Getting to know Marilyn Meredith

marilyn-meredithMarilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains.

She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America.

Website URL: http://fictionforyou.com

Blog URL: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

Facebook URL: Marilyn Meredith

Twitter: @marilynmeredith

 

Buy links for Seldom Traveled:

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Seldom-Traveled-Tempe-Crabtree-Mystery/dp/1594264333/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1474237735&sr=8-2&keywords=seldom+traveled+meredith

 

Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seldom-traveled-marilyn-meredith/1124443124?ean=2940156979882

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How long have you been writing?

 

As long as I can remember, and that’s a long, long time. When I was about 10, I wrote a fairy tale and illustrated it. I sent if off to a publisher (with my mom’s help) and received my first rejection—a very nice one.

 

 

At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful or satisfied as a writer?

 

I’m not sure I’ve reached that point. The fact that I have two publishers who routinely accept my work is most satisfying—but I haven’t ever felt successful. Perhaps fulfilled is the better word, because I’m writing and others can read what I’ve written.

 

 

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

 

Though writing was something I always did, I’m not sure I had any thoughts about what “the writing life” would be. I met many authors along the way who were “famous” like Mary Higgins Clark and Jan Burke and I never thought my life would be like theirs. For me, it’s sitting down in front of the computer and writing—but also spending a lot of time promoting too. I don’t know that I ever thought I’d have to spend so much time at the promotion part.

 

 

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

 

This writer is not wealthy. In fact sometimes when I see the total on my royalties I have to laugh. By the time everyone get their cut, be it Amazon or Ingram, the bookstore, the publisher, my part is very small.

 

 

Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Since you’ve been published, how has your focus changed?

 

I’ve been published since 1981. But that first book really didn’t open doors for me. The editor that signed me on, left the publishing house and I had to start all over. I got many, many rejections after that.

 

 

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

 

This was back in the day of typewriters and carbon paper and mailing the whole manuscript off in a box with another self-addressed and stamped box inside so the manuscript could be returned. That first book was rejected close to 30 times. About every 5th time it came back, the pages would have coffee and food stains and smell like cigarette smoke. This meant I had to retype so I often rewrote too.  I don’t remember the actual time period, but I moved from one town to another and received the acceptance letter at my new place of residence.

 

 

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

 

With that first book I had no idea what I was supposed to do to promote it. I did set up one book signing which was successful, but that’s all. I got no guidance from the publisher about what I ought to be doing and I have no idea what happened at the publishing house’s end—if anything. Back in that time period there weren’t all the suggestions for promotions like there are now. So sure, I’d have at least set up some speaking engagements and other bookstores for signings.

 

 

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?

 

This is what’s going on with me at the moment. I have a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery at the publisher’s right now. Usually that series comes out in the early fall, which means I’ll have edits to go over in a couple of months. I’m also writing a new one in that series. I try to work on it for at least two hours at least five days a week.

 

I’m reading chapters of my next Rocky Bluff P.D. to my critique group every week and then editing them.

 

My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. is out now and I’m in the process of a month long blog tour which takes a lot of time to promote and while that was going on I did another smaller tour with 7 other authors over a period of 14 days—also time consuming. I have several speaking engagements planned, mostly libraries and I’m scheduled to have a booth at two craft fairs this year.

 

 

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

 

After being a runner-up for an Epic e-award enough times to feel like the Susan Lucci of Epic, this year I won an Epic e-award for my supernatural romance, Lingering Spirit. I was thrilled. (Epic is the organization for e-published authors and publishers.)

 

 

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

 

I really can’t think of anything except I wish I had more readers.

 

 

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

 

When someone comes up to me or writes on a blog that they love one of my series or a particular character, tat’s a most wonderful feeling.

 

 

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

 

My Deputy Tempe Crabtree series has a lot of Native American mysticism in it and is set in a small mountain community in the Southern Sierra—a place where no other series I know of is set. It is very much like the place where I live though I’ve changed the name to Bear Creek.

 

In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, there is a cast of characters who make appearances in every book, though I usually focus on one or two for each book. I think this series could be described as almost a cozy police procedural.

 

 

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

 

If money is your goal, you should probably do something else. If you truly want to be a published author, read the kind of books you want to write, attend writers’ conferences, read books on writing, but the two most important things are to write regularly and never give up.

 

 

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

 

Probably being visible on the Internet though blog tours, my own blog, Facebook etc. Though I really enjoy giving presentations at writers’ conferences and libraries or anywhere else I’m invited.

 

 

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

 

Making the contacts for personal appearances—I do not like to make phone calls.

 

 

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

 

Willow Bridge Bookstore in Oakhurst, California has been very supportive—and I must mention Kris Neri’s Well Red Coyote Bookstore in Sedona AZ. I’ve given several presentations there.

 

 

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

 

I’ve listed them latest first:

 

The Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, set in a fictional beach city between Ventura and Santa Barbara and written under the name F. M. Meredith

 

No Bells

Angel Lost

An Axe to Grind

No Sanctuary

Smell of Death

Fringe Benefits

Bad Tidings

Final Respects

 

The Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, set in the Southern Sierra, Native American.

 

Bears With Usseldom-traveled-front-cover

Invisible Path

Dispel the Mist

Kindred Spirits

Judgment Fire

Calling the Dead

Intervention

WingBeat

Unequally Yoked

Deadly Omen

Deadly Trail

(the next in the series will be available this fall, called Raging Water

 

 

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

 

In No Bells, Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem, she’s the major suspect in a murder case.

 

 

Where can we buy it?

 

Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It is with Ingram so can be ordered by an independent bookstore.

Getting to know John Achor

poster-12-12-13-14The first of John Achor’s three careers spanned twenty years as a U.S. Air Force pilot. He accumulated over 4,000 hours flying planes from Piper Cubs to the military equivalent of the Boeing 707. After the military, he entered the real estate industry. He joined a national real estate franchise as a management consultant working at the regional and national levels. Those positions led him to Phoenix, Arizona, and an affiliation with a major Savings & Loan institution.

In John’s words, “When the Savings and Loan industry melted away like a lump of sugar in hot coffee, I knew it was time to develop a third career.” He became a freelance computer instructor, user-developer, consultant, writer and Community College instructor.

In mid-1999, John moved to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, where he lived in the piney woods with his wife Pat and their two cats, Lexus and Betsy Ross. As you may know from his latest book or web site; these two cats are no longer with them. Big hole in their lives, but both are waiting for us by The Rainbow Bridge. Their latest move was a recent relocation to the Omaha, Nebraska area where John is busy meeting and greeting new writers, readers and writing groups.

Website URL: http://www.johnachor.com

Blog URL: http://www.johnachor.wordpress.com

Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/jachor1

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/caseyfremont

 

Amazon buy link for Three Four Kill Some More:

https://www.amazon.com/Three-Four-Kill-Some-More-Fremont/dp/151514805X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478131870&sr=8-1&keywords=three+for+kill+some+more

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How would my friends describe me in 20 words or less?

Friendly and outgoing extrovert. However, check my next response.

 

Tell me a little about yourself

I’m basically a shy introvert. I’ve trained myself to be a trainer, a speaker and present myself as more extroverted. I believe that if I don’t feel a bit of anxiety before performing, I’ve lost interest in the subject.

 

If you weren’t a writer, what you would be?

Most likely a vegetable – spell that couch potato binging on TV mysteries.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

Back in the day; somewhere in the 80s.

 

When did you begin writing?

I typed (on a real portable typewriter) the beginnings of a couple of stories/vignettes in the late 1980s. I became a serious writer in the mid-1990s. It took me into the -2000s to refer to myself as a writer; and then as a professional writer ― because I’ve been paid for my writing. And, the answer to your next question; do you make a living at writing – the answer is no.

 

Who is you mentor? Who do you look up to?

In the writing field, I like Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton in the mystery field and for thrillers, I like Vince Flynn and Lee Child. I’ve had a number of mentors via critique groups, who gave unselfishly to help me improve as a writer.

 

Who are your cheerleaders?

Friends, family and readers. I’ve received a good amount of positive support in the form of Amazon comments.

 

Did you have support at the beginning and/or during your writing?

I think that if a person is serious about writing, you need to: Read, read, read – in the genre you like to write and nonfiction books about writing. JOIN a critique group. I’ve learned as much or more from the groups I’ve worked with as any other approach.

 

Do you keep track or write reviews for books you read?

Yes, and I’m surprised what previously published authors get away with. Many would have trouble getting their manuscripts through the critique groups I’ve been associated with.

 

Do you read reviews written about your book?

Yes. I enjoy the positive ones and for those who do not like my writing I think; that’s why there are so many shelves in a bookstore and hope they find an author they like.

 

What started you on your journey to be a writer?

I had a short vignette in mind about flying. I wrote it and it became a 10,000 word flash back in a novel. My critique group said, that’s gotta go – cut it. It was cut from the novel, but still resides on my computer hard drive, maybe sometime …

 

When you made your first sale, how did you celebrate and with whom?

The first sale was to “Good Old Days” magazine in September 1992. The check was for $40.00 USD; I puffed out my chest, strutted around, but with the size of the remuneration, there wasn’t a whole lot of celebrating. However, that money put me in the ranks of professional writers.

 

Do you listen to music while writing?

Yes, but not all the time. I do have a favorite play list I put together from five movie albums. When I completed the list, I realized they all had a similar theme: perseverance. Here they are: Flight of the Intruder, Quigley Down Under, The Great Escape, The Longest Day and Monuments Men.

 

What are your favorite hobbies?

While I consider writing a profession, I have fun and enjoy the act of writing, as well as meeting and speaking with readers and writers.

 

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

I set up a book sales table at an outdoor festival in a small rural town in Arkansas. I asked a lady walking past my table if she liked mysteries. Her response was, “I don’t read books.” I mentioned that with holidays coming up, my book might make a decent present. Her response was, “I don’t give gifts.” I wished her a pleasant day and she kept walking. I smiled at her answers and went back to enjoying the warm summer day.

 

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

I believe my female protagonist, Casey Fremont, is representative of what many of us face in our lives 3-4-kill-covertoday. She begins the series with her own self esteem in shambles. As the series progresses, Casey begins to regain a belief in herself and recognizes others in her life are of value as well. I do my best to leave Casey in a better place at the end of the book as opposed to where she was before the bodies began to fall. In some ways, she is a mirror of how I have gained my own insight over a life time.

 

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

Never give up; keep writing and do everything to improve you manuscripts.

 

Your favorite books and author?

I like Janet Evanovich and Sue Grafton in the mystery field and for thrillers, Vince Flynn and Lee Child are at the top of the field.

 

Which genres do you prefer to read?

Mysteries and thrillers top the list, however lately I’ve discovered any number of nonfiction books I enjoyed; The Elephant Whisperer is a top pick.

 

What book is currently on your nightstand?

It’s on my phone (Kindle) and it’s a Michael Connelly mystery featuring Harry Bosch.

 

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?

I use both and prefer Facebook.

 

Where can your fans find you?

Google John Achor or Casey Fremont mysteries and you’ll more about me that you ever wanted to know. My web site (johnachor.com) has a lot about me and a search on Twitter or Facebook will pop up my pages.

 

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

My wife and I have a giant soft spot for Indie bookstores. Living in Phoenix, we loved The Poisoned Pen mystery book store run by Barbara Peters ― we met a ton and a half of major mystery/thrillers authors at her store. Since relocating to Omaha, The Bookworm owned by Beth & Phil Black is a super resource to authors and readers.

 

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

“One, Two – Kill a Few,” a Casey Fremont mystery

“Three, Four – Kill Some More,” a Casey Fremont mystery

“Five, Six – Deadly Mix,” a Casey Fremont mystery (is poised for release)

 

Where can we buy it?

All are available in Trade Paperback, eBook and audio formats from your favorite online book sellers. If you run into me, I have a couple in my trunk.

 

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

I am currently writing the fourth in the Casey Fremont mysteries, and I’ve researched and plotted the third in the Alex Hilliard thriller novels. When? Down the line …

Getting to Know Kathryn Bain

kathrynbainKathryn J. Bain is an award-winning author of Christian, mystery, and suspense, including the Lincolnville Mystery series and KT Morgan short suspense series.

Ms. Bain has garnered several awards, including two Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Awards and a First Place Royal Palm Literary Award for Inspirational Fiction.

A past President of Florida Sisters in Crime and Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors, Kathryn enjoys doing talks and teaching about writing.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida near her daughters and granddaughter. Kathryn has also been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law.

 

Website URL: http://www.kathrynjbain.com

Blog URL: http://www.kathrynjbain.com

Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/Kathryn-J-Bain-248456325239552/

Buy links for Take Her Breath Away

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Take-Breath-Away-Lincolnville-Mystery/dp/1537331884/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476046602&sr=1-1&keywords=take+her+breath+away+bain

 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/take-her-breath-away-kathryn-j-bain/1124480960?ean=9781537331881

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Tell us a little about yourself:

 

I grew up in northern Idaho and moved to Florida over thirty years ago. I have an Associates of Arts Degree and am a Certified paralegal. I have worked for the Preddy Law Firm for almost 15 years now. I have two grown daughters and one granddaughter.

 

State a random fact about yourself that would surprise your readers.

 

One of my worst classes in school was English. I disliked it terribly. I still am gramatically challenged, so I hire editors to fix my comma errors. 

 

Who are your cheerleaders? 

 

My two daughters give me a lot of support me with my writing. I also belong to two critique groups and several writers organizations. I also have several people in my church who cheer me on. 

 

Do you keep track or write reviews for books you read?

 

I write reviews for books only if I like the book. I try my best to give no lower than a 3, but sometimes the book is so bad, I just can’t, so I won’t leave a review. 

 

Do you read reviews written about your book?

 

I do because I like to know where I can improve. 

 

 

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

 

I write Edgy Christian which sets me apart from the sweet Christian authors. I deal with dark suspense like child trafficking (One Last Breath) and adultery (Take Her Breath Away). And my short suspense is edge-takeherbreathawaycoverof-your-seat with a killer or two. I also try to make my Christians more realistic than most Christian writers. In Catch Your Breath, the mother of my heroine is a mean Christian woman. She is very pious, as some Christians are. 

 

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

 

Keep writing. That’s the most important thing you can do. 

 

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

 

Getting out and meeting readers at book festivals and signings. The more you can connect with readers, the better chance you have of getting your books read. 

 

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

 

Social Media. I’m technologically challenged, so I’m not good at getting out on FB, Twitter, etc. 

 

 

Which genres do you prefer to read?

 

I love suspense more than anything. Every once in a while I’ll read something else, but it’s rare. I prefer non-Christian because the suspense in Christian writing is usually minimal. 

 

 

What book is currently on your nightstand?

 

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s What You See. 

 

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

 

Love so many, but Dean Koontz is one of my favorites. I also like CJ Box. 

 

How many books do you read/month?

 

I try to read 2-3 books a month. 

 

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

 

I don’t have a “must read” book. I just think it’s important for everyone to read. Schools frustrate me when they limit their reading lists. I think that’s part of the reason so many kids quit reading – because they’re made to read things they don’t enjoy. 

 

 

Where can your fans find you?

 

I have a website, www.kathrynjbain.com where you can sign up for my Christian newsletter and find out how to get my first KT Morgan Short Suspense, The Visitor, for free. I’m also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ under Kathryn J. Bain. You can also find me on Twitter @kjbain. And I have an author page on Amazon. 

 

 

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

 

The Lincolnville Mystery Series, inspirational romantic suspense, includes:

Breathless;

Catch Your Breath;

One Last Breath; and

Take Your Breath Away


The KT Morgan Short Suspense Series includes:

The Visitor;

Small Town Terror; and

Reunion, due out December 9, 2016

 

My stand alone books are the following:

Beautiful Imperfection – Inspiration Romantic Suspense

Knight & Day – Humorous Mystery

Game of Hearts – Humorous Romantic Novella

 

 

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

 

I just finished Reunion that is the third in my KT Morgan Short Suspense Series which will be released December 9, 2016 and am currently working on a Bible Study titled Holding the Hand of a King set to come out in 2017 if I ever get the thing finished. 

Getting to know Channing Whitaker

  1. Tell us about your new novel.channing

My recent novel is called “Until the Sun Rises – One Night in Drake Mansion,” and it is a mystery/thriller that also flirts a little with noir and horror. It’s set in a small, fictional Iowa town where 80 years ago a wealthy family of five attended a traveling magic show, after which they and the magician disappeared.  After a few people died in their mansion, it was sealed off. The family’s disappearance was never solved, the mansion has sat empty all this time, and naturally many wild theories and reports of ghost sightings have surrounded the house.

The book begins with the start of a live TV show where the house is opened for the first time since it was sealed and five contestants are going to spend the night inside to investigate and win a prize if they last until morning. Shortly after entering, the contestants find the journal of the family’s father, Vinton Drake, and discover he had a history with the magician before they all disappeared. As the contestants investigate the mansion, they follow Vinton’s investigation of the magician from the past as well.

  1. What sets this novel apart from other haunted house stories?

The five contestants in the story were selected for the TV show for their inherently conflicting traits. They are a commune-with-the-dead psychic, a high-tech ghost hunter, a Hollywood, scream-queen actress, a local woman who has known of the house and legends surround it all her life, as well as a professional paranormal skeptic and debunker.

As clues arise in the story, there is almost always a divide between two or more characters on how to perceive them and what conclusions to draw. Furthermore, the details of Vinton’s investigation of the magician in the past deal largely with paranormal beliefs, as his life builds towards his and his families eventual disappearance. The characters in the present find they aren’t just trying to uncover whether there are or aren’t spirits in the house, but rather exploring the effects of belief in the supernatural.

Elements of the story become psychological, examining consequences of supernatural beliefs, whether real or mistaken. And as it happens, those consequences turn out to not only have been life-threatening in the past, but are still putting the contestants’ lives in jeopardy today.

  1. What do you hope readers will come away from your book with?

First and foremost, entertained. I want people to feel like they were given an enthralling journey to submerge themselves in, to step out of their own world and enjoy a vacation into mine. I would also like readers to feel surprised.  The book is a mystery so there is naturally something to be uncovered as the book comes to an end. I worked hard to make that fulfilling and believable, yet unpredictable, and for the final reveal to change everything you thought and understood along the way.  If most readers experience that, then I’ll be satisfied.

Secondary to that, my novel and its characters pose reoccurring ideas of critical thinking, of examining phenomenon, historic tales, and evidence with critical and unbiased eyes. Not only because failing to do so can lead to false conclusions, but in some cases to severe consequences. This consistent theme adds layers of intrigue to the story but I feel it can and should be taken into real life as well. For some readers to bring that notion into their lives after reading the book would be immensely satisfying as well.

  1. What gave you the idea for this story?

The majority of “Until The Sun Rises: One Night in Drake Mansion” is set in the present, but a portion takes place in the past. The first past section involves a mysterious, secret, and very thematically dark magic show which adds to the mystery set in the present with a parallel mystery to unfold in the past.

This magic show moment was the first that came to me. I don’t remember anything specific that spawned that seed of the story, but in exploring and flushing out that single moment, I developed two characters, and in turn by adding depth, intrigue, and consequence to those characters gave birth to the entirety of the story.

  1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I can remember being in first grade and everyone going around the class having to say what we wanted to be when we grew up.  For many kids it was fireman, policemen, or doctor, I said cartoonist. I didn’t deviate from that until closer to Jr. High when my ambition changed to a movie director. That notion continued through high school, college, and persists through today.

Looking back, I believe even in the first grade what I really wanted was to be a storyteller, to invent and craft stories and then to share them with the world.  At that time, cartoons represented a large portion of my story experience so I think I imagined telling stories in that medium. Later, when live-action movies became more prevalent in my story experience, my ambition changed slightly, to storytelling through movies.  I always imagined being both the author of the stories I would create as well as the physical producer, so I just don’t think I realized I was planning to be a writer, at least in part, all along.

Though my pursuit heading into college and after was directed towards movies, even in high school I considered sharing my stories in books a possibility and tried to think in terms of both mediums as I developed my story telling skills.

“When did I know I wanted to be a writer?” I can only estimate that the moment I realized people were out in the world dreaming up the stories I enjoyed, I knew I would some day be one of them, and I was mighty young.

  1. What has been your writing journey?

I began writing an a serious way, by which I mean with the intent of building a career involving writing as a student at the University of Iowa. I studied cinema with my focus being on screenwriting, though my intent was to work in other areas of filmmaking as well. After graduation, I continued to write screenplays while also working in various jobs relating to media production.

It was my understanding that movie producers were essentially closed to submissions from unknown writers. As I would finish new screenplays, I would research appropriate screenplay agents, those who seemed to handle material similar in theme to mine and who also said they were open to new talent, and then I’d write query letters by the dozens. Over the course of eight years I wrote in excess of 350 letters and rarely even received polite rejections. No one was willing to read even 10 pages of my scripts.

Certainly one could see this as indicative of my material not being of high enough quality but I felt the material may not even truly be getting considered based on merit, but rather being ignored or rejected because I lacked noteworthy credits. For a long time I harbored the early version of my novel’s story in my mind, but I felt it was too big for a single, standard-length screenplay, and thus never attempted to write it as one. Finally, I decided to attempt to write the story as a book, thinking at the very least if I wrote a quality book, even if no publishers would consider me or the material, I’d at least have the option of self-publishing. Fortunately, it never came to that.

Once my book was written, I first sought out literary agents, to similar results as all of my screenplay efforts, however with only a dozen letters sent directly to publishers, I managed to secure several who were interested in at least reading the book and evaluating the material based on its content. I can’t say for certain whether it was coincidence or if it was merely the fact that I had a forthcoming novel to my credit but with in about a month of signing an agreement with my publisher on my novel, I received an offer to produce one of my screenplays, which then filmed in August of 2014 and is pending release.

  1. How do you get inspired to write?

I really find inspiration in almost everything I do. If my garbage bag splits open on the way to the curb and all my neighbors were watching, I’d think “wouldn’t this make a great plot point for a killer with a bag full of body parts? I’ll have to remember this.” Or I’d think, “what if the bag was full of embarrassing items right in front of a love interest? That could be funny.” Those little ideas don’t make complete stories but sometimes several come together and form a bigger premise, worth flushing out. So far, I’ve never experienced a shortage of inspiration, but rather an overabundance, where the challenge becomes finding the time to write, and selecting which potential project to focus on.

  1. How do you deal with writers block?

Though I can’t say I’ve suffered writer’s block severely, I have run into stopping points in projects. For example, after the first draft of my recent novel and another pass of rewriting I sensed the book was bloated and needed to be edited down for a better reading experience but I was too in love with the rich details to see what might be redundant, implicit, or overly explained.

Rather than force it, I set the book aside, letting it rest, and began work on a first draft of a new screenplay. I chose a project that was thematically dark, as the book was, in order to keep my creative mindset in that territory. After a few months I returned to the book with a fresh viewpoint and saw rather easily what could be and needed to be edited. I completed the next draft very quickly and found the bloating I sensed was cured.

This would be my approach for writer’s block. If one plans to have a career as a writer, you likely intend to write more than one book, so when you have the writer’s block, set the book aside and go start or continue work on something a little different, something you’re coming to fresh, even if it’s just an outline or synopsis for a future project. I think in many cases you’ll have new ideas for your stalled project just pop into your head, demanding you get them on paper, and you won’t be able to get back to that book fast enough.

  1. What influences your writing?

I admire the efforts and style of a great many writers, filmmakers, and artist, but to put my finger on a significant influence, I can think of none larger than my father. I can’t say he directly affected my subjects, themes, or style but rather, even more fundamentally, the way I think about people and the world.

He was a psychology professor and also saw clients at a public clinic for most of his career. I think he has an exceptional aptitude for assessing, understanding, and empathizing with people, which made him both an effective counselor and teacher.  In turn, I was almost always subject to lessons of character.

I’d compare it to Harper Lee’s,  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” I was always taught to try to understand things from others’ points of view. Whether it was personal conflict, or worldly trouble, my father always discussed and encouraged trying to understand people and situations from the other side.

How this spills over into my writing is in character development and depth. Characters are so important, I’d say I develop a psychological profile of sorts for virtually all my characters, which is affected by the story, but also affects the story.  When you think of people and characters in this way you see that villains can’t be completely bad, heroes can’t be completely good, strong characters aren’t without weakness, and so on.  My stories are always built around rich, deep characters, and I believe this leads to equally rich and deep stories.

