Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Donnell Ann Bell

As promised yesterday, fellow Colorado mystery author Donnell Ann Bell is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. The photo above is the cover for Donnell's most recent release, Deadly Recall. It is her second novel. Seventeen years prior to when the book begins, Eden Moran blocked out a murder. Heaven help her, she’s about to remember. Nine-year-old Eden Moran thought she was saying good-bye to her mentor that fateful day in St. Patrick’s. She had no idea she’d witness the nun’s demise, or that her child’s mind would compensate. Now seventeen years later, Albuquerque cops have unearthed human remains, and the evidence points to Eden as being the key to solving Sister Beatrice’s murder. When a hell-bent cop applies pressure, Eden stands firm. She doesn’t remember the woman. Unfortunately for Eden, Sister Beatrice’s killer will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.

Scary stuff!  Below is Donnell's guest article. Please leave a comment for her, and if you have a question for her, ask it!

Listen to your Mother. . .and Donald Maass

Hi, Beth:  Thanks so much for inviting me to your wonderful blog. I’m particularly excited to be here because, unlike my debut book, The Past Came Hunting, which is romantic suspense, Deadly Recall is a full-blown mystery. I had so much fun writing Deadly Recall, with the exception of one little burr in the keyboard. Let’s call him Donald Maass.

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘listen to your mother?’ or watched the old sitcom, ‘Father Knows Best?’ If you’re a writer, somewhere in there you need to throw in, ‘Listen to Donald Maass.’

For you readers out there, Donald Maass is a veteran literary agent and speaker who has written bestselling nonfiction books for writers, including Writing the Break Out Novel, The Fire in Fiction, and most recently, The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers. Most might call him an expert in guiding authors to writing the best book that’s in them.

I’m no exception. I’ve bought Mr. Maass’s books. I even attended a two-day workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico (incidentally, where Deadly Recall is set). I agreed wholeheartedly with his statements:  Eliminate needless backstory; every passage, every word you write must belong in that book—or get rid of it; and you must have tension on every page.

Yes, I was fully in his camp of devoted followers until he made a comment that sent my tightly plotted novel into a tailspin. He said if you’re writing a mystery, and you know who your killer is from the start chances are your reader will, too. His advice to attendees in the room—when you reach the end of your novel, turn your killer. Make your antagonist someone your reader will never see coming.

I sat with my head in my hands thinking this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’ve plotted my book; it works. I KNOW who the killer is. It HAS to be this person. Like a stubborn teenager unwilling to listen to her parents, I went home and went about my business and the way I wanted to write Deadly Recall. The killer who I envisioned in my synopsis stayed my killer.

But darned if Donald Maass hadn’t planted the seeds of uncertainty, and as I proofed that document and prepared to submit to agents and to enter the Golden Heart®, his words led to many a sleepless night. If you know who your killer is from the start, chances are your reader will, too. He taunted me like a construction worker walking into a two by four.

So I went back to my already perfect manuscript and got back to work. I sulked all the way as I took Mr. Maass’s stupid advice and I made my killer somebody else. Then, to my surprise, something magical happened. If I didn’t know who the killer was from the start, maybe my readers wouldn’t know, either.  (Okay, so I’m a slow learner.)

I sent my work through critique, and as my very discerning critique partners read through the numerous red herrings I’d set up, I relished their comments: “Who on earth is the killer?” “I have no idea.” Finally when they were getting toward the end of the book, they took out an envelope and wrote who they suspected. When we opened the envelope upon reading the ending, only one critique partner out of six had gotten it right.

I jumped up and down with glee, particularly when Deadly Recall became a 2010 Golden Heart® finalist and Bell Bridge Books made an offer to buy it. So who does that Donald Maass think he is, anyway? In my mind, and countless others, he’s somebody brilliant and worth listening to.

