An interview with Rebecca Jaycox

Rebecca in GreeceRebecca Jaycox grew up in the tiny town of Berryman, which borders the Mark Twain National Forest and the Courtois River about 70 miles south of St. Louis. The beautiful landscape fed her imagination, and she began writing stories at age 10 and never stopped. Always seeking adventure, Rebecca moved to France after she graduated college with a journalism degree to teach English at a French high school. Bitten by the travel bug, she has recently visited Italy, Greece, Austria, Spain, and finally made it to her bucket-list destination of Istanbul last summer. Rebecca now lives in New York City with her husband, Gregory. She is the curator and program director of the YA Lit Series at the 92nd Street Y—one of New York’s premier cultural centers. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction. The Other Inheritance is her first novel. 

www.rebeccajaycox.com

Blog URL: www.rebeccajaycox.com

Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaLJaycox

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RebeccaJaycox

PJ: Tell me a little about yourself 

Rebecca: I grew up in the tiny town of Berryman, Missouri. Basically, my house was in the Mark Twain National Forest. As an only child growing up in the country, I had to find ways to entertain myself. My cats became generals in my armies, and the green acorns in my yard became priceless emeralds on my treasure hunts. My desire for adventure just matured as I got older, and I went to live in France after I graduated college. From there I migrated to NYC, and I’ve been there for 10 years.

 

PJ: What’s your current guilty pleasure? 

Rebecca: Binge watching TV shows! Netflix has really ruined me. I’m impatiently waiting for the final season of Sons of Anarchy, and I’m going to start House of Cards soon.  

 

PJ: Aside from writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

Rebecca: Travel! I travel as much as I can. Last year I went to Greece, Italy, and France. This year I’m hoping to go to Prague. The places I visit really help inspire my writing. I think visiting other places and experiencing new cultures is one of the best things you can do for yourself. 

 

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

Rebecca: Before my book was released, I went back to my hometown and met with three 7th and 8th grade classes. My former teacher is still teaching and invited me to talk to the kids about following their dreams. I had such a great time, and the students were wonderful. When I had a signing in my hometown, one of the kids I’d met, Hunter, had created a sandwich board with my book cover on it and marched in front of the signing venue I was at inviting people in. It was one of the coolest things anyone has done for me.

 

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

Rebecca: Hmm, that’s a tough question. My YA fantasy is definitely on the mature end of the spectrum. And I think my work is unique in the way my heroine Reggie deals with her mother who is an alcoholic. A lot of parents are absent in YA fiction, but Reggie’s parents are always present in some way. Her family life has really affected who she is and what she’s capable of.

 

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

Rebecca: Be persistent. It will happen for you. It takes time, a lot of rejection, and a thick skin, but it will happen.  And make sure to keep editing your manuscript. “The Other Inheritance” went through six drafts before I shopped it around. Your manuscript must be as polished as humanly possible.

 

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

Rebecca: Social media is a great tool. I’m very active on FB and Twitter and will soon be moving into the world of Instagram. I also think it’s incredibly helpful to advertise with book services who have a wide reach, like the Fussy Librarian.

 

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

Rebecca: Finding a way to keep my FB posts and tweets fresh and clever. I want to draw in new readers, and you almost need a degree in marketing to keep the copy fresh.

 

PJ: Your favorite books and author? 

Rebecca: I have several! I have so many series to keep up with, it’s bordering on crazy. For urban fantasy, I go right to Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs. I also love Anne Bishop’s new “Courtyard” series. Maggie Stiefvator, Susan Ee, Marissa Meyer, Laini Taylor, and Sarah J. Maas are auto buy for YA for me. I can’t forget Neil Gaiman or Robin McKinley. There are more, many more, but I’ll stop for now.

 

PJ: Which genres do you prefer to read?

Rebecca: I read a lot of what I write: YA, fantasy, science fictions, urban fantasy, and steampunk.

 

PJ: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 

Rebecca: I love Marissa Meyer’s “Lunar Chronicle” series along with Sarah J. Maas’ “Throne of Glass” series.

 

PJ: What book is currently on your nightstand? 

Rebecca: My Nook is currently on my nightstand, so no actual book, but I am reading “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black.

 

PJ: Are there any particular books and/or authors that inspired you and continue to do so?

Rebecca: Strangely enough, Colleen McCullough and Catherine Cookson. They taught me that when it comes to what you put your characters through, why go for the kill when you can go for the pain. I also loved the Gothic novel, “Rebecca.” It taught me how to set a mood.

 

PJ: How many books do you read/month? 

Rebecca: I really try for four a month. That’s my goal. Reading helps me write.

 

PJ: What is the one book that you think everyone should read? 

Rebecca: “A Tale of Two Cities.”

 

PJ: Do you have an all time favorite book? 

Rebecca: I really don’t. I know it’s lame, but it’s the truth.

 

PJ: How important do you find the communication between you and your readers? Do you reply to their messages or read their reviews?

Rebecca: I do reply to their messages. I think it’s important to let your readers know that you appreciate them.

 

PJ: Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?

Rebecca: Depends on my mood. Tweeting is sometimes the easier way to get maximum impact. 

 

PJ: Where can your fans find you? 

Rebecca: Fans can find me at: www.rebeccajaycox.comhttps://www.facebook.com/RebeccaLJaycox, and at https://twitter.com/RebeccaJaycox.

 

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

Rebecca: I have two! Books of Wonder in NYC and The Book House in St. Louis

 

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

 

Rebecca: Seventeen-year-old Reggie has been having a tougher time than usual. As if dealing with her alcoholic mother and fighting school bullies isn’t enough, this biker dude shows up in her dreams, babbling about magic and a world called the Other.

Then, in biology class, her finger brushes a dead frog set out for dissection and it leaps off the table, scaring everyone, including her.

Reggie’s life is changing, and she has no idea why. Or whether she should believe the man in her dreams, who claims she’s in danger and that someone is coming to take her to a safer reality. But if there’s one thing she’s learned, nowhere is safe.

 

PJ: Where can we buy it? TheOtherInheritance-FrontCover

Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

 

PJ: Are you working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?

Rebecca: I’m currently working on the sequel to “The Other Inheritance.” I hope to release it next year. Fingers crossed!

 

PJ: Is there anything else you’d like to share to your followers and readers? 

Rebecca: First, I’d like to thank them for their support and secondly, I’d like to encourage them to leave a review. Reviews help out authors so much! 

 

 

Five-legged frogs, pregnant fifty-year-olds, and centenarians on longevity drugs, plus a murder or two—

Author Betty Jean Craige

Author Betty Jean Craige

Five-legged frogs, pregnant fifty-year-olds, and centenarians on longevity drugs, plus a murder or two—that’s what I wrote about in my new murder mystery Downstream.

 

According to publisher Black Opal Books, my novel is a “cozy mystery” in that both the crime and the detection take place in a nice, small community where all the characters know each other. The reader does not witness the murder itself, so he or she must use his or her brains to figure out who the murderer is on the basis of the information provided. I like this kind of novel because I prefer solving crimes to watching them transpire.

 

Downstream, which I’d originally called “We All Live Downstream,” focuses on the medication of our DOWNSTREAM coverplanet. The drugs that some of us take to improve our health get into everybody’s water supply—I won’t say how—and then into the bodies of others who don’t have prescriptions for them. So humans of all ages, and birds, bees, bears, frogs, and fish, all take estrogen, anti-depressants, and tranquilizers. Some of the fish get happy, some of the frogs develop five legs. Some of the humans, with the help of their husbands, get pregnant after menopause.

 

The conflict in 2015 between proponents of the longevity drug Senextra and defenders of the natural environment happens in a town I called Witherston in mountainous north Georgia. It is here, in southern Appalachia, that two centuries ago white settlers stole gold and land from the Cherokees in the 1828 Georgia Gold Rush and the 1830s Land Lotteries, and then in 1838-39 force-marched them to Indian Territory (in present-day Oklahoma) on the “Trail of Tears.” Those events of the early nineteenth century form the historical context of the environmentalists’ fight against the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Here’s the situation. At the celebration of his hundredth birthday, local billionaire Francis Hearty Withers announces to the people gathered on the front lawn of Witherston Baptist Church that he has finalized his will. In it he bequeaths $1 billion to the municipality of Witherston and another $1 billion to be divided up equally among the town’s 4,000 residents—in recognition of their support of a Senextra pharmaceutical factory. Senextra is a drug that enables individuals to lead healthy lives well into their second century. The group listening to the geezer do not all applaud. One person carries a sign that says SENEXTRA VIOLATES MOTHER NATURE. Another, KEEP SENEXTRA OUT OF OUR SYSTEM. A third, WE DON’T NEED MORE OLD MEN. Withers flies into a rage. He vows to change his will and disinherit the community. Two days later he is found dead.

 

Detective Mev Arroyo begins the investigation. But she has a health issue of her own, so she allows her fourteen-year-old mischievous twin boys, Jaime and Jorge, to do much of the detective work. The boys pore over old documents, interview suspects, and provoke the killer into revealing himself.

 

I’ve been told that all the characters in Downstream are “quirky. I reply that I view them as normal.

###

Dr. Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art.  She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist.

 

 

An interview with Susan Furlong-Bolliger

Susan Furlong-Bolliger

Susan Furlong-Bolliger

Lucy Arlington was originally conceived by the writing team of Ellery Adams and Sylvia May, two friends who collaborated on an idea that became A Novel Idea Mystery Series. Together, the duo penned the first three books in the series: Buried in A Book, Every Trick in the Book, and Books, Cooks, and Crooks. As time passed and their personal writing workload grew, the two decided to pass the baton to another writer: Susan Furlong. In addition to writing as Lucy Arlington, Susan Furlong is the author of Peaches and Scream, the first book of The Georgia Peach Mysteries, releasing in July of 2015. To learn more about Susan, visit her website at www.susanfurlong.com

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Susan: I’ve been working as a professional writer for over twenty years, mostly as a contracted academic writer and a ghost writer. My first piece of published fiction was a short mystery with Untreed Reads Publishing.

 

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

Susan: The first time someone, other than family, said they read my work and enjoyed it.

 

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

Susan: Yes and no. I’ve always understood that writing takes discipline and a constant effort toward self-improvement. However, I underestimated how much juggling is involved between writing and promotion.

 

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

Susan: Yes. But perhaps that’s because I have realistic expectations. With that said, I don’t make enough money to support a family—especially not my family. (We have four kids who love to eat … a lot.)

 

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

Susan: My focus has shifted to writing my best possible novels and making my deadlines on time. I’m also working hard to promote my new books so my contracts will be renewed and I can keep writing more books in each series.

 

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

Susan: My first short story was accepted on the initial submission. I was shocked and really pleased. On the flip side, my first novel took over three years to find a publisher.

 

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?

Susan: I make a list of monthly goals, weekly goals and a task list for every day. We still have children at home, so first priority goes to family. For that reason, I do end up working a lot of late nights and almost every weekend. Actually, I probably don’t juggle everything too well, but I just try to keep my priorities straight: family first, then work. Except when I’m approaching a deadline. Then things tend to go crazy. The house turns into a disaster, laundry piles up, and we eat a lot of take-out food…

 

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

Susan: Hands down, the most exciting thing was receiving an offer of representation from my agent. I knew she had good connections, great business sense, a reputation for honesty, and could help me achieve my goals. I’m extremely fortunate to have her on my side.

 

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

Susan: When pursuing publication, every rejection letter is a disappointment. Many editors deliver professional rejections, mostly form-letters, and some with handwritten suggestions or words of encouragement. Once, however, I received a particularly harsh rejection letter from an editor who told me, very blatantly, that my work annoyed the crap out of her. It really knocked me back for a few days. I was tempted to delete her email into oblivion, but instead I kept it and reread it a few days later. This time, her comments prompted me to take another look at my submission. I decided to do some rewriting, tone down some scenes, and submit to a different editor. That editor accepted it right away. Then that book led to another and another and … here I am! So, in retrospect, that editor did me a huge favor.

 

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

Susan: Once, after an author talk at a local library, a teenager approached and asked how to become a writer. We sat and talked for a long time about what she liked to write as well as her goals and dreams of becoming a published author. She’s in college now, working on staff for her university’s newspaper. We still stay in contact.

 

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

Susan: I like to think my strength is in character development. I mostly enjoy writing about every day, ordinary people who find themselves caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I hope my characters resonate with readers.

 

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

Susan: Locally, I give library talks and conduct signings. Whenever I meet a new reader, I always ask if they want to sign-up to receive email alerts for my next release. This has been an effective way for me to build a reader base and personally keep in touch with readers.

On-line, I find that Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads are helpful tools for connecting with readers. I also participate in several mystery-based Facebook groups and Yahoo forums.

 

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

Susan: Cold calls to bookstores. Just this week, I made several calls to area Barnes and Noble stores to set up signings for my next release. My fingers actually shook when I dialed the numbers. (I really, really have to build myself up to make that initial call.) Then, when a couple stores said yes, I was elated … for about ten seconds, then I realized that I’d just scheduled myself for a public appearance, which also makes me a little nervous.

 

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

Susan: Absolutely! A huge shout out to the wonderful people at Book World of Danville, Illinois, and the Jane Addams Bookshop in Champaign, Illinois.

 

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

Susan: *Deep Breath* If you’d enjoy escaping to a quaint mountain village where the people are gracious, the food is southern delish, and books are a way of life, then come to Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, and spend your days with literary agent Lila Wilkins and her quirky team of co-workers at Novel Idea Literary Agency as they discover new writing talent, plan extraordinary author events and sometimes finds themselves facing down a few real-life mysteries. *Whew!*

 

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Susan: You’ll be able find PLAYED BY THE BOOK by Lucy Arlington on the shelf of  your local bookstore and library, or on-line at Amazon, Played by the BookBarnes and Noble, Walmart, Powell’s or just about anywhere else. It’s currently available for preorder here:

Barnes and Noble/ BN.com: http://tinyurl.com/m38hkf5

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/mnb7lqc

 

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

Susan: I can’t write without eating candy. It’s a horrible habit. I rotate between mini Tootsie Rolls, Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers and Tootsie Roll Pops. Sometimes, after a particularly difficult scene, I find a couple dozen wrappers on my desk and I don’t even remember eating the candy!

An interview with Pepper O’Neal

PepperO'Neal_Author_Badge-300x300Award-winning author, Pepper O’Neal is a researcher, a writer, and an adrenalin junkie. She has a doctorate in education and spent several years in Mexico and the Caribbean working as researcher for an educational resource firm based out of Mexico City. During that time, she met and befriended many adventurers like herself, including former CIA officers and members of organized crime. Her fiction is heavily influenced by the stories they shared with her, as well her own experiences abroad. When she’s not at her computer, O’Neal spends her time taking long walks in the forests near her home or playing with her three cats. And of course, planning the next adventure. http://www.pepperoneal.com

Facebook URL

Twitter

 

 

 

PJ: How long have you been writing? 

 

Pepper: About 20 years. I started first in non-fiction doing research and writing articles for private clients, then I moved into writing fiction about 5 years ago.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: When my first fiction book was published in 2011. In fact, I had 3 novels published that year by two different publishers.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: I don’t know that I had any expectations in particular. I was published the first time in the fifth grade when I won a competition and had an article published in the local newspaper. Since then I always intended to be a writer, and though I started in non-fiction, I was prepared to work hard, revise, revise, and revise again. I also didn’t expect my first novel to be a breakout novel, as I have enough author friends that I know it is not as easy as it sounds.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: Yes and no. When my first book was published, I didn’t think anyone would buy it, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on my publisher’s best sellers list. However, as they were a very small publisher that only published ebooks, the income was still minimal, even for one on the best sellers list. I have since moved to a different publisher, and while I haven’t gotten anywhere near wealthy, my books do sell well and my fan list keeps growing, so I try to focus on that and not on how much money I am making or not making.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: Not really. I write because I can’t not write, and my focus has always been on the story that demands to be told. Before I was published, I worked at trying to get good enough to get published. After I achieved that goal, my focus shifted a bit to not letting the quality of the books drop simply because I was now published. I wanted each book to be better than the last, which means I have to constantly strive to be a better writer.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: About 2 years after I seriously started writing fiction.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: I would have started writing fiction sooner. I put it off because I didn’t think I could do it, but my stories kept pushing until I gave in and started writing novels.

 

 

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? 

 

Pepper: Well, it helps that I work out of my home office, anyway, for my day job as a free-lance researcher. But I make lists—lots and lots of lists—and then do the most important thing on the list. What doesn’t get done today gets transferred to tomorrow’s list. It also helps that I work well under pressure.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: Fans emailing or writing to tell me that they like my work. That makes all the frustration, sleepless nights, and writer’s block worth it.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: All the rejection slips before I got my first book published.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: When the reviews for Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny, the first book in my paranormal shifter series, while most of them were 4 and 5 starBF-CD-300x450 reviews, the reviewers all pointed out something that I had missed. Nothing major, just a minor plot point that I should have addressed. I try to make sure I catch all of those myself now.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: My characters are based on real people that I met while working in Mexico, the Caribbean, and other exotic places in the world. And my characters’ real-life counterparts are usually willing to vet my books and let me know if something doesn’t work or if they would or would not do something in particular. I think that this makes my characters more authentic than if I tried to make them up completely from my imagination. My friends also have been to even more interesting places than I have and they have fascinating stories to tell. So I can mix in real events in with my imaginary ones. And, after all, truth is often stranger than fiction.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: Don’t give up. Never, never give up. If you do, you will never know if you could have made it had you tried just a little longer.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: I am not good at self-promotion. I just want to write. So I try to write good stories with interesting characters that will sell because people like them and tell their friends. Had I known how much promotion was required of an author, even one who doesn’t self-publish, I might have considered another career.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: Knowing how to promote and writing a decent, short pitch.

 

 

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

 

Pepper: We don’t have any where I live.

 

 

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

 

Love Potion No. 2-14

Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny

Blood Fest: Cursing Fate

Black Ops Chronicles: Dead Run

DeadMenDontBlack Ops Chronicles: Dead Men Don’t

 

 

My next title Blood Fest: Running Scared will be released next spring.

 

 

 

PJ: Where can we buy them? 

 

Pepper: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Books, Scribd, www.blackopalbooks.com

 

 

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

 

Pepper: Most of what I write in my fiction stems from actual fact. While I don’t, of course, know any actual shifters, my characters and the things that happen to them are based on real people and real events that happened either to them or to me or to someone else I know. Things may have been adjusted, adapted, or tweaked to make them fit the story, but the kernel of truth is there if you dig deep enough.

 

An interview with Dr. Betty Jean Craige

Dr. Betty Jean Craige

Dr. Betty Jean Craige

Dr. Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art.  She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist.

 

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

 

BJ: I started translating Spanish poetry and writing scholarly books in 1973 when I came to the University of Georgia as an instructor. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t working on a book. My first non-scholarly book was Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Gray Parrot (2010). I also had loads of fun for two years writing a column in our local newspaper titled “Cosmo Talks” about animal cognition and communication.

 

 

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

 

BJ: I never made money as a scholarly writer, but I still felt that I was a successful scholar. However, not until I published Conversations with Cosmo did I realize I was “a writer.”

Downstream is my first novel. When Black Opal Books accepted it for publication, I felt I could be a successful writer.28451-026 (ZF-10527-14196-1-005)

 

 

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

 

BJ: I am retired from the University of Georgia. Although I am on several boards of non-profit organizations, I spend every spare minute writing my mysteries now. Writing is what I love to do best.

 

 

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

 

BJ: As yet, I don’t have a writing income. I am 68 years old. I have published 17 books, but Downstream is my first novel.

 

 

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

 

BJ: I just want to devote whatever time I have left in my life to writing.

 

 

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

 

BJ: I never had trouble finding a publisher.

 

 

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

 

BJ No.

 

 

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?

 

BJ: I would rather write than promote what is already in print.

 

 

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

 

BJ: I was executive producer, producer, and co-writer of a documentary titled Alvar: His Vision and His Art. It won first place in “Short Documentaries” at the Indie Gathering Film Festival in 2006. That was very exciting.

 

 

 

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

 

BJ: My mystery is set in North Georgia, and it’s about the pharmaceutical pollution of our environment. Its setting and its theme set it apart from other mysteries.

 

 

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

 

BJ: Figure out what you have to share with the world and write about it. .

 

 

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

 

BJ: Radio interviews.

 

 

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

 

BJ: The whole idea of promoting myself. I would rather talk about ideas, the ideas in my book.

 

 

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

 

Authored Books

Lorca’s Poet in New York: The Fall into Consciousness.  Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1977

Literary Relativity.  Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1982

Reconnection: Dualism to Holism in Literary Study.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988  (cloth and paper)  Winner of     Frederic W. Ness Award

Laying the Ladder Down: The Emergence of Cultural Holism.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.  (cloth and paper)     Winner of Georgia Author of the Year for Non-fiction

American Patriotism in a Global Society.  SUNY Series in Global Politics.  Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 (cloth     and paper)

Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist and Environmentalist.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001. (paper edition, 2002)

Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Santa Fe: Sherman Asher Publishing, 2010. Foreword Reviews     Book of the Year Silver Award (Category Pets) (2011)

            Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Red Planet Audiobooks, 2010

Parola di Papagallo (Italian translation of Conversations with Cosmo). Mediterranee, 2013

We All Live Downstream. Black Opal Books, 2014

 

 

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

 

At the celebration of his hundredth birthday, local billionaire Francis Hearty Withers announces to the people gathered on the front lawn of Witherston Baptist Church that he has finalized his will. In it he bequeaths $1 billion to his north Georgia hometown of Witherston and another $1 billion to be divided up equally among the town’s 4,000 residents—in recognition of their support of a Senextra pharmaceutical factory. Senextra is a drug that enables individuals to lead healthy lives well into their second century, but it has some unanticipated consequences.  Downstream, published by Black Opal Books, is Betty Jean Craige’s first novel. Betty Jean Craige is retired from the University of Georgia, where she was a professor of Comparative Literature.

 

 

PJ: Where can we buy it?

 

BJ Barnes & Noble, your local bookstore and online booksellers.

 

 

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

 

BJ: I am an environmentalist who loves writing cozy mysteries.

 

An interview with Robin Tidwell

RTidwellRobin’s writing career began at the age of eight, when her grandmother insisted she read Gone with the Wind before taking her to see the movie. Inspired by Margaret Mitchell, she began scribbling little booklets of stories, and was the editor of her elementary school newspaper and a columnist in high school. She submitted a short story to Seventeen magazine and was promptly rejected, but still keeps a copy of the manuscript in her desk.
Robin has worked as a snack bar cook, a salad prepper, a camp counselor, a waitress, a receptionist, a housekeeper, a freelancer, an editor, and an employment consultant and manager. She’s also been in car sales, skin care sales, cookware sales, advertising sales, and MLM. She’s owned and operated an entrepreneurial conglomerate, a cleaning service, an old-time photography studio, a bookstore, and a publishing house.

Six years ago, Robin and her husband Dennis moved back to St. Louis, after many years in Columbia, Sedalia, Colorado Springs, Durango, and Granbury and Tolar, Texas. They live with their youngest son, a dog, a cat, and a new puppy. www.robintidwell.com

Website URL:  www.RobinTidwell.com

Blog URL:  RobinTidwell.Wordpress.com

Facebook URL: www.Facebook.com/RobinTidwell.Author

Twitter:  @RobinTidwell

LinkedIn:  http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/RobinTidwell/

 

PJ: How long have you been writing?

Robin: Oh, on and off since I was about three or four years old. I used to make little paper books with squares of notebook paper and Scotch tape. I was editor of my school paper in elementary school, and wrote for my high school paper, and wrote the requisite teenage gloom-and-doom poetry. Professionally, I’ve been writing since 2007.

 

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

Robin: Actually, when I published my first book. And then I realized there was so much more, so many more challenges, and that success was relative to one’s own goals.

 

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

Robin: Oh, yes. Almost exactly what I expected. Including the pay grade . . .

 

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

Robin: Hmm, speaking of that pay grade . . .  I didn’t have any expectations, really; I had hopes. I’m still hoping!

 

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

Robin: Not so much. As a publisher myself, I know that I have the vehicle to get my books in print, but even before that, I knew the odds of getting an agent and being picked up by a major house were somewhere between slim and none. My focus has remained the same, to write quality books that I like.

 

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

Robin: Well, I spent a day sending off agent queries, and then waited around for, oh, a few weeks. I got a couple “not interested” emails, and decided I was already tired of waiting to hear more. I’m not very patient . . . but I also knew I didn’t want to play that game. I even turned down an offer from a small press. So I self-published.

 

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

Robin: I don’t think so. I might query a few more agents, I might have waited a bit longer, but I like where I’m at now, and what I do.Reduced cover

 

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?

Robin: Finding writing time is the most difficult. I tend to start and finish and ignore everything in between for a few weeks or so. And to be honest, I don’t do a lot of rewrites. I do, however, spend an hour every day, six days a week, doing promotion. Every morning, without fail, no excuses. It’s a habit now.

 

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

Robin: Well, my books are good. And timely. And during my days as a bookseller, and now as a publisher, I see a lot of garbage—books that should never be published, or need a lot more work before publication. I think the good ones will stick around, the bad ones will eventually sink to the bottom.

