Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: D.M. Barr

It’s time to shake things up as Mystery Thriller Week draws to an end. Author D.M. Barr brings an unexpected and scintillating twist to the typical murder mystery. I was initially drawn to her novel because it centers around a morally challenged real estate agent (just like my work-in-progress.). After reading more about it, I think her novel may be the most fun book I’ve featured on my blog so far!  

dm-barr-headshotWho is D.M. Barr?  By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire. Her background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. She was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And she needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which she has no idea since they won’t friend her on Facebook) and she can spend her spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles her fancy. The main thing to remember about her work is that she is NOT one of her characters. For example, as a real estate broker, she’s never played Bondage Bingo in one of her empty listings or offed one of her problem clients. But that’s not to say she hasn’t wanted to…

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]Expired Listings Back Cover Blurb: What if people were dying around you and you weren’t absolutely sure you weren’t their murderer? Someone is ‘deactivating’ the Realtors in Rock Canyon and almost no one seems to care. Not the surviving brokers, who consider the serial killings a competitive boon. Not the town’s residents, who see the murders as a public service. In fact, the only person who’s even somewhat alarmed is Dana Black, a kinky, sharp-witted yet emotionally skittish Realtor who has no alibi for the crimes because during each, she believes she was using her empty listings for games like Bondage Bingo with her sadistic lover, Dare. And yet, mysteriously, all clues are pointing her way.

Along with clearing her name and avoiding certain death at the hands of the ‘Realtor Retaliator,’ Dana has an even bigger problem: she’s inadvertently become a person of interest in more ways than one to Aidan Cummings, the sexy albeit vanilla detective investigating the case. While his attentions are tempting, Dana is torn—does she continue her ironically ‘safe’ but sterile BDSM relationship with Dare, or risk real intimacy with Aidan?

Kink, Suspense and Satire–Expired Listings masterfully combines all three while exploring the universal need for validation and the toxic nature of revenge.

BUY IT HERE!

Author Interview:

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

Pretty much when I read Harriet the Spy! It was fifth grade and we were all writing slam books (where you say “truthful” things about other people you know. Someone stole mine and I grabbed it back and ripped it up. Then I helped them put it back together so they could read it! (LOL) I also had some poetry published in the school newspaper that year and I realized how much I loved entertaining people and also being read.

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

I’ve thought a lot about this!

Dana Black: Mirielle Enos or Amy Schumer or even Jennifer Lawrence

Dare: Peter Krause

Cassandra Beckett: Glenn Close or Lauren Hutton or even Kathleen Turner

Melanie Wright: Constance Zimmer

Aidan Cummings: Orlando Bloom

Dr. Eleanor Lawrence: Ellen Degeneres

Endicott Coxswell: Jeffrey Bowyer Chapman

Lorelei Simpson: Kathy Bates or Rosie O’Donnell

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

I’m actually a former travel and business magazine writer/editor who now sells real estate (just like my character Dana Black, but that’s where the similarities end!) That’s how I was able to parody the real estate industry so well—I know where all the skeletons are buried!

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

I plan to kill them all off in my next novel (haha). Actually I have, what I hope, is a pretty rational attitude about all this. I figure that no matter what I do, half the people in the world will love it and the other half will hate it.  Then, when I get a 1-star review—so rated not because of bad writing but because the reader didn’t bother reading the sales blurb and realized it wasn’t ‘their type of book’—I look at reviews from books I loved, like ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn and realized that if great books like that have received bad reviews, why shouldn’t I? All it means is that people out there have different tastes and preferences.

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

Two things. First, attending Thrillerfest/Craftfest in NYC this past summer. I’m an author groupie and to be able to meet and chat with people I’ve long admired, such as Marshall Karp, Linwood Barclay, John Lescroart, John Sanford, Gillian Flynn, Karin Slaughter, and to hear about how they write and edit their books, was enormously helpful and fun.  The other highlight was receiving a really good Kirkus review.

