Stacy's story. I have two more projects planned for later this year - a contemporary YA and an historical urban fantasy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got my first paycheck attached to a printed article. I was a journalist and columnist for ten years before I wrote fiction.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I'm still freelancing for magazines, but I have been able to focus more on fiction this year. My husband and I both work from the house and I wish I could tell you that I have a set schedule, but the truth is it depends on what's going on that day and when the dogs can be walked, weather permitting. Although, when I wrote my first book, I worked 7-7, with three hours out of the day for walks, errands, and lunch. I'll be getting back to that when the deadline approaches for Bloodstone.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My characters talk to me in the shower. It's quite unsettling.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An archeologist and a writer.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I wanted to write a book that would make people laugh no matter what was going on in their lives. Hopefully, I did.

Thanks for stopping by Barbra. Happy writing. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interview with mystery author Carola Dunn


Today at Reviews and Interviews we have mystery author Carola Dunn.

Welcome, Carola. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and grew up in England. After graduating from Manchester University (Russian and French), I set out to travel around the world. I made it halfway, to Fiji, but then returned to the US to marry a Californian. If I'd foreseen the future, I'd have studied Spanish. After 20 years mostly in Southern California, I moved to Eugene, Oregon, where I now live, with my border collie, Trillian. I still visit California often, as my surfer/schoolteacher son and my grandkids are there. Though I've been in the US for over 40 years, I still sound thoroughly English (as if I stepped off the boat yesterday, people say) and most of my books are set there, giving me an excuse to go back to do research.

I wrote my first book, a Regency, in 1979, proceeding thereafter to produce 32 Regencies plus 4 novella anthologies (all now available as e-books). I was writing for two publishers when, within 6 months, both stopped publishing the genre. I switched to writing mysteries and have never regretted it. I now write two series, the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries (1920s) and the Cornish Mysteries (1960s), both published by Minotaur.

Please tell us about your current release.
Anthem for Doomed Youth is the nineteenth of my Daisy Dalrymple mystery series, set in England in the 1920s. Daisy is a journalist and an accidental sleuth—she just can't seem to help getting involved in suspicious deaths. Since the ninth book, she has been married to Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard. She now has toddler twins, as well as a teenage stepdaughter.

In Anthem for Doomed Youth, Alec is called in to investigate the discovery of three bodies buried on the outskirts of London. He's in a race to find out what links the three and to catch the killer before he strikes again.

This upsets his plans to attend his daughter's boarding school sports day. Instead, Daisy goes with friends who have girls at the same school. Exploring a maze in a public garden, the girls find the body of their least-favourite teacher. To protect the children from police interrogation at the hands of an incompetent and obnoxious detective, Daisy does her best to discover the murderer.

Then it seems that Alec's investigation is converging with Daisy's, that maybe one killer is responsible for all four deaths... And that the Law may clash with Daisy's idea of Justice!


What inspired you to write this book?
Too many news stories about soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from horrendous wounds, both physical and mental. Now we call the latter PTSD, a nice clean clinical acronym; it used to be known as shell-shock, then battle fatigue.

This came together with the First World War poem by Wilfred Owen, whose title I use for the book. (Owen was killed in action a week before the Armistice.) Though the general tone of the series is lighthearted, many of the books have characters damaged in one way or another by the war. Daisy herself lost her brother and her fiancĂ©. In Anthem for Doomed Youth, I explore the theme more deeply, with the multiple murders all having their roots in the aftermath—the unhealed wounds—of war.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Gone West, the next Daisy book, is "in production" at my publishers. It's a much less serious story set in the Derbyshire Dales. I'm currently working on the third Cornish mystery, Valley of the Shadow. Like Anthem, it has a serious theme, though the treatment is quite light-hearted. I don't know what's come over me!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably 1982, when I sold my second and third books, so the first could no longer be regarded as sheer fluke.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I've been writing full-time since 1988. I work 6 days a week, about 6 hours at the computer, plus time for research. Not to mention that ideas pop up at 2 a.m. Or when I'm walking the dog. In a way, it's really a 24/7 job, especially if you include the promotion aspect.