  1. What is the best thing about being a writer?

I take immense pleasure in my imagination and I’m concocting stories, both large and small, almost constantly.  I also love good stories and I feel like keeping one to myself would be selfish. When one such story is big enough and clear enough to share, I put it into words as best I can and send it out into the world.  Having other people embrace and enjoy those stories I’ve dreamt up, there’s nothing more satisfying for me.

  1. Your recent book is set in a fictional, Iowa town and you’re from a small Iowa town, how did your experience influence the book?

I grew up in a small town but I’ve also lived in small, medium, and even a huge city. I believe the feel of community one finds in a small town is so drastically different than that of a big city. That element certainly went into the fictional town of my book.

until-the-sun-risesHaving a big mystery in a small town affects everyone. Everyone in the community is familiar with it and has opinions on it even 80 years later.  That realistic relationship comes through in the novel.  A similar event in a big city just wouldn’t have such an impact. Eighty years later, I think such a mystery would simply fade away as people come and go.  I’ve lived in suburbs of large metros as well, where you have a small community and the people do care about the community such as its schools and its appearance but they don’t share the small town’s sense of identity, where people heavily identify themselves by their town and often with that town’s history. In that way, I think not only Iowans, but almost anyone familiar with small towns and small, independent communities can find an extra layer of connection with the setting.

There is also an undertone of the consequences of small rural towns shrinking.  Work opportunities lesson, then population dwindles, then towns struggle to maintain themselves, and the cycle repeats. That is an effect I have witnessed through my life in rural Iowa, not just in my hometown but also in small communities all over. I brought that real-life depth into my story’s setting as well. I think my fellow native Iowans will identify with this theme, though I’m sure it’s true in other states and places, particularly agricultural hubs. However, if this isn’t an experience a reader identifies with, the story educates the reader on it quickly and then races in new directions, so no one is left out.

  1. You started your writing career focused on screenwriting. Was it difficult to refocus on writing a novel?

For me, whether it’s a screenplay or a book the story is the most important part and developing the story in either case is virtually the same. With that in mind, the execution of the story, shaping the story to be the best reading or viewing experience for your audience is where the differences lie between mediums.

I would never claim it is easy to write a book, nor would I deny that there are significant differences between screenplay writing and novel writing which must be understood and overcome in order to be effective crossing mediums.  However, I also wouldn’t say changing my focus for this project was difficult as if being a screenwriter leaves one ill-equipped to tell a story in a book.

It was a great deal of work.  To me “difficult” would mean I encountered challenges that I struggled to overcome. I didn’t. I did meet many challenges but I always knew how to tackle them – when I needed to go research, when I needed to evaluate and adjust my methods, when I needed a tool I didn’t have, and when I needed to seek out and learn something new. I met many challenges but I didn’t struggle to overcome them, I just had to work to overcome them.  In my view, those are two very different things.

I believe that in developing my skills as a screenwriter, I learned a great deal of methodology for tackling writing challenges.  While not every skill transfers to writing a novel and some might even directly appose it, the methodology for approaching the challenges remains effective. Metaphorically, you may not have exactly the right tool but you know the way to the hardware store. Thus, it was work to acquire the skills needed for writing the book, but it was no where near as difficult as one might find trying to write a book if they’d never written anything else before.

  1. How has Dyslexia affected you as a writer?

I believe Dyslexia has had both a negative and positive influence on my development as a writer. The clearest negative is simply my very slow reading speed.  Writers need to read and being a slow reader means spending more time reading or reading less than others. I’m always wishing I could read more than my time allows, and I probably short or slow my writing development in that way. Slow reading affects how quickly I can review my own work as well.  I don’t curse my Dyslexia, however, because I do see positive consequences too.

I was tested for a reading disability around 2nd grade and identified as Dyslexic. I think it was positive to have been diagnosed so early so my parents, my teachers, and I were all aware of it.  This let me to understand the reason behind areas where I struggled and to approach developing ways to succeed with a positive attitude. Had my Dyslexia not been identified so soon, I can imagine floundering in certain areas while appearing perfectly normal in others and finding that frustrating and confusing, and potentially withdrawing as a result.

That said, everyone encounters challenges in life. However, I feel having so early in life had to develop my own methods to succeed – having to constantly deviate from standard learning approaches and creating my own methods to conquer subjects and material, as well as resilience to setbacks and failures has all shaped the mentality I bring to my career.

I think it is common for writers to have to endure rejection and failure, to have to be inventive to bring something new and noteworthy compared to all the existing material out there, and to have to pave their own path to recognition.  Thus, I believe starting to develop that resilience, inventive problem solving, and unique direction early in life prepared me to accept the hurdles of building a writing career without confusion or frustration. Others might struggle to develop those skills in the moment and many more encounter those hurdles and don’t continue or persevere. For me this is a positive consequence, which might even outweigh the negative.

  1. What are you working on now?

I think it indicates a well thought out, deep, and complex story if the writer must heartbreakingly choose which spectacular elements to include and which must be benched in order to create the best reading experience. As such, you can wind up with more content in reserve than content that reached the finished pages.

In the creation of “Until the Sun Rises: One Night in Drake Mansion,” I developed far more plot, sub-plot, and character depth than I could cover in the one book.

Currently, I’m working on a follow up novel which takes two of the characters, Harlan and Vieve, into a new mystery which will leave the ghost stories and haunted houses behind but will still keep a borderline-paranormal theme.elechi-pen

Channing Whitaker is a novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker originally hailing from Centerville, Iowa. An alum of Indian Hills Community College, Channing went on to study cinema, screenwriting, literature, and mathematics at the University of Iowa.

Post graduation, Channing began his career in the production of television news, independent films, and commercial videos, as well as to write for websites, corporate media, and advertising. His 10-year career in writing has taken Channing from Iowa, to Alaska, Oklahoma, and currently to Texas.

Channing has written five feature-length screenplays, co-written another feature screenplay, and penned a novel. In that time, Channing has also written and directed over 50 short films.

 

Getting to know Katherine Prairie

Katherine Prairie v2Katherine, a geologist and IT specialist, stepped away from the international petroleum industry to follow her passion for writing. An avid traveller with an insatiable curiosity, you never know where you’ll find her next! But most days, she’s in Vancouver, Canada quietly plotting murder and mayhem under the watchful eye of a cat. She is an award-winning presenter and the author of the thriller THIRST.

www.katherineprairie.com

www.facebook.com/katherine.prairie

www.twitter.com/authorprairie

 

elechi-pen

 

 

Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

London, England because it has all the theatres, culture and energy of New York City, the rugged shoreline of Canada’s east coast and easy access to Europe and beyond.

