JEAN HENRY MEAD

July 19, 2011

Who are you?

Jean Henry Mead

What do you write?

Mystery/suspense and historical novels as well as children’s mysteries and nonfiction articles and books.

Where do you live, and what does your work space look like?

I live on a mountaintop ranch in the beautiful northwest.

How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack?

I write everyday and because I share a home office with my husband, its rarely quiet, but I began my writing career in a noisy news room so I could probably write in a traffic jam. I outline my nonfiction books but do not outline my novels. That stifles my creativity.

Got anything to brag about? (Awards? Upcoming releases?)

I’m an award-winning photojournalist with state, regional and nonfiction national awards.

My first children’s book, Mystery of Spider Mountain, was just released from Solstice Publishing and the third novel in my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series, Murder on the Interstate, was released in April from Oak Tree Press.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us what it is and why you think it’s gonna be a “gotta have” k?

I’m currently working on my second children’s book, The Ghost of Crimson Dawn, and an historical western novel, No Escape: The Sweetwater Tragedy, which is the true story of Ellen Watson-Averell, who was hanged by greedy cattlemen in 1889, with her husband because cattemen wanted their homestead land to graze cattle. When I read about the murders while researching another book, I was angry and decided to write about it because they told lies about her and ruined her reputation after her death.

Tell us how to find you and your stuff. (All your website and blog links)

My webpage is www.jeanhenrymead.com and I blog at four sites (two of them my own).

Mysterious Writers: http://mysteriouspeople.blogspot.com/
Writers of the West: http://writersofthewest.blogspot.com/
Murderous Musings: http://murderousmusings.blogspot.com/
Make Mine Mystery: http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/

Four Facebook pages and Twitter.

**

First, give us the basics. Who are you, personally? Got a family? Any deep dark secrets you’d like to share? Wanna tell us where you hang your hat or pantyhose or something?

I’m a gun toting Westerner born in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. I moved to the Rocky Mountains when I married my husband. I had five children but lost one daughter to cancer nearly three years ago. She was the only one of my children who had inherited my writing ability, which was passed on to me by my dad.

Second, what do you write? And how do you do it? Spill it all. Are you a shower poet? Pet your cat while you type one handed? Get the name of your next character by what appears in your Alphabet soup or cereal?

I hate to quote a cliché, but I write because it’s in me to write. I’m not happy when I’m not writing. And like so many other writers have said, “It’s like breathing. It’s something you have to do.”

I’m a dog person and have no cats, but I do pet my dog when she sticks her head under my elbow when I’m typing and the words on the screen are suddenly in some alien language. I have a beautiful Australian Shepherd who resembles a wolf. We had to buy a her a thick orange collar when the state legislature passed a bill allowing hunters to shoot wolves on sight. Neighboring ranchers wouldn’t hesitate to shoot if my dog happened to get loose and chase their cattle or sheep.

Third, how long have you been writing professionally? Any cool stories about how you got started? Or mistakes you’ve made. Feel free to elaborate. Just paragraph in between, but, by all means, ENTERTAIN US.

My first writing job came about when I was editor-in-chief of my college newspaper. I was a divorced mother of four young daughters who went back to school at age 27, and worked for the local newspaper as a cub reporter while attending college. I sometimes had to take my youngest daughter to classes with me and it must have influenced her because she grew up to be a school teacher. My daughters and I did our homework together and all managed to stay on our respective honor and president’s rolls.

Fourth, any cool stories about meeting other writers or industry professionals that have influenced or helped you? We like to hear the silly stuff. Ever stutter at an agent? (I have.) Ever sidestep an editor? Or have a margarita downing contest with one? (Pleading the fifth on that, myself.)

No margarita downing contest but when I worked for a newspaper in San Diego, a group of reporters went to lunch at a local cantina and had a couple of margaritas with our meals. When I got back to the office, my fingers kept getting stuck between my typewriter keys. That was the 1970s.C. (before computers)

I was fortunate that two award-winning western novelists, Fred Grove and Richard S. Wheeler, took me under their professional wings when I was attempting to write my first novel, Escape on the Wind, an historical western. I’ll be forever grateful to them. The novel has been published by three different publishers over the years, most recently as Escape, A Wyoming Historical Novel, and remains my best selling book to this day.

Fifth, tell us about your first published work. What was it? When did it come out?

I drove around Wyoming interviewing politicians such as Dick Cheney, Governor Herschler, our U.S. senators as well as sportscaster Curt Gowdy, Gerry Spence, country singer Chris LeDoux, and everyone who was “somebody” in the state. The book was titled Wyoming in Profile and published by Pruett of Boulder, Colorado in 1982. I’ve since published three other books of interviews, including my blog interviews from Mysterious Writers by Poisoned Pen Press. I’ve published 14 books to date, both fiction and nonfiction.

Got any awards to brag about?

Quite a few nonfiction awards: state, regional and national from Press Women and a couple of fiction awards from Wyoming Writers.
 
Do you have any dreams as a writer? Go ahead, give us your best fantasy.

I think every writer would like to have at least one bestseller. And I’d love to have a couple of audio books and a TV series based on my mystery novels. 

Do you have any tidbits of help for other writers that you’d like to pass along? Please, by all means, inspire us. Point us in the “write” direction.

Read everything you can, regardless of genre and study the styles of other writers, for good and bad writing. Then, when you think your manuscript is the best you can write, put it away for a month before you look at it again. When you do, read it as though someone else had written it. Polish and edit it again before you send it out to agents or editors. The biggest mistake fledgling writers make is to send their work out too soon. If you can afford a professional editor, by all means hire one.
 
Do you have any suggestions as to what a writer should avoid? Any mistakes you made that you could give us fair warning on?

