Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ExcerpTuesday: Edie Weinstein

Standing at the Crossroads 

“What are four walls, anyway? They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer. Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game. It’s such a surprise.” – Frances Mayes

Tonight I watched one of my favorite movies: Under The Tuscan Sun. As always, I found myself immersed in emotion soup … laughter, tears, goosebumps and aha moments. Diane Lane plays a newly divorced writer named Frances Mayes who goes to Italy on vacation, sent there by her pregnant lesbian friend and her friend’s partner. A series of cosmically coincidental meetings and celestial signs sprinkle throughout, and Frances buys a crumbling villa in Tuscany. She wistfully casts her desires for someone to cook for, a wedding to take place in the home, and a family to live there. Those wishes come to pass in profound and unexpected ways. 

The most poignant part of the movie occurs when Frances is in conversation with Martini, the realtor she befriended who helped negotiate the purchase of the villa. She bemoans her circumstances, wondering if her life will ever turn around and allow her to feel a sense of home. He says to her:

Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.

Someday the train will come. Each day I awaken and, like Frances, find myself ‘standing at the crossroads’, wondering which way to turn. I question why my life circumstances appear as they do at the moment and what steps to take to have them blossom more fully into what I desire. I gaze backward and see when and where I have laid the train tracks in impossibly steep mountainous terrain. I notice, with gratitude, who it is that has worked on the railroad with me, swinging the hammers and pounding steel into rocky ground. I question what it is that has me knowing eventually Vienna and Venice will connect and that the train will arrive, carrying on it the work I was born to do and the partner with whom to share my villa. Each day, like Frances, I celebrate the family of choice that embraces me and the beauty and magic that I encounter. Each day, like Frances, I notice the messages that arrive ushering me into “the four walls,” in which, “unmistakably good things can happen, even late in the game.”

Ciao, Bella.

Bliss Kisses

Do you feel as if you are standing at a crossroads in your life? 

What wishes have you scattered out into the Universe?

In what ways have they come to pass?

Are you willing to get on the train and see where it takes you?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Keeping a Series Alive and Lively

Elaine L. Orr

When we think of popular fiction mystery series today names such as P.D. James, Sue Grafton, Robert Parker, Janet Evanovich, and Margaret Maron come to mind.  I consider Adam Dalgliesh, Kinsey Milhone, Spenser, Stephanie Plum and Deborah Knott to be close literary friends. 

I have read mystery series since the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew (yes, both) and then Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.  I can't cite Sherlock Holmes as a favorite; there wasn't enough opportunity to solve the murder along with the sleuth.  After absorbing these and many other mystery series, I began formulating my own series in the mid-2000s.  Though I learned from many authors, I learned the most from J.K. Rowling, though most would not put her in the mystery genre.  The clues and foreshadowing she planted in The Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets show how clearly (and early) she thought out the evolving mystery of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort.

It is daunting to create characters you will work with (if you are lucky) for a decade or more.  As I developed the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, I spent a lot of time considering what would be consistent in each book and what would change.  Consider these points as food for thought.