 

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

Robin: No one thing comes to mind, but I do blog twice a week on RobinWrites on things of interest to writers at all stages.

 

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

Robin: Well, you are!

 

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

Robin: Cold calls. Getting the motivation to go see someone about my books and set up an event. No one will believe this, but as a child, I’d walk around with my head down all the time—I’m surprised my chin didn’t fuse to my chest. Sometimes, it’s still hard to talk to people one-on-one, in spite of all the sales jobs I’ve held. It’s much easier to talk about someone else’s book!

 

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

Robin: Oh yes—The Book House. Michelle is a great friend of local and indie authors.

 

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

Reduced 2012

Reused 2012

Recycled 2013

Repeat 2015

 

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

Robin: RECYCLED is the third book in the REDUCED Series. Abby has survived and fought back against the government for nearly 20 years, and is ready to simply escape it all. But Alison and Brad convince her to carry on for one last mission, to Chicago, the heart of Co-OpComm, and bring an end to the tyranny.

 

PJ: Where can we buy it?

Robin: The REDUCED Series is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book House, STLBooks, and via Ingram.

 

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

Robin: Not telling. Oh, wait, I’m an open book. Ha.

Bald Eagle Persuasion By Bill Hopkins

200440345-001The bald eagle persuaded me that I was right.

Plains, rivers, huge mountains, small mountains, deserts, and oceans. America has all kinds of landscapes and all kinds of people living here. I was born and raised in the Ozarks. They’re not mountains, not really. There might be some tall hills, deep valleys, and rolling country, but not true mountains.

I still live in the Missouri Ozarks near my tiny hometown named Marble Hill. (No one is quite sure why it’s named that. Despite what Wikipedia says, there is no marble or marble-like rock anywhere around.) My wife (mystery writer Sharon Woods Hopkins, author of KILLERWATT, KILLERFIND, KILLERTRUST, and KILLERGROUND, later this year) and I live deep in the boondocks, which means few vehicles ever pass on the gravel road in front of our house. It also means that we’re living on someone else’s property. That’s right, we’re trespassing on where at one time only animals lived.

That really doesn’t bother them much. In fact, the deer love eating Sharon’s flowers, the armadillos love digging in the mulch around the trees in our yard, the foxes love denning in the deadfall in a patch of woods near the house, and the coyotes run howling, mostly at night. Although bears and mountain lions live in our neck of the woods, we haven’t seen any of them. Yet.

This description sounds pastoral. And it is. Yet, when it came time for me to try my hand at writing a mystery novel, I wandered around my couple of isolated acres, pondering the location of a story about violent crime. Saint Louis? Memphis? New Orleans? I’m familiar with those cities. The notion of crime in a city is standard fare in mysteries and I love urban mysteries. There’s also a strain of mysteries that take place in the country. That’s what I decided I wanted to do: Write a mystery about the rural area that I knew best. Folks out in the country can murder with the best of them. And the protagonist? I’m a retired judge, but my hero could be a working judge who’s tired of listening to boring stuff in the courtroom. In fact, he thinks he’d make a better detective than judge. Since he is a judge, the law enforcement folks are hardly thrilled to have him snooping where he shouldn’t be sticking his nose.

CourtingMurderThus was born Courting Murder:

When Judge Rosswell Carew makes the gruesome discovery of two corpses on a riverbank in the Missouri Ozarks, he’s plunged into a storm of deadly secrets that threaten both him and his fiancée, Tina Parkmore. Unsatisfied with the way the authorities are conducting the investigation, Rosswell, who’s always nurtured a secret desire to be a detective, teams up with an ex-con, Ollie Groton, to solve the case before the killer can murder again. Rosswell uncovers a maze of crimes so tangled that he must fight his way to a solution or die trying.

I knew the rural setting was right because I received a sign from on high. On the jaunt where I finally decided the location for the crimes, a bald eagle swooped overhead and lit in a tall oak tree. She has built her nest somewhere back in the forest behind my house. She regularly flies over our pond and helps herself to whatever fish happen to be swimming too close to the surface.

If the Ozark countryside is good enough for a bald eagle, then it’s good enough for a couple of murders!Available soon

(RIVER MOURN, the second in the series, won the 2014 Missouri Writers Guild Show-Me Best Book Award. BLOODY EARTH, the third in the series, will be out later this month!)