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March 10, 2015 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Author Speak, Tribute, Writing | Tags: Ashley Fontainne, best-selling author, Betty Dravis, books, films, Growl, writing tips | by Betty Dravis | 4 comments
presented by Betty Dravis
Before we share what author Ashley Fontainne has to say on the subject of fulfilling our dreams, let me tell you a little about her. I’m sure most of you already know of her works, but for those who don’t: Award-winning and International best-selling author Ashley Fontainne is an avid reader of mostly the classics. Ashley became a fan of the written word in her youth, starting with the Nancy Drew mystery series. Stories that immerse the reader deep into the human psyche and the monsters that lurk within us are her favorite reads.
Her muse for penning the popular Eviscerating the Snake series was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Ashley’s love for this book is what sparked her desire to write her debut novel, Accountable to None, the first book in the trilogy. With a modern setting to the tale, Ashley delves into just what lengths a person is willing to go when they seek personal justice for heinous acts perpetrated upon them. The second novel in the series, Zero Balance, focuses on the cost and reciprocal cycle that obtaining revenge has on the seeker. For once the cycle starts, where does it end? How far will the tendrils of revenge expand? Adjusting Journal Entries answered that question: far and wide.
Her short thriller entitled Number Seventy-Five, touches upon the sometimes dangerous world of online dating. Number Seventy-Five took home the bronze medal in fiction/suspense at the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards contest and is currently in production for a feature film.
Her paranormal thriller entitled The Lie, won the gold medal in the 2013 Illumination Book Awards for fiction/suspense and is also in production for a feature film.
The suspenseful mystery Empty Shell, released September 29, 2014. Ashley then delves into the paranormal with a Southern Gothic horror/suspense novel, Growl, her latest release. Plus, she has teamed-up with Lillian Hansen (Ashley calls her Mom!) to pen a three-part murder mystery/suspense series entitled The Magnolia Series. The first book, Blood Ties, is due out the Summer of 2015.
Ashley also hosts The WriteStuff, a popular BlogTalk Radio show, each Friday night at 10 p.m. CST.
And now on to what this accomplished author has to say about overcoming fear:
by best-selling author Ashley Fontainne
Do you have a dream? Something tickling the corners of your mind, wanting to be released, but you ignore it? Does fear of the unknown, how others will react, or the worry of failing keep it locked away?
Fear. No. More.
Unleash your creativity. Paint the first stroke. Mold your first piece of clay. Write your first story. Is it a scary thing to let go of your fears by showing the world what’s been crawling around inside your brain? Terrifying… Your stomach will clench in knots, your heart will pound, and your palms will exude gallons of sweat. Your brain will buzz with the annoying sounds of self-doubt.
Do. It. Anyway.
It took me reaching my forties to finally let go of my fears and publish my first novel. Since that moment in April, 2011, my life has changed in ways I never thought possible when I sat in my Creative Writing class in college, fiddling around with ideas for a book. It took the gentle urgings of a very dedicated professor to embrace my worries and then let them go. Once I did, even though I truly was petrified when I clicked “submit” on Amazon, I also felt a tremendous sense of joy.
Now, four years, seven books and two movie deals later, I still feel anxious on the eve of a new release. The entire creative process is akin to raising a child, hoping and praying you have done your best, waving goodbye with tears in your eyes as they leave the nest for the first time. After all, the world can be a cruel, harsh place. Some will love your little bundle, others will despise it. It is a gamble each and every time.
But the rewards are well worth it. The sense of accomplishment is overwhelming. The biggest joy I receive with each new book is the knowledge that my words impacted the life of another human being. As a voracious reader, one who has found so much enjoyment in works of others, to even have the opportunity to try and do the same for others is amazing and humbling.
So, I challenge you today to step out of your comfort zone. Break the chains holding you back, and release your creative side, whatever it may be.
Paint. Draw. Sculpt. Design. Write. Embrace the fear and use it as a tool to hone your work… not to hold it back.
December 11, 2014 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Author Speak, Friday Favorites, Tribute, Writing | Tags: Betty Dravis, Dames of Dialogue, Joanna Lee Doster, NASCAR, novel, racing, stock-cars, Writing | by Betty Dravis | 5 comments
intro by Betty Dravis
Most of our readers are probably familiar with author/writer Joanna Lee Doster, but ever since I selected her exciting book Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit for a Betty Award for Book with Best Movie Potential, I wanted to share her story on Dames of Dialogue.
Doster is a writer and author whose published books include Celebrity Bedroom Retreats (Rockport Publishing) and the aforementioned Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit (MPI Publishing). The new edition of her family drama and motorsports racing thriller was released on May 4, 2014 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
She has also written a series of nationally syndicated celebrity profiles that featured legendary sports figures. Doster is a freelance journalist for syndicated newspapers (Gannett as one example), magazines and blogs. In addition, she has held executive positions in Cable Television (Arts & Entertainment, The Learning Channel and PBS communications) and the entertainment industry. She and her husband live in New York.
Now Doster has written the following, especially for our Dames of Dialogue readers.
by Joanna Lee Doster
Most people ask what inspired me to write a stock-car racing thriller. To keep it as simple as possible, I transitioned from my previous non-fiction book and publications to following the need to express myself with expansive, epic stories. I knew I needed powerful characters, with generational back stories; families with complex relationships from the past leading to the present. I satisfied my writing needs in Maximum Speed by writing about three generations of a stock-car-racing family.
Since I love to explore the different kinds of interactions my characters have and how they maneuver throughout their lives, my book about car racing became a metaphor for life. People are racing to or away from something. It’s not so much their destination that determines the type of person they are. It’s their journey to the finish line that determines that. My main characters have flaws and handicaps that most of them bravely overcome. Everyone chooses the path they take in life and how they travel on that path defines them. Ergo, the racing metaphor…
I became intrigued with stock-car racing when I began to realize that it’s not just drivers going aimlessly around tracks. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline, endurance, precision and focus. Driving around tracks for at least four hours with the glaring sun in their eyes, breathing in some residues of carbon monoxide inside a two-ton car that has 2 g forces is difficult enough. The experience is grueling when coupled with when to let up on the gas, when to make a pit stop, knowing when to avoid hitting another car and avoiding track debris, other crashing cars, etc. The list is endless…
I developed complex multi-layered characters that are a composite of people I have known. What I always loved about reading great books was that the well delineated characters always hooked you right away whether they were the heroes or the villains. You wanted to know what happened to them even after you finished reading. In Maximum Speed: Pushing the Limit I show their human frailties right from the start and they draw you in and you do want to know what happens to them at the end of the book. I also naively always believed in justice and so I try to balance out the imbalances in some of the character’s lives. But usually life has a way of meting out its own justice, so it’s not up to me, the author, to do that. I found that it’s best to let the characters take over and show that through their action and dialogue.
My protagonist Sean Devlin has been living on the edge his whole life, making speed and danger his constant companions in order to cover up a deep hole of loneliness and shame from the painful stigma of his childhood stutter. Reckless and testing the limits of life, he finally realizes that he doesn’t have to overcompensate for his speech handicap and conquer the world and his family to be number one. As Taylor, his mother, always told him, “You have no competition, as long as you believe you’re number one.”
The theme of “winning at all costs” philosophy is a thread that runs throughout my latest 2014 edition of Maximum Speed. People are always pushing the limit in their lives in order to achieve great success, whether they are celebrities like the ones in Celebrity Bedroom Retreats (Cher and Versace to name a few) or like the race-car drivers in Maximum Speed. Some of my characters push the limit on and off the racetrack with reckless disregard for their fellow teammates and or loved ones. My protagonist, a young champion racer, has an inordinate amount of drive, determination and obsessiveness for victory lane, overcompensating for a bullied childhood.
Joanna Lee Doster links:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/joannalee.doster
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Joanna-Lee-Doster/e/B001K8KFNI/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
BN order page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/maximum-speed-joanna-lee-doster/1102419753?ean=9780996017916
November 17, 2014 in Author Speak | Tags: author, ballroom dancer, choreographer, Colby Marshall, Color Blind, ebooks, fiction, mystery, paperbacks, suspense, thriller, writer | by christytilleryfrench | 2 comments
Don’t get me wrong…if you love e-readers because they help you read more often/easier/in a way that ensures no one on your subway commute can see the cover of your self-help book about how to overcome your intense fear of Slinkies, then have at it. I just know that for me, printed books are my preference. Maybe this is because I write my own books on the computer, so electronic books often automatically become “work” in my mind no matter the author or topic. Maybe it’s because I resist change (I do. I’m pretty much the only person under the age of thirty who still has an AOL e-mail address, and I will cling to my Blackberry until the day someone tries to steal it so fast and violently that they rip my whole hand off with it.). But while those things might be true, I think the most likely reason I lean towards printed books is because they happen to be less dangerous.
Let me explain.
Books are not safe in my house. If I was a book, I would be terrified to live here. Why, you ask? Because the mortality rate of books in my home is extremely high, and none of the causes of early demise for literature around here are particularly painless. Methods of torture for books include being ripped apart by a toddler (who may or may not have inherited my penchant for thrillers, but that’s another post for another time), becoming the hairball-catcher for one of the not-so-naked cats (Yes, there is one naked one), and being buried under a pile of other, heavier books when our makeshift book shelves buckle and send our extensive collection raining to the floor.
But as bad as those fates may be, the worst of them—and the one that accounts for the highest percentage of book deaths in this house—is the very reason I steer clear of the e-reader: the bathtub drop.
I can’t count the number of books we’ve laid to rest due to a dip in the bath bubbles. I’m a tub-reader (Definition: Person who reads in the bathtub, not a person who reads bathtubs). I’m a perpetual workaholic, so the only time I let myself “off” long enough to squeeze in a respectable chunk of a book for fun is when I can rationalize it by pairing it with general human hygiene (sounds psychologically healthy, huh?). This habit benefits my favorite authors immensely; any time a copy meets its watery doom, I shell out several dollars for two more—one to pick up reading where I left off, and another as a backup for when, inevitably, the first of the two new copies makes a splash all its own. I’m pretty sure Katrina Kittle owes a substantial percentage of her sales of The Kindness of Strangers to my serious bathtub addiction.
Which brings me back to why I’m still quite solidly in the books in print on paper camp and will likely remain there for the foreseeable future. If I were to let my e-readers take “swims” as often as my paper books, I’d likely need another job to support my book habit. But this time, I wouldn’t be paying the author a second time for another copy of their book I loved so much—I’d be paying a big company for a new e-reader. So, the idea of simply replacing the damaged merchandise is not only pricier in this situation, but it doesn’t appeal to my sensibilities as much, either. After all, who would you be happier to give a few extra dollars to on a given day? An author whose work has informed, helped, or entertained you, or to a stockholder whose name you don’t even know but who happens to hold a few shares of that e-reader company and has so many dollars in various stock statements that he won’t even notice when the investment you shelled out shows up in his statement numbers, because that amount you spent, while significant to you, didn’t even make a blip on his radar?
Besides…while I don’t think you can be electrocuted by making your e-reader your accidental rubber ducky, I’m just not keen on adding anything into water that contains me that happens to carry a charge of any kind. If by some off-chance it so much as gave me a little zap, I’d probably need to buy a dozen self-help books about how to overcome extreme fear of bathtub shocks. And given that I’d be too traumatized to ever buy another e-reader, everyone would be able to see those books’ covers on my subway commute.
Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby Marshall has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, thus ensuring that she is a perpetual workaholic. In addition to her 9,502 jobs, she is a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer and occasionally indulges her prima donna side by taking the stage as an actress. She lives in Georgia with her family, two mutts, and a charming array of cats.
About COLOR BLIND: There is something unusual about Dr. Jenna Ramey’s brain, a rare perceptual quirk that punctuates her experiences with flashes of color. They are hard to explain: red can mean anger, or love, or strength. But she can use these spontaneous mental associations, understand and interpret them enough to help her read people and situations in ways others cannot. As an FBI forensic psychiatrist, she used it to profile and catch criminals. Years ago, she used it to save her own family from her charming, sociopathic mother. Now, the FBI has detained a mass murderer and called for Jenna’s help. Upon interrogation she learns that, behind bars or not, he holds the power to harm more innocents—and is obsessed with gaining power over Jenna herself. He has a partner still on the loose. And Jenna’s unique mind, with its strange and subtle perceptions, may be all that can prevent a terrifying reality…
Color Blind is Now Available:
On Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/pbs3uts
On Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/pbs3uts
And other places books are sold!
To learn more about Colby and her books, check out her website at www.colbymarshall.com
In recent years several best-selling authors announced their retirement from writing. My first reaction was disbelief. These were successful writers. They won prestigious prizes. Their works were rich with theme and message. They had thousands of devoted readers awaiting their next publications.
And maybe that’s one reason they chose to retire. There’s something to be said about knowing when to leave the party, about going out at the top of your game.
I’ve never—to use a baseball analogy for success as an author—hit one out of the park and cleared the bases. If I had, I probably would have 1) wondered how the heck I did it, 2) doubted I could ever do it again, and therefore 3) been afraid and embarrassed to return to the plate.
But I haven’t had that base-clearing slam yet. I haven’t hit the top of my game. Or . . . maybe I have. Maybe I didn’t realize it. Maybe . . . Well, let’s not go there. That leads to self-pity and that leads to the basket of snacks on top of the refrigerator.
In at least one case, a retiring writer used the word “struggle” in connection with the writing process. Now, “struggle” is a word I’ve also been known to apply—but mostly to my attempts to stay at the keyboard and out of the kitchen and away from that basket I mentioned in the last paragraph. The struggles of these successful writers were on a much deeper and/or higher level and probably didn’t involve snacks. And that could be another reason for retiring.
Lurking on a number of chat sites as I’m wont to do when I’m putting off writing, I’ve encountered writers wringing the towel and considering whether to throw it in. Many of them have written just a few books—or perhaps only one—and haven’t had the positive reader response they expected, didn’t make the money they hoped for, or were stung by reviewers. Others stagger under the burden of jobs and obligations, responsibilities and interests that leave them little time to write. They take time out. Often, they return revitalized and with fresh ideas and perspectives. Sometimes, no matter what their intentions, they never return.
I don’t blame them. Writing can be frustrating and discouraging and painful, especially when your expectations don’t mesh with reality. It can give you tunnel vision and put a strain on relationships.
On the other hand, writing can also be rewarding. I’m talking not about financial rewards, but about getting that e-mail from a reader that thanks you for making her laugh, or about someone who drives an hour to a book fair to meet you.
So, I’m not retiring just yet. My husband and I have a collection of short stories called Sucker Punches about to pop up as a digital book and I’m putting the final touches on The Devil’s Tombstone, the 3rd in the Catskill Mountains Mysteries. After I demolish the leftovers from Thanksgiving, I’ll waddle to the keyboard and start on the 4th in the Subbing isn’t for Sissies series.
What about you? Which one of these statements describes when you’ll retire from writing?
When I reach my goals
When I’ve delivered my message
When the thrill is gone
When the idea well runs dry
When the voices in my head stop
When the voices in my head start
When they pry the keyboard from my cold fingers
The Dames and I are looking forward to your comments.
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the popular Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, and No Substitute for Maturity), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries (Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, and soon-to-be-released The Devil’s Tombstone). Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and five novels written with her husband, Mike Nettleton: The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor and Deception at Devil’s Harbor.
She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She’s now a substitute teacher in Vancouver, Washington, and her interests are reading, swimming, walking, gardening, and NOT cooking
September 4, 2014 in Animals we love, Author & Celebrity Interviews, Author Speak, Friday Favorites, Tribute, Writing | Tags: acting, Al Jardine, animal abuse, animal rescue, art, BeachBoys, Betty Dravis, Brian Wilson, Harlan Ellison, Kenny Rogers, Neal Jardine, Stephen Boyd, SUSAN ALCOTT JARDINE, Writing | by Betty Dravis | 13 comments
by Betty Dravis
Susan Alcott Jardine is an amazing woman! Not only is she an author, an artist, former actress and an award-winning screenwriter, she and her equally-amazing husband, Neal, are among the most active animal activists in California, and possibly, the nation.
I met Susan about four years ago, shortly after interviewing her former high-school friend, Actor/Producer Tony Tarantino, for Dream Reachers II, a book I co-authored with Chase Von. Susan’s book, The Channel: Stories from L.A., came out about the same time, so I jumped at the chance to review it. A haunting, well-written book… Needless to say, Susan has a way with words… The Channel is available at many online bookstores, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon:
Susan was born and raised in Los Angeles where she majored in theatre arts at El Camino College and California State University, LA. As mentioned above, she worked as an actress in theatre, television and film before working behind the scenes in music production/publishing, as a writer/editor for entertainer Kenny Rogers’s “Special Friends” newsletter, in entertainment law and broadcast television. She and her writing partner Marc Havoc received the WGA Foundation Award for their screenplay Lullabyeland.
While playing a role in a film at Paramount Pictures, Susan not only met Tony Bennett and the late Stephen Boyd, she also became friends with the acclaimed screenwriter Harlan Ellison who wrote the screenplay for The Oscar, among many other acclaimed literary/cinematic successes. Ellison became her mentor, actually critiquing her first published story from The Channel: Stories from L.A.,The Metamorphosis of Nathanial Kronstadt, which was first published in Ellery Queens’s Mystery Magazine back in 1985. She acknowledges Ellison as “a turning point and inspiration” in her life. For more about Harlan Ellison, check Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlan_Ellison
This versatile and talented woman is also a painter, and her artwork is in private collections in the US, San Salvador, and Kenya, East Africa, including the permanent collection of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Neal and many rescued cats.
Art website: http://www.GreenDoorEditions.com
While most of us writers dream of having movies developed from our books, Susan’s dream is much more altruistic: she and her husband Neal dream of founding a Feral and Stray Cat Foundation.
Since 2006, Susan and Neal have been actively rescuing feral and stray cats from the freeway berm that runs behind their home. Over the years they have been trapping, spaying, neutering and moving mother cats, kittens and new litters into their Green Door Editions (GDE) art studio, as well as using it for a recovery area for sick and injured cats. The Jardines named the studio their “temporary kitty hospital.”
Susan confided, “’Life’ and recent unforeseen events sent us into a tailspin here at GDE, forcing us to regroup and formulate a Plan B. But, from the chaos and re-grouping, New Doors opened up to a new path for us here at GDE. Through a loving gift from my late parents’ Trust, as if by magic, there was a ‘Gift’ to be used to start our animal rescue foundation.”
In 2015, the Jardines plan to open their non-profit foundation: “Alex & Friends’ Foundation” which will benefit ‘Feral & Stray Cat Rescue.’ Neal will be working from the legal aspect to set up a non-profit (501) (c) (3) to comply with Federal and state Regulations, and Susan will utilize her art & writing to create the logo and artwork for small gift items that can be added to a new website for the foundation.
“It won’t happen overnight,” Susan said, “but by baby steps, we can slowly set it up and connect with other non-profits in the community. We will keep you posted and let you know when we’re finally up and running. A lot of legal work needs to be done before we can go forward, like setting up our Board of Directors, financial account, etc. The good news is that the non-profit status has already been approved by the IRS. We are moving forward and will keep you posted when it is finally up and running as a non-profit animal rescue foundation.”
I’m excited for Susan and Neal…and for all the animals they are helping. I admire them and others who care enough about animals to devote their lives and resources to them. To learn more about all the animals they help, check Susan’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/susan.alcottjardine?fref=ts Don’t forget to check Susan’s site on a regular basis so you can either rescue a pet yourself or donate to this worthy cause.
ENDNOTE: Not essential to this story is a fact I would like to mention before closing: Neal’s brother is the famous Al Jardine of the Beach Boys. Since we and most of our fans love The Beach Boys, I thought you might enjoy that interesting tidbit.
Over the past year my husband and I revised and self-published four jointly written books previously with small publishers. He blogged about that experience for The Dames of Dialogue a few months ago, so—with the exception of saying that the process was tedious, time-consuming, and tense—I’ll skip to the revisions I don’t intend to make.
The three-book Casey Brandt TV news series (Consulted to Death, Driven to Death, and Dated to Death) is out of print and no longer available for download. The series came out through Deadly Alibi Press a dozen years ago. When Deadly Alibi folded, the books were picked up by SynergEbooks. When my contract expired, I gave away the print copies on my shelves, put my notes and files in a closet, and closed the door.
Despite the possibility of reaching readers through these early books, I don’t intend to open that door and release these titles once more.
• TV technology has changed
• I’ve changed
• My feelings about those books have changed
First, the technology. When I wrote the books, in the 80s and early 90s, a huge wave of change had yet to hit most TV news operations. Reporters still used typewriters. Wire service machines chattered in corners. Photographers hauled around bulky cameras and if they didn’t get to the fire or crash on time, viewers didn’t e-mail in cell-phone video. Editing was far more complex. Actual humans ran studio cameras. As an assignment editor, I communicated with news teams in the field through a radio system or landlines.
Bringing the stories into this century and this decade would take many, many hours. Not updating them, but simply trimming, tweaking, and tightening as we did with The Hard Karma Shuffle and The Crushed Velvet Miasma, would require everything to be “true to the times.” That may sound easy, but times (styles, expressions, technology, TV programs, car models) change so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up—and more difficult to remember how it was back in the day. In the process of rewriting a clunky paragraph I could slip in an anachronism that alert readers would spot and call me out on. (If you’ve ever been called out by an alert reader, you know why I don’t want to risk this.)
Second, I’ve changed. I’m not getting any younger, but I like to think that age and experience have made me a better writer. If I opened those books again, I have a feeling I’d be embarrassed by stilted dialogue, pointless descriptions, and drifting points of view. That embarrassment would be magnified because these were once the state of my art and I was proud of them.
Third, although I consider the characters to be old friends, they aren’t as well-rounded as they could be and they’re stuck in the past. I don’t relish a reunion, especially because I’m to blame for that “stuckness” and I feel a little guilty about abandoning them.
I’d rather spend time with characters from my Catskill Mountains Mysteries series and with those who populate the Subbing isn’t for Sissies series. Those characters are evolving. They’re filled with energy and exuberance. They wake me up in the night with ideas for scenes and interactions and bits of dialogue for their next adventures. And—perhaps selfishly—they urge me to write the books piecing themselves together in my mind instead of taking a detour into the past.
If you have books you won’t revise—or books you intend to get to soon—please share your thoughts and comments.
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, and No Substitute for Maturity), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries, Hemlock Lake and Through a Yellow Wood. Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, and novels written with her husband, Mike Nettleton, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor and Deception at Devil’s Harbor.
She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. Her interests are reading, gardening, and NOT cooking. Website www.deadlyduomysteries.com
Welcome, Judge Bill Hopkins! Thank you so much for joining us today to talk about your work.
DOD: Tell us about you latest book, River Mourn.
Judge Rosswell Carew’s fiancée is still missing.(See Courting Murder, the first in the series). Because her last call to him came from a payphone in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, Carew arranges to hold court there so he can pursue his search for her. When he witnesses someone who resembles Tina tossed from a riverboat ferry, he’s plunged into a nightmare world he never knew existed. Rosswell is astounded when he discovers that what he saw and the fate of Tina are intertwined. Unable to convince the local authorities that something deadly is going on, Rosswell teams up with his faithful research assistant Ollie Groton to discover the truth. The excitement never lets up until the last page.
Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
The next in the series is Bloody Earth. Judge Rosswell Carew witnesses his friend getting killed on the steps of the courthouse in the river town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. When he investigates the death he discovers some dangerous secrets. It will be out in spring 2014.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I like to start writing early in the morning. I’ll quit around five. If I have to work at my day job (lawyer and I’m the boss), I’ll often take off during the afternoon and write until bed time.
When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
The characters. Once I changed a character from female to male and it turned the whole story in a different direction. (Note: This is a good idea if you’re stuck in a story. Change something drastically!)
Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
I love hard science fiction. If it’s been written since Jules Verne and has to do with aliens and space ships, I’ve read it.
Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
My wife (Sharon Woods Hopkins, also a mystery writer) and I promote a lot. We have book signings every chance we get. The best luck we’ve ever had is at craft fairs. I’m not sure why, but people who go to craft fairs love to read and they like local authors!
How long have you been writing?
All my life. The first story I wrote was about Robin Hood. I was about five or six. I don’t remember the plot.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
T. S. Eliot. His use of language fascinates me.
What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
People want to read my words. That thrills me more than just about anything. I love my fans.
Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I live in the hills of Southeast Missouri. It’s got low population and beautiful scenery.
Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers?
Mark Twain, a Missourian, has also been a great influence on me. One of the funniest sayings I’ve heard around here is when someone wants to leave the company he is in will say, “I’ve got to go. I’ve got a lot of rats to kill before dark.”
That is funny! Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?
Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl was an exciting adventure story. I also loved reading stories about Marco Polo and other explorers.
Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
I don’t know. I’ve got so many ideas, I’ll have to live another hundred years to write them all.
What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?
My protagonist fights sub rosa against slavery, which is a problem in the world and in this country, especially sex slavery. The books are humorous but deal with exceptionally strong and serious themes. I don’t have anything graphic in the books, but there’s no question what’s going on.
Thanks again for talking with us today, Bill. Readers, please check out Bill’s websites:
My website with preview:
My Amazon Author Page:
My journey as one of the Dames of Dialogue has been more than four years long, and rich in interesting interactions with other authors.
Parting ways does not really mean goodbye, as I’ll be popping in from time to time, to see what the other Dames are doing, and contributing my two-cents worth in comments.
During the time I have spent here, I have also kept myself busy blogging, which has turned into something of an obsession, with numbers reaching twenty sites at one point, but now down to eleven.
In 2010, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and reached the goal of the challenge with 52,000 words toward a now completed manuscript, Interior Designs. It continues the story begun in Embrace the Whirlwind, but focuses on one of the supporting characters from that novel.
Meet Martha Scott Cummings: an interior designer, an abandoned wife, and a newly single mother to her daughter Meadow. Now she must begin an interior journey to reexamine the life she had, the choices she made, and to find the strength to begin again.
The manuscript has been through the usual edits, as well as Beta reads. Now I have to arrange for formatting, book cover design, and publication. Sometime this next year, I hope!
At the same time, I’ve also completed another manuscript I have called Defining Moments. A story that follows one middle-aged woman through the new life she is forging after her husband’s betrayal. And his betrayal is not the usual kind. Not another woman, but a financial skirmish that leaves her reeling.
What moments in our lives define us? Do our choices determine our future? When unexpected events derail her life, Jillian McAvoy realizes that she now has an opportunity to carve out a whole new beginning. But something happens to her along the way that threatens everything she hoped and dreamed about. How can the obsessions and compulsions that seemingly take over her life lead to her newly redesigned world?
This story has also been through its edits, readers, etc., as well. I have enjoyed my journeys with these characters and will definitely share my progress when they are out there in the world.
My five published novels are available on Amazon, with the latest one, Web of Tyranny, on Kindle, available there as well.
Here’s a blurb about Web of Tyranny:
Web of Tyranny by Laurel-Rain Snow is a proud, if poignant tale of Margaret Elaine Graham, a woman entangled in the trenches that epitomized her abusive childhood home only to flee into a stultifying marriage with Bob Williams. Seduced by the hope of achieving her goal of a college education and a life free from domination, she is blinded to Bob’s true qualities—and in a very real sense jumps from the pan into the fire. Oppression begets oppression and as Meg walks a thin line of human betrayal, she learns to stake her own claim to happiness—no matter how high the cost. Her fight leads to politicking during the radical antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, which manifests as a near-compulsion, which will turn her world on end. Enticed by the possibilities open to her and chafing at the strictures of the marital ties, Meg bolts from the marriage with her toddler son in tow where a whole myriad of troubles await her.
To find out more about each of my books, check out my website at http://laurelrainsnowauthor.com/
submitted by Dame Betty Dravis
If you haven’t already, meet Madison Knight, the chocolate-loving detective, who is determined to solve murder and find justice for the victims—even if that means coming into contact with the sight of blood.
However, in Found Innocent, the latest release in the series (releasing October 16th!), she doesn’t have to face too messy of a crime scene, at least in one sense. What she does have to deal with is whether or not she’s willing to jeopardize departmental relationships and cross the wall of blue.
Here, this is what it’s about:
There’s one code when it comes to the wall of blue…and Madison Knight may have to cross it.
Any good cop knows you never report a brother for mishandling a case or accuse him of misconduct, but in order to find justice, Madison may not have a choice.
Lacy Rose had one goal for her twentieth birthday—to be found innocent of past sins—but her life is cut short.
When Lacy’s remains are found in a garden and the investigation becomes connected to a closed case, Madison must face her past. The lead detective on that case was Madison’s ex-fiancé. At the risk of jeopardizing departmental relationships, and churning up the attention of an old flame at the same time, Madison must push hard before the guilty are found innocent.
Excerpt, Chapter 1:
The hysterical shouting pulled Madison’s attention from her monitor to a woman rushing toward her.
The station was supposed to be quiet today. Sunday. She wasn’t required to be there, and that made it the perfect day to dig into her cold case. She was so close to getting answers.
With one more longing look at her screen, Madison rose from her chair and held up her hands to stop the woman.
“Detective Knight.” She stated this as if they had met before.
Officer Ranson, the female officer who manned the front desk, came up behind them. “Come on—”
Another officer brushed past Ranson and slipped his hands under the woman’s arms. “Let’s go.”
He pulled on her, but she stayed still. Her eyes steadied on Madison.
“Please help me.” She attempted to shake loose from the officer’s grip.
Her frown lines were deep burrows, her eyes were sunken, and the flesh around them was puffy. She appeared to be rough-edged, but there was something desperate about her, and she didn’t seem to be a threat to the lives of anyone here.
“I’ve got this,” Madison said.
“All right, your call.” The male officer let go of the woman, and he and Ranson left.
“I saw your face in the paper.” The woman held up the Stiles Times. “It’s you, isn’t it?” Her lashes were caked with mascara, and she blinked slowly. Madison wondered if the cosmetic had sealed her eyes shut.
Madison passed a glance to the paper. It captured a moment she wished to forget. A day when she had been forced to speak in front of a crowd and to take pride in the job she had done. The thing was, though, a good cop couldn’t care less about the recognition.
The woman sobbed, yet her tears didn’t affect her makeup. “He wouldn’t do this…”
Madison summoned patience. A list of envelope-printing companies—which could prove to be a vital link in the chain of evidence against the Russians—would be on her monitor, right now.
She took a deep breath, passed another glance to her computer, and turned back to the woman. “Come with me.”
Madison kept the woman to the side of her. Her first impression was the woman didn’t pose a threat, but she still wasn’t willing to sacrifice her back by leading the way into the room.
Inside, Madison gestured to a chair.
The woman dropped her red bag heavily on the table. It was large enough to serve as a duffel bag. She pulled off her jean jacket, folded it over the back of the chair, and revealed a pink sweater that displayed more cleavage than Madison could ever hope to see on herself. The woman went rooting through the duffel bag and she stuffed a stick of gum in her mouth. She worked at chopping it into a soft, pliable distraction. It snapped in her mouth.
“Let’s start with your name—”
“Vilma with an ‘i’. Vilma Thorne, well, it would have been. My God, Kev!” She raised her face upward as if calling out to a Greater Being. Her gum chewing paused only momentarily.
“Vilma—” Madison had to tune out the noise and the display of her open-mouth chewing. “Let’s start at the beginning. Why are you here?”
Vilma stuck a finger through one of the large gold hoops dangling from her ears and leaned in.
Madison detected the blend of cheap perfume and cigarettes. Maybe—she inhaled deeper, trying not to appear obvious—it wasn’t perfume but whiskey. It was hard to discern. Her eyes appeared normal, except for the abuse of eye makeup. Besides the thick mascara, her lids were weighed with the color purple. Her pupils weren’t dilated or pinpricks.
Still, she didn’t respond to Madison’s question.
“Okay, Vilma, if you need my help, I need you to talk to me.”
Possibly this woman was on a new line of drug that disguised itself behind brilliant colors? Maybe this was a mistake and Madison should have let her get hauled away.
“My family is against what he did. But he didn’t do it!” Her voice rose, tears flowed. She stopped chewing and, sniffling, went rooting in the duffel bag again. She came out with a bunched up tissue and wiped her nose.
Madison’s tolerance level had almost reached its limit. “You keep saying he didn’t do it. Do what?”
A tissue still pinched on the tip of her nose, Vilma said, “He didn’t kill himself…someone killed him.”
Interested in reading more? See links below…
The Madison Knight Series is a clean, murder mystery series meaning mild graphic violence and language. Each book is self-contained so you can read any of the books, and out of order, if you wanted to. Books in the series in released order: Ties that Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Life Sentence (Prequel in which Madison has a cameo role), and Found Innocent. Carolyn Arnold started to take writing seriously six plus years ago when a co-worker said “tell me a story”. Since then she’s written nine novels and has plans to write many more. She has a love for the canine world and has two beagles that are affectionately named Max and Chelsea. Like her female protagonist Madison Knight, she loves her chocolate and has been known, on occasion, to speak her mind.
In celebration of the release of Found Innocent you can enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. You can enter as many times as you like and various ways. The contest lasts until October 31st. Enter here: http://carolynarnold.net/FoundInnocent.html#FIExtras
July 5, 2013 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Author Speak, Books by the Dames, Writing | Tags: Amanda Lee, Battered to Death, cozy mystery, Entertainment Weekly, Gayle Trent | by maggiebishop | 7 comments
Hi! I’m Gayle Trent, and I’m really happy to be the newest member of the Dames of Dialogue!
Under my own name—Gayle Trent—I write the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series for Simon & Schuster’s Gallery imprint. Daphne is a lot of fun. She lives in the fictional town of Brea Ridge, Virginia, which is between the nonfictional towns of Abingdon and Bristol. She is forty, has narrowly escaped a bad marriage (her ex is in jail for shooting at her—fortunately, he’s a lousy shot), and has returned to her hometown of Brea Ridge to fulfill her dream of operating a cake decorating business out of her home.
Daphne has met some interesting characters. In the first book, MURDER TAKES THE CAKE, she delivered a cake to Yodel Watson only to find Yodel dead on the sofa in her den. Now before you think Daphne would just barge into a dead woman’s house, please know that the parrot told her to come in.
Daphne’s other adventures are detailed in DEAD PAN, KILLER SWEET TOOTH, and, coming soon, BATTERED TO DEATH. I’m thrilled that the front cover features a quote by none other than master suspense/thriller writer extraordinaire Dean Koontz. And, if that’s not enough to allow a writer to die happy, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY has called the book an “entertaining…and tasty read.” BATTERED TO DEATH will be out in September, but it is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and your independent booksellers. If you’d prefer, please request it from your local library.
I also write the Myrtle Crumb Mystery Series under my real name. These novellas are currently only available in Kindle format. The novella was born when I wrote a serialized story for a magazine called THE GRAPEVINE several years ago. I really enjoyed writing the character—a spunky, sassy, sixty-something sleuth—and so I’ve written three more stories about her. In the first book, BETWEEN A CLUTCH AND A HARD PLACE, Myrtle finds a note in a purse she buys at a consignment store and sets out to find a missing person. In WHEN GOOD BRAS GO BAD, she goes undercover at the middle school to clear her granddaughter of theft. In the latest book, CLAUS OF DEATH, Myrtle goes undercover as Mrs. Claus at the mall after the mall Santa dies on the job. The police say it was suicide, but Myrtle doesn’t think so. CLAUS OF DEATH is scheduled to be out in early fall.
Under the pseudonym Amanda Lee, I write an embroidery mystery series set on the Oregon coast. The protagonist’s name is Marcy Singer. Marcy left an accounting position in San Francisco at her friend Sadie’s urging to come to Tallulah Falls and open an embroidery specialty shop. The morning after Marcy’s grand opening soiree, she finds the building’s previous tenant dead in her storeroom. There is a tapestry needle in his hand, and he’s tried to scratch a message onto the wall. That adventure is chronicled in THE QUICK AND THE THREAD. The other books in the embroidery series include STITCH ME DEADLY, THREAD RECKONING, THE LONG STITCH GOODNIGHT, THREAD ON ARRIVAL, and CROSS STITCH BEFORE DYING (to be released on August 6, 2013). CROSS STITCH BEFORE DYING is also available for pre-order at Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, and your independent bookseller. Or request that your librarian order it! J
In the coming weeks, I’ll give you a preview of each of my upcoming new books. I hope you’ll enjoy them. I look forward to getting to know you all!