An interview with Lesley Diehl

3523Meet author Lesley Diehl:

  What’s your current guilty pleasure?

I love, love, love dark chocolate. One Christmas season I found dark chocolate seasoned with pepper and that became my favorite dark chocolate. Unfortunately, I never found it again. So instead, I now have a passion for dark chocolate and caramel with salt. My second guilty pleasure? Wine, but not red wine which does go with chocolate very well, but white wine, especially sauvignon blancs from New Zealand.

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

A comedian.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t think I made that decision. I think I just have so many stories in my head that I’ve finally found the time to get them out.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve always played around with writing. When I was in junior high, I decided to write a novel. I think I wrote about five pages before I forgot about it. I don’t remember what it was about, but I’m certain it must have been about young love. In high school I wrote several short stories and a few humorous essays in college. Then my creative writing was replaced by the need to write in my field. I think scientific writing killed my creative energies. I took up writing poems just before I retired and decided to write mysteries after I left academe. It was the best decision I ever made. For over ten years I’ve been writing and publishing cozy mysteries, traditional mysteries and short stories. These have been the most rewarding years of my life.

Who are your cheerleaders?

My husband is one and a small group of friends.

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

I first wrote in secret not telling anyone what I was doing. When I finally identified myself as a writer I had to go through that inevitable, “Have you had anything published?” Once I was published, there was the “Is this a selfpub (makes bad face) or a real publisher.” Then there was “I’ve never heard of this publisher.”

Did you always have in mind to be a writer or did it just happen?

I think I just fell into it and before I knew what I was doing, I had several books published.

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

I spend my spare time going to yard sales, consignment shops, secondhand stores, looking for items I can use to furnish my 1874 cottage. Used items are my passion and find their way into one of my mystery series, the Eve Appel Mysteries. Eve is the owner of a consignment shop in Florida.

I also garden. I have a vegetable garden and a perennial flower garden in Upstate New York. My husband and I like to hike and work on refurbishing our cottage. And, of course, I read, read, read.

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

I write very few reviews because I don’t want to get into the quid pro quo of having to review a really bad book.

Do you read reviews written about your book?

Unfortunately I can’t help myself.

Do you listen to music while writing?

I prefer to listen to the sounds of the birds on my canal in Florida and the babbling of our trout stream up north.

What are your favorite hobbies?

Reading and going to yard sales, of course. My grandmother never bought anything new. She always reused and repurposed, so I think it’s genetic with me to never buy new.


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

One of the first book events I did was at a library in Florida. I was promoting a book I wrote several years ago. The protagonist in the book was called Emily Rhodes. After my presentation, a girl about 12 years old ran up to me. She was so excited because her name was Emily Rhodes. She brought her birth certificate to me to prove that was her name. We had our picture taken together. I’m not sure which of us was proudest.


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


I write mostly cozy mysteries with humor in them, but I always incorporate serious themes into my work so that the read is more than just a simple “beach read”. I’ve used such issues as sexual abuse, racism, mistreatment of indigenous people, sexual harassment, and family issues.


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


Join a professional writing group. I recommend Sisters in Crime. Learn from them by taking advantage of their prepublication group, the Guppies where you can find manuscript exchanges, online classes on writing and recommendations for books. Go to a writers’ conference such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville, and Malice Domestic to meet other writers and learn from their workshops. Then write, write, write.


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


Library programs where I can meet people face to face or book festivals where the same is true.


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

I’m not crazy about social media, but I do it because other authors use it, yet no one can say what social media platform works or if any does.


Your favorite books and author?


I loved Elizabeth Peters’ series on archaeologists in Egypt during the early 1900s. And Elizabeth George is my favorite for her ability to develop her characters’ angst and make it sympathetic. I miss Robert Parker, especially the Jesse Stone books, and I loved the character of Hawk in the Spenser series.


Which genres do you prefer to read?


I read mysteries and prefer the traditional mystery.


Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I like Cindy Sample’s Dying For books. Funny stuff.


What book is currently on your nightstand?


I just finished Wild  by Cheryl Strayed.


How many books do you read/month?


Probably 12 or more.


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


I think if a reader takes the time to contact me, I owe that person a personal reply. I always respond to their messages and read their reviews, understanding that not everyone will like what I write. I try not to cry over a bad review.


Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?


Twitter is a fun challenge for me. Can I be brief? As a retired college professor, I always wrote sentence that were pages long!


Where can your fans find you?


My website and blog:





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


The Green Toad Bookstore, Main Street, Oneonta, NY 13820


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


Hera Knightsbridge Microbrewing Mysteries: A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings

Big Lake Murder Mysteries: Dumpster Dying, Grilled, Chilled and Killed

Angel Sleuth

Eve Appel Mysteries: A Secondhand Mystery, Dead in the Water, A Sporting Murder, Mud Bog Murder (due out Summer, 2016)

The Killer Wore Cranberry, Thanksgiving Anthologies from UJntreed Reads


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


Fatal_final_ebook_1Professor Laura Murphy is at it again, snooping into a murder of a coed and finding that some faculty and a few students take advantage of innocent, young women, but the worst offenders may resort to murder for reasons that emerge from the past.

Elevator pitch for Failure Is Fatal


Where can we buy it?




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


I have two manuscripts that have been sitting on my computer for the past few years. They are both mysteries (of course), but not cozy mysteries, but rather noir cozies. I’d love to complete them, but haven’t yet found the time.



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


I laugh out loud when I write something I think is funny.

An interview with D.V. Berkom

DVatStirrettsmWhat started you on your journey to be a writer?

I wrote my first book (an illustrated tome about the joys of housework—very tongue in cheek) at the age of seven. I flirted with writing throughout my life—mainly short stories—but never took it seriously. In 2005 I found myself with some spare time on my hands, so decided to try writing a book. It was a satire/fantasy and it took me about a year to finish. Not knowing anything about the publishing business, I submitted it to an agent. Needless to say, I figured out pretty quickly that the writing was awful. Since I love a challenge, I decided to learn the craft to see if I could write something worth reading. The next book took me six months for a first draft, and a year and a half of editing. I’m now working on my twelfth book, have two thriller series, and am constantly trying to improve. I love writing (most of the time) and would feel as though my left foot was missing were I to quit.



Do you listen to music while writing?

I’m one of those writers who need quiet to be able to concentrate. Believe me, I’d love to be able to listen to music while I write, especially for those times when there’s stuff going on in the house, but I’ve tried and it just throws me off my game.


What are your favorite hobbies?

Other than writing and research, cooking, gardening, hiking, traveling, photography, and wine are the top hobbies that spring to mind. I’m especially happy when I can combine all of them together J


What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?booksigning 10_2 Boat shed

Once, when I first started doing signings, I was at a local library and a woman with a seeing-eye dog came up to me and asked me if I was the author of a blog post about creating an accessible web site. I said I was, and she said she’d come to the signing especially so she could thank me in person for spreading the word about how to accommodate non-traditional web users such as herself. I’ve never forgotten her words and continue to try to make my work as accessible as possible to all kinds of readers.


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


Several readers have thanked me for creating realistic female characters who know how to take care of themselves. Kate Jones is more of an every-woman while my other character, Leine Basso, is a former assassin. Both are approachable and I think most women can empathize with them. I’ve heard from male readers as well, who have told me they enjoy them both—I’ve even had several confide in me that they’re a little in love with one or the otherJ. A lot of times in fiction, female characters are portrayed as either superhuman or manly (what I like to call putting lipstick on a dude and calling it good). I prefer reading and writing about someone with whom I can identify—someone who has some depth and lots of flaws. Apparently, so do a lot of other people.


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

My biggest piece of advice is to wait until you’ve had several people read your work before even thinking of submitting it to anyone or publishing it yourself (and no, I don’t mean your family or best friend). If the feedback is less than stellar, write another book. And then another. Then send it to a professional editor before uploading/submitting. You don’t want a reader’s first impression of you to be that you don’t know what you’re doing. Many won’t give you a second chance and then you’ve lost a potential reader.



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

It’s hugely important. Not only is it rewarding to hear from readers who enjoy my work, but being a writer is often isolating, and communicating with other people is key to staying semi-sane! I try hard to reply to everyone who contacts me. Sometimes it takes a while, but I usually can get back to folks within 48 hours or so. As for reading reviews, sure, I occasionally check to see how a book is being received. I think most writers do, whether they admit it or not. It’s interesting to see what people think of my work. And, if there’s a problem with a book I’d like to know in case it’s something I can fix, like grammar or typos.



Where can your fans find you?














Amazon Author Page:





Smashwords Profile:



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

The Kate Jones Thriller Series:

Bad Spirits

Dead of Winter

Death Rites

Touring for Death

Cruising for Death

Yucatán Dead

A One Way Ticket to Dead


The Leine Basso Crime Thriller Series:

Serial Date

Bad Traffick

The Body Market




Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:eBook Cargo 1563x2500

For Cargo:

Money—the universal merchant. Anyone can be bought, anyone can be sold.


Haunted by memories of an op gone bad, former assassin Leine Basso travels to Bangkok in search of a missing backpacker. With help from an old contact, she discovers the man responsible for the girl’s disappearance is connected to a violent Hong Kong triad and is the linchpin of an extensive trafficking network—both animal and human.

Making enemies isn’t new for Leine, but making one in the triad is—she soon finds herself a prisoner onboard a cargo ship headed for sub-Saharan Africa. To ensure her survival and to continue her hunt for the missing girl, she must join forces with Derek, an ivory poacher who promises to help her.


For a price.



Where can we buy it?

Amazon (global link):




Barnes and Noble:







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

I’m currently working on a prequel to Serial Date, as yet untitled, where we learn some of Leine’s secrets and meet people I mention in later books. I hope to have it available by March of this year. Then I’m going to start work on the next Kate Jones. I’m very excited to get back inside her head and am looking forward to writing the story.




DV Berkom is a slave to the voices in her head. As the bestselling author of two award-winning thriller series (Leine Basso and Kate Jones), her love of creating resilient, kick-ass women characters stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, mysteries, and thrillers, and longing to find the female equivalent within those pages.

Raised in the Midwest, she earned a BA in political science from the University of Minnesota and promptly moved to Mexico to live on a sailboat. Several cross-country moves later, she now lives just outside of Seattle, Washington with the love of her life, Mark, a chef-turned-contractor, and several imaginary characters who like to tell her what to do. Her most recent books include Cargo, The Body Market, Bad Traffick, A One Way Ticket to Dead, and Yucatán Dead.


An interview with Cheryl Hollon

CherylHollonCheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and the Tampa Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. A mystery conference addict, she regularly attends SleuthFest in Florida, Malice Domestic in Washington, D.C., and New England Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Cheryl and her husband live in St. Petersburg, FL in a 1920’s Craftsman Bungalow. Learn more at


Facebook URL: (profile)  (fan)

Twitter: @CherylHollon

Buy links:


Pane & Suffering


How would your friends describe you in 20 words or less?

Cheryl is cheerful, levelheaded and funny. She loves good friends, good books and good beer – in that order.


Tell me a little about yourself

I was born in a small town in Eastern Kentucky and have inherited the oral tradition of my Scots-Irish ancestors for story telling. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and could read before I went to school, which seriously annoyed my teacher. Science and math were my favorite subjects and led me to a career in digital communication software programming followed by flight simulation engineering and program management – neither easy but immensely rewarding.


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

I would live right here in Saint Petersburg, FL. During my engineering adventures, I had a chance to live and work in amazing countries, but I was always happy to come back to St. Pete.