Thanks, Donnell! Now, readers, have you ever tried to ignore advice that proved to be the best thing you ever heard? Tell us! Also, if anyone else has had an experience with Donald Maass, Donnell and I would love to hear about it. And, if you have a question for Donnell, ask away!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tomorrow's Guest: Donnell Ann Bell

Tomorrow, fellow Colorado mystery author Donnell Ann Bell will be a guest on my blog. Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist. Her debut novel The Past Came Hunting became an Amazon bestseller, reaching as high as #6 on the paid overall list and finaling in 2012 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence, RWA’s® Great Detroit Bookseller’s Best, and the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Deadly Recall, brought to you by Bell Bridge Books, is her second published novel.

In her guest post tomorrow, Donnell talks about "Listen to Your Mother ... and Donald Maass." I'm sure you'll be intrigued by what she has to say. Please stop by to ask Donnell a question or respond to her article in the comments!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snowshoeing on the Ptarmigan Trail

On Monday this week, I went snowshoeing with the "Snowshoe Hares" group from the Summit County Senior Center on the Ptarmigan Trail near Silverthorne, Colorado. We hiked to the lookout that provides a breathtaking view of Lake Dillon, the Gore Range and the valley below. We made our way through aspen and pine forests, over frozen creeks and fallen logs, and past animal tracks and evidence of elk bedding down overnight near the trail. The total distance was just over 4 miles, with an almost 1000' altitude gain. Quite a workout!

The photos below were taken by my husband, starting with one of me, then of me with the rest of the group.

The photos below were taken at the overlook, starting with three scenic shots, then one of three of us sitting on a log and eating lunch, then one of my husband and me before we started the trek back to the parking lot. As you can see, it was gorgeous day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today's Mystery/Thriller Author Guest: J. L. Abramo

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery/thriller author J. L. Abramo is visiting my blog today. To read his bio and see his photo, please page down to yesterday's post. The photo above is the cover for his latest release, Gravesend, about which Crimespree Magazine said:

"In our top five for best of 2012 is J. L. Abramo's Gravesend. The discovery of a boy's body on the roof of an apartment building sets off a chain of events that will tie together a group of people in profound ways. Homicide Detectives Samson, Vota and Murphy of Brooklyn's 61st Precinct link the body to that of another boy, with no solid clues. As each detective works the case, each is also torn by other cases and other traumas, some very close to home. This is a remarkable book that will tie you in knots as you wait to see how it all plays out. A truly exceptional novel."

Gravesend is a stand-alone crime thriller set in the Brooklyn neighborhood of the same name where the author was born and raised. A crime novel on the surface, the book evolved into its present incarnation when Abramo finally understood what he was humbly attempting to explore...namely how the manner in which human beings handle adversity will ultimately define them as persons...good or evil...weak or strong...fair or unjust...loved or despised...admired or feared.

Sounds like a great read to me! Below is J. L. Abramo's guest article. He is running a free book contest for those who comment with a question or remark for him. A randomly selected commenter will win a free autographed copy of the trade paperback version of Gravesend. So fire away and good luck!

 Like Trying to Catch Water In a Net

My simple answer to the question, “What inspired you to start writing?” is reading.

Reading books, whether fiction or non-fiction, has always offered me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and my sensitivity while doubling as a terrific source of entertainment.  I have always found writing to be my preferred tool of expression and creativity, the instrument I wished to master.  I delved into poetry, song writing, journalism, short stories, and ultimately book length fiction.

The summer of 2000 found this Italian-Russian Brooklyn boy working in an office in Columbia, South Carolina.  A fish out of water.  In the evenings I would write, working on my first full length novel.  And then one day it was complete.  Now what?

It was literally impossible to get a publisher to look at the work unsolicited.  So I was forced to go the prescribed route, attempting to find a Literary Agent who would champion my novel.  All of the agencies I researched would only accept query letters; they would not even take a peek at a chapter or two.  If I imagined I could write a good book, I learned quickly that I could not write a convincing query letter.  The responses were short form letters which all said basically the same thing.  Thanks but no thanks.