  1. Readers need to care about the characters as much as the mystery they solve.  Sure, that's Writing 101, but it takes a lot of thought.  Will your characters maintain the same characteristics and perspectives throughout, or will they evolve?  You're going to work with them a long time, so consider if you want to spend time a lot of time with a hot head or practical joker.  On the other hand, Stephanie Plum's  Ranger is hot -- it would be a shame to have him change too much.
  2. Will your characters move around the county or globe or stay firmly rooted in their home town?  You explore Boston with Spenser and Hawk, and after you read a couple of Margaret Maron's Judge Knott novels you can smell North Carolina tobacco.  The Murder She Wrote mysteries offer a mix of Cabot Cove comfort and global tour opportunities. `
  3. If there is something to learn in each book it can pique your own as well as reader interest.  Since a series' lead characters are the same, new settings or information can help keep them fresh.  Sand Sharks gives Deborah Knott fans a chance to learn about the culture of the North Carolina shore rather than the fields of Colleton County.  On the other hand, in Killer Market the level of detail on the furniture industry in North Carolina seemed as much like a data dump as part of the story.  
  4. Is there a love interest?  It's almost everywhere these days.  Sue Grafton does a great job of interjecting Kinsey's love life in some books but not others.  As with television shows, if your hero or heroine enters a committed relationship or marries it changes more than how they interact with people other than their partner.  There is no longer "relationship tension," plus they have to keep someone apprised of their whereabouts.  
  5. If you want to express a point of view -- political, religious, cultural -- consider writing an editorial.  If a particular opinion or piece of information is not integral to the plot or character it adds nothing and can sound like a sermon.  On the other hand, a book can contain a well crafted message.  Children of Men is different than most P.D. James' novels, and the broad message (to me) was that we humans are fallible and can be pretty intolerant of each other, and we better change.  P.D. James never "tells" this, she "shows" it through the story.
  6. Will your characters age?  Early into the series, Sue Grafton decided that Kinsey Milhone would stay in her mid-thirties.  This has served Kinsey well.  For one thing, if Kinsey got older her good friend and landlord Henry (and others) would soon be out of the picture.  Henry has survived well into his nineties, but it would be pushing belief to have him baking his breads at 105, and his loss would be a big one for the series.  Nancy Drew stayed the same age for decades, but she did eventually evolve.  Though she did not initially age, the original books were revised in the late 1950s and early 1960s to eliminate racial stereotypes and other outdated views.  The Nancy Drew Files presented her as an older sleuth, starting in the 1980s. 

After considering such alternatives I created a beach town for Jolie Gentil and populated it with diverse residents and a strong dose of humor.  After you think about these points for awhile, it just might make developing a plot seem like a walk on the beach, or haunted house, or dark and stormy night…

                                                                        *          *          *

Resource note:  If you think you've missed a book in a series or want to see what authors write in your favorite genre, the Kent, Michigan library has done you a great favor.  To search by series name or Author (by genre) go to http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/whatsnext.asp.  If there is a better resource I have not found it.  You'll need to go elsewhere to easily read book synopses.

Copyright 2012 by Elaine L. Orr

Elaine L. Orr authors fiction and nonfiction.  The Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series was introduced in 2011 with Appraisal for Murder, followed by Rekindling Motives.  The third book, When the Carny Comes to Town, was released in February 2012.   www.elaineorr.com elaineorr.blogspot.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Authorsday: Carrie Daws

  1. If you have a day job, what is it?

As much as I love to write, very little of my day-to-day activities are spent on it. I homeschool our three children, work part-time in our church’s administrative office and volunteer within two different military ministries.

  1. Where do you write?

We have converted our dining room into an office for me. Around my desk, the walls are lined with bookshelves and we hung tension rods with curtains in the two doorways. The family knows that when the curtains are closed I am writing and a bone better be pushing through the skin before they interrupt me.

  1. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

Keep writing. I didn’t believe in my writing, didn’t see the value of it. Friends continued to push me, some gently and some not so gently, to continue writing my stories. Most of the time I’m still amazed that the first book is in print and the second one is working its way through to publication.

  1. What drew you to the subject of Crossing Values?

Like many first novels, Crossing Values is somewhat biographical. The heroine’s main problem is fear. Although the reasons behind my fear are very different from hers, the end result was the same: we were paralyzed by our lack of trust in others. One day I decided to kick fear to the curb. Although I still struggle with insecurity, it is nothing like what I once endured. I wanted to encourage others to this same freedom.

  1. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

My biggest obstacle continues to be perfectionism. In fact, I put off many projects around my home because I want it to be absolutely perfect and know what I achieve will fall short. Because I chose to place the main family of the book in a logging community, my choices for location were somewhat limited. Because of other details, I finally picked Oregon, a state I’ve never visited. I wanted the book to be realistic and authentic, yet I was making guesses based on what I could find on the internet and in books.

