Tell us about your romantic suspense book, Playing Dead.
“Good looking men are trouble. If I had known then what I know now, I would have put clowns on my wedding cake.” – Renee Rose in Playing Dead.
Court reporter Renee Rose who found out the hard way that hooking up with a cop is like getting a bikini wax; it starts off hot, quickly turns painful, and ends in tears. But when her best friend receives an e-mail from her long-dead fiancé demanding money, Renee knows they need help.
Too bad help comes in the form of Detective Anthony Graciano, an annoying bossy cop who somehow still manages to haul Renee’s libido out of dry dock. Police work is more than a career for Anthony, it’s an obsession. Specializing in cases involving female victims, he has no time for a personal life until he meets Renee, a delicious mystery he yearns to solve.
When Renee’s disastrous marriage ended some years ago, her mother consoled her with the knowledge that when one door closes the next door could open to a plate of warm cookies. Could this detective be Renee’s warm cookie?
When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
Oh, I try very hard to be in charge, but it never works out that way. While I’m writing my characters tend to go off on their own path, or something will come out of their mouths that surprises me. It makes the job of writing more interesting that way but I really never know where I’m going to end up, and sometimes I have to wrestle with them to get them back on the story line. There have been times when I want a character to do something and she (it’s mostly her) will tell me just out and out NO.
Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
I actually like the promotional part of this career. I’m very artsy/craftsy and like to make up gift baskets and create things to use as promotional items. My hero is a detective so I taped a little Tibetan silver handcuff charm on my book cover post cards and sent them out to every writer’s conference that would allow it to use as a goody bag item. When my book first launched I sent out birth announcements with the stork carrying my book. I just love all that stuff. It’s very easy to sit in my jammies all day and chat with people or post on loops. I do book signings occasionally but I don’t enjoy them. I find those to be very similar to dating. You have to dress up, put on your makeup, try to be witty, and all the while there’s that fear of rejection rolling around in your head. Bleech.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing my whole life in some form or manner. I wanted to go into advertising but couldn’t find the right path. When I worked as a travel agent and I wrote travel articles for local magazines. I did a ‘murder at the mall’ promo once that involved people visiting all the stores in the mall and collecting clues. (I had to come up with 110 clues.) I’ve always had a hand in club newsletters and flyers, and office plays at holiday time. Currently I’m a member of the Lions Club and I do their press releases.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
I knew I wanted to write a romantic/suspense after I saw the movie Romancing the Stone. I love that movie. I still dig it out and watch it from time to time. The interaction between the characters, the way the story intertwined, as they solved that treasure map and fell in love was intriguing to me. After that I started taking writing courses to get the know-how part down.
Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I was lucky enough to live on the ocean in South Florida for many years: white sandy beach, clear blue water, palm trees dropping coconuts in my pool. I worked the criminal courts in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, land of the nuts and fruits. Even though I’m up in a charming little town in Western Massachusetts now, I still find sand in my shoes.
What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
During the day I work as a criminal court stenographer. That means I am surrounded by murderers, rapists and thieves all day. And trust me, they are never in a good mood. This is where I get much of my material for my books. I know how to write a court scene because I live it. A courtroom is a sad place. I see people on the worst days of their lives. There is a lot of black humor humming underneath it all that the general public is unaware of. This is a necessary tool court personnel use to get through the day, otherwise we’d be used up emotionally and come home crying every day. When I tell police officers that I’m a writer, they love to sit down and tell me their best (worst) stories. One day I said “I should write a book.” And I did.
How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
I write romantic/suspense, fiction, but the cases in my book are based on true cases I’ve worked on. My protagonist is a court reporter modeled after myself, but of course younger and thinner. (So see, it’s definitely fiction.) She brushes up against criminals, lawyers, and cops all day. By the way, if you like bad boys, this is the job for you. Criminals make better boyfriends than cops or lawyers. Maybe because they have no career pressures to deal with. Unless of course you consider breaking and entering a career.
Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
I have always loved books. Going to the library on Saturday was great fun for me. And back then we walked everywhere. I don’t remember owning many books, but I read hundreds of them. Nancy Drew was my favorite.
Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
Yes, I have a Kindle. When I get excited about a book it’s hard for me to wait until I can get to the book store. Now, I can download it and start reading in just a few minutes. And the lower price of an e-book lets me buy a lot of them. That way I get to try out new genres that I might not have bought before. The only drawback I see is I find it hard to navigate around. If I want to go back to something I read three chapters back, it’s hard to find. Let me change that. I can’t find it, period. I still love book stores and always buy something when I’m in there. I hope the brick and mortar stores never go away.
Are you in a critique group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?
I’m not currently in a critique group but I have participated in them in the past. I belong to several local writers groups and we often do cold reads of our work at our meetings and get great feedback from each other. I think it’s important to get your work off of your computer and out into the hands of others.
Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?
In my case I don’t ever get writer’s block. I have so many ideas floating around in my head I can’t get them all out and down on paper fast enough. I keep a notebook with me, even by my bed, because I think of great lines, interesting scenes, or story ideas all the time. My ‘writer’s block’ is just laziness. Sometimes I have to force myself to get in that darn seat and make clicky clacky on those keys. A bowl of peanut M&Ms helps. A lot.
To find out more about Jody, visit:
And just for fun, check out her video for Playing Dead:
And for even more fun, Jody is offering a free Tibetan silver handcuff charm to our readers. Just let her know in the comments!