Walking the dog, gardening, reading—that's pretty much what I do other than writing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
An obsession with words. Until I find exactly the right word, I can't go on. I spend a lot of time checking words and phrases to make sure they were current at the period I'm writing about—one of the disadvantages of writing historical fiction.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Briefly, I wanted to be a pilot. Apart from that, I never did decide. It was when my (ex)husband said it was past time I chose a proper career that I sat down and wrote my first book, just to put off the evil moment.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Drop in to say hi on my blog/website or on Facebook.

Thanks for being here today, Carola. I didn't hear any UK accent at all. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Interview with mystery author Sheila Lowe


I'm happy to welcome Sheila Lowe back to Reviews and interviews. She had a guest blog here last month to talk about series versus standalone novel writing.

Today she's going to share a bit about herself and talk about her latest Claudia Rose novel Last Writes.

Bio:
Like her character Claudia Rose in the award-winning Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series, Sheila Lowe is a real-life handwriting analyst who testifies as an expert witness in court. She’s a frequent guest in the media and was invited by Lifetime Movie Network to provide information and analyses of criminals on their website as a tie-in for Jeffery Deaver’s The Devil’s Teardrop movie. Sheila holds a Master of Science in psychology and is the author of the internationally acclaimed The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and Sheila Lowe’s Handwriting Analyzer software.

Sheila, welcome back. Please tell us about Last Writes.
Last Writes answers the question: What does an old stuffed bunny have to do with a fundamentalist religious cult?

Erin Powers and her husband have been living as members of The Temple of Brighter Light in an isolated religious compound call the Ark. Now Erin’s husband and toddler have disappeared, leaving behind Kylie’s favorite stuffed bunny and a cryptic note. Desperate to find her child, Erin seeks help from her estranged half-sister Kelly Brennan, a close friend of Claudia Rose. Using her skills as a forensic handwriting expert, Claudia manages to gain entry to the Ark, where she has only a few days to uncover the truth about Kelly’s missing niece before the child’s life is written off for good.

What inspired you to write this book?
From the age of seven I was raised in a fundamentalist religion that I now view as a cult. This book was my opportunity to work out some of the scars my experiences left behind. Well, to be honest, I was kicked out on my 25th birthday, told that I was a danger to the congregation. So I was able to use what I had learned about cult behavior to make this story more real. Last Writes is a story about what happens when people are willing to hand over their personal power to another.

If you can continue the series, do you know what type of story Claudia be involved in next? Anything you want to share?
The backdrop of the next Claudia story, Inkslinger's Ball, is a tattoo convention. However, in the meantime, I’ve just completed a standalone psychological suspense/thriller in which Claudia, her boyfriend detective, Joel Jovanic and her friend, psychologist Zebediah Gold appear. It’s called Lying in Bed, and is the story of a young woman who wakes up on a train, not knowing who she is. I’m hoping that even though it’s not part of the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series, Claudia fans will want to read it because she is in it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I was first conventionally published (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis), even though I had self-published numerous monographs and articles for handwriting analysts, and as a kid, I wrote a lot of bad poetry and short stories about the Beatles (I was always married to Ringo).

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have two careers to split my time. I still make most of my living as a forensic handwriting analyst, which involves identifying cases of forgery and occasionally testifying in court, and preparing behavioral profiles for employers, couples, individuals, etc. I don’t have a regular schedule, so it really depends on what comes across my desk and depends on what deadlines I’m working under. For example, an attorney called last week and sent me some handwriting in a forgery case, telling me that my testimony might be needed the next day(!), so everything else had to be put aside to work on that urgent case. I ended up not having to testify, but the attorney refused to pay me for the work I did on the case.

Usually, I start writing late in the day, when I can procrastinate no longer. Around 10:00 at night I tell myself that I have got to do something productive, and after emailing all day long, it’s time to write. I write something new almost every day, but it’s not always fiction. For example, I’ve just written a new monograph on graphotherapy, which are handwriting exercises to change undesirable personality traits. And right now, I’m writing a certification examination for handwriting analysts before getting back to work on a new non-fiction book about relationships and handwriting that I put aside to write Lying in Bed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
It’s not particularly interesting, but I can only write at my desk. I envy other people who can work at the beach or at Starbucks. What are other people’s quirks? They have to use the same coffee mug when they write? Only work in men’s underwear? I need to find a good quirk!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The aforementioned religion discourages higher education or a career in favor of “seeking first the kingdom,” spending one hundred hours a month in preaching and working part-time at a menial job to support yourself, so I never gave the future much energy. We were taught that the end of the world was imminent, so there was no point in “building up riches.”

Secretly, though, I always wanted to be a mystery writer. It took until my mid-fifties to actually achieve that dream.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you want to be a published writer, don’t give up. It took me seven years to get my first mystery published after it was finished. And that was after I’d already successfully published in non-fiction and Poison Pen won in a competition. Persistence is the key, and critically reading the authors you enjoy to understand what makes their writing zing.

Sheila, thanks so much for stopping by again. I look forward to more Claudia stories.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Interview with fantasy author David M. Brown


Today's guest is David M. Brown as he tours his debut fantasy novel Fezariu's Epiphany.

David is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to a lucky commentor. See below for details.

Bio:
David was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and first conceived the idea of the Elencheran Chronicles at college in 1999. He spent ten years compiling the history of Elenchera, resulting in 47,000+ years of events, 500+ maps, 2000+ pages, several short stories and many much-needed acquaintances with Jack Daniels. David also has a blog, The World According to Dave, which features stories, reviews and dramatic tales of the horrors of owning cats.

David, please tell us about your current book release.
Fezariu’s Epiphany is the first in a series of self-contained novels that will be set in the world of Elenchera. The novels are not intended to be read in any order, but each one will offer enlightenment on a particular period of history and one or more lands that make up Elenchera. Fezariu’s Epiphany is set in the Fourteenth Shard of history and focuses on Fezariu who endures a turbulent childhood before finding solace in the hired hands of the Merelax Mercenaries.

What inspired you to write this book?
As I wrote about the history of Elenchera I was frequently drawn to the institution known as the Merelax Mercenaries, their distinct black attire with bejeweled sleeves, their fierce discipline and exemplary military skill. None of the history I wrote gave them a prominent role and I decided I wanted to write a novel which offered some insight into how they operated. Fezariu’s Epiphany was the book that was born of that wish.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve already started my second novel, A World Apart, which will be set in the Sixteenth Shard of Elenchera’s history and focuses on life in the western colonies, which also feature in Fezariu. The focal point of the novel will be a love triangle that begins for the three protagonists in their teens and continues into their adulthoods. A World Apart is already set to be a much longer novel than Fezariu’s Epiphany and I think the emotional love triangle at the heart of it will stand the book in good stead.

Writing life:
As well as novel writing I also run my blog, The World According to Dave, which features around 3-4 new articles a week and also write blogs for other sites as well. Sharing a house with my beautiful wife, Donna, and six rampaging cats makes life quite difficult when you want to grab a moment for some quality writing. I’ve learned to just snatch whatever time I can amidst the pandemonium.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose the moment I felt I was a writer came with the completion of my first novel, The Anglo-Asininity Chronicle, in 2004. Although that novel was scrapped I still considered it a landmark to have completed a book in full for the first time. It’s one of the biggest boosts I’ve ever enjoyed as a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Writing full-time is still the dream at the moment. Work-wise I’m currently between jobs but eager to get back into work as soon as possible. This extra time has allowed me to focus on supporting my wife, Donna, in the promoting of Fezariu’s Epiphany. From day one she’s been doing sterling work getting the book noticed and I couldn’t have got this far without her.

