Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Interview with mystery writer Yolanda Renee

Today is the sixth interview in a series with the authors of

Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

About the anthology:
The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

“Each story is fast paced, grabbing the reader from the beginning.”
- Readers' Favorite, 5 stars

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter.

So far, we’ve had C.D. Gallant-King (on April 19), Gwen Gardner (on April 26), Jemi Fraser (on May 2), Christine Clemetson (on May 11), Rebecca M. Douglass (on May 15) and now Yolanda Renee is here to chat about her mystery short story called “Cypress, Like the Tree.”

Looking for a new adventure, Renée moved to Myrtle Beach South Carolina. A storyteller from a very early age, an avid reader, and with an education and background in business and accounting, becoming a writer only made sense. And writing mysteries pure logic.

That some of her stories mirror her life, only coincidence. Honest!
Welcome, Yolanda. What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
The speed at which the story can be told. I’m a flash fiction junkie and to tell a complete story in a few words is an exciting challenge.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
In “Cypress, Like the Tree,” I wrote of an incident in my own life. I turned it on its head by asking the question, “what if a murder had happened instead’? In the first IWSG Anthology, Parallels Felix Was and in my story Ever-Ton, I wrote the story around a scene from a dream. Several of my recent short stories were written around current events, again using the ‘what if’ writing technique. Many of my stories are based on dreams, nightmares, and scenes from my own life.

What genre are you inspired to write the most? Why?
I love mysteries, romance, and horror. I like combining all three. Why? Because it’s what I want to read.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the draft of the 5th book in my Detective Quaid series, Murder, Just Because, about a serial killer who sees murder as his artistic expression. Stowy Jenkins, the antagonist, appears in the Prequel to the Detective Quaid Series, The Snowman. He is arrested and sentenced to life, but in Murder, Just Because, he escapes and vengeance is his motive.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After a poem was published in a newsletter. It was an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment. I was hooked.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
My advice is simple, stay on top of what’s selling and pay attention to what the literary agents and publishers are looking for. Writer’s conferences are one of the best places to get the skinny on the market.

Marketing is my most significant failing especially as I write what I want to read. But maybe mixing romance, mystery, and horror is asking a lot from the readers. I know I’m not the only one out there that blends the genres, just that some do it more successfully than others. Who knows maybe someday, I’ll be mainstream…

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My desk, room, even my life must all be organized before I can concentrate on a new book project. Chaos throws off my muse.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a history teacher but pursued accounting because I also wanted to run my own business. I’ve done all it, even teaching, but hands down, writing is the most satisfying.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just how important it is to leave a review. One sentence is enough, and the author appreciates it beyond measure, and yes, even the negative ones. Happy reading everyone!

Thanks for being here today, Yolanda!

Tick Tock links:

Purchase links:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Interview with mystery author David Myles Robinson

Mystery author David Myles Robinson joins me today to chat about his new suspense novel, The Pinochet Plot.

Welcome, David. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I graduated from Blair HS in Pasadena, CA, in 1968 and moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State College. Interesting times. I lived for a time on the corner of Haight St. and Broderick and hitchhiked through the Haight every morning to get to school. In 1969 I moved back to Pasadena to work as a staff journalist for a minority newspaper while attending Cal State LA. My family had moved to Honolulu in 1968 and so, in 1970, I enrolled in the University of Hawaii. I spent the summer of 1970 in Europe with my San Francisco friends and then re-enrolled at SF State. Too much moving around, however, almost got me drafted. I got my Selective Service letter and had to go for my physical and written test in Berkeley. Thankfully, President Nixon stopped the draft three numbers before I was called. 

I graduated from San Francisco State University in 1972 and was accepted at the University of San Francisco School of Law. It was there I met my wife, Marcia Waldorf. In 1975 we moved to Honolulu. Marcia took a job as a Public Defender and I opened my own office. Over the course of the next 38 years I had my own firm with a couple different partners. I did a little of everything early on, but eventually specialized in personal injury and workers’ compensation law.