Inexperienced writers should take the advice of those who have been in the business for a while. I’ve seen too many scribblers who think their masterpieces can’t be improved, or are written in stone. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, as most writers have, but we learn from those mistakes and try again. I could paper an outhouse with all the rejections I’ve received for short stories I’ve written. I finally decided that I was best at writing long fiction, or novels.

Thanks for giving us your fifty cent interview. Come back and see what other authors and readers have to say. Send your friends this way, too. K?

Thank you for featuring me on your site.
 

 THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW, JEAN. IT’S A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU ON MY BLOG.

~Jennifer

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MARJA MCGRAW

July 14, 2011

First, give us the basics. Who are you, personally? Got a family? Any deep dark secrets you’d like to share? Wanna tell us where you hang your hat or pantyhose or something?

Hmm. I’m not twenty-five anymore, but I sometimes feel like I am. Never let yourself grow old mentally. After being divorced for thirty years, I finally remarried. I have two daughters, two grandsons, one great-grandson (I married young) and two yellow Labrador retrievers, if you include both my husband’s family and my own. I hang everything in Northern Arizona, where you find out what heat really is. The only deep dark secret I have will remain a secret, but that’s what keeps life interesting.

Second, what do you write? And how do you do it? Spill it all. Are you a shower poet? Pet your cat while you type one handed? Get the name of your next character by what appears in your Alphabet soup or cereal?

I write two mystery series that are lighter with a little humor. The Sandi Webster mysteries are about a young female P.I. who’s slightly naïve and sighs a lot. As I answer these questions, she’s stuck in a ghost town with her partner. I think my work in progress is going to be a lot of fun.

The other series, the Bogey Man Mysteries, is about a Humphrey Bogart look-alike who, along with his wife, young son and two dogs, becomes involved in mysteries. I see a pattern forming here. Most of my comments seem to involve two of something. Interesting.  Anyway, Chris Cross occasionally walks the walk and talks the talk, coming across like Bogey in the old P.I. movies. He’s a good character to work with, and I think he’ll be around for a while.

Third, how long have you been writing professionally? Any cool stories about how you got started? Or mistakes you’ve made. Feel free to elaborate. Just paragraph in between, but, by all means, ENTERTAIN US.

I started writing in the 1980s, and haven’t stopped yet. I’ve gone from self-publishing to epublishing to a traditional publisher. It’s been a real education.

I had a friend who’d moved to Nevada, and I wrote her letters about what was going on in my life, which at the time was anything but boring. Eventually I moved to Nevada, and of course, the letters stopped. My friend said she really missed my stories and she encouraged me to write. She said those letters made her laugh, cry, sigh, and feel everything in between. She said she actually used to watch for the mailman in hopes there’d be a letter. She had no idea what she was starting when she said, “Why don’t you write a book?”

Mistakes? I’ve made plenty, and I’ve learned from every one of them. In this business, if you’re not constantly learning something new, then you’re probably doing something wrong.

Fourth, any cool stories about meeting other writers or industry professionals that have influenced or helped you? We like to hear the silly stuff. Ever stutter at an agent? (I have.) Ever sidestep an editor? Or have a margarita downing contest with one? (Pleading the fifth on that, myself.)

I met two authors, H. Susan Shaw (aspiring) and Dorothy Bodoin, through the Internet Chapter of Sisters in Crime. We began corresponding and formed friendships, and now we critique each other’s work, along with maintaining friendships. They’ve been invaluable both as friends and critiquers. I value their friendships very much.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet several authors whom I admire. Among them are Rhys Bowen and Elizabeth Peters. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to sit down and chat with either of them, they were delightful women.

I’d love to tell you a silly story, but if I did that it would have to be about something other than writing – like what a klutz I am, or how I amuse others when I speak without thinking first.

Fifth, tell us about your first published work. What was it? When did it come out?

My first two books were self-published, so how about if I start with my third book? (Trust me on this one – you don’t want to know about the first one in particular.)  The third one was titled A Well-Kept Family Secret – A Sandi Webster Mystery, and it came out in 2008 from Wing ePress, Inc. It was about a hundred-year-old murder that Sandi’s menopausal mother wanted her to solve. Lots of humor and grinding of teeth. Next came Bubba’s Ghost, then Prudy’s Back! and The Bogey Man. Most recently Bogey Nights – A Bogey Man Mystery was released by Oak Tree Press. Lots of fun and they’ll keep the reader guessing to the very end.

Got any awards to brag about?

Not yet, but I’m working on it. Bogey Nights was a contender for the Lovey Award at the Love is Murder Conference in 2011.
 
Do you have any dreams as a writer? Go ahead, give us your best fantasy.

My best fantasy is to have readers read one of my books and say, “Oh, now that was good. I want to read more of the McGraw books.” My second fantasy is to have a big name writer read one of the books and say the same thing.
 
What are you up to now, writing wise? Got any projects in the works? Please tell us it’s amazing and give us a short excerpt or something to make us HAVE to go and buy it. What makes it so great?

Right now I’m working on another Sandi Webster mystery. It’s about Sandi and her partner being stranded in an old ghost town, complete with an old murder to solve and a mysterious cowboy roaming the streets. I think it’s a terrific book because it combines adventure, mystery and humor, all in one sitting. I’d give you an excerpt, but it is a work in progress. I’m sure I’ll make many changes before it’s ready to submit to the publisher.

In the meantime, Oak Tree Press is looking at a book titled, Bogey’s Ace in the Hole, another Bogey Man mystery. I hope it will be out within the next year. Think Snoop Sisters, then change them to The Church Ladies. They create some unique challenges for Chris Cross aka the Bogey Man.
 
Do you have any tidbits of help for other writers that you’d like to pass along? Please, by all means, inspire us. Point us in the write direction.

