An interview with E.E. Smith

E.E. Smith.picture-1 (1)  E. E. Smith lives close to her native San Francisco where, after many years as a playwright, she now writes books and short stories instead of plays.  One story was published in Writers’ Forum:  Britain’s Best Magazine for Writers, in 2006. The play, WARTIME RECIPES, first performed in Oklahoma City in 1998, was reprised there in 2010. Her first novel, BOARDINGHOUSE STEW, was published in 2009, and the New Edition published in 2011. The second novel, TIMES LIKE THESE, was also published in 2011, and IN LOVE AND WAR, a memoir, was published in 2012.  She is now writing a murder mystery series, the first to be published late in 2013.

PJ: How long have you been writing?  

ES: All my life! But I wrote my first play in 1984, then the first novel twenty years later.

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

ES: After the first play was produced in 1986.  More so with each production and/or publication.

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

ES: It’s a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.  I always say that writing is the easy part; getting produced or published is much harder.

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

ES: I’m not sure what my “expectations” were. Some authors certainly are relatively wealthy, but they are the better known, best-selling types.  I’m not there yet!

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

ES: Not that much, really.  I still want people to read what I write, and the only way for that to happen is to get the books published.

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

ES: I’ve been lucky. The first play was published a year or two after it was produced.  The first novel took longer because the publisher got into financial difficulty, delaying publication for more than two years.  That early experience was a disaster, but I learned a lot from it, and it led me to my present publisher.

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

ES: Hindsight being 20/20, of course I would do some things differently. But each mistake has been a learning experience.

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?  

ES: It’s not easy!  I am a “hands-on” author, which means, for example, that I am actively involved in every aspect of publication, long past the basic writing. At the moment I am working with the graphic designer (for the cover), the editor for corrections and changes, the publisher for his input and approval, and promotion for the book when it comes out.

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

ES: Hearing the words that I had written (as a playwright) spoken for the first time by actors on a stage. I was absolutely thrilled.

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

ES: Not becoming a best-selling author (but I can still hope.)

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

ES: I hate book signings, where you sit at a table and wait for someone to come and ask you to sign a book that they have bought.  There is one good thing about e-books.  No book signings!

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

ES: The time frame, primarily.  The novels are set in the World War II era, the new mystery series is set in the post-WW II recovery era.

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

ES: If you are severely discouraged or depressed by rejection slips, you may be in the wrong line of work. Don’t take it personally — the market is over-saturated.

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

ES: I would like to think that it’s myself, but I would have to be honest and say that it is finding the best person or PR firm to do it for me.

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

ES: See above answer:  book signings!

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

ES: I wish I did. They have all gone out of business as a result of competition from discount and internet sales. (And the rise of e-books.)

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

Boardinghouse Stew, (Original Edition),

Boardinghouse Stew, (New Edition),  Death-by-Misadventure-v9b

Times Like These,

In Love and War,

(and the new series, beginning this year):

Death by Misadventure,

Bad Blood,

Russian Roulette,

Prescription for Death

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

The new murder mystery series features an intrepid young private detective, or “girl gumshoe,” who starts her own detective agency in 1946, called “Discreet Inquiries.” Each book takes her from her office in Sacramento, California, to different locales in Britain, where she works with Scotland Yard as well as the infamous spy agency, MI5, and rubs elbows with the Russian KGB and the Irish Mafia along the way.  There are elements of humor, romance, surprise, and heartbreak throughout.

Where can we buy it?

All the books are now (or soon will be) available from the publisher, Phoenix International, Inc., Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Also my own website, eesmithwriter.com.

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

I have had a long and varied career as an architectural designer of building and aircraft interiors, and a litigation paralegal before becoming a playwright, and eventually a novelist. I used to say that I re-invented myself every 10 years!

I am really excited about this series and hope you will all spread the word about Death by Misadventure!

Review: Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

alex-pbkAlex

Pierre Lemaitre

ISBN:  978-1-62365-000-1

MacLehose Press; 2013pierre lemaitre

Hard Cover, 362 pgs.

Release date: September 3, 2013, $24.95

Reviewed by Gina Metz

Alex is book one in Pierre Lemaitre’s Commandant Camille Verhoeven trilogy translated from French by Frank Wynne.

Alex Prevost is a beautiful single 30 year old woman living in Paris.  After a day of shopping and treating herself to a dinner out, Alex is kidnapped off a Paris street while walking home.  Her kidnapper savagely beats her and places her in a cage suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse.  All he will tell her is that he wants to watch her die.

An eyewitness notifies the police but gives very vague details of the girl, the kidnapper and the van.  Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven is assigned the case but initially has very little to go on and it is even difficult to be sure a kidnapping has taken place.

Verhoeven does not want to take the case as it hits entirely too close to home for him.  A few years earlier Verhoeven’s wife was kidnapped and killed and he had a breakdown shortly thereafter.  But his superior insists that he take the case until another detective comes back to town to take over the case.  By the time the other detective returns, Verhoeven is too deeply involved in the case to relinquish it.

Alex is a riveting book that the reader will not want to put down until the final page has been read.  Be prepared to be enthralled by the book’s twists and turns.  I could not read this book fast enough.  I highly recommend it to mystery readers.  I cannot wait to read the other books in this trilogy.

An interview with LC Hayden

lcbig1L. C. Hayden is an award winning author.  Her Harry Bronson series have been the finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Novel (Why Casey Had to Die) as well as finalist for Left Coast Crime‘s Best Mystery (What Others Know).  In addition Why Casey Had to Die is a Pennsylvania Top 40 Pick.  She has repeatedly captured First, Second, and Third place status for her works at the annual El Paso Writers’ League, and even won the coveted Best of the Best Award.  She also won a gold medal at the Senior Olympics Writing Competition and garnished a Second place for Tallahassee’s Writers Association’s Seven Hills Writer’s Contest.

PJ: How long have you been writing?

LC:     I’ve been writing my entire life, but professionally, I began with nonfiction while I was in college. A term paper that I did for a professor was the first thing I ever got published.

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

LC:     Unfortunately, that moment hasn’t come. Soon as I accomplish a goal, I move on to the next one. There will always be one more step to take in order for me to really be a successful writer.

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

LC:      You dream of writing and selling. Hitting the big time. Big money. Big deals. Then reality hits. You’ve got to promote. If you don’t, you don’t sell. Wish we could go back to the days when authors wrote and the publishers promoted. Uh, was there ever such a day?

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

LC: It’s now beginning to do that—although it’s still a long way from reaching my dreams. You’ve got to realize that my first book was published in 1998 and just now my income is finally something to be proud of. That’s a heck of a long time.

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

LC: It’s not just getting published that counts. It’s how many books did you sell? Publishers are only interested in how much money they make, not establishing a struggling author’s careers. The focus in writing has switched to selling—otherwise, your publisher will drop you.

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

LC:  A nice even number would be 10 years. I wrote, revised, submitted. Rewrote, revised, re-submitted. Over and over. I was caught by a scammer—too late I realized that and that held up the production of the book. Finally, ten years later the book Who’s Susan? came out and it became a Barnes & Noble Top Ten Best Seller.

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

LC:  I would avoid the scammer. My problem is that I’m too trust worthy. What a twirp I am!—but a trusting one!

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?

LC:  I set deadlines. By such and such time, I will have written five chapters, contacted so-and-so for promotion, I’ve edited this much, etc. If I don’t meet those goals, I beat myself up with a wet noodle and get back to work!

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

LC:  Dang, that’s a hard one. I’m not sure if I should choose being major awards finalist for my books, being selected to be a speaker at major cruise lines and travel all over the world for free (and I still get paid!), or when a reader tells me how reading my books helped them either spiritually (like for my angel book series) or by keeping them glued to the edge of their seat or having to stay up all night to see how the book ended. All of those experiences are so special.

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

LC:  Book sales. I pour my heart and sweat into my novels. Then they’re released and bang! The sales just trickle. Eventually, they pick up but they have slow starts. Wish they began with a bang!

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

LC: As far as my mysteries go, I’m known as the writer of edgy books. By that I mean a plot full of twists and turns with bang-up endings that will surprise the readers.

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

LC: Believe in yourself. Don’t ever give up. Make that dream come true. Don’t let anything or anyone ever discourage you.

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

LC: My ability to do great presentations. God gave me the ability to speak on just about any subject and amuse and hold the audience. When I do presentations, I normally a lot more books than when I do just a signing.

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

LC: Finding the money to pay for the book promotion!

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

List of L. C. Hayden’s books

Aimee Brent Mystery Series

ILL ConceivedIll Conceived

Coming soon: Vengeance in My Heart

Throw Away Children (working title)

Harry Bronson Mystery Series

When the Past Haunts You

When Death Intervenes

Why Casey Had to Die

Novels featuring Harry Bronson

What Others Know (Part 2)

When Colette Died (Part 1) (Bronson not featured)

Where Secrets Lie

Who’s Susan?

Inspirational

Nonfiction: Angels and Miracles Abound (coming Fall 2013)

Angels Around Us

When Angels Touch You

Fiction: Bell-Shaped Flowers

Children’s picture books: What Am I? What Am I?

Puppy Dog and His Bone (coming soon)

Paranormal: The Drums of Gerald Hurd

Writing Advice: Help! I Want to Write

Contributed to

A Second Helping of Murder (a cookbook)

Haunted Highways (collection of haunted places in Texas)

Edited and compiled Breaking & Entering: The Road to Success (a Sisters in Crime how-to guide)

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

ILL Conceived: Grandma Louise hears a scream in the middle of the night. When no one else does, the police dismiss it as an old woman’s ravings. Aimee Brent, an ambitious, dedicated reporter for the North Shore Carrier, the Lake Tahoe newspaper, sets out to prove Grandma right. In so doing, she’s forced to face her past, a past filled with so much darkness that it threatens her very existence and leads her down a twisted, dangerous road from which she may never return.

Where can we buy it?

Best place is as a Kindle through Amazon, although it can be ordered from any store (if you live in PA, Mystery Lovers Book Shop, stocks it) or various places on the Internet. You can also order it directly through me.

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

LC:  I still write longhand. I revise longhand. Then I enter it into the computer, making revisions as I go along. I print out the manuscript and revise it again in longhand. I’m old fashioned, eh?

Thanks so much for the interview! Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Thank you for joining us LC. I really love your work and know our readers will too! PJ

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

The winner of the 2013 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is Chris Wieloch of Brookfield, WI, who writes: “Since it is too easy to unmask an imposter in these days of the Internet I am forced into the rather boring truth. I am a late middle aged male who has been lucky enough to be married to a woman I love for 31 years. I have 3 male children of college age. I have a wonderful family life. I am an engineer by trade and training and am intrigued by science. I enjoy the creative/inventive side of this and hold more than 60 patents on a wide variety of things. I have an engineering and technology development business. I find the world a magical place and the people who live in it fascinating. I love books, poetry, music and art. Language has always fascinated me. An artful turn of phrase or a great line can stay with me for days. I stumbled on the Bulwer-Lytton Contest this year for the first time. I laughed loud and long. I was awed at how truly awful language could be on purpose. I was hooked immediately and had many days of great fun composing my own chance at immortality. The downside of this is that I continue to have horrible little lines popping up in my head at the oddest times. I will be throwing these turds at this contest for years to come. To even be considered bad enough be named a finalist is beyond any hope I had. Thank you.”

Winner:

She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination. — Chris Wieloch, Brookfield, WI

Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award

“Don’t know no tunnels hereabout,” said the old-timer, “unless you mean the abandoned subway line that runs from Hanging Hill, under that weird ruined church, beneath the Indian burial ground, past the dilapidated Usher mansion, and out to the old abandoned asylum for the criminally insane where they had all those murders.” — Lawrence Person, Austin, TX

Winner: Adventure

“I told you to wear sensible shoes, but no, your vanity would not allow it!” he yelled at me as if that had something to do with the airplane crashing into the jungle and all the bodies draped in the trees, but it was just the sort of nonsense I was used to from him, making me wish one or the other of us was hanging dead above us, instead of Rodney. — Thor F. Carden, Madison, TN

Runner-Up:

  • As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course. — Ron D Smith, Louisville, KY

Dishonorable Mentions:

  • It was a tricky situation, given the complex behavioral instincts of the Lowland Gorilla, and this accidental group encounter with a silver-backed dominant male was taxing Professor Wiesenheimer’s knowledge of interspecies primate interaction to the limit, yet confidently and without hesitation, he turned to his startled pupils and whispered, “Run like Hell.” — Mark Watson, Raleigh, NC

Winner: Crime

It was such a beautiful night; the bright moonlight illuminated the sky, the thick clouds floated leisurely by just above the silhouette of tall, majestic trees, and I was viewing it all from the front row seat of the bullet hole in my car trunk. — Tonya Lavel, Barbados, West Indies

Winner: Fantasy

The fairies of Minglewood, which is near Dingly Pool, were having a grand revel with flower-cakes, and butterfly dances, looking ever so pretty, while Queen Bellaflora swept her wand o’er the waterfall’s foam, making it pop like the snot-bubbles on your baby sister’s face. — Janine Beacham, Busselton, WA, Australia

Runner-Up

  • There once was a nasty, evil troll who lived beneath a bridge and took pleasure in collecting gold from the unsuspecting users of the infrastructure; however, no one used the bridge because an evil troll lived under it so the troll didn’t do much of anything. — Rachel Flanigan, Honolulu, HI

Winner: Historical Fiction

The Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered around the feast, a veritable cornucopia of harvest and game, a gastronomic monument to the bountiful biodiversity of the land, and while Mrs. Standish’s cranberry sauce was a far cry from the homogeneous gelatinous can-imprinted sacrosanct blob which has become the holiday’s sine qua non, the rest of the food was good. — Jordan Kaderli, Dallas, TX

Winner: Horror

Even though Letitia had brushed her teeth, Draco could still smell her garlicky breath, but assuming her blood would at least be toxin free, if not particularly appetizing – because of the antibiotic properties of the garlic’s allicin, an organosulfur compound – he gleefully plunged his incisors into her throbbing jugular vein. — Maggie Lyons, Callao, VA

Runner-Up:

  • Count Glandula’s castle flickered with eerie lights, where the immortal villain slaked his evil thirst in the dungeons with innocent victims – two moldy old peasants because the virtuous maidens had all been taken by the hot teenaged vampires down the road whose breath wasn’t so icky. — Janine Beacham, Busselton, WA, Australia

Winner: Romance

On their first date he’d asked how much she thought Edgar Allan Poe’s toe nails would sell for on eBay, and on their second he paid for subway fair with nickels he fished out of a fountain, but he was otherwise charming and she thought that they could have a perfectly tolerable life together. — Jessica Sashihara, Martinsville, NJ

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions

  • The dark and foreboding landscape was littered with crumbling castles, collapsed crypts, and earthworks for forgotten fortresses wherein lurked those most dastardly of degenerates, whose blood curdling cries made the lives of the locals a living hell – the historical reenactment society. — Phil Davies, Cardiff, UK

Much of this is reprinted from http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2013win.html I picked my favorite parts to share with you. If they don’t cause you to laugh right out loud, they should at the very least provoke a groan – hope you enjoy! PJ

Review: The Trade by Colby Marshall

thetradeThe Trade

Colby Marshall

ISBN: 978-0-9888777-3-3Colby Marshall

Stairway Press

Kindle; 415 pgs.

Release date: 6/11/13; $7.95

Reviewer’s name: Gina Metz

McKenzie McClendon is a journalist with The Herald.  After breaking a huge story the previous year of an assassination plot, McKenzie is fighting to stay at the top and prove that she has more than one story in her.

New York City is being plagued by a murderer dubbed The Cradle Robber since he is slicing up pregnant women and leaving them to die once he has removed their babies.  The Cradle Robber is the story McKenzie is currently chasing.

Jonas Cleary is McKenzie’s high school sweetheart.  Jonas contacts McKenzie as he believes his wife was one of The Cradle Robber’s first victims.  The police think Jonas is just grasping at straws since his wife was not pregnant at the time of her death.  However she had their infant son with her when she was murdered and his body was never recovered.  Jonas believes that his son was sold on the black market.  Thus begins Jonas and McKenzie’s investigation into the murders and the possibility that the babies are being sold.

The Trade is a fast paced thriller that the reader will not want to put down.  This is Colby Marshall’s second book in her McKenzie McClendon series.  I will be purchasing the first book, Chain of Command, and look forward to other additions to this series.