Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ExceprTuesday: Victoria Roder

Bolt Action by Victoria Roder

Please feel free to visit my website, www.victoriaroder.com

Blurp:  In Action Thriller, Bolt Action from Champagne Books, because it is still illegal to kick the crap out of stupid people, Detective Leslie Bolt uses sarcasm to cope. She is a smart talking, gun hording, Harley riding investigator forced to work a serial murder case with her sexy ex-lover.  After a childhood of abuse suffered at the hand of her father, Leslie sleeps with a Ruger Blackhawk .357 under her pillow, has a Browning A-Bolt Stainless Stalker rifle in her broom closet, and a Saturday Night Special stashed in her road-hog cookie jar. The body count mounts and Detective Bolt must conquer her own past, as she races to capture “The State Quarter Killer” before her sister is the next victim.  Secrets of the past, murder, deception, sexual tension, and “The State Quarter Killer”, Bolt Action offers it all.


Bolt Action Video Trailer:

Excerpt: Bolt Action

Out of my collection of weapons I have stashed around my apartment, I chose my Browning A-Bolt Stainless Stalker rifle from behind the mop in the broom closet. I headed in the direction of my enclosed storage area. Flipping on the porch light in hopes of frightening an intruder, I exited my front door. As I reached the bottom of the wooden steps, I could detect an outline of a person in front of the shadowed storage door. Male-at least six feet tall.

Cocking the rifle, I warned, “Stop. I have a rifle.”

“Calm down, Bolt. It’s just me.” Lance Kestler ran his hand through his thick black hair as he stepped from the shadows into the glow of the porch light.

“Oh for crying out loud. What the hell are you doing here?” I released the trigger. “Did you just come out of my storage area?”

“No. I got out of my car and walked toward your door.” Kestler placed his hands on his slim hips. “How come you never wear your hair down during the day?”

I ignored the question. “I heard a door close.”

Kestler shrugged his broad, black Fieora-clothed shoulders, and wobbled on his feet. “Must’a heard my car door.”

Headlights from a passing car shined toward me and I slid the rifle behind my back. “Whatever. It’s like midnight what the hell do you want?”

“Well, I remembered you don’t sleep much at night, so I assumed you’d still be up. Or maybe you just didn’t sleep at night because I kept you up-or should I say, you kept me up?” Kestler took a stumbling step forward.

I blew out a breath in frustration. How did I ever get involved with this guy in the first place? “Get off it, Kestler. You’ve been drinking. What do you want?”

“Aren’t you gonna invite me in?” He winked in his typical cocky manner. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had your firm body under mine.”

I shook my head. “Are you kidding me?”

“Look, I want to apologize for how things have been going between us lately.” Lance stumbled and dragged his hand across the side of the duplex to stabilize himself.

“Apologize?” The rifle dug into my hand as I tightened my grip. “You can’t even talk in complete sentences. How come you only show up to talk after you’ve been drinking?”

Kestler advanced two steps toward me. “What’s wrong with you? I’m trying to rekindle a civil relationship between us, and you show up acting like Annie Oakley the sharpshooter.”

“You don’t do apologies, or favors without an ulterior motive.” I pointed the rifle toward him. “What the hell do you want? Why don’t you go home?”

“What? You’re gonna shoot me?” Lance put his hands up, pretending to surrender and laughed.

His humor was lost on me. I wanted Kestler off my property and wanted him to know I meant business. Not that I would have shot him. Probably. “You’ve been drinking, and you’re trespassing. I believed you were an intruder and I had to defend myself.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Sounds convincing. I might be able to get someone to buy that.”

“You’d Miss.”

My finger itched to pull the trigger. “Don’t you remember my target scores where always better than yours?”

Lance winked at me. “That’s because I was distracted by your cute ass.”

“You are an ass.”

“I’m done trying to be nice to you.”

“When did you start?”

“Screw you.” He turned to stomp back toward his car.

I lowered the rifle and called out, “Kestler, you’ve been drinking. Should I call you a cab?”

I heard him open his car door. As I walked backward up the three steps to the front door, it didn’t take detective skills to realize he didn’t have the ability nor the courtesy to answer me. Kester was six feet tall─could he have consumed more then two drinks an hour? I ran back down the steps to offer him a ride.

“Kestler!” I pounded on the hood of the car. “Kestler, wait!”

He jammed the car in reverse, spun it around and squealed his tires on the usually quiet street. I watched him drive off and prayed he wouldn’t hit someone on his way home. Retreating inside my apartment, I locked and dead bolted the front door. I returned the A-Bolt rifle to its spot behind the mop, and headed for the phone to call in a tip about a drunk driver. If he was lucky, he’d be stopped by a friendly cop. It not-if he had to spend the night in the drunk tank at least he wouldn’t kill himself or anyone else.  



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Authorsday: Lynda Fitzgerald

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think I knew as soon as I learned how to read, which was when I was three or four if my mother is to be believed. It amazed me that someone could put words―just words, squiggly black scratcheson paper and create real people and situations. At least they were real to me. I wanted to be able to do that, and it's still my goal every time I sit in front of a blank computer screen.

How long have you been writing?

Well, it seems like forever. I wrote my first short story when I was ten and kept writing. Short stories. Poetry. I didn't attempt my first novel until I was in my late twenties. A novel seemed such a massive undertaking. I was terrified I wouldn't be able to finish it. Then I was afraid I'd never have another story idea. It was a huge undertaking, but once I realized the breadth of scope it offered, and I never looked back. And the story ideas come faster than I can write them.

How did you pick the genre you write in?

I didn't set out to write in any genre. I wasn't that knowledgeable or sophisticated back then. I'd written five novels that editors and publishers called "women's fiction" or "romantic suspense." It didn't matter to me what they called them as long as they liked them. Then I came up with an idea for a mystery, LIVE Ringer. Writing that first mystery was the most fun I've ever had, and I fell in love with the characters. I wasn't ready to let them go when the first book ended. There was so much more I wanted them to experience. That's how the LIVE series was born. LIVE Ammo was just released, and LIVE in Person should be out next summer. All the story ideas I come up with these days are mysteries, so I guess I'd have to say my genre chose me.

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I used to be a dedicated seat-of-the-pants writer. I believed outlining would "stifle my creativity." Then the day came where I was halfway through a novel, and I was lost. I wasn't sure how I'd written myself into a corner, but I couldn't see any out except to scrap the first half of the manuscript. The problem was, I liked the first half. It took over a year to figure out how to fix that novel. Now I outline. Even if it's no more than a sentence a chapter, I have a map of sorts. I don't always stick to the outline, and the story often goes off in surprising directions, but the map is there if I need it. And I usually do.

What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

My first novel was Our Ideal. I still love that novel. I was certain it was the best first novel ever written. I knew that, if publishers would just read the manuscript, they'd love it, too. I imagined bidding wars for the right to publish it. And yes, I tried to get it published. And tried, and tried. The publishers disagreed with my analysis of the manuscript. Looking back at it thirty years later, I have to, albeit reluctantly, agree with them. I've rewritten it a dozen times, but I still can't seem to get it right. I'll keep trying, though. How can you reject your first baby, even if it's not as pretty as the later ones?

How many rejections have you received?

Quite honestly, I quit counting after three hundred. I've been rejected by both agents and publishers. It happens. I consider it "paying the dues." I teach a class on "Making Rejection Work for You." God knows, I speak from experience. In class, I tell my students to write that first novel, send it out, and start the next one. When the first novel comes back, send it out again and start another one. Repeat as necessary. Well, there's actually more to the class than that, but I consider that the gist. By the time I got a novel published, I'd written five. Now that I have four in print, I've written nine. I just keep writing. I can't imagine not writing.

What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

I think my greatest strength is that I'm such a good liar. No, really. How can you create fiction unless you're a good liar? I just plain like to make things up. These days, I try to confine it to my writing.

My greatest writing strength, I suppose, is character development. I write character-based fiction because my characters are alive to me. I can see them, hear them. I know what they'd do in given situations. They say things that would never come out of my mouth, and they crack me up all the time. I love them (or hate them, as necessary). I've read a lot of plot-driven fiction, but I always come away from one of those feeling let down, no matter how well the plot was developed. To me, the plot is like the skeleton of the creature. The characters are the flesh, the richness and beauty. They are what drive my stories, and everyone who's read my books talk about the characters, how real they seem. So I guess you could say they're pretty good drivers.