 

The first piece of advice I give to all aspiring writers it to grow a thick skin. No matter how good your writing is, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. Concentrate on the readers who do. Be willing to take advice while you work on your book. Keep an open mind. And prepare yourself to do a lot of marketing and promotion when the book comes out. Actually, begin before the book comes out. Market yourself.
Do you have any suggestions as to what a writer should avoid? Any mistakes you made that you could give us fair warning on?

This is just my opinion, but if a publisher wants an exclusive look at your work, think it over very carefully. I had someone tie up one of my books for a year and a half. As far as mistakes, if something doesn’t feel right, give it a slow count before moving forward.

Give us links to your websites, blogs, etc.?

Website: http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

 Blog:       http://blog.marjamcgraw.com/

Thanks for giving us your fifty cent interview. Come back and see what other authors and readers have to say. Send your friends this way, too. K?

I will, and thank you, Jennifer, for inviting me. It’s been fun!

Thanks, Marja. It’s been a delight to interview you.

MARY MARTINEZ

July 5, 2011

 

Jennifer: Welcome, Mary. Let’s begin by you telling us a bit about your background, where you grew up, where you live, etc.

Mary: Thanks for having me Jennifer. I live in Utah, not far from Salt Lake City. I have been here my entire life. I have 6 children, basically the Brady Bunch. When I married my husband he had three and so did I. We now have 7 grandchildren. And the best part is they live within a couple of miles. Every week we have Papa and Nana night. It’s usually chaos at our house. Big bowl of spaghetti is usually dinner.

I grew up on a large farm, so I’m used to chaos. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember.  My favorite childhood books were Boxcar Children and Harriet the Spy. I’m sure most of you do not remember those.

Jennifer: How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack?

Mary: I do not do an outline or plot. I tried plotting an entire story. It still isn’t written. It took all the fun out of the writing.

I write by the seat of my pants. I find out what the characters do as I write. I write to my tunes. The louder the better, unfortunately, usually someone is home so I have to tone it down. I do have to have music though, or my muse is gone.

Jennifer: Got anything to brag about? Upcoming releases? Please tell us it’s amazing and give us a short excerpt or something to make us HAVE to go and buy it. What makes it so great?

Mary: I’m not sure it’s great enough to brag about, but I have a new mystery release. Classic Murder: Mr. Romance And it has very good reviews. You can read some here: http://www.marymartinez.com/mrromance.html#reviews

Blurb:

Adam enjoys a lifestyle most men only dream of. Then one day he wakes up to find the morning headlines blaring, “Another victim falls prey to Mr. Romance. Who is next?” He suddenly realizes his way of life is not only frivolous, but deadly.

Dubbed Mr. Romance by New York society for his romantic adventures, Adam Fernando Russo loves women. But lately he realizes how lonely it is coming home to an empty house. Can he settle for only one woman? After he makes a list of qualities worthy enough to merit giving up his desirable existence, suddenly recipients of his coveted attention mysteriously fall prey to a murderer. The murders seem unrelated with one exception–all the victims have recently returned from a fabulous weekend rendezvous with Mr. Romance.

Adam’s assistant, Katie Sinclair, knows Adam is innocent with airtight alibis. The police are at a loss so Adam and Katie work together to discover the link between the murders. As luck would have it, their plan to prove the murderer is copying classic Cary Grant movies goes astray just as Adam realizes his perfect woman has been by his side all along.

I don’t know if this makes it great, but the best thing about this book was the research and how much fun I had writing it.

You can buy the ebook at my publisher: http://www.bookstrand.com/classic-murder-mr-romance

You can buy the ebook and print book at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1610343352/bookstrand-20

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Classic-Murder/Mary-Martinez/e/9781610343350

Jennifer: What are you working on at the moment? Tell us what it is and why you think it’s gonna be a “gotta have” k?

Mary: I finished a contemporary women’s fiction, that’s light and very fun. I’m in the process of adapting it to a screen play. It’s a cross between Bride Wars and 27 Dresses. I’m having a blast with it.

Jennifer: Do you have any suggestions as to what a writer should avoid? Any mistakes you made that you could give us fair warning on?

Mary: I tell anyone who will listen. RESEARCH. I’m not talking information for your book. I’m talking the industry, the organizations you can join, the agents and edits. Find out everything about your genre, which agents represent your genre. And most importantly check out the agent/editors on Predators and Editors http://pred-ed.com/

Jennifer: How do you get the name of your next character by what appears in your Alphabet soup or cereal?

Mary: Neither. Once in a great while, the characters and their ideas come in a package deal. That’s how Katie and Adam were with Classic Murder: Mr. Romance. But other times I have to find a name that matches my character and their personality. Then I have The Greatest Baby Name Book Ever which has over 20K names. It helps. When I wrote my first manuscript I swear almost every name started with a ‘J’. Talk about confusing.

Jennifer: Thank you for visiting today, before you go, please let us know where people can find you.

Mary: Thank you for hosting me today. I’ve had a great time. Here are a few places you can find me.

Email mary@marymartinez.com

Web site http://www.marymartinez.com

Blog: http://marysbooksblogger.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mlmartinez33

Twitter: http://twitter.com/marylmartinez

JACKIE KING

June 27, 2011

JACKIE’S BIO

Jackie King loves books, words, and writing tall tales. She especially enjoys murdering the people she dislikes on paper. King is a full time writer who sometimes teaches writing at Tulsa Community College. Her latest novel, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE is a traditional mystery. King has also written five novellas as co-author of the Foxy Hens Series. Warm Love on Cold Streets is her latest novella and is included in the anthology THE FOXY HENS MEET A ROMANTIC ADVENTURER. Her only nonfiction book is DEVOTED TO COOKING. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, and Tulsa Night Writers.

Website: www.jacqking.com

Blog: Cozy Mysteries and Other Madness can be found at:

http://bnbmysteries.blogspot.com

I’d love to have readers ‘friend’ me on Facebook. I’m listed as Jacqueline King

 Jennifer Di Camillo interviews Jackie King:

JENN: Tell us about yourself.

JACKIE KING: My name is Jackie King and I’m a full time writer living in Tulsa. Before Statehood, my grandparents drove a wagon down from Arkansas and settled in the part of Oklahoma once called No Man’s Land. Grandpa was in his early twenties and Grandma in her late teens. They brought two small girls, Lena and Delia (my mother). Altogether they reared 10 children. I’ve always been proud of my pioneer roots.

JENN: What do you write?

JACKIE KING: I write mysteries and romance, and have also published one nonfiction book titled DEVOTED TO COOKING. I have five novellas published in a series of anthologies. The first anthology was CHIK~LIT FOR FOXY HENS, and my novella is titled FLIRTING AT FIFTY, and is based on my unexpected divorce.

THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE is a mystery featuring a woman named Grace Cassidy. Her adventure starts when she finds a naked corpse in her B&B bed, finds that she has lost every penny she had in the world, and encounters some zany characters straight from the Mad Hatter’s tea party. A former socialite, she strives to keep her poise even when suspected of murder.

JENN: What does your work space look like?

JACKIE KING: My office looks as if someone set off a bomb in a paper mill. Some folks work best with files and some work best with piles. Unfortunately, I seem to be a “pile” person. Tidiness, alas, has never been one of my virtues. I comfort myself by saying, “If I took the time to clean my office, I’d never get around to writing.” This sounds pompous enough to silence those who might disapprove. And in my own defense, I will say that the rest of my house is reasonably neat. There’s only enough clutter (in my opinion) to make it homey.

JENN: When do you generally write? Do you have a regimen?

JACKIE KING: I do my best work in the morning. However, life sometimes interferes with my schedule and when that happens, I write in the afternoon or in the evening.

JENN: How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack?

JACKIE KING: I begin a new project by making as many notes as possible, usually on index cards. I keep these in a small box and shuffle through them from time to time. I also keep some ideas in a notebook and some on my computer. In other words, I’m all over the place. I always try to outline and sketch out what I can of my plot, but I seldom follow what I started with. Mostly, I write by the ‘seat of my pants.’

JENN: What is your current Work in Progress?

JACKIE KING: I’m almost finished with the first draft of the second Grace Cassidy mystery, titled SKELETON IN THE CLOSET. Currently I’m in that state of madness where I’m considering murdering all of my characters out of pure frustration. I always go thought this and I know that eventually the story will straighten itself out. I hope to have the book finished by fall 2011.

JENN: Do you have any deep dark secrets you’d like to share? Wanna tell us where you hang your hat or pantyhose or something?

JACKIE KING: Any secrets I’ve had, have probably shown up in one of my stories. There are plenty of things that no one knows about me, but they’re very dull. One of my oddities that I think I’ll give to my character Grace Cassidy, is that I use pig’s Lard for night cream. I do this because I’m allergic to everything else. I’m going to have Grace use it because she’s too broke to buy cosmetics and she can swipe the lard from her boss, Wilbur Wimberly.

JENN: Any final thoughts you have for us?

JACKIE KING: I’d like to thank you, Jennifer, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.

JENN: Give us links to your websites, blogs, etc.?

JACKIE KING: My website is: www.jacqking.com

Blog: COZY MYSTERIES AND OTHER MADNESS can be found at http://bnbmysteries.blogspot.com

I’m on facebook under the name of Jacqueline King. I’d love it if you would ‘friend’ me.

JENN: Thanks for giving us your fifty cent interview. Come back and see what other authors and readers have to say. Send your friends this way, too. K?

SHARON ERVIN

June 23, 2011
 
JENN: I’m excited to have Sharon Ervin to interview this week. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.
 
SHARON: Thanks, Jennifer, for allowing me to share a valuable lesson I learned in a critique group.
 
THE LESSON:
 
CHARACTERS AND CRITICISM
 
In old cowboy movies, the good guys wore white hats, the bad guys, black. Heroes smiled, villains didn’t. It was easy to tell who was who.  Regular human beings are not so easy to evaluate, so neither should characters be.
 
At one time a disgusted district attorney answered my oft-repeated complaint by ordering me––a newspaper reporter––to tell him if and when I ever met one of the alleged criminals filtering through his office who I thought was guilty.
 
One day, it happened. The scowling guy’s hairline was low over his forehead, almost to his eyebrows. He sat sullen in his shackles (bound wrists and ankles), and would neither look at nor speak to me, the only other person in the room.  I was studying him when, to my surprise, his shoulders began to shake and crocodile tears leaked down his unshaven face. “My daddy said someday they’d find me dead in some alley behind some bar,” he muttered.
 
When he looked up at me, that low forehead sported a big knot, and an angry line of stitches.
 
“My best friend hit me over the head with a two-by-four,” he said. “I was nearly dead already before he shot me.”
With that he dissolved into noisy sobs. I walked out and left him alone with his grief.
 
The point is: even bad guys can arouse sympathy sometimes. And the good ones can transgress. If people behave that way, believable characters probably should, too.
 
Years ago, I was pretty pleased with my work in progress. Everybody in my Texas critique group said they loved it…except Randy. A grown man, Randy pointed his index finger at his tonsils and pretended to gag every time it was my turn to read. I assumed the usual: Randy was “eat up with jealousy.”
 
Finally, one evening, I bristled and braced him. What didn’t he like? 
 
“Your stupid heroine.”
 
“What?”
 
“She’s too damn perfect,” he said. “She’s so sweet, she makes me sick.”
 
To be fair, Randy had a pretty perfect little wife. How could my heroine’s perfection be his complaint?
 
“She’s saccharine,” he said. “I cannot stand her. She’s nothing like a real woman. She needs flaws.”
 
FLAWS? Flaws? If my heroine’s being perfect was what annoyed him, I could fix that. I am no stranger to imperfections. Easy-peasy.
It didn’t take much to alter her. I made her a little untidy, and sometimes irritatingly sure of herself. With tiny changes, I made her astute powers of observation annoying, especially when she bragged. On the other hand, I gave her no clue as to what her unusual discoveries meant.
 
The hero got some revising, too. He got natty about his clothing, and began being perpetually late. Although he could arrange clues into meaningful forms, he missed obvious details, not good for a cop.
 
With the changes, Randy became tolerant. Not only that, others in the group liked the characters better, too. Randy and the group weren’t the only ones. Already satisfied with my little fictional family, I got positively revved.
 
No more good guys pompously parading in their white hats through my prose. No more unsubtle evildoers. 
My favorite characters now have warts and my bad guys display an occasional halo. I enjoy them all more for their unique, sometimes surprising foibles. And my readers do, too.
 




About SHARON ERVIN

The once-perfect Jancy Dewhurst is the now-flawed protagonist in all three of Sharon Ervin’s hardcover mystery series from Five Star/Cengage: THE RIBBON MURDERS, MURDER ABOARD THE CHOCTAW GAMBLER, and CANDLESTICKS.
 
Sooner born, Ervin has a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Once a newspaper reporter, she now works in her husband and son’s law office half-days, gleaning material and characters for more novels. She is married to McAlester, Oklahoma attorney Bill Ervin and has four grown children.
 
Website address: sharonervin.com
 
Buy Links: 
All my Kindle books: 
All my books:

PAT BROWNING

June 16, 2011

Pat Browning was born and raised in Oklahoma. A longtime resident of California’s  San  Joaquin Valley before moving back to Oklahoma in 2005, Pat’s professional writing credits go back to the 1960s, when she was a stringer for The Fresno Bee while working full time in a Hanford law office.

She is a veteran traveler. Her globe-trotting in the 1970s led her into the travel business, first as a travel agent, then as a correspondent for Travel Age West, a trade journal published inSan Francisco. In the 1990s, she signed on fulltime as a newspaper reporter and columnist, first at The Selma Enterprise and then at The Hanford Sentinel.

At the Enterprise, her lifestyle coverage placed first two years in a row in the California Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspapers Contest. She was also a co-finalist for the 1993 George F. Gruner Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism. The award was for a story she and a colleague wrote about AIDS, which was a recent phenomenon at the time. At the Sentinel, her feature story on the Japanese-American “Yankee Samurais” of World War II, placed second in the CNPA contest.

Her first mystery, FULL CIRCLE, was set in a fictional version of Hanford, and published through iUniverse in 2001. It was revised and reissued as ABSINTHE 0F MALICE by Krill Press in 2008. An extensive excerpt can be read at Google Books — 

 http://tinyurl.com/23pojdm.

 The second book in the series, METAPHOR FOR MURDER, is a work in progress.

 WHITE PETUNIAS, Pat’s nostalgic essay about growing up in Oklahoma, appeared last winter in the RED DIRT BOOK FESTIVAL ANTHOLOGY. An earlier version won second place in its category in Frontiers in Writing 2007, sponsored by Panhandle Professional Writers, Amarillo, Texas. WHITE PETUNIAS can be read on her blog, Morning’s At Noon – http://pbrowning.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html.

 When you click on the URL, the first thing to appear is Pat’s review of the late Kirk Bjornsgaard’s novel, CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER ROCK QUEEN. Take a minute to read it. This stunning novel revisits the 1960s in the beguiling story of a young farm girl who wants more than anything to get out of Oklahoma and make it big in the New York music world. WHITE PETUNIAS follows, so scroll on down.

Pat’s articles on the writing life have appeared in The SouthWest Sage, the monthly journal of SouthWest Writers, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She is trying to find time to build a new website. In the meantime she has a page at Author’s Den – www.authorsden.com/patbrowning.

***

THE INTERVIEW!!!

HOW HARD CAN IT BE?

About me: I was a reporter, feature writer, columnist, and sometimes all three, part time, full time, off and on for about 40 years. I miss it. It kept me involved with interesting people — and everyone is interesting. You just have to ask the right questions. I’m still fascinated by the way people decide to trust you and then just open up their mouths and tell you the most incredible stories.

I’ve done some news features in the past few years, mostly as favors — not that I would have turned down money. The conversation usually went, “We’d love to have you write (fill in the blank) but we can’t pay you anything.” I was never surprised. Small-town newspapers are notoriously poor and/or stingy. But I love ’em, I really do. As with the Eye of God, not a sparrow falls without their knowing it. I could never have set my first mystery anywhere else except in a very small town, with a middle-aged reporter as the protagonist. All those secrets to ferret out – so lovely!

How hard can it be? That’s what I said when I decided to write a murder mystery. File it under “Famous Last Words.” Here’s my inspirational story — inspirational in that it may inspire someone to take up another line of work.

Seriously, it’s been the experience of a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade it for a bucket of gold dust. Here’s how it all began.

Like half the people on the planet, I grew up planning to write a novel “someday.” That day arrived almost accidentally, except that I don’t believe in accidents.

I was working for The Hanford (California) Sentinel, and the managing editor suggested that I write a book column. I went to the library and walked along the shelves pulling out books that looked interesting. Most of them turned out to be mysteries. After a few weeks I decided to write my own. I actually said, “How hard can it be?”

That was about 1995, and five years later I could have written a book on just how hard it is. Through it all I was taking online writing classes, asking questions in chat rooms, lurking on listservs, trying to learn everything I could in the shortest possible time.

FULL CIRCLE, my first mystery, has had as many lives as a cat, with different titles, different characters, different plots and subplots. I think I ended up with nine or ten “final drafts,” each time thinking that I finally got it right. Eventually I had to say, “Stick a fork in it, it’s done.”

I spent about a year writing a few query letters and talking to a couple of agents and editors, but I’m too long in the tooth to spare that kind of time. I had been checking out the new print-on-demand technology via the Internet, and iUniverse seemed to be the best game in town. Not only that, I could publish for $99. It was quick, and I liked the idea of total control over my book.

I found Ariana Overton on the Internet, and she designed a beautiful cover for $100. I own it. Best $100 I ever spent. So, I formatted and uploaded my book about July of 2001, and by the end of August the finished product was in my hands.

A major factor in my decision to go that route was my husband’s health. I had given up the newspaper job to be at home with him. So there I was, sitting at the computer for hours at a time, days on end. He was patient, interested, supportive. He kept saying, “When are you going to let me read that book?” Once I decided I’d taken it as far as I could, I let him read the manuscript, and then I contacted iUniverse.

He was so proud of that book that he told everybody he met about it. I don’t know whether he generated any sales, but it gave him such a kick to talk about it. I never regretted publishing it myself. It was a gift to both of us.

Even after it was published I couldn’t tell people what it was about because I honestly didn’t know. But after I heard enough questions and did enough presentations to figure out what I had written — well, here’s the log line: “Discovery of a skeleton in a cotton field leads to murder – and romance.” Someone, and I’ve forgotten who, called it “a study in small-town secrets.” I like that.

I had a good start on my second book when my husband died and everything just stopped. It’s such a long, long story. Maybe several long, long stories, fodder for a book or two. It’s a terrible experience to sit in a hospital room and watch someone you love slip away from you, and know there is nothing you can do to hold them here. I’ve done that twice, and the second time was worse than the first. You’d think you’d get used to it. You don’t. Another piece of your heart breaks. You can fall on the floor, or you can get up and go home.

As if that weren’t enough I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a lumpectomy and went through six weeks of radiation. With no children and no family left in California, I decided to come “home” to Oklahoma, where I have sisters and a brother and many nieces and nephews.

The move would have killed me if I weren’t part mule. I left everything I owned, not to mention almost 50 years of my life, in California. I was so exhausted, physically as well as emotionally, that I walked with a cane my first two weeks here. I was like some old crone straggling out of a cave, leaning on her cane, blinking in the light.

It’s now six years later – six years of cultural (and financial) adjustment and learning to live alone (I hate it) — and I still haven’t finished that second book. The good news is that I have picked it up again. Working title: METAPHOR FOR MURDER.

Even better news is that the original book and I are both coping with a ninth life. Krill Press, a small, new press picked up FULL CIRCLE, changed the title to ABSINTHE OF MALICE, changed the cover and asked for a couple of small revisions. The new book hasn’t done much as a print book but it took off like a house afire as an e-book on Kindle. Sometimes it takes a while for a book to find its audience.

As I write this I have TV on for company. I’m watching the Masters Golf Tournament in Atlanta. I’m watching disaster news on ABC. It’s a reminder that there’s a real world out there, so why get worked up over a piece of fiction?

I keep remembering something Sue Grafton said at Sisters in Crime conference in Boise,Idaho a few years ago. She was listing her 10 standard reactions to a manuscript rejection, but one of them is really useful for more than a rejected manuscript. She said: “The free world does not hang in the balance. You are only writing a book.”

I also remember something the late Kurt Vonnegut (author of SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE) said a few years ago during an interview on PBS. He said that when we’ve destroyed the last living thing on earth, it would be poetic justice if the earth sent up a message: “It’s done. People didn’t like it here.”

And then he added, “We are here on earth to fart around. What the computer people don’t realize is that we are dancing animals.”

Maybe he’s right. Maybe we should spend less time at the computer and more time dancing. Why not? I think I’ll start tomorrow. It might do wonders for my shape, and anything would be an improvement. From the side I look like Alfred Hitchcock.

Meanwhile, there are extensive excerpts from ABSINTHE OF MALICE at Google Books, http://tinyurl.com/23pojdm .

Thanks for listening and thanks to Jennifer for letting me sound off.

Pat Browning

http://patbrowning.weebly.com (under construction)

http://authorsden.com/patbrowning

http://pbrowning.blogspot.com/

Thanks for dropping in on my blog, Pat. You’re welcome here any time.  I love that cover, too!

Beth Anderson, the interview you’ve been waiting for!

June 11, 2011

Book blurb for RAVEN TALKS BACK by Beth Anderson:

Raven Morressey is living the good life. Nice home, husband, three healthy children, and it’s finally summertime, when life is again lovely in Valdez,
Alaska. All this explodes one morning when builders, digging up her back yard, uncover a recently murdered headless, handless female body covered with scarification—hundreds of colored designs cut into the skin to resemble tattoos. As if this isn’t enough, where the corpse’s head should have been is a large rock with a face painted on that resembles an Alaska Native mask.

Raven’s eight year old son, Timmy, is the first one to see the body and is suddenly unable to walk or respond in any way. On that same day, Raven hears the voice of her long dead Athabascan father coming from Timmy, who is unaware of the ancient hunting chants he sings in his sleep and the words he suddenly speaks in Raven’s native tongue—a language he does not know.

Jack O’Banion, Valdez’s Chief of Police for the past few years, faced with his first murder case in Valdez, begins his official investigation. Everywhere he goes he finds nothing but deception. The town seems to have closed into itself and nobody will tell him anything that might help him solve this case. Then one murder quickly morphs into two, then three, and the Alaska State Troopers are hot on his back to find the killer now.

Between Raven’s voices and the visions she develops, and Jack, whose career as well as his contented life in Valdez are on the line, they both feel they have to find the killer and restore some sanity to the town—not to mention their own lives, which are quickly unraveling out of control.

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Author Bio

Beth Anderson is a multi-published, award winning author in several genres including romance and  mainstream crime fiction. A full time author, she lives in a Chicago, Illinois suburb. She has appeared on Chicago’s WGN Morning Show, The ABC Evening News, as well as numerous other radio and cable television shows. She has guest lectured at Purdue University and many libraries and writers’ conferences. She loves music, particularly jazz. Her website and blog are both at http://www.bethanderson-hotclue.com 

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Links to my author pages on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

http://www.amazon.com/Beth-Anderson/e/B000APMRR4

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Raven-Talks-Back/Beth-Anderson/e/2940012515
407/?itm=1&USRI=beth+anderson

Website and blog:  http//www.bethanderson-hotclue.com

Publisher’s Website: Krill Press  http://www.krillpress.com/books.html

RAVEN TALKS BACK ISBN #: 9780982144398

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Jennifer’s Questions:

Question:  How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your
pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack?

I do a lot of background research and full lead character bios from childhood up to the time the story starts.  Then, when I’m ready, I start writing, getting a feel for the characters and the story. This is where I do my most re-writing. I’ll go along for three or four chapters, then I’ll start outlining the rest of the book, but that’s a very sketchy process for me. I’ll write it all out on paper, then transfer scenes onto little cards so I can move them around if I have to, and then work on a card per chapter.

My books always seem to wind up around 90,000 words or a little under. It’s just the right length for me and I seem to instinctively wind up at The End right about where I’m supposed to, word-wise. My stories have a lot of subplots in them, which you would have to have for a book that length that moves very fast. I do edit chapters as I go along, then re-edit them as many times as I have to. I know a lot of writers don’t do that, but that’s how I learned and that’s the way I stay in my personal comfort zone.

I rarely have to do full rewrites because of that, because I know where the book begins and where it’s going to end ahead of time. Even starting out, I know whodunnit, although I have changed that as I go along, depending on how the story evolves. But it usually evolves as I want it to. I don’t let my characters take over the book, especially secondary characters. It’s all in clearly knowing what you want to happen at the end, and what the leads’ problems are before you begin. By that I mean what they want. Then I work out how they go about getting it, which leads to the end.

I work in dead silence and in a darkened room as much as possible. The only distractions I want are my dog and my two cats if they need something
crucial, like treats. I have a sign on my door that says, “If you’re not bleeding, don’t come in.”  Sounds like a mystery writer?  Well, yes, that’s what I am.

Question:  Got anything to brag about? (Awards? Upcoming releases?)

With my previous books with an online publisher, I’ve had a lot of smaller awards, which meant a whole lot to me. They’re all listed on my website’s
various book pages. My first three NY books were Count on Me, a Harlequin Superromance, All That Glitters, from Ballantine’s Fortunes label, and
Diamonds, Dorchester/Ivy. At that time, early to mid nineties, internet publishing was unheard of and we didn’t focus so much on getting Internet
awards. Everything was done for us, even promotion by the publishers in some cases. After a few years of not writing much at all  because of personal problems, the publishing world was beginning its upheaval which is in full bloom now, and I moved on eventually to Amber Quill, published three books with them and started learning the POD/e-book routine.  Yes, I was there at the very beginning.  That’s where all the awards came from, and I love everyone of them because clearly, someone at all those places on the Internet loved my books.

My new release is RAVEN TALKS BACK from Krill Press, which focuses entirely on mysteries.  It’s available in Kindle and Nook and print at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com and in bookstores.

Question:  Any cool stories about meeting other writers or industry professionals that have influenced or helped you? We like to hear the silly
stuff. Ever stutter at an agent? (I have.) Ever sidestep an editor? Or have a margarita downing contest with one? (Pleading the fifth on that, myself.)

Yes.  I can tell you about the single person who helped me the most, and for the life of me I can’t remember her name because I hated her, LOL!  I had been working on my own for a few years, maybe four or five, trying to learn how to put a book together in readable form, which always looks so easy to the unpublished person while she’s reading a book.

I finally got to the point where I felt I was ready to start going to conferences.  My first conferences were RWA even though I already pretty much knew my real love was going to be mystery.  So, I sat down with this agent at a St. Louis conference, expecting her to fall over dead with delight at my brilliant prose and dialogue, and started my five minutes with her.  She lifted my three chapters, flipped through it, her eyes barely hitting the pages and flung them back at me.  “Your dialogue is horrible,” she said.

In my defense, she was famous for doing things like that and eventually got out of the business. However, I did take it to heart. I started focusing on
my dialogue, went back to the mat and learned how to do it naturally, and in doing so, developed my voice.  When I submitted to Harlequin  Superromance, although it took an ungodly long time for it to go though their channels, I had the head editor (at the time) on my side because, she said, “My writing was strong and clean and my dialogue was wonderful, fast and easy to read.” I had found my voice.

So an agent, whose apparently sole intent was to send me crying out of the room, succeeded only in my ultimately nabbing a contract, and my career was launched.

Moral of this story:  Don’t cry in front of them. Take it like a professional and if you’re lucky enough to get ANY feedback, take it to heart and start working on the weak spots because they might become your strong spots. In other words, if you are having rejections and you think you don’t have any weak spots, take another look. We all have weak spots at the beginning.

Thank you, Jennifer, for allowing me to post on your blog today!  Onward and upward, all of us!

Beth Anderson http://www.bethanderson-hotclue.com

BETH ANDERSON

June 9, 2011

Check back later for a full interview of Beth Anderson. I’m sure you’ll want to hear about her and her books!

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Raven-Talks-Back/Beth-Anderson/e/2940012515407/?itm=1&USRI=beth+anderson Barnes & Noble Nook page

 http://www.amazon.com/Beth-Anderson/e/B000APMRR4

Raven Talks Back Kindle page.

ISBN#: 9780982144398

Website: http://www.bethanderson-hotclue.com

Blog: http://www.bethanderson-hotclue.com/blog

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=745430010
RAVEN TALKS BACK …Mary Higgins Clark meets Wyatt Earp in Alaska…
NOW from Krill Press at Amazon and B&N in Print, Kindle, and Nook

ANNE K. ALBERT

June 1, 2011

Anne’s bio: Anne K. Albert has taught high school art, sold display advertising for a small town weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now writes full time.

A member of the Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and married to her high school sweetheart for more than a quarter of a century, it’s a given she’d write mystery and romantic suspense.

When not in her home office, she enjoys traveling, visiting friends and family, knitting, crocheting, and of course, reading.

Jennifer – What do you write?

Anne – I write stories chill the spine, warm the heart and soothe the soul – all with a delightful touch of humor.

Jennifer – Where do you live, and what does your work space look like?

Anne – I live in a part of the country that has four very distinct seasons, but for as long as I can remember I’ve always longed to be a bird and fly south each fall! Spending the winter months in a warmer climate is number one on my bucket list.

As for my home office, well, in my mind it’s organized confusion. I lie to myself daily and assure myself I know exactly where every thing is. Most everyone else, however, would simply call it a mess!

Jennifer – When do you generally write? Do you have a regimen?

Anne – Regimen? I wish! Since becoming published, I’m amazed how much time is spent on self promotion and marketing. I try to limit that task to mornings, but I’m not always successful. Actual writing time is done in the afternoon, with time off for dinner, followed by another session each evening.

Jennifer – How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack?

Anne –I work in complete silence, and I’m very much a pantser.

It took me a very long time to accept this process. I wanted to find an easier way to write. I tried outlining. Even did it for two manuscripts. I included loads of details, twists and turns, but when it came time to write those stories, I couldn’t get into it. It took years for me to figure out why. The answer? I already knew how it would end! Where’s the fun in that? I realized I’m my first reader. I write to find out what happens next.

Jennifer – Tell us about your book. What was it? When did it come out? Got any awards to brag about?

Anne – FRANK, INCENSEANDMURIEL is set the week before Christmas when the stress of the holidays is enough to frazzle anyone’s nerves. Tensions increase when a close friend begs Muriel to team up with a sexy private investigator to find a missing woman. Forced to deal with an embezzler, kidnapper, and femme fatale is bad enough, but add Muriel’s zany yet loveable family to the mix and their desire to win the D-DAY(Death Defying Act of the Year) Award, and the situation can only get worse.

It received a 5-star review and Reviewer Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews. Reviewer Diana Coyle said, “This is one of the best romantic suspense stories I’ve read for 2010. Ms. Albert has a way of telling a story that pulls you in from the very first sentence and holds your attention to the very last line. Her voice is melodic and her writing style is refreshing. This author knows how to entertain readers and keeps them wanting to turn the page to see what happens next. If you’re looking for a story with a little bit of humor, a whole lot of suspense and plenty of insanity, then you’ve found the perfect story.”                                       

Jennifer – Where can readers get a copy of your book?

Anne: It’s at Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Incense-and-Muriel-ebook/dp/B004CLYDRO/

Barnes and Noble, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Frank-Incense-and-Muriel/Anne-K-Albert/e/2940011142123/ Smashwords, http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/30192

or from my publisher, Vanilla Heart Publishing. http://www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com

 

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for welcoming me with open arms on my second stop of the Murder We Write Blog Tour. I’d like to invite readers to visit my website http://www.AnneKAlbert.com/ or my main blog http://anne-k-albert.blogspot.com.

 

If they drop by my Muriel Reeves Mysteries blog http://muriel-reeves-mysteries.blogspot.com and leave a comment mentioning this interview, I’ll enter their name in a draw to win a pdf copy of FRANK, INCENSEAND MURIEL. I’ll announce the winner at the conclusion of the tour, sometime during the week ofAugust 22, 2011.

VIVIAN ZABEL

May 24, 2011

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Who are you? I’m Vivian Zabel, who writes under the names Vivian Gilbert Zabel (because there are more Vivian Zabels, and one is in prison) and V. Gilbert Zabel. I’m married to the man of my life, and have been for over 49 years. We have three living children, 10 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren so far.

What do you write? I write about life, mystery, and love, often at least a little of each in every work. My first love is mystery, and I have some straight mystery novels. Stolen includes mystery and suspense, but it’s more a tragedy.

My writings come to me without any searching on my part. Poetry or plot ideas awaken me and won’t allow me to go back to sleep until I get up and write them down – that’s why a pad and pen are by my bed.

I’ve written professionally since in my 20s. However, until I retired from teaching 10 years ago, I had only poetry, short stories, and articles published. Since retirement, I’ve collaborated with a book of poetry and a book of short stories. I have 5 other books out by me, all by myself.

Where do you live, and what does your work space look like?I live in the central part of Oklahoma. I turned a small bedroom into an office, and it’s full of computer, printers, file cabinets, and books everywhere.

When do you generally write? Do you have a regimen? I write some every day. Since I’m also the head of a small publishing company (a traditional one, not one that charges authors to produce a book), I don’t have much time to write as I’d wish.

How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack? Before I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, the story is running like a movie in my head. Sometimes I like silence; others the TV may be providing background noise. During the Christmas season, I have carols playing.

Got anything to brag about? (Awards? Upcoming releases?) Stolen hasn’t won any awards, at least yet, but my mystery/suspense novel Midnight Hours has won a couple.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us what it is and why you think it’s gonna be a “gotta have” k? One thing I’m working on is the sequel to Stolen, titled Betrayed.  What happens if and when abducted children return home to discover that life didn’t stand still while they were gone?

Tell us how to find you and your stuff. (All your website and blog links)

Links:

 

Vivian’s blog: http://vivianzabel.blogspot.com

Vivian’s website: http://VivianZabel.com

4RV Publishing   http://4rvpublishingllc.com

Stolen  http://Stolen.yolasite.com

Order my books from bookstores, online suppliers, or http://4rvpublishingcatalog.yolasite.com