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

When I start a book, I know the big picture in very general terms. For Crossing Values, I knew I wanted a girl who was running from something in her past to run into a family who simply wanted to love her where she was. Since I write romantic fiction, I wanted a happy ending. Other than that, I create my stories one paragraph at a time, letting the characters lead the way.

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

My personality tends toward being a woman of few words who simply wants to know the bottom line. I don’t need a lot of fluff, just tell me what I need to know. This helps to keep my writing tight and word count low.

  1. What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

Because of this bottom line thinking, I also tend to write too little. I can leave too many details out or fail to have my characters interact with their environment. I faithfully send each chapter as it’s completed to three friends who read for flow, grammar and content. Any question they may have about the script either gets written down to address later in the book or becomes something I immediately rewrite into the chapter I just finished.

  1. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?

   When I started researching publishers, I was looking for a short list of things beginning with the fact that I wanted to publish traditionally. I recognized my very limited knowledge on the whole process and knew I would need a team on my side to walk me through it. After that, my priority was that the publisher be Christian-based. I write from a biblical worldview and am not willing to compromise that. Next, I decided I didn’t want to deal with finding an agent and I wanted a shorter turn-around time. These choices condensed the list of publishers immensely.

   Then I began a secondary list of preferences, things like I could use the New International Version of the Bible or a new-author percentage rate above 30%. As I write novellas, this was also an important consideration. The publisher I chose and ultimately signed a contract with, seemed the best fit.

  1. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?

I am a curious person and love to learn new things. Something that I’ve wanted to do for years, though, and have already told my husband that I really want to do once the kids are grown, is learn to fly a helicopter. I want to spend time soaring with the birds.

Author Bio:

   Over the years, Carrie’s dreams changed to include being a stay-at-home mom and a writer. Originally writing weekly devotions as a way to share what she learned with women from various military bases, Carrie decided to enroll in the Christian Writer’s Guild.

   After almost ten years in the military, Carrie’s husband medically retired and they now live in central North Carolina with their three children. Besides writing fiction novels, she stays busy with homeschooling, working part time, and volunteering within two military ministries. Find out more at CarrieDaws.com.

Book Blurb:

      For years, Amber traipsed around the northwest avoiding people and the skeletons in her closet. As winter plants itself across the Rockies, she decides to take a chance on a job at a logging company with a family different from any she’s ever known.

   Watching the family interact creates more questions than answers for Amber. Feeling like she’s entered the happily-ever-after written at the end of fairytales, she watches for cracks in the fa├žade. Surely the play-acting will cease and the real family will emerge.

   Or could they be genuine? Could this family hold the key to what she’s seeking?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ExcerpTuesday: R P Dahkle

High above the town of Ensenada, Raul Vignaroli pushes open the heavy door of his home to the hush of the air conditioner and the faint sound of children laughing. At the drop of his keys onto the entry table, a woman calls, “¡Cena, querido!”

“Yes, my love, dinner. I’ll be right there.” But instead, he detours away from the light where children laugh and his wife’s voice echoes in his head and stumbles for his bathroom and a shower.

Eventually, with towel wrapped around his waist, he rubs the steam off the mirror and faces the dour face and shadowed eyes. His thick black hair curls wetly around his ears, indicating a much needed haircut. He rubs a hand over the stubble on his chin, then fingers the shaving cream, considering… and he hears her voice calling again, “Dinner, my love!”

He curses loudly and explodes, tossing the can across the room. Then he lowers his head, smoothers his frustration in a cold wet face cloth, and dips down to pick up the can, replacing it back in line with the other toiletries. Turning each label to the front as if they were tin soldiers in the fight against unruly beards and sweaty armpits and a life that extends no farther than the walls of this house.

The ongoing argument with his sister was finally beginning to wear on five years of denial. She’d told him it was madness to remain in this crazy house, and crazier still to keep a grieving, featherless parrot.

“¡Cena querido!

But then, how else would he ever hear their voices again?

Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12996659-a-dangerous-harbor
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/A-DANGEROUS-HARBOR-ebook/dp/B0062D4GM2/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320274565&sr=1-4

A mermaid, a bald parrot, the past she'd hoped to leave behind and perhaps the love of her life… all in A Dangerous Harbor
. http://amzn.to/uWzIUl

Biography for A Dangerous Harbor
This book was the result of several years in Ensenada,Mexico  aboard our cutter rigged Hylas 47 sailboat. Ensenada is, as most California sailors know, first port of call into Baja, Mx after San Diego. Most of the town is clustered around the harbor where working marinas like Baja Naval still service American boaters.
I found this sleepy little town to be fascinating, full of endless stories, with a culture that was, and still is, struggling to gain a foothold in the 21st Century. The irony is that I started this book ten years ago, based on a local news story, which at the time was staggering in its brutality. This story is no longer unique as the Mexican Cartels daily murder with impunity. But, just as the cartels are not all that is Mexico, this story isn’t all about them, it’s about what happens when you try to run away from your problems and it’s about Americans, the ones passing through and the ones stuck in A Dangerous Harbor. 
To read more about me and the books I write, you can find me at the following places:  Amazon/Kindle: RP Dahlke: http://tinyurl.com/6hdg3bf

Twitter: rpdahlke

Website: www.rpdhalke.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview with A. M. Burns

1.      How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since high school.

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

It depends on what I’m working on. Urban fantasy and paranormal books I tend to write by the seat of my pants. Traditional fantasy or mysteries I like to plot. That doesn’t mean I stick to the plot, but I start with one.

3.      What drew you to the subject of “Perfect Love”?

At that time I had a number of friends who were “acting up” shall we say, and they inspired me to work out some of my frustrations with them via literature. I have this t-shirt that I found years ago that says “Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel” that one of the things I warn people about. The names are changed to protect the guilty.

4.      If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?

What would you like to see out of my work?

5.      What’s your writing schedule?

I spend several hours a day, once I’ve made a pass through my more popular websites, writing, or editing. Then I break for dinner, after dinner it’s several more hours working on whatever I need to work on, but I try to squeeze in a bit of marketing time in the evenings. When I’m at work on a novel, I shoot for 8,000 to 10,000 words a day.

6.      What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?

The Jurassic period, it would be so cool to go back and see the incredible diversity of life that existed back then.

7.      What’s your favorite food?

Hamburgers with really crispy French fries.

8.      What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m a falconer who lives in the mountains, when I’m not writing I take my birds out hunting or if its summer spend time hiking or riding in the wilderness.

9.      What is your favorite writing reference book and why?

The Writer’s Digest Character Naming sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, it’s a great source of names and has helped liven up my writing since I bought it a few months back.

10.  Who is your favorite character in your book?

I love Tal O’Duirwood. He’s an awesome character with lots of history to explore. He’s extremely complex, and very human at the same time. My readers can look forward to seeing a lot of him in the future.

Author Bio:

A.M. Burns lives in the Colorado Rockies with his partner, several dogs, cats, horses, and birds. When he’s not writing, he’s often fixing fences, hiking in the mountains, or flying his hawks. You can find out more about A.M. and his writing at www.amburns.com, or follow him on tiwitter @am_burns

Book Blurb:

“Blood Moon Yellow Sky”

My blood ran cold as I read the last part of the email. The vampire leading the trouble there was my ex-lover, Estaben de’Oro, or Steven Goldson as he was now called. I hadn’t seen Estaben in over a hundred and fifty years. He hadn’t been a powerful vampire when I drove him out of Colorado. How could he be gathering followers enough to trouble an entire Texas town? His most ambitious thought back when I knew him had been how find someone to feed on.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Secrets, Lies and Love

Hi, I’m Meghan Shelby. My parents moved away from Littleton when I was seventeen, but now here it is ten years later and I’m back.

