Author Spotlight: D.G. Driver

I’m pleased to welcome Donna Driver (writing under the name D.G. Driver) on my Author Spotlight this month. I met Donna through our mutual publisher, Fire and Ice, and read the first book in her Juniper Sawfeather series, Cry of the Sea, last year. While fantasy books usually aren’t my genre of choice, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone with Cry of the Sea. I found it to be a fun YA read featuring real and likeable characters, a suspenseful storyline, an ever-important (and timely!) message about the importance of protecting our planet, and–of course–mermaids. Like the first book, the second and third installments are sure to appeal to fantasy-lovers and environmentally conscious teens and adults, alike. As it just so happens, TODAY IS RELEASE DAY for the third book in the Juniper Sawfeather trilogy, Echo of the Cliffs!

EntireJuniperSeries new covers[7606]

In addition, Donna and I both have short stories included in the Kickass Girls of Fire andKickAssGirlsOfFIYA Ice (April 2017) anthology compiled by our publisher. Her story, Beneath the Wildflowers, is great and provides a sample of her writing. The best part? The anthology is FREE!

Now, here’s more about Donna and her books…

SAMSUNGD.G. Driver loves writing about diverse characters dealing with social and environmental issues. She has been writing and publishing for 22 years and has won awards for her fiction and nonfiction books for young readers. She mostly writes contemporary fantasy like the Juniper Sawfeather Novels and her romantic ghost novella Passing Notes. However, she has also written a middle grade contemporary novel about bullying and autism called No One Needed to Know, and she has short stories ranging from romance to horror in several anthologies. When she’s not writing, she can be found teaching or performing in a community theater show somewhere around Nashville.

Learn more on D.G. Driver’s WEBSITE and BLOG.

echo[7605]Back Cover Blurb for Echo of the Cliffs:  The mermaids are back, and they’ve got a message for Juniper Sawfeather.

Juniper knows American Indian mythology connects the mermaids she rescued from the oil company to the ancient spirit trapped forever in a tree. The third part of that myth is about a man turned into stone, but where could he be and what will he be like? While on a quest to find the answers, her boat is attacked by a killer whale. It appears to have been led by mermaids. So, are the mermaids trying to tell her how to find them? Or are they warning her to stay away?

Once again, June is on a heroic mission, the most frightening and magical adventure yet. A thrilling ending to this award-winning young adult fantasy trilogy.

Author Interview:

If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

I guess I’d like to spend the day with Juniper herself. She’s kind of lonely, and her best friend Haley never really gets her. I’d like to just hang out with her at the beach, taking nature photos and drawing pictures together while talking about big dreams and adventures we’d like to go on.

If your book was made into a movie, who do you envision playing the leading roles?

I’d like to see Chloe Bennet from Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. play Juniper. I think Dylan Massett from Bates Motel would be a gorgeous Carter if he grew his hair out a little. It wouldn’t hurt my feeling to see Lou Philip Diamond as Peter Sawfeather and Julia Roberts as Natalie Sawfeather.

Great choices! What attracts you to writing in the contemporary fantasy (or urban fantasy) genre?

I’m a sucker for plot-heavy books. I know a lot of my author friends cringe at that, but I like adventure stories, whether they are fantasy, historical, mystery, contemporary or what-have-you. I do like character-driven stories – I just like to see those interesting characters do stuff and not sit around having feelings. I also like it when unusual things happen to normal people. These are my favorite kind of fantasies. I enjoy them much more than epic or high fantasies set in other worlds.

Is writing your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

No. I work full-time as a teacher at a learning development center in Nashville where we help special needs children alongside their typically developing peers. I’ve been there 12 years.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

I love reading and watching movies and TV. I also am a singer/actress and try to get on stage at least once a year in a community theater musical or play – usually alongside my husband or one of our kids. I used to perform a lot more (my degree is in theater), but I’m trying to devote more time to writing.

How do you deal with rejections and/or negative reviews?

Rejection has been harder for me than negative reviews. So far (knock on wood) the criticisms I’ve had of my published books have all made sense to me. I mean, there are trolls who give one stars for no reason, but usually a person who takes the time to write something has a valid point to make. I don’t always agree, but I understand what they’re saying. Rejection is harder, and I’ve dealt with it all my life as an actress and author. The thing that hurts the most about it is that I often never know exactly why my work has been rejected, just that it wasn’t “what they were looking for”. I often get very ‘nice’ rejections complimenting me on my skill but not loving the story I’m telling.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I usually write on the weekends in blocks of time. My weeknights tend to be about marketing, as I have less time to get anything done because I have to feed my family and spend time with them. When I’m under a deadline, my family eats a lot of fast food and is ignored to a certain extent.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on two YA projects right now. I’m cleaning up an old manuscript to get it ready for submission. It’s an adventure/ghost story. The other project I’m working on is adding 2 related stories to my novella Passing Notes in order to create a full-length book. Fingers are crossed that Fire and Ice YA Books will like both of these projects and take them on.

Is the setting of your novel based on a real place? Tell us about it and why it inspired you.

Yes. I set this series in Washington. I wanted the oil spill that starts off the first book, Cry of the Sea, to be in the Pacific Northwest, similar to the Exxon-Valdez oil spill of 1989. I used real cities and places in that book. In book 2, Whisper of the Woods, the forest is set in the location of a real American Indian reservation, but I purposely never gave the name of the reservation.

A large part of book, 3, Echo of the Cliffs is set at the very top corner of the continuous United States. I knew that I needed a magical stone or rock or cliff for this book to go with the legend, and I researched a few different places. What finally won me over were these magnificent sea stacks, the tallest among them called Fuca Pillar, that exist right where the Strait de San Juan meets the Pacific Ocean at the most northwestern point of Washington State. The Fuca Pillar, at the right angle looks a bit like a big face. I knew the story had to wind up there, but I won’t tell you why or what happens.

Sounds like the perfect setting for your story, Donna. Thanks for being a part of my blog, and best wishes on your book release!

 

Author Spotlight: Nina Mansfield

I’m so pleased to feature Nina Mansfield on my blog for this month’s Author Spotlight! Nina and I share a mutual publisher (Fire and Ice), and her YA mystery, Swimming Alone, was released on the SAME DAY as my YA mystery, Trail of Secrets. It was an instant connection! I read Swimming Alone last year and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and mysterious read that will transport you to a quaint, New England seaside town. Now here’s more about Nina and Swimming Alone

NinaMansfield2016[2854]Nina Mansfield is a Connecticut based writer. Her debut novel, SWIMMING ALONE, a YA Mystery, was published in 2015 by Fire & Ice YA. Her short mystery fiction has appeared in ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE, MYSTERICAL-E, KINGS RIVER LIFE MAGAZINE, and anthologized in FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS: EIGHTIES-INSPIRED NEON NOIR. Her graphic novel FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION (illustrated by Leyla Akdogan) will be published in installments online by PlumeSnake.com soon. Nina began her writing career as a playwright; she has written numerous plays, which have been published, and produced throughout the world. Visit her website at: www.NinaMansfield.com.

SwimmingAlonefrnt (2)[2855]Back Cover Blurb:  The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending the summer with her aunt (who happens to be mystery writer Roberta McCabe). Although thrilled to be away from her psychotic, divorcing parents, with no cell phone or internet access, Cathy is positive that her summer is going to be wretched. Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes. When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question:  has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?

View Swimming Alone on Amazon.

 

Author Interview

When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I wrote and illustrated my first “book” when I was five years old. It was called CINDY AND SALLY IN POLKA-DOT LAND. I wish I knew what happened to it! So I guess I’ve wanted to be a writer for almost as long as I can remember, but I started to take my writing seriously about 12 years ago.

What attracts you to writing in the mystery genre?

I write mysteries because I have always loved reading mysteries. I am intrigued by the criminal mind. I also believe that all human beings are capable of both tremendous evil and tremendous good, and I love delving into what might motivate that evil side to come out.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

I love seeing theater. I also write plays, and I was in actor once upon a time,  so I try to see as much theater as I possibly can. Luckily, I am a short train ride from New York City. I see everything from thought-proving dramas, to experimental theater, to Broadway musicals.. Lately, since I have a toddler, I have also been enjoying a lot of children’s theater.

What are you working on now?

I have a couple of short mystery stories in the works, and I have been revising and rewriting a young adult paranormal romance/thriller for quite some time. I hope to finish it soon! I also recently had my graphic novel FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION start coming out in installments at PlumeSnake.com, and I am working on promoting that as well!

What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

Last year I attended a number of writing conferences and met so many wonderful people. One of the most amazing things I got to do was participate in Malice Go-Around at Malice Domestic, which is like speed-dating for authors. I got to “pitch” SWIMMING ALONE to over 200 mystery fans. It was so much fun!

Is the setting of your novel based on a real place? Tell us about it and why it inspired you.

SWIMMING ALONE is set in Beach Point, Rhode Island, a fictional location inspired by my childhood memories vacationing in Rhode Island. Every summer, my grandparents would rent a cottage near the beach. There’s something about being near the ocean—that salty sea air, the feel of sand on my skin, the sound of the waves—that has always relaxed and inspired me. Luckily, no serial killers were ever on the loose when I was vacationing there!

Yes, that’s a good thing! Thanks for participating, Nina. We look forward to reading more from you in the future.

In the meantime, stay tuned for next month’s Author Spotlight with YA fantasy writer, D.G. Driver!

Author Spotlight: Carly Kade

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome fellow equestrian author, Carly Kade, to my blog! Carly is one of those people who bursts with positive energy (interact with her on social media and you’ll see what I’m talking about). Although she resides in sunny Arizona, she’s actually a Michigan native (like me!) I read her romance novel, In the Reins, last year and recommend it to anyone who enjoys gorgeous horses, western riding or handsome cowboys.

Carly_Kade_Author_Photo_Web_ITR_Sequel[2742]About the Author:  Carly Kade is an author of equestrian fiction. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two! Her books are for people just like her…crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys! In her free time Carly enjoys competitively showing her registered Paint Horse and works on her next novel. In the Reins, Carly’s cowboy romance novel inspired by the equestrian lifestyle has been an Amazon equestrian bestseller for more than 10 weeks and is an EQUUS Film Festival literary award winner for Best Western Fiction. The novel is available now in paperback and eBook.

Connect with Carly Kade Creative on Facebook or Twitter, or on her website: www.carlykadecreative.com.

3D Book Cover All[2744]From the back cover:

McKennon Kelly. McKennon Kelly. McKennon Kelly.

Cowboy McKennon Kelly was the last thing Devon Brooke wanted to focus on after finding herself suddenly single. Looking for a fresh start to life, city girl and journalist Devon just wanted to go back to her country roots and focus on building a relationship with her newly acquired equine partner Faith.

Devon finds companionship in handsome bull riding ranch hand JD and delicate Green Briar horse farm owner Sophia, both who advise Devon to keep her distance from McKennon and “mind her p’s and q’s” around the quiet and eerily peaceful stables. Devon thinks it shouldn’t be too difficult to avoid the Adonis cowboy, but after noticing his skills and expert ways with training horses, she figures it couldn’t hurt to get to know him a little bit … right?

Devon follows the guarded cowboy to a horse show, where she is unprepared to learn she may not be the cowgirl she thought she was. After a near-tragic incident, Devon begins to realize that the more time she spends with McKennon, the less she really knows about him (or horses, for that matter), and his mystery just keeps getting bigger. Who is he really, what is it that everyone doesn’t want her to know, and why is this tight-shirted, spur-jingling, weather-eyed cowboy all she can think about now?

Interview with Carly Kade:

If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

If I could spend the day with any character from my novel, I’d take a riding lesson from my horse training cowboy McKennon Kelly. McKennon Kelly came to me (like lightning) in the form of a poem.  I vividly remember the day I furiously scrawled him in my journal.  I didn’t want to miss a thing, a thought, or a moment of his inception.  Thank heaven that I always keep a journal with me.  That poem ended up being the intro to the book.  McKennon Kelly comes from the part of me that is in love with love.  My imagination had so much fun creating him.  As I turned my words into a man, I took the best from the ones I once knew (and those I still know), the ones I’ve read about in my favorite books, all the ones I’ve imagined, and mixed those qualities with all the things I wish men could be then sprinkled in a little of what I imagined a cowboy who can make the eight on the back of a raging bull would be like …  McKennon is the best little pieces of everything and everyone I’ve experienced in life.  My heart was a flutter as I created him.  I am proud of McKennon Kelly.  I hope he sparks a smile across readers’ lips as they turn the pages of In The Reins. He certainly makes me smile as I continue to write his story in the sequel.

What attracts you to writing in the equestrian fiction genre?

I am happiest when I am in the saddle so it’s probably no surprise I was interested in writing a story about the bond between horse and human.  Also, I knew I wanted readers to feel like they were falling for the leading man as they turned the pages of my book.  Generating that kind of feeling was my goal – what I wanted to create for readers – so In The Reins naturally became an equestrian romance.  I’ve always loved reading and have been riding horses since I was seven. I know that I sure wouldn’t be able to resist reading about a handsome cowboy who knows his way around horses so I wrote about what I knew … horses and cowgirl culture.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I write in the morning before life has an opportunity to get in the way. I get up at 5:30. My husband and I start the day by walking our dogs then return home to meditate. Quieting my mind really prepares me for creativity!  After I pour my first cup of coffee, I settle into my home office for my scheduled morning writing session. I am not a morning person but the commitment to my morning routine keeps my creativity alive. I made the rule to “touch” my story every day.  As long as I stay engaged with what I’m writing, the world I’m creating is never far from reach.  It’s when I’ve been away from my words for extended periods of time that I find it hardest to get back to writing it so I try not to let that happen.

What are you working on now?

McKennon and Devon’s story continues. Currently, I am working on the sequel to In The Reins and planning its release in 2017.  The crazy thing is that the third book featuring the characters is bucking up a storm in my mind and already taking shape on paper!  I am writing the second and third book simultaneously. I have having so much fun with the journey that this series is taking me on! I’ve learned that there are a lot of JD McCall fans out there so I’m already developing a novella that tells the tale of my bull riding heartthrob too!

What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

There is so much research that goes into finding the right category for your book.  I loved that Amazon had a section for equestrian books.  I was happy to be able to categorize In The Reins alongside other horse books that I had read and fell in love with.  These are the books that helped me realize I could write my own horse book.  When I learned that In The Reins had broken into the top 100 (and then the top 12) my heart grew a thousand times its size because it meant that my writing was resonating with the audience I wanted to identify with and write for.  I put together a promoted post celebrating my readers on Facebook to acknowledge their contribution to helping my book get there.  I couldn’t have done it without them. Since then, In The Reins has gone on to be an Amazon equestrian bestseller for more than 10 weeks and has won the Best Western Fiction Literary Award at the EQUUS Film Festival in New York City. I’m so grateful and my spurs couldn’t be jingling more over my book’s success!

What subjects do you enjoy writing about most? Why?

I love writing equestrian fiction. I am a horse lover and a horse owner. When I am not riding a horse, you’ll find me writing about one. I was inspired to write In The Reins because I wanted to read a love story themed around the type of horse shows I liked to compete in. There are a lot of equestrian novels out there focused on dressage or jumping or rodeo but I haven’t found many that focus on competitive horse showing at breed shows like the Quarter Horse, Paint, Pinto or the Palomino Horse Circuits.  In my writing I am particularly interested in showcasing the western pleasure discipline and creating stories that provide an honest depiction of the bond between horse and human.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Carly. It’s been great getting to know more about you and your books!

Stay tuned for my April Author Spotlight with YA thriller author, Nina Mansfield!

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Christina Hoag

I’m thrilled to welcome thriller writer, Christina Hoag, to my blog. Sometimes you meet someone–either in-person or virtually–who you know for sure is WAY more interesting than you. Christina is one of those people. (Read her bio below if you don’t believe me!) I first learned of Christina through our mutual publisher, Fire and Ice, when they released her YA thriller, Girl on the Brink, last year. I’m excited to discover more about her debut novel, Skin of Tattoos, today!

christinahoagauthorheadshot2547Christina Hoag is a former journalist who’s been threatened by a death-row murderer, had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas and phone tapped in Venezuela, suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hidden under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail, interviewed gang members, bank robbers, gunmen, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Kirkus Reviews praised Christina as a “talented writer” in her debut novel Skin of Tattoos (Martin Brown Publishing, 2016), a gangland thriller. Her YA thriller Girl on the Brink (Fire and Ice, 2016) was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list. She also writes nonfiction, co-authoring Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence (Turner Publishing, 2014), a groundbreaking book on violence intervention used in several universities. She currently makes her home in Los Angeles. Learn more at: ChristinaHoag.com.

skinoftattooscover2546Back Cover Blurb:  Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mag’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice of everything–and everyone–he loves.

View Skin of Tattoos on Amazon.

Author Interview:

When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I won a prize for “writing interesting stories” when I was six years old so I guess writing was always there. It came out as soon as I literally learned how to put pen to paper. I discovered journalism in high school so I knew that’s what I wanted to do as a career. I’ve written fiction on and off my whole life.

What attracts you to writing in the mystery/thriller genre?

I love delving into crime–the seamy side of life and what drives people in that world, which is very different than mine! My characters do things that I never would so maybe that’s why I like writing them. I’m fascinated with the psychology behind the criminal mind and how people get to be that way, the risks they take. Other than that, crime makes great drama and conflict, the basis of any novel.

Is writing your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

Lamentably, my fiction writing does not yield a sustainable income–yet! In order to eat, I do corporate communications/public relations writing:  speeches, press releases, blog posts, that sort of thing. I also edit dissertations and do some journalism in the form of big reports for Congressional Quarterly Researcher. I work freelance so I can juggle my schedule to fit my novel writing into my schedule.

How do you deal with rejections and/or negative reviews?

Develop a thick skin. It takes courage to write and show your work to the world for judgment, but you have to remember that not everyone is going to like your work, and that’s okay. You have to learn to let criticism roll off you. The nastiest rejection I ever got was from the editor of a literary journal who scornfully said of my experimental fiction submission, “Why would anyone even read this?” I kept submitting it and got the piece and another like it published in other journals. I also allow time for the sting to wear off and then revisit the criticism in a more objective light. If someone says something in your piece doesn’t work, it’s only one person’s opinion. But if two people make the same observation, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. More often than not, it’s something that needs fixing.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I’m a morning writer. I get up early, have my coffee, check the news and then sit down and write until I feel my brain turning squishy, usually early afternoon. Then I get some exercise and try to do some marketing and social media work. It’s amazing how much time that stuff consumes!

Which well-know authors have inspired your writing?

Probably my favorite all time author is Graham Greene. Many of his books are about the concept of being a foreigner, an outsider/observer, which I relate to on a personal level since I’ve lived in many countries both as a child and as an adult. That influence comes through in Skin of Tattoos, where the protagonist Mags was born in El Salvador but left with his family fleeing the civil war when he was a child so he doesn’t really feel Salvadoran, doesn’t remember anything about the place, yet that is his identity. He’s an outsider to El Salvador, yet as an immigrant an outsider to mainstream American society, as well. He finds his home in a gang with others from similar backgrounds. Having lived in Central and South America, I’m also partial to Latin American authors. One of my favorite books is The Goat’s Party by Peruvian Nobel prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. This book is a fictionalization of the 1961 plot to assassinate Rafael Trujillo, the dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic for 31 years. I found it fascinating, like a window into an unseen world in the way it fleshed out historical events with the motivations and emotions of the real people. I also loved Queen of the South by Arturo Perez Reverte, which takes readers inside the world of large scale drug trafficking, and The Cartel by Don Winslow, about the current gang wars in Mexico.

Those all sound like intriguing books. You obviously know your subject well! Thank you, again, for taking the time to share your Author Spotlight answers with me. I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Thanks for reading…I’m reaching the end of my MTW Author Spotlight series…just one more to go with Dawn Barclay. Stay tuned!

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Linda Kane

Welcome back to my Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight series. Today I’m pleased to welcome another fellow horse lover to my blog–Author Linda Kane!

linda-kane-headshot

Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of The Black Madonna, Witch Number is Which, Icelandia, Katterina Ballerina, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, and Chilled to the Bones, 2017 release date, Clyde: Lost and Now Found, and Bottoms Up, A Daisy Murphy Mystery. She lives with her husband and three dogs and six horses.

 

And here’s her newest release,Chilled to the Bones, a young adult historical mystery set in Setauket, New York.

linda-kane-1

Author Interview:

Hi Linda! When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I grew up in a very poor area where violence was common place. For me, writing and drawing was a means of escape. So, I guess, always.

If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

Dealer, she’s a good kid, with a great heart who wants to help her father with his problems and save their home. I would want to know what makes her so strong, so resilient in the face of so much tragedy.

Is writing your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

I am retired now and my full time job is writing and painting. My artwork has been at an art museum and is at a gallery in Pacific Grove, Ca.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

My hobby and my love are my dogs and horses. I have four American Saddlebreds, one hackney pony, and one quarter horse. I compete nationally and my horse, Into the Cosmos is a national champion. I have three Australian shepherds that are smarter than I am and I have to work to keep up with them.

What are you working on now?

Actually I am working on a children’s story about a mini pony that was abandoned (true story), in an orchard. Our barn adopted Clyde. He was skinny, he had a broken jaw, a little timid, you should see him now. Love and food heal quite a bit.  I’m finishing up the editing for the first of a series of murder mystery books titled, Bottoms Up, A Daisy Murphy Mystery. I’m also working on a historical book regarding a man who people thought was the answer to their problems but found out to late that he was a monster, and the young people who stood against at the cost of their own lives. I am also working on a sequel to The Black Madonna and Chilled to The Bones.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, it’s been a pleasure and I’ve enjoyed your amazing questions.

You’re welcome, Linda. It has been fun getting to know more about you and your books!

Thanks for reading…Please stay tuned for my next MTW Author Spotlight with thriller author Christina Hoag!

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Pamela Lazos

Welcome to my fifth Author Spotlight in anticipation of Mystery Thriller Week! Today I’m excited to welcome Pamela Lazos to my blog. It seems Pam and I have a lot in common, from our passion for writing and our concern for the environment to our legal backgrounds and mutual admiration for Matt Damon! Her newest novel, Oil and Water, is sure to appeal to both the environmentally conscious and the mystery buffs among us. Here is more about Pam and her riveting environmental thriller…

pam-lazosPam Lazos is the author of the recently released novel, Oil and Water, an environmental murder mystery about oil spills and green technology; of Six Sisters, a collection of novellas about family and dysfunction; a blogger; on the Editorial Board for the wH2O Journal, the Journal of Gender and Water (U of Penn); a blogger for the Global Water Alliance (GWA) in Philadelphia, a literary magazine contributor; a former correspondent for her local newspaper; former Editor-in-Chief for the Environmental Law and Technology Journal at Temple Law School; a ghostwriter; the author of a children’s book (Into the Land of the Loud); an environmental lawyer; and, because it’s cool, a beekeeper’s apprentice. She practices laughter daily. Learn more on her blog: Green Life Blue Water.

oil-and-waterOil and Water Synopsis: When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world’s energy problems.  Plagued with epilepsy from birth, Gil is also psychic, and through dreams and the occasional missive from his dead father he gets the push he needs to finish the job.

          Meanwhile, Bicky Coleman, head of Akanabi Oil is doing his best to smear the planet in it. From a slow leak in the Gulf of Mexico to the most devastating oil spill the Delaware River has ever seen, Akanabi’s corporate practices are leaving oily imprints in their wake. To divert the tide of bad press, Bicky dispatches his son-in-law and Chief Engineer, David Hartos to clean up his mess.  A disillusioned Hart, reeling from the recent death of his wife and unborn child, travels to Philadelphia to fulfill his father-in-law’s wishes.

          There’s no such thing as coincidence when Hart meets Gil and agrees to help him finish Marty’s dream machine. But how will he bring such a revolutionary invention to market in a world reliant on fossil fuels and awash in corporate greed?  To do so, Hart must confront those who would quash the project, including his own father-in-law.  

          You’ll find murder, mystery, and humor as black as fine Arabian crude filling the pages of Oil and Water. The characters are fictional, but the technology is real. What will we do when the oil runs out?  

Interview with Pamela Lazos:

Hi Pam! When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I don’t know if it’s something I ever aspired to, but rather, just fell into. I always liked to write, but never really considered it as a career, more of a hobby to keep me out of trouble. It’s only lately that I see writing as a possible second career. Before blogging, though, I wouldn’t have guessed that the possibility could be as great as I think it now is.

If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

Definitely Gil, the 10-year old physics prodigy. I have a hard time even understanding physics so to have that kind of science acumen would be stupendous. I used to do quite well in science in grade school, but started down the slippery slope in high school and struggled to hold onto the concepts in college. I think it’s fantastic that we have all these STEM groups for girls now — science, technology, engineering and math. With that kind of backing, I believe I would have gone more heavily into the sciences. As it stands, I’m an environmental lawyer so I’m kind of science-lite. I have to understand the concepts for work, but have others to turn to who have mastered them. I would much prefer to be an expert, however.

If your book was made into a movie, who do you envision playing the leading roles?

I always want Matt Damon to be everything — ever since I saw “Good Will Hunting” I wanted to work with him — but I’d “settle” for him playing Hart! I see Ian Somerhalder as Bicky, although we’d need a great makeup artist to make him look years older. I don’t know who would play Gil. Problematically, all the young child actors that I admire grow up so quickly. By the time you cast them and the movie is made, a couple years go by and they don’t fit the role anymore. These are definitely problems I’d like to have. :0)

What attracts you to writing in the mystery/thriller genre?

Everyone loves a good mystery. It’s part of human nature. Writing mysteries are exciting because, if you write like I do, you just let your characters go off on a path and you follow them until you see where they’ve gone. It’s great fun and an excellent pastime. 

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I’m at my best in the early hours of the day. I also love to write on the train. I have a long commute to work — about two hours on Amtrak which is a very comfortable train — and it’s perfect for writing.

Which well-known authors have inspired your writing?

I draw inspiration from many places. Love the environmental writers like Rick Bass, Jim Harrison, and Terry Tempest Williams, but I also love the quirky writers like Tom Robbins, and the historical fiction masters like Tim Willocks and Diana Gabaldon. And, of course, there’s the inimitable writers like Stephen King and Anne Lamott.

Thanks for reading…Leave your questions and comments for Pam here, and stay tuned for my next MTW Author Spotlight installment with mystery writer, Anne Carmichael!

 

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Judy Penz Sheluk

 

Today I’m pleased to welcome Canadian mystery author, Judy Penz Sheluk, to my blog. Although I haven’t read her books (yet!), I’m a fan of any novel with characters fighting to preserve a small town’s historic district from big box stores. I think Judy and I are on the same wavelength! Here’s more about Judy…

judy-penz-sheluk2158Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016. Her short crime fiction appears in several anthologies and collections. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Find out more at her website/blog, www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.

noose2161Back Cover Blurb From The Hanged Man’s Noose:

Small-town secrets and subterfuge lead to murder in this fast-moving, deftly written tale of high-stakes real estate wrangling gone amok.

Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, a small town named after a colorful 19th century Canadian traitor. As she interviews the local business owners for the magazine, Emily quickly learns that many people are unhappy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of that list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of an antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.

But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a vocal dissenter at a town hall meeting about the proposed project dies. A few days later, another body is discovered, and although both deaths are ruled accidental, Emily’s journalistic suspicions are aroused.

Putting her reporting skills to the ultimate test, Emily teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme before the murderer strikes again.

View all of Judy’s books on Amazon.

Interview with Judy Penz Sheluk:

Thanks for joining me today, Judy! When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

I’ve always wanted to write. As a kid, I wrote stories in my head, on the way to school and back again. I thought all kids did that! In 2003, I left the corporate world to try life as a freelance writer. I’ve never looked back. In late 2011, after taking some courses in Creative Writing, I decided to start The Hanged Man’s Noose. It was an instant addiction.

If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

I love Arabella Carpenter. She owns the Glass Dolphin, an antiques shop owner and the sidekick in The Hanged Man’s Noose, the first book in my Glass Dolphin Mystery series. She’s going to be the protagonist in the sequel, and she has a small role in Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in my Marketville series. Arabella is smart, feisty, loves shortbread, chardonnay, and cognac. She’s also loyal to her friends—even her ex-husband, Levon— wears her heart on her sleeve, and firmly believes that authenticity matters in people as well as the antiques she sells.

If your book was made into a movie, who do you envision playing the leading roles?

Jennifer Lawrence for the protagonist in Skeletons in the Attic, Callie Barnstable. Bradley Cooper for her next-door neighbor and possible love interest, Royce Ashford. Chris Noth in the role of Leith Hampton, lawyer.

What attracts you to writing in the mystery/thriller genre?

It’s what I read, and I’m an avid reader – about a book a week and at least 3 or 4 mystery anthologies or collections a year. I try to write what I’d like to read. People ask if it’s difficult to separate the books I read by other authors from my writing, but the reverse is true. A well-written or clever mystery inspires me to try harder. Reading is the best teacher.

How do you deal with rejections and/or negative reviews?

I won’t lie. Rejection hurts, but there isn’t a writer, alive or dead, who hasn’t experienced rejection. When I was shopping for a publisher/agent for The Hanged Man’s Noose, I wrote a heartfelt and honest blog about the experience titled The First Cut is the Deepest. It still gets a lot of hits, as does the series, My Publishing Journey. I’ve also blogged about Learning from Rejection.

Both Noose and Skeletons have primarily good ratings, with an average of 4.18 and 4.34 respectively on Goodreads. When I received my first 1-star review (after a string of 5-star reviews on Amazon) for Skeletons, I was crushed. I went to my fellow Sisters in Crime Guppy group and lamented. I was congratulated for finally making it “into the club.” Apparently readers are leery of a book that only has 5 star reviews. Then I went and looked at the reviews for Gone Girl, and sure enough, among the 5 stars there were a few 1 stars. I felt comforted by that: I should be as successful as Gillian Flynn!

Thank you for sharing your insights, Judy! I know many of us wish we could be as successful as Gillian Flynn. It’s been a pleasure learning more about you and your books.

Check back on February 5th for my next interview with environmental thriller author, Pamela Lazos!

 

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Catherine Dilts

Today I’m pleased to welcome mystery author, Catherine Dilts to my blog. Apart from writing mysteries, it seems Catherine and I have a lot in common, including a love for the outdoors and a soft spot for our four-legged, equine friends:) Her Rock Shop Mystery series looks fantastic and I can’t wait to add it to my 2017 reading list! Now here’s more about Catherine:

catherine-dilts-author-photo2549Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, set in the Colorado mountains, while her short stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Catherine’s day job deals with environmental regulatory issues, and for fun she fishes, hikes, and runs. You can learn more about Catherine at www.CatherineDilts.com.

Stone Cold Blooded – A Rock Shop Mystery, published by Encircle Publications LLC, is available in paperback, and in e-book for Kindle and Nook.

 

stonecoldbloodedfront-52550Back cover blurb:  In the third Rock Shop Mystery, Morgan Iverson’s reclusive survivalist neighbor is blown to bits. The police believe he stumbled into his own booby trap, but his granddaughter asks Morgan and newspaperman Kurt Willard to prove it was murder. After the explosion, unidentified creatures make elusive appearances near the rock shop, drawing a summertime invasion of true believers hoping to prove the existence of aliens. Meanwhile, Morgan learns that there may be more to her Triceratops than just the brow horn. Finding the rest of the dinosaur’s remains could solve both her financial problems, and the mystery of her neighbor’s demise.

 

 

Interview with Catherine Dilts:

Hi Catherine! What attracts you to writing in the mystery genre?

In fictional mysteries, justice is always served. The bad guys and gals receive their just desserts in an improbably swift fashion. This is fiction, after all, and we writers can make sure crime doesn’t pay. I believe readers enjoy mysteries because they crave the resolution often lacking in real life. Crimes can go weeks, months, years, even forever, without solution. Of course, I’m speaking about the sort of mystery I write. I want happy endings, even if I have to invent them myself.

Is writing your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?

I have a full-time day job as an environmental regulatory specialist. My duties involve cobbling together the paperwork to show my company’s products meet global requirements for heavy metals and hazardous substances restrictions. Have you ever noticed on your electronic devices a little trash can with a line through it? Part of my job is determining whether a product needs that symbol or not. I hope to write fiction full-time someday, but I’m afraid that will have to wait for retirement, which is still several years away.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

Early morning is my most creative time. That may be a function of having a day job. I get up at 5 am to write before heading to work. I write any time of day I can get, but morning is when the ideas really flow.

What are you working on now?

I have set ambitious goals for 2017. Two short stories are in development, while a third is running past my Beta readers. I am toying with ideas for a fourth Rock Shop Mystery, and outlining a stand-alone.

What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?

My first fiction sale was to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I am still kind of in a daze that they bought my story, and better yet have published four more. That is definitely the peak experience of my short fiction career. I also had a blast attending Bouchercon in 2014 and 2015. Finding inclusion and acceptance in the reading and writing community has been wonderful.

Those sound like amazing accomplishments! Thank you for joining us, Catherine! It has been a pleasure!

Please check back soon for my next MTW Author Spotlight with romantic suspense author, Cheryl Lane.

 

 

 

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: JB Richards

I’m excited to start my new Author Spotlight Blog Series in anticipation of Mystery Thriller Week (Feb. 12th-22nd.) Every few days through February 22nd, I’ll be interviewing an author in the mystery/thriller genre in a quest to help fans of mystery/thrillers/suspense discover great new books and learn more about the authors who wrote them.

My first guest author, JB Richards, writes YA novels that delve into the mystery surrounding Jesus’ “missing years”–the years during his teens and twenties when little was written about him in the Bible and elsewhere. Her books are sure to appeal to history buffs, mystery enthusiasts, and romance readers alike. Personally, I’m most impressed with the number of awards her book has won! Here’s more about JB Richards…

jeanne-rich-headshot

JB Richards is an historian and international award-winning Amazon, Goodreads, and Xlibris author. Richards was a nominee for Author of the Year in the Indie Author Books 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. Her debut novel, Miriamne the Magdala —The First Chapter in the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series, was voted a Top 10 Best Historical Fiction Novel, Top 20 Best New Adult Novel, and Top 50 Best Young Adult Novel, and was a nominee for Best Romance Novel of the 2016 Summer Indie Book Awards (SIBA’s). Miriamne the Magdala has been awarded a Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Seal and has continued to be nominated in multiple book award venues. In December of 2016, Miriamne the Magdala ranked in the TOP 3 on Goodreads/Listopia’s Best Indie Books 2016-2017 and TOP 10 on Goodreads/Listopia’s Self-Pub & Indie Books Worth Reading lists. Her upcoming second chapter in The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series, Yeshua the Christ:  The Silk Road, is due for publication in 2017.

miriamne-cover

Back Cover Blurb:  Miriamne the Magdala tells the richly detailed story of an ancient Jewish family in crisis. When twelve-year-old Miriamne and her thirteen-year-old long-lost cousin, Yeshua, are unexpectedly reunited, sparks fly. But the grave illness of a parent causes turmoil and anxiety within the two related Houses, especially for Yeshua who recognizes that his earthly mission is fast upon him and his miraculous powers are growing out of control. As the life-and-death situation escalates, he begins to question his allegiance to his Divine Father while Miriamne finds herself torn between her newfound love for Yeshua and her premonitions about his unimaginable fate. Fall in love with the boy destined to be King of kings and the girl who captured his heart forever in Miriamne and Magdala, the provocative and compelling introductory chapter to The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series, the greatest love story never told!

INTERVIEW with JB Richards:

Hi, JB. I know your characters lived long ago, but if you could spend a day with one character from your book, who would it be? Why?

Wow, that’s a tough question! I mean, the obvious choice would be Yeshua … But since I hang out with him all day long, with him buzzing in my ear about what to write, I’d have to choose The Commander—Micah bar Abram—Miriamne’s father. The Commander is a study in contrasts. He’s a solid family man and dedicated husband who just can’t wait to join his cousins and laborers in the odd afternoon spent getting drunk, placing wagers, and winning wrestling matches. He is a good and loyal Jew, but he isn’t afraid to bend the rules when the laws simply don’t make sense. He’s a brave and decorated soldier at heart—the retired Hekatontarchus of the Hyperatai … the Captain of the Jerusalem Temple Guard—tough, embattled, and unyielding with those who portend to be his enemies, yet his children have him wrapped around their little fingers. Although Micah can act like a bit of a rake at times, charming his way through life and flirting with other women at social gatherings, he’s always careful to make certain his beloved Salome has her eye on him and is within hearing distance at all times. His romance with his wife is as passionate as it was when it was new, but The Commander equally enjoys cavorting with his men. In the past, it was his soldiers who meant everything to him. In the present, it’s his bonded cousins, Reuben and Joshua, and his day-laborers he loves to be with the most.

If your book was made into a movie, who do you envision playing the leading roles?

actor-headshotI used to think a young Tyler Posey would have made a great actress-headshotYeshua—with his raggedy mane of jet black curls and his whimsical nature. Trying to come up with someone who might currently fill the role, the ladies in my group—the Indie Fab Five: Aliya DalRae – Author of “Sweet Vengeance”, Renee Gauthier – Author of “Control”, Eva Pasco – Author of “An Enlightening Quiche”, and Lyra Shanti – Author of the “Shiva XIV” Novel Series—nominated Cole Sprouse for Yeshua and Chloe Grace Moretz for Miriamne. I believe they did a very good job!

How do you deal with rejections and/or negative reviews?

I welcome them! Don’t get me wrong … It’s not that I want to get negative reviews or expect to get many of them, but I welcome the feedback they provide in order to improve my writing.

Many authors are devastated when they discover a low review rating has come in on their book. Of course, it’s upsetting. Who wants to hear that a reader hated their novel? But before you have that knee-jerk reaction to defend your work with a written response to that reader, take a deep breath and examine the situation. Most authors can easily tell the difference between a review that’s giving an honest critique of one’s work and one that’s a load of bunk. Any reviewer who’s given your book a 1 or 2-Star rating with no reason indicated should be considered invalid. It’s meaningless. It’s like reader graffiti: tag the author with your mark and run away! There’s absolutely no purpose to a rating that does not include a commentary other than to diminish the author’s work. My best advice is to walk away from this type of situation. Any rebuttal or comment will only make you sound defensive and unprofessional.

I completely agree. So, what are you working on now?

As a historian, I’m constantly gathering research for the development of The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series, which includes this current installment—“Miriamne the Magdala”, “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road”, “Thomas the Twin: The Sefer Revealed”, “Mark the Scribe: The Angel’s Gospel”, and “Princess Sarah: The Daughter of the King”—as well a 5 chapter prequel on the generation before Yeshua and Miriamne, and a 5 chapter sequel on the subsequent generations of Yeshua’s family, concluding with the rise of the Merovingian dynasty.

Currently, I’m writing “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road” to be published and released later this year (2017).

Which well-known authors have inspired your writing?

Many authors inspired me to write, but there are two women authors who impressed upon me some important views about women in ancient times; Anita Diamant, Author of “The Red Tent”, and Anne Rice, Author of the “Christ the Lord” novel series (includes “Out of Egypt” & “The Road to Cana”). Diamant’s powerful and introspective look into the lives of women in biblical times instilled in me a deep appreciation for what women had to go through—and put up with—in simply going about and living their day to day lives during biblical times. Rice, on the other hand, impressed upon me the important concept of having Yeshua and Miriamne be the first-person protagonist in each of their self-titled novels.

 Up until the time I read Rice’s novel, “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt”, I had never before considered the impact one would feel by having Yeshua tell his own story from his own perspective. I’m not certain whether it was due to respect or reverence to a religious figure held so sacred by his followers, but the idea of getting into Jesus/Yeshua’s head and having him act the protagonist in any form of traditional media, whether it be through biographies, movies, miniseries, etc., was something that, as far as I knew, had never before been done. After reading Ms. Rice’s series, I was more determined than ever to portray Yeshua as an actual historical figure, both human and divine, and to allow him to tell his own story from his own point of view. I did the same with “Miriamne the Magdala”, and once my protagonist’s viewpoint became personal, it made all the difference in the world!  

What subjects do you enjoy writing about and why?

As an historian, I’m perfectly comfortable writing within with my own genres—Historical Fiction, Gnostic Fiction, Religious Fiction, Christian Fiction—since I’ve concentrated on that particular field of study and done extensive research on the lives of Jesus, Mary the Magdala, and the early Christian community for nearly a quarter of a century. That research extends to everything and anything that impacted and shaped the lives of the Jewish people and the early Christian community in and around Jesus’ time. My research portfolio includes, but is not limited to: the history of the region; Jewish culture, tradition, and law; neighboring cultures and their own religious traditions; the relationships between political powerhouses involved in Middle Eastern affairs—including the Roman, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Persian Empires; international and domestic trade and economic influences; and even the fashions and style trends of that time! Through my research, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on these subjects, and I think it’s safe to say The Yeshua and Miri Novel Series will keep me quite busy and content in my career as an historian and author for the remainder of my days!

Wow! Your books sound fascinating. Thank you for participating! Please learn more about JB Richards on her website and blog: YeshuaAndMiriNovelSeries.com  or leave a comment for her below.

In the meantime, stay tuned for the next MTW Author Spotlight with mystery author, Catherine Dilts!

 

Mystery Thriller Week

mystery-thriller-week-logoI’m so excited to be a part of Mystery Thriller Week this year–both as an author and a blogger! Not familiar with Mystery Thriller Week? It’s a ten-day online event featuring book reviews, giveaways, interviews, and articles on all topics related to the mystery/thriller genre. Hopefully, it will also allow readers to meet their new favorite spine-tingling books and the authors who wrote them! To this end, I’ll be spotlighting TEN Mystery Thriller Week authors on my blog between January 22nd and February 22nd. So, prepare to read some amazing author interviews, get to know the people behind the pages, and find your next suspenseful read…