What do you do when you are not writing?

You mean those extra fifteen minutes every week? I'm exaggerating a bit, but until you're published, your writing time is just that: time to write. After you're published, you spend a whole lot of that time doing signings and traveling to appearances and conferences and teaching and generally promoting your books. That doesn't leave as much time for writing as I'd like, but it's a part of the price of being published, a worthy trade off.

Ditto with reading. It seems like I used to read all the time. It was and is one of my greatest pleasures, but it's hard to find time these days. I don't like to read while I'm actively writing a first draft because sometimes I find the style of the book I'm reading bleeding into mine. It doesn't present a problem when I'm editing, just during the first draft. Weird, but true.

Other than that, I spend a lot of time with my dogs. I have three: a German Shepherd, a half-Shepherd-half-something-else-big mix, both three years old, and a pint-sized Cairn Terrier―think Toto―who's thirteen. They're my live entertainment, and I spend a lot of time romping around the backyard with them. Well, they do most of the romping. I pretty much throw the ball and chase after them.

Who is your greatest cheerleader?

I can't tell you which is my greatest cheerleader―only that it would be one of my dogs. Have you ever noticed they love you even if you haven't showered or put on make-up?

Seriously, I have a lot of cheerleaders other than the canine variety, but my biggest cheerleader, as strange as it may sound, is me. I think every author has to be their own cheerleader. It's a 24/7 job, and that would be a heavy burden to place on another individual. I've had wonderful cheerleaders my entire life, beginning with my father. Unfortunately, he was enamored of Louis L'Amour and wanted me to write westerns.  I didn't even read westerns. My family has always been wonderfully supportive. I think my kids' first words were, "Shhh. Mommy's writing."  There have been many times when their faith in me was all that kept me going, or at least, kept me writing. I consider that one of the greatest gifts I've ever received from anyone.

Author Bio:

Lynda Fitzgerald is the multi-genre author of a number of novels ranging from romantic suspense to mystery.  Originally from Florida, she now lives in Atlanta, and both places are reflected in her writing.  She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Atlanta Writers Club and the Florida Writers Association.  She is often called upon to speak and give workshops at conferences around the country.  She is currently working on her next two novels, both mysteries. You can read about Lynda and her work on http://www.fitzgeraldwrites.com.

Book Blurb:

Who better than a cop would know how to stage a murder to look like a suicide?

Jean Aubutten is dead. Her son claims his father, the county sheriff, killed her, but the coroner rules it a suicide. Investigative reporter Allie Grainger doesn't know who to believe. As she searches for answers, the son attempts to block her every effort. A local deputy, fearing Allie is trying to railroad his hero, makes it clear he'll go to any lengths to stop her investigation. Knowing her continued investigation might just get her killed, Allie sets out to discover what really happened the day Jean Arbutten died.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Carolyn Wall

Carolyn Wall

When I write, I am set-upon by characters.  They live in my house and ride in my car, clinging like old actors waiting for the next bit part, or like relatives who eat up the casseroles while the will’s being read.  Sometimes I have to remind myself – and them -- who’s boss. 

My novel, Sweeping Up Glass (Random House, 2009) – and its characters – won a number of awards including the Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction and was reviewed delightfully across the country and in the New York Times. My next book will be available on July 24 of 2012.  It’s peopled with strange folks.

When I was conjuring up this second book, Playing With Matches, I fell in love with the idea of the adopted kids – small Harry who won’t talk, and the abandoned, South American Luz.  The main character is Clea, and her problems go farther back than just the summer of the hurricane that we see in this book. 

I love Belize City, which is just as Clea describes it – the fish market in the canal, children playing in sudsy ditchwater, the ocean lapping the ends of the streets.  We Americans had been warned not to wander past the bus-yard gates, but I was a writer/journalist with a zoom-lens camera.  I set out on a photo shoot with sister-in-law, Pat, she to see the sights and guard my flank.  We were accompanied by a little man on a bicycle.  But Pat could not save me from myself.  Because we were late in returning to the ship, we were hurrying through an alleyway when I fell and bloodied both my knees. 

            By now, it’s clear to my readers that I love the South.  It has sweet potato pie, eclectic people and the strength of hundred-pound test line. 

            Just as I did, Clea loved her job teaching prisoners to write.  During those years, I exhausted my friends and worried others as I prattled on about how much these incarcerated offenders had to say. 

            As with all my writings, I had the tremendous support of my husband and our children, close and distant relatives, friends and neighbors, doctor and dentist, Charlie and his lawn guys, my mailman, trash collectors, the kids at Art Camp, Miss Rhonda at the library, the produce manager and cashiers at Wal-Mart, cute waiters at Pei Wei.  Sooner or later, they’ll end up in a book. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Corpse Whisperer

Welcome readers to our first Indie Hoopla event. For eight days, Jan 15 - 22, you'll get introduced to authors every single day who are sharing their worlds and stories for only 99 cents!

Not only will you get awesome reads, but, for each book you purchase, you will be entered for a chance to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card or $10.00 gift card from the Book Depository (international readers).
All you have to do is forward a copy of the receipt(s) for the books purchased to indiehoopla'>mailto:indiehoopla@yahoo.com">indiehoopla (at) yahoo (dot) com. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, January 24. A master list of all participating authors can be found HEREhttp://indieauthor-howto.blogspot.com/p/indie-hoopla-authors.html">HERE>. Now, let's get this party started!

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A paramedic who can talk to dead people to solve their murders will lose her power on her rapidly approaching 30th birthday. She has one more murder to solve before that can happen.

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http://tjmanderino.webs.com/" style="text-align: center;" target="_blank">Tara Manderino

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A gung ho PR person in charge of getting a reclusive country western singer to perform live at a small function is responsible for him possibly losing his ranch for children. Tyler Davidson would rather deal with a large concert hall audience than come face to face with a few people. Such thoughts are beyond Abie Halloway’s thinking, but as she learns to understand what the ranch means to Tyler and comes to care for him in this sweet romance / inspirational, she realizes she does not want to be the one to cause his downfall.

*More Works*

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http://www.kishazworld.com/" style="font-size: x-large; text-align: center;" target="_blank">Lakisha Spletzer

West CBI agent, Verity Sanchez, is tracking a killer who leaves no clues and invades her dreams. On edge and nearing a mental breakdown, she gets help from an unexpected source.
East CBI agent, Arik Salem, has come out west to solve the unsolvable. He doesn't count on landing in the middle of a murder investigation nor being captivated by the talented agent assigned to assist him. He can't let her get close or risk his secret destroying the trust they've built.
As the body count and dreams increase, Verity must find a way to end both, or be consumed by the twisted desires of a killer.
Book 1 in The Enhanced Chronicles

*More Works*

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http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/lakisha-spletzer" target="_blank">BN | http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kishazworld?ref=kishazworld" target="_blank">Smashwords


http://www.amburns.com/" style="text-align: center;" target="_blank">A.M. Burns

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When witches and wers in Dallas begin dying mysteriously, a magical detective is called in to find the high magician that is responsible. E.S. Peters and his werewolf partner Dusty must dive into the shadowy magical world to stop the magician that is calling up demons to kill witches and wers in Dallas. Their quest takes them from the bars of Deep Ellum to the canals of Las Colinas and beyond to solve the mystery of "Perfect Love"

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Time to Write?

Finding the time to write.
By Victoria Howard 

The question I get asked most often is 'how do you find time to write'?

In this day and age it's easy to feel overwhelmed by everyday life without the added pressure of writing a book or short story.  So just how do you apply the BOSFOK (bum on seat, fingers on keyboard) principle?

The answer is by scheduling the time you have. 

Don't try and fit your writing into your 'spare time.'  There's no such thing, especially if you work full time in order to support your family.  Study your schedule and designate time when you can concentrate on your writing, but don't be too ambitious.  For example:  If you are a morning person try getting up half an hour earlier and using that time to write.  Some writers prefer to work of any evening while the rest of the family watch TV, others dedicate weekend afternoons as their time to write.  Choose whatever works best for you, and stick to it.

  1. Use a timer when doing research--it's very easy to become distracted, especially when searching the Internet.  A timer will help make your time at the computer more productive.
  2. Limit the amount of time you spend answering and sending emails (unless they are to your editor), and reading on line newspapers and blogs.
  3. Think about what you're going to write BEFORE you sit down in front of the computer, perhaps while ironing, or cooking dinner.  When you do sit down at your desk, you'll have the next few pages worked out, plus you will have freed up time in which to write them.
  4. Make use of downtime--those tedious journeys on the bus to work or sitting around waiting for appointments.  Carry a notebook and write while you travel or wait.  If you spend a lot of time in the car driving from place to place, invest in a voice activated voice recorder. 
  5. While you're watching your children play in the park, work out the next scene or think through a problem.  When you sit down to write, the words will generally flow.
  6. If your children have an essay to write use the time they are sat quietly to work on your novel.
  7. Don't try and write while the TV or radio is playing in the background, it will only distract you.
  8. Instead of taking an hour to eat lunch, use part of the time to write.
  9. Invest in a netbook computer--most are no bigger than a sheet of A4 paper, are lightweight and relatively inexpensive. 
  10. Use an answering machine to screen calls during your 'writing time.'
  11. But most of all, set yourself a writing goal.  It could be something as simple as entering one writing contest in the course of a year.  And remember; if you write 250 words a day--the equivalent of one page of A4, in a year you will have written 365 pages or approximately 90,000 words--enough for a full length novel.   Whatever your goal, stick to it, as it will take the pressure off.

Time management is all about common sense.  It's a matter of understanding your commitments and knowing how you work best, and using that information to achieve your goals.


When English accountant Daniel Elliott dies in a car accident one rainy night, his widow, Grace, isovercome with grief…and panic.  Daniel was controlling and their marriage loveless, but he always took care of the sheltered Grace.

Or so she thought.

She soon discovers Daniel kept secrets:  an alias, mob ties, a list ofnumbers, a mysterious beach house in Florida….and a girlfriend who looks like Grace.

Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami to claim the house Daniel left her.  But the price of her curiosity is peril.  Underworld figures stalk her.  The other woman has left a damning trail of evidence pointing her way.  And handsome, troubled FBI agent Jack West has crossed precarious paths with Grace before.  He could be her savior or her damnation.  All she knows for certain is that she longs to be in his arms.

With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack tohelp her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lie

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

ExcerpTuesday: Catherine Astolfo

EXCERPT: Legacy will be available in the Spring of 2012

Prologue from Legacy: Emily Taylor Mystery #3

By Catherine Astolfo

For a long time the boy knew he was only a step away from the edge. He could feel it in the pressure on his chest, the blockage in his throat, the mist before his eyes. All he had to do was give in, go forward, use the anger. Just take that one last step.

He began to spend more time alone, less time talking to anyone. Now and then he’d be sitting somewhere, at the table or his desk for instance, and realize that he had not connected with the world for long minutes or even hours. He had always been a quiet, introspective boy, so he was not surprised that no one noticed the changes inside him. But the absence of attention exacerbated the anger. One part of him wanted someone to stop him, to pull him free.

Whenever anyone did pick up on his mood, though, he wanted to lash out. It seemed that anger was all there was left. He was holding still, waiting for the nerve to act.

Instead he would go into his room and pick the flies off the screen, stuck there in the heat. He would slowly pull their wings off, or squish them between his fingers, or just let them suffocate in his palm. Sometimes he would force himself out of the house in search of other insects or small animals to punish. In the brush and trees surrounding the backyard, he would trap ants, mice and once, a cat. He realized that this was a kind of training ground. He was getting his body and his mind ready for the stepping off.

Unheeded, those around him continued to press him, move him along the continuum. They gave him no choice. The anger and the pressure kept building.

On the day that he decided to act, he locked eyes with his brother. In that precise moment, he knew that he could do it. He stood up, retrieved the weapon from the back room and held it steadily in his arms. Then he stepped forward, deliberately, in the knowledge that once he moved over that edge, their universe would be altered forever. He felt something shift inside.