I inherited the family home, a Queen Anne Victorian from my Aunt Beth. I always loved that house, so needless to say I was excited when I received the letter from my aunt’s attorney. Not that my aunt passed away, I was very sad about that, but coming back to Littleton after all this time was exciting.

I’m not sure why we moved away. It was all kind of sudden and we never came back. Not once in all those years, not even when Gran passed away. I never knew why. Every time I asked, the question went ignored. Eventually, I quit asking.

Anyway, here I was back in the town I loved, standing in front of a dilapidated, rundown home that used to be one of the most elegant in town. Shutters hung by one hinge, windows broken, the porch floor rotted and the back door lock didn’t work.

How had Aunt Beth allowed this to happen? I was half afraid to go inside, but curiosity got the best of me and I ventured in. What a mess. It was going to take a lot of money to get this place back to its glory days. And the stench was almost unbearable. Well, no wonder, I discovered a dead body in the living room.

Who he was, or why he was there in my house, I had no idea. For some reason, the sheriff wasn’t convinced of that. To top it all off, he caught me in the arms of my new boss, the principal of the elementary school and the guy I had a crush on all those years ago. Oh, I was hired as school secretary, guess you need to know that.

Needless to say, I was the main topic of conversation around town the next day. Gossipmongers in Littleton were having a ball at my expense.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next day several eighth grade boys caught the principal kissing me in his office. I’d never live this down. Not that I minded being kissed, especially by Patrick. I just didn’t need it spread all over town.

Once I hired a handyman to fix the windows and change the locks, I rolled up my sleeves and got busy scrubbing the place inside so we could paint. I hired high school kids for that job. There was only so much I could do with working full time. But at least I was able to move in.

That’s when more trouble started. First I received phone calls warning me to leave. Obviously, someone didn’t want me here. If you want to know more, you’re going to have to read the book.

Secrets, Lies, & Love releasing Jan. 4, 2012 from Books We Love Publishing.


A dilapidated Queen Anne Victorian, a dead body, and an ex boyfriend complicate life for Meghan Shelby when she returns to her hometown after a ten year absence.


Multi-published author, Roseanne Dowell, former school secretary and writing instructor, is an avid reader and writes various types of romance – paranormal, contemporary and mystery. Living in Northeast Ohio with her husband of forty-nine years, she has six grown children, fourteen grandchildren and one great grandchild. She spends her time between writing, quilting and embroidering.  She’s been published since 2006 with five releases this year and seven new releases coming in 2011. She also enjoys blogging, tweeting, facebooking and posting on various writers groups.  To learn more about Roseanne check her website: www.roseannedowell.com  or her blog http://roseannedowellauthor.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ExcerpTuesday: Me! A View to a Kilt

“There’s a pack of reporters out there.”


Gazing past him out the two sets of glass doors, she saw the news vans. Damn.  She bit her lip, glancing from him to the door. She sighed. “Is there another way out?”

He nodded and she found herself following the man. She took two steps, then stopped short. Am I crazy?

He turned to look at her.

“What? The other door is this way.”

“Who are you?”

He smiled and saluted. “Gus Macpherson, a friend of Lieutenant Bob Carnes.”

Her eyes narrowed, but he looked like the type of friend Bob might have. With his erect posture and constantly scanning eyes, “Cop” might well have been stamped on his forehead.  She looked around the hallway then back at Gus. “If you touch me, I’ll scream.” Just in case she assessed him incorrectly.

He put his hands up. “These will not come anywhere near you.”

“Okay, lead on.”

He continued in the direction he had indicated earlier. Some part of her brain registered a nice butt in worn jeans. The thought went no further. The tall man led her through the emergency department, down a hallway to the Main Entrance.

She stopped by the door, arms crossed. “Won’t there be reporters, here?”

The redhead shook his head. “Take a look.”

No news vans.

“You’re right,” she said, but  when she looked up the man had disappeared.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Interview with Jean Henry Mead

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote my first novel when I was nine, a chapter a day to entertain classmates, with pencil on construction paper. But I didn’t consider myself a writer until my first newspaper reporting job the year I graduated from college. News reporting is the most demanding form of writing because you usually don’t have time to rewrite.

