An interview with Chris Redding

2013authorphoto2Chris Redding lives in New Jersey with her husband, two sons, one dog and three rabbits.  She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing, she works for her local hospital You can find her at http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com and www.chrisreddingauthor.com. Her books are filled with romance, suspense and thrills.

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

 

Chris: I’ve been writing for publication for 16 years.

 

 

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

 

Chris: I haven’t reached that place yet. I’ll let you know.

 

 

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

 

Chris: No, but I’m still hopeful.

 

 

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

 

Chris: I still focus on publishing, but I spend more time on promotion than I ever thought I would.

 

 

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

 

Chris: Six years.

 

 

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

 

Chris: Probably having someone so excited that I chose them as  a beta reader. A close second would be when someone tagged me in a photo of them reading my book.

 

 

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

 

Chris: I think I have a unique view of the world. I don’t write exactly like a woman so I think my work can appeal to both men and women.

 

 

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

 

Chris: It takes perseverance. A lot of it.

 

 

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

 

The Drinking Game

Corpse Whisperer

A View to a Kilt

Blonde Demolition

Incendiary

Which Exit Angel:Book 1 of the Angels Down the Shore Series

Along Came Pauly: Book 1 in the Dog Matchmaker Series

License to Nerd: Book 1 in the Nerds Saving the World Series

 

 

PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:l2ncoverAmazon

 

What if a nerd has to save the world? Both are trained by the government, but he doesn’t want to use his skills. She wants him to. If they don’t, the world will lose.

 

 

PJ: Where can we buy it?

 

Chris: Amazon.  http://amzn.com/B00M9O0QZ4

 

 

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

 

Chris: That every few years I have a crisis of confidence and wonder why I am doing this.

An interview with Kaye George

IMG_7946loresKaye George is a short story writer and novelist who has been nominated for three Agatha awards and has been a finalist for the Silver Falchion. She is the author of four mystery series: the Imogene Duckworthy humorous Texas series, the Cressa Carraway musical mystery series, the FAT CAT cozy series (coming in 2014), and The People of the Wind Neanderthal series.

 

Her short stories can be found in her collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, as well as in several anthologies, various online and print magazines. She reviews for “Suspense Magazine”, writes for several newsletters and blogs, and gives workshops on short story writing and promotion. Kaye lives in Knoxville, TN.

 

LINKS:

http://kayegeorge.com/

http://janetcantrell.com/

Facebook author page KayeGeorge Author Page

Pinterest Pinterest

Goodreads Goodreads author page

Blogs:

http://travelswithkaye.blogspot.com/

http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/

 

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Kaye: All my life, since before I could form words on paper. Full time, I’ve been writing about 12 years.

 

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

 

Kaye: My first huge moment was when my first short story was accepted. That same story later won an award. Just last week, I had a compliment on it. I’m so happy that Flash Mob has held up for a few years. When I wrote it, I thought that it had better get accepted soon or I would trash it, not knowing that flash mobs would be around for a long time yet.

 

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

 

Kaye: Everything I expected and more! I always knew I wanted to write and never really expected to get published. I’ve made my way from self-publishing to small press to a Penguin imprint (Berkley Prime Crime), surprising myself no end! Every time someone accepts one of my projects, I’m still astounded.

 

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

 

Kaye: I didn’t have any expectations of money, so I guess it has. I reported IRS losses for 10 years and made a teensy (3 figure) profit last year. I do hope my income keeps heading in that direction, but I’m happy just to be published and have people reading what I write.

 

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

 

Kaye: Very much so. I thought that when I got published, that would bit it. I would have arrived. But there’s always another horizon. Get an award (or nomination), start another series, get another publisher, sell more books. The promotion takes much more time than I’d like, but I’ve learned that nothing happens unless I made it happen. People don’t come seeking my work. That would be nice, but I don’t think it will ever happen.

 

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

 

Kaye: After I started writing full time, in novel form, about 10 years. I succeeded with short stories much sooner. That was about 5 years.

 

 

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?

 

Kaye: I’m not sure that I do that. I try, but I sure don’t so everything I’d like to. I’ll never live long enough to write all the ideas I have. If there were 50 hours in a day, I might do all the promotion I’d like to do. I’m a big believer in doing what you can do. That’s all you can do!

 

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

 

Kaye: I’ll pass on the advice that was given to me. Don’t quit five minutes before you succeed. In other words, persist! Persist some more and keep persisting. The main difference between a publisher writer and an unpublished one is that the published one didn’t quit.