When Van Morrison was asked what would you do if you never sold a song or a record he answered without hesitation that he would not stop working at it because, he confessed, “I can’t not write.” Vincent van Gogh said “If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Determined to thwart discouragement, I did the only thing I could think to do.  I sat in front of an archaic Dell desktop PC and began to fill in a blank page.  I wanted to write something unlike what I had written before.  I wished to take my mind off rejection.  Without much premeditation it began as a first-person narrative set in the office of a San Francisco private eye and displayed humor that had been absent from my earlier efforts.  I wrote ten pages.

How a new work of fiction begins is as important to the writer as to the reader. For the writer, the opening pages are the seeds that will hopefully grow into a personally satisfying and coherent literary journey.  They are the cornerstone. For the reader, the opening pages are the hook that will hopefully inspire the fellow traveler to continue on that journey.  When I face the blank first page I approach it as a quest (often not yet fully realized) and try in time to reach some hidden treasure by the end of the excursion; with many detours and side-steps along the way.

I do not know the final destination when I begin. The characters are created and developed as composites of people I have known, including myself, and by human reactions to events.  The plot develops as a consequence of how these characters react and interact and is secondary to the characters, since it is the people in a story that have always interested me most as a reader. And, I get to know these characters more and more clearly as they move through the story.  In a series, such as the Jake Diamond books, there is the opportunity for the writer, as well as for the reader, to learn more about repeating characters in subsequent installments.  Getting to know my characters is far less challenging than discovering the need, when the plot demands, to end the life of a character I have come to know and have grown truly fond of, an episode which is often as surprising to me as to the reader, and one which may not please all readers.

Plotting is extremely challenging, but when the theme of the work finally dawns on me, when at last I understand what it is that I am really writing about, it provides direction. When I finally discover where the story is headed, I often find it necessary to backtrack in order to locate the path I need to be on to get there.  But at the start, when I begin, my books have always begun with a scene, one that will hopefully be recalled throughout the book, by myself and by the reader, as the circumstance that launched the expedition.

A few days after the barrage of rejection letters, I was surfing the Internet (more like rowing back in the days of dial-up) when I stumbled across the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America contest for Best First Private Eye Novel. Interesting coincidence. I decided immediately that I would finish a private eye novel and submit it before the deadline, which was less than a month away.  Apparently for the characters and the dialogue, and certainly not for the convoluted plot, Catching Water in a Net was chosen for the award.  The prize was publication by St. Martin’s Minotaur (after a considerable amount of editing) and an advance against royalties.  Holy smoke!

Exactly one year later I received a final hardback copy in the mail.  It was a wonder to behold and a thrill to hold.  The novel was released on the first of October in 2001, less than a month after 9/11, making my first Bouchercon World Mystery Convention both an exhilarating and sober occasion.  St. Martin’s Minotaur gave me two more shots before deciding that the Jake Diamond series, though well received by critics and readers alike, was not what they considered a cash cow.  I continued to write, of course. What other choice did I have? But the work seemed destined to remain out of the public realm.  And then, the net held water once again when Down and Out Books reached out to me and gave Jake Diamond and J. L. Abramo a second shot.

Over the course of eighteen months, Down and Out Books re-issued Catching Water in a Net, Clutching at Straws and Counting to Infinity as eBooks and published the stand-alone crime thriller Gravesend in eBook and trade paperback.  A prequel to the Jake Diamond series will be released in early 2013, and I am currently putting the finishing touches on a fourth Jake Diamond novel.

We write, we paint, we sing because we need to.  And if we are persistent, and honest, and lucky, perhaps we can catch water in a net and reach an audience. We keep clutching and counting.  And we keep writing.

How inspiring! Okay, readers, fire away and good luck in the free book contest.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tomorrow's Guest: J. L. Abramo

Tomorrow, fellow mystery/thriller author J. L. Abramo will be a guest on my blog. J. L. Abramo was born in Brooklyn, New York on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. He earned a BA in Sociology at the City College of New York and a Masters in Social Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. Abramo is the author of Catching Water in a Net (2001), winner of the PWA/SMP prize for Best First Private Eye Novel; and author of the subsequent Jake Diamond mysteries Clutching at Straws and Counting to Infinity. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and the Screen Actors Guild. His latest crime thriller, Gravesend, has recently been released by Down and Out Books.

In his guest post tomorrow, J. L. Abramo discusses "Like Trying to Catch Water in a Net." I'm a sucker for water-based titles! I'm sure you'll be intrigued by what he has to say, AND he will offer a  free book contest! A signed copy of Gravesend in trade paperback will be awarded to a randomly selected commenter. Please ask J. L. Abramo a question or respond to the article in the comments tomorrow to enter the contest.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What's Coming ...

I have been busy lining up mystery author guests for my blog and have a full schedule stretching until the end of April. Most of these guests have also agreed to book giveaway contests, so there will many opportunities for my blog readers to win free books! The guesting kicks off with J. L Abramo next week, and other upcoming guests include Ellen Byerrum, L. C. Hayden, Colleen Collins, Sparkle Abbey, Heather Graham, and more!

Also, I'll keep you posted on the progress of my two book releases for this year, Fatal Descent, due out in June, and Basketful of Trouble, due out in November. The cover art for Fatal Descent is below, and you readers-of-my-blog will be the first to see the cover art for Basketful of Trouble once it's finalized.

Lastly, I hope to post photos from my travels, both for fun and business, starting with the Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference in February and the Left Coast Crime conference in Colorado Springs in March. If there's anything else you'd like to read about in this blog, please let me know!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference

Brrrr! Lately in Breckenridge, the outside thermometer has dipped below zero. Add a blustery wind, and the wind chill is freeze-your-nose-off cold. So I'm staying inside and dreaming of my upcoming trip to sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to speak at the Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference. And I'm staying on for a few days after the conference to hit the beach.

 The Puerto Vallarta Writers Conference will take place from Friday, February 21st to Sunday, Frebruary 24th at the local library, Biblioteca Los Mangos (see photo below). Thriller author David Lyons is the keynote speaker, and presenters other than myself include author James Callan, editor Tierra Mar, publisher Billie Johnson, true crime author Corey Mitchell, true crime author Suzy Spencer, mystery author Jinx Schwartz, and literary agent Suzie Townsend.

If you register for the conference by the end of January, it only costs $125 to attend! What a bargain for a weekend of writing seminars! And, you can charge as a business expense a trip to the sand and sun and a lovely tourist mecca chock full of tasty restaurants, art galleries, night clubs, outdoor activities--everything and anything you could look for in a winter vacation! I hope to see some of my blog readers at this conference. If you plan to come, please let me know in a comment here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

An Interview with an Independent Bookstore Owner

Today I am blogging on Inkspot, the blog for Midnight Ink authors, about an interview I did with one of my favorite independent bookstore owners, Natalie Johnson of Black Cat Books. Do YOU have a favorite independent bookstore near you that you frequent? Please go to Inkspot and tell us in a comment about the store and the owner!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Left Coast Crime

Left Coast Crime is a mystery conference that is help annually in the spring in some location in Western North America. It is sponsored by fans and is held for fans, so they can meet and mingle with each other and the mystery authors they love reading. Past conferences have been held in California, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, and Alaska. This year's conference, Left Coast Crime 2013, is being held in Colorado Springs, Colorado during March 21-24.

I have registered to attend LCC 2013 and hope to be on a panel of outdoor-oriented mystery authors. I'm also looking forward to reconnecting with fellow mystery author friends and mystery reader friends. I hope some of my blog readers will be able to attend, so I can hang out with you! Behind the scenes, I'm working with Sisters in Crime to sponsor a cocktail reception and man an information table and with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America to sponsor a reception. I'll also be putting together gift baskets/bags for the key presenters.

One aspect of the conference is to vote on and present awards in various categories of mystery fiction. This year's awards include:

THE LEFTY — Best humorous mystery novel

THE BRUCE ALEXANDER MEMORIAL HISTORICAL MYSTERY — Best historical mystery novel covering events before 1960

THE ROCKY — Best mystery novel set in the Left Coast Crime Geographical Region (Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii)

THE WATSON — Mystery novel with the best sidekick

Wicked Eddies, the second book in my RM OutdoorAdventures mystery series, is eligible for THE ROCKY. In the book, whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner discovers a murdered fly fisherman along the banks of the Arkansas River near Salida, Colorado. I hope those of you who are registered to attend the conference and have a nomination form will consider listing Wicked Eddies as one of your nominees for THE ROCKY.

I'd love to hear from those of you who are attending, so I can be sure to look for you at the conference!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Lois Winston

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Lois Winston is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. The photo above is the cover for Lois's January 8th release, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, the third book in her Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series.

In the book, Anastasia Pollack’s dead louse of a spouse has left her with more bills than you can shake a crochet hook at, and teaching craft classes at her mother-in-law’s assisted living center seems like a harmless way to supplement her meager income. But when Lyndella Wegner—a 98-year-old know-it-all with a penchant for ruffles and lace—is murdered, Anastasia’s cantankerous mother-in-law becomes the prime suspect.

Sounds like a great read to me! Below is Lois's guest article. Please leave a comment for her, and if you have a question for her, ask it! 

The Character Readers Love To Hate 

The idea for my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries came about from a combination of events. My husband had recently lost his job, and although he’s nothing like Anastasia’s husband (thank goodness!), it sent me into a tailspin of worry regarding money. I was also dealing with massive mother-in-law problems at the time. On top of that, when I first started contemplating the series, The Sopranos was still airing on HBO. I’m a Jersey girl. How could I not set a mystery in my home state and involve the Mafia in some way? All of these elements came together to form the basis for Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series.

The premise for the series is that when Anastasia’s gambling-addicted husband permanently cashes in his chips in Las Vegas, her life craps out. She’s left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and a loan shark demanding fifty thousand dollars. Over the course of the series, Anastasia looks for ways to whittle down the massive debt she’s inherited, a task made more difficult by her spend-thrift mother, a self-proclaimed descendant of Russian royalty, and her curmudgeon mother-in-law, a card-carrying communist, both of whom live with her.

And did I mention the dead bodies? It’s not like Anastasia works in law enforcement. However, ever since her husband’s death, she keeps stumbling across murder victims, hardly something a craft editor expects.

I’ve always been drawn to quirky characters. They make me laugh. It’s the reason I write humorous amateur sleuth mysteries. I think we need more laughter in the world. I get enough of the grim and gritty from my daily newspaper and the evening news.

I don't often base my characters on people I know, but when I do, I usually take traits from various people, exaggerate them, and blend them together to create a unique character. Let’s face it, most people aren’t as quirky in real life as they are on the printed page.

The exception to this is Lucille, Anastasia’s mother-in-law. With a few minor differences, Lucille’s personality (along with her communist leanings) mirrors that of my now deceased mother-in-law. Lucille is the character readers love to hate. Some readers want me to kill her off; others love her, probably because they see some of their own mothers-in-law in her. I chalk this up to misery loving company.

There are now three books plus a short story in the series. Yesterday was the official release date of Revenge of the Crafty Corpse. In this book, Anastasia is moonlighting on weekends at the rehab center where Lucille is recovering from surgery. But when Lucille’s 98-year-old roommate turns up dead, Lucille becomes the prime suspect in her murder. Upon discovering that the roommate’s scandalous craft projects—along with her scandalous behavior—made her plenty of enemies, Anastasia sets out to find the real killer before her mother-in-law winds up behind bars.

Now I know, given readers’ feelings toward Lucille over the way she treats Anastasia, many will wonder why Anastasia would bother. After all, she could be rid of Lucille permanently. But no matter how huge a pain in the derriere Lucille is, Anastasia can’t sit by and let her go to prison for a crime she knows Lucille didn’t commit. Besides, if she did, I’d hardly have a plot, would I?

Thanks, Lois! Now, readers, do you have a favorite mystery character that you love to hate? If so, tell us about it. Also, for those who have read Lois's books, what's YOUR opinion of Lucille?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Tomorrow's Guest: Lois Winston

Tomorrow, fellow mystery author Lois Winston will be a guest on my blog. An award-winning author, Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Other books in the series includes Death By Killer Mop Doll, Crewel Intentions, and the recently released Revenge of the Crafty Corpse.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she’s an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. She’s also the author of Top Ten Reasons Your Novel is Rejected. Visit Lois at her website, visit her as Emma Carlyle at Emma's website, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers character blog.

In her guest post tomorrow, Lois discusses "The Character Readers Love To Hate," and I'm sure you'll be intrigued by what she has to say. Then, feel free to ask her some questions or respond to the article in the comments.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Liz Lipperman

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Liz Lipperman is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Liz is running a contest for a free autographed copy of Murder for the Halibut and will choose the winner from among those who leave a comment!

The photo above is the cover for Liz's January 1st release, Murder for the Halibut, the third book in her Clueless Cook mystery series. In the book, a sports writing job would have been the perfect catch for Jordan McAllister, but in Ranchero, Texas, all she could reel in was the food column. Though she may not know her way around a kitchen, she has no trouble finding herself in a kettle of fish.

Tempted by the offer of a free Caribbean cruise, Jordan accepts a spot as a judge in a week-long big-time cooking competition aboard the Carnation Queen. She just better hope no one finds out that her famous palate is far from refined. But there are bigger fish to fry when arrogant chef Stefano Mancini falls face first into his signature halibut dish during the first event. While evidence suggests that the handsome Italian chef’s death was an accident, Jordan thinks otherwise. But she’ll have to keep her wits about her—and the sea sickness pills handy—if she’s going to solve this one.

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

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

First of all, thanks, Beth, for having me on your blog today. Now to the questions. I always knew things came out better when I wrote them. I even used to write letters to my high school sweetheart (now hubby) when we’d fight. My career choice was nursing, however, and it wasn’t until I decided to go back to get a Professional Arts degree and took Creative Writing as an elective that I began to think seriously about writing. On the final exam my instructor wrote, “You ought to think about a career in fiction writing.” That did it for me.

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

I start with names and usually spend a whole day researching for the perfect ones. I love to pick ones that have cool nicknames. Then I write detailed character profiles on every character in the story, and I go from there. Sometimes, I even decide which actress/actor will play them in the movie version!!

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

I am a card-carrying plotter. To those who don’t write, this means I have to have it all mapped out before I even write a word as supposed to some of my pantser friends who just sit down at the computer and write. I start with a catchy title and then do profiles on all my characters as well as plot points for the entire book before I ever write one word.

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?

We all know that mysteries involve action and plot. However, I don’t write police procedurals where the action has to be so detail-oriented. Plus, I thought I was a romance writer for a lot of years and learned how to write great characters (at least I hope I did!) So, to answer your question—mysteries that have both are what I write and love to read. I call them Romantic Mysteries, and I love it when a reader tells me she loves my characters. It just truly makes my day.

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

As I mentioned, for a lot of years I chased the romance genre with a stack of rejections to prove it. The very first book I ever wrote was about a nurse who was kidnapped and smuggled into Colombia where she eventually takes up arms with her captors to fight off the Cali Cartel. Can you see why it was rejected by the romance editors?? When I finally found an agent who said she loved the story, I was elated. Of course, she couldn’t sell it, either. It wasn’t until that agent left the agency and I was passed down to my present agent (whom I absolutely adore) that I discovered I was a mystery writer. After reading the story, she looked me in the eye and said, “You know you’re not a romance writer, right?” You could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather. That’s when I penned my first mystery (a romantic suspense now available on Amazon.) And BTW, that first story about Colombia will go up as a romantic suspense in March.

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

I am retired from my day job, so I have no reason not to write every day. However, I find every excuse in the world not to. When I’m on deadline, I have absolutely no dust bunnies anywhere!! I have to be in the mood and sometimes, it just isn’t happening. Plus, I edit everything a million times before I send each chapter to my critique partner. Consequently, I am a pathetically slow writer, but the good news is that when I write “The End,” there are usually very few edits. To answer this question, when I am on deadline, I try to write 25 pages a week. I usually don’t and end up in panic mode before the deadline. I call myself a crisis junkie and like to think I do my best work then.

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

You are only NOT a writer when you quit doing it. No matter how many roadblocks you’re running into, keep at it. When I finally sold to Berkley, I signed a three book deal on a proposal. That meant I had three NEW books to write with four already completed ones on my desk. Those are the ones selling now!!

8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.

My mother had four boys and then said she prayed too hard for a girl and got five in a row. I am next to the baby and my younger sister and I have always been close both in age and size. My older brothers always sent similar Christmas presents to us, and being the devil that I was, I used to unwrap them and choose the one I wanted before wrapping them both up again. My children pay for the sins of their mother since I only put numbers on all the presents to this day because I was so naughty. One year I lost my cheat sheet. That was a fiasco!

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

I am now writing the second book in my A Dead Sister Talking series for Midnight Ink. This one will release next year. Currently, I am getting my first Romantic Mystery, Mortal Deception, written as Lizbeth Lipperman, ready to come out in print. This month, Murder for the Halibut, the third cozy in the Clueless Cook series from Berkley came out, and as I mentioned, in March the Colombia story, Shattered Dreams, will release. Then in May, Heard It Through the Grapevine, the first of the series from Midnight Ink debuts, and in October, my fourth cozy titled Chicken Caccia-Killer releases. Sheesh! I’m tired already.

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

Readers can go to my website and read excerpts from all my books as well as to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There’s also a link to email me, and I would encourage people to do that. I love talking about my books.

And I have a question for you readers. What do you like best—the character driven books or the ones with a lot of action? One lucky commenter will received an autographed copy of Murder for the Halibut.

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

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Tomorrow's Guest: Liz Lipperman

Tomorrow, fellow mystery author Liz Lipperman will be a guest on my blog. Also, Liz will run a contest for a free autographed copy of Murder for the Halibut, choosing the winner from among those who leave a comment!

Liz also writes for Midnight Ink, my publisher, but she's visiting tomorrow to talk about her recent book release from Berkeley Prime Crime. Liz Lipperman started writing many years ago, even before she retired from the medical field. Wasting many years thinking she was a romance writer but always having to deal with the pesky villains who kept popping up in all her stories, she finally gave up and decided since she read mysteries and obviously wrote them, why fight it? She now calls what she writes Romantic Mystery since there is always a hunky hero and a lot of flirting.

In October of 2011, the first book of her Clueless Cook cozy mystery series, Liver Let Die, debuted from Berkley Prime Crime. Since then she has published two more. The latest, Murder for the Halibut, releases today. The first book of her new series from Midnight Ink will debut in May. She writes her cozies under her real name and her mainstream mysteries as Lizbeth Lipperman so that her cozy readers will know the books written under this name are not G rated. Liz lives north of Dallas with her high school sweetheart hubby. When she’s not writing, she spends her time doting on her four wonderful grandchildren. She loves hearing from readers.

In her guest post tomorrow, Liz answers my interview questions, and I'm sure you'll be intrigued by what she has to say. Then, feel free to ask her some questions of your own in the comments.