An interview with Ben Solomon

BenSolomonBen Solomon grew up with Picasso, Cagney and Beethoven. Classical arts training, comic books and Hollywood’s golden age rounded out his education and provided inspiration for a lifetime. He’s worked across many disciplines, attempting to capture the heart and soul of music onto canvas, translating oils and celluloid into words.
Solomon’s passion for the tough guy world of early gangster and PI flicks led to the creation of “The Hard-Boiled Detective,” a short story series starring a nameless gumshoe in a throwback era seeking truth, justice, and sometimes a living. He launched the ongoing series online in February 2013, offering three yarns a month to subscribers. His sleuth has appeared in e-zines across the web as well as the 2014 anthology “The Shamus Sampler II.” Another adventure is scheduled to appear in an upcoming anthology published by Fox Spirit Books.

Samples and more information about Solomon’s old-school crime series can be found here: http://thehardboileddetective.com/

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Ben: On and off for about 30 years. I’ve been all over the map, artistically.

Except for librettos. Have written any of those, yet.

I’ve been driving cars for more than 40 years, but that hasn’t gained me any particular respect or fame either.

 

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

Ben: That comes and goes day to day.

I haven’t achieved what I’d call professional success, but every now and then I hit an artistic note that resonates deep.

 

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Ben: I can’t say I had any expectations. I sure had no idea how overwhelming the isolation of writing can be. Ain’t that ironic? Here you are, recording all your so-called brilliant observations on life, and you do it by chaining yourself to a keyboard and shutting off the rest of the world.

 

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

Ben: Is that what the general public thinks? I’ll have to ask them.

Income-wise I’m right on schedule. Some days as I make as much as blind painter.

 

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

Ben: A long time ago I founded two monthly magazines. That’s a cheap way, commercially speaking, of getting published.

As for books, I cheated and recently self-published my first volume.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Ben: I’d self-publish a hell of a lot sooner.

 

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?

Ben: Part of that is done for me. I’ve been writing three stories a month for my hard-boiled detective series since February 2013. My schedule for that is to create one per week, and then final edit and polish the fourth week of every month.

Beyond that, I keep a calendar I maintain by the seat of my pants. I think I need  a good tailor.
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Ben: Hard to nail down one, but there’s something that’s floored me on the way to publishing my first book.

Seeking blurbs, reviews and publicity, I’ve been taken aback by the graciousness and generosity of so many other writers and people in the media. Even a lot of folks who turned down my queries did so by falling all over themselves with apologies. It still amazes me.
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Ben: Simply put—writing better. I wish my craft was better, I wish I wrote more succinctly and stronger, I wish I had more creative energy…The list goes on and on.

 

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

Ben: Talent and voice, two immeasurable qualities unique to every writer out there.

Most of my work’s in the throwback style of Black Mask, Chandler, etc. (That’s not meant as a comparison of quality.) The genre and form is nothing new, but I like to think the way I use it is fresh.

 

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

Ben: Keep writing, and write your ass off. And make sure it’s every bit your own.
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Ben: For indies like myself, the concrete tools are social media which also translates into word of mouth.

Within that, it comes back to the unique qualities of talent and voice.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Ben: Reaching my audience. I know they’re out there. Maybe not enough for a best seller, but I’m convinced more than enough to create a solid following.

I just took a quick peek out my front door, but didn’t see any at the moment.

 

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

Ben: I’d like to mention City Lit Books and Uncharted Books, both in Chicago, as well as The Book Table in Oak Park. They’re all great supporters of local and indie writers.
PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

HBDetective
Ben:The Hard-Boiled Detective 1,” 2014.

I’ve already got enough yarns for three more volumes if this one finds its legs.
PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Ben: For the first time, the original 11 yarns from Ben Solomon’s ongoing, throw-back crime series are available in one volume. His nameless detective faces murderers, blackmailers, adulterers and racketeers—and that’s only the first story in this collection. Ten more tales cover a never-ending parade of lowlifes, misfits and suckers, all narrated by the hard-luck gumshoe in his statements to the cops. If you’re a fan of “Black Mask,” Chandler and Hammett, you’ll get a bang out of Solomon’s take on old-school detective fiction.
PJ: Where can we buy it?

Ben: As of this writing, the paperback has just gone up on Amazon

The ebook version will be available from major distributors by mid-September.

 

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

Ben: Inspiration’s a funny thing. You could say “The Hard-Boiled Detective 1” goes back to my childhood and watching old Hollywood flicks on late-night TV. I wanted to capture the spirit of Cagney, Bogart and Robinson, the whole Warner Brothers gangster cycle, and reinvent it on the printed page.

 

 

 

An interview with Linda Hall

LindaHall2Award-winning author Linda Hall has written eighteen mystery novels plus many short stories. She has written for Multnomah Publishing, WaterBrook Press, Random House and most recently for Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. When she’s not writing, Linda and her husband Rik enjoy sailing the coast of Maine aboard their 34′ sailboat aptly named – MYSTERY. Her newest release is STRANGE FACES, a collection of her short mystery stories.

Links:

Website: http://writerhall

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/WriterHall

Twitter: @writerhall

 

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

 

Linda: I think I was born writing. When I was a little girl I was forever coming up with stories that would get partially down, before I got bored with the actual process of putting pencil to paper. My favorite ‘game’ with my friends was something we called ‘stories’ (Very original title I know, but hey, we were just little kids.). We would come up with ideas, put them all in a pile and then would draw from this and then have ten minutes to write a story. Or, we would write a paragraph, fold over the paper and pass it to the next person to complete. I couldn’t understand why my friends got bored with the game after ten minutes.  I was happy to play it all afternoon while sitting in the summer grass in the sunshine.

As a young adult I studied journalism and worked for several newspapers before settling on writing novels.

 

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

Linda: Do we ever feel successful as writers? Do we ever feel “good enough”? I’m a writer, it’s what I am. It’s what I do, but I still don’t know if I would add the adjective “successful” to it. There’s always someone more successful, ya know?

 

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

Linda: Relatively quickly. Back in the late 80s maybe it wasn’t so hard to get a contract with a traditional publisher. You didn’t even need an agent then. I went to a writer’s conference, met with an editor who immediately liked my idea and proposal. About a month later I got a letter (Remember those?) asking for the complete manuscript.

After I printed my novel, boxed it up and mailed it (Remember those days?), it was accepted almost immediately. As the years have progressed, getting things published by traditional publishers has become harder, I think, or at least that’s my perception. Now that I’ve reached what some in this world call “retirement’ age, (although I will never retire from writing)  I’ve decided to go out on my own and self publish. So far I’m loving the challenge.

 

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

 Linda: I would have gone Indie way sooner than I have. The past few years – maybe five – have been a wee bit frustrating for me career wise. I was traditionally published by Christian publishers, and I longed to break out of that box and publish general market mysteries, rather than inspirational romantic suspense. That was my “brand,” yet I’d been trying to climb out from under that label for a long time. Just this past year I decided that if I want to do this in my life, I had better do it now. So, I have joined the ranks of the Indie authors and am finally writing general market mysteries.

To celebrate, on my birthday this past May I released a collection of short mystery stories called Strange Faces. I’m very proud of that book because it represents where I am now as a writer. In about a month’s time I will be releasing Night Watch, my first full length Indie suspense novel. And oh my, the cover is GORGEOUS! Can’t wait until the “cover reveal”.

 

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?

 

Linda: It is scary and frustrating. First of all there’s a ton of social media, and more being invented, it seems, every day.  There’s Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads and Instagram and Linked In and Google Plus and the list goes on. Plus, there are websites to keep up and blogs and newsletters to write, not to mention BookBub, BookSends, ENT, eBook Soda, Book Gorilla – and oh my, that list is never ending!

If I do five promotional things in a day, that little voice in my head says, “Yeah, but So-And-So-Bestselling-Author did six things today.” So, the guilt sets in.

I’ve come to realize that I can only do what I can do. And when it becomes un-fun then I’m just old enough and feisty enough not to do it. I enjoy Facebok and love interacting with my readers there. I’m also on Twitter and I blog and love writing my periodic newsletters.

So, I’ve gone on and on about the frustrations of promotion, when there’s also the writing.

Since I’m brightest in the morning that’s when I write. During the afternoons and evening is when I work on promotional things. Some promotional things only require scant attention, so I can sit with my laptop on my lap, watch TV and work on promotional stuff during the boring parts or commercials. I also try to read at least an hour a day – usually in the afternoon.

 

 

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

 Linda: I think there’s nothing like getting that first major acceptance! When I got that phone call back in 1992, I can even remember the room I was in. I was holding the phone and dancing around the room. “It’s finally happening,” I said to myself. “It’s finally happening!”

 

 

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

 

Linda: This question is sort of like, What sets you apart as a person? We are all different. And because we are all different, no two books will ever be alike – ever. My faithful readers who read my books will probably not enjoy the books of another author. And that other author’s readers would probably not read mine. The trick is to find those readers who like your books. And then treat them very well.

More specifically, I write general market mysteries set on the east coast which usually involve the ocean and sailing.

 

 

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

Linda: Everyone  will tell you to keep on writing and don’t give up, so I won’t, because you already know that.

My single most important recommendation is to read. And read a lot. Read every day. Join a book club. Stephen King in On Writing says that he writes in the morning and reads in the afternoon. I know this is true (‘name dropping’ moment here) because I live right next to Maine and a friend of mine saw him in a coffee shop in Bangor one afternoon reading a novel.

If we expect others to buy and read our books, then we darn well better be prepared to buy and read theirs. Am I sounding like a broken record? I hope so. If anything is going to make me run screaming through the city with my can of spray paint is the writer who says, “I’m too busy to read.” If you are too busy to read, then quit writing and read for awhile. Books are a writer’s job. Okay. Now I’ll step away from the edge and get my breathing back to normal.

My second most important recommendation is to read writing that’s better than yours. The single best way to improve your writing is to let good writing sink into your brain, your heart, your very pores.

 

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

 Linda: Probably my email newsletter. I’m trying something different this year in terms of contests and giveaways. To reward my faithful readers, I’ve decided that my contests and giveaways will only be for my newsletter subscribers, rather than my Facebook followers or on my website.

 

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

 

Linda: Probably trying to figure out which one of the medias I should spend time on
PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:LindaHall

 

Strange Faces, May 2014, Independently published with the Alexandria Publishing Group

Critical Impact Oct. 2010, Love Inspired/Harlequin

On Thin Ice, April 2010, Love Inspired Harlequin

Storm Warning, January 2010, Love Inspired Harlequin

Shadows on the River, April 2009,  Love Inspired/Harlequin

Shadows at the Window, July 2008, Love Inspired/Harlequin

Shadows in the MirrorOct. 2007,  Love Inspired/Harlequin

Black Ice, 2007 by Waterbrook Press/Random House

Dark Water, 2006 by Waterbrook Press/Random House

Chat Room, 2003 by Multnomah Publishers, Sisters, OR

Steal Away, 2003 by Multnomah Publishers

Sadie’s Song, 2001, Multnomah Publishers

Katheryn’s Secret, 2000, Multnomah

Island of Refuge, 1999, Multnomah

Margaret’s Peace, 1998, Multnomah

April Operation, 1997, Evangel Press, IN

November Veil, 1996, Evangel

August Gamble, 1995,  Evangel

The Josiah Files, 1993, Thomas Nelson

 

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

Strange Faces is a collection of seven stories that will take you to a place where killers can linger in your backyard but where magic can sometimes change everything.

 

 

PJ: Where can we buy it?

 

Amazon:  http://amzn.com/B00KKUV2CA

Paperback:  http://amzn.com/0987761358

 

Nook:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/strange-faces-linda-hall/1119608281?ean=9780987761354

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/strange-faces

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/strange-faces/id884326519?mt=11

Google Playbooks: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Linda_Hall_Strange_Faces?id=Q8AHBAAAQBAJ&hl=en

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/441961

 

 

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

 

Linda: I’m an “old folksinger.” Writing is my vocation, but music is my eternal avocation. Early on I remember coming to the place where I had to make a career choice – will I choose music or will it be writing. I chose writing. I had this mistaken idea that it might be Even so, back in the day I never refused an opportunity to play in open mike bars. Currently, I sing in two city choirs and once a week me and my 45 year old Martin guitar go to the nursing home where I get to sing all the songs I love. Hand me a guitar and I will sing for you.

.

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/