 

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

 

I’ll give you the novels since the short story list (happily) is quite long.

Imogene Duckworthy series (humorous Texas mysteryes)

Choke #1

Smoke #2

Broke #3

Death in the Time of Ice, #1 in the Neanderthal People of the Wind seriesFATCATATLARGEcover

Eine Kleine Murder, #1 in the Cressa Carraway Musical Mystery series

 

Coming very soon:

Fat Cat at Large, #1 in the Fat Cat mystery series (9/2/14)

Requiem for Red, #2 in the Cressa Carraway series

 

Coming some day:

Stroke, #4 in the Duckworthy sries

Death on the Trek, #2 in the People of the Wind series

(God willing and the crick don’t rise.)

 

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

Fat Cat at Large: When she’s not dreaming up irresistible dessert bars for her Minneapolis treatery, Bar None, Charity “Chase” Oliver is running after her cat, Quincy—a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. But what happens when this cat burglar leads Chase to the scene of a real crime?

 

 PJ: Where can we buy it?

 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fat-cat-at-large-janet-cantrell/1118663280?ean=9780425267424

or

http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Cat-At-Large-Mystery/dp/0425267423/

Available for preorder now

 

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

 

Kaye: I’ve always wanted to write a gorgeous, lyric literary short story. If not that, then the Great American Novel. But I’m having so much fun writing genre fiction that I can’t quit.

An interview with Dr. Glenn Parris

Professional PhotoAs a board certified rheumatologist, Glenn Parris has practiced medicine in the northeast Atlanta suburbs for over 20 years. He has been writing for nearly as long.

 Originally from New York City, Parris migrated south to escape the cold and snow, but fell in love with the southern charms of Georgia and Carla, his wife of nearly 23 years. He now writes cross-genre in medical mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. The Renaissance of Aspirin is his debut novel.

Website URL: www.GlennParris.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GlennParris.FictionWriter

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Glenn: I’ve been writing for pleasure for over 20 years, but I really think I started writing in 2010 when I went to a workshop for physician writers hosted by Tess Gerritsen and Michael Palmer.

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

Glenn: I was extremely happy when the first few reviews started coming through.

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

Glenn: No. I guess like all writers, I thought that writing my stories was the hard part. Developing characters, plot, tone, etc. that’s a major milestone, but the real challenge is marketing the book.

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

Glenn: Say that to an audience of writers and you’ll get more laughs than a Robin Williams bit (rest his soul). You might make enough for a nice vacation if your sales are fairly good. You can do a nice renovation on a basement, kitchen or bathroom if sales are good, you might even put a kid through college if you’re lucky and sales are very good. Hit the jackpot and you can quit a good day job.

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

Glenn: Writing the next story and getting the word out in advance to booksellers and reviewers. Developing a loyal audience is key in this day and age.

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

Glenn: I self published which used to be a terrible thing to admit, but that lingers among agents and publishers mostly. I publish when I think the story is ready for the world of readers. For me it’s usually about two to three years. A little faster maybe for sequels.  If you have a good editor and your story is popular, I don’t think readers make the distinction.

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

Glenn: I would have liked to have met a good publicist before the release date and developed more of a plan.

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?

Glenn: You have to have good people around you who know what you don’t. When you self pub you need very good people around you. And a lot of friends.

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

Glenn: Fans. I can’t find the words to describe the feeling I get when readers share my visions and feelings. Not everyone will like your work so no matter how you go about publishing you need a thick skin, but even critics who are honest sometimes give good feedback you may incorporate into future works.

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

Glenn: The realization that so many people who identify themselves as readers can’t find time to read these days.

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

Glenn: I got a cold call e-mail from an agent who heard the premise for The Renaissance of Aspirin, and asked to see the manuscript that she heard about from another agent I pitched to at a workshop.

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

Glenn: This is the first work of fiction to address Fibromyalgia. It’s a condition that’s poorly understood even by experts in the field and so many suffers are shunned into silence as family and friends believe they are hypochondriacs.

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

Glenn: Keep writing. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Read in your chosen genre and analyze what you read.  It’s the cheapest workshop you’ll ever find! Work with other for feedback.

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

Glenn: Even in this world of digital media, I find going where readers go to be the best strategy.

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

Glenn: Digital media. Facebook, twitter and blogging don’t come naturally to me so I struggle with them.

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

Glenn: Book Warehouse and Books for Less.

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

 

The Renaissance of Aspirin


PJ: Where can we buy it?

Glenn: Book Warehouse, Books for Less, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and of course my publisher Xlibris of the Penguin Publishing Group.

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

Glenn: The Renaissance of Aspirin is a modern southern romantic thriller. I think it works as a work of fiction, but the scientific theme reinforces the need for more research and support in fibromyalgia and other systemic diseases.

Have you met Tom Sawyer yet?

193_tomcrop3Edgar and Emmy-nominated, novelist, screenwriter, playwright Thomas B. Sawyer was Head Writer/Showrunner of the classic CBS series, MURDER, SHE WROTE, for which he wrote 24 episodes. Tom wrote/directed/produced the feature-film cult-comedy, ALICE GOODBODY. He is co-librettist/lyricist of JACK, a musical drama about JFK which has been performed to acclaim in the US and Europe. Tom authored bestselling mystery/thrillers THE SIXTEENTH MAN, & NO PLACE TO RUN. His new novel, CROSS PURPOSES, introduces NY PI Barney Moon, who doesn’t drive, hates LA, and is stuck there. Learn more about Tom and his work at http://www.thomasbsawyer.com/.

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Tom: Full-time professionally, about 35 years. During my first career as a graphic artist starting in comic books, I did a little writing, but my focus was illustration.

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

Tom: After about three years in Television.

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

Tom: Coming to Hollywood, I’d anticipated directing, which was what I’d been doing back in NY (commercials, short films, some stage-work). I tried TV writing because I was assured that writers ran that business – which very happily turned out to be true.

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

Tom: In TV and film, way surpassed them. Less so in novel-writing.

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

Tom: Still the same – getting published – but with more and more focus on promotion. Very few of us can make it in the book biz without a lot of BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion), and other types of publicity.

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

Tom: About six months.

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

Tom: Probably not.

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?

Tom: It’s a juggling act, but I enjoy it. I write and/or promote pretty much seven-days-per-week.

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

Tom: Having JACK, my opera about JFK, produced by the Schuberts – and the thrill of writing for Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach for 12 years.Angie & Tom

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

Tom: Not being instantly recognized for my brilliant talent.

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

Tom: Being compared with writers of the caliber of Elmore Leonard and Damon Runyon.

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

Tom: Humor, economy, entertainment. Our mandate in TV writing: Deliver the audience to the commercial-break. They’re all sitting there with thumbs hovering over the channel-clicker. Bore them for a second and you’ve lost them. That’s the way I write novels. Read ‘em and you’ll see.

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

Tom: It’s terribly important – strike that – vital – to know – with absolute certainty – that anyone who rejects you or your work is out of his or her mind. Believe in yourself!

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

Tom: Persistence. Noise. Word-of-mouth. I’d say all of those, plus networking.

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

Tom: All of it. Getting noticed at all in a world so full of people yelling “Look at me!”

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

Tom: Diesel Bookstore in Malibu, CA.

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

  1. Cross Purposes Cover_Thomas B. SawyerTHE SIXTEENTH MAN (Thriller)
  2. FICTION WRITING DEMYSTIFIED (Instructional)
  3. NO PLACE TO RUN (Thriller)
  4. CROSS PURPOSES (Mystery Thriller – w/Humor), 1st in the Barney Moon, PI Series.

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

Tom: A routine arson case sends New York PI Barney Moon to what he regards as an Alien Planet — Los Angeles. His should-be one-day mission quickly escalates to murders and conspiracies, trapping him in Tinseltown – and in growing danger. Worse, Barney doesn’t drive, a problem he solves by apprehending gorgeous would-be car-thief, Melodie, 18. Narrowly evading and outwitting assorted bad guys, LAPD detectives and at the last second, violent death, this comically mismatched pair foils a bizarre terror plot just as it’s about to kill thousands.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Amazon (print or e-book), and it can be ordered for you by any bookstore.

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

Tom: No secrets that I can think of…

 

There you have it folks!  I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of Cross Purposes or some of Tom’s earlier work. I trust you’ll enjoy!

Meet Peggy Hanson

Peggy Hanson

Peggy Hanson

I am an unlikely author to ask about her writing career.  Virtually nothing about my experience fits into the proverbial “box.”  And that question PJ asks about “when did you feel successful as a writer?”  Well, I’m still hoping that moment will come!