 

State a random fact about yourself that would surprise your readers.

One summer, I spent four months working out of a tent in the Canadian Yukon, travelling to mountain-tops by helicopter and hiking with a pack filled with too many rocks most of the time!

 

What’s your current guilty pleasure?

Endangered Species dark chocolate with cranberries and almonds.

 

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

An astronaut. Since Neil Armstrong’s first moon walk I’ve been absolutely fascinated by space and I’d love to count myself among these modern day explorers.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

When I had finished the second draft of Thirst and I was still excited to work on it every day, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

 

When did you begin writing?

About ten years ago I sat down to write the story that just wouldn’t leave me.

 

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

I’m a passionate traveller and photographer so I’m either planning a trip, taking one or sifting through the thousands of photos I bring back! I also quilt and read, and I’m on my yoga mat as much as possible or out for a long walk.

 

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

At my very first Left Coast Crime conference just after Thirst was released, a woman who had chatted with me the first day flagged me down at the door to the hotel. She was excited that she had caught me just before she flew home because she wanted me to personalize her copy of Thirst. That one moment when I connected with a new reader made the long hours of the conference worth-while!

 

With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you think sets you apart from the others?

Each of my stories is built on current headlines and told through the lens of a woman working in an intriguing male-dominated profession, geology. The fact that I’m a geologist myself means I offer an insider view and very-real science.

 

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

Never stop learning your craft. I take advantage of every opportunity to attend workshops and classes, especially those offered at writer’s conferences.

 

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

I really enjoy meeting and talking to people, so conferences and festivals are a lot of fun for me and I do well at them.  It doesn’t hurt that I’m a fearless presenter!

 

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

I find blogs the most difficult because it’s a one-sided conversation. I’d rather chat with readers and answer their questions directly than try to guess at what they would like to know about me and my writing.

 

What are your favorite books and authors?

My top three favourite books at the moment are The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I’m also a huge fan of Daniel Silva, Steve Berry, P.D. James and Elizabeth George.

 

Which genres do you prefer to read?

Mysteries and thrillers, but I also read science fiction, fantasy and literary fiction.

 

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I recently met two debut British Columbia authors, R.M. Greenaway and Marty Allen, who write police procedural crime novels. Their books, Cold Girl and Cordelia intrigued me enough that both are now on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

 

What book is currently on your nightstand?

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George.

 

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

Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy are by far my biggest influences. Crichton used science as a cornerstone of fascinating stories and Clancy concocted sinfully good complex plots.

 

How many books do you read/month?

When I’m writing the first draft of a new book, it might drop to one or two and I tend to stay away from mysteries because I don’t want anything to influence my storyline. Otherwise, I typically read about four books a month.

 

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

I’d have to say The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m amazed by the complex world Tolkien built and he wove compelling sub-plots into a real page turner.  I also think it’s an interesting reflection on life in general with its underlying “power corrupts” theme and the importance of friendship, loyalty and co-operation.

 

Do you have an all time favorite book?

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. It’s an intriguing mystery filled with rich history and the medieval monastery library setting with its labyrinth of rooms drew me in.

 

How important do you find the communication between you and your readers?

I write to share stories with readers, and hear what they have to say about those stories. At the end of the day, it’s incredibly rewarding to speak to a reader who enjoys something I’ve written.

 

Do you reply to their messages or read their reviews?

Yes, to both.  I respect the time it takes for a reader to pen a message or review, so I give time back to them.

 

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?

Facebook by far, because it allows more interaction with others.

 

Where can fans find you?

My website www.katherineprairie.com is the hub of my communication with readers. It’s where I keep a current list of in-person events, guest blog appearances and snippets of life. I can also be reached via Facebook and Twitter.

 

Do you have a local independent bookseller you would like to mention?

Otter Books, a bookstore in the small town of Nelson, British Columbia was the first store to stock Thirst. They carry a fascinating mix of books, highlighting those set in the local area and I’m proud to see Thirst on their shelves.

 

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

Thirst is my first novel, and it is the first the Alex Graham suspense thriller series.

 

 

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

Science. Politics. Deadly intent. In the thriller Thirst, mining geologist Alex Graham joins the search for a suspected toxic spill deep in a Columbia River Valley rocked by violence and controlled by a joint US-Canada military force. But the lethal contamination is no accident and she soon finds herself directly in the path of a killer.

 

Where can we buy it?

Through almost all independent North American bookstores, Amazon, iBooks, Indigo/Chapters and Barnes and Noble.

 

If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?

Where in the world would you like to see Alex Graham venture to next?

 

What topic do you enjoy hearing an author speak on other than about his/her book?

I like to hear about their research experiences – what it’s like to visit the Vatican library or an antique book shop on a backstreet in Paris.

 

Are you working on anything new and when can we expect to see it?

I’m hard at work on the second Alex Graham mystery, a book that will be available late 2017.

 

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

I’m grateful that readers have embraced Alex Graham because I’ve grown to really enjoy her company.

 

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

I keep a sketch book that I use to draw scenes from my books and it also holds photographs of places and people that I find intriguing.

Getting to know Sarah Glenn

SarahCouchMomeCropState a random fact about yourself that would surprise your readers.

 

I was a political blogger for a while. In 2008, the Democratic Party invited the writers from a single blog in each U.S. state to attend the Democratic National Convention with press credentials. Our blog, Bluegrass Roots, represented Kentucky. Twenty-some years after getting my degree in journalism, I had my first reporting gig. It was a heady experience, attending meetings with real political wonks, listening to elected officials give their pitches in person, and generally sharing in the excitement of the convention. I also won a seat in the skybox lottery on the final night, and had a great view of Barack Obama addressing the crowd and the fireworks afterward.

 

 

If you weren’t a writer, what you would be?

 

I would still be an editor and publisher for other authors.

 

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

 

When I was very young. My father taught me how to read, and books were where I found the most joy. The stories and characters came alive in my head. I couldn’t imagine anything nobler than giving this gift to others.

 

 

Who are your cheerleaders?