  1. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I’ve always loved mysteries and I read newspapes as a child in Los Angeles because I had a morbid curiosity about crime. It both repelled and attracted me. I later worked as a police and border patrol reporter in San Diego.

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

I’m definitely a pantser writer. I always outline a nonfiction book, but never a novel. I sit down at the computer with a vague idea of what’s going to happen and tune into my characters’ conversations. I then type as fast as I can to keep up with them. I’m far enough along in my Logan & Cafferty series to think of my two protagonists as old friends.

  1. What drew you to the subject of Murder on the Interstate?

I was driving our 38 ft. motorhome along a northern Arizona highway one night in the rain, listening to truckers on my CB radio when I thought I saw a car off the side of the mountain road. I imagined a murdered young woman in the car and it gave me cold chills, so I decided to write about it. I had listened to the truckers long enough to pick up on their jargon and that provided a lot of humor for the plot, plus a woman trucker by the name of “Big Ruby McCurdy,” who rescues my two amateur sleuths after the killer disables their motorhome. She evolved from a woman trucker I later interviewed although she looked and sounded nothing like Big Ruby.

  1. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?

There are always obstacles. I didn’t begin writing the book (my third in the Logan & Cafferty series) until we returned to Wyoming, although I wrote plenty of notes. I then had to conduct considerable long distance research about Phoenix, the kidnap capital; terrorists coming across the border with Mexican nationals, a bridge on an Indian Reservation south of Scotsdale, where chemical spills take place, etc. The Internet provides a lot of wonderful research material, especially MapQuest and out of town newspapers. So I didn’t have to return to Arizona or Las Vegas for further research.

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

Escape on the Wind, later republished as Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel required years of research and yes, I had an agent who didn’t sell it, so I sold it  myself. It’s been published by three different publishers over the years and has outsold all my other novels.

  1. How many rejections have you received?

I received over a dozen rejections when I was attempting to write short stories, but I sold my first book, a nonfiction book of interviews first time out—nonfiction has always been easier to sell than fiction and I had worked as a news reporter for eight years. I then sold four more nonfiction books before I attempted to write a novel, which I sold first time out.

  1. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

Place your “finished” manuscript in a drawer for a few weeks to a month, then take it out and read it as though someone else had written it. Edit and polish it again before you send it to a publisher.

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

I’m fortunate to have a good ear for dialogue and speech patterns, and I enjoy recording  my characters’ conversations. I’ve lived on both coasts and seven states in between and I’ve always acquired the local accent while I’ve live there. An important part of fiction writing is to vary each character’s speech pattern so that no one sounds alike.

  1. What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

I write fast, a habit I acquired as a news reporter and when I become bored, I switch to another manuscript that I’m working on. But I tend to spend far too much time social networking, which eats up the time I should be spending on research and writing. My New Year’s Resolution is write on a computer not connected to the Internet. J

  1. What’s your writing schedule?

I rise around six, sometimes earlier, and go directly to my computer in my pajamas. After I check my email and networking, I work until noon and a short lunch break, then go back to work until it’s time to prepare dinner, with a few short  time-outs for the laundry and  housework. I sometimes go back to work after dinner. I enjoy writing so it’s never a chore..


Author Bio: Jean Henry Mead has published 16 books, half of them novels. Her Logan & Cafferty  mystery/suspense series features two amateur  women sleuths traveling in their motorhome solving murders. Mead also writes the Hamilton Kids’ mysteries and is an award-winning photojournalist, with articles published nationally as well as abroad.