Which well-known authors have inspired your writing?

So, so many. Probably Carolyn Keene when I was younger (I loved Nancy Drew) and then later Ayn Rand (for the sheer persistence of writing long books in a second language as well as incorporating philosophy into a novel), Harlan Coben (great layering), Marshall Karp, Jeff Strand, Jennifer Crusie and again, Harlan Coben (for incorporating humor into other genres) ad Anne Allen for her amazing and helpful blog.

Those were great answers! Thank you for sharing your story with us today.

Stay in contact with D.M. Barr via her WEBSITE , or leave a comment for her below!

 

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!

Trail of Secrets Audiobook #Giveaway!

Audiobook Giveaway!

To celebrate Mystery Thriller Week, I’m hosting a giveaway on my blog. Five lucky winners will receive a promo code for a free download of my YA mystery, Trail of Secrets (Dark Horse * Book One), audiobook on Audible! The second book in the series (Barn Shadows) is being released on March 14th, so there’s never been a better time read–or listen to–Book One!

The Giveaway runs February 12th-21st, 2017. Click below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And after you enter, be sure to stop by Mystery Thriller Week to discover more great edge-of-your-seat reads and giveaways!

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Sarah Key

Today is the first official day of MYSTERY THRILLER WEEK and I’m pleased to welcome thriller author Sarah Key to my blog. I’m sure you’ll find Sarah’s unique background as fascinating and impressive as I do. Please read more about her and books…

sarah-14-of-182644Sarah Key’s working life has followed many paths; English teacher, Adult Educator, HIV and AIDS activist, mentor to apprentice jockeys and writer. She holds a Masters Degree in Adult Education and her research report focused on perspective transformation for tolerance education.

Sarah is passionate about the rich cultural diversity of her country and has gathered many powerful narratives from a range of personalities including Apartheid resistors, Holocaust survivors, initiates from a rural circumcision school and survivors of sexual abuse.

Her novels are gritty, grisly psychological thrillers set in Southern Africa with its blends of old and new, mystical and modern, city and country. Aside from being entertaining and exploring deviance in its many guises, they attempt to challenge notions and shatter taboos surrounding sensitive cultural issues.

In 2011 Sarah began her journey writing fiction and is published by Rebele Publishers (Detroit). She is currently completing the final book in The Sisters of Light trilogy.  Sarah is married and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and two daughters. Connect with Sarah on FACEBOOK and GOODREADS.

cover-weeds2645Back Cover Blurb:  When lives collide, and time runs out, will there be a final chance for redemption?

Aden Cassalotti, damaged by childhood trauma, tragedies and disappointments, is financially and emotionally insolvent and seeks solace in a crack pipe.

Volatile Noel Schuurman, Aden’s lifelong friend and business partner, feels neglected living out of town running their marijuana and magic mushroom operation. The brooding recluse has killed before and, with escalating pressures, not even his mother and sister are safe on their isolated plot.

Aden takes a job with a ruthless criminal enterprise in an urban slum where dope and flesh are pedaled. He encounters Mandipa Ndlovu, who is being held with other sex slaves waiting to be sent to work.

Kgotso Shelile and his cousin, Senatla, search for Mandipa, Kgotso’s abducted girlfriend. In the underbelly of Johannesburg, they encounter Aden. Having grown up together, the men share an immediate bond and, when fate throws the three together in a Hillbrow strip club, the potential for peril is fraught with danger.

Key’s debut psychological thriller, Tangled Weeds, is sure to get your pulse racing.

Author Interview:

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

I was about 11 and walking in the bushveld with my father. We came across an abandoned tumbled-downed house. My imagination took flight and I told him that I wanted to write a book filled with villains, robbers and smugglers. That realisation has never left me.

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

My antagonists are downright twisted and malevolent so if I had to spend a day with a character it would be one of the Sisters of Light and probably Joanie Parks, a young artist whose background story is fully explored in The Butterfly Wind. Joanie is complex, confrontational and feisty and harbors a shameful secret. She’s also fiercely loyal and grapples with her own insecurities and need to be loved. Joanie is fun and fearless. I would have to be twenty five years younger, though, to keep up with her antics!

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

I feel that my debut novel, Tangled Weeds would translate well into a mini-series.  It is a graphic thriller set between Zimbabwe, the fertile farmlands of the then Northern Province of South Africa known for its cultivation of mangoes and litchis, and Hillbrow, an urban slum.

Aden Cassalotti is a complex character who becomes addicted to crack cocaine. To support his drug dependency he takes a job with a deadly sex trafficking ring and gets much more than he bargained for…

I’m not very up to date on movies and movies stars, preferring to read books. The South African accent is one that presents actors with a huge challenge. In Invictus, a 2009 sports drama about Nelson Mandela and events surrounding the 1995 rugby world cup, Matt Damon did a fair job. With his blond good looks and ability to portray emotion he could give Aden a bash!

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

We didn’t have television until I was 12 so I grew up listening to dramas on the radio.  My father studied psychology when I was a pre-teen and I was fascinated by his textbooks and poured over pictures of people with anorexia, catatonia and other disorders. I have always been fascinated by the aberrant human mind and have an overactive imagination.

Thrillers are supposed to do just that – thrill. I do not enjoy reading or writing books that are uber violent or horrific having learned that the power of suggestion can just as successfully heighten tension.

With the help of my editor, I have worked hard to incorporate techniques that ensure my readers are gripped and find the experience electrifying. A fast pace and using varied perspectives that allow events to be understood from disparate characters’ points of view (particularly perverse antagonists) keep the pages turning. Enjoyed from the safety of one’s armchair, exploring the dark hearts of humans gone bad can be an exhilarating ride that is far removed from the mundanity of regular life.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

I enjoy cooking and socialising greatly and keep fit attending a woman’s outdoor bootcamp programme most weekday mornings. I derive great pleasure from my two cross-breed dogs and am kept busy with family responsibilities. I read widely and enjoy travelling particularly locally – South Africa is an amazing, diverse country.

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

I haven’t focused much on marketing my books until recently. For the past years I have concentrated on raising our two daughters and getting the stories that are inside me down. I received two or three rejections from local publishers for my first novel, Tangled Weeds. Reading rejection letters is not pleasant – it’s like someone telling you that you have an ugly child!

Writing is a high point in my life’s journey and I had blind faith that my books would be published. Fortunately, I was accepted in 2011 by Rebele Publishers and have never looked back. I have three books published by them and am close to finishing the final book in my trilogy.

My books are enjoying a positive response. Reading is highly subjective so it is unrealistic to expect everyone to like your work and constructive criticism is necessary for improvement. Being a writer, like most jobs in this day and age, requires resilience, determination and a personal passion that drives you to continue.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

In a block in the morning from about 10.00am – 13h00 and then for an hour in the early evening around five or six.

What are you working on now?

I am completing the final book in my Sisters of Light trilogy. It is called The Starlight Tide and follows The Dandelion Clock and The Butterfly Wind.

Which well-known authors have inspired your writing?

I studied English at university and, for a short while, I was an English teacher so I have read  many books that have had a bearing on my writing. For a while I read a glut of Scandinavian crime; Jussi Adler-Olson, Camilla Lackberg, Lars Kepler. I found them atmospheric and try to effectively create mood in my books. Stieg Larsson’s incredible trilogy inspired me to write one.

What subjects do you enjoy writing about most? Why? 

The essential themes I explore in my writing are the conflicts between good and evil. I believe that all people have the choice to take certain life paths. Circumstances and pre-dispositions will, of course, influence their decisions. If a character decides to try drugs, commit a murder or indulge in dark crafts and fantasies, there will be consequences to. Morality, or lack thereof, is a personal decision.

Living in a multicultural society in South Africa – which has an extraordinary history – I use my novels as a lens to explore diversity and different cultural belief systems. I believe that by presenting readers with different perspectives and practices, wrapped in the guise of fiction, a greater level of understanding and tolerance can be achieved.

Thanks for reading! Leave your comments and questions for Sarah here, and stay tuned for my next MTW Author Spotlight with Linda Kane!

Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight: Anne Carmichael

Today I welcome Anne Carmichael to my Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight series. I’ll start by admitting that I’m completely jealous of Anne who holds my dream job at a thoroughbred horse farm. No fair! Her new novel, Elderhaus, sounds intriguing and mysterious. I’ve already added it to my 2017 reading list. Now, here’s more about Anne: 

ANNE CARMICHAEL was born in Lexington, KY, Thoroughbred Horse Capital of the World. She began writing at a very early age. She majored in Fine Arts at the University of Kentucky. Anne has two grown children and five grandchildren, all of whom inspired her first series — a poetry collection about precocious children called, ‘ The Gertrude Ann & Banjo Series‘. Anne is internationally known for The Magoo Who Series, which includes:

…. and other books:

Enjoy Anne’s Blog: Geri-Antics: The Ramblings of a Crazy Old Broad on Facebook and visit her website: www.annecarmichaelauthor.com

elderhaus

Elderhaus Back Cover Blurb:  Gertrude spent the better part of her adult life scouring Europe for Helmut Klingenfelter, the father who vanished not only from her life and that of her mother’s, but had forsaken everyone in his past.

With midlife looming on the horizon, Gertie made the decision to stop chasing the ghosts of the past and return to her childhood home of Pitch Pine, where she purchased a century-old house at 1211 Castle Lane sight unseen.

Elderhaus, as it came to be known, had a mysterious past of its own, one that would threaten more than Gertrude’s desire for finding happiness.

 

 

Interview with Anne Carmichael: 

Hi Anne! Thanks for participating! If you could spend the day with any character from your novel, who would it be? Why?

The book has been out less than two weeks and I’ve already had a couple of readers (who are close friends) tell me that I am Sally Jaeger. Sally is extremely independent and take charge. She has no filter. What you see is what you get. That describes me to a T. Would I get along with someone as outspoken as myself? Probably not. Therefore, since Sally and Gertie became good friends in spite of their differences, I would spend the day with Gertie

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

My first six books were all-ages books about animals. I switched to mystery because I needed something that would challenge me more. Writing a mystery, as I quickly found out was indeed a challenge because every sentence written had to be intricately woven into the overall plot and make the outcome viable. My next book is already in the works and will be more about the paranormal – a historical ghost story if you will. Again, I will be challenged to stay true to the factual portion of my storyline, while weaving in fictional characters.

Is writing your full-time job?

No, for the past 10 years, I have been the Executive Assistant to the President of a thoroughbred horse farm. I have, however, gone part-time and work only 20 hours a week. I now job-share with another assistant who takes over my duties each day at noon.

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

Honestly? I brood for a while…not long – just a few hours or overnight and then I analyze what has been said. If it was said just out of meanness, I ignore it. If it was constructive and I believe it to be correct, I learn from it. I HATE it when someone who has never read my work goes on Amazon or B & N and leaves a one or two star review just to get a rise out of me or to start an argument with other reviewers. That brings down the overall rating level unjustly.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I prefer to schedule my writing on days (preferably rainy) when I can lose myself in the story. I usually begin as soon as I get out of bed and literally get so wrapped up in it that I forget to eat, take nature calls and often find myself wondering why I’m having trouble seeing the computer screen (it’s because it’s nighttime and I’ve been sitting writing for 12 hours or more.) This has happened so many times that I now give my daughter a heads up and ask her to call me periodically and remind me to take a break.

LOL! I think many of us writers can relate to that.

Leave your questions and comments for Anne here, and stay tuned for my next Mystery Thriller Week author spotlight with Australian author, Sarah Key!

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: Cheryl Lane

Today I welcome author Cheryl Lane to my blog. Her novel, Starlight Wishes, is sure to appeal to anyone who prefers a hefty dash of romance with their mystery and suspense! And to make things even more exciting, Starlight Wishes is FREE on Kindle today so there’s never been a better time to read it!

While interviewing Cheryl, I discovered that both of our families accuse of us cheating whenever we play the board game, Clue. Maybe mystery writers are just really good at playing Clue…Did our families ever consider that? In any event, here’s more about Cheryl:

cheryl-lane-headshotAuthor Bio:  Cheryl R. Lane was born and raised in Tennessee and went to college at East Tennessee State University before marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Virginia Beach, Virginia. She started writing as a hobby when she was in college after purchasing a couple of Southern Heritage cookbooks, which were filled with pages of beautiful old plantation homes. She used to sit outside in her backyard and type on a manual typewriter at a picnic table under the trees.  She continued writing after moving to Virginia Beach and visiting beautifully restored homes in Williamsburg as well as plantations on the James River. She has worked as a medical transcriptionist for over 20 years while writing on the side, and finally decided to self-publish “Wellington Cross” on Amazon in December 2012. Since then, she has published more in the series to include Wellington Grove, A Wellington Christmas (a novella), Wellington Rose, and recently Wellington Belle. She has also started writing a modern-day paranormal romance Angel Series, set in Virginia Beach, which includes Starlight Wishes and Sunrise Kisses. She is still married to her sweetheart after 28 years, and they have one son and a Havanese bichon. Her website is www.cheryllaneauthor.com, and you can also connect with her as Cheryl R. Lane on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Pinterest, YouTube, and StoryFinds.

starlight_wishes_cover_for_kindlejpg2135Starlight Wishes Back Cover Blurb:  What would you do if you fell in love with your guardian angel?  Only you didn’t know he was your guardian angel.  You just knew he was a handsome, mysterious guy who helps you get your life in order and who has incredible blue eyes.  That’s just what happens to Cassie Callaway who, at sixteen, gets herself into some trouble in her hometown of Virginia Beach.  A guy named Skyler saves her from drowning in the ocean and she ends up falling in love with him.  He has many secrets, however, including the shocking revelation that he is actually her guardian angel, and that their love is forbidden…

See more of Starlight Wishes on Amazon.

 

Interview with Cheryl Lane:

Hi Cheryl! Thanks for taking part in my Mystery Thriller Week Author Spotlight series. If your book was made into a movie, who do you envision playing the leading roles?

I envision Britt Robertson as Cassie, Stephen Colletti as Skyler, Jennifer Aniston as Jen, and Keith Urban as Luke.

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

I think when I first saw The Waltons as a kid.  I loved John-Boy.  He was my favorite character, and I loved how he wrote (typed) by the window.

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

I have always loved reading mysteries since I was a child reading Nancy Drew Mysteries, Sherlock Holmes stories, and Agatha Christie.  I love trying to solve a mystery, trying to figure out who did what and when.  One of my favorite board games was Clue.  I’m pretty good at it, too.  My husband and son say I cheat – I don’t!  I just take lots of notes!

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I try to write from 3:00 to 5:00 in the afternoons and/or from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.  I would write more if I had the time – see next question.

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

No, not yet.  Right now, I am also a medical transcriptionist and work from home.  I hope to quit this job someday and write full-time.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

I do some kind of exercise every day, in the form of run/walking, yoga, Zumba or Cize dance classes, strength training, P90X and Boot Camp classes, bike riding in the neighborhood, or kickboxing.  I have participated in 10 half-marathons and countless other shorter races like 5Ks, 8Ks, 10Ks, and a 14K.  Other than that, I read every day, and on occasion, I do a little knitting.

Thank you for joining us Cheryl. It has been a pleasure! Post your comments to Cheryl here or email her at:  Cheryllaneauthor@gmail.com.

Stay tuned for my next interview with mystery author Judy Sheluk on Feb 1st!

 

 

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!