Fun:
Away from writing I’m an avid reader of many kinds of fiction and history, I enjoy films (especially world cinema), gaming (RPGs of course) and when time and money allow I’ll reacquaint myself with the pain and suffering that can only come from supporting my home football team – Barnsley FC. Watching them is so nerve-wracking that I’m sure one day tranquilizers will be issued to all fans passing through the turnstiles just to see them through the 90 minutes of hell on the pitch!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I would have to say my desire to do something different with the fantasy genre. While Elenchera is a very different world to ours I want the characters to be more prominent than the land they inhabit and to not just enthrall the reader but affect them emotionally. Fantasy isn’t the favoured genre of every reader but with the novels set in Elenchera I want to reach out to a wider audience. I’ve so far had feedback on Fezariu’s Epiphany about the story being one that could take place anywhere, it just happens to be set in Elenchera, and those are the kind of responses I’m hoping for.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember being indecisive about my future for many years. I always enjoyed reading and at school my favourite subjects were English and history so I naturally stuck with them through college and university, still not really knowing what direction I wanted to go. I remember having to fill out a form at school listing three occupations I was interested in and I wrote “author, porter and librarian.” I’m determined to keep pursuing the first of those three career choices.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My two favourite pieces of advice are to find yourself a critic you can trust. My wife, Donna, offers me the critical feedback I need for my work and the great thing about her is she isn’t afraid to be brutal. It’s not easy having someone condemn aspects of your work, but over time you’ll develop a thick skin. I would also recommend having a blog. You can post articles about absolutely anything and if you post links on Twitter and Facebook it’s a great way to build up an audience and begin networking with fellow writers. There are thousands of brilliant writers out there and on Twitter especially you’ll find it nigh on impossible not to find them.

Thanks for being here today, David.

Readers, David is going to have a drawing at the end of his virtual book tour and a lucky commentor will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. So, leave a comment here, and check out his other blog tour stops. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win.



Sunday, August 7, 2011

Live chat/interview with thriller author Gary Braver/Gary Goshgarian



The Writer's Chatroom presents mystery author Gary Braver/Gary Goshgarian.

WHEN?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eastern USA Time.....7-9 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are? http://www.worldtimeserver.com

WHERE?

The Writers Chatroom at: http://www.writerschatroom.com/Enter.htm

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Interview with author Martin Sharlow


Paranormal writer Martin Sharlow joins us today as he travels to many stops with a virtual book tour through The VBT Cafe.

Welcome, Martin. Please tell us about your current release, Shades of Blood.
My current release is the sequel to Shades of Twilight. Basically, this book takes off from the very next morning after the ending of the last book. Needless to say, the story that began in book 1 is far from over, and our heroes are just finding this out.

I actually like this one better than the first, and that's mostly because I get to see the characters grow more in this one. In the first book I was laying a foundation for who they basically were, now we get a chance to see where they're going. A lot of people didn't like Melissa's personality in book 1, and I have to admit, I didn't like it either. But these books are like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. When I started book 1 I was looking at Melissa's personality as a whole, covering more than just the first book. So I'm hoping people will like her more as she grows.

What inspired you to write this book?
Mostly, the story wasn't over and it needed to go on. I could have left it where it was, but I really had a need to see Melissa grow. So more than anything, that is the driving factor.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm actually working on several projects at the moment. A lot of them are only in the outline or idea stage. But off the top, I'm working on a novelette that's actually my first vampire erotica story. I'm hoping that will be out in July.

I also have a novella I'm several chapters into. It's about a young man who finds himself turned against his will into a vampire, and is left to fend for himself with no idea what to do. In the end he decides that for his family's safety it would be better that they think he was dead. Unfortunately for him he later finds out that his family died under mysterious circumstances after he left, and his living younger sister has disappeared. This leads him into the plot of the book, in his search for answers about exactly what happened to his family and his attempts to locate his sister. Of course he meets people along the way, and discovers a love interest for himself as well. I don't want to give too much away, but I have high hopes for this one.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I have always written somewhat. I never actually expected to be a writer, I kind of just woke up one day and found out, "hey I'm a writer." So it's been kind of a big surprise to me, but I'm actually starting to really enjoy it.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a full-time writer. Whatever that is… I'd love to say that I write all the time, but the truth is sometimes it's like pulling teeth when I'm trying to get myself to write. It's not that I don't enjoy writing, it's more like my hobby has become a job, and trust me that isn't always good. Not that I would change it. My biggest problem, is that I can't find a comfortable or conducive place to work. Sometimes I can get away with working at home. More often than not I find myself getting most my work done at places like McDonald's or Starbucks. A couple of times, I actually wrote at a hotel room on the ocean. That was cool, except I never really got the chance to actually walk down by the water. Working, you know.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I suppose the most interesting writing quirk I'm having right now is that I'm trying out using Dragon speak software. I'm hoping that it will increase my productivity. I'm suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome at the moment, so my typing is really slow, as well as painful. So if this works out, I should actually be able to write more. Which is a good thing, except I won't be actually able to use the software anywhere but home or a hotel room. After all, the noise in most places would wreck havoc on the voice-recognition not to mention I'm sure people would be staring at me as I dictated stories.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not, up until the age of eight I wanted to be an archaeologist. I don't know why I got that in my head, most likely because of my interest in dinosaurs at the time. I believe a schoolteacher changed my mind about it when they told me how difficult finding work as an archaeologist would be. I think it went something like "the world can only support a couple of archaeologist at one time." So I gave up my little dream then. After that, I just decided I wanted to be a millionaire, not that I had any plan or for that matter ever succeeded.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just one thing about my book. When I wrote it, I decided I wanted my characters in the real world. Not just some alternate world. So I tried to breathe life into them and make them as real as possible. Some people don't like the fact that I made references to the Twilight series. But Melissa is a fan of the books, not to mention various other vampire series. So her entire knowledge base comes from paranormal romance vampire books. She only has those as a frame of reference to attempt to understand what's going on in her life right now. I don't know about anyone else, but I've met lots of people that wish they had a vampire lover like in all the books. You have to admit that if you found yourself in such a situation, wouldn't you find yourself referencing those source materials in an attempt to understand what was going on? Melissa can't help but try to find parallels between herself and say Bella or some other lead girl in a different vampire novel. So try to keep that in mind as you read the books. I know if I was her I would expect at least some similarities to the books I read. Anyways I hope you enjoy it, and I want to thank you for allowing me to share on your blog with you.

Thanks for being here today, Martin and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing. Best wishes for the rest of your virtual book tour.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Interview with mystery author Susan Santangelo


Today we get to learn a bit about mystery author Susan Santangelo and her newest novel.

Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Susan! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an early member of the Baby Boomer generation, and I’ve been a feature writer, drama critic, and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in the New York metropolitan area, including a stint at Cosmopolitan magazine. I’ve also been involved in public relations and marketing for years, and I produced special events for Carnegie Hall’s centennial.

I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and the Cape Cod Writers Center, and I also review mysteries for Suspense Magazine, which is a lot of fun. I divide my time between Cape Cod, MA and the Connecticut shoreline, and share my life with my husband Joe and two English cocker spaniels, Tucker and Boomer.

A portion of the sales from the Baby Boomer Mysteries is donated to the Breast Cancer Survival Center, a non-profit organization based in Connecticut which I co-founded in 1999 after being diagnosed with cancer myself. The Baby Boomer Mysteries include Retirement Can Be Murder(first in the series) and Moving Can Be Murder, which was released in May 2011. I’m currently at work on the third book in the series, Marriage Can Be Murder.

Please tell us about your current release, Murder Can Be Murder.
Empty nester Carol Andrews would prefer leaving her beautiful antique home in Fairport, Connecticut, “feet first” to selling it and moving on. But her Beloved Husband Jim convinces her that a nearby “active adult” community is a better fit for them at this time of life. The house sells, and Carol returns alone the night before the closing for a “pity party” farewell tour. And discovers the dead body of the buyer in her living room. Wow. Talk about seller’s remorse!

What inspired you to write this book?
The whole Baby Boomer mystery series was inspired by situations those of us who have reached a certain level of “maturity” are required to face. Including my husband and me. Retirement and its emotional aftermath inspired the first book. The impact of downsizing and selling the family home inspired the second book. Fortunately, so far, we haven’t discovered any dead bodies, though!

What exciting story are you working on next?
The third book in the series (there are seven planned) is Marriage Can Be Murder, which will feature a destination wedding on Nantucket. I’m not saying whose, though!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written, even when I was in grammar school. By the time I got to high school, I was writing for the school newspaper on a regular basis. And in college, I got to write a satirical column commenting on campus life, called Sine Qua Non. The column was written anonymously. I had a ball with it. And I have to admit, that when I went back to my college for a recent reunion and looked at some of those old columns, my writing style hadn’t changed that much over the years. So I’m either a case of arrested development, or someone who found her voice very early. Readers get to pick which one is correct!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m not a very disciplined writer. I suppose I shouldn’t confess that, but it’s true. I try to write every morning, but if the scene or the dialogue isn’t flowing, I give myself permission to leave the computer for a while, go out “into the world,” and get inspired. I’m a terrible eavesdropper, and I get some of my best story ideas and dialogue from standing in line at the supermarket checkout.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I need to know that my dogs are nearby. They think everything I do is great. Sometimes I need that unconditional approval. Maybe all of us do.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer. That is, if I couldn’t be a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall or star in a Broadway musical.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If anyone reading this is thinking of writing an article, an essay, a memoir, a novel, my advice is to just go for it. Do it for yourself. And if someone else likes it, that’s a bonus. I write for myself first. If other people like what I’ve written, what a gift that is! I am so blessed.

Thanks for stopping by today, Susan. Your mysteries sound like a lot of fun.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interview with mystery author Radine Trees Nehring


Today at Reviews and Interviews we have award-winning mystery author Radine Nehring.

Bio:
Radine Trees Nehring's writing career began when she and husband John moved to the Arkansas Ozarks in the mid 1980s and she wrote and sold her first Ozarks essay. Radine continues as a full-time writer with many awards and honors, (as well as fan-friends), attesting to her success. In addition to work as a journalist and magazine feature writer, she has published a number of mystery short stories, one non-fiction book about life in the Ozarks--"DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow,"--and a series of "To Die For" mystery novels. These have earned, among other honors, a Macavity nomination, and the 2010 Silver Falchion Award from Killer Nashville. Radine was also named the 2011 Inductee into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame by the Arkansas Pioneer Branch of Pen Women in the USA and the board of the Arkansas Writers' Conference. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Authors Guild, Ozarks Writers League, and has represented Arkansas on the board of Mystery Writers' of America, Southwest Chapter.

Radine, please tell us a bit about your newest release, Journey to Die For.
Carrie McCrite (retired librarian), and Henry King (retired Kansas City Police Major) begin their Journey to Die For on the A&M RR Passenger Excursion train day-trip to Van Buren, AR. What was meant as an eight-month anniversary surprise for newly-wed Carrie turns into murder on the banks of the Arkansas River. Why is the body of a man from the train on the riverbank? What might that have to do with the sinking of a treasure-laden Confederate steamboat? And how are Van Buren antiques shops linked to burglaries in Kansas City? Can this couple and their friends uncover answers before a killer stops them?

This is (for me, and, I hope, others) another enjoyable and exciting adventure with Carrie and Henry, plus their friends Shirley and Roger Booth, and Eleanor and Jason Stack. These three couples--quite a contrast in human backgrounds and interests--came together for a cause in the first "To Die For" novel, A Valley to Die For. In some adventures, the Stacks join Carrie and Henry. In others it's the Booths or maybe all four of them. They make an adventuring-detecting sextet that keeps me on my toes, creating and unravelling crimes and puzzles for them to solve.

What inspired you to write this book?
The terrific thing about this series is that I get to choose locations in the Arkansas Ozarks that I will enjoy visiting with my characters. These destinations--always places popular with tourists--make research an adventure for me, as well as for Carrie and Henry et. al. In the case of Journey to Die For, I remembered riding the Arkansas and Missouri Passenger Excursion Train to the historic town of Van Buren a few years earlier. Who doesn't love a train? Why not take Carrie and Henry on that excursion, and see what we can find in Van Buren, along the banks of the Arkansas River, and in a port area that saw a lot of steamboat traffic during the nineteenth century. History a-plenty, with Civil War excitement included, made a terrific spring-board for this novel. Adding connected evil doings in Henry's home town of Kansas City gave depth, as I explored events that had touched his life there in the past.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Ah! The Ozarks area is known for fall craft fairs. Are they always as benign and as much fun as they seem? What if . . . well, let's see what Carrie and Henry and their friends get themselves into at the fairs.

When did you consider yourself a writer?
Hmmm, probably back when I wrote (and immediately sold) my first essay about the Ozarks. Coming to the Ozarks in the 1980s exploded into an urge to tell others about this wonderful place, and it seems the setting was of interest to editors, especially those living on the east coast. For a number of years I continued to write Ozarks features and essays for magazines and newspapers, and also had my own radio program about the Ozarks for ten years. Right after my non-fiction book about Ozarks life (Dear Earth) sold to a New York publisher, I began thinking about writing a mystery novel. (Just one.) Mysteries were my fiction reading of choice, could I write one? Thus Carrie and Henry and their friends, loosely modeled after people I knew here in the Ozarks, were born. Well, one wasn't enough, so . . . By the time my first Carrie and Henry adventure sold, the second book had been finished, and was part of the package.

Now I think I'm addicted to adventures with these people.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish. I am in the writing business full-time, but editing, promotion, on-line connections, organizing book events, travel, mailing promotion materials and books, and so on seem to take up well over half of each work day. That's six days a week and half-days on Sunday.

So that means I write for fun! Ahhh, at last, I can spend time with Carrie and Henry and friends. Truth be told, I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

As I child I learned that being alone was comfortable, and reading was an escape from sometimes unhappy events in "real" life. Now, it's being a writer that frees me from whatever shyness I grew up with. I can talk about writing very easily.

For shared fun, my husband and I enjoyed working around our homestead for years. Now, with our new life style, we enjoy taking a break from work by going out to eat. Time for us to talk and -- what else? -- read. I often read my work in progress to him on the road to one of our favorite restaurants. (He drives, I read, we talk about the work.)

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I began listening to the Saturday afternoon broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera performances when I was eight or nine.That continued until I left for college. So, what did I dream of being? You guessed it! An opera singer. Only one problem. I didn't have the voice.

My father didn't believe in college for women but finally agreed to two years for me. (I majored in pre-professional art.) Then he insisted I go to secretarial school. I did, but only worked part-time as a secretary for one summer. After marriage, I worked in interior decorating and antiques sales and went back to school, majoring in Art History and English, taking evening and weekend classes at the University of Tulsa until I finished. More recent post-grad work has included time at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Program during summer vacations. (I enjoyed writing but didn't write professionally until I was old enough for AARP!)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think all writers are joined in their love for the creative process. Otherwise, we come in as many varieties as the rest of the human population. I am grateful to be writing fiction. I can't imagine doing anything else now. (And it's a profession with no forced retirement age, thank goodness!)

Radine, thank you for sharing so much with us today. You certainly sound like you're enjoying the writing life.