In 2010 I retired and wrote my first novel, Unplayable Lie. Two legal thrillers followed: Tropical Lies and Tropical Judgments. The Pinochet Plot is my fourth novel.

After dividing our time between Honolulu and our second home in Taos, NM, for several years, we decided we would see what it was like to be full time mainlanders again. We love it. I ski, golf, hike, and travel when I’m not writing.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Pinochet Plot: High-powered San Francisco attorney Will Muñoz is just about to start a sabbatical from his practice of law when he learns his mother has committed suicide. The letter she sent him on the eve of her death changes Will’s life forever.

When he was eleven years old, Will discovered the murdered body of his father, the famed Chilean novelist Ricardo Muñoz. The police write it off as a burglary gone bad, but unbeknownst to Will at the time, his mother was convinced that the brutal, CIA-backed Chilean Dictator, Augusto Pinochet, had Ricardo murdered in an attempt to stop the publication of Ricardo’s last book, The Daughters of Pinochet. In her letter, his mother explains her suspicions and, in what sounds to Will like a fit of delusional madness, goes on to say she believes Will’s stepfather, Chuck Evans, may have been involved in the murder. 

As Will sets out to learn more about his father’s murder and his mother’s mental state, he becomes immersed in stranger-than-fiction leads involving the CIA’s role in Chile, assassins for hire, illegal CIA-funded drug experimentation, and chilling political intrigue.

What inspired you to write this book?
The political discourse in our country had been getting so bad it reminded me that there are many countries where political dissent is not allowed, and, in extreme cases, dissidents are arrested and/or assassinated. While America has its own history of oppression and genocide, I had hoped we had grown out of those times. Instead, we are falling victim to tribalism and intractable opinions, which should be danger signals to the well-being of our democracy. So, I decided to write a novel that, while hopefully entertaining to read, toyed with the idea that Pinochet’s solution to dealing with political opponents could happen here.

What exciting story are you working on next?
In Saigon’s Son, seventy-year old Hank Reagan had just lost his long-time wife, Becka. It had been Becka’s idea to buy into a posh retirement community, but now Hank was depressed, thinking thoughts of mortality. He’d play golf with his one friend, Norm Rothstein, and smoke Becka’s leftover medical marijuana and felt as if he was wasting what was left of his life. Then, one evening a beautiful Vietnamese woman appears at the front desk and asks for Hank. It takes him a few moments to realize it is Mai, his lover from the days he was stationed in Saigon as a CIA agent. As the war was lost and the Americans were forced to evacuate, he left Mai with a bag of money and promises he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep. He never saw her again until this night. Hank never knew Mai was pregnant and had made her way to America. Now, she has come to ask Hank to help her find their son who disappeared on the day of his graduation from high school.

Hank and his buddy, Norm, set off on a road trip to track down his son’s high school friends and solve the mystery of why he disappeared.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I worked as a staff journalist for a minority newspaper in Pasadena in 1969, while still in college. I also did some free-lance writing for magazines around that time. I wrote short stories and attempted some novels while still in college, but when I became a lawyer in 1972 I didn’t write anything other than legalese for many years. About twenty years ago I wrote and completed a novel, but it was awful. The writing was stilted from years of writing legal briefs and memoranda of law. When I retired, I began writing Unplayable Lie, my first published novel, a golf-related suspense novel. It was truly a work of passion and when it was published and garnered good reviews, I began to cautiously think of myself as a writer. Now, with Pinochet, I will have four published novels and two more coming out within this next year, so I think I can legitimately call myself 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?
I am fortunate enough not to need the income from my writing to live. So, I don’t have the strict regimen of writing which many writers advocate. That said, when I’m into a book and it’s going well, I can sit and write most of the day and happily avoid distractions. When I’m not into something, or need to take a break from writing, I love to golf, ski, and travel.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As I do in real life, I swear a lot in my writing. It just feels more real to me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
 A lawyer – although I’d always loved writing and at one point I asked my creative writing teacher at San Francisco State College whether he thought I should try to become a writer or should go ahead with my plans to be a lawyer. He smiled and made a gesture with the palms of his hands up, like a scale. “Starving artist” or “a rich lawyer.” I think you can guess how he tilted the “scales.” Needless to say I sold out and went on to law school.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you. If you buy the book, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Thanks for being a guest, David!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Interview with fantasy author Amanda J. McGee

Novelist Amanda J. McGee joins me today to chat about her new epic fantasy, Daughter of Madness which is Book Two of the Creation Saga.

During her book tour, Amanda will be awarding a copy of both published volumes of The Creation Saga: Mother of Creation and Daughter of Madness, (after the June 2, 2018 publishing date, US participants only) to a lucky, randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Amanda J. McGee is fantasy author living in Southwest Virginia with the love of her life and two cats. She likes baking, gardening, and flights of fancy.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Daughter of Madness is the sequel to Mother of Creation, and continues a dark tale of a princess and her twin, a soldier and his king, an oracle, and the son of a god. It’s an epic fantasy that should appeal to fans of A Song of Ice and Fire.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always loved epic fantasy. I’ve read all of the best ones by authors like Elizabeth Bear, Martha Wells, Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, and of course George R.R. Martin. My love of the genre is definitely what instigated me to write this, but I also was feeling very frustrated with life when the idea first hit me. The concept that some things were just fated or that you could try really hard and still not make it because of luck or destiny was something I was struggling with, so that feeling inspired a lot of these books.

Excerpt from
Daughter of Madness:
He remembered the moment that the curse had claimed him.

The king sat in the garden, and the moon shone down. There was a phantom caress on his skin, an ice cold hand.

Darkness bloomed in his blood.

He remembered the moment, over and over, the darkness rising, rising, swamping him.

There was terror there, but for the king it was an old terror. He had lived with the darkness now for a timeless time, and in the darkness he was sheltered. He remembered nothing. He was nothing. That was good, for the man that had been a king sensed that he had failed, that he had hurt. The world beyond the darkness was made of nothing that he wanted to see again.

But no night could last forever.

The man who had been Alexander came back to himself in blood.

What exciting story are you working on next?
There is one more book in this series still to finish, so that will probably be my next project. I also have some fun mermaid-related ideas I’m playing with, and a ghost story serial I am working on. Really I am one of those authors who runs after fun ideas regardless of genre or subgenre.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have probably been writing my whole life. I remember as a kid just making up stories in my head about where I was and who I was, even before I had figured out how to hold a pen. As for when I might be considered a professional - I don’t know that you ever really feel like a professional writer. It always sort of seems like a trick you’re playing on yourself. But maybe I’m wrong, and there will be a day!

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?
At my day job I make maps, among other things. It’s a pretty high stress position, and sometimes there are late hours, so it can be hard to find writing time. Usually I spend at least one or two nights a week doing something writing related, and I get a long lunch so I try to squeeze in writing time there, too. But if I have deadlines I have to break out the big guns and sacrifice my weekends.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
One of the weird things I do sometimes is rearrange the order of words in a sentence. It’s not always intentional, but I’m afraid it’s leftover from when I studied and wrote poetry. Technically, the term for this is hyperbaton. It’s used to create a certain sound or impact to a particular verse or sentence.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was really small, they tell me I wanted to be an airplane pilot. I still really like planes, I think they’re fascinating. After I got to writing I think it pretty much became my goal from middle school on.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope that you’ll enjoy the books! You can get them both for $2.99 on Amazon right now.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Interview with TV producer Andrea Fehsenfeld about her debut suspense novel

Author Andréa Fehsenfeld joins me today to talk about her new suspense, Completion.

An award-winning TV producer, Andréa has delivered over 180 TV commercials, series and movies for Fortune 500 companies, including the multimillion-dollar unscripted series “Peak Season” – MTV Canada’s highest rated series debut.

A life-long book lover, in 2015 she decided to channel her storytelling skills into writing fiction. Completion is her debut novel.

Andréa’s brand – Cool Stories for Cool People – reflects her readers and what they’ll find in her books: unconventional characters with a dash of wild and crazy.

Welcome, Andrea. Please tell us about your current release.
Completion is a dark tale of destinies and desires, and fans of Gillian Flynn's multilayered mysteries and Stephen King's contemporary suspense will be in familiar territory with this atmospheric debut where nothing, and no one, is what it seems.

Damien Hester seeks release from his troubled past through flame and fire. But this pyromaniac can't stay ahead of the law forever. When he ignites something beyond his control, his carefully constructed world comes crashing down and the consequences are far reaching. Now on the run, his path takes a dark turn in New Mexico and he finds himself on a mysterious cult compound. Off the grid and suddenly caught between two feuding members - Addy, a beautiful follower and Garrett, the enigmatic leader - is Damien the missing link they've been waiting for? Or will he prove to be everyone's undoing?

A riveting exploration about identity and the powerful forces of our pasts, Completion unfolds through the alternating viewpoints of Damien and Addy as their secrets and broken histories start to unravel, their destinies entwine with Garrett’s, and everything comes full circle…with a price.

What inspired you to write this book?
The initial exploration of the idea was a short story I wrote in 2015. When I finished the short, the idea would not leave me alone. I’d actually written a first draft of a different book prior to Completion (which I will release down the road) but I knew this story took precedence.

Excerpt from Completion:
He jingles through a wad of keys from his pocket, using three different ones to open three different locks.
“Inside,” he says. “And shoes off.”
I slip out of the flip flops and stutter over the threshold.
“Don’t touch anything,” he warns, and closes the door behind me.
Click. Click. Click.
The locks fall into position.
My eyeball is slow to adjust from the brightness outside. At first glance, it’s just an average room you’d find in an average house where nothing crazy is going on - like killing people - but the hint of pine, clean and antiseptic, hangs cold like a guillotine. Two couches face each other in the far corner and in front of me an Ikea-grade dining table is bare except for a pitcher of water, two glasses and a plate of cookies. Something about the set up reminds me of an interrogation, and my hand tightens on the doorknob. It’s the only connection to outside, a world that now seems light years away.
Don’t think about that.
Instead, a vision of a torture chamber enters my mind, and I’m so pre-occupied trying to get rid of it that I don’t see the door on the far wall until it opens and I almost have a heart attack at the age of twenty-one.


What exciting story are you working on next?
Title: TBD

Logline: A disillusioned rock star under pressure to deliver his next hit, finds unlikely inspiration (and complications) from a teen runaway who forces him to face the music in a way he never has.

You can take a peek at the look book here. It will be updated in the coming months.

I’m a huge music fan and this story has been so much fun to write. Watch for it in 2019!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve written on and off for years putting together TV show ideas and proposals, but books are my first love. Near the end of 2014, I made the commitment to sit down every day for two hours in the afternoon and write. It was finishing the first draft of my first book that I knew the time had come to pursue it seriously.

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 still produce TV commercials here and there – they are shorter-term projects and pay well, which allows me time off to write. I do write every day. I have several books on the go and bang out short stories when they come to me – it all depends on what and who is in my head. But right now I’m buckling down to get a final draft of novel #2 ready for beta readers and then it’s off to the editor.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When a characters voice grips me, I’ll bang out several chapters without even knowing the full story just so I can explore and live in their skin. If I get that spidey sense, its how I know if the story is a keeper or not.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had dreams of being an astronaut but suffered from air sickness in my youth and decided space wasn’t for me. In my teens, the freedom of being an entrepreneur appealed. I’ve always been disciplined and liked being in charge of my destiny. (A-type personality!) I’ve been self employed since I was twenty, my first career being finance before I segued into TV production.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Completion unfolds in layers with several twists and turns that have surprised every reader so far. Even my editor – who has worked with several high-profile authors – didn’t guess the ending!


Thank you for joining me today, Andrea.