Book Blurb:

Dana Logan & Sarah Caffety are traveling a northern Arizona highway in a downpour when a Mercedes convertible goes off the mountain road. They find the body of a young woman shot to death in her car and the killer returns to disable their motorhome. A woman trucker comes to their rescue and the chase is on, which leads to a wreck, flash flood and kidnapping by homegrown terrorists. Humor and light romance are sprinkled amid the drama.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Authorsday: Shelly Munro

Interview – Shelley Munro

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

When I finally decided to get serious about writing, I sat down and wrote a romantic suspense called Lane’s Love Child. I was very industrious and wrote every day when I arrived home from work. It took me about two months to complete my story. After reading my story through and making minor adjustments, I sent it off to Mills & Boon in London, confident that I’d be receiving a contract by return mail. I didn’t of course. Three months later I received a rejection. I was crushed!!

I loved the story and kept reworking and rewriting before submitting it again. Lane’s Love Child, now titled Playing to Win, is currently available from Ellora’s Cave and is part of the sensual Blush line.

2. Describe your book, CAT BURGLAR IN TRAINING.

My upcoming February 20 release from Carina Press is a contemporary romantic mystery called Cat Burglar in Training. Lady Eve Fawkner returns home to England to live with her father. On her arrival she discovers things are very dire at Oakthorpe, the family estate. Her father has borrowed money and is having difficulty repaying it. He wants her to take over the family mantle of cat burglar and become The Shadow. Of course, she resists the idea until the money lenders start threatening her young daughter. She’s left with little option but to embrace the family occupation of cat burglar.

While researching jewels at a society ball, she meets a man who piques her interest. Unfortunately he’s the very worst man for her because he’s a cop!

3. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

My husband and I spent six years living and working in London. Writing Cat Burglar in Training was a good excuse to go through all my photos and mementos and relive all the fun times we had while we lived in London. Some of my personal experiences and the things I did went into the writing of this book.

Cat Burglar in Training was also my first attempt at writing a book in first person. I’ve written a few first person stories since then and enjoy the change of pace after writing third person manuscripts.

4. What drew you to the subject of CAT BURGLAR IN TRAINING?

Years ago I watched the movie To Catch a Thief, staring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. After watching this movie I yearned to read/watch more cat burglar romances. Once I began writing my own stories, a cat burglar story became an obvious plot choice for me.

5. Who is your favorite character in your book?

Lady Eve Fawkner, the heroine of the book and the trainee cat burglar is my favorite character. She’s feisty and brave and will do anything to keep her family safe. I like the way she grows during the course of the story and stops running away from her problems.

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

When I first started writing I was definitely a seat of your pants writer. Throughout the years I’ve adapted my writing method, and although no one could ever call me a plotter, I do plan far more than I used to in the past. I guess you could call me a hybrid.

7. What’s your writing schedule?

Now that I write full time I tend to keep office hours and try to write from around nine in the morning until I’ve completed my target number of words. I write 2000 words every day. Once I’ve completed my words, I’ll do promo and other writing related things.

8. What do you do when you are not writing?

We have a puppy and I enjoy taking her for long walks. I also enjoy cycling, playing with the Wii Fit, cooking and photography. My husband and I love to travel, and we explore various parts of the world as often as we can. Last year we did a Pacific cruise and also spent almost a month in China.

9. Who is your greatest cheerleader?

My husband is always extra supportive when it comes to my writing. When I have good news he’ll arrive home with a bottle of celebratory wine, or if I’ve received a rejection he’ll ply me with chocolate. Over the years, he’s become very knowledgeable about the writing business. He’s a good person to have on my side.

10. What is your favorite food?

I’m a vegetarian, and I enjoy eating just about anything with vegetables. I think my all-time favorite meal would be pasta with fresh vegetables like mushrooms, asparagus and corn in a cream sauce. I’m also a fan of chocolate. I love the stuff. Chocolate anything is good!

Author Bio:

Shelley Munro is tall and curvaceous with blue eyes and a smile that turns masculine heads everywhere she goes. She’s a university tutor and an explorer/treasure hunter during her vacations. Skilled with weapons and combat, she is currently in talks with a producer about a television series based on her world adventures.

Shelley is also a writer blessed with a vivid imagination who lives with her very own hero in New Zealand. She writes romance in various genres for publishers Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. Learn more about Shelley and her books at http://www.shelleymunro.com and you might even find her lurking at Facebook http://www.facebook.com/shelleymunro or Twitter http://www.twitter.com/shelleymunro

Book Blurb:

Eve Fawkner had no intention of following in her father’s footsteps. But when the thugs harassing him to repay his gambling debts threaten her young daughter, Eve is forced to assume the role of London’s most notorious cat burglar, The Shadow. The plan is simple: pull off a couple of heists, pay back the goons and go into permanent retirement. But things get messy during her first job when Eve witnesses a murder, stumbles across a clue that sheds some light on her past and, worst of all, falls for a cop.

Inspector Kahu Williams would be the perfect man, if Eve were looking, and if there wasn’t the little matter of their career conflict. The man is seriously hot—and hot on the trail of a murderer. A trail that keeps leading him back to Eve…

Purchase Links:

Carina Press http://ebooks.carinapress.com/698C6556-67E3-4231-B90C-F1C56684E9DA/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=05DC63C6-4E34-40F3-ADC0-4EB5D51CCA06

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Fancy-Free-ebook/dp/B0030MQJSW/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327650970&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cat-burglar-in-training-shelley-munro/1107899330?ean=9781426893230&itm=1&usri=cat+burglar+in+training

All Romance ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-catburglarintraining-675675-152.html

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Themes and issues

How writers exploit their issues using characters 

By Julie Eberhart Painter 

In every one of my books adoption is an issue. It’s integrated in my quest. The many facets of adoption: being given away, giving away, and watching our grandchild given away are woven into our family history. Thus, secret baby style, my issues are explored in my romance and mystery novels.

Adoption has fueled my imagination. Who am I, and who were they, the givers of life but not for a lifetime?  It’s fired my passion to examine my written characters’ motives. Such life experiences make for inflammatory prose. The adoption issue creeps into my work like murder into crime novels.

At a hospice seminar, I told a perfect stranger, “Hi, I’m Julie. I’m adopted, I come with a disclaimer.”

Disarmed by my subconscious honesty, she answered, “I’m Jane, and I can’t have children.” We both had an issue-issue.

I was only nine months old when I was taken from a succession of foster homes and placed with my adoptive family—permanently. My first word was “home,” not Mommy or Daddy.  At four-years of age, I remember hiding when people came to the house, fearful of losing my home.  I ran from cars passing on the dirt road out front. In 1998, I petitioned the court to get my “story.” The non-identifying information stated that at three months of age I was friendly, alert and able to stand up for myself. Not afraid?

In Mortal Coil, the main character, Ellen, a nursing home administrator, has a compassionate heart. She and her first husband adopted a child, but didn’t tell her she was adopted. This loving omission became a problem for Ellen when her husband was killed in a car crash.

Secrets ignite violence. Murders in Ellen’s nursing home strike a match under an unlikely pair who would never have met without the afore-mentioned deceptions.

In Tangled Web, a seduction scene drives the plot that leads the reader from 1935 to 1951. It’s my projection of my birth mother’s life as I hope she lived it. Illegitimacy and adoption were life-changing moral issues during the 30s. Some time in the late 60s the mores became less judgmental and eased. But in the 30s with war on the horizon and women reaching beyond their domestic roles to find careers and help support their families, my character emerged stronger. She learned that the powerful do not always win.

In my most recent novel, Kill Fee, my heroine, Penny, must overcome a similar identity crisis. She discovers she has not inherited her fortune from her uncle, but from her loving father who has quietly guided her life.

A 95-year old resident in the nursing home where I worked as a volunteer asked me, "Do you think when I die I’ll finally meet my birth mother?"

It’s never over.

Julie was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and moved 17 times since her marriage. She stabilized, and has remained for 24 years in a California ranch five miles west of Daytona Beach, Florida. With seven novels in print, you can check her website: http://www.books-jepainter.com, and go to her Amazon Author Page: