An interview with John Foxjohn

I’ve known John Foxjohn for a lot of years and have had the pleasure of working with him on occasion. His work, like that of so many others, is often under-recognized so I hope that this interview will bring him a little more recognition. His books are really good!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

 

John: I’ve been writing eight years.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

 

John: I have not reached that point and hope I never do.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

John: I personally don’t think the writing life is ever what anyone thinks it is unless they grew up with someone who had experienced it and knew what to expect. I didn’t think it would take as much self-discipline that it takes to just sit down and write. Most do it because they love it as I do—never realized how hard it is.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

John: It’s beginning to, but I think no one has much success monetarily at first.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

John: Before I became published I went to a conference and heard a writer speaking on self-promotions. She said there were two kinds of published authors: those who sit back and hope their books sell, or those who help them sell. This made a lot of sense to me.

 

Later, I went to a Donald Maass seminar and he said something to that affect, too. He said it isn’t the first book that is the hardest to publish—it’s the second. Before the first one all anyone knows is the writing ability—after that, they know if the writing will sell.

My focus switched from getting published to becoming a better writer and helping my books sell.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

 

John: About a year.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

 

John: Yeah, I would actually make sure the manuscript was ready before I started submitting.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

John: In the beginning, I had priorities and schedules and it wasn’t always easy—but I had to keep pretty much to them or I would never have gotten anything done. I’m fortunate now because I have an administrative assistant who really helps me. I receive in the neighborhood of a 500 e-mails a day and she helps with this and is fantastic with my scheduling so I don’t have to worry about it. I can concentrate on the important parts rather than the mundane that distracts.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

John: Wow! That’s hard to say. I have been so fortunate. Maybe it was when I was voted author of the year, or making the first best-seller list. Getting an agent and that first call is at the top, too.

 

However, some of the people, writers and readers that I have met over the years have to rank right up there, too.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

John: I guess rejections that everyone goes through, but in the end, I don’t think I have any disappointing moments.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

John: I have never had one single bad thing happen while promoting my work. The most memorable thing that pops into my mind is the six thousand books that I have sold at IHOP.

PJ: With more books being released each  month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

John: That’s difficult to speak of without everyone thinking I am an egoistical idiot. I will say this, a lot of readers like the way I tell a story.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

John: It’s not what story you are telling—it’s whose story you are telling. Characterization is the key to writing fiction. Learn all you can, and be patient.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

John: I am enthusiastic about my characters’ stories and I think that enthusiasm shows when I talk to people about it. Think about this, if the author isn’t excited about the story, who is going to be?

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

 

John: None—I love to promote.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

 

John: No, the only one we had was a Walton’s bookstore and it closed.

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Code of Deceit

Journey of the Spirit

Cold Tears

Color of Murder

Dead and Breakfast

Tattered Justice

and coming soon, Paradox

and in 2013 Lethal Injection—the true story of a female serial killer.

PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Kayla Nugent, a Houston criminal defense attorney, knows money can buy many things, but it can’t buy love or friendship, and it shouldn’t buy justice. When a best-selling romance author is murdered, the politically motivated D.A. charges Kayla’s former best friend with the murder. The decision forces Kayla to face a past that ripped her life to shreds, and defend the one person she’d rather see in jail.

The stress of the high profile trial and a client she doesn’t trust hinders Kayla’s developing relationship with Darren Duval, a private detective hired to help her. The people close to Kayla try to convince her not to take the case. Only one insists she drop it—the person trying to kill her.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

 

Where ever books are sold

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

I am the luckiest man alive—check out my web site: www.johnfoxjhnhome.com

 

John, I believe you may be right. Can’t wait to see the new books! Everyone stop over and take a look, but before you go, stay and chat awhile!

Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer

Fatal Induction

Bernadette Pajer

Poisoned Pen Press, 2012, 432 Pages

ISBN No. 978-1-59058-614-3

Mystery, science, gypsies, and the assassination of President McKinley all play major roles in this novel.  Benjamin Bradshaw is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and is currently involved in an electrical competition.  The contest winner’s telephonic system will deliver music from the Seattle Grand theatre to homes throughout the city.  The reader can only imagine what this would mean to people sitting at home and able to hear music from the theater.

Bradshaw is sidetracked a bit when he finds a gypsy peddler cart abandoned behind his home.  The cart advertises “Ralph’s Redeeming Restorative, the Romany Remedy that Really Works”.  The inside of the cart revealed a little girl’s doll.  Bradshaw brings the doll in the house where he lives with his housekeeper, Mrs. Prouty, and his son Jason who is in the third grade.  Mrs. Prouty is indignant because the horse attached to the wagon has been busy in her garden.  Bradshaw is upset because he feels that the missing little girl may have witnessed a murder.

The city is in shock over the death of President McKinley.  The police department, many of whom are corrupt, could care less about a missing gypsy and the little girl who owns the doll.  Bradshaw decides that he is going to locate the child and goes to great lengths to search for her putting himself in danger.  At last he devises a scheme that will set a trap that he hopes will catch the killer.

This is the second book in the Professor Bradshaw series.  It is not necessaray to read A Spark of Death, the first book in order to enjoy Fatal Induction.

An interview with Jan Christensen

Jan Christensen is a great writer and friend, one of the first writers I ever really got to know. Her work is exceptional and she’s not nearly as famous (yet) as she should be. I hope you’ll enjoy our chat!

Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey and now resides in Texas. She’s had two novels and over fifty short stories published in various places over the last dozen years, two of which were nominated for a Derringer Award. Two other stories won a Fire to Fly award and the Mysterical-e 2000 Award for Best Story Previous to 2001. Jan writes a regular column for Mysterical-e about reading.

PJ: Jan, how long have you been writing?

Jan: A long time. A little over twenty years seriously. Before that, I’d write something then not write something for years at a time. Finally got down to it in the early 1990s. I joined a critique group, and that was a big help. More than the critiquing, the idea that I felt I had to have something to submit every two weeks upped my production tremendously. A little-talked-about advantage of critique groups, although some members, maybe even the majority, don’t feel that way. They probably should.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Jan: I’m not sure. I think it was probably after I had more than ten or so short stories published. Then having a novel published by a small press in 2004 made me think that other people thought my work was good enough to publish, a validation which helped me feel at least somewhat successful.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Jan: It’s way different. I expected to get some short stories published. Done. I hoped to get a novel published. Done. I hoped to get another novel published in about a year. Well, I had a contract, but the publisher went out of business, and the novel had been sitting with him for almost a year and a half. This was discouraging, to say the least. It slowed me down. I wrote some more novels, more short stories were published (an average of four a year), but I was spinning my wheels because I couldn’t get an agent. Then along came the Kindle and the acceptance of self-publishing. Now I feel as if I’m back in the game. I AM back in the game. But the rules sure have changed. Now I spend more time figuring out marketing than I do writing. But hope to turn that around in the next month or two.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Jan: Afraid not. Not at all. But I do have hopes for the future.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Jan: It hasn’t really. I see the steps more clearly now, though. Write, edit, publish, market. All different, but all extremely necessary to get where I want to go, which is getting a lot of books and stories out there. It means essentially that I need to work on three different projects at the same time. One, current work-in-progress. Two, edit something else. Three, publish (which includes having the third item edited by a professional, a cover made, and formatted, then uploaded). Then market everything like crazy.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Jan: Once I decided to go for it, only a few months because I saw a contest for short stories in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I pulled out a short story I’d already written not long before, cut it so it met the 1,000-word limit requirement, and submitted it. And won—not first place, but one of five winners. They’d had over 500 entries. There was that first validation. It was published in the newspaper, and I went looking for a writer’s group. But it took me almost fourteen more years before I got that book contract. I wrote and had published a lot of short stories before writing a second book (first one is hidden away), then a couple more, then submitting.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Jan: Write more. Submit more. Sometimes I don’t submit anything for weeks on end. Not good. I still have short stories that need to find a home, many of which I wrote years ago. I’d love to have an assistant to do that. Submitting is my least favorite thing in the world to do as far as writing is concerned. It was bad enough when we had to do it via the post office. But with e-subs, the requirements about how to format the sub became more and more convoluted. It could take me an hour just to re-format something to submit to a non-paying market. Now that I rarely submit short stories anymore, I learned from a friend that he never reformatted. He just sent them in, and got them published. I laugh now. Why didn’t I think of that? Now I notice many markets just say, send it in such and such a file (.doc, .rtf, etc.) and are not otherwise particular. Much better, but there are also fewer paying and non-paying markets for short mystery fiction.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Jan: My ideal day looks like this (but I rarely do it all). Write new material first thing every morning—go until I have 1,000 words down. Edit older material for an hour. Check for important email. Lunch, household and other stuff in the afternoons, and two hours after dinner for what I call “writing chores.” This is everything else to do with the job of being a writer. Submitting, research, blogging (my own and on others and commenting on other blogs), joining conversations on writer’s on-line groups, Facebooking, Tweeting, reviewing other people’s work, formatting, and some other things I can’t think of right now.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Jan: You’d think it was getting that first short story or novel published, right? I had always hoped for that, even expected it. But I did a book signing at a Dallas library (thank you for setting that one up, P.J.—it turned out great!) soon after “Sara’s Search” came out, and when I walked into the room, people applauded. I was totally gobsmacked. I actually came to an abrupt halt and looked around the room. And told the group no one had ever applauded for me before. They grinned like crazy. We were a happy bunch after that.

PJ: I wish I could’ve seen that! What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Jan: When Quiet Storm, my publisher, went out of business. I knew a lot of the writers he published, too, so it was a huge disappointment for many people I knew. The publisher was such a great person, always trying to come up with things to help us sell our books, doing as much promotion as he could. Cutting edge POD back then. I think he was ahead of his time and probably extended himself and his finances too far and too fast. It was a real shame.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Jan: I already mentioned the applause at the library signing. That was wonderful. The worst was I was taking a large suitcase of books down some stairs and pulled the rotator cuff in my shoulder. It hurt so bad, I couldn’t lift the case. A man helped me by taking it down the stairs the rest of the way. It had wheels, so I was able to get to the signing with it. But that shoulder gave me trouble for a couple of weeks, and after that it was very weak for a couple of years. Who knew writing could be dangerous? <grin> This is a cautionary tale for the other writers reading this.

PJ: With more books being released each  month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Jan: Voice. It always comes down to voice, doesn’t it? I can usually see the funny or odd side of things, and it comes out in my writing, often at unexpected times (for both me and the reader). My problem is I seem to have two voices. One is light, sardonic, funny and twisty. The other is somber, dark, edgy. I’m afraid some readers won’t like one or the other, so I’m trying hard to let them know what they’re getting into when they pick up one of my short stories or books. On my website, each one has either a white or a black frame around the cover, plus a black or white fedora on the description page. It’s harder to tell with the individual short stories published by magazines or ezines, but often the reader will know what kind of stories those entities publish, so shouldn’t be a problem. If anyone wants to know for sure before reading anything of mine, he or she can always contact me via email. (Contact info on my site.)

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Jan: Write every day. You can take off one day a week to catch your breath. That’s it. LOL Next, finish everything you begin to write. There’s all kinds of advice out there about writer’s block and how to overcome it. Next, polish it until you’re sick of it. After that, submit it until it’s accepted or you run out of markets or you decide to self-publish it. If you decide to self-publish it, do it! Then market. Read all you can on blogs like this and on good email lists. Murder Must Advertise (MMA) is a good one, and for short mystery stories, the Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS) that gives out the Derringer award every year is fantastic. (Plug ahead—I’ve been nominated for two.)

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Jan: I’m not sure. I think it’s a toss-up between blogging, Facebook and Twitter. I think you need to do all three on a regular basis.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Jan: All of it. <grin> But live performances are really tough, so I like social networking better.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Jan: Okay. I’m only going to list my two novels, my short story collection, and four short stories that are stand-alone ebooks from Untreed Reads Publishing. You don’t want a list of my over 50 published short stories, I’m sure. <grin> That list is available on my website, if anyone’s interested.

Novels:

Sara’s Search (light)

Revelations (dark)

Organized to Death (coming out in a month or two—light)

Short Stories (all light, all with the same cover except for the title)

Artie and the Long-Legged Woman

Artie and the Red-Headed Woman

Artie and the Green-Eyed Woman

Artie and the Brown-Eyed Woman

Short Stories Collection

Warning Signs (three previously published stories, Signs is the first in a series)

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

This is for “Revelations”: After a dark secret shakes Kirk Hudson’s faith, he escapes from the religious cult he’s been a member of for over two years. The night he arrives home, his twin brother is brutally murdered. Now Kirk must return to the cult to find out if the secrets harbored there caused his beloved brother’s death.

Where can we buy it?

Amazon, in either ebook or paperback. Search for Revelations and my last name because there are several other books with the same title. Here’s a direct link: http://amzn.to/OQATKF

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Jan: I’ve told several people this, but I think it’s worth repeating. I have faith in my subconscious coming up with some great stuff without my conscious help. So, when I’m in draft mode, I simply let it flow. I take no credit for what that part of my mind is doing. I assume it comes from an accumulation of everything I’ve ever seen, heard, touched, tasted, smelled and learned. We all have a unique life. We all have stories to tell. Once I began to totally trust that the words would flow out of me, I let it happen. The real work comes in cleaning it up a bit. But I really don’t have to spend a lot of time doing that, either, usually (there are always exceptions). When writing your drafts, don’t second-guess yourself.. Let your imagination fly. You’ll be amazed about where it will take you. And your readers will thank you.

Patti, thanks so much for having me on your blog. It’s a great place to be.

Excellent advice, Jan! Thanks so much for sharing with us. Readers, if you haven’t already, this is one writer you’ve got to read. I’d love to hear your comments about Jan’s work!

Nightwatcher by Wendy Corsi Staub

Nightwatcher

Wendy Corsi Staub

Harper, 2012, 384 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0062070289

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

Wendy Corsi Staub

Terrifying in more than one way, this novel holds the interest of the reader from the very beginning and just does not let go.  The book begins the night before the terrorist strike on New York on September 11, 2001.

Allison Taylor lives in Manhattan and loves it.   Allison is a style editor at 7th Avenue Magazine. Kristina Haines lives in the apartment above Allison’s and the two are neighbors.  Kristina is an aspiring Broadway actress.  The two visit in the laundry room from time to time and have exchanged keys to their apartments with each other in case of emergency.

Jerry Thompson is the maintenance man in the apartment building.  Kristina tells Allison that Jerry is creeping her out.  She says he is always watching her.  Allison assures Kristina that Jerry is harmless.  Jerry is a little slow but Allison feels that he would not hurt anyone.

Suddenly terrorists strike New York. The city is in a shambles.  All members of the police departments and the fire departments are called to the scene.  Many are trying to find friends and family of their own as well as looking for survivors.  Allison is forced to walk most of the way home from a late party.

Allison hasn’t seen Kristina since the tragedy and thinks perhaps she went to stay with a friend but when she goes to Kristina’s apartment to check she finds that Kristina has been brutally murdered.  Detective Rocko  Manzillo is in charge of the investigation.  He explains to Allison that although the department is short-handed the police will be at the apartment for quite some time investigating the murder.  Allison tells Detective Manzillo about Kristina’s fear of Jerry but Allison doesn’t even know his last name or where to find him.

This novel gives people who did not live in New York a better view of the city after the tragedy.  The murder investigation goes on in spite of Detective Manzillo being short-handed and working almost around the clock.  I am ready to read the next Wendy Corsi Staub novel called Sleepwalker.  There is an excerpt from the next book at the end of Nightwatcher.

An interview with Richard Brawer

I’ve only recently met Rich Brawer online, although we’ve probably “seen” one another on various lists and such. He’s here to talk with me today about his newest novel…

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Rich: Since 1994.  I commuted by train for years. I read newspapers in the morning and mystery/suspense novels on the trip home. Then I read a newspaper story about a father who refused to take his child home from the hospital because the newborn was diagnosed with a brain impairment.

That newspaper story struck a nerve because it was so horrendous.  I asked myself, “What if the baby was misdiagnosed?”

With that question as a plot line, I began making notes. The notes turned into paragraphs and the paragraphs into chapters. Thus, my first book, The Nurse Wore Black, was born.  (This book has been rewritten and re-titled as Secrets Can Be Deadly and is part of my Murder at the Jersey Shore Series.)

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Rich: After I finished The Nurse Wore Black I sent out query letters to agents and received a stack of rejections. Lamenting my woes to a friend, he told me about a local independent publisher in the town next to mine that published books about nurses.  Excited, I dropped in cold to their office. Two weeks later they said they wanted to publish my book. Wow!

Being a total novice, I had no idea what to expect from a publisher.  I thought publishers would do the editing as well as create a proper cover.   When I saw the finished product, the “Wow” factor fell into the depression factor. The cover was not well done and leafing through the book I saw a number of typos.  Needless to say, it was an embarrassment and I could not sell it.

The moral:  Make sure you are pro-active in every phase of your book’s production from editing, to layout and design of the cover.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?  At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Rich: The answer to both questions is when I got rave reviews for my work.

In 2006 I had finished Silk Legacy, an historical fiction novel.  Every single review was positive. “Magnificent Characters” “Remarkable Storytelling” “A Tribulation of Yesteryear” “Vivid Enticing Characters” “An Absorbing Page Turner of a Novel” “Realistic Dialogue” “The fictional family is made up of flesh-and-blood characters. They laugh, love, argue, fight, and have adulterous affairs.”

It was those reviews that whispered in my ear, “You’ve have made it as an author.” But was Silk Legacy a fluke?

In 2010 a wonderful independent press, L & L Dreamspell, took me on and published Beyond Guilty.

The reviews of Beyond Guilty solidified in my mind that I had become a writer.

“Twisting Action” “Thought Provoking” “A Fast paced Thriller” “Sympathetic Engaging Character” “Authentic Dialogue” “Complex Characters” “Spirited Prose” “A Real Winner” “A Damn Good Story” “Don’t go in expecting stereotypes because you won’t find them.”

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Rich: The quick answer to that question is, no.  Like most authors, I wanted to make money from my writing.  However, I quickly abandoned the idea that I was going to get wealthy.

I ran a linen and curtain store for twenty-five years and it was a lot easier to make money at that than it has ever been from writing.  I competed with ten or so similar stores in my market area.  Compare that small amount of competition to the million or so books published every year.

Building a following for my books compared to the promotion I needed to attract customers to my store became astronomically mind bending.  Where it took me an hour or so to create an ad for the one newspaper and the one radio station in the store’s market area, it has taken many hours “talking” about my books on the huge number of internet sites and blogs.

I have made money from my books, but the time it will take to make a lot of money is more than I am willing to give.  However, there is a light growing ever more brightly for authors to make money and that is the e-book market.

Relating again to my retail experience, once I got people in my store, they could easily see and touch the entire product.  If they liked it and the price, they bought it.  However, readers only get a taste of books from blurbs, excerpts and reviews, and they are getting more and more savvy about the value of those smidgens.  Many are reluctant to take a chance on an unknown author at $15.00 for a trade paperback to $26.00 for a hard cover.

Enter the e-book for 99 cents to $4.99 as well as many free books.  The amount of time to promote and e-book is the same as for a print book, but it’s far easier to get a reader to take a chance on a new author at those prices.  I have made more money from e-book sales than I have from sales of my print books whether I self-published the e-book or my publisher placed the book on e-book sites.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Rich: Before e-books the only books we could read were the ones the big publishers “chose” for us to read.  Those books were selected by the publisher based on the publisher’s idea of what the greatest number of readers would like.

I wrote my first books with that same thought in mind.  Now with the ability to publish myself as an e-book, I write what I like.  If I can’t find an interested publisher, so be it.  My book will still be available to those who like my subject.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Rich: Of course an interesting plot is important, but the two things that make a book standout are the characters and the conflict.

For example, I have been told that my protagonist in Silk Legacy is not likeable, but his motives are understandable.  Yet those readers have loved his wife who is constantly in conflict with her husband.

The same goes for my Murder at the Jersey Shore series.  One reviewer said, “What really grabbed me was watching the hero deal with his issues while his girl friend dealt with him and her issues involving him.”

In Beyond Guilty it’s the torment the protagonist goes through because she knows she is responsible for her sister’s deaths.

In Murder Goes Round and Round it about a man who overcomes his mourning for his deceased wife by solving a murder.

In my latest book, Keiretsu, coming out this fall it is the conflict between the protagonist, a third generation Japanese American brought up with every advantage an American can have, and his father who blames the U.S. for the murder of his parents by a mob after being released from the internment camps.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Rich: I have sold the most books after reviews and interviews on a blog such as yours.  Also, there are many interactive sites on the internet where you can join the discussions.  Like all advertising, repetition is the key.  Keep your name in front of readers by participating in those discussions.  Sooner or later people will say, let me try one of his books.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Rich: Once you begin your writing try to find a critique group that will give you honest feedback on character development, dialogue, voice, plot, conflict and setting.  But don’t automatically take anyone’s critique as gospel.  Remember, it’s your story.  Analyze the critiques to see if they have merit.  Say you have a six person group.  If one person criticizes something then it may or may not be valid.  But if three or four in the group say the same thing about a segment then you should take it under serious consideration.

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title.

Keiretsu is a political thriller ripped from the headlines.

 Toshio Nagoya, ultra-nationalist CEO of Japan’s largest keiretsu (conglomerate), foresees dire peril for his country from China’s growing military.  Toshio and the CEOs of Japan’s other keiretsus form a secret cabal to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent to China.  However with the United States’ demanding Iran and North Korea end their nuclear weapons programs these men know that when the U.S. discovers Japan is making nuclear weapons the U.S. will have no choice but to demand Japan cease-and-desist.

With the help of his cousin, a lawyer in the United States, (father of the protagonist. See above) Toshio and his associates begin to build a powerful Political Action Committee spread across many states to garner widespread influence in America’s congress which they will use to blunt any administration’s demands that Japan abandon its nuclear ambition.

Conspiracy, lust, infidelity, treachery, betrayal and murder permeate this political thriller and make Keiretsu a riveting read.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Rich: Getting reviews from reviewers who post in mass media.  While I think that reviews from readers who recommend your book to other readers is really the best review, a review from a syndicated reviewer that reaches possibly millions of people will sell many more books.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Rich: When Silk Legacy was available in print, I had a book signing at a small book store.  I had advertised to friends and family and put a small add in a local newspaper.  I sold thirteen books which wasn’t a lot, but it was the only business the store did during the three hours I was there.  Sadly, the store is no longer in business.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Rich: This is embarrassing, but I got Ds in English in College.  The last thing I would have ever thought I could do was write a book.  Then I wrote that first one and I was hooked.

PJ: LOL That’s a first for me! Where can we buy your books?

Rich: See my website:  www.silklegacy.com  for book jackets, excerpts and links to book sellers.

Murder at the Jersey Shore trilogy, Silk Legacy, and Murder Goes Round and Round are sold through Kindle or any e-reader that can access Amazon e-books.

Beyond Guilty and Keiretsu are available wherever books are sold whether print or e-book.  Book stores may have to order them for you.

Richard Brawer has published seven novels in mystery, suspense and historical fiction genres.  When not writing, he spends his time sailing and growing roses.  He has two married daughters and lives in New Jersey with his wife.  Watch for Keiretsu in fall of 2012.

 

Rich, thanks for taking the time to share with us today. I hope you gain lots of new readers from this endeavor!

The Fear Artist by Timothy Hallinan

The Fear Artist

Timothy Hallinan

Soho Crime, 2012, 342 Pages

ISBN No. 978-1616951122

Poke Rafferty’s wife, Rose, has taken their daughter Miaow out of town to visit Rose’s mother.  Poke is left to his own devices and decides to paint the apartment while they are gone. But Poke has a lot of hoops to jump through before he gets the apartment painted.  As he exits the paint store, a large man runs into him and lands on top of him. As Poke struggles to get up, he sees that the man has been shot.  Before he dies the man whispers three words to Poke.  The words have no meaning to Poke but he soon realizes that other people are very concerned about what the man whispered.  They suspect that Poke has information about something, but he is clueless.

Thai secret agents interrogate Poke, but he has nothing to tell. He is released only to find that his apartment has been ransacked.  Next thing he knows he is accused of murdering the man from the street.  Poke goes into hiding and is determined to discover the identity of the man and the meaning of the whispered message.  This time as Poke searches for answers he has to go it alone.  Fearing for his wife and daughter, he orders them to stay away from Bangkok until he can find a way to dig out of the hole he finds himself in.

Tragic things that happened in the past all come to light as Poke finally goes after the person responsible for not only the death of the man in the street but for many more tragedies. The final confrontation makes for an exciting and terrifying conclusion.

I love the Bangkok series and find it very difficult to pick a favorite.  The characters are strong and the reader will either love them or hate them.  Even though I’ve just finished The Fear Artist, I can’t wait for the next addition to the series.

An interview with Anita Page

Anita Page is an author who’s new to me, but I like what I see. I hope you will too!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Anita: I’ve been writing short stories for many years and also worked in journalism. I only began writing crime fiction, and to seriously think about writing a novel, after I retired from teaching five or six years ago.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Anita: I don’t know that I see success as a place where you can put down roots. It’s more a fleeting moment. When the writing goes well, I feel successful. And then there are the days it doesn’t. It’s gratifying to have your work published, but you still have to sit down at the computer each day and face the terrifying task of writing fiction.

PJ: So true! Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Anita: Years ago, out of college, writing was just you and your typewriter and your Wite-Out. I wasn’t prepared for how connected the writing life can be now. Largely this is because of the Internet, but also because of the supportive nature of the mystery writing community. I’m very grateful for the friends I’ve made through Sisters in Crime, including my blogmates at Women of Mystery, MWA, and online groups like the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Anita: My focus right now is the WIP. I’m usually at the computer by five-thirty a.m. I shoot for four or five hours, though sometimes the gears get squeaky sooner.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Anita: After I pitched my first book-length manuscript to a very nice agent at Crime Bake, she said, gently, that most first books don’t get published. I thought: Well, she hasn’t read mine. This is to give you an idea of how clueless I was. That first book never sold, and with good reason. I went on to write Damned If You Don’t, and then spent close to a year trying to find an agent. Eventually I decided to submit to a small publisher. I sent the manuscript to L&L Dreamspell because they’d published an anthology in which I had a short story. They accepted the manuscript fairly quickly. It was about a year from acceptance to publication.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Anita: The agent search, which was almost as much fun as root canal, had been going on for months when a good friend was picked up by a top agent who got him a multi-book contract with a major publisher. Part of the deal was that he had to hand in a manuscript a year. At around the same time, another friend was dropped by her publisher because her books hadn’t sold enough copies.

These events made me question whether I wanted the kind of pressure that’s guaranteed if you sign with one of the Big Six. At that point I stopped querying agents and sent the manuscript to L&L.

Does that mean I’d turn down an offer on the new book for a six-figure contract from a major publisher—some of whom are now pressuring writers for two books a year? I think I know the answer to that, but of course the hypothetical is not the same as being there. I do know that I’m happy with the choice I made.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Anita: Here are my personal rules for hanging onto my sanity. Put the writing first; develop a tolerance for weeds and dust; no Internet, including email, before three p.m. Do I follow these rules religiously? Take a guess.

PJ: (smile). What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Anita: The following are in the running: the email from Lisa Smith at L&L Dreamspell offering me a contract for Damned If You Don’t; winning a Derringer award in 2010 for my short story “‘Twas the Night;” the day I finished the final draft of DIYD and realized I’d actually written a book. My big fear when I was working on the manuscript was that I’d be hit by a bus before I finished.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Anita: Not too long ago I did a library reading in the Catskill Mountain town where we lived for nine years, and which inspired Laurel Pond, the town where Damned If You Don’t is set. That evening felt like a homecoming, especially when old friends turned up. I’d used the library as a setting in the book—my protagonist Hannah Fox teaches a summer school class there—so in addition to feeling that I’d connected with my past, I also had the sense (spooky music here) that I’d stepped into Hannah’s life.

PJ: That’s great! With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Anita: If you’ll forgive the BSP, here’s a quote from the Gumshoe Review:

“Page’s characters come alive with the everyday concerns, fears, and challenges of real people, the sort of challenges that most of us deal with on a regular basis. The situations and scenes that Page draws are believable and down-to-earth, sometimes gut-wrenchingly familiar. From Hannah’s involvement at a help center for battered and at-risk women, to the shady, graft-ridden politics of small town America, it all rings true.”

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Anita: I’ve learned to write—and continue to learn—by reading good writers. Early on, when I was struggling to bring the characters to life without getting bogged down in detail, I began re-reading Donna Leon. I’d read her books the first time for pleasure, but this time I was reading for the bones—i.e., trying to figure out how she did it. I remember being struck by the deft way she handled a scene in which Brunetti meets a friend at a café. To paraphrase advice an agent once gave me: She didn’t give the reader directions on how to eat a meal.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Damned If You Don’t (L&L Dreamspell) is my debut crime novel.

I’ve had short stories published in the following anthologies:

Murder New York Style (L&L Dreamspell)

The Prosecution Rests (Little, Brown)

The Gift of Murder (Wolfmont Press)

Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices (L&L Dreamspell)

I’ve had short stories published in a number of webzines, including Beat to a Pulpand Mysterical-e. There are links to some of the stories at anitapagewriter.blogspot.com.

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title.

Damned If You Don’t (L&L Dreamspell), set in the Catskill Mountains, features community activist Hannah Fox, a daughter of sixties radicals, who, together with the intrepid Women of Action, battles a fraudulent eminent domain scheme that threatens a friend’s land. When the scheme ends in murder, and her friend becomes a suspect, Hannah is drawn into the police investigation—and into a relationship with the lead investigator that complicates her already shaky marriage. As she probes the victim’s past, Hannah comes to suspect the murder was a heroic act, even when it’s clear she may be the killer’s next victim.

Where can we buy it?

The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s also available at the Bohemian Book Bin in Lake Katrine, NY and Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe in Warwick, NY.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Anita: The victim in my first (unpublished) book was loosely inspired by someone I know casually and don’t see very often. One day I was in the supermarket and saw him walking toward me. I swear my jaw dropped. My first thought: But he’s supposed to be dead! So that’s my dark secret—the line between book world and the real world sometimes gets blurred.

Thanks so much Anita for sharing with us. Readers, Damned if you Don’t is on my TBR pile. Want to add it to yours?