He lifted the gun and fired.


Catherine Astolfo retired from education to pursue her true passion: writing.  She self-published a novel series, The Emily Taylor Mysteries, through her own publishing company, Moe Publications. The series revolves around an unusual heroine—the principal of an elementary school.  In her late forties, Emily Taylor becomes a reluctant sleuth through a variety of external events.  Some of her decisions, however, are based on a fear of discovery, for she has a mysterious past that involves her husband.  Readers do not find out the details of this past life until Book 4.

In 2005, Catherine was awarded a Brampton Arts Award for the first novel in the series, The Bridgeman. Recently, she won a four-book contract from Imajin Books for the e-versions of the series.

Catherine was the 2010-11 President of Crime Writers of Canada and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto. She is the co-owner of an ezine for writers and readers, Scribes Digest, and of Sisbro & Co. Inc., a film production company.

Check her out at www.catherineastolfo.com

Buy the books through links at www.imajinbooks.com

Blurb about the Emily Taylor Books:

The Emily Taylor Mystery series revolves around an unusual heroine - the principal of an elementary school.  In her late forties, Emily Taylor becomes a reluctant sleuth through a variety of external events.  Some of her decisions, however, are based on a fear of discovery, for she has a mysterious past that involves her husband.  Readers do not find out the details of this past life until Book 4.   The series is not simply a mystery or crime genre.  Social issues, relationships, nature, diversity and romance are all intertwined to create intriguing stories and unforgettable characters.

The Bridgeman and Victim (Books One and Two) are available now at www.imajinbooks.com.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th Blog Hop

and she will display the link to the next stop in the Hop in her post. Each blogger will do the same, so you'll be visiting every link in the Hop's chain. If that host is offering a giveaway on his/her blog, go ahead and enter to win their contest.

*NOTE* These contests are not connected to the grand prize drawings at the end of the Hop! They are for those individual blogs.

Follow the links as they lead you to the grand prize forum at the end. Fill out the form provided there and you'll be added to the drawing. Among the prizes are books, gift cards, and a Kindle. That's right. Enter to win and you'll have a chance at the grand prize--A Kindle!

So, if you came to me first, you might want to skip over to her and follow the chain. You don't want to miss out on the great posts the others are sharing! With all the amazing authors taking part, this should be a fantastic day of hopping!

Today, besides being blog hop day, is National Blame Someone Else Day.
Let’s embrace the absurdity that each day is dedicated to some inane thing and put our tongues firmly in our cheeks and blame someone else.
So this blog isn’t my fault. Let’s just put that out there.

I blame not being on the New York Times Bestseller List because Nora Roberts and James Patterson are hogging all the spots.

I blame Joe Bastardi for it raining when I want it to be sunny.

I blame my typos on Sholes and Glidden typewriter who first used the QWERTY keyboard.

I blame the recent earthquakes on kids jumping on their beds.

I blame climate change on Al Gore.

I blame racism on Rush Limbaugh.

I blame obesity on McDonald’s.

I blame Facebook and Twitter for my lack of time to write.

Let’s spread around all this blame. Who do you blame for what?

Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in Journalism. She has published 6 books to date.

Almost there to the last stop on the Friday the 13th Blog Hop!

Excerpt: Blonde Demolition

The hot spray hit Mallory's sore muscles like a thousand needle points. Her heart raced. Her mind sped past it. What could he want?

"Ask me." She heard his voice through the translucent panel of the shower door. That voice that could send a thrill through her. That voice that had whispered to her of naked pleasures. That voice attached to a body that could fulfill those pleasures.

She shuddered, not surprised to see him. He had a knack for pushing through her boundaries.

"Do you mind? I'm naked, Trey."

His laugh rumbled from the depths of his amazing body. "I've seen you naked. In fact I could probably draw a road map of your body."

     Her mouth went dry. She finished her shower and turned off the water. She let out a noisy breath before she opened the door. He would not get the best of her.

Trey McCrane held her towel as if he planned to make her barter him for it. A twinkle lit his ice-blue eyes. "Towel?"

     She leaned on the metal frame of the stall, refusing to be intimidated. "Give me the towel."

     He did, easier than she thought. His gaze roved over her as intrusive as if they were his hands. Even if she hadn't been naked, she would have felt that way. Trey could look through people.

You're next stop is:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Authorsday: William S. Shepard

William S. Shepard

1.      Robbie Cutler, your protagonist, is a suave, smart American diplomat living in France. Although he is in his thirties, he possesses wisdom often found in older, more experienced characters. Robbie is also a wine connoisseur. How did his development come about?

      This is his second diplomatic assignment, and he has undergone political and language training at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia, after passing the Foreign Service oral and written and security exams (still I think about 1 in 100 survive). Robbie grew up in a Foreign Service family, so is used to living overseas. That comes naturally to him now. He learns about wine while at Bordeaux – just as I did. My wine book, “Shepard’s Guide to Mastering French Wines,” is a thorough survey of French wine regions, and it builds on my experiences writing about wine and tasting it in over 60 different vineyard locations throughout France.

      Robbie is also though a fairly junior official. I had a problem with that, for I wanted him to have, here and in succeeding novels, access to highly classified information. That is how Uncle Seth came about – a nationally prominent man who keeps Robbie in the picture on national security matters. That is important here, but it becomes crucial in the fourth novel, “The Saladin Affair.” where Robbie has to stop an Al Qaeda assassination plot against the Secretary of State.


2.      What do you and Robbie have in common?

      Like Robbie, I am a Francophile. I supposed that started with Dad’s stories about World War One when he was a combat veteran there, and then a university student. I was a French literature major in college, and taught in a French high school for a year after graduation. His love story is his own business, with very little help from me!

 3.        The setting for Vintage Murder is the lush countryside of Bordeaux and the rugged region of the Basque country in France. What made you set the story here?

            It is an area that I know very well, on both sides of the border. I wanted a vivid enemy, and the Basque ETA fit that requirement. What they have not done is take my “suggestion” and start blackmailing the owners of the great wine estates in Bordeaux. If that happened, I’m not sure I would still be welcome there!

4.         Describe your writing process.

            There are times when I cannot write (March/April, devoted to income tax preparation). I try to set aside roughly half a year, and then spend lots of time plotting out the novel. After that, it is a ruthless deadline – one chapter each week. I write in the morning. A cat perched on the desk usually helps!

5.         Authors today are expected to do most of their own promotions. How do you balance social networking with writing? What promotions work best for you?

            This is a work in progress. Writers’ blogs such as this one help spread the word. So do personal acquaintances. Reviews are most helpful. So is some paid advertising. I would like to be at the stage where this all melds together and is self-sustaining. But not yet, I fear!

6.         Who are your favorite authors?

            Dickens and Balzac are my favorite writers. Both have imaginations that are expansive and creative. In their own way, each creates and then peoples literary universes (Balzac quite deliberately). I remember one chapter in an early Dickens book, “Nicholas Nickleby,” in which it seemed to me that Dickens surfaced and then didn’t bother to pursue more solid plot lines than would occur to most writers in a decade! I like the way Balzac zeros in on an emotion and takes it to its conclusion, whether that is comfortable for the reader or not.

7.         What inspires and motivates you to write?

            I enjoy storytelling, and writing is based on that. It may be something of a family trait. I had an uncle who was a gifted storyteller, and had virtually no formal education. He was a spellbinder. He and my Aunt took in foster children. When someone misbehaved, the worst punishment would be banishment to bed, and no story hour! Of course this was before television, but Irvin Foster really had the gift.

8.         What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about starting a novel?

            I’d say there are four things to consider. First, write about what you know and have experienced. Second, do try to plot out the entire novel, at least as a sketch. Third, consider whether what you have planned fits the entire story line. For example, in my novel Murder On The Danube, the back story continually involves a small group of Hungarian Freedom Fighters. Who is present at what stage of the fighting is crucial, and that had to be planned with great care – the one who was missing might be the one who betrayed the group! Fourth, sit down and write the first chapter. Then revise it, again and again. Characters you hadn’t considered will begin to assert themselves, you’ll see!