Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Colorful Bugs: An interview with children's author Laura Yirak

A picture of a pink ladybug smiling.
Today I'm talking with children's author Laura Yirak about her eBook on colors for young children, Ladybug Pink.


1) Tell us about your book.

Ladybug Pink is the sequel to my popular Ladybug Blue eBook which covered the primary colors. This sequel covers more colors: purple, pink, orange and brown. Basically there's a problem outside and she fixes it by swapping shell colors.

2) What is the best age group for this book?

It’s for little ones learning basic colors, so about eighteen months and up.

3) What drew you to creating young children's eBooks?

I have a two year old and I use these books for him. I wanted to keep them simple and fun.

4) Due to the extensive use of illustrations, your books may better viewed on certain readers. What formats are they available for and is there a particular reader (or readers) you'd recommend?

I’d recommend them for full color devices that support eBooks. I am putting some of the books into print. Crosby the Crab will be available soon.

5) Please tell us about some of your other children's eBooks?

Crosby the Crab: Crosby was just another crab living on a tropical beach when a mysterious object washed ashore and sent him on a quest for adventure!

Bumble Babees: The Bumble Babees are up for the day. They go to school, come home and play! We have the mama bee, two brothers and one sister. Watch out for the one in the sunglasses--a fun tale about our daily lives symbolized by bees

Three Wee Peas: This is a 1-2-3 counting book.

6) What future projects are you working on?

The sequel to Three Wee Peas is in the works due out in a month. The theme is a visit to the farm and learning about the different animals and their sounds. I’ll have another few books out over the fall and winter that I’m writing now. It’s a good lineup.


Thanks, Laura.

If you'd like to read more from Laura, please visit her blog at  http://dreamsofdiamondsauthor.blogspot.com/ .

Summer Speculative E-Book Giveaway Contest

Over at my friend Cindy Borgne's blog, there is a giveaway for various eBooks. The books in question vary in genre (mostly science fiction, urban fantasy, et cetera) and type, so there is something there for almost everybody.

The giveaway itself is pretty painless. You just have to leave a comment on the post and mention which two books you're interested in.

The contest link is http://dreamersperch.blogspot.com/2012/07/enter-summer-speculative-e-book.html.

Good luck.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Secrets and love: An interview with historical romance author M.K. McClintock

Today I'm talking again with western historical romance author M.K. McClintock about another book in her Montana Gallagher series, Gallagher's Hope. We discussed the first book in the series, Gallagher's Pride, in March.


1) Tell us about Gallagher's Hope.

The blurb can do a better job of that than I can.

She sought a new beginning.
He sought what he didn't know was missing.
Together they would discover hope in unlikely places.

Isabelle Rousseau must escape New Orleans and the memory of her family's tragic loss. With her younger brother in tow, she accepts a position as the new schoolteacher in Briarwood, Montana. Desperate to keep what's left of her family together, Isabelle joins her life with a stranger only to discover that trust and hope go hand in hand.

Gabriel Gallagher lived each day as it came believing he had everything he could possibly want . . . until a determined woman and her brother arrive with a little luggage and a lot of secrets. It will take a drastic choice to protect her and give them both hope for the future.

2) Tell us a bit about your heroine.

Apparently I enjoy writing heroines who have to go through a lot of tragedy and turmoil in order to become who I know they can be. Isabelle is no different. In the beginning she’s just a well-bred woman from the city who has to find the strength to care for her brother on her own. Once she arrives in Montana, she goes through a lot and shows us that she is strong, capable, loving, and able to endure whatever is thrown her way. It takes her a little time to reach that point, but she doesn’t disappoint. I’d also say she’s gentler than the other women in the series.

3) Tell us a bit about your hero.

Gabriel Gallagher. I have a soft spot for this one, though that tends to be true of whichever hero I’m writing at the time. Gabriel is similar to his brother Ethan from Gallagher’s Pride—they’re both strong, chivalrous, devoted to family, loyal, hard-working. In the first book, Gabriel was a bit more laid back. In Gallagher’s Hope, you still see that side of him, but he shows us his darker, human side.

4) What themes underlie the plot of this book?

The usual themes found in both romances and westerns. You see a lot more of the typical western-revenge theme in this one. You’ll also see characters facing inner darkness and overcoming that, faith vs. doubt, love and sacrifice—a lot going on here.

5) Is anything in particular you enjoyed in this book vs. Gallagher's Pride? Was it easier or harder to write this second book in the series?

I can’t say I enjoyed anything more about writing this one better than I did writing the first book. I certainly enjoyed returning to the family and seeing characters from the first book get their own story. I have a fondness for Gabriel, so I was thrilled to write his unique story, but I love the Gallagher family, so it’s difficult to like one more than the other.

Both! It was easier because I already knew most of the characters and so writing them came easily. It was more difficult because I was editing the 2nd edition of Gallagher’s Pride while finishing up Gallagher’s Hope.

6) You've previously noted that you've already planned this series out to the fifth book. The changing leads gives you some flexibility with this, but I'm curious if you ended up changing anything in Gallagher's Hope after completing Gallagher's Pride?

And I still have five books planned, though the fifth book is now completely different than what I originally planned. I did change some of Gallagher’s Hope after completing the 2nd edition of Gallagher’s Pride. The story I mapped out is the same, but the character’s journeys have certainly changed. In addition to new characters, I changed, or should I say added, a major scene. I’m thrilled with the changes.

7) Any overlap with the characters of Gallagher's Pride?

Definitely! Almost all of the characters from the first book have carried over into the second with the Gallagher family of course being at the center. I have introduced a few new characters and I’m excited about how they’ve so easily entered the story.

8) When can we expect the third in the series to be published?

I’d like to say exactly six months, but I won’t be rushing the book. I’m taking the month of August off from writing to help balance out my schedule and then I’ll be back full-force in September. Gallagher’s Choice should be released in the first half of 2013.


M.K. is also doing a giveaway for three signed paperbacks via this link or you can leave a comment here to be entered:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, M.K.

If you would like to read more from M.K., please check her out at:

Friday, July 27, 2012

How people relate to each other: An interview with anthology writer Justin Bog

Today I'm talking with Justin Bog about his collection of literary psychological short stories, Sandcastle and Other Stories.

1) Tell us about your collection.

First of all, thank you very much for letting me sit down for this cool Q&A. Nice digs. To answer your first question, Sandcastle and Other Stories, began as noodlings, tiny little flash fiction tales, and lengthened with character, the inner workings of each person on the page, scene settings, and motivation, and the actions the characters decided to take. When they were ready I published them on my A Writer's Life blog (www.justinbog.com) over the past year and a half. There are other stories and unused novel sections there today, but these ten tales formed a tight collection of literary, psychological, and suspense stories. The collection has since found the interest of a Washington State publisher, Green Darner Press, and the print version, as well as the other eBook formats beyond Amazon's, will be available in November. I am thrilled to know the writing life dream continues. One review came in recently, and what was so fantastic was that the reviewer related to me how she gave the book to the head of the English Department, a colleague of hers at the nearby University in Fairbanks, Alaska, and he is going to use the book as part of a lecture series on books that are helping to dispel the stigma surrounding self-publishing. 

2) What inspired this collection?

People inspired Sandcastle and Other Stories. How people relate to one another. What happens when someone doesn't tell anyone he or she has a secret that drives any reaction? I tried to capture those moments in short form. Each tale begins with an impulse, a setting, a scene, almost in the middle of the action, and then the characters reveal something, and lead the reader down a path. My mind tends to run to dark places, and my characters sometimes visit these places as well.

3) Are there particular themes that unify the collection?

That's a good question, since I didn't write them as a whole, as linked tales. Afterwards it's a bit easier to say that there are themes of inner strife and dark psychology running throughout the tales. How people overcome hardship, or fall backwards into an unknown future. These are family dramas with no easy answers given, as in real life. People always want closure, but often, even in fiction, that is not a reachable or natural state since time keeps marching on, and after closure, there is what can be a beginning.

4) Do you experiment with style between the stories?

I tried to get into the minds of a varied group of characters. In the first tale, The Virtue of Minding Your Own Business, I chose the first person point of view, that of an elderly gardener dealing with a huge part of his past, as if a chunk has been stolen from him, and he can never find it again. For the second story, Sandcastle, the action and characters called out for a more journalistic third person point of view. This reporting adds to what has been called the most shocking of the ten tales, a story some have even said crosses an ethical line. Mothers of Twins, the third story, pops right back into the point of view of a new mother of twin boys. It was a challenge, since I'm a guy, to make her story as natural and believable as possible. I have no problem with men writing as women, or women writing as men, children, teens, as long as it's honest and the story places me in that world. The 4th story, When the Ship Sinks, goes 90 degrees in a different direction right into the mind of a divorced man who cannot have children told to get out of the office, the stress of being newly single is ruining the work atmosphere, and he decides to go on a singles' cruise, where he witnesses a bizarre set of circumstances. I then went back to the third person point of view for the only fantastical tale, really more in the realm of magical realism, Poseidon Eyes. Here the reader is looking over the shoulder of a young girl who catches the fancy of an ancient god, and he begins to toy with her. Cats In Trees continues the third person point of view, and this is the shortest of the stories, but a lot of secrets are told, how each member of this family relates to one another. The 7th tale, Typecast, is told in the first person point of view and in the head of a typecast television and B-movie film actor. He is fairly balanced, but what is revealed is how unhinged most of the others are who surround him, how they make assumptions about him based on his appearance. Under the Third Story Window and On the Back Staircase are written in the third person point of view and are also two of the more harrowing of tales. These two stories have a nice raw quality to the settings, and the action stems naturally from the scene. The last story, Train Crash, I ended once again with the first person point of view, and back in the head of a down-on-his-luck gentleman, maybe not as old as the gardener from the first tale, but just as wounded. He sees everyone around him as someone who is about to witness a train crash or worse.

5) Do you have a favorite among the collection?

I am fond of every single story in this book, but I do have my own favorites. I loveSandcastle because it really works. The ending is earned naturally, and every word from the beginning to the end is important. Poseidon Eyes began as a fanciful tale about a young woman who was trying to cash a check at a bank, and how she wasn't seeing the people around her as anything near human, and the idea came into being when she accepted this as the status quo. I loved her inner strength, and how she changed during the story's timeline. 

6) What advantages do you feel the short form provides over longer form works?

I don't really think of one form having an advantage over the other because of length. There are classic short stories and classic novels. I love reading them all. The kindle has been a great invention and is bringing back short fiction or "singles" to a much wider audience. Very few people bought short fiction collections in traditional bookstores. The novel is king there. But for eFiction, a group of stories can find more people. Stories are easier to read for those with shorter attention spans. I love reading both novels and short stories.

7) Are there any authors who have influenced you?

Yes, Alexandre Dumas wrote one of my favorite books of all time, The Count of Monte Cristo, which I could read again and still marvel at how great it is. I love Shirley Jackson's short stories and novels. Rachel Ingalls is an undiscovered writer in our country who writes dark tales of wonder. I also loved the writing of John Irving, Margaret Atwood, Raymond Carver, and Stephen King. I like economic prose that gets to the point, or uncovers something dreadful and makes me think.

8) Can you tell us about any of your other work?

I finished a longer novella titled The Conversationalist for an upcoming anthology of suspense stories called Encounters, which will be an original eBook. Each of the stories accepted had to deal with a stalker. Fun to write. It would've fit well as a final story in Sandcastle and Other Stories. At the end of Sandcastle I included the first chapter of my novel, a psychological family drama, Wake Me Up, and this book is ready to go. I also will finish editing the first draft of a new psychological horror/contagion novel, The Shut-Ins, for next year. I'm halfway done with that process. I'm in the middle of a longer suspense story about a tennis coach down on his luck who invites something bad to oversee his team, called The Volunteer. After that I have ideas for two more stories. They're getting darker as I hit the keyboard more each day.


If you'd like to see more from Justin, please check out his blog, www.justinbog.com.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God Save The King: An interview with historical fiction author Laura Purcell

1) Tell us about your work in progress.

I’m working on a series of books about the Hanoverian monarchs – that’s George I through to William IV – and the amazing women in their lives. My aim when I set out was to become a Philippa Gregory for the Jane Austen era. That’s a pretty high goal!

I’m currently preparing the first of the novels, God Save the King, for publication in September 2012. The story charts the progress of George III’s famed madness,showing how it affected his family. My focus is on his wife, Queen Charlotte, who had to cope with an unstable husband and a large brood of children. She was an incredible person with so much strength.

I also follow Charlotte’s courageous daughters, who were practically entombed in Windsor Castle. All six try to escape, but I concentrate on Royal and Sophia.Royal was a gauche Princess who never quite fitted her role. The world saw Sophia as a reclusive invalid, but rebellion was brewing behind her sick room door…

2) Tell us about some of the challenges involved.

I had to work hard to represent each character fairly. I was painfully aware that I was writing about real people who had to be treated with respect. It was just asdifficult to show the bad parts of the characters I loved as the good parts of those I detested!

Other than that, my main challenge was ruthless self-editing. I was fascinated by George III’s family and a bit in love with each of them. I wanted to include every detail, but I had to make sure I didn’t overburden the reader. I also had to simplify the family dynamics. Some of the Princesses’ many brothers had to be removed from the mix. When your heroine has fifteen children, life starts to get complicated…

3) Tell us a little about yourself?

As I’m sure you have guessed, I’m a bit of a history nut. I belong to a Medieval re-enactment group and Tudor dancing society, so you might see me around the country doing a pavane in full costume!

I live in Colchester, Britain’s oldest recorded town, with my husband and nine guinea pigs. Yes, nine. We’re big animal lovers.

I adore reading, obviously. The house is full of bookshelves with all genres stacked up. One day I’d like to have my very own library room.

Oh, and I drink lots of coffee. I mean a lot.

4) What is your next work?

I’m researching and planning A Forbidden Crown, about George IV and his bigamous marriages to Queen Caroline and Maria Fitzherbert. I can’t wait to start writing! They are all vivid characters who survived a turbulent period in English history.

George was the ultimate playboy, but he certainly met his match in his two wives. Maria was a confident, driven woman who knew her worth. She certainly wasn’t going to let George mess her around if she could help it. As for Caroline, she went on to become one of the most notorious – although forgotten – Queens in history. She was a free spirit, wild and mischievous. No wonder George was afraid of her influence rubbing off on their young daughter, Charlotte.

Charlotte herself is one of my favourite historical figures of all time. I hope by the end of A Forbidden Crown, you’ll come to love her as much as I do!

5) Who do you read?

I try to read as many authors as possible, because I feel it helps my artistic development. I like to absorb many voices, finding out what works and what doesn’t. My favourites at the moment are Kate Morton, Philippa Gregory and Sarah Waters. I also like to read classics when I get the chance; anything from Shakespeare to Fitzgerald.

6) Where should we look for your work?

I will keep you regularly updated about the progress of God Save the King on my website, laurapurcell.com. You can also get a sneak peek at the opening of the book here. I hope to publish on 8 September 2012, which is George III and Queen Charlotte’s wedding anniversary. The book will be available through Kindle on Amazon and other select distributors. Watch this space!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A New Arthurian Legend: An interview with C.M. Gray

Today, I'm talking with C.M. Gray about his Arthurian legend-based book Shadowland.

1) Tell us about your book.

Hi and thanks for the opportunity to chat about my writing, I'm thrilled to be invited onto your blog. My book Shadowland has a strong basis in the Arthurian legend, but it won't be like any Arthurian book you have read before. I've written it in the hope that it will appeal to a wide audience, from middle school right up to adult readers. I've done this by, I hope, writing an interesting and entertaining story but without complicating the story too much, leaving out any sex and making the violence a little less graphic. Saying that, the battle scenes are there and they tell of the suffering and action involved as the Britons confront the Saxon aggressors, but it is only enough to make it a great story.

2) What inspired this book?

To be honest, I set out to write a story without any idea of where it was going to head. I liked the idea of an old storyteller spinning a tale one midwinters eve. As his listeners gather around the fire after the traditional feast, he starts a story but is interrupted by a visitor that confronts him and talks him into telling a story from his own life.

There was no inspiration as such, it's the same with any of my books; they just happen. I never set out to write about a certain subject, I could never be hemmed in by the restrictions of a storyline I had to keep to.

3) The Arthurian legend has gone through countless permutations in oral form, written form, film, and television. They all have their different nuances and influences. How did you decide to approach the Arthurian legend and what influenced you?

Well, I bet you've not come across this story. For one thing the name Arthur doesn't come up until the last chapter! This is the story of his father, Uther Pendragon. There are certain things that strike a similar cord because it is from the Arthurian legends, but it is more of a prequel! Merlin is a much younger man, but he is there, not as you might expect him and for much of the book he doesn't....but that might be termed as a spoiler so I won't go there. Suffice it to say this is the story that came before the one you may think you know. There is no round table or shiny knights in this story.

4) With all these different takes, it can be hard to bring something fresh to the tale. What sets apart your take on Arthurian Legend?

As I said this is his father's tale. The story of Uther Pendragon when he was a boy of just fifteen summers. It tells of his struggle to come to terms with who he is and how his land is being fought over like scrap of meat cast aside for squabbling dogs. The land needs a leader, someone to unite the tribes and Uther needs to step forward to fill that role.

5) What primary themes does your book explore?

The dark ages was a period in the history of Britain that very little is actually known about. Very little written record has been handed down. There are writings from a few Christian Monks and a little from departing Romans, but for the most part all we are left with are a few names and legends. I have tried to take the little that has been passed to us and mix it with a healthy dose of storytelling and big lump of fantasy thrown in to add spice. One of my main protagonists is Cal, he spends a large amount of his time helping Uther, and a large part of his time switching his consciousness with a wolf. The book is called Shadowland because of the dark ages, but also it refers to the place between life and death, the Shadowland, and Cal spends time in the Shadowland.

6) Does this legend of the distant past have anything to tell us in our modern time?

I don't purposely set out to give lessons in life, but I think Shadowland shows how strong a person must be to succeed with their convictions. It also shows the need to be honest and true to oneself. To live the life you are truly meant to live. These are traits as important today as they ever were.

7) Do you have any sequels planned?

I have no sequel planned as yet, I may do, but I have a very active imagination and lots of other great ideas! My first book is also out at the moment, it's a pure fantasy YA/Adult questing adventure called The Flight of the Griffin, I'm almost finished with the sequel to that. It should be available at the end of the year and has the working title of Chaos Storm, I hope you will all look out for it after reading Shadowland and The Flight of the Griffin!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk with you all today, I appreciate the chance to tell you about my writing and hope you are intrigued enough to read my work.

Amazon com: http://www.amazon.com/Shadowland-ebook/dp/B0075OZWSE
Amazon co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadowland-ebook/dp/B0075OZWSE

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/142491
Paperback at Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cm-gray/shadowland/paperback/product-20127138.html

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5752854.C_M_Gray
Blog: http://flightofthegriffin.blogspot.com
Twitter: @cgray129

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Complacency Kills (Almost)

So, I haven't been around much online.

Last week, I stumbled into the emergency room. I couldn't breathe and I had to be admitted into the ICU and placed on a ventilator due to an inability to get in enough oxygen and expel enough carbon dioxide. The doctors made it very clear that had I waited much longer, I probably would have ended up dying. I would effectively suffocated to death.

Now, as disturbing as this all was, it also was somewhat self-inflicted and an excellent example about how foolish stubbornness and medical complacency can take what should be a minor inconvenience and turn it into a near-lethal event.

Let's take a step back. As some as you may or may not know, this summer my family had some major upheavals and I started looking for a new day job. Among the complications involved in this job search was the reality that we weren't even sure what part of the country we'd end up in. Also complicated the problem was my lease running out. So, we were temporarily homeless and didn't know if we'd end up in Texas, Chicago, or San Francisco.

Here's where we hit the first checkpoint. I decided that we'd stay with some in-laws in the Midwest for a few weeks while I waited to hear back from my job opportunities. That'd place us relatively close to two of my potential jobs. Indeed, while staying with those inlaws, I ended up getting my job offer and we knew we'd be moving to Chicago.

Now the place I stayed had a cat. I have mild asthma. It's not a particular issue 95% of the time, but I am also allergic to cats. Unfortunately, even though I was well aware of this and, for that matter, have a detailed knowledge of respiratory immunology, I convinced myself that it wouldn't be a big deal. I had stayed at people's houses with cats before and using a combination of medications thought I generally could manage the problem. Sure. I'd be sick for a while afterward, but eventually I'd recover. A little discomfort, I realized, was better than shelling out money for weeks and weeks of hotels (thank God I have medical insurance).

So, I stayed at the house with the cat for longer than I normally would before we came to a hotel in Chicago to look for apartments. I was very sick, but I figured it'd pass eventually. I just needed to manage the symptoms. Things seemed like they were maybe getting worse and my wife suggested I see the doctor, but I insisted that, no, now that I was away from the allergen, things would clear up. Of course, at this point, my bronchi were probably all but shut up due to inflammation.

My wife continued to insist that I go to the doctor. I said I'd take it easy and things would clear up. Last week, she refused to take no for an answer and insisted that I go to the emergency room. I figured I'd go to the ER, maybe they give me some shots, and I'm good to go. Sure, I was sick, but it wasn't that bad. I tried to talk her into waiting one more night.

I stepped into the ER, though, and realized that I'd gone from being very sick to being unable to breathe. The next few minutes were a blur. I was non-responsive to certain front-tline allergy and asthma treatments, so I had to be drugged and place on a ventilator. My oxygen levels and carbon dioxide levels were dangerously low and high respectively. I was suffocating to death in a normal room.

I went in and out of consciousness, including an incident where still sedated and restrained I pulled out my ventilator (I'm very fortunate that I didn't end up aspirating). I was at the hospital for several days as they helped get the inflammation down a bit in my lungs, aided me with oxygen, and otherwise got me to the point I could go back home. I'm now back home. I'm definitely not 100%, but I will recover, and, in the future, will not treat my chronic medical issues so casually. This incident has also imprinted on me the necessity of making sure my family is taken care of. I would have left behind a wife and two young children with special needs, so I'll be getting life insurance as soon as possible.

I have nothing but praise for the staff of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. They were professional and very kind. As a result, my hospitalization was as pleasant it could be all things considered.

Many of you follow me on FB and have left your well-wishes.

I deeply appreciate your thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. Please learn from my lesson. Take care of yourself, if not for you, then for the ones you love.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Two Detectives Are Better Than One: An interview with mystery writer Lauren Carr

Today I'm talking with mystery writer Lauren Carr about her cross-over mystery Shades of Murder.


1) Please tell us about your book.

In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a stolen art collector. But this isn’t just any stolen work-of-art—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.

Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece—she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio—and her painting is nowhere to be found. Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.

A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect to do a favor—a convicted serial killer. The Favor: Solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.

 Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, Victim Number Four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.

Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!

2) Please tell us about your two detectives. How are they different? How are they similar?

Mac Faraday is a homicide detective whose wife leaves him and takes everything. On the day his divorce becomes final, he inherits $270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake from his birth mother, world famous mystery writer Robin Spencer, the American version of Agatha Christie. Upon her death, it is revealed that she had a baby out of wedlock as a teenager. That baby grew up to be homicide detective.

Having grown up in a middle class family, and being an underpaid detective, Mac is still in awe of his windfall. He remains grounded, even though he is surrounded by wealth and extravagance. Having a cunning sense of humor, he is even amused by the lifestyles of his rich and famous neighbors.
Joshua Thornton is a contrast to Mac. The Joshua Thornton Mysteries were my first books. I was in a different chapter of my life which is reflected in Joshua’s character. A single father of a large family, Joshua is more serious than Mac Faraday, who jokingly thinks of himself as a millionaire playboy. Mac is more humorous than Joshua.

Following his wife’s death, Joshua Thornton leaves a promising career in the U. S. Navy’s JAG division to move across country with his five children into his ancestral home, which is a small country town in West Virginia.

Both Mac and Joshua are honorable men of integrity who always try to do the right thing.
Readers familiar with Joshua are going to find that he lightens up in the Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Now that his children are growing up and he has more independence, he is free to embark in a new romance with detective Cameron Gates. The first installment in this series is Dead on Ice, which will be out this fall.

3) Why did you decide to create a cross-over of your two mystery series?

I had been asked by fans of the Joshua Thornton Mysteries to bring Joshua back. So I decided to include him into this Mac Faraday mystery. Since Joshua and Mac don’t know each other, I had to come up with two murder mysteries that, on the surface, don’t appear to be connected, and then bring them together. Coming up with this puzzle was not only a challenge, but a lot of fun.

4) What's your favorite part of writing mysteries?

The creation of the puzzle. I view a mystery as a story puzzle. The mystery writer puts together the murder mystery, complete with the characters, their separate agendas, evidence, and clues. Then, the writer takes it all apart and scatters it throughout a story that takes the reader on a thrilling adventure of mystery.

5) What got you interested in writing mysteries?

I fell in love with mysteries when my mother read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. She loves murder mysteries and devours them. As a matter of fact, the libraries in and around Chester, West Virginia, have mysteries brought in from other libraries for her because she’s read all they have in stock.
Out of four children, I’m the only one who inherited her love for mysteries books. Like her, I would inhale every mystery I could get my hands on, but I felt writing mysteries would be too difficult to tackle. However, eventually, the mysteries that I was reading ceased to be challenging enough. That was when I started writing my own mysteries with lots of twists and turns to challenge the reader.

6) Do you have any authors who influenced you?

Having grown up on the masters, I definitely look to Agatha Christie and Earl Stanley Gardner. I also like the twisting plotlines of Tess Gerritsen.

7) Mysteries have remained a consistently popular genre for the entire history of mass market popular literature. Why do you think that is?

Mysteries cover a broad genre, which encompasses a wide range of sub genres. What makes this genre so great is that it is flexible enough to change with the times. The genre is not confined by time period or technology. It has the capabilities of growing with our society, which makes it every changing.

For example, when science came to the forefront in crime solving, then mystery writers easily adapted. A whole new subgenre grew out of that to include forensics detectives.

8) Do you think reader expectations have changed throughout the decades?

Most definitely. Readers, especially die-hard mystery fans, are quite sophisticated, and are becoming more so with the Internet, which has put scientific information at readers fingertips.

As a result, mystery writers must keep up with science and technology in law enforcement and the courts, because our readers do. An author can’t write a mystery that completely ignores forensics anymore, unless they create a situation where it is not available, like a period piece where the story happens before forensics came to the forefront, or set in a remote location where it is unavailable.

9) What other mysteries do you have planned for these detectives in the future, either separate or together?

I’m starting a new series called the Lovers in Crime mysteries. Coming this fall, Dead on Ice introduces a new series featuring Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates. In Dead on Ice, Pennsylvania State homicide detective Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of a porn star whose mummified remains are found in an abandoned freezer in Joshua’s cousin’s basement.

It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué Hollywood legend’s roots were buried in their small rural town, something that she had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept it off her road map, too. Because when this starlet came running home from the mob in 1985, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

For this book tour, I am holding a contest for readers to name the female porn star found in the freezer. Not only are they to supply the stage name the star used in her films, but her real name from her childhood in the Chester, West Virginia/Pittsburgh area. The winner will receive all three Deep Creek Lake mysteries, plus a print edition of Dead on Ice upon its release, as well as a Lovers in Crime coffee mug. Contest is running from June 1-July 31.

Readers are to submit their entries to me via e-mail: writerlaurencarr@ comcast.net. Subject line is to read Name the Porn Star. Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and mailing address. The winner will be decided by me and my muses (my two dogs).

I am also working on the next book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. In Flash from the Past, Mac (and readers) finds out about Archie Monday’s past.

10) Please tell us about your other previous works.

I wrote my first book after giving up my writing career to be a stay-at-home mom. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award.

A Small Case of Murder is set in the quaint West Virginia town of Chester, where everyone knows everyone, and there is never a secret that someone doesn’t know. While clearing out the attic after moving into the family homestead, Joshua’s children find a letter written to their grandmother postmarked 34 years ago.

In the letter Lulu Jefferson wrote “…Remember that dead body we found in the Bosley barn?...I saw him today…I went to talk to the reverend and there was his picture on the wall.” What dead body? His interest piqued, Joshua asks about Lulu and finds that in 1970 she died on the same day that she penned the letter implicating the pastor in an unreported murder. There is much more to this story than a 34-year-old letter. It’s a 34-year-old mystery!

Today, a double murder has the whole town under a microscope. The state attorney general appoints Joshua special prosecutor to solve the crimes. In a small town where gossip flies as swiftly as a spring breeze it is impossible to know who to trust. Asking simple questions about events long ago could prove to be deadly for Joshua and his family.

The second installment in the Joshua Thornton Mysteries was A Reunion to Die For. Prosecutor Joshua Thornton becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Gail Reynolds. Gail returns to Chester to investigate a classmate’s death, only to spark a murder spree in which she becomes one of the victims.

In 2010, I released the first installment of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, It’s Murder, My Son, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Since its release in May, Shades of Murder has been receiving rave reviews.


Thanks, Lauren.

If you want to see more from Lauren, she can be found at:

Shades of Murder can be purchased at Amazon.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

From moon hotels to the ghost of Jane Austen: An interview with D.W. Wilkin

Today I'm talking with multi-genre author David W. Wilkin about his Regency work.

1) What moved you to become an author?

Well, I have always liked stories for as long as I can remember. I don’t really remember the first adult reading experience, but when I was 12 I went to summer camp and my counselor recommended the Lord of the Rings back then. What a great book, and this was 38 years ago, 1974. Long before we had the animated movie, or the more recent movie (which a high school friend was the producer on!) It didn’t change my life, but it certainly gave me an appreciation of wanting to turn my stories into stories for everyone.

So when I graduated college, I had already sold an article for a gaming magazine. I started playing around with longer work. My short stories have always been hard for me. I just have something to say and it takes a lot of words to say it. (I think maybe I am a little verbose.) I sat down and wrote Tranquility Hilton. The story of the first moon colony, where the hotel franchise is to the Hilton chain. Yet, what happens when a wealthy couple, fallen on bad times, also sees their very valuable diamonds and other jewelry stolen from the vault on opening weekend.

They have to be wealthy, since it isn’t cheap to go to the moon and be tourists there (though with the way sales are going for spaceshots, there are a lot of rich people.) I wrote that, and now, in hindsight over 25 years later on with a lot of classes on writing and a lot more practical experience. I know why it was rejected and what it needs to be made viable. I even managed to transfer the digital data from many computers and backup systems so I still have access to it. (The real main theme of a novel about those living and manning the first hotel on the moon isn’t the robbery. It is the longing for Earth that they are separated from.)

As I mentioned in some other interviews, the reason I write Regency Romance is all about Cheryl, my wife. We met at a Regency dance and wooing her involved my writing a few pages of a story and sending it to her, until I won her heart.

2) Tell us about your current novel.

The current novel that I am excited about and think that everyone should come and get a copy, is Jane Austen and Ghosts. I wrote it very quickly because the idea came to be quickly and the story was just all there. Then nuance came as I started typing.

There are a host of novels about Jane and our Regency/Victorian era writers and novels now meeting the supernatural, zombies, sea monsters, and of course the very timely favorite vampires. I had never read any of these, having read through Dracula twice in my life. That is quite a tale, and I tackled my project and then delved into one of the others. I can see where there is a fascination for the material.

But the inspiration came to me because of the success of this sub-genre and my cousin who finds ideas to make movies. Well the whole cult of these books and success of Twilight and others in the field suggested that Patrick was going to buy, or someone who did Patricks job at another studio, these stories and make a movie. And with my friend Mark (of Lord of the Rings success) as well making successful movies, what would happen if one studio cornered the rights and had to now make that movie. Oy Vey! Jane like Billy Bigelow in Carousel should be allowed to come back to Earth…

Or even come back with a few friends. And in Hollywood, there are a lot of those who have passed to the next life that Jane might now know who could come back with her and provide inspiration on how these novels really should be made into movies.

Though the authors of the novels within the novel are caricatures, like Mr. and Mrs. Bennet for instance, or Lady Catherine. The detail of Hollywood and the parallel plot lines to Jane’s work should provide anyone who likes Jane’s work with some fun along the way.

3) How did the story begin to develop in your mind?

As I mentioned, the things that came together were the current fad in Regency and Victorian era writing with the supernatural and the realization of these movies coming out. But I did not just weave that into the story alone. Studios and production companies have more than one iron in the fire, else they won’t be able to go into production on the next project.

So as the main plot of our novel, to begin work on the screenplay for the Jane project is being discussed with the authors of these special novels, there is another movie project about to start shooting the next week. Not to say that Adam Sandler features in it, since he is a public figure. But that a character based on Adam and a project for him is a sub plot seemed like a lot of fun to also weave into the story.

That along with the succession plan of the production company which speaks to mirroring the success that Elizabeth Bennet might find with Darcy and his ten thousand a year.

4) What did you find most challenging about this book?

Weaving in and out of the studio like feel to the novel. Setting the scene. The dialogue and interaction of the characters came nicely, as did the plot and subplots. But to give it a tone of Hollywood, (And I used to work for Dick Clark Productions many years ago) was the challenge.

I try and take the reader on a journey that will keep them entertained and certainly make them feel they are getting bang for their buck. I lace my novels with humor, and maintain that my characters act consistent in the way I have established them. That they be true to themselves in their time. With Jane Austen and Ghosts that is easily done as it is modern era. With the Regencies I write, my characters can think philosophically of a world where slavery is no longer allowed, since Wilburforce was working towards that goal. Where the vote is for all men, and even women to an extent, since we have had the revolution, though even in America, only holders of land could vote. The Terror in France shows that giving away too much power to an uneducated proletariat could have a devastating effect, so my heroes can not be as modern of thought as democracies are today. (But then they will not be as corrupt then as politicians are today.)

5) Tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I was 6 ft and almost 1 inch. Now I’m shrinking.

That was probably too little.

I’m a man writing Regency Romances. That has to be a little different.

So why? Why do I like the Regency?

I have written elsewhere about how Southern California at one time started a craze in Regency Reenactment. With that craze came the locals running a monthly dance practice so all would be ready for the two big events each year that are held. A Regency Ball held in Fall called the Autumn Ball, and then A Regency Assembly where the group would go to a hotel and take it over for a full weekend of activities, dancing, and another Ball.

A friend, thinking they had a woman to introduce me to, urged that I go to this dance practice, and though I did date the young lady once, I went back to the practice at various times because others knew of it. It was a good way for my friends and I to have fun doing these dances, and as time went on I became quite good and taught them, as I also did the dances I had mastered in my Medieval/Renaissance reenactment group.

I further became hooked on Regencies when one of my closest friends told me to read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. Once into that and Heyer’s use of language I devoured a dozen more. (Well I didn’t eat them, but you understand.) Then I met Cheryl at the Autumn Ball. I had been writing in other forms, so as we maintained a long distance romance for a few months, I began to write her a Regency Story/Novel a few pages every few days until we were together.

My writing group thought that it was some of my best work and better than the Science Fiction I was sharing at the time, so I grew into Regency Romance.

6) What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on?

My next Regency is Beggars Can’t Be Choosier. I have been looking for readers because I tackled some issues as a male writer I have needed women to ready. Basically if I handled a miscarriage and also childbirth correctly. I haven’t been in labor, so I wrote based on my interaction with women on the subject. It would still be good to have others tell me if I nailed this or not. So I am still looking to find that feedback. (Any Volunteers?)

But I want to put this through my editing cycle as well as Two Peas in a Pod, a humorous look at Regency Twin look a likes, as well as some mad cap humor. (I always want to capture a certain Beatrice and Benedict repartee in my hero and heroine.)

If I could do this full time, then I am sure we could see 4 new Regencies a year as well as several fantasies. I have two ideas for series that I want to develop. One in the early Regency era, when France is on the verge of the Terror, and then another much later. A Ruritanian Romance series.

7) In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.

In Jane Austen and Ghosts there is a reveal that takes place near the end. I don’t know if everyone can guess at it, but one can see how tricky I make my Jane as a Ghost. A little bit more of the willfulness we see in Elizabeth Bennet that we don’t see in many other of the Heroines of Jane’s.

It is so common for so many to have imaginary friends when we are young and a few times those friends have been portrayed as ghosts, well perhaps I linked that idea together, though as the late Robert Jordan would say RAFO! (Which means Read and Find Out) Designed to propel sales of the book. I think far more fun will be to look at the past Hollywood Icons and Legends who journey back over to visit us at DeMille Brothers Studios. Some of whom are not only famous, but infamous, and some you may have to be immersed in Hollywood lore and legend to identify.

I will say that the last few paragraphs I had a great deal of fun with and hope my readers appreciate it.

8) Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like?

Well Jane Austen of course. For Regencies I am also influenced by Georgette Heyer. I have a few modern day writers of Regency Mysteries. The Beau Brummel and Jane Austen Mysteries. The late Kate Ross. If you love Regencies, run, don’t walk to find these 4 gems. (Oh and now, Galen Beckett but this series is got Fantasy elements, the prose is dynamite though.)

After that, I think Robert Heinlein and Charles Dickens helped to form me as a writer. The late Brian Daley, the Late Robert Asprin, the Late Robert Jordan. There really isn’t a theme. I am just younger than the writers I read and whom I like and return to reading. For those who take a look at my Fantasy work and other work, they may see how I am influenced.

9) Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in?

Aside from my influences, who I listed, this last year I have read Burt Golden who has a mystery dealing with the March Madness tournaments. Burt was a former College Basketball coach so knows that area pretty well. Nathan Lowell who has written a science fiction series reminiscent of playing the Traveller role-playing game, Patrick Rothfuss whose second book is not nearly as strong as his first book.

Dave Poyer who is a delight in Modern Naval fiction, ER Burroughs who I thought had written better when I read him as a teenager, and Michael J. Sullivan whose first two books were much better crafted than the third where he through in traditional fantasy elements without regard to logic.

10) When writing, what is your routine?

I spend way too much time in front of my computer writing. Somedays I will sit and come up with well over 30 pages. I have sprints where I want to work on 100 pages a week. And then I have distractions where I have to take breaks and work on the website, or the blog.

It takes a good hour to come up with 3 pages in first draft, an about an hour to edit ten pages. In a three hundred page work then, that is about 100 hours to write the first draft. Thirty more to go through my edit. Then I enter the edits. At least another thirty and about a week of prep. About 200 hours? That seems low. If I sat here and was not distracted and got paid for that time, could I do a book every five weeks? 10 a year? Well probably. But then how much should I get back for each book?

Is $8 worth your time to read for two to three hours what took me 200 to write and polish and work on? So far, I think that my take on providing story, my interpretation of Boy meet Girls, Boy loses Girl and Boy then gets Girl, will take you on a journey you’ll enjoy.

11) Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?

I had not been thinking of myself as an artist until recently. Then I realized that these stories and tales are art. And that while I have fun with them, they are as much art as some of those writers I read. Then there is craft to this as well. Knowing how to string words together. But to weave in plot points and subplots so the characters become more than one dimensional. That has taken time to learn and develop.

So so be successful at storytelling, I have become both. But it is a kick to be an artist.

12) Where should we look for your work?

I can be found at the iBookstore, and Amazon, Nook and other online places for eBooks as well as physical books. I have created one webpage that sums it all up which I humbly (proudly, arrogantly, annoyingly) titled David’s books:


I can also be followed at my blog where I place excerpts of the current work, and a lot of research:


And I can be followed at Twitter:


Thanks, David.