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

I was a Boy Scout Leader.


What’s your current guilty pleasure?

The discworld novels by Sir Terry Pratchett. I reward myself with one after I finish the first draft of a new manuscript.


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

I would still be an engineer. It took me a long time to scrabble myself up the technical and professional ladder, but I would do it again.


When did you decide to become a writer?

It got serious for me when I attended my first Malice Domestic Convention in 2005. I had been dabbling with photography when a particularly haunting image spoke to me to tell her story. The image is of a homeless woman dressed completely in white moving slowly through the flower market in Boston. I titled it ‘Wishing for Daffodils.’ That was my first attempt at a full-length manuscript.


When did you begin writing?

I began writing poems in the sixth grade instead of submitting essays on my English weekly exams.


How long have you been writing?

I started writing seriously about eight years ago with a series based on a crime scene specialist who quit her job to make a fresh start as a black & white photojournalist. At her first wedding, she discovers the wealthy Indian bride collapsed and cold. The working title was ‘Shooting Brides.’


Who are your cheerleaders?

My husband George is my staunchest promoter who is ordinarily quite reserved, but he will tell complete strangers that I am a mystery writer. My friend for life, Joye, has weathered the anxiety, tears, frustration and terror of getting published. She continued to feed me a steady diet of positive praise and constructive critiques to make my writing better and better.


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

In the very beginning, I didn’t tell anyone I was writing. It was my secret. That was a happy time.


Did you always have in mind to be a writer or did it just happen?

I didn’t always want to be a writer, but on the long-haul flights to overseas projects, my writing took on a more structured form and I began studying the craft of writing. After a few years, I began to get serious about it as a business.


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

My husband and I have been working in glass for a long time. He is colorblind in the green/blue range, so I have always picked out the glass and helped with the design of our projects. Our current project is making glass jewelry.


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

After I discovered Goodreads, I enter what I’m reading now in my account and I like to use the ‘would like to read’ shelf to keep track of new books. I have been slowly entering all the books I’ve enjoyed in the past. I write short reviews to help other readers choose the books I’ve loved, but I don’t really read long ones – I could have finished the first chapter by then.


Do you read reviews written about your book?

Of course I read them, I can resist anything but temptation! I want to know what readers think.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, as a child I always wanted to be an artist. After I figured out how exciting an engineering career could be, I headed that direction. I was right.


What started you on your journey to be a writer?

It was a gradual awakening to how powerful stories can be to the reader and also to the writer. I love it when a reader comes into my story world and enjoys the visit.


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

When my agent called to tell me that my series had been sold to Kensington, I was home alone. I danced around the room like Snoopy and had champagne waiting when my husband returned from his errands. On that Saturday night, the whole family went to our favorite restaurant. We were a noisy group!


Do you listen to music while writing?

When I’m creating new material, I need complete silence. In revisions, however, I can listen to soft classical music.


What are your favorite hobbies?

Reading, glass art, oil painting and impossibly hard jigsaw puzzles. I prefer the wooden ones with the little whimsy figures.


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

Nothing yet, I’ve only been on one panel at the SleuthFest Conference in Deerfield Beach, FL. I am a conference-junkie and will travel far and wide to meet with readers and fellow writers.


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

Every writer is unique and that is what sets each one apart. I think my mystery fantasy world is inviting and the people are interesting and some even adorable. I’ll work hard to ensure that readers know about my books – they can read them if they don’t know that they exist.


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

The fascinating thing about writing is that it is a skill you teach yourself. As a result, all input has to be filtered by what it means to you and where you are on the writing path. I’ve attended some workshops that went completely over my head – I wasn’t ready for that information. The jazz is when that one tidbit bounced along that gives you an ‘aha moment’ and vaults your work to the next level. Bliss!


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

My mailing list and newsletter is where I have the most direct contact with readers. Every news event or promotional activity is announced to my subscribers first.


Your favorite books and author?

Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache series. I love the small village setting of Three Pines. The first book in the series is STILL LIFE.


Which genres do you prefer to read?

I enjoy the entire wide range of mystery/thriller/suspense as well as Science Fiction/Fantasy and adventurous Young Adult.


What book is currently on your nightstand?

THE ANGEL COURT AFFAIR (A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel) by Anne Perry.


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

The first book that planted the seed that I might be able to write mysteries was WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George. Her writing process is similar to mine and it awakened the desire to prove that I could finish a novel. After that I found DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY by Chris Roerden. It helped me overcome newbie mistakes and improved my plotting as well and characterization. I am always reading a non-fiction book to sharpen my writing skills.


How many books do you read/month?

I normally read five or six more a month. I usually have two novels and one non-fiction writing book going at all times. This is a drastic reduction from before I started writing. I’m resigned to that now, but it still disappoints me that I can’t read as much as I want.


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

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. I read it every year to remind me what Olympic class storytelling is like.


Do you have an all time favorite book?

The first book I received as a Christmas gift from my Aunt Thelma was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read that book to shredded tatters. Aunt Thelma was a kind, thoughtful soul who took special time to encourage me and my sister to spread our wings into untraditional career territory.


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

Hearing from my readers inspires me to dig deeper and reach down to those emotional depths that make a story compelling.


Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?

I like tweeting on Twitter a little more than posting on Facebook, but I prefer reading my Facebook feed.


Where can your fans find you?


My Website:

On Twitter:

On Facebook: like my Author page:


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

My local book seller is Haslam’s Bookstore at 2025 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida 33713. My first ever book signing is scheduled for October 3, 2015 at 3PM. Although around the store, I’m known as ‘Eric’s Mom’ because the owner’s son and my son went to high school together. St. Petersburg is a small town. Their website is for news of upcoming events.


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

PANE AND SUFFERING (Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries Book #1) October 2015

SHARDS OF MURDER (Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries Book #2) March 2016

CRACKED TO DEATH (Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries Book #3) October 2016


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


Pane and Suffering, releases October 2015


When Charlotte Webb loses her father to an unexpected heart attack, she drops everything to return home and handle his affairs—particularly the beloved, family-owned stained glass shop. When she finds her glass expert dead of an apparent heart attack on her first day at the store—and the foreboding note her father left behind—she realizes their deaths were anything but natural and sets off to catch a killer.


With a rival glass shop in town and a visiting entrepreneur looking to replace her store with a supermarket, she has a couple of good suspects right off the bat, but things start to get colorful—and a lot more dangerous—when she realizes the stained glass orders from one particular patron are suspicious, and his explanations crack under scrutiny. When she isn’t teaching the crafty locals how to make stained glass turtles, she investigates, and with help from some of her students, the bar-owning British hottie next door, and a boy and his dog, she tries to shatter the killer’s plan before someone else ends up dead.


Where can we buy it?


Amazon, Barnes &Noble,, Books A Million, IndieBound, Target, and Walmart


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

Who’s your favorite character in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries?


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

The Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries is a series and I’m currently working on the rough draft of Book #3, Cracked to Death. I’ve only just started it so it won’t be out until October 2016.


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

The most helpful thing you can do for an author you love is write a review. Now a review is not like the dreaded book report you inflicted on your teacher ages ago. It can be three sentences explaining what you liked or didn’t like. That’s all. Really. Seriously it makes a huge difference to the author’s visibility and may make the difference when a publisher is deciding whether or not to continue publishing her books.


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

Keep reading – that’s all, just keep reading.

Meet Maggie Kast

  1. Maggie KastWhat’s your current guilty pleasure?

Stuffing myself with food press. I receive and read Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and Saveur, recently added the hip, charming and irreverent Lucky Peach. I couldn’t resist one issue of the woman-centered Cherry Bomb. Every Wednesday I buy the New York Times for its Food section, and I bemoan the “spoiler” effect of emails from (but I still get them). I was thrilled to have excerpts of my essay, “Sugar, Sex and the Andalusian Cadence” published in the spring issue of Cook’s Gazette, available at The death of Gourmet is a loss I still mourn.


  1. When did you begin writing?

I began writing in the early nineties, shortly after my husband died. I think my first writing impulse was to find someone to talk to. Then my sister gave me a copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, with its suggestion of morning pages (3 a day, don’t stop and don’t look back for a couple of weeks). About page 2, each day, a poem broke into the middle of the text, and I began to cultivate them. I took a poetry class but eventually realized that stories were what I liked best. My first career was in modern dance, and at that time I was doing liturgical dance (dance in churches and temples). I wrote about what I knew best: religion and dance, and my first publications were in Image Journal (about the sacred in contemporary choreography) and Religion and the Arts (about dancing in sacred space).


  1. Did you have support at the beginning or during your writing?

I have been very fortunate with support all along the way. As soon as I found myself writing 3-4 hours a day, I considered applying to an M.F.A. program, and was very happy to be accepted to the low-residency program of Vermont College of Fine Arts. My mentors there were supremely helpful: David Jauss, Ellen Lesser and Abby Frucht. After graduation it took a long time to find an enduring writing group, but now I’ve been in one that meets regularly (well, most of the time) for about ten years. The writers are excellent and the critique is intense, as it should be. In addition I spent about 15 months in Fred Schafer’s novel group, where both his lectures and his manuscript critique taught me much about everything from sentences to emotional continuity. A weekend novel workout with Kevin McIlvoy shaped and honed my novel, encouraging me to reach for greater tragedy and greater comedy.




  1. What the best thing that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

The best reading is a conversation. When I was doing readings of my memoir, The Crack between the Worlds, I learned to start by announcing that Crack cover artinterruptions were contributions, and comments would be welcome at any point. I broke into the reading myself to ask if anyone had similar experiences. I found this made for a much livelier experience for all then simply reading from my published text. It also involved the audience much sooner that the traditional reading plus Q & A. I value communication with readers highly and will always respond to messages and read reviews. Readers can find me on Facebook, on Twitter @tweenworlds, on Goodreads, on my blog,, and soon on a new website at


  1. Are there any particular books or authors that inspired you?

For a historical novel with broad sweep and portrayal of a distant place and time, there is nothing like Naguib Mahfouz’ three-volume Palace Walk. Though this is a work of fiction, it also satisfies today’s “reality hunger” with its evocation of turn-of-the-20th-century Egypt, where women were confined behind shutters while their men caroused. The same element of reality can be found in David Grossman’s To the End of the Land, for which the author made the same dangerous hike through Israel that his protagonist makes in the book. I also admired the latter for its use of two rapidly shifting points of view. Bravery in terms of form and style always inspires me, so the sudden intrusion of the author into J.M. Coetzee’s Slow Man is one of my favorite literary moments. Coetzee also shares with Milan Kundera the ability to integrate philosophic reflection into fiction without losing sight of humor. All these continue to inspire me.


  1. How many books do you read per month?

I read 2-3 books per month, and I do keep an annotated bibliography to help me remember what I read and how I reacted. I’ve started adding some of these to Goodreads (in less personal form). My notes vary from a few sentences, mainly to spur memory, to more lengthy analyses of structures I strongly admire (Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road, for example), to drafts of review essays I am writing for publication.


  1. Here is the elevator pitch for my forthcoming novel, A Free, Unsullied Land:

A young woman of the Depression years seeks escape from her abusive home through immersion in jazz, political protest, and love for an anthropologist whose work she is adopting as her own, when a funeral ritual tempts her to violate an Apache taboo and risk both her love and her life.

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.

Blog URL:

Facebook URL:


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.com, and at


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


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/



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!