Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Sparkle Abbey


As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author duo Sparkle Abbey is visiting my blog today. To read the duo's bio and see their photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Sparkle is running a contest for a free autographed book, with THREE winners. Each one will win a copy of one of the first three mysteries in the Pampered Pets mystery series, their choice. Sparkle will choose the winners from among those who leave a comment.

The cover art above is from their latest release, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, the third book in the series. In the book, Caro Lamont, Laguna Beach’s most sought after pet therapist, is back with more coddled cats and pampered pooches. Unfortunately, her human neighbor, Kitty Bardot, has apparently used up her nine lives and Caro’s nose for trouble lands her in the middle of a murder investigation. Will Caro claw her way out of this one? Or – well – you know what they say about curiosity and the cat…


Sounds like a very fun read! Below are Sparkle's answers to my interview questions. Please leave a comment, and if you have a question of your own for Sparkle, ask it!

1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?

Thanks so much, Beth, for inviting us to visit your blog! We enjoy your books and hope your blog readers will enjoy hearing a little bit about us. Like many writers, we started out as mystery readers before we decided to try our hand (or is that hands) at writing mysteries. We enjoy the same types of books and had belonged to the same critique group for many years.

2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

We use character sketches, interviews, and pictures. Because we work together on the series, we talk quite a bit about the characters and their motivations before we start on a book.

3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

We are both very definitely “plotters.” We outline using the idea of a skeleton of the story. We lay out the three-act structure and turning points of the storyline. But then when we begin to write, we’re very open to the growth of the story in an organic way.

4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?

Both are important but for us the plot is driven by the characters. When you have strong developed characters, the choices they make must be true for them and, of course, that will impact all your story decisions.

5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

The biggest challenge is time! We have more stories in our heads than we can possibly find the time to write. What inspires us the most is hearing from readers. We’ve been so lucky to have heard from some wonderful readers.

This post came via email:
“I’ve got to say - you had me at woof!  Your book had everything I love – 1) animals, 2) comedy, 3) people and animals you care about, 4) murder and mystery!  I also love the setting - the wacky, strange, beachy, Paris Hilton kind of California!  I also LOVE that "Sparkle Abbey" is actually a friend/team!  What fun you must have!  I can't wait to read your next book - and while reading it I will be imagining the two of you sitting on a beach, drinking your margaritas, laughing.”

Wow. As a writer, this is why you write.

6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

Because we each work full-time in addition to writing, we write, out of necessity, in the evenings and on weekends. We also plan at least two writing retreats each year. Sometimes we plot new stories at these retreats and other times they are set aside for intensive writing.

7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

It’s a very hard trail and you should know that going in. You need to frequently remind yourself that if you’re going to do this, you’re in for the long haul and so you’ve got to stay strong. That means finding encouragement in others on the same path (other writers), staying toned (keep honing your craft) and keeping yourself hydrated (refill your creative well). This is a wonderful time to be a writer and though it’s a constantly shifting topography (market) – it’s by far the most rewarding journey you’ll take. 

8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet.

Okay, Beth, how’s this for obscure? LOL

Abbey (Anita) likes to quote lines from the movie, The Princess Bride. Some of her favorites:

Miracle Max: Get back, witch.
Valerie: I'm not a witch, I'm your wife.

Miracle Max: Have fun stormin' da castle.
Valerie: Think it'll work?
Miracle Max: It would take a miracle.

Sparkle (Mary Lee) is a long time Monkees fan (the musical group, not the primate group). So much so that she received a personal birthday card from Monkee Davy Jones on her 40th birthday!

9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

Yip/Tuck will be out this year and we’ve sold two more books in our pet-themed mystery series. Book 5 will be Fifty Shades of Greyhound and Book 6 will be The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo.

10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?

We truly love to hear from readers and we also love to see pictures of your pets. Please stop by our website or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads or wherever you hang out. We’d like to get to know you all better!


 Thanks, Sparkle! Now, who has a comment or question for Sparkle Abbey? Good luck in the contest!  

36 comments:

Kath Marsh said...

What a delightful combination: crazy CA (I'm a native CA, expat in KY now) pampered pets, a therapist, and mystery. Genius! I can hardly wait to read my first.

cmgren said...

Loved Desperate Housedogs. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Elaine said...

I enjoyed the first book in the series. I have the 2nd on my iPad and plan to read it soon.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Sounds interesting. I am still waiting to become a pampered human, but, so far nobody has obliged me.

Carol B said...

I already own and enjoyed the first two books in the series, and would love to win the third one!

Kate Eileen Shannon said...

I absolutely LOVED the first book in this series and am looking forward to catching up.

Beth Groundwater said...

Keep those comments coming, folks! Sparkle Abbey will announce the winners of their book contest here tomorrow evening. You have until then to enter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for spending time with us and sharing --- good luck on your new book; they all sound interesting!
Lynn/MI

Sparkle Abbey said...

Thanks, Kath. We've had a lot of fun with the series and the location! From CA to KY, huh? Anita is actually a native Californian now living in IA. :-)

Sparkle Abbey said...

cmgre - Glad you liked Desperate Housedogs! You'll have to let us know what you think about the rest of the series.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Love this series and these authors! So Anita for you: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

And For ML not that you would ever part with that signature, but insure it. Oh my gosh! Having a fan moment right with you.

Waving hi to Beth. See you all soon!

Sparkle Abbey said...

Elaine - Glad you liked book one. I read on my iPad, too. I love books. You should see my shelves. LOL But the iPad is such a great portable way to have books with me wherever I go. I find I read even more! ML

Sparkle Abbey said...

LOL, Kevin. If you find out how to arrange that pampered human thing, let us know!

Sparkle Abbey said...

Carol B - Thanks for stopping by! So happy you liked Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy. As you can probably tell we've had so much fun with writing this series!

Sparkle Abbey said...

Kate - Desperate Housedogs was the kick off to a lot of fun with cousins, Caro & Mel. As I'm sure you've figured out in Book 2 - Get Fluffy - Mel is the lead character and then in Kitty Kitty Bang Bang we're back to Caro.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Beth - Thanks so much for inviting to hang out on your blog today! We're heading out for Left Coast Crime in the morning so hope to see you in person soon!

Sparkle Abbey said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lynn. Great to spend time with Beth and all of you today!

Sparkle Abbey said...

Hey Donnell - We'll be seeing you at Left Coast Crime, too! This is our first time and we're very exciting about it.

Hadn't thought about insurance, but you're probably right. :-)

ML

Beth Groundwater said...

I'm looking forward to seeing you, too, Sparkle Abbey, at the Left Coast Crime conference. Are any of my blog readers going? If so, be sure to catch one of my panels and one of Sparkle's panels and come up and say HI!

Maria Reyes said...

Loved the first two books! Can't wait to read the new one.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Ahh thanks, Maria. Hope you enjoy, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang. We introduce a new character so we'll be interested in what you think. :-)

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Want to read Kitty. Looking forward to it. Good interview.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Thanks, Stephen! Hope you enjoy it. What's next for you?

Kaye Killgore said...

This sounds like a fun series, I'm really going to have to get your books.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Hi Kaye - Thanks for stopping by! We hope you'll check out our books. :-)

Liz Straw said...

Loved the interview, I admit the Sparkle Abbey books are on my Wish List. I love the names, the newest titles is great. I love punny titles.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Liz - Glad the books are on your wish list. I'm with you, the punny titles always catch my attention!

Jane said...

I enjoyed Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy! I can't wait to read Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (love the title!), because Caro is my favorite character.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Jane - We think you'll enjoy some of Caro's challenges in Kitty Kitty Bang Bang. :-)

Mary Mansson said...

I read Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy and really enjoyed them. I am sure Kitty Kitty Bang Bang keeps up your style of humor and whodunnit.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Thanks, Mary!

Sparkle Abbey said...

Beth - Thanks so much for having us as guests! We look forward to seeing you at Left Coast Crime tomorrow. We are on the road today. So far, good traveling and clear skies!
Mary Lee & Anita aka Sparkle Abbey :-)

pennyt said...

Love the title Kitty Kitty Bang Bang!! Thanks for a fun interview.

Lisa Richardson said...

What fun! I'd love to try out this author, but I'd want to start with the first book!

Lisa Richardson
keizerfire@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! Look for a drawing for our three winners later today.

Sparkle Abbey said...

And the winners are...::::drumroll::::::
Elaine
Carol
Kevin

Please email us with your choice of title and your address at sparkle@sparkleabbey.com

Thanks to everyone for hanging out with us!
Sparkle Abbey