The one thing I have in common with all writers is that I have always done it, have always loved it, have always had it as a goal. I’m never happier than when I exercise the discipline to write in a serious way.

And I will admit that when I got down to applying that discipline (built up by being a journalist on deadline) to polishing up and actually publishing my first two novels in the Elizabeth Darcy series, DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN it felt pretty good.  After all, by that time, I was age 73!

 

The truth is that I have always written, just to write.  I never really focused on publication.  Often, I didn’t even read over or edit my random jottings.  Life has been varied and complicated enough to hold my interest:  teaching English for the Peace Corps in Turkey, returning to the US; having two children; taking them to Turkey and then to Yemen for several years; divorce; news career with Voice of America as an international radio broadcaster; remarriage,

In the village of  Dhra Yemen

In the village of Dhra Yemen

complete with a surprise third child 20 years younger than his oldest sister; living in India and Indonesia with that child, while also working as a foreign correspondent…

 

And that’s where I began to write fiction—living in Indonesia.  Suharto’s dictatorship didn’t allow me to practice journalism there while married to a World Bank economist, so I quit VOA.  It was the first time I’d felt free enough to devote myself to what I’d always wanted to do.  With cook, driver, house cleaners, gardener, guards to keep everything running smoothly and ferry my young son to and from school and activities…the situation was ideal for a writer. I joined a writing group and wrote the first draft of DEADLINE ISTANBUL.  It was a joyous experience to return to Turkey in memory, conjuring up the sights and sounds of 8 years in that amazing country.  Later, when we moved back to India, I wrote the first draft of DEADLINE YEMEN.

 

But let me try to make an organized structure out of this “career,” while answering some of PJ’s actual questions.  (I put quotation marks around career because it feels a little fraudulent to call writing that when my dear husband Jim has been able and willing to support me through the whole process.  I know that has taken much of the “bite” out of trying to get published and trying to sell my books.  I admire and respect beyond measure authors who actually have to make a living doing this!!)

 

From first draft to publication of both the DEADLINE books, several years ensued.  I honestly don’t know why I persevered through rejections and, frankly, a lack of interest on the part of agents and editors in esoteric topics like Turkey and Yemen.  Adding to the problem was my “soft” approach to topics more usually in the realm of thrillers:  terrorism, drug and arms smuggling, assassination, international cast of shady characters.  I mean, really:  Jane Austen, cats, woman with a sense of humor…terrorism?  Really??  Set in places where these things really exist (though I would point out to Americans that we of all people should recognize that terrorism is NOT limited to that arising in Islamic cultures.)

 

So…no niche, no interest, lots going on in my life.  Maybe I would never publish the books.  Would that matter?

 

Peggy reading at MWA University

Peggy reading at MWA University

Well, to me, it mattered.  (My kids wouldn’t even know my computer password, for Pete’s sake!) I kept going to conferences and writing courses (thank you, Noreen Wald!), jotting down stuff in diaries and travelogues, meeting with other writers in various venues, including a long-term writing group that met at my house and had several well-published authors in it.

 

Then, a couple of years ago, at Anne Hillerman writer’s conference in Santa Fe, I met my agent, Liz Trupin-Pulli, who expressed interest in my work.  I took the day-long writing course there from Sandi Ault (full of practical suggestions) and then put nose to the grindstone for a period of four months and rewrote both DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN for Liz to see.  She accepted me and did a great edit on both books.  I HAD AN AGENT!!!

 

We still had the “niche and unknown countries” problems with big editors.  Fortunately, a member of my book group, Carla Coupe, had begun working for a small press, Wildside Press.  They accepted the books and Liz and I decided that would be a good route for me.  Carla did another edit, and after two more months of nose-to-grindstone, both books came out.  My talented daughter, Anne Welles (of Lunatic Fringe Productions), painted dramatic and impressionistic covers for both ISTANBUL and YEMEN.  She had grown up in those countries, after all, and could get the feel of things as no other artist could have done.  I’m about to get her going on DEADLINE INDONESIA, with palm trees and volcanoes!

 

Since I am writing books in two different series right now (DEADLINE INDONESIA and the first book in the MARY MATTHEWS VICTORIAN MISSIONARY SLEUTH series) I have not had time (or talent, or energy, or aptitude) to sell my books broadly.  That is where PJ Nunn has made all the difference.  Elaine Viets told me to go to her, and what a dynamo she is!  (Both are, really.)  PJ has made me write several guest blogs, has gotten me radio and television interviews all over the country (scheduled but not yet aired), has contacted bookstores and libraries—I cannot keep up with her!  Having PJ means that I can concentrate on doing what I love, writing, and follow her orders about what to do about selling.  It’s going well, I think.

 

My biggest discouragement about writing?  Probably the fact that agents and editors weren’t interested in the topic or the approach.

 

My biggest pleasure derived from the writing?  The fact that friends all over the world, of various nationalities, who either bought the books or were sent the books, are clamoring for the next volume.  That’s what I always wanted to do:  provide some pleasure, comfort, fun, and interest to the lives of other mystery fans.

Evening on the Nile

Evening on the Nile

 

Next month when I spend three weeks in Cairo and Upper Egypt, thanks to my husband’s work, I will be doing what I always do:  jotting notes to send back to family and friends.  This time, because of PJ, I will try to publish those jottings.  It’s a whole new world out there!

 

Istanbul coverDEADLINE ISTANBUL outlines the adventures of Elizabeth Darcy, newspaper reporter, as she seeks answers to the death of her friend, the Istanbul Deadline Yemen cover by Annecorrespondent.  She’s supposed to fill in for him.  But Elizabeth is too nosy for her own good, and soon she is coming up against hidden dangers on every side, from the storied souqs to the enchanting Bosphorus dividing Istanbul.  Some of the men she encounters are attractive.  Are they also dangerous?  And what, pray tell, about the women?  Everyone knows the female is more deadly than the male.  It takes all of Elizabeth’s ingenuity, along with a little help from a cat and a journalist, to survive the outcomes of her investigations.

 

Both DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN are available from independent booksellers like Edgar Award-winning Mystery Loves Company (Kathy Harig), from Amazon as either paperback or Kindle, and on I-book.

 

 

 

 

Van cat Sultana

 

For those who’ve already read the books, meet the real Sultana, above.

 

 

Peggy and camel friend on recent trip to Egypt

Peggy and camel friend on recent trip to Egypt

Peggy Hanson has lived more than twenty years in Yemen, Turkey, India and Indonesia.  An avid mystery fan, she draws on her background as a Peace Corps volunteer and International Broadcaster for the Voice of America to bring the world to her readers through the mystery medium.  She finds it more fun to write fiction than to stick to facts as she had to as a journalist, though she tries to be as accurate as possible.

 

Peggy has published two mysteries in the Elizabeth Darcy series, DEADLINE ISTANBUL and DEADLINE YEMEN.  Both take the reader into the intricacies of people in those Islamic countries, with which she is very familiar.  She is working on the next in that series, DEADLINE INDONESIA.

 

She is also beginning a new series featuring MARY MATTHEWS, Victorian American Missionary Sleuth in the Balkans.  That series is based on the diaries and letters of Peggy’s great aunt, who was ultimately sent out of Macedonia–possibly for being an American spy.

 

Peggy lives in McLean, Virginia, near Washington, DC, with her husband Jim and two lively cats. http://peggyhansonauthor.com/

An interview with Michele (M.E.) May

Signing at C&S 11-23-13Michele May, whose pen name is M. E. May, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and lived in central Indiana until she met her husband, Paul, and moved to Lake in the Hills, Illinois, in 2003.

She studied Social and Behavioral Sciences at Indiana University, where she learned how the mind and social circumstances influence behavior. While at the university, she also discovered her talent for writing.

Michele is an active member of Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter, Sisters in Crime Chicagoland, Speed City Sisters in Crime in Indianapolis, and the Chicago Writers Association and its affiliate InPrint.

Her Circle City Mystery Series is appropriately named as these stories take place in her home town of Indianapolis. The first novel in the series, Perfidy, won the 2013 Lovey Award for Best First Novel, and the second novel in the series, Inconspicuous, was nominated for the 2014 Best Suspense Novel. Book three, Ensconced, was released in March 2014.

 

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

 

Michele: I’ve been writing in some capacity since I was ten. Most of my early writing was for school creative writing assignments, and in diaries and journals. As an administrative assistant, I had the opportunity to draft business letters, memos and emails, and write procedures. Even though a lot of my early experience in writing was non-fiction and business, I always knew I had a fiction novel in me. In 2008, my wonderful husband and I talked about my desire to “buckle down” so I quit my full time job and started writing my first “baby,” Perfidy.

 

 

PJ: That’s great! At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

 

Michele: It felt really good to finish that first manuscript and have someone offer me a publishing contract. However, the moment I truly felt successful was when readers started telling me how much they loved Perfidy, especially when I got reviews from strangers. My biggest goal was to write a great story that people would enjoy.

 

 

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

 

Michele: Writing isn’t the hard part, it’s what I had to do to be published and to brand myself. Sending letters and manuscripts to publishers and agents is much more complex than I thought. There’s no standard that goes across the board. Each publisher/agent wants a writer’s submission to be done their way. Then once I was published, the amount of self-marketing I have to do, the social media in which I must be involved, and the record keeping was overwhelming. Sometimes I’m scrambling for enough time to write.

 

 

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

 

Michele: I’m pretty realistic when it comes to expectations. After I completed my first draft of Perfidy, I took a part-time job in order to finance my new profession, because I knew it would take at least three books to get out of the red. As in any small business venture, whether knitting baby blankets or writing books, one has to realize that the first and second years won’t likely see a profit. There are many expenses connected to starting a venture such as this. Once the book comes out, there are marketing expenses such as advertising, bookmarks, postcards, conferences, and travel. Most authors I know have told me not to give up my day job. It’s very rare to see someone become wealthy as an author.

 

 

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

 

Michele: As I mentioned before, once the book is released then the marketing begins. It’s been difficult at times to balance a schedule for marketing and writing. I finally decided to hire a publicist to assist me with my branding. It’s also a fact that readers expect to see us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. In addition, every author is expected to have a website and/or to blog. I know I have to give these marketing opportunities my attention, but I also have to find a balance so I can produce the quality novels my readers expect from me.

 

 

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

 

Michele: Actually, it was a relatively short time. I had my completed, unedited manuscript ready by December 2009 and in February 2010; I attended a mystery writer’s conference where I met the publisher who offered me a contract for Perfidy. However, when I listen to other authors speak about how long it took for them; I find most people wait 5-10 years before they find a publisher. I was very lucky to have an offer so quickly.

 

 

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

 

Michele: I wish I’d had an intellectual properties attorney go over my contract and negotiate it for me. I cannot express enough the importance of having an intellectual properties attorney read a contract and explain the details to you.

 

 

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?

 

Michele: I’ll confess right now that I haven’t done as well as I’d like to be doing. I’m not the only author that feels this way. I’ve heard many complaints about how promotion takes away from their writing time. It’s especially difficult for those who have a “day job.” As I said previously, I finally took the plunge and hired a publicist and just that action took a big load off my shoulders. I try to take at least one day of my weekend and devote it to writing, which helps a great deal.

 

 

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

 

Michele: I would have to say it was the night I won the 2013 Lovey Award for the Best First Novel at the Love is Murder Mystery Writers Conference in Chicago. To have my peers and readers vote for me and give me this distinction for Perfidy, was such a thrill and an honor.

 

 

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

 

Michele: The book launch for my first novel was pretty dismal for various reasons, chief of which were several broken promises of advertising and press releases that didn’t happen. However, I made the best of it and had a great time with those who came. I guess the lesson there is to follow up. My other two launches went very well.

 

 

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

 

Michele: There was reader who reviewed Inconspicuous on Amazon (Kindle) who said, “Her writing style is a cross between Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, and Agatha Christie, an observer of small details who peppers her novels with clues for readers to pick through and try to solve the mystery.” What a fabulous compliment.

 

I think my style and the fact that my main character is the police department make it more interesting. I bring a different police officer or family member of an officer to the forefront in each novel. I’m hoping this will keep the series as fresh and fun for me to write as it does for my readers.

 

I also think the fact that I’ve used Indianapolis, as my setting instead of the same huge metropolises other authors use is unique. The fact that I can take my hometown and show it to others through my eyes is a joy for me, which makes the writing easier.

 

 

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

 

Michele: Don’t stop writing. I have a book entitled, The Virginia Woolf Writer’s Workshop: Seven Lessons to Inspire Great Writing by Danell Jones. In it, she has written about a workshop conducted by the great Virginia Woolf who states that we should write something every day, even if you write, “I don’t know what to write today.” It’s important to keep up your skills by taking courses in writing and going to workshops. And, most important, when you feel you are getting to the point of querying publishers or agents, have your book edited by a professional. This can make a big difference in whether or not someone will read more than a few lines of your book.

 

 

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

 

Michele: Having the opportunity to get out and talk to readers. Every time I do a presentation, go to a conference, or bookstore, my sales go up. It seems that once readers hear the story of how I got started and hear a little bit about the books, they become anxious to read them. If one can convince people to read one book, they will come back for more.

 

 

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

 

Michele: Getting all of those lovely people who’ve purchased the books who tell me they can’t wait for the next one to write a review. I know from my own experience as a reader that it’s sometimes difficult to find the time, especially when I read many books. In that respect, I can’t complain. However, I’ve become more diligent in doing reviews now that I’m an author and realize how important it is.

 

 

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

 

Michele: There are two independent booksellers I’d like to mention. First, Read Between the Lynes Bookstore in Woodstock, Illinois, which is owned by Arlene Lynes. She carries a variety of genres and has been very supportive of local authors. The second is Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, Illinois owned by August Alesky. As the name implies he specializes in history and mystery. He not only supports authors in the Chicago area, but has opened his store to meetings for Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime to support future authors as well.

 

 

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

 

Michele: There are three novels in the Circle City Mystery Series; Perfidy, Inconspicuous, and Ensconced. One of my short stories, “Uncle Vito and the Cheerleader,” was published in an anthology entitled Hoosier Hoops and Hijinx, which was released in October 2013.

 

 

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) for your latest title:Ensconced_Front Cover only

 

In Ensconced, Missing Persons Detective, Tyrone Mayhew’s investigation into a cold case gives him insight into just how far people will go to protect someone they love.

 

 

PJ: Where can be buy it?

 

Michele: E-books can be purchased on Amazon.com. Books in print are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite online bookstore. If you go to your favorite bookstore and they don’t have it, they can order it for you.

 

 

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

 

Michele: I’ve known that the desire to write a novel was deep inside me for most of my life. However, in my younger years I pushed that desire away because I didn’t know where to start or have the confidence that anyone would want to publish my works.

 

Then something so simple happened to me when my then eleven-year old grandson, Kodey, came to visit. He’d just received book six of the Harry Potter series. He said to me, “Nana, if you like the movies, you’ll really love the books.” I had allowed myself to get out of the habit of reading for several years at that point, but when he loaned me his Harry Potter books, I did fall in love with them. As I learned of J. K. Rowling’s struggle to publish this series, the desire for writing began to surface. I listened this time.

 

If you have a desire to write, do it. It doesn’t matter if you can finish writing it in six months or six years, just keep going. If the desire doesn’t wane, then this is what you were meant to do.

An interview with Patricia Batta

authorPatBattaPatricia Batta has been a writer since the fourth grade when the teacher instructed the class to write a story. She was so thrilled with process of creating a different world on paper that she wrote another one, and another, and another…. For many years Pat wrote mainly for her own pleasure and between jobs, but by the time she retired she had drafted one mystery novel and was working on a second. With time to dedicate to writing, she revised and completed work on the first of the Marge Christensen Mystery Series, then another, and another…. 

Pat lived and worked in Ohio and Pennsylvania before she and her husband moved to Seattle, Washington, where they lived for twenty one years, and where the Marge Christensen Mystery Series was born. Now back in Michigan, in addition to writing Pat is active in church and community, plays Bridge, reads, walks, travels, and enjoys almost anything a friend would like to do. A Michigan native, Pat attended Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, received her BA from the University of Puerto Rico, and went on to Oberlin College for a Master’s in
Teaching (MAT). 

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

 

PB: I discovered the power of writing when I was ten years old. I, a shy withdrawn child, could control a world with my pencil. I waited a lifetime, though, before retiring at age fifty-seven from work that put food on the table in order to fulfill my writing dreams.

 

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

 

PB: That depends on how you define success. Financially, I’m not successful yet. If I weren’t retired, with enough money to subsidize publishing my own books, I couldn’t keep putting them out. I am doing what I set out to do with this mystery series, however, so in that way I am successful. The satisfaction of creating a product that many people enjoy reading and want more of began as soon as I published my first mystery novel, but I probably won’t feel completely successful until I think something I’ve written has a positive effect on someone’s life. I’m still “practicing” my craft and try to improve with each book.

 

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out?

 

PB: I expected to write books which a publisher would buy. Then I would write another book while eventually collecting royalties. I didn’t expect to self-publish and I didn’t expect to struggle with distribution and promotion issues. On the other hand, I didn’t realize how much fun it would be (once I again conquered my shyness) to get out there and talk about my books with interested readers. Writing has also given me an excuse to travel to conferences and book festivals, keeping me active in my old age!

 

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

 

PB: At first, I thought I wanted a traditional publishing contract. I got dizzy trying to decide whether I needed an agent first or a publisher first and how I’d ever get one without the other. Of course, my books also were not quite ready for publishing when I started sending them out. Unfortunately, publishers and agents don’t have time to tell you why they don’t want your book, just that they don’t want it. By the time I had ten rejections each from agents and publishers, I gave up on them. But not on writing. I kept working on those same books until I thought I had something worth publishing. By now I was pretty sure that what I wanted to write would never have enough zing for the current market. I didn’t know what to do with them. Finally I decided that at my age I didn’t want to wait until someone wanted to publish my work. I would publish my books myself. People who know publishing have asked me why I don’t pursue a traditional contract now. They feel my books are good enough to interest a publisher. But I’ve become accustomed to owning my work and having complete control over it.

 

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

 

PB: Holding a completed book in my hand – especially the first one.

 

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

 

PB: Holding that completed book in my hand and realizing I can’t change anything in it any more.

 

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

 

PB: I never quite got over being that shy, withdrawn little girl. Once I had a book out, I knew I had to face the public. I started with “meet and greet” signings where at first I sat, waiting for someone to show interest in my books. I watched other authors and gradually learned to put myself out there and engage the passers-by. I graduated to presentations and soon grew to love doing them. This has affected every part of my life – I now lead a Bible study class at church, chair a committee, initiate conversations rather than waiting for someone else to recognize me. Sometimes I wonder where that tongue-tied girl has gone and have to shut myself up.

 

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

 

PB: I set out to write a mystery series about an average woman closing in on middle age. Marge might live next door to the reader – she’s not drop dead gorgeous, not a PI or involved with the law in any way at first – not tougher or braver or any of those other things outside the experience of the average reader. I wanted books that would attract a main-stream audience while embracing the values of Christianity without preaching. I hope that each book explores a value or relationship that we all deal with in our own lives. Some of the very things I want for my series keep it from selling more, but it is the series I wanted to write and the people who find it and enjoy reading that type of book (as I do) are always after me for the next one.

 

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

 

PB: Whatever route you take to publication, be sure the book you publish is the best work you can do. Don’t even think about publishing until someone has given your book a thorough editing and proof-reading. If you are self-published you may have to pay to have someone give your book a professional reading. Self-published authors who neglect this step end up with typos, grammar problems, and other errors that turn off readers not only for themselves but for all self-published authors.

 

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

 

PB: Book promotion is a total challenge for me. My innate shyness still makes it difficult for me to approach book stores and libraries and initiate conversations about my books. It is hard to decide which on-line promotion is worth doing, then it takes huge chunks of my time to master the technology I need to do it.

 

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

 

PB: Horizon Book Store in Traverse City (with branches in Cadillac and Petoskey) Michigan is very supportive of local authors. Seattle Mystery Bookstore in Seattle and Parkside Books in Redmond, Washington, have also been helpful.

 

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

 

PB: “Something is warring in this palace,” are the first words Marge hears from her mother, Edith, when visiting her in Michigan after her last stroke. “I thimble somebody was kibitzed.”

Was someone truly killed, or had Edith lost more mental capacity to her last stroke than her ability to find the word she needed?

Marge, her mother, her staid and proper Aunt Valerie, and her rebellious and reckless niece Lisa form an unlikely team to try and discover the truth about what’s going on before Marge has to head back to her home in Bellevue, Washington.

 

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

 

The Marge Christensen Mystery Series:howmany-smallfrontcover

What Did You Do Before Dying?

Why Did You Die in the Park?

Who More Than Wished You Were Dead?

Where Did You Die?

How Many Old Ladies Will Die?

 

PJ: Where can we buy it?

 

PB: Print versions of the books are available on my web page www.lillimarpublishing.com. They are also available in both print and Kindle from Amazon, and the first four are on Audible. The fifth will be there soon.

 

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

 

I usually don’t know “who dun it” until I’m at least half way through the book. Even then, it sometimes changes. When I finally know for sure, I have to go back and plant clues so I don’t blindside the reader.

Thank you for sharing with us Pat!