 

My spouse, my friends, certain relatives, the members of Sisters in Crime, and, in November, the National Novel Writing Month crowd. Other writers are my best cheerleaders. So many of us want to encourage one another.

 

 

When you made your first sale, how did you celebrate and with whom?

 

I went to a spa and had a massage. I wasn’t being paid for the story, but it was a real victory and deserved a special reward.

 

 

Do you listen to music while writing?

 

Indeed I do. I try to find music that suits the story in some way – setting, time period, or theme. My Great Unfinished Novel was written under the influence of Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Paganini, and the Alan Parsons Project. There were several shifts in the time period, in case you couldn’t tell. I listened to a large number of standards while working with Murder on the Mullet Express.

 

Other things I listen to: instrumental music and shamanic drumming, if it’s not too jarring. Plus more Alan Parsons. It’s evocative.

 

 

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

 

I had a gentleman, Keith Stewart, show up for my first book signing (for All This and Family, Too). He’d decided to come, based on the description in the paper. He liked the book well enough to share an excerpt on an Internet radio program covering local authors for Halloween. He was an absolutely hilarious author in his own right. When he did a signing in the same store for his first book, Bernadette Peters Hates Me: True Tales from a Delusional Man, I called the shop and had the staff snag me an autographed copy.

 

 

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

 

Gwen and I have a great synergy when we write together. She brings her strong sense of justice and history together with my command of Murphy’s Law and good snark, and you get an intelligent story with layers of both comedy and tragedy. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

 

 

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

 

Get beta readers. You will develop mental fatigue after going over and over your work, missing typos, awkward sentences, and, worst of all, places where you know what you were talking about, but you never explained it to the reader.

 

 

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

 

The Internet. I love it, and I love social media. It’s amazing what you can learn, and who you can meet. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword, but the rewards outweigh the risks in my case.

 

 

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

 

In-person sales. My father was a great salesman, but that gene seems to have skipped me. It takes a certain amount of nerve to approach a stranger and convince her to buy something. I’ve heard other authors frequently have the same problem, at least the ones who write fiction. Many of us are introverts, and selling our work to an editor is taxing enough.

 

 

Your favorite books and authors?

 

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol

The first five books of the Amber series by Roger Zelazny

The Heritage of Hastur, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Face of a Stranger, by Anne Perry

Tales of the Unexpected, by Roald Dahl

It, by Stephen King

 

 

Which genres do you prefer to read?

 

I like mysteries the best, because I love puzzles. I also like true crime, and horror that doesn’t focus on splatter.

 

 

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

 

New is a relative term. I didn’t begin reading Louise Penny until a few years ago, but I love the Gamache series.

 

 

What book is currently on your nightstand?

 

I don’t really read in bed; sitting up on that soft surface annoys my back. I’m hoping to read The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny in the near future.

 

 

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

 

The Amber series got me to try writing prose. I’d been writing and drawing comic book stories before that.

 

 

How many books do you read/month?

 

Not enough. I listen to a great number of stories on YouTube, mostly creepypasta and audiobooks (FYI, many H P Lovecraft and Poe stories are in the public domain).

 

 

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

 

I don’t think one size fits all with any book. Even the Bible has multiple translations.

 

 

Do you have an all-time favorite book?

 

No single book for all time, no. I engage in serial monogamy where books are concerned.

 

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?

 

Oh, that’s a difficult choice. I enjoy talking with friends on Facebook, but I also love the quick spread of news and humor on Twitter. I join in the humorous hashtag wars and I even have a list of accounts I follow simply for the amusement value.

 

 

Where can your fans find you?

 

Twitter: @saraheglenn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MysteryAndHorrorLlc/

http://saraheglenn.blogspot.com

 

 

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

 

Books at Park Place in St. Petersburg is very nice. They have events and a wide selection of genre fiction. I also like Gene’s Books in Sanibel. The Morris Book Shop in Lexington, Kentucky was where I did my first book launch, but the owner is retiring and the future of the store is uncertain.

 

 

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

 

I have a number of short stories published in various places. My first novel, All This and Family, Too (a vampire comedy), is currently out of print but the rights have reverted to me and I hope to re-release it.

 

Murder on the Mullet Express is the first of three books Gwen Mayo and I plan to release together.MMExCoverFront

 

 

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

 

It’s 1926, and the Florida Land Boom is in full swing. Army nurse Cornelia Pettijohn takes leave to travel to Florida with her ancient uncle, who claims that he wants a warm winter home. When their car breaks down, they take the local train, The Mullet Express, into Homosassa. By the time they arrive, though, a passenger is dying of poison. Uncle Percival’s hidden agenda makes him the sheriff’s prime suspect. Furthermore, the little old man has run afoul of the local mob. Cornelia and Teddy Lawless, a twenty-year-old flapper in a body pushing sixty, must chase mobsters and corner suspects to dig her uncle out of the hole he’s dug for himself.

 

 

Where can we buy it?

 

Initially: from Amazon, CreateSpace, or our site at http://www.mysteryandhorrorllc.com. Nook and Apple versions of the ebook will follow. You can also order it through your favorite indie bookstore.

 

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

 

I’ve been puttering with a story that’s an offshoot of my vampire comedy, but it’s on the back burner at the moment.

 

 

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

 

My writing began as fanfiction. First, I wrote Black Stallion fanfiction (with horse drawings!), then Archie comics (I learned to draw the human figure from these comics). This was followed by X-Men fanfiction. After reading Zelazny, I made the jump to prose writing. So, there was Amber fanfiction and, later, Darkover fanfiction. During the process, I learned a lot about writing that I was able to apply later to my own material. All writing is valuable.

Getting to know Gwen Mayo

gwencabinet

State a random fact about yourself that would surprise your readers.

In my twenties, I was a locomotive engineer.

 

If you weren’t a writer, what you would be?

I would be the most avid reader on the planet.

 

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

Spare time? Seriously, what is spare time? I think everyone I know is busy all the time. There are things that I make time for; my family heads the list. I love spending time with my family. I make time for cooking and trying new recipes. I also make time to read, to walk by the ocean, and sometimes to just sit quietly for a few minutes without all the noise being constantly connected to the world. I have to unplug from everything now and then to give my mind space to explore ideas.

 

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

That question requires backstory. Most people know that the medical examiner in the Nessa Donnelly series is based on a real person. I worked for Dr. Richard Haydon for about 13 years. When he found out I had a doctor in the book, he wanted the character to be him. After several discussions, I agreed to let him be the character and rewrote several scenes in the book to make my medical examiner reflect his personality.

Shortly before the book was released Dr. Haydon was diagnosed with stage four cancer. He was too ill to go to the book launch party. The last time I went to see him he had a copy of Circle of Dishonor on his bedside table. He picked it up, smiled at me, and said “I’m going to live forever.” I don’t think anything that is ever said will top that.

 

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

I write characters with a strong sense of justice in a world that isn’t fair or just. Beyond that, when you pick up one of my books, the story is going to take you to a unique moment in time in a place you wouldn’t have thought to visit.

 

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

If you want someone else to publish your book, read their guidelines for submitting a manuscript and follow them to the letter. Don’t give agents or publishers an excuse to reject your book without reading  a single word. You may still get rejected many times. There are thousands of other unknown writers out there competing for a handful of new author slots in any publisher’s calendar. Those slots are going to go to writers willing to give them what they requested.

 

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

More work. The question I hear most from readers is “What are you working on now?”

 

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

All of it. When it comes to promotion, I’m kind of clueless. What works well for one writer doesn’t work at all for another.

 

Your favorite books and author?

Favorite authors and books:

Anne Perry, Resurrection Row

Louise Penny, The Nature of the Beast

Catriona McPherson: Come to Harm

Cynthia Riggs: Shooting Star

Ariana Franklin: Mistress of the Art of Death

 

Which genres do you prefer to read?

In fiction, I read mostly mysteries. I love a good puzzle with lots of surprises.

 

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

My fellow Kentuckian, Kim Michelle Richardson, should be on the radar of mystery readers. Liars Bench, her first novel, is well worth reading.

 

What book is currently on your nightstand?

None, I don’t read in bed. I’d never sleep. There is a Catriona McPherson novel and a Kentucky history book on the table by my chair, waiting to be read. In the car, I’ve been listening to Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon books. They’re great company on a commute.

 

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

Agatha Christie’s work is probably my biggest inspiration. I started reading her books when I was about twelve and have never stopped. She had an awesome grasp of how to construct a mystery. She also did a number of innovative experiments with her plots. Her unreliable narrator in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd brought her a lot of criticism, but it is one of my favorites.

 

How many books do you read/month?

Not as many as I would like. I have a full time job, and am working on my own books as well as publishing others. Most of the time I settle for listening to books while I drive. I’m looking forward to my first vacation in three years. Maybe I can catch up on some of the books I’ve missed.

 

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

I don’t believe there is just one book that everyone should read. Reading is personal. I think everyone should read widely and discover what captures their imagination. One of the local libraries has a table labeled brown bag reading. The books are in brown paper covers and all they tell you is the genre. I love to see people grab one of those books and check it out.

 

Do you have an all-time favorite book?

Agatha Christie’s Nemesis has to be my all-time favorite.

 

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

Yes, I reply to messages and read reviews. I have a google alert set for my books. It has been interesting to discover what people say. I’ve also found a few interesting groups of people I wouldn’t have thought of as potential readers. For instance, Circle of Dishonor attracted a bunch of treasure hunters interested in locating the Union Army payrolls that were stolen.

 

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?

Facebook. I have a Twitter account, but am not good at Tweeting.

 

Where can your fans find you?

http://www.gwenmayo.com, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and our publishing house site http://www.mysteryandhorrorllc.com

 

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

Books at Park Place is new, and not as well-known as Haslam’s in St. Petersburg. Both are great stores with good mystery sections. There’s also a quirky book store on Sanibel Island I love to visit, Gene’s Books. It is three beach cottages linked together, and overflowing with books and music. I could spend days there.

 

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

I have two Nessa Donnelly mysteries out now, Circle of Dishonor and Concealed in Ash. The series is set in the 1870’s. Nessa is a former Pinkerton agent who tangles with the secret societies of the time.MMExCoverFront

Sarah E. Glenn and I are kicking off a new series set in the 1920’s. Murder on the Mullet Express is the first book.

 

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

Murder on the Mullet Express is set during the 1920’s Florida land boom. Army nurse Cornelia Pettijohn is traveling with her ancient uncle, who claims he’s looking for a warm winter home. When their car breaks down, they find alternate transportation on the Mullet Express. They end up embroiled in a poisoning case, plus in the crossfire of rival mobsters looking to cash in on a planned casino in New Homosassa. Uncle Percival’s hidden agenda makes him the prime suspect in the poisoning, and his love of mechanical inventions makes him a target of the mobsters. Cornelia and her companion, Teddy Lawless, are forced to step in and save him from himself.

 

If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?

What makes a mystery feel real to you: when do you step into the detective’s shoes and start untangling the puzzle?

 

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

I’m currently working on the third Nessa Donnelly mystery, Blood Relations. This book will take her back to Chicago, where she grew up, and into investigating the murder of a nun. It will be out late next year.

Sarah and I are working on the second book with Cornelia and her uncle, Murder at the Million Dollar Pier. Cornelia is going to be out of her element mingling with the rich and famous at the fancy new hotel her uncle booked. It gets more difficult for her when Teddy, who grew up in society, is arrested for murder.

 

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

Concealed in Ash is on the short list for the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award.

 

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

I owe a tremendous debt to the Sisters in Crime. If it were not for the people I met through that organization, I would never have written the first novel. It is an awesome organization with the most amazing readers and writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

 

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Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending her loves of history and mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She is the author of the Nessa Donnelly Mysteries and co-author of the Old Crows stories with Sarah Glenn.

 

Her stories have appeared in A Whodunit Halloween, Decades of Dirt, Halloween Frights (Volume I), and several flash fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, the Historical Novel Society, and the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.

 

Gwen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky. Her most interesting job, though, was as a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 – 1987. She was one of the last engineers to be certified on steam locomotives.

 

Website URL:          http://www.gwenmayo.com

Blog URL:     http://gwenmayo.blogspot.com/

Facebook URL:                  https://www.facebook.com/Gwen-Mayo-119029591509479/

Twitter:         @gwenmayo

LinkedIn:      https://www.linkedin.com/in/gwen-mayo-41175726