The Write Stuff – Monday, October 26 – Interview With Peter J Wacks

Peter Wacks headshotToday, I have the pleasure of featuring WordFire Press’s managing editor and best-selling author, Peter J. Wacks. I was introduced to Peter earlier this year during Portland, Oregon’s Rose City Comic Con and have since learned he is truly a multi-faceted individual. His graphic novel, “Behind These Eyes”, which he co-scripted with Guy Anthony de Marco and Chaz Kemp, was nominated in 2013 for the Bram Stoker Award®. His first two novels, Second Paradigm, a sci-fi mystery thriller, and Bloodletting, an epic fantasy and Part 1 of the Affinities Cycle, which he co-authored with Mark Ryan, were both released earlier this year. In addition to his publishing endeavors, he created the international bestselling Cyberpunk CCG (Collectable Card Game), and has also been an actor and a TV producer.

coverOn or about November 15 of this year, WordFire Press expects to release Peter’s steampunk adventure, The Dandy Boys Mysteries, which WFP describes as follows:

The Vengeance universe, originally published in the Penny Dread Tales, begins here with a young Friedrich Von Helsing, who will eventually grow to fight the supernatural alongside the mysterious Brotherhood.

In the stylings of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Jonathan Polidori’s The Vampyre, this Victorian adventure follows Friedrich and his band of four friends, as these five young scholars debunk the supernatural in 1839. What starts as an innocuous set of adventures studying conmen, mages, Romani curses, and mad scientists leads them down a dark path to true occult.

 

Peter, before I will give our visitors a taste of Dandy Boys, I’d like to spend some time showcasing you as a writer. Would you please tell us something about your earlier work?

 My proudest novel was Second Paradigm. It was the first novel I published, and though it is the oldest example of my work, I accomplished something with it that I’m not sure I could duplicate these days. With Second Paradigm I created a story that can be read in any order, and still delivers Build Up, Conflict, Resolution, in order. The story itself is a time travel story, which did make it easier to lay out a nonlinear plot.

You’ve piqued my curiosity. Time travel is a difficult subject. Would you care to discuss some of the awards you have won?

I have been lucky enough to find my work nominated for a couple awards. The two big nominations were “Behind These Eyes”, a horror graphic novel which was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award, and Interface Zero 2.0 a gaming setting which was nominated for an Enny. I also wrote a preface for the 2015 Writers of the Future anthology which was turned into a short film. An interesting side note: Second Paradigm, which I mentioned before, landed me a guest speaking appearance with a chapter of Mensa – since no one before me had broken Aristotelian plotting with true nonlinear “reorganizable” storytelling.

Do you have any other books in the works?

Right now is a very exciting time. I just coauthored a novella with Kevin J. Anderson for the TV show Heroes Reborn (which I love!) I have two series on the way from Baen Books: one a multi book joint world alt-history/fantasy with Eytan Kollin, Walter Hunt, Eric Flint, and Kevin J. Anderson, the other an Urban Fantasy about an everyday P.I. who gets caught in a world of the supernatural. I have 4 other titles in various stages of shopping/signing, but I don’t want to get to far into those until I have more details on the releases.

Very exciting indeed! What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Intense. I prefer to go at a slower pace, but stick at it for a solid 8 hours, if not more. I do this 7 days a week, unless I have conventions or other appearances-at which point I get as much time as I can in.

Do you create an outline before you write?

I do both. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I pants (fly by the seat of my pants.) It really depends on how busy I am when I think of the story. If I have a bunch of other stuff on my plate, I’ll outline just so I can save the idea. (I have 227 draft outlines for books in my “to do” folder.

That’s great! Then we’ll be hearing from you for some time to come. I’d like to delve a little deeper, if I may. I’ll start by asking why do you write?

I know it may be cliché but I can’t not write. The people around me notice that the longer I go without writing the more of a grumpy jerk I become. It is just how I am wired.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

That is a rough question. I know that I care a LOT more about digging into every layer of my characters than I did 10 years ago. They have become friends in a way that they didn’t used to be, even if I think they are jerks. I think a larger part of evolution though is that I have gained confidence. There are people out there impacted by my stories, even if I don’t have the notoriety of a headliner author, and that gives me confidence that the sacrifices of following a creative life (like I have a lot of choice – I don’t think there is anything else in the world I want to do) are worth it.

As for your “other” life, do you have another job outside of writing?

 I do not. But I do. My “day job” is as the managing editor of a publishing house, so when I’m not writing… I’m still reading and analyzing story. The oddity in my life is that my writing actually pays most of my bills; and my “day job” is something I do because I love the people I work with and find it rewarding.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

I’m a single Dad and it is one of the most rewarding pieces of my life. My kiddo doesn’t feel like she comes from a broken home, she has adopted the attitude that she is luckier than most kids because she has 3 parents that love her. But – the only piece of my life as “big” as being a writer, to me, is being the best Dad I can.

If you don’t find this next question too intrusive, what do you consider your biggest failure?

Friendships. I am so busy with writing and being a dad that I rarely have social time to check in on my friends. I feel like I fail those around me by not being available, but they still stick around, being amazing people and checking in on me to make sure I haven’t been sitting in front of the keyboard, glassy eyed, without eating for the last 36 hours. And then they feed me when they discover that, in fact, I have been.

Thank you for sharing your time with us and thank for your candor. Obviously, your readers learn something about you from your work, but your responses here reveal much more about your humanity—something I believe is essential for creating a strong reader/writer bond.

 As we close, before I provide a sample from The Dandy Boys Mysteries and provide links to where our visitors can follow you and purchase your books, I’d like to close with a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m a …                               Workaholic.

The one thing I cannot do without is:                                Unwind time with my daughter.

The one thing I would change about my life:                 The number of hours in the day. We need to move the planet a bit, get up to a nice 36 hour day.

Hah! My sentiment exactly. My biggest peeve is:         Having to sleep.

The person/thing I’m most satisfied with is:                  My kiddo. She is the awesome.

For those of you who have stayed with us to the end—and how could you not have? Great responses, Peter—here is the excerpt you have been waiting for:

Journal One
The Gypsy Curse

Entry One

 

In April of 1838, Cambridge University issued advanced degrees to several individuals of note. This was done in recognition of the completion of their studies and exemplary performance, as well as their keen insights and application thereof to the problems thus presented by the world.

The honorarium was attended at the newly founded Thomas Graham House headquarters of the Royal Society of London, located on the outskirts of Cambridge. Though Graham had been a fellow for only two years, great things were expected of him as a chemist who more than rigorously applied the Socratic Method to his studies.

Among these so laureled were the founding members of The Fellowship of Adventurer Scholars for the Revelation of Mythology and the Advancement of Natural Philosophy. The Fellowship was a bold venture, one which would cast aside such methods which found men of science cloistered in musty rooms, and would instead embolden its Fellows to embrace the very Spirit of Discovery.

Musty rooms could, as some had said, only contribute to the knowledge and study of musty rooms, while the world beckoned from outside the windows, enticing the inquiring mind to dissect and study its many wonders.

While the Fellowship did aspire to become a branch of the Royal Society, it was by no means intentioned to be constrained by the guiding vision of those notable gentlemen; rather, it sought to show that the empirical methods of these great explorers of the mind were better suited for examinations of the natural world.

Founded, as it was, by those more … youthful in nature, The Fellowship embraced travel and exploration. The body of the Fellowship of Adventurer Scholars consisted of Niles Byron, the eldest son to Lord George Gordon Byron; Dominic William Weyland, the youngest son of the noted industrialist Thomas Weyland; William Owen Wilson of the Oxford Wilsons; Rufus Emmerson, whose father had acquired a small fortune as the principle financier of the Weyland Industrial Consortium; and Friedrich Von Helsing, of house Helsing, who was himself second in line to a small barony in northern Germany.

Each of these men were of the highest caliber, as defined by the mind if not by blood, and disciplined with their time and intellect, bringing both to bear on the problems that so willfully accosted the good men and women of The Emperor’s.

While the exact nature of their introduction is unknown, it is common knowledge that these gentlemen shared several interests and associations while attending the King’s College, and that they could often be found in each other’s company. Despite their disparate social statuses, their shared intellectual and literary interests led them to engage in regular symposiums of the true Greek fashion.

In addition to such shared interests, the disciplines which these men mastered contributed greatly to their collective venture, as if the fates themselves had guided their interests toward that which would best accommodate their quest for truth in a darkened world; but perhaps even their philosophies at this time were not sufficient to dream of all the things in heaven and earth. Though the world may be a stage, and the Adventurer Scholars were but players, the ideas they pursued were, to them, the very parchment and ink with which the great playwright scribbled the tragedy of the world.

Niles Byron had, at that time, received his degree in matters of the Law. The discipline which was intended to prepare him for the affairs of his estate had instead provided the Fellowship with the ability to deftly maneuver the many difficulties of the world’s changing political spheres. It also allowed them a certain ease of passage through customs points, for in a world of imperial rule, the force of law could compel compliance more swiftly then could a blade, just as the badge of citizenship could defend better than any shield. And were one to find themselves in such a place as rejected these authorities, then the quick wit of the esquire could be called upon to lubricate the most insurmountable of obstructions.

Simultaneously, the title of Medical Doctorate, which had been bestowed upon both Rufus and Wilson, granted the coterie many tangible investigative insights, as well a certain degree of universal social acceptance. For who does not value the man who can heal all ailments and address even the sicknesses of the soul? Having two such fine exemplars of the field in their company could only further the prestige of the Fellowship and contribute to their study of the human phenomena which so captivated their interest.

It was the analytics and theoretics of Natural Philosophy—obtained by both Weyland and Helsing—which rounded out the group’s skills and provided a firm methodology for what followed.

If you’re looking to follow Peter, you may do so here:

 Facebook:      www.facebook.com/PJWacks

Twitter:          www.twitter.com/peterjwacks

Website:         www.peterjwacks.net/

 Buy Links:     www.wordfirepress.com

www.amazon.com/Dandy-Boys-Mysteries-Vengeance-Book-ebook/dp/B014WWE5SE

The Write Stuff – Monday, September 14 – Interview With Anne Hillerman

This week, I am pleased to feature a talented creator of both non-fiction and fiction works alike. In theory, I could have met Anne on several occasions while I lived in Santa Fe, but fate conspired against it. Whether I marked the date of a book signing incorrectly or weather made the roads impassable, we never connected and I’ve been the poorer for it. I have met a few of her friends, even interviewed one—Lisa Lenard-Cook—this past January. And while each one attests to Anne’s open personality, I’ve only had the pleasure of her acquaintance through social media. In addition to her non-fiction works, she has chosen to continue in her revered father’s footsteps.

anne_fogelbergAnne Hillerman is the author of the New York Times best-selling Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock with Wings. Her stories continue the popular Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries series created by her father, Tony Hillerman. She is currently at work on the third book, again featuring officer Bernadette Maneulito as a crime solver. Anne’s novels have been honored with the Spur from Western Writers of America and the New Mexico-Arizona book award for best mystery and best book of the year. Before writing fiction, Anne wrote several non-fiction books including Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn.

Anne is a founding director of the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference held annually in Santa Fe. She began her writing career as a newspaper reporter, and continues in journalism as restaurant critic for the Albuquerque Journal. A New Mexican since the age of three, she lives and works in Santa Fe with her husband, photographer Don Strel.

This is how she describes Rock With Wings:

Navajo Tribal cops Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, investigate two perplexing cases in this exciting Southwestern mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter.

Doing a good deed for a relative offers the perfect opportunity for Sergeant Jim Chee and his wife, Officer Bernie Manuelito, to get away from the daily grind of police work. But two cases will call them back from their short vacation and separate them—one near Shiprock, and the other at iconic Monument Valley.

Chee follows a series of seemingly random and cryptic clues that lead to a missing woman, a coldblooded thug, and a mysterious mound of dirt and rocks that could be a gravesite. Bernie has her hands full managing the fallout from a drug bust gone wrong, uncovering the origins of a fire in the middle of nowhere, and looking into an ambitious solar energy development with long-ranging consequences for Navajo land.

Under the guidance of their mentor, retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, Bernie and Chee will navigate unexpected obstacles and confront the greatest challenge yet to their skills, commitment, and courage.

Please tell us more about it.

This new mystery featuring Bernadette Manuelito, Jim Chee, and their mentor, Lt. Joe Leaphorn, is set in Monument Valley and the country near the little Navajo town of Ship Rock, N.M. The book is structured as two parallel stories with separate crimes taking Chee and Bernie in different directions. Among the elements included are movie making, a mysterious car fire, a tight-lipped suspect with a trunk full of dirt and a questionable grave that might or might not be just a movie prop.

This newest release, as well as Spider Woman’s Daughter, which preceded it, continue a thread begun by your father. What was the biggest challenge you faced following in his footsteps and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was and still is living up to the expectations of the fans Tony Hillerman’s work garnered during his 30 years of writing the Navajo mystery series. He created and brought to life  Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Many have enjoyed Dad’s books through several re-readings and I knew they had high standards for anyone who would presume to continue these stories.

I overcame my hesitation by writing the best books I possibly could. Because Dad had never used Bernadette Manuelito as a crime solver, and because he had gradually been developing her into a more major character, I decided that telling the stories from her point of view would give me a way to continue the mysteries while giving the series a new voice.

Please list your other works for our visitors.

Spider Woman’s Daughter (novel) and Tony Hillerman’s Landscape (non-fiction), both published by HarperCollins.  Ride the Wind  USA to Africa  (Rio Grande Publishing) about a ballooning adventure.  I also two wrote two non-fiction books Gardens of Santa Fe and Santa Fe Flavors, both published by GibbsSmith Publishers and unfortunately out of print. I also wrote several travel guides, now outdated, and a book of solar energy projects for children.

Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with either of your recent novels?

Yes, Spider Woman’s Daughter was honored with the Spur Award and the New Mexico Book Award.  Tony Hillerman’s Landscape was honored with the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association Award. The Library of Congress created a video of me speaking there last summer for the National Book Festival.  Here’s a video interview in connection with the release of Rock with Wings: http://reportfromsantafe.com/episodes/view/304/anne-hillerman-author-rock-with-wings/

What are you working on now and do you have an ETA for its release?

I am at work on the third novel in the new series, not yet named. My deadline for manuscript submission is January, 2016. Wish me luck!

I do! I’m pushing back an identical deadline to March, so I understand the pressure you face. That aside, do you find there are occupational hazards to being a novelist as opposed being to a non-fiction writer?

No, but I have been surprised at the popularity of my new series, and am very thankful to my Dad’s fans. As a nonfiction writer, I was happy but basically unknown. With fiction,  I’m getting the opportunity to balance my need for quiet time to write with my need to be a promoter and respond to generous invitations to come and talk about my Dad and my books. It’s different!

Tell us about your new series’s path to publication.

My non-fiction book about Tony Hillerman and the places he loved came out almost a year to the day after my father died. During the book tour for that book, so many people told me they missed the characters and asked if Dad had another unpublished manuscript to continue the saga. He didn’t, but I realized that I missed the characters my father created as much or even more than his fans. So, I figured I would try writing one and see what happened. After I got my mother’s blessing, I contacted Dad’s long-time editor at Harpercollins to see if there might be any legal problems, copyright issues, etc. with my writing a novel using Dad’s characters. She said no, and added that she’d be glad to take a look at whatever I came up with. I wrote the book, she looked at it, liked it, gave me a bunch of good ideas on how to make it better, and offered me a contract for two books. Then, because of the wonderful fan response, Harpercollins offered me a three book contract following the publication of Spider Woman’s Daughter. I’m now at work on the first book of that package.

In the publishing world, it’s nice to have some security. Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, I am the co-founder of the Tony Hillerman Writers’ Conference, held each November in Santa Fe http://wordharvest.com/hillerman-writers-conference/  I serve on the boards of Western Writers of America and New Mexico Press Women. I’m also a wife, mom, sister and niece.

What motivates or inspires you?

A road trip, especially to somewhere in our expansive southwest, always inspires me. I love live music from opera to bluegrass.  I enjoy working in the garden where you can see things change and grow.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

Sleep usually helps along with prayer and a conversation with a friend. A brisk walk or a sweaty trip to the gym are good, too.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My Dad and my Mom inspired me with their passion for good books and good writing and their enormous kindness and generosity. I miss them every day, but I am grateful for the lessons they taught me.

Thank you for spending time with us. Before we read a sample from Rock With Wings, with your permission I’d like to try a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please complete the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m a… complicated person.

The one thing I cannot do without is: space.

The one thing I would change about my life: A few more years with my parents.

My biggest peeve is: People who criticize a book without reading it.

Boy! Do I know that one, but I’ll save it for another time. Instead, let’s enjoy the following excerpt from Rock with Wings (P 274).

harpercollins-rockOfficer Bernadette Manuelito has been assigned to give a talk to the Farmington Rotary.

Bernie parked in the restaurant lot, noticing that it was nearly full. She picked up her backpack, double-checking to make sure her notes were there. She put on a bit of lipstick, squared her shoulders, and walked in to the room where the meeting would be. She felt as almost as unsettled as when she’d met Chee’s relatives for the first time.

The sixty-something woman at the door in the gray business suit introduced herself as the program director and the person Bernie had talked to on the phone. “We’re so glad you could join us. You’re younger than I expected. Have you met our president?”

“No, ma’am.” Younger than expected? That didn’t sound like a good thing….

(The excerpt picks up with Bernie’s talk.)

“Ladies and gentlemen,  yá’át’ééh. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me here today. And for the free lunch.” A few of the attendees chuckled. Good.

“This is the first time I’ve been asked to speak on behalf of our department.” She looked up from her notes. “I thought I would start by explaining that if you want to be on patrol with the Navajo Nation police, you have to enjoy driving. Each officer who works on our force is responsible for about seventy square miles of reservation land. That’s about twice the area of Grand Rapid, Michigan. Or think of it this way: the whole country of Liechtenstein is only sixty- two square miles.”

People in the audience smiled. She relaxed a little, looked at her notes for the next point she wanted to make, and kept talking. “In the rest of rural America, there are about three officers for a thousand civilians. Out here, when our department is fully staffed, there might be two of us for that same population. But I’m not complaining. I love my job, and I like to stay busy.”

For those who would like to read more of her work, you can find Anne’s books at:

http://www.collectedworksbookstore.com/anne-hillerman

To keep up with Anne online:

Website:          http://www.annehillerman.com

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/anne.hillerman

The Write Stuff – Monday, March 30 – Interview With Robert Dugoni

On several occasions over the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some of the world’s first tier thriller authors. This month, I have the special pleasure of introducing you to Robert, or Bob, Dugoni as he prefers to be called. I first met this humble and gracious man in August of 2011, at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s Summer Conference in Bellevue, Washington. It was Thursday, August 4, and Bob was going to be teaching the second part of a course on writing, later that afternoon. Early that morning, just before his co-presenter, Chris Humphreys, opened the seminar, I spotted Bob at the back of the room. When I approached him, I found him to be immediately open and affable. Although it was a brief conversation, I will never forget how genuinely touched he seemed to be when I told him my wife had enjoyed all of his books and thought him to be a better writer than Scott Turow—an author whom Bob conceded was one of his favorites. Even so, you will see from his biography that follows, he is a force to be reckoned with.

SAM_1300Robert Dugoni is the #1 Amazon and New York Times Bestselling Author of eight novels. His latest, My Sister’s Grave, was the #1 Amazon bestseller for two months and Amazon, Library Journal, and Suspense Magazine all chose it as a 2014 Best Book of the Year. Dugoni is also the author of the best-selling David Sloane series, The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One and The Conviction, as well as the stand alone novel Damage Control. His books have twice been recognized by the Los Angeles Times as a top five thriller of the year. Murder One was a finalist for the prestigious Harper Lee Award for literary excellence. Dugoni’s first book, the nonfiction expose, The Cyanide Canary, was a Washington Post 2004 Best Book of the year. Dugoni’s books have been likened to Scott Turow and Nelson DeMille, and the Providence Rhode Island Journal has called him the “the undisputed king of the legal thriller” and the “heir to Grisham’s literary throne.”

The following is a brief peek at My Sister’s Grave:

MySistersGrave CoverTracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

Bob, will you please tell us about My Sister’s Grave?

I wanted to do something fresh. One of my joys as a writer is creating new characters, getting to know them and then letting them run and see what happens. I had been fascinated with an idea ever since I read that Washington was taking down several dams to restore the wild Salmon’s natural spawning grounds. When I read further, I learned that large lakes above the dams would drain and so, as a writer, I thought, “What if?” “What if they were to find a body?” From there the questions multiplied. “What if the body was someone who had disappeared years earlier, without a trace?” “What if the body was someone prominent or the daughter of someone prominent?” “What does a murder do to a family, to an entire small town?” “What if the discovery of that body included evidence that maybe, just maybe, the person convicted and in jail might be innocent?” “What if that small town is harboring some big secrets that certain individuals don’t want exposed?”

It’s taken me more than a decade of writing but I’ve come to realize that while I write thrillers they have a very strong “relationship” element to them not unlike Gone Girl, which was really all about the relationship between the husband and the wife. I think readers will love getting to know Tracy and her relationship to her sister, Sarah. I think women in particular will feel the bond that those two characters share as well as the pain Tracy feels when Sarah disappears, without a trace. I think they’ll love reading about a tough, strong willed, intelligent woman seeking justice. Beyond that, I hope they’ll just love an old-fashioned edge of your chair thriller with a heart pounding ending.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

Trying not to write from the perspective of a woman, though my lead character is a woman. I knew that would be a potential disaster. So I wrote from the perspective of a human being struggling to find closure and justice for a horrific crime committed to her sister that damaged not just her, but her entire family and bucolic existence in a small town. I have four professional sisters and a mother who has run her own business for 40 years. I’ve been surrounded by intelligent, strong willed women my entire life. Tracy Crosswhite is an amalgamation of all of them, with a healthy dose of real life Seattle Homicide Detective Jennifer Southworth. So I tried to draw from all of them.

What other novels have you written?

I’ve written 8 other novels: The Jury Master, Damage Control, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One, The Conviction, Her Last Breath, The Cyanide Canary as well as The Academy, a short story.

Have there been any awards, productions, videos or anything else of interest associated with your work?

Several have hit the NY Times Bestseller List, including My Sister’s Grave, which was also the #1 Amazon download for two months.

Murder One was a finalist for the Harper Lee award for literary excellence

Murder One and Bodily Harm were chosen as one of the five best legal thrillers of the year by Library Journal and by the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

What else are you working on?

The sequel to My Sister’s Grave, Her last Breath will be published September 8, 2015. I’m working on the third in the series.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

Yes, hearing voices in your head all day that sound very real to you.

Hah! I know that one. I also know you were a two-time winner of PNWA’s annual literary contest, which is an unusual accomplishment in and of itself, and those were events that helped get you started. Can you give us any additional insights to your path to publication?

Like a roller coaster. I had an agent die, a publisher get bought by a huge conglomerate, been to the top and back to the bottom and back to the top. This is not a profession for the faint of heart.

Indeed it isn’t. What would you say is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

Putting your butt in the chair day after day.

So true. Writing thrillers demands that you “do in” certain characters. Have you ever dispatched someone in a book and then regretted it?

Yes, in Bodily Harm, though I won’t say who.

I guess our visitors will have to read it, then try to figure that out for themselves. Do you have another job outside of writing?

I still practice law a couple days a week.

What motivates or inspires you?

My kids. I have a son who is 18 and a daughter 15. I want the best for them because they are terrific kids and deserve every opportunity to succeed.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

What else are you going to do? You can’t quit. If you quit, the critics and cynics win. You have to keep going forward, believe in yourself and be intelligent about your career path.

Some people do quit, despite all that, so I must say how much I admire you. Will you tell us what has been your greatest success in life?

My marriage and my two children.

Do you have any pet projects?

I clean the dog poop in the backyard on a regular basis!

Now that was unexpected. Who has been your greatest inspiration?

My mother and father. They raised 10 kids, all professionals. They just never gave in.

And that tells us where you got your attitude. Before we close, Bob, I like to finish with a Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please answer the following:

My best friend would tell you I’m a …

bit of a Gremlin.

The one thing I cannot do without is:

My wife

The one thing I would change about my life:

Nothing

My biggest peeve is:

People who don’t follow the rules of society the rest of us follow

The person or persons I’m most satisfied with:

My Children

Thank you so much, Bob, for having taken time out of your life to join us here. I’m sure a number of my visitors are glad you stopped by.

For those visitors who would like to sample some of Bob Dugoni’s writing, you can find his latest release at:

http://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Grave-Tracy-Crosswhite-Book-ebook/dp/B00K2EOONI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424715166&sr=8-1&keywords=My+Sister%27s+Grave

Bob’s website:           www.robertdugoni.com

On Facebook:            https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni /

On Twitter:               @robertdugoni

email:                         bob@robertdugoni.com

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, February 16 – Interview With Ann Charles

I first met Ann Charles in early 2011. We were co-contributors to the writers’ blog, Black Ink White Paper. Unfortunately for the blog, but very fortunate for her, Ann’s debut novel, Nearly Departed in Deadwood, had won the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense as well as the the 2011 RWA Golden Heart Award. Her career was taking off with such momentum she was forced to bid us farewell. Who could blame her? It has since turned into a five book series with the sixth book about to be started. In addition to the Deadwood Mystery Series, fans also follow her Jackrabbit Junction Mystery Series and her Dig Site Mystery Series. Not content what those successes, she has recently launched a new book that’s causing a great deal of buzz, because Look What the Wind Blew In begins a brand new series.

IMG_2994 FUNNY SEPIAA member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America for many moons, Ann Charles has a B.A. in English with an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Washington. She is currently toiling away on her next book, wishing she was on a Mexican beach with an ice-cold Corona in one hand and her Kindle in the other. When she is not dabbling in fiction, she is arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cat. Most nights, you can find her hanging out over at www.anncharles.com, on Facebook as Ann Charles, or as AnnWCharles on Twitter–especially around midnight when her quirky fictional world comes to life.

She describes Look What the Wind Blew In like this:

Welcome to the jungle … 

A headstrong and determined archaeologist.

A tall, dark, and unwelcome photojournalist.

Both are trying to unearth secrets that have been long buried, but an ancient Maya curse threatens to destroy them… unless they can learn to trust each other enough to make it out of the jungle alive.

Welcome to The Write Stuff, Ann. I’m so pleased you could join us. Please tell us about your new release.

At the end of January, I released my latest book, Look What The Wind Blew In. This is the story of Quint Parker, a photojournalist, who is also the brother of the heroine in my Deadwood Mystery Series. It’s the first in an archaeological mystery/adventure series that I’ve been wanting to get rolling for years.

What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?

A long, long time ago in a college far, far away, I took a class called History of Mexico. My major was Spanish and I was fascinated with all things south of the United States border—language, art, food, and culture to name a few. Oh, and margaritas, iced or blended, I wasn’t picky. But I digress … in that history class, I learned about the Maya. I read about their famous cities, such as Tulum and Chichen Itza, and I viewed artists’ renditions of their grandeur-filled past as well as current day photographs. I soaked up stories about what their lives may have been like, the day-to-day challenges, the rituals, the architecture, and the sacrifices.

During that class I met Dr. Angélica García, the heroine in Look What the Wind Blew In. I was looking out the window at the blowing snow, wondering what it would be like to be an archaeologist at one of those amazing sites.

From the moment Angélica stepped into my daydreams, she was giving orders to her crew and searching through Maya ruins, determined to find key pieces of history. One hundred percent alpha-female, she needed someone to show her softer side—hence, her father, Dr. Juan García, joined her in my thoughts. Next came the need for a hero who’d give her a run for her money, an outsider she couldn’t control. A photojournalist maybe, working for a renowned magazine, going by the name of Wayne.

Thus, Look What the Wind Blew In was born.

LWTWBI Final Ebook Quote low ResI wrote the first draft while I was in my twenties. It was the second book I’d written at the start of my career. Needless to say, I was still learning how to write a good book (and still am) and it showed in that first draft. My critique partners would agree, because they hated my hero, Wayne.

It’s never good when your readers cringe at the sound of your hero’s name.

I set this story aside and wrote another book, improving my skills. Then I returned to Angélica’s story, excited to try once again to bring her story to life. When I started this second version, my critique partners made me promise to shove Wayne into a closet in my brain and throw away the key. So, Wayne went away, and Quint Parker showed up for hero auditions. He won the role hands down, and I rewrote the story. This next draft was nominated as a finalist in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart national contest, but it didn’t win with the final judges nor several of the literary agents to whom I submitted it after the contest. The time was not right for Angélica and Quint’s story … not yet.

Putting the book aside to be fine-tuned again after I’d honed my skills some more, I wrote Dance of the Winnebagos and Jackrabbit Junction Jitters. Then I returned to Angélica, took another swipe at this story, and sent it off to the agent I’d signed with in the meantime. It fell through the cracks somehow, temporarily forgotten as I wrote Nearly Departed in Deadwood and launched my publishing career with the Deadwood Mystery Series starring Violet Parker, Quint’s younger sister.

Now, many MANY moons after I sat in that classroom looking out at the snow, Quint’s story is finally ready to share. I spent several months working on it, revising yet again to make it the story I have always dreamed about, full of mystery, adventure, humor, suspense, and romance with just a sprinkle of paranormal.

So, to answer your question about how I overcame the challenges with publishing this book, I guess the answer is I just kept hitting my head against the brick wall until I broke through it.

Is there anything you want to make sure potential readers know?

I write mixed genre stories. I tried the traditional publisher route for many years, but in the end, after making it all of the way up the ladder to the “final acquisitions” meeting at a very large publisher out of New York (with my double-award winning book Nearly Departed In Deadwood), I was rejected by their marketing department because they did not feel I could find an large enough audience for the type of story I’d written. I decided not to let their opinion on potential readers stop me and pushed forward, publishing without them. I am so glad I did because they were wrong, and I feel very lucky every day to have found so many wonderfully, supportive readers who do like mixed genre stories.

What other novels have you written?

Currently, I have several fiction books published from multiple series:

Deadwood Mystery Series (in order)

  1. Nearly Departed In Deadwood (multiple award-winning book for both mystery and romance/mystery)
  2. Optical Delusions In Deadwood
  3. Dead Case In Deadwood (selected as one of Suspense Magazine’s BEST OF 2012 books)
  4. Better Off Dead In Deadwood
  5. An Ex To Grind In Deadwood

Jackrabbit Junction Mystery Series (in order)

  1. Dance Of The Winnebagos
  2. Jackrabbit Junction Jitters
  3. The Great Jackalope Stampede

Dig Site Mystery Series:

  1. Look What The Wind Blew In

Short Stories

  • Deadwood Shorts: Seeing Trouble (short story from my Deadwood Mystery Series)
  • Deadwood Shorts: Boot Points (short story from my Deadwood Mystery Series)
  • The Old Man’s Back In Town (a short story from an upcoming Goldwash Mystery Series).

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

I often joke with my husband that when we are old and senile, I’m going to think that all of these characters I’ve created are real people who we’ve known over the years. He thinks it’s going to make for an entertaining time at the breakfast table every morning over grapefruit, turkey bacon, and fiber-filled cereal.

Hah! I should have known that a writer who calls her children Chicken Noodle and Beaker wouldn’t keep her answers entirely serious. OK. Back on track. What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?

I have trouble carving out the time I need every day to write. I have two young kids who I want to play with before they grow up, a wonderful husband with whom I love to spend time, and a writing business to run (the “business” part of which takes up 50% of my free time most days). Finding blocks of hours to write usually has to come at the cost of sleep for me, and there is only so much caffeine I can inject into my system before I keel over into a sleep-starved coma.

Got me grinning again. Please tell us about you “other” life. Do you have another job outside of writing?

Not anymore. For the first fifteen years while getting my writing career rolling, I was also a Technical Writer for a banking software company. Two years ago, I was able to quit that job and focus on writing full-time thanks to the awesome readers who have offered so much support and help by letting others know about my books.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

I have several addictions—frozen Coke Slurpees, fun throw rugs, and all sizes and shapes of tote bags to name a few. On top of that, I’m a slave to my sassy cat and I relax by putting together jigsaw puzzles.

I know life is never entirely smooth, so how do you rise above adversity?

I’d like to tell you that I do something wise like meditate to find my zen, but the truth is that I get frustrated, go through my cupboards and fridge in search of something that will make me feel better, and then paw the ground a few times before pushing through whatever is giving me grief. If that doesn’t work, I throw my computer out the window and go stare at the clouds

What has been your greatest success in life?

Doing well enough in the writing world to quit my 40 hour a week job as a technical writer so that I can focus on my 80+ hour a week job as a full-time author.

Before I give our visitors a taste of your new book, let’s try a quick Lightning Round. In as few words as possible, please fill in the blanks.

My best friend would tell you this about me…

“turtle”—I don’t like to rush into things, I like to ponder things for a bit first.

The one thing I cannot do without is…

My family

This one thing I would change about my life is…

I’d try to laugh more and worry less.

The thing I’m most satisfied with is…

Where I live—in the mountains in Arizona. I’ve wanted to live here in the Old West since I was a kid watching John Wayne riding a horse through Monument Valley, Old Tucson, and Saguaro National Park on the television screen.

Ann, I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am you joined us. I wish you continued success in an already successful career.

As for our visitors, here is a sample of Look What the Wind Blew In:

 

Chapter One

Mal Viento: An evil wind that can cause sickness or death.

“It’s a curse.”

Angélica García frowned at her father over the beam of her flashlight, wondering if the heat had fried his brain. “It’s not a curse, Dad.”

“Go over it again, gatita. And this time, use plain, old English.” Juan García reached out and gently tweaked the tip of her nose. “Not all of us speak Mayan in our sleep.”

Angélica wiped away the sweat trailing down her cheek. She tilted the flashlight beam slightly away from the temple wall, grazing the surface so the shadows added depth to the blocks of Maya glyphs.

She pointed at the first set. “This shows Yum Cimil, the Lord of Death. It says he rode in on the wind with a traveler.” She moved to the next. “Here, the king is performing a sacrificial ceremony, offering his blood for the lives of his people. And in this one, Yum Cimil has turned his back on the king’s sacrifice and is devouring the village.”

“What about that last set?” Juan asked.

“It shows the Lord of Death crouching inside a temple. It says he ‘waits.’”

“Waits for what?”

“It doesn’t show.”

“Sounds like a curse to me.”

Angélica aimed the flashlight at her father.

He stared back at her, all traces of his usual grin absent. His silver-haired sideburns glistened with sweat.

She shook her head. He couldn’t be serious. “You’re losing it.” She pointed the beam back at the first glyph set. “Look here. The Lord of Death rode in on the wind with the traveler. That means the proof we need is at this site. I just have to find it.” She skimmed her fingers over the warm chiseled stone and smiled at him. “I knew Mom was right.”

“I still think it’s a curse,” he said, mopping his brow with a handkerchief. “You shouldn’t have read it aloud.”

She growled in her throat. After almost four decades of digging in tombs and temples throughout the Yucatán Peninsula, northern Guatemala, and Belize, how could he still believe in curses? “Be serious, Dad. That Lord of Death Waiting glyph is just the Maya equivalent of a ghost story.”

He lifted his eyebrows. “What makes you so certain it’s not a curse?”

Angélica scrubbed her hand down her face. She couldn’t believe they were even having this discussion.

“Listen, child,” Juan started.

“I’m almost thirty-five now, Dad.”

“Maybe so, but I’ve been on this earth—in temples just like this one—a lot longer than you have. It’s time you …”

She crossed her arms over her chest, bracing herself for the usual I’m-your-father speech.

He paused, glancing down at her arms then back up into her face. “And now you’re giving me that look,” he snorted. “I don’t know why I try to tell you anything. You never listen anyway. One of these days you’re going to learn that I’m almost always right.”

Almost being the key word there.” Her grin took the sting out of her words.

Juan chuckled, patting her on the head. “You’re getting more and more like your mother every day.”

Tilting her head, she batted her eyelashes several times. “You mean intelligent and beautiful?”

“Mouthy and obstinate.” He pointed at the carvings on the wall. “Whether you like it or not, this curse could mean trouble.”

Angélica heard a nervous-sounding groan from the shadows behind her father. She shined the flashlight over Juan’s shoulder into the wide eyes of Esteban, a nineteen-year-old Maya boy from a nearby village who had worked for her off and on over the last few years. He must have finished recording the artifacts in the other chamber and slipped into the room without her hearing him.

“Shit,” she said under her breath. The last thing she needed right now were rumors spreading through camp that an ancient curse had come back to life. She turned back to Juan. “Dad, it’s not a curse.” Clearing her throat, she glanced pointedly toward her Maya crewmember. “It’s merely an artist showing a grim vision of the future.”

“Call it what it is, gatita. It’s a curse warning whoever sees it that death is waiting for its next meal,” Juan argued.

 

For those of you who want to read more of Ann’s writing, here are a few links to help you:

Buy links on her website:       http://www.anncharles.com/?page_id=1744

Facebook (Personal Page): http://www.facebook.com/ann.charles.author

Facebook (Author Page):  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Charles/37302789804?ref=share

Twitter (as Ann W. Charles): http://twitter.com/AnnWCharles

Ann Charles Website: http://www.anncharles.com

The Write Stuff – Monday, November 17 – Interview With Melissa Foster

Today’s interview concludes this year’s series and I couldn’t be more delighted with my guest. One of the world’s most successful self-published authors, she is a New York Times, USA Today and Amazon best-selling author. If that’s not enough, this year Melissa won five, count ’em, Readers Favorite awards! This powerhouse, who writes seven days a week, often twelve to fifteen hours per day, is currently turning out one novel per month, aided by a team of editors, artists and formatters. She has so far sold more than one million copies of her novels that encompass the genres of women’s literature, thriller and romance and generate a six figure monthly income for her. While Amazon rates Nora Roberts as the number one romance author, my guest has ranked between number nine and number twenty-five. Of all authors, all genres, all countries worldwide, she’s typically in the top 100, although that changes hourly. That’s not bad for someone who was still waiting to be published only six years ago.

Mel Author Photo brickWhile these details are certainly impressive, to my mind they are the least impressive part of who this woman is. Not content to have risen to the pinnacle of success, she devotes large portions of her already over-loaded schedule to mentoring other aspiring authors, teaching them the ins and outs of marketing and connecting them with resources such as editors, formatters and cover artists. Her untiring efforts have launched the careers of many who were waiting impatiently in the wings, mine included.

Whether you are a reader or a writer, whether you are a regular visitor to this website or have landed here as a result of social network advertising—even by accident—it is my undisguised pleasure to introduce you to Melissa Foster.

Melissa, will you tell us exactly when and why you chose to self publish?

I decided to self publish in 2009 because rejections were plentiful and more importantly, they were demeaning. I wanted to see what readers thought of my work and realized that agents’ and traditional publishers’ scope of interest was quite narrow. I’m glad I did!

Very few self-published authors have experienced your degree of success. Will you tell us a bit about your path to publication and the road beyond?

FOSTER_Traces_Kara_final_awardSure! When I began self publishing there weren’t many supporters of self publishing. I decided early on that I wouldn’t let the naysayers hold me back, and I pushed forward, learning as much as I could about the publishing industry, book marketing, and reaching readers. My second book took off (CHASING AMANDA) and I remember the day I realized I’d sold 60,000 copies in a month. I think my entire mindset changed at that point—and it pushed me to work harder and spread my wings to help other authors learn to do the same.

Exciting things seem to be happening to you all the time. Any new events you’d like to share?

Oh goodness, I have huge news but I can’t share it yet. I’m on the verge of some very exciting ventures! But what I can share is my new series due out next April, HARBORSIDE NIGHTS. I’ve been waiting two years to write this new adult series, and I’m finally diving in later this year. HARBORSIDE NIGHTS is a sexy, hot, and evocatively real New Adult Romance series that follows a group of friends who have known one another for years as “summer” friends, and now come together after college to build their lives. They’re tough, edgy, and accepting—most of the time. This series will be written in the loving, raw, and emotional voice my readers have come to love.

I’m sure we all want to hear what’s brewing when the moment is right. For now, though, I’d like to find out a little more about Melissa the person. For starters, what life experiences have inspired or enriched your writing?

I think every life experiences enriches my writing. I learn and grow from everything I do.

Describe a typical day.

To an outsider, I’m possibly the most boring person on earth – but in my eyes, I’m the luckiest woman on the planet. In addition to taking kids to school and picking them up, and other motherly duties, I typically check email, catch up on social media, and handle non-writing work from 7:00 am-8:45 am, then I write until 2:45, pick up kids, and write again from 4-whenever I feel like I am done, which ranges from 6-midnight. I walk on my treadmill while I write from 9-11 each day (and wish I could walk longer, but my knees won’t take it). This year I’m adding a morning weight workout to my routine, so that will bump my schedule a bit, but hopefully it’ll be worth it. I take social media (or sanity) breaks several times each hour. In addition, I handle my businesses (World Literary Café and Fostering Success) throughout the day.

I’ve seen photos of your new home in Maryland and must admit it’s quite beautiful. That said, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

This is easy for me to answer. Cape Cod. It’s my favorite place on earth.

What other interests do you have, aside from writing and your other well-known passion, chocolate?

Oh Raymond, you have let my secret out! I have a few other interests, although most I do while enjoying my chocolate addiction. I love to read, and I love to exercise. Painting is always joyful, although I have little time for that any more with my writing schedule.

Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share with us?

Yes “Enjoy each and every day. No one else can do it for you.” I made it up years ago and I live by it.

It takes a very special individual to achieve what you’ve done, so I’m wondering how you pick yourself up in the face of adversity.

I remember my mother’s face any time I’ve complained about something that stands in my way. She wrinkles her brow and her response is usually something like, “Yeah? And? What are you going to do about it?” In other words, everyone can complain—what can you do to make things better? She’s always been a source of inspiration and strength, and I thank God for her on a daily basis.

If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would he or she tell me?

Luckily, my best friends would never share my secrets, so she’d probably say I was stubborn, a rule breaker, and that if I want to accomplish something, watch out world, because here I come!

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

I’d make chocolate fat and calorie free.

Hah! Why am I not surprised? Alright then, what makes you laugh?

My husband. He’s a joy to be around. And puppies. They always make me laugh.

What is your greatest life lesson?

There are so many, but the one that serves me best is noted above. When faced with a roadblock there are three routes we can take. We can stop. We can turn around and retreat, or we can stay on track and find a way over or around it. That’s my path.

Lightning round, Melissa. As briefly as possible, please answer the following:

The one thing I cannot do without is:

Writing, chocolate, and my family. Sorry – three things.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Persistence and happy thoughts.

Hard copy or ebook?

Paperback—except when traveling or lying in bed, then ebook.

Vice? Virtue?

Neither. Valor.

Favorite movie:

Secret Life of Bees

These few moments have passed all too quickly. Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

Yes, I’d like to thank you for hosting me with such a fun interview, and I’d like to thank readers who have picked up my books and/or shared them with friends, and readers who have reached out to me on social media and via email. I love hearing from you! Please continue to reach out. xox

Thank you, Melissa, for taking the time to share with us.

To help my visitors contact or follow Melissa, here are several links:

Writers who are looking for assistance in their quest for self publication would do well to check out:      http://www.fostering-success.com/

To find additional related information or locate the type of resources mentioned above:     http://www.worldliterarycafe.com

To visit Melissa’s website:  www.MelissaFoster.com

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

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

Amazon:        http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Foster/e/B002LTT7U2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

 

The Write Stuff – Monday, July 14 – Interview With Author Eden Baylee

This week, I am interviewing my long-time friend, Canadian author, Eden Baylee. Back in 2012, Eden and I were part of the writers’ blog, Black Ink, White Paper. It was a collaborative effort of a dozen or so authors wherein we shared all the experiences that influenced our work—not just the literary stuff, but our day trips, food, family life and all the other parts of our everyday existence. I always enjoyed our chemistry, so when I learned Eden was releasing her first full-length novel, I knew I had to bring her on board.

ebEden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as travel, humor, music, poetry, art and much more.

Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop, surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!

To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.

Welcome, Eden! I am so excited to have you join us. I thoroughly expect Stranger at Sunset to carry the flavor of your previous works. Can you summarize it for us?

A vacation can be a killer. 

Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.

It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.

Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?

Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate’s own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.

I can already tell this book is a hot one. Aside from the plot, is there a story behind your book?

The book is all about the interaction of strangers, and the word ‘stranger’ has multiple meanings throughout the story. As adults, we are not usually forced into situations with people we do not like, so I wanted to explore a tense atmosphere with strangers, and to do it in a Jamaican resort which, by all accounts, should be a place of paradise and happiness.

The desires and motivations of the strangers in the story are not always clear, not even to themselves. In many ways, it reflects how I feel about people in real life. Sometimes we are strangers to ourselves.

We certainly are. The one thing I do know about you is that you’re never idle. What are you working on now?

I’m working on A Fragile Truce, which is the book that follows Stranger at Sunset and features the same protagonist, Dr. Kate Hampton. There is an excerpt of it at the end of my book.

That’s an indication of how far along you are. I must say, mysteries like these are departures from your previous work. Why have you chosen this particular genre?

I enjoy reading the mystery and thriller genres. There are many nuances contained in them and different ways to tell a story. I’m not a ‘blood and guts’ storyteller, so I don’t have the talent to write police procedurals or crime novels. Where my interest lies is in the motivations of people. That is why I classify my book as a psychological mystery/thriller, because much of it is based on intellectual mind games.

If someone were to ask why they should buy your book, what would you tell them?

The quick and dirty answer is: Buying my book is for entertainment and escapism. Though I was inspired to write it based on my own experiences and views of the world, there are no great life lessons in it.

I’ve read The Austrian and the Asian and enjoyed it very much. That says a lot about your skill as a writer, since not many men read or enjoy erotica. Will you touch on what else you have written?

Prior to Stranger at Sunset, I’ve written short stories, novellas, and flash fiction. They have all been in the erotica genre for the most part. This novel marks my venture into a new genre. It was a huge challenge for me, but I’m proud I pushed myself to do it.

As you should be. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is a challenge for many of us. I should also tell our visitors how well-developed and layered your writing is. What life experiences or careers inspire or enrich your writing?

I was a banker for twenty years before I took up writing full time. Believe it or not, there are many stories from that period of my life. I just haven’t put them together in my head to create a book.

Music, people, and travel are the biggest inspirations for me.

As a writer, I find even the most mundane of life’s experiences fascinating, as often I need to incorporate those moments into my writing, and to do it in a way that interests the reader. Life, after all, is not always a fast-moving thriller. My book moves at a smoldering pace because I want to pull the reader in slowly.

Because I love the mystery and serendipity of life, I wanted to highlight both these elements in my fiction.

That’s smoldering, as in slow burn, as opposed to blistering. Let’s take a minute to look at your “other life”—your life outside writing. Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?

Thailand—for many reasons, but mainly because of the heat, the beaches, and the people. One of the most personal stories I’ve ever written, called “The Lottery” takes place in Thailand. If you read that book, you will understand why I have a special place in my heart for the Thai people, especially the women.

What is your dream job?

I’m doing it now. To be able to use my imagination to create stories that connect me to others … it’s remarkable.

Hah! That’s every author’s dream. If I spoke to your closest friend about you, what would he or she tell me?

Eden is whacky, creative, and directionally challenged. I hate when she gives me directions in a car because I’ll end up making three or four U-turns in one trip. The only reason we are still friends is because I now have GPS.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Life is a series of short stories pretending to be a novel” – Anonymous.

What makes you laugh?

Fart jokes. I don’t care how old you are, fart jokes are damn funny.

Now that is something I never would have guessed. OK. Lightning Round.

In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Curious and tolerant, or perhaps curiously tolerant. (And I can’t count. Sorry, Ray! )

Hard copy or ebook?

Both, depends on my mood.

Vice? Virtue?

Vice in fiction, virtue in real life.

Favorite book:

50 Shades of … NOT! Too many to name, I’m afraid.

Whew! I’m glad you didn’t go there. Favorite movie:

Anything with Anthony Hopkins in it.

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

First and foremost, thank you Ray, for your time and energy. It’s lovely of you to interview me given your own busy schedule. I truly appreciate the exposure and look forward to meeting one day for a scotch. You’re buying of course, right?

Uh… er… Would you care to share a little of your book, Eden? (Notice how deftly I changed the subject.)

Sas_KindleThe body plummeted two and a half stories into the sea. It bobbed between crests before foamy waves swept in and yanked it under the surface. The tide rushed out dragging its new possession deep into the ocean’s dark belly. Swells curled and collapsed against the shore. The evening breeze whistled an eerie tune.

Despite how tightly his fingers gripped the large barrels, the binoculars trembled in the man’s hands. He now wished he had bought the more powerful Porro-prism model. This less expensive design darkened the image, especially against a pale orange sky reflecting the chopped glass of the water. While adjusting the diopter ring behind his right eyepiece, he bit down on his lower lip.

A silhouette met his lens, haloed by the glow of the setting sun. With his breath thickening the atmosphere, he pressed the eyepiece harder against his face to stop from shaking.

The woman stood naked with her hair pinned up, loose strands trailing down the nape of her slender neck. Her palms rested on the metal railing of the balcony. As she stared out at the churning sea, he zoomed in on her face, then moved his binoculars downward to her breasts, lingering there longer than he should have. Slowly, he lowered his gaze to her flat stomach. Firm thighs extended off the arc of round buttocks. A dancer’s body—willowy and muscular, but not too muscular, she was beauty and grace, and yet, what she just did …

A hint of dark pubic hair blurred past his lens. While he re-calibrated the magnification, she drifted out of focus. When he brought her back in view, her contemplative mood had changed. She moved a chair to the corner of the terrace. Gathering up a pile of bed sheets, she crossed the threshold into the room and scurried out of view.

He dared not avert his eyes. The light was fading fast, and night would soon fall upon the villa like a magician’s cape. With his elbows pressed to his sides, he loosened his grip on the binoculars and tried to flex his aching fingers.

She had to come back, right?

The doors leading to the patio were still wide open. Secluded in his dark corner of the island, he spied the room as if ogling a dollhouse with its front wall sheared off, scaled down to about the same size too.

The naked woman strolled back into his field of vision as a cramp sneaked up on him. A painful twitch stabbed his wrist, reminded him of old wounds. He dropped the binoculars secured by a strap around his neck to shake out both his hands. By the time he brought the lens to his face again, she had disappeared, no … wait, she popped up from behind the bed carrying two pillows. With an unhurried pace, she stepped out on the balcony and propped the cushions on the chair, even fluffed them before re-entering the suite. She closed the wooden French doors behind her.

The light in her room replaced the sun’s blush, a poor substitute given a set of floor-to-ceiling jalousies bracketed his view. He waited to see what she would do next. His breathing deafened his ears as if he were wheezing through a mask; adrenaline pumped in his veins. She moved in front of the window facing him. With hands on her hips, legs spread apart, she stood full frontal and stared straight at him. He shrank back and jostled her image.

Could she see him?

 

If you would like to read more from Stranger at Sunset, or learn more about the author, please check out the following links:

 

Amazon:         http://authl.it/B00L7BVDFM

Website:          http://www.edenbayleebooks.com/

Blog:                http://edenbaylee.com/

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/edenbaylee

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

Goodreads:      https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4563150.Eden_Baylee

Linkedin:         http://bit.ly/edlinkedin

Google+:         https://plus.google.com/108816906889719718910/posts

Pinterest:         http://www.pinterest.com/edenbaylee/

The Write Stuff – Monday, May 5 – Interview With Author Giacomo Giammatteo

This edition of The Write Stuff moves into different territory. When I began this series, I promised to present authors of interest. I doubt you will find anyone more interesting than mystery and non-fiction author, Giacomo Giammatteo. With so many titles to his credit and such glowing reviews about his work, I hardly knew where to begin this interview. I thought I would play it safe by asking Jim, as I have grown to know him, to tell us a little about himself. He chose to describe himself this way:

Giacomo & Slick 3andAhalf Inch

I live in Texas now, but I grew up in Cleland Heights, a mixed ethnic neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware, that sat on the fringes of the Italian, Irish and Polish neighborhoods. The main characters of Murder Takes Time grew up in Cleland Heights and many of the scenes in the book were taken from real-life experiences.

Somehow I survived the transition to adulthood, but when my kids were young I left the Northeast and settled in Texas, where my wife suggested we get a few animals. I should have known better; we now have a full-blown animal sanctuary with rescues from all over. At last count we had 41 animals—12 dogs, a horse, a three-legged cat and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy.

Since this is a bio, some of you might wonder what I do. By day I am a headhunter, scouring the country for top talent to fill jobs in the biotech and medical device industry. In the evening I help my wife tend the animals, and at night—late at night—I turn into a writer. I write mysteries and non-fiction career books. I also have a series of epic fantasies planned; the first three are written.

Jim, in brief, what is Murder Takes Time about?

Nicky Fusco thought he knew right from wrong, living by an oath of friendship & honor with his three best friends. But life took them down separate paths, and the oath was broken. Secrets were kept. Years later they are reunited and the bonds of their friendship are brutally tested, putting them on a collision course set in motion long ago.

Murder Takes Time is not a typical murder mystery or mob story. It is a thriller, a romance, and a coming-of-age story that rips your heart out. By the time you’re done reading it, you just might find yourself rethinking the definition of friendship & honor—even right and wrong.

Three boys, one girl. Friendship, honor, love—betrayal. It ends with murder.

Wow! That’s quite a concept. Since I know from personal experience that every story has a seed, what prompted you to write this one and why should someone buy it?

Many of the stories in this book are true, mostly of the kids in the early days. The neighborhood described is where I grew up.

I guarantee a good read. Literally. If you don’t like my books, or don’t feel you got your money’s worth, I’ll give you a refund or a new book. I have it posted on both of my sites. No one has taken me up on it yet.

What are you working on now?

Always a tricky question. I tend to work on a lot of things at once, and at different stages of development. So, I have just put up my second career book  on pre-order (No Mistakes Interviews), and I am doing the final edit on A Bullet From Dominic, the second book in the Blood Flows South series. I am also close to finishing the draft on Murder Takes Patience, the third in the Friendship & Honor series, and I am plotting a novella, and also the fourth and final book in my fantasy series.

Right from the start, I said you have numerous titles to your credit. That brings up the question, how do you overcome writer’s block?

Fortunately, I have never had to deal with that.

Some say marketing a book is more difficult than writing it, yet you’ve bee very successful at this. What is your marketing strategy?

When you find a strategy that works, please let me know. I have been experimenting with a lot. I can tell you what I don’t do, and that’s give books away for free in mass quantities.

Hah! Can you tell us what life experiences inspire or enrich your writing?

I guess growing up in the city in a big family and among various ethnic groups. That was a wonderful experience.

Between all of the animals and your day job, how do you find time to write? What’s a typical day?

  • Wake up about 7, feed a few of the animals. (we have a sanctuary with 45 animals).
  • Drink coffee.
  • Work in my day job, headhunting in the biotech/medical device industries.
  • More coffee.
  • Feed animals at noon.
  • Back to headhunting.
  • More coffee.
  • Feed more animals at around 5-6 PM.
  • More coffee.
  • Eat dinner around 8:00 and then start writing.
  • Write until about midnight or so. Start all over the next day.

 A few quick questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Italy. No question about it.

How do you pick yourself up in the face of adversity?

Knowing that picking yourself up is required. That’s what must be done.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Do you have any pet projects?

Continuing our work with animals that need help.

What makes you laugh?

Almost anything. But especially little kids and animals.

What are a few of your favorite authors?

Alexandre Dumas, Luciano DeCrescenzo, Frank Herbert, John Sandford.

I enjoy multiple genres, as well. Alright, Jim, before I share an excerpt from Murder Takes Time with our visitors, as well as links to more of your work, let’s try a lightning round.

 The one thing I cannot do without is:

Coffee/espresso, garlic, pasta. (I can’t limit it to one)

 In one or two words, what is your defining trait?

Persistence.

Hard copy or ebook?

Doesn’t matter.

Vice? Virtue?

Coffee, garlic, pasta.

Hah! I think I see a pattern here. Favorite book:

The Count of Monte Cristo

Favorite movie:

The Phantom of the Opera (2004 version)

Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?

If you like a book, tell someone about it.

I asked Jim to provide a brief excerpt from Murder Takes Time. Here it is, for your enjoyment:

 Murder takes time Final-a

GG: Murder Takes Time

Published 4/15/2012

 

Chapter 1

Rule Number One―Murder Takes Time

 

Brooklyn, New York—Current Day

He sipped the last of a shitty cup of coffee and stared across the street at Nino Tortella, the guy he was going to kill. Killing was an art, requiring finesse, planning, skill—and above all—patience. Patience had been the most difficult to learn. The killing came naturally. He cursed himself for that. Prayed to God every night for the strength to stop. But so far God hadn’t answered him, and there were still a few more people that needed killing.

The waitress leaned forward to refill his cup, her cleavage a hint that more than coffee was being offered. “You want more?”

He waved a hand—Nino was heading towards his car. “Just the check, please.”

From behind her ear she pulled a yellow pencil, tucked into a tight bun of red hair, then opened the receipt book clipped to the pocket of her apron. Cigarette smoke lingered on her breath, almost hidden by the gum she chewed.

Spearmint, he thought, and smiled. It was his favorite, too.

He waited for her to leave, scanned the table and booth, plucked a few strands of hair from the torn cushion and a fingernail clipping from the windowsill. After putting them into a small plastic bag, he wiped everything with a napkin. The check was $4.28. He pulled a five and a one from his money clip and left them on the table. As he moved to the door he glanced out the window. Nino already left the lot, but it was Thursday, and on Thursdays Nino stopped for pizza.

He parked three blocks from Nino’s house, finding a spot where the snow wasn’t piled high at the curb. After pulling a black wool cap over his forehead, he put leather gloves on, raised the collar on his coat then grabbed his black sports bag. Favoring his left leg, he walked down the street, dropping his eyes if he passed someone. The last thing he wanted was a witness remembering his face.

He counted the joints in the concrete as he walked. Numbers forced him to think logically, kept his mind off what he had to do. He didn’t want to kill Nino. He had to. It seemed as if all of his life he was doing things he didn’t want to do. He shook his head, focused on the numbers again.

When he drew near the house, he cast a quick glance to ensure the neighbors’ cars weren’t there. The door took less than thirty seconds to open. He kept his hat and gloves on, walked into the kitchen, and set his bag on the counter. He removed a pair of tongs and a shot glass, and set them on the coffee table. A glance around the room had him straightening pictures and moving dirty dishes to the sink. A picture of an older woman stared at him from a shelf above an end table. Might be his mother, he thought, and gently set it face down. Back to the kitchen. He opened the top of the black bag and removed two smaller bags. He set one in the fridge and took the other with him.

The contents of the second bag—hair and other items—he spread throughout the living room. The crime scene unit would get a kick out of that. He did one final check, removed a baseball bat from the bag, then sat on the couch behind the door. The bat lay on the cushion beside him. While he stretched his legs and leaned back, he thought about Nino. It would be easy to just shoot him, but that wouldn’t be fair. Renzo suffered for what he did; Nino should too. He remembered Mamma Rosa’s warnings, that the things people did would come back to haunt them. Nino would pay the price now.

A car pulled into the driveway. He sat up straight and gripped the bat.

For more of  Giacomo Giammatteo’s work:

Online sales links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007UNJJYI

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/NK6oqO

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/murder-takes-time/id593283220?mt=11

Google: http://bit.ly/1jmALEe

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/MURDER-TAKES-TIME/book-EYyE6dSy0GSQM4cu9IIzg/page1.html?s=gm40hRi4bEiPA241VefjbA&r=2

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=giacomo+giammatteo

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/giacomo4giammatteo

 

Website, blog and online social accounts:

http://giacomogiammatteo.com

http://nomistakes.org

https://twitter.com/JimGiammatteo

http://www.facebook.com/GiacomoGiammatteo

www.pinterest.com/jgiammatteo

http://gplus.to/GiacomoGiammatteo

http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimgiammatteo