Meet Roslyn Reid

Hey everyone,

reidToday I’m interviewing Roslyn Reid. She just published her debut novel, a mystery, called A Scandal at Crystalline.  Roslyn lives in Maine, one of my favorite states, and the name of her blog is Mysterious Maine Woodswoman. Gotta love it!

Roslyn lives with her corgi, Great Pyrenees, and husband in Downeast Maine, where she gardens, lifts weights, hikes, and renovates houses. She has contributed articles to Llewellyn almanacs for over a decade and written for one of the local newspapers.

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Here’s the book blurb. Click here to find the book on Amazon.

Chandler Hammond’s wife says he and his hot Iranian girlfriend skipped out of their Maine town of Finderne with his company’s millions. But his sister thinks his wife murdered him and hires African-American detective James Early and his teenage son Tikki to find the truth. A Scandal at Crystalline follows them through an intriguing maze of unexpected encounters: financial shenanigans, two beautiful women who were sleeping with each other (and with Chandler Hammond), a police psychic, and a runaway kid in a remote mountain cabin. But things turn dark when their investigation forces them to consider the unimaginable—the sinister side of raku pottery.

Onto the interview!

Why did you decide to write this book?

One morning I woke up and this book was writing itself in my head. The same thing happened the next day and the next. I never considered myself good enough to write a mystery (or even a novel), so I kept trying to get it to go away. But then at some point I started listening to it and said to myself, hmm, this is pretty good. That’s when I started writing it down.

What genre is your book?

This is the first of a mystery series. They are all different subgenres within the mystery genre. My publisher calls this a “dark” mystery. I would call the next one a “paranormal” mystery. 

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Readers might be a better judge of that than I could. I think sometimes it’s the characters and sometimes it’s the plot! 

What makes your book unique?

Currently I’m researching racism in the mystery genre. There aren’t many black detectives. Also my villains are women, in the Raymond Chandler vein. 

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I’m definitely what they call a “pantser” – seat of the pants writer. I let the plot go where it may and then figure out how to make it work.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

This is a rather interesting insight into the creative process. The names of my detective, his son, and his best friend came out of the ether. Some characters, like George, are named after people I know. One of my favorite places for mining names is the local newspaper. The town the book is set in has the name of my real hometown, but it’s not in Maine. And Siri is probably self-explanatory! 

How do you decide on the setting?

It seems like any writer who lives in Maine wants to set their books in Maine. This state has many unique aspects, and it can also be a pretty creepy place.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No, but I do have an impossible standard: Raymond Chandler. 

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I write whenever I can. Some days I write only a few hours, other days can be 8 hours of nonstop writing. I’ve written in bed ever since I was 8. The only difference now is that it’s on my laptop.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Writing is not a cushy job! And not for the shy. Get out there and promote yourself.

Where can readers find you?

My blog on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19377242.Roslyn_Reid/blog

My LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/roslyn-reid-322018152/

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_moonshadow

 

Book Review: The Glass House

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing The Glass House: A PIP Inc. Mystery by Nancy Lynn Jarvis.  It’s the first book in a new series by Nancy, and I loved it! It’s fun and entertaining.

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Here’s my review:

I love the start of this new series from Nancy Lynn Jarvis. It’s written in her engaging style, with solid characters, plenty of red herrings, and a murder that feels perfect since the victim is someone you love to hate! 

I was particularly impressed by the deft introduction of the main character, Pat Pirard. At the start of the book, Pat is in her new car, a two-door sunburst yellow Mercedes, pulling into her newly-designated parking spot at the Santa Cruz County office building. She’s listening to Aretha’s “Respect.” We learn that she’s got strawberry blond hair. She’s wearing peachy lipstick and stylish pointed-toe pumps, and she totes a leopard print briefcase. It’s a great character portrait, right there on page 1.

Needless to say, I was hooked. Pat is a fun character. She’s likable, smart, and funny. Her friends are equally so. The plot moves along quickly, with Pat pulled into a murder investigation thirty pages in. As Pat proves herself as a P.I., she’s also falling in love. The romantic element of this book is written with just the right amount of spice. And the story is fun, with lots of detail about Santa Cruz, glass work, and the ins and outs of private detecting. As the plot unfolds, you’ll find plenty of suspects and shifting facts, and you’ll definitely want to keep reading to find out what happens. 

I highly recommend The Glass House for readers who like a cozy mystery with a dose of romance.

You can find the book on Amazon and connect with Nancy on her Amazon author page.

Until next time,

Nancy

Meet Laurel Heidtman

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Today, I interview Laurel Heidtman. I met her through an author Facebook group I’m a member of. I’m really looking foward to reading her books. Laurel is originally from southwestern Ohio and is a three-time graduate of Miami University of Ohio. For the past 28 years, she and her husband  have lived on private land inside Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky with an assortment of dogs and cats (3 dogs, 2 cats at the current time).

Over the years, she’s worked in many different professions. Laurel has been a dancer, a police officer, a registered nurse, and a technical writer to name the ones she did the longest. When she retired from the 9-to-5 life, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She now writes mysteries and thrillers as Laurel Heidtman. She also write cozy mysteries, contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Lolli Powell.

Here’s a list of Laurel’s books. It’s impressive!

2014

Catch A Falling Star (An Eden Mystery), 247 pages, May 2014 – Laurel Heidtman

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The Boy Next Door, contemporary romance, 226 pages, November 2014 – Lolli Powell 

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2015

The Wrong Kind of Man, romantic suspense, 353 pages, January 2015 –Lolli Powell

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Bad Girls (An Eden Mystery), 344 pages, August 2015 – Laurel Heidtman

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2016

Whiteout, thriller, 284 pages, March 2016 – Laurel Heidtman

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The Body on the Barstool (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 314 pages, November 2016 – Lolli Powell

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2017

Whiskey Kills (A Top Shelf Mystery), cozy mystery, 369 pages, September 2017 – Lolli Powell

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The Gift: A Novella, 99 pages, November 2017 – Lolli Powell

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2018

Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery), 260 pages, January 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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Murder in Eden, bundle of three Eden mysteries, 757 pages, April 2018 – Laurel Heidtman

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On to the interview!

What genre are your books?

As Laurel Heidtman, I write mysteries (crime novels) and thrillers. As Lolli Powell, I write cozy mysteries and romance.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I think all of my books are a pretty even mixture of both. I write genre fiction, and the primary purpose of genre fiction is to entertain, so obviously plot is important to that. But unless the reader also believes in and likes/hates/fears the characters, he or she isn’t likely to be entertained. In 2017, Whiskey Kills, the second book in my Top Shelf cozy mystery series won a Bronze in The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards contest. The contest is judged by reader groups in London and Stockholm, and the readers provide feedback to the authors. One of the things they give an opinion on is whether they think the book is plot- or character-driven. Out of twenty-three readers, ten thought my book was plot-driven and thirteen thought it was character-driven. Since they all read the same book, I think that confirms I’m correct in thinking mine are a pretty even mixture.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I know where the story starts and where it ends, but how I get from one to the other usually emerges as I write. It’s like a road trip—you start at point A and you know you’re going to point B, but there are a lot of roads you can take to get there.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

I name characters the same way I name my dogs and cats—I play around with different names until the dog/cat/character tells me that’s the one. Seriously, some names just don’t seem to fit, and then all of a sudden, one does.

How do you decide on the setting?

That is dictated by the story or the situation or event that triggered the idea for the story. For example, I got the idea for my thriller Whiteout from the experience of being trapped in our home in the woods in the freak March 1993 blizzard that hit Kentucky. We had 22 inches of snow and the high winds piled that into hip-high drifts. We lost power, of course, and had no hope of getting out for days. So I imagined what would happen to two couples with issues stranded like that and then two escaped killers show up on their doorstep.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Not really. But I am thankful for the support and encouragement of the many indie authors I’ve befriended both locally and through the Internet.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

My writing schedule leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the summer! I really want to get more disciplined about that, and it’s my goal for not only the New Year but the rest of this year. I’ve written and self-published eight full-length novels and one novella (plus published a bundle of three of my mysteries) in the last five years. That’s not bad, but if I had treated this more as a full-time job, I could have done a lot more.

I don’t have any favorite or interesting place to write. I just write at my desk, or occasionally I might take my laptop to a comfortable chair.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to remind people that all writers, but especially indie authors, depend on reader reviews. Potential readers also depend on reviews to help them find a book that would appeal to them. We writers appreciate any and all reviews. Of course, we appreciate ones that detail what the reader liked and didn’t like about the book (the latter helps us improve), but even a simple one- or two-liner is appreciated.

Where can readers find you?

I have two websites, one for each of my author names. They are: www.laurelheidtman.com and www.lollipowell.com.

My blog link is: www.ridgewriter.com.

Amazon author pages: https://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Heidtman/e/B00KOR458M/ and https://www.amazon.com/Lolli-Powell/e/B00TM9IJFI/

Facebook links:

Laurel Heidtman Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/Laurel-Heidtman-Author-1493519914256076/

Lolli Powell Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/lollipowell/

Twitter link: https://twitter.com/kylaurel1

Google+ link: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LaurelHeidtman

 

Meet Jack Strandburg

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Today, I interview Solstice author Jack Strandburg. Jack was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a degreed professional with a background in Accounting and Information Technology and recently retired after more than 33 years working for a Fortune 500 company. He has been riting since his teenage years.

He self-published an inspirational titled An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s Journey to Faith Through Prayer, by Trafford Publishing. His first published novel by Solstice Publishing is Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid, a parody of the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

His third work, a novella titled The Monogram Killer, published by Solstice Publishing, was released in May, 2016. His fourth work, A Head in the Game, published by Solstice Publishing, was released on January 20, 2017.

He is currently working on a novella titled Honor Among Heroes, writing journals for an upcoming inspirational non-fiction book titled The Hand of God; and completed 70% of a first draft for a second mystery novel titled War Zone.

He is an editor for Solstice Publishing, and currently developing a freelance editing business. He has edited over 30 fiction works in various genres.

Jack currently lives with his wife and two grown children, in Sugar Land, Texas. He has three grandchildren.

A Head in the Game is 327 pages long and was published in January, 2017 by Solstice Publishing.

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About the book:

Chicago Homicide Inspector Aaron Randall faces his toughest case while dealing with doubts about his career and the potential of a romantic relationship.

Jared Prescott, a Heisman Trophy winner and Vice President of a large and respected pharmaceutical company, is found murdered at a seedy motel. The investigation uncovers multiple suspects with multiple motives. When the body of his close friend and informant is found stabbed to death in a deserted alley, followed by the murders of two women, Randall suspects a conspiracy.

Randall is hamstrung during the investigation by pressure from the commissioner down the chain of command because the president of the pharmaceutical company, anxious for resolution to Jared Prescott’s murder, is a close friend with a Senator whose sights are set on the Oval Office.

Why did you decide to write this book?

The original idea arose from the following writing prompt: “Imagine that you are downtown in a major city during rush-hour. Suddenly a woman walks toward you, holding a bag. She meets you eyes, smiles, hands you the bag, and says, “Here you go.” Before you can say or do anything, she turns and walks off. (Scott Edelstein – The No-Experience-Necessary Writer’s Course).

I chose the contents of the bag to be a fake head. The exercise led to a short story, but over time grew to a novel, and the idea held my interest enough to seek publication.

What genre is your book?

Mystery.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Plot-driven – I believe that even if you have the most interesting characters in the world, if nothing happens, you have no story, and in my outline process, I’ve learned that characters will react in different ways to significant events, and even stray from the original character profile.

What makes your book unique?

The antagonist is always at least one step ahead of the protagonist (until the climax), planting evidence to implicate other characters as suspects in the original murder.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Over the years, I tried different approaches to writing, but learned I need to have at least an idea of how the story ends in order to outline events, conflicts, and obstacles in the middle. That’s not to say the plot does not emerge, but at the very least, I need a road map to guide me through the story.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

The more significant the character’s role in the story, the more memorable I try to name them. For example, a name with more syllables will generally make a bigger impression on the reader. Also, a character’s profile sometimes (not always) lends itself to one name v. another. For instance, the original last name of my protagonist in A Head in the Game was Crawford. I changed it to Randall, simply because “Randall” sounded a little like a tougher character to me.

How do you decide on the setting?

Once again, some settings will stand out better – a cemetery v. an amusement park for example. It will also depend on what a character or characters do for a living. A hospital in one or more scenes is likely when one of the characters is a doctor or nurse.

Do you have a writing mentor?

No.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I usually do my best writing in the mornings. I like to vary my places to write, but usually will write where I feel most comfortable. A reclining chair v. a chair in my office. I sometimes listen to music (usually nature or New Age).

 

 

Meet Isabella Adams

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Today, I’m happy to host Isabella Adams, AKA Izzy. Izzy was born in New York in the 1970’s. She has lived all over the world, and currently lives and works on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Izzy enjoys her three children (unless they are intent on rupturing everyone’s ear drums in a mile radius), the beach, her husband, and her dog, Isaac. And naps. Izzy loves a good nap.

Favorite Author: Ursula K. Le Guin, close second is FF Amanti
Favorite food: Baklava
Favorite beverage: water

Isabella draws her inspiration from the world around her. The ever evolving, ever surprising, and never boring, rock in space upon which we all sail along.

The book she’s talking about today is called Dancing For A Stranger. It’s 213 pages long and was released on April 2, 2018 by Foster Embry.

Dancing cover from Rachael

About the book:

Donny is looking for The One.

How many women will he kill before he finds her?

Five young dancers are found dead, their windpipes crushed by a serial killer. When Aphrodite, a burlesque dancer, interrupts his latest attack, she becomes his new object of desire. Dr. Andromeda Markos, along with Detective Sean Malone, and their childhood friend, Dr. Anastasia Antoniadis, fight to discover the killer’s identity before more women fall victim to his brutal violence. As they close in, the killer’s mind unravels and the friends must race against his tangled psyche in order to save one of their own.

Why did you decide to write this book?

This is the second novel based on the same characters. The first story came to me in a dream. I wrote it down, and away it went. The second one came to me in a dream as well, and begged to be written. My best friend is a burlesque dancer in France, and I believe the dream stemmed from a conversation with her about a show-gone-wrong. I work in the Greek community every day, and if I don’t write about it I will go nuts. Well, a little more nuts than I already am.

What genre is your book?

Mystery, cozy mystery, women’s fiction, or chick lit, as my husband likes to say.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Both live large in my brain, so I think it’s hard to tease them apart. If I had to choose I would say character. I could hang out with my characters and write twenty pages about them in the car on the way to a movie, so I suppose I just like spending time with them.

What makes your book unique?

The characters, the setting… not much is out there about the Greek culture in the US right now. We had My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but after that it kind of fell away (until #2, but we won’t talk about that). Physician protagonists have been done to death, in my opinion, but Dr. Markos… well, she’s not just a doc. She’s a single mother, newly in the dating pool; she’s a daughter caught up in cultural expectations; she’s a best friend and confidant. In addition, the friendships in the story are almost as important as the plot. They are based on my own relationships, of course (write what you know, right?), and I wish that every woman in the world had the opportunity to have close friends the way I do, and as Andie does.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I am a super duper pantser. I have an idea and I sit down and see what happens. ‘Oh, look at that, who knew there was going to be a magic bowl in the story!’ (not in this story, of course, but another one). Things show up, twists write themselves in… I remember saying to my best friend, the dancer, “I can’t wait to sit down to see what happens next,” because even I didn’t know. That being said, I often have a general feeling as to what the end is going to look like, but as some of my closest friends can attest, endings have been known to change at the last minute.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

In this story the main names came to me in my dreams. To be fair, I do work with a woman named Aphrodite and a woman named Kaliope every day. Andie’s name likely came from a discussion the night before my dream about the Andromeda galaxy, and Sean, well, that just kind of fell into place. Sophia was my roommate in college, and Sully, while an overused nickname in my estimation, was in the dream as well.

How do you decide on a setting?

As above, most of my ideas come to me in dreams. As far as setting…if I had to think about it I’m sure I would choose a setting that would lend itself well to the theme of the book, or in which my characters would naturally reside. Unless the story was about them being out of place, then it would be in a contrary setting.

Do you have a writing mentor?

Nope. Actually, I face a lot of criticism on a regular basis. Does it count if I have a negative mentor, like I write in spite of something or someone? Because then yes, I do.

What is your writing scheduled? Do you have a favorite place to write?

Ah, yes. I do not have a schedule. I work full time, Monday through Friday, and have three children, AND am married, which is a full time job unto itself. So here’s what I do: I get up earlier than everyone else and pray, do yoga, and make coffee. I then hope for at least half an hour to myself to write something. If not, oh well. If I get it, great. Then, at work, I write on my lunch hour. I do get kind of cranky when that gets interrupted, as it often is the only time I have for my creative expressions. There have been moments, while putting the kids to bed, or standing in line at the grocery store, where a scene occurs to me, in which case I put it in my phone and transcribe it later.

As for place to write, I love my leather armchair at home. My husband’s desk is great too, but that doesn’t happen often. I write at my work station out of necessity, but I could take that or leave it. I have written on the couch watching cartoons, in bed, in a hospital, and in my car. Basically, I write where I can, when I can.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have to say this: For anyone who has a story that lives loud in their head, write it down. And for those of you who perhaps are stuck, my best advice is this: write. Just write. Don’t censor or edit, don’t listen to the voice that tells you your work is horrible. Just write.

Don’t give space in your life to those that would sap your creative energy. There will always be someone to tell you to “be real,” or “stop thinking you can write, that’s not reality.” I write my own reality, it’s part of what we do as writers. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do this. Just write.

Where can readers find you?

Email: mfamanti@gmail.com

Website: www.izzyadams.com

Twitter: @izzybellaadams

 

 

 

 

Meet Susan Solomon

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Formerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney and a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Art, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, the setting of many of her stories. In January 2017, she was appointed as the facilitator of the Just Buffalo Literary Center Writer’s Critique Group.

Since 2007 her short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals. These include Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writers Journal short romance competition), Ginger Man, Elvira, The Memory Tree, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, Smoker’s Lament, Kaddish, and Sabbath (nominated by the editor of Prick of the Spindle for 2013 Best of the Net, and winner of second place in the 2017 Word Weaver Writing Competition). A collection of her short stories, Voices In My Head, has been published by Solstice Publishing.

Susan Solomon is the author of the Emlyn Goode Mysteries. A finalist in M&M’s Chanticleer’s Mystery & Mayhem Novel Contest, and a finalist for the 2016 Book Excellence Award, her first Emlyn Goode Mystery novel, The Magic of Murder, has received rave reviews, as have the novelettes, Bella Vita, and The Day the Music Died, and the novel, Dead Again, which was a finalist for the 2017 McGrath House Indie Book of the Year. In the latest Emlyn Goode Mystery novelette, ’Twas the Season, Ms. Solomon once more demonstrates that murder has a sense of humor.

Emlyn Good Mysteries

The Magic of Murderhttp://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO

Dead Again: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0OA1IV

Bella Vita: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01I01WEWW

The Day the Music Died: https://www.amazon.com/Day-Music-Died-Emlyn-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0747V1DPT

’Twas the Season: www.amazon.com/Twas-Season-Emlyn-Goode-Mystery/dp/1625266987

How long are your books?

Both current Emlyn Goode Mystery novels—The Magic of Murder and Dead Again are about 260 pages. There are also two Emlyn Goode Mystery novelettes, The Day the Music Died and ’Twas the Season, both of which are about 110 pages. Finally, for people with a penchant for short mysteries, Bella Vita is about 50 pages…

Wait now. I fibbed. There are two new Emlyn Goode Mysteries on the way. The novel, Writing is Murder will available soon on Kindle and in paperback. This book will also be about 260 pages. And finally (I mean it this time) the novelette, A Shot in the Woods which will appear in the Solstice Plots & Schemes 2 anthology is about 110 pages. Whew! Seven Emlyn Goode stories in the past three years. I think I’m exhausted.

Why did you decide to write this series?

The Emlyn Goode stories have grown from two things. First is my love of murder mysteries—especially cozies. If I close my eyes I can recall my parents sitting in our living room lost in such books for hours. Agatha Christie was my mom’s favorite. Dad’s was Rex Stout. I wasn’t much of a reader as a child until my mother gave me Christie’s Peril at End House. That Hercule Poirit mystery—the places, the characters, the twists and turns—filled my imagination. I’ve was hooked.

The second thing that’s led me to Emlyn Goode is a fascination with witchcraft. Ten or so years ago I was writing a short story for an online journal. That story, “Witches Gumbo,” was told in a metaphor of witchcraft practiced in a fictional Louisiana bayou, and focused on the maltreatment of women. To provide details that would give life to the story, I purchased a few books about witchcraft. Again I was hooked, and I’ve been researching the subject since.

So, when a friend dared me to write a murder mystery these two factors jumped into my mind: a light story—at times I laughed while typing it—people of all ages would get lost in, involving a modern day witch… or in the case of my narrator, a novice witch getting in trouble when trying to use the craft.

What genre is your series?

The Emlyn Goode stories are murder mysteries—cozy mysteries, actually.

Do you consider your books character-driven or plot-driven?

I believe a good story must be driven by its characters. I work to make my characters both believable and people my readers would like to have as friends. From the reviews and comments each Emlyn Goode Mystery has received, it appears I’ve accomplished this.

Once my characters had been established, it was time to wrap a plot around them. With murder mysteries I work to make that plot full of twists and turns—and a red herring or two. Always, though, there will be clues scattered within the story. Then I sit back and watch how my characters unravel what’s happened.

What makes your series unique?

The uniqueness of the Emlyn Goode Mysteries lies with my characters. Not long after her fortieth birthday, Emlyn Goode, my narrator, learns she’s a direct descendant of Sarah Goode, a woman hanged as a witch in Salem. Emlyn has been given her ancient relative’s Book of Shadows, a diary of a sort, in which old Sarah wrote her thoughts and observations of people she lived among. In this book are also ways in which herbs and spices might be mixed together to accomplish… uh, certain results. In each story portions of Sarah book are quoted.

Emlyn’s friend, Rebecca Nurse, owns The Black Cat, an arcane shop that stocks materials Sarah Goode might have used.

Where the history of Salem at the time of the witch trials is mentioned, the facts have been researched, as has the old-fashioned English Sarah used in her book. The herbalism/witchcraft mentioned has also been researched (I won’t claim I use these things—don’t want to be strung up as they were back then). Although magic is a factor in these stories, the crimes Emlyn and her friends (and cat) face aren’t solved by magic. Each time it’s used there’s an alternate explanation. For example, when Emlyn attempts a spell that takes her back in time, the alternate explanation is that she’s gotten stoned on the incense she burns during her ritual—her cop boyfriend certainly believes that’s what happened.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

When I began to write I carefully outlined my stories, attempting to force my characters to do what I demanded of them. I soon found those early stories didn’t work. The characters had no life. Lesson learned, I became what people smile and call a “pantser.” By this I mean I start with a basic idea of the story’s end, then I develop my main characters and sit back and let them tell me how they’ll get there. The result has been a number of short stories published in print and in online literary journals—several of which have won awards—and then published novels which have also won awards.

How do you develop the names for your characters?

This is a good question. It’s something I’ve never thought about. I guess in most cases the names just come to me. There are, of course, a few exceptions. In developing the Emlyn Goode Mysteries I needed the names of people who were prosecuted in the 1692 Salem witch trials. The names of these actual people were found in my research. For Emlyn I needed an old family name that sounded like it might have come from that period, and yet would be different enough to stick in the minds of my readers. Don’t know where “Emlyn” came from. It just popped into my head when I began to write. Blushing from embarrassment, I confess that in many respects Emlyn Goode is me…

Other names? Sometimes they’re those of people I know or have met (at least built on their initials). As an example, in the new Emlyn Goode novel that’s about to be released, a number of the characters are based on members of my writers group, so their names are built on their initials… again with one major exception. This was a character originally named Ellen. Halfway through the novel I realized that that I had three characters whose names began with an “E.” As a result, I had to change Ellen’s name to Samantha. Again, that name just popped into my head.

How do you decide on the setting?

The books I most enjoy reading allow me to see what the characters see, and taste and smell what they do. Since I want to give my readers this experience, my stories are set in places I know well. The Emlyn Goode stories as well as a number of my short stories are set in western New York—especially Niagara Falls, the place I live. Other stories, and a paranormal romance novel on which I’m currently working, are set in Manhattan and on Long Island. These are places I’d lived for many years. Using sites I know so well, I can imbue my stories with details—the streets and back alleys, the restaurants, the businesses—readers could find if they visited.

Do you have a writing mentor?

I do. Gary Earl Ross, a novelist and playwright. For a number of years Gary moderated the Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group of which I’m a member. Though I’d had a few short stories published before we met—few among many I had written—Gary guided my writing to a level I never thought I could achieve. I don’t know what Gary saw in me or my writing, and I’ll never be able to properly thank him.

One thing I should mention. The Emlyn Goode stories are Gary’s fault. They are, and he can’t deny it. Though I’ve always loved reading cozy mysteries, I’d never written one. Gary, on the other hand, is a master of the genre. One evening after a writers group meeting he and I were talking about our mutual love of murder mysteries, and he asked why I hadn’t written one. I told him I didn’t believe I could create the plot for such a story. That’s when he did the unthinkable. He gave me a hard look, and dared me to try…  I’ve never been smart enough to ignore a dare. Well, The Magic of Murder, the first Emlyn Goode Mystery grew from that dare. So, readers, if you’re ready to throw a book against the wall in frustration from trying to unravel the clues on one these stories, blame Gary Earl Ross!

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I’ll write any chance I get and any place I happen to be. I carry my writer’s journal with me most of the time, and make notes about the places I am, the people I see, and conversations I might overhear… Of course, that last one can be a bit dangerous. Apparently people are less than thrilled to see me making notes of their private conversations—a few times I was asked to leave a restaurant. Well, at least a few stories built from notes in my journal have turned into published short stories—The Memory Tree, the Christmas story I wrote for a Solstice anthology was one of those.

As to the times I sit at my computer working on stories, after practicing law for more years than I care to remember I recently retired. Now I work on stories every morning—and when I’m in the middle of story, sometimes late into the evening. I have to get the writing done before I forget what I wanted to say. It’s fortunate I have a good friend who periodically drags me from my writer’s lair, or I might go months without breathing fresh air.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I do have three things to add. For Emlyn Goode Mystery fans, two new stories will soon be released. The novelette, A Shot in the Woods, is in Solstice Publishing’s Plots & Schemes 2 anthology, and there’s a new novel, Writing is Murder.

Besides these—and while a begin the fourth Emlyn Goode novel—I’m working through chapters of a paranormal romance that I expect to have out near this end of this year. This book will give my reads a view of stories I write when I’m not killing people.

Where can we find you?

Website: http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com

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

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-solomon-8183b129

Bonus! Book review!

I read The Magic of Murder and enjoyed it so much, I have to let you know! 5 stars:

I loved this book. It’s funny, clever, multi-layered, and rich with self-deprecating humor. The protagonist and amateur sleuth, Emlyn Goode, is a writer who has recently discovered her ancestry and family gift. As she works to master her powers, there’s a mystery to solve and a romance shimmering on the horizon. The well-planted red herrings, plot twists, and great characters kept me turning the pages. I’ll definitely read more in this series, and glad there are plenty of books to satisfy my craving for magic and murder!

 

 

Meet Kim Beall

KimBeallAmusedKim started sneaking into the basement to read her parents massive collection of science fiction, fantasy, and gothic romance when she was nine years old, and she spent her teenage years writing reams of Awesome Novels. This might have worked out better for her if she had not written them during math class. Today she’s promoting Seven Turns, a genre-busting mystery-romance-ghost-fantasy story.

About the book:

Callaghan McCarthy has ninety nine problems, and believing in ghosts is not one of them. The ghosts around her find this very amusing, and they need her help with a problem of their own. She has arrived at Vale House, an “authentic haunted bed and breakfast!” with everything she owns in the back seat of her car in a desperate bid to find inspiration for her next novel before her fans give up on her forever.

As Cally comes to know and love the eccentric denizens of the run-down southern town the locals call Woodley, USA, she begins to realize she has wandered into the midst of a host of secrets nobody will talk about in front of people who are Not From Around Here. While a disembodied internet entity and the ghost of a teenage Taino pirate attempt to help her understand her new role among them, she must prevent a murder, a fire, and the exploitation the innkeeper’s sweet mentally ill daughter, all while navigating a world of ghosts and faeries without whose help she will not succeed.

All this she must do while struggling to hold onto – or must she let go of? – her sanity.

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What’s the page count and publication date?

Seven Turns is 358 pages long and was released on May 8! Both the ebook and print versions are available now on Amazon and on the Solstice website.

Ebook: https://amzn.to/2x1pkPV

Print: https://amzn.to/2IAmxCK

Why did you decide to write this book?

I love stories that are built in worlds you can return to again and again. It’s almost as if some settings become beloved characters in their own right. The world of literature has given me so much pleasure and opportunity for personal growth. When I made up my mind to give something back by contributing something myself, I wanted to create a town that is every bit as much a main character as the people in the story, a place people will love to return to and visit, regardless of which main character the current volume is about (there will be several, eventually!)

What genre is your book?

Hah, that’s the question I love to hate! It takes place in a modern, but somewhat run-down, small southern town, and has elements of cozy mystery, but the mystery isn’t really the focus of the story.

It also has a touch of romance that just kind of snuck in there. I didn’t plan it – it just happened – but all the best love affairs happen that way, don’t they?

There is also a ghost who becomes a very major character – but no, this is /NOT/ a horror story! I don’t care for gore and mayhem, and I’m writing for other people who don’t care for it either. Any evil in my fictional world has its roots in the desires and aspirations of ordinary humans, just like in real life.

Oh, and there is a race of people living at the edge of the meadow who aren’t strictly human, but you had better not let them catch you calling them “faeries.”

So, I don’t know, what genre would you call that? I have been trying since I started writing it to pin down the answer to this question and have had no success so far. I’m only thankful that Solstice Publishing was willing to take a chance on this weird genre-bending author when so many others were not.

Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?

Absolutely character driven. The characters do seem to tell me the plot when I don’t know what to do next, though. Maybe it’s not the book, so much, but me who is driven by the characters.

What makes your book unique?

There is that weird blend of different genre elements I mentioned above but, mostly, I think what makes it unique is the quirkiness of many of the side characters, who are themselves affected by the quirkiness of the place in which they live. I have tried to weave an enchanting atmosphere that will cradle and soothe the reader even amid the chaos.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I call myself a “plantser.” That’s a cross between a planner and a pantser! I make plans. I know where I want to start and where I want to end up. I have a rough idea how I intend to get there. I even make outlines! But it often happens, when you start actually writing, that the story has other plans. I’ve learned to trust this and go with it – even when it sometimes takes a sharp left turn into territory I had no idea even existed!

How do you develop the names for your characters?

This is always hard for me. Mainly I start by establishing their ethnicity, and then I search for names that are popular in that culture. I don’t want something too common, but I don’t want anything that sounds too contrived, either. My main characters have names that actually mean something in the ancient languages of their ancestors (I’m kind of a linguistics nerd) though the characters themselves are generally not aware of the meaning. I often spend weeks and weeks intensively searching for just the right name. When I stumble upon it, I know instantly that it’s the right one.

How do you decide on the setting?

The setting decided on me! Sometimes I suspect it really exists, out there somewhere…

Do you have a writing mentor?

No, but I have had encouragement from some of my favorite authors: I will always be grateful to Charles de Lint for telling me to stop whining and start writing. “You know the drill: Writers write. So do it.” I’ve also received reassurance from Marly Youmans (my all-time favorite underrated modern author) that I am not, in fact, obligated to pick a single genre and stick to it if I ever want to see print. Now, if I were to make a list of authors who have encouraged and influenced me without my ever having corresponded with them, it would go on for pages, so I’ll save that for my blog someday!

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

Having a schedule and sticking to it has made all the difference between actually writing and just talking about it. I have found I must defend my writing schedule fiercely. The moment I created it, life immediately began to conspire to throw me off it, but I have been very stubborn about fighting back. I write three days a week from nine to three at my favorite local coffee shop (may I plug them? It’s the Wake Forest Coffee Company, whose shoes Starbucks is not worthy to shine!) Sometimes I’m on such a roll that I stay longer or go back on the weekend. They have a wonderful guitar and cello ensemble, “/Clairvoyance/,” who plays there on Sunday mornings. Perfect ambiance to which to write – I will have to dedicate a book to them one day!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just that, as I mentioned above, I’m so grateful to Solstice Publishing for being willing to take a chance on a non-genre-adhering author such as myself. I hope they find out it was worth the risk!

Where can we find you?

Website: http://www.kimbeall.com
Blog: http://www.kimbeall.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimbeallauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimBeallsGhost

Free Days!

Hey everyone,

Free! Click here for Book 1, Due Date, and here for Book 2, The Stork.

Just want to let you know that on April 30 (that’s today, Monday) and May 1 (tomorrow, Tuesday), both Due Date and The Stork will be free on Amazon. Give them a try if you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller with the benefit of being set in beautiful Santa Cruz, California.

 

Happy reading, always,

Nancy

Author Interviews

Hey everyone,

I’ve been reflecting on the previous incarnation of my blog and website. From 2012 to  2015, I had an active blog. Every week, I hosted a mystery author, asking everyone the same questions. I really enjoyed reaching out to authors and learning about their books and their writing process.

This time, I’ve decided to mix it up a bit and broaden the scope. I’ll interview indie authors writing in the following genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, historical fiction, literary.  I’ll include a bio, author photo, book cover photo, and links to books and social media platforms. I’ll be running these interviews every other Friday.

Some sample questions:

  • Why did you decide to write this book?
  • What genre does your book fall into?
  • Do you consider your book character-driven or plot-driven?
  • What makes your book unique?
  • Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
  • How did you develop the names for your characters?
  • How did you decide on the setting?
  • Do you have a writing mentor?
  • What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
  • Anything else you’d like to add?

Are you interested? I’d love to connect!

Nancy

 

 

 

The Stork

Hey everyone,

Wow, the big day is here. The Stork is available! I submitted the manuscript at the end of August, and it was accepted in September by the wonderful folks at Solstice Publishing. I was immediately put in touch with K.C. Sprayberry, Editor in Chief extraordinaire. She sent me lots of paperwork to complete, and soon after, handed the manuscript over to my editor, April Erwin. April did a fantastic job discovering inconsistencies, wrong words, spelling errors, and the places where things just didn’t add up. After a few back-and-forths, I ended up with a much stronger book.

I’ve set up a promo that will run through the weekend of 3/11. You can get your own ebook copy for just 99 cents, a steal!

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Let me